Stephanus of Alexandria

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Stephanus of Alexandria (Stephanus Alexandrinus, Stephanos of Alexandria) was a 7th-century Byzantine philosopher, astronomer and teacher. He was a public lecturer in the court of Heraclius (610-641 AD). In the manuscripts he is called the Universal Philosopher.

He taught on Plato and Aristotle, and on Geometry, Arithmetic, Alchemy, Astronomy and Music.


1. A commentary on Aristotle. Editions:

  • Commentaria in Aristotelem Graeca ed. consilio et auctoritate Academiae litt. reg. Boruss., Berlin, Bd. XV
  • Ioannes Philoponus de anima, ed. Michael Hayduck, 1897 p. 446-607 (see praef. p. V); Vol. XVIII/3
  • Stephanus de interpretatione, ed. M. Hayduck, 1885 (Vol. XXI/2: Stephanus in artem rhetoricam is by a Byzantine Rhetor Stephanos of the 12th century).

2. A commentary on the Isagogue of Porphyry. Editions:

  • Anton Baumstark, Aristot. b. den Syrern v. 5.-8. Jh., Vol. 1: Syr.-arab. Biographien des Aristot., syr. Kommentare z. Eisag.des Porph., Leipzig 1900, 181-210 (with a translation of the fragments of the commentary of Stephanos).

3. Astronomical and chronological works. Editions:

  • Explanatio per propria exempla commentarii Theonis in tabulas manuales, Ed. Usener, De Stephano Al. p. 38-54 (= Kl. Schriften. III, 295-319).

4. Alchemical works. Scholars are divided as to whether or not these are authentic works of the same Stephen of Alexandria due to the style of writing. The translator, F. Sherwood Taylor accepts them as his.[1] A compendium of alchemical texts including the poem De Chrysopoeia (On how to make gold) is extant in two manuscripts, Venice Cod. Marcianus 299 and Paris BNF 2327.


  • De magna et sacra arte, Ed. Julius Ludwig Ideler in Physici et medici Graeci minores II, Berlin 1842 (Reprinted Hakkert, Amsterdam 1963) p. 199-253. (Ideler used a faulty copy of the Marcianus)
  • F. Sherwood Taylor, The alchemical works of S. of Al., in: Ambix, the Journal of the Society for the study of alchemy and early chemistry 1, London 1937, 116-139; 2, 1938, 38-49 (Taylor compared Ideler with the Marcianus and edited lessons 1-3 only; with English translation and commentary).

5. Astrological works. These also are apocryphal.

  • Opusculum apotelesmaticum, Ed. Usener in De Stephano Al. p. 17-32 (= Kl. Schrr. III, 266-289).

6. Other apocrypha include a 'Weissagungsbuch', a prophecy of Mohammed and the rise of Islam, and probably date from around 775 AD.



  • Julius Ludwig Ideler, Physici et medici Graeci minores II, Berlin 1842 (Reprinted by Hakkert, Amsterdam 1963) p. 199-253. Greek text (only) in full online at Google books here
  • F. Sherwood Taylor, "The Alchemical Works of Stephanos of Alexandria", in "Ambix" (1937). Vol. 1, pp. 116–39 doi:10.1179/amb.1937.1.2.116; Vol 2, pp. 39–49. Greek text and facing English translation of 3 of the 9 lectures of the work.


Articles and studies:

  • Hermann Usener, De Stephano Alexandrino Bonn (1880)
  • Alb. Jahn, "Chemica graeca ex codicibus Monacensi 112 et Bernensi 579", Revue de Philologie 15 (1891) 101-115. Short intro to his alchemical works.
  • F. Sherwood Taylor, "The Origins of Greek Alchemy", Ambix, I, May 1937, pp. 30–47.
  • Maria Papathanassiou, (1992), "Stephanos von Alexandreia und sein alchemistisches Werk", Ph. D. Thesis, Humboldt Universität zur Berlin, Berlín.
  • Maria Papathanassiou, (1990–1991) "Stephanus of Alexandria: Pharmaceutical notions and cosmology in his alchemical work", "Ambix", nº 37, pp. 121–133; nº 38, p. 112 [addenda].
  • R. Werner Soukup, (1992), "Natur, du himmlische! Die alchemistischen Traktate des Stephanos von Alexandria. Eine Studie zur Alchemie des 7. Jahrhunderts", "Mitteilungen der Österreichischen Gesellschaft für Geschichte der Naturwissenschaften 12, 1992, 1-93
  • Maria Papathanassiou, (1996), "Stephanus of Alexandria: On the structure and date of his alchemical work", in "Medicina nei Secoli 8", 2, pp. 247–266.
  • Wanda Wolska-Conus, "Stéphanos d'Athènes et Stéphanos d'Alexandrie. Essai d'identitification et de biographie," Revue des Études Byzantines 47 (1989), p. 5-89.


  1. ^ Linden, Stanton J. (2003). The Alchemy Reader: from Hermes Trismegistus to Isaac Newton. Cambridge University Press. p. 54.

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