The paper aims to show how sixteenth century hydraulic and pneumatic engineers appropriated ancient science and technology – codified in the text of Hero of Alexandria’s Pneumatics – to enter into scientific discourse, for instance, with natural philosophers. They drew on the logical structure, content and narrative style passed down from antiquity to generate and codify their own theoretical approach and to document their new technological achievements. They did so by using the form of commented and enlarged editions, just as Aristotelian natural philosophers had been doing for centuries. The argument aims to detail the exact role of ancient science and the process of transformation it underwent during the early modern period. In particular, it aims to show how pneumatic engineers first tested the ancient technology codified by Hero while carrying out their own practical activities. Once these tests were successfully concluded, in the spirit of early modern humanism they finally presented these activities as being associated with the work of their discipline’s most authoritative author, Hero of Alexandria, whose technology was tested during the construction of the hydraulic and pneumatic system of the garden of Pratolino.
Alessandro GiorgiSpiritali di Herrone alessandrino (Urbino: Appressso Bartholomeo e Simone Rag1592). Alessandrino Giorgi requested and obtained permission to work with the same printer who had arranged the publication of Commandino’s translation and re-used the same engravings.
Massimo Mussini“Governo delle acque nel territorio reggiano fra Medioevo e Rinascimento,” in La civiltà delle acque dal Medioevo al Rinascimentoedited by Arturo Calzona and Daniela Lamberini (Firenze: Olschki 2010) pp. 221–241.
Cesare da PratoFirenze ai Demidoff. Pratolino e S. Donato. Relazione storica e descrittiva preceduta da cenni biografici sui Demidoff (Firenze: Tipografia della Pia Casa di Patronato per minorenni1886) pp. 260–261. Stefano della Bella produced an engraving of the Grotto of the God Pan: see Sgrilli Descrizione della regia villa fontane e fabbriche di Pratolino (cit. note 48) unnumbered table.