A discussion of interesting books from my current stock A site


May 2013

The First Printed Illustrations of the Constellations!

If  ideas were easy, everyone would have them.   The “Poetic astronomy by the most renowned Hyginus, a most useful work,”  Is such an idea that everyone can have, there is nothing so available to everyone as the sky.   In a sense the sky can be the largest blackboard known.  Constellations are arbitrary groupings of stars, it seems as if the ‘connecting of the dots’ dates as far back as anything, there are cave paintings which  have identifiable renderings of stars. There are diagrams of constellations in Egyptian tombs dating back to 1470 B.C.E. The zodiacal constellations  can be dated back to 700 B.C.E.  The sky and the ordering/interpreting of it ( creating and teaching  of Constellations) has been a way to transmit knowledge, lore and myth and even hope.  In the renaissance there was thirst for knowledge . The sky and the oldest of all natural sciences Astronomy, offered pathways out of the darkness.  The (re)creation of the ancient astronomical works by the Greeks and Romans, and the dissemination of these  texts/ideas and traditions.

This brings me (at least) to the first printing of  ‘Roman via Greek’ Constellations; the ordering of Hyginus’  Stars follow those of  Ptolemy’s “Almagest”. The ability to spread these by printing was the breakthrough in Astronomy, Poetics and Mythology. In this wonderful Incunable we have a meeting place for Ideas and the perceived world. This simple book is of greater ‘usefulness’ than Hyginus could have imagined. Today there is hardly a sixth grader who couldn’t recognize what this ancient book is about. More recognisable than say a few Pages of Newton’s Principia this book is a mnemonic start for interpretation of the world around us in the Western Tradition.

photo 2 

343G   Hyginus, Caius Julius (fl. 2nd century)

Poeticon astronomicon. Edited by Jacobus Sentinus and Johannes Lucilius Santritter.

Venice: Erhard Ratdolt, 14 October, 1482                                                        $SOLD

Quarto: 20 x 14.6 cm. Collation: a-f8 g10 (a1 blank, a2r dedication to M. Fabius [Quintilianus?], a3r text, g9r commendatory poem by Jacobus Sentinus, g10r poem and verse colophon by Johannes Santritter, g10v blank). 58 leaves. 31 lines. Types 3:91G (text), 7:92G (heading on a2r), 91 Gk (a few words). Title on a2r printed in red, 11-, 7-, 5- and 3-line white-on-black woodcut initials. 47 half-page woodcuts, probably designed by Johannes Santritter, of the constellation and planet figures.

This copy is bound  in a fourteenth-century medical manuscript leaf over 19th c. boards. A truly nice copy, complete with photo 2the first blank. With neat contemporary coloring in yellow to some of the woodcuts. (see Virgo below!) There are a few small stains, a few leaves lightly toned, some marginal soiling ( see Orion below). Nice margins.

FIRST ILLUSTRATED EDITION of Hyginus’ “Poeticon Astronomicon”, with the illustrations of the constellations and planets used in Ratdolt’s 1482 edition and an additional full-paged woodcut of an armillary sphere. . The 1482 edition was set in Gothic. The text of Hyginus was first published in an unillustrated edition in Ferrara in 1475.

photo 2

The “Poeticon Astronomicon” (more correctly, the “Astronomica”) is an ancient Roman work on the constellations chiefly based on the work of the Greek scientist Eratosthenes (3rd c. B.C.). The work was traditionally attributed to the first century writer C. Julius Hyginus,a freed slave who was named to head the Palatine Library during the reign of Augustus,, but the extant text is now believed, based on stylistic analysis, to be an abridgement of Hyginus’ work made in the late second century. The fact that the order of the constellations in the poem follows precisely that of Ptolemy’s “Almagest” further strengthens the case for a second century date. A remarkable aspect of Hyginus’ text is his insistence on the use of astronomical models, in particular, a celestial globe, as an aid to teaching or explaining astronomical principles and phenomena, particularly for “discussions on the inter-relationships between the constellations and especially between the constellations and the celestial circles.”(Lippincott p.4)

Like Manilius’ “Astronomicon” and Proclus’ “Sphaera” (a text that Hyginus sought to improve upon), the “Poeticon Astronomicon” was of special interest to Renaissance astronomers who desired accurate editions of ancient texts from which they might derive a clear understanding of the astronomical knowledge of the Romans and Greeks, thereby establishing a firm foundation upon which to undertake astronomy’s “renewal”.

Hyginus’ text, which gives detailed accounts of the myths associated with each of the constellations, served as source material for artists in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, one of the most famous examples of the text’s influence being the splendid ceiling painted around 1511 by Peruzzi for Agostino Chigi in the Sala di Galatea of the Villa Farnesina (See Förster, Farnesina-Studien 1880, p. 40).

photo 1

One of the chief interests in Ratdolt’s editions of Hyginus (1482 and 1485) lies in the illustrations of the constellations, the first such illustrations to appear in a printed book. These images derive from medieval manuscript and other artistic sources –though a specific source has not been identified. The figures appear in medieval European costume and, in the words of Redgrave, “There is a vigour and quaintness about these woodcuts which merit recognition.” These images proved enormously influential, serving as models for the representation of the constellations in stellar atlases and celestial maps for centuries to come.

Hyginus 343G
Hyginus 343G

“In many instances these medieval European, often mythological, constellation figures differed notably from those used by Ptolemy and his Islamic successors … Several stylistic conventions, first published in Ratdolt’s woodcuts, endured for several centuries, both in the numerous editions of Hyginus and in the various maps derived therefrom … Ratdolt’s figures led directly to those of Jacob de Gheyn (1600) and through him to those of Johannes Bayer (1603).” (Warner, The Sky Explored)

The Contents of Hyginus’ “Poeticon Astronomicon”

Hyginus tells us that he intends to give a better description of the celestial sphere than Aratus had done in his “De Sphaera”. Book I gives a brief overview of the cosmography of the universe, the celestial sphere, the Earth and its zones, and the Zodiac. Book II is a compendium of myths related to the constellations, the five planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn, and Jupiter) as well as the Sun, Moon, and Milky Way.

Book III is Hyginus’ star catalogue. It is in this book that Ratdolt’s woodcuts appear. “Each constellation is described (in the same order as in Book II) in terms of its location relative to the surrounding constellations and the celestial circles, with some indications being given as to the overall shape and disposition of the figure. In addition, Hyginus provides a list of the positions of the stars relative to the figure itself, describing the placements in terms of ‘left’ and ‘right’ and ‘above’ and ‘below’, in line with the tradition of descriptive star catalogues. Moreover, he tends to list the stars from the top of a figure downwards (or from the head to the feet, regardless of the orientation of the figure within the sky). This is very different from the way the more mathematically-oriented astronomers, such as Hipparchus or Ptolemy, describe the constellations.

“Book IV returns to the subject of cosmology and to astronomical topics, such as the position of the constellations on each celestial circle, the unequal division of the night and day and the risings and settings of the constellations relative to the signs of the zodiac. He discusses the movements of the Sun and the Moon and the five planets and touches upon Pythagorian notions of the harmony of the spheres.” (Lippincott, Kristen “The textual tradition of the De Astronomia of Hyginus”, pp. 10-11)

BMC V, 286; BSB-Ink H-459; CIBN H-334; Essling 285; Goff H-560; HC 9062*; Hind II, p. 462; IGI 4959; Klebs 527.2; Pollard/Perrins 31; Redgrave 30; Sander 3472

Hand colored woodcuts
Hand colored woodcuts

Finding medical practitioners in early-modern Britain.

Finding medical practitioners in early-modern Britain..

Index Librorvm Prohibitorvm

Every one should have a copy of this book! As those who are tuned into everything relating to the antiquated technology known as the book, probably know: there is a move to ban  Anne Frank: The Diary Of A Young Girl (The Definitive Edition). 

Perhaps proving books still have (some) power.

The ‘Index’ was certainly not a bad place to look if you wanted to find powerful books. I would suggest you ‘collect them all, watch it grow…


DSC_0002340G   (Add Author Chifflet, Philippe, 1597-1657? ed).

Index Librorvm Prohibitorvm, Avctoritate Pii IV. Primvm Editus, Postea Vero A Sixto V. Avctvs, Et Nvnc Demvm S.D.N. Clementis Papae VIII. iussu recognitus, et publicatus.

[bound after]


Canones et decreta sacrosancti oecumenici et generalis Concilii Tridentini.; Sacros. Concilii Tridentini Canones Et Decreta Paulo III, Iulio III et Pio IV. Pont. Max. celebrati; Index Librorvm Prohibitorvm S D.N. Clem. Papae VIII. iussu recognitus et publicatus; Sacrosancti Concilii Tridentini Canones Et Decreta Paulo III, Iulio III et Pio IV. Pont. Max. celebrati; Ordo seu metodus legendi Decreta Reformat. S. Conc. Trid; Canones et Decreta iuxta ordinem titulorum Decretal 

Coloniæ Bernardi Gualtheri 1621                        $1,700


Coloniæ Agrippinae : Kinchius, 1644

The Index Librorum Prohibitorum  was the list of publications prohibited by the Catholic Church. A first version (the Pauline Index) was promulgated by Pope Paul IV in 1559, and a revised and somewhat relaxed form (the Tridentine Index) was authorized at the Council of Trent. The promulgation of the Index marked the “turning-point in the freedom of enquiry” in the Catholic world. The final (20th) edition appeared in 1948, and it was formally abolished on 14 June 1966 by Pope Paul VI.

The avowed aim of the list was to protect the faith and morals of the faithful by preventing the reading of immoral books or works containing theological errors. Books thought to contain such errors included some scientific works by leading astronomers such as Johannes Kepler’s Epitome astronomiae Copernicianae, which was on the Index from 1621 to 1835. The various editions of the Index also contained the rules of the Church relating to the reading, selling and pre-emptive censorship of books, including translations of the Bible into the “common tongues”.

Canon law still recommends that works concerning sacred Scripture, theology, canon law, church history, and any writings which specially concern religion or good morals, be submitted to the judgment of the local Ordinary.  The local Ordinary consults someone whom he considers competent to give a judgment and, if that person gives the nihil obstat  the local Ordinary grants the imprimatur . Members of religious institutes require the imprimi potest  of their major superior to publish books on matters of religion or morals.

Some of the scientific works that were on early editions of the Index (e.g. on heliocentrism) have long been routinely taught at Catholic universities worldwide. Giordano Bruno, whose entire works were placed on the Index on 8 February 1600

In 2002, a retired Roman Catholic bishop gave his personal approval to the writings of Maria Valtorta, which had been on the Index (though never in a printed edition) and which have still not been given official Church approval.

Mary Faustina Kowalska, whose writings were likewise forbidden, was canonized in 2000,  and Antonio Rosmini-Serbati, one of whose works was on the Index, was beatified in 2007. The developments since the abolition of the Index signify how important as a historical document the Index was.


Canones et decreta sacrosancti oecumenici et generalis Concilii Tridentini.

This dense book contains the Decreta, Canones and Bulls document the Council of Trent.DSC_0006

The Tridentian Councils began on the 13th December, 1545, and lasted, with long interruptions, till the 4th of December, 1563. The attendance varied in the three periods and Popes: under Paul III. the number of prelates never exceeded 57, under Julius III. it rose to 62, under Pius IV. it was much larger, but never reached the number of the first oecumenical Council (318). The decrees were signed by 255 members, viz., 4 legates of the Pope, 2 Cardinals, 3 Patriarchs, 25 Archbishops, 168 Bishops, 39 representatives of absent prelates, 7 Abbots, and 7 Generals of different orders. Two thirds of them were Italians. >From France and Poland only a few dignitaries were present; the greater part of the German Bishops were prevented from attendance by the war between the Emperor and the Protestants in Germany. The theologians who assisted the members of the Synod belonged to the monastic orders most devoted to the Holy See.

The decisions of the Council relate partly to doctrine, partly to discipline. The former are divided again into Decrees (decreta), which contain the positive statement of the Roman dogma, and into short Canons (canones), which condemn the dissenting views with the concluding ‘anathema sit.’ The Protestant doctrines, however, are almost always stated in an exaggerated form, in which they would hardly be recognized by a discriminating evangelical divine, or they are mixed up with real heresies, which Protestants condemn as emphatically as the Church of Rome. 

The doctrinal sessions, which alone concern us here, are the following:


Decretum de Symbolo Fidei (accepting the Niceno Constantinopolitan Creed as a basis of the following decrees (Febr.4, 1546). ” IV. Decretum de Canonicis Scripturis (Apr.8, 1546). ” V. De Peccato Originali (June 17, 1546).
” VI. De Justificatione (Jan.13, 1547).
” VII. De Sacramentis in genere, and some Canones de Baptismo et Confirmatione (March 3, 1547).
” VIII. De Eucharistiæ Sacramento (Oct.11, 1551).
” XIV. De S. Poenitentiæ et Extreme Unctionis Sacramento (Nov.25, 1551).
” XXI. De Communione sub utraque Specie et Parvulorum (July 16, 1562). ” XXII. Doctrina de Sacrificio Missæ (Sept.17, 1562). ” XXIII. Vera et Catholica de Sacramento Ordinis doctrina (July 15, 1563).
” XXIV. Doctrina de Sacramento Matrimonii (Nov.11, 1563). ” XXV.

Decretum de Purgatorio, Doctrina de Invocatione, Veneratione et Reliquiis Sanctorum, et sacris Imaginibus. Decreta de Indulgentiis, de Delectu Ciborum, Jejuniis et Diebus Festis, de Indice Librorum, Catechismo, Breviario et Missali (Dec.3 and 4, 1563).

The last act of the Council was a double curse upon all heretics.  which makes sense that the Index follows this.

The decrees, signed by 255 fathers, were solemnly confirmed by a bull of Pius IV. (Benedictus Deus et Pater Domini nostri, etc.) on the 26th January, 1564, with the reservation of the exclusive right of explanation to the Pope.

The original acts of the Council, as prepared by its general secretary, Bishop Angelo Massarelli, in six large folio volumes, are deposited in the Vatican, and have remained there unpublished for more than three hundred years. But most of the official documents and private reports bearing upon the Council were made known in the sixteenth century,  and as printed here.


337G          Novari, Giovanni Maria & Barbato, Horatio.

Tractatvs de miserabilivm personarvm privilegiis, in qvo complvres singvlares materiae ad earum fauorem in vsu forensi quotidianae, & frequentes, tum iuxta iuris communis, quam municipalis regni dispositionem, supremorum totius orbis tribunalium, placita accuratè, exactèq; dilucidantur :opus sane practicabile, curiosum, necessarium, & utile
[bound with]
De Restitutionis incertorum et male ablatorum privilegiis fertilis et praegnans tractatus… Accesserunt in calce nonnullae allegationes V. I. D. Francisci Severini
           [bound with]
De restitutorio interdicto ac de reuocanda possessione liber singularis : ad intellectum reg. pragm. Regni Neap. incipientis, assistentiam sub titulo de assistentia praestanda : in quo praeter huberem tractatum, obligationis bonoru[m], pacti de capiendo constituti, excussionis, ac hypothecariae, nihilum penè desiderari potest in materia, quin luculenter, copiosèq[ue] tractetur

Neapoli: ex Typographia Dominici Maccarani 1637 et Typis Luca & Antonii de Fusco ,1669
Neapoli: ex Typographia Dominici Maccarani 1637 et Typis Luca & Antonii de Fusco ,1669
Neapoli: Per Jacobum Gaffari; 1637 Sumptibus Io.Domenici Bove .   $3,000

π4 (unsigned) A-Y4,Z2,Aa-Cc2

[Bound with] π2,A-K4,L2

[Bound with] π1,A4 (π2 blank) B-Z4, Aa-Bb4,Cc6, a1, ß3,b-c4,d6.

These three folio volumes are bound in 17th century full  green reversed calf, the spine has been eroded, but the binding is strong and solid.
These three books relate in more than a local way,they all deal with ‘material rights’.
The first, Poor-law, the second Wills and the third is on Restitution of property.
Navario 337G Tractatvs de miserabilivm personarvm privilegiis
Navario 337G Tractatvs de miserabilivm personarvm privilegiis
Novario 337G.  De Restitutionis incertorum et male ablatorum privilegiis.
Novario 337G. De Restitutionis incertorum et male ablatorum privilegiis.
Barbato 337G De restitutorio interdicto ac de reuocanda possessione liber singularis .
Barbato 337G De restitutorio interdicto ac de reuocanda possessione liber singularis .


Tools of the trade

DSC_0001Tonight, I decided to clean up, cataloging old books can be messy, un-packing , reading photographing, researching all leads to lots of stuff lying around. So here is a look at the making of the ‘sausage’. First there is the unpacking: carefully at first, then in a frenzied way I open the box., I use a trusty very sharp knife, then once i get inside the box, I trust only my hands. It is often suprising to see what people wrap books in.

Some Very established Dealers have whole Shipping and Packaging departments, with men wearing smocks who custom fit each book in a custom box, they sometimes even have custom printed tape! Other times I’ve received books wrapped in wash cloths, old t-shirts, once I received a first edition of Isaac Newton’s Principia wrapped in some surgical wipes (Ted).


Once the book is unwrapped I collate it, blind, without looking at other collations, to see what I come up with.

π4 (unsigned) A-Y4,Z2,Aa-Cc2 [Bound with] π2,A-K4,L2 [Bound with] π1,A4 (π2 blank) B-Z4, Aa-Cc4, a1, ß4,b-c4,d6. 

Ok Looks complete, but from here I check, the easiest place for these three books will be Oclc, ‘back in the day’ I’d go to the NUC, but now I can do it sitting down,

I search “Tractatvs de miserabilivm” and I come up with

Title: Tractatvs de miserabilivm personarvm privilegiis, in qvo complvres singvlares materiae ad earum fauorem in vsu forensi quotidianae, & frequentes, tum iuxta iuris communis, quam municipalis regni dispositionem, supremorum totius orbis tribunalium, placita accuratè, exactèq; dilucidantur : opus sane practicabile, curiosum, necessarium, & utile Author: Novarius, Joannes Maria Accession Number: 65106265

All Libraries that Own Item: “Tractatvs de miserabilivm…”

Title: Tractatvs de miserabilivm personarvm privilegiis, in qvo complvres singvlares materiae ad earum fauorem in vsu forensi quotidianae, & frequentes, tum iuxta iuris communis, quam municipalis regni dispositionem, supremorum totius orbis tribunalium, placita accuratè, exactèq; dilucidantur :
opus sane practicabile, curiosum, necessarium, & utile /
Author(s): Novarius, Joannes Maria, 16XX.
Publication: Neapoli : ex typographia Dominici Maccarani : expensis Stephani Monleverii, 
Edition: Hac secvnda editione diligentivs recognitum, singulis ferè in locis auctum, & quamplurimis nouis priuilegijs lucupletatum, & illustratum.
Year: 1637
Description: [XXVI], 228, [36], 97, [11] p. ; fol.
Language: Latin; In II: Accesserunt in calce nonnullae allegationes Francisci Severini.
Note(s): Bevat ook: Io. Mariae Novarii L.C. Lvcani De relictorvm ex cavsa male ablatorvm privilegiis : practicabilis tractatus./ Met reg.
Other Titles: Tractatus de miserabilium personarum privilegiis, in quo complures …; De relictorum ex causa male ablatorum privilegiis
Damn! this doesn’t match. By the page count method, I have [IV],165, [24] ok, so I look for other copies because there is no apparent lacuna. 

I find an earlier edition, slightly different title, same printer:

Praxis aurea privilegiorum miserabilium personarum : in qua complures materiae in earum favorem in usu forensi quotidianae & frequentes dilucidè breviter, exactèque tractantur ac exornantur … / authore Io. Maria Novario ..

Imprint Neapoli : Ex typographia & expensis Dominici de Ferdinando Maccarani, 1623
Descript. [24], 183, [24] p. ; 21 cm
Note Includes index

No match here either? I look back at Oclc, nothing for 1669 at all>>?



Ok other catalogues, None at Harvard, or Columbia,None at Yale, None In the German KVK catalogue or KIT…

Dang  The Library of Congress has a 1740…

I look at the collation again, It is complete What ever it is.. So now I go thru the same Process with the other two titles.

But first as a breather I’ll take some pictures, I’ll use my stones and antlers to hold the pages open!



The Nikon
The Nikon


337G          Novari, Giovanni Maria & Barbato, Horatio.


Tractatvs de miserabilivm personarvm privilegiis, in qvo complvres singvlares materiae ad earum fauorem in vsu forensi quotidianae, & frequentes, tum iuxta iuris communis, quam municipalis regni dispositionem, supremorum totius orbis tribunalium, placita accuratè, exactèq; dilucidantur :opus sane practicabile, curiosum, necessarium, & utile
[bound with]
De Restitutionis incertorum et male ablatorum privilegiis fertilis et praegnans tractatus… Accesserunt in calce nonnullae allegationes V. I. D. Francisci Severini
       [bound with]
De restitutorio interdicto ac de reuocanda possessione liber singularis : ad intellectum reg. pragm. Regni Neap. incipientis, assistentiam sub titulo de assistentia praestanda : in quo praeter huberem tractatum, obligationis bonoru[m], pacti de capiendo constituti, excussionis, ac hypothecariae, nihilum penè desiderari potest in materia, quin luculenter, copiosèq[ue] tractetur


Neapoli: ex Typographia Dominici Maccarani 1637 et Typis Luca & Antonii de Fusco ,1669
Neapoli: ex Typographia Dominici Maccarani 1637 et Typis Luca & Antonii de Fusco ,1669
Neapoli: Per Jacobum Gaffari; 1637 Sumptibus Io.Domenici Bove .

Now to figure out what these three are…




. Rhetoribus Collegii Societatis Jesus Antvverp

In 1980 I published my first poem in a non ‘student edited” journal, of course I didn’t ascribe my success to my University or even my Religion but such was 1980. Here is a class publication from the Jesuit College in Antwerp 1627.  It is quite accomplished and really a beautiful book. I find it amazing in quite a few ways. I love the idea of Emblems ‘impresa’ as a generative device for poetic/sacred inspiration ( lots of putti, angels as you’d expect but also lots of  ‘sporting goods’ tennis racquets,cards and other great artifacts. I also like the trilingualism, Latin, ok French sure .. but Flemish? Wow! Also the Image of Loyola one foot in America.

All by students…


339G Typus Mundi Collegium Antverpiense

Typus mundi in quo eius calamitates et pericula nec non divini, humanique amoris antipathia / Emblematice proponuntur a RR.C.S.I.A

Antuerpiae : Apud vidua Cnobbaer,1652                                                                        $SOLD

Octavo, 4 1/2 X 3 1/2 inches . Third Edition A-F12. There are 32 engravings by Jan Cnobbaert after Philippe van Mallery.  This is bound in its original vellum binding. with the book plate of Jacobus Weinbuech, and his stamp on the rear paste down “Jacobus Weinbuech ad.DV Cooperator” (early 18th century?)

DSC_0001This book presents the Emblems of the rhetoric class of 1627 of Jesuit College in Antwerp. In combination with the rare printed emblems of rhetoric-students of the Jesuit College of the Spanish Netherlands. The book is structures such that each image is preceded by a short Latin poem then translations into French and Flemish. This book is a wonderful example of how the Jesuit educational system worked it is an artifact of that history, exposing us to the aesthetics and poetics, as well as its latent or explicit references of contemporary art and literature. In many ways it is representative of the Counter-Reformation devotional writings of the Jesuit. This book presents the work of nine pupils verifying of the Rhetoric class of the year 1627 of Antwerp Jesuit college. And it Represents one of the rare “Affixiones” or exhibitions of the emblematic exercises of pupils of the Rhetoric classes at the Jesuit colleges in the Spanish Netherlands published in print. The (anonymous) authors of the published work are:  Tellier, Giles / Gallaeus, Balthasar / van Rheyden, Gerardus / Waerenborch, Joannes / Moretus, Joannes / Coldenhove, Nicolaus / Fruytiers, Philippe / Helman, Philip.

Typus Mundi 339G
Typus Mundi 339G

The authors’ names are given on p. 239.and ‘KULeuven library System’) – published by the RR.CSIA (Rhetoribus Collegii Societatis Jesus Antwerp) These affixiones- are the phenomenon of producing a book (most  published in very small pressings) best represented by the word ‘affichages’- These books are artifacts of the Jesuit educational success as they commend the quality of their education system to

the outside world.

deBacker-Sommervogel,; I, column 448, no. 15; Corpus librorum emblematum. Jesuit series,; J.18; Emblem books

at the Univ. of Illinois,; A51; Landwehr, J. Emblem books in the Low Countries,; 675; Praz, M. Studies in 17th cent. imagery (2nd ed.),; p. 519 COLLEGIUM ANTVERPIENSE, Jesuit. 1627

TYPUS MUNDI Rhetoribus Collegii Societatis Jesus Antvverp
TYPUS MUNDI Rhetoribus Collegii Societatis Jesus Antvverp

Jesuit Astronomy…calling Descartes “Enthusiast”

DSC_0001 DSC_0002

It seems that in the seventeenth century the Jesuits are on the point of trying to negotiate the academic and scientific changes in the world outside of the Catholic Church and Church tradition.

The Ratio Studiorum,which was a document to order Jesuit teaching or a IMG_1716Studienordnung, it was not a pedagogical text rather it was a set of rules to best utilize the time alloted for learning. In the First version of the Ratio, left no time for mathematics or any sciences outside of Aristotelian natural history. A revision was made  perhaps under the influence of Christopher Clavius, S.J. (1538-1612), to include astronomy and Mathematics. Armed with updated tools Jesuits proceeded to come to terms with recent developments in cosmographical views initiated by the discoveries in astronomy of Tyco Brahe and Galileo and the philosophy of Descartes. Gabriel Daniel, in a sarcastic way takes on both.


338G   Daniel, Gabriel.           1649-1728

Iter Per Mundum Cartesii.


Novae Difficultates A Peripatetico Propositae Auctori Itineris Per Mundum Cartesii.

Amstelaedami : Abrahamum Wolfgang,1694                        $2,800

Large duodecimo   First Latin edition. The first edition, in French, was printed in 1693.

*12, A-N12 (last two leaves of N are blank and present)

bound with

*4,A-F12,G8  There are 18 text woodcuts depicting various aspects of the Cartesian system as contrasted to the earlier peripatetic school such as: “S. Vortex Solis,” and two engravings of the Copernican cosmology among others. This copy is bound in contemporary full vellum. The leaves are in very good condition and the engravings crisply executed.

Gabriel Daniel, French author and Jesuit, was born at Rouen in 1649.  He wrote a “Reply to Pascal’s Provincial Letters,” which was admired by the Jesuits.


In Iter Per Mundum Cartesii, Daniel describes his imaginary travel to find Descartes on the moon and in the upper spheres. The work is one of the most important anti-Cartesian polemics of the 1690’s and it attacks the whole of Descartes system.  It is much like the earlier  Iter exstaticom coeleste (1660) by fellow Jesuit Kircher.

Daniel’s  imaginary journey  ” aims principally at the sharp Cartesian distinction betweenIMG_1709 body and soul, related in a satirical fashion the voyage of the disembodied souls of the narrator, of Mersanne, and of another old friend of Descartes in the upper spheres. On their way to visit Descartes in the third heaven, they meet the souls of Aristotle and the disciples of descartes (clearly refelcting here the philosophical opinions of Gabriel Daniel himself). One of the articles of that treaty stipulates that the Cartesians will refer to Aristotle with more respect, whereas the Aristotelians will refrain from calling Descartes “Enthusiast”, “Madman”, “Heretick” or “Atheist” – all of these evidently labels commonly used by the opponents of Descartes at that time.” (Michael Heyd in “Be Sober and Reasonable”) The Iter Per Mundum Cartesii is a translation of  Voyage du monde de Descartes, 1691.

.DeBacker-Sommervogel II:1797.

What contribution to the religious debates of the period does Renaissance writing offer?

What contribution to the religious debates of the period does Renaissance writing offer?.

‘ERESIE’ I choose with my own human reason…

The guilt of heresy is measured not so much by its subject-matter as by its formal principle, which is the same in all heresies: revolt against a Divinely constituted authority.


“Why Is Contemporary Scholarship So Enamored of Ancient Heretics?”

Perhaps it could be a historical imperative?  In Religious Wars  millions of people  have been slaughtered . During these wars, there was/is always  the charge of “heresy” often leveled by one side against another as a sort of propaganda or rationalization for the undertaking of such wars.

In short, I see Historical Heresy as a privileging of the rational over faith. i.e. challenging  or ignoring Dogma.

St. Thomas (II-II:11:1) defines heresy: “a species of infidelity in men who, having professed the faith of Christ, corrupt its dogmas”

The Roman Catholic Church had always dealt harshly with strands of Christianity that it considered heretical, but before the 11th century these tended to centre around individual preachers or small localised sects, like Arianism,Pelagianism, Donatism, Marcionism and Montanism. These local outbreaks of critics of dogma were easily quenched.

In the year 358, Priscilliam, was the first person to have the distinction of being burned at the stake for Heresy.

Then in the 11th and 12th century  came the famous heresies of Western Europe. The first one was that of Bogomils in modern-day Bosnia, a sort of sanctuary between Eastern and Western Christianities. By the 11th century, more organised groups such as the Patarini, the Dulcinians, the Waldensians and the Cathars were beginning to appear in the towns and cities of Northern Italy, Southern France and Flanders.  Heretics abound.

Heresy was a major justification for the Inquisition (Inquisitio Haereticae Pravitatis, Inquiry on Heretical Perversity) and for the European wars of religion associated with the Protestant Reformation.

In the following three books, we can see that  despite the fact that the rationalization of torture and burning at the stake is the main point, there is an uneasiness about discussing the particular facts and the tree authors expound on the ‘abstract’ conditions which deem ‘real’ people  guilty of Heresy.

It is saddening to see more than 1400 years ( in 382 Theodosius made Heresy a capital offense (Vide “Codex Theodosianus”, lib. XVI, tit. 5, “De Haereticis”) of people creating a myth of authority encouraging the “persecution of every religion other than their own, and even went so far as to persecute all sects that claimed to be Christian, except the one officially approved by the State -” (  From the beginning with Theodosius heretical teachers were forbidden to propagate their doctrines publicly or privately; to hold public disputations; to ordain bishops, presbyters, or any other clergy; to hold religious meetings; to build conventicles or to avail themselves of money bequeathed to them for that purpose. Slaves were allowed to inform against their heretical masters and to purchase their freedom by coming over to the Church. The children of heretical parents were denied their patrimony and inheritance unless they returned to the Catholic Church. The books of heretics were ordered to be burned.”

The literature below makes it clear that the identification and naming of ‘the other’, once systematically done  gives permission and even demand brutal torture and execution.

DSC_0036 (1)


166g    Vincent, of Lérins, , Saint,  (d. ca. 450)   (edited with notes by Baluze, Etienne, 1630-1718)


Cantabrigiæ: ex officinæ Joh. Hayes, celeberrimë Academië typographi; impensis Guiliel. Graves, Bibliop. Cantab, 1687 & 1689*                                                   $1,100

Duodecimo, 3 X 5 inches a-c¹² a2-a⁶ A-N¹².(both title pages are bound in the front)  This is a beautiful copy and  is bound in early full vellum. with the stamp of Sinclair on the spine (?).

The “Commonitorium” which survives today is a book on identifying ‘Heretics and Heretical tendencies, from the beginning of the book Vincent  develops (chapters i-ii) a practical rule for distinguishing heresy from true doctrine, namely Holy Writ, and if this does not suffice, the tradition of the Catholic Church. Here is found the famous principle, the source of so much discussion particularly at the time of the Vatican Council, “Magnopere curandum est ut id teneatur quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus creditum est”. Should some new doctrine arise in one part of DSC_0004the Church, Donatism for example, then firm adherence must be given to the belief of the Universal Church, and supposing the new doctrine to be of such nature as to contaminate almost the entirety of the latter, as did Arianism, then it is to antiquity one must cling; if even here some error is encountered, one must stand by the general councils and, in default of these, by the consent of those who at diverse times and in different places remained steadfast in the unanimity of the Catholic Faith (iii-iv).   Applications of these principles have been made by St. Ambrose and the martyrs, in the struggle with the Donatists and the Arians; and by St. Stephen who fought against rebaptism; St. Paul also taught them (viii-ix). If God allows new doctrines, whether erroneous or heretical, to be taught by distinguished men, as for example Tertullian, Origen, Nestorius, Apollinaris, etc. (x-xix), it is but to test us. The Catholic admits none of these new-fangled doctrines, as we see from 1 Timothy 6:20-21 (20-22, 24). Not to remove all chance of progress in the faith, but that it may grow after the manner of the grain and the acorn, provided it be in the same sense, eodem sensu ac sententia; here comes the well-known passage on dogmatic development. “crescat igitur. . .” (xxiii).

The fact that heretics make use of the Bible in no way prevents them from being heretics, since they put it to a use that is bad, in a way worthy of the devil (xxv-xxvi). The Catholic interprets Scripture according to the rules given above (xxvii-xxviii). Then follows a recapitulation of the whole “Commonitorium” (xxix-xxx).

All this is written in a literary style, full of classical expressions, although the line of development is rather familiar

166G Vincent, of Lérins Binding
166G Vincent, of Lérins

and easy, multiplying digressions and always more and more communicative. The two chief ideas which have principally attracted attention in the whole book are those which concern faithfulness to Tradition (iii and xxix) and the progress of Catholic doctrine (xxiii). The first one, called very often the Canon of Vincent of Lérins, which Newman considered as more fit to determine what is not then what is the Catholic doctrine, has been frequently involved in controversies. According to   Vincent, this principle ought to decide the value of a new point of doctrine prior to the judgment of the Church.  Vincent proposes it as a means of testing a novelty arising anywhere in a point of doctrine. This cannon has been variously interpreted; some writers think that its true meaning is not that which answered Vincent’s purpose, when making use of it against Augustine’s ideas. It is hardly deniable that despite the lucidity of its formula, the explanation of the principle and its application to historical facts are not always easy; even theologians such as de San and Franzelin, who are generally in agreement in their views, are here at variance. Vincent clearly shows that his principle is to be understood is a relative and disjunctive sense, and not absolutely and by uniting the three criteria in one: ubique, semper, ab omnibus; antiquity is not to be understood in a relative meaning, but in the sense of a relative consensus of antiquity. When he speaks of the beliefs generally admitted, it is more difficult to settle whether he means beliefs explicitly or implicitly admitted; in the latter case the canon is true and applicable in both senses, affirmative (what is Catholic), and negative or exclusive (what is not Catholic); in the former, the canon is true and applicable in its affirmative bearing; but may it be said to be so in its negative or exclusive bearing, without placing Vincent completely at variance with all he says on the progress of revealed doctrine?  ( C.E.)

The “Commonitorium” has been frequently printed and translated, the first edition was 1528 by Sichardus and then that of Baluze(our edition) (1663, 1669, 1684, 1687,1689 ), the latter being the best of the three, accomplished with the help of the four known manuscripts; these have been used again in a new accurate collation by Rauschen, for his edition (“Florilegium patristicum”, V, Bonn, 1906);, and by Hurter (Innsbruck, 1880, “SS. Patrum opuscula selecta”, IX) with useful notes. (C.E.)

In about 1667, Baluze entered Colbert’s service, and until 1700 was in charge of the invaluable library belonging to that minister and to his son, Marquis de Seignelay. Colbert rewarded him for his work by obtaining various benefices for him, and the post of king’s almoner (1679). Subsequently Baluze was appointed professor of Canon law at the Collège de France on December 31, 1689, and directed it from 1707 to 1710.

Wing (2nd ed.), V454A  [In this issue, leaf M3r has catchword “Appen-” and leaves M4-5 are present. Another issue has catchword “STE-” and lacks leaves M4-5.]



342G   Hermant, Jean .           1650-1726

La storia delle eresie, nella quale si descrive con ordine Alfabetico il nome, e la Vita degli Eresiarchi che hanno turbata la Chiesa dalla Nascita di Gesucristo fino a nostri tempi, e gli errori che vi hanno disseminati. Con un Trattato tradotto dal Latino di Alfonso de Castro, Il quale risolve molte Questioni generali intorno all’Eresia

Venezia, Appresso Francesco Pitteri, in Merceria all’Insegna della Fortuna Trionfante, 1735                                 $2,300

649514383_o3 Duodecimo  volumes, .   pp. 448, 432 .450  .  Provenance:  there is a handwritten inscription to the first fly-leaf of volume I (partially erased), Continet hoc liber xxxx Delle Hesie (sic) Tom Primo | Pro Medarum Biblioteca | Pater Conradus | a | Castro S.ti Joannis | Dicavit | Amodo Rev.di Patres | Mon(a)st(e)ri | permissu. II. On the verso of the front fly-leaf of each volume, handwritten inscription Ad uso del P. Corrado di Castel S. Gio. dedicato alla Lit.a di S. Fra.sco di Medes con licenza del Sup.e Pro.le.

Each of the three volumes are bound in full matching vellum binding, handwritten title at spine, marbled edges .           Hermant’s work on the heresies, was printed in Rouen for the first time in 1712 by the printer G. B. Besongne: after publishing the first book by the same author, Histoire des conciles (1695), Besogne realized that such a work had just partially satisfied the demand of the several priests scattered throughout the French countryside and decided to exploit the potential of the matter starting a association with Jean Hermant. This way, the French curate produced many works forming an out and out encyclopedia on the history of the Church that spread over France and the rest of Europe, as this actual edition testifies.

This concise handbook on heresy collects the etymology of the word, its definition for the Catholic Church, the means for fighting against it and the description of many kinds of perversions from the first centuries till the end of 1600.

As Hermant writes in the first chapter of his work, the term heresy comes from a Greek utterance αἵρεσις meaning   I choose: I choose with my own human reason, basing my decisions just on my logical faculty. According to the Catholic Church, this is the first mistake made by heretics, who think that their own mind is capable of discriminating between truth and untruth, while instead this is possible only for God, who gives men the grace of the revelation.    

Assuming this, Hermant affirms that the right interpretation of the Scriptures can only be given by the Church and its ministers, 649514711_oand that heresy had spread so much recently also because of the translation and personal reading of the Bible, promoted by Martin Luther and practiced by the followers of the Protestant Church. Indeed, after the Protestant Reformation and the Council of Trent, several “free thinkers” had uttered their disenchantment and outrage towards the Catholic customs and doctrine, suggesting new interpretations of the Holy Scriptures and different behaviours for the ministers of the Church.

Among them, Cornelius Jansen, commonly known as Jansenius, that suggested in his Augustinus a new vision of the nature of grace and its link to human salvation. The case of the Jansenism was faced by Hermant with particular fervour, due to the direct experience that he had gained in France where this doctrine was extremely popular; its supporters, in fact, numbered personalities like the mathematician Antoine Arnauld, the scholar Pierre Nicole and Blaise Pascal who, anonymously, wrote and published Lettres provinciales, a fake-recount of a man visiting Paris that describes the Jesuits’ use of casuistry as a means for justifying moral laxity.

Besides the most recent forms of heresy, Hermant’s Storia delle Eresie gathers information on hundreds of cults and deviations that the Christendom had faced from the first centuries, like the Ebionites, that refused the preaching of St. Paul, or the Gnosticism, passing through the sects born in the Middle Age, to reach the XVI century and the famous reformers that led to the Protestant Reformation: Huldrych Zwingli, John Calvin and Martin Luther.

Jean Hermant (Caen, 1650- Diocèse de Bayeux, 1725) was the curate of the little town of Maltot situated in the Basse-Normandie region, in the Northwestern France, land where he spent presumably all his life. Very little is known about his life, except that he was the author of a series of religious texts forming a complete and renowned encyclopedia of the history of the Church.

Palau [49088].


341G  Bernini, Historia di tutte L'heresie
341G Bernini, Historia di tutte L’heresie

341G  Bernini, Domenico.      fl. 1685-1722     Historia di tutte l’heresie 

Venezia : Presso Paolo Baglioni,       $4,800

Four quarto volumes,  ([52], 600, [24]; [48], 598, [18]; [40], 642, [18]; [36], 754, [14] p.) ; 23 cm complete

This Set is bound in full vellum binding, with name of the author, title and a decoration handwritten in brown ink, sprinkled blue edges.
649508460_oOn title-page of the first volume, handwritten ownership note Bibliotheca Patrum Minimorum Conventus Verona Anno 170X (the note seems to indicate that the book was bought a year before  the publication date; maybe it is a mistake, or this title-page was printed and sold at the end of 1710, even if the editor had decided to print on the title-page the following year as on the other volumes) On  the title-page of the third and the fourth volume, handwritten ownership note Bibliotheca Patrum Minimorum Conventus Verona Anno 17XI; II. on the inside covers, C.13:4; C.14:4; C.15:4; C.16:4 (classification numbers); IV. Among the pages of the third volume, handwritten papers with early notes about the book;

“The heresies are necessary to the exercise of good people, to the segregation of the bad ones and to the purity of Christianity,”

f. a3r]. The Historia di tutte l’Heresie, aimed to warn the reader about the danger of the heresy, is not merely a list of the different kinds of deviation. This work detaches itself from all the other books of this genre for its approach: analyzing all the heresies from pontificate to pontificate, from San Peter apostle to the end of the 17th century, it is focused on the heretical ideas proposed in contrast with the dogmas of the Church and how the Church acted against them. ”

“Esporremo come in mostra tutte l’Heresie antiche e nuove, e tutte le riprove, che di esse han fatto li Sommi Pontefici, li Concilii, e li Sacri Dottori per mantener╒ esente dalla contagione degli Heretici la puritê della Fede, e per rendere tanto pi¥ obbrobriosa la menzogna, quanto pi¥ fondata, e chiara la Veritê”

[We will show like in a exhibition all the ancient and new heresies, and all the Popes, Councils, and Holy Doctors  proofs to keep the purity of Faith out of the Heretics contagion, and to make more infamous the lie, as more founded, and clear the Truth. Introduzione all opera].

Giving just a brief space to the life of each sinner, Bernino outlined a comparison of the Popes╒ different reactions against the problem: someone commanded harsh persecutions, some other created hospices for the reformed heretics, someone else banished books and punished their authors.

“Sempre vedremo cozzar l╒Inferno col Cielo, la finzione col Vero, l╒ostinazione con l╒Evidenza, sempre vinta, e non mai abbattuta l╒Heresia, sempre combattuto, e non mai vinto il Pontificato Romano.”

[We will always see the Hell clashing against the Heaven, the fiction against the Truth, the obstinacy against the Evidence, always defeated and never exhausted the Heresy, always opposed and never defeated the Roman Pontificate].

From the Adamites to the Anabaptists, from Simon Mago to the Hussites, all the heretic doctrines are equally 649509159_ocondemned, because only one is the real Belief, and just the real one leads to God. The Church’s fight against seventeen centuries of deviation from the right religious path and big faith’s mistakes has given more strength to the Christian faith, that still fights in the name of the Truth, always unfavorable to the false beliefs.

Many are the heresies analyzed in Bernino’s work; among them there is that of the Valentinians.  Valentinus was an Egyptian priest who, disappointed for not being ordained bishop, decided to create a new doctrine that had a great success.  It admitted 30 gods, called Secoli who generated other minor gods. Jesus was composed by the perfection of this Secoli, being completely divine. It denied not only the humanity of Jesus, but also his death and resurrection and, hence, also the final resurrection of the souls which, after the death, in Valentinus’ opinion, pass from a body to another.

649509134_oAmong the false tales created by the heretics, Bernino tells, as well, in few words the story of a Popess (yes Female!) whose name is not certain, elected after the death of Pope Leo IV. The author defines it as an intolerable lie, which has already been unmasked and strongly contradicted. Nevertheless, the myth of the Popess has fascinated people and writers for a long while, becoming the topic of novels, dramas and, recently, a movie.

Domenico Bernino, son of the famous artist Gian Lorenzo Bernini, was born in Rome in 1657. He started a career as a Jesuit, but he gave it up after a brief period and he decided to get married. He is often confused with his brother who was canonic of S. Maria Maggiore in Rome and he wrote many works on the history of the Catholic Church.  Domenico Bernino’s,  is also remembered for the publication of his father’s biography Vita del Cavalier Gio. Lorenzo Bernini (The life of Gian Lorenzo Bernini), a very important source for the life and works of the artist, which has helped also to create the ‘Bernini myth’. He died in Rome in 1723.

A. Hessayon, D. Finnegan, Varieties of seventeenth and early eighteenth century English radicalism in context, Surrey, Ashgate, 2011.


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