Liber de Oculo Morali.

[No place, printer or date; Augsburg: Anton Sorg, c. 1477.]1477

Folio, 61 leaves (of 62, lacking the initial blank). Without signatures or pagination, 39 lines plus headline, incipit on f. 9 preceded by 7 leaves containing a table of contents by Mathias Farinator, large capital supplied in red and text rubricated on f. 9. Bound in half russia by Bauzonnet between 1831 and 1840, spine ruled in gilt (joints rubbed and cracked at ends), marbled sides and endpapers. A few leaves with short early marginalia, old library stamp on flyleaf. Very fine copy with wide margins.

Second edition of “the second earliest printed work on the eye, Grassus’s De oculis (1474) being the first” (Becker). It contains a description of the eye, together with a brief account of eye diseases and their treatment. Written in the late 13th century, De Oculo Morali was produced for preachers in the hope of making homilies interesting and relevant by making morals parallels to the principal aspects of Perspectiva — the medieval study encompassing the eye, vision, and optics. Perspectiva originated with De Aspectibus, the Latin translation of Katib al-Manazir by the great Arabic scholar known in the West as Alhazen. Much of the natural philosophy of vision in the Kitab al-Manazir found its way into De Oculo Morali, via De Aspectibus, becoming similes for the moral life. Although the author was given in the book as John Pecham (Joannis Pithsani), Archbishop of Canterbury, the treatise was written by Pierre de Limoges, a physician, astronomer and cleric who helped to found the Sorbonne at the end of the thirteenth century. The work was first printed Anton Sorg not after August 1476. DiLaura, Bibliotheca Opticoria, 1. Klebs p. 243 (reference only, under Peckham). Becker catalogue 222 (Italian edition, under Lacepiera). Wellcome I, 5028. Sarton II, p. 1029.


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