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Orus Apollo - Details of Nostradamus's translation, and Prologue
Translation copyright (c) Peter Lemesurier 1999 -- Peter Lemesurier

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Orus Apollo - Cumulative translation of main text (Book 1) - 1

Orus Apollo - Cumulative translation of main text (Book 1) - 2

REMINDER: Most of Nostradamus's verse-explanations in the 'Orus Apollo', as translated by him from earlier Latin and possibly Greek versions, have little or nothing to do with the REAL meanings of Egyptian hieroglyphs, as first deciphered in 1822 from the Rosetta stone by Jean-François Champollion in the wake of Napoleon's celebrated expedition to Egypt of 1798.

The 'Hieroglyphica' was a manuscript written by one Horus Apollo of
Menuthis, near Alexandria, in around AD 480-490, some two centuries
after the true meaning of the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs had been
irretrievably forgotten. It was supposed to explain the meanings of
some 182 of them, but in fact succeeded only in perpetuating a number
of old wives' tales about them that had accrued in the meantime, and
that then persisted until Champollion finally managed to decipher them
in 1822 with the aid of the Rosetta Stone, now in the British Museum,

The original may have been in Egyptian of a sort, but was subsequently
translated into Greek and then into Latin. Retranslated into French,
Italian, German and English, it was commented on by Ficino, Erasmus
and Rabelais. The artists Dürer, Mantegna and Raphael all drew
inspiration from it.

Various Latin editions appeared beteween 1530 and 1542, not least from
two publishers associated directly or indirectly with Nostradamus
(Kerver of Paris and Gryphius of Lyon). Nostradamus's contribution was
to contribute an extremely free French translation *in verse*, based
on Jean Mercier's Latin-Greek version of 1551, at some point prior to
1555, when the Princess of Navarre became Queen. He also added some
ten original pieces of his own. The paper has been analysed, and found
to date from 1535-1539, apparently from somewhere in Provence.

The fact that Nostradamus failed to comment in any way on what it said
- other than in his Prologue - suggests that he simply accepted its
conclusions. Some echoes of its symbolism seem to be present in the

An edited version of the French text can be found at

Part of the first page of the manuscript, evidently in Nostradamus's
own hand, once owned by Jean-Baptiste Colbert, Louis XIV's chief
finance minister, and currently in the Paris National Library
(manuscript No. 2594), can be found on Jean Guernon's site at

Umberto Eco writes (courtesy of Bri):

"We now know that this text is a late Hellenistic compilation, dating
from as late as the fifth century A.D.. Although certain passages
indicate that the author did possess exact information about
Egyptian hieroglyphs, the Hieroglyphica seem to be based on some texts
written few centuries before. Horapollo was describing a writing system
whose last example is on the Theodosius temple (394 A.D.). Even if
these inscriptions were still similar to those elaborated three thousand
years before, the Egyptian language in the V century had radically changed.
Thus, when Horapollo wrote his text, the key to understanding
hieroglyphs had long been lost.

"The hieroglyphic writing is - as everybody knows - undoubtedly
composed, in part, of iconic signs: some are easily recognizable, such
as eagle, owl, bull, snake, eye, foot, man seated with cup in hand;
others are stylized-- the hoisted sail, the almond-like shape for a
mouth, the serrated line for water."



Hieroglyphic Notes - Two Books - Put Into Epigrammatical Verse.
A Work of Incredible and Admirable Erudition and Antiquity.

by Michel Nostradamus of St Remy de Provence [note in another hand]


"Prologue by the translator to Madame the Princess of Navarre

[transliteration of first few lines - note total lack of accents or punctuation]

Nature saige, mere de sympathie
Par faictz contraires ce rend anthipathie
Aiant trouve l'ame par sa concorde
Et la destruyre apres par sa discorde
Comme il me semble chose bien necessaire
Descripre ung peu si se profond mistere
Mesmes les choses passant l'engin humain
le n'ay traduict ces deux livres en vain
Mais pour monstrer a gens laborieux
Que aux bones letres se rendent studieux
Des secretz puissent scavoir lutilite
Qua plusieurs notes comprinse est verite
Que quand le docte aura veu mon prologue
Mesmes des cas secretz faict philologue
Ont se pourroit quelque peu merveilher
Comme nature advoit peu travailher
Cas diferentz surpassant sens humain
Que Epaphus mit exact de sa main
Aiant de Memphys trouves les caratheres
Car ilz en feurent les premiers inventayres
Donc je vouidrois scavoir qui est la cause
Que l'elephant furieux bouger nause
Se rend souafve par le voir du mouton
Et sesfrayer sil voit en ung quanton,
Ou bien la voix d'ung jeusne couchon nai...

Freeish English verse translation of whole Prologue:

"As wise old nature, sympathy's true mother
By antipathy makes the facts quite other,
And having touched man's soul with her concord
Doth then destroy it after, by discord,
So it doth surely needful seem to me
To write somewhat of this deep mystery,
Even those things that pass the human brain.

"I have not rendered these two books in vain,
But to show those who labour hard to know
That to good books they should more studious go.
Of secrets thus they'll know the usefulness
Whose notes, once noted, do the truth confess,
For when the learnèd shall my prologue see
Of hidden lore philologists they'll be,
And capable to marvel quite a whit
How nature works somewhat as it befit,
And know those facts no man can understand
Which Epaphus writ clearly in his hand,
Having of Memphis found each sacred sign
Whose inventory they did first define.

"Thus would I know the reason and the cause
Why angry elephants daren't move their paws
And soothèd are when sheep they do behold
Yet frightened are to see within their fold
A little piglet, or its voice to hear:
Than men condemned to death they're more in fear!
Then there's the savage bull who just gives in
When tied to tree or branch, however thin,
While mighty horses cower before the whip
Whom the wolf's jaws have only just let slip
And fly along as lightly as a bird.
And when you eat the flesh (you must have heard!)
Of any beast that wolves do make their prey,
How tasty! Yet the wool you take away
All kinds of fleas and vermin doth beget.
Again a horse will soon deteriorate
If where a wolf oft passes it doth walk.
Yet if on thorns the wolf should chance to stalk
Quite suddenly quite weak it would become.
The crafty, then, knowing that he doth come,
For fear of him, will strew thorns in the stall.
Yet e'en if man by glowworm light at all
Should wolf espy, he'll make him imbecile
And weak as water, and his voice shall steal.
In fact if man sees wolf in any way
it gets so mad it goes right off its prey.
It weakens lions and their ire provokes
If they should walk on leaves of holly oaks:
They fear the cock, and when they hear it crow
For fear of it away will quickly go.
And if hyena should by nature hap
(Which nature hereinafter I'll recap)
To walk within a doggy's shade at night -
What time the slanting moon doth take its flight
And mount in beauty, sudden, up the air
As if it climbed a rope suspended there -
And it if sees a man or dog asleep
Will stretch, and make the sleeper's body creep;
And if its shadow twice as big it sees,
Disturb the sleeper through its great increase
And rend, enraged, the man who once was whole -
Yet from his hands will feed as from a bowl;
And if it sees its shadow short and brief
Will suddenly get up and quickly ... leave.

"Do but with both hands hold your tongue in fee
And you'll be eloquent as Mercury
And safe from dogs and hounds of any ilk
As though they puppies were, and soft as silk.
Another thing, before I let it pass -
Do but a crayfish wrap around with grass
(The 'polypodes quercus' I should say)
And all its legs and scales will fall away.

"The little bat that builds its nest in rock,
If it smells ivy-wood, will die of shock.
Vultures will die if ointment they should smell
And snakes if they touch anyone at all
Or if with leaves of oak you deck them o'er,
Strong though the night-wind in the ash-trees roar.
A snake, once snatched up by a stork on high
And dropped, no more will wander till it die.
And if the common viper once is hit
With stick, and sees that it is trapped by it
And then recovers all its strength again -
If next the female now with might and main
You strike with any hedgerow branch that's there,
You'll see her fly up straightway in the air.
The tortoise, too, gets ill if it should taste
The flesh of snake, and looks about in haste
For marjoram, and with that herb's assistance
Obtains both health and pleasure and resistance.
And, too, the stork protects its nest, they say,
With plane-tree leaves to keep the bats away,
While swallows smear with mud their little nest
Lest other birds should ever them molest.
And the ring-dove or pigeon of the wood
Puts laurel in its nest and finds it good,
While hobbies of the predatory kind
Into their nests wild lettuce seek to bind.
One bat protects its young with ivy-leaves
While crow pure wool about its crowlets weaves.
The hoopoe amianthus doth instal
And sometimes eats strange birds, feathers and all.
As for the rook, it often likes to eat
Vervain; and larks all kinds of grass and wheat.
And any nest that's made with such a herb
'Gainst colic is a remedy superb.
Other great cases I disdain to quote -
The partridge that on onion stalks doth dote,
The thrush on myrtle, herons crayfish too:
The eagle with its seaweed, as is due.
Much else as well which wise old nature does
We'll see from what th'Egyptians left to us.
God and his world, his seas, his earth below,
Wild beasts and tame ones, too, we'll see on show.
And other cases wonderful I'll cite -
Sea, forest, fields and places that delight."


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