Title: De occulta philosophia libri tres, 1533
Author: Henricus Cornelius Agrippa
Publisher: Cologne, Johannes Soter
A rare first edition of Agrippa’s De occulta philosophia libri tres, otherwise known as the Three Books of Occult Philosophy. While the first book was printed in 1531, it was not until 1533 that all three volumes appeared in published form. Considered to be the most famous work on white magic, the three books deal with Elemental (Natural), Celestial and Intellectual (Ceremonial ritual) magic. Outlining the four elements, astrology, kabbalah, numerology, the many names of God, and the ways each of these intersect with each other and functioned in other practices, this work deeply influenced later occult practitioners and students, including occult philosopher and alchemist John Dee
Unsurprisingly his work was condemned as heretical by the inquisitor of Cologne, though oddly enough there is very little evidence that Agrippa was ever heavily persecuted for his practice of the occult arts, which is exceptionally odd given his documented arguments against the persecutions of witches.
There are charts throughout filled with various astrological and elemental symbols, with pentagrams and kabbalistic imagery. There are seven woodcut figures of Man, each depicting a different celestial image, and bearing striking similarity to that of the Vitruvian Man.
Of Agrippa himself, he was a veritable polymath and held numerous stations in life, being a diplomat, theologian, doctor of both law and medicine, soldier, and of course, occult philosopher.
There is a heavy amount of contemporary underlining throughout the volume, with annotations and markings in the marginalia.
This work contains the bookplate of Ralph Sympsun, Esquire, a prolific book collector of the 18th century.
Unusually, an engraved title page from a 16th century edition of Munster’s famous Cosmografia has been bound in before the main title page.
One volume in folio, (12)+CCCLXII. Collation is aa6, a-q6, r8, s-z6. A-G6. Final blank missing.
On note of condition, this volume is in good shape, being rebacked with modern calf and the original spine strip having been laid back on, with some wear to the boards. Much of the title page is lacking along with the dedicatory section on the back, with only 4 ½ inches of a wide strip remaining, though the portrait of Agrippa and most of the title is still remaining, having been mounted on a backing leaf. A facsimile of the complete title page has been inserted right after. There are several repairs noted earlier in the prefatory section, with smaller ones throughout. There is some soiling throughout, heavier on several pages.