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date: 23 May 2024

Cornelius Celsus, Auluslocked

Cornelius Celsus, Auluslocked

  • J. T. Vallance


Cornelius Celsus, Aulus, lived in the reign of *Tiberius (14 ce–37), and wrote an encyclopaedia on the Artes, including books on agriculture, military science, rhetoric (and perhaps on philosophy and jurisprudence). Of these only the books on medicine survive. The eight books of the De medicina include an historical introduction to Greek medicine and a discussion of origins of *dietetics and medical theory (bk. 1, with proem), *pathology and therapeutics (bk. 2), special treatments (bks. 3–4), drug-lore (bks. 5–6, see pharmacology), *surgery (bk. 7), and skeletal *anatomy (bk. 8). Celsus has been linked with *Methodism and even Pyrrhonian scepticism (see pyrrhon), but attempts to connect him with a particular medical or philosophical sect have never been conclusive. Some have even doubted that he was a doctor himself, but his understanding of highly technical details of medical practice, especially in surgery, where he refers more than once to his own experience, militates against this. Surprisingly perhaps, his influence on medicine in later antiquity seems to have been negligible, and it was only when he was rediscovered in the Middle Ages that he came to be highly valued—as much for the quality of his Latin as for his medical knowledge. The proem to book 1 is one of the most important ancient sources for the history of Greek medicine, covering the period from the Homeric epics to Celsus’ own day. See botany; medicine.


  • Science, Technology, and Medicine

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