Galen (129 – circa 200/216) was a Greek physician, surgeon, and philosopher in the Roman Empire. He was born the city of Pergamum in Asia Minor (present-day Turkey). His extant works total over 120 treatises and 3 million words, although it is estimated this accounts for only a third of what he wrote. Although his works were not translated into Latin in the ancient period, they were translated into Arabic.
The Library holds over 200 books in English, German, and Latin related to Galen and his works, including 10a 233: De crisibus libri III (On crises). The Library’s copy of De crisibus, as mentioned last week, was written in the first half of the 13th-century in France, and is Gerard of Cremona’s translation. Gerard of Cremona (1113 or 1114-1187) was an Italian translator of books from Arabic into Latin.
Two weeks ago we talked about lapis lazuli and its use in blue inks, although it was not used in the coat of arms in 10a 189 (see the post here). This week we’ll be looking at the green ink used in 10a 233 – Galen’s De crisibus libri III, in the translation of Gerard of Cremona.
The Library’s copy of De crisibus was written in first half of the 13th century (1200 – 1250) in France. We will learn more about Galen (129 – circa 200/216) in subsequent posts, but he was a Greek physician, surgeon and philosopher in the Roman Empire.
Two weeks ago we examined the lovely dentelle initial on folio 1r of 10a 189. On that same page are the Duke of Ferrara’s coat of arms, also painted. The coat of arms consists of a dark red carnation and green leaves on either side, inside a gold-leafed ring set with a blue stone.
In medieval medicine, humoral medicine was a common practice. (For more about the humors, see my earlier post here.) When patients were ill, food and drugs – often plant-derived – were prescribed, taking into account not only the symptoms, but also his or her temperament, age, location, and time of year.
Balancing the humors seems to me to have been somewhat precarious at times. If one was too choleric (hot and dry), foods and herbs that were considered cold and moist were prescribed. However, too much could cause a swing in the opposite direction. Foods were assigned qualities similar to those of the four humors – for example, cucumbers and watermelons were considered cool and moist.