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VMs: RE: VMS rant
> Petr? sent...
> > >I get the feeling that the old-time
> > >researchers have a hidden cache of old VMS
> information that's not
> > >anywhere or that is not easily accessible. There's
> no way the newcomers
> > >catch up with that.
Any secret caches are going to be those that aren't yet
discovered. Each of us has several things that directly relate to
our own pet theories, but nothing that leads directly to the
solution of the VMS - or do we? All these parallels with the VMS
should be of some use, don't you think?
As Dana has demonstrated, there are many parallels with the plants
and real-life plants. The astrological drawings are fairly
identifiable as accepted zodiac characters, and even a couple of
the weirder drawings seem to have parallels with astrological
texts, such as the "nocturnal" drawing. The antidotary section
seems to have some divisions, leaves clumped together, roots
prominent in another "formula", etc., and Nick's "balneological"
section (I believe them to demonstrate the flow of humors), has
parallels to existing works.
The biological drawings are interesting, but not totally unique.
I think the "map" theory is probably more correct than
"biological", and Jerusalem and Hebrew symbolism figured into many
astrological maps of the time period. When a star passes over a
region, that region is greatly influenced by that star, and the
general "health and welfare" of that region could then be
astrologically predicted, as it was done in print from about 1525
on in England, and even earlier in countries where printing had a
better footing. (One historian says that there were only 57
different titles printed in England before 1500, most by the
printer "Winkyn de Word", while printers in Paris alone were
turning out 1500 titles a year by this time.)
D'Imperio suggests that the star section at the end of the book
may have been an almanac consisting of 365 starred paragraphs of
text. If so this would be a general almanac useful for a period
of time, just as the ones found in the beginning of bibles during
this time period.
While we each have our idea of what these sections mean, the
general appearance of the VMS suggests that it was written by
someone pursuing an existing course of study, namely "Physicke".
This course included the identification of plants and their
properties, the preparation of medications, the survey of bodily
fluids - urine and stools - to identify illness, and the treatment
of illness with medication and bloodletting by astrological
calculation, designed to maximize the effect of each herb or
treatment. This course of study also involved drawing up maps of
the influence of the stars over regions of the earth to predict a
wave of illness such as the plague, so the populace and the
physician could prepare for the onslaught.
So while we each have our own secret theory on the meaning of the
VMS, a logical first approach would be to accept the fact that
every section of the VMS is consistent with a specific western
medieval course of study, and then build on that theory. Just my
opinion, of course. :-)
Many thanks to Dana for his work on the herbal section, by far the
most graphical section of the book. I have the idea somewhat that
since a plant was broken into parts astrologically, these drawings
may be composites of that astrological persuasion. I have the
feeling these plants are far more real than fictional, and if we
could only read the text their identities would become apparent,
and I'm not thrown off by the fact that their partial
identifications seem to hint at plants from around the known
world. Medicine was a booming business then as it is now, and by
1525 the trade in herbs was extensive. London shops carried
almost everything listed in Pliny, with only a few local
substitutes. In fact the availability of plants and the problems
with local substitutions is one of the better documented portions
of medieval history. By 1600 the English crown had passed several
laws and ordinances designed to keep fraud out of the herbal
industry. That our VMS author sought to identify and procure
plants on his own says a lot about the time period of the VMS and
the identity of the author. This process for instance wasn't
nearly as necessary in urban hubs like Italy and France around
1500-1525, and while I haven't viewed much German literature on
the subject yet, the mention of availability of herbs in Almain,
etc., leads me to believe that Germany and its member kingdoms
were much closer to Italy in availability than to England, Ireland
Our differences are of course in the conclusions we reach, but all
the known information is available, and far from secret.