The first illustrated Strabo: the Arabian Gulf, and all the country of the tent-dwellers and the Sheikh-governed tribes

Strabo. [Strabonos geographikon bibloi hepta kai deka]. Strabonis rerum geographicarum libri septemdecim.

Basel, Heinrich Petri, (August) 1571.

Folio (230 x 327 mm). (116), 977, (3) pp. Printed in Greek and Latin parallel columns throughout. With 27 double-page woodcut maps (3 repeats), 7 smaller maps in the text, woodcut printer's device on verso of final leaf, and several initials. Contemp. blindstamped leather.

First printing of this edition, the first illustrated Strabo. Greek and Latin parallel text by Wilhelm Xylander (whose learned notes are appended to each book); a Latin-only edition was published at Basel the same year. Except for the world maps and the eighth map of Asia with its Scythian monsters, now deemed to fantastic for a scientific publication, this includes all the 'old' Ptolemaic maps from Sebastian Münster's Ptolemy editions published by Petri, newly arranged and distributed throughout the work within the respective chapters (cf. Hieronymus, p. 428).

Strabo had visited Egypt and sailed up the Nile in 25 BC. Even in the introductory chapters, the author provides important details on the Arabian Peninsula: "Adjoining the Ethiopians, a needy and nomad race, is Arabia: one part of which is distinguished above all other lands by the title of Felix [i.e., Hedjaz and Nejd-ed-Ared], and the other, though not dignified by that name, is both generally believed and also said to be pre-eminently blessed. Though Homer knew of Arabia Felix, at that time it was by no means wealthy, but a wild country, the inhabitants of which dwelt for the most part in tents. It is only a small district which produces the aromatics from which the whole territory afterwards received its name, owing to the rarity of the commodity amongst us, and the value set upon it. That the Arabians are now flourishing and wealthy is due to their vast and extended trade" (bk. 1, p. 36f.); "Arabia Felix is bounded by the entire Arabian and Persian Gulfs, together with all the country of the tent-dwellers and the Sheikh-governed tribes. [...] Beside the ocean the country is tolerably fitted for habitation of man, but not so the centre of the country: this for the most part is barren, rugged sand desert. The same applies to the country of the Troglodytic Arabians and the part occupied by the fish-eating tribes" (bk. 2, p. 131f.) Furthermore, books 15 and 16 are devoted entirely to the Orient (bk. 16 is on Arabia in particular), while the final book 17 discusses Egypt and Libya.

Among the fine roll-tools decorating this binding (dated 1580 and monogrammed "MHF") is a well-preserved Bible roll dated 1550. Contemp. note on the author on front pastedown. Provenance: near-contemporary ownership "Sum ex libris Philippi Scheele Pomerani" on title page; by descent to his nephew (?) Johann Scheele (d. 1641), landlord of Neklade near Bergen on Rügen island and known for his large library, with his early 17th century ownerships "Jean Scheele", "Ex bibliotheca Jeans Scheelen", and "Johan Scheelen mp". Some browning and brownstaining due to paper; slight waterstaining; occasional Greek marginalia. Slight edge defects to first few leaves.

VD 16, S 9345. Adams S 1907. BM-STC German 834. Hieronymus, GG 290. Hoffmann III, 454. Schweiger I, 303. Dibdin II, 433. Moss II, 620. Ebert 21807. Cf. Macro 2148 (only later English translations).