Ancients and Moderns in the Medical Sciences: From Hippocrates to Harvey, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Ancients and Moderns in the Medical Sciences

From Hippocrates to Harvey, 1st Edition

By Roger French


304 pages

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Hardback: 9780860788348
pub: 2000-05-10
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The theme of this book is the growth of the European tradition of medical theory, from the early Middle Ages until its collapse in the seventeenth century. Central to this tradition were ancient texts and the respect accorded to the ancients themselves by the moderns, the teachers and practitioners of medicine of the Middle Ages and Renaissance. The chapters examine how the ancient texts formed a resource for later medical men and how as a consequence they were sought out, translated and used. Three matters receive particular attention: the classroom culture by which the teachers perpetuated their pupil’s faith in the ancient texts; the use of learning and argumentation by which the university doctors secured their reputation; and medical astrology as a prognostic technique. The story ends when the faith that had been given to Aristotle and Galen, and which held the medical tradition together, was broken, partly by the new natural philosophy and partly by the discovery of the circulation of the blood.


'…anyone interested in the development of medicine and medical ideas down to Harvey will benefit greatly from reading them… a fine attention to detail. The strength of Roger French…lay always in his very careful reading and exposition of texts, exemplified here by his work on Gentile, Zerbi, Alfred of Shareshill, and Berengario.' Medical History

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction; Acknowledgements; Greek fragments of the lost books of Galen’s Anatomical Procedures; De Juvamentis Membrorum and the reception of Galenic physiological anatomy; An origin for the bone text of the ’five-figure series’; A note on the anatomical accessus of the Middle Ages; Fortelling the future: Arabic astrology and English medicine in the late twelfth century; Astrology in medical practice; The use of Alfred of Shareshill’s commentary on De Plantis in university teaching in the thirteenth century; Gentile da Foligno and the via medicorum; The medical ethics of Gabriel de Zerbi; Berengario da Carpi and the use of commentary in anatomical teaching; Pliny and Renaissance medicine; The languages of William Harvey’s natural philosophy; Index.

About the Series

Variorum Collected Studies

The first title in the Variorum Collected Studies series was published in 1970. Since then well over 1000 titles have appeared in the series, and it has established a well-earned international reputation for the publication of key research across a whole range of subjects within the fields of history.

The history of the medieval world remains central to the series, with Byzantine studies a particular speciality, but the range of titles extends from Hellenistic philosophy and the history of the Roman empire and early Christianity, through the Renaissance and Reformation, up to the 20th century. Islamic Studies forms another major strand as do the histories of science, technology and medicine.

Each title in the Variorum Collected Studies series brings together for the first time a selection of articles by a leading authority on a particular subject. These studies are reprinted from a vast range of learned journals, Festschrifts and conference proceedings. They make available research that is scattered, even inaccessible in all but the largest and most specialized libraries. With a new introduction and index, and often with new notes and previously unpublished material, they constitute an essential resource. 

For further information about contributing to the series please contact Michael Greenwood at [email protected]

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General