GALEN De ratione curandi ad Glauconem libri duo

Venice, apus Iuntas, 1547


8vo. pp. (xvi) 364 (ii). Roman letter, occasional Latin or Greek. Woodcut printer’s device to t-p and last, decorated initials. Marginal thumbing to t-p and first, small marginal spots to first gathering, small ink burn touching couple of letters to p. 114, light ink splashes to last two ll. A very good copy in contemporary vellum, yapp edges, lacking ties. Probably C15 ms. in black-brown ink used as eps (Latin work on parishes and dioceses), ‘Oct 9 1929’ stamped on this, later doodles to recto of fep, slightly later inscription ‘Op[er]a di Savonarola Medico Patavino Sinibaldo Medico (?)’ to recto of last, some early annotation.

Scarce medical work 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), a Greek physician and surgeon in the Roman Empire, shaped the development of Western medicine. His greatly influential conception of pathology, inspired by Hippocrates’s theories, saw ailments as the result of imbalance among the four constituting humours (blood, yellow bile, black bile and phlegm) of the body. First published in Paris in 1538 and reprinted four times in less than ten years, ‘De ratione curandi’, addressed to Glauco, is a pocket-size manual on the treatment of a wide array of medical conditions in the form of a commentary, with Galen’s text being followed by Akakia’s interpretation. 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., eye movement, discoloration, slow or racing pulse—to the nature of urine and evacuations, and even the meaning of the body’s physiological reaction (e.g., nausea) to specific odours. Everyday conditions examined include stomach ache, headache, abnormal menstruation, herpes, carbunculus, tertian and quartan fevers, and abscesses. Suggested treatments—e.g., blood-letting (on which Galen had authored a treatise) and concoctions of salty water, vinegar and wine—all sought to restore the natural balance of the four humours within the ailing body.

Harvard, NLM, UCSF and UCLA copies recorded in the US.BM STC It., p. 287; Wellcome, 2549. Not in Durling, Bib. Osl. or Brunet.
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