D’Apone, Pietro (b. 1250) Italian physician, alchemist, and reputed magician who met his demise in the Inquisition. Many of the feats of Magic and Sorcery attributed to Pietro D’Apone were probably more fiction than fact, but they were sufficient to secure his condemnation.
D’Apone was born in Apone, near Padua, Italy, in 1250. A physician, he knew Arnold de Villanova. He possessed enough knowledge about astrology, alchemy, and the magical arts to impress others. He lived in Paris for many years where he made his living by telling fortunes and practicing medicine; then D’Apone returned to Italy. sD s s s
According to lore, his powers came from seven infernal familiars that he kept trapped in seven crystal vases. Each familiar functioned like a muse with its own area of expertise: philosophy, alchemy, astrology, medicine, poetry, music, and painting. Whenever D’Apone needed information, he let out a familiar and received instruction from it. It was said that with the help of the spirits, D’Apone could mimic the greatest artists and thinkers.
D’Apone reputedly made gold out of brass, but he used magic to keep it to himself. Whenever he gave out his gold, he said a charm over it that caused it to be returned magically to him. No locks or surveillance could keep the gold in place. This power extended to silver as well.
D’Apone thus had few friends and many enemies and compounded his unpopularity by making unwise statements about religion that came to the attention of the Inquisition. He was arrested and charged with heresy and sorcery and was brought before an Inquisition tribunal. He was tortured severely on the rack but continued to protest his innocence.
D’Apone died in prison before being brought to trial. He was found guilty posthumously. The Inquisition ordered his bones to be dug up and publicly burned. He was burned in effigy in the streets of Padua.
- Mackay, Charles. Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1932.