PLINIUS Secundus, Gaius (23-79). Historia naturalis. Edited by Johannes Baptista Palmarius. Venice: Bernardinus Benalius, '1497' [not before 13 February 1498].
Royal 2° (339 x 238mm). Collation: a-e8 f6 g-z8 &8 A-I8 K6 (a1r title, Palmarius's address, a2v verse address to the reader, a3r vitae of Pliny, a4r text, K6r register and colophon, K6v blank). 268 leaves. Types: 6,11:110R, 105 Greek. 55 lines and headline, shoulder notes, 2- to 10-line initial spaces with guide-letter. Major initials in interlocking red and blue, other initials alternating in red or blue, red or blue paragraph marks, yellow capital strokes. (A number of lower corners restored with a few letters in facsimile, small stain at upper margin, small wormhole in first 3 quires, slight worming in final 3 quires.) 20th-century cat's paw sheep, gilt spine, red sprinkled edges (a few tears and wear at corners repaired). Provenance: contemporary annotations, some in Greek (shaved) -- Albertus Le Seure, medical doctor at Paris (17th-century title inscription) -- Lavergniac (?, title inscription).
The Historia naturalis is a great encyclopedia containing all knowledge of the ancient world. It covers geography, cosmology, medicine, zoology, botany, history, philology, mineralogy and the arts and literature. It is also an important source for the study of ancient art, as it discusses the development of sculpture and painting and details techniques of metalworking and silversmithing. The Historia naturalis remained a standard reference work into the renaissance and formed the basis for medieval encyclopedias such as the Catholicon by Balbus and the Etymologiae by Isidore of Seville. This edition incorporates readings from the Castigationes Plinianae of Hermolaus Barbarus. HC *13101; BMC V, 377 (IC. 22396); BSB-Ink P-609; CIBN P-468; IGI 7891; Klebs 786.14; Goff P-799.