Hermes Book of Paranatellonta

Pseudo Pythagoras

The book of Paranatellonta  in  Reginensis Vat. Lat. 1283 fol 1-8v.

This is the first and likely the most important part of the selection of Spanish Medieval texts collected in the  manuscript known as Reginensis Vat. Lat. 1283,  written in the court of Alphonse the Wise around 1280.

The illuminated  book was discovered by Aby Warburg in the Vatican Library in Rome in 1911 while the art historian was organizing his famous lecture on Schifanoia frescoes        at the International Congress of Art.

The book is acephalous and incomplete, so      Aries, Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces are missing. Every sign is illustrated with  a picture,  a wheel  with  the  zodiacal  sign  in  the  centre,  surrounded by  the  thirty  images rising with the corresponding degrees of that sign and their description .

The images rising with the zodiacal degrees clearly derive      from fixed stars and constellations. Some are very  easy  to recognize,  for  example Pleiades  are rising exactly with  the  6th    degree  of  Taurus as in   Firmicus’  Mathesis, Argo Navis is rising with Cancer, the flowing river Eridanus with Gemini, the Spike in Virgo, and we can easily find in the text well known constellations like Ara, Sagitta  and so on.

The theory of moirogenesis is not Medieval in origin, but it is        well known since antiquity and in fact it is mentioned by Firmicus Maternus in the eighth book of Mathesis in a simpler version than the one we know from Teucer fragments and Liber Hermetis.

Other relevant quotes can be found in Proclus’ Commentary to Plato’s Republic and in Censorinus. Proclus  in  fact  writes:  “Degrees  rising  with  the  horoscope  contain  all  the  virtue  of  generation,  so  for example they produce some births proper to the priesthood and others that are dishonoured. ”

But almost 200 years before,  Censorinus could state in  De Die Natali: “These points are  thirty for  every sign: i.e. three hundred sixty   for the whole circle. Greeks call them Moira, without every doubt because this is the name of Goddesses of Fate, and so our fate depends on these points, and the fact of being born under one or another it’s the most important factor.”

During the Middle Ages this astrological technique  is also  present in Liber de las formas et de las ymagenes (Escorial  ms. h.1.16),  written  between  the  1277  and  1279  at  the  same  court  of  Alphonse,  and  in  Pietro d’Abano’s Astrolabium Planum.

While there are several differences between these two books in the description  of the fate in  store for  those born with a certain zodiacal     degree rising, the images given in the Spanish manuscript are very similar to the ones depicted in Pietro d’Abano’s  book.

I  was  not  able  to  find  any relationship  between   Abano  and  the  unknown       author  of these  pages,  but according Aby Warburg, the Spanish manuscript Reg. 1283 was  the source for Abano’s work, but the art historian does not explain how Abano could know about  it.

More precisely, Fritz Saxl    thinks that the images listed in Astrolabium Planum – but I think we can say the same for  this Spanish  text,  if Aby Warburg is right and the Book of  Paranatellonta   is the  source for  the Italian book- come directly from Albumasar’s chapter about images rising with 36 facies in  Liber VI or from the   curious  illustrated  version  of  the  Great  Introduction    known  as  Liber  Astrologiae  and  ascribed  to Fendulus.    In fact Liber Astrologiae was just a book of images for adults, as it is    extracted from Hermann of Carinthia Latin translation of Albumasar book.

PDF version


2 thoughts on “Hermes Book of Paranatellonta

  1. Hi! Thanks for your site! Question: is the correct file linked above? It looks like it is the one on synastry not Paranatellonta.Thx )O+ sam

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