CLAVIUS, Christophorus.  In sphaeram Ioannis de Sacro Bosco commentarius, nunc iterum ab ipso Auctore recognitus, & multis ac variis locis locupletatus. 

Rome, Francesco Zanetti for Domenico Basa, 1581. 

4to, pp. [32], 467, [1]; large woodcut illustration of armillary sphere to title (repeated on p. 24), woodcut printer’s device to colophon, woodcut initials and numerous woodcut diagrams in text, letterpress tables; occasional light foxing, partially repaired tear to 2C3 with no loss; otherwise a very good copy in modern vellum-backed boards with marbled sides and cloth tips, gilt red morocco lettering-piece, marbled endpapers; corners a little bumped; contemporary deleted ink ownership inscriptions (‘D. Alessandro Padoani f[…]’ and ‘B[…] Valerius’) to title, erased seventeenth- or early eighteenth-century armorial ink stamp, another small ink stamp excised and repaired at an early date, C.E. Rappaport bookseller’s ticket to upper pastedown.


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CLAVIUS, Christophorus.  In sphaeram Ioannis de Sacro Bosco commentarius, nunc iterum ab ipso Auctore recognitus, & multis ac variis locis locupletatus. 

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Third edition, the first to contain Clavius’s condemnation of Copernicus, with ten highly detailed woodcut diagrams of solar and lunar eclipses not included in the first edition. 

First published in 1570, Clavius’s commentary on Sacrobosco’s Sphere was repeatedly revised to follow developments in astronomical knowledge.  The edition of 1581 is considerably expanded and contains an analysis of eccentrics, epicycles, and eclipses (ch. IV, pp. 415-67), including Clavius’s first-hand accounts of the eclipses of 1560 and 1567, the first known record of an annular solar eclipse.  It is in the present edition that Clavius provides, for the first time, an extensive and methodical denunciation of Copernican heliocentrism (see especially pp. 436-7), becoming ‘the first to accuse Copernicus not only of having presented a physically absurd doctrine but also of having contradicted numerous scriptural passages’ (DSB). 

Despite his anti-Copernicanism, however, Clavius maintained a friendship with Galileo and in April 1611 submitted a report to Cardinal Bellarmine confirming Galileo’s discoveries in Sidereus nuncius (1610), and corresponded with Galileo regarding his discovery of Jupiter’s satellites. 

Although usually described as the third, the present edition is in fact plausibly the second: the reported edition of 1575 is found only in the records of the Frankfurt book fair of the following year, likely a reissue of the first edition intended to make the book seem ‘as up to date as possible, or to qualify for declaration at a Book Fair under the category “libri novi”’ (Maclean, p. 200). 

Adams C-2100; BM STC Italian 597; EDIT6 12672; Houzeau & Lancaster 2678; Sommervogel I, col. 1212; USTC 822863; see Gattei, On the Life of Galileo (2019); Lalande 111; Lattis, Between Copernicus and Galileo (1994); Maclean, ‘Sacrobosco at the Book Fairs’, in Publishing Sacrobosco’s De Sphaera (2022). 

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