Sphaera Ioannis De Sacro Bosco emendata. In eandem Francisci Iunctini Florentini, Eliae Vineti Santonis, & Alberti Heronis Scholia. Caetera pagina sequens indicabit

Autore: SACROBOSCO, Johannes de (d. 1244 or 1256)

Tipografo: Jean Bellère

Dati tipografici: Antwerp, 1582


8vo (153x93 mm). [16], 327, [1] pp. and 1 folding plate with the movable parts to be cut out and the instructions on how to assemble them. Collation: †8 A-V8 X4. Printer's device on title page and several woodcut diagrams and illustrations in text. On the front pastedown label with the shelf mark “Scansia N. G10, Palchetto N.”. On title page is the ownership's entry “Della libraria di Brisighella” and an old faded stamp. Contemporary binding made with a manuscript vellum leaf datable to the 12th-13th century, inked title on spine and on the upper edge (round worm holes and small losses to the panels, heavier loss to the bottom part of the spine, lacking ties and front flyleaf). Leaves †6 and †7 stained and with minor losses of paper and occasionally also of text, small hole in the middle of quire M affecting a few letters, other hole in the lower blank margin of ll. V3-X4 with no loss of text, uniformly browned throughout, first quire slightly loose. A genuine copy.

On back flyleaf recto is a manuscript note containing the minute of a letter, presumably autograph, by Giorgio Raguseo (d. 1622), dated “Patavi ex academia nostra V. Non. Marti 94” (3 March 1594) and addressed to the “Admodum Rev.do ac Ecellentiss.o Patri Magistro Hieronimo Palanterio in almo Patavino Gimnasio theologiam publice proficienti”, in which Raguseo thanks his colleague and professor of theology Girolamo Pallantieri (1533-1619) and asks his permission to print some not better specified academic “conclusiones ex variis doctoribus scholasticiis”, which he thinks are worth publishing. It is also not clear which academy he is referring to in the letter.

On the verso of the same leaf is another note, by the same hand, quoting as a reminder the 1566 Giovanni Battista & Marchiò Sessa edition of Le nuove teoriche de i pianeti by Georg Peurbach in the translation by Orazio Toscanella.

RARE EDITION published in Antwerp of Sacrobosco's famous astronomical treatise, accompanied by notes of Francesco Giuntini (1523-1590), Elie Vinet (1509-1587), and Albert Hero (d. 1589), which appeared for the first time in the Lyon edition of 1562.

“Sacrobosco's Sphaera, written in Paris around 1220, enjoyed a long popularity as the leading introduction to spherical astronomy. First printed in 1472, it went through at least a score of editions in the fifteenth century and something over 100 in the sixteenth […] Publishing Sacrobosco entered a new and different phase in Wittenberg in 1531. Prior to that year all the editions were folio or quarto, that is large, often quite beautiful, and presumably expensive volumes. In 1531 the Lutheran University of Wittenberg apparently sponsored a version cheap enough to become a required textbook for the astronomy course. It is fully illustrated with didactic figures and comes with a preface in praise of astronomy by Philipp Melanchthon […] Demand for the small Sacrobosco textbook remained high at Wittenberg, and a new edition was issued every few years. In 1538 a revised revision appeared: for the first time three of the diagrams incorporated moving parts. This proved to be such a popular feature that virtually every octavo Sacrobosco from the 1540s on – regardless of whether it was printed in Paris, Antwerp, Cologne, or Venice – included these same identical volvelles. Incidentally, these volvelles were not pre-cut and pasted by the printer. They were issued on ancillary sheets together with instructions for assembling them. Hence it is possible to find copies of these text books with no sign that the volvelles were ever in place, and very occasionally the original sheet with the instructions and cutouts can still be found with the book” (O. Gingerich, Sacrobosco as a Textbook, in: “Journal of History of Astronomy”, 19, no. 4, Nov. 1988, pp. 269-273).


The letter contained in the present copy is particularly interesting as it connects two prominent figures of the University of Padua at the end of the 16th century, highlighting their academic and professional ties. It is also worth noting that Raguseo wrote a commentary on Sacrobosco's Sphaera (Expositio super spheram Ioannis de Sacrobosco, Milan, Biblioteca Ambrosiana, manuscript N.207 sup.), which has remained unpublished.

Giorgio di Ragusa (or Raguseo), as he was called after the name of his hometown, today's Dubrovnik in Dalmatia, was born on an unspecified date in the second half of the 16th century. He spent his youth in Venice, where he was educated in mathematics by his father, in the letters by L. Natali and in astrology, his favourite discipline, by Osvaldo da Gent and F. Barozzi. He then studied and graduated at the Studio of Padua first in the arts (the exact date is not known), then in 1592 in theology and in 1601 in medicine. In the meantime, he took the minor orders and gained a certain reputation as an expert in Lull's art, taking part in two public disputes over theological conclusions exposed according to R. Lull's method, one in Venice in 1594 and the other in Padua in 1595. In 1599 he set off on a journey that kept him away from Venice for two years. In Pisa he met G. Mercuriale, while in Naples he made the acquaintance of G. Della Porta. When he returned to Padua in the spring of 1601, he was appointed to the second ordinary chair of natural philosophy at the local Studio, replacing C. Cremonini recently promoted to the first chair. In the following years he was deeply involved in all academic activities, not only in teaching. His name, in fact, is one of those that most often appears in the commission that conferred the doctorate titles according to the practice of the Palatine counts, and in this capacity on April 25, 1602 he conferred the title of doctor in philosophy and medicine to W. Harvey. In 1613 in Venice he published twenty-four Aristotelian disputes under the title of Peripateticae disputationes. Around 1618 Raguseo took part in the discussions raised by the appearance of a comet. Despite his academic Aristotelianism, he expressed an original position in the debate, supporting the need for critical scrutiny by the senses and experience. From a letter of 1611, we also know that he used the telescope to verify some of discoveries announced by Galileo in the Sidereus nuncius. Raguseo died in Padua on 13 January 1622 (cf. C. Preti, Giorgio da Ragusa, in: “Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani”, LV, 2001, s.v.; see also L. Thorndike, A history of magic and experimental science, VI, New York, 1941, pp. 198-202; M. Josipovic, Il pensiero filosofico di G. Raguseo, Milan, 1985; and G.F. Tomasini, Gymnasium Patavinium, Udine, 1654, pp. 309 and 445 for Ragueseo and p. 284 for Girolamo Pallantieri, professor of theology from 1580 to 1603).

Bernardino Pallantieri was born in Castel Bolognese in 1533. In 1547, at the age of fourteen, he entered the order of friars minor conventual, taking the name of Girolamo. In Ferrara he studied philosophy with the theologian Filippo Braschi and the famous philosopher Vincenzo Maggio. He then continued his studies in Bologna under the guidance of Giovanni Antonio Delfini and Franceschino Visdomini. At first appointed regent of the Studio of Pavia, in 1566 Pallantieri took up the chair of theology at that university. In 1568 he was called to Milan by St Charles Borromeo, archbishop of that city, who appointed him as preceptor of the candidates for priesthood and as his personal theologian. Pallantieri remained in Milan for 5 years, then in 1573 he resumed his teaching in Pavia. Between 1575 and 1581 he was in Rome at the service of Cardinal Felice Peretti, as his personal advisor and theologian. In 1581 he was called back to Bologna and in 1582 he was elected minister provincial of the friars minor of the province of Bologna. He was also a member of the Accademia degli Infiammati of Parma with the name of “Solingo”. When his three-year mandate in Bologna expired, in 1585 Pallantieri was called by the Reformers of the Studio of Padua to occupy the chair of theology and at the same time he was appointed superior of the convent of the Saint Anthony, the patron of the city. Girolamo remained in Padua for ten years until about 1595. In 1603 he was appointed bishop of Bitonto by Pope Clement VIII, but he moved to his diocese only in 1605. Pallantieri died in Bitonto in 1619 at the age of eighty-six (cf. E. Papagna, Pallantieri, Bernardino, in: “Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani”, LXXX, 2014, s.v.).


Houzeau-Lamcaster, no. 1658; L. Desgraves, Elie Vinet, Genève, 1977, no. 125.


Transcription of the letter:


Adm.m R[ev].do ac ecellentiss.o Magistro Hieronimo [sic] pala[n]terio in almo patavino gimnasio [sic] theologiam publice proficienti Georgius raguseus Venetus serfrum [?] Academie S.p.D.

Cogitanti m[ih]i ad[modum] Rev.de presul qua[m] innumerabilia tui sustineam beneficia, qua[mquam] eo[rum] vinculis me tibi obstrictum esse inveniam obtulit occasio, ut cu[m] p[ro] eis parem omnino gra[tiam] tibi referre n[on] possim aliquo saltem monuscolo [sic] gratissimu[m] meu[m] erga te aninu[m] immensamq[ue] benevolentiam i[n] te ispu[m] navarem ap[er]teq[ue] o[mni]b[us] patefacerem.

Quap[ro]p[ter] cu[m] sup[er]iorib[us] dieb[us] in Acad[e]mia n[ost]ra statut[m] esset , ut c[on]clusiones q[uae] a singulis achademicis, qualibet hebdomada discutiend[ae] p[ro]ponunt[ur] tipis [sic] d[e]p[ro]mere[n]tur [?] cu[m]q[ue] ipsor[um] humanitate p.s academie princesps [sic] co[n]stitutus essem p.s q[uo]q[ue] i[n]ter o[mn]es, ha[n]c ego provi[n]ciam suscipere volui, et statim ex variis doctorib[us] scolasticiis [sic] huiusemodi [sic] c[on]clusiones d[e] […] exaustas [sic] apposui. Quasq[ui]d[em] c[um] […] n[on] parva[m] o[mni]b[us] oblectat[ionem] allaturas esse, mihi p[er]suasi si p[rae]clarissimo paternitatis tu[a]e n[omi]ne i[n]signit[a]e ac d[e]corat[a]e p[ro]dirent.

Accipe igit[ur] presta[n]tis.e p[ate]r n[on] q[uia] mea sed q[uia] tua su[n]t et q[uia] ab humiliss.o tuo servo dignitatisq[ue] tu[a]e maxime cupido afferunt[ut]. Quod si ut spero, ea benigno atq[ue] hillari animo susciperis me i[n] dies] ad maiora animi munera i[n]flam[m]abis. Vale patavi ex accad[emia] [sic] n[ost]ra V. Non. Marti 94 eode[m] assiste[n]te et respo[nden]te disputabu[ntur] pubblice”.