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Pietro d'Abano

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Pietro d'Abano

Pietro d'Abano
Pietro d'Abano
Born c.1257
Died c.1315
Nationality Italy
Occupation philosopher

Pietro d'Abano also known as Petrus De Apono, Petrus Aponensis or Peter of Abano[1] (c.1257[2][3] – 1316) was an Italian philosopher, astrologer and professor of medicine in Padua.[4] He was born in the Italian town from which he takes his name, now Abano Terme. He gained fame by writing Conciliator Differentiarum, quæ inter Philosophos et Medicos Versantur. He was eventually accused of heresy and atheism, and came before the Inquisition. He died in prison in 1315 (some sources say 1316[5]) before the end of his trial.[6]


  • Biography 1
  • Writings 2
  • The Inquisition 3
  • Notes 4
  • References 5
  • Other reading 6
  • External links 7


He lived in Greece for a period of time[1] before he move and commenced his studies for a long time at Constantinople (between 1270 and 1290). Around 1300 he moved to Paris, where he was promoted to the degrees of doctor in philosophy and medicine, in the practice of which he was very successful, but his fees were remarkably high. In Paris he became known as "the Great Lombard". He settled at Padua, where he gained a reputation as a physician. Also an astrologer,[7] he was charged with practising magic: the specific accusations being that he got back, by the aid of the devil, all the money he paid away, and that he possessed the philosopher's stone.

Gabriel Naude, in his Antiquitate Scholæ Medicæ Parisiensis, gives the following account of him:

He carried his enquiries so far into the occult sciences of abstruse and hidden nature, that, after having given most ample proofs, by his writings concerning physiognomy, geomancy, and chiromancy, he moved on to the study of philosophy, physics, and astrology; which studies proved so advantageous to him, that, not to speak of the two first, which introduced him to all the popes of his time, and acquired him a reputation among learned men, it is certain that he was a great master in the latter, which appears not only by the astronomical figures he had painted in the great hall of the palace at Padua, and the translations he made of the books of the most learned rabbi Abraham Aben Ezra, added to those he himself composed on critical days, and the improvement of astronomy, but by the testimony of the renowned mathematician Regiomontanus, who made a fine panegyric on him, in quality of an astrologer, in the oration he delivered publicly at Padua when he explained there the book of Alfraganus.


Conciliator differentiarum philosophorum et precipue medicorum

In his writings he expounds and advocates the medical and philosophical systems of Averroes, Avicenna,[1] and other Arab writers. His best known works are the Conciliator differentiarum quae inter philosophos et medicos versantur and De venenis eorumque remediis, both of which are extant in dozens of manuscripts and various printed editions from the late fifteenth through sixteenth centuries. The former was an attempt to reconcile apparent contradictions between medical theory and Aristotelian natural philosophy, and was considered authoritative as late as the sixteenth century.[8]

It has been alleged that Abano also wrote a grimoire called the Heptameron, a concise book of ritual magical rites concerned with conjuring specific angels for the seven days of the week (hence the title). It should not be confused with the Heptameron of Marguerite of Navarre. He is also credited with writing De venenis eorumque remediis which expounded on Arab theories concerning superstitions, poisons, and contagions.[1]

The Inquisition

Generic portrait of Petr[us] de abano conciliator, woodcut from the Nuremberg Chronicle, 1493

He was twice brought to trial by the Inquisition; on the first occasion he was acquitted, and he died before the second trial was completed. He was found guilty, however, and his body was ordered to be exhumed and burned; but a friend had secretly removed it, and the Inquisition had therefore to content itself with the public proclamation of its sentence and the burning of Abano in effigy.

According to Naude:

Apse with his sarcophagus.

Barrett (p. 157) refers to the opinion that it was not on the score of magic that the Inquisition sentenced Pietro to death, but because he endeavoured to account for the wonderful effects in nature by the influences of the celestial bodies, not attributing them to angels or demons; so that heresy, rather than magic, in the form of opposition to the doctrine of spiritual beings, seems to have led to his persecution. To quote Barrett:[5]


  1. ^ a b c d DeHaan, Richard (1997). "Abano, Pietro D'". In Johnston, Bernard. Collier's Encyclopedia. I A to Ameland (First ed.). New York, NY: P.F. Collier. pp. 6–7. 
  2. ^ His date of birth is also given as 1246 and 1250.
  3. ^ Premuda, Loris. "Abano, Pietro D'." in Dictionary of Scientific Biography. (1970). New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. Vol. 1: p.4-5.
  4. ^ Kibre, Pearl & Siraisi, Nancy G. (1978) Science in The Middle Ages, ed. David Lindberg, Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. p. 135.
  5. ^ a b Francis Barrett (2000). The magus: being a complete system of occult philosophy. New York: S. Weiser.  
  6. ^ Tsoucalas G, Karamanou M, Androutsos G (2011). "The eminent Italian scholar Pietro d'Abano (1250-1315) and his contribution in anatomy". Ital J Anat Embryol 116 (1): 52–5.  
  7. ^ An important text, Astrolabium planum in tabulis ascendens, was attributed to him.
  8. ^ The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.



Other reading

  • Francis Barrett, The Magus (1801)
  • Joan Cadden, "Sciences/silences: the nature and languages of "sodomy" in Peter of Abano's Problemata Commentary". In: Karma Lochrie & Peggy McCracken & James Schultz (edd.), Constructing medieval sexualities, University of Minnesota press, Minneapolis & London 1997, pp. 40–57.
  • Premuda, Loris. "Abano, Pietro D'." in Dictionary of Scientific Biography. (1970). New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. Vol. 1: pp. 4–5.

External links

  • The Heptameron
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