Oedipus Aegyptiacus

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Frontispiece to Kircher's'' Oedipus Ægyptiacus; the Sphinx, confronted by Oedipus/Kircher's learning, admits he has solved her riddle.


Oedipus Aegyptiacus is Athanasius Kircher's supreme work of Egyptology.

The three full folio tomes of ornate illustrations and diagrams were published in Rome over the period 1652-54. Kircher claimed that his sources for Oedipus Aegyptiacus were Chaldean astrology, Hebrew kabbalah, Greek myth, Pythagorean mathematics, Arabian alchemy and Latin philology. Like Pico della Mirandola and Marsilio Ficino before him Kircher attempted to justify the wisdom of pre-Christian pagan culture to the Catholic world.

The third volume of Oedipus Aegyptiacus deals exclusively with Kircher's attempts to translate Egyptian hieroglyphs. The primary source for Kircher's study of hieroglyphs was the Bembine Tablet, so named from its acquisition by Cardinal Bembo shortly after the sack of Rome in 1527. The Bembine Tablet is a bronze and silver tablet measuring 30 X 50 inches depicting various Egyptian gods and goddesses. In its centre sits Isis representing 'the polymorphic all-containing Universal Idea'.

Athanasius Kircher's Oedipus Aegyptiacus is a fine example of syncretic and eclectic scholarship in the late Renaissance. It is representative of the baroque extravagances of the imagination amongst hermetically-inclined scholars before the modern scientific era. His renditions of hieroglyphic texts tended to be wordy and portentous; for example, he translated a frequently occurring phrase in Egyptian, dd Wsr, "Osiris says," as "The treachery of Typhon ends at the throne of Isis, the moisture of nature is guarded by the vigilance of Anubis."

Kircher was respected in the seventeenth century for his study of Egyptian hieroglyphs; his exact contemporary Sir Thomas Browne (1605-82) paid tribute to him as an Egyptologist and his study of hieroglyphs-

But no man is likely to profound the ocean of that doctrine beyond that eminent example of industrious learning, Kircherus.


But in fact Kircher failed to decipher the true meaning of Egyptian hieroglyphs and it was left to the Frenchman Jean-François Champollion to finally solve the riddle through his study of the Rosetta stone during the years 1822-24.

In 1999 the University of Geneva exhibited one of the vast tomes of Oedipus Aegyptiacus in an exhibition to celebrate the centenary of Jorge Luis Borges as representative of books associated with the Argentinian author.

External links

A photo of the Bembine Tablet and its details Downloadable PDf files of part of 1653 edition of the work

Source

  • Athanasius Kircher: A Renaissance man in search of lost knowledge. Joscelyn Godwin pub. Thames and Hudson 1979
  • Athanasius Kircher The last man who knew everything. edi. Paula Findlen Routledge 2004
Athanasius Kircher ( listen  ) (sometimes erroneously spelled Kirchner
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Egyptology is the study of Ancient Egypt and Egyptian antiquities and is a regional and thematic branch of the larger disciplines of ancient history and archaeology. A practitioner of the discipline is an Egyptologist, though Egyptology is not exclusive to such practitioners.
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Ancient Mesopotamia

Euphrates Tigris
Cities / Empires
Sumer: Uruk ' Ur ' Eridu
Kish ' Lagash ' Nippur
Akkadian Empire: Akkad
Babylon ' Isin ' Susa
Assyria: Assur Nineveh
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Astrology (from Greek: αστήρ, αστρός (astér, astrós), "star", and λόγος, λόγου (lógos, lógou), "word" or "speech" lit.
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Hebrews (or Heberites, Eberites, Hebreians "Habiru" or "Habiri"; Hebrew: עברים or עבריים, Standard ʿIvrim,
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Kabbalah (Hebrew: קַבָּלָה‎, Tiberian: qabːɔˈlɔh, Qabbālāh, Israeli:
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Motto
Ελευθερία ή θάνατος
Eleftheria i thanatos  
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Pythagoras of Samos (Greek: Πυθαγόρας; between 580 and 572 BC–between 500 and 490 BC) was an Ionian (Greek) philosopher[1]
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Mathematics (colloquially, maths or math) is the body of knowledge centered on such concepts as quantity, structure, space, and change, and also the academic discipline that studies them. Benjamin Peirce called it "the science that draws necessary conclusions".
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Arabian Peninsula (in Arabic: شبه الجزيرة العربية, or جزيرة العرب) is a peninsula in Southwest Asia at the junction of
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In the history of science, alchemy (Arabic: الخيمياء, al-khimia) refers to both an early form of the investigation of nature and an early philosophical and spiritual discipline, both combining elements of chemistry,
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Latin}}} 
Official status
Official language of: Vatican City
Used for official purposes, but not spoken in everyday speech
Regulated by: Opus Fundatum Latinitas
Roman Catholic Church
Language codes
ISO 639-1: la
ISO 639-2: lat
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Philology, etymologically, is the "love of words". It is most accurately defined as "an affinity toward the learning of the backgrounds as well as the current usages of spoken or written methods of human communication".
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Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (February 24, 1463 -November 17, 1494) was an Italian Renaissance philosopher.[1] He was celebrated for the events of 1486, when at the age of twenty-three, he proposed to defend 900 theses on religion, philosophy, natural philosophy and
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Marsilio Ficino (Latin name: Marsilius Ficinus; Figline Valdarno, October 19 1433 - Careggi, October 1 1499) was one of the most influential humanist philosophers of the early Italian Renaissance, an astrologer, a reviver of Neoplatonism who was in touch with every major
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Egyptian hieroglyphs
Child systems Hieratic

ISO 15924 Egyp

Note: This page may contain IPA phonetic symbols in Unicode.
Egyptian hieroglyphs (sometimes called hieroglyphics
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The Bembine Tablet, the Bembine Table of Isis or the Mensa Isiaca (Isiac Tablet) was an elaborate tablet of bronze with enamel and silver inlay of probable Roman origin and mimicking Egyptian style.
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ISIS (Image and Scanner Interface Specification) is an industry standard interface for image scanning technologies, developed by Pixel Translations in 1990 (today: EMC captiva).
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Athanasius Kircher ( listen  ) (sometimes erroneously spelled Kirchner
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 Egyptian
}}} 
Writing system: hieroglyphs, cursive hieroglyphs, hieratic, demotic and Coptic (later, occasionally Arabic script in government translations)
Language codes
ISO 639-1: none
ISO 639-2: egy
ISO 639-3: egy
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OSIRIS (OH-Suppressing Infrared Integral Field Spectrograph) is an integral field spectrograph for the Keck II telescope in Hawaii. As an integral field spectrograph, it can obtain many spectra simultaneously covering a small region of the sky.
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Typhon (ancient Greek: Τυφῶν), also Typhoeus (Τυφωεύς), Typhaon (
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ISIS (Image and Scanner Interface Specification) is an industry standard interface for image scanning technologies, developed by Pixel Translations in 1990 (today: EMC captiva).
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Anubis is the Greek name for the ancient jackal-headed god of the dead in Egyptian mythology whose hieroglyphic version is more accurately spelled Anpu (also Ano-Oobist, Anoubis, Anupu, Anbu, Wip, Ienpw, Inepu, Yinepu
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Sir Thomas Browne (October 19, 1605 – October 19, 1682) was an English author of varied works which disclose his wide learning in diverse fields including medicine, religion, science and the esoteric.
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Jean-François Champollion (23 December 1790 – 4 March 1832) was a French classical scholar, philologist and orientalist.
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Rosetta Stone is an Ancient Egyptian artifact which was instrumental in advancing modern understanding of hieroglyphic writing. The stone is a Ptolemaic era stele with carved text.
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Jorge Luis Borges

Born: July 24 1899(1899--)
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Died: May 14 1986 (aged 88)
Geneva, Switzerland
Occupation: writer, poet, critic, librarian
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