Thesaurus artificiosae memoriae, concionatoribus, philosophis, medicis, iuristis, oratoribus, procuratoribus, caeterisque; bonarum litterarum amatoribus: negociatoribus insuper, aliisque; similibus, tenacem, ac firmam rerum memoriam cupientibus, perutilis ...

Venice, Antonius Paduanius, 1579.

4to, ff. [xvi], 145, [1], with printer’s device on title, large folding woodcut table, two woodcut plates, and many full-page woodcuts in text; a little light browning, but a beautiful copy in contemporary limp vellum.

£2250

Approximately:
US $2810€2660

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Thesaurus artificiosae memoriae, concionatoribus, philosophis, medicis, iuristis, oratoribus, procuratoribus, caeterisque; bonarum litterarum amatoribus: negociatoribus insuper, aliisque; similibus, tenacem, ac firmam rerum memoriam cupientibus, perutilis ...

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an unusually well preserved copy of the first edition of one of the principal texts of the dominican art of memory.

Frances Yates writes that the Dominican tradition, originating from the scholastic emphasis on memory, is the most important in the history of the art of memory. ‘The Dominicans were naturally at the centre of this tradition, and in Johannes Romberch, a German, and Cosmas Rosselius, a Florentine, we have two Dominicans who wrote books on memory, small in format but packed with detail, apparently intended to make the Dominican art of memory generally known’ (Yates p. 114).

‘[In Rossellius’ work] the Dantesque type is given great prominence. Rossellius divides Hell into eleven places, as illustrated in his diagram of Hell as a memory place system ... Rossellius also envisages the constellations as memory place systems, of course mentioning Metrodorus of Scepsis in connection with the zodiacal place system. A feature of Rossellius’ book are the mnemonic verses given to help memorise orders of places, whether orders of places in Hell, or the order of the signs of the zodiac. These verses are by a fellow Dominican who is also an Inquisitor. These “carmina” by an Inquisitor give an impressive air of great orthodoxy to the artificial memory. ‘Rossellius describes the making of “real” places in abbeys, churches and the like. And discusses human images as places on which subsidiary images are to be remembered’ (ibid. p. 122).

This work also contains the first finger alphabet to appear in a book (see Volkmann, Ars memorativa, p. 170). ‘Rosselli gives instructions on how to position the fingers in order to make the individual letters ... The finger alphabet has obvious advantages, such as allowing one to construct a list of persons, things, or ideas to be remembered by actually making and repeating the letters on the hand in a familiar order. Once learned this system is a readily available reminder valuable in preaching sermons and allied activities ... Rosselli’s finger alphabet ... not only continues the mnemonic tradition but also suggests further development of the fingers and the hand as an instrument of visual communication, allied with, but effective as a substitute for oral and written language’ (Claire Richter Sherman, Writing on Hands. Memory and Knowledge in Early Modern Europe, 52).

Adams R803; Durling 3947; Wellcome 5572; Young p. 306.

S829

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