"JUSTLY ESTEEMED ONE OF THE MOST VALUABLE AMONGST THE ANCIENTS": FIRST EDITION IN ENGLISH OF CELSUS' OF MEDICINE, 1758
CELSUS, Aulus Cornelius. (GREIVE, James). A. Cornelius Celsus Of Medicine. London: Printed for D. Wilson and T. Durham, 1756. Octavo, full contemporary calf gilt rebacked with original spine laid down, raised bands, original red morocco spine label. $8000.
Scarce first edition in English, Greive's "fine and scholarly" translation (DNB) of "the greatest medical treatise from ancient Rome."
"Roman literature, otherwise so barren of good medical authorities, can boast of possessing in Celsus one who, for elegance, terseness, learning, good sense and practical information, stands unrivaled" (Peck, 308). Celsus' De Medicina "is the oldest medical document after the Hippocratic writings. Written about AD 30, it remains the greatest medical treatise from ancient Rome, and the first Western history of medicine;" its editio princeps, printed in Florence in 1478, "was one of the first medical books to be printed" (Garrison & Morton 20). Celsus' work is notable for containing important, early Western accounts of dentistry (including treatments of toothaches and fractured jaws) and surgery (including the first accounts of the use of ligature and early descriptions of plastic surgery). A physician and lecturer in chemistry, Grieve "omitted no pains in examining the various editions of his original, nor in consulting his best annotators" in preparing this first edition in English: "Whoever has sufficient leisure and disposition for an attentive perusal of this work must perceive it has cost the Translator much time, care, and study… Dr. Grieve has shown himself a gentleman of literature and application" (Brueggemann, 641). Extra-illustrated with engraved plate depicting the Ambe of Hippocrates preceding leaf A2. Garrison & Morton 6375. Blake, 82. Lowndes, 399. Bookplate. Engraved title page from a 1687 edition of De Medicina published in Amsterdam by Joannem Wolters affixed to front pastedown. With portion of a line engraving (measuring 3 by 6 inches) regarding 17th-century cancer patients affixed to rear pastedown. The Wellcome Library holds another, larger fragment of the same broadside, and believes it to be an advertisement for "the services of an English travelling healer, possibly Sir William Read (d. 1715)… Read was oculist to Queen Anne, traveled around England treating people for cataract, cancer and other diseases, flaunted his services to charity and received a knighthood for his charitable services" (Wellcome Library).
Scattered light foxing. Title page with excised strip renewed, including the word "OF" from the title. Binding expertly restored. A most desirable copy in contemporary binding. Scarce.