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Medical secrets plus a largely imaginary Medieval European view of India

[ACHILLINI, Alessandro].
Secreta secretorum Aristotelis.
ARISTOTLE [pseudo]. Maximi philosophi ... de signis aquarum: & tempestatum.
ARISTOTLE [pseudo]. Maximi philosophurum ... de mineralibus.
AVERROES. De beatitudine anime.
ACHILLINI, Alexander. De universalibus.
ALEXANDER THE GREAT [pseudo]. De mirabilibus Indie.
(Colophon: Lyon, Antoine Blanchard, 23 March) 1528. Small 8vo (15 x 10.5 cm). With a title-page with a decorated woodcut border, woodcut printer's device on last page, 6 woodcut initials. Contemporary blind-tooled sheepskin(?) parchment over wooden boards, in a panel design, brass catch-plates and anchor-plates (straps and clasps lost). LXXXIII ll.
€ 11,500
Fourth edition of a collection of seven treatises on medicine and philosophy, edited by Alessandro Achillini (1463-1512), originally published as Secretum secretorum at Bologna in 1501 (perhaps without the second and third works). It first appeared under the present title in 1520. Achillini was one of the greatest anatomists of his time and an influential teacher. He studied philosophy and medicine at the university of Bologna, where he was appointed lecturer of philosophy in 1484 and of medicine in 1495. From 1506 to 1508 he also taught at Padua.
While he was known as a philosopher during his own lifetime, Achillini is now mainly remembered for his achievements in medicine. "He gave a good description of the veins of the arm, and he described the seven bones of tarsus, the fornix of the brain, the cerebral ventricles, the infundibulum and the trochlear nerve. He also described, exactly, the ducts of the submaxillary salivary glands -- a discovery generally attributed to the Englishman Thomas Wharton (1614-1673) -- and the ileocecal valve, described later by Costanzo Varolio and Baspard Bauhin. Finally, to Achillini is attributed the first description of the two ossicles of the ear, the malleus and incus" (DSB).
The present collection contains Secreta secretorum; De signis aquarum, ventorum et tempestatum; De mineralibus; Alexander Aphrodisei de intellectu; Averoes de beatitudine anime; Alexandri Achillini de universalibus and Alexandri Macedonis ad Aristotelem de mirabilibus Indie. Four of these are pseudo-Aristotelian works that had been well known since the 13th century or earlier. The Secreta secretorum is here present in the translation of Philip of Tripoli; the De signis aquarum, ventorum et tempestatum on weather signs, was translated in the 13th century by Bartholomew of Messina; the third pseudo-Aristotle is De mineralibus on gems; the fourth, Alexandri Macedonis ad Aristotelem de mirabilibus Indie, is a fictitious letter by Alexander the Great to his teacher Aristotle, describing the wonders of India and the East. Three other similar "Indian tractates" are known, all of them connected with the romance of Alexander the Great at various points in history. All four of them were accepted during the later Middle Ages as reliable literary portraits of the Indians, especially of the Brahmans. They originated in European culture, and became sources for later tellers and writers of fables.
The three remaining treatises in the present work consist of a work by Alexander of Aphrodisias on the intellect, another by Averroes on the beauty of the soul, and a work by Achillini himself on universals. Vervliet, Vine leaf ornaments 54, cites the present edition as the first use of its ornament.
Very good copy, with very slight browning and a few marginal spots, lacking the final blank. Binding lacking straps and clasps, and with the (restored?) spine damaged. Baudrier V, p. 104; Stillwell 578; USTC 155810 (8 copies); cf. Lach II, book 2, p. 94 ; Thorndike V, pp. 47-48.
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Asia  >  India & Sri Lanka
Early printing & manuscripts  >  Asia & Middle East | History, Law & Philosophy | Medicine & Pharmacy | Natural History & Science
History, law & philosophy  >  Law & Politics
Medicine & pharmacy  >  Medicine & Pharmacy pre 1700
Science & technology  >  Mineralogy & Gems