Auction 119, Lot 929

"Macrobii in Somnium Scipio= nis ex Ciceronis… (Comment on the Dream of Scipio by Cicero)", Macrobius, Ambrosius Aurelius Theodo

Subject: Miscellaneous Books

Period: 1528 (dated)


Color: Black & White

4 x 6.3 inches
10.2 x 16 cm

Very scarce 1528 Aldine edition of Expositio in Somnium Scipionis ex Cicerone (Commentary on the Dream of Scipio by Cicero), a Neoplatonic work written by Ambrosius Macrobius in the 5th century. This edition includes a rare woodcut map of the world that was prepared by Andreas Asulanus, and used only for this edition of Macrobius. The map is characteristic of the later medieval versions of the Macrobian world-picture. It depicts the spherical world with wind heads in each corner. Macrobius' geographic concept of the world shows the inhabited world north of the Equator balanced by a southern continent (Temperata Antipodum Nobis Incognita) and divided from it by a large ocean. Macrobius further divided the earth into climate zones, three of which were considered uninhabitable: two at the poles, which were too cold to support life, and one at the Equator, which was too hot. It was this notion of antipodean balance and landmass equivalence that continued to attract medieval minds to the otherwise outmoded geographical ideas of Macrobius.

Macrobius was a follower of the Neoplatonists, philosophers originating in Alexandria around the third century, who believed in blending Plato’s ideas with theosophy. His commentary on Cicero and Plato includes several chapters dealing with his own conception of the world and the universe.

Aldine Editions were primarily editions of the Greek and Latin classics, produced by the press of Aldus Manutius in Venice in the 16th century. They are considered remarkable for the correctness of the text and the beauty and clearness of the printing. This edition has the Aldine anchor on both the title and end page.

References: Moeker, Mapforum, Winter 2004 (Issue 4) The Maps of Macrobius, #17; Shirley #13.

Condition: A

18mo in excellent condition, with a small worm track in the edge of the preface that affects about ten pages. This had been rebound many years ago in vellum, with the original title from the spine re-attached. All pages present, including woodcut map. 322 pp.

Estimate: $2,300 - $3,000

Sold for: $1,800

Closed on 5/9/2007