The Sin of Knowledge

The Sin of Knowledge
By Theodore Ziolkowski

“In the course of the fifty years following his death Faust had become notorious as a negative exemplum for a life of sexual degeneracy, charlatanry, and sorcery. Inevitably, stones so varied and popular began to be collected. In the university town of Erfurt a group of tales relating Faust’s adventures among the students was assembled; in Nuremberg around 1570 a schoolmaster named Christoph Rosshirt recorded another set of tales in a manuscript notebook. In the early 1570s many of these stories were gathered into the so-called Wolfenbuttel manuscript, a work that appears to have been circulated widely in expensive manuscript copies. (Because this manuscript is so close to the subsequently printed text, it is commonly assumed that both of them go back to a slightly older common source, though probably not in Latin as formerly believed; the author seems to rely wholly on German works.) But none of these earlier compilations were published. It was not until 1587 that Johann Spies in Frankfurt am Main, hitherto known primarily as the publisher of Lutheran tracts, brought out the Historia, which enjoyed an instantaneous popular success and provided the basis for the myth of Faust that was to engage the Western consciousness and conscience for the next four hundred years.”

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The Sin of Knowledge is available from Amazon:

The sin of knowledge: ancient themes and modern variations (At Amazon)

Philip Begardi…

Philip Begardi, a physician in Worms

“Paradoxically, Faust was saved from the oblivion into which most contemporary necromancers and astrologers fell at least in part by his very notoriety. In 1539, around the time of his death, Philip Begardi, a physician in Worms, attested that many people had complained to him that they had been cheated by Faustus. What better way for humanists to discredit false learning and for theologians to stigmatize black magic than to portray as an object lesson such a blatant and sordid example?”
See this ref. for more on the orig. Faust.

The sin of knowledge: ancient themes and modern variations (At Amazon)

By Theodore Ziolkowski

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Chorus. Christopher Marlowe,. 1909-14. Doctor Faustus.

Now is he born, his parents base of stock,
In Germany, within a town call’d Rhodes;
Of riper years to Wittenberg he went,
Whereas his kinsmen chiefly brought him up.
So soon he profits in divinity,
The fruitful plot of scholarism grac’d,
That shortly he was grac’d with doctor’s name,
Excelling all those sweet delight disputes
In heavenly matters of theology;
Till swollen with cunning, of a self-conceit,
His waxen wings did mount above his reach,
And, melting, Heavens conspir’d his overthrow;
For, falling to a devilish exercise,
And glutted [now] with learning’s golden gifts,
He surfeits upon cursed necromancy.

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Chorus. Marlowe, Christopher. 1909-14. Doctor Faustus. The Harvard Classics