Tractatus brevis et utilis, de erigendis figuris coeli, verificationibus, revolutionibus et directionibus. Johannes GARCAEUS.
Tractatus brevis et utilis, de erigendis figuris coeli, verificationibus, revolutionibus et directionibus.
WITH TWO AUTOGRAPH DEDICATIONS
TO WITTENBERG PROFESSOR JACOB MILICH
Wittenberg, G. Rhaus Erben, 1556

Tractatus brevis et utilis, de erigendis figuris coeli, verificationibus, revolutionibus et directionibus.

8vo. [16 x 10 cm], 104 ff. with two folding tables. Bound in rubricated vellum (music manuscript) with title on spine. Title page (with a dedication from Garcaeus to Jacob Milich), and on the first of several extra blanks bound in at end; scattered annotations and corrections. Strip of the lower margin of A2 replaced, not affecting the text.
[Bound with:] _____. Tractatus brevis et utilis proponens methodum doctrinae eclipsium. Wittenberg, Joh. Crato, 1556. 80 ff., with a folding table of declinations not called for by Zinner. Extensive annotations on title page (with a dedication from Garcaeus to Milich), scattered annotations and corrections.
[And with:] REINHOLD, Erasmus. Themata, quae continent methodicam tractationem de Horizonte rational ac sensili deque mutatione horizontium et meridianorum. Wittenberg, Joseph Clug, 1541. 12 ff. Strip of the lower margin of B4 replaced, not affecting the text. Light foxing to second t.p., one quire toned, marginal waterstain to last few leaves. Otherwise excellent.

Rare first edition of the Tractatus de erigendis figures coeli, documenting Copernican influence on 16th-century astronomical literature, with two ex dono dedications to the Wittenberg mathematician and physician Jacob Milich (see below)—indicating that Milich, whose numerous collaborations with Melanchthon are already well-documented, was a heretofore unknown member of the Wittenberg Circle, the informal group of Copernicans centered around Rheticus and Reinhold.

The present work is essentially astrological, dealing chiefly with the casting of horoscopes. It reflects, however, the mathematical rigor that 16th C astronomers applied to astrological prediction: Garcaeus insists upon an accurate astronomical basis for such predictions, citing Copernicus more than twenty times and drawing upon Copernicus’s calculations to obtain celestial positions of the planets. The second Tractatus, an extremely rare astronomical text published the same year by another Wittenberg publisher, also includes references to Copernicus. Such references are clear evidence that only 13 years after the publication of De Revolutionibus, Copernicus was well-known and esteemed as a mathematician and astronomer, and his name was appearing frequently in print.
Both works are dedicated by Garcaeus to Jacob Milich (1501-1559), the astronomer, physician, and professor of mathematics at Wittenberg from at least 1535, where he presided as Dean of Arts during a public “Oratio de dignitate astrologiae,” written by himself or possibly Melanchthon. Milich evidently taught at the university from 1535 onward (placing him in Wittenberg during the first printing of De rev in 1543), and “seems to have been such a close collaborator in Melanchthon’s cause that even his contemporaries mistook Milich’s commentary on the second book of [Pliny] . . . as a work by Melanchthon” (Kusukawa).

Indeed, Garcaeus’ respect for the physician’s learning is such that, among the genitures of “learned men” printed in his Astrologiae methodus (Basel 1576), Milich’s geniture is given prior to those of Copernicus, Camerarius, Erasmus and even Melanchthon himself—prior to every contemporary, in fact, but Reinhold, who authored the third work in the present volume. Among Milich’s medical works, Thorndike also records orations on the lives of Galen and Avicenna, and anatomical and cardiac treatises printed among Melanchthon’s Declamationes (1558).

Johannes Garcaeus (1530-1575) was a German astronomer, mathematician, meteorologist and astrologer who studied at Wittenberg. The works of Erasmus Reinhold, professor of Mathematics at Wittenberg, also promoted Copernicanism. This first edition (1541) of his short tract was reprinted several times, including as an addendum to Libellus Ioannis de Sacrobusco libellus de sphaera, Wittenberg, Crato, 1550. With thanks to Prof. Owen Gingerich, for confirming that the work requires two tables.

OCLC: 1) Arizona, UCSD, Illinois, all containing two folding tables. 2) No American copy. 3) Brown.


* 1) Zinner 2147; VD16 G 462. 2) Zinner 2148, 1784; not in VD16. 3) Zinner 1784; VD16 R 970. Thorndike V pp. 386-390; Kusukawa, The Transformation of Natural Philosophy, p. 136.

Price: $18,500.00

See all items by