Catalog Archive
Auction 133, Lot 32

"[Ancient World - Macrobii Avrelii Theodosii Viri…]", Macrobius, Ambrosius Aurelius Theodo

Subject: Ancient World

Period: 1527 (published)

Publication: In Somnium Scipionis

Color: Black & White

4 x 7 inches
10.2 x 17.8 cm
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This work, written by Ambrosius Macrobius, is a commentary on Cicero's Dream of Scipio. It includes a rare woodcut map of the world illustrating Cicero's interesting theories. This diagrammatic map (3.1 x 3.1") shows two distinct regions of the earth. The inhabited Afro-Eurasian continent was balanced by an unknown, and relatively equal, landmass (Temperata Antipodunobis Incognita) on the other side of an impassable torrid zone (Perusta) and a great boiling sea (Alveus Oceani). It was this notion of antipodean balance and landmass equivalence that continued to attract Renaissance minds to the otherwise outmoded geographical ideas of Macrobius. Distinguished cartographers like Mercator and Ortelius would later incorporate Macrobius model into an immense southern continent (Australis Incongita) to balance the known lands of the world, and the division of the world into climactic zones is still in use today.

Macrobius was a 5th century Roman neoplatonic philosopher. His commentary on Cicero’s Somnium Sciponis was of great influence in the Middle Ages and gained popularity with the advent of printing. First published in Brescia in 1483, numerous editions appeared throughout the 16th century. His commentary includes several chapters dealing with his own conception of the world and the universe. It also contains references to many facets of the scientific knowledge of his time, including references to physics, astronomy, and mathematics. Published by Johannes Soter in Cologne. The volume has been rebound (probably 18th century) using a manuscript leaf of vellum with a gilt stamped title attached to the spine, which may be a later addition. 18mo, title page, 463 pp (map at 110 p), and index.

References: Shirley #13.

Condition: A

Overall very good with minor toning throughout. There is an old French catalog listing pasted down on the inside back cover.

Estimate: $2,100 - $2,500

Sold for: $1,600

Closed on 9/1/2010