LOBERA DE ÁVILA, Luis Libro delle quatro infermità cortigiane.

Venice, Battista and Melchior Sessa, 1558


FIRST EDITION thus. 8vo, two parts in one, ff. (xxiv) 272 (xii). Italic and Roman letter, printer s device to t-p, woodcut decorated initials and typographical ornaments. Small hole and a few minor ink spots to t-p blank, a couple of small light waterstains intermittently to outer blank margins of a few gatherings, minor worm trail to blank upper outer corner of a few ll. and to a few more at gutter towards tail. A good, unsophisticated copy in contemporary limp vellum, missing ties, early ms. title to spine, upper cover a little stained and creased with early ms. title, faded ms. ex libris D Girolamo Dand(?) and calculations, contemporary ms. annotations to verso of fep.

First and only Italian translation of this interesting medical treatise on the typical diseases of the upper classes of Renaissance society. First published in Spanish in 1544, this was translated by the remarkable scholar Pietro Lauro (1510 – c. 1568), a specialist in the translation of classical and foreign literature into the Italian vernacular.

Book of the four courtesan diseases , is a manual dedicated to presenting the most common illnesses tormenting courtiers, their causes, symptoms and cure. First, Lobera discusses catarrh; then gout, listing all different types (arthritis, sciatica, podagra and chiragra), and remedies (e.g. drinking white wine, exercising). A central section is concerned with kidney and vesical stones, how to detect them and various therapies: e.g. taking baths, using ointments, painkillers and preparing curious medicines (such as the ash of charcoaled scorpions or a distillate water containing chickpea broth and saffron which much helped the author s wife). A similar discussion is dedicated to intestinal colic. The last disease is syphilis the French disease or mal de bubas described as common, known to everyone and spread by our sins . Among the treatments, legno santo (with water or wine), ointments, perfumes, and a tasteless herb called China from the Indies to be eaten every morning. Appended to this work, is a short treatise on pharmacology by Lobera, based on his personal experience. This contains countless recipes balms, ointments, waters and powders to heal all sorts of ailments. Examples include an ointment to cure red eyes, blond and black hair dyes, drugs to prevent or provoke hair loss, and even a drink that women can take to find out if they are pregnant. An early owner of this copy annotated, on the back of the final endpaper, a few references to recipes. One mentions acqua di acetosa o di scabiosa (common ingredients of remedies against the plague) and another one is concerned with kidney pain. Luis Lobera de Àvila (1480-1551) was personal physician to King Charles the V and one of the first Spanish doctors to write his works entirely in Castillian. He is the author of important treatises on nutrition, particularly on healthy diet for noblemen and women, and of the first book on anatomy printed in Spain.

USTC 838394; BM STC It. C16, p. 390; Wellcome I, 3838; Durling 2832; Palau VII, 139425. Not in Garrison-Morton, Adams, Brunet, Graesse, Heirs of Hippocrates.
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