It probably dates back to the 14th or 15th century Italian Renaissance. It presents a typical example of Renaissance magic. It is possible that the Key of Solomon inspired later works, particularly the 17th-century grimoire also known as Clavicula Salomonis Regis , Lesser Key of Solomon or Lemegeton , although there are many differences between the books. Many such grimoires attributed to King Solomon were written during the Renaissance, ultimately being influenced by earlier works of Jewish kabbalists and Arab alchemists.
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All rights reserved. Last updated May 14, For a new, reformatted edition of Mathers' edition, with new artwork, see:. The Key of Solomon is the most famous and important of all Grimoires, or handbooks of Magic. Waite has stated BCM , pg. Mathers' presentation of the Key of Solomon , which is still in print, though the work of an uncritical hand, must be held to remove the necessity for entering into a detailed account of the contents of that curious work.
Waite's harsh criticism is hardly justified. In fact, Mathers excised very little. Actually, three of the four significant excisions are operations dealing with love magic Colorno, chapters The experiment of Love, and how it should be performed; The experiment or operation of the fruit; Of the operation of love by her dreams, and how one must practice it.
The fourth excision is chapter Operations and experiments regarding hate and destruction of enemies. It is true that the Mathers edition would not be considered critical by modern standards of scholarship but Waite's editions of various esoteric texts leave far more to be desired than Mathers'.
Especially wanting are a proper critical apparatus, an analysis of the relation between manuscripts, and better utilization of the Latin and Italian manuscripts. Nevertheless, this edition has stood the test of time. Coxe 25 and VSG are dated to late 15th century. Mathers' translation is almost entirely based on French Colorno manuscript exemplars dating 18th century.
These are represented by the Kings , Harley , and Sloane manuscripts. Kings and Harl. Of these Sl. Abraham Colorno , a Jewish engineer of Mantua fl. Kings includes some phrases which are missing from Harley , so the former is probably not a direct ancestor of the latter. Although Mathers felt Sl "has many errors of transcription," I have generally found it to be the most correct of the Colorno group i. In addition, Mathers made significant use of Lansdowne , even though he pronounces it "more concise in style.
However the frequent deviations and elisions suggest to me that the editor was trying to make a more concise and readable edition, which of course makes its authority less reliable. L displays simple mistakes in some of the Latin passages.
It also regularly replaces "Amen" with "Ainsi soit-il". Where K differs from H, L generally seems to follow the latter. Where Sl differs from the others, L generally follows it.
However, L can't be a direct ancestor of Sl since it contains elements missing from the latter, such as the missing Psalm and "Anefeneton" from book 2 chapter Nonetheless, it is safe to say that L is derived from a closely related manuscript. Its inclusion by Mathers is puzzling because it is utterly different in content from the other manuscripts aside from a few of the pentacles at the end of the manuscript and really should stand alone as a separate text.
Another copy can be found in ms. Additional is primarily written in Latin, although the descriptions of the pentacles are in Italian.
It was written ca. Mathers considered it his oldest and sole Latin source, but makes only limited use of it. It doesn't distinguish between u and v, and uniformly uses an archaic form of the ae-ligature e-caudata.
It is somewhat more succinct than the Colorno manuscripts, so may preserve some earlier stage in the evolution of the text. There are also frequent variations from the other manuscripts, many of which are clearly errors. The nature of the mistakes leads me to believe that its archetype was difficult to read.
The pentacles are labelled with the appropriate colors. The Latin sometimes corresponds closely with that in Aub. Article 2 of Ad. This is no doubt a version of the Zekerboni or Secorbeni; also compare "Zecorbeni" in Aub. In Ritual Magic , pp. Butler describes Mora as an "alchemist, black magician, said to be a Satanist and poisoner who lived in Milan early in the seventeenth century, and burnt there after having confessed under torture to those crimes Butler, loc.
Sloane is in Italian, and is also ca. Prayers and conjurations are in Latin. It has much material not found in other manuscripts. Some of the material however can be found in Ad. It is hard to read, except for the mystical names which are carefully done. It shares a lot of readings with Sl. For more details on the individual manuscripts, see the British Library Manuscript catalogue. Since Mathers' edition was published, many more manuscripts have been uncovered, including the following: Greek Harl.
British Library, Harleian MS. Fifteenth century. Its contents are very similar to the Clavicula , and it may be the prototype of the entire genre. This manuscript is also described in some detail by Dennis Duling in the introduction to his translation of the Testament of Solomon , as it also contains an incomplete version of the Testament. Amsterdam, Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica. Incipit: "Recordare, filii carissime, quoniam ego Salomon quidem quoniam sapientiam habui".
Partly incomplete version with some abbreviated chapters. This is possibly the oldest known Latin manuscript. It is not clear whether or not the BPH will digitize their photocopy. Gallen Switzerland has an important manuscript, which I have not yet been able to consult. Begins: Elenchus eorum quae continentur in sequenti Lucidario Dni et precl.
Magistri Petri de Abbano. Multi experimentatores diversimodo etc. Liber Clauicule Salomonis 2 books. On the E. Last word: festina. Carefully written and colored in the initial letters , on a beautiful parchment, With signature and page numbers. One sheet pp. Has many Christian elements, akin to Sl. BUD Clavicula Salomonis.
Kaufmann A Carefully written with carefully executed Hebrew lettering in pentacles. Like Aub 24, chapters are rearranged more logically. D Clavicula Salomonis filii David. Printed book, 48 pages. Title page is vellum.
Most of text is in Latin, with portions also in Dutch and German Last page, after concluding Clavicula Salomonis contains a list of the names of God, in German. Text commences with "Benedictio Libri.
Part of the Duveen Collection. British Library Sloane MS. Titled Clavis libri secretorum. Not used by Mathers. This manuscript has no pentacles. It is a small volume about 5 in wide with large lettering and a lot of "white space". Writing varies from very neat and legible to scrawling.
Only part of the second book of Clavicula Salomonis is represented. It shares many elements with Sl. It also lacks some of the Christian elements found in Sl. The Latin of Sl. It is not clear to me at this time why. Perhaps it is also an independent translation. Oxford, Bodleian Libraries MS. Aubrey Sum Aubrey , May 9. The book from whence I transcribed this was writt by an Italian, and in a very good hand. In Latin and English.
THE KEY OF SOLOMON
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