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Additional resources for An Introduction to the History of Modern Arabic Literature in Egypt (Studies in Arabic Literature , No 10)

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22–24).        17 dants, embodied both the active “to experiment upon” and the passive “to experience”. Not content to passively experience the effects of the stars, the Renaissance mage inverted the lines of influence. Through experimentation, the mage could control the stars and shape his destiny. The Tractat de prenostication distills this idea into the proverb: “lo home savi senyoragarà los astres” (fol. 12r ). Often found in Latin as “homo sapiens dominabitur astris,” the proverb illustrates the power of humankind to assert its will over the natural world, a position that cannot possibly conflict with Church doctrine (Tester 176–177; Coopland 175–177).

Julius Firmicus Maternus composed his Mathesis (c. 354) on the subject, and the treatise remains one of the few complete ancient texts on astrology. Although the work is not cited until the twelfth century, Isidore obliquely refers to it. According to Tester, the title derives from the Greek mãyhsiw ‘learning’, which originally referred to the sciences of the quadrivium, particularly mathematics (134). Later the term applies strictly to astrology (in both senses). By the twelfth century, scholars had established a distinction between mathèsis, with a long mid vowel and máth^sis with a short vowel.

Sometimes Torrella seems critical of astrological images, but Thorndike notes a “sneaking preference” for them (4: 574–75). Such images belong to talismanic magic that Ficino studied in his De Vita. In section two of our Tractat de prenostication, we are told that images and signs may help avert the negative influences of the stars, a reference to this same tradition. Miracle literature, such as the Viatge d’en Ramón Perellós al purgatorio de San Patrici, is another popular expression of the interest in Christian forms of magic.

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