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Dante Alighieri (1265-1321).
Dante Alighieri (1265-1321).
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Dante Alighieri (1265-1321).

LA COMMEDIA. 1506

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Dante Alighieri (1265-1321).
La Commedia. 1506
DANTE Alighieri (1265-1321). La Commedia. – MANETTI, Antonio (1423-97). Dialogo. Florence: Filippo Giunta, 20 August 1506.

First edition of Manettis important work on determining the size, shape and location of Dantes Hell, a work that shaped the science of Galileo. Manetti, an architect and member of the Florentine Academy, analysed clues given by Dante to map Hell. He sited it directly under Jerusalem and gave it a conical shape, with a dome resembling the dome of the Florentine cathedral, built by Brunelleschi, whose biography Manetti also wrote. The woodcuts here are the first printed maps of Dante’s Hell. Manetti’s influence was widely felt, not only reflected in Botticelli’s Chart of Hell and subsequent artworks, but also in the work of Galileo. Galileo’s first public lectures, in 1588, were on Dante’s Inferno, when he argued in support of Manetti against a rival analysis by Alessandro Vellutello. Critical to Galileo’s argument was scaling up. According to Mark Peterson, Galileo himself soon realised he had miscalculated scaling up, and his subsequent work anticipated scaling as a fundamental principle of structural engineering (cf. ‘Petersen, ‘Galileo’s Discovery of Scaling Laws’). Galileo returned to tackle scaling at the end of his life in his final book, the Discorsi of 1638. Adams D-85; Gamba 386 (‘molto raro’); Brunet II:509; Camerini, Giunti, 17; Sander 2317; EDIT 1146.

Octavo (149 x 91mm). Full-page woodcut of Dante and the 3 beasts opening the text and 7 half-page woodcuts mapping Hell (occasional small stain or spotting, light smear on &8, repaired marginal tear in B4, first 2 leaves tipped at hinge, inscription partly removed from title). 19th-century vellum, gilt spine (unobtrusive stain). Provenance: a few marginal doodles or annotations – Petrus Camozzinus, doctor of law (17th-century inscription on title) – another title inscription crossed through.
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