Musick, Magick, and the Harmony of the Spheres: The Renaissance Cosmos, by Dr Allan Chapman

Monday, March 5, 2018 - 17:15
Contact person
Dr Cristina Neagu
01865 276265
Talk / Lecture

Four hundred years ago, scholars of the highest calibre accepted 'magick', along with astrology and alchemy, as  integral aspects of the world and of human understanding.  This was not through ignorance or blind superstition, but because they appeared to provide the best explanation for so many baffling phenomena, such as epidemics, freak weather, the seasons, chemical change, and human and animal behaviour. The classical cosmos, which was still the best on offer in 1600, was seen to be grounded in a series of harmonies and concentric spheres, which accorded with the Divine Intelligence, and human beings lived at the focal point, or the centre, of this Creation. The elements of Fire, Air, Water, and Earth composed our spherical planet, and these were always in a state of change, while the nine planetary spheres rotating around us beamed their particular forces towards the centre, thus affecting the elements and the Four Humours of the human body.Now there were eight planetary spheres rotating around the earth: the moon, Mercury, Venus, the Sun, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and the fixed stars; and these corresponded to the eight notes of the musical scale, to form a 'Musick of the Spheres'. They constituted a set of perfect astronomical, mathematical, musical, and aesthetic proportions that delighted the human intellect, and showed that humans could, through reason, glimpse the Mind of God through the Divine Harmonies of Creation.

The talk, delivered by Dr Allan Chapman, will take place on 5 March in the Upper Library at Christ Church, commencing 5:15 pm. All are welcome. The event is free of charge, but spaces are limited. To book a place, please contact Dr Cristina Neagu, Keeper of Special Collections, Christ Church Library, Oxford.