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De rerum natura by
Call Number: Vat. lat. 1569, fol. 1 recto
Publication Date: 1483
RR, Plate 125: This elegant manuscript of Lucretius's philosophical poem is an example of the interest in ancient accounts of nature taken by the Renaissance curia. The work, written in the first century B.C., contains one of the principal accounts of ancient atomism. This is one of numerous copies made at that time. The coat of arms of Sixtus IV appears on this page.
Timaeus, translated by Calcidius by
Call Number: Reg. lat. 1308, fols. 21 verso- 22 recto
Publication Date: ca. 900-999
RR, Plate 126: Calcidius's version of Plato's cosmology was an influential source for medieval ideas about the natural world.
Libri naturales by
Call Number: Pal. lat. 1033, fol. 1 recto
Publication Date: ca. late 13th-early 14th century
RR, Plate 127: This copy of Aristotelian philosophical and scientific texts, regularly studied in Latin translation in medieval and Renaissance universities, once belonged to the Florentine humanist Giannozzo Manetti. Manetti applied humanist Greek scholarship to the study of Aristotle. He copied part of the Greek text of the Physics in the margins of the Latin translation.
Simplicius, Commentary on Aristotle's De caelo
Call Number: Vat. gr. 254, fol. 9 recto
Publication Date: ca. 14th century
RR, Plate 128: The early Greek commentators on Aristotle's accounts of the natural world, of whom Simplicius was one of the most influential, offered challenging accounts of and objections to his theories. This manuscript is signed by a former owner, Cardinal Bessarion, whose household in Rome was an important center of Greek studies.
Anatomia del corpo humano by
Call Number: R.G. Med. II 215, fols. 63 verso- 64 recto
Publication Date: 1560
RR, Plate 136: In this work the author refers to the greater opportunities for anatomical study in Italy, including Rome. Here, a muscle man holds up his own flayed skin; the accompanying text points out the independence of the illustration from that of the pioneer Andreas Vesalius and discusses the differences with the latter's teaching.
Anatomicae praelectiones by
Call Number: Stamp. Barb. M V 10, p. 69
Publication Date: 1586
RR, Plate 136A: Piccolomini claimed that his description of the abdominal muscles was superior to that of other 16th century anatomists.
Botany and Mineralogy
Naturalis historia by
Call Number: Vat. lat. 3861, fols. 53 verso- 54 recto
Publication Date: ca. late 8th or early 9th century
RR, Plate 137: Pliny devoted several sections of his work to plants, animals, and minerals that could be used for medical purposes. Shown here are the contents of Book VIII, which includes medicines from animals, dragons, and serpents of great size--a reminder that fantastic as well as realistic natural history and materia medica had their origins in classical antiquity.
De simplicium medicamentorum temperamentis ac facultatibus by
Call Number: Vat. gr. 284, fols. 232 verso- 233 recto
Publication Date: ca. 14th century
RR, Plate 138: This manuscript, a harmonization of excerpts from two of the most important writers on materia medica of antiquity, was assembled in Byzantium in the 10th century. Most of the substances named in the work are plants. Illustrations were added in the mid-14th century to enhance the practical usefulness of the work.
Illustrations of materia medica
Call Number: Chig. F VII 158, fols. 75 verso- 76 recto
Publication Date: ca. 14th or early 15th century
RR, Plate 139: This picture book, probably associated with a Salernitan herbal known as the Circa instans, has plants, animals, and minerals arranged in alphabetical order with plant lists and captions in Latin. Here, a highly naturalistic rose appears side by side with some much less realistically rendered plants.
De simplicibus medicinis
Call Number: Chig. F VIII 188, fols. 19 verso- 20 recto
Publication Date: ca. 15th century
RR, Plate 140: The illustrations of materia medica in this 15th century manuscript of Simone da Cordo's works include both some stylized depictions of plants--here, an orange tree--and lively naturalistic drawings of animals, perhaps added by another hand.
De plantis, De causis plantarum by
Call Number: Urb. lat. 250, fols. 1 verso- 2 recto
Publication Date: ca. mid 15th century
RR, Plate 141: The works of Aristotle's pupil Theophrastus were both an important source of information and a stimulus to further contributions to knowledge. But, despite its handsome title page, this volume contains no illustrations intended to help understandings of its scientific content.
Minus cognitarum stirpium pars altera by
Call Number: Stamp. Barb. M II 10, pp. 60-61
Publication Date: 1616
RR, Plate 142: Colonna's interest in describing and illustrating hitherto unknown plants extended to local as well as exotic specimens. He described the plant at left (p. 60) as growing copiously all around Rome.
Call Number: Vat. lat. 9685, fol. 117 recto
Publication Date: 1625
RR, Plate 143: This engraving, which records Stelluti's microscopic observations of insects, combines the earliest illustration of a subject seen through the microscope with a Latin poem complimenting Pope Urban VIII. The illustration includes bees, which were the heraldic emblem of the Barberini family, to which the pope belonged.
Call Number: Vat. lat. 7211, fols. 62 verso- 63 recto
Publication Date: ca. 1589-93
RR, Plate 144: Mercati endeavored to establish a systematically organized papal museum of minerals; his Metallotheca was intended to combine a comprehensive treatise on minerals with a catalogue of the collection. At the time of his death the Metallotheca was still unpublished. Mercati's manuscript survived and already contained completed engravings for the illustrations by Anthony Eisenhout; here, the sulphur mines of Pozzuoli near Naples.
Historia animalium, De partibus animalium, De generatione animalium by
Call Number: Vat. lat. 2094, fol. 8 recto
Publication Date: ca. 1475
RR, Plate 130: Translated by Theodore of Gaza. The richly decorated title page centers on an imaginative depiction of Aristotle at work surrounded by animals and a naked human couple--perhaps Adam and Eve. The medallion below portrays Sixtus IV and is inscribed sacricultor (keeper of sacred things); the medal above shows the Ponte Sisto and alludes to Sixtus's building program and role as ruler of the city of Rome.
Historia animalium, De partibus animalium, De generatione animalium
Publication Date: ca. 1470
RR, Plate 129: Pope Nicholas V was a patron of the translation of ancient scientific works from Greek into Latin. New translations of Aristotle's books on animals, which describe over five hundred different species and are the principal ancient works on the subject, played an important part in this pope's intellectual program. George Trebizond's translation was commissioned by Nicholas V.
Medicine and Physiology
Avicennae Canonis libri by
Call Number: Urb. lat. 241, fol. 280 recto
Publication Date: ca. 1300-1310
RR, Plate 131: In this copy, numerous miniatures vividly depict patient problems with which the medical practitioner was likely to be confronted. Here a patient has hemorrhoids.
De usu partium by
Call Number: Urb. gr. 69, fols. I verso- 1 recto
Publication Date: ca. 10th or 11th century
RR, Plate 132: One of the most important ancient contributions to physiology and anatomy and this work greatly influenced the development of those subjects in the Renaissance. The copy shown here is one of the earliest and best manuscripts, of great significance for establishing the text.
Call Number: Vat. gr. 277, fols. 10 verso- 11 recto
Publication Date: ca. 14th century
RR, Plate 133: The first Latin translation of the complete corpus of treatises ascribed to Hippocrates was an important development in Renaissance medical learning. This undertaking, accomplished at Rome by Marco Fabio Calvo, greatly enlarged knowledge of one of the most important ancient medical writers, even though some Hippocratic books had long been available in older translations.
Hippocratis octoginta volumina by
Call Number: Vat. lat. 4416, fols. ii verso- iii recto
Publication Date: 1515
RR, Plate 134: Marco Fabio deposited this holograph manuscript of his Latin translation in the papal library, so that it could serve as an archetype (official text) for future editions of his work.
Call Number: Vat. gr. 278, fol. 1 recto
Publication Date: 1512
RR, Plate 135: This copy of the works ascribed to Hippocrates was transcribed by Marco Fabio Calvo chiefly from the manuscript shown in Plate 133.