10 April 2012
PTOLEMAEUS, Claudius (ca 100-ca 170). Almagestum opus ingens ac nobile omnes celorum motus continens. Translated by Gerard of Cremona. Venice: Peter Lichtenstein, 10 January 1515.
2o (306 x 216 mm). Numerous woodcut diagrams printed in margins, pictorial woodcut initials, large printer's woodcut device printed in red and black at end. (Light worming to blank inner margin, blank margin of p5 torn.) Mid 16th-century blind-tooled calf over pasteboard, possibly Austrian, tooled with multiple fillets and roll-tools, the central panel divided into two squares filled with various small hand tools (spine and corners skilfully repaired, some light rubbing).
FIRST EDITION of Gerard of Cremona's Latin translation from the Arabic. The Almagest, so called from the medieval Latin form of its Arabic name, was the most important of Ptolemy's astronomical and mathematical works. Known in Greek as the Mathematical Treatise or Collection, it covers every aspect of theoretical mathematical astronomy. "Until the innovative work of Tycho Brahe and Kepler in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, that is, for nearly fifteen hundred years, the Almagest was the basis of all sophisticated astronomy, a longevity exceeded only by Euclid's Elements" (N.M. Swerdlow, in Rome Reborn, Washington 1993, p. 144). "This beautifully printed Latin version made available for the first time Ptolemy's complete epicyclic theory and the observations on which it rested. Perhaps Copernicus at last realized, when he obtained his copy of the text, how formidable a task awaited any astronomer who wished to promulgate a new and working cosmology" (Gingerich, Science in the Age of Copernicus, p.9). Adams P-2213; Houzeau & Lancaster 865; Stillwell 97.
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