ALHAZEN [Abu 'Ali al-Hasan ibn al-Hasan ibn al-Haytham] (965-c.1040). Opticae thesaurus, translated probably by Gerard of Cremona (c.1114-87). -- [Abu 'Abd Allah Muhammad ibn Mu'adh AL-JAYYANI (c.989/90-after 1079)]. De crepusculis & nubium ascensionibus, translated by Gerard of Cremona. -- WITELO (1230/35-75). Libri X. All texts edited by Friedrich Risner (d. c.1580). Basel: Eusebius Episcopius and the heirs of Nicolus Episcopius, August 1572. 2 parts in one volume, 2° (330 x 222mm). Printer's device on general title, woodcut illustration on verso, repeated on *1r, Witelo with errata (lacks the final leaf with colophon, lower margin of i4 in first part and LL1-LL4 in second part skilfully renewed affecting a few letters, quire u stained in lower margin also affecting a few lines of text, stamp removed from blank portion of general title and errata of Witelo, lightly spotted, a few leaves browned, some light, mainly marginal, waterstaining, a little stronger in last few leaves). 17th-century vellum (some repairs along spine, new label). Provenance: Monasterii S[ancti] Andreae (inscription on title dated 1707).
FIRST EDITION OF ALHAZEN'S CLASSIC WORK ON OPTICS AND VISION. 'The Arab physicist Alhazen preserved for us all that was known by the ancients in the field of optics and added some contributions of his own' (Heralds of Science). He understood that light emanated spherically from a point, and analysed the principles of reflection and refraction, as well as discussing spherical and parabolic mirrors, lenses and atmospheric refraction. Although he cited no prior authorities, his work built on Ptolemy and Euclid, and his explanation of the structure of the eye was derived from the teachings of Galen.
Little is known about Witelo, whose name is Latinised as Vitellius. His Perspectiva, or Opticae libri decem, written c.1270 and dedicated to William of Moerbeke, the other great translator of the 13th century, is an immense work that relies extensively on Alhazen as well as other ancient writers on optics. Witelo's treatment of the subject, which has never been studied in detail, offers an analysis of reflection that was not surpassed until the seventeenth century.
Witelo's Perspectiva, which had been published twice (Nuremberg 1535 & 1551) before its inclusion in the present edition, was provided with redrawn figures and cross-references to the text of Alhazen. This combined edition served as the standard reference work on optics well into the seventeenth century, influencing scientists such as Brahe, Kepler, Galileo, and Descartes. Adams A745; Dibner Heralds of Science 138; Norman 1027; A.I. Sabra,'The Authorship of the Liber de crepusculis,' Isis 58 (1967): 77-85.