Hygromanteia

Hygromanteia: The Magical Treatise of Solomon

Manuscripts of the true ancestor of the Key of Solomon, 15th Century

Harley MS 5596 | C0879 Princeton Greek MS. 131

The Magical Treatise of Solomon, also known as Hygromanteia (Greek: Ὑγρομαντεία) or Hygromancy of Solomon, the Solomonikê (Σολομωνική), or even Little Key of the Whole Art of Hygromancy, Found by Several Craftsmen and by the Holy Prophet Solomon, refers to a group of similar late Byzantine-era grimoires purporting to contain Solomon’s instructions to his son Rehoboam on various magical techniques and tools to summon and control different spirits, those spirits’ powers, astrological beliefs, select charms, different means of divination, and the magical uses of herbs.

The Hygromantiea is the the true ancestor and prototype for the Key of Solomon (‘Clavicula Solomonis’), the most prominent grimoire of the Western world. When the Roman Empire fell to the Turks, the Byzantinians fled Constantinople to Rome where it was first translated into Latin or Italian in the 15th century. It then made its way through Europe resulting in other translations such as English, French, German, Czech, and later Latin/Dutch and Italian editions as well as a few Hebrew translations from the 17th century (see map below). Many of the Text groups claim to have been translated from Hebrew however a Hebrew manuscript written before the 1700 is yet to discovered. Stephen Skinner has done an amazing job connecting the dots between the The Key of Solomon text and eleven or so Greek manuscripts of the Hygromanteia.

Contents (Harley MS 5596)

ff. 1v-3 Arithmomancy. Delatte AA I pp.388-391

ff. 3v-5 Cleromancy. Delatte AA I pp.392-396

ff. 5v-6v Letter of Pythagoras to Helias. Tannery p.248

ff. 6v-7 Magic recipe. Delatte AA I p.396

ff. 7-7v Fragment of Recension C of the Testament of Solomon. McCown p.83*

ff. 8-18 Part of Recension A of the Testament of Solomon. McCown pp.5*-57*

ff. 18v-39v Magical treatise of Solomon Ἀρχὴ τῆς ἀποτελεσματικῆς πραγματείας. Delatte AA I pp.397-434

ff. 39v-41 Fragment of Recension C of the Testament of Solomon. McCown pp.77*- 82*

ff. 41v-43 Magical treatise, inc. Ἄγγελοι καὶ δαίμονες ἑκάστης ἡμέρας. Delatte AA I pp.434-438

ff. 43-44v ῞Ετερος ὡρόσκοπος τοῦ ἡμερονυκτίου. Delatte AA I pp.438-441

ff. 44v-49v Palmomancy. Tradition A in Diels Zuckungslit. pp.21-32

ff. 49v-50 Passage of the moon through the Zodiac. Delatte AA I p.442

f. 50 IIερὶ νά κάμης τα μελάνια. Delatte AA I p.443

ff. 50v-51 Plants of Kronos and the Sun. Delatte AA I p.444f.

ff. 51-58v Ζωδολόγιον. cf. CCAG X pp.102-121


In the ‘Related’ section, I have also included Princeton Greek MS. 131 which is chocked full of Graeco-Egyptian magic including a Greek version of the Key of Solomon, Vasileia Solomomtos. Ioannis Marathakis & Stephen Skinner do not include it in their renowned study on the Hygromanteia but it shares many similarities. It has many of the same spells, drawing, and figures as Atheniensis 1265 but does not include the pentacles. Below is the summary note from Princeton University Library.

Contents (C0879 Princeton Greek MS. 131)

Iatrosophion compiled and used by Greek healers and practitioners of folk medicine, perhaps including local clerics, from the 16th to 18th centuries, possibly in Crete. The volume is foliated in part, but largely paginated (pp. 1-815). There are many missing and unnumbered pages. Decorative head pieces in the earlier parts of the manuscript. The text is comprised of approximately 70 sections, written in at least five different hands. This volume contains extracts from Greek medical treatises and information on botanical remedies (with a few color illustrations of plants), pharmacology, popular cures, astrological medicine (with charts), lists of “good” and “bad” days for phlebotomy, magical script, Cabalistic symbols, Zodiacal signs, pseudo-Solomonic pentacles, invocations of angels and demons, amuletic texts, spells, and prognostications. Among texts extracted are “Logoi pneumatikoi metaphrasthentes eis tēn koinēn glōttan para Agapiou monachou” (fols. 1r-3v); the “Iatrosophion plousiōtaton Agapiou Lantou Krētos logiōtatou kai sophōtatou” (fol. 21r-64v), copied from the Geoponicon of Agapios Landos (1585-1657), a Cretan monk; and “Vasileia Solomomtos,” a Greek version of the Clavicula Salomonis (fols. 171r-201r).

Facsimile Editions



Harley-5596: Geomantica Exorcimi (Magical Treatise of Solomon): Full Color Via British Library Website


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