Home >>> Browse >>> Detailed Description

Guainerio, Antonio - De Artetica et De Calculosa Passione (View Images)

Antonio Guaineri. De Artetica et De Calculosa Passione, in Latin. 15th-century manuscript on vellum, written in Italy. 96 ff. Bound in original wooden boards covered with stamped brown leather. 22 x 15 cm. Miniature in initial on f. 2, 46 illuminated initials. Acquired by Lehigh in 1881.

1. Antonio Guaineri, De Artetica Incip. Artetica est juncturarum dolor. ff. 1-61.

2. Antonio Guaineri, De Calculosa Passione. Incip. Summe calculosa passio. ff. 61-95.

Although ascribed in the Lehigh manuscript to Pope Nicholas V (1397-1455), the medical tracts contained in this manuscript are the work of the 15th century Italian Professor of Medicine Antonio Guaineri, who is recorded as lecturing at the University of Pavia in 1412-13, and again in 1448. In the intervening years he may have spent some time in Savoy and Liguria, as certain of his tracts identify him with these localities. He is perhaps most remembered for his work on the plague, De Peste, which he finished before 1440, the date of the earliest extant manuscript.

Guaineri was an academic physician at a time when Italian medicine was beginning to lead all Europe. His residence at Pavia put him in close contact with the Aristotelian scientific traditions that allied with medicine and flourished in northern Italy, since Pavia, with its strong medical school and relative freedom from theological dogma, stood, after Padua, in the first line of the newer scientific schools. Widely disseminated medical tracts like this one in Lehigh's collection were both a cause and a result of the new scientific consciousness that touched many in Italy, and that would receive lasting expression in an achievement like Galileo's.

Yet like other scientists represented in Lehigh's collection, Guaineri was not yet research oriented. Although in his plague tract he refers with evident approval to one physician who, though illiterate, was "a great experimenter," he himself still relied in no small part on the academic traditions that stood before him, and even allows that certain charms may be of help in warding off the plague. Yet for all of this he was careful to maintain the lasting ideals of learning and synthesis, and undoubtedly put into circulation, in such tracts as the one at Lehigh, a wealth of information that contributed much to the new science.

The ascription of the work in Lehigh's manuscript to Pope Nicholas V is interesting, since the work may have become identified with Nicholas either while the Pope was building up the Vatican library, a task in which he employed some hundred-and-seventy-five scribes to reproduce important manuscripts, or earlier, when the work was first published, some copies may have been dedicated to him. In his study "Vatican Latin Manuscripts in the History of Science and Medicine," (Isis, XIII (1929-30), 63-64). Lynn Thorndike identifies another medical tract by Benedict of Nursia which is dedicated to the Pope. As Nicholas, a judicious if unsuccessful diplomat and a foremost patron of art and science, was widely identified with the new learning, it would not be at all unusual for an author or scribe to attach his name to a particular volume.

In order to understand something of the diversity of scientific manuscripts in this period Guaineri's tracts should be compared with another Italian scientific manuscript of roughly the same period, the alchemical manuscript of Arnald of Brussels (No. 10). Arnald's manuscript, written for the most part in the compiler's own secretary hand, with its rearranged paper folios, eclectic design, and idcosyncratic organization contrasts starkly with the humanistic miniscule of the professional scribe, the ornate capitals, and the ordered vellum folios of the Guaineri manuscript. Unlike Arnald's manuscript, Guaineri's was intended not for the use of one man only, but for the broadly based, specialized, and still developing scientific community at large.

The tracts ate identified as Guaineri's in Appendix 46 of Lynn Thorndike's A History of Magic and Experimental Science, (New York, 1934), IV, 670-674. See also his chapter on Guaineri in the same volume, 215-231.

***Description taken from: Hirsh, John C. Western Manuscripts of the Twelfth through the Sixteenth Centuries in Lehigh University Libraries: A Guide to the Exhibition. Bethlehem, Pa.: Rare Book Room, Linderman Library, Lehigh University, 1970. pp. 24-25, manuscript no. 11.

Note, your browser is not standards-compliant, the content of the site is still accessible, but the full design will not be visible.

For more information about the project, contact the Digital Library digitlib@lehigh.edu

Lehigh University Digital Library

Conditions of Use

Valid XHTML 1.0