"the sage, Artephius, invented a cabalistic magnet which secretly sucked out the bodies of young women their mysterious spirit of efflorescence"

Artephius (also known as Al Tafiz or Ibn ar Tafiz) is known as an alchemist in Cordoba, Andalucia, Spain, in the Middle Ages.  He is sometimes thought to be the same individual as Apollonius of Tyana.  Artephius created a pamphlet called The Secret Book of Artephius with a closing section dedicated to Allah, which reads 'Which when you see, render praises and thanksgiving to the most great and gracious God (Allah), who gives wisdom and riches to whomsoever He pleases, and takes them away according to the wickedness of a person. To Him, I say, the most wise and almighty God (Allah), be glory for ages and ages. AMEN.'

Artephius' dedication reflects Rosencreutz' earlier quote, that evil comes to those who think of evil.  His works claim that he held the secret of creating the Philosopher's Stone, and of prolonging human life.  He stated his own age as 1,025 and told of his adventures in hell, where he met the devil during his search for the Philosopher's Stone.

In his Secret Book Artephius explores in detail the approach to purifying metals, and of using the resulting distillation to purify the human body.  He offers instructions for drawing out the 'hidden spirit' of gold to condense it into an 'altogether spiritual substance, a white vapour, a white spirit, and a wonderful soul'.  The 'aqua vite' used to achieve this purification is the dew - Rosicrucian 'ros' - which springs from the earth during May, and he compares the relationship between the human body and this 'white water' to the desire and friendship between male and female.  He talks of the 'feminine dominion' of darkness and humidity which are lifted out of the body during the cleansing, but seems determined to rid the body of these elements rather than to distil them into a spirit of rejuvenation, as Rosencreutz suggests.

Abishag the Shulamite (or Shunammite) appears in the Book of Kings in the Old Testament (1 Kings 1:1-4).  She was a beautiful young woman chosen to lie beside the aging King David at night in order to keep him warm.  She may have become one of his wives, but the text states that 'the king knew her not' in a sexual relationship but that her role was one of ser vant and helper.  After Solomon assumed David's throne Adonijah, his brother, asked to be allowed to marry Abishag but Solomon saw this as an attempt at the crown and had Adonijah put to death (1 Kings 2:13-25).  Biblical chronology suggests that David's death came within a few years of lying with Abishag.

Statue of the Nine Worthies in Nuremberg
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeStatue of the Nine Worthies in Nuremberg - Credit: Anne97432

The Nine Worthies are a set of heroes established in the Middle Ages as personifying the ideals of chivalry.  They can be loosely grouped into three triads: Pagans, Old Testament Jews and chivalric Christian heroes.

The most obvious Signor Guardi of Venice is Francesco Guardi (1712-1793), one of the last painters of the Venetian School who followed in the footsteps of Titian in the 16th century.  Were there to have been a painting of him by Titian it would indeed make him around 300 years old; he would also have had to survive past 1793 in order to meet Mr Rosencreutz in Venice in person.