ALDINE PHILOSOPHY

In meteora Aristotelis commentariiScholia in I. Meteorum Aristotelis.

Venice, apud haer. Aldo I Manuzio expensis Federico Torresano, 1551.

£1,950

FIRST EDITION. Folio. Two works in one, ff. (iv) 139 (i). Roman letter, little Greek. Printer’s device to t-p and last, 18 woodcut geometrical schemas, decorated initials. Marginal staining to some ll. where an attempt has been made to wash cut early marginalia, affecting text in places. Very good, well-margined copy in half purple roan over pink pasteboards, c.1800, usual rubbing. Casemark to fly, ecclesiastical library stamps (C18-C19) to lower margin of t-p (‘Bibl[ioteca] S[an] Silve[stro]’ and one illegible), early marginalia in places generally legible, the odd pencil annotation.

Very good, well-margined copy of the first Latin translations of Olympiodorus’s commentary and Johannes Philoponus’s ‘Scholia’ to Aristotle’s ‘Meteorologica’. Translated by Giovanni Battista Camozzi and dedicated to Pope Julius III, this composite work was sometimes bound with the Greek ‘editio princeps’ of the same year. Sixteenth-century editions and translations of Greek commentaries sought to recover ancient interpretations of Aristotelian natural philosophy and thus divest it of the Averroistic and Scholastic readings of the medieval period. Olympiodorus the Younger (c.495-570) was a philosopher and astrologer at the School of Alexandria, and the author of numerous commentaries to Plato and Aristotle based on his lectures. Written after 565, ‘In meteora Aristotelis commentarii’ is the only ancient commentary on ‘Meteorologica’ which has survived in its entirety. Based on theories already expounded in ‘De caelo’, ‘De physica’ and ‘De generatione et corruptione’, ‘In meteora’ generally agreed with Aristotle on the interaction of the four constitutive elements of terrestrial matter (fire, water, air and earth) plus a celestial fifth, and their influence on geological, hydrological, physical and natural phenomena including the movements of rivers and the sea, weather, the nature of stars, tornadoes and lightning. Johannes Philoponus (c.490-570) was a Christian philosopher, later declared a heretic, and commentator of Aristotle. His ‘Scholia’ was ignored by traditional philosophy for its radical rejection of many Aristotelian cosmological and physical theories. The joint publication of these clashing commentaries provided fresh and varied views on Aristotelianism which influenced the thought of philosophers and scientists like Giordano Bruno and Galileo Galilei. The annotator of this copy was a scholar who added marginalia with cross-references to other Aristotelian texts and highlighted the ‘dubitationes’ and solutions to specific questions, and comparisons to the theories of other philosophers like Ptolemy or Theophrastus. He was also interested in the physiology of the salamander—an animal with a long history in European folklore, traditionally associated with the element of fire.

USTC 845366; Rénouard 151:6; BM STC It. p. 47; Brunet IV, 186.

L2850