A document in Kircher’s correspondence

I’m curious about this script, sent to Kircher by one of his correspondents, a certain P. Matthiac Coupain (S.J.) In a letter sent from Lugduni in 1666.

(Lugduni is a version of the Latin ‘Lugdunum’ = Lyons)

script Kircher LyonsI have to admit that this is idle curiosity, sparked by coming across an old post to the JVS.

  • Berj Ensanien, ‘The antique script communications-to-Kircher of Fr. Matthieu Coupain’, Journal of Voynich Studies, Volume III (2009), 31st. Jan., (online).

Ensanien refers to “the occasional GC-k gallows similar appearing in Kircher’s papers” before citing a page showing this script with various coins, the latter apparently from Doclea.

Note: according to Smith’s Dictionary of Classical Geography there were two towns named Doclea, one in the Adriatic and one in Asia Minor.

Including for each mentioned item an online link, Ensanien comments:

In the old catalog of Kircher’s papers [1], this 563 APUG 35 document is listed as “Effigies quadam numismatum”. ..

Following up on this we find that 563 APUG 36-37rv is a 30 SEP 1666 letter to Kircher, written it appears in French, by a fellow priest whose name appears spelled differently on 36r and 37r, respectively “Matthieu Coupain”, and approximately “Matthiceu” or “Matthieu Compaius”. Perhaps the 36r writing at the bottom of the page along with “Lyon” was added by Kircher. Anyway, Matthieu’s hand is very tough to read, but from a first glance it seems that he is talking about inscriptions on medallions, and so there is some reason to believe that the 563 APUG 35v document belongs with this 30 SEP 1666 letter:

Looking for more of Fr. Matthieu in the old catalog, we find the 558 APUG 48 entry: P. Matthia Compairy (Compairus?) Lugduni 23 December. 1666. [2]

We find Fr. Matthieu’s 23 DEC 1666 letter, written in Latin, and such that it should be easier to transcribe than the 30 SEP letter. From a first glance, in this 23 DEC letter he appears to discuss numismatics, and obscure magical script. Thus there is more reason to believe that the 563 APUG 35 document is connected with Fr. Matthieu. Indeed, the database of the Athanasius Kircher Correspondence Project (which is not perfect), as accessed via Luna Insight, groups the above two letters with 563 APUG 35 under the name of the Jesuit: Matthieu Compain.

(If Ensanien wrote any more about this script, I haven’t found it.)


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