Porta, Giambattista della


De humana physiognomonia . . . libri IIII: qui ab extimis, quae in hominum corporibus conspiciuntur signis, ita eorum naturas, mores & consilia (egregiis ad vivum expressis iconibus) demonstrant, ut intimos animi recessus penetrare videantur. . .Nunc ab innumeris mendis, quibus passim Neapolitana scatebat editio, emendati, primumque in Germania in lucem editi.

Hanoviae [Hanau]: Apud Guilielmum Antonium, impensis Petri Fischeri fr., 1593. First published in Vico Equense (Naples) in 1586. Title page in red and black. With: Porta, Giambattista della. Phytognomonica. Francofurti: Apud Ionnem Wechelum & Petrum Fischerum consortes, 1591.

This work describes the science of "physiognomy," that is, of discovering a person's temperment or character by studying outward appearances. There are plates, for example, showing both a cow's face and a man's face which looks like a cow, accompanied by textual comparisons between the temperments of the two.  Porta cites many authorities, including Aristotle, Plato, Socrates, Virgil, Apuleius, and Alexander the Great.  He begins with a history of the science from ancient times to the present, and then gives specific examples, describing the entire body, followed by various parts, such as heads, hands and feet.  This work has an index.

Subjects: Physiognomy.


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