Article ID: CBB087706807

The Homunculus and the Paracelsian Liber de imaginibus (2020)


As William R. Newman has already shown, the alchemical homunculus described in the pseudo-Paracelsian writing De natura rerum was not the only kind of “homunculus” present in the works of (or attributed to) Paracelsus. Two other important kinds of “homunculi” indeed appeared in other treatises: one in De homunculis et monstris and the other in both Vom langen Leben and the Liber de imaginibus. This article focuses on the latter tract and its relationships with De natura rerum. After discussing the authenticity of the Liber de imaginibus, I will provide a brief analysis of its content and discuss the major topics common to the two treatises: the “signatures of things” and the homunculus. By studying the reception of the latter, I will show how the alchemical conception of the homunculus, as explained in De natura rerum, quickly established itself as the most prominent notion despite the fact that the golem-like version of Vom langen Leben and De imaginibus had nearly as much success at first among Paracelsians.

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Article Didier Kahn; Hiro Hirai (2020) Paracelsus, Forgeries and Transmutation: Introduction. Ambix: Journal of the Society for the History of Alchemy and Chemistry (pp. 1-3). unapi

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Authors & Contributors
Kahn, Didier
Gilly, Carlos
Gantenbein, Leo
Giordano, Michael J.
Telle, Joachim
Newman, William Royall
Azogue: Revista Electrónica Dedicada al Estudio Histórico-Crítico de la Alquimia
Ambix: Journal of the Society for the History of Alchemy and Chemistry
Mitteilungen der Gesellschaft Deutscher Chemiker, Fachgruppe Geschichte der Chemie
Renaissance Quarterly
Berichte zur Wissenschaftsgeschichte
Sudhoffs Archiv: Zeitschrift fuer Wissenschaftsgeschichte
AMS Press
Cambridge Scholars Publishing
Yale University Press
CNRS Éditions
Science and religion
Physicians; doctors
Paracelsus, Theophrast von Hohenheim
Khunrath, Heinrich
Agricola, Georgius
Béroalde de Verville, François
Ripley, George
Browne, Thomas
Time Periods
16th century
17th century
18th century
15th century
Early modern
Basel (Switzerland)

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