ALHAZEN [Abu 'Ali al-Hasan ibn al-Hasan ibn al-Haytham] (965-ca. 1040). Opticae thesaurus. Translated from Arabic into Latin, probably by Gerard of Cremona (ca. 1114-87). - [Abu 'Abd Allah Muhammad ibn Mu'adh AL-JAYYANI (ca. 989/90-after 1079)]. De crepusculis & nubium ascensionibus. Translated from Arabic into Latin by Gerard of Cremona. - WITELO (1230/35-75). Libri X. All texts edited by Friedrich Risner (d. ca. 1580). Basel: Eusebius Episcopius and the heirs of Nicolaus Episcopius, August 1572.
2o (330 x 220 mm). Collation: s4, a-z6 zz6; *4, A-Z6 Aa-Pp6 Qq4 Rr6. Blank: . 390 leaves. Roman and italic types. Woodcut diagrams, one woodcut illustration (title page verso, repeated on *1r), printers' woodcut devices (title page, Rr6v). (Dampstains to inner margins of first quires and some upper corners of second part, title page creased at fore-edge.) 17th-century vellum over thin pasteboard (lacking upper portion of spine, turn-ins lifted, lacking front flyleaf). Provenance: Earls of Bute (Luton Library engraved armorial bookplate); Stillman Drake, Galileo scholar (bookplate).
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 analyzed 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 builds on Ptolemy and Euclid, and his explanation of the structure of the eye was derived from the teachings of Galen.
Alhazen's Optics was translated into Latin in 12th-century Spain, probably by the prolific translator Gerard of Cremona. In this form, under the title Perspectiva, it influenced the medieval scientists Roger Bacon and John Pecham and the Polish writer Witelo. Little is known about Witelo, whose name is Latinized as Vitellius. His Perspectiva, or Opticae libri decem, written ca. 1270 and dedicated to William of Moerbeke, the other great translator of the 13th century, is a massive 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.
The first edition of Alhazen was prepared by the mathematician Friedrich Risner, a protg of Pierre Ramus, who based his text on two Latin manuscripts discovered by Ramus. Al-Jayyani's short treatise on the twilight, which deals with the refraction of sunlight in the atmosphere, is frequently found in manuscripts with Alhazen's Optics; often attributed to Alhazen, it was translated into Latin by Gerard of Cremona. Witelo's Perspectiva, which had been published twice before its inclusion in the present edition (Nuremberg, 1535, 1551), 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 A-754; Dibner Heralds of Science 138; A.I. Sabra, 'The Authorship of the Liber de crepusculis,'Isis 58 (1967): 77-85; Norman 1027.