Editing Galen and Hippocrates in the Renaisance

Editing Galen and Hippocrates in the Renaissance, March, 2007.

An Exhibition of  Sixteenth-Century Editions in the Library of Edward Worth (1678-1733). Catalogue Prepared by Dr. Magdalena Koźluk, assisted by Professor Jean-Paul Pittion.

This exhibition marked the discovery in June 2006, by Dr. Koźluk, of a manuscript insertion of the Greek text of Galen’s De ossibus. This was found in the Worth Library’s Latin edition of Galen’s Opera omnia, printed at Basle in 1538. In her catalogue, Dr. Koźluk examined the printing history of texts by Galen and Hippocrates in the Renaissance and, in particular, focuses on the wealth of material in the library of Edward Worth. All textual comments which follow are by Dr. Koźluk, with the sole exception of note 3 which was added by Dr. Elizabethanne Boran.

The works displayed in this exhibition are outstanding examples of Renaissance Greek typography and of the achievements of medical humanist scholarship. In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the return ad fontes, the search for and the editing and printing of ancient medical texts opened the way to a renovation of medicine and laid the foundations for a new age in medical learning.

Books printed in Greek during the Renaissance soon attracted the interest of bibliophiles and collectors. The Worth Library holds many fine examples of early Greek typography, not limited to medical texts. The present exhibition, in showing editions of Hippocrates and Galen, pays homage to Edward Worth as physician as well as collector. Annotations in the books selected testify to the active involvement of their original owners in reading  and research.


Item no. 1: Hippocrates, Opera omnia

Venice, Aldus, 1526. 2o.

This Greek edition of Hippocrates’ Opera omnia was published by Andrea d’Asola’s associates in Venice, just one year after the first printed Latin edition, published by Franciscus Minitius Calvus at Rome. The pencilled marks in sepia in Latin: ‘In versioni Foesii latina librii Hippocrati non sunt hac serie adscripti qua in brachia’ refer to pages of Anuce Foës’ edition of 1595 which is adjacent to this book (Item no. 3).


Item no. 2: Hippocrates, Opera omnia

Basel, Froben, 1546. 2o.

This text is underlined with annotations in the margins, commenting on some passages of Hippocrates’ treatise on the heart. Where Hippocrates states that the vital heat is not sited in the right part of the heart, the annotator notes that this is contrary to Aristotle: ‘contra Aristoteles, libro 3, cap. 4 de part[ibus] a[nima]lium’. On Hippocrates’ statement that the mind (‘mens’) is sited in the left ventricle, from which it controls the other parts of the soul (‘anima’), the annotator writes that Scholastic philosophers dispute the point: ‘haec non intellegunt scholastici philosophi’. The question of whether the heart is the source of the vital heat (i.e. life) and of whether the soul (as the source of life functions) is placed in the heart, was one of the issues of disagreement between Aristotle and Galen. Scholastic interpretations sought to preserve the notion that the soul is immaterial.


Item no. 3: Hippocrates, Opera omnia

Frankfurt, Wechel, 1595. 2o.

This is the splendid bilingual Frankfurt edition of 1595, edited by Anuce Foës and printed by the famous Wechel press. Here we see part of the complex editorial process which made this edition so successful. The errata lists, which complete every section of the book, are primarily concerned with correcting misprints of words and inserting short phrases and sentences which had been left out of the original. Far from drawing attention to the deficiencies of the edition, they were ultimately designed to ensure its longevity as the accepted text. A more controversial and intrusive stratagem is evidenced by Aemilius Portus’ ‘corrected readings’, which are appended to the end of the edition. Portus (1550-1614), an Italian Professor of Greek at the University of Heidelberg, was not content with the lists of errata as printed – he added yet more and expanded the concept to include his own suggested readings of terms.

Item no. 4: Galen, Opera omnia, volume I

Basel, Froben, 1538. 2o.

By 1538, Georg Agricola had identified many errors in the Aldine 1525 edition of Galen which needing emendation. The task was taken up by Leonard Fuchs, Hieronymus Gemuseus and Joachim Camerarius, who prepared the next edition of the Opera omnia, for Andreas Cratander and a consortium of Basle printers, which appeared in 1538 (Items nos 4 & 5). The Basle edition served as a reference for all subsequent editors of Greek treatises of Galen. Here, too, we find further insertions of material as is indicated by the typographical note addressed to the reader which explains the rationale governing the inclusion of work not present in the earlier Aldine edition.



Commentarius in magni Hippocratis Lib. I  Aphor. XXII.

Utrecht, 1701. 4o.

This copy of Edward Worth’s graduation thesis is displayed by kind permission of the Gilbert Library,  Dublin. The choice of Hippocrates’ Aphorisms as a topic for Worth’s doctoral dissertation was indicative of the central role Hippocratic medicine continued to play in the curricula of early modern European universities. Hippocrates’ Aphorisms was one of the set texts of medical study in the period.
Item no. 5: Galen, Opera omnia, Basel, Froben, 1538, volume V

Note on the Manuscript Addition

This volume includes a passage from the Greek text of De ossibus, copied in contemporary hand from the Paris 1543 editio princeps by Michel Vascosan. The passage in manuscript consists of five un-paginated folios, interleaved inside gathering 5Z. The text inserted is an exact copy of the 1543 Vascosan edition, but with most of the ligatures and contractions of the printed edition resolved. Furthermore, annotations in Latin, not present in Vascosan’s edition, have been added by the copyist in the margins. The width of the margins in the manuscript, evidence of close careful cropping and a fold in folio 4, strongly suggest that the copy was made with annotation in mind, and that transcriptions and annotations were completed before gathering 5Z was rebound in the volume. Volume V of the Worth Library copy of the Basel 1538 Opera omnia, testifies to the long editing tradition and to the complex transmission of Galen’s major osteological treatise De ossibus.

Copies of the catalogue of this exhibition are sold in the Worth Library.

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