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In ejusdem Principio Philologico promissa sive Anthropoglottogonia [Greek], Hvmanae lingvae genesis. Partis Primae Tomus Primus [all published]
Venice:: Francesco Tramontini for the author,, 1697. 4to. 4to in 8s (215 x 152 mm). [16], 184, [2] pp. Title in red and black, 8 etched illustrations including title vignette, 5 by Gio. Palazzi, one etched and several woodcut tailpieces. A few upper corners creased in quires E & F, else fine. Early 19th-century English half calf and marbled boards (rubbed, upper joint split). Provenance: Earls of Macclesfield (bookplate, blindstamps). ***& & ONLY EDITION of an eccentric and little-known treatise of comparative etymology, embellished with etched vignette illustrations. Ericus attempted in this work to prove that all languages trace their origins to Greek. Professor of philology and geography at Padua, Ericus (or Erich) was a native of Eisenach in Thuringia, as noted in his other important work on language (see below). Little is known of his life, and he is mentioned in none of the relevant bibliographies or biographical dictionaries. Only Leibniz paid him notice, having met him in Venice in 1697 and been impressed by his linguistic researches; he mentions him several times in his letters, and discusses the present work at length in the Epistolica de historia etymologica dissertatio of 1717. While rejecting most of Ericus' conclusions, Leibniz praised the thoroughness of his efforts to penetrate the origins of languages, which few etymologists had attempted.& & Even for his time, Ericus’ erudition is undeniable; in the present work he compares the syntax, morphology, phonology, semantics and metrical systems of Latin, Greek, Hebrew, English, Dutch, French, Italian, Spanish, German, Flemish, and Norwegian. Hebrew, of which the printer apparently disposed of no font, is spelled out in small roman capitals. The extraordinary challenges of printing the work were met with bravura by the Tramontini press, as is evident from the brevity of the errata list at end, filling a mere half-page.& & The "Anthropoglottogonia" represented a step forward in time and in sophistication of linguistic analysis in relation to Ericus' previous work (referred to in the title), Renatum รจ mysterio principium philologicum (Padua 1686), a treatise on the origins of alphabetical letters and sounds in which, while tracing phonemes and vowels to Adam’s naming of the animals in Eden, he set forth a basic but credible phonetic theory, distinguishing sounds made by different actions of the mouth.& & Ericus evokes the Creation theme again at the beginning of this work; the headpiece vignette opening the text (by J. de Lespier after A. Erich) shows the animals of creation flocking, flying and crawling to surround Apollo with his lyre. The remaining illustrations form a varied emblematic series. The title etching shows the Tower of Babel (a woodcut of the same subject illustrated his previous work), with caption Aedificemus; while the dedication is headed by a panorama of a besieging army with a Greek caption meaning "the infantry [Greek ta???] drives out disorder," a pun on the name of the dedicatee, Ferdinand von Thurn und Taxis. Other subjects include: beehives and a spider, illustrating the proverb "Mela apibus arancis venena" (what is honey for bees is poison for spiders); a formal garden with strolling couples and at center two men greeting each other with an embrace, illustrating two lines from plays by Plautus on the dual theme of the blending of personal identity in friendship and the confusion of exchanged identities (ego tu sum, tu es ego…); a hellish mining scene (replaced by a cancel in the Getty copy), illustrating Virgil's description of Vulcan's furnace from the Aeneid, Book 8; and a street scene with two horses, illustrating an Horatian allusion from Book 2 of the Epistles (concerning pulling hairs from horses' tails). & & OCLC & NUC locate 4 copies (NYPL, Getty, Trinity Coll. & U. Penn); Harvard also holds a copy. BL 17th-century Italian books I:319. On Leibniz's engagement with the work, cf. Sigrid von der Schulenburg, Leibniz als Sprachforscher (Frankfurt 1972), pp. 60, 82-84; and Umberto Eco, Search for the Perfect Language (Oxford 1997), p. 189. & & & &
      [Bookseller: Musinsky Rare Books, Inc.]
Last Found On: 2013-07-20           Check availability:      Biblio    

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