CURIO, Johannes.

CURIO, Johannes. Conservandae bonae valetudinis praecepta (…) quondam a doctoribus Scholae Salernitanae versibus conscripta

Frankfurt, Heirs of Christian Egenolff, 1568


8vo, ff. (viii) 280 (iv). Italic and Roman letter, occasional Gothic and Greek, woodcut historiated initials, several ¼ to ¾ page woodcuts depicting scenes of everyday life, food and its preparation, plants, body parts, the four seasons. General age yellowing, t-p a bit dusty with paper patch covering old inscription, ms. “exegesi” written over, first gathering partly detaching at gutter but firm, mainly marginal waterstain to lower outer corner of first half and to margins of last few gatherings, some upper outer blank corners at end a bit soiled. An appealing copy in light green c.1700 brocade paper, remains of gilt, patterned with raised flowers and leaves, loss at head of spine and joints exposing contemporary calf beneath. Contemporary ms. Latin aphorisms “Amicus alter ego” and “Virtutum in al(?)ix humilitas”, the latter partially covered by C19 stamp of the Franciscan monastery of Dettelbach (Germany), and “HP Tongu C.F. 1.7(?)” to t-p.

A good copy of this illustrated edition of the Regimen Sanitatis Salernitanum (“The Salernitan Regimen of Health”), edited by the German Johannes Curio (d. 1561). A Latin didactic poem composed in the 12th or 13th century (first printed around 1480), the Regimen is a collection of instructions on how to preserve good health, including “rules of hygiene and diet, simple therapeutics, and other instruction intended more for the laity than for the medical profession. It was committed to memory by thousands of physicians and, after the invention of printing, was published in nearly three hundred editions, in Latin as well as in several vernacular languages” (Heirs of Hippocrates). This fascinating work is considered a product of the prominent medical school of Salerno, founded in in southern Italy in 9th century.

The simple and charming woodcuts (up to half page) illustrate the humours, various sorts of equipment, fruit, vegetables, aromatic plants, legumes, birds, fish, butter and cheese, parts of the human body (including a curious one of the mandible with dentist’s tools), and the seasons. Among the most curious prescriptions, there is one concerning sleeping in the afternoon; the illustration shows a man sleeping on a chair, and the verses below read: “Take a short nap in the afternoon, or avoid sleeping at all. Fever, laziness, headache and flu: these all may result from the afternoon nap”. Another section advises on how to cure a hangover: “If you develop a hangover from drinking too much wine at night, drink more of that wine in the morning, it will be your medicine”, perhaps the origin of “the hair of the dog”.

A physician of Rheimbergen (near Cologne), Curio published several editions of this work (first 1538), which are considered the most complete and interesting as, for the first time, he included other texts. In the present edition, the Latin text is provided with a German translation by Curio (in Gothic letter) and complemented by the important commentary by the Spanish physician and reformer Arnaldo de Villa Nova (1240–1311). Also included are: chapter 20, on blood, from “De vacuandi ratione” by the French physician Jean Fernel (1497-1558); a 18-verse poem by Anastasius on bloodletting; the Greek physician Diocles’ (c. 375-295) famous letter “on preserving health” addressed to addressed to Antigonus II Gonatas, king of Macedon; Hippocrates’ “De salubri diaeta” on healthy diet; a curious poem by the German humanist Joachim Camerarius (1500-1574), in which two elegiac distiches are dedicated to each month containing advices for a healthy lifestyle; finally, an extract from Philip Melanchton’s (1497-1560) “Liber de Anima” concerning diet and sleep.

USTC 623272; VD16 R581; BM STC Ger. 16th century, p. 773; Heirs of Hippocrates 44 (1559 edition); Oberlè 323; Bibliotheca Bacchica 181; Wellcome I 5380; Durling 3813; see PMM 22. This ed not in Adams, Graesse, Garrison-Morton, Bitting or Vicaire.
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