Herr Mikrokosmus

Herr Mikrokosmus: Faust as Astrologer


Although the earliest depictions of Faustus portray him as an astrologer, very few publications to date have touched on the role of astrology in the life of this infamous character. Parallel to the decline in astrological sciences beginning in the seventeenth century, post-Scientific Revolution depictions of Faust have deemphasized astrology as a primary pursuit of the figure. I examine the status of astrology in four versions of the Faust(us) myth: The anonymous Historia von D. Johann Fausten and its English translation/adaptation as The English Faust Book, Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Faust, and Thomas Mann’s Doktor Faustus. I argue that the decline in the status of astrology corresponds to historically weakening belief in the analogy of microcosm and macrocosm as epistemologically relevant and analyze the implication of the Faust figure in genuinely modern quandaries of skepticism and aesthetic representation.


“Due to an increased interest in magic during the Renaissance, the line
between astrology and necromancy, which is the practice of summoning spirits,
appears to have grown vague.”

“…we can now make sense of the title page of Marlowe’s Doctor
Faustus, on which Faust summons Mephistopheles from within a magic circle that is
inscribed with the signs of the Zodiac and the planetary glyphs.”

“…They claim that accurate astrological predictions necessitate
the guidance of a spirit, which would involve the heretical use of necromancy to
transgress God-given boundaries to cognition.”

Title: Herr Mikrokosmus: Faust as Astrologer
Author: Liggett, Catherine, 1984-

Pasted from <https://scholarsbank.uoregon.edu/xmlui/handle/1794/10677> (Includes a downloadable PDF)

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