JF Ptak Science Books Post 1846 Part of the Series on the Artistic Display of Information
I followed a link to the lovely website Res Obscura and found this great image from the work of Heinrich Khunrath, Ampitheatrum Sapientiae Aeternae (Hamburg, 1595, or in English "The Amphitheater of Eternal Knowledge"). Khunrath (1560-1605) packed about as much perplexing, confusing, inscrutable and beautiful displays of not-verifiable alternative information into his very full 45 years as just about anyone. He was a Paracelsian, John Dee-ophile, hermeticist/alchemist seeker of "eternal wisdom" via medico-magical-interpretative Christianity, a deeply physico-chemical-spiritual experimentorium, and the meaning of his work (outside of where it fits int he history of science) really pretty much escapes me--except that the illustrations are beautiful. Res Obscura has a lot to say about the interpretation of the images, as do the other links below. I have really nothing to add, as I really dont' know enough to say what is being represented in these very complex displays.
One thing that does seem obvious to me: the meanings and interpretation of this work is extremely fluid.
[Image is greatly clickable]
Transcription of the text surrounding the Hermaphodite (that someone refers to as the Hermaphrospehere, is available here from the Special Collections Department at the University of Wisconsin.
And other very complex symbolist allegorical somethings:
which is an English version of the Latin of Amhitheatrum Sapientae Aeternae (from 1606) and available here along with other in-English goodness.