De natura daemonum […] libri quatuor.

Venice, apud Aldum, 1589.

£3,250

8vo. pp. (xii) 211 (i). Italic letter, little Roman. Woodcut Aldine device to t-p, woodcut initials and ornaments. Slight age yellowing, little mainly marginal spotting and couple of ink splashes in first two gatherings, small tear to A1 just touching text, slightly soiled and adhering at gutter. Generally a very good copy in early carta rustica, upper hinge starting but firm, a bit soiled and worn at edges, later paper overlaid on spine, cracked. Shelfmarks and later inscription ‘Reg Comp’ to front pastedown, early ownership inscription to t-p (crossed out and illegible).

A very good copy of the second Aldine edition of this important work on demonology, first published in 1581. Giovanni Lorenzo d’Anania (1545-1609) was an Italian theologian and geographer, also the author of a famous ‘Cosmografia’ (1576). Anania believed that witchcraft had been particularly active in his age and ‘De natura daemonum’ provided a thorough study of the ways in which daemons were responsible. It theorises the existence and nature of subterranean and aerial malevolent spirits (from movement to voice) and studies how they affect human life as the cause of sundry physical and social ills: e.g., incurable diseases, earthquakes, false images generated through astrology and necromancy, and some poetic ‘fables’. Fascinating are his remarks on exorcisms, a few of which he apparently witnessed, and miracles derived from saints’ relics; these could be used to scare demons away (though not always successfully) and help treat serious illnesses. Despite Anania’s Catholicism, the whole work is pervaded by mild Protestant leanings which surface, for instance, in his belief that demons encouraged people not to use their own vernaculars during mass as well as in his often ambivalent opinion on the a nature of relics (Thorndike VI, 528).

Renouard 242:6; Adams A1005; Ahmanson-Murphy 988; BM STC It., p. 26; Caillet I, 272; Wellcome I, 285; Thorndike VI, 527-28. Not in Durling or Brunet.  

L2600

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