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De Humana Physiognomia libri IIII Ad Aloysium Card Estesem

della Porta Babtistae

Published by Vici Aequensis [Vico Equense] Iosephum Cacchium 1586, 1586
From Buddenbrooks, Inc. (Newburyport, MA, U.S.A.)

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First Edition. With engraved title-page (including a portrait of the author within an architectural border), engraved portrait of Cardinal Luigi d'Este, the dedicatee, two full-page engravings of a man and a woman (each repeated once), and 81 engravings by repetition of 27 copperplates. Folio, bound in full tan morocco, the spine with raised bands ruled in blind, the bands carried over to the boards into a decorative triangle also in blind. [ii], 272pp. A very good of this original work with some mild and old evidence of damp, generally quite clean and fresh, the later binding with some rubbing and discoloration. An extraordinary sixteenth-century illustrated book, and one of the earliest works on physiognomy,preceding by some two hundred years Lavater's attempts in estimating human character by features of the face. Porta's treaties on human physiognomy attempts to establish "scientifically" the correspondence between external form of the body and the internal character of a person, specifically mental and moral attributes. Physiognomy (literally 'knowledge of nature') is the art of reading a person's character, disposition, even his future from signs in his face. Giovanni Battista della Porta (1535-1615) was one of the most interesting natural philosophers in Naples during the late Renaissance. Educated at home, he became well learned on his own and traveled extensively, often cultivating an air of mystery. In Naples, he founded the Academia Secretorum Naturae, otherwise known as the Accademia dei Oziosi, which was later suppressed by the Inquisition. In Naples in 1610, he helped to reestablish the Acaddemia dei Lincei, an organization founded for the pursuit of mathematics and natural sciences. He wrote a number of books on topics ranging from cryptography and occultism to alchemy, distillation, and phytotherapy. He died in Naples on February 4, 1615. Physiognomy, or the notion that a person's temperament and character can be deduced from the shape of his or her face or body, was first proposed by Classical Greek philosophers and physicians, and Aristotle wrote about the concept extensively. By the Renaissance, the science of physiognomy had been combined with astrology to become rather complex. Giambattista della Porta's work, De humana physiognomonia, first published in 1586, summarized the previous literature on physiognomy and attempted to make a strong case for it, along with numerous illustrations. He states, for instance, that a man with sheep-like features would have personality characteristics similar to that of a sheep, in his view a stupid and impious animal. How seriously trained physicians of the time took Porta's arguments is debatable, but physiognomy has appeared again and again in the medical literature. In the 18th century, Franz Joseph Gall (1758-1828) founded phrenology, or the science of studying character and intelligence based on the shape of a person's head. In the late 19th century, Italian physician Cesare Lombroso wrote that criminal behavior could be predicted in people with certain physical characteristics, including atavistic or ape-like features. Such images in physiognomy literature are certainly on the fringe of anatomical illustration, but Porta's text goes into great detail about the shape of the brow, the length of the nose, and the breadth of the chin. It also plays a role in the history of comparative anatomy, an enormous field in and of itself. Bookseller Inventory # 25717

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Bibliographic Details

Title: De Humana Physiognomia libri IIII Ad ...

Publisher: Vici Aequensis [Vico Equense] Iosephum Cacchium 1586

Publication Date: 1586

Binding: Hardcover

Edition: 1st Edition

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