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portrait by Quentin Massys
Born Phillip von Hohenheim
11 November 1493(1493-11-11) or
17 December 1493(1493-12-17)
Einsiedeln, Switzerland
Died 24 September 1541 (aged 47)
Salzburg, Austria
Cause of death Unknown
Occupation Alchemist,
General occultist

Paracelsus (born Theophrastus Phillippus Aureolus Bombastus von Hohenheim, 11 November or 17 December 1493 in Einsiedeln, Switzerland – 24 September 1541 in Salzburg, Austria) was a Renaissance physician, botanist, alchemist, astrologer, and general occultist.[1] "Paracelsus", meaning "equal to or greater than Celsus", refers to the Roman encyclopedist Aulus Cornelius Celsus from the first century known for his tract on medicine.[2][3] He is also credited for giving zinc its name, calling it zincum[4] and is regarded as the first systematic botanist.[5]



Paracelsus was born and raised in the village of Einsiedeln in Switzerland. His father, Wilhelm Bombast von Hohenheim, was a Swabian chemist and physician; his mother was Swiss. As a youth he worked in nearby mines as an analyst. At the age of 16 he started studying medicine at the University of Basel, later moving to Vienna. He gained his doctorate degree from the University of Ferrara.[6]

His wanderings as an itinerant physician and sometime journeyman miner[7] took him through Germany, France, Spain, Hungary, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and Russia.

As a physician of the early 16th Century, Paracelsus held a natural affinity with the Hermetic, neoplatonic, and Pythagorean philosophies central to the Renaissance, a world-view exemplified by Marsilio Ficino and Pico della Mirandola. Paracelsus rejected the magic theories of Agrippa and Flamel in his Archidoxes of Magic. Astrology was a very important part of Paracelsus' medicine, and he was a practicing astrologer -- as were many of the university-trained physicians working at this time in Europe. Paracelsus devoted several sections in his writings to the construction of astrological talismans for curing disease, providing talismans for various maladies as well as talismans for each sign of the Zodiac. He also invented an alphabet called the Alphabet of the Magi, for engraving angelic names upon talismans.

Paracelsus pioneered the use of chemicals and minerals in medicine. He used the name "zink" for the element zinc in about 1526, based on the sharp pointed appearance of its crystals after smelting and the old German word "zinke" for pointed. He used experimentation in learning about the human body. Paracelsus was also responsible for the creation of laudanum, an opium tincture very common until the 19th century.

Paracelsus gained a reputation for being arrogant, and soon garnered the anger of other physicians in Europe. He held the chair of medicine at the University of Basel for less than a year; while there his colleagues became angered by allegations that he had publicly burned traditional medical books. He was forced from the city after having legal trouble over a physician's fee he sued to collect.

He then wandered Europe, Africa and Asia Minor, in the pursuit of hidden knowledge. He revised old manuscripts and wrote new ones, but had trouble finding publishers. In 1536, his Die grosse Wundartznei (The Great Surgery Book) was published and enabled him to regain fame. Paracelsus' life is connected to the birth of Lutheranism, and his opinions on the nature of the universe are better understood within the context of the religious ideas circulating during his lifetime.

He died, aged 48, of natural causes and his remains were buried according to his wishes in the cemetery at the church of St Sebastian in Salzburg. His remains are now located in a tomb in the porch of the church.

After his death, the movement of Paracelsianism was seized upon by many wishing to subvert the traditional Galenic physics, and thus did his therapies become more widely known and used.

His motto was "alterius non sit qui suus esse potest" which means "let no man that can belong to himself be of another".


Paracelsus believed in the Greek concept of the four elements, but he also introduced the idea that, on another level, the cosmos was fashioned from three spiritual substances: the tria prima of Mercury, Sulfur and Salt. These substances were not the simple substances we recognize today, but were rather broad principles that gave every object both its inner essence and outward form. Mercury represented the transformative agent (fusibility and volatility); Sulfur represented the binding agent between substance and transformation (flammability); and Salt represented the solidifying/substantiating agent (fixity and noncombustibility). For example, When a piece of wood is burnt, the products reflect its constitution: Smoke reflects Mercury, flame reflects Sulfur, and Ash reflects Salt.[2]

The tria prima also defined the human identity. Sulfur embodied the soul, (the emotions and desires); Salt represented the body; Mercury epitomized the spirit (imagination, moral judgment, and the higher mental faculties). By understanding the chemical nature of the tria prima, a physician could discover the means of curing disease.

Contributions to medicine

Planet Metal Organ
Sun Gold Heart
Moon Silver Brain
Jupiter Tin Liver
Venus Copper Kidneys
Saturn Lead Spleen
Mars Iron Gall bladder
Mercury Quicksilver Lungs
The idea of harmony

Paracelsus pioneered the use of chemicals and minerals in medicine. His hermetical views were that sickness and health in the body relied on the harmony of man (the microcosm) and Nature (macrocosm), see also macrocosm and microcosm. He took an approach different from those before him, using this analogy not in the manner of soul-purification but in the manner that humans must have certain balances of minerals in their bodies, and that certain illnesses of the body had chemical remedies that could cure them. (Debus & Multhauf, p. 6-12)

As a result of this hermetical idea of harmony, the universe's macrocosm was represented in every person as a microcosm. According to the insights at the time, there were Seven planets on the sky, Seven metals on Earth and Seven centers (or major organs) in Man — seven was a special number. Everything was heavenly and closely interrelated (see table).

Diseases were caused by poisons brought here from the stars. But 'poisons' were not necessarily something negative, in part because related substances interacted, in part because only the dose determined if a substance was poisonous or not. Evil could expel evil. Therefore, poisons could have beneficial medical effects. Because everything in the universe was interrelated, beneficial medical substances could be found in herbs, minerals and various alchemical combinations hereof. Paracelcus viewed the universe as one coherent organism pervaded by a uniting lifegiving spirit, and this in its entirety, Man included, was 'God'. His views put him at odds with the Church, for whom there necessarily had to be a difference between the Creator and the created.[8]

He summarized his own views: "Many have said of Alchemy, that it is for the making of gold and silver. For me such is not the aim, but to consider only what virtue and power may lie in medicines." (Edwardes, p. 47) (also in: Holmyard, Eric John. Alchemy. p. 170)

Hippocrates put forward the theory that illness was caused by an imbalance of the four humours: blood, phlegm, black bile and yellow bile. These ideas were further developed by Galen into an extremely influential and highly persistent set of medical beliefs that were to last until the mid 1850s. The dominant medical treatments at Paracelsus' time were specific diets to help in the "cleansing of the putrefied juices" combined with purging and bloodletting to restore the balance of the four humours. Paracelsus supplemented and challenged this view with his beliefs that illness was the result of the body being attacked by outside agents.

Paracelsus' major work On the Miners' Sickness and Other Diseases of Miners documented the occupational hazards of metalworking including treatment and prevention strategies. He also wrote a book on the human body contradicting Galen's ideas.

Contributions to toxicology

Monument to Paracelsus in Beratzhausen, Bavaria
Memorial in Einsiedeln, Switzerland

Paracelsus, sometimes called the father of toxicology, wrote:[9]

German: Alle Ding' sind Gift, und nichts ohn' Gift; allein die Dosis macht, daß ein Ding kein Gift ist.
"All things are poison and nothing is without poison, only the dose permits something not to be poisonous."

That is to say, substances considered toxic are harmless in small doses, and conversely an ordinarily harmless substance can be deadly if over-consumed. Even water can be deadly if over-consumed.[10]

Contributions to psychotherapy

Paracelsus is credited as providing the first clinical/scientific mention of the unconscious. In his work Von den Krankeiten he writes: "Thus, the cause of the disease chorea lasciva is a mere opinion and idea, assumed by imagination, affecting those who believe in such a thing. This opinion and idea are the origin of the disease both in children and adults. In children the case is also imagination, based not on thinking but on perceiving, because they have heard or seen something. The reason is this: their sight and hearing are so strong that unconsciously they have fantasies about what they have seen or heard."

Legend and rumour

Paracelsus is claimed by the Fraternitas Rosae Crucis to be the true identity of the mythical alchemist Christian Rosenkreutz who was the major figure in the Fama Fraternitatis published in 1614 in Germany, which at the time caused excitement throughout Europe by declaring the existence of a secret brotherhood of alchemists and sages who were preparing to transform the arts, sciences, religion, and political and intellectual landscape of Europe while wars of politics and religion ravaged the continent. Divergent views believe Rosenkreuz to be a pseudonym for a more famous historical figure, usually Francis Bacon or Count of St. Germain.

Paracelsus is also often cited as coining the phrase "the dose makes the poison". Although he did not say this precisely, it seems that Paracelsus was indeed well aware of the principle (see discussion on Toxicology above).

Many books mentioning Paracelsus also cite him as the origin of the word "bombastic" to describe his often arrogant speaking style, which the following passage illustrates:

I am Theophrastus, and greater than those to whom you liken me; I am Theophrastus, and in addition I am monarcha medicorum and I can prove to you what you cannot prove...I need not don a coat of mail or a buckler against you, for you are not learned or experienced enough to refute even a word of mine...As for you, you can defend your kingdom with belly-crawling and flattery. How long do you think this will last?...Let me tell you this: every little hair on my neck knows more than you and all your scribes, and my shoe buckles are more learned than your Galen and Avicenna, and my beard has more experience than all your high colleges.

Paracelsus, Selected Writings [11]

However, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, the origin of the word "bombastic" is not a play on Paracelsus's middle name, Bombastus. Instead, that dictionary cites "bombast": an old term for cotton stuffing.


Published during his lifetime

  • Die große Wundarzney Ulm, 1536 (Hans Varnier); Augsburg (Haynrich Stayner (=Steyner)), 1536; Frankfurt/ M. (Georg Raben/ Weygand Hanen), 1536.
  • Vom Holz Guaico, 1529.
  • Vonn dem Bad Pfeffers in Oberschwytz gelegen, 1535.
  • Prognostications, 1536.

Posthumous Publications

  • Wundt unnd Leibartznei. Frankfurt/ M., 1549 (Christian Egenolff); 1555 (Christian Egenolff); 1561 (Chr. Egenolff Erben).
  • Von der Wundartzney: Ph. Theophrasti von Hohenheim, beyder Artzney Doctoris, 4 Bücher. (Peter Perna), 1577.
  • Von den Krankheiten so die Vernunfft Berauben. Basel, 1567.
  • Kleine Wundartzney. Basel (Peter Perna), 1579.
  • Opus Chirurgicum, Bodenstein, Basel, 1581.
  • Huser quart edition (medicinal and philosophical treatises), Basel, 1589.
  • Chirurgical works (Huser), Basel, 1591 und 1605 (Zetzner).
  • Straßburg edition (medicinal and philosophical treatises), 1603.
  • Kleine Wund-Artzney. Straßburg (Ledertz) 1608.
  • Opera omnia medico-chemico-chirurgica, Genevae, Vol3, 1658.
  • Philosophia magna, tractus aliquot, Cöln, 1567.
  • Philosophiae et Medicinae utriusque compendium, Basel, 1568.
  • Liber de Nymphis, sylphis, pygmaeis et salamandris et de caeteris spiritibus

Selected English translations

  • The Hermetic And Alchemical Writings Of Paracelsus, Two Volumes, translated by Arthur Edward Waite, London, 1894. (in Google books), see also a revised 2002 edition (preview only) Partial contents: Coelum Philosophorum; The Book Concerning The Tincture Of The Philosophers; The Treasure of Treasures for Alchemists; The Aurora of the Philosophers; Alchemical Catechism.
  • The Archidoxes of Magic by Theophrastus Paracelsus, translated by Robert Turner. Facsimile reprint of the 1656 edition with introduction by Stephen Skinner, Ibis Publishing, 2004.

Online bibliographies


The German drama film Paracelsus was made in 1943, directed by Georg Wilhelm Pabst.[12]. Pabst was later sharply criticised for having produced this film in Nazi Germany, subject – like all German films at the time – to the supervision of Goebbels and the considerations of Nazi propaganda.

See also


  1. ^ Allen G. Debus, "Paracelsus and the medical revolution of the Renaissance" - A 500th Anniversary Celebration from the National Library of Medicine (1993), p. 3.
  2. ^ a b Read J (1961), Through alchemy to chemistry, London: Bell and Sons 
  3. ^ Celsus A Cornelius, ed. (1935), "Introduction", De Medicina (On Medicine), I (Loeb Classical Library ed.),*.html 
  4. ^ Habashi, Fathi (PDF), Discovering the 8th metal, International Zinc Association, .
  5. ^ Hefner Alan G, Paracelsus, 
  6. ^ Marshall James L; Marshall Virginia R (2005). "Rediscovery of the Elements: Paracelsus" (PDF). The Hexagon of Alpha Chi Sigma (Winter): 71–8. ISSN 0164-6109. OCLC 4478114. 
  7. ^ Conner Clifford D (2005). A peoples history of science. New York : miners, midwives, and 'low mechanicks': Nation Books. pp. 306. ISBN 1560257482. OCLC 62164511. 
  8. ^ Alex Wittendorff, Claus Bjørn, Ole Peter Grell, T. Morsing, Per Barner Darnell, Hans Bjørn, Gerhardt Eriksen, Palle Lauring, Kristian Hvidt (1994) (in Danish). Tyge Brahe. Gad. ISBN 8712022721.  p44-45
  9. ^ p. 435, Verkehrsmedizin: Fahreignung, Fahrsicherheit, Unfallrekonstruktion, B. Madea, F. Mußhoff, and G. Berghaus, Köln: Deutscher Ärzte-Verlag, 2007, ISBN 3-7691-0490-0.
  10. ^ Dr. Adrian Cohen was saddened, but not surprised, to hear about the 28-year-old woman who died earlier this month after drinking nearly two gallons of water to try to win a radio station contest. . Washington Times. 2007-01-25. 
  11. ^ Paracelsus, Selected Writings, ed. with an introduction by Jolande Jacobi, trans. Norbert Guterman, (New York : Pantheon, 1951), p. 79-80
  12. ^ "NY Times: Paracelsus". NY Times. Retrieved 2009-09-13. 

Further reading

  • The Devil's Doctor, Philip Ball, ISBN 978-0-09-945787-9 (Arrow Books, Random House)
  • Paracelsus Medicine, Magic and Mission at the End of Time, Charles Webster, ISBN 978-0-30-013911-2 (Yale University Press, 1 Oct 2008)

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Practice humility at first with man and only then before God. He who despises man, has also no respect for God.

Paracelsus (11 November or 17 December 1493 - 24 September 1541) was an alchemist, physician, astrologer, and general occultist. Born Phillip von Hohenheim, he later took up the name Philippus Theophrastus Aureolus Bombastus von Hohenheim, and still later used the name Paracelsus.



  • All is interrelated. Heaven and earth, air and water. All are but one thing; not four, not two and not three, but one. Where they are not together, there is only an incomplete piece.
    • Paracelsus - Collected Writings Vol. I (1926) edited by Bernhard Aschner, p. 110

Paracelsus - Doctor of our Time (1992)

The art of healing comes from nature, not from the physician. Therefore the physician must start from nature, with an open mind.
Paracelsus - Arzt unserer Zeit (1992) by Frank Geerk
  • As you talk, so is your heart.
  • Belief and work, knowledge and action are one and the same thing.
  • Consider that we shouldn’t call our brother a fool, since we don’t know ourselves what we are.
  • God has given to all things their course and decided how high and how far they may go, not higher, not lower.
  • God, our Father, has given us the life and the art of healing to protect and maintain it.
  • He who conquers his enemy with meekness, wins fame.
  • He who wants to govern must have insight into the hearts of men and act accordingly.
  • If you have been given a talent, exercise it freely and happily like the sun: give everyone from your splendour.
  • In us there is the Light of Nature, and that Light is God.
  • Nothing is hidden so much that it wouldn’t be revealed through its fruit.
  • Practice humility at first with man and only then before God. He who despises man, has also no respect for God.
  • The art of medicine has its roots in the heart. If your heart is false, then also the doctor in you is false. If it is fair, then also the doctor is fair.
  • We have Divine Wisdom in the mortal body.Whatever does harm to the body, ruins the House of the Eternal.
  • We should become angels and not devils, that’s why we have been created and born into the world. Therefore be and stick to what God has chosen you for.
  • What else is the help of medicine than love?
  • What maintains the marriage and what is it? Only the knowledge of the hearts, that is its beginning and end.
  • What we should be after death, we have to attain in life, i.e. holiness and bliss. Here on earth the Kingdom of God begins.
  • Who else is the enemy of Nature but he who mistakes himself for more intelligent than Nature, though it is the highest school for all of us?


  • A mortal lives not through that breath that flows in and that flows out. The source of his life is another and this causes the breath to flow.
  • All substances are poisons; there is none which is not a poison. The right dose differentiates a poison and a remedy.
  • God did not create the planets and stars with the intention that they should dominate man, but that they, like other creatures, should obey and serve him.
  • Life is like music, it must be composed by ear, feeling and instinct, not by rule. Nevertheless one had better know the rules, for they sometimes guide in doubtful cases, though not often.
  • Medicine is not only a science; it is also an art. It does not consist of compounding pills and plasters; it deals with the very processes of life, which must be understood before they may be guided.
  • Once a disease has entered the body, all parts which are healthy must fight it: not one alone, but all. Because a disease might mean their common death. Nature knows this; and Nature attacks the disease with whatever help she can muster.
  • So I have been a wanderer all my life, alone and a stranger feeling alien.
  • That which the dream shows is the shadow of such wisdom as exists in man, even if during his waking state he may know nothing about it ... We do not know it because we are fooling away our time with outward and perishing things, and are asleep in regard to that which is real within ourself.
  • The physician should look for the force and nature of illness at its source.

He is not to look to that which can be seen, for we are not called upon to extinguish the smoke but the fire itself

  • The art of healing comes from nature, not from the physician. Therefore the physician must start from nature, with an open mind.
  • The human body is vapor materialized by sunshine mixed with the life of the stars.
  • Thoughts give birth to a creative force that is neither elemental nor sidereal. Thoughts create a new heaven, a new firmament, a new source of energy, from which new arts flow. When a man undertakes to create something, he establishes a new heaven, as it were, and from it the work that he desires to create flows into him. ... For such is the immensity of man that he is greater than heaven and earth.
  • You have given us Love as medicine, O Lord, and You want that the doctor is included in this Love, to heal the sick. Like Your Love has no end, our researching and serving should have no end.
    Without Your help the doctor is helpless, but with You he is capable of the highest. You make use of us, because You like to stay in secret. It is Your will that You heal the sick through us. You pour joy of eternal life into the heart, and everyone who believes in You, will rise alive and not taste death.
    Mysteriously You have united in man the forces of all elements, just like a doctor who draws from the saps of the herbs the power to heal. Let me arrange all for the benefit of the sick to the best of my powers and decision, keep away from them all harm. Let me maintain holy and pure my art and my life.
    • "Prayer of Paracelsus"

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

PARACELSUS (c. 1490-1541), the famous German physician of the 16th century, was probably born near Einsiedeln, in the canton Schwyz, in 1490 or 1491 according to some, or 1493 according to others. His father, the natural son of a grandmaster of the Teutonic order, was Wilhelm Bombast von Hohenheim, who had a hard struggle to make a subsistence as a physician. His mother was superintendent of the hospital at Einsiedeln, a post she relinquished upon her marriage. Paracelsus's name was Theophrastus Bombast von Hohenheim; for the names Philippus and Aureolus which are sometimes added good authority is wanting, and the epithet Paracelsus, like some similar compounds, was probably one of his own making, and was meant to denote his superiority to Celsus.

Of the early years of Paracelsus's life hardly anything is known. His father was his first teacher, and took pains to instruct him in all the learning of the time, especially in medicine. Doubtless Paracelsus learned rapidly what was put before him, but he seems at a comparatively early age to have questioned the value of what he was expected to acquire, and to have soon struck out ways for himself. At the age of sixteen he entered the university of Basel, but probably soon abandoned the studies therein pursued. He next went to J. Trithemius, the abbot of Sponheim and afterwards of Wiirzburg, under whom he prosecuted chemical researches. Trithemius is the reputed author of some obscure tracts on the great elixir, and as there was no other chemistry going Paracelsus would have to devote himself to the reiterated operations so characteristic of the notions of that time. But the confection of the stone of the philosophers was too remote a possibility to gratify the fiery spirit of a youth like Paracelsus, eager to make what he knew, or could learn, at once available for practical medicine. So he left school chemistry as he had forsaken university culture, and started for the mines in Tirol owned by the wealthy family of the Fuggers. The sort of knowledge he got there pleased him much more. There at least he was in contact with reality. The struggle with nature before the precious metals could be made of use impressed upon him more and more the importance of actual personal observation. He saw all the mechanical difficulties that had to be overcome in mining; he learned the nature and succession of rocks, the physical properties of minerals, ores and metals; he got a notion of mineral waters; he was an eyewitness of the accidents which befel the miners, and studied the diseases which attacked them; he had proof that positive knowledge of nature was not to be got in schools and universities, but only by going to nature herself, and to those who were constantly engaged with her. Hence came Paracelsus's peculiar mode of study. He attached no value to mere scholarship; scholastic disputations he utterly ignored and despised - and especially the discussions on medical topics, which turned more upon theories and definitions than upon actual practice. He therefore went wandering over a great part of Europe to learn all that he could. In so doing he was one of the first physicians of modern times to profit by a mode of study which is now reckoned indispensable. The book of nature, he affirmed, is that which the physician must read, and to do so he must walk over the leaves. The humours and passions and diseases of different nations are different, and the physician must go among the nations if he will be master of his art; the more he knows of other nations, the better he will understand his own. And the commentary of his own and succeeding centuries upon these very extreme views is that Paracelsus was no scholar, but an ignorant vagabond. He himself, however, valued his method and his knowledge very differently, and argued that he knew what his predecessors were ignorant of, because he had been taught in no human school. "Whence have I all my secrets, out of what writers and authors ? Ask rather how the beasts have learned their arts. If nature can instruct irrational animals, can it not much more men?" In this new school discovered by Paracelsus, and since attended with the happiest results by many others, he remained for about ten years. He had acquired great stores of facts, which it was impossible for him to have reduced to order, but which gave him an unquestionable superiority to his contemporaries. So in 1526 or 1527, on his return to Basel, he was appointed town physician, and shortly afterwards he gave a course of lectures on medicine in the university. Unfortunately for him, the lectures broke away from tradition. They were in German, not in Latin; they were expositions of his own experience, of his own views, of his own methods of curing, adapted to the diseases that afflicted the Germans in the year 1527, and they were not commentaries on the text of Galen or Avicenna. They attacked, not only these great authorities, but the German graduates who followed them and disputed about them in 1527. They criticized in no measured terms the current medicine of the time, and exposed the practical ignorance, the pomposity, and the greed of those who practised it.

The truth of Paracelsus's doctrines was apparently confirmed by his success in curing or mitigating diseases for which the regular physicians could do nothing. For about a couple of years his reputation and practice increased to a surprising extent. But at the end of that time people began to recover themselves. Paracelsus had burst upon the schools with such novel views and methods, with such irresistible criticism, that all opposition was at first crushed flat. Gradually the sea began to rise. His enemies watched for slips and failures; the physicians maintained that he had no degree, and insisted that he should give proof of his qualifications. Moreover, he had a pharmaceutical system of his own which did not harmonize with the commercial arrangements of the apothecaries, and he not only did not use up their drugs like the Galenists, but, in the exercise of his functions as town physician, he urged the authorities to keep a sharp eye on the purity of their wares, upon their knowledge of their art, and upon their transactions with their friends the physicians. The growing jealousy and enmity culminated in a dispute with Canon Cornelius von Lichtenfels, who, having called in Paracelsus after other physicians had given up his case, refused to pay the fee he had promised in the event of cure; and, as the judges, to their discredit, sided with the canon, Paracelsus had no alternative but to tell them his opinion of the whole case and of their notions of justice. So little doubt left he on the subject that his friends judged it prudent for him to leave Basel at once, as it had been resolved to punish him for the attack on the authorities of which he had been guilty. He departed in such haste that he carried nothing with him, and some chemical apparatus and other property were taken charge of by J. Oporinus (1507-1568), his pupil and amanuensis. He went first to Esslingen, where he remained for a brief period, but had soon to leave from absolute want. Then began his wandering life, the course of which can be traced by the dates of his various writings. He thus visited in succession Colmar, Nuremberg, Appenzell, Zurich, Pfaffers, Augsburg, Villach, Meran, Middelheim and other places, seldom staying a twelvemonth in any of them. In this way he spent some dozen years, till 1541, when he was invited by Archbishop Ernst to settle at Salzburg, under his protection. After his endless tossing about, this seemed a promise and place of repose. It proved, however, to be the complete and final rest that he found, for after a few months he died, on the 24th of September. The cause of his death, like most other details in his history, is uncertain. His enemies asserted that he died in a low tavern in consequence of a drunken debauch of some days' duration. Others maintain that he was thrown down a steep place by some emissaries either of the physicians or of the apothecaries, both of whom he had during his life most grievously harassed. He was buried in the churchyard of St Sebastian, but in 1752 his bones were removed to the porch of the church, and a monument of reddish-white marble was erected to his memory.

The first book by Paracelsus was printed at Augsburg in 1529. It is entitled Practica D. Theophrasti Paracelsi, gemacht auff Europen, and forms a small quarto pamphlet of five leaves. Prior to this, in 1526-1527, appeared a programme of the lectures he intended to deliver at Basel, but this can hardly be reckoned a specific work. During his lifetime fourteen works and editions were published, and thereafter, between 1542 and 1845, there were at least two hundred and thirty-four separate publications according to Mook's enumeration. The first collected edition was made by Johann Huser in German. It was printed at Basel in 1589-1591, in eleven volumes quarto, and is the best of all the editions. Huser did not employ the early printed copies only, but collected all the manuscripts which he could procure, and used them also in forming his text. The only drawback is that rather than omit anything which Paracelsus may have composed, he has gone to the opposite extreme and included writings with which it is pretty certain Paracelsus had nothing to do. The second collected German edition is in four volumes folio, 1603-1605. Parallel with it in 1603 the first collected Latin edition was made by Palthenius. It is in eleven volumes quarto, and was completed in 1605. Again, in1616-1618appeared a reissue of the folio German edition of 1603, and finally in 1658 came the Geneva Latin version, in three volumes folio, edited by Bitiskius.

The works were originally composed in Swiss-German, a vigorous speech which Paracelsus wielded with unmistakable power. The Latin versions were made or edited by Adam von Bodenstein, Gerard Dorn, Michael Toxites and Oporinus, about the middle of the 16th century. A few translations into other languages exist, as of the Chirurgia magna and some other works into French, and of one or two into Dutch, Italian and even Arabic. The translations into English amount to about a dozen, dating mostly from the middle of the 17th century. The original editions of Paracelsus's works are getting less and less common; even the English versions are among the rarest of their class. Over and above the numerous editions, there is a bulky literature of an explanatory and controversial character, for which the world is indebted to Paracelsus's followers and enemies. A good deal of it is taken up with a defence of chemical, or, they were called, "spagyric," medicines against the attacks of the supporters of the Galenic pharmacopoeia.

The aim of all Paracelsus's writing is to promote the progress of medicine, and he endeavours to put before physicians a grand ideal of their profession. In his attempts he takes the widest view of medicine. He bases it on the general relationship which man bears to nature as a whole; he cannot divorce the life of man from that of the universe; he cannot think of disease otherwise than as a phase of life. He is compelled, therefore, to rest his medical practice upon general theories of the present state of things; his medical system - if there is such a thing - is an adaptation of his cosmogony. It is this latter which has been the stumbling-block to many past critics of Paracelsus, and unless its character is remembered it will be the same to others in the future. Dissatisfied with the Aristotelianism of his time, Paracelsus turned with greater expectation to the Neoplatonism which was reviving. His eagerness to understand the relationship of man to the universe led him to the Kabbala, where these mysteries seemed to be explained, and from these unsubstantial materials he constructed, so far as it can be understood, his visionary philosophy. Interwoven with it, however, were the results of his own personal experience and work in natural history and chemical pharmacy and practical medicine, unfettered by any speculative generalizations, and so shrewd an observer as Paracelsus was must have often felt that his philosophy and his experience did not agree with one another.

Some of his doctrines are alluded to in the article Medicine, and it would serve no purpose to give even a brief sketch of his views, seeing that their influence has passed entirely away, and that they are of interest only in their place in a general history of medicine and philosophy. Defective, however, as they may have been, and unfounded in fact, his kabbalistic doctrines led him to trace the dependence of the human body upon outer nature for its sustenance and cure. The doctrine of signatures, the supposed connexion of every part of the little world of man with a corresponding part of the great world of nature, was a fanciful and false exaggeration of this doctrine, but the idea carried in its train that of specifics. This led to the search for these, which were not to be found in the bewildering and untested mixtures of the Galenic prescriptions. Paracelsus had seen how bodies were purified and intensified by chemical operations, and he thought if plants and minerals could be made to yield their active principles it would surely be better to employ these than the crude and unprepared originals. He had besides arrived by some kind of intuition at the conclusion that the operations in the body were of a chemical character, and that when disordered they were to be put right by counter operations of the same kind. It may be claimed for Paracelsus that he embraced within the idea of chemical action something more than the alchemists did. Whether or not he believed in the philosopher's elixir is of very little consequence. If he did, he was like the rest of his age; but he troubled himself very little, if at all, about it. He did believe in the immediate use for therapeutics of the salts and other preparations which his practical skill enabled him to make. Technically he was not a chemist; he did not concern himself either with the composition of his compounds or with an explanation of what occurred in their making. If he could get potent drugs to cure disease he was content, and he worked very hard in an empirical way to make them. That he found out some new compounds is certain; but not one great and marked discovery can be ascribed to him. Probably, therefore, his positive services are to be summed up in this wide application of chemical ideas to pharmacy and therapeutics; his indirect and possibly greater services are to be found in the stimulus, the revolutionary stimulus, of his ideas about method and general theory. It is most difficult to appreciate aright this man of fervid imagination, of powerful and persistent convictions, of unbated honesty and love of truth, of keen insight into the errors (as he thought them) of his time, of a merciless will to lay bare these errors and to reform the abuses to which they gave rise, who in an instant offends us by his boasting, his grossness, his want of selfrespect. It is a problem how to reconcile his ignorance, his weakness, his superstition, his crude notions, his erroneous observations, his ridiculous influences and theories, with his grasp of method, his lofty views of the true scope of medicine, his lucid statements, his incisive and epigrammatic criticisms of men and motives.

See Marx, Zur Wiirdigung des Theophrastus von Hohenheim (Gottingen, 1842); Mook, Theophrastus Paracelsus, eine kritische Studie (Warzburg, 1876); Hartman, Life of P. T. Paracelsus (London, 1887); Schubert and Sudhoff, Paracelsus-Forschungen (Frankfurt a.M., 1887-1889); Sudhoff, Versuch einer Kritik der Echtheit der Paracelsischen Schriften (Berlin, 1894); Waite, The Hermetic and Alchemical Writings of Paracelsus (London, 1894).

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Simple English

[[File:|thumb|right|180px|Paracelsus]] Paracelsus (11 November or 17 December 1493 in Einsiedeln, Switzerland – 24 September 1541 in Salzburg, Austria) was an alchemist, physician, astrologer, and general occultist. He was born Phillip von Hohenheim, later taking the name Philippus Theophrastus Aureolus Bombastus von Hohenheim, and the title Paracelsus, meaning "equal to or greater than Celsus".

He is credited for giving zinc its name (at the time he called it "zincum").[1]

He was born and raised in Einsiedeln, Switzerland.



During his lifetime

  • Die große Wundarzney. Ulm, 1536 (Hans Varnier); Augsburg (Haynrich Stayner (=Steyner)), 1536; Frankfurt/ M. (Georg Raben/ Weygand Hanen), 1536.
  • Vom Holz Guaico, 1529.
  • Vonn dem Bad Pfeffers in Oberschwytz gelegen, 1535.
  • Prognostications, 1536.

Posthumous Publications

  • Wundt unnd Leibartznei. Frankfurt/ M., 1549 (Christian Egenolff); 1555 (Christian Egenolff); 1561 (Chr. Egenolff Erben).
  • Von der Wundartzney: Ph. Theophrasti von Hohenheim, beyder Artzney Doctoris, 4 Bücher. (Peter Perna), 1577.
  • Von den Krankheiten so die Vernunfft Berauben. Basel, 1567.
  • Kleine Wundartzney. Basel (Peter Perna), 1579.
  • Opus Chirurgicum, Bodenstein, Basel, 1581.
  • Huser quart edition (medicinal and philosophical treatises), Basel, 1589.
  • Chirurgical works (Huser), Basel, 1591 und 1605 (Zetzner).
  • Straßburg edition (medicinal and philosophical treatises), 1603.
  • Kleine Wund-Artzney. Straßburg (Ledertz) 1608.
  • Opera omnia medico-chemico-chirurgica, Genevae, Vol3, 1658.
  • Philosophia magna, tractus aliquot, Cöln, 1567.
  • Philosophiae et Medicinae utriusque compendium, Basel, 1568.
  • Liber de Nymphis, sylphis, pygmaeis et salamandris et de caeteris spiritibus



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