De fascino libri tres.

Venice, Aldus, 1589.


8vo. pp. (xvi) 375 (xlv). Italic letter, with Roman. Aldine device to t-p, floriated and decorated initials, grotesque headpieces. T-p slightly dusty, original edges untrimmed, slight browning or marginal foxing to a couple of ll. A very good, large, clean copy in early C19 probably French blue straight-grain morocco, gilt ruled to a panel design, outer border with blind-tooled rolls of floral tendrils and ropework, gilt cornerpieces to centre panel with feathery curls, gilt rosette within a circle, and pointillé lunettes in blind outlining corners, gilt Greek-key decoration to inner edges, gilt pointillé to outer corners, and additional vellum eps. Bookplate of Frédéric and Anne Max to front pastedown.


A very good copy, with edges uncut in an elegant binding, of this remarkable work on witchcraft by Leonardo Vairo (1523-1603), a Benedictine monk and bishop of Pozzuoli. This is the second edition, originally published in Latin and French in 1583, and the first Aldine. It is entirely devoted to ‘fascinum’ (‘fascination’ or ‘charm’), a ‘pernicious quality summoned through intense imagination, sight, touch, voice, together or separately, as well as the observation of the sky, or inflicted through hate or love’. With the help of authorities like Aristoteles, Plutarch and Heliodorus, Vairo addresses the nature of fascination caused by external action (moral) or inherent qualities (natural). The work seeks to set apart the natural from the supernatural whilst discussing subjects like monstrous births, werewolves, the sabbath, the nature of daemonic powers, basilisks, the faculty of divination pertaining to some animals, supernatural prophecy and daemonic possession which may more frequently affect melancholic people. ‘De fascino’ was still mentioned in C18 theological debates on witchcraft and the supernatural. The edition concludes with a priced catalogue of the ‘libri di stampa d’Aldo’ available for purchase in 1589.


BM STC It., p. 706; Brunet V, 1029; Caillet, 10964: ‘Traité fort rare’; Rénouard 242:8.


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