UNRAVELLING THE LABYRINTH
Antidaedalus seu Labyrinthus scientiarum emensa, encyclopaedia praemesso famulans, seu sapientiae universali tanquam docenti utens subserviensAnnecy [Anicy], 1637
FIRST EDITION 4to, pp. (viii) 82. Roman letter. Light water stain to many margins intruding onto text in fewer places. large black on white decorated initials and ornamental headpieces. 30 lines of annotations in contemporary hand on fly and a further two pages plus on rear end papers. Occasional marginalia largely corrective to text. A perfectly acceptable copy in contemporary vellum over boards, 19th century bookplate of the Bibliothèque des mines at Moustiers on front paste-down.
First and apparently only edition of a very rare work in the history of education, this unusual monograph by the otherwise-unknown Nicolas Petrus Santamorensus seeks to provide a guide to learning for the neophyte which seems to have gone thus far unstudied. He positions himself as the anti-Daedalus, deconstructing the labyrinth of the sciences for the reader rather than building it.
Listing his subjects as streets and gardens through a labyrinth of knowledge, Petrus focuses on philosophy and natural sciences but touches on a wide range of topics including history, rhetoric, and even theology. He references a range of Classical authors for the reader to learn from. Principally concerned with the benefits of education to young men, Petrus praises the virtue of reading, writing and oration as the gal of learning throughout.
In several places, Petrus juxtaposes the ordering of the planets with the existence of structured matter on earth, a practice in line with early works of Renaissance alchemy such as Dee’s Monas Hieroglyphica. the marriage of astronomy and alchemy, in accordance with the hermetic axiom ‘as above, so below’, was a hallmark of early modern alchemy, and whilst the text provides no explicit explanation of the connection, the two topics always refer back to one another.
A number of handwritten corrections of the printed text are included, as are extensive manuscript pages which discuss the text and its contents on the front and back flyleaves. A catalogue of these handwritten corrections is found at the end of the printed text, indicating that they may have been intended as a printer’s reference for future editions.USTC 6801639. We have located copies of this edition at the Mazarine, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, The University Library of Cagliari, and Royal Library of Turin. None in USA. Not in the usual bibliographies.