Rare science book by Pausanias; Decem regionum veteris Graeciae descriptio, totidem libris comprehensa, Romulo Amasæo interprete. Translated by Romulo Amaseo.
Item Number: Book - 643
Pausanias; Decem regionum veteris Graeciae descriptio, totidem libris comprehensa, Romulo Amasæo interprete. Translated by Romulo Amaseo, (1489-1552). Tom. I & 2. Lugduni, apud Sebastianum de Honoratis, 1559. Small octavo, vol.1 pp. 624, 236 (index). Vol. 2, pp. 606, 120 (index).
The set is complete and in a contemporary vellum; bindings soiled with inked spine titles faded, bindings are rather tight, text lightly toned but overall a very good set of a rare work.
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An important early work on the origins of the diluvial concept. Pausanias was a Greek naturalist, traveler and geographer of the 2nd century A.D., who lived in the times of Hadrian, Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius. He is famous for his Description of Greece, a lengthy work that describes ancient Greece from firsthand observations, and the work is a major link between classical literature and modern science.
Pausanias is believed to have been a native of Lydia; and was familiar with the western coast of Asia Minor, but his travels extended far beyond the limits of Ionia. Before visiting Greece he had been to Antioch, Joppa and Jerusalem, and to the banks of the river Jordan. In Egypt he had seen the pyramids, while at the temple of Ammon he had been shown the hymn once sent to that shrine by Pindar. In Macedonia he had almost certainly viewed the traditional tomb of Orpheus. Crossing over to Italy, he had visited the cities of Campania, and of course Rome. He was one of the first to write of seeing the ruins of Troy and Alexandria Troas and Mycenae. His Description of Greece takes the form of a tour in the Peloponnesus and in part of northern Greece. He describes ceremonial rites or superstitious customs. He makes use of historical narratives and of legend and folklore and provides some details on scenery such as the pine trees on the sandy coast of Elis, the deer and the wild boars in the oak woods of Phelloe, and the crows amid the giant oak trees of Alalcomenae. It is within the last context that he touches on the products of nature, the wild strawberries of Helicon, the date palms of Aulis, and the olive oil of Tithorea, as well as the tortoises of Arcadia and the "white blackbirds" of Cyllene. It is here that he provides one of the earliest references to FOSSILS and probably within a DILUVIALIST context. In volume 1 he notes fossil shells high above the sea in limestone in the village of Megara which was about 20 miles west of Athens. "It is white, softer than any other, and has sea shells all the way through it. That is what the stone is like". The diluvialist concept grew from the roots of the ancient writers such as Pausanias and flourished in the 17th and 18th centuries. In the topographical part of his work, he writes on the wonders of nature, the signs that herald the approach of an earthquake, the phenomena of the tides, the ice-bound seas of the north, and the noonday sun which at the summer solstice casts no shadow at Syene. While he never doubts the existence of the gods and heroes, he sometimes criticizes the myths and legends relating to them. His descriptions of the monuments of art are unadorned, and their accuracy is confirmed by the extant remains.
Early printings of this work are exceedingly rare and one commonly only sees 20th century translations offered.