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


This compendium of medical texts was printed in Lyon, in the shop of Benoît Bonyn (active 1523–44) in 1523. The major part and most significant text is by the renowned Nestorian Persian physician Yūḥannā Ibn Māsawayh (circa 790–857), known in the Latin West as Mesue, who 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 modern 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 Baghdād, 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. Ibn Māsawayh 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 is reduced to 12 chapters, starting with electuaries and opiates and ending with a chapter on oils. 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 this work (comprising the Summula of Jacobi and the Modus medendi Cophonis) may have been printed separately—perhaps in Florence, as indicated by the coat of arms depicting the Florentine fleur-de-lys—and then bound with the remainder of the work in a single volume. Of the other authors presented in this volume, Petrus de Abano (circa 12570–circa 1315) was a notable medieval scholar. He was a philosopher, astrologer, and a professor of medicine in Padua, who was posthumously convicted by the Inquisition and burned in effigy.

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Benoît Bonyn, Lyon


Title in Original Language

Dn̄i mesus vita. Doctorum artis peonie cognomina. Canōes divi Mesue de (con)solatione medicinarū et correctione operationū earūdem. Grabadin eiusdem Mesue medicinarum universaliū quod antidotaiū nuncupatur. Liber eiusdem medicinarum particularium ; Additio Petri apponi ... ī librū Joā. Mesue ; Antidotarium Dn̄i Nicolai ; Cophonis ... isagoge ; Sūmula Jacobi de (par)ti(bus) super plurimis remediis ex antidotario ipsi(us) Mesue excerptis

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695 pages ; 15 centimeters

Last updated: June 17, 2014