Galen, Hesiod, Agrippa & many others: The breadth of his sources is exceptional.
In 1591, John Florio wrote an anonymous work which has never been analysed by his scholars: Perpetual and Naturall Prognostications of the Change of Weather. The most sensible of all prognostications manuals, this interesting almanack contains a new list of authors John Florio consulted which reveals his outstanding knowledge of classical and ancient writers.
Books on medicine, alchemy, art of memory and philosophy; authors of the Islamic Golden Age, Greek poets, and Roman scholars. In the new list of authors, mention is made of Galen, (Claudius Galenus) physician, surgeon and philosopher in the Roman Empire, regarded as the supreme authority in medicine. Galen used the theory of humour to explain individual differences in character.
The four primary humours, chole (bile), melanchole (black bile), sanguis (blood), and flegma (phlegm) were understood in terms of a general cosmological theory in which fire, earth, air and water were the four basic elements of all things.
There’s also Hesiod, or Hesiodus, Greek poet who celebrates in his verses the kingdoms of Gods and men. John Florio owned The Works and Days, a poem of over 800 lines which revolves around two general truths: labour is the universal lot of Man, but he who is willing to work will get by. This work lays out the five ages of man, as well as containing advice and wisdom, prescribing a life of honest labour and attacking idleness.
Cornelius Agrippa is another author mentioned by John Florio. German polymath, physician, legal scholar, soldier, theologian, Agrippa was also an occult writer. On the Uncertainty and Vanity of the Arts and Sciences was a primary text among the intellectuals of the time. Not only is its influence manifest in works by several of them, such as Christopher Marlowe and Thomas Nashe, but the book and its author are mentioned by name. Moreover, Agrippa’s book, and his intellectual philosophy, played a foundational role in the works of Francis Bacon, the principal advocate of experimentation as a means to investigate reality.
John Florio loved books ravenously: he ransacked and borrowed plots from his colleagues and favourite Italian and Classic authors to write his entertaining language lesson manuals and collections of proverbs, and to make better the work of others through puns, expressions, metaphors and new interjections, producing a shock of delighted surprise, which unmistakably shows that eccentric, somewhat amusing, distinctly marked personality of his.
On Wednesday 28, Marianna Iannaccone, John Florio’s independent scholar, author of John Florio’s Italian & English Sonnets, and founder of John Florio’s official website, will unveil, for the first time, this anonymous work and the brand-new list of authors and books mentioned by John Florio.
Save your seat and join the conversation with comments, Live Chat and Q&A!
- Background of Florio’s life and career in 1591.
- John Florio’s patronage with Henry Wriothesley.
- Prophecies and auguries in the Elizabethan period.
- “Perpetuall and Natural Prognostications”: Florio’s almanack on weather, climate and environment.
- Florio behind I.F.: Why anonymous?
- Florio’s writing method.
- The brand-new list of authors and books added to John Florio’s library.
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