Basel: Henricus Petri, 1554.
3rd Edition. Hardcover. Folio - over 12 - 15" tall. Very Good. Item #003273
I. In C.L. Ptolemaei Pelusiensis IIII de Astrorum Iudiciis . . . quae non solum Astronomis & Astrologis, sed etiam omnibus philosophiae studio. . . Basel: Henricus Petri, March 1554. Two parts in one volume. , 363 ; , 403-513,  pp. Signatures: a6 b4 A-Z6 aa-ee6 ff-gg4 hh6 Aa-Hh6 Ii4 Kk6. Printer and date from colophon on Kk6r. Separate title-page to second part. Title with oval woodcut portrait medaillon of author within ornamental cartouche, historiated and decorative initials, text illustrated throughout with numerous woodcut diagrams, final leaf Kk6 with colophon recto and woodcut printer's device verso. Ptolemy's text printed in large roman type, with Cardano's commentary below in smaller roman type. [Bound with] II. De Subtilitate Libri XXI. nunc demum recogniti atque perfecti. Basel: Ludovicus Lucius, March 1554. , 561,  pp. Signatures: ?4 ?4 ?4 a-z4 A-Z4 Aa-Zz4 Aaa6. Title with woodcut printer's device recto and medaillon portrait of the author verso, colophon on leaf 3A5v, woodcut illustrations and diagrams in text, historiated woodcut initials, final blank leaf. Two works in one volume. Folio (314 x 211 mm). Bound in contemporary pigkin over wooden boards, spine with 4 raised bands, boards richly stamped and ruled in blind (lacking metal clasps, corners worn, leather soiled and darkened), author's name inked on fore-edge. Light browning of text, first title-page a bit dust-soiled, faint minor marginal staining in places, very minor occasional spotting, a few ink markings and annotations in contemporary hand, vellum index tabs at fore-edge throughout (two torn off). Provenance: Ink ownership inscription of a Basel citizen ("Sum Jacobi ?Ryf..") dated 1560 at foot of first title, additional contemporary ink inscription on titles and beneath colophon partly cancelled; The Birmingham Assay Office Library (small ink stamp to first free endpaper), acquired from London-based bookseller W. M. Voynich (his letter to the Assay Office, dated Dec. 5, 1912 loosely attached). An exceptional copy in untouched original binding. ----
I. FIRST EDITION of Cardano's most important astrological work, the commentary on Ptolemy's textbook of astrology, Quadripartitum, (or Tetrabiblos in Greek). For having cast the horoscope of Jesus Christ (pp. 163-66) and attributing the events of His life to the influence of the stars, Cardano was prosecuted by the Roman Inquisition for heresy in 1570 until he recanted after a few months spend in prison. Cardano's dedicatory preface addressed to John Hamilton, Archbishop of Edinburgh is dated June 16 (XVI Calendas Iulij) 1553 in Milan. That same year, Cardano had cured Hamilton of a disease which had left him unable to speak and was thought to be incurable. John Hamilton's horoscope is cast by Cardano on p.613.
"In 1548, a complete translation of Ptolemy's Tetrabiblos by A. Gogava was published. The new editions, in particular the second, made it possible to read Ptolemy separately from the Hermetical interpretations and to measure all the better the distance between the Tetrabiblos and the Centiloquium . . . Cardano was quick to grasp such an increase of quality. He fell upon Gogava's translation by chance, in the midst of a long voyage to Scotland which took him to the sick-bed of the archbishop of Edinburgh, John Hamilton. Having immediately understood that the renewal of astrology depended on the recovery of the real Ptolemy, the Pavian scholar decided to write a new, precise commentary, which was published in 1554. He claimed that the Centiloquium was not a work by Ptolemy, but of someone else who had misunderstood and even deformed the Ptolemaic doctrine. He asserted the conjectural nature of the art of astrology, to be understood as a part of natural philosophy, and not as superstition, prophesising, magic, auguries, omens and such like ... From the outset he was critical of popular astrology, which he regarded as ignorant and unreliable. In his first astrological writings, he kept to the forms sanctioned by tradition, publishing, among others, a Prognostic for the years 1534 to 1550, as well as a collection of Astrological Aphorisms in seven books. Thus, for the young Cardano, the question of the certitude and truthfulness of prediction remained still unproblematic, taken from the Arab astrologers and works of Stoic inspiration. It was subsequently the direct reading of Ptolemy which convinced him about the conjectural nature of that portion of astrological predictions which referred more specifically to individual events. In his texts . . . we find this conception connected with the more general thesis about the conjectural nature of all knowledge. Knowledge, for Cardano, comes by way of the deciphering of signs that reveal, obscurely, the hidden order which God has impressed on the world. On this point, which he owed to suggestions from Neo-Platonism, Cardano set himself apart, subtly and perhaps even unconsciously, from the Peripateticism of Ptolemy, to which, by contrast, the prevailing natural philosophy of the 'Ptolemaic' astronomers of the 16th and 17th century subscribed. Cardano's commentary is the most authoritative among the many which the astrological culture of the first modern era devoted to Ptolemy, astrologorum princeps." (Dooley). References: DSB III, p.65; Houzeau & Lancaster 4856; VD16 C898; Mellon 25; B.Dooley, A Companion to Astrology in the Renaissance, Brill, 2014, p. 93-94.
II. SECOND FOLIO EDITION (the 4th overall) of Cardano's encyclopedia of natural sciences, which DSB calls "a mine of facts, both real and imaginary; of notes on the state of science; of superstition, technology, alchemy, and various branches of the occult." The 1554 edition, the most complete, is considered the definitive text. The dedication and the table of the 1550 first edition have disappeared, the text corrected and enlarged. A new errata is printed (p. 561). In this edition, Cardano retains his dangerous and heretical assertion that Nobody knows God, neither what he Is, nor if he Is (Nemo novit Deum, nec quid sit, quisque sit) which disappears, with other text passages, in all subsequent editions. Literature: DSB III, p.66; NLM/Durling 847; Adams C670; Houzeau and Lancaster 4856; VD 16 P 5255. - Visit our website for additional images and information!
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