Hamish Riley-Smith

Rare Books And Manuscripts


Octoginta Volumina. Rome 1525 First edition

‘The Father of Medicine’ – a physician’s copy

HIPPOCRATES.[c.460-c.375 BC]
Octoginta volumina.
Rome, Franciscus Minutius Calvus 1525

Folio, 280 x 205 cm, late 18th or early 19th century morocco, stained, spine gilt, darkened, lettered gilt, contemporary marbled endpapers, 410 leaves, woodcut title page border entirely unshaved at the top and rarely found thus, Roman, italic and gothic types, table of contents in double columns, index in three columns, printed shoulder notes, large woodcut initials, some browning and old damp staining to upper margins throughout, insignificant wormhole to upper margin of last few leaves, engraved armorial bookplate of Johnstone to front pastedown, library stamp to lower blank margins of nine leaves, complete with colophon and final blank, an excellent large copy.


Printing & the Mind of Man 55. Adams, H567. Grolier, Medicine 1A. Wellcome 3177. NLM 2320.

1. Johnstone, armorial bookplate, either Edward Johnstone [1757-1851], physician, first President of the provincial Medical & Surgical Association, one of the original physicians of the Birmingham General Hospital; or his brother John Johnstone [1768-1836] physician at the General Hospital. Gifted to
2. Birmingham General Hospital, founded 1779, whose books were gifted to
3. Birmingham Medical Institute Library founded 1875

An important and interesting copy, with the woodcut title entirely unshaved and a copy belonging to an 18th century English physician who gifted it to his local hospital.
The Greek physician Hippocrates was regarded as the ‘Father of Medicine’ because he was the first to insist that the art of healing depended on scientific method and ethical observation. Probably born on the island of Cos, where there was some sort of medical school linked with the cult of Aesculapius. There he is said to have taught under a plane tree. The so-called Hippocratic collection, which almost certainly comprises not only his own work but that of pupils and followers, consists of more than seventy books on medicine, of which the Aphorisms and the Airs, Waters and Places are among the most important: the section on epidemics is of great int6erest as are the clinical descriptions such as pneumonia, malaria and mumps. Descriptions of the ancient instruments are an interesting part of the surgical writings. Hippocrates proscribed a code of medical ethics for his disciples, summarised in the traditional Hippocratic Oath still administered today to physicians on qualification.
“The ‘Hippocratic collection’...contains eighty works. They include contributions by various authors and schools but all are inspired by Hippocratic ideals...The first Greek edition was published by Aldus in 1526” PMM
Marcus Fabio Calvo of Ravenna, a friend of Raphael, prepared a complete Latin translation of the Hippocratic corpus, collating and writing out his own manuscript of the Greek text, depending on mainly a 14th century manuscript, but also consulting a 12th century codex that is one of the oldest and most important Hippocratic manuscripts. The source manuscripts and Calvo’s Greek text and Latin translation are preserved in the Vatican Library.
The bookseller and printer Francesco Calvo printed Marcus Fabio Calvo’s Latin translation of Hippocrates in Rome in 1525.

 HIPPOCRATES - Octoginta Volumina. Rome 1525 First edition

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