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On Discovery

On Discovery

Polydore Vergil

Edited and translated by Brian P. Copenhaver

ISBN 9780674007895

Publication date: 06/30/2002

The Italian humanist Polydore Vergil (1470-1555) was born in Urbino but spent most of his life in early Tudor England. His most popular work, On Discovery (De inventoribus rerum, 1499), was the first comprehensive account of discoveries and inventions written since antiquity. Thirty Latin editions of this work were published in Polydore's lifetime, and by the eighteenth century more than a hundred editions had appeared in eight languages, including Russian. On Discovery became a key reference for anyone who wanted to know about "firsts" in theology, philosophy, science, technology, literature, language, law, material culture, and other fields. Polydore took his information from dozens of Greek, Roman, biblical, and Patristic authorities. His main point was to show that many Greek and Roman claims for discovery were false and that ancient Jews or other Asian peoples had priority. This is the first English translation of a critical edition based on the Latin texts published in Polydore Vergil's lifetime.

Praise

  • Brian Copenhaver's edition and translation of the first three books of the De inventoribus rerum (1499) of the humanist Polydore Vergil is especially useful because of its copious annotations...Copenhaver's translation helps in reminding us that most Renaissance writers were bricoleurs rather than scholars, and compendia like that of Polydore Vergil most certainly had a greater currency in Renaissance culture than less readable works such as Perotti's Cornucopiae or Guillaume Budi's De asse et partibus.

    —W. Scott Blanchard, Renaissance Quarterly

Author

  • Brian P. Copenhaver is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Philosophy and History at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he directed the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, editor of History of Philosophy Quarterly, past president of the Journal of the History of Philosophy, and on the boards of Harvard’s I Tatti Renaissance Library and the Italian Istituto Nazionale di Studi sul Rinascimento. He has received fellowships from the Guggenheim and Getty foundations and has authored many books, including Hermetica, The Book of Magic, and Magic in Western Culture.

Book Details

  • 752 pages
  • 5-1/4 x 8 inches
  • Harvard University Press

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