3.01 Paragallo 1705

Gaspare Paragallo, Istoria naturale del monte Vesuvio divisata in due libri, Naples 1705

Be 4015-3050/1-2 raro IV

Gaspare Paragallo’s Istoria naturale is one of the first works to attempt to offer, through a broad and systematic treatment, an exhaustive explanation of the eruptive activity of Vesuvius. Little is known about the author, a Neapolitan jurist, and we know only one other work by him, Ragionamento intorno alla cagione de’ tremuoti, published in 1689 in the wake of the horror and debates aroused by the earthquake of Sannio the previous year. His interest in Vesuvius was aroused by the violent eruption that began on 6 April 1694, which led him to make frequent “visits” to the volcano. The treatise was published by the printer Giacomo Raillard, is dedicated to the aristocrat and officer Alfonso De Cárdenas and is preceded by an address to the reader (“Al Lettore”) by Carlo Susanna and by an epigram in Latin. In the first book, starting with a description of the site and its antiquities, the author retraces the history of the eruptions up to that of 1694, then launches into conjectures about the volcanic cavities and analyses of the minerals erupted. In the second book, after presenting the opinions of philosophers and naturalists on the reasons for the eruptions, he sets out his own ideas on the phenomena associated with them: sounds, smoke, earthquakes, etc. Finally, he dedicates a paragraph to predictions, signs and omens linked to the eruptions and the epidemics that were traditionally associated with them. [DC]

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