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Magus is a work situated at the heart of the European High Renaissance, and illuminates the role of the ‘mage’ as a figure crucial to science and medicine as we know them today.


Magic was firmly entwined with the development of many schools of thought now considered to be the antithesis of magical practice, but this was not always the case. Grafton’s Magus uses a wealth of research on a group of individuals who dedicated their lives to the pursuit of the marvellous to show how their work was crucial to progress made during the renaissance.


This book is structured chronologically, beginning with an introduction that uses Faustus as a model for how renaissance magicians are remembered. Grafton provides historical context for the practice of magic in society in a chapter on mediaeval magi followed by a chapter on art, engineering and humanism that demonstrates why power over one’s environment drew many to the skills of the magi. The final three chapters focus on specific individuals including Pico and Ficino, Johannes Trithemius, and Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa. Historical artwork and relevant manuscript pages are included to demonstrate key points in the text.


Padstow: Allen Lane, 2023. Hardback, 289 pages. New.

Magus - Anthony Grafton