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Simonetta Bassi, More About Giordano Bruno's Works on Magic, «Rinascimento», II s., LII, 2012, pp. 363-387



ABSTRACT. This essay discusses some recent interpretations of Giordano Bruno’s works on magic, focusing especially on the relation between De magia naturali and Theses de magia and highlighting Theses’ autonomy from the earlier treatise, as an example of the peculiar development of Bruno’s thought on magic, which unfolds according to a characteristic process of rewriting theoretical statements which are progressively re-elaborated and analyzed in more depth.

A recent article discussing Giordano Bruno’s works on magic is worthy of consideration due to his peculiar working method and because it offers a privileged point of view on the current situation regarding Bruno studies and Renaissance studies in general [1].
The essay centers on the relationship between De magia naturali and Theses de magia, two works on magic by the philosopher from Nola «scritti in Helmstädt fra il principio del Dicembre 1589 e la fine dell’Aprile 1590» [2]. They were found in the Moscow codex (M) which also contains other texts dealing with magic: De magia mathematica, De vinculis in genere, De rerum principiis, Medicina Lulliana and others from the Erlangen codex (C), in which the two texts are combined with the Commentaria to the Libri physicorum by Aristotle.
The article is divided into three parts: the first presents the results of 19th century philological research (pp. 453-458) [3]; the second critically discusses the edition of Bruno’s works on magic published by Adelphi in 2000 (pp. 458-463) [4]; the third section presents a new hypothesis for the edition of Bruno’s corpus on magic (pp. 463-464).
In the first part the author dwells on scholars’ observations regarding the composition of the Moscow codex, which came to light in the 1860s; it is undoubtedly an important manuscript, containing separate groups of pages of texts penned directly by Bruno [5], and in addition to the works on magic, the imposing treatise Lampas triginta statuarum [6].
Starting from a supposed difficulty identifying «where the author – or the scribe – intended to set the boundary between this or that work contained in the collection» [7], Rossius wonders whether it is now time to review the organization of the works on magic presented in the Tocco-Vitelli edition, taking into account the «fluid nature» of Bruno’s material [8]. Analyzing the criteria and the results of their work describing and publishing the manuscripts – especially the Moscow codex – Rossius concludes that two related problems remain: determining the exact number of Bruno’s works on magic, and how they relate to one another.
As for C, which was found in 1890 and contains some of the works on magic, Rossius briefly comments on several observations made by its discoverer – Remigius Stölzle – concerning references to the Theses found in the margins of De magia naturali [9]. These annotations, also present in M, were not in fact noted before Stölzle, and in Rossius’ opinion, even Tocco and Vitelli failed to provide enough information. In fact, as they undertook their edition of Bruno’s works on magic in the third volume of the Opera, they focused on dates of the composition of texts and other useful material elements establishing that they were written in the same period – without however exploring their relationship to each other and especially that between De magia naturali and Theses de magia.
This statement is inaccurate: Rossius not only somehow forgets that references to the Theses are systematically reported in the text of De magia [10] but in particular he neglects the fact that Tocco was so well aware that Bruno considered his two texts to be correlated, that he wrote in his monograph on Bruno’s unpublished works that «questi due trattati si corrispondono e si richiamano a vicenda; poiché mentre l’uno espone la materia diffusamente, l’altro invece la compendia in cinquanta tesi seguite da brevi spiegazioni» [11]. In the Theses, reiterates Tocco, there are frequent references to De magia to the point that «talvolta sostituiscono del tutto la spiegazione» [12], as if De magia were divided into articles like the Theses, instead of being divided into chapters. The numbers reported in the references of the Theses, specifies Tocco, correspond to those in the margins of De magia «i quali non sono progressivi, ed evidentemente significano rinvii alle corrispondenti tesi» – in the sense that «quella parte della Magia ha il suo riscontro in quella data tesi» [13].
As one can see from these few quotes, Felice Tocco, who was not a careless editor, provides an accurate account of the problems in the two codexes, creating a work that even today is striking for its length and quality. This is confirmed by the fact that in the third volume of the Opera, released in 1891, he immediately announced the discovery of the Erlangen Codex 493 (not 443, as Rossius erroneously writes) [14] the previous year.
From the very first pages of the article one begins to understand how Rossius worked: a) reading only the Note ai testi, b) paying little attention to the critical apparatus, c) only a hasty consultation of texts, d) careless attention to quotations. For example, in the above mentioned case, if he had bothered to read Tocco’s essays he could have avoided expressing opinions that are as categorical as they are unfounded.
The second part of the article changes in tone, becoming a sort of «review» – not without harsh overtones – of OM. It opens with the immediate contradiction of what the edition’s curators consider to be one of the salient features of Bruno’s texts on magic: their «unfinished» character. This belief stems from a systematic study of the texts and their marginalia, from which it is plain that they are often «lavori incompiuti, ancora in via di elaborazione». To be precise: «in alcuni casi, sono testi nati come materiali per lezioni, o per dispute pubbliche, non per essere stampati, almeno immediatamente. È dunque assai probabile che Bruno stesso si riproponesse di tornare su questi lavori, di approfondirli, di perfezionarli prima di darli in stampa. Pur assai chiare, e decise, negli orientamenti fondamentali, le opere magiche si configurano come un materiale magmatico, non ancora fermo e conchiuso» [15].
Without discussing it specifically, Rossius rejects this position, deeming it a «ready theory» – forgetting that he had previously emphasized the fluid aspect of Bruno’s works when it served to support his thesis of a close relationship between De magia naturali and Theses de magia, dissolving the boundaries between the two works [16]. Without this goal, his attention to the complex and intricate structure of Bruno’s works on magic dwindles to the point of offering a very rigid framework of interpretation, anchored to criteria of an essentially material nature. For example, Rossius fails to understand that referring to the «unfinished» nature of these texts does not merely signify that two versions of the De magia and Theses de magia exist in two different codices [17], but instead emphasizes the way Bruno wrote by moving from one work to another, taking up and developing in new ways motifs that can also assume different shades of meaning within the same text. Instead, since Rossius remains anchored to a mere mechanical approach to Bruno’s texts, he fails to understand what is actually meant when it is underscored that these texts, contrary to what he thinks, are «unfinished». He goes so far as to claim that all Bruno’s works on magic should be considered complete and autonomous because all of them, with the exception of De vinculis [18], conclude with the formula Finis, as in the case of De magia naturali, Theses de magia, and De magia mathematica [19]. That is, he immediately contradicts what he had just said, arguing that the texts are all interconnected and thus should be considered in the perspective of a new edition, on which he intends to work [20]. Rossius does not bother to explain the reasons for this remarkable reversal, while he is intent on attacking the editors of OM, although they had thoroughly explained the critical issues and facts on which their edition is based.
If Rossius presents no critical arguments, he nonetheless offers others that are somewhat surprising and concern, as it were, the «image» of Bruno that he intends to propose: the philosopher, he says, was not so much a tireless reconstructor of his own works, as «someone who capriciously exploits a squadron of copyists» [21]. As if going over of one’s own works was in itself negative and not a sign of a very careful and controlled working method and intellectual process – precisely the case of Bruno, famously attentive, even during the creation of the work, to the reactions of his audience.
Moreover, it was Rossius himself who announced a facsimile edition of the M codex [22] in which the hands of two other copyists are perfectly identifiable, along with that of Bruno [23]. However, the problem is general in nature and occurs on many levels; consider the two versions of the Cena delle ceneri, masterfully studied in the early 1900s by Giovanni Gentile and then by Giovanni Aquilecchia [24], or the variants of Eroici furori and Cabala del cavallo pegaseo.
This regards the vernacular works, but the same process can be identified in the Latin works as evidenced by the group of the Sigilli in which Bruno, based on the same material, tackles the same mnemotechnical issues from different points of view [25]. And one can easily continue – there are two different versions of Medicina lulliana; De vinculis exists as both a rough draft and a final though incomplete text [26];  there are two manuscripts of De magia and Theses in which only some of the annotations made in the margins of the antigraph have been inserted in the text – in some cases breaking up open variants, in others maintaining them [27]. As is well-known, Bruno had also acquired typographic skill since his Geneva period when he worked as a proofreader. It was precisely his careful attention to the printing of his own works that led Giovanni Aquilecchia to believe that Bruno’s principes are to be regarded as written in his own hand [28].
In conclusion: 1) it is extremely unlikely that Bruno gave the copyist carte blanche, as demonstrated by the numerous marginal notes that show he did not yet have a clear overall plan of the work, b) it is thus not an unfounded claim – let alone a «preconception» [29] – to believe that Bruno had supervised the preparation of his works at all stages, c) it is incorrect to define as «hackneyed» [30] the testimony of Wechel [31], unless, of course, one wishes to work on Bruno’s texts while ignoring documents and available testimony (the latter being essential material, as Rossius should know, thanks to his legal training).
And herewith a small digression, although it may prove embarrassing. The criteria adopted in OM stem from a series of analyses that lead us to consider the differences between M and C as choices made or supervised by Bruno; on this basis, in the publication of De magia naturali and Theses de magia the reading of C was adopted, rather than that of M. Instead Rossius, wishing to prejudicially favor the codex he intended to publish [32], argues the superiority of M without making adequate arguments, and writes that the textual differences between M and C are only «the most innocuous variants», and thus not significant [33]. But in four lines, he makes two errors, serious for an aspiring editor: he transcribes a passage in the Nota ai testi of OM in which two variants are shown, judging one «a purely stylistic one» and the second «an obvious scribal error of aural perception corrected». And this is where he is wrong.
Here are the passages: 1) «mox tamen ut tota est in toto / mox tamen quamvis tota est in toto»; 2) «spiritus aptissimum / activissimum [sic]» [34]. As explained in the Nota ai testi of OM this concerns corrections made on M identified by comparing the first draft M1 with the final one; in other words they are variations of the same codex, and not variations of C with respect to M [35]. Thus if Rossius wished to support his opinion – that the variations between M and C are, at least in this case, irrelevant – he could have: a) analytically compared the two codexes in a systematic way, b) or if he wanted to spare himself that effort, carefully read the Nota ai testi of OM, c) used any variation between the two codexes, all listed in the critical apparatus of both Tocco-Vitelli and OM, d) used those previously selected and discussed in the Nota ai testi of OM but locating them in the right place (at pp. lvi-lxvii , lx-lxii ). He does none of these things. And this is his first mistake; now we come to the second. Continuing to consider corrections of M with respect to M1 as variations in C, he records this passage with clamorous errors («spiritus aptissimum / activissimum»). In this case Rossius could: a) correctly report the passage in question («corpus insensibile … spiritus nempe … aptissimum / activissimum» where the adjective, whether aptissimum or activissimum, refers to «corpus») [36], b) or, if he had noticed, correct the concordances in the abridged transcript. Also in this case, he does none of these things.
The «oversights» are not limited to this: Rossius complains that the variations of C with respect to M are recorded «ad hoc in special cases» [37]. This is the third error: it is only true for the Nota ai testi of OM, evidently the only part of the volume that Rossius consulted where the different drafts of the two manuscripts were selected to illustrate and support the criteria adopted with textual examples; instead, in the first part of the apparatus criticus all the variants of the text are recorded [38].
It is based on this procedure that Rossius arrives at the conclusion of his discourse: when also C represents the final wishes of the author, it can be adopted as a text to be edited only if «C entirely exhausted whatever variants are provided by M, but this is not the case, and instead one must base an edition on the protograph, i.e., the Moscow ms» [39].
But even here Rossius’ ideas are unclear: the problem of variants, especially the marginal notes, is quite complex, and it is difficult, if not crude, to resolve it in a few words. In the Nota al testo an analysis was undertaken of this phenomenon as well as of the dual strategy used regarding the marginal notes of De magia and the Theses: those that punctuate codex M of De magia are provided in the text of C only when accompanied by a sign of integration, while in the other cases they are dropped; in the case of the Theses, however, the marginal notes are all copied into C: those marked for integration are in the text, all the others are in the margins.
It can be assumed that Bruno provided different instructions to the copyist, having in the first case a clearer and more complete idea of the text, while in the second case it is possible that wishing to keep the structure of the Theses open, he decided to proceed as he had previously done for Medicina lulliana, keeping the marginal notes alive [40].
It is also from the analysis of the latter and the way they are treated by Bruno that the editors of OM established that C is preferable as the basis of an edition, representing a more advanced stage, although not yet completed, of Bruno’s thought [41].
Forgetting or unaware of Bruno’s working method, Rossius even wonders why there are two texts, De magia naturali and Theses de magia so close temporally and so similar in structure: «What is a ‘riscrittura’? And why would such a thing be repeated in two mss., the Moscow and the Erlangen one?» [42].
Thus, as revealed by this question, Rossius still fails to understand that the rewriting was not done from M to C, but involves the entire corpus on magic in the modulation of themes and motifs from one work to another, as they appear in the M codex. Most of all, Rossius does not realize (and this is the origin of all his misunderstandings) that the rewriting is not merely recopying, but a higher, more complex layer of thought accustomed to unfolding and coming back on itself in a sort of spiral.
Hence the absurdity of Rossius’ series of questions: for example, he asks how one can presume a rewriting when for Bruno it was «practically impossible […] to set about reworking older material, rather than composing an absolutely new work?» [43]. Without explaining in more detail why this would be, and relying on the argument that Bruno «would dictate to his secretary straight from scratch», Rossius continues to argue that «De magia shows all the signs of being composed in exactly the same way, it is not product of earlier work, but a text created here and now, exactly as Theses de magia and almost simultaneously with it» [44].
Specifically, for Rossius the compositional mode that would lead to De magia is similar to that which Scapparone and Tirinnanzi highlighted for De vinculis: «Il testo vero e proprio […] è contenuto nelle carte 87r-98r; ma il codice conserva, nelle carte iniziali, […], se non una prima redazione, certamente una trama di appunti preparatori, un ‘palinsesto’ nel quale confluiscono, in maniera tumultuosa e disordinata, note di lettura, commenti, richiami alle fonti, spunti e ipotesi di lavoro» [45].
It involves material that is unhomogeneous, that will be taken apart, rethought and reorganized in a more wide-ranging and organized work. But this is precisely one example – and it is paradoxical that Rossius mentions it – of that method of ‘rewriting’ that he wishes to contest. And De vinculis itself is proof; if it is true that much of the rough draft comes together in the final text, it also happens, as occurs for the portions of text devoted to the relationship between the bond («vinculum») and the law, that some points suffer a different fate because they are «isolati e privi di una connessione organica con il tono generale della riflessione» while «il nesso fra potere del vincolo e praxis politica» grows «fino a configurarsi come uno dei cardini del De vinculis» [46].
Consistent with this perspective, nowhere does OM maintain that De magia naturali is a ‘remaking’ of some other text, but instead has endeavored to show in the comments and notes the extent to which the extensively rearranged materials – mainly from other authors – collected previously in the pages of De magia mathematica converge. Moreover, Tocco had previously stated that this «short treatise» «è da considerare come una ‘prima pars magiae’ […] da preporre, per quanto sembra, all’intero ‘opus physicum’» [47], and in fact De magia naturali refers to this in the version contained in M, with a series of references – of which Rossius, so careful to cross-reference, makes no mention – not shown in C, present in a section on demons and exorcism that would not appear in the subsequent draft of Theses de magia [48].
‘Rewriting’ means this: a continuous exploration of the central aspects in an ongoing reformulation of Bruno’s positions. The ‘rewrite’ does not therefore signify the simple replacement of a text with another, in a kind of mechanical movement, as Rossius appears to believe; but rather the movement and development of a thought that offers varying degrees of accommodation. It is useful to read what Luigi Firpo noted about the variants of the Cena:
«i brani depennati della prima stesura non possono venir confinati in appendice […] e dovranno affiancarsi puntualmente, pagina per pagina, al testo definitivo»; and this with the conviction that Bruno «agisse a malincuore» sacrificing the first draft to the next one. Bruno, Firpo specifies, wanted to «aggiungere semplicemente il nuovo all’antico» [49]. In spite of many differences, in the case of ‘rewriting’ the works on magic the various layers of thought should be kept close together because Bruno does not want to merely sacrifice the first to the second editing process, but to develop his position keeping in mind all the stages of its development.
This is Bruno’s working method, also influenced by political or external aspects (continuous wandering from one place to another; pressure to enter the cultural debates of the time, a desire to be accredited to obtain a teaching post, etc.); and especially an inexhaustible and tireless desire to offer his message appropriately and more profoundly, taking into account – as in the case of the Cena – the reading public that he was constantly trying to create. No wonder, considering all this, that his work does not always display a complete synthesis.
Another element to keep in mind, especially important when dealing with the works on magic but already evident in the composition of De umbris idearum and Cantus Circaeus: in these texts there are significant traces of «scritti che Bruno aveva già composto e fatto circolare in forma di apografi o bozze da utilizzare nel corso delle lezioni» [50]. Bruno, it should be remembered, was also a professor who, as in the case of Theses de magia, used for his texts material previously used for teaching, to which he devoted himself with particular intensity in the period before or during the drafting of the works on magic.
The cross-references between De magia mathematica, De magia naturali and Theses de magia must therefore be interpreted in this complex key, keeping all the elements in mind. Rossius, however, clings to a hypothesis first advanced in a 2004 essay by Paola Zambelli, in which the author proposes to read all of Bruno’s writings on magic as parts of a single text [51]. In truth, this proposal is presented in a highly elliptical way, with the author wanting to «darne un’idea in poche parole» [52]. Obviously, in such cases it would be appropriate to argue the proposal in an analytical way, accompanying it at least with the appropriate textual support, whereas the essay in question lacks any supporting references whatsoever [53].
However, one can raise some objections to this proposal as the basis of Rossius’ project: 1) if the works on magic constitute a single text, why didn’t Bruno, profiting from the opportunity of recopying two of them, instruct his secretary and pupil Besler to proceed in a «unitary» sense? Instead, the latter transcribed from M to C the texts of De magia naturali and Theses de magia representing them as autonomous works, 2) Why, if there was such ‘unitary’ tension, is De vinculis in M preceded by the name of the author and title of the work (Jordani Bruni Nolani De vinculis in genere), a definite sign that Bruno intended at least that text to be autonomous?, 3) When Bruno in Medicina Lulliana refers to the De rerum principiis, why did he write, «in ultimo tractatu de magia» [54] clearly indicating that he had written more than one and considered each one autonomous from the others [55]?  In fact, the essay on which Rossius bases his editing project is full of errors and oversights: a) the references to Theses in the margins of De magia naturali are present not only in C, but also in M [56], b) indications of references in Theses to De Magia are wrong [57], c) in spite of what Zambelli maintains, in the apparatus of OM all cross-references are recorded [58], d) the interpretation that Theses de magia was a text intended for public discussion (an argument the author claims as her own) had already been introduced in OM [59].
In addition to these serious errors there are other, minor ones: a) the date  of Eroici furori is wrong; it was published in 1585, not 1583, b) the date of Cena de le ceneri, published in 1584 not 1583, is wrong, c) it is not true that Tocco and Vitelli published the transcription of the Erlangen codex in the edition of the Opera latine conscripta [60], d) the numbering of the paragraphs in OM is confused  with that of the Theses [61], e) the date of Innocent VIII’s papal bull against witches Summi desiderantes affectibus is wrong; it was issued in 1484 and not 1486 [62]. This is the text that Rossius considers an «excellent book» [63] and on which he leans heavily, even referring to the same citations [64].
Approaching the third and final section of his paper, Rossius attempts to sum up his unique reasoning, and returning to his polemic against OM disputes a fact that is presented there with particular clarity. I will attempt to explain.
When reading De magia mathematica, De magia, and Theses it is possible to identify changes in Bruno’s lengthy deliberations about demons: quite complex  in the first treatise, it is shortened in the second, until it disappears entirely in the third. Rossius, based on the observations of his source [65], disagrees with the «naturalization» of magic identified by the editors of OM in this process of reduction, seeing in this thesis even what is not there, in order to contest it: an approach of Bruno’s magic «to natural science» ostensibly supported through an analysis of variations between M and C [66]. Obviously, a «naturalization» of magic does not mean tout court any tendency towards natural science; thus, in this case it is quite wrong to state that this thesis was argued in the light of textual changes that occurred during the copying of De magia naturali from M to C [67]. The changes reported by Rossius in fact do not occur in the passage of the same text from one codex to another, but within the same codex, that is in M, in the rethinking and rewriting of this theme from De magia mathematica to De magia naturali to Theses de magia [68]. Instead, Rossius chooses to read it in his own way: he refers to a passage taken up and corrected in M concerning the title of a section of De magia naturali, but in another passage of the same treatise. In other words it is a modified self-quotation of a passage in the same text [69]. But as in another case reported above, on this point Rossius is recidivist: he continues to confound levels that must be kept strictly separate.
After critical discussions of this type, Rossius then presents the criteria he intends to follow in a new edition of the works on magic, defining what are, in his opinion, the correct relationships between De magia naturali and Theses de magia. Regarding this he maintains that: a) he agrees with his source’s theory that these texts «represent two parts of one and the same work» [70], since without such unity he could not explain the connection between the two texts, b) both works, starting from common elements, arrive at a Neo-Platonic perspective on love, c) both understanding the Theses as a commentary on De magia (according to Lutoslawski) and as a precise restructuring in articles of the arguments of De magia (according to the indications of its source), elicit perplexity. The references between the two tracts are not in fact systematic, but involve only a part of them, and on this even Rossius concurs; in fact this allows him to declare an exact correspondence between the two texts in the passages mentioned in the margin, «while otherwise each one retains its own method of exposition» [71]. The latter is a rather singular affirmation if one takes into account his acceptance of the theory that the works on magic constitute a single work. It is much less possible to explain the use of the word finis at the end of both tracts, if the two texts are part of a single work. This term had previously served him, for the sake of argument, to support precisely the opposite – that is, that the texts on magic are distinct works. Again, it remains unclear why, if Bruno had arrived at the idea of considering his texts on magic as a single work, he did not tell Besler to copy the texts in C proceeding according to a single sequence – a criticism we have already made of Rossius’ source, and thus can also be made of him [72].
Rossius is attracted by the numerical correspondences: the references between the two texts, formally 27, instead number 30 according to Rossius because in three cases, single references in De magia indicate two Theses at a time [73]. Not only that, but in his opinion the thirty references to the Theses also indicate a formal correspondence with the thirty articles of the three parts of De vinculis.
It is a risky reconstruction: first, the last section of De vinculis has 23 articles, and even if it is true that the copying of the text was abruptly interrupted, it is impossible to argue with certainty that De vinculis consisted only of the three parts that have come down to us or consisted of thirty articles [74];  and secondly, if there are 30 references to the Theses in De magia, Theses contain 18 that refer to De magia.
Instead, Rossius concludes that «if one takes a look at any particular one among these 27 or 30 cases of correspondence» it follows «that the most obvious form of relation is that Theses de magia supplies a speculative scheme of the same interactions and effects that are the subject treated in De magia». With one difference: they are no longer expressed in Neo platonic, but in Scholastic terms (a singular statement as well, if one recalls that only one page earlier, he claims that the two texts «start from a similar topic and both come to a close with the Neo platonic subject of active and passive properties of Eros») [75].
Thus, after having troubled to criticize the «rewriting» in the Theses of topics already present in De magia naturali, the same concept of «rewriting» appears in a new form: in fact, Theses would be the «Aristotelian meta-theory» of what was expressed in Platonic terms in De magia naturali. According to Rossius, it was just this sudden change of philosophical perspective that would explain the absence in Theses of the part dedicated to demons: indeed, it «could not be described with philosophical categories» [76].
However, Rossius’ singular reconstruction rests on several inconsistencies: a) references within the text, in both M and C, are found only in Theses de magia and refer to parts of De magia naturali where the numbers of the corresponding theses are only read in the margins, b) not all of these references in the margins of De magia match the same number of references in Theses: the relationship between the two texts is thus not symmetric, as Rossius hypothesizes [77], c) the hypothesis that De magia naturali ought «to be supplied with exactly these references to the Theses» is therefore problematic: it is the Theses in fact that explicitly refer to De magia naturali, because they represent an explanation and a reformulation of the latter, d) the references to the Theses in the margins of De magia naturali were added after the Theses were edited in order to indicate the passages of a more thorough analysis in the next text (and this may also explain the changes in handwriting: in M they reveal a different handwriting from that of Besler).
Moreover, this is not an unusual procedure for De magia naturali, in whose margins there are also references to those paragraphs of De magia mathematica that are recorded and summarized [78]. In other words, De magia stands as a central text, a crossroads in the articulation of Bruno’s thought on magic, which on one hand structurally takes up De magia mathematica, changing and refining it; on the other it is the basis of the codification of the Theses, whilst maintaining the autonomous consistency strictly emphasized by the two codexes, M and C.
As previously mentioned, by analyzing the references between De magia and Theses it can be seen that they are not always biunique: the first case of a correspondence to the Theses in the margins of De magia is found on page 8r with the indication IV Th. referring to the fourth article, which lacks the corresponding reference [79]. In the passage from De magia Bruno speaks of the scale of influences that binds all entities, from the gods to the elements; in the Thesis he specifies the characteristics of the influences (Distingue de influxu) making distinctions that emphasize even more strongly the link between superior and inferior entities [80]. Also the following reference on page 8v, next to Iuxta tres praedictos magiae gradus tres mundi intelliguntur, is not found in the V Thesis, where there is a literal quotation of the line in De magia and lexical gloss of this line. The second part of the Thesis mentions the three worlds, explaining the different meanings of the lemma mundus and developing in philosophical terms the long marginal note in De magia that quotes several passages of the Letter to the Romans and the beginning of the Gospel of St. John [81]. These one-way references do not diminish the autonomy of De magia: it can be read without the Theses, while the opposite is not true, at least in all those cases where Theses explicitly refers to passages in the previous treatise, as in the VI Thesis that begins with a literal reference from De magia «In genere est duplex efficiens: natura et voluntas etc.» [82] and continues thus: «Ibi distingue de efficiente». In this case the Thesis appears to be a topic to discuss and indicates the material from De magia that can be used for this purpose.
Also, the first three Theses appear to be a clarification of ideas expressed in the first few pages of De magia: the first summarizes the beginning of the treatise where Bruno lists the 10 types of magic [83];  the second summarizes the division of magic into three types (divine, physical and mathematical); the third contains the reasoning behind mathematical magic, intermediate between the physical and the divine.
At the end of this Thesis Bruno writes «Distingue de medio», alluding to the broad reasoning in De magia naturali [84]. Thesis VII develops this reasoning introduced in De magia [85] of the uniqueness of the principle from the point of view of the subject, building on what was previously expressed in De la causa principio et uno [86];  while in Thesis VIII there is a reference to paragraph VIII. However, De magia is not divided into paragraphs, or even into articles, but in pages 9r of M and 60r of C the indication § VIII appears, just as in the Thesis («Distinctio est in VIII §») [87]. The content discussed in the text portion of De magia and Thesis VIII is similar and concerns the manifest and occult virtues of beings, but it is also homogeneous, as Bruno noted in § VIII of the third treatise of De magia mathematica in the section on Alberti generalis doctrina: «Quod ea quae videntur in caracteribus, incantationibus, veneficiis et sermonibus, et multa valde vilia, quae penitus videntur impossibilia, nec sufficientem habent causam, non propterea contemnantur» [88].
If the reference in Thesis to De magia is certain, since here the distinctions referred to can be found, the contrary is less certain; in fact, the passage from De magia could instead be referred to § VIII of De magia mathematica, with regard not only to the topic discussed, but also the fact that the paragraph mark in the intermediate treatise always alludes to the first writings on magic. References to the Theses, in fact, are always found with an indication of the number in Arabic or Roman numerals, sometimes accompanied by the initials Th. or Thes. In this case, the back-reference from Theses to De magia mathematica involves an expansion of the argument discussed; that is, operations and effects can also arise from active and passive hidden qualities, excluding those references to spells and poisons that produce apparently incomprehensible effects, and valuing instead the capacity and operation of beings starting from those qualities which are more or less evident depending on the more or less hidden effects that they determine (make soft or make merry, make sad or make damp, etc.). Even in the case of this threefold reference,  it can be seen how Bruno twists his thoughts on magic from De magia mathematica to Theses de magia, as previously mentioned [89].
Thesis IX offers distinctions that are useful for clarifying the complex reflections on the soul in De magia naturali. Echoing the reasoning in De la causa, of which some passages are quoted almost verbatim [90], De magia focuses on the universal soul and its operations [91]; in the Thesis Bruno stresses that the soul is all in everything regarding essence and potency, but not completely in everything regarding the operations «quia non undique videt, undique audit» [92]. This Thesis is the first in a long series that explores his reasoning regarding the soul and goes on until the XVI Thesis. Following the path of De magia, leaving out some topics that were too eccentric for the philosophical core that was his focus [93], in Theses Bruno focuses on the role of the idea in the production of entities – a subject dealt with succinctly in De magia – while in Thesis XI it is explained by the explicit reference to De umbris idearum, the first Neo platonic treatise published in Paris in 1582. Incidentally, all these articles are a clear refutation of the arguments made by Rossius, according to which the Theses present a metatheory of magic in Aristotelian terms.
Thesis XII focuses on the spirit, that is on that very subtle element that unites the soul to the body, emphasizing on one hand its character as a medium and on the other the material nature of the soul [94]. Instead, De magia accentuates the spirit, which feels and enlivens, and spreads throughout immense spaces, and correlated this extension with that of the soul «praesens quodammodo universo» [95].
Thesis XIII focuses on the nature of accidents of the soul, which like vision, light and voice are not confined to one place. Thesis XIV refers to the passage of De magia that explains how immaterial substances can be present together in the same place without cancelling each other out – as when several lamps are lit to form a single light source, without the brightness of one dimming or cancelling that of another; in the same way, in a marginal note of the Thesis, various voices can be heard simultaneously [96].
From these early articles and references to De magia naturali one can already see how rather than an Aristotelian meta-theory of the first treatise, the Theses represent the presentation of the material on magic contained therein, marked in the form of useful articles for discussion: the text, punctuated by numerous «Distingue» is in fact structured to be used by an interlocutor who corresponds to an argumentator, as Bruno himself reveals in Thesis XXX: «Illud si praestabit argumentator, nos libenter docebimur ab ipso» [97].
It is also worth noting that the specific references appear only after a certain number of Theses; in the first the reference to De magia naturali is generic, indicated by «Vide […] ibi» [98] or «Ibi distingue» [99] only from Thesis XIV (except for the reference to § VIII, which however has the characteristics we have previously discussed); from the XVII [100] the mode of reference changes, adopting the formula «in articulo», followed by the corresponding number.
Thus: a) there is no precise correspondence between the content of Theses and De magia naturali [101], b) cross-references between the two texts appear only in certain places and they remain unchanged in the two codexes, c) cross-references in Theses nearly always allude to the exempla narrated in De magia [102], d) the references are not two-way. Considering all this, it is likely that Bruno did not intend to divide De magia naturali into articles, but to provide it with a concise tool for teaching or discussing its contents. It can be assumed that for the convenience of those who would be using that material, in drafting the second treatise Bruno started from a certain point to indicate in the margins of De magia naturali the number of the thesis in which the same subject was summarized: the first references in fact quote IV (IV Th. in C), Th. V, Th. VI, 14 Thes. (XIV Th. in C).
Up to this point the non-sequential numbers in the margin of De magia indicate only a cross-reference to a Thesis, made perhaps when they were being written, and in any case in absence of a reciprocal indication [103]; later the situation becomes more complex and confusing. First, in some cases the references are two-way (as for Theses XXII, XXIII, XXVII, XXVIII, XXIX, XXXII, XXXIII, XXXIV, XXXV, XXXVI, XLI, XLII, XLVIII, XLIX, LIII that refer to the parts marked in the same way in the margins of De magia); and in other cases they are present only in De magia naturali (as in the aforementioned cases, also in references to Theses XXIV, XXV, XXVI, XXX, XXXI, XL, L, LI, LII).
Therefore it is very difficult to maintain the correspondence between the two texts as Rossius does: not only because we have to distinguish (which he never does) two-way from one-way references, but also because in the presence of two-way references in the Theses they refer to those portions of the text of De magia naturali containing  explanations, observations, examples, and specific elements accompanying the concise formulation of the Thesis [104].
In the two-way references between the two works on magic there are also some particular phenomena worth mentioning; I refer to the anomalous but correct cross-reference in Thesis XVII to an «articulo 18» and the corresponding erroneous reference in De magia to Thesis 18. In Thesis XVII Bruno is repeating what he had previously said in De magia, via Lucretius, concerning the spiritual bodies endowed with virtues and abilities like sensible bodies; in the margin of this passage in De magia there is an indication «18» in M, «XVIII Th» in C with a referral to Thesis XVIII in which however he speaks of motion and attraction, that is of an argument introduced only later in De magia with the subtitle De motu rerum et attractione.
Rossius is unaware of this and of the list of cross-references between De magia and Theses, that is, of passages which according to him should correspond «exactly»; he puts the passage in De magia («Corpus vere continuum est corpus insensibile […]. Esse corpora insensibilia et spiritualia praedictae efficaciae […]») side by side with Thesis XVIII («Duplex est motus naturalis: rectus et circularis […]») [105].
It is possible that Bruno or the copyist erred in the reference: Theses XVII and XVIII in fact appear on the same page 31r of M and in addition, the Theses show a numbering error; in both M and C Thesis XI (which the editors have merged into a single article) appears in fact twice. It may be simply that due to an error in counting the Theses a mistake was made – even considering the fact that in M they are always numbered in the margins, never within the body of the text, as if the numbers had been added later; this could also explain why until Thesis XXVIII they are numbered in Roman numerals, then Arabic numerals.
But there may be another explanation: there could be a reference in both treatises to De magia mathematica which in paragraph XVIII of the Third treatise presents an interesting argument concerning light and darkness. There are spirits who belong to the light, others to the night, others who do not belong to either one or the other, whereas others belong to both; the same thing is also known for men, who live in a reality where «tenebrae et lucis, boni et mali» are intertwined [106].
From this complex situation derive both the vicissitudes that cause now light, now darkness to advance, and the need to know and thus read and decipher each moment we are living and working; hence specifically in the magical context the use of artificial lights such as lamps and candles also arises, and the power of one’s own shadow when it is projected as an extension of the sphere of its own domain [107]. In De magia naturali where the reference is – also accompanied by an indication Th[esis] but only in C – Bruno, with the help of his source Lucretius explains the strength and effectiveness of insensible spiritual bodies, such as the airy spirit that ruffles the sea, or winds that arise from the still, clear air to uproot trees and tear down buildings. These spirits, or spiritual bodies, also innervate the sensible bodies, and some philosophers regard them as similar to the soul and similar to fire, which when not derived from the combustion of heavy material such as bodies on fire, does not differ from the air and spirit: true fire, writes Bruno, is true spirit [108]. In Thesis XVII Bruno returns to insensible and very active bodies and to the spirit as fire that consists of burning air and is a product of light; light is at the origin of fire, heat and spirit – that light whose vicissitudes had been highlighted in the passage of De magia mathematica.
Next to this particular cross-reference to Thesis XVIII is a mismatch that manifests itself later on the occasion of the reference in De magia, alongside the beginning of the description of the fourth constraint of fantasy, to Theses XLVII and XLVIII. In the section devoted to the fourth bond of fantasy Bruno contemplates our ability of fantasy to receive images from the senses and to operate on them. This operation has two types: based on the virtues of the subject, or in spite of them. According to the primitive numbering (p. n.), Thesis XLVII takes up this topic, articulating his reasoning on those who are able to dominate their own fantasy, and in the next Thesis, the XLVIII p. n., there is a textual reference to a passage on the bond of fantasy («Patet ex 48° articulo. Unde denominatur poetae, et sunt item pictores, apologi ecc») [109], where we read that the imagination works with images received from the senses «dupliciter: uno pacto ex arbitrio vel electione imaginantis, quale est poetarum et pictorum munus, et eorum qui apologos componunt» [110] in a line of reasoning aimed at enhancing awareness of imaginative activity. The other aspect, that «extra arbitrium et electionem», is examined in Thesis XLIX p. n., where Bruno repeats what he stated in De magia: those possessed by demons («energumeni») who can perform actions far beyond their capabilities derive their virtue from this alteration of both the material and spiritual principles [111].
The numbering of the Theses was changed in M starting from the one after XLIII, which originally had the same number; realizing the error, the copyist – or Bruno – increased all subsequent numbers of the Theses by one unit; if we follow the second numbering (s. n.) via the references from De magia, we see that Thesis 47 (formerly 46) does not deal with imagination, but with the two types of stupidity, «infra vulgi opinionem» and «supra vulgi sensum», as previously indicated in the page notes of the dialogue De gli eroici furori [112].
The same thing occurs if we analyze the references to the Theses in the margins of the fifth bond of De magia naturali, where Bruno tightens the knot between the bond of fantasy and that of the cogitative, made even stronger by the presence of the fides [113]:  Theses L and LI, to which De magia refers, according to the initial numbering deal precisely with cogitative power and different types of fides, while according to the second numbering Thesis L (previously XLIX) deals instead with «energumeni» and thus the reference loses meaning. The same is true for the cross-references from De magia to Thesis LII concerning the fides aroused by disturbed powers [114], the latter subject discussed in Thesis LII p. n., but not in that one according to the s. n., which instead illustrates the types of fides arising one from the faculties that precede cogitative ability, the other from faculties that follow the cogitative [115]. Lastly, the same phenomenon occurs in the case of the cross-reference from De magia naturali to Thesis LIII concerning the faith needed by every healer, even Christ himself [116]; the Thesis with the same number according to the s. n. speaks of changes in cogitative power, while the LIII p. n. discusses the relationship between fides and the cogitative, and here the fides is defined as «vinculum vinculorum» followed by «Spes, amor, religio» [117].
Despite the correction in the numbering of the Theses, the relationship between references from De magia naturali and Theses de magia remains unaltered in the national edition of the Opera because Tocco and Vitelli reabsorbed this increase by one unit, occurring in the numbering starting from Thesis XLIII, by uniting Thesis XLIX to XLVIII. Thus, up to Thesis XLIII the national edition follows the early numbering in manuscript M (however, as we have seen, by uniting the two Theses numbered XI), the XLIV to XLVIII followed by the second number (keeping the erroneous reference in De magia naturali to Thesis XLVII, formerly XLVI), from XLIX until the end, returns to the initial numbering, thanks to the elimination of the gap as a result of the amalgamation of two theses into one [118]. It is true that the merged thesis continues the reasoning of the previous one concerning the activity of the soul, able to dominate the imagination with reflection, distinguishing what is true from that which is not, even contrary to the opinion of the multitude [119].
In this case as well, as in the repeated numbering of Thesis XI, it was probably an error of the copyist who indicated the last part of the previous one as a new Thesis.
From these elements it can be hypothesized that the numbering of the Theses was carried out sequentially as they were being written; in parallel, Bruno inserted into the margins of De magia those references to the Theses regarding the same subjects, and when the articles of the new text could be enriched by the contents present in the earlier treaty, he inserted the cross-reference to the passage of De magia at the end of the Thesis. In the final part of the preparation of the Theses, Bruno or the copyist realized that Thesis XLIII appeared twice and increased the numbers of subsequent articles by one unit, without remembering to also make corrections in the margins of De magia naturali, aligning the references to the new numbering. This could be a good clue to deducing that Bruno did not think of De magia naturali as a work organized in articles [120] and may also support the ‘unfinished’ nature of the corpus on magic, of which the Theses are an important element as an autonomous text, not merely a subsidiary of De magia but with its own character and appearance.
Rossius, who is apparently preparing a new edition of the works on magic and has reviewed all the previous editions, does not appear to notice all these issues; when he in fact presents «for the convenience of the reader» the table of correspondences between references from De magia and Theses de magia, he does not always mention in the passages from Theses the indication of the reference to De magia (for example, on p. 468 to reference 29 [121]; p. 469 to 32, 33 [122];  on p. 470 to reference 41 [123]; and on p. 471 to reference 48) [124], but above all he seems unaware that he is putting together texts that speak of completely different subjects, as with reference 47-48.
Everything that has emerged in the course of this article could lead one to think that: a) De magia naturali was not designed to be numerically organized, b) the hypothesis is still valid that De magia naturali and Theses de magia are two autonomous texts, and not two sections of the same work, c) it confirms the interpretation of the Theses as an abridged rewriting of De magia naturali for the purposes of debate or discussion.
And finally, in Theses de magia there seems to be no trace of that Aristotelianism – which according to Rossius constitutes the new theoretical code of Bruno’s magic –, which instead shows a close relationship with the Commentari Aristotelici written by Bruno shortly before he wrote the shorter works on magic. The latter contained reflections on contact and natural material repeated in the texts on magic developed from the Aristotelian texts in a work of profound renewal (as emphasized by Nicoletta Tirinnanzi) to explain in detail the motion and physical attraction that govern beings. But the concept behind Bruno’s reasoning does not seem to veer significantly in an Aristotelian direction – rather it continues to use Aristotelian thought as a prime reference for those aspects of the physical dimension that Aristotle investigated thoroughly [125].
The underlying problem remains – the texts on magic are not fixed and set, their textual aspect is still open and fluid. Instead of confusing, superficial polemic perhaps there is a need for useful contributions to help illuminate and understand the complex and layered drafting of those treatises that make up the corpus of Bruno’s works on magic. However, in Rossius’ summary of his article he glimpses «the mnemotechnic principles of the unfinished De vinculis and many of Bruno’s Lullian books» as a unifying element of the corpus on magic [126], though in the course of the article does not explain this rather original and unique statement.
Perhaps we should expect something more of the much-heralded critical edition of Bruno’s works on magic for Les Belles Lettres of Paris, or at least the facsimile edition of the Codex of Moscow that Rossius announced for release at the end of 2012 [127];  as yet neither one nor the other has appeared, but only an article rife with philological errors, terminological inaccuracies and somewhat confused ideas about Bruno’s philosophy.


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[1] A. Rossius, Works within a Codex: The Structure of Bruno’s ‘Magical’ Writings, «Bruniana & Campanelliana», XVIII, 2012, pp. 453-472.
[2] F. Tocco - G. Vitelli, Introduzione to volume III of Iordani Bruni Nolani Opera latine conscripta, publicis sumptibus edita, recensebat F. Fiorentino [F. Tocco, H. Vitelli, V. Imbriani, C. Tallarigo ], 3 vols. in 8 parts, Neapoli [-Florentiae] 1879-91, p. xxix. The edition of the Opera will henceforth be indicated by OL.
[3] Taken into consideration and briefly presented: A. Norov, Notice bibliographique sur un manuscrit autograph des oeuvres inédites de G. Bruno Nolano, tirée du catalogue de sa bibliothèque, St. Petersburg 1868; W. Lutoslawski, Jordani Bruni Nolani Opera inedita, manu propria scripta, «Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie», II, 1889, pp. 526-571; R. Stölzle, Die Erlanger Giordano Bruno-Manuscripte, «Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie», III, 1890, pp. 573-578 and the national edition of Bruno’s works.
[4] G. Bruno, Opere magiche, edizione diretta da M. Ciliberto, a cura di S. Bassi - E. Scapparone - N. Tirinnanzi, Milano 2000 (henceforth OM).
[5] Regarding ff. 1-6r, 162-168r (until line 4) and f. 181r (cfr. OL, III, p. xxi).
[6] The ff. 1-6r contain Bruno’s notes; ff. 7r-27v De magia naturali; ff. 28r-38v Theses de magia; ff. 39r-54v De rerum principiis; ff. 55r-69v second draft Medicina lulliana; ff. 70r-86v De magia mathematica; ff. 87r-98r De vinculis in genere; ff. 99r-160r Lampas triginta statuarum; f. 161 with figure on recto; 162r-180r first draft of Medicina lulliana; f. 181 with figure on recto. For observations on the manuscript and other important information regarding his stay in England cfr. C. Sigwart, Kleine Schriften, 2 vols., Freiburg a. I. 1881, I, pp. 49-124; 293-304; Lutoslawski, Jordani Bruni Nolani Opera inedita, cit.
[7] Rossius, Works within a Codex, cit., p. 453. The difficulty derives from the fact that De magia naturali, the first section of the manuscript, anepigraph and marked by internal subtitles, presents one of the sections entitled De vinculis spirituum et primum de eo quod est ex triplici agentis, materiae et applicationis after a blank page, c. 21v. However, it should be noted that in the Erlangen codex the text was copied after c. 69v without interruptions indicating that it is a new work. Moreover, Rossius writes that at the end of De magia «on f. 28r, again without a title, a new text starts, and only the word FINIS and a blank space left after the preceding one suggests that here a new work must begin». Apart from the fact that the indication FINIS is quite explicit regarding the author’s desire, in the case in question the blank ‘space’ at the end of De magia consists of all that remains of 27v, so that the new work, Theses de magia, begins on the following page 28r.
[8] Ibid., p. 454.
[9] Stölzle was the first to note that in the margins of De magia there are certain references to the Theses (IV th., th. VI etc.). They are not sequential nor do they involve the entire text. The Theses de magia in the corresponding article deal with the subject developed in the passage of De magia, at times referring to the longer treatise (with formulas such as Vide ibi, Ex his quae sunt in articulo) especially for examples and lists of topics. The references are present in both M and C.
[10] Cfr. OL, III, pp. 401, 403, 404, 405 and so forth. At the beginning of the edition, but after the introductory notes, we read: «i numeri che occorrono nel De magia al margine dei due codici, e noi abbiamo intercalati nel testo chiudendoli in parentesi, sono richiami dalle seguenti Theses de magia» (ibid., p. 396).
[11] F. Tocco, Le opere inedite di Giordano Bruno, Napoli 1891, pp. 100-101. On the next page he states that the two works are closely connected to each other. The monograph was published in the same year as volume III of Opera latine by Bruno.
[12] Ibid., p. 101.
[13] Ibid., p. 102. On page 144: «[le Theses] non sono se non un compendio del De magia, a cui esplicitamente si rimanda».
[14] Cfr. Rossius, Works within a Codex, cit., note 2, p. 456.
[15] OM, p. xii.
[16] Cfr. supra note 7.
[17] «The case of De magia with its two versions in the Moscow and the Erlangen mss gets expanded into a general principle defining Bruno’s handling of his whole magical output» (Rossius, Works within a Codex, cit., p. 458).
[18] However, for De vinculis it «is evident that the cause of its incompleteness lies in some unknown external circumstances that caused the scribe to drop the copying» (ibid., p. 459); on this cfr. OM, pp. lxv-lxvi.
[19] Ibid., p. 459. De rerum principiis concludes with the words «Et de his satis» (OM, p. 716) and De magia mathematica with «Finis» (OM, p. 138): but this has nothing to do with the revision and rewriting to which Bruno subjects in the latter part of De magia naturali.
[20] Ibid., p. 453. In fact, it is only by neglecting the rich tapestry of cross-references, the presence of marginal notes of self-comment and details in depth-analysis, the presence of two versions of the text in one manuscript (as with Medicina lulliana), and only by limiting oneself to a purely extrinsic consideration of the relationship between the texts, that one could support the thesis of Rossius; nonetheless it is difficult to understand why at the beginning of the article he emphatically stressed that it was not easy to establish «where one of them [i.e. texts] ends and another one starts» (ibid., p. 458).
[21] Ibid., p. 459.
[22] Cfr. ibid., note 3, p. 454. The anastatic edition was to be published by the Les Belles Lettres, Paris but so far there has been no sign of the volume that Rossius announced would come out in 2012.
[23] Note that these works were composed and dictated during a short period of time, approximately 1589 to 1590: cfr. OL, III, pp. xxiv -xxix.
[24] Cfr. G. Bruno, Dialoghi italiani, I dialoghi metafisici, nuovamente ristampati con note di G. Gentile, terza edizione a cura di G. Aquilecchia, Firenze 1958, pp. xxxiv -xxxvi («ogni lettore […] potrà vedere come Bruno abbia rifatto e recato a maggiore perfezione il suo scritto»: p. xxxvi); G. Bruno, Cena de le Ceneri, a cura di G. Aquilecchia, Torino 1955 («La nostra edizione riproduce essenzialmente il codice romano, a stampa e manoscritto, che si conserva alla Biblioteca Nazionale [71.11.A.17]: esso ci tramanda il quarto ed ultimo momento della stampa del dialogo curata dall’autore»: p. 237). But one can also consider what L. Olschki wrote in 1925: «Il Bruno, dopo aver improvvisati i suoi dialoghi con la fretta che gli era abituale, ritrovava ancora qualcosa da mutare a stampa compiuta» (L. Olschki, Esemplari sconosciuti delle opere volgari di G. Bruno nella Biblioteca Universitaria di Heidelberg, «La Bibliofilía», XXVI, 1925, p. 374). Regarding the particular nature of these variants, among which it is difficult to identify the definitive one, cfr. G. Aquilecchia, La lezione definitiva della Cena de le ceneri di Giordano Bruno, in Id., Schede bruniane (1950-1991), Manziana 1993, pp. 1-39, and what he also wrote in 1991 concerning «reiterata alterazione della Cena nel corso della stampa» in the first essays of the volume Le opere italiane di Giordano Bruno. Critica testuale e oltre, Napoli 1991 (the quote is found on p. 65). Giorgio Bàrberi Squarotti had previously dwelt on the particular nature of Bruno’s variants «che non è possibile inquadrare […] in una dimostrazione […] della superiorità assoluta del testo definitivo» in Recensione di G. Bruno, La cena de le ceneri, a cura di G. Aquilecchia, «Lettere italiane», VIII, 1956, pp. 338-347. See also L. Firpo, Per l’edizione critica dei dialoghi italiani di Giordano Bruno, «Giornale storico della letteratura italiana», CXXXV, 1958, pp. 587-606; M. Ciliberto - N. Tirinnanzi, Il dialogo recitato. Per una nuova edizione del Bruno volgare, Firenze 2002, pp. 103-124; N. Harris, Il ‘cancellans’ da Bruno a Manzoni, in Favole, metafore, storie. Seminario su Giordano Bruno, a cura di O. Catanorchi e D. Pirillo, Pisa 2006, pp. 567-602, especially the paragraph entitled La perpetua incontentabilità di Giordano Bruno, pp. 578-591. One may also consider what Giovanni Aquilecchia wrote concerning the variants of Cena: «occorre innanzitutto escludere che l’opera abbia potuto essere riveduta per capriccio» (Nota filologica in Opere italiane di Giordano Bruno, testi critici e nota filologica di G. Aquilecchia, introduzione e coordinamento generale di N. Ordine, 2 vols., Torino 2002, I, p. 232).
[25] Cfr. G. Bruno, Opere mnemotecniche, edizione diretta da M. Ciliberto, a cura di M. Matteoli - R. Sturlese - N. Tirinnanzi, 2 vols., Milano 2004-09, II, pp. l-lviii.
[26] Cfr. OM, pp. 533-550.
[27] Cfr. ibid., pp. li-lviii.
[28] Cfr. Aquilecchia, La lezione definitiva della Cena de le ceneri di Giordano Bruno, cit., pp. 1-2. Imbriani had already made the same observation: cfr. V. Imbriani, Natanar II. Lettera al comm. Francesco Zambrini sul testo del Candelajo di Giordano Bruno, Bologna 1875, p. 9.
[29] Rossius, Works within a Codex, cit., p. 459.
[30] Ibid.
[31] Cfr. Iordani Bruni Nolani De triplici minimo et mensura, OL, I, 3, p. 123: «Opus aggressus, ut quam accuratissime absolveret, non schemata solum ipse sua manu sculpsit, sed etiam operarum se in eodem correctorem praebuit. Tandem cum ultimum dumtaxat superesset operis folium, casu repentino a nobis avulsus, extremam ei, ut ceteris, manum imponere non potuit». On the importance of the intervention directed by Bruno on his texts see also G. Bruno, Corpus iconographicum, a cura di M. Gabriele, Milano 2001, pp. xci-xciv; xcvi -ciii.
[32] Cfr. supra note 22.
[33] Rossius, Works within a Codex, cit., note 6, p. 459.
[34] Ibid. For the quotations of the texts cfr. OM, p. l.
[35] «Il codice M si configura […] come una copia di lavoro: è ricco di appunti e di correzioni, di rubriche e di glosse. Si tratta di carte tormentate […]. Il testimone M reca evidenti i segni dell’attenzione con cui Bruno ha dettato o controllato la copia del testo: infatti pentimenti, cancellature, ripensamenti ricorrono spesso […]. Facciamo solo alcuni esempi» and a list follows from which Rossius inappropriately draws his two cases (cfr. OM, pp. xlix-li).
[36] Cfr. ibid., p. l. If Rossius had read all of page l and the beginning of the next he would have noticed that the discussion concerned the insensible body as spirit (an aside: one of the central themes of Bruno’s philosophy, since the text De la causa). Moreover, if he had consulted the apparatus of OL, III, p. 414, containing the passage quoted, clearly indicating that it dealt with a modification within M, he would have understood that he was mistaken.
[37] Ibid., p. 460.
[38] The observation accompanying note 1 on p. 460 is somewhat curious: the reviewer considers the philological procedures described in Nota ai testi to be for «a purely ornamental purpose» since «it is enough to know that both mss. were written by the same scribe to understand that the one which has cleaner handwriting must be derived from the one full of corrections and additions».
[39] Ibid., p. 460.
[40] OM, p. lxxii. In regarding the margins of De magia and the Theses cfr. ibid., pp. li-lvi.
[41] What Tocco and Vitelli write in the introduction to volume III of Opera latine conscripta is unconvincing when they state that Besler did not copy the marginal notes in C because «non ha più saputo neppur lui leggere alcune di queste annotazioni, e le ha omesse». It had nothing to do with being unable to decipher his own handwriting (it would be strange if he were a victim of this obstacle only in the case of the marginal notes of De magia naturali – and moreover only for those without signs of integration – while in the case of the Theses he managed to read all the glosses perfectly). In the same way, the editorial choice they adopted is not persuasive, animated in turn by a double strategy: in the case of De magia naturali they copy the glosses in the apparatus (except for the first two on page 8r, which are not recorded in OL, III, p. 401; but they do not record even those present on page 10v that are lacking in OL, III, p. 408, nor the first note of f. 13r absent in OL, III, p. 414); in the case of the Theses all the glosses (except for four cases) are always inserted in the body of the text.
[42] Rossius, Works within a Codex, cit., p. 460.
[43] Ibid., pp. 460-461.
[44] Ibid., p. 461.
[45] E. Scapparone - N. Tirinnanzi, Giordano Bruno e la composizione del De vinculis, «Rinascimento», II s., XXXVII, 1997, pp. 155-231: 160.
[46] Ibid., p. 162. Farther on one reads: «Non stupisce il riaffiorare qui di temi e immagini utilizzati nel Sigillus sigillorum per descrivere uno dei vertici dell’ascesa intellettuale […]. Tuttavia, al di là dell’apparente continuità di esempi e lemmi, tra Sigillus e De vinculis lo scarto è netto: a conferma, una volta di più, di come in Bruno un nucleo di motivi schiettamente filosofici riesca – attraverso la tecnica della variazione – a rinnovarsi e a ridefinirsi in contesti teorici diversi» (p. 163). The same applies to the use of sources: cfr. ibid., pp. 164-167.
[47] Cfr. OL, III, p. xxvi.
[48] Cfr. OL, III, pp. 434-438; OM, pp. 242-252; 310.
[49] Firpo, Per l’edizione critica dei dialoghi italiani di Giordano Bruno, cit., pp. 597-598.
[50] Bruno, Opere mnemotecniche, cit., I, p. xiii.
[51] P. Zambelli, Magia bianca magia nera nel Rinascimento, Ravenna 2004, p. 178: «Questi scritti inediti, probabilmente destinati da Bruno non alla stampa, ma semmai a una circolazione clandestina, anzi iniziatica, De magia mathematica, De magia naturali, Theses de magia, De principiis rerum, elementis et causis, De vinculis in genere […] sono cronologicamente legati e omogenei, fanno poi frequenti rinvii interni, anzi il De magia naturali rinvia alle Theses de magia, e viceversa: questa autoreferenzialità svela che si tratta invero di sezioni di una stessa opera».
[52] Ibid.
[53] Cfr. ibid., pp. 178-180.
[54] He also writes, still referring to De rerum principiis, «ut dictum est in praecedenti tractatu» (OM, p. 770; OL, III, p. 574); «in tractatu de magia circa finem» (OM, p. 784; OL, III, p. 581).
[55] OM, p. 814; OL, III, p. 592. One might also wonder why, in De rerum principiis, alluding to topics addressed in Medicina lulliana, he writes «in parte dicetur inferius sequenti tractatu» (OM, p. 710; OL, III, p. 565) suggesting he planned to write another work.
[56] Cfr. Zambelli, Magia bianca magia nera, cit., note 56, p. 179: «il chiarissimo manoscritto di Erlangen dà sui margini la numerazione di questi ‘articuli’».
[57] Cfr. ibid. where she lists the references of the Theses, also inserting number XVIII where there is no reference, which appears instead in Thesis XVII (cfr. OM, p. 348; OL, III, p. 467).
[58] Cfr. ibid. (and instead OM, pp. 168, 172, 174 etc.).
[59] Regarding «mancato riconoscimento del genere letterario scolastico delle ‘theses disputatae’» writes Zambelli ibid. (but also ibid., note 60, p. 181). Cfr. OM, p. liii: «A questo proposito è abbastanza significativo un passo delle Theses: T 54 Illud si praestabit argumentator, nos libenter docebimur ab ipso. Allargando l’esame al contenuto e alla struttura del testo si vede bene […] che gli articoli delle Theses rappresentano il materiale organizzato da presentare in una discussione ufficiale accademica»; cfr. also OM, p. 401.
[60] Cfr. ibid., p. 180: «Stölzle era uno studioso così serio e originale che Tocco e Vitelli non avevano esitato a affidargli e pubblicare la trascrizione del manoscritto di Erlangen». Stölzle prepared a copy of the manuscript solely «per nostro uso» as Tocco and Vitelli write (OL, III, p. iii), but the text of De magia naturali and Theses de magia published in the Opera latine conscripta is not that passed down in the German manuscript which is considered by the two editors to be lacking in any authority since «ci parve di dover ritenere C derivato […] da M nel De magia e nelle Theses»; it was thus evident to the two editors «che la recensione di questi scritti dovesse essere fondata […] su M, né alle varianti di C si dovesse attribuire altro valore che quello di congetture» (OL, III, pp. xiii-xiv; cfr. also ibid., p. xlix). For De magia and Theses de magia the published text is that of M of which «il Ministero della pubblica istruzione ci aveva trasmessa una copia fotografica» (ibid., p. iii).
[61] Cfr. ibid., p. 182, where she indicates Thesis XXXI on p. 346, while on that page comma 31 is found (instead Thesis XXXI is on pp. 364-366).
[62] Cfr. ibid., p. 183. For dates cfr. Bullarum diplomatum et privilegiorum Sanctorum Romanorum Pontificum Taurinensis editio, cura et studio Collegii Adlecti Romae Virorum S. Theologiae et SS. Canonum Peritorum, t. V ab Eugenio IV (an. MCCCCXXXI) ad Leonem X (an. MDXXI), Augustae Taurinorum Seb. Franco et Henrico Dalmazzo editoribus, MDCCCLX, pp. 296-298.
[63] Rossius, Works within a Codex, cit., p. 461.
[64] For example, compare note 3 on p. 458 of Rossius’ article with note 79 on p. 190 of Zambelli’s book.
[65] Zambelli (pp. 186-189) insists on the presence of several sources, forgetting to observe that they are mostly concentrated in De magia mathematica, becoming sparse in De magia naturali to finally disappear in the Theses.
[66] Cfr. Rossius, Works within a Codex, cit., p. 462.
[67] Cfr. ibid.
[68] See OM, pp. 287-320; 401-412, and S. Bassi, Struttura e diacronia nelle Opere magiche di Giordano Bruno, «Rinascimento», II s., XL, 2000, pp. 3-17: 7-9.
[69] «The main tendency, therefore, is the ‘naturalization’ of magic, i.e. its approximation to natural science» whose traces would be identified «in any individual change that occurs in the text of De magia as such in the course of Besler’s copying it […] from the Moscow to the Erlangen ms» (Rossius, Works within a Codex, cit., p. 462). And a little later he cites, as an example, the repetition, in the title of the last part of the section on magic (De vinculis spirituum, et primum de eo quod est ex triplici ratione agentis, materiae et applicationis: OM, p. 250) of the title of a preceding chapter (De vinculis spirituum: OM, p. 222), that had been entirely devoted to demons. The chapter De vinculis spirituum concerns various categories of demons (deaf and mute, shy and suspicious, prudent and airy, envious and jealous of humans, etc.), their character and location, while in the next chapter, De analogia spirituum, the theories of Porphyry, Plotinus and the Platonics regarding spirits are explained. Tocco had previously observed that «questi due capitoli sono una stonatura nella Magia» (Tocco, Le opere inedite di Giordano Bruno, cit., p. 125): in fact they fit badly into the theoretical framework of De magia naturali, which deals with magical phenomena from a strictly natural point of view. The beginning of the chapter regarding bonds of the spirits refers to what was written previously in De magia mathematica (Supra dictum est: OM, p. 222; cfr. OM, pp. 14-20, 84, 114); in the last chapter, which repeats the title with the modification, Bruno returns to the theme of bonds between spirits without making significant references to demons: this does not imply that they are no longer present, but as previously emphasized, they do not have an important central role in magical procedures.
[70] Ibid., p. 463.
[71] Ibid., p. 464.
[72] Cfr. Moscow codex cc. 27v and 38v; Erlangen codex cc. 74v (which follows blank page 75 before the beginning of the Theses) and 89r. It is difficult to understand how Rossius can then maintain «The Erlangen Ms 443 [sic] is very likely a copy intended for printing» (ibid., note 2, p. 456).
[73] Ibid., p. 464.
[74] Cfr. OM, p. lxv.
[75] Rossius, Works within a Codex, cit., p. 463.
[76] Ibid., p. 464.
[77] Cfr. ibid. The evident asymmetry can also be seen in the table present ibid., pp. 465-472.
[78] In the section De analogia spirituum Bruno, turning to the theories of Porphyry, Plotinus and other Platonics, speaks of the spirits and their characteristics and at the end lists XX bonds explicitly taken from De magia mathematica as indicated by the references in the margin: cfr. OM, pp. 242-250, 311.
[79] Cfr. ibid., pp. 326-328.
[80] Each Thesis is organized in two sections: the first represents the conceptual statement, the second the explanation, introduced often by Ratio, Distingue, Vide and graphically separate from the first. This structure, similar to that of Acrotismus camoeracensis, was shown by Stölzle in 1890: cfr. Stölzle, Die Erlanger Giordano Bruno-Manuscripte, cit., pp. 573-578.
[81] Cfr. OM, pp. 172, 328-330.
[82] Ibid., pp. 332, 174.
[83] Ibid., pp. 160-166, 322.
[84] Ibid., p. 168.
[85] Ibid., p. 178.
[86] Cfr. DFI, pp. 238-239.
[87] OM, p. 334.
[88] Ibid., p. 128.
[89] Cfr. S. Bassi, La magia in Giordano Bruno, in Storia d’Italia, XXV: Esoterismo, a cura di G. M. Cazzaniga, Torino 2010, pp. 231-256; V. Perrone Compagni, Magia, in Enciclopedia bruniana e campanelliana, diretta da E. Canone e G. Ernst, 2 vols., Pisa-Roma 2006-10, I, coll. 90-105.
[90] OM, p. 182: «Hic sensus quidam est in rebus omnibus insitus et vita, quem pro more vulgi non dicimus animalem, ad animam particularem referendo, siquidem neque animalia istae partes possunt appellari, in ordine tamen universi, quia spiritus unus undique diffusus, atque sensus ubique et undique pro captu rei sentit tales effectus et passiones, in rebus omnibus licet contemplari»; De la causa, DFI, pp. 218-219: «Concedo che tutte le cose hanno in sé anima, hanno vita […] perché quel spirto si trova in tutte le cose, le quali se non sono animali, sono animate; se non sono secondo l’atto sensibili d’animalità e vita, son però secondo il principio e certo atto primo d’animalità e vita».
[91] OM, pp. 182-184.
[92] Ibid., p. 336.
[93] For example, the theme of writing and hieroglyphics is dropped (ibid., pp. 192-196).
[94] Ibid., p. 344: «omnes formae substantiales physicae sunt materiales, et anima necessario est corporea et materialis, ut non negabunt etiam Peripathetici».
[95] Ibid., p. 188.
[96] Cfr. ibid., p. 344.
[97] Cfr. ibid., p. 364.
[98] Cfr. ibid., p. 344.
[99] Cfr. ibid., p. 332.
[100] Cfr. ibid., p. 348.
[101] See the table of correspondence in Bassi, Struttura e diacronia nelle Opere magiche di Giordano Bruno, cit., pp. 7-9.
[102] Cfr. OM, pp. 348, 356, 360, 362, 366, 368, 376, 386, 388.
[103] The references to Theses IV, V, VI, XIV do not correspond here.
[104] Cfr. for example OM, p. 348: «Ultra ea quae sunt in articulo 18°, notandum est […]»; p. 356: «Ratio huius consistit in exemplis quae sunt in articulo 22°»; ibid.: «Rationes sunt in 23° articulo»; p. 360: «Ratio huius est in exemplo quod est in 27° articulo»; p. 362: «Ratio istorum ab exemplis 28°»; ibid.: «Defenditur item enumerando effectus, qui sunt in articulo 29°»; p. 366: «Ipsum patet per ea quae dicuntur in 32° articulo»; p. 368: «Patet ex his quae habentur in 33° articulo»; p. 374: «Probatur per exempla articulo 41°»; p. 388: «Patet ex his quae dicuntur 49°».
[105] Rossius, Works within a Codex, cit., p. 466.
[106] OM, p. 114.
[107] Ibid.
[108] Ibid., p. 202.
[109] Ibid., p. 386.
[110] Ibid., p. 274.
[111] Ibid., pp. 276; 388.
[112] Cfr. DFI, pp. 804-805.
[113] OM, p. 280.
[114] Ibid., p. 282.
[115] Ibid., p. 390.
[116] Ibid., p. 282.
[117] Ibid., p. 396.
[118] Cfr. OL, III, p. 485.
[119] OM, p. 386.
[120] As in Zambelli, Magia bianca magia nera, cit., note 56, p. 179.
[121] Rossius, Works within a Codex, cit., p. 468: «Ad hoc refertur […] ea ratione producere»; OM, p. 362: «Ad hoc refertur […] qui sunt in articulo 29».
[122] Cfr. OM, pp. 366, 368.
[123] Ibid., p. 374.
[124] Ibid., p. 386.
[125] N. Tirinnanzi, I Libri physicorum Aristotelis e la riflessione magica di Bruno, in Ead., L’antro del filosofo. Studi su Giordano Bruno, a cura di E. Scapparone, Roma 2013, pp. 129-152.
[126] Rossius, Works within a Codex, cit., p. 452.
[127] Ibid., note 3, p. 454.