ARATUS. Phaenomona. Translated from Greek into Latin by Rufius Festus Avienus. - DIONYSIUS PERIEGETES. De Situ orbis. Translated from Greek by Avienus. - ARATUS. Phaenomena. Translated and with commentary by Germanicus Julius Caesar. - ARATUS. Phaenomena. Translated by Marcus Tullius Cicero. Venice: Antonius de Strata, de Cremona, 25 October 1488.
Chancery 4o (206 x 148 mm). Collation: a10 b-g8 (a1 blank, a2r editor's dedication to Paulo Pisano, senator of Venice, a4r Avienus, Carmen ad Flavianum Myrmeicum, Arati phaenomena, d3v Dionysius Periegetes, Descriptio orbis terrae, f6r Avienus, Ora maritima, g7v-g8 blank); h-p8 (h1r Germanicus, Phaenomena Arati cum commento, m8v Cicero, Aratea, n7r Serenus, Liber medicinalis, p6r colophon and register, p6v editor's afterword, p7-p8 blank). 118 leaves (of 122, without the four blank leaves). 38 lines. Types: 3:84R, 84Gk. 38 mostly half-page woodcuts, one of the zodiac, the remainder of the constellations. 3- to 6-line initial spaces with printed guide letters. (Corner of i5 torn away with partial loss to 6 lines of text, h1 tearing along gutter, closed tear to n8, some soiling, a few small stains, some marginal worming). 19th-century German quarter vellum and marbled paper boards, green morocco lettering-piece (rubbed, sewing coming loose).
Provenance: a few early marginalia -- C. W. Dyson Perrins (booklabel, catalogue no. 48, sale Sotheby's, 17 June 1946, lot 35) -- Robert Honeyman IV (bookplate, sale, 30 October 1978, lot 167).
FIRST EDITIONS of all but one text. Traditionally classed under Avienus, the collection in fact includes the three principal Latin versions of Aratus' astronomical poem and his only surviving work. Aratus' original, in 1154 hexameters, falls into two parts, the Phaenomena, based on a prose treatise of the same name by the 4th-century B.C. mathematician Eudoxus of Cnidus, describing the chief stars and constellations, and the Prognostica, dealing with meteorology. In the Latin transmissions, the Aratea was the principle source of medieval knowledge of ancient Greek astronomy. Avienus' 4th-century version expands the original into 1878 verses. The surviving fragment of Cicero's translation covers verses 229-700 only, and Germanicus' adaptation is in 725 verses. A portion of Germanicus' text was included in the Bologna 1474 edition of Manilius (Goff M-203). The edition also includes Avienus' version of Dionysius Periegetes' description of the world, and his own untrustworthy account of the coastal regions of the Mediterranean and Atlantic. Pisano's edition was printed from a transcription made by Giorgio Valla in 1486 of a manuscript at Milan, compiled ca. 1476 or 1477 by the Milanese scholar Boninus Mombritius. The illustrations, all in Germanicus' text, derive from the manuscript tradition (cf. L.D. Reynolds, Texts and Transmissions, Oxford 1983, pp. 18-24). Most of the blocks were used a few months earlier by the Venetian printer Thomas de Blavis for his edition of Hyginus; they are reverse copies of the woodcuts by Santritter for Ratdolt's 1482 and 1485 editions of Hyginus. The final work in the collection is Serenus' verse treatise on various diseases and remedies, a text that was virtually unknown in the early Middle Ages, becoming popular only in the 9th and 10th centuries after it was copied by order of Charlemagne.
HC 2224*=H 2223; BMC V, 294 (IA. 21262); BSB-Ink A-969; CIBN A-495; Dyson Perrins 47 (this copy); Essling 431; Flodr, Avienus 1; GW 3131; Harvard/Walsh 1847-49; IGI 1131; Klebs 137.1; Sander 718; Pr 4593; Goff A-1432.