Ancient Greek Physician’s Scarce Text

Aretaeus. [Title in Greek]... The Extant Works of Aretaeus, the Cappadocian. Edited and translated by Francis Adams.

London: Printed for the Sydenham Society, 1856. 225 by 150mm (8¾ by 6 inches). Orig. blind stamped cloth with gild embossed coats-of-arms on both covers, finely re-backed in tooled calf with red morocco spine label. Top edges gilt; [2], xx, 240; [241]-510 pp. A preliminary leaf has the imprint of The Sydenham Society”. Index. Two parts in one (the first is the Greek text with English footnotes, the second is the English translation). First edition.

Very good except top fore-corner with wear from an old water stain. Prior owner’s inscription on fly-leaf and one in pencil on title page.

Aretaeus is one of the most celebrated ancient Greek physicians. He lived in the 2nd century AD and offered verbose clinical descriptions of a number of diseases including asthma, epilepsy, pneumonia, tetanus, uterine cancer, liver cancer, and different kinds of insanity. He wrote the first known description of coeliac disease, naming it a disease of the abdomen. He also wrote the first known description of diabetes.

This book is a broad compilation of Aretaeus’ work. It starts by offering causes and symptoms of a long list of acute diseases; then proceeds to causes and symptoms of chronic diseases. The 2nd half of the book addresses therapeutics of acute diseases, and concludes with cures of chronic diseases.

The following is an example of Aretaeus’ flowery style. Pertaining to an affliction of the spleen on p. 327 he states:

The patients are of a dark-green colour, are subject to rigors, become faintish, in-active, spiritless; emit a fetid smell, have a bitter taste, breathe with difficulty, are pinched in the bowels; alvine evacuations like leeks, darkish, dry, passed with difficulty; urine deeply tinged with black; without digestion, without appetite; restless, spiritless, melancholic.”

The Sydenham Society, which published the book, is named after Thomas Sydenham, a 17th Century physician in London who later became known as the English Hippocrates.”


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Stock Code: 1034B19 Collection:


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