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SEVERINO, Marco Aurelio (1580–1656), Severinus

Antiperipatias. Hoc est adversus Aristoteleos de respiratione piscium diatriba. De piscibus in sicco viventibus. Commentarius in Theophrasti Eresij libellum huius argumenti. Phoca illustratus, scilicet anatome spectatus, & philosophico criterio examinatus de radio turturis marini, eiusque vi, medica, veneno.
Neapoli, apud hæredes Camilli Cavalli, expensis Ioannis Alberti Tarini, [1655]-1659.

Rare first edition of Severino’s anti-Aristotelian monograph on the respiration of fish, along with additional treatises on fish who can live in air, on the seal, and on the ray. Severino studied medicine at Naples where he met Tommaso Campanella, and learned the elements of Telesio’s philosophy and anti-Aristotelianism. He taught surgery and anatomy at the univerisity of Naples. He was well known as a surgeon throughout Europe and corresponded with William Harvey, Thomas Bartholin and others. His works have been little studied, especially his relationship with Harvey and the discussions of circulation arising out of Harvey’s publication on the subject in 1628. In fact, in the treatise on the seal, De arteriarum apud Harveianos usu (pp 43-45) there is a discussion of the circulatory system of that animal (pp 43-45). Professor F.J. Cole, who has given the best account of Severino in English, says of this book: ”No complete copy of this work has come to light. The copperplate illustrations are invariably wanting.” – ”In it are discussed various questions of importance concerning the anatomy and physiology of fishes. Respiration, he says, is certainly the function of the gills, which extract the air and vapour mixed with the water. The biology of intertidal fishes and eels which can live for some time out of water is considered . . . The structure and true uses of the bronchial apparatus are debated. He recognizes three chambers in the heart of fishes, which correspond with the modern sinus venosus, auricle and ventricle . . .” This book also has a short biography of Severino, which still remains the most important contemporary source for his life.

Collation: Pp (22), 128; pp (6), 70. Lacks the initial blank leaf. Separate titles for De Piscibus in sicco and Phoca illustratus. Blank spaces are left for half-page illustrations on pp 46 - 47, which, however, were never printed. Large engraved printer’s device on first title and a smaller one in woodcut for De Piscibus. The title for Phoca illustratus has a woodcut of a seal. The second part of the book, pp (6), 70, was published already in 1655 (cf Cole 462) and the sheets added to Antiperipatias with the date MDCLV on the title for De piscibus altered by the printer to read MDCLVIIII.

Binding: Contemporary vellum with bold hand written lettering on spine.

Provenance: "Rodolphi Maroni", ownership inscription on title page. Bookplate: H. P. Kraus (purchased from the Sale of the Stock and Reference Library of H.P. Kraus).

References: Cole Library 463; Krivatsy 11051; Parkinson & Lumb, 2291; Cole, History of Comparative Anatomy, pp 132-149.

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