FIRMICUS MATERNUS, Julius (fl. 330-354). De nativitatibus. Edited by Franciscus Niger. - Marcus MANILIUS. Astronomicon. - ARATUS. Phaenomena, in Greek and Latin. - THEON. Commentaria in Aratum, in Greek. - PROCLUS Diadochus. Sphaera, in Greek and in Latin translation by Thomas Linacre. Venice: Aldus Manutius, June and  October 1499.
Super-chancery 2° (310 x 211mm). Collation: *6 a-b10 c12 d-g10 h12 aa-hh10 ii-kk8 A-D10 E12 F6 G-M10 N6 \kN-S\K10 T8 (*1r title, *1v Aldus's dedication to Guido Pheretrio, Duke of Urbino, *2r Niger's dedication to Cardinal Hyppolyto d'Este, *4r index to Firmicus, a1r text, aa1r Liber Quintus, kk8r colophon and register, kk8v blank, A1r Manilius, E7 blank, E8r Liber Quintus, G1r Arati Vita, G1v Fragmentum Arati, K3v Fragmentum Cicerone interprete, K10 blank, L1r Arati Phaenomena paraphraste, N6v blank, Ν1r title Arati Solensis Phaenomena, Ν1v text in Greek, S7v Proclus Sphaera in Greek, T1r title to Linacre's translation, T1v Aldus's letter to Alberto Pio and William Grocyn's letter to Aldus, T2v preface to Linacre, T3r text, T7 register, T8r colophon, T8v blank). 376 leaves. 38 lines and headline, 40 lines of Greek surrounding the text. Type: 2:114R; 2**:115R; 7:114Gr. 2- to 10-line initial spaces with guide-letters. Woodcut diagrams in Firmicus, 39 astrological woodcuts in the Latin Aratus, ALL COLOURED BY A CONTEMPORARY HAND. Opening text page (a1) illuminated with 10-line foliate initial in pink and ochre with burnished gold infill with damascene effect of scrolling fronds in yellow wash, polychrome foliate extensions, lower margin with a bird and the arms of the Husen and Suntheyn families in silver, orange and blue; 6- to 8-line book initials in red or blue, often interlocking, with purple penwork decoration, occasionally historiated with a face or animal, 6- to 8-line polychrome initials in Manilius and Aratus with foliate decoration and historiated penwork extensions, 3- to 4-line initials in red or blue, paragraph marks and capital strokes in red, blue paragraph marks in headline. (Small stain on title, a1 lower margin reinforced on verso and preserved by folding in, neat repaired tear in B3 and H7, very occasional light spotting, sheet F2.5 browned, small marginal wormhole in first 3 and final 2 quires.) Early 20th-century vellum, flat spine lettered and with painted astrological design, green edges. Provenance: Husen and Häll de Suntheim families (armorials on title) -- Christopher von Husen (canon at the cathedral church at Speier, inscription on π6v recording his gift to:) -- Joannes Marquardus Husen juris consultus and councillor to Emperor Charles V, annotations throughout, including one noting an event on 24 April 1547).
A FINE, COLOURED COPY, once owned by a councillor to Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, of the second edition of Firmicus Maternus's De nativitatibus, also known as the Mathesis. It is annotated throughout by Marquardus, showing him an intelligent reader engaging deeply with the text. The work represents popular traditions and sets out practical astrological method, citing Hermes, Orpheus, Abraham and Aesculapius as sources. Firmicus's work "ranks as the most comprehensive textbook of astrology of ancient times" (Stillwell, Awakening, I:56), comprising a defense of astrology, the effects of the planets, the moon, the signs, and horoscopes. Book VII 'is marked by undue attention to sexual and moral deviates' (DSB IV, 622). The Aldine edition follows by 2 years Bevilaqua's edition of 1497, but work on the text was clearly well underway before Bevilaqua's edition emerged on the market; Niger's dedication to Hyppolyto d'Este is dated the same year, 1497. The De nativitatibus is joined here by Manilius's astronomical poem, and by the FIRST EDITION IN GREEK of Aratus's Phaenomena and of Proclus's Sphaera. The woodcuts derive from Ratdolt's 1482 edition of Hyginus. H *14559; GW 9981; BMC V, 560 (IB. 24483-86); Renouard 20:3; IGI 3975; Goff F-191.