3. “Renaissance Embryology and Astrology after Pico”
Hiro Hirai (Radboud University Nijmegen)
The traditional relationship between medicine and astrology was transformed during the Renaissance.A major factor of this change was the criticism formulated by Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (1463–1494). In his posthumous work Disputations against Judicial Astrology (Bologna, 1496), he rejected the divinatory aspects of astrology while accepting its physical dimensions, which can be qualified as “natural astrology.” According to him, celestial bodies produce their effects only by physical means such as motion, light and heat. The field of embryology received a direct impact from Pico’s new theory. This paper will take up the case of a lesser-known philosophical embryology published in Italy during the 1560s by Sebastiano Paparella who taught theoretical medicine at Pisa and Perugia. Under the strong influence of Pico, he tried to restore cosmic bonds, which could bridge the gap between heaven and seeds in animal and human generation.