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NICOLÒ SERPETRO ERMETISMO E MAGIA NELLA SICILIA SPAGNOLA

Melita Leonardi
Quaderni storici
NUOVA SERIE, Vol. 39, No. 115 (1), Consumi culturali nell'Italia moderna (APRILE 2004), pp. 217-240
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/43779424
Page Count: 24
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NICOLÒ SERPETRO ERMETISMO E MAGIA NELLA SICILIA SPAGNOLA
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Abstract

In 1640, the Spanish Inquisition in Sicily held a trial for sorcery, only recendy discovered, against Nicolo Serpetro (1606-1664), an eclectic writer of his century. His biographical notes appearing in the trial documents reveal several mysterious episodes of his life and allow a reconstruction of his intellectual personality. One of his main works, Il Mercato delle Meraviglie, has proved fundamental for this research, as it contains a wealth of biographical data and personal reminiscences. By comparing his testimonies given to the inquisitors and his personal recollections with archive and printed sources, we have been able to give a sense to his peregrinations up and down Italy and cast light upon his rich patronage relationships with several illustrious people of his time. In Rome, Serpetro enjoyed the protection of Pietro Della Valle. In Venice he was given hospitality by Francesco Vitelli, the papal nuncio, while back in Palermo he was well received by Nicolo Placido Branciforti, a powerful aristocrat. Thanks to a new interpretation of his works, Serpetro appears as an outstanding expression of a highly refined hermetic and esoteric culture. He had learned the principles of that culture, and spread them in his home island, Sicily, within a lively cultural and political climate, as yet only partially investigated in its manifold expressions.

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