Polydore Vergil on Discovery

Polydore Vergil on Discovery

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Description

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 18th 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 an English translation of a critical edition based on the Latin texts published in Polydore Vergil's lifetime.

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Product details

  • Hardback | 704 pages
  • 140 x 202 x 68mm | 861.84g
  • HARVARD UNIVERSITY PRESS
  • Cambridge, Mass, United States
  • English, Latin
  • Bilingual edition
  • Bilingual
  • Ill.
  • 0674007891
  • 9780674007895
  • 883,563

Review quote

[Polydore Vergil] brought a keen sense of ambiguity to his breakthrough book--a vast study of inventions that went through thirty editions in Latin in his lifetime. As Brian Copenhaver shows in the introduction to his superb edition of Vergil's complex, learned book, "On Discovery," some ancient authorities denounced human inventions as a source of corruption; others saw them as a continual source of improvement in the human condition..."On Discovery," as Copenhaver shows, had a profound and lasting impact. It proved to be one of the principal channels through which the antiquarian methods of the fifteenth century reached the ethnographers and historians of religion of the next two centuries.--Anthony T. Grafton"New York Review of Books" (10/05/2006)

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About Polydore Vergil

Brian P. Copenhaver is Professor of History and Philosophy and Provost at UCLA. He is the coauthor of Renaissance Philosophy and editor and translator of Hermetica.

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