Like the first-century BC Roman gentleman Marcus Terentius Varro (JAMA
cover, September 1, 1999), his slightly younger contemporary Aulus Cornelius
Celsus (fl 25 AD) wrote an encyclopedia. Entitled De artibus, it included treatises on agriculture, the military art, rhetoric,
medicine, and possibly on philosophy and jurisprudence as well. Unfortunately,
all of the encyclopedia has been lost except for the eight books on medicine
known as De medicina. Still, they are gem enough,
especially when one realizes that we have them today very likely only by chance.
Thomas of Sazanne (later Pope Nicholas V) discovered the manuscript in Milan
in the mid 15th century. Some 35 years later—less than 25 years after
movable type had first appeared—De medicina
was printed, one of the first works of medicine to be thus reproduced; the editio princeps (cover)
appeared in Florence in 1478.
Southgate MT. De medicina. JAMA. 1999;282(10):921. doi:10.1001/jama.282.10.921
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