Stephanos of Alexandria steps out of the shadows

In the early 600’s Stephanos of Alexandria was a philosopher interested in alchemy.  His extant works consist of nine orations on alchemy, the last delivered in the presence of the emperor Heraclius.

Three of these were translated into English and published before WW2 in Ambix, the alchemy journal, by Sherwood Taylor.  As I have mentioned before, I discovered a draft of the fourth oration among Taylor’s papers in Oxford a couple of years ago. 

Last year I suggested to the modern editors of Ambix that it might form a nice part of their 75th anniversary issue to publish the material.  They agreed but not a lot happened.

Over the weekend I had an email from Dr Jenny Rampling, who has taken responsibility for this.  She’s in Athens, “cataloguing Hellenistic alchemical manuscripts” — which I suspect means medieval mss. of Hellenistic texts, but is still exciting stuff!  Apparently she’s working with a Greek researcher. 

She tells me that investigation reveals the draft would need revision before it could be published, but the idea is for her co-worker to do that, and that it will indeed appear in Ambix.  She asked my opinion, so I’ve written a letter of suggestions, although how welcome they will be I don’t know — never ask for opinions unless you want to get them!

I’ve also suggested she talk to the CSNTM people.  After all, people in Athens cataloguing mss ought to have some common interests.

So … some progress.  Ancient texts by alchemists are still ancient texts, and ought to be accessible.  Currently they are not.

UPDATE (July 3rd).  No reply or acknowledgement from Jenny Rampling.  Hum.


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