ROSACCIO, Giuseppe


ROSACCIO, Giuseppe Le sei età del mondo [with] Teatro del cielo e della terra [and] Discorsi del Rosaccio nelli quali si tratta brevemente dell\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'eternità, dell\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'evo, del tempo (…)

Venice,, [Domenico Farri], 1597, 1597


8vo, three works in one, separate t-ps, pp. 46 (ii); pp. 64; pp. 13 (xix). Roman letter, Farri’s device to third t-p, charming woodcuts of a planisphere and globe to first and second t-ps, four double page woodcut maps of Europe, Africa, Asia and America and two half-page depicting the celestial spheres and the planisphere in second work, lunar and solar calendars and a table of planets in third. First t-p a bit dusty, very light waterstain to upper corner of second and third work, light browning to outer blank margin of a few initial and final gatherings, paper flaw to one lower blank margin. A good copy in early carta rustica, missing ties.


A lovely collection of three fascinating treatises on chronology, geography, geology and astronomy, with charming naïf illustrations. In the first work, the author records: “1492: in this year, Cristoforo Colombo of Genova discovered the New World”. These Venetian editions of 1597 are extremely rare.

Giuseppe Rosaccio (c. 1520/50-1620) was an Italian physician, astronomer, cosmographer, geographer and traveller. Details of his early life and education are debated; traditionally, he was born in Pordenone (Friuli) and graduated in medicine and philosophy in Padua. He frequented the courts of northern Italy and eventually settled in Florence. An extremely prolific author, Rosaccio wrote some 40 works on a variety of subjects, including medicine, human physiognomy, history, travel and especially the natural sciences. He also published some free-standing planispheres and maps.

 ‘The six ages of the world’ is a treatise which summarises the history of the world according to the ‘six ages’ of the traditional Christian chronology. It is divided into six section, each dedicated to one age: the creation of the sky and the earth by God (first), Adam and his descendants (second), the Flood (third), the monarchies (fourth), the life of Christ (fifth), the lives of the Popes and Princes up until year 1596 (sixth). Within each section, Rosaccio lists the most remarkable events year by year: e.g. the accession and death of popes and emperors, plagues and faminse, and countless bizarre and prodigious events (in year 600, in Rhodes it rained blood, in Italy milk; in 1165, in Sicily a river was flowing upwards, in the Flanders a woman gave birth to snakes). 

 ‘Theatre of the sky and the earth’ is concerned with the structure universe and everything in it. Rosaccio describes the celestial spheres – illustrated in a large woodcut – their position and movement, and mentions the dimensions of Hell and Purgatory. The Earth is illustrated in a charming planisphere, and four double-page plates are dedicated to the known continents: Europe, Africa, Asia and America. Each continent is also described (a note about Africa reads: “Africa is named from the word ‘Afros’, which signifies ‘scare’, because of the quantity of venomous animals born in Libya and Numidia”). Rosaccio also talks about rivers, earthquakes and their causes, the properties of metals, water and air. A final section on astronomy describes comets, the sun and the moon, planets and constellations.

 ‘Discourses on eternity, age and time’ deals with time and how to measure it. The author describes the century, year, week, month and day, the four seasons and the ages of men, and provides a simple guide on how to use dominical letters and the ‘golden number’ to determine the day of the week for particular dates. Also included are a lunar calendar for the years 1594-1612, a solar calendar indicating the hour and minute of sunrise and midday for every day of every month, and a ‘Table of Planets’ showing which planet will be ‘the dominant planet’ for the years between 1494 and 1670.

1) USTC 853369; Alden 597/62. Not in Adams, BM STC It C16, Brunet, Graesse, Church, Sabin. USTC and Worldcat record no copies of this edition in the US. 2) USTC 853370; Alden 597/63; Houzeau and Lancaster 2804. This ed not in Nordenskiöld, Sabin, Shirley. Not in Adams, BM STC It C16, Brunet, Graesse, Church. USTC and Worldcat record no copies of this edition in the US. 3) USTC 853366; Houzeau and Lancaster 2807. Not in Adams, BM STC It C16, Brunet, Graesse. USTC and Worldcat record no copies of this edition in the US.