Publisher Information: Antwerp: En casa de Juan Latio, 1555.
One of the Rarest Botanical Works of the 16th Century
[Laguna de Segovia, Andrés (1499-1559).] Dioscorides Pedanius (ca. 40-90 CE). Acerca de la materia medicinal, y de los venenos mortiferos, traduzido de lengua griege, en la vulgar castellana, & illustrado con claras y substantiales annotationes, y con las figuras de innumeras plantas exquisitas y raras, por el Doctor Andres de Laguna . . . Folio. , 616, pp. Numerous woodcut text illustrations. Antwerp: En casa de Juan Latio, 1555. 287 x 195 mm. 18th century mottled calf, rebacked preserving original gilt spine, corners a bit worn. Library stamps skillfully removed from title. Title leaf and leaf Bbb1 skillfully repaired, minor toning and foxing but very good.
First Edition in Spanish of Andrés Laguna de Segovia’s edition of Dioscorides’s De materia medica, (first published in Latin in 1554), with commentaries and additions that double the original text, and illustrated with hundreds of beautiful woodcut illustrations of plants and animals.
This is one of the rarest botanical works of the 16th century. There are no auction records for this edition, and OCLC cites only seven copies worldwide: Chicago Public Library, National Library of Scotland, University of Oxford, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Biblioteca Nacional de España, University of Michigan, State Library of New South Wales.
Dioscorides’ encyclopedic treatise on medical botany, written in Greek around the first century CE, is one of the founding works of pharmacology; it maintained its authority, though various translations and commentaries, for over 1500 years. Laguna’s extensively annotated translation into Castilian Spanish is considered one of the best and most faithful renditions of Dioscorides’ work into a modern language; it continued to be published, in various editions, until the end of the eighteenth century.
Laguna's book included the first recorded suggestion that the phenomena of witchcraft may be due to delusions caused by psychoactive herbs, rather than the direct influence of the Devil (Rothman, “De Laguna's Commentaries on Hallucinogenic Drugs and Witchcraft in Dioscorides' Materia Medica,”) Bull. Hist. Med., 46 (1972) 562-67) . Laguna pleads for clemency in such cases, in his particularly colorful commentary on species of nightshade (Book IV, Chapter LXXV).
Laguna, a Spanish physician, botanist and humanist, studied medicine in Paris in the 1530s and spent several years in the Netherlands, France, England and Italy before returning to Spain in 1557. He enjoyed an international reputation as a learned and skilled physician, and his services were sought after by some of Europe’s most powerful men, including Pope Julius III and Holy Roman Emperors Charles V and Philip II. While a medical student in Paris, Laguna began copying and collecting manuscripts for his commentary on Dioscorides, and on his frequent trips to Rome he was able to consult a number of codices of De materia medica as well as Pietro Andrea Mattioli’s 1544 Italian translation. During his European travels he also collected herbal remedies from every place he stayed so that he could personally verify Dioscorides’ prescriptions. Laguna based his edition of Dioscorides largely on the 1518 Latin translation of Jean Ruel, who had been one of his teachers in Paris; his commentaries on the text, incorporating his own observations, opinions and experiences, are an important primary source of information on the botanical and other scientific activities of his time. Garrison-Morton.com 13125. E. Andretta, “The medical cultures of ‘the Spaniards of Italy’: Scientific communication, learned practices and medicine in the correspondence of Juan Páez de Castro,” in J. Slater, M. López-Terrada and J. Pardo-Tomás, eds., Medical Cultures of the Early Modern Spanish Empire (2016). Hunt Botanical Catalogue, I, no. 95. Nissen, Botanische Buchillustration, no. 500.Book Id: 45941