Woodcut printer’s device on title, a fine woodcut initial, & numerous woodcut diagrams (many full-page) in the text. 4 p.l. (the last a blank), 38 leaves. Small 4to, early vellum over boards (some light foxing), handwritten paper label on spine, traces of green silk ties. Pesaro: C. Francischini, 1572.
First edition of Commandino’s translation of the first treatise to put forward the heliocentric hypothesis.
Aristarchus (ca. 310-230 B.C.), “taught the daily rotation of the earth about its axis. He was the first to put forward the heliocentric hypothesis. In order to reconcile the apparent immobility of the fixed stars with the revolution of the earth around the sun, he assumed that the sphere of the fixed stars was incomparably greater than that containing the earth’s orbit. That is, the universe conceived by him was incomparably greater than that conceived by his predecessors. In his only extant treatise ‘On the sizes and distances of the sun and moon’ he gave a scientific method to make these measurements. His results were grossly inaccurate, but the method was sound…
“This treatise is of great mathematical interest because of its containing the calculation of ratios which are in fact trigonometrical ratios.”–Sarton, I, pp. 156-57.
“Aristarchus is celebrated as being the first man to have propounded a heliocentric theory, eighteen centuries before Copernicus…It is interesting to note in passing that Copernicus’ disappointment at being anticipated by Aristarchus has recently come to light. Copernicus deliberately suppressed a statement acknowledging his awareness of Aristarchus’ theory…On Sizes and Distances marks the first attempt to determine astronomical distances and dimensions by mathematical deductions based upon a set of assumptions.”–D.S.B., I, pp. 246-48.
Nice unsophisticated copy. Old stamp on title.
❧ Sparrow, Milestones of Science, pp. 2-3 & plate 7.
Item ID: 5479