Currently viewing the category: "Books: Great & Lost in the Dust"

JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post

Out of the many hundreds of portraits printed in the first 25 years of the printed book, none were of actual people who were alive during the printing of the book. There were classic images of great thinkers, mythological beings, saints, martyrs and so on, but no "citizen" humans. Well, that was until Attavanti Paulus's (d.1499) book on law, Breviarium totius juris canonici, sive Decretorium breviarium, which was printed in Milan in 1479 (in a small folio) and contained a portrait of the author–it was, as A. Hyatt Mayor said in Prints & People, "the first printed portrait of a living private individual".


JF Ptak Quick Post

Well, this is more properly called "the Acciples", but for the sake of modernity we'll keep to "the teacher", and it is a beautifuil woodcut image has been reproduced and copied many times over the centuries. The source for it all is Promptuarium argumentorum dialofice ordinatorum, which was printed in Cologne by Henricus Quentell in 1496. The work is in the field of pedagogics and philology, and so the stout attention of the pupils and teacher to one another.


JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post

In Agustus Niphus, Libri Duo de pulchro liber primus, de amore librer secundus, and printed in Lyon by Beringen in 1549, the scholar and Aritotelian Agostino Nifo of Sessa (1473-1546) wrote two significant treatises on the nature of beauty and love (liber primus and secundus, respectively).

The amazing thing about this work is that Nifo analyzes the conditions of love and sexual expression as respondents to a psychological basis, and since this was so, that love and sex are a product of the mind and not necessarily a simple undisclosed deire, that the act and thought coul dno tbe considered to be of siunful natures–basically, the two were as natural a thing as could be, and one does not condemn the acts of nature.

Title pages bona fide775

JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post

Scepper anti astrology773
Cornelius Duplicius Scepper (1500-1555) not only presented a beautiful book for publication in 1523–it was a work of deep scholarship, and it was edgy. Not skeptically-edgy, but a scientific-presentation-edgy, dismissive-via-the-facts-edgy.

The book (only two copies of which are found in libraries worldwide–at Brown and Oxford–though an online version is found here), Assertionis fidei adversus astrologos, sive signicationibus coniunctionum superiorum planetarum anni millesimi quingentesimi vicesimi quarti, was published in Antwerp for Franc. Byrckman on 16 May 1523. (The colophon at end describes the publication data so: "Symon Cocus, & Gerardus Nicolaus … excudebant. Anno salutis humanæ MD.XXIII die xvi Maij. Impensis honesti viri Francisci Byrckmā …")

The book evidently takes great and scholarly pains to point out any number of errors in miscalculations by astrologers, the weight of which and the diligence in historical presentation amounted to the book being a refutation of the claims of astrology. Among his many refutations is one that is quite simple and elegant: Scepper figures out that the starry firmament is at least 65 million miles from Earth, which means that the great vault is deeper and bigger still, and so given the size and the distance and the number of elements involved, it would be asking quite a bit of common sense to believe that all of that was having an effect upon the individual lives of Earthlings. Pretty good stuff for almost 500 years ago.

And just for the fun of it, here's a compilation video of tasty astrology debunkers, including Sagan, Dawkins, Tyson, Nye and Randi. Actually the James Randi part at about 4 minutes is absolutely priceless.


Scepper also wrote a biography/history of Charles V: Rerum á Carolo V. Caesare Avgvsto in Africa bello gestarum commentarij elegantissimis iconibus ad historiam accommodis illustrati. Authorum elenchum, è
quorum monumentis hoc opus constat, sequens pagella indicabit in 1555.

The colophon:

Scepper colophon