FRACASTORO, Girolamo; NAVAGERO, Andrea, ed.
ASTRONOMY AND EARLY EPIDEMIOLOGY
Opera omnia.Venice, apud Iuntas, 1555.
4to. ff. , 285, , 32. Roman letter. Woodcut printer’s device to title, woodcut medallion portraits of Andreas Navigerus and Girolamo Fracastoro within architectural border, over 70 small woodcut diagrams, decorated initials and ornaments. Light age yellowing, early ecclesiastical ex-libris washed to title, slight mainly marginal foxing, small light water stain to upper blank margin in places. A good copy in C17 mottled sheep, spine gilt, scratches to covers, vellum ms stubs, occasional C16 ms marginalia.
A good copy of the first collected edition of Girolamo Fracastoro’s works, including his major medical, astronomical and philosophical treatises, edited posthumously by the humanist Andrea Navagero. The Veronese polymath Fracastoro (c1446/8-1553) was professor of medicine at Padua, and an influential scholar of geology, astronomy and rhetoric. This collection opens with two works on astronomy and astrology. ‘Homocentricorum, siue De stellis’ discusses cosmography, from the nature and motions of the heavens, spheres, planets and stars, to calculations of latitude and longitude, Saturn’s circles, the satellites of specific planets, and the unevenness of the Sun’s orbit. It introduced an experimental method to look at the stars, by using two convex lenses placed in sequence, to show everything, even planets, ‘much larger and closer’ – the foundation of what would later be Galileo’s telescope. ‘De causis criticorum dierum’ focuses on the calculation of ‘dies critici’, a iatro-mathematical concept according to which illnesses, including their improvement, worsening and ultimate
prognosis, were caused by a conflict between planets. The famous ‘De sympathia et anthipatia rerum’, first published in 1546, explores ‘certain agreement or disagreement in nature and qualities, making things attract and repel each other’ (Leijenhorst, p.209). Applying this principle to the whole of nature, the work explores medicine, magnetism and psychology. ‘De contagiosis morbis’ is Fracastoro’s second work on contagion, after the poem ‘Syphilis sive Morbus gallicus’ (1530), about a fictionalised epidemic, also present in this collection. Fracastoro’s innovative theory saw contagion as the transmission of an illness from one subject to the other, starting from the putrefaction of one’s body. In his view, ‘bodies are composed of very little and imperceptible particles, and putrefaction makes them release. The body thaws, while its released particles overflow from it and create big aggregates called “seminaria”: the seed of contagion’ (Enc. Ren. Phil., p.431). ‘De vini temperatura’ is a study of the properties of wine according to the four humours, debating the best ‘regimen sanitatis’. The remainder includes three philosophical essays (on poetry, the intellect, including vision, and the soul) and two poems, followed by three orations by Navagerius. A most important collection.EDIT16 CNCE 19612; Durling 1631; Wellcome I, 2396; Heirs of Hippocrates 176; Osler 2650. Not in Cantamessa. C. Leijenhorst, ‘Theories of Selective Attention’, in Mind, Cognition and Representation (2007), pp.205-30; Encyclopedia of Renaissance Philosophy (2022).