THE FOUNDATION OF PHYSICS AND NATURAL PHILOSOPHY, A HANDSOME VOLUME

De physico auditu…ab Averri cordubesi commentate.

Venice, Andrea de Asula, 2nd October 1483.

£19,500

FIRST EDITION thus. Folio, 159 ex 160 unnumbered leaves. AA-TT8 UU7 (lacking final blank). Double column, gothic letter in two sizes, printed paragraph numbers, initial spaces blank. Systematic scholarly marginalia in contemporary and C16th hands, neat and legible, intermittently throughout. A few little wormholes, mostly marginal, to final gatherings, lamp oil splash to blank fore edge of a dozen leaves, an exceptional, thick paper copy, clean, well-margined and unrestored, in early calf over wooden boards, outer and inner compartments with multi blind ruled borders, 4 original brass bosses to corners of latter on each cover, matching central boss within, Spine with blind ornament to seven compartments, joints repaired, covers a bit wormed and scratched, remains of clasps, a tall and handsome volume beautifully proportioned and printed.

Excellent early edition of Aristotle’s Physics in this Latin translation with the commentary of Ibn Rushd, otherwise known as Averroes of Cordoba, and edited by Nicoletus Vernia. It comprises one of a series of Aristotelian texts that were produced by Andreas Tornesanus and Bartholomaeus de Blavis between 1 February and 25 October 1483. The translation is anonymous but William Moerke and Michael Scotus were responsible for the other medico-scientific Latin versions in the series. Aristotle’s Physics is a fundamental text of Western natural philosophy. In it, or rather them, what has come down to us is probably a fairly random collection of lecture notes, rather than a text polished for publication, Aristotle established the general principles that govern all natural bodies, animate and inanimate, celestial and terrestrial, including all motion, causation, qualitative and quantitative change, creation and extinction. Physics in the Aristotelian sense covers almost all there is to know about the material world – including those forces which shape it that are not themselves material. Heidegger wrote of it “This book determines the warp and woof  of the whole of Western thinking…Without Aristotle’s Physics there would have been no Galileo.”

Ibn Rushd or Averroes came from an illustrious Cordoban family and was the greatest Muslim philosopher of the West and one of the greatest of medieval times, as well as a physician and astronomer. For his three remarkable commentaries on Aristotle (that on zoology is now absolutely lost) he became known simply as ‘The Commentator’ or ‘Gran Comento’ as Dante calls him in Inferno IV 144. English versions were still being published in the 20th century.

The editor Vernia (1420 – 1499) was one of the leading Aristotelians of the C16th and himself a significant philosopher – his contemporaries called him Nicoletus philosophus celeberrimus; he was also a physician and astrologer. He taught philosophy at the University of Padua from 1465 almost to his death and was succeeded by Pomponazzi, like Nifo, one of his pupils.

Titles from this series of publications appear either individually or together and in any combination, they were available for purchase that way. The bibliographical references following therefore may refer to the whole publication, or any part.

Not in BMC XV. Goff A962, GKW 2337. Renouard 284:3. Stillwell,  Awakening Interest in Science 736 n. Klebs 82:2. Bernoni 271:14 “importante edizione”.

L1442

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