De gli elementi is a brief treatise on the four elements--fire, air, water, earth--which, according to ancient philosophers, constitute the material universe. Beginning with Plato and Aristotle and continuing with citations of Galen, Democritus, and other Greek thinkers, Paulus Manutius discusses the perceived effects of the elements on human bodily humors. Air, for example, is connected to blood, and water to phlegm. The 1557 Aldine represents the only known printing of this work which codifies classical thinking about a subject dear to Renaissance authors.
On leaf XXIII, Manutius speaks of Columbus and the ocean currents that carried him to the New World. He states that certain currents take navigators from Spain to the islands Columbus, a Genoese, rediscovered. These currents make such navigation possible in less than one month. But during the return voyage to Spain, the same currents retard the navigator so that it takes three to four months.