Letters on Natural Philosophy

The Scientific Correspondence of a Sixteenth-Century Pharmacist, with Related Texts

Camilla Erculiani

Letters on Natural Philosophy

Camilla Erculiani

Distributed for Iter Press

Edited by Eleonora Carinci
Translated by Hannah Marcus
With a Foreword by Paula Findlen
201 pages | 11 color plates | 6 x 9
Paper $41.95 ISBN: 9781649590022 Will Publish July 2021
In her Letters on Natural Philosophy, published originally in Krakow in 1584, Camilla Erculiani proposed her new theory of the natural causes of the universal flood in the biblical book of Genesis. Erculiani weaves together her understanding of Aristotelian, Platonic, Galenic, and astrological traditions and combines them with her own observations of the world as seen from her apothecary shop in sixteenth-century Padua. This publication brought Erculiani to the attention of the Inquisition, which accused her of heresy, silencing her for centuries.

 This edition presents the first full English translation of Erculiani’s book and other relevant texts, bringing to light the cultural context and scientific thought of this unique natural philosopher.


Foreword: Aristotle in the Pharmacy: The Ambitions of Camilla Erculiani in Sixteenth-Century Padua, by Paula Findlen

Introduction: Camilla Erculiani, a Woman and a Natural Philosopher, by Eleonora Carinci, translated by Hannah Marcus

Note on the Translation, by Hannah Marcus

Camilla Erculiani, Letters on Natural Philosophy, translated by Hannah Marcus
To Philosophers
To the Most Serene Queen Anna, Queen of Poland, Grand Duchess of Lithuania, etc.
To Readers
By Andreas Schonaeus of Glogów, A Song of Praise
To the Most Excellent Signor Georges Guarnier, in which is discussed the natural cause of the Flood and the natural temperament of man
Letter from the Most Excellent Signor Georges Guarnier to Signora Camilla Herculiana, in which is discussed the denial of the Flood
Letter from Camilla Herculiana to the most excellent Signor Georges Guarnier, in which is discussed the truth of the Flood and the natural formation and appearance of the rainbow
To the magnificent and most excellent Signor Knight, the Signor Martin of Berzeviczy, Transylvanian Chancellor of the holy majesty of the invincible King Stephen of Poland

Sebastiano Erizzo, Letters to Camilla Erculiani, translated by Hannah Marcus

Giacomo Menochio, Consilium 766: In Defense of Camilla Erculiani, translated by Hannah Marcus


Review Quotes
Meredith Ray, University of Delaware
“This edition and translation of the Letters on Natural Philosophy of the sixteenth-century pharmacist Camilla Erculiani makes an important contribution to the history of science, Italian literary history, and the study of early modern women and gender. The critical introduction discusses Erculiani’s biography and the world of the apothecary, while the contextualization of the ideas Erculiani engages with and challenges demonstrates the editor’s deep grasp of the texts that follow. Those texts include not only Erculiani’s letters, but also letters of the Venetian thinker Sebastiano Erizzo, which help make the case for Erculiani’s real correspondence with other philosophers, and the Consilium of jurist Giacomo Menochio, which highlights the precariousness of the intellectual territory into which Erculiani wandered.”
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