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Stock# 68921

Including An Important Early World Map

Macrobius's work is a commentary on Cicero's Dream of Scipio. It includes an important woodcut map of the world illustrating Cicero's interesting theories. This diagrammatic map shows two distinct regions of the earth. The inhabited Afro-Eurasian continent was balanced by an unknown, and relatively equal, landmass (Temperata Antipodunobis Incognita) on the other side of an impassable torrid zone (Perusta) and a great boiling sea (Alveus Oceani). This notion of antipodean balance and landmass equivalence that continued to attract Renaissance minds to the otherwise outmoded geographical ideas of Macrobius. Distinguished cartographers like Mercator and Ortelius would later incorporate Macrobius' model into an immense southern continent (Australis Incongita) to balance the known lands of the world, and the division of the world into climactic zones is still in use today. 

Macrobius was a 5th-century Roman Neoplatonic philosopher. His commentary on Cicero’s Somnium Sciponis was of great influence in the Middle Ages and gained popularity with the advent of printing.

First published in Brescia in 1483, numerous editions appeared throughout the 16th century. His commentary includes several chapters dealing with his own conception of the world and the universe. It also contains references to many facets of the scientific knowledge of his time, including references to physics, astronomy, and mathematics.

The 1570 Hieronymus Scotus Venice edition includes a version of Macrobius's map that is closely based on Johann Gryphius's edition of 1565, also published in Venice. Geoffrey L. King, at, dates the earliest edition of the map to 1571, with a further edition in 1580. This edition predates the ones listed by King, and it is likely that the present 1570 edition is the first with this set of woodblocks.

This was the second to last of the Macrobius woodblock recorded by King, the last being published by Jacobus Stoer in Geneva in 1597 and again in 1607.

Condition Description
Title page, 567 pages (map at page 144), and index. Early vellum with manuscript titling and date on spine.
See Shirley 13; King (2nd ed.) pp. 34 & 193-4; Moecker (MapForum #4), pp. 26-30.