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    Description

    With a Rare Treatise on Minerals

    [Aristotle]. [Averroes, Avicenna and Alexandro Achillino]. Aristotelis Philosophorum Maximi de Secretis secretorum Ad Alexandrum Opusculum... Averroys Magni commentatoris de Animae Beatitudine. Alexandri Achillini Bononiensis de Universalibus. Alexandri Macedonis In Septentrione Monarchae de Mirabilibus Indiae ad Aristotelem. Venice: Bernardinus Venetus, de Vitalibus [Bernardino Vitale, ca. 1503.] Reprint of the 1501 edition of the Secretis Secretorum. Folio. A-G4, a-g4. 56 folios. Six large decorated initials. Nineteenth century vellum-backed marbled boards, lacks title-piece; light damp stain in center of title-page and following leaves and at lower margin; marginal expert restorations (no text affected); numerous contemporary marginalia, some ink stains. Still, a very good copy. From the Krown & Spellman Collection.
    Please visit HA.com/6112 for an extended description of this lot.


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    "One of the chief characteristics of medieval literature is the degree to which anonymous and pseudonymous texts were diffused and read. The most striking example is the immense literature in a variety of languages which surrounds Alexander the Great's teacher, the philosopher Aristotle, to whom were attributed many different works with little or no claim to authenticity... Some of the Latin versions are based upon Greek texts already attributed to Aristotle in Antiquity, others derive from Hebrew or Arabic roots, while others again seem to be original Latin works which became attached to the name of Aristotle at some time in their history. The most widely diffused of all these works is the one which bears the Latin title Secretum Secretorum. It enjoyed immense influence and the widest circulation from at least the tenth (and quite probably significantly before) to the seventeenth century, with more localized influence enduring even longer. Not all of the Secretis Secretorum editons published under Aristotle's name contain the tract on mineralogy. In fact, apparently none of the dozen or so incunubula editions appear to include it. The first appearance of the work in a published edition of the Secretis Secretorum occurs in the 1501 edition. [This is a reprint of that edition.] (Schuh).

    ISTC ia1011200 (1 copy). Reichling 1453. GW II, col 578 (note). Curtis Schuh. Bibliography of Mineralogy (online), 9 "Very rare". EDIT 16, Adams.

    Aristotle, pseudo.; Averroes; Avicenna; & Alexandro Achillino. Aristotelis Philosophorum Maximi de Secretis secretorum Ad Alexandrum Opusculum. Eiusdem De Regum regimine. Eiusdem de Sanitatis conservatione. Eiusdem de Physiognomia. Eiusdem de signis Tempestatum. Eiusdem de Mineralibus. Alexandri Aphrodisci Clarissimi Perpatetici de Intellectu. Averroys Magni commentatoris de Animae Beatitudine. Alexandri Achillini Bononiensis de Universalibus. Alexandri Macedonis In Septentrione Monarchae de Mirabilibus Indiae ad Aristotelem.
    [Opuscula varia una cum aliorum tractatibus] Venice: Bernardinus Venetus, de Vitalibus [Bernardino Vitale], [c1503.] Folio. A-G4,a-g4. 56ff. 19th c. vellum-backed marbled boards, lacks title-piece; light damp stain in center of t.p. and following leaves and at lower margin; marginal expert restorations (no text affected); numerous contemporary marginalia, some ink stains. 6 large decorated initials. "One of the chief characteristics of medieval literature is the degree to which anonymous and pseudonymous texts were diffused and read. The most striking example is the immense literature in a variety of languages which surrounds Alexander the Great's teacher, the philosopher Aristotle, to whom were attributed many different works with little or no claim to authenticity... Some of the Latin versions are based upon Greek texts already attributed to Aristotle in Antiquity, others derive from Hebrew or Arabic roots, while others again seem to be original Latin works which became attached to the name of Aristotle at some time in their history. The most widely diffused of all these works is the one which bears the Latin title Secretum Secretorum. It enjoyed immense influence and the widest circulation from at least the tenth (and quite probably significantly before) to the seventeenth century, with more localized influence enduring even longer.

    Not all of the Secretis Secretorum editons published under Aristotle's name contain the tract on mineralogy. In fact, apparently none of the dozen or so incunubula editions appear to include it. The first appearance of the work in a published edition of the Secretis Secretorum occurs in the 1501 edition.[This is a reprint of that edition.]
    Edited by Alexandri Achillini [see note below], this text contains seven treatises on medicine and philosophy: Secreta secretorum; De signis aquarum, ventorum et tempestatum; De mineralibus; Alexander Aphrodisei de intellectu; Averoes de beatitudine anime; Alexandri Achillini de universalibus and Alexandri Macedonis ad Aristotelem de mirabilibus Indie. Four of these are pseudo-Aristotelian works, which were well known since the 13th century or earlier. The Secreta secretorum is here present in the translation of Philip of Tripoli; the De signis aquarum, ventorum et tempestatum on weather signs, was translated in the 13th century by Bartholomew of Messina; the third work by the pseudo-Aristotle is De mineralibus on gems; the fourth Alexandri Macedonis ad Aristotelem de mirabilibus Indie is a fictitious letter by Alexander the Great to his teacher Aristotle, describing the wonders of India and the East. Three other similar 'Indian tractates' are known, all of them connected with the romance of Alexander the Great at various points in history. All four of them were accepted during the later Middle Ages as reliable literary portraits of the Indians, especially of the Brahmans. They originated in the European culture, and became sources for later tellers and writers of fables. The three remaining treatises in the present work consist of a work by Alexander of Aphrodisias on the intellect, another by Averroes on the beauty of the soul, and a work by Achillini himself on universals. The tract, "De Mineralibus", is based upon a manuscript translation made at the end of the 12th century by Alfred the Englishman [see note below] of Avicenna's work on minerals. The origin of the Secret o f Secrets is veiled in obscurity. All known versions go back to an Arabic original, Kitab Sirr al-'asr, r, of which the earliest extant fragment can be dated A.D. 941. The work itself claims, in the Proem, to have been translated from Greek into Syriac and from Syriac into Arabic by Yahya ibn-al-Bitriq, a well-known ninth-century translator active in the period when the largest number of works was being translated from Greek into Arabic. While it is doubtful, though not impossible, that there was a Greek original, it is clear that the extant versions contain a good deal of Greek material, including a certain amount which derives from genuine Aristotelian doctrine. It also, however, contains much which certainly is traceable to Middle Eastern Islamic sources. In structure the work takes the form of an extended letter from Aristotle to Alexander the Great, which was sent to the king while he was engaged in conquering Persia. It is thus parallel to a number of other extant letters, which purport to be epistolory exchanges between the two eminent figures, of which several exist in Greek. The Secret, as it has come down to us, evidently underwent a long period of gestation. It probably originated as a `Mirror for Princes', a familiar medieval literary form in which a wise man (Aristotle) offers moral and political advice to an eminent political leader (Alexander). It thus contains much specific advice on how the king as handled the many requirements of his office. For example, it deals with how the king is to choose and manage his advisors, what diet he should follow, how he should dress, etc. The Secret, as it has come down to us contains much else besides. Probably through a long period of accretion it gradually became a sort of encyclopedic work comprising, in addition to its original moral and political component, much miscellaneous information on occult and pseudo-scientific subjects. Thus there are sections of astrology, physiognomy, alchemy, and magic, in addition to rather detailed medical sections. All known versions derive from one of two Arabic versions, which are extent in a total of about fifty manuscripts. One of the versions is divided into either seven or eight books and is known as the Short Form in Manzalaoui's classification, while the other is in ten books and is known as the Long Form. It was ultimately translated into many different languages... These versions, both in their Latin form and in the many vernacular translations which came from them, were exceedingly widely read for more than four centuries in many different intellectual contexts. Among the major figures of the High Middle Ages who read the work carefully are Albert the Great and Roger Bacon, who wrote a Latin commentary on the Secret. Owing to its encyclopedic nature it was of interest to readers in many different fields ranging from political theory to alchemy, from physiognomy to popular moral philosophy. Though much work has been done previously on many aspects of the Secret, we have by no means reached the stage where one can confidently place the work with its myriad ramifications in its proper historical context. Because it was transmitted in so many diverse cultures and in so many different linguistic and structural forms, to understand fully its overall historical position is beyond the capabilities of any single scholar. There are many unsolved problems of all sorts, ranging from the work's sources to the precise relationship between the various versions in many different languages.

    Alessandro Achillini. (Born: Bologna, Italy, 20 October 1463; Died: Bologna, Italy, 1512) Italian philosopher & classical scholar. Achillini studied philosophy and medicine at the university of Bologna, where he became a celebrated lecturer both in medicine and in philosophy. From 1506 to 1508, he also taught at Padua. For his commentaries and editorial work, he was styled the second Aristotle. His philosophical works were printed in one volume folio, at Venice, in 1508, and reprinted with considerable additions in 1545, 1551 and 1568. He was also distinguished as an anatomist.

    Alfred the Englishman.English translator. Also called Alfred of Sareshel and Alfred Angilicus, was one of the English scholastics who was especially important as a translator of (originally) Greek works from Arabic to Latin. His renderings of Aristotle's works occurred during the late 12th century." [Curtis Schuh] ISTC ia1011200 (1 copy). Reichling 1453. GW II, col 578 (note).Curtis Schuh. Bibliiography of Mineralogy (on-line)9 "Very rare". Not found in Index Aurel., EDIT 16, Adams, STC BM (Ital.),Marshall, Gerlach, Cranz. Incunabula. Post-Incunable. Philosophy. Occult. Secrets. Minerals. Physiognomy. Medicine. Alexander the Great.



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    October, 2014
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