Aritmetica Prattica... tradotta da Latino in Italiano dal Signor Lorenzo Castellano patritio Romano. Reuista dal medesimo padre Clauio con alcun e aggiunte. Rome, heirs of Nicolo Muzio, 1602

CLAVIUS Christopher (1602)


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Woodcut Jesuit device to title-page, initials, tail-piece, and typographical decoration; tables and simple woodcut diagrams.

8vo (162 x 110mm). [16], 281, [15] pp. Contemporary Spanish? vellum over pasteboards, ink lettering on spine, ties.  

A fascinating copy with important Jesuit associations, being a gift from the author, the famous mathematician Christopher Clavius, to his student Ivan Vreman who would also become a gifted mathematician and a missionary in Macao.

Christopher Clavius (1538-1612), a German Jesuit from Bamberg, taught mathematics at the Collegium Romanum for decades and published textbooks of great influence: his Euclid was translated into Chinese by Matteo Ricci and used in China. Epitome arithmeticae practicae had originally been composed for internal use in the Collegium and goes back to before 1580. The Latin text was published first in 1583 and it would seem that the translator Castellani, a pupil of Clavius, was intimately connected with it from the beginning as he had urged its publication to the wider world (see note in Baldini (2003) p. 71). 

The Italian translation of his textbook, intended to bring the work to an even wider readership, was published in 1586 in Rome. This is the second revised edition and is rare with copies located by OCLC in UK/USA only found at Cambridge, Brown, Columbia, and Duke. There were further editions, 1613, 1618, 1626 (Rome) with a number of Venetian editions up to 1738. Castellani explains that he has on occasion and for clarity slightly expanded the text. Various works by Clavius made their way to China and were translated into Chinese. In a letter to the Jesuit General Acquaviva dated 22 August 1608 Matteo Ricci writes that this little work on practical arithmetic has already been translated into Chinese and reached Beijing where they wish to print it. Ricci had already read and expounded it to Li Zhizao and in 1613 it was published with the title Tongwen suanzhi [Arithmetic Guidance in the Common Language], (M. Ricci, Lettere (1580-1609) ed. P. Corradini, F. D’Arelli etc., Macerata: Quodlibet, 2001, p. 491 and note 5); it was the first mathematical book to introduce Western written calculations into China. In an earlier letter to Clavius himself 25 December 1597 from Nanchang, ** Ricci speaks of Clavius’ book on the astrolabe which he had received in 1596 molto bello ligato nella India’ and which had caused quite a stir amongst men of learning (op.cit p. 352). 

**During the reign of the Wanli Emperor of the Ming dynasty, Nanchang housed relatives of the emperor who had been exiled because they were potential claimants of the imperial throne. They constituted a quarter of the city's population. For this reason, 
Matteo Ricci came here when trying to gain entry to Beijing. (Mary Laven, Mission to China: Matteo Ricci and the Jesuit Encounter with the East, 2011, p. 103).

The translator Castellani was the author of Responsio ad expostulationem Francisci Vietae contra C. Clavium, Rome: Ziletti, 1603, a short tract of 18pp. (plus title leaf) reprinted with other works on the calendar at the end of volume 5 of the Mainz 1612 edition of Clavius Opera). Of this pamphlet there is a copy inscribed by Clavius (in the same hand as has inscribed this volume) to Philippus Fuester in Vienna (ONB 72.J.44(5)).

Provenance: This copy is inscribed as a gift of the author Clavius to an identifiable pupil in Rome, a Croatian called Ivan Vreman or Ureman. Vreman was from Split and came to Rome in 1600 where in February 1600 he joined the Jesuits. A student at the Collegio Romano between 1602 and 1607, he was 1607/8 a member of Clavius’ Academy of Mathematics along with fathers Giulio Aleni, a celebrated figure in China, and Lembo (Baldini p.74). He was also a keen astronomer as can be seen from correspondence with the Italian astronomer Giovanni Magini, in which he described his observation of a lunar eclispe on the night of January 19/20, 1609, together with his professors Clavius and Grienberger.Later in that year he departed for Lisbon, point of departure for China, but did not actually leave for the East until 1615. In 1614-15 he offered private tuition in mathematics in the college at Lisbon.

In May 1615 he left for Goa and while on the journey he observed lunar eclipses, systematically measured and determined magnetic declinations, determined the differences between European and Asian time and the positions of places from Goa to Macau. A fragment of the letter containing his results was published by Athanasius Kircher in 1643.

In 1616 arrived at Macau where he seems to have taught mathematics and other subjects until 1620/21 when he was sent into the interior of China in late 1619. Whilst there he also translated from Portuguese into Italian and Latin material for the Litterae annuae. Vreman, who had poor health in China, died at Nanchang 22 April 1620 but his body was taken 500 miles North to Nanjing for burial later. 

The volume is in a contemporary (probably Spanish) binding and has an early 17th century Spanish provenance of the Marqués of Jarandilla. This marquisate was created in March 1599 by Philip III of Spain. In 1619 the 6th count of Oropesa, Fernando Alvarez Toledo Portugal (1597-1621) received the title and became the first Marqués de Jarandilla. His father, Eduardo de Braganza (1569-1627) 1st Marquis of Frechilla and Villarramiel, had married Beatriz Alvarez de Toledo, heir to the count of Oropesa and her name was keptAs chance would have it, Vreman seems to have taught for a year or two at the college at Oropesa in the province of Toledo, when he was on his way to Lisbon. This Colegio de San Bernardo had been founded in 1578 by Francisco Álvarez de Toledo (1515-82) Viceroy of Peru 1569-1581, who gave a substantial sum for the foundation of the library there (see Kathleen M Comerford Jesuit Libraries, Leiden: Brill, 2022 p. 9). 

A little browned and foxed but generally fresh; some worming in blank space at bottom of last leaf.

De Backer-Sommervogel III, 1215-1216; Riccardi I, 288-289, ii, 111. Smith, Rara Arithmetica (4th edn.), pp. 378-379. OCLC (UK/USA only Cambridge, Brown, Columbia, and Duke).

Ugo Baldini ‘The Academy of Mathematics of the Collegio Romano from 1553 to 1612’ in Feingold, M, editor, Jesuit Science and the Republic of Letters (Cambridge Mass., MIT Press, 2003, esp. p.74) and the long note on Vreman on p.97..

Stock Code: 250002

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