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ACOSTA, José de.

(1539? – 1600)

(Born: Medina del Campo, Spain, c1539; Died: Salamanca, Spain, 15 February 1600) Spanish jesuit & geographer.

Acosta, like his brother Cristobal [c1525-c1594], belonged to the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) and from 1571 to 1587 he was stationed in the West Indies and Provinzial in Peru. He learned enough of both the Aymara and Quechua languages to write a trilingual catechism in 1583. When he returned to Europe, he was for a time assigned a post in Rome, but finally returned to Spain as a rector at the Jesuit college of Salamanca. For his writings which provided detailed images of the physical and human geography of Latin America, Acosta has been called the "Pliny of the New World."

Biographical references: ABE: I 6, 295-337; 1049,329-334; II 9, 317-342; III 4, 314-432. Alvarez Lopez, E. "La filosofia natural del Padre José de Acosta", Revista de Indias, 17, (1942), 5-12. Burgaleta, C.M., José de Acosta, S.J. (1540-1600): His Life and Thought. Chicago, Loyola Press, 1999. xxxviii, 200 p. Carricido, R., El padre José de Acosta y su importancia en la literatura científica española, Madrid, 1899. Catholic Encyclopaedia. Diccionario Porrúa. DSB: 1, 48 [by G. Kish]. Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th edition. Jarcho, S., "Origin of the American Indian as suggested by Fray José de Acosta (1589)", Isis, 50, (1959), 430-8. Jöcher, Gelehrten-Lexikon, 1750-51. López Piñero, Diccionario Histórico, 1983: 1, ??. Maffei & Rua Figuera, Bibliografía Mineral, 1871-2: 1, 3-6. Mayer, Biobibliography of Medical Authors, 1941: 13. Mayerhöfer, Lexikon der Naturwissenschaften, 1958-75: 132. Nouvelle Biographie Générale (Hoefer). Picatoste, Biblioteca Científica Española, 1891. Pino-Diaz, F.d., "La renaissance et le nouveau monde: Jose d'Acosta, jésuite anthropologue (1540-1600)", Homme, 32, (1992), 309-26. Poggendorff: 1, col. 9. World Who's Who in Science: 423. Zischka, Allgemeines Gelehrten-Lexikon, 1961: 4.

Spanish editions

Historia Natvral, 1590

1. Spanish, 1590 [First edition].
Historia | Natvral | Y | Moral De Las | Indias, | En Qve Se Tratan Las Cosas | notables del cielo, y elementos, metales, plantas, y ani- | males dellas: y los ritos, y ceremonias, leyes, y | gouierno, y guerras de los Indios. | Compuesta por el Padre Ioseph de Acosta Religioso | de la Compañia de Iesus. | Dirigida A La Sereenissima | Infanti Doña Isabella Clara Eugenia de Austria. | [ornament] | Con Privilegio. | Impresso en Seuilla en casa de Iuan de Leon. | [rule] | Año de 1590.

8°: A6 χ1 B-Z8 Aa-Kk8 Ll6 Mm8 Nn10; 274l.; [1]-12, [2], 13-535, [21] p. Colophon: Hispali, | Excudebat Ioannes Leonius. | Ano, 1590.

Contents: [1-2/=A1], Title page, verso blank.; 3-4, "El Rey,"-signed Iuan Vazquez.; 5, "Yo Goncalo Davila."; 6, "Aprobacion."; 7-8, "A La Serenissima," dated March, 1590.; 9-12, `Proemio Al | Lector."; [1 pg], "Yo Christoval De Leon."-signed Christoval de Leon.; [1 pg], Errata.; 13-535, Text of 7 books, dated at the end, 21 February 1589.; [1 pg/=Ll6v], Printer's device dated 1590.; [16 pg/=Mm1r-Nn8v], Index.; [3 pg/=Nn9r-Nn10r], Table of chapters related to Gensis, with printer's device at end.; [1 pg/=Nn10v], Blank.

Rare. Acosta's most important scientific work, Historia natural y moral de las Indias contains firsthand observations on many diverse phenomena witnessed by Acosta in the New World. Included are some of the earliest descriptions of altitude sickness, the nature and use of coca, farm techniques, crops, and domesticated animals of America. Also included are descriptions of Inca and Aztec history, religious observations, folk customs, and statecraft. Acosta includes detail about Mexican ideograms and Peruvian quipu and the Inca postal system.

The text consists of 7 books of which the first two are a Spanish translation of De Natvra Nova Orbis Libri Dvo (1st ed., Salmanticæ, 1589) which was written during Acosta's stay in Perú, while the remainder of the work was written after he returned to Spain. Book 1 in 25 chapters discusses the sky, the stars, the Poles, knowledge of the ancient world of the New World, the land of Ophir, prophecies, the aborigines of the New World, Atlantis and the origin of the Indians. Book 2 in 16 chapters describes the Tropics, meteorology and biology. Book 3 in 27 chapters concerns natural history, the weather, the Ocean and its straits, Florida, rivers and land Perú, New Spain and land still unknown, volcanoes, and earthquakes. Book 4 in 42 chapters covers minerals, metals, gold and silver, the mountains of Potosí, mines, metallurgy, use of metals, precious stones, pearls, plants (chapters 16-33), cacao (chapter 22), animals (chapters 34-42). Book 5 in 31 chapters, reviews Indian ethnology, religion, superstitions, and temples in Mexico. Chapter 6 in 28 chapters describes Mexican chronology, China, Chinese and Mexican writing systems, and the Incas. Book 7 in 28 chapters is a history of Mexico.

Facsimile reprint, 1977: [In black:] Hispaniae Scientia | [rule] | José de Acosta | [in red:] Historia Natural Y Moral | De | Las Indias | [in black:] (Sevilla, Juan de León, 1590) | Introducción, apédice y antología | por | Barbara G. Beddall | [ornament] | Valencia, 1977. 8°: [1]-129, [3], 1-535, [23] p. Title page in red and black.

Contents: [1-3], Blanks.; [4], "Hispaniae Scientia."; [5], Half title page, "Historia Natural Moral De | Las Indias."; [6], Blank.; [7], Title page.; [8], "Printed in Spain."; [9], "Sumario | Contents."; [10], Blank.; [11], "El P. José De Acosta..."; 12-97, Extensive biographical introduction in Spanish with facing pages in English.; [98], Blank.; [99], "Apéndice | Appendix."; 100-107, List of plants and animals mentioned by Acosta and arranged alphabetically by their Spanish name, with English translation.; [108], Blank.; [109], "Antología | Anthology."; [110], Blank.; 111-129, "Scientific Contributions Of Father | José De Acosta."; [1 pg], Blank.; [1 pg], Sectional title page.; [1 pg], "Reproducción ..."; [Pages, 1-535, facsimilie reproduction of the 1590 edition.].; [1 pg], Reprint information.; [1 pg], Blank.

A modern facsimile reprint with an extensive biographical and historical introduction, appendix, and anthology in Spanish and English.

Bibliographical references: BL [146.a.3.]. Maffei & Rua Figuera, Bibliografía Mineral, 1871-2: 1, 3-6, no. 13. Mayer, Biobibliography of Medical Authors, 1941: no. 84.1. NUC. Picatoste, Biblioteca Científica Española, 1891: no. 10. Roller & Goodman, Catalogue, 1976: 1, 9. Sabin, Dictionary, 1868-1936: no. 121.

2. Spanish, 1591 [2nd edition].
Historia natural y moral de las Indias .... Barcelona, a Costa de Lelio Marini, Vaneciana, 1591.

8°: 345, [29]l. Very scarce.

Bibliographical references: BL [978.a.13.].

3. Spanish, 1608 [3rd edition].
Historia natural y moral de las Indias, en que se tratan las Cosas notables del cielo, y elementos, metales, plantas, y animales dellas: y los ritos, y ceremonias, leyes, y govierno, y guerras de los Indios. Madrid: Alonso Martin, 1608.

8°: [1]-535, [41] p.

Very scarce. Sabin 121; JCB II:50; Brunet I, 41; Delgado-Gomez, Spanish Historical writing about the New World 44; Streeter Sale 32 (first English ed.).Preceded by the first edition of 1590 and two editions of 1591, this is the first Madrid edition of the most imporant early source of information on the native Indians of Mexico and Peru.

Bibliographical references: BL [978.k.6.].

4. Spanish, 1792 [6th edition].
Historia Natural y Moral de las Indias, en que se tratan las cosas notables del Cielo, elementos, metales, plantas y animales de ellas; y los ritos, ceremonias, leyes, gobierno y guerras de los Indios ... Madrid, P. Aznar, 1792.

2 vols. [Vol 1] 4°: [xxii], 306 p. [Vol 2] 4°: [xii], 252 p.

Very scarce. Sabin: "This is the best Spanish edition."

Bibliographical references: BL [9551.f.3.]. Palau, Manual, 1948-77: no. 1983.

Italian edition

5. Italian, 1596 [Italian transl.].
Historia | Natvrale, e Morale | delle Indie; | Scritta | Dal. R.P. Gioseffo di Acosta | Della Compagnia del Giesù; | Nellaquale si Trattano le Cose Notabili del Cielo, & de gli | Elementi, Metalli, Piante, & Animali di quelle: | i fuoiriti, & ceremonie: Leggi, & gouerni, | guerre degli Indiani. | Nouamente tradotta della lingua Spagnuola nella Italiani | Da Gio. Paolo Galvcci Salodiano | Academico Veneto. | Con Privilegii. | In Venetia, | Presso Bernardo Basa, All 'insegna del Sole, M,D,XCVI.

4°: [48] p., 173 numb.l

Very scarce. Translated by Giovanni Paolo Gallucci [see note below] from Historia Natural y Moral de las Indias (Madrid, 1590). The is the only Italian version, printed with the type of Aldus.

Giovanni Paolo Gallucci. (Born: Salo near Brescia, Italy, 1538; Died: 1631?) Italian astronomer. The Italian Gallucci was a renowned astronomer whose contributions, especially in the field of astronomical insturments, greatly advanced the scientific knowledge of the 16th and 17th centuries.

Bibliographical references: BL [T 39893.]. Mayer, Biobibliography of Medical Authors, 1941: no. 84.4. NUC. Sabin, Dictionary, 1868-1936: no. 124. Wellcome Catalog (Books): 1, no. 22. (Gallucci) Biographie Universelle. Dizionario Biografico Italiani. Jöcher, Gelehrten-Lexikon, 1750-51. Nouvelle Biographie Générale (Hoefer). Poggendorff: 1, cols. 838-9. WBI.

English edition

6. English, 1604 [English transl.].
The | Naturall | and Morall Historie of the | East and West | Indies. | Intreating of the Remarkeable things of Heaven, of the | Elements, Mettalls, Plants and Beasts which are pro- | per to the Country: together with the Manners, | Ceremonies, Lawes, Governements, and Warres of the Indians. | Written in Spanish by Ioseph Acosta, and translated | into English by E.G. | [ornament] | London, Printed by Val. Sims for Edward Blount and William | Aspley, 1604.

8°: A4 B-Z8 Aa-Pp8 a-b4 (b4 blank); 307l.; [8], 1-590 (i.e., 592), [16] p., title vignette, ornamental initials and head- and tailpieces, (misprinting 45 for 47, 48 for 50, 178 for 179, 179 as 178, 189-373 as 187-371, 376-377 as 374-375 and 380-592 as 378-590). Page size: 188 x 134 mm.

Contents: A1, Blank.; A2r, Title page.; A2v, Blank.; A3r, Dedication.; A3v-A4v, Advertisements.; 1-590 (i.e., 592/=B1r-Pp8v), Text.; a1r-b3r, Index.; b3v, Errata.; b4, Blank.

Rare. Translation attributed to Edward Grimeston [see note below] from Historia Natural y Moral de las Indias (Madrid, 1590). This well known work is here for the first and only time translated into English.

Edward Grimston. (Born: 1528?; Died: 1599) English bureaucrat. Grimston studied at Gonville Hall, Cambridge and was appointed comptroller of Calais. After the capture of Calais by Guise he escaped in 1599 from Bastille to London. He was then appointed Muster-Master of the north in 1560. In 1563, he was elected a Member of Parliament. He was also employed as a spy by France.

Bibliographical references: Cox, Guide to the Literature of Travel, 1948-50: 2, 254. Hoover Collection: no. 9. Mengel, Catalogue of the Ellis Collection, 1972-83: 1, 4, no. 9. NUC. Sabin, Dictionary, 1868-1936: no. 131. (Grimston) BBA: I 489, 439-442. DNB. WBI.

Dutch editions

7. Dutch, 1598 [Dutch transl., 1st edition].
Historie Naturael | ende Morael van de We- | stersche Indien: | Waer inne ghehandelt wordt van de | merckelijckste dinghen des Hemels, Elementen, | Metalen, Planten ende Ghedierten van dien: als oock | de Manieren, Ceremonien, Wetten, Regeeringen | ende Oorloghen der Indianen. | Ghecomponeert door Iosephum de | Acosta, der Jesuitscher Oorden: | Ende nu eerstmael uyt den Spaenschen in onser | Nederduytsche tale overgheset: door Ian Huyghen | van Linschoten. | [ornament] | Tot Enchuysen, | By Jacob Lenaertsz. Meyn. Boeckvercooper, | woonende op den hoeck van de Kerck brugghe, | int Schrijfboeck. Anno 1598.

8°: a4 A-Ddd8; 404l.; [7], 1-389, [8]l., no pagination. Text in black letter with chapter heads and names in Roman. Colophon: "Ghedruckt t'Haerlem, | By Gillis Rooman, woo- | nende in de Jacobijne-strate, | in de vergulde Parsse. | Anno 1598."

Contents: a1r, Title page.; a1v, Privilege, dated 8 October 1594.; a2r-a4r, Translator's preface to the senate of Enkhuizen, dated 1 May 1598.; a4v-A1v, Epigrams to the translator.; A2r-A3r, Preface of Acosta to the reader.; A3v, Two poems.; Folios 1r-213r, Text of Books, 1-4.; Folios 213v-214r, Preface to books 5-7.; Folios 214v-389r, Text of Books, 5-7.; Ccc8v-Ddd7v, Index.; Ddd8r, Errata.; Ddd8v, Blank.

Scarce. Translation by J.H. van Linschoten [see note below] of Historia Natural y Moral de las Indias (Madrid, 1590).

Jan Hugo van Linschoten. (Born: Haarlem, The Netherlands, 1563; Died: Enckhuysen, The Netherlands, 1611) Dutch seafarer. Linschoten went to Goa in 1583, and remained there several years in the service of Archbishop Fonseca. After his return, he published in 1596 a popular account of his voyage, which is said to be reliable.

Bibliographical references: Mayer, Biobibliography of Medical Authors, 1941: no. 84.6. NUC. Sabin, Dictionary, 1868-1936: no. 126. (Linschoten) ADB. BAB: 412, 348-374. Biografisch Woordenboek Nederland. DBA: I 769, 371. Nouvelle Biographie Générale (Hoefer). Poggendorff: 1, cols. 1470-1. Thomas, Dictionary of Biography, 1884: 1436. WBI.

8. Dutch, 1624 [Dutch transl., 2nd edition].
Historie Naturael en Morael | van de Westersche Indien. | Waer inne ghehandelt wort van de merckelijckste dinghen | des Hemels, Elementen, Metalen, Planten ende Gedierten | van dien: als oock de Manieren, Ceremonien, Wetten, Regeeringen ende Oorlogen der Indianen. | Ghecomponeert door Iosephum de Acosta, der | Iesuytscher Oorden: Uyt den Spaenschen in onse Nederduytsche tale overgheset: | Door Ian Huyghen van Linschoten. | De tweede Editie | [ornament] | t'Amsterdam, | By Broer, Iansz. op de nieu-zijds achter Burgh-wal inde Silvere Kan, 1624.

4°: [8] p., 177 numb. l., [6] p., 13 text woodcuts. Very scarce.

French editions

9. French, 1598 [French transl., 1st edition].
Histoire | Natvrelle | et Moralle | des Indes, tant Orientalles | qu' Occidentalles. | Où il est traité des choses remarquables du Ciel, | des Elémens, Métaux, Plantes & Animaux | qui sont propres de ces pais. Ensemble des | mœurs, cérémonies, loix, gouuernmens & guerres des mesme Indiens. | Composée en Castilan par Ioseph Acosta, & | traduite en François par Robert | Regnault Cauxois | .Dedié av Roy. | A Paris, | Chez Marc Orry, M.D.XCVIII.

16°: [16], 375 p., table, 17l.

Scarce. Translation by Robert Regnault, a Minorite, from Historia natural y moral de las Indias (Sevilla, 1590).

Bibliographical references: Mayer, Biobibliography of Medical Authors, 1941: no. 84.5. Sabin, Dictionary, 1868-1936: no. 125.

10. French, 1600 [French transl., 2nd edition].
Histoire naturelle et moralle des Indes, tant orientalles qu' occidentalles, ou il est traicte des choses remarkquables du ciel, des elemens, metaux, plantes & animaux qui sont propres de ces pais; ensemble des moeurs, ceremonies, loix, gouvernemens & guerres des mesmes indiens. Derniere ed., reveue & corrigee de nouveau. .... Paris, Marc Orry, 1600.

16°: [7]l., 375 f., [17]l. Very scarce.

Bibliographical references: Mayer, Biobibliography of Medical Authors, 1941: no. 84.7.

11. French, 1606 [French transl., 3rd edition].
Histoire natvrelle et moralle des Indies, tant Orientalles qu'Occidentalles. Ou il est traitte des choses remarquables du ciel, des elemens, metaux, plantes & animaux qui sont propres de ce pais. Ensemble des moeurs, ceremonies, loix, gouuernemens, & guerres des mesmes Indiens. Composee en castillan par Ioseph Acosta, & traduite en francois par Robert Regnault, Cauxois. Derniere ed., reueue & cor. de nouueau. Paris, M. Orry, M.DCVI.

8°: [16], 352 (i.e., 354) numb.l., [36] p. Very scarce.

Bibliographical references: NUC. Wheeler Catalogue: 77.

12. French, 1616 [French transl., 4th edition].
Histoire Natvrelle et Morale des Indes, tant Orientales, qu' Occidentales ... Composee en Castillan ... & traduicte en François par Robert Regnavld Cauxois. Derniere edition, reveue, et corrigee de nouveau. A Paris, Chez Adrian Tiffaine, 1616.

8°: [8], 375, [16]l. Woodcut initials and headpieces. Very scarce.

Bibliographical references: BM/STC French: 99. Hoover Collection: no. 9. Wellcome Catalog (Books): 1, no. 24. Wood, Literature of Vertebrate Zoology, 1931: p. 178.