ANGELUS, Johannes, & Johannes Regiomontanus.

[Greek:] Esoptron astroligikon. Astrologicall Opticks.

Wherein are represented the Faces of every Signe, with the Images of each Degree in the Zodiack.

London: Printed for John Allen, and R. Moon, [1655] Stock Code: 143758
£2,500.00

"Take here the fruits of some cold Winter-nights"

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Notes

Rare first edition in English, with eight copies only showing at institutional libraries and just three on auction records. The translator, Robert Turner (b. 1619/20- c. 1664), "was one of an important group of translators who supplied English audiences with a wide range of occult and medical treatises and particularly with the writings of Paracelsus" (ODNB).

This is a translation of the Astrolabium Planum (1488) of Johannes Engel (latinized as Angelus), who studied in Vienna under Johann Müller (Regiomontanus); the Greek title of Esoptron astroligikon translates as "the astrological looking-glass" but Turner's version, "Astrologicall Opticks", places the Renaissance text in the arena of current scientific enquiry, particularly as optics "expressed the fundamental outlook of the Scientific Revolution by combining an experimental approach with a quantative analysis of phenomena" (Encyclopaedia Britannica). In his "To the Reader", Turner writes indignantly that "I think it needlesse to say any thing in the praise or vindication of Astrology; its use and lawfulnesse being already well known", going on to ridicule those who "thinke old women Witches, and such silly people, and that they make Contracts and Seale bonds to the Devill, ride up and down in the Aire with him; dance abroad like Cats while their Bodies have laine as dead by their Husbands haunt peoples houses, and render them inhabitable". Included here are pieces by two of Turner's fellow astrologers: a prefatory verse by John Gabdury ("On this Ingenious Translation") and a short foreword by the eminent William Lilly ("I am straitned of time, else would discover very manifold Uses of this booke"). Turner also made a contribution to the fine tradition of English herbals with Botanologia?: the Brittish Physician, or, The Nature and Vertues of English Plants (1664), which, in keeping with his interests, combined astral influences with botany and medicine.

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Description

Octavo (137 x 89 mm). Recent panelled calf to style, olive green morocco label, marbled edges.

Condition

Title page chipped at foot and laid down, worming to foot of first two gatherings (affecting some catchwords), single wormhole through a number of leaves (expanding to catch a few letters in gathering L), foxing and occasional browning, closely shaved at head (touching headline in places), yet this remains a very good copy, neatly rebound and with the terminal advertisement leaf.

Bibliography

Gardner, Occult Sciences, II 306 ("it is a fine work"); Wing E737; an online search of institutional libraries locates eight copies only: British Library, Wellcome, Folger Shakespeare, Northwestern, UCLA, Yale, and Missouri.

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