Zosimos of Panopolis
Zosimos of Panopolis editions are available.
In about 300 AD, Zosimos provided one of the ﬁrst definitions of alchemy as the study of “the composition of waters, movement, growth, embodying and disembodying, drawing the spirits from bodies and bonding the spirits within bodies.” In general, Zosimos’ understanding of alchemy reﬂects the inﬂuence of Hermetic of Hermetic and and Gnostic Gnostic spiri spiritualitie tualities. s. He asserted asserted that the fal fallen len angels taug taught ht the the arts arts of metallurgy to the women they married, an idea also recorded in the Book of Enoch and later later repea repeated ted in the the GnosGnos tic Apocryphon of John. In a fragment preserved by Syncellus,, Zosimos wrote: Syncellus
Distil Distillat lation ion equipm equipment ent of Zosimo Zosimos, s, from from the 15th 15th centur centuryy  Byzantine Greek manuscript manuscript Codex Codex Parisinus 2327.
Greek:: Ζώσιμος; Ζώσιμος; also also known Zosimos of Panopolis (Greek by the Latin the Latin name name Zosimus Alchemista , i.e. “Zosimus
The ancient and divine writings say that the angels became enamoured of women; and, descending, taught them all the works of nature. ture. From them, them, theref therefore, ore, is the ﬁrst ﬁrst tradition, chema, concerning these arts; for they called this book chema and hence the science of chemistry takes its name.
the Alchemist”) was a Greek a Greek alchemist alchemist and and Gnostic Gnostic mystic who mystic who lived at the end of the 3rd and beginning of the 4th century AD. He was born in Panopolis in Panopolis,, present day day Akhmim in Akhmim in the south of Egypt of Egypt,, and ﬂourished ca. 300.. He wrote 300 wrote the the olde oldest st known known books books on alche alchemy my,, whic whichh he calle calledd “Che “Cheiro irokme kmeta, ta,”” using using the Greek Greek word word for “things made by hand.” Pieces of this work survive in the original Greek language language and in translations into Syriac or Arabic or Arabic.. He is one of about 40 authors represented in a compendium of alchemical of alchemical writings writings that was probably put together in in Constantinople in Constantinople in the 7th or 8th century AD and that exists in manuscripts in Venice and Paris. Stephen of Alexandria is Alexandria is another.
The external processes of metallic transmutation—the transformations of lead and copper into silver and gold (see (see the the Stockh Stockholm olm papyrus papyrus)—h )—had ad alwa always ys to mirror mirror an inner process of puriﬁcation and redemption. Wrote Zosimos in Concerning the true Book of Sophe, the Egyptian,
and of the Divine Master of the Hebrews Hebrews and the Sabaoth
Arabic translations of texts by Zosimos were discovered Powers: in 1995 in a copy of the book Keys of Mercy and Secrets of Wisdom by Ibn by Ibn Al-Hassan Ibn Ali Al-Tughra'i', Al-Tughra'i', There are two sciences and two wisdoms, a Persian Persian alchemist. alchemist. Unfortunately, the translations were  that of the Egyptians and that of the Hebrews, incomplete and seemingly non-verbatim. The famous which which latter latter is conﬁrmed conﬁrmed by divine divine justic justice. e. The index of Arabic books, Kitab al-Fihrist by Ibn by Ibn Al-Nadim, Al-Nadim, scien science ce and wisdo wisdom m of the most most exce excell llen entt domdommentions earlier translations of four books by Zosimos, inate the one and the other. Both originate origina te in howev however er due to inconsi inconsiste stenc ncyy in translit transliterat eration, ion, these these olden times. times. Their origin origin is without a king, autexts were attributed to names “Thosimos”, “Dosimos” tonomous and immaterial; it is not concerned and “Rimos"; also it is possible that two of them are with material and corruptible bodies, it opertransla translatio tions ns of the same book. F. Sezgin has found found 15 ates, without submitting to strange inﬂuences, manuscripts of Zozimos in six libraries, at Tehran, Caire, supported by prayer and divine grace. Istanbul, Istanbul, Gotha, Dublin and Rampur. Michèle Michèle Mertens analyzes what is known about those manuscripts in her The symbol symbol of chemist chemistry ry is drawn drawn from from the translation translation of Zozimos, concluding concluding that the Arabic tradicreation by its adepts, who cleanse and save the tion seems extremely rich and promising, and regretting divin divinee soul soul bound bound in the the elem elemen ents, ts, and who who free the diﬃculty diﬃculty of access to these materials, until translated the divine spirit from its mixture with the ﬂesh. 1
3 SURVIVING WORKS
2 As the sun is, so to speak, a ﬂower of the ﬁre and (simultaneously) the heavenly sun, the right eye of the world, so copper when it blooms—that is when it takes the color of gold, through puriﬁcation—becomes a terrestrial sun, which is king of the earth, as the sun is king of heaven. Greek alchemists used what they called ὕδωρ θεῖον, meaning both divine water , and sulphurous water . For Zosimos, the alchemical vessel was imagined as a baptismal font, and the tincturing vapours of mercury and sulphur were likened to the purifying waters of baptism, which perfected and redeemed the Gnostic initiate. Zosimos drew upon the Hermetic image of the krater or mixing bowl, a symbol of the divine mind in which the Hermetic initiate was “baptized” and puriﬁed in the course of a visionary ascent through the heavens and into the transcendent realms. Similar ideas of a spiritual baptism in the “waters” of the transcendent Pleroma are characteristic of the Sethian Gnostic texts unearthed at Nag Hammadi. This image of the alchemical vessel as baptismal font is central to his Visions, discussed below.
Carl Jung and the Visions of Zosimos
(an "agathodaemon" and also a homunculus, but see also Agathodaemon the alchemist). Zosimos also dreams of a “place of punishments” where all who enter immediately burst into ﬂames and submit themselves to an “unendurable torment.” Jung believed these visions to be a sort of Alchemical allegory, with the tormented homunculi personifying transmutations—burning or boiling themselves to become something else. The central image of the visions are the Sacriﬁcial Act, which each Homunculus endures. In alchemy the dyophysite nature is constantly emphasized, two principles balancing one another, active and passive, masculine and feminine, which constitute the eternal cycle of birth and death. This is also illustrated in the ﬁgure of the uroboros, the dragon that bites its own tail (and which appears earliest in the Chrysopoeia). Selfdevouring is the same as self-destruction, but the unison of the dragon’s tail and mouth was also thought of as self-fertilization. Hence the text of “Tractatus Avicennae” mentions “the dragon slays itself, weds itself, impregnates itself.” In the visions, circular thinking appears in the sacriﬁcial priest’s identity with his victim and in the idea that the homunculus into whom Ion is changed devours himself—he spews fourth his own ﬂesh and rends himself with his own teeth. The homunculus therefore stands for the uroboros, which devours itself and gives birth to self. Since the homonculus represents the transformation of Ion, it follows that Ion, the uroboros, and the sacriﬁcer are essentially the same.
One of Zosimos’ texts is about a sequence of dreams related to Alchemy, and presents the proto-science as a much more religious experience. In his dream he ﬁrst 3 Surviving works comes to an altar and meets Ion, who calls himself “the priest of inner sanctuaries, and I submit myself to an unendurable torment.” Ion then ﬁghts and impales Zosimos This list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it. with a sword, dismembering him “in accordance with the rule of harmony” (referring to the division into four bod Authentic Memoirs ies, natures, or elements). He takes the pieces of Zosimos to the altar, and “burned (them) upon the ﬁre of the The Book of Pictures (Muṣḥaf aṣ-ṣuwar) art, till I perceived by the transformation of the body that I had become spirit.” From there, Ion cries blood, and Concerning thetrue Book of Sophe, the Egyptian, and horribly melts into “the opposite of himself, into a muof the Divine Master of the Hebrews and the Sabaoth tilated anthroparion”—which Carl Jung perceived as the Powers (French translation) ﬁrst concept of the homunculus in alchemical literature. The Final Quittance (French translation) Zosimos wakes up, asks himself, “Is not this the composition of the waters?" and returns to sleep, beginning the On the Evaporation of the Divine Water that ﬁxes visions again—he constantly wakes up, ponders to himMercury (French translation ) self and returns to sleep during these visions. Return On the Letter Omega (English excerpt translated by ing to the same altar, Zosimos ﬁnds a man being boiled G.R.S. Mead; French translation) alive, yet still alive, who says to him, “The sight that you see is the entrance, and the exit, and the transformation Treatise on Instruments and Furnaces (French trans... Those who seek to obtain the art (or moral perfeclation) tion) enter here, and become spirits by escaping from the The Visions of Zosimos (English translation) body”—which can be regarded as human distillation; just as how distilled water puriﬁes it, distilling the body puriﬁes it as well. He then sees a Brazen Man (another ho- The complete (as of 1888) "Œuvres de Zosime” were munculus, as Jung believed any man described as being published in French by M. Berthelot in Les alchimistes metal is perceived as being a homunculus), a Leaden Man grecs. English translations remain elusive. •
6.2 Arabic works
See also •
Alchemy and chemistry in medieval Islam
Mary the Jewess
Vol. I (introduction) p. 119, 127— 174, 209, 250; vol. II (Greek text) p. 28, 117—120; Vol. III (trans.) p. 117—242. H. D. Saﬀrey & Zosime de Panopolis (trans. M. Mertens). Les
alchimistes grecs, vol. IV.1: Mémoires authentiques (in French).
Les Belles-Lettres. pp. CLXXIII– 348. ISBN 2-251-00448-3. p. 1— 49: I = Sur la lettre oméga; V = Sur l'eau divine ; VI = Diagramme (ouroboros); VII = Sur les appareils
 Marcelin Berthelot, Collection des anciens alchimistes grecs (3 vol., Paris, 1887–1888, p.161); F. Sherwood Taylor, “The Origins of Greek Alchemy,” Ambix 1 (1937), 40.  E. Gildemeister and Fr. Hoﬀman, translated by Edward Kremers (1913). The Volatile Oils . 1. New York: Wiley. p. 203.
et fourneaux 6.2
 Bryan H. Bunch & Alexander Hellemans(2004). The History of Science and Technology . Houghton Miﬄin Harcourt. p. 88. ISBN 0-618-22123-9.
Zosimos, of Panapolis (2007). Abt, Theodor; Warburton, David, eds.
The Book of Pictures. Mushaf as-suwar by Zosimos of Panapolis. Facsimile edition. Edited with an introduction by Theodor Abt . Corpus Alchemicum Ara-
 Prof. Hassan S. El Khadem (September 1996). “A Translation of a Zosimos’ Text in an Arabic Alchemy Book” (PDF). Journal of the Washington Academy of Sciences . 84 (3): 168–178.
bicum (CALA) II.1. Zurich: Living Human Heritage Publications. Zosimos, of Panapolis (2011). Abt, Theodor, ed. The Book of Pic-
 Strathern, P. (2000). Mendeleyev’s Dream—the Quest for the Elements. New York: Berkley Books.  Stroumsa, Gedaliahu A. G. (1984). Another Seed: Studies in Gnostic Mythology . Volume 24 of Nag Hammadi Studies. Brill Archive. pp. 139ﬀ. ISBN 9004074198.
tures. Mushaf as-suwar by Zosimos of Panapolis. Edited with an introduction by Theodor Abt. Translated by Salwa Fuad and Theodor Abt . Corpus Alchemicum Ara-
 Imuth, quoted in Syncellus, Chron. Drummond, William. “On the Science of the Egyptians and Chaldeans”. The Classical Journal . London: A. J. Valpy. 18 : 299. September and December, 1818  Carl Gustav Jung; Elizabeth Welsh; Barbara Hannah (1960). Modern Psychology: November 1940-July 1941: Alchemy, vol. 1-2 . University of California: K. Schippert & Co. pp. 44–45.  Schorlemmer, Carl (1894). The Rise and Development of OrganicChemistry. London: Macmillan and Company. p. 6.  Fraser, Kyle (2004). “Zosimos of Panopolis and the Book of Enoch: Alchemy as Forbidden Knowledge”. Aries: Journal for the Study of Western Esotericism. 4.2 .  Jung, Carl (1983). “The Visions of Zosimos”. Alchemical Studies. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-018499.
Bibliography Fragments Berthelot,
Collection des Anciens Alchimistes Grecs (in French). Paris: Steinheil.
bicum (CALA) II.2. Zurich: Living Human Heritage Publications. ISBN 3-9522608-7-8.
Studies Abt, Theodor (2011). “Introduction to the Facsilmie Edition, Introduction to the Translation,” in Zosimos of Panapolis; Theodor Abt (ed.), The Book of pictures. Mushaf
as-suwar by Zosimos of Panapolis. Edited with an introduction by Theodor Abt. Translated by Salwa Fuad and Theodor Abt. Corpus Alchemicum Arabicum (CALA) II.2. Zurich: Living Human Heritage Publications. ISBN 3-9522608-78. p. 17-139. Berthelot, Marcelin (1885). Les Origines de l'alchimie (in French). Paris: Steinheil. pp. 177–187. Berthelot, Marcelin (1888). Collec-
tion des Anciens Alchimistes Grecs
4 (in French). Paris: Steinheil. Vol. I (introduction) p. 119, 127—174, 209, 250. Berthelot, Marcelin (1893). La Chimie au Moyen Âge (in French). Paris: Steinheil. Vol. II, p. 203— 266; Vol. III, p. 28, 30, 41. Mead, G.R.S (1906). “Zosimus on the Anthropos-Doctrine”. Thrice
Greatest Hermes: Studies in Hellenistic Theosophy and Gnosis . III. London and Benares: The Theosophical Publishing Society. pp. 273–284. Jung, C. G. (1943). Psychology and Alchemy. Lindsay, Jack (1970). The Ori-
gins of Alchemy in Graeco-Roman Egypt . ISBN 0-389-01006-5. Jackson, A. H. (1978). Zosimos of Panopolis. On the letter Omega . Missoula (Montana). Knipe, Sergio, “Sacriﬁce and selftransformation in the alchemical writings of Zosimus of Panopolis,” in Christopher Kelly, Richard Flower, Michael Stuart Williams (еds), Unclassical Traditions. Vol.
II: Perspectives from East and West in Late Antiquity (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2011) (Cambridge Classical Journal, Supplemental Volume 35), 59-69.
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