Ephemerides recognitae et ad ungem Castigatae … Eiusdem schemata & praedictiones ad Annum usque virginei partus 1552. Eiusdem Isagogicus in totam ferme Astrologiam Libellus. Quo pacto aeris q[ua]litas diiudicet ex Theophilo. Ventorum nomina, ordo, & proprietates. Quid lunae peregrationes portedant ex Ephestionis thebani iudiciis. De concaeptu natorum & septimestri partu ex Valente antiocho.

Venice: Sumptibus Lucentonii Juntae Typographi, 1533.

First edition of these very rare ephemerides by the astronomer, astrological data collector and mathematician Luca Gaurico. It contains tables as well as astrological prognostications for the years 1534 through 1551, each preceded by a special title page. According to Houzeau and Lancaster, the ephemerides are calculated after the Alphonsine Tables, and for the meridian of Venice. Luca Gaurico was born at Giffoni, near Naples, in 1476 and died at Rome in 1558. He apparently took a doctorate in arts at Padua in 1502. Gaurico’s contemporary reputation stemmed from his astrological prognostications. He was appointed ‘astrological consultant’ to Catherine de Medici after correctly predicting (aged 14) the ascension to the papacy of Catherine’s great-uncle Giovanni de Medici. He became famous throughout Europe after twice predicting in 1529 and 1532 the ascension of Alessandro Farnese who, as Paul III, rewarded him by making him bishop of Giffoni in 1539, transferring him in 1545 to the see of Civitate nella Capitanata. As a mathematician Gaurico is best known for the first published Latin translations of Archimedes’ works De Mensura Circuli and De Quadratura Parabolae (1503). He went on to publish an edition of Pecham's Perspectiva Communis (Venice, 1504). “In 1506, he left the Veneto to teach at Bologna and was afterwards active at Mantua, Ferrara and Rome … During a later visit to Venice Gaurico published Trapezuntius's translation of the Almagest (Venice, 1528) edited – according to the preface – from a copy of the Vatican codex” (Rose, p. 50). In 1531 he was appointed professor of mathematics at Ferrara, where Scaliger was one of his pupils. Rose (p. 120) suggests that Gaurico may have met Copernicus at Padua, as they were both at the university in the early years of the 16th century, and would have shared a common interest in Ptolemy and Archimedes. OCLC lists six copies in America (Brown, Chicago, Columbia, Cornell, Harvard, Michigan). ABPC/RBH lists four copies, two in modern bindings (2016 & 2009), one disbound (Sotheby’s 1980), and one ‘badly wormed’ (Sotheby’s 1958).

“A belief in the influences of the heavens upon the earth was widespread in Renaissance Europe. Astrology was studied by the greatest astronomers and mathematicians of this era, and a belief in its precepts penetrated all levels of the social order to some degree … Luther’s great theologian Philipp Melanchthon was as much a student of horoscopes as the renowned astronomer and mathematician Johannes Kepler … A horoscope presents a diagram of the heavens at a particular moment in time. While some horoscopes depended on a moment determined by nature of the Creator – such as birth – others depended on a time ‘elected’ in advance by the astrologer to take advantage of a propitious sky …

“In [the] traditional format, the central square [of the horoscope] holds the year, date, and time of day, for that is the moment at which the sky has been ‘stopped’ in the chart. Although the diagram itself is square, it conveys the information around what we intuitively think of as the 360 degrees of the zodiacal circle. The positions of the Sun, the Moon, and the planets, as these are found around the 360 degrees of the circle at the determined time, are marked. The figure additionally records the astronomical locations of an astrological fiction – the cuss of the twelve houses of heaven. Each of the twelve is considered the domain that determines important issues. Predictions concerning these issues are sought, in part, by consulting the celestial features found in the relevant house at the time noted in the central square. Each house is represented in the diagram by one of the twelve triangular sections of the design, the ‘cusp’ is the dividing line between two houses. In astrological texts these houses are counted from one through twelve, starting at what we would call the 9.00 point on a clock and moving in a counter-clockwise direction. Unlike the twelve zodiacal signs, each of which always occupies 30 degrees of the circle, the twelve houses vary in number of degrees, depending on the geographical latitude, the season, and the system of house division used. The two most important astrological houses were the Ascendant (also known as the Horoscopus), or the first house rising in the east at the time stated in the central box, and the tenth house at the Midheaven, whose cusp marked the intersection of the ecliptic and the meridian at that time and place” (Quinlan-McGrath, p. 718).

The present work includes weather observations by Marcin Biem (ca. 1470-1540), “one of the longest series of its kind known to exist in the world” (Pfister et al., p. 121). “Biem’s observations are recorded in two astronomical calendars, Almanach nova 1499-1531 (1499) and Ephemerides 1534-1551 [the present work]. The weather notes frequently refer to singular days and quite often they cover over half a month. Weather observations were regularly and carefully noted on a day-to-day basis for no less than 682 months … From the very beginning his observations were quite systematic. They comprise one or two descriptive terms (e.g., ‘[dies] clara et calida’, sunny and hot day) which sometimes were preceded by a specification of the time of day (e.g., ‘plus’, afterwards) or followed by a term that expresses the magnitude or the intensity of the phenomenon (e.g., ‘pluvia in nocte copiosa’, much rain during the night). Besides daily observations, his record includes shorter or longer descriptions of weather patterns during an entire month. Biem’s observations not only focused on the weather. Some of his notes refer to agriculture and medicine, others to astronomical observations. From the frequent references to astrological events, it can be concluded that Biem was attempting to derive long-term meteorological prognoses from astrological conjunctions … For 38 years, from 1502 until his death, Biem never failed to record his weather observations” (ibid., pp. 118-120).

Our copy of Gaurico’s Ephemerides is extensively annotated, both in the margins and on the rear endpaper. Moreover, there are two inserted sheets of notes in an early hand, together with one sheet with a large geometrical diagram similar to those on f. ***1 of the text. All of these deserve further study.

Adams E-202; Gardner 488; Houzeau & Lancaster 14657; Honeyman 1448; Riccardi I, 579; Sander 3048. Pfister et al., Climatic Variability in Sixteenth-Century Europe and Its Social Dimension, 2013. Quinlan-McGrath, ‘The Foundation Horoscope(s) for St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome, 1506: Choosing a Time, Changing the Storia,’ Isis 92 (2001), pp. 716-741. Rose, The Italian Renaissance of Mathematics, 1975; Thorndike, History of Magic and Experimental Science, Vols. V-VI, 1941.



4to (218 x 160 mm), ff. [56]; [254], with numerous woodcut illustrations, charts, ornaments and decorations, colophon and separate leaf with Junta device, small device on title page (some small flaws to inner margin of front free endpaper, title, and next two leaves). Contemporary limp vellum (worn with some loss to spine). A genuine, unsophisticated copy.

Item #3211

Price: $5,500.00

See all items in Astronomy, Relativity Theory
See all items by ,