"De revolutionibus orbium coelestium", books VI
M IV 12785
This first edition of "De revolutionibus" has a unique story: in 1543, the year of Copernicus' death, the book was published in a limited number of copies, from 400 to 500 copies. Owen Gingerich, professor of astronomy at Harvard University, studied the Nuremberg first editions and the Basel second editions for over 30 years, failing to view, during the survey of the 18 specimens preserved in Italy, the one owned by the Palatine Library, which at the end of the seventies it was missing from the shelf.
The element that makes the Parma volume unique is the insertion, in the opening pages, of a handwritten poem, which seems to have been commissioned by Retico to his elderly colleague Camerario, a distinguished classicist of the 16th century who dabbled in writing verses Greek-language dedicatees for school books. The Parma specimen was found in January 2000 by the Command of the Carabinieri for the protection of Cultural Heritage (TPC), precisely thanks to the particularity of the Greek composition, which can be interpreted as a new introduction, to be inserted in place of the misleading one by Osiander, which hid the real content of the treaty.
The poem is written in the form of a dialogue between a philosopher and a foreigner who urges the former to present the book; what emerges is the description of an innovative text full of incalculable knowledge, which deals with the celestial motions and the Earth, which in the Copernican revolution rotates in the sky around the Sun, fire of the Universe.