Olivier Dufault deposited Transmutation Theory in the Greek Alchemical Corpus in the group Alchemy on Humanities Commons 4 years, 5 months ago
This paper studies transmutation theory as found in the texts attributed to Zosimus of Panopolis,“the philosopher Synesius,” and “the philosopher Olym-piodorus of Alexandria.” It shows that transmutation theory (i.e. a theory explain-ing the complete transformation of substances) is mostly absent from the work attributed to these three authors. The text attributed to Synesius describes a gilding process, which is similar to those described by Pliny and Vitruvius. The commentary attributed to Olympiodorus is the only text studied here thatdescribes something similar to a transmutation theory. It is unclear, however, if this was a theory of transmutation or if the writer meant something more like the literal meaning of the word “ekstrophê,” a term used to describe the transformation of metals, as the “turning inside-out” of what is hidden in a substance. A similar conception of ekstrophê can be found in the works of Zosimus, who discussed transmutation to make an analogy with self-purification processes,which, from the perspective of his own anthropogony, consisted in the“turning inside-out”of the“inner human” (esô anthrôpos).