Patrick's Rare Books

Paul of Aegina, Opus De Re Medica, 1532

Paul of Aegina, Opus De Re Medica, 1532

Pauli Aeginetae Opus De Re Medica, Nunc Primum Integrum Latinitate Donatum, Per Ioannem Guinterium Andernacum, Doctorem Medicum. Parisiis Apud Simonem Colinaeum. 1532 Cum Privilegio Regio. 


Folio volume rebound with vellum spine and corners with paste paper over boards. Title plate, raised bands, and gold text and lines on spine. Red speckled page edges. New end papers. Title page decorated with chimeric figure of a winged man with hoofs carrying a sickle. Set in Roman font with ample margins and 80 decorative capitals. Some leaves with damp stain at bottom corner. Some leaves with small closed tears near gutter. Neither of these defects affecting the text. Otherwise, a remarkably fresh copy which is crisp, clean, bright, and tight throughout. 


Bibliotheca Osleriana, pg 41, “Paulus Aegineta, 625-90...[entry] 439... Opus de Re Medica, nunc primum integrum Latinitate donatum, per Ioannem Guinterium, fol. Par., apud Simonem Colinaeum, 1532. Each of the 7 bks. Has sep. Page. &c. Ornamented woodcut initials. There were also Latin trls. By Albanus Torinus..., and Janus Cornarius.....” 

See Garrison-Morton 36 (“based on a new, improved text and included all seven books in the translation of J. Winter of Andernach.”), as well as 6013.1, which lists Johannes Guinterius (Ioannem Guinterium [Gwinther, Winther, Gwinter, Winter] as also authoring a treatise on gynecology). 


In relation to Vesalius, Nuland gives the following honest account: 

“His [Vesalius’] self-taught expertise did not go unappreciated. When one of his teachers, Guinter of Andernach, prepared to compile from Galen a small unillustrated book of anatomy, he asked his obviously gifted student for help. In the publication that came out of the ensuing labors, Guinter correctly described his assistant as “a youth of great promise with a remarkable knowledge of medicine and of Greek and Latin, and great dexterity in dissection.” Vesalius, never one to praise the undeserving or to understate his own contributions, was less respectful to his mentor, writing some years later: ‘I reverence him on many counts, and in my published writings I have honored him as my teacher; but I wish there may be inflicted on my body, one for one, as many strokes as I have ever seen him attempt to make incisions in the bodies of men or bests, except at the dinner table.’”


“Paul of Aegina (AD 625-690) was also a chronicler of the writing of Rufus (of Ephesus, AD98-117, “certainly the greatest medical link between Hippocrates and Galen”). Paul was the last of the Greek Physicians who preserved the writings that had been compiled over the millennium. The description of the plague by Rufus, retold by Paul, recounts the environment in which it flourished, the symptoms and physical signs of the afflicted and the symptomatic treatment.” (Talbott, A Biographical History of Medicine, 1970, pg 11) 

Thornton’s Medical Books, Libraries and Collectors, 2nd ed, 1966, states: “The last of the Greek compilators, Paul of Aegina (Paulus Aegineta)(625-690), summarized all that was previously known on medicine, but his surgery was more original.” (pg 14) 


“Francis Adams (1796-1861), of Banchory was outstanding for his remarkable translations of Greek medical classics.... Adams began his translation of Paul of Aegina in November, 1827 and completed it on April 28, 1829. Volume one was published in 1834, but the printer failed, and it was later published by the Sydenham Society as The seven books of Paulus Aegineta, three volumes, 1844-1847.” (pg 191) 

Brown’s Old Masterpieces in Surgery, 1928, pg 17-21, gives: 

“The last of the great surgeons of the Byzantine period was Paulus of Aegina. With his passing the final spark of the old Greek culture and science was extinguished so far as it could be called Greek. The so-called Dark Ages were ushered in and culture in art and science passed on to the Arabians. Being the last of the great Greeks, Paulus’ wok was taken as the most modern compilation of the time.... Notwithstanding the prominence of Paulus of Aegina as a surgeon, practically nothing is known of his life. Even the date of the period during which he lived is a matter of dispute. His name establishes fairly well that he was born on the Island of Aegina.... Concerning his is reasonable to believe that he was a product of the school of Alexandria. 

“(his book) was translated into Latin.... The first edition of the Guinter (Andernach) translation was published in Paris (1532). 

“In the Andernach translation a delightful touch is given to the book by the wood cut initial letters of the chapters. For Example, the ornamental capital letter Q which heads the surgical book depicts two cupids walking on crutches. 

“Paulus begins the surgery with the head, goes on to the eyes and gradually travels downward, ending with fracture and ulcer of the foot. He thus covers the entire body. One finds that he operated upon man conditions—As a rhinologist he removed polypi, as an ophthalmologist he removed pterygium and in the mouth he not only extracted teeth but also performed tonsillotomy. In general surgery he operated upon hernia, opened empyema with the actual cautery, and in urology he removed stones by lithotomy. As a ware surgeon he evidently had considerable experience in removal of foreign bodies. In this manipulation he calls attention to the technique that Pare emphasized nine centuries later in the Brissot case: that in removing a foreign body the patient must be placed in the position in which he was when the foreign body entered. He devotes also considerable attention to fractures and dislocations. His direction for reduction and immobilization are quite clear. He makes use of traction by machines for reduction and splints for immobilization.”