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ut minima, maximum facit


Symb. CXII. Magnam parva facit favilla flammam. Haec pulveris inventio bombardici.
From a small spark, a great flame. Thus was gunpowder invented.
ex Achille Bocchi (1488-1562, *). Symbolicarum quaestionum de universo genere (Bologna, 1555 — openlibrary.org, but whose copy?)

What happens in an emblem or symbol is an explosion of meaning ignited by the spark from the impact of a tiny picture, motto or poem coming together. Bocchi illustrates this concept with his symbol CXIII [in a later edition] on the invention of gunpowder by an alchemist whose pestle accidentally ignited a mixture of powdered sulphur, saltpeter, and carbon. In the resulting conflagration, the alchemist himself was destroyed.
— Barbara See Watson. Achille Bocchi and the Emblem Book as Symbolic Form (1993): 116

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tags: Achille Bocchi; alchemy; combinatorial language; emblemata; extraneous movements; paradox