Perera, Benito (1536 – 6 March 1610) 

Aduersus fallaces & superstitiosas artes. Benedicti Pererii Valentini e Societate Iesu Aduersus fallaces & superstitiosas artes : id est, De magia, de obseruatione somniorum, & de diuinatione astrologica, libri tres.

Lyon: Junta, 1592 $3,500

Octavo 17 x 11.5 cm. Signatures.: A-Q8, R4 A-Q8, R4.(The 1st and last leaves are blank). Bound in contemporary limp vellum

 “One of his longest chapters is that on alchemy. After quoting such authorities against and in favor of transmutation as Avicenna, Averroes, Aquinas, Aegidius, Peter of Abano, Cardan, and as Albertus Magnus, Janus Lacinius, and Antonius Mirandulanus, he states his own opinion. It is that there is no philosophical argument which is decisive against transmutation, since animals are produced by incubators, while drugs and many other things are made artificially. But the failure of the alchemists to succeed is against them and leads to such evils as poverty, counterfeiting, and harmful medicines. Even natural magic may with some reason be forbidden in the state, since its occult character readily lends it to abuse” (Thorndike VI, 411). – “Excellent traité de sorcellerie et de magie; il servait également de manuel d’exorcismes” (Caillet). – .

Pereira was born at Ruzafa, near Valencia, in Spain. He entered the Society of Jesus in 1552 and taught successively literature, philosophy, theology, and sacred scripture in Rome, where he died.

Pereyra begins the first book by distinguishing natural magic, based on the concealed and evident properties of things, from magic devoid of reason and truth, false and damaging, connected with demons, fraud and ‘maleficia’, a danger to society. He proceeds with a study of demonic powers, with the assistance of magicians, the nature of miracles, as well as astrology, the kabbalah, necromancy and alchemy, with a conclusion on the origins of magic. The famous psychologist C.G. Jung devoted a long footnote in his ‘Psychology and Religion’ to Pereyra’s ‘excellent tract’ about dreams, the second part of ‘De Magia’. Pereyra identifies four causes of dreams—bodily affections, emotional commotions of the mind, the power of demons, and true divine presence—considering the functions of reason and will. Inspired by Pico’s ‘Adversus astrologiam’, the third part, on judicial astrology and divination, includes chapters on the vanity of oracles, demonic prophecies, the impossible mediation between Christian and astrological truth, astrologers’ predictions (with mention of comets). For its attention to the powers and nature of demons, it has been considered ‘not only a treatise of witchcraft and magic, but also a manual of exorcism’ (Bib. Esot. 3605).

Adams P 655; Caillet 8518. ;De Backer-Sommervogel vol. VI, col 504,Nº 4.; Dorbon-Ainé, 3604. Thorndike VI, 410. Vgl. Rosenthal 3010-12; Bib. Esot. 3605