De naturalibus facultatibus libri tres. De pulsuum usu liber unus. De diebus criticis

Paris, apud Simon de Colines, 1528


8vo. ff. [viii] 91 [i]. a-m8, n4. Roman letter, some Greek. Simon de Colines’ fine ‘Tempus’ woodcut device on title, fine, large woodcut floriated, white on black criblé initials at beginning of each part. Light age yellowing, the very occasional minor mark or spot, one initial coloured in red pencil with some rubbing off on opposite leaf, blank upper outer corner of fol. 76 torn. A very good copy, well margined, in early eighteenth century French red morocco, covers gilt ruled to panel design, fleurons gilt to outer corners, spine with gilt ruled raised bands, double gilt ruled in compartments, gilt fleurons to centres, all edges sprinkled red. Joints and upper corners a little worn.

Beautifully printed edition of three translations of important medical works by the great English humanist Thomas Linacre; they include two most important works by Galen and, the third, his translation of Paulus Aeginata’s ‘De Diebus Criticis.’ The first work is the translation by Thomas Linacre of one of the most influential of Galen’s work De Naturalibus Facultatibus. Linacre, physician to Henry VII and VIII, was the founder of the Royal College of Physicians, learned both his medicine and his Greek in Padua, and instituted a major translation program of Galen. Linacre was one of the first Englishmen to study Greek in Italy, and brought back to England, and more particularly Oxford, the lessons of the Italian Renaissance. His teachers were some of the greatest scholars of the day. Among his pupils were Erasmus and Sir Thomas More, Prince Arthur and Queen Mary I of England.

“Linacre was especially concerned in translating Galen’s writings into Latin, beginning with the treatise of hygiene, De sanitate tuenda. Since there was then no printer in England sufficiently able or willing to assume the financial risk of producing this work for the English market, the tract, dedicated to Henry VIII, was published in Paris in 1517. .. Linacre saw two Galenic translations by his former teacher, Nicolò Leoniceno, through the press of Richard Pynson in London; Pynson also published Linacre’s own subsequent translations, De usu pulsuum (1522), De facultatibus naturalibus (1523), and De symptomatum differentiis et causis (1524). Linacre was a medical humanist as well as one of the finest Greek scholars of his day; his major effort, therefore, was directed toward bringing to English physicians a series of classical medical texts that he considered essential and that were, in fact, superior to   other medical writings published in England at that time. In addition to the works that he brought to publication, he is known to have translated yet others, but with the one exception, a brief extract from Paul of Aegina, these were either lost or destroyed after his death. His very considerable Continental reputation, especially in Greek medical scholarship, was clearly recognized by Erasmus: “Medicine has begun to make herself heard in Italy; … while among the English, owing to the studies of Thomas Linacre, Galen has begun to be so eloquent and informative that even in his own tongue he may seem to be less so.” “Linacre, Thomas. Complete Dictionary of Scientific Biography”.

“Galen was the most noted physician of antiquity. Born in Pergamon he received his formal medical education in Smyrna, after which he traveled widely in Asia Minor and to Alexandria to extend his medical knowledge. He settled in Rome where he carried on a large practice attracting patients from all over the Empire.  His influence was enormous,  and for centuries his writings were accepted as authoritative of Greek, Roman and Arabic physicians reaching a zenith in the Middle Ages.” Heirs of Hippocrates.

The treatise by Paulus Aegineta is a translation of part of book 2 of his Epitomes iatrikes biblia hepta. A beautifully printed collection of Linacre’ translations.

BM STC Fr. C16th p. 192. USTC 145916. Moreau III 1474. Renouard, 122. Not in Schreiber, Wellcome, Osler.


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