A mysterious person, (or –more likely– multiple people with the same name) from Persia. Sometimes called the ‘father of alchemy.’ His supposed contributions include first mentioning the elixir of life, the philosopher’s stone, being in Xerxes’ court, and a teacher of Alexander the Great, teaching Democritus, and a Magi in the line of Zoroaster.
Listen to our podcast episode on Ostanes here:
Ostanes was born in.. not sure. But he died in.. hmm. I also don’t know that. He was Iranian/Persian
Hermodorus, who lived in the 4th Century BC mentions him. Hermodorus circulated works of Plato in Sicily.
He claimed Ostanes was a magus in a long line of Magi descending from Zoroaster.
But Persian sources don’t mention him. He’s one of the ‘wise foreigners’ the Greeks loved so much.
The 1st century CE Pliny the elder called Zoroaster the first magician, but that Ostanes was the first writer of it.
Pliny also writes that Ostanes accompanied Xerxes to the invasion of Greece.
…but then he also mentions him as a tutor of Alexander the Great a century later.
Aslo when Democritus headed east to discover the secret of Magic, it was none other than Ostanes that was his teacher.
Pliny quote: “As Ostanes said, there are several different kinds of it; he professes to divine (divina promittit) from water, globes, air, stars, lamps, basins and axes, and by many other methods, and besides to converse with ghosts and those in the underworld”
By the end of the 1st century CE, “Ostanes” is cited as an authority on alchemy, necromancy, divination, and on the mystical properties of plants and stones.
Later when the Muslim world took over the study of Alchemy they continued to see Ostanes as a father of Alchemy, who possessed the secret of the philosopher’s stone.
Now, a lot of Persian literature from the time ostanes was said to live (lets say between 700 and 300 BC) was lost.. so who knows, there may have been a clever guy named Ostanes.
Somewhere around the 3rd century BCE an Egyptian philosopher Pebechius writes to a Zoroastrian magician that he found hidden books of Ostanes in Persian.
The books were 7 books each hidden behind a door by King.
Pebechius in great awe describes the books as Ostanes’ divine revelations and a treatise on the whole of all the sciences including the wisdom of Hermes which Ostanes had recovered and restored to the Magi and to the world. We assume Osrom, to whom the letter was addressed, lived in Persia.
Another mention: Cyprian, bishop of Carthage (c. 248-258 CE), states that Ostanes said God cannot be perceived and Hermes Trismegistus said God cannot be comprehended (by humans).
So one Ostanes that may have taught Democritus and been in Xerxes court.. one that may have taught Alexander the Great. One that taught Pseudo Democritus
Must have been a sharp cookie.
The reason I wanted to cover him.. even if briefly, is that he may have been the first to talk about “Divine Water” -as in the Elixir of Life, which is all it takes to get a podcast on this show.. so keep that in mind when you invent that time machine.