University of Cambridge > > Cabinet of Natural History > Erudite medicine in the vernacular: the early modern translations of Celsus' De medicina

Erudite medicine in the vernacular: the early modern translations of Celsus' De medicina

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Despite recent interests in the kaleidoscopic articulations of translation processes and in a general reassessment of ‘vernacular science’ as an analytical category, the early modern translations of classical medical authors like Hippocrates and Galen are still an understudied topic. After providing a summary of these overlooked sources, this paper will focus on the fifteenth- and sixteenth-century vernacular translations of Cornelius Celsus’ De medicina, a first-century AD medical textbook that became a bestseller in the early modern age, when it was especially renowned for its erudite Latin style and vocabulary. By investigating the translators’ agency, the nature of these intellectual products, and their purpose, this talk will reconsider the reception of Celsus’ De medicina in the light of its vernacular circulation. It will also show that the widespread interest in classical medical authors entailed the coexistence and intersection of different audiences, revealing a dialectic exchange between the ancients, the translators, and the readers.

This talk is part of the Cabinet of Natural History series.

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