Bologna: G.B. Ferroni, 1648. First edition.
An outstanding copy of this rare compendious scholastic mathematical work by the Jesuit mathematician Mario Bettini (1582-1657), encompassing all the major fields of mathematics, but paying special attention to geometry. Bettini’s Aerarium covers a wealth of information not just in mathematics but also astronomical geometry, all of which had, as with Bettini’s previous Apiaria of 1645, gone through the Collegio Romano’s rigorous censorship under the eye of Christoph Grienberger (d.1636), who as Clavius’ successor was responsible for enforcing adherence to Aristotle in matters of natural philosophy.
European scientific thought during the period 1620-1660 was dominated by the revolutionary investigations of Galileo and others into the nature of the solar system. The Jesuits, as the chief proponents of traditional Aristotelian teachings, were hailed by many as the intellectual champions of the Catholic Church, the philosophical mathematical and Scriptural arguments of Jesuit writers against the Copernican theory of a sun-centered solar system the main driving forces of seventeenth century inquiry.
At the beginning of the seventeenth century to understand meant to grasp regularities, and this knowledge was based largely on the accepted authority of ancient texts. However as the worldview expanded the certainty of such views began to diminish. For the philosophically well-educated mathematics appeared as one of the few refuges of eternal truths untainted by the possibility of such dissent.
Jesuit colleges, such as that at Parma where Bettini taught, were among the most important and prestigious of all educational institutions in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The establishment of colleges was part of the Jesuits’ Counter-Reformatory mission, which aimed to display to protestants an intimidating mixture of intellectual and cultural sophistication.
Christopher Clavius (1537-1612), professor of mathematics at the Collegio Romano, was the prime mover in establishing mathematics in the curriculum, and as such his work powerfully shaped the style and attitudes manifested in subsequent Jesuit mathematical writings. By the early seventeenth century the mathematical disciplines had increasingly become a major part of the courses open for study offered by the Jesuits at their larger colleges. As the century progressed the Jesuit mathematicians carried out extensive research, producing major treatises and writing text books that were widely disseminated and read.
How much of the present work can be accredited to Grienberger is difficult to say, but Bettini acknowledges the debt and clearly the astronomical typinium and other mechanical and measuring devices illustrating the work must be from his hand. Greinberger was one of the major mathematicians of the period, although little was published under his own name. The present work contains a Scholion Parergicon eulogising Grienberger, saying that he ‘has no greater enemy than his own modesty, by which it has come to pass that his ingenious inventions have been neglected, and he will be consigned to oblivion’.
Kenney 1471; Riccardi I, 125; Sommervogel I, 1428; OCLC records North American copies at Berkeley, Wesleyan University, Harvard, Michigan, the Adler, and Linda Hall.
4to: 230 x 165mm. 7 parts in 3 volumes, bound in 2. Pp. vol. I: (56), 701, (1:blank), (16); vol.II: (4), 474; (4), 60; vol.III: (26), 225, (3:blank), 227-354, (2:blank); 70, (2:blank); (8), 115, (2:blank); (12), 42, (2:blank), 43-54, 33, (1:colophon), (1:blank). Complete with engraved additional pictorial titles by Francesco Curti of Bologna to vol. I and II only [as expected when bound in two since they are identical], 2 engraved portraits of bishops Madruzzi & Zeccadori, engraved plate with a genealogical tree, 3 folding engraved plates attached to edges of ff. in vol.3, profusely illustrated with woodcut and engraved diagrams, including 10 fine full-page and some half-page engraved illustrations of scientific instruments. Contemporary Dutch vellum, blind-stamped centre-pieces, flat spines, lacking ties. Provenance. The Macclesfield copy, printed on thick paper. Some copies of this work have 3 engraved titles as the Raccardi/Kenney copy, that copy, however, lacked the genealogical tree plate which this copy has.