WILDE. JEREMIAS – De formica liber unus. Nürnberg, 1615. Half-vellum. 8vo [105 x 160mm]. (11), 108 pp. With engraved vignette on the title page. Title page slightly lose in the lower part, otherwise in very good condition.
Jeremias Wilde was a 17th century doctor from Augsburg, known for writing the first modern work on ants. The present book is based on the writings of classics such as Solomon, Horace, Ovid or Virgil on the subject of ants.
De Formica is written in Latin and is divided into 15 chapters dedicated to various aspects of ants: the types of ants, their bodies, their minds (and also their supposed spirit and even religion), their seven admirable qualities, their economical and moral merits, their natural and moral utility. Even though ants are quite praised in Wilde’s work, they are also placed unter the category of irrational animals, which, according to the author, does not prevent them from having memory and the capacity for imagination.
While this work can, at best, be merely classified as quasi-scientific, it remains the first coherent writing about ants from the modern era. De Formica constitutes an early look into the field of ants, providing a first glimpse into the view of modern people on ants, their state as insects, their inner life, the manner in which they intersect with human life, as well as their importance. This work stands at the borderline between a scientifical work on ants and a spiritual take on the inner life of these praised insects.
OCLC 759732969; Bibliotheque Nationale de Paris: FRBNF31649811; Percheron Vol. 2, p. 130