BOHEMIAN ASTROLOGY, PRINTED IN PRAGUE

Astrologica opuscula antiqua. Fragmentum astrologicum, incerto autore, in quo, praetor caetera, aliquot exemplis ostenditur, quomodo medicatio ad Astrologicam rationem sit accomodanda. Liber Regum de significationibus Planetarum in duodecim domiciliis Coeli, & de natura duodecim signorum Zodiaci.

Liber Hermetis centum Aphorismorum… Prague, Georgius Melantrichus ab Aventino, 1564.

4to, ff. [62, including final blank], with one woodcut diagram in the text; a few leaves very slightly browned, but a very good copy bound in recent straight-grain blue morocco, single fillet frame gilt to boards, spine flat gilt in compartments, direct lettered gilt; sporadic contemporary underlining; nineteenthcentury school library stamp of the Realanstadt of Biberach, in southern Germany, to upper outer corner of title.

£4500

Approximately:
US $6224€5214

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Astrologica opuscula antiqua. Fragmentum astrologicum, incerto autore, in quo, praetor caetera, aliquot exemplis ostenditur, quomodo medicatio ad Astrologicam rationem sit accomodanda. Liber Regum de significationibus Planetarum in duodecim domiciliis Coeli, & de natura duodecim signorum Zodiaci.

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Very rare first edition of this collection of three astrological and hermetic texts printed in Prague, edited by Thaddaeus Hagecius (1525–1600), Bohemian astronomer and personal physician of the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolph II.

The first part is based on an ancient codex, preserved at the library of the Charles University at Prague, dealing with astrology, the influence of the stars on health, and advice on medication; the second is the ‘Book of Kings on the significance of the planets in the twelve houses’. The final section consists of 100 Hermetic aphorisms, with Hagecius’ commentary.

The work was published in the year in which Hagecius received the Emperor’s privilege stating that no astrological publication could be printed in Prague before he had seen and approved it, and just one year after ‘the conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter on August 25, 1563, [which] led friends of Rheticus to urge him to undertake a commentary upon the work of Copernicus. [Rheticus] wrote to Hagecius from Cracow on October 28 of the same year that he had the work in hand and that he hoped Hagecius would render any assistance he could. This proposed commentary was never finished, but the astrological occasion for it is noteworthy’ (Thorndike V, p. 415).

‘Thaddaeus Hagecius (Tadeáš Hájek z. Hájku) played a considerable part in the controversies stirred up by the new star of 1572 [a supernova in the constellation Cassiopeia] and was well spoken of by Tycho Brahe as an astronomer. He served the imperial family as a physician. He was also interested in divination by astrology and in signatures in plants and gems’ (Thorndike VI, p. 504). Hagecius was in frequent scientific correspondence with many major astrologers and astronomers of the time, including John Dee and Tycho Brahe, and played an important role in persuading Rudolph II to invite Brahe, and later Kepler, to Prague.

Cantamessa 3528; Zinner 2338; not in Adams or Durling.

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