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    Athanasius Kircher's
    First Published Translation of an Obelisk

    Athanasius Kircher. Obeliscus Pamphilius Hoc Est, Interpretatio Noua & hucusque intentata Obelisci Hieroglyphici Quem non ita pridem ex Veteri Hippodromo Antonini Caracallae Caesaris, in Agonale Forum transtulit, intergritati restituit, & in Vrbis Aeternae ornamentum erexit....Rome: Lodovico Grignani, 1650. First edition. Folio. a-h4, A-4D4, lacks 4E1 & 4E2(62), 560, (26 of 28) pages. Frontispiece, portrait of Pope Innocent X, five full-page illustrations, and numerous woodcuts of various size. Eighteenth century quarter vellum over marbled boards, title in gilt on spine, lower corner of front board cracked, corners worn. Short tear to inner margin of e4, slight loss of few letters. a3, F3, 2G3, 2V4 closed tears and 3V2 with corner tear. 3O4 small hole, loss of one letter and minor affect to text woodcut. First few leaves and last few leaves with minor worm holes to outer margin corner, no affect. Some browning, few leaves uncut at corners. Lacks engraved portrait and folding obelisk plate, also last two leaves 4E1-2 (errata and colophon), but text complete. Otherwise in very good condition. From the Krown & Spellman Collection.
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    "Kircher's first published translation of an obelisk was in Obeliscus Pamphilius (1650), which treated the one that now stands in Piazza Navona. It is in fact a Roman imitation of Egyptian models, possibly made for the Isis temple at Campo Marzio; its inscription includes the name of Emperor Domitian. In the fourth century AD it was moved to the Circus of Romulus, near the Appian Way, then fell and remained in pieces, where it was noticed by travelers but otherwise neglected. In 1651, Innocent X ordered it to be transported to Piazza Navona, originally the site of Domitian's Circus, and re-erected in front of the Palazzo Pamphili, his family palace. He also commanded Kircher to translate its inscription, which gave Kircher the opportunity to reveal part of his long-prepared Egyptological theories, their full publication in Oedipus Agyptiacus had to wait a few more years" - Godwin, Kircher's Theatre of the World.

     "The Obeliscus Pamphilius is Kircher's first complete exposition of his principles for translating Egyptian hieroglyphs... In this work Kircher maintains the symbolic method of interpretation he hinted at earlier in his 'Prodromus coptus suve aegyptiacus' and 'Lingua aegyptiaca restituta'. Like most of Kircher's works, this book is filled with fascinating arcana, and Kircher's interpretations of Egyptian mythology and lore are of particular interest." - Brian Merrill, Athansius Kircher.    

     "The formidably learned Jesuit, Athanasius Kircher, directed the excavation of the obelisk on the Appian Way and probably composed the inscriptions that were placed on its new base in the Piazza Navona. The book presented his interpretation of the hieroglyphs of the obelisk, with rich, but necessarily fantastic, documentation".  -Archaeology Rome Reborn: The Vatican Library & Renaissance Culture.

    Brunet III: 668, Caillet II: 5787, De Backer I: 424.9, Graesse IV: 22, Sommervogel IV: 1052.12, Esoterica: 2388, Dunnhaupt III: 2333. Rossetti 5886. Cicognara 2526. Olschki 17343. Schudt 1130.

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    Auction Dates
    August, 2015
    5th Wednesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
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