Sunday, September 22, 2013

Medieval Medicine

Few existing manuscripts are completely devoted to the antidotaries and receptaries, words used to describe the Latin recipe literature, although numerous medical and non-medical manuscripts contain folios of prescriptions for all sorts of afflictions. The authorship is always anonymous. Sigerist and Jorimann agreed that the antidotaries were compiled by monks having some medical knowledge. Most recipes are derived directly out of the works ancient authors, especially Alexander of Tralles, Aetius or Amida, and Paul of Aegina, but not two antidotary or receptary are alike. Individuality and originality are present in so far as the compiler had to make the selection himself from the plentiful supply of prescriptions in ancient texts and, therewith, came person al judgment. Galen was the most named author, Hippocrates being in the background, but many classical names were attached to the prescriptions. Some have emperors’ names, e. g., Vespasian and Alexander of Macedonia, and other writers of the early middle ages, e. g., Afrodisius, Thomas, Gentilis, Neuclerius, and Eugenius. There is evidence that new material was translated from the Greek. Still some recipes cannot be attributed to extant classical works, and it is certain there were new additions. What we have in most cases are original compilations, Sigerist said, which the writer has gathered for the necessity of his monastic needs.(Read more.)

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