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In ancient times Antimony was of no use in medicine. A monk called Basilius Valentin, looking for the philosopher's stone, found out its violent laxative effects. One day he threw some residual ore which served him for his chemical experiments; some pigs accidentally ate it and were purged strongly; but then they got extremely fat. After observing the case, Valentin thought he would do a great favour to his brethren, making them fat. So he prepared a soft drink for them, with the result that they all died. Since in French Moine means friar or monk the mineral was called Antimony [1].


The friar continued his research on the mineral and tried to remove its dangerous properties. When he thought he had succeeded, he wrote a book entitled The Triumphing Coach of Antimony [2, 3]. Only in 1666 Antimony was allowed to be used in medicine.



Antimony, from Greek Antimonos (solitude);

Stibnite, from Latin Stibium (stick);

Antimony alchemical, from Antimony alchemical (antimonk).

Valentinite oxide, the common name given to Sb2O3 maybe referred to Basilius Valentinus.


Basilius Valentin

The German Alchemist and philosopher lived in the XV century apparently he was a benedectine friar in Erfurt (Germany); from his own writings we may infer that he was born in the Alsatian area. Tradition considers him if not the father of Alchemy, certainly one of the most outstanding figures in that art.

What little news we possess come directly from his own writings, in which he mentions a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela and journeys to Belgium and Britain. According to what referred by J. J. Manget in his work Bibliotheca Chemica Curiosa (1702), Valentin’s treatises where discovered when a lightning struck a column in Erfurt Cathedral, revealing an opening where they had been hidden.


In the book The last will and testament of Basilius Valentin published in London in 1671, we are told that he lies under the main altar in Erfurt Cathedral. This is the only scanty information we have on this mysterious figure.


His name itself, having an allegoric meaning, according to the Greek root Basileus (King) and Valens (powerful), would point to the fact that he was a power of Alchemy, and this pseudonym has unquestionably become a mixture of legend and truth.

His alleged works, published in 1599 contain both metallurgical and metaphysical studies.

According to the philosopher Leibniz the publisher Johann Tholde of Hesse who translated Valentin’s works, tampered with them in depth.

Chemical formulae are regularly connected to a deep spiritual symbology. In his book TRIUMPH WAGEN ANTIMONII., the author openly declares his alchemic teachings both in the operative functions and in the mythical aspect. The fundamental principle of his doctrine is here summarized in the sentence All things come from the same seed; they were born originally from the same mother


Other famous Basilius’ works are The 12 keys of philosophy, a treaty on spagiric art and obscure philosophy which, according to Master Samael, are the keys for the interpretation of alchemy, and the Azoth, published in Frankfurt in 1613 by the publisher Johann Bringern in a double version in German and Latin. He has been attributed the distillation of Vitriol (sulphuric acid H2SO4) from the common salt, the discovery of the Muriatic acid (hydrochloric acid HCl) and the use of the Antimony as a treatment.


Bibliography and Iconography

  • Enciclopedia ad uso della Gioventù ovvero Principj di tutte le Science di G. B. Masson – Vol. V, Milano, 1813
  • Alberto Cavalieri La chimica in versi – Signorelli Editore, Bologna, 1955, VII ed.
  • Frate Basilio Valentino, Quinta Essencia ed. Mirded.
  • B. Valentino Trattato sulle meraviglie dell’Antimonio a cura di Sergio Tira, Ed. Mediterranee
  • Basilio Valentino Azoth Translated by Insolera M., Ed. Mediterranee, 1988 - Collana ermetica
  • B. Valentino Cocchio Trionfante dell’Antimonio, Ed. del volgarizzamento Settecentesco by Carlo Bacci.
  • Aylesworth, T. G. The Alchemists Magic Into Science. Reading, Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley Publishing Co., Inc., 1973
  • The free encyclopaedia -


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