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‘For the Life of a Creature is in the Blood’ (Leviticus 17:11). Some Considerations on Blood as the Source of Life in Sixteenth-Century Religion and Medicine and their Interconnections

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Chapter Summary

In this chapter, two sixteenth-century medical authors, Levinus Lemnius and Andrea Cesalpino, are closely examined in order to highlight the value of blood in its various connotations for early modern medical doctors. By exposing its non-corporeal aspects, the association with God, especially with the Holy Spirit and its terrestrial emanation, becomes evident. No matter how much they exploited not only Aristotle, but also Galen, the arguments of both Lemnius and Cesalpino had at their centre a spiritualisation of blood. In his extensive regimina, the more traditional Levinus Lemnius emphasised the spiritus vitalis that determined the quality of blood. At its most refined stage, it approached the spiritus universalis, and almost converged with the Holy Spirit. Likewise, the Aristotelian Cesalpino placed the heart and the spiritualised human fuel, blood, again and again at the centre, bringing everything back to its origin, God: the deus rotator.

Keywords:Andrea Cesalpino; blood; deus rotator; God; Holy Spirit; Levinus Lemnius; sixteenth-century medical author; spiritus universalis; spiritus vitalis

10.1163/9789004229204_019
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