Napoleon’s Sorcerers: The Sophisians

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20During Napoleon’s rule, Freemasonic circles in France invented rituals that allegedly first happened in the temple structures of ancient Egypt. This book blogs about the cultural environment and intellectual background of merely one such pseudo-Egyptian secret society, the Sacred Order from the Sophisians. Founded in Paris in 1801, the Sophisian Order initially catered to veteran military leaders, Egyptologists, scientists, writers, and artists who had joined Napoleon’s Egyptian campaign (1798-1801). Soon the transaction branched in the market to attract new adepts on the world in the Parisian stage. This study will depend on previously unpublished archival materials amongst the Sophisians, for example the group’s so-called Golden Book for the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris.A richly illuminated manuscript envisioned by Marie-Nicolas Ponce-Camus, the scholar of Jacques-Louis David, the “Golden Book” features underground mazes, cave settings, pyramids, and temple structures as theatrical settings to re-create Ancient Egyptian initiation practices. The book includes seventeen color illustrations and forty-nine black-and-white illustrations. Darius A. Spieth is Assistant Professor of Art History at Louisiana State University.

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