Incunabula and the Keio University Library Collection


Marcus Manilius. Astronomicon (Nuremberg: Johann Müller of Königsberg (Regiomontanus), [1473-74])


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Manilius, a Roman poet, was a shadowy figure; he is sometimes said to have been a freed slave of Syrian origin, but the details of his life are unknown. Astronomicon is the only known work ascribed to Manilius. The text indicates that the author lived in Rome under Emperor Augustus (reigned 27 BCE-14 CE) or Tiberius (14-37 CE). The work is a kind of science poem on the astrology of the zodiac and the constellations, written in an age when astronomy and astrology had not yet been distinguished from one another. Although early manuscripts of this work have been lost, a number of variant texts have survived. The work consists of five books, but the last one is seemingly unfinished.

Although the colophon gives no date of printing, it clearly states that this edition was printed by Regiomontanus (1436-76; for biographical ddetails, see IKUL 024). This edition was printed from a manuscript exemplar independent of that followed by the 1474 Bologna edition.

The text is printed in thirty lines using roman type. Roman type was first used by Sweynheym and Pannartz in Italy in 1465, and had gradually come into use among German printers. Being in verse, the text is spaciously set, but some traditional abbreviations and contractions have still been used: for example, the letters 'et' is always spelled '&', even when it appears in the middle of a word. The first letters of each line are capitalized, but the line beginnings are not perfectly well justified.

A beautiful woodcut, in which a white letter is surrounded by arabesque patterns on a black background, decorates the nine-line initial at the beginning of each book. These woodcut initials are very close copies of those used by Sweynheym and Pannartz at their printing house in Rome in 1471. Two- or three-line spaces have been reserved for initials with printed guide-letters in the centre. No signature or catchword has been printed. The paper has a large watermark of a bull's head with a cross.

In the Keio copy, several pages have been repaired where they were torn, but the text remains intact. There is a pencilled foliation at the bottom right corner of each recto page, but fol. 50 is wrongly numbered as '49' and the subsequent leaves are correspondingly incorrectly numbered. Consequently, the final leaf is foliated '71', but it is actually fol. 72; therefore, this is a complete copy. No manuscript annotation remains, and the spaces reserved for initials remain blank. It is bound in nineteenth-century green morocco with gilt panels on both covers, which have gilt edges.

  マルクス・マニリウス『占星術または天の聖なる学』有田忠郎 訳 (東京: 白水社, 1993)



Manilius, Marcus
Place of Publication
Johann Müller of Königsberg (Regiomontanus)


Date of Publication

19th-century green morocco binding, with gilt panels on both sides, gilded title, all edges gilded.

Bibliographical Notes

72 leaves; some ornamental woodcut initial capitals; spaces for initials with guide-letters.

Goff M202, H 10703*, BMC II 456, IJL2 265
Acquisition Year