GALEN. Ars medica. (with) De ratione curandi ad Glauconem libri II.

Lyon, apud Guliel. Rovillum sub Scuto Veneto, 1548 and 1551.


16mo. 2 works in 1 vol., pp. 680 (xliv) 412 (xx). Roman letter, with Italic. Woodcut printer’s device to t-p, decorated initials and headpieces, two full-page medical diagrams. Title of first a bit dusty, intermittent light marginal spotting, light waterstaining to lower edge of first gathering and to some upper outer corners in mid vol. Very good copies in contemporary French vellum, yapp edges, traces of ties, contemporary ms. waste used as eps. C18 autographs ‘J. de Marville’ and ‘Patin D M’ to front pastedown, first repeated at rear, ms number inked to foot of t-p, extensive contemporary and slightly later annotations to second title and less densely the first section of first.

This copy was probably in the library of Charles Patin (1633-93), who signed the book (as well as some of his published works) ‘Patin D[octor] M[edicinae]’. The son of Guy Patin, dean of medicine at Paris, he was a French physician most renowned for his copious production on numismatics. The extensive annotations appear to be in earlier hands.  

Scarce editions of medical works by Galen translated and edited by Martin Akakia (1497-1551), physician at the court of Francis I of France. Together with those of Hippocrates, the works of Galen (129-200/216AD), Greek physician and surgeon in the Roman Empire, shaped the development of Western medicine. The ‘Ars medica’ (or ‘Ars parva’) summarised his greatly influential conception of pathology which, inspired by Hippocrates’s theories, saw ailments as the result of imbalance among the four bodily humours (blood, yellow bile, black bile and phlegm). This detailed compendium of physiology discussed subjects including the humoral constitution of the body, its tendency to naturally purge itself of harmful matter and the workings of blood flow. First published in Paris in 1538 and reprinted four times in less than ten years, ‘De ratione curandi’ is a pocket-size manual on the treatment of medical conditions. It states first of all what ‘treating a condition’ means and how the physician should determine whether the condition under scrutiny be the actual illness or rather a cause, consequence or symptom thereof. Great attention is devoted to fever and its manifestations—e.g., discoloration, slow or racing pulse—to the nature of urine and evacuations, and the meaning of the body’s physiological reaction (e.g., nausea) to specific odours. The annotators of this copy were especially interested in symptomatology, fever and the monitoring of the pulse and urine, but also in the colour of hair and dark skin as determined by the hue of the prevailing humour.

I) NLM, Yale and NYAM copies recorded in the US. BM STC Fr., p. 193; Durling 1850; Wellcome 2554. Not in Brunet, Bibl. Osl. or Heirs of Hippocrates. II) No copies recorded in the US. Durling 1905. Not in BM STC Fr., Wellcome, Bib. Osl. or Heirs of Hippocrates
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