Jacques Gaffarel

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Jacques Gaffarel (16011681) was a librarian to Cardinal Richelieu and a famous astrologer. He travelled to Italy where he acquired manuscripts by Pico della Mirandola. His most famous work is Unheard-of Curiosities, published in 1629 in French and translated into English in 1650, its full title being "Unheard-of Curiosites Concerning the Talismanical Sculpture of the Persians; The Horoscope of the Patriarkes; and the reading of the Stars", including two large folding plates of "the Celestial Constellations Expressed by Hebrew Characters".

Jewish astrology developed independently from the mythology and star-gazing of the ancient Greek and Roman civilizations. Gaffarel asserted in his work that the letters of the Hebrew alphabet could be interpreted from the constellations and that the heavens could be read as if a book. Descartes read this work with interest and the French physician and mathematician Pierre Gassendi (1592-1655) defended it.

Unheard-of Curiosites was one of 1500 books upon the shelves of the Library of Sir Thomas Browne and one of the varied sources of his encyclopaedia entitled Pseudodoxia Epidemica. Browne alludes to Gaffarel's astrology in The Garden of Cyrus thus:

Could we satisfy our selves in the position of the lights above, or discover the wisdom of that order so invariably maintained in the fixed stars of heaven......we might abate.....the strange Cryptography of Gaffarell in his Starrie Booke of Heaven.

External links

  • Examples of Gaffarel's astrological writing
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