Author: Mário Santiago de Carvalho
Part of: The ‘Cursus Conimbricensis’ (coord. by Mário Santiago de Carvalho)
Peer-Reviewed: Yes
Published: February, 14th, 2019
DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.2327272

The latest version of this entry may be cited as follows: Carvalho, Mário Santiago de, “Cosme de Magalhães”, Encyclopedia, Mário Santiago de Carvalho, Simone Guidi (eds.), doi = “url10.5281/zenodo.2327272”, URL = “”, latest revision: February, 14th, 2019.


At the present state of the art, little is known about Cosme de Magalhães, S.J. He was born in 1551 in the northern city of Braga, and died in Coimbra on October, 9, 1624 with seventy-three years of age. His parents were João de Magalhães and Ana de Barros. He entered the Society of Jesus, in Coimbra, on June 2nd, 1567, studied Humanities (1568-70) and Philosophy (1570-74) in the Jesuit College of Coimbra, taught Theology and Humanities in the Lisbon College of Saint Antão (1585-92), before returning to Coimbra to lecture Holy Scriptures (1601-05). During his life time he headed the house of Sanfins for two times (Carvalho 2001). On a still unedited work, Calafate dates Magalhães’ lessons on Restitution (BNP cod. 5995) from Saint Antão period, 1586/89. Alengabe (1643: 86) resumes his whole teaching carer mentioning Rhetoric; Moral, during ten years; and Holy Scripture (see also Rodrigues 1938: 46). Since he was responsible for the funeral Latin eulogy of the King Cardinal Dom Henrique in 1580 on behalf of the Jesuit Coimbra College (Rodrigues 1938: 418 adds that the eulogy in Portuguese language was made by Inácio Martins), it seems plausible (Carvalho 1991: 656) that between 1574 and 1585 he might have continued teaching Philosophy (or Rhetoric, according to Machado 1741: 601) and reading Theology in Coimbra. This would explain his traditionally alleged participation in the editorial Coimbra Jesuit Course, viz. in the volume of ‘De Anima’, that would have to be dated within this period of time. He was responsible for the studies in the Jesuit Colleges of Lisbon, Braga and Coimbra and got appointed twice head of the Jesuit House of Sanfins de Friestas (Valença do Minho).


Although there is no unanimity among scholars (see e.g. Andrade 1982: 100), Magalhães is likely to be responsible for the second Appendix of the Treatise on Some Problems related to the Five Senses (Tractatio aliquot Problematum ad quinque sensus spectantium per totidem sectiones distributa) and probably the editor of the volume on the ‘De Anima’ that belongs to the Jesuit Course of Coimbra. Alengabe (1643: 86), however, attributes to Cosme de Magalhães all other expositions related to the Problems that appear in the other volumes of the Aristotelian Jesuit Coimbra Course. He is also the author of a Latin Anthology, published in 1587 in two volumes and destined to the initial classes of studies (ad usum scholarum); the first volume, with prose writers texts, such as Plinius’s, Livy’s and Cicero’s; the second one, with excerpts from Seneca, Plautus, Terence, Papinius, Ovid, Juvenal, Jerome Vida and Sannazaro (see Rodrigues 1938: 59). Also, to Magalhães, one owns several published works on exegesis on the books of the Old Testament as well as on a few Saint Paul’s Letters. On December, 4, 1620, at the beginning of his “explanatio” on the book of Judges, the censor Estêvão do Couto underlines Magalhães’s method of work and erudition, namely his “sensus historicus ex hebraeis graecisque fontibus ingeniose haustus et accurate copioseque illustratus mira conceptuum moralium subtilitate et elegantia…” (in Rodrigues 1938: 126). Reading Magalhães’s hermeneutical contribution as an example more of the “effervescent ambience of the biblical studies” at that point, Historian of the Society Rodrigues (1938: 127) says the method begins with the literal meaning and dwells on scriptural, moral and theological ‘annotations’ suitable to the composition of sermons as well as one’s moral improvement. Pereña (1973: xxxiii) adds a manuscript on “ius gentium”; Calafate (2018), on Thomas Aquinas’ Secunda-Secundae; and Stegmuller (1959: 461), other more manuscripts. Finally, in his ancient catalogue, Alengabe (1643: 86) attributes to Cosme de Magalhães other titles, including a two-volumes Japanese Cathecism (see also Franco 1726), whereas Machado (1741: 602) mentions manuscripts such as, a kind of a “History of Braga” (Primatus Hispaniae…), dedicated to D. Fr. Agostinho de Castro; an Explanatio Panegyrica; Dous Discursos da Conceição de N. Senhora; and two lessons “De homicidio” and “De suspensione et interdicto”. Calafate is currently editing Magalhães’ manuscript on Restitution (materia de restitutione lecta a Patre Cosmo de Magalhães Doctissimo), which he considers to be “a wide treatise on restitution”. To our knowledge, there is no study whatsoever on his works on Biblical hermeneutics, but the presence of some of his theological books in 17th century Japan has been reported (López-Gay 2000: 727). Since an old literary tradition used to mention the high quality of Magalhães’ exegesis and his Lyon Publisher appreciated his work, it is to be expected that attention to his biblical work will compensate. As regards the Secunda-Secundae, Calafate paid attention to a few sections related to Magalhães’ doctrine on slavery. The small Treatise on Some Problems related to the Five Senses was translated for the first time into Portuguese and, as well as the Appendix on the Coimbra’s ‘De Coelo’; both subject matter coincide with the pseudo-Aristotelian’s Problems, although in an abridged form (there are explicit references to the following sections of the Greek text: 3 (= drunkenness 9, 10, 20, and 29); 7 (= sympathetic action 7); 11 (= voice 1, 2, 11, 13, 35, 52, 54, 55, and 56); 19 (= music 2, and 38); 28 (= temperance 2 and 3); 31 (= eyes 2, 4, 10, 11, 16, 18, 21, 23 and 26); 33 (= nose); and 34 (= mouth 3 and 5). Magalhães is likely to have used Pseudo-Alexander of Aphrodisias’ Problemata, as well as Scaliger’s Exercitationes in Cardanum, and the Portuguese translator of the Treatise on Some Problems related to the Five Senses suggested that Magalhães might be working with Theodore Gaza’s Latin text. As indicated by the title, Magalhães paid attention to all five “external potencies of the soul” but divided his Treatise into six sections, for the problems related to the “voice” and to the “sounds” are dealt with in one section. In the whole, 37 problems are discussed on seeing, 11 on hearing, 24 on sound and voice, 3 on smelling, 7 on flavour, and 6 on the sense of touch. Conceived as a sequence to the section of Manuel de Góis’ Commentary on ‘De Anima’, Magalhães’ Treatise is mostly written following the precise model of the Pseudo-Aristotle’s Problems: a question is put and immediately answered. The Treatise on Some Problems related to the Five Senses explicitly refers to Coimbra’s De Generatione et Corruptione (sec. 1, n. 1) as well as Coimbra’s Physics (sec. 1, n. 13) but these cannot be arguments to exclude Magalhães from its authorship. The problems addressed by the Treatise are extremely varied, sometimes bizarre, less often amazing. Consider the dispute between Cardan and Scaliger, in which, taking sides for the latter, Magalhães seems to catch all the poignancy of hearing: thanks to the voice, he says, there is a kind of reality in what one hears whereas what one sees is always abstract; besides, hearing is not as fast or light as seeing; necessarily then, he concludes, the objects seen are lesser attached to the mind and, with the only exception of intuitive knowledge, the spirit is deeper impressed when only hearing (s. 2 n. 11). Let us briefly tackle seeing and vision. The problems begin with the eyes of the foetus, go to the nature of the eyes, their inner physiology and anatomy; their variety among several species of animals, again in the case of humans, their capacity of fascination, their relation to human temperament, their aid to medical prognosis, the pathology of eyes, and so on. Besides Aristotle, the most important authorities mentioned are Galen, Plinius, Avicenna, Averroes, Witellius, Vesalius, Jean Fernel, Pedro Sánchez Ciruelo and Tomás Rodrigues da Veiga. Indicative of the major importance that Aristotle, and the Coimbra Jesuits, gave to sensorial knowledge, according to Carvalho (2010), Magalhães’ Appendix may be already a literary index of what is going to become the autonomy of the “res extensa”, but it was also claimed that the Coimbra Course as a whole was important to the students aiming at a degree in medicine at Coimbra University (Sander 2014). Even if belonging to natural philosophy, as always happen with the Coimbra Course, Magalhães’ Treatise is not totally indifferent to theological problems, as is evident when he alludes to the formation of voice in the Resurrection (s. 2, n. 3). We could not see yet his Latin Anthology but Virgil and Horace are quoted verbatim in Magalhães’ Treatise on Some Problems related to the Five Senses. Nor the more recent literature on Pseudo-Aristotle neither on the Problems has yet studied Magalhães’ contributions. Cosme de Magalhães’s life and works are still waiting for a critical study.


  • De varietate iurium et dominiorum (BNL F.G. cod. 5995); also FG cod. 5524, 6175, and cod. 6278.
  • In IIa-IIae (BNP FG cod. 5525).
  • Tractatio aliquot Problematum ad quinque sensus spectantium per totidem sectiones distribute, in Commentarii Collegii Conimbricensis Societatis Iesu, In tres libros de Anima Aristotelis Stagiritae, Conimbricae 1598, pp. 533-558.
  • Sylva Diversorum auctorum, qui ad usum scholarum selecti sunt, Olyssipone, 1587, 115pp.
  • Liber Secundus Diversorum Poetarum Carmina (ad usum scholarum) selecta, Olyssipone, 1587, 91pp.
  • Sylva Auctorum ad Puerorum Institutionem Selectorum (Conimbricae, 1609).
  • Cosmae Magaliani Bracarensis e Societate Iesu Sacrarum litterarum Professoris, Commentarii in Canticum I Moysis (Lugduni: H. Cardon, 1609).
  • Commentariorum in Mosis Cantica et Benedictiones Patriarcharum libros IV (Lugduni: H. Cardon 1619).
  • Operis Hierarchici, sive De ecclesiastico principatu libri III in quibus epist. tres B. Pauli Apostoli, quae Pontificiae vocari solent, Commentariis ilustranti… Auctore P. Cosma Magaliano (Lugduni: H. Cardon, 1609).
  • Cosmae Magaliani… In Mosis Cantica, et Benedictiones Patriarcharum Commentariorum Libri IV (Lugduni 1619).
  • Cosmae Magaliani … Commentaria in Sacram Josue Historiam in duos tomos distributa (Tournai: H. Cardon, 1612).
  • Cosmae Magaliani … In Sacram Iudicum Historiam, Explanationes et Annotationes Morales  (Lugduni: I. Cardon & P. Cavellat, 1626).

Translated Works

Medeiros (2011), F. Tratado sobre alguns problemas relativos aos cinco sentidos, divido pelo mesmo número de secções, in Comentários a Aristóteles do Curso Jesuíta Conimbricense (1592-1606). Antologia de Textos. Introdução de Mário Santiago de Carvalho; Traduções de A. Banha de Andrade, Maria da Conceição Camps, Amândio A. Coxito, Paula Barata Dias, Filipa Medeiros e Augusto A. Pascoal. Editio Altera. LIF – Linguagem, Interpretação e Filosofia. Faculdade de Letras: Coimbra, pp. 246-278 [link]


  • Alengabe (1643), Philippe de. Bibliotheca Scriptorum Societatis Jesu Post excusum Anno 1608 Catalogum Petri Ribadeneirae Nunc hoc novo apparatu librorum ad annum reparatae salutis 1642 editorum concinnata et illustrium virorum elogiis adornata, Antverpiae: Ioannem Meursium.
  • Andrade (1982), A.A. Banha de. Teses fundamentais da Psicologia dos Conimbricenses, in Id., Contributos para a História da Mentalidade Pedagógica Portuguesa, Lisboa.
  • Calafate (2018), Pedro. “Schiavitù naturale e schiavitù legale nella Escuela Ibérica de la Paz (XVI e XVII secolo)”, in Schiavitù del corpo e schiavitù dell’anima. Chiesa, potere politico e schiavitù tra Atlantico e Mediterrâneo (sec. XVI-XVIII) a cura di Emanuele Colombo, Marina Massimi, Alberto Rocca e Carlos Zeron, MIlano: ITL srl, pp. 53-71.
  • Carvalho (1927), J. de. Boletim da Biblioteca da Universidade de Coimbra 8: pp. 439-48.
  • Carvalho (1991), J.V. de. «Jesuítas Portugueses com obras filosóficas impressas nos séculos XVI-XVIII» Revista Portuguesa de Filosofia 47: pp. 651-659.
  • Carvalho (2001), J. Vaz de. “Magalhães, Cosme de”, in Diccionario histórico de la Compañía de Jesús. Biográfico-Temático, ed. Charles E. O’Neil, S.J., and Joaquín Mª Domínguez, S.J., Madrid/Rome: Universidad Pontificia Comillas / Institutum Historicum Societatis Iesu: # 5161.
  • Carvalho (2010), M.S. de. Psicologia e Ética no Curso Jesuíta Conimbricense, Lisboa.
  • Catálogo dos Professores de Philosophia no Collegio da Companhia de Jesus de Coimbra desde o ano de 1555, e no d’Évora, in Rerum Scholasticorum quae a Patribus ac fratribus huius Conimbricensis Collegii scripta sunt, BGUC Ms 993 [also published by Carvalho 1927].
  • Franco (1726), Antonio. Synopsis annalium Societatis Iesu in Lusitania ab anno 1540 usque ad annum 1725, Aubsburg/Graz: Philippi, Martini, J. Veith Haer.
  • König (1678), G. M. Bibliotheca Vetus et Nova (…) Ordine alphabetica digesta, Norimbergae 1678.
  • López-Gay (2000) S.J., Jesús. “Manuscritos y obras de teólogos españoles en Oriente (siglo XVI)”, in E. Reinhardt (dir.), Tempus Implendi Promissa: homenaje al Prof. Dr. Domingo Ramos-Lissón, Pamplona: Eunsa, pp. 717-727.
  • Lohr (1988), Ch. H. Latin Aristotle Commentaries. II Renaissance Authors, Firenze.
  • Machado (1741), Diogo Barbosa. Bibliotheca Lusitana. Historica, Critica e Cronologica, Tomo I, Lisbon: A. Isidoro da Fonseca.
  • Pereña (1973), L. “Estudio Preliminar”, in Francisco Suárez, De Legibus IV, Madrid.
  • Rodrigues (1938), Francisco. História da Companhia de Jesus na Assistência de Portugal. Tomo II, volume 2, Porto.
  • Sander (2014), C. “Medical Topics in the ‘De Anima’ Commentary of Coimbra (1598) and the Jesuit’s Attitude towards Medicine in Education and Natural Philosophy”, Early Science and Medicine 19: p. 76-101.
  • Sotuello (1676), Nathanaele. Bibliotheca scriptorum Societatis Iesu Opus inchoatum a R. P. Petro Ribadeneira Eiusdem Societatis Theologo, anno salutis 1602. Continuatum a R. P. Philippo Alegambe … usque ad annum 1642. Recognitum, & productum ad annum iubilaei M.DC.LXXV, Romae: Iacobi Antonij de Lazzaris Varesij.
  • Stegmüller (1959), F. Filosofia e Teologia nas Universidades de Coimbra e Évora no século XVI, transl., Coimbra.

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