View Full Version : Greek alchemy

01-27-2011, 12:42 AM
I'm interested in the greek alchemical tradition. Are there any texts that you would recommend?

01-27-2011, 01:02 AM
hi josh,
the main reference to greek alchemy is without doubt the work of berthelot "collection des anciens alchimistes grecs". he translated a greek manuscript that is found in san marco bibliotheque in venice and in the bibliotheque nationale, paris that is the main source of alchemical greek authors.
i'm afraid you won't find english translations of his work, so your only chance is to read it in french here
the main authors are Democritus (phisika kai mystika) Zosimus, and Olympiodore, but my favourite by far is Sthephanus of alexandria (not in this collection). a french translation should appear in the near future
with humility

01-28-2011, 08:40 PM
Thank you so much, T. I will be checking it out. I look forward to the translation of Stephanus of Alexandria, as well.


04-20-2011, 01:21 PM


only the first 2 lessons, sadly.


06-28-2011, 05:38 PM
Berthelot is the standard place to start, but considered by modern scholars to be rather free with his translations.
A more up to date translation of Zosimos' "Authentic Memoirs" has been done by Michele Mertens, but of course translated into French:

The visions of Zosimos have been translated here:
Although I am not sure where that comes from; Sherwood Taylor perhaps.
The "On the letter Omega" has been translated in a scholarly edition by Howard M Jackson, which you can find to purchase somewhere on the internet.
The visions and the letter Omega are part of the "Authentic Memoirs", so it all depends if you can understand French or want to use English.

There is the old Steele translation of the Physica kai Mystica (or however you want to spell it):
The problem with it is that it was translated from a later Latin printing of pseudo-Democritus, although I havn't seen any major differences so far.

It would be nice if someone translated the 3 manuscripts that we have into English.

06-29-2011, 06:05 AM
thanks guthrie for the infos.
Yes the translations of berthelot are at the least heavily influenced by his positivistic perspective. Nevertheless its work is still today the most complete on the matter.
the french collection of the first link you gave seems to be filling the gap, but the work is far from complete.


06-30-2011, 01:10 PM
I understand Mertens or someone was supposed to do more translation, but so far nothing has appeared.