History of Medicine
In Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Nicholas Flamel is featured as the creator of the "Philosopher's Stone." Because this stone allows its owner to live forever, it must be protected from falling into the hands of the evil Lord Voldemort.
Although Harry Potter is fictional, Frenchman Nicolas Flamel lived during the late 14th and early 15th centuries. A scholar and scribe, Flamel devoted his life to understanding the text of a mysterious book filled with encoded alchemical symbols that some believed held the secrets of the Philosopher's Stone.
Many myths surround Flamel, including the belief that he successfully created the Stone. His death in 1417 didn’t hurt that myth, and his quest for the Philosopher's Stone lives on in his writings. Although modern scholarship has cast doubt on the authenticity of alchemical texts ascribed to him, he remains an important figure in the alchemical world.
A 16th century Swiss alchemist, physician, astrologer and occultist, Paracelsus is an historical figure as well. Best known as a medical radical, Paracelsus attacked what he saw as outdated Classical medicine. Paracelsus was also fascinated with alchemy — a medieval pseudo-science and philosophy focused on the transmutation of base metals into gold, a universal cure for disease, and a means of indefinitely prolonging life. The Swiss alchemist is usually depicted with his sword, which many believed stored the elixir of life in the pommel.
Although Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa is mentioned in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone only in passing, the 16th century alchemist, astrologer, and writer authored one of the most influential books on the occult during his lifetime.
Agrippa's De occulta philosophia libri tres is a study of elemental, celestial, and intellectual magic. The book discusses the four classical elements (earth, air, fire, and water), astrology, numbers, angels, gods, mystical names and virtues, and how they relate to medicine and alchemy.