ALEXANDER OF APHRODISIAS.
Enarratio de Anima ex Aristotelis institutione. Interprete Hieronymo Donato.
[Colophon:] Impressum Brixiae [Brescia]: ...Bernardini de Misintis…13 September 1495
8vo, 91 unnumbered leaves (of 92, lacking the initial blank). Title taken from incipit on f. a5, woodcut initial on a2, capital spaces with guide letters. Upper outer corners of first 6 leaves neatly restored, several gatherings lightly browned, some small stains on the first and last few leaves. Early vellum (rather marked and stained, endpapers sometime replaced), long inscription in Italian pasted to front pastedown about Pomponazzi and his use of Alexander’s text. Some short early marginal notes (some cropped); bookplate of David L. DiLaura.
FIRST EDITION of the highly influential commentary on Aristotle’s De Anima (On the Soul) by Alexander of Aphrodisias, a Peripatetic philosopher of the second-third century whose fame rests mainly on his interpretation of Aristotle’s doctrines, earning him the sobriquet of ‘the interpreter’. The object of his work was to free the doctrine from the syncretism of Ammonius and to reproduce the pure doctrine of Aristotle. It is here translated into Latin for the first time by Girolamo Donato (1457–1511), which gave it a much wider readership but at the same time gave rise to controversy among Renaissance scholars and theologians as Alexander argued for the impossibility of immortality of the human soul. As the soul is inseparable from the body (and therefore not immortal) much of the later part of the work includes chapters on the senses (De Auditu, De Olfacto, De Gustu, etc.). Aristotle dissected the ear in many animals, and described its anatomy, as well as the anatomy of the nose and throat. Alexander advances and describes Aristotle’s theory of light and vision, setting out the full process of vision and in so doing applies geometrical optics to Aristotlean theory for the first time. “He was, of course, not the first commentator on Aristotle. But posterior exegetes certainly treated as exemplary his method and his standards for explaining problems and obscurities in Aristotle’s texts. This is indicated both by explicit references in later commentators and by the unacknowledged exploitation of his work in some extant later commentaries on the same texts. As the translations of his work into Arabic and, to a lesser degree, into Latin show, he continued to be treated as a leading authority and his work influenced the Aristotelian tradition throughout late antiquity, the Middle Ages, and in the Renaissance. Scholars nowadays continue to make use of his commentaries, not only for historical reasons but also because his suggestions are often worth considering in their own right” (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy). Klebs 45.1. DiLaura, Bibliotheca Opticoria, 5. Stevenson & Guthrie, A history of oto-laryngology, pp. 14–15.