Del terremoto. Dialogo […] distinto in quattro giornate

Autore BUONI, Giacomo Antonio (1527-1587).
Tipografo Paolo Gadaldini & brothers
Dati tipografici Modena, 
Prezzo 1800.00
Del terremoto

“ONE OF THE MOST COMPREHENSIVE WORKS ON EARTHQUAKES WRITTEN DURING THE 16TH CENTURY” (HONEYMAN)

4to (201x142 mm). [4], 63, [1] leaves. Collation: [π]4 A-Q4. Leaf [π]4 is a blank. Typographical ornament and Este coat of arms on title page. Printer's device and colophon on last leaf verso. Recased in contemporary flexible vellum. On front pastedown a pasted paper slip with the shelf mark “V92”; another shelf mark “T166” written on front flyleaf verso. Title page soiled, last leaves foxed, all in all a good copy.

RARE FIRST EDITION. The printing date can be presumed from the dedication to G.B. Pigna, secretary to the Duke of Ferrara, which is dated 1 February 1571.

A terrible earthquake struck the city of Ferrara and its surroundings in November 1570. In the spring of the previous year, another devastating earthquake had struck the areas of Naples and Pozzuoli. These catastrophic events stimulated an increased interest in the causes and consequences of earthquakes. In Bologna, in 1571, three treatises on the subject appeared in print, by A. Galesio, G. Zuccalo, and L. Maggio, respectively, which are all very similar in content. In the same year Buoni published his treaty in Modena (cf. F.D. Adams, The Birth and Development of the Geological Sciences, New York, 1954, pp. 405-408).

“The extraordinary production of treaties on this event, requested by the Ferrarese court, represents an important moment of investigation, which marks the transition between the traditional Aristotelian approach and the diffusion of new scientific theories on earthquakes” (E. Guidoboni, I terremoti del territorio ferrarese, in: “Storia di Ferrara”, F. Bocchi, ed., San Marino, 1987, II, p. 635).

The present work is written in the form of a dialogue which unfolds over a period of four days; its interlocutors are Buoni himself, the Franciscan theologian Agostino Righini (1489-1583), the historian and scholar Alessandro Sardi (1520-1588), and the Bishop of Reggio Emilia Benedict Manzoli (1520-1585). The scene takes place in the streets of Ferrara.

While often referring to theories and descriptions of earthquakes made by ancient authors, the dialogue lists numerous seismic events described by modern authors such as Corio, Beroaldo, and Piccolomini. It also reports the opinion of such famous scientists of the time as Cardano, Scaliger, Nifo, Porzio and Calcagnini (his astronomical theory of terrestrial motion is also explained), and praises personalities like Ulisse Aldrovandi (for his naturalistic museum), the antiquarian Pirro Ligorio, Tarquinia Molza Porrina, and the scholar L.G. Giraldi.

Overall the work identifies and describes four different types of earthquakes (agitativo, soverfluo, perforativo, rovinoso; oscillatory, superficial, perforative, and ruinous) and attributes their causes to the correlation of different physical phenomena both terrestrial and stellar, while not renouncing the fascination of prodigies and apparitions that were then believed to accompany great natural events.

G.A. Buoni, born in Ferrara, had the privilege of attending the private anatomy classes given by the great pre-Vesalian anatomist G.B. Canano. He graduated in medicine in his hometown in 1548. In addition to being a physician, he was also a botanist and a theologian. He was later appointed as professor of medicine and botany in Ferrara, Mondovì, Turin, and Rome. He also probably directed the Vatican Botanical Garden for a short period. Besides the present dialogue, Buoni published only the Epistola nuncupatoria to the index of Galen's works compiled by Antonio Musa Bresavola (Venice, 1551) (cf. G. Luzzatto, Giacomo Antonio Bono (Boni o Buoni) medico, botanico e scrittore del secolo XVI, from: “Studi Urbinati - Facoltà di Farmacia”, 27, n.s.C., no. 2, 1953, pp. 1-13).

Edit 16, CNCE7850; Riccardi, II, Va, col. 31, 1*; BMSTC Italian, p. 131; Honeyman, 551; A. Perrey, Bibliographie séismique, Dijon, 1855-1863, I, 274; E. Boschi & E. Guidoboni, I terremoti a Bologna e nel suo territorio dal 12. al 20. secolo, Rome, 2003, p. 558.

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