“A Little Astrological Library”–Westman;
An Edition Studied by Copernicus?
Quadripartitium. Centiloquium cum commento Hali
Eighteen woodcut diagrams in the text, numerous woodcut initials, & a woodcut printer’s device on recto of final leaf. Rubricated throughout in red. Gothic type, 66 lines & headlines. Two columns. 2 p.l., 152 numbered leaves. Folio (310 x 210 mm.), cont. blindstamped pigskin-backed wooden boards (spine a little rubbed, some unimportant worming at front & back), orig. or early clasps & catches. Venice: Bonetus Locatellus for O. Scotus, 20 Dec. 1493.
Second edition, enlarged with the addition of other important astrological texts, of Ptolemy’s Quadripartitum, a textbook of astrology more usually known today under its Greek title, the Tetrabiblos. “Ptolemy’s Quadripartitium ranks as the Bible of Astrology, but the attribution of the Centiloquium is considered spurious.”–Stillwell, The Awakening Interest in Science during the First Century of Printing 1450-1550, 96–(describing the first edition of 1484).
“To modern eyes it may seem strange that the same man who wrote a textbook of astronomy on strictly scientific principles should also compose a textbook of astrology…Ptolemy, however, regards the Tetrabiblos as the natural complement to the Almagest: as the latter enables one to predict the positions of the heavenly bodies, so the former expounds the theory of their influences on terrestrial things…Ptolemy regards the influence of heavenly bodies as purely physical…By careful observation of the terrestrial manifestations accompanying the various recurring combinations of celestial bodies, he believes it possible to erect a system which, although not mathematically certain, will enable one to make useful predictions.”–D.S.B., XI, p. 198.
This edition is important; according to Prof. Robert S. Westman, it was the principal resource of theoretical astrology of the late 15th century. “The 1493 edition was, for all practical purposes, a little astrological library. It was produced in a dense, double-columned folio volume…the fifteenth-century editor Girolamo Salio of Faventino appended his own introduction, a detailed table of chapter headings, and thirteen auxiliary works by different authors [see below for a listing].”–Westman, The Copernican Question: Prognostication, Skepticism, and Celestial Order, p. 44.
Prof. Westman goes on to strongly suggest that this edition was an influential source book for Copernicus who had come to assist Domenico Maria Novara in Bologna in the fall of 1496 (see pp. 96-97). Novara was a major astrological practitioner and his copy of this book — the only surviving book from his library — is at the University of Bologna.
The first edition of 1484 contained only the Quadripartitum and the Centiloquium. Our edition adds for the first time the following valuable texts:
1. Hermes Trismegistus. Centiloquium Hermetis and De Stellis beibenijs (the “desert stars”).
2. Bethem. Centiloquium, De Horis planetarum, and De Significatione triplicitatum ortus.
3. Messahalah. De Receptionibus planetarum, De Interrogationibus, Epistola, and De Revolutionibus annorum mundi.
4. Zahel (or Sahl ibn Bishr). De Interrogationibus, De Electionibus, and De Temporum significat. in Judiciis. Salio was a physician and astrologer who specialized in editing medical and astrological texts targeted for a university audience.
A fine and crisp copy in its first binding.
❧ Goff P-1089. Klebs 814.2.
Item ID: 3280