Article ID: CBB593660659

Bad Chemistry: Basilisks and Women in Paracelsus and pseudo-Paracelsus (2020)

unapi

The basilisk of the pseudo-Paracelsian De natura rerum is the evil twin of the homunculus. Created from menstrual blood by artificial ectogenesis in an alchemical laboratory, the basilisk embodies the poisonous character traditionally ascribed to catamenial women, but magnified and concentrated by its mode of generation to the degree that it can kill by its glance alone. How does this remarkable thought experiment relate to other instances of the basilisk in the genuine and pseudonymous corpus of Paracelsus? The present paper outlines two primary uses which emerge repeatedly: first, in works other than De natura rerum, the basilisk is used by Paracelsus and his imitators as a means of explaining action at a distance, especially in the case of plague. Relying on a medieval association between the basilisk’s deadly gaze and the putative ability of menstruating women to damage mirrors, the genuine Paracelsus links contagious disease to the deleterious action of the female imagination. Second, because the basilisk was traditionally held to be the product of an unnatural birth, being born from an egg laid by a rooster and incubated by a toad, the Paracelsian corpus frequently invokes the monster as a model for unnatural generation in general.

...More
Included in

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

Citation URI
https://data.isiscb.org/isis/citation/CBB593660659/

Similar Citations

Book Principe, Lawrence M.; (2007)
Chymists and Chymistry: Studies in the History of Alchemy and Early Modern Chemistry (/isis/citation/CBB000700925/)

Book Didier Kahn; (2016)
Le fixe et le volatil: chimie et alchimie, de Paracelse à Lavoisier (/isis/citation/CBB308791400/)

Book López Pérez, Miguel; Kahn, Didier; Rey Bueno, Mar; (2010)
Chymia: Science and Nature in Early Modern Europe (1450--1750) (/isis/citation/CBB001023359/)

Chapter Hirai, Hiro; (2010)
The World-Spirit and Quintessence in the Chymical Philosophy of Joseph du Chesne (/isis/citation/CBB001023513/)

Article Linda A. Newson; (2020)
Alchemy and Chemical Medicines in Early Colonial Lima, Peru (/isis/citation/CBB042314859/)

Article Banchetti-Robino, Marina Paola; (2011)
Ontological Tensions in Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-Century Chemistry: Between Mechanism and Vitalism (/isis/citation/CBB001024702/)

Book Paracelsus, ; Weeks, Andrew; (2008)
Essential Theoretical Writings (/isis/citation/CBB001220259/)

Article Hindson, Bethan; (2009-10)
Attitudes towards Menstruation and Menstrual Blood in Elizabethan England (/isis/citation/CBB001032570/)

Chapter Pinet, Simone; (2010)
The Animal Within: Chivalry, Monstrosity and Gender in Renaissance Spain (/isis/citation/CBB001220298/)

Article Rey Bueno, Mar; Alegre Perez, Maria Esther; (2001)
Los destiladores de su majestad. Destilación, espagiria y paracelsismo en la corte de Felipe II (/isis/citation/CBB000102474/)

Book Karen Virginia Hunger Parshall; Michael Thomson Walton; Bruce Thomas Moran; (2015)
Bridging Traditions: Alchemy, Chemistry, and Paracelsian Practices in the Early Modern Era (/isis/citation/CBB850531858/)

Book Kahn, Didier; (2007)
Alchimie et Paracelsisme en France à la fin de la Renaissance (1567--1625) (/isis/citation/CBB000774191/)

Article Didier Kahn; (2018)
Quintessence and the Prolongation of Life in the Works of Paracelsus (/isis/citation/CBB983986033/)

Article Tosi, Lucia; (2001)
Marie Meurdrac: Paracelsian Chemist and Feminist (/isis/citation/CBB000300037/)

Book Joly, Bernard; (2011)
Descartes et la chimie (/isis/citation/CBB001320157/)

Authors & Contributors
Kahn, Didier
Rey Bueno, Mar
Hirai, Hiro
Alegre Pérez, María Esther
Tosi, Lucia
Principe, Lawrence M.
Journals
Ambix: Journal of the Society for the History of Alchemy and Chemistry
Dynamis: Acta Hispanica ad Medicinae Scientiarumque Historiam Illustrandam
Annals of Science: The History of Science and Technology
Foundations of Chemistry
Journal of Social History
Publishers
CNRS Éditions
Science History Publications
Droz
Cambridge Scholars Publishing
Brill
J. Vrin, Impr. de la Manutention
Concepts
Alchemy
Chemistry
Science and gender
Natural philosophy
Paracelsianism
Medicine
People
Paracelsus, Theophrast von Hohenheim
Boerhaave, Herman
Descartes, René
Lavoisier, Antoine Laurent
Philip II, King of Spain
Meurdrac, Marie
Time Periods
17th century
16th century
Renaissance
18th century
Early modern
15th century
Places
Spain
France
Austria
Germany
Sweden
Great Britain
Comments

Be the first to comment!

{{ comment.created_by.username }} on {{ comment.created_on | date:'medium' }}

Log in or register to comment