Theban Alphabet of Petter Apponusdetails

[Picture: Theban Alphabet of Petter Apponus]
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Theban Alphabet of Petter Apponus

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The source of this alphabet is unclear; Agrippa ascribed it to Honorius. It was used, Agrippa wrote, to make seals naming “certain spirits” so that the writing could not be read.

I do not know why a sign for the Greek letter Omega was included; possibly for use as punctuation. Almost certainly the w-like part of that letter should not be present, as that’s a ‘lower-case’ omega and secret letters stop being secret if they are labeled! Probably it’s there by mistake of the transcriber from the captions in the manuscript.


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Added by John S. L. Singleton on Wednesday 5th April, 2023

The oldest known version was in Polygraphia (1518) by Iohannes Trithemius. There that last character’s meaning is indicated by a lowercase “w” above the character; all the other Theban characters’ meanings were likewise indicated by lowercase Latin-script letters above them. But “W” was a recent addition to the Latin script, and not well known. In 1533 Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa (apparently the first to do this) placed the ω (lowercase omega) at the bottom of the character, and indicated its meaning with an Ω (uppercase Omega). A 1561 French translation of Polygraphia (Polygraphie) didn’t add the ω but said that character represented an Y (ampersand). In 1801 Francis Barrett’s The Magus reproduced Agrippa’s chart. Oh well. This is discussed in Wikipedia’s article Theban alphabet, with pictures from the respective books.



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