Venice: Bonetus Locatellus, for Octavianus Scotus, 1490.
Hardcover. 4to - over 9¾ - 12" tall. Very Good. Item #003254
March 24, 1490. Chancery 4to (228 x 177 mm). 442 unnumbered leaves including initial blank a1. Signatures: a-p8 q10 t-z8 [et]8 [con]8 [rum]8 A-N8 O-P6 Q-Z8 aa-bb8 cc10 dd-gg8 hh10 (a1 blank). Text in double columns, 60 lines, types 2:130G, 3:62G, 4:92G. Title from incipit of Book 1. Colophon reads: Regis aboali hassem filii hali abinsceni liber tot[ius] finitus est vna cum tractatu de viribus cordis translato ab Arnaldo de vilanoua. Impressus [et] diligentissime correctus ma[n]dato et impensis nobilis viri Octauiani Scoti ciuis modoetiensis. Uenetiis. Anno salutis. M. CCCCXC. die. 24. Martij. Contains Avicenna's De viribus cordis (leaves 2g5v-2h4r), translated by Arnaldus de Villanova. Incipit reads: Libellus Auicen[n]e de virib[us] cordis translat[us] ab Arnaldo de villa noua barchinone feliciter i[n]cipit. Rubricated throughout with 3- to 6-line capitals opening paragraphs painted in red or blue, mostly alternating, 7-line capitals opening books and 4-line capitals opening chapters interlaced in red and blue, paragraph marks in red or blue, yellow strokes to sentence initials. Original French Renaissance binding (about 1550), calf over thick boards, spine with 5 raised bands, blind ruling to boards and spine, gilt single stamps (pine cone) to spine compartments, boards with large central gilt arabesque and fleur-de-lis stamp in each corner (spine ends and corners repaired, boards rubbed, soiled and with old burn spots, extremities worn). Text with very little even browning throughout, faint damp-staining to margins of first and final few pages, occasional minor spotting and soiling, ink annotations in contemporary hands throughout, a few pages extensively and narrow-spaced, upper margin trimmed closely towards end of book with headline slightly shaved on 4 pages, 3 leaves (dd3-5) with larger brown-stain, portion of torn publisher's device above colophon on final leaf restored. Provenance: Monsieur Domille (inscription on first flyleaf), medical doctor and politician Jean-Claude Lemoine, Tessy-sur-Vire, Manche (ink stamp on second flyleaf), extensive comments in French in three different hands on first flyleaf. ----
Exceptional copy of the Canon, rarely ever found with the entire text of all five books present and complete as here. William Osler described the Canon as "the most famous medical textbook ever written," noting that it remained "a medical bible for a longer time than any other work." (Osler, p. 71). It "stands for the epitome of all precedent development, the final codification of all Graeco-Arabic medicine" (Max Neuburger, p. 368).
The earliest (dated) printed edition of the Latin Canon appeared in 1472, but only covering book 3. Whereas several incunabula copies of the Canon are recorded in public libraries around the world - 48 of the editio princeps (Strasburg, before 1473) and 35 copies of the Scotus 1490 edition with 8 located in the US - they are exceptionally rare in the trade with only a handful recorded at auction in the past 50+ years and no complete copy of the Scotus edition traced at all. The most common on the market is the Hebrew edition published in Naples in 1491 and the Lyon edition of 1498 (with 90 copies in public libraries). GW lists 15 editions printed before 1501 alone with 12 copies in US libraries.
Ibn Sina (c.980-1037), also known in the Western world as Avicenna, was an Arabian philosopher, physician, poet, courtier and politician. He had "perhaps a wider influence in the eastern and western hemispheres than any other Islamic thinker. He lived mainly in Persia but wrote mostly in Arabic, though a few of his works were written in Persian. He is reputed to have produced more than one hundred and sixty books, most of which are now lost. At the age of sixteen he read medicine - 'not one of the difficult sciences', he said - and became physician to the Emir of Bokhara, where he had access to a great library and continued his studies in philosophy and other branches of learning. The Canon, written in Arabic and here translated into Latin by Gerardus of Cremona, is a compendium of Greek and Muslim medical knowledge of Avicenna's time, coordinating the teachings of Galen, Hippocrates and Aristotle. It superseded all previous works - even the great medical encyclopaedia of Rhazes - and in its Latin translation became the authoritative book in all universities. It was still being printed in the seventeenth century, though by that time its influence had been superseded by Galen and then by the new medical school represented by Sydenham and others. It is, however, still in use in parts of the Arab world today. The last book, containing his own records of cases, is lost, but the Canon still contains many original observations. Avicenna recognized the distribution of diseases by water and soil. He describes many nervous ailments, skin diseases, etc. In the section Materia Medica he records seven hundred and sixty drugs and, for the first time, the preparation and properties of alcohol. By treating surgery as a separate and inferior part of medicine, he was unfortunately responsible for a setback in the development of this department of medical science. Avicenna's philosophical works, attempting a reconciliation of Plato, Aristotle and oriental thought and religion, became one of the fundamental sources for scholasticism and probably influenced such thinkers as Aquinas, Duns Scotus and Roger Bacon. His work on psychiatry and psychology derived from Aristotle and acquired a wide following. Body and soul were conceived as separate entities; the soul emanates from God, enters the body after generation and is immortal. This conception is similar to that of St Augustine and leads directly to the cogito, ergo sum of Descartes. Avicenna wrote on mathematics (translating Euclid), optics and physics. His work on the 'origin of mountains' is a remarkable early survey of geology and the main source for the thirteenth-century encyclopaedists. His opposition to alchemy was a unique phenomenon for his time. The Canon was translated into Hebrew (1491), the first Arabic printing appeared in 1593, and there were many editions of, and commentaries on, the Latin translation by Gerardus of Cremona (1114-87). Through these printings Avicenna's work transmitted to the West the ideas of the great Greek writers and also introduced ideas of his own which in some respects superseded them." (PMM 11).
References: Dibner 120 (this edition), PMM 11 and Horblit 7 (for 1st ed); Klebs 131.11; ISTC ia01424000; BMC V 438; Heirs of Hippocrates 67 (for 1498 edition); W.Osler, The Evolution of Modern Medicine, Kessinger Publ. 2004; Max Neuburger, History of medicine, vol. 1. - Visit our website for additional images and information!
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