ACTUARIUS, Johannes Zacharias; GESNER, Conrad. [with] ACTUARIUS, Johannes Zacharias; TELESIO, Antonio; AEGINETA, Paulus.


ACTUARIUS, Johannes Zacharias; GESNER, Conrad. [with] ACTUARIUS, Johannes Zacharias; TELESIO, Antonio; AEGINETA, Paulus. De medicamentorum compositione. [with] De urinis.

Basel, I: [per Robert Winter], II: apud Andreas Cratander (heirs of), I: [1540], II: [1563].


8vo. 2 works in 1, first in 2 parts (half-title to second), second in 3 parts (drop-head title to second and third), I: pp. [16], 240, [80], 89, [7]; II: pp. [8], 443 [i.e., 447], [1]. Roman letter, little Italic, one section in Greek. Woodcut printer’s device to last verso, ½-page woodcut of graduated glass for uroscopy to c4v of II, decorated initials and ornaments. Intermittent slight browning or minor spotting, a bit heavier to L8 of I, 2 tiny worm holes to outer blank margin of a dozen central gatherings, occasionally touching sidenote, small light water stain to lower outer blank corner towards end, clean tear to fore-edge of E3 touching couple of words repaired, minor traces of glue, the odd uncut edge, couple of early ms marginalia. Good copies in C18 carta rustica, title inked to spine, edges a trifle foxed, couple of early ms marginalia.

A most interesting sammelband featuring two influential works, in good copies, on medicaments and urinoscopy. Johannes Zacharias (late C13?) was an ‘Actuarius’ (official) at the Byzantine court, and the Emperor’s personal physician. First published in 1539, in Ruellius’s translation from the Greek, ‘De medicamentorum compositione’ comprises Books 5-6, then deemed to be a separate work, of his ‘Θεραπευτικὴ μέθοδος’. Part I focuses types of medicaments (e.g., pills, powder, syrups, antidotes, theriacae, purgatives, ointments), with hundreds of entries listed in a final detailed index, each explaining the main ingredients and preparation. It includes substances, such as ‘diasatyrion’ (from the roots of satyrion, a species of Orchis), for a great number of conditions, from podagra to diarrhoea, colics, breathing difficulties and rabies. The work of the physician and natural scientist Conrad Gesner, Part II (‘Succiduorum medicamentorum tabula’) is concerned with ‘antiballomena’, i.e., ‘quid pro quo’ medicaments which can replace others when the necessary ingredients cannot be found. The first section, in Greek, lists dozens of ‘antiballomena’ from Galen, Discorides and Paulus Aeginetas; it is followed by an explanation with a Latin translation of the ‘tabula’, with a final part focusing on specific medicaments. First published in 1529 and translated by Ambrogio Leone, ‘De urinis’ (‘Περὶ οὔρων’) is entirely devoted to urinoscopy. It includes a woodcut illustration of the graduated glass which Actuarius was the first to employ for diagnostic purposes. It discusses the origin of urine, its various types and colours, their nature and causes, how to interpret its aspect, texture or residue using the graduated glass, how to study it according to age, sex, lifestyle, etc., and how to infer illnesses from its characteristics. To this are appended Antonio Telesio’s ‘De coloribus’ – the earliest printed treatise on colours, here translated from the Greek – discusses the most important colours, providing their Latin and Greek etymology, and examples of everyday items which can clarify what the colour actually looks like (e.g., ‘pullus’ is the colour of the soil or of a hare’s back), and Paulus Aegineta’s ‘De crisi & diebus decretorijs’, in Thomas Linacre’s translation, focusing on the ‘decisive days’ of illnesses, whereby a physician can understand whether the prognosis may turn to better or worse.

I: USTC 600026; VD16 A 161; Durling 2583; Wellcome (earlier and later eds). II: Only Stanford and NLM copies recorded in the US. USTC 607733; VD16 ZV 66; Durling 2579; Wellcome (earlier and later eds).
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