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Demonic Mines

Demonic Mines

(p.99) Chapter 5 Demonic Mines
Phillip John Usher
Fordham University Press

This chapter shifts attention from the hillsides to the shafts and galleries that miners hollow out underground. Via a close reading of Agricola’s De animantibus subterraneis (On Subterranean Creatures) and of sections of De re metallica not discussed in the previous chapter, as well as works by French writer François Garrault and by Paracelsus, this chapter asks if it is possible to understand “belief” in mining spirits as colluding with the chemical realities and medical dangers for humans connected with extracting matter. From this section, it thus emerges that for early modern humanists extraction of matter ex terrawas never just a question of human agents yielding extractive and controlling mastery over inanimate hillsides and underground rock faces.

Keywords:   Garrault, De animantibus subterraneis, mining demons, Paracelsus, vibrancy

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