Girolamo Cardano. Line engraving by K. Ammon, 1652.

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Girolamo Cardano. Line engraving by K. Ammon, 1652. Wellcome Collection. Public Domain Mark. Source: Wellcome Collection.

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Hieronymus Cardanus Mediolanensis medicinae doctor aetatis LXXI. Carduus hic pupugit subtilem voce magistrum: / Ex herbis nomen das? Benedictus erit. The Latin verse can be paraphrased as: The thistle ("carduus") here pricked the subtle master with its name. You name him after plants? Then he will be "Benedictus" (blessed). Carduus benedictus is a type of thistle widely used in medicine and known variously as Cnicus benedictus, Centaurea calcitrapa, Centaurea cyanus, Centaurea benedicta, and Carduus benedictus. The verse suggests that Cardano, being a prickly scholar, was well named after the thistle (carduus), and that because he was blessed with genius, the type of thistle would be the Benedictus or "blessed" one.

References note

R. Burgess, Portraits of doctors & scientists in the Wellcome Institute, London 1973, no. 538.1


Wellcome Collection 1640i


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