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From the publisher
A revelatory new account of the magus - the learned magician - and his place in the world of Renaissance Europe
At the heart of the extraordinary ferment of the High Renaissance stood a distinctive, strange and beguiling figure: the magus. An unstable mix of scientist, bibliophile, engineer, fabulist and fraud, the magus ushered in modern physics and chemistry while also working on everything from secret codes to siege engines to magic tricks.
Anthony Grafton's wonderfully original book discusses the careers of men who somehow managed to be both figures of startling genius and - by some measures - credulous or worse. The historical Faust, Marsilio Ficino, Pico della Mirandola, Johannes Trithemius and Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa are all fascinating characters, closely linked to monarchs, artists and soldiers and sitting at the heart of any definition of why the Renaissance was a time of such restless innovation. The study of the stars, architecture, warfare, even medicine: all of these and more were revolutionized in some way by the experiments and tricks of these extraordinary individuals.
No book does a better job of allowing us to understand the ways that magic, religion and science were once so intertwined and often so hard to tell apart.