MACROBIUS, Ambrosius Aurelius Theodosius – In Somnium Scipionis … Saturnaliorum.Venezia, Gryphium, 1565


MACROBIUS, Ambrosius Aurelius Theodosius – In Somnium Scipionis … Saturnaliorum.Venezia, Gryphium, 1565


MACROBIUS, Ambrosius Aurelius Theodosius. Macrobii Ambrosii Aurelii Theodosij… In Somnium Scipionis … Saturnaliorum.Venetiis, apud Ioan. Gryphium, 1565

15,5 x10 cm.

Vellum binding. Pages 567, [65]. Restoration on the first endpaper, signs of humidity and browning on the last pages.

Rare Venetian edition of Macrobius’ two main works: the Saturnalia, a philosophical banquet, and the commentary on Cicero’s Sleep of Scipio. Dedicated to his son, this great work is taken from Book VI of Cicero’s De Re Publica. It is through this commentary that Cicero’s text has come down to us today. The Saturnalia are an erudite dialogue that takes place over three days, on the occasion of the feasts in honor of the god Saturn. The work has an encyclopedic character and is mainly centered on the figure of Virgil, even if its contents range from religion to literature and history to the natural sciences. In the Commentarii in Somnium Scipionis, composed in two books, Neoplatonic philosophical thought emerges.

Very famous Macrobian map and 6 woodcut plates representing Cosmology, Astronomy, Geography, Mathematics, Physics and Ethics.

It contains the famous Macrobian Map, a map that for 1000 years has been the cornerstone of world geography. It was printed for the first time in 1482. It shows the continents in the “Alveus Oceani”, a large Europe and a rather small Africa and Asia. The round map is typically divided into 5 climate zones, in accordance with the pre-Renaissance vision of the world.

Charming illustrated 16th-century edition with detailed engravings in the text, coeval soft parchment binding. Work by Macrobius printed in Venice by Grifo with beautiful typographic btand of the Rampant Griffin on the title page (Griffon holding a stone with his claw, to which a alate globe is chained. Motto: Virtute duce comite fortuna.) and text printed in Greek. Pp. 567- [65]. Stains and small woodworm damage. Coeval binding, heavily restored, full parchment with handwritten titles on the spine.

Ambrosius Theodosius Macrobius was a Roman senator and a classical scholar at the beginning of the 5th century AD. “It is a link between the ancient and medieval cultures”. This edition contains his 2 most important works, the “Saturnalia” and his “Commentarii in Somnium Scipionis”, the “Dream of Scipio”, a commentary on one part of the “De Republica” of the orator Cicero.

The “Saturnalia” are an academic collection in 7 books, written in the form of dialogues, in which the cultural life of the previous generation is idealised. The aim of Macrobius is to provide his son with all the necessary scientific knowledge to deal with the issues of that time. The literary form is that of a banquet. Macrobius was inspired by the Ciceronian dialogues “De Oratore” and “De Republica”. “Set during the Saturnalia of the year 383, it brings together several (evidently non-Christian) members of the aristocracy and their entourage to discuss sublime and ridiculous matters.

More influential during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance was Macrobius’ commentary on the “Somnium Scipionis”. Macrobius uses Cicero’s text (De Republica 6,10 ff) as a starting point for a completely Neoplatonic approach to cosmology and the ascent of the soul to the One, with direct obligations to Porphyry and Plotinus. Mathematics, physics, cosmology, astronomy, geography and ethics are discussed.

Macròbio (lat. Ambrosius Macrobius Theodosius)
Lating writer (4th-5th century AD), perhaps originally from Africa, from Simmaco’s pagan circle. The following works of his have survived until today: the commentary on Cicero’s Somnium Scipionis, in which M. exhibits philosophical and scientific doctrines of the late Hellenistic age (giving wide space to Neoplatonism) and which was one of the
more important sources for the philosophical-scientific culture of the Middle Ages, especially between 9th and 12th centuries; Saturnalia, which can be called the last example of the symposian literary genre: the work, divided into 7 books dedicated to his son Eustachius, arrived to us incomplete, is in the form of dialogues between learned men at banquet in the three days of Saturnal feasts (the main characters are Vettio Agorio Pretestato, Simmaco, Nicomaco Flaviano, Aviano, Servio) and covers the most varied topics on antiquities, literature and curio, in a discussion that takes its cue above all from the poetic and rhetorical art of Virgil, considered master of all human knowledge.