Compendium of Medical Texts by Mesue, with Additional Writings by Various Authors


The renowned Nestorian Persian physician Yūḥannā Ibn Māsawayh (circa 777–857), known in the Latin West as Mesue, was born in Samarra, present-day Iraq. According to al-Qiftī, Yūḥannā’s father, Abu Yūḥannā Māsawayh, a physician at the famed medical center at Jundīshāpūr (in southwest Persia, near present-day Dezful), was asked to establish a hospital in Baghdad during the reign of Caliph Hārūn al-Rashīd (ruled 786–809). Ibn Māsawayh continued the work of his father in Baghdad, teaching medicine, composing medical works, and treating patients. Ibn Māsawayh began his career at the court of Hārūn al-Rashīd, and remained at the Abbasid court during the reigns of al-Ma’mūn, al-Muʻtaṣam, al-Wāthiq, and al-Mutawakkil. He wrote many medical works, a large number of which survive only as Latin translations. Among his works are al-Nawādir al-ibbiya (Medical rarities); Kitāb al-azminah (The book of times), which is on Islamic calendrical science; Kitāb fi al-judhām (Book on leprosy); and Kitab al-tashrīh (Book of anatomy). His al-Qrabādhīn (Book on combined medications) was written in 22 chapters. In the Latin edition presented here, the work has been reduced to 12 chapters, starting with medicinal conserves and opiates and ending with a chapter on oils. It is part of compendium of medical texts that was printed in Lyon, in the shop of Benoît Bonyn (active 1523–44) in 1540 (the colophon is dated to 1539). The book is printed from woodblocks, with the title in red and black. The cover page has an ownership signature and some notes, with two small stamps near the title. The last 30 or so pages of the book (comprising the Summula of Jacobi and the Modus medendi Cophonis) may have been printed separately, possibly in Florence, as indicated by the coat of arms depicting the Florentine fleur-de-lys, and bound with the remainder of the work in a single volume. Of the other authors presented in this volume, Petrus de Abano (circa 1250–circa 1315), was a noteworthy philosopher, astrologer, and professor of medicine in Padua, who was posthumously convicted of heresy by the Inquisition and burned in effigy.

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Benoît Bonyn, Lyon


Title in Original Language

Textus Mesue. Doctorum celeberrimorum artis peonie cognomina... Mesue vita. Canones universales ... Mesue de consolatione medicinarum: et correctione operationum earumdem. Grabadin ejusdem Mesue medicinarum universalium quod antidotarium nuncupatur. Liber ejusdem medicinarum particularium. Additio Petri Apponi ... in librum Joannis Mesue. Antidotarium ... Nicolai. Cophonis ... Isagoge. Summula Jacobi de Partibus per alphabetum super plurimis remediis ex antidotario ipsius Mesue excerptis

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354 pages ; 14 centimeters

Last updated: June 17, 2014