Padiel, Changes to the Key, and an Entropy Calculator!

Progress is slow as usual here in Trithemius land, but I’ve actually added quite a bit of content over the last month. First, both the Latin and English versions of Chapter 2, Padiel, have been posted — Hooray! Padiel is really the first full chapter of the Steganographia since it is the first chapter to contain a proper example (actually two examples) of a covertext concealing a plaintext.

While coding-up the “key” functionality to reveal the plaintext messages, I realized that it makes much more sense for the button to appear directly below the text of interest rather than in the navigation menu, which was perhaps a much less obvious spot. As a side-effect of this change, each now only controls one and only one section of text. Again, this seems much more sensible since had I continued with the universal , pressing it would have caused so much plaintext to appear that the reader would have lost his or her place in the document.

Lastly, I added a brand new and potentially very worthwhile functionality to the Spirit Summoner. In addition to being able to “summon” each spirit individually on some text, you can now summon all the spirits at once by selecting “Pandemonium”. This performs — but does not display — the operations of every spirit and then ranks the outputs according to the relative entropy of the result as compared to the frequency distribution of a given language. Right now, the basis text is the Latin Vulgate version of Genesis but in the future I’d like to include English and German as well. This topic deserves a more in depth description which I hope to provide down the road. As for now, though, the ranking capability isn’t super interesting since I’ve only coded-up two “spirits”, Pamersiel and Padiel. The bigger idea, though, is that in the future, when examining a text for evidence of Trithemian steganography, this feature will allow one to rapidly determine which “spirits” are worthy of closer investigation. That is, spirits who produce a set of letters with a frequency distribution similar to a the frequency distribution of Latin (or English or German, etc.) may actually encode an intelligible message, whereas a spirit who produces nothing but z’s and q’s can be safely dismissed. As always, keep checking back for more exciting developments. Next stop: Camuel!

April 6th, 2016 by ACB

The Circle of Spirits

It’s been far too long since my last update, but a new section, Names & Signs, has finally been added. This section, which falls between Chapter 1 (Pamersiel) and Chapter 2 (Padiel), contains both images and a table, with the table itself also containing inline images. I wanted to make sure I had a satisfactory way of handling these elements before uploading the translation.

The large image in this section does not have an explicit name, but I’m calling it the “Circle of Spirits.” This image caused me a bit of a delay since it contains text that I wanted to translate. But how to preserve the look and feel of the original? “Revival” style computer fonts, like the Fell family of fonts that I have used on the homepage, proved horribly unsuited to the task. Ultimately I realized I had no choice but to cut, paste, resize and rotate letters from the Latin/German original in order to spell out their translations in English. Some letters, like ‘b’, I actually had to draw from scratch. The end result doesn’t quite pass the “Is that an actual 17th century woodcut?” test but I’m pleased all the same. Here is the original image placed next to my reconstruction for comparison.

Spirit_Sectors_Latin Spirit_Sectors

Fortunately, this is one of only two such images in the Steganographia, with the other not occurring until I.17. So at least I don’t need to fret about it for quite some time. Onwards to Padiel!

January 18th, 2016 by ACB

Hello World!

Welcome to the Trithemius-blog! This is where I plan to put my thoughts and musings on Trithemius, early-modern ciphers, Renaissance esoterica, or anything that strikes me as vaguely related to the Steganographia. Likewise, I’ll post news of any updates to the site’s content here. As always, don’t hesitate to join the discussion.

September 16th, 2015 by ACB