3.03 Serao 1740

Francesco Serao, Istoria dell’incendio del Vesuvio accaduto nel mese di maggio dell’anno MDCCXXXVII: scritta per l’Accademia delle Scienze. Seconda edizione riveduta ed accresciuta di alquante annotazioni, Naples 1740

Be 4015-3380/a raro III

The work is a re-edition of the treatise on the Vesuvian eruption of 1737, the editio princeps of which had been published in 1738 by Novello de Bonis in both Italian and Latin. A professor of anatomy and medicine, as well as personal physician to the rulers of Naples, Francesco Serao (1702-1783) was one of the leading personalities of the Neapolitan scientific environment of his time, considered one of the pioneers of modern volcanology.

Compared to the first edition, this one has a few minor additions, including a dedication to the court steward Raffaello Tarasconi Smeraldi. The internal structure is the same, divided into seven chapters that aim to present the succession of eruptive events that took place in May 1737, paying particular attention to the material elements that the scholar had been able to observe first-hand (lava, minerals, ash and stones). At the end of the volume there were two intaglio illustrations, one showing an elevation and the other a section of Vesuvius. Unfortunately, this copy was deprived of both plates, which must have been like the ones in the digitised copy in the ETH Zurich Library. Serao’s treatise had a particular resonance in Europe, as evidenced by two editions translated into French (Histoire du mont Vésuve, Paris, 1741, of which two copies are kept in the Bibliotheca Hertziana’s library) and English (The natural history of Mount Vesuvius, London, 1743). [MV]

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