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The Latin Editions of Galen's Opera omnia (1490–1625) and Their Prefaces

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Between 1490 to 1625, twenty-two editions of Galen's opera omnia were published in Latin, while only two in Greek. In the Western world Galen's literary production was mostly known through Latin translations, even in the sixteenth century, when Greek medicine was being rediscovered in its original language. The paper discusses the twenty-two Latin editions of Galen's writings and how they evolved. In these editions the number of works increased, especially from 1490 to 1533, while later, from 1576–1577 to 1586, forged commentaries on Hippocrates were added, when Galenic medicine was declining. Moreover, in 1490 Galen's works were printed in medieval translations from Arabic and Greek, while by 1541–1542 most of them had already received new humanist translations. The humanist translations, which started about 1480, depended on Greek manuscripts until 1525, when the Aldine provided the standard Greek text of Galen. Afterwards, the Greek manuscripts were used to correct the Latin, especially in the editions from 1541–1542 to 1565. Therefore the complete Latin editions included most of the philological work on Galen during the sixteenth century, as well as discussions on the authorship of some works, on the order in which they had to be read or printed, and on their selection for medical education.

Affiliations: 1: Università Politecnica delle Marche, via Tronto 10/A, I-60100 Ancona, Italy;, Email:


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