sartrix

Sartrix is a series of, for the most part, original translations from Greek and Latin, especially of works relevant to the history of pagan religion, magic and philosophy. Some of these texts have never been translated into English (or even any modern language) before, others are available only in outdated translations, inaccessible publications, or in editions that lack any annotations or explanations. The goal of Sartix is to renew and continue the work of Thomas Taylor, the 19th century Platonist known to London society as „Pagan Taylor“—hence the name Sartrix (Latin for ‚tailoress‘).

For the moment, Sartrix books are available in digital formats only.

Current Volumes

On Herbs. An Anonymous Greek Poem (Barnes & Noble | Kobo)

It is often said that the father of botany as a science was the ancient Greek philosopher Theophrastus, a student of the famous Aristotle. When one reads his „Historia Plantarum“ or „Enquiry into Plants“, it is indeed striking how scientific, how technical and sober this work from the 4th century bce is. We are far removed here from the mythical narrative of Homer’s Odyssey, where the god Hermes comes down from heaven and hands Odysseus the wondrous plant moly to protect him against the sorcery of the goddess Circe. Only two short chapters in the nine volumes of the Enquiry even acknowledge ‘superstitious’ ideas of this caliber, and only to roundly dismiss them. One could be easily led to believe that after Theophrastus’ intervention, these superstitions faded away, supplanted by a new and rational outlook, and flourished only among the uneducated and in supposed fringe milieus of esotericists and magicians.

Our poem „On Herbs“ belies such a view. Written by some unknown Greek poet in the period of the Roman empire – centuries after Theophrastus – for a mainstream pagan audience, it demonstrates that the ideas that Theophrastus had sought to banish from serious consideration continued to be of interest to the same kind of cultured readership that valued the classical philosophers. Our poet talks about the herb moly, about the divine power of plants, their mythical connections to the gods, the protocol for safely collecting them, and their ability to avert witchcraft and keep away daemons. The memory of this vital strand of ancient Greco-Roman mainstream culture has been repressed and rendered all but inaccessible to modern readers, but recent scholarship has shown that, irrespective of whether one finds the ideas themselves helpful or harmful, no accurate understanding of intellectual history can be gained without being aware of them.

Future Volumes

Sallustius, On the Gods and the World [August 2021]

A new translation of the so-called „pagan catechism“ of the Neoplatonist Sallustius—a friend of the last pagan Roman emperor, Julian—which was first published in English by Thomas Taylor, and has become a central text of contemporary Hellenic polytheism. Taylor’s translation, which is still the most widely available one, has long become inaccesible due to its antiquated language. This version updates the language, adds indispensable explanatory comments, and abandons the arbitrary modern subdivisions adopted by modern translators in favor of the ancient chapter division and section headings.

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Emperor Julian, On the Emperor Sun. With Marsilio Ficino’s Annotations [September 2021]

Probably the most famous prose hymn from pagan antiquity, Julian’s Oration 4—a praise of the divine Sun dedicated to Julian’s friend Sallustius—not only shows the intense (but often ignored) devotional aspect of ancient paganism, but also unfolds the Neoplatonic worldview. In addition to a careful new English rendition of the text itself, this version includes an introduction, explanatory notes and the first English translation of Marsilio Ficino’s excellent annotations to make the meaning of this text more transparent than it has ever been before.

Demetrius Kabakes. The Works of a Renaissance Pagan [October 2021]

Demetrius Kabakes (15th cent. CE) was a devoted follower of the pagan revivalist and Platonic philosopher, Plethon. Yet Kabakes was not a Platonist himself but developed a highly original worldview drawing on a variety of pagan forebears. The documents of this worldview—including a short essay called The Opinions of Demetrius, the Theorima (an argument about the preeminence of the Sun), annotations to Julian’s oration to the Sun, an anthology of passages about the Sun and other philosophical topics drawn from Greek literature, and an elegy about the fortunes of Plethon’s book—are here presented in English for the first time.