Camillo Leonardi (Author), Joseph Uccello (Artist), Margherita Fiorello (Translator): The Mirror of Stones, Speculum Lapidum, Book III: An Astrological Lapidary, Revelore Press, Olympia 2022, ISBN 978-1947544130
Camillo Leonardi’s Speculum Lapidum, which comprised three books, was first published in 1502. In the Translator’s Preface of the first English translation, published in 1750, we find the following:
“The Third Book we have wholly omitted, for the reason following. The Author there treats of the Sculpture on Stones engraved by the Antients; but says there are few who understand the Import of these Seals and Impressions on stones, unless they at the same Time are skill’d in the Astronomical, Magical and Necromantic Sciences. […]
But as nothing of this Kind suits the Taste of the more enlighten’d Moderns, we judged it wholly impertinent to trouble our Readers with Speculations not agreeable to right Reason, nor indeed consistent with our Religion.
However, if the Curious, for their Amusement, are desirous of knowing the Sentiments of the Antients in these Matters, upon the Intimidation of their Desire, we will give them a Translation of this our Author’s Third Book, in a small Volume by itself.”
The promised small volume never saw the light of day, and so the curious reader had to wait 272 years for Margherita Fiorello to publish her own translation.
Dr. Jenn Zahrt at Revelore Press has outdone herself this time, producing a wonderful hardcover volume, which is slim, but perfectly formed. Dustjacket and cover, designed by Joseph Uccello, are kept in the style of the marbled papers that came into fashion in Germany and France at the beginning of the 17th Century. Uccello’s choice of typefaces is impeccable; he was able to achieve an exciting but well-balanced mixture of traditional and contemporary style, which makes the text pleasing to the eye but also eminently readable.
The book’s physical quality is equalled by that of Fiorello’s translation. She also annotated the text, providing useful footnotes, often for the better understanding of some obscure terms.
Chapters 1 to 7 describe the nature of the stones and the classifications of the seals, separated into three aspects. Chapters 8 to 14 deal with the astrological triplicities and their virtues, planetary figures and their images, as well as constellational figures and their use. The remaining chapters provide information about magical images from famous medieval lapidaries by Raziel, Hermes, and others.
The second part of the book provides the interested reader with a modernised Italian version of the third book of Speculum Lapidum, by Lodovico Dolce.
A detailed bibliography, an index, and a list of illustrations complete the volume.
All in all, this is a handbook for the magical practitioner, collecting specialist information which would otherwise be very hard to find. Anyone interested in the theory and practice of talismanic magic should have a copy of this astrological lapidary on their bookshelf.