[Commentarii in Somnium Scipioni] Saturnaliorum, lib. VII. Ex variis, ac vetustissimis codicibus recogniti, & aucti. Ambrosius Theodosius MACROBIUS.
[Commentarii in Somnium Scipioni] Saturnaliorum, lib. VII. Ex variis, ac vetustissimis codicibus recogniti, & aucti.
[Commentarii in Somnium Scipioni] Saturnaliorum, lib. VII. Ex variis, ac vetustissimis codicibus recogniti, & aucti.
[Commentarii in Somnium Scipioni] Saturnaliorum, lib. VII. Ex variis, ac vetustissimis codicibus recogniti, & aucti.
[Commentarii in Somnium Scipioni] Saturnaliorum, lib. VII. Ex variis, ac vetustissimis codicibus recogniti, & aucti.

[Opera]…
[Commentarii in Somnium Scipioni] Saturnaliorum, lib. VII. Ex variis, ac vetustissimis codicibus recogniti, & aucti.

Lyon: Sebastianus Gryphius, 1556.

Octavo, with diagrams and woodcut map, woodcut initials, printer's device on title; marginal notes; contemporary dated binding (1560) of blind-embossed pigskin over wooden boards, two engraved metal clasps.

An early pocket Macrobius with the world map, in original dated pigskin binding

This is a most attractive copy of this mid-sixteenth-century edition of Macrobius' great text with its famous map; this was one of the earliest of all world maps, and through earlier manuscript dissemination followed by its appearance in print from 1483 onwards this fifth-century text with its map would have a huge influence on renaissance thought. The book is in its original pigskin binding, with roll-tool borders depicting generic portraits within vine-leaf and fleuron borders: the binding is dated 1560, just four years after publication, and is in good condition, with appropriate wear for its age, and with its clasps intact. An early ownership inscription on the title-page is dated 1565.

This is a most attractive copy of this mid-sixteenth-century edition of Macrobius' great text with its famous map; this was one of the earliest of all world maps, and through earlier manuscript dissemination followed by its appearance in print from 1483 onwards this fifth-century text with its map would have a huge influence on renaissance thought. The book is in its original pigskin binding, with roll-tool borders depicting generic portraits within vine-leaf and fleuron borders: the binding is dated 1560, just four years after publication, and is in good condition, with appropriate wear for its age, and with its clasps intact. An early ownership inscription on the title-page is dated 1565.
The influential geographical text by the fifth-century Roman writer Macrobius is his commentary on Cicero's In somnium Scipionis (The dream of Scipio); Cicero's work, here in its original Latin with some quotations and examples in Greek, was the sixth book of his De re publica; it describes a vision experienced by the Roman general Scipio Aemilianus, which he is supposed to have had immediately prior to the destruction of Carthage in 146 B.C. The commentary by Macrobius includes the famous world map which features an hypothetical Antipodes – or Terra Australis Incognita. The existence of such a landmass was posited by Macrobius on the basis that it provided the earth with equilibrium, acting as a counterbalance to the known northern landmass. The worldview of Macrobius stands alongside that of the second century Greek geographer Ptolemy – whose ideas were lost to the West until the Renaissance – as the most influential for cartography and geography prior to the Age of Discovery.
One of the very earliest of all world maps, this depiction of a world split into two, known and unknown, surrounded by ocean at the edges, had survived by manuscript transmission from the fifth century into the age of printing. It first appeared in print in the beautiful 1483 Brescia edition of Macrobius, and with its dissemination beyond the limited reach of earlier manuscript transmission had a strong and lingering effect on post-Renaissance and pre-discovery geography: as Shirley points out, reprints "continued to appear from Venetian presses throughout the next century in at least 1521, 1528, 1565 and 1574. There was also a Basle edition of 1535… As late as 1640 the title-page of Rosaccio's Teatro del Cielo included a small rectangular map after Macrobius…" (Mapping of the World, p. 12).
There is an immense literature on the Macrobian world view: in terms of its relationship to the later history of voyages and discovery, Carlos Sanz has studied the significance of the maps with regard to Quiros and subsequent voyages of discovery into the southern hemisphere, while Beaglehole in his great edition of the journals of Cook has neatly written of 'the circular maps of another cycle, that of Macrobius… [who] goes rather further than Cicero or St. Isidore; for whereas Cicero thought the southern zone habitable, and St. Isidore noted that there 'the Antipodes are fabulously said to dwell', Macrobius considered that the heat of the torrid zone would forever keep men from providing any proof. There however is the neatly balanced round of the Macrobian map: in the middle the broad Bath of Ocean, bounded on either side by the wavy coastline of an insular continent, northern and southern, snugly fitted into the waters of its half-circle. Each is divided into three bands: the first, rather narrow, facing on the Alveus Oceani and labelled Perusta - 'burnt up'… So seductive, in the field of science, was harmony, symmetry, balance, the fitness of things; so difficult has it been for the geographer, as for other men, to wait on facts. So little, one is tempted cynically to add, has it mattered in the long run…'.

Provenance: Laurentius Schreckenfuchs von Memmingen, professor of mathematics, University of Freiburg (ownership inscription dated 1565); Henricus Schubertus (ownership inscription dated 1617).

Adams, M59; Shirley, 13n; Beaglehole, "Journals of Captain James Cook", I, pp. xxv-vi; Sanz, "El primer mapa del mundo con la representación de los hemisferios concebido por Macrobio", Publicaciones de la Real Sociedad Geográfica, Serie B Número 455, Madrid, 1966.

Price (AUD): $6,400.00  other currencies     Ref: #4504804

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