4.01 Cavalli 1769

Atanagio Cavalli, Il Vesuvio. Poemetto storico-fisico con annotazioni, Milan 1769

Be 4015-3690 raro III

The Poemetto storico-fisico (‘Historical-physical poem’) by Atanagio (also Anastasio) Cavalli, an astronomer and poet from Piedmont, is one of the literary texts on Vesuvius shown in the exhibition, with the 1769 edition (editio princeps: 1767) on display. The interest of the work lies in the combination of literature and basic historical or scientific knowledge. The lyrical text is divided into two cantos (pp. 1-49), in which, among other things, the destructive power of the volcano is described, followed by a long section with notes on the places, people, texts and objects mentioned (pp. 50-157). At the end of this section, there is also a long chronological list with all known eruptions from antiquity to the eighteenth century, with precise reference to the sources used (such as Pliny’s letters, cf. p. 89). The wealth of information, enriched by quotations, dates and the like, testifies to the extensive research undertaken by the author. Originally, the book had two engravings, which are missing in the copy of the Bibliotheca Hertziana. They show a map of the Bay of Naples and a view of Vesuvius during the eruption. The digitised copy at the ETH Zurich allows the complete book to be viewed. [HS]

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