First printed editions of the Hippocratic Collection
at the Bibliothèque Interuniversitaire de Santé of Paris (BIU Santé)

Presentation by Marie-Laure Monfort
National Center for Scientific Research
University of Paris IV - Sorbonne
Laboratory "Ancient Medicine"
Director : Jacques Jouanna


NB : The texts in ancient Greek of this website
use polytonic font Greek Old Face.

 Books list

The printed editions of Hippocrates’complete works which were published during 16th Century are the first to reveal to the public a corpus of approximately sixty medical textbooks : these are assumingly attributed to Hippocrates of Cos, who was a physician born in 460 B.C. and who died between 375 and 351 B.C. Before the Renaissance only some textbooks from Hippocrates were known. These had been translated into Latin during the Middle Ages and had spread through the "Articellae", whereas Galenus was considered as the main ancient author conveying Greek medical doctrine. 

Among the BIU Santé holdings concerning Hippocrates’humanistic editions, one can find the five most significant complete editions of the "Collection". They have been scanned because of their primary importance for the history of texts.

They are :

Hippocratis Octoginta volumina, quibus maxima ex parte, annorum circiter duo millia Latina caruit lingua. Graeci vero, Arabes, et prisci nostri medici, plurimis tamen utilibus praetermissis, scripta sua illustrarunt, nunc tandem per M. Fabium Calvum Latinitate donata ac nunc primum in lucem aedita. 
Romae, ex aedibus Francisci Minitii Calvi, 1525
818 p. = MS 92 - BIUM 23

Original pages show Roman numerals, with many pagination mistakes. The displayed order is here the correct order of the pages, irrespective of the original mistakes.

Ἅπαντα τὰ τοῦ Ἱπποκράτουϛ Omnia opera Hippocratis.
Venetiis, in aedibus Aldi, et Andreae Asulani soceri, 1526
240 p. = MS 102 - BIUM 21

Folio-pagination : r (front- page), v (back)

Ἱπποκράτουϛ Κῷου ἰατροῦ παλαιοτάτου πάντων ἅλλων κορυφαίου βιβλία ἅπαντα. Hippocratis Coi medici vetustissimi, et omnium aliorum principis, libri omnes ad vetustos codices sumo studio collati et restaurati.
Basileae, Hieronymus Frobenius et Nicolaus Episcopius, 1538
572 p. = MS 167 - BIUM 18
Hippocratis Coi, medicorum omnium longe principis, opera quae apud nos extant omnia. Per Janum Cornarium (...) Latina lingua conscripta (...)
Basileae, per Hieronymum Frobenium et Nicolaum Episcopium, 1546
727 p. = MS 231 - BIUM 19
Τοῦ μεγάλου Ἱπποκράτουϛ πάντων των ἰατρων κορυφαίου τὰ εὑρισκομένα (...) Opera omnia quae extant in VIII sectiones ex Erotiani mente distributa. Nunc recens Latina interpretatione et annotationibus illustrata. Anutio Foesio Mediomatrico medico authore. Adjecta sunt ad VI sectionem Palladii scholia Graeca in lib. Perˆ °gmwn, nondum antea excussa, et nunc primum Latinitate donata (a Jacobo Santalbino). His praeterea accessere variae in omnes Hippocratis libros lectiones Graecae, ex reconditissimis manu scriptis exemplaribus collectae, necnon etiam quorundam doctissimorum virorum in aliquot Hippocratis libros observationes. Cum indice quadruplici (...).
Francofurti, apud Andreae Wecheli heredes, Claudium Marnium et Joannem Aubrium, 1595. 
8 sect. en 1 vol. = MS 595 - BIUM 2

Be careful ! This book has a big size : on-line display of the pictures requires a  1024 x 768 pixels screen display (best with 17' monitor)

The latest edition of the complete works of Emile Littré’s "Collection Hippocratique" in ten volumes, published from 1839 to 1961, containing a Greek text from Paris manuscripts and ist French translation, forms even nowadays the complete reference edition

vol. 1 vol. 2 vol. 3 vol. 4 vol. 5 vol. 6 vol. 7 vol. 8 vol. 9 vol. 10

The first edition was published in Rome in 1525 : it was the first complete printed edition of the Hippocratic Collection, but it contains only the Latin translation attributed to Marcus Fabius Calvius from Ravenna. The aldine edition, published in Venezia the following year, under the responsibility of Jean-Francois d’Asola, makes up the "princeps"Greek edition. A dozen years later, Jérôme Froben, a printer from Basel (1501-1563) publishes a revised edition of the aldine edition, including corrections from Janus Cornarius (ca. 1500-1558), using three new manuscripts left to his disposal by the printer. In 1546, Froben publishes the Cornarius Latin translation, done from its 1538 Greek edition, but adding new improvements to the text. Finally, in 1595, the physician from Metz, Anuce Foes (1528-1595) had a bilingual edition published including numerous notes : its Greek text remains nearly exactly the same as it was in 1538, whereas its Latin translation is often retranslated. Thus, one can distinguish three big phases in the history of the printed distribution of Hippocrates complete works during the Renaissance. First, the "editions principes"produced in Italy during the years 1520, allowing the public to discover numerous manuscripts unknown until then. Second, during the middle of the 16th Century, the Basel epoch, allowing the printers a thorough correction of the "editiones principes". Finally, a last stage during which all the scholarly material gathered before was published. It was then a progression from the manuscripts to the printed matter, i.e. from the mere change of the medium used to transmit the text to the forming of a new set of knowledge and philological techniques born with the necessity of translating Greek texts into the modern scholarly European language, Latin. This set of knowledge was going to be put aside till German philology emerges during the 19th Century. Thus, European scholars from the 16th Century gave birth to a Latin Hippocratic Vulgate edition used until it was replaced by the French Littré’s edition and which nowadays concerns researchers specialized in the history of texts as well as in the history of ideas and sciences.

This short summary of the first printed editions from Hippocrates is well known by the specialists, who are also aware that it does not reflect exactly the far more complex bibliographic reality. The textual historian has also to consider the numerous partial editions which have generally been neglected by the researchers and were drawn up under fairly unknown conditions. There are also some more voluminous books which played a good part in allowing Hippocrates to be known within modern scholarly Europe : the complete Latin edition printed by Cratander in 1526, for instance, which mixes Calvus’ translations, newly published, with older ones like the one of Guillaume Cop (ca. 1460-1532), Nicollo Leoniceno (1428-1524), Andrea Brenta, or the Venetian bilingual edition from 1528 by Mercurialis, itself mainly based on Froben’s editions which themselves announce the collating of new manuscripts ; or the astonishing glossary called "Oeconomica Hippocratis" from Foes, published in 1588, foreshadowing its commentaries published in 1595. If the historical value of the first two Italian editions does not need to be proven, it must be remembered that the two editions that follow, due to Cornarius, set up a Greek tradition and a Latin interpretation of Hippocrates’doctrina, which practically remained unchanged until now. Whereas, the notes published by Foes offered the essential of scholarly material used for correcting the editions principes". Without under-evaluating the other contemporary Hippocratic editions, the BIU Santé in undertaking the scanning of the Littré’s edition as well as the five main humanistic editions of the Hippocratic Collection is making therefore the first step toward a larger work aiming to provide researchers with information resources particularly useful for developing their editorial work on old medical texts, and more generally for contributing to the history of texts in the making.

Actually, it is known that the first printed editions which, at the end of Middle Ages, assured the transmission of our scientific heritage in the Greek and the Latin languages, have nowadays the same scientific value as recent manuscripts, insofar as these editions were established from manuscripts supposedly lost or badly identified. The best example of such research within Hippocratic field is undoubtedly the one given by André Rivier for the "De morbo sacro" tradition in a 1962 study where he tries to establish a dependence between old manuscripts and the first printed ones. In other words, to integrate the first printed editions into the stemma of witnesses used for developing the text. The text by text approach of contemporary Hippocratic research is nowadays favored by the big quantity of scientific information virtually available. Therefore, it allows precise and methodic comparisons on text variations, the origins and relevance of which may now be evaluated.

The corrections made by Renaissance scholars on the manuscripts have allowed us to keep a first-class heritage ; they are now admitted as an integral part of a long tradition. However, they must be clearly understood along with many other factors which can both contribute to the understanding of a work or the confounding of its meaning as is always the case when dealing with tampered manuscripts. The general issue is then to wonder what historical and scientific contributions are brought by humanist philology, should they be prized as a single change inside the history of the reading of texts or should it be considered as an integral moment in the history of the texts. Anyway, it is worth encouraging laborious research which will soon allow, and already does, a better understanding of how Greek medicine came down to us.

E-mail of the author :
English translation by Françoise ALPTUNA, reference librarian, BIUM