4umi Nostradamus : Preface

Preface
de
M. Michel Nostradamus
a ses Propheties

Ad Caesarem Nostradamus filium, Vie et félicité.

Ton tard aduenemêt, Cesar Nostradame mon fils, m'a faict mettre mô long temps par côtinuelles vigilatiôs nocturnes referer par escript toy delaisser memoire, apres la corporelle extinction de ton progeniteur au commun proffit des humains, de ce que la Diuine essence par Astronomiques revolutions m'o't dôné cognoissance.—Et depuis qu'il a pleu au Dieu immortel que tu ne sois venu en naturelle lumiere dâs ceste terrene plaige, & ne veux dire tes ans qui ne sont encores accompagnez, mais tes mois Martiaux incapables à receuoir dedans ton bile entendement ce que ie seray contrainct apres mes iours definer:—veu qu'il n'est possible te laisser par escrit, ce que seroit par l'iniure du temps obliteré: car la parolle hereditaire de l'occulte prediction sera dans mon estomach intercluse:—considerât aussi les aduentures de l'humain definiment estre incertaines, & que le tout est regi & gouuerné par la puissance de Dieu inestimable, nous inspirant non par bacchante fureur, ne par limphatique mouuement, mais par astronomiques assertions.—Soli numine divino afflari praesagiunt et spiritu prophetico particularia:—Combien que de long temps par plusieurs fois i'ay predict long temps auparauant ce que depuis est aduenu, & en particulieres regions attribuant le tout estre faict par la vertu & inspiration diuine & autres felices & sinistres aduentures de acceleree promptitude pronôcees que depuis sont aduenues par les climats du monde—ayant voulu taire & delaisser pour cause de l'iniure, & non tant seulement du temps present, mais aussi de la plus grande part du futur, de mettre par escrit pource que les regnes, sectes & religions feront changes si opposites, voire du respect du present diametralement,—que si ie venois à referer ce qu'à l'aduenir sera ceux de regne, secte religion, & foy trouueroyent si mal accordant si leur fantaisie auriculaire, qu'ils viendroyent à damner ce que par les siecles aduenir on cognoistra estre veu & apperceu.—Considerant aussi la sentence du vray Sauueur Nolite sanctum dare canibus nec mittatis margaritas ante porcos non conculcêt pedibus et côuersi dirumpant vos. Qui a esté la cause de faire retirer ma langue au populaire, & la plume au papier,—puis me suis voulu estendre declarant pour le commun aduenement par obstruses & perplexes sentences les causes futures, mesmes les plus vrgentes, & celles que i'ay apperceu, quelque humaine mutation qu'aduienne ne scandaliser l'auriculaire fragilite, & le tout escrit soubs figure nubileuse plus que du tout prophetique,—côbien que, Abscondisti haec à sapientibus, et prudentibus, id est, potentibus et regibus, et enucleasti ea exiguis et tenuibus: & aux Prophetes par le moyê de Dieu immortel, & des bons Anges ont receu l'esprit de vaticination, par lequel ils voyent les choses loingtaines, & viennent à preuoir les futurs aduenemens:—car rien ne se peut paracheuer sans luy, ausquels si grande est la puissance, & la bôté aux subiets que pendant qu'ils demeurent en eux, toutesfois aux autres effects subiects pour la similitude de la cause du bon genius, celle chaleur & puissâce viticinatrice s'approche de nous, comme il nous aduient des rayons du Soleil qui viennent iettât leur influence aux corps elementaires, & non elementaires.—Quand à nous qui sommes humains, ne pouuons rien de nostre naturelle cognoissance & inclination d'engin, cognoistre des secrets obctruses de Dieu le Createur. Quia nô est nostrû noscere tempora, nec momenta, &c.—Combien qu'aussi de present peuuent aduenir & estre personnagee, que Dieu le createur aye voulu reueler par imaginatiues impressiôs quelques secrets de l'aduenir, accordez à l'astrologie iudicielle comme du passé que certaine puissance & volontaire faculté venoit par eux, côme flambe de feu apparoit, que luy inspirant on venoit à iuger les diuines & humaines inspiratiôs.—Car les oeuures diuines, que totalement sont absolues Dieu les viêt paracheuer: la moyêne qui est au milieu des Anges: la troisiesme les mauuais:—Mais mon fils ie te parle cy vn peu trop obstrusement:—mais quant aux occultes vaticinations qu'on vient à receuoir par le subtil esprit de feu, qui quelquefois par l'entendement agité, contemplant le plus haut des astre, comme estant vigilant, mesmes qu'aux prononciations, estant surprins escrits prononçât sans contraincte moins attainct d'inuerecôde loquacité mais quoy tout procedoit de la puissance diuine du grand Dieu eternel, de qui toute bonté procede.—Encores, mon fils, que i'aye inseré le nom de prophete, ie ne veux attribuer tiltre de si haute sublimité pour le temps present: car qui Propheta dicitur hodie, olim vocabatur videns: car Prophete proprement mon fils, est celuy qui voit choses lointaines de la cognoissance naturelle de toute creature.—Et cas aduenant que le Prophete moyenant la parfaicte lumiere de la Prophetie luy apparaire manifestement des choses diuines, comme humaines, que ce ne se peut faire, veu que les effects de la future prediction estendent loing.—car les secrets de Dieu incomprehensibles, & la vertu effectrice contingent de longue estendue de la cognoissance naturelle, prenant leur plus prochain origine du liberal arbitre, fait apparoir les causes que d'elles mesmes ne peuuent acquerir celle notice pour estre cogneues, ne par les humains augures, ne par autre cognoissance de vertu occulte: comprinse soubs la concauité du ciel mesme du faict present totalement eternité, que vient en soy embrasser tout le temps.—Mais moyennant quelque indiuisible eternité par, comitiale agitation Hiracliêne, les causes par le celeste mouuemêt sont cogneuës.—Ie ne dis pas, mon fils, à fin que bien l'entendez, que la cognoissance de ceste mantiere ne se peut encores imprimer dans ton debile cerueau, que les causes futures bien loingtaines ne soyent à la cognoissance de la creature raisonable: si sont nonobstant bonnemêt la creature de l'ame intellectuelle des choses presentes loingtaines ne luy sont du tout ne trop occultes, ne trop reserés:—mais la parfaicte des causes notices ne se peut acquerir sans celle diuine inspiration: veu que toute inspiration prophetique reçoit prenant son principal principe mouuant de Dieu le createur,puis de l'heur & de nature.—Parquoy estant les causes indifferentes indifferement produictes, & non produictes, le presage partie aduient, ou à esté predict.—Car l'entendemêt cree intellectuellement ne peut voir occultement, sinon par la voix faicte au l'imbe moyennât la exigue flame, en laquelle partie les causes futures se viendront à incliner.—Et aussi mô fils, ie te suplie que iamais tu ne vueilles employer ton entendement à telles resueries & vanitez qui seichent les corps & mettent à perdition l'ame, dônant trouble au foible sens: mesmes la vanité de la plus qu'execrable magie reprouuee iadis par les sacrees escritures, & par les diuins canons—au chef duquel est excepté le iugement de l'Astrologie iudicielle: par laquelle, & moyennant inspiration & reuelation diuine par continuelles supputations, auons nos propheties redigé par escrit.—Et combien que celle occulte Philosophie ne fusse reprouué, n'ay oncque voulu presenter leurs effrenees persuasions, combien que plusieurs volumes qui ont esté cachez par longs siecles me sont este manifestez.—Mais doutant ce qui aduiendroit, en ay faict apres la lecture presêt à Vulcan, que cependant qu'il les venoit à deuorer, la flamme leschant l'air rendoit vne clarté insolité, plus claire que naturelle flamme, comme lumiere de feu de clystre fulgurant, illuminant subtil la maison: comme si elle fust esté en subite conflagration.—Parquoy à fin qu'à l'aduenir ne fussiez abuzé, perscrutur la parfaicte trâsformation tant seline que solitaire, & soubs terre metaux incorruptibles, & aux ondes, ocultes, les ay en cendres conuertis.—Mais quât au iugement qui se vient paracheuer, moyennant le iugement celeste, cela te veux ie manifester: parquoy auoir cognoissance des choses futures, reiectant loing les phâtastiques imaginations qui aduiendront, limitant la particuliarité des lieux par diuine inspiration supernaturelle:—accordant aux celestes figures les lieux, & vne partie du temps de proprieté occulte par vertu puissance, & faculté diuine en presence de laquelle les trois temps sont comprins par eternité, reuolution tenant à la cause passee, presente & future: quia omnia sunt nuda et aperta, etc..—Parquoy mon fils, tu peux facilement, nonobstant ton tendre cerueau comprendre que les choses qui doiuent aduenir, se peuuent prophetizer par les nocturnes & celestes lumieres, qui sont naturelles, & par l'esprit de prophetie:—non que ie me vueille attribuer nomination ny effect prophetique, mais par reuelee inspiration, comme homme mortel esloigné non moins de sens au Ciel, que les pieds en terre.—Possum non errare, falli, decipi, suis pecheur plus grand que nul de ce môde, subiect à toutes humaines afflictions.—Mais estant surprins par fois la sepmaine limphatiquant, & par longue calculation, rendant les estudes nocturnes de souefue odeur, i'ay côposé liures de propheties côtenant chacû cent quatrains astronomiques de propheties, lesquelles i'ay vn peu voulu rabouter obscuremêt & sont perpetuelles vaticinations, pour d'yci à l'annee 3797.—Que possible fera retirer le front à quelques vns, en voyant longue extention, & par soubs toute la concauité de la Lune aura lieu & intelligence: & ce entendant vniversellement par toute la terre les causes mon fils, que si tu vis l'aage naturel & humain, tu verras deuers ton climat, au propre Ciel de ta natiuité, les futures aduentures preuoir.—Combien que le seul Dieu eternel soit celuy seul qui cognoist l'eternité de sa lumiere, procedant de luy mesmes,—& ie dis franchemêt qu'à ceux à qui sa magnitude immense, qui est sans mesure & incôprehensible, a voulu pour longue inspiration, melancolique reueler, que moyennant icelle cause occulte manifestee diuinement, principalement de deux causes principales, qui sont comprinses à l'êtendement de celuy inspire qui prophetise, l'vne est que vient à infuser, esclarcissant la lumiere supernaturelle, au personnage qui predit par la doctrine des astres, & prophetise par inspiree reuelation, laquelle est vne certaine participation de la diuine eternité, moyennant le Prophete vient à iuger de cela que son diuin esperit luy a donné par le moyen de Dieu le createur, & par vne naturelle instigation,—c'est à sçauoir que ce predit, est vray, & a prins son origine & ethereement: & telle lumiere & flamme exigue est de toute efficace, & de telle altitude nô moins que la naturelle clarté, & naturelle lumiere rend les Philosophes si asseurez, que moyennât les principes de la premiere cause ont atteinct à plus profondes abysmes des plus hautes doctrines,—Mais à celle fin mô fils que ie ne vague trop profondemêt pour la capacité fature de ton sens, & aussi que ie treuue que les lettres feront si grande & incomparable iacture, que ie treuue le monde auant l'vniuerselle conflagration aduenir tant de deluges & si hautes inondations, qu'il ne sera quiere terroir qui ne soit couuert d'eau, & sera par si long temps, que hors mis enogrophies & topographies que le tout ne soit pery,—aussi auant & apres telles inondatiôs, en plusieurs contrees les playes seront si exigues, & tôbera du ciel si grâde abondance de feu & de pierre candentes, qu'il n'y demeurera riê qui ne soit consomme: & cecy aduenir en brief, & auant la derniere conflagration:—Car encores, que la planette de Mars paracheue son siecle & à la fin de son dernier periode, si le reprendra il: mais assemblez les vns en Aquarius plusieurs annees, les autres en Cancer par plus longues & continues.—Et maintenant que nous sommes conduicts par la Lune, moyennant la totale puissâce de Dieu eternel, qu'auant qu'elle aye paracheué son total circuit le Soleil viendra, & puis Saturne.—Car selon les signes celestes, le regne de Saturne sera de retour, que le tout calculé, le monde s'approche, d'vne anaragonique reuolution:—& que de present que cecy i'escrits auât cent septante sept ans trois mois vnze iour par pestilence, longue famine, & guerres, & plus par les inondations le monde entre cy & ce terme prefix, auant & apres par plusieurs fois, sera diminué, & si peu de monde sera, que l'on ne treuuera qui vueille prendre les champs: qui deuiendront libres aussi longuement: qu'ils, sont estez en seruitude—& ce quât au visible iugement celeste, qu'encores que nous soyons au septiesme nombre de mille qui paracheue le tout nous approchât du huictiesme, où est le firmament de la huistiesme sphere, qui est en dimension latitudinaire, où le grand Dieu eternel viendra paracheuer la reuolution, où les images celestes retourneront à se mouuoir & le moudumêt, superieur qui nous rend la terre stable & ferme nô inclinabitur in soeculû soeculi: hors mis que son vouloir sera accomply, mais non point autrement—combien que par ambigues opinions excedantes toutes raisons naturelles par songes Mathometiques, aussi aucunes fois Dieu le createur par les ministres de ses messagiers de feu, enflamme missiue vient à proposer aux sens exterieurs mesmement à nos yeux, les causes de future prediction, significatrices du cas futur qui se doit à celuy qui presage manifester.—Car le presaige qui se faict de la lumiere exterieure vient infalliblement à iuger partie auecques, & moyennant le lume exterieur: combien vrayement que la partie qui semble auoir par l'oeil de l'entendement, ce que n'est par la lesion du sens imaginatif,—la raison est par trop euidente, le tout estre predict par afflation de diuinité, & par le moyen de l'esprit angelique inspiré à l'hôme prophetisant, rendant oinctes de vaticinations, le venât à illuminer, luy esmouuant le deuant de la phantasie par diuerses nocturnes apparitiôs que par diurne certitude prophetise par, administration Astronomique côioincte de la sanctissime future prediction, ne considerant ailleurs qu'au courage libre.—Vient à ceste heure entendre, mon fils, que ie trouue par mes reuolutions que sont accordantes à reuelee inspiration, que le mortel glaiue s'approche de nous maintenant par peste, guerre plus horrible qu'à vie de trois hommes n'a esté, & famine, lequel tombera en terre, & y retournera souuent,—car les Astres s'accordent à la reuolution, & aussi a dit: Visitabo in virga ferrea iniquitates eorum, et in verberibus percutiam eos:—car la misericorde de Dieu ne sera point dispergee vn têps, mon fils, que la pluspart de mes Propheties, seront accomplies, & viendront estre par accomplissement reuolues.—Alors par plusieurs fois durant les sinistres tempestes, Conteram ego, dira le Seigneur, et confringam, et non miserebor,—& mille autres aduentures qui aduiendront par eux & continuelles pluyes, comme plus à plain l'ay redige par escrit aux miennes autres. Propheties qui sont composees tout au long, in soluta oratione, limittant les lieux, temps & les termes prefix que les humains apres venus verrôt, cognoissans les aduentures aduenues infailliblement,—comme auons noté par le autres parlant, plus clairement, nonobstant que soubs nuee seront comprises les intelligences: sed quando submouenda erit ignorentia, le cas sera plus esclaircy.—Faisant fin, mon fils, prens donc ce don de ton pere Nichel Nostradamus, esperant toy declarer vne chacune Prophetie des quatrains cy mis Priant Dieu immortel, qu'il te veuille prester vie longue, en bonne & prospere felicité.

—De Salon ce I. de Mars, 1555.  


Nostradamus, Countdown to Apocalypse

Translation by Alexis Lykiard with editorial comments [in brackets] by Jean-Charles de Fontbrune from Nostradamus, Countdown to Apocalypse, published 1983 by Random House.

Preface by
M. Nostradamus
to his Prophecies

Greetings and happiness to Cèsar Nostradamus my son

Your late arrival, Cèsar Nostredame, my son, has made me spend much time in constant nightly reflection so that I could communicate with you by letter and leave you this reminder, after my death, for the benefit of all men, of which the divine spirit has vouchsafed me to know by means of astronomy.

And since it was the Almighty's will that you were not born here in this region [Provence] and I do not want to talk of years to come but of the months during which you will struggle to grasp and understand the work I shall be compelled to leave you after my death: assuming that it will not be possible for me to leave you such [clearer] writing as may be destroyed through the injustice of the age [1555]. The key to the hidden prediction which you will inherit will be locked inside my heart.

Also bear in mind that the events here described have not yet come to pass, and that all is ruled and governed by the power of Almighty God, inspiring us not by bacchic frenzy nor by enchantments but by astronomical assurances: predictions have been made through the inspiration of divine will alone and the spirit of prophecy in particular.

On numerous occasions and over a long period of time I have predicted specific events far in advance, attributing all to the workings of divine power and inspiration, together with other fortunate or unfortunate happenings, foreseen in their full unexpectedness, which have already come to pass in various regions of the earth. Yet I have wished to remain silent and abandon my work because of the injustice not only of the present time [the Inquisition] but also for most of the future. I will not commit to writing.

Since governments, sects and countries will undergo such sweeping changes, diametrically opposed to what now obtains, that were I to relate events to come, those in power now—monarchs, leaders of sects and religions—would find these so different from their own imaginings that they would be led to condemn what later centuries will learn how to see and understand. Bear in mind also Our Saviour's words: Do not give anything holy to the dogs, nor throw pearls in front of the pigs lest they trample them with their feet and turn on you and tear you apart. For this reason I withdrew my pen from the paper, because I wished to amplify my statement touching the Vulgar Advent1, by means of ambiguous and enigmatic comments about future causes, even those closest to us and those I have perceived, so that some human change which may come to pass shall not unduly scandalize delicate sensibilities. The whole work is thus written in a nebulous rather than plainly prophetic form. So much so that,

You have hidden these things from the wise and the circumspect, that is from the mighty and the rulers, and you have purified those things for the small and the poor, and through Almighty God's will, revealed unto those prophets with the power to perceive what is distant and thereby to foretell things to come. For nothing can be accomplished without this faculty, whose power and goodness work so strongly in those to whom it is given that, while they contemplate within themselves, these powers are subject to other influences arising from the force of good. This warmth and strength of prophecy invests us with its influence as the sun's rays affect both animate and inanimate entities.

We human beings cannot through our natural consciousness and intelligence know anything of God the Creator's hidden secrets, For it is not for us to know the times or the instants, etc.

So much so that persons of future times may be seen in present ones, because God Almighty has wished to reveal them by means of images, together with various secrets of the future vouchsafed to orthodox astrology, as was the case in the past, so that a measure of power and divination passed through them, the flame of the spirit inspiring them to pronounce upon inspiration both human and divine. God may bring into being divine works, which are absolute; there is another level, that of angelic works; and a third way, that of the evildoers.

But my son, I address you here a little too obscurely. As regards the occult prophecies one is vouchsafed through the subtle spirit of fire, which the understanding sometimes stirs through contemplation of the distant stars as if in vigil, likewise by means of pronouncements, one finds oneself surprised at producing writings without fear of being stricken for such impudent loquacity. The reason is that all this proceeds from the divine power of Almighty God from whom all bounty proceeds.

And so once again, my son, if I have eschewed the word prophet, I do not wish to attribute to myself such lofty title at the present time, for whoever is called a prophet now was once called a seer; since a prophet, my son, is properly speaking one who sees distant things through a natural knowledge of all creatures. And it can happen that the prophet bringing about the perfect light of prophecy may make manifest things both human and divine, because this cannot be done otherwise, given that the effects of predicting the future extend far off into time.

God's mysteries are incomprehensible and the power to influence events is bound up with the great expanse of natural knowledge, having its nearest most immediate origin in free will and describing future events which cannot be understood simply through being revealed. Neither can they be grasped through men's interpretations nor through another mode of cognizance or occult power under the firmament, neither in the present nor in the total eternity to come. But bringing about such an indivisible eternity through Herculean efforts2, things are revealed by the planetary movements.

I am not saying, my son—mark me well, here—that knowledge of such things cannot be implanted in your deficient mind, or that events in the distant future may not be within the understanding of any reasoning being. Nevertheless, if these things current or distant are brought to the awareness of this reasoning and intelligent being they will be neither too obscure nor too clearly revealed.

Perfect knowledge of such things cannot be acquired without divine inspiration, given that all prophetic inspiration derives its initial origin from God Almighty, then from chance and nature. Since all these portents are produced impartially, prophecy comes to pass partly as predicted. For understanding created by the intellect cannot be acquired by means of the occult, only by the aid of the zodiac, bringing forth that small flame by whose light part of the future may be discerned.

Also, my son, I beseech you not to exercise your mind upon such reveries and vanities as drain the body and incur the soul's perdition, and which trouble our feeble frames. Above all avoid the vanity of that most execrable magic formerly reproved by the Holy Scriptures—only excepting the use of official astrology.

For by the latter, with the help of inspiration and divine revelation, and continual calculations, I have set down my prophecies in writing. Fearing lest this occult philosophy be condemned, I did not therefore wish to make known its dire import; also fearful that several books which had lain hidden for long centuries might be discovered, and of what might become of them, after reading them I presented them to Vulcan. [i.e. burned them]. And while he devoured them, the flame licking the air gave out such an unexpected light, clearer than that of an ordinary flame and resembling fire from some flashing cataclysm, and suddenly illumined the house as if it were caught in a furnace. Which is why I reduced them to ashes then, so that none might be tempted to use occult labours in searching for the perfect transmutation, whether lunar or solar, of incorruptible metals.3

But as to that discernment which can be achieved by the aid of planetary scrutiny, I should like to tell you this. Eschewing any fantastic imaginings, you may through good judgement have insight into the future if you keep to the specific names of places that accord with planetary configurations, and with inspiration places and aspects yield up hidden properties, namely that power in whose presence the three times [past, present, and future] are understood as Eternity whose unfolding contains them all: for all whings nare naked and open.

That is why, my son, you can easily, despite your young brain, understand that events can be foretold naturally by the heavenly bodies and by the spirit of prophecy: I do not wish to ascribe to myself the title and role of prophet, but emphasize inspiration revealed to a mortal man whose perception is no further from heaven than the feet are from the earth. I cannot fail, err or be deceived, although I may be as great a sinner as anyone else upon this earth and subject to all human afflictions.

But after being surprised sometimes by day while in a trance, and having long fallen into the habit of agreeable nocturnal studies, I have composed books of prophecies, each containing one hundred astronomical quatrains, which I want to condense somewhat obscurely. The work comprises prophecies from today to the year 3797.

This may perturb some, when they see such a long timespan, and this will occur and be understood in all the fullness of the Republic4; these things will be universally understood upon earth, my son. If you live the normal lifetime of man you will know upon your own soil, under your native sky, how future events are to turn out.

For only Eternal God knows the eternity of His light which proceeds from Him, and I speak frankly to those to whom His immeasurable, immense and incomprehensible greatness has been disposed to grant revelations through long, melancholy inspiration, that with the aid of this hidden element manifested by God, there are two principal factors which make up the prophet's intelligence.

The first is when the supernatural light fills and illuminates the person who predicts by astral science, while the second allows him to prophesy through inspired revelation, which is only a part of the divine eternity, whereby the prophet comes to assess what his divinatory power has given him through the grace of God and by a natural gift, namely, that what is foretold is true and ethereal in origin.5

And such a light and small flame is of great efficacy and scope, and nothing less than the clarity of nature itself. The light of human nature makes the philosophers so sure of themselves that with the principles of the first cause they reach the loftiest doctrines and the deepest abysses. But my son, lest I venture too far for your future perception, be aware that men of letters shall make grand and usually boastful claims about the way I interpreted the world, before the worldwide conflagration which is to bring so many catastrophes and such revolutions that scarcely any lands will not be covered by water6, and this will last until all has perished save history and geography themselves. This is why, before and after these revolutions in various countries, the rains will be so diminished and such abundance of fire and fiery missiles shall fall from the heavens that nothing shall escape the holocaust. And this will occur before the last conflagration [1999].

For before war ends the [twentieth] century and in its final stages [1975-99] it will hold the century under its sway. Some countries will be in the grip of revolution7 for several years, and others ruined for a still longer period. And now that we are in a republican era, with Almighty God's aid, and before completing its full cycle, the monarchy will return, then the Golden Age8. For according to the celestial signs, the Golden Age shall return, and after all calculations, with the world near to an all-encompassing revolution—from the time of writing 177 years 3 months 11 days9—plague, long famine and wars, and still more floods from now until the stated time. Before and after these, humanity shall several times be so severely diminished that scarcely anyone shall be found who wishes to take over the fields, which shall become free where they had previously been tied.

This will be after the visible judgement of heaven, before we reach the millennium which shall complete all. In the firmament of the eighth sphere, a dimension whereon Almighty God will complete the revolution, and where the constellations will resume their motion which will render the earth stable and firm, but only if He will remain unchanged for ever until His will be done.

This is in spite of all the ambiguous opinions surpassing all natural reason, expressed by Mahomet; which is why God the Creator, through the ministry of his fiery agents with their flames, will come to propose to our perceptions as well as our eyes the reasons for future predictions.

Signs of events to come must be manifested to whomever prophesies. For prophecy which stems from exterior illumination is part of that light and seeks to ally with it and bring it into being so that the part which seems to possess the faculty of understanding is not subject to a sickness of the mind.

Reason is only too evident. Everything is predicted by divine afflatus10 and thanks to an angelic spirit inspiring the one prophesying, consecrating his predictions through divine unction. It also divests him of all fantasies by means of various nocturnal apparitions, while with daily certainty he prophesies through the science of astronomy, with the aid of sacred prophecy, his only consideration being his courage in freedom.

So come, my son, strive to understand what I have found out through my calculations which accord with revealed inspiration, because now the sword of death approaches us, with pestilence and war more horrible than there has ever been—because of three men's work—and famine. And this sword shall smite the earth and return to it often, for the stars confirm this upheaval and it is also written: I shall punish their injustices with iron rods, and shall strike them with blows.

For God's mercy will be poured forth only for a certain time, my son, until the majority of my prophecies are fulfilled and this fulfilment (sic) is complete. Then several times in the course of the doleful tempests the Lord shall say: Therefore I shall crush and destroy and show no mercy; and many other circumstances shall result from floods and continual rain11 of which I have written more fully in my other prophecies, composed at some length, not in a chronological sequence, in prose, limiting the places and times and exact dates so that future generations will see, while experiencing these inevitable events, how I have listed others in clearer language, so that despite their obscurities these things shall be understood: When the time comes for the removal of ignorance, the matter will be clearer still.

So in conclusion, my son, take this gift from your father M. Nostradamus, who hopes you will understand each prophecy in every quatrain herein. May Immortal God grant you a long life of good and prosperous happiness.

Salon, 1 March 1555.




Notes

  1. Le commun advŐ®ement, the Vulgar Advent, or the accession of the people to power, is generally taken by commentators to refer first to republicanism (via the French Revolution), then to its development towards and change into communism. (Tr.)
  2. Nostradamus here compares his work, the twelve Centuries, to the Twelve Labours of Hercules, in order to stress their difficulty and importance.
  3. Moon and Sun are constant symbols in Nostradamus of the republic and the monarchy respectively, hence the alchemic imagery also has a political aspect here.
  4. Reference to toute la concavitè de la lune. Cf. note 3 above.
  5. Ether: originally personified as a deity of the upper atmosphere, and later confused with Zeus. (DL7V).
  6. Water and flooding are often as a symbol of revolution in Nostradamus.
  7. The French text refers to Aquarius, i.e. the water-bearer. Cf. note 6 above.
  8. Golden Age: rule of Saturn, the happy, peaceful time, to commemorate which the Romans celebrated with Saturnalia.
  9. 1555 + 177 = 1732, the exact date when Rousseau arrived in Paris, Nostradamus considered Rousseau the father of revolutionary and atheistic ideas.
  10. Breath or inspiration, oracular possession.
  11. Upheavals and revolution. Cf. notes 6 and 7 above.
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