Renaissance astrology talismans

Jerome began his studies in Sienna where, in , he debated a theologian on the topic of astrological images or talismans. After receiving his doctorate at Pisa in , Torrella entered the service of Giovanna of Naples—sister of Ferdinand the Catholic, king of Aragon and Castile—as her medicus familiaris.

By , Torrella was back in Valencia, where he composed the Opus, dedicated to Ferdinand. His primary concerns were talismans made of gold, which were thought to have medical efficacy on the kidneys, colon or feet. He focused particularly on those made in the shape of a lion, which were supposedly good for kidney stones, from which King Ferdinand suffered. Torrella also refers to numerous other works that he had written or would like to write, but none survive. There was a book of six questions, with one on the imagination; a work on the movements of the spheres, and another on the tides.

The third section discusses the publication of the original manuscript between and by Alfonso de Orta, about whom we otherwise know nothing. The explicit objective of this edition is to provide an easily readable text that remains loyal to the Editio princeps.

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Likewise, he offers two registers of annotations. First, to determine if some power—caused by an influence of the heavens and curative of the illnesses in a human body—can exist in talismans made by the finest astrologers. Secondly, whether there is something superstitious in the making of this sort of purely astrological talisman, and whether it is licit for Christians to make and wear them.

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Torrella then discusses the most important positions on these questions by the major authorities: religious, medical and astrological. Following the proem, the Opus contains four coherently structured parts of unequal size which correspond to the structure of a sholastic quaestio. The first part presents the authorities in favor of astrological images, who have been selected to show that their efficacy is natural and not demonic. Part two in contrast presents 42 numbered arguments against the thesis that their only efficacy is natural.

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The third part deepens the analysis and thereby strengthens the arguments pro. Part four, finally, addresses each of the 42 rationes contra in turn, and in detail where appropriate. The treatise concludes with an interesting discussion of the two main positions: Albertus Magnus and the Albertists pro vs. Sections of this page.

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