24 June 2009
DIOSCORIDES, Pedanius (fl. A.D. 50-70). In Hoc Volumine Haec Continentur. Venice: Gregoriis Brothers for Aloisius and Franciscus Barbari, and Johannes Bartholomeus Astensis, 1516.
2 parts in one, 2o (315 x 220 mm). Contemporary limp vellum, yapp edges, remains of leather ties (rebacked at an early date). Provenance: contemporary marginal annotations throughout.
"EVERYTHING BOTANICAL BEGAN WITH HIM" (Sprengel).
The definitive edition of Ermolao Barbaro's (1454-1493) Latin translation and edited by Johannes Baptista Egnatius. De medicinali material, first printed in Latin in 1479 by Petro Paduano was the fons et origo of botanical knowledge until the early seventeenth century: as Sprengel states, "during more than sixteen centuries [Dioscorides] was looked up to as the sole authority, so that everything botanical began with him. Every one who undertook the study of botany, or the identification of medicines swore by his words. Even as late as the beginning of the seventeenth century both the academic and the private study of botany may almost be said to have begun and ended with the text of Dioscorides" (quoted by Greene Landmarks of Botanical History p.219). The second part is Barbaro's own Corollarii, and is an extended commentary on the plants discussed by Dioscorides with a preface by G.B. Egnazio, printed here for the first time: "Barbaro begins to tell things before untold about familiar plants that have been too succinctly written of during fifteen or twenty centuries; a kind of innovation in botany which was of profound import, and one with which Ruel, Valerius Cordus, Tragus, and Conrad Gesner, of a generation later, have been accredited as first pioneers" (Greene). Durling 1140; Greene, Landmarks of Botanical History pp. 553-568; Johnston/Cleveland Collections 28; Pritzel 2301; Wellcome I 1794.
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