Gustavus Selenus on Trithemius: a note
Book III of Cryptomenices consists of a thorough, patient explanation of the Trithemian ciphers on the same lines as Caramuel y Lobkowitz and Heidel. The fifteenth chapter contains new information about twelve ‘modes to the total of the signs of the Zodiac’ found in a manuscript not known to previous commentators. I give the text of Gustavus Selenus and the first of the twelve modes. What is claimed to be the ciphertext of this first mode, Bydiel, is a genuine letter of Trithemius, printed in the Epistolae, and so are several of the other eleven modes: I have included them all in my partial edition of the Epistolae in these pages. It would be of considerable significance if Trithemius actually used steganography in his personal correspondence. Unfortunately, Gustavus Selenus does not explain the twelve modes or give the plaintext: as he points out, the incantations supplied with each of the twelve are recycled from other modes in books I and II of Steganographia or, as in this case, are unintelligible, and are unlikely to reveal the secret.