Polydore Vergil on Discovery

Polydore Vergil on Discovery

By (author) Polydore Vergil , Edited by Brian P. Copenhaver , Translated by Brian P. Copenhaver

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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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  • Hardback | 704 pages
  • 140 x 202 x 68mm | 861.84g
  • 30 Jun 2002
  • HARVARD UNIVERSITY PRESS
  • Cambridge, Mass
  • English, Latin
  • Bilingual edition
  • Bilingual
  • Ill.
  • 0674007891
  • 9780674007895
  • 820,968

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Author Information

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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Review quote

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" (07/01/2005)

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