David Porreca

Associate Professor; Co-Director, Medieval Studies
David Porreca Profile Picture


Ph.D.,  Warburg Institute, University of London
Dissertation: “The Influence of Hermetic Texts on Western Europe Philosophers and Theologians (1160-1300)”
MA, University of Toronto


(519) 888-4567 x 42436
ML 227

Academic Biography

I was born in Montréal and attended the Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf through the end of CÉGEP in pure & applied sciences. Discovering in the process that my talents lay in languages and philosophy instead of physics and mathematics, I gave up on the idea of planetary astronomy and instead came to the University of Waterloo for an Honours BA in Medieval Studies. I did my MA at the Centre for Medieval Studies at the University of Toronto before moving on to the Warburg Institute (University of London) for a PhD under the supervision of Prof. Charles Burnett, completed in 2001. After holding a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Religion & Culture Department at Wilfrid Laurier University, I came to be the medievalist in the Classical Studies Department at the University of Waterloo. I am currently Co-Director of the Undergraduate program in Medieval Studies.

Broadly speaking, my research interests involve Medieval intellectual history, especially the reception of the pagan Classical tradition in the Christian Middle Ages. The main focus of my research has been the enigmatic figure of Hermes Trismegistus. In the process of hunting for any and all references to Hermes during the Middle Ages, I have conducted research at over thirty manuscript libraries scattered throughout Europe. Along the way, I have become interested in ancient and Medieval magic, astrology, alchemy, palaeography, manuscript transmission and glosses. This path has led me, along with my co-author and collaborator Dan Attrell, to produce a new English translation of the Latin astral magic text known as Picatrix, which appeared in 2019 through the Pennsylvania State University Press. More recently, Dan, myself, and a third collaborator (and UW alumnus) Brett Bartlett have completed and submitted for publication an annotated English translation of Marsilio Ficino's polemical work De Christiana religione.

In parallel to my interest in intellectual history, I have begun examining the dynamics of the rise, flourishing and downfall of complex societies, especially with regard to the impact of resource depletion on these processes.My teaching interests include Latin (Classical & Medieval), magic & esoterica, ancient religious traditions in general and the Hermetic tradition in particular, Medieval Studies broadly construed (Medieval society, defining the Middle Ages) and the decline and fall of ancient Roman civilization.

Recent Publications:

Marsilio Ficino (1433-1499).On the Christian Religion(De Christiana religione). Translated from the Latin with an Introduction and Notes by Dan Attrell, Brett Bartlett, and David Porreca. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2022, 280 pp.

Picatrix: A Medieval Treatise on Astral Magic, Translated with an Introduction by Dan Attrell and David Porreca. Pennsylvania State University Press, University Park, PA, 2019, 372 pp. 

"Hermes Mercurio Trismegisto en el 1300." In Hermes Platonicus: La recepción del hermetismo y su vinculación con el neoplatonismo en la filosofia de la Edad Media y de la Modernidad temprana, ed. C. D'Amico and V. Buffon. Santa Fe, Argentina: Ediciones UNL, 2016. 11- 54.


2024 The Theoretical Latin Hermetica.  Translated from the Latin and Introduced by Dan Attrell Brett Bartlett, Mark Delp, David Porreca, and Matteo Stefani.  Corpus Christianorum in Translation Series.  Turnhout: Brepols (1300,000 words, in progress)

2023   "Whitewash for ‘Black Magic’: Justifications and Arguments in Favour of Magic in the Latin Picatrix." In From Pseudo-Bede to Duarte de Sande: Arts and Sciences in East and West in Honour of Charles Burnett, ed. A. Giletti and D.N. Hasse, Turnhout: Brepols (13,400 words, in-press).

2023   “Magic and Body Parts: A Study on the Use of Cadavers in the PGM, the Picatrix, and the Munich Handbook." In The Material Culture of Magic, ed. A. Bosselmann-Ruickbie and L. Ruickbie, Leiden: Brill (7,260 words, in-press).

2023   "Hermes Trismegistus and Nicolaus Cusanus: A Study of Inspiration." In Totum unum et ex uno omnia - Denkformen des Hermetismus in der frühen Neuzeit, ed. A. Eusterschulte and E. Law, Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht (8,100 words, in-press)

In Progess:

“The Curious Commentators of MS Copenhagen, Fabricius 91 4°”. This project will involve the critical edition of the copious annotations to this early 13th-century manuscript whose annotated contents include Sidonius Apollinaris’ Letters, Apuleius’ De deo Socratis and the Asclepius attributed to Hermes Trismegistus’.

For more detailed information see my Curriculum Vitae