Bernardus Sylvanus

Born in Eboli, near Salerno in southern Italy, Bernardus Sylvanus published his first edition of Ptolemy’s Geographia in Naples in 1490. Based on the copperplates of the Rome editions of 1478 and 1490, and using Jacopo d’Angelo’s translation, it was dedicated to Andrea Matteo Acquaviva, the third Duke of Atri.

His next edition of the Geographia, published in Venice in 1511, was more original. He was of the strong opinion that Ptolemy’s geography was out-dated, and so he set out to update the traditional maps with the addition of more recent information, which he mainly gathered from contemporary manuscript material. Including both the original cartography and these new features created a unique effect, made all the more recognisable by the use of two-colour printing, in red and black. Sylvanus’ edition also contained a large cordiform world map, again the earliest of its kind, and the second Ptolemaic world map to show America.