Peter of Abano (Petrus de Abano)
(1250–1318)
Famous medieval philosopher, mathematician, and astrologer
who also wrote treatises on magic. He was born in Abano,
near Padua, and became a learned scholar. He traveled widely,
visiting France, Sardina, and Constantinople, and he once met
the famous traveler Marco Polo, from whom he obtained information
on Asia. During his travels he also discovered one of the
lost books of Aristotle and translated it into Latin.
He practiced medicine in Paris with success and became
rich, but his wealth and attainments were annulled by the accusation
of sorcery brought against him. He was said to receive
instruction in the seven liberal arts from seven spirits that he
kept in crystal vessels. Other rumors claimed that he had the
curious and useful ability to make the money he spent to return
to his own purse.
An act of revenge, for which he was called to account by the
Inquisition, brought about his downfall. A neighbor of his had
been possessed of a spring of excellent water in his garden,
from which he allowed Peter to drink at will. For some reason,
the permission was withdrawn, and it was claimed that with the
assistance of the devil, Peter caused the water to leave the garden
and flow uselessly in some distant street.
The unfortunate physician died before his trial was finished,
but the inquisitors were so bitter that they ordered his bones to
be dug up and burned. This public indignity to his memory was
averted by some of his friends, who, hearing of the vindictive
sentence, secretly removed the remains from the buryingground
where they lay. The inquisitors satisfied their animosity
by burning him in effigy.
Peter had a considerable literary output. He translated the
astrological work Nativities by Abraham Aben Ezra, and wrote
books on physiognomy, geomancy, prophecy, and the practice
of occult magic.
Sources
Seligman, Kurt. The History of Magic. New York Pantheon
Books, 1948. Reprined as Magic, Supernaturalism and Religion.
New York Pantheon Books, 1971.