Ancient Warships

Scheffer, Johannes Gerhard. Constantini Opelii De fabrica triremium Meibomiana Epistola perbrevis ad Amicum.

❧ Eleuteropoli: [publisher not identified], 1672. In Latin. 199 × 157 mm (7.75 × 6.25 in.). 4to. [2], 34 pp. Fictitious imprint. Place of publication often given as Freistadt, Austria, sometimes as Amsterdam. Very Good. Bound in full speckled calf, a little rubbed at the joints. Gilt spine ornaments and lettering on red leather title label. Armorial bookplate on front pastedown of the Macclesfield North Library (dated 1860): Press mark 67.a.5.” Preliminary blank with corner clipped.

Treatise on ancient warship construction,
in response to a book published the year prior by a
Danish scholar Marcus Meibom, De fabrica triremium liber. Scheffer was a Strasbourg-born linguist and antiquarian
who took a professorship at Uppsala at the invitation of Queen Christina of Sweden to whom he dedicated his major work on ancient naval warfare, De militia navali veterum, to her.

Marcus Meibom, another member of Queen Christina’s court, classicist, and later librarian at the Royal Library in Copenhagen, was Scheffer’s primary rival in the study of ancient warships. This debate coincided with the Swedish state’s efforts to become a naval superpower in the Baltic region (Parrat, page 355). Scheffer begins his extended critique of Meibom with a linguistic analysis of Latin and Greek passages used in Meibom’s work. Scheffer further takes issue with Meibom’s account of the design and construction of the triremes—war galleys with three rows of oars on each side. He concludes by questioning the illustrations that are a part of Meibom’s work.

Scheffer was close colleagues with Johann Gronovius and Daniel Heinsius, with who he exchanged manuscripts of translations and new editions of classic literature. Scheffer’s studied of ancient fragments and inscriptions introduced and encouraged the growth of classical archaeology and textual criticism in Sweden. In 1673, Lapponia, a study of the Sami people, was published in Frankfurt. It was translated into English the following year and was the first anthropological work to be published by Oxford University Press.

Only four locations in the US per Oclc (University of Delaware, Yale, Princeton, University of Pennsylvania).

Vd17 1:069701M


Johannes Schefferus.” Svenskt biografiskt lexikon.

Parrot, Charlotta Friedner. Swedish Coastal Defence Over Four Centuries: War as a Changing Institution of International Society.” Scandinavian Journal of Military Studies 5, no. 1, 2022, pages 350–363.


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Stock Code: 1455B17 Collection: Catalogue:


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