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Two books by Galen published in 1528 and 1536

Galen 

Recently I cataloged two pocket size books 16th century books by Galen. The earlier imprint is on the dissection of the veins, arteries, and nerves (1528 ) and the later imprint by Galen is on palpitation, tremor, spasm and convulsions (1536).

The Author

Galen dissecting a pig, Galeni Opera, Junta, 1597Claudius Galenus (129-200), a Greek physician and anatomist, was born in Pergamum in Asia Minor and he died in Sicily.  He chose to follow medicine early at the age of 17 and wrote largely on medical subjects. He went to Smyrna (now Izmir) to study under Poelops and Albinus.  He also studied at Corinth in Greece and Alexandria in Egypt but returned home to become chief physician to the gladiators. In 161 he arrived at Rome where he became a society physician and attended the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius Antonius (Hutchinson Encyclopedia of Biography). There his efforts to teach anatomy were hindered by the jealousy of contemporaries. (Balfour).

Galen’s ideas dominated Western medicine for almost 1500 years.  His theories of humors and three fold circulation of the blood were central to his thinking.  Galen’s theory of circulation was three fold because he believed the liver produced the natural spirit, the heart the vital spirit, and the brain the animal spirit.  Andreas Vesalius and William Harvey exposed the fundamental errors of his system through human dissection and close observation. Galen recommended these methods but human dissection was taboo in his time and place. “He performed several vivisection experiments, one of which demonstrated that the arteries carry blood not air, thus disproving Erasistratus’s view, which had been taught for 500 years (Hutchinson Encyclopedia of Biography)

Two books by Galen, 1528 and 1536, in the H. Richard Tyler Collection.

Although Galen made relatively few discoveries and relied heavily on the teachings of Hippocrates, he wrote a large number of books, more than 100 of which are known (Hutchinson Encyclopedia of Biography). This month I cataloged two imprints containing single books in Latin by Galen. I discovered an English translation and useful background about Galen’s book on palpitation, tremor, spasm and convulsions in a 1536 Venice edition. Galen’s book on the dissection of the veins, arteries, and nerves from 1528 was a puzzle with no place of publication or publisher. I discovered no copies of either online.  Not yet.

Galeni Pergameni Dissectio[n]is venaru[m] arteriaru[m]q[ue] commentarium eiusdem de neruis compendium Antonio Fortolo Joseriẽsi interprete, 1528.

I think this 1528 book is Galen’s commentary on the dissection of the veins and arteries and an abstract of the same for the nerves.  It is translated by Antoine Fortoul.  This is what my limited Latin allowed me to guess. It has no publisher, printer, or place of publication.

RJ Durling in his “A chronological census of renaissance editions and translations of Galen”gives these cryptic entries for Dissectionis venarum.  Durling's entry 1528.10 below matches our copy, and states it  is a reprint of the 1526 edition translated by Antoine Fortoul [Latinized Andreas Fortulus]and published by Simon de Colines

1528.10  Dissectionis venarum, etc. [Tr. A.F., reprint of 1526.6.] 8vo. s.l.s.n. Cu; O; SBC; VAT.

1526.6 Dissectionis venarum arteriarumque commentarium Dee nervis compendium[.Tr. A.F.] 4 April 4to. Paris: S. de Colines. BM; BN; GH; MBN; PAr; PMaz. Not seen by Renouard, p. 86.

Durling found four libraries with our 1528 reprint in 1961.  They were:

CU: Cushing Collection, Yale University, U.S.A.

O: Oxford, Bodleian Library.

SBC: Seville, Biblioteca Colombina.

VAT Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Rome.

 

Galeni liber De palpitatione, tremore, rigore, convulsione Interprete Nicolao Lauachio Medico Florentino, Venetiis : In officina Aurelij Pincij, 1536.

This is Galen’s book about palpitations, tremors, stiffness or numbness, and convulsions translated by Niccolo Lavacchi, a Florentine physician. It was published in Venice by Aurelio Pincio in 1536.  Or that is what my four semesters of Latin allowed me to understand.

Fortunately there is an English translation by Sider and Mc Vaugh (1979) which gives useful background as an introduction.  De tremor was written during Galen’s second stay in Rome between 169 and 180 A.D.  Our 1536 edition translated by Nicolao Lavachio is one of four translations from Greek to Latin in the 16th century.  Galen outlines the purpose of the book in his introduction.

Introduction – purpose and definitions

Since Praxagoras the son of Nicarchus, one of the best of physicians and especially skillful in physical theories, does not seem to me rightly to understand pulse, palpitation, spasm, and tremor, but thinks all of them to be affectations of the arteries which differ only in magnitude, it seemed best to me to treat all these together in the following work – not so that I might refute Praxagoras’ errors.. but so that where he is correct I might complete his account…

Perceptible motions in the bodies of animals (whether they are healthy) appear to be of two kinds: (1) those due to impulse or will … i.e. those acting through the nerves and muscles, which it is customary for physicians to call voluntary actions; (2) other motions acting in the bodies of animals through the arteries and the heart which they call vital… The motion which acts through the muscles and nerves, by which we move the hands and legs, is manifest when we are sick with tremors, spasms, rigors, and sometimes with palpitations; for all such affectations are discordant motions of the same organs through which, when they healthy, the voluntary actions are accomplished (Sider & McVaugh, 1979)

RJ Durling in his “A chronological census of renaissance editions and translations of Galen" gives these cryptic entry with 4 locations:

1536.4 De palpitationet, remorer, igore,c onvulsione.[ Tr. N. Lavachius.] 8vo. Venice: A. Pincio. PMaz; PU; VBM. Hoffmann, p. 137-

PMaz: Paris, Mazarine.

PU Padua, University.

VBM Venice, Biblioteca Nazionale di San Marco.

Bibliography

  1. Durling, Richard J. A chronological census of renaissance editions and translations of Galen / Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, v. 24, no. 3-4, (1961). - pages 230-305.
  2. “Galen, A.D. 130-200 or 201?” In Balfour, Edward Green: The cyclopaedia of India and of eastern and southern Asia : commercial, industrial and scientific. - 3rd ed. - London : Quaritch, 1886 from the World Biographical Information system.
  3. Galen. Hutchinson Encyclopedia of Biography (c) Copyright Helicon Publishing Limited 2000, Database: Biography Reference Bank.
  4. Galen; Foutoul, Antoine, translator. Galeni Pergameni dissectio[n]is venaru[m] arteriaru[m]q[ue] commentarium eiusdem de neruis compendium Antonio Fortolo Joseriẽsi interprete,1528. Koha catalog record, Bernard Becker Medical Library: http://beckercat.wustl.edu/cgi-bin/koha/opac-detail.pl?biblionumber=165690
  5. Galen; Lavacchio, Niccolo, translator. Galeni liber De palpitatione, tremore, rigore, convulsione Interprete Nicolao Lauachio Medico Florentino, Venetiis : In officina Aurelij Pincij, 1536. Koha catalog record, Bernard Becker Medical Library:http://beckercat.wustl.edu/cgi-bin/koha/opac-detail.pl?biblionumber=165691
  6. Greek ' Latin Authors 800 B.C.-A.D. 1000, edited by Michael Grant, The H. W. Wilson Company, 1980, from Database: Biography Reference Bank .
  7.  Sider D, McVaugh M. “Galen on tremor, palpitation, spasm, and rigor.” Trans Stud Coll Physicians Phila. 1979 Sep;1(3): 183-210. Koha catalog record, Bernard Becker Medical Library: http://beckercat.wustl.edu/cgi-bin/koha/opac-detail.pl?biblionumber=98333

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