Napoleon's Sorcerers: The Sophisians

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Associated University Presse, 2007 - History - 215 pages
During Napoleon's rule, Freemasonic circles in France invented rituals that allegedly first took place in the temple structures of ancient Egypt. This book looks at the cultural environment and intellectual background of one such pseudo-Egyptian secret society, the Sacred Order of the Sophisians. Founded in Paris in 1801, the Sophisian Order initially catered to veteran military leaders, Egyptologists, scientists, writers, and artists who had joined Napoleon's Egyptian campaign (1798-1801). Soon the order branched out to attract new adepts from the world of the Parisian stage. This study is based on previously unpublished archival materials relating to the Sophisians, including the group's so-called Golden Book at the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris. A richly illuminated manuscript envisioned by Marie-Nicolas Ponce-Camus, a student of Jacques-Louis David, the Golden Book features underground mazes, cave settings, pyramids, and temple structures as theatrical settings to re-create Ancient Egyptian initiation practices. The book includes seventeen color illustrations and forty-nine black-and-white illustrations.
 

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Denon Engraves fake Rembrandts

Contents

Some Sophisian Precursors Comte de Cagliostro Vivant Denon and Benjamin de Laborde
29
Vivant Denon
30
Benjamin de Laborde
33
Encounter in Naples
36
Giuseppe Balsamo Comte de Cagliostro
38
Egyptian Freemasonry
40
The Laboratory of Reason Egypt from the Philosophes to Napoleons Oriental Dream
46
Egypt an Enlightenment Project
48
Professorship of the Grand Mysteries
99
Sophisian Syncretism
105
The Sophisians on Stage Boulevard Theaters and the Spell of Egyptomania
111
Cuvelier de Trie and Revolutionary Theater
112
Napoleon and the Parisian Stages
115
The AmbiguComique Theater and the Cirque Olympique
116
Freemasonry and Theater Life
121
Melodrama and the Empowerment of Imagination
123

Esoteric Egypt
50
The Sophisians in Egypt
53
The Egyptian Campaign and the French Press
57
Under the Pyramids of Paris Sophisian Rituals and the Golden Book
62
The Golden Book of the Bibliotheque Nationale
68
Aspirants
82
Scholar of Hieroglyphics
85
Egyptosophy versus AntiEgyptosophy
130
Members of the Sacred Order of the Sophisians
143
Notes
161
Bibliography
189
Index
199
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About the author (2007)

Darius A. Spieth is Assistant Professor of Art History at Louisiana State University.

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