Catalog Archive
Auction 142, Lot 51

Macrobius' Miniature World Map

"Macrobii Ambrosii Aurelii Theodosii, uiri Consularis, et Illustris, In Somnium Scipionis, Lib. II. Saturnaliorum. Lib. VII…", Macrobius, Ambrosius Aurelius Theodo

Subject: Ancient World

Period: 1574 (circa)


Color: Black & White

5 x 7 inches
12.7 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 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. Title page, 567 pp. (map at p. 144, misnumbered as p. 154), and extensive index. Hardbound in half leather with gilt titling on spine and marbled paper-covered boards.

References: Shirley #13.

Condition: B+

The map is in very good condition, with a couple of faint spots. The text has occasional light spots, and the first 35 pages have small damp stains in bottom blank margin and along spine. The title page has a large chip at bottom and has been backed in old paper, and a couple of text pages have minor chips in bottom blank margins. The binding is slightly loose and the covers and spine are lightly worn and rubbed, with bumped corners.

Estimate: $1,400 - $1,800


Closed on 11/28/2012