Greek Medical Texts

Early 15th century
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Greek Medical Texts. Public Domain Mark. Source: Wellcome Collection.

About this work


The paper and handwriting indicate early fifteenth century date. The whole book is the work of one scribe. The handwriting is neat and careful and rubrics are freely employed. There are ornamental head- and tail-pieces to many of the pages. The manuscript consists of a collection of extracts from the works of various Greek medical writers down to the end of the Byzantine period. Over forty different opuscula can be identified. The manuscript is on the whole in good preservation, but some of the folios are water-stained and many are badly wormed. The book bears evidence of having been much used by its original possessor, for whom it must have been compiled from many different sources, for in addition to the excerpts from writers of note, such as Hippocrates and Galen, it contains extracts from lesser known works, some of which are exceeding rare.


1. ff. 1-12: The Aphorisms of Hippocrates, books i-vii.

2. ff. 13-19: The Prognostics of Hippocrates.

3. ff. 20-45: A table from the Dynameron of Nicolaus Myrepsos of Nicaea (fl. A.D. 1290). The work is a formulary compiled from the pharmacies of Greek, Latin and Arabic writers.

4. f. 46, first 8 lines: A short anonymous tract entitled What is Man? in the form of questions and answers.

5. f. 46: A treatise entitled On the Creation of the World and of Man. An anonymous work, of which another copy has been published by Julius Ludwig Ideler, Physici et Medici Graeci Minores, Berlin 1841-2, Vol. i, pp. 303-4. The text of this manuscript corresponds to the first three sections of that of Ideler.

6. op. cit. p. 304: On the Four Orders, corresponding to § 4 of Ideler's text (f. 46v).

7. ff. 46v-48: A treatise On Generation, corresponding to the anonymous work published by Ideler, op. cit., Vol. i, pp. 294-296.

8. ff. 48-50: An alphabetical lexicon of materia medica "compiled from all the Greek writers in alphabetical order".

9. ff. 50v-53: On the Substitutes of Paulus Aegineta. This is the 25th chapter of Book vii of Paulus.

10. ff. 53-55: A treatise On Sweats, anonymous.

11. f. 55: On Digestion, anonymous.

12. ff. 55v-56: On Animal Force.

13. ff. 56-57: On the Measures of Galen.

14. ff. 57-58: A treatise entitled On the Twelve Precious Stones. In reference to the stones on the breastplate of the Jewish highpriest.

15. ff. 58v-59: Astrological formulæ, and a diagram (in red) of seven concentric circles. This section is written by a different hand from that of the rest of the manuscript.

16. ff. 60-61: A tract entitled Explanation of the Foundation of the Earth.

17. ff. 61-71: Astrological diagrams and figures followed by a long explanatory text.

18. f. 71v: A botanical list in four columns, headed Syriac Names of Plants.

19. f. 72: Miscellaneous prescriptions, with many miscellaneous scribblings and jottings on the back. Possibly an intrusive folio from another manuscript.

20. ff. 73-77: A catalogue headed: A Table of Certain Treatises.

21. ff. 78-124: The treatises referred to in the above list (No. 20) from "the most wise and learned Galen, Hippocrates, Paulus, Aetius, and many other ancient physicians". Arranged in the head-to-foot order.

22. ff. 125-126: A table of certain treatises compiled by Demetrius Pepagomenos. Demetrius was court physician to the Emperor Michael VII (1261-1281). He wrote several monographs of which only two have arrived entire, i.e., those upon sick animals and upon gout.

23. ff. 126v-138: The extracts referred to in the above table (No. 22).

24. f. 138: A work entitled On the Temperaments.

25. ff. 138v-142: The treatise Stephanus on the Distinction of Fevers. Stephanus was the father of Alexander of Tralles.

26. ff. 142v-162: The treatise of Simeon Seth, On Foods. This treatise on the curative properties of foods is compiled from writers of works on Greek, Persian, Arabic and Indian materia medica. Twelfth century A.D.

27. ff. 163-169: A work entitled On the Method of Administering Remedies.

28. ff. 170-171: A work entitled Galen on the Distinction of Urines.

29. ff. 171-179: A work entitled Theophilus on the Sediments in Urine. Theophilus, a Christian physician of the Byzantine School 610-641, was the first to write specially on the study of urine, its colour, consistence and the prognosis to be drawn from it.

30. ff. 177-184: An anonymous work on urine

31. ff. 184-185: An extract from Theophilus, On Excrements. Similar to, but not identical with the text published by Ideler, op. cit., Vol. i, pp. 397-408.

32. ff. 185v-187: A summarized version of Actuarius on Urines.

33. ff. 187v-189: A fragment of On the Signs of Diseases attributed to Maximus Planudus. Corresponding to the text printed in Ideler, op. cit., Vol. ii, pp. 318-322.

34. ff. 189v-191: An anonymous work entitled An Explanation of Crystals according to Hippocrates. The attribution of this to Hippocrates, is, of course, apocryphal.

35. f. 191: A fragment entitled Explanation of Galen on the Ischium.

36. f. 191: A fragment entitled An Exact Synopsis of Urines from the Persian authors, equivalent to the text printed by Ideler, op. cit., Vol. ii, pp. 305-6, De Urinis secundum Persas.

37. f. 192: An anonymous fragment headed On the Four Elements of the Body.

38. f. 192v: An anonymous fragment headed On the Five Senses.

39. ff. 198-199: An apocryphal work attributed to Galen, On the Pulse.

40. ff. 198-199: Another anonymous fragment headed On the Pulse.

41. ff. 199-205: A work entitled Theophilus on the Pulse.

42. ff. 206-220: The first book of the Euporista of Galen.

43. ff. 220-221: A collection of remedies for pains in the feet, attributed to "the Egyptian Hermes Trismegistos".


Early 15th century

Physical description

221 folios 8vo. 21.5 × 14 cm. Early eighteenth century leather binding, rebacked.

Related material

In Wellcome Collection:

ff. 20-45, cf. MS. No. 134.

ff. 53-55, cf. MS. No. 52.

ff. 184-185, cf. MS. No. 52 B, f. 354v.

ff. 185v-187, cf. MS. No. 124.

Held elsewhere: ff. 138v-142, another manuscript containing this text was in the Library of Sir Thomas Phillips (1792-1872) at Middle Hall, Broadway, Worcestershire [Phillips MS. 1532, f. 7].

ff. 171-179, there is a duplicate of this text in MS. Bodleian 261 (Codex Roe XV), f. 86.

ff. 189v-191, there are two duplicates of this text in the Bodleian, Codex Roe XV, f. 101, and Codex Baroccianus LXXXVIII, f. 47.

f. 191, there is a duplicate of this text in the Bodleian, Codex Roe XV, f. 102v.

ff. 170-171, there is a similar text in MS. Bodleian 261 (Codex Roe XV), f. 89v.

ff. 199-205, a similar text has been published by Franciscus Zacharias Emerinus, Anecdota Medica Græca e Codicibus Manuscriptis, Leiden 1840, p. 70.

Finding aids

Described in: Warren R. Dawson, Manuscripta medica. A descriptive catalogue of the manuscripts in the Library of the Medical Society of London (London, 1932).

Ownership note

This volume was originally in the library of Anthony Askew, but it lacks the usual note to this effect by James Sims.

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