Italian Paleography


Chicago, Newberry Library, Case folio L 0114.703
Notes in Giambattista della Porta’s Magiae naturalis
Italy, after 1589

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This manuscript page is tipped into the last pages of the Magiae naturalis (Natural Magic), written in Latin by the Neapolitan philosopher and scholar Giambattista della Porta (1535-1615). Magiae naturalis was initially published in Naples in 1558, but this book represents the successful second expanded edition of 1589, which was translated into many languages, including Italian. The text examines w scientific phenomena and defines how magic can be the key to understanding nature’s secrets. Porta’s passion for science led to his foundation of the Accademia dei Segreti, also known as the Academy of the Mysteries of Nature, which one could join only by presenting new discoveries about natural phenomena.

On the last page of this book an unknown author wrote 24 lines of notes in response to what they were reading in della Porta’s text. The handwritten page is not a unified but rather reads as a random series of disconnected notes. It makes references to antiquity in Rome, stating “as you see the in Ara Pacis” and names special esoteric qualities of different animals (pig, wolf, ox, donkey). It thus demonstrates the spontaneous response of one early modern reader.


Italica usuale piuttosto disarticolata resa meno leggibile dall’uso di una penna tagliata grossa.
Da notare: la d corsiva con asta raddoppiata che lega a destra (r. 4: indovinello); la e con occhiello grande e tagliato obliquamente (33, r. 3: decapitato); la s sempre di forma maiuscola con le anse appena accennate (r. 1: lessi); il legamento ch (r. 20: ch(e)).

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Item fully digitized here.