Thursday, January 08, 2009

Annotations in the 1482 Ulm Edition
of Ptolemy's Geographia

...once owned by Johannes Schöner

Although it is well known that Johannes Schöner owned the only surviving copy of the famous 1507 and 1516 World Maps by Martin Waldseemüller, few, if any studies have been done on the other cartographic materials found in his library. The remains of that library currently reside in the National Library of Austria and are filled with discoveries waiting to happen (there is a disseration here). One of the most interesting groups of texts that Schöner owned is a series of editions of the Geographia by Ptolemy. Schöner's copy of the 1482 Ulm edition in particular is heavily annotated and has never been adequately studied by historians of cartography.

Most of Schöner's annotations are technical and many are corrections to the text that we know, based on his inscription, he purchased in 1507. Schöner's notes are very much in line with that of Regiomontanus, who attempted to correct the early Latin translation of Ptolemy, but sadly died before finishing them. They were first published in the 1525 Pirkheimer edition.

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Regiomontanus says in relation to the Latin Geographia, in his Dialogus adverus Gerardum Creminensem in planetarum theoricas deliramenta,

–What will happen if the first copy has been rendered obscure by a careless translator, or transformed by the first starving copyist who happens along? Both of these things can be seen in the work that today is passed off as being Ptolemy’s Geographia, in which the literal structure intended by the Greek author does not correspond to the phrases written by Jacobus Angelus….
–…who mistakes the meaning of words and in which the appearance of the maps do not preserve the appearance intended by Ptolemy.

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Schöner would also try to correct Ptolemy and made annotations in all of the editions of the book that he could find. He owned the 1482, 1507, 1513 editions and a manuscript edition from 1509.

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