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Robert Boyle, Georges Pierre des Clozets, and the Asterism: a New Source

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In 1677-8 Robert Boyle fell victim to a French confidence trickster, Georges Pierre des Clozets, who claimed to belong to a secret society of alchemists, 'the Asterism'; the leader of the Asterism was described as the 'Patriarch of Antioch', resident in Constantinople. New evidence shows that Georges Pierre had contrived to publish two short articles about this 'Patriarch' in a Dutch newspaper, and that one of these was given to Boyle to corroborate Pierre's claims. These articles provide further information about the nature of Pierre's invention. Most importantly, they show that his 'Patriarch of Antioch' was modelled on, and explicitly connected to, a contemporary alchemist in whom Boyle already had an interest: Francesco Giuseppe Borri.


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