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Comte de Gabalis [1913], at

1501 A.D. JEROME CARDAN, 1576 A.D.

DThe son of Facius Cardan, a learned jurist and mathematician of Milan, Italy. During his lifetime he was celebrated as an occultist, mathematician and physician. To-day he is remembered chiefly for his treatise on Algebra, published at Nuremberg in 1545, which is the first example of the application of algebraical reasoning to geometrical problems.


Here I will add a story which is more wonderful than all the rest, and which I have heard my father, Facius Cardan (who confessed that he had had a familiar spirit for nearly thirty years) recount not once but many times. Finally I searched for his record of this event, and I found that which I had so often heard, committed to writing and to memory as follows. August 13, 1491. When I had completed the customary rites, at about the twentieth hour of the day, seven men duly appeared to me clothed in silken garments, resembling Greek togas, and wearing, as it were, shining shoes. The undergarments beneath their glistening and ruddy breastplates seemed to be wrought of crimson and were of extraordinary glory and beauty. Nevertheless all were not dressed in this fashion, but only two who seemed to be of nobler rank than the

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others. The taller of them who was of ruddy complexion, was attended by two companions, and the second, who was fairer and of shorter stature, by three. Thus in all there were seven. He left no record as to whether their heads were covered. They were about forty years of age, but they did not appear to be above thirty. When asked who they were, they said that they were men composed, as it were, of air, and subject to birth and death. It was true that their lives were much longer than ours, and might even reach to three hundred years duration. Questioned on the immortality of our soul, they affirmed that nothing survives which is peculiar to the individual. They said that they themselves were more closely related to the gods than mankind, but were yet separated from them by an almost immeasurable distance. They are either more blessed or more wretched than we are, just as we ourselves are more so than the brutes. They said that no hidden things were unknown to them, neither books nor treasures, and that the basest of them were the guardian spirits of the noblest of men, just as men of low degree are the trainers of good dogs and horses. They have such exceedingly subtile bodies that they can do us neither good nor harm, save through apparitions and terrors or by conveying knowledge. The shorter of the two leaders had three hundred disciples in a public academy, and the other, two hundred. Indeed both were in the habit of lecturing publicly.

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[paragraph continues] When my father asked them why they did not reveal treasures to men if they knew where they were, they answered that it was forbidden by a peculiar law under the heaviest penalties for anyone to communicate this knowledge to men. They remained with my father for over three hours. But when he questioned them as to the cause of the universe they were not agreed. The tallest of them denied that God had made the world from eternity. On the contrary, the other added

Air that God created it from moment to moment, so that should He desist for an instant the world would perish. To prove this he brought forward certain statements from the Disquisitions of Averroes, although that particular book had not then been found. He referred, and by name, to certain books, some of which had been found and others which up to that time had remained undiscovered. They were all works of Averroes. Indeed he openly declared himself to be an Averroeist. Be this fad or fable, so its stands. TRANSLATED FROM JEROME CARDAN, "DE SUBTILITATE," BOOK XIX.

Next: E. Averroes