[PARACELSUS, Theophrastus; LLULL, Raimundus]

MEDICAL PARACELSIANUM – SYPHILIS

[PARACELSUS, Theophrastus; LLULL, Raimundus]. Wundt unnd Leibartznei ... ausz den Schrifften des ... D. Theophrasti Paracelsi.

Frankfurt, Christian Egenolff, [1549]

£5,750.00

FIRST EDITION. 2 parts in 1, continuous pagination, ff. (iv) 112. Gothic letter. 6 full-page or smaller woodcut surgical scenes. Water stain to upper part of first leaf, slight age browning in places, minor repair to fore-edge of I2-4 and T3, oil splash to outer margin of a3-4. A good copy in early speckled calf over bevelled wooden boards, lacking clasps, rebacked, original spine overlaida.e.r., eps renewed, boards a little scuffed, the odd c.1600 note.

A good copy of the first edition of this scarce German Paracelsianum, unusually illustrated with fine woodcuts of surgical scenes. The Swiss Theophrastus von Hohenheim (1493/4-1541) used the pseudonym Paracelsus for most of his successful career as an alchemist, philosopher and physician. He was very influential in the development of empirical observation and the use of chemistry (embracing toxicology) in medical practice, though associated with Hermetic and occult philosophies. After his death, many spurious alchemical texts were attributed to him for marketing purposes and printed individually or in collections, as here. Hence their complex bibliographical history and his increasing reputation as a magician.

‘Wundt unnd Leibartznei’ is entirely devoted to the treatment of wounds and fractures, with a final section on the ‘French disease’ (syphilis). It is a thematic selection from ‘Grosse Wundarznei’ (or ‘Chirurgia Magna’, 1536)—a treatise inspired by his experience as an army physician. The latter was the first medical work attributed in print to ‘Doctor Paracelsus’ and one of few printed in his lifetime (Pagel, 5). According to Paracelsus, wounds should mostly be left to heal on their own, which contrasted with the detailed anatomical, clinical and surgical descriptions of Antoine Paré, who had begun publishing his theories in the 1540s. Paracelsus pays great attention to the corruption of the patient’s body through disorderly diet, for instance, as physical balance was paramount to encourage healing. He also provides recipes of herbal or homemade remedies, as well as chemical composites (e.g., ‘wundpulver’, made of sulphur, vitriol, etc.), which help wounds heal, whilst opposing the use of traditional remedies like dung, as he thought that wounds should be kept clean. The last section of the first part deals with syphilis (Frantzosen Schäden): he discusses surgical interventions such as the cauterisation of sores, and proposes the use of mercury as a medical remedy. The second part comprises the treatise ‘Quinta Essentia’ by the C14 philosopher Ramon Llull, concerning the fundamental essence of the universe, which was believed to be present in small quantities also in mercury. A scarce work. 

Chicago, Wisconsin, UTMB and NLM copies recorded in the US. Sudhoff 24; Ferguson, Bib. Parac., p.53 (mentioned); NLM 3449. Not in Wellcome, Alden or Osler. W. Pagel, Paracelsus (1982).
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