Though I have six (!) book reviews queued up, I simply can’t resist posting about what I’ve just read in Joscelyn Godwin’s “The Pagan Dream of the Renaissance” (which, strictly speaking, should be #7 in the review backlog).

On pp.11-13, Godwin (who you may remember from his epic translation of the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili) writes about the Roman Academy, a group of humanist scholars in mid-Quattrocento Rome with a shared obsession with Ancient Rome, and who held “the opinion that there is no other world than this one, and that when the body dies, the soul dies, too: and that nothing is worth anything except for pleasure and sensuality” (according to the Milanese ambassador to the Vatican, Agostino de’ Rossi).  Pretty radical stuff for the time, wouldn’t you say?

The unofficial leader of the Academy was Bartolommeo dei Sacchi, A.K.A. “Platina”: when, in March 1468, the Pope had had enough of the Academy’s quasi-pagan heresy, Platina was one of the first to be seized and (so says Platina) tortured, even though ultimately none of the Academicians got convicted of anything. As an aside, Godwin mentions that Platina had already had a run-in with Paul II in 1464, when the Pope had dismissed the Papal Abbreviators, a a group of salaried Papal scholars, including Leon Battista Alberti.

This is the point where I say – hey, hold that thought. If Alberti had been kicked out of his scholarly Vatican job in 1464, and didn’t resume his architect work until S. Andrea in 1470, that would mean that he may well have been thrown the cryptography challenge as a kind of lifeline by a former Vatican boss. That is, that cryptography wasn’t just a spare time gig for Alberti, but rather that he must have seen it as a full-time career change. In “The Curse”, I reconstructed from De componendis cifris what I believe was the meeting between Alberti and Filarete (Antonio Averlino) in Rome in Autumn 1465 discussing their two very different conceptions of cryptography: but now, the knowledge that they were not only both ex-pat Florentine architects in their sixties but also both equally out of favour with their former set of patrons raises the stakes. Given the goldfish bowl-like nature of Roman society, it would have been rhetorically necessary for Alberti to dismiss Averlino’s competing cryptographic system – that is, Alberti couldn’t just ignore it and hope it would go away.

Alberti also worked on astronomy with the Florentine Paolo Toscanelli, who in turn was connected to Hellenophiles such as Filfelfo and George of Trebizond: so why is it such a surprise for people when I link Alberti and Averlino, when the two men were connected in so many ways through the dense network of lives, astronomy, architecture, and cryptography criss-crossing Quattrocento Northern Italy? Oh well…

24 thoughts on “Alberti circa 1465…

  1. infinitii on January 25, 2009 at 2:42 am said:

    Nothing really to add except that I really love that book. One of my favorite Voynich-era related books (along with Shumaker’s ‘Renaissance Curiosa’, Yates’ ‘The Art of Memory’, and Panofsky’s ‘The Life and Art of Albrecht Durer’ — Thorndike seems good but the amount of information combined with the fact that I have to check those out of the library means it’s difficult for me to spend the time necessary on him). Anyway, any other ‘essential’ recommendations for that time period or (even vaguely — probably because of its mysteriousness, Voynich studies seems to cut a wider swarth than most specialized topics) related issues?

  2. Crumbs: apart from D’Imperio & The Curse 🙂 , what should be on a Voynich Manuscript reading list? Far too big a question to squeeze into a comment field, so I think I’ll post to the blog about it…

  3. I wish I could post here Nick! But most posts get rejected. I’m old friend VMS nut lol.

    You should look at the original Ercole D’ Este Tarot Deck very closely.

  4. This is special for R-Sale and he wanted my thoughts on White Aries f71r. I Think this is the date of the invention of the Alberti Cipher. Please someone check this date out for Florence and find out what was going on? Thanks.

  5. Tom: please don’t ask people here to research your crackpot theories, they’re already really busy working on their own crackpot theories.

  6. @NIck,

    My apologies I guess your not into my butterfly Alberti Cipher with a Latin perspective for the voynich. I understand it takes crackpots to attempt this work. My four other theories were crack, but I will have to digress and agree to disagree on this last attempt of mine which I feel is bearing fruit. Nick who knows who’s right or wrong any more with this monster the VMS. I want to read the enigma.

    Best of wishes today
    next time.

  7. Tom: you don’t have to be a leprechaun to tell the difference between a crock of gold and a crock of shit. 🙂

  8. Published May 8, 2017

    Author: Tom E. O’Neil

    List Price: $100.00
    House of Este, Voynich Manuscript
    8.5″ x 11″ (21.59 x 27.94 cm)
    Full Color on White paper
    36 pages

    ISBN-13: 978-1546573272 (CreateSpace-Assigned)
    ISBN-10: 1546573275
    BISAC: History / Renaissance

    Dear Voynich Ninjas,

    For a year straight I have devoted every waking moment to the VMS and well I need some fresh air. I will be making this as my last post for a long while and I get the feeling I’m becoming annoying to the community. I apologize for that! In my last post, (If it feels like an alberti cipher it is one) I found something for R-Sale that holds a momentous secret to the Voynich Manuscript with f71r in mind (Jupiter rising out of Aries) for July 1, 1466. The new file I cannot upload, because it adds heavy weight which is a proof for this new book, “House of Este, Voynich Manuscript”. There are additional items which share in this reasoning for why I have not uploaded them to my web site. Simply put, the secrecy contained in my new book is what gives it its value to Voynich scholars.

    Thank you all and take care friends

    A trail of discoveries, clues and facts have brought this book to print regarding an intriguing manuscript named after Wilfrid Voynich (VMS). This book could be of interest to future scholars of VMS studies, for within the pages lies a unique cipher. Furthermore it is an abstract of the Alberti Cipher that has a different angle to it which mimics the hidden structure of the VMS, thus denying attack from traditional methods. Also the cipher conceals Latin words through variable options of the plain text VMS words, which utilizes more than one glyph that represent the same Latin letter, thus avoiding frequency analysis to break it. The cipher plays a double role. First it denies frequency attack, secondly it allows for Many Voynich glyph’s to equal a Latin letter. Yet, the ciphered text does not hide its secrets once some words are found that fit the structure. Therefore, every ciphered Latin word has a 1-1 relationship with the plain text Latin word, even if the VMS letters are different for the same Latin letter. So once you find a Latin word that fits the model it will always use the same ciphered text.

    @R-Sale f71r
    What heraldry shows is that different methods of tincture designation are *not* used together. They need to be separated, and once this is done, the historical grounding should be clear. The veils of disguise have been lifted.
    You are completely right about this statement R-Sale and I have shown this in my book. Another reason why I’m not posting this secret file is because if someone else figures it out from the, “Jupiter rising out of Aries” then it would add greater credence for what I have done. A sort of confirmation of sorts. The tubs is the key and Koen was on to something, but that is all the clues I will give. Just focus a bit on Jupiter rising over Aries and look to the Heavens.

    I have to spill the beans this is the key right here in your statement below. Your brilliant R-Sale you will figure it out I just know it.

    Numerous members of the Catholic ecclesiastical hierarchy would certainly have the potential to posit this identification and immediately see that the characters are in their proper hierarchical places in the celestial spheres shown in the illustration.

    Cover Link

  9. Tom: the going rate for evidence-free Voynich speculations is $0.02, plus or minus about the same. Which, as far as I can see, makes your latest book about $99.98 overpriced.

  10. @ Nick

    Lets make a deal, I lowered the price of my book, “House of Este, Voynich Manuscript”, to $29.95. You buy it and mail me a copy of the receipt. Then I will use those resources to buy your book (you have my word), “The curse of the Voynich”. I will send you my receipt, Then we post the copies of the receipts along with the our signatures on them with the credit card numbers blanked out on Voynich Ninja off topic. We will then let History make known who is closer to the truth for future voynicheros. If you have any English mustard vs. an American Irish man then you except the challenge and not hide behind your curtain. Also please let this post be world wide known, because I know you are famous, highly intelligent and you are cool. I know your book is more expensive then mine and I want to learn more. I have always wanted to read, “The curse of the Voynich” and you would make money off the deal being that your read is more expensive.

    I play chess too so we should play online sometime at! You can beat me up all day, but in the end I still see you as a remote friend:)

  11. Tom: given that the basis of your Voynich theory is exactly the kind of cipher that the Voynich could never be, I’m not sure what you think I would gain.

    Pretending (a) to want to read Curse and (b) that I am famous, highly intelligent and cool does not really help your case. 🙂

  12. figures you would go this route, you stand to gain insight and also more $ money than I. What are you afraid of?

  13. Tom: whenever someone asks me to do something stupid and follows it up with “what are you afraid of?”, I just shake my head sadly. It’s not fear that stays my hand, it’s good judgment.

  14. I’m sorry but it sounds like you are a coward not to face a deal where you would actually gain more money then I. You have made some negative assumptions about my book so in recourse you should take the deal to make a statement for what grounds your book stands on vs. mine. You can’t even do that, because it is fear. You belittle me, because it stems directly from fear that I’m correct and you don’t wish to made a fool out in history, and your good judgment implies you don’t desire that. I understand Nick you are a cruel person to others Ideas and you get off on putting people down went it does not fit your model.

    Show me one shred of evidence that you even understand one word from the VMS. You can’t because your not even close to my present understanding of what is going on with the VMS at the moment!.

    You see I can be cruel too especially to people who deserve it like yourself. Your an ego maniac, running all over Venice and asking that old man how a poly-alphabetic cipher works, What a joke. Florence is where its at and check out Ducal Palace or if you have then look more carefully. The ceiling contains the four ages of man! Wow I even gave you a tip. lol

    Well I did not digress! Game on Mr. Pelling

    P.S. The glyph’s were scattered all about the VMS to obscure Latin with multiple glyph’s equaling a Latin letter. Hint number 3 word frequency is all we all left with VMS vords and Latin words to fit a structure and yes once a Latin word is found it will always be unique to the cipher text to plain text.

  15. Tom: lol. Good luck with convincing anyone else to buy your book.

  16. @ Nick

    Many artists like my self and through out history, rarely become rich if they come from the common pilgrims of people. In time when I’m long gone then yes perhaps, “House of Este, Voynich Manuscript: Voynich Cipher”, will sell for 600 gold ducats. I just wanted to read it and find providence, everything else that comes with it is fine and worth the pain.

    Nick you sure you can’t play me chess @ 🙂 lol

    Sorry about being mean, I usually let a lot of negative criticism roll off my back, but you got my goat. chuckles!

  17. any new ideas regarding the VMS from you Nic?

  18. Matt: I’ve recently been researching the possible connections between the zodiac section and a family of 15th century German manuscripts known as Volkskalender B. Which is not to say that the Voynich is necessarily German, but rather that that seems to be where some of its ideas came from.

    There are plenty of posts here on the subject if you’re interested. 🙂

  19. @Nick
    Interesting that you think it has something to do with German.
    I have studied some scriptures, not the manuscript, but the whole scripture.
    The odd thing about this is that a German writer writes another Latin than a southerner. These features also occur in the VM. As if a German-speaking Latin had written.

    Just to you.
    I have just set pictures with me. Look at it if you want.
    At the same time, I also show why the zodiac Scorpio is actually a dragon (Wyrm).

  20. Peter: at this stage, all I’m comfortable committing to is that the ideas expressed in one part of the Voynich seem to have been drawn from the ideas expressed in a particular family of German manuscripts. Which is a start, but only a small start.

  21. @Nick
    I’m new to this VMS script yet it does look like Latin to me. I also believe it be a cipher after some research on the subject. It looks to me that the VMS community has turned a blind eye to this. O’Neil looks like he may have something here although his other books may have closed off others to his latest book!

  22. Matt: relying on Tom O’Neil for Voynich knowledge would be somewhat like asking a blindfolded piglet for directions. Squeeeeeeeeeeeeal. Make of that what you will. 🙂

  23. @Nick
    For an articulate fellow I sense a bit of jealousy and immaturity on your part from this flame session of one of your peers. Perhaps your book is antiquated and you really have over looked what Tom O’Neil has to offer. O’Neil’s work will make him the most famous of his generation if only some would not be so closed minded.

  24. matt: really, what am I supposed to think when a Tom O’Neil fanboy (I say “a”, but I should probably say “the only”) pops up, who (like Stellar) just happens to live in California? This seems to imply…

    (1) you and he are the same person;
    (2) you and he are sexual partners; or
    (3) you and he have the same abysmally poor taste in Voynich theories. *sigh*

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Post navigation