The Great Books of Medieval and Early Modern Divination (and Anti-Divination)

April 17, 2012

Convenor: Prof. Stefano Rapisarda

The history of philosophy, like the history of literature – and at times even the history of science – can justifiably be defined as a "dialogue" between texts. Texts interact without regard to distances of time and space: they talk to one another, quote, refer to, hint, allude, comment, and remark. They can make tributes, acknowledgements, contradictions, and confutations. In the history of western divination, we can, for example, find Ptolemy in dialogue with Greek and 'Oriental' traditions; Augustine dealing with the pagan tradition via biblical authority and Christian doctrine; the Secretum secretorum in dialogue with Hermetic and pseudo-Hermetic traditions; Nicole Oresme's Livre de divinacions in dialogue with Cicero's De divinatione, and so on. In this workshop we wish attempt to explore a number of 'canonical'; texts on the subject of divination (and anti-divination), as individual texts, in their social, cultural, and political contexts, and in their intertextual connections.


09.30 – 10.00 Introduction
Prof. Stefano Rapisarda
10.00 – 10.40 Arguing Divination by the Book: Categories of Foretelling in the Vulgate Bible
Dr Erik Niblaeus
10.40 – 10.50 Welcome Address
Prof. Dr. Klaus Herbers
10.50 – 11.10 Coffee Break
11.10 – 11.50 Astrology between Rational Science and Inspired Divination: Pseudo-Ptolemy's Centiloquium
Prof. Jean-Patrice Boudet
11.50 – 12.30 The Secret of Secrets and its Reception in the Middle Ages
Hans Christian Lehner
12.30 – 12.50 Discussion
12.40 – 14.00 Lunch Break
14.00 – 14.40 Pythagoras' index: Denoting Authorship in Sortes Books
Dr Allegra Iafrate
14.40 – 15.20 Le Dodechedron occitan du manuscrit BNF Fr. 14771
Dr Katy Bernard
15.20 – 15.30 Discussion
15.30 – 15.50 Coffee Break
15.50 – 16.30 Apuntes sobre el De sortibus de Tomás de Aquino
Prof. Alberto Alonso Guardo
16.30 – 17.10 The Ars notoria in the Middle Ages and in Modern Times: Diffusion and Influence(s)
Prof. Julien Véronèse
17.10 – 17.20 Discussion
17.20 Summary and Final Discussion
19.00 Dinner


IKGF Seminar Room
Ulrich-Schalk-Straße 3a – 91056 Erlangen


Workshop Flyer A5 (3 MB)
Workshop Poster A3 (250 KB)


For more information, please contact Erik Niblaeus at