The College of Physicians of Philadelphia Digital Library

Practica compendiosa, 1523

Ramón Llull was a 13th century philosopher, mystic, writer, and martyr. In his lifetime, Llull fought in the Crusades, converted Muslims to Christianity, gave his wealth to the poor, and had visions of Christ. This work, like Reisch's Margarita philosophica, is an encyclopedia, a format which remained a useful pedagogical tool for many centuries. Compare the zodiacal man here with the one that appears in Margarita philosophica. Although more abstract than some other versions of the zodiacal man, this image has both charm and humor. This work displays another diagram of the geocentric cosmos, but without the labeled spheres. Unlike the image of the cosmos shown in Margarita philosophica, the earth at center is clearly shown as the sublunar sphere, the realm of humankind and change (since the heavens are immutable). The central image shows a town but the atmosphere is depicted in flames—air and fire are the two elements within the sublunar sphere that characterize both our atmosphere and the mutability of our world. Oddly, the concentric circles are not labeled with the visible planets but the firmament is shown by the band of the zodiac that encircles the image. The third image shows a volvelle (see: Viridarium Mathematicorum, 1563). This volvelle was used to compute planetary aspects, that is, their relationship to one another. If planets occupy the same part of the sky, they are in conjunction. If 180 degrees apart, they are in opposition. The diagram shows other configurations. The line including the small box or square denotes a 90-degree aspect; the triangle denotes a 120-degree separation (or trine). The line with the asterisk denotes a 60-degree separation, or sextile. These aspects in combination with movements of the sun and moon gave astrology a sophisticated store of mathematical computations.