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1. Park Street. C ALCJU rTA-lt>. 

The Book »s to be returned on 
t he duie l<i^t stumped : 

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Mosaic from Populonium (Etruria), Probably 1st Cent. A,D. 

Now in the Victoria and Albert Museum. 







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The first volume of this series appeared in the autumn of 
1917. The editor was unable to see it through the press owing 
to his absence from England on military duty. A Preface was 
accordingly provided by Sir William Osier, who, imhappily, has 
not lived to see the growing success that has attended the ideas 
he expressed there with so much force, and towards which he 
contributed life-long 'thought and effort. 

The volume was received with an approval that far surpassed 
the hopes of its editor and the issue was rapidly exhausted. In 
the present collection an endeavour has been made to avoid some 
defects inevitable in the earlier volume. The undue prominence 
given to mediaeval studies will be found in part corrected and 
care has been taken to give more space to the evolution of the 
mathematical and exact sciences, though the balance is yet far 
from being fully redressed. 

Among the many recent signs of public interest in this country 
in the History and Philosophy of Science special note must be made 
of the systematic course in the subject now organized at University 
College, London. The work is under the general direction of 
Dr. A. Wolf. Professors Sir William Bragg, Flinders Petrie, 
W. M. Bayliss, L. N. G. Filon, J. P. Hill, F. G. Donnan, E. J. 
Garwood, T. L. Wren, D. Orson Wood, and the Editor of this series 
are taking part in it. The course at Edinburgh in the History of 
Medicine, initiated by Dr. J. D. Comrie, has attracted a large and 
annually increasing number of students. Mr. A. E. Heath, Senior 
Lecturer on Education at Liverpool University, is giving systematic 
instruction there on the History of Science, and the Editor of this 
smes has become Lecturer in the History of Medicine at University 
College, London, and University Lecturer in the History of the 
Biological Sciences at Oxford. Great service has been rendered by 
Mr. F. S. Marvin, who has not only done much to popularize the 


• • • 


History of Science, but has sought to integrate this important aspect 
of human development in the historical instruction of schools. 

Considerable literary activity is also being exhibited. The 
English translation of Aristotle under the general editorship of 
Mr. W. D. Boss has continued to appear, as has also the much- 
needed publication of Roger Bacon’s works under the editorship 
of Mr. A. G. Little, Mr. Robert Steele, and Dr. Withington. Sir 
Arthur Hort has rendered the History of PUmts of Theophrastus 
into English, and a similar service has been done for Galen’s 
short treatise On the Natural Faculties by Dr. A. J. Brock. 
A valuable work in a different department is Sir Norman Moore’s 
monumental and learned History of St. Bartholomew* s Hospital: 

All historians of science look forward with lively interest to the 
appearance of Sir T. L. Heath’s History of Greek MathemaiicSt 
Professor Dobson and Mr. Brodetsky’s version of Copernicus, 
Mr. W. H. S. Jones’s edition of Hippocrates, Professor William 
Wright and Mr. Foate’s translation of Vesalius, and to further 
communications from the pen of Dr. J. K. Fotheringham, whose 
work peculiarly illustrates the aid rendered to modem scientific 
investigation by a wide and deep knowledge of ancient science. 
Less conspicuous but very real and useful will be the results of 
the tireless devotion which Dr. Withington has for many years 
bestowed on the vast mass of Greek scientific literature, with the 
object of rendering the forthcoming edition of Liddell and Scott s 
Greek Lexicon more complete in what has been hitherto a some- 
what neglected department. It is a legitimate hope that his 
unique experience may now be utilized in rendering accessible to 
English readers the more important works of Galen. 

Mrs. Singer’s catalogue of early scientific MSS. in this country is 
now in a serviceable state and freely open to students. It is a card 
index with about forty thousand entries arranged by subject. The 
first section. Alchemy, is being printed as the opening fascicule 
of an international catalogue of Alchemical MSS., issued by the 
Union Acad^mique Internationale under the general editorship of 
Professor Bidez of Ghent. The next of IVbs. Singer’s sections 


to appear will probably be * Anatomy’ and * Aristotle’ by the 
Editor of this series. 

Of foreign workers in our field mention must be made in the 
first place of the veteran scholar Professor K. Sudhoff of Leip 2 dg, 
who has for many years been producing volume after volume of 
highly original researches* covering wide stretches in the history 
of science. His extraordinary fertility and equally great literary 
generosity lay all other workers in his department under a debt of 
gratitude impossible to repay. It is gratifying to observe that his 
venerable colleagues* Professor Eilhard Wiedemann of Erlangen 
and Professor J. Hirschberg of Berlin* are still prosecuting their 
researches in Oriental Science and the History of Optics* and that 
fascicules of the Corpus Medicorum Qraecorwm and Corpus Medi- 
corum Latinorum continue to appear* though all too slowly. The 
recent output by Professor Max WeUmann on the science of 
classical antiquity has been very remarkable. Another useful 
work in the department of the History of Science is Professor 
E. O. von Lippmann’s Entstehung und Avsbreitung der Alchsmie, 

In Austria the activities of the most philosophical of living 
medical historians* Professor Neuburger* have continued in spite 
of the terrible conditions through which the city of Vienna has 
passed and is passing. The first volume of his illuminating History 
of Medicine was rendered into English by Dr. Ernest Playfair* with 
the encouragement of Sir William Osier. The appearance of the 
second volume of this translation was a cherished wish* as it would 
be a suitable memorial, of that lover of learning. 

The recent output in the History of Science of some of the 
smaUer European States has of late years been truly remarkable* 
and the world owes to them a number of works of primary value 
for the subject* elaborately published at vast expense. The 
decipherment* transcription* translation* and publication of the 
beautiful Windsor Qaademi d*Anatomia of Leonardo have now 
been completed by Professors Fonahn* Hopstock and Vangensten, 
and the work haa been published at Christiania. The Soci^t6 
Hollandaise des Sciences is proceeding with the monumental 



edition, collected from manuscript sources, of the Oeuvres compUtes 
of Christiaan Huygens, Denmark has given us the Opera Philo- 
sopJdca of Stensen, edited by Dr. Vilhelm Maar, the Opera Omnia 
of Tycho Brahe, edited by Dr. J. L. E. Dreyer, and the Scientific 
Papers of H. C. Ursted ; all three are produced by the Carlsberg- 
fond. Professor Heiberg of Coj>enhagen continues his series of 
fine works on Greek science, ami his writings are an additional 
adornment of the Danish School. The Union Astronomique 
Internationale, founded at Brussels in 1919, has appointed a 
Commission de reedilion d^ouvrages anciens. 

In Italy the history of science has now been placed on a firm 
academic basis. The work of Professor Antonio Favaro on the 
physics and mathematics of the seventeenth century and of 
Professor Piero Giacosa on mediaeval science continues. The 
new Archivig di Storia della Scienza has completed its first annual 
volume under the (*ditorship of Professor Aldo Mieli. 

In France, since the appearance of Adam and Tannery’s edition 
of the Works of Descartes and the termination by death of the 
labours of Henri Poincare, the most important publication has 
probably been the fifth and posthumous volume of Pierre Duhern’s 
very valuable Le systeme du nionde, kistoire de^ doctrnies cosmo- 
logiques de Platon a Copernic. Mention must also be made of the 
very scholarly work on the Cammentaires de la FactiUe de Medecine 
de VUniversite de Paris (1395—1516) by Dr. Ernest Wickcrshcinicr, 
who has since become librarian of the University of Strassburg. 

Nowhere, perhaps, has more general interest been taken in the; 
History of Science than in the United States. Many courses 
of lectures have been devoted to the subject ; much valuable 
original work in the department of mathematics has appeared 
from the pens of Professors L. (?. Karpinski and Eugene Smith, 
in medicine from Colonel Garrison and Dr. E. C. Streeter, and 
in bibliography from Dr. A. C. Klebs. Among recent American 
publications are Mr. T. O. Wedel’s work. The mediaeval attitude 
toward astrology, and a useful translation of Choulant’s History 
of Anaiomic Illustration, annotated and brought up to date by 


Mortimer Frank, whose death at the age of forty-four is a real 
loss to learning. 

Dr. George Sarton has been carrying on at Harvard'the labours 
commenced before the war in Belgium. His journal, tsis, which 
first appeared in 1913 as a ‘ Revue consacree a I’histoire et 
a I’organisation de la science et de la civilisation has revived 
since the peace, and some form of joint publication is projected 
between this series and Isis. Moreover, in the future, the Studies 
in the History and Method of Science will appear regularly as an 
annual volume. 

A central institute and library, devoted to the promotion of 
systematic investigation into the historical documents of science, is 
greatly needed in this country. Such a foundation would do much 
to place the subject on its proper academic basis and Avould rapidly 
react on the whole system of scientific education. It would help 
the teacher to present the sciences in their evolutionary relation 
to each other and to the course of history as a whole. It would 
especially help the teacher of science to develop his subject as 
the product of a progressive revelation of the human spirit rather 
than as a mere description and attempted explanation of the 
phenomena. We may well look to this new orientation of scientific 
teaching to counteract the (iflects of the regrettable but real 
decline in the study of the older ‘ humanities 

February, 1021. 


^ OC.c ry 




Gbebk BioiiOair and its Rxdation to the 
Rise of Modern Biology . ' . 


Mediaeval Astronomy ..... 


Roger Bacon and the State of Science in 
THE Thirteenth Century 


Lljonardo as Anatomist. Translated from the 
Norwegian by E. A. Fleming 


The Asclepiadae and the Priests of Asclepius 


The Scientific Works of Galileo (1664-1642). 

With some account of his life and trial 


The History of Anatomical Injections . 



Science and the Unity of Mankind . 


Four Armenian Tracts on the Structure 
OF THE Human Body . . . 














Steps liEADiEo to the Invention of the First 
Optical Apparatus. . . . • . 


Hypothesis . . . . . • . 


Science and Metaphysics .... 


A Sketch of the History of Palabobotany 


Archimedes’ Principle of the Balance, and 
. SOME Criticisms dpon it 


Aristotle on the Heart . . . 

♦ 4 
















t I. Mosaic from Populonium (Etruria) : probably first century 

A.o. (Victoria and Albert Museum) . . Frontispiece 

II. (a) Theophrastus : from Villa Albani ; copy (second 
century a.d. ?) of earlier work. (6) Aristotle : from 
Herculaneum ; probably fourth century B.o. . . 4 

III. Late Minoan Gold Gups : from Vaphio, about sixteenth > 

century B.o. (Athens Museum) . • . . 6 

IV. Aesculapius receives Medical Art from Plato and Ghiron ; 

Anglo-Saxon work, about 1000 (Gotton Vitellius G. Iir, 
fo. 19 r) , . . . . . . . . 6 

V. (a) Orc^ma sp.: MS. Bodley 130, fo. 16 r, written 1120. 

<b) Betony : early thirteenth century (MS. Ashmole 
1462, fo. 12r). (c) TencriumChmnaedrys'. MS. Bodley 
. 130, fo. 16 r, written at St. Albans 1120 . . . B 

VI. COrKOC TPAXYC = Sow-thistle : fifth-sixth century 

(Julia Anicia MS., fo. 316 r) . .12 

VII. <l>ACIOAOC =* Seedling Bean:* ^h-sixth century (Julia 

Anicia MS., fo. 370 ») . . . . • • .13 

VIII. (a) Fro{)a — BlaokbeiTy. (b) Hyoacyanvus. (c) Phinomia — 
Paeony : Apuleius, sixth century (Leyden MS. Voss. 

Lat. Q. 9) • 16 

IX. (a) = Bugle ? &Kav0os = Acanthus. (6) aAsifitov ■■= 

Anchiiaa officinalia ? : Nicander, ninth century (Paris, 

Bibl. nat. sup. grec 247, fos. 20 r and 16 v) . . 32 

X. ‘ Male ’ and ‘ Female ’ Mandrakes : Dioscorides, ninth 
eentury (Paris, Bibl. nat. MS. grec 2179, fos. 104 r and 

106 r) 33 

^XI. Frontispiece of Book XII (‘ On Birds ’) of Le lAvre des 
Propriitiz de Vhoaea, 1482 (Brit. Mus. 1^. Reg. 16 E. iii, 
fo. 11 r) . . . .38 

XII. Paintings by Edward Tyson, made in 1687 : (a) Dissec- 
tion of Lophiiia. (6) Stomach of Gazelle (MS. at the 
Royal Gollege of Physicians, London, pp. 41 and 92) . 39 

XIII. (a) Female argonaut (from H. de Lacaze-Duthiers, Archives 
de Zodlogie expirimentale, 1892). (6) Male argonaut 

, (&om Heinrich Mfiller, ZeUachrift filr toiaaenachafUidi^ 

Zoologie, 1863) .....••42 





XIV. Hectocotylization (from J. B. V^rany, 1851) ... 43 

XV. Hyoscyamus niger : (a) Written at St. Albans 1120 (MS. 

Bodley 130, fo. 37 r). (b) Written in England early 

thirteenth century (MS. Sloane 1975, fo. 15 r) . . 50 

XVI. (a) lKa^6rcw/e = Way broad =» Meadow Plantain, (b) Jffenne^ 
belle === Henbane =//yoseyamus reticulatus, a Mediter- 
ranean species : Anglo-Saxon work, about 1000 
(Cotton Vitellius C. Ill, fos. 21 v and 23 v) . 54 

XVII. (a) Vetonicu ^Hetony. (b) Verminacia(columbaris) = Ver- 
bena officinalis : Apuloius, tenth century, French work 
(Paris, Bibl. nat. MS. lat. 6862, fos. 20 v and 26 e) . 70 

XVm. (o) 0ACIOAOC, Seedling Bean. (6) TOrrYAH, Tuinip : 

Dioscorides, tenth century (Phillipps MS., now in the 
Pierpont Morgan Library, New York) ... 74 

XIX. (a) Hyoscyamus : English, about 1200 (MS. Harley 1586, 

, fo. 19 w). (6) Plantain : Italian, about 1460 (Brit. Mus. 

MS. Add. 17063, fo. 4r). (c) Dracunculus : English, 
about 1200 (MS. Harley 1585, fo. 22 v) . .75 

XX. (a) Aristolochia. (6) Heliotropia = Forget-me-not. (c) Ca- 
millea ^Teasel : Apuleius, sixth century (I^eyden MS. 

Voss Lat. Q. 9) . . . . . .78 

XXI. Dracontea -^Dracuncvlus vulgaris, a Mediterranean species : 

Apuleius, sixth century (Leyden MS. Voss Lat. Q. 9) 79 

XXH. Three figures of Dracontea = Dracunculus vulgaris : (a) 

From O. Brunfels, Herbarum Vivae leones, (b) German 
work of end of twelfth century (MS. Harley 4986, 
fo. 7 v). (c) Apuleius, printed at Rome, 1483 . . 82 

XXIII. (a) Crisocanius = I jig —l\y, fiowering form. (6) Cysson — 

Edera = Yvye —\vy, climbing form (MS. Bodley 130, 
fo. 65 r ; written in St. Albans 1 1 20) ... 83 

XXIV. (a) Centaur holding Centam’y. (6) Mercury brings ‘ Elec- 
tropion ’ to Homer : English, early thirteenth century 
(MS. Ashmole 1462, fos. 23 r and 26 r) . . .84 

XXV. Figures of Herb Betony from English MSS. : («) Early 
thirteenth century (Sloane 1976, fo. 10 »). (6) About 

1000 (Cotton Vitellius C. Ill, fo. 20 r). (c) About 1200 
(Harley 1686, fo. 14 r) . . . . . .96 


XXVI. (a) Leonardo da Vinci : from a crayon portrait by himself 
at the Royal Library, Turin. (6) Foetus in utero and 
relations of membranes to uterine wall {Quademi V, 
fo. 8 /) . . . . . . . . . 161 



XXVII. (a) General structure of uterus and sources of its blood 
supply ; male organs {Qttademi III, fo. 1 v). (6) Topo- 
graphical anatomy of nock and shoulder in a thin, 
aged individual (Qwulemi V, fo. 18 r) 

XXVTII. Bones of lower limb to which wires are fitted to illustrate 
lines of muscular traction (Quademi V, fo. 4 r) . 
XXIX. (a) Ventricles and layers of head and eye in section 
{Qtutdemi V, fo. 0 v.) (6) Casts of cerebral ventricles 
{Qttademi V, fo. 7 r) 

XXX. (a) Dissection of triangles of neck (Qttademi V, fo. 16 r). 

(6) Dissection of foot ; nails replace<l by claws (Qtta- 
demi V, fo. 1 1 r) . 

XXXT. (a) Dissection of coronary vessels (Qttademi II, fo. 3 v.) 

(b) Dissection of bronchi and bronchial vessels (Qtta- 
demi II, fo. I r) . 

XXXII. (a) The semilunar valves (Qttademi II, fo. 9 v). (h) Glass 
casts with valves to illustrate action of semilunar valves. 
Diagrams of semilunar valves (Qttademi IV, fo. 11 v) 
XXXIII. (a) Details of cardiac anatomy (Qttademi V, fo. 14 r). (b) 
Blood- v^cssels in inguinal region (Qttademi IV, fo. 8 r). 
XXXIV. (a) Right ventricle, pulmonary artery and mttsculi papil- 
ktres (Qttademi II, fo. 12 r). (6) Ventricles, right 

auricle, and great vessels (Qttademi II, fo. 14 r) 
XXXV. (a) The ‘ Vessel-tree ’ (Qttademi V, fo. 1 r). (b) Surface ana- 
tomy : lower limbs of man and horse (Qttademi V, fo. 22 r) 
XXXVI. (a) Heart, great vessels, bronchi, &c. (Qttademi III, 
fo. 10 w). (b) The intraventricular muscle band (Qtta- 
demi IV, fo. 13 r) . 

XXXVII. (a) Proportions of trunk (Qttademi VI, fo. 8 r). (b) Pro- 
portions of head (Qttademi VI, fo. 1 r) . 


XXXVIII. (a) Hippocrates : second or third century b.c. (British 
Museum). (6) Aesculapius : fourth century b.c. 
* (British Museum) ....... 


XXXIX. Galileo Galilei : from a portrait in the Bodleian brought 
from Florence in 1661 ...... 

XL. (a) Galileo’s Lodestone and Military Compass. (6) Gali- 
leo’s Telescopes (Galileo Museum at Florence) . 

XLI. Hall of the Galileo Museum in Florence 





















XLII. Reinier de Graaf : from the firBt edition of the De Um 

Siphonis, 1668 ....... 

XLIII. (a) Frederik Ruysch : from the first edition of his collected 
works, 1721. (6) Alexander Monro, primus : from his 
cqllected works, 1781 ...... 

XLIV. (o) The coronary vessels injected by Ruysch, 1704. (6) The 
spleen of the ox injected with wax by William Stiikeley, 


XLV. (a) Testis injected with mercury from the vas deferens by 
Albrecht von Haller, 1745. (6) Micro-injection of the 
mucous membrane by Johann Nathanael Lieberkiihn, 
1 7 45 . .■ ... . . . . . 

XLVT. General scheme of the lymphatics of the human body 
based on mercury injections by William Cumberland 
Cruikshank and his pupils, 1786 

XLVII. Mercury injection of the lymphatics of the human cojon 
and abdomen by Paolo Mascagni, 1787 


XLVIII. Fossil plants ; Fig. 1. Cycadeoidea eirusm. Fig. 2. lAlho- 
pteris ; Liihosmunda ; Lithosmunda minm ; Tricho- 
XLIX. One of the original Cabinets belonging to John Woodward, 
the geologist ........ 

L. Fossil plants. Fig. 4. From Uro’s History of Rutherglm 
and East-Kilbride. Fig. 5. Impression of plants from 
a coal-pit in Yorkshire. Fig. 6. PaJmacites. Fig. 7. 
Phytolithus Filicites (striatus) =Alethopteris lonchiiica 
(Schl.). Fig. 8. Phytolithus Plantites (verrucosus) = 
Stigmaria ficoMes (Brongn.) ..... 

LI. Fossil plants : Fig. 9. Examples from Parkinson’s Organic 
Remains of a Former World (1804). Fig. 10. Phyto- 
lithus tesseUatus —SigiUaria tesseUata (Steinh.) ; Phyto- 
lithus notatus =8igiUaria notata (Steinh.) . 

LII. Fossil plants; Fig. 11. Neuropteris grangeri, Brongn.; 

Neuropteris flexuosa, Sternb. Fig. 12. Filicites Os- 
mundae = Neuropteris Osmundae (Artis) 

LIII. Fossil plants : Fig. 13. Trigonocarpum olivaeforme ; 
T. ndggerathi. Fig. 14. Section of ‘ petrified conifera 
Fig. 16. Sections of petrified tissues .... 
LIV. Portrait of William Crawford Williamson 


















LV. (a) Fossil plants : Fig. 17. Calamostachys Binneyana, from 
a drawing by W. C. Williamson of the transverse 
section of the cone ...... 488 

LV. (ft) Hornets drawn by Thomas Mouffet before 1589 (MS. 

Sloane 4014, fo. 82 r). See p. 61 . , 488 




1. Grampus and newly -born young (from Pierre Belon, Hwtoire 

natureUe des eMrangea poissons, 1661) ..... 18 

2. The uterus of the porpoise (from Pierre Belon) . . . .19 

3. The skeleton of a man and of a bird compared (fn)m Pierre Belon, 

IjhUttoire de la nature des oyseaux) ..... 20 

4. The order of living things, put together from the descriptions 

of Aristotle ......... 21 

6. The young chick (from Fabricius ab Aquapendente, De formeUirme 

ovi el pulli, 1004) ........ 26 

6. (a) Ovary of a woman ; (ft) ovary of a cow ; (c) follicle and ovum 

• of a sheep (frorn^ Regnier de Graaf’s De mnliemm organis 
generationi inservientibvLS, 167?) . . . . . .27 

7. Development qf the rabbit’s ovum (from Regnier de Graaf) . 28 

8. (a) Female Oaleus laevis opened to show the gravid uterus ; 

(ft) a uterus opened exhibiting three foetuses ; (c) a foetus 
removed from the uterus (from Fabricius ab Aquai)endente, De 
Formato Foetu, 1604) ........ 30 

9. Galeue laevie, from Rondelet’s De piscihun marinis, 1654 . . 32 

10. Relation of yolk sac to umbilical cord and intestine (after Stensen’s 

diagram in Ova viviparorum epedantea ohservatiemes, 1676) . 33 

1 1. Embryos of two species of Mtialeltia (from Johannes Miiller, Ueber 

den glatten Hai des Aristoteles, 1842) . .36 

12. Embryo of Garcharias with umbilical cord and placenta (from 

Johanne's Muller) ........ 30 

1 3. Dissection of umbilical structures of a foetal Carcharias, schematic- 

ally represented (modified from Johannes Muller) . . .36 

14. A part of the uterus of Mustela laevis, showing two placental 

attachments (from Johannes Muller) ..... 36 

16. Diagrammatic section of placenta of Mustelus laevis (modified 

from Johannes Muller) ....... 37 

16. The four chambers of the stomach of a lamb (from Marco Aurelio 

Severino, Zootomia Democritea^ 1646) . ... . .39 




17. The four-chamborod ntomach of a Bheep (after Nehemiah Grew, 

The Comparalive. Anatomy of the Stomach and Outs Begun, 1681) 

18. The paper naiitilutt, Argonauta Argo (from Belon’s Histoire nalurelle 

des estranges poissans, ism) ...... 

ly, 20. Drawing of the ‘ male argonaut ’ (after Albrecht von Kolliker) 

2 1 . DisBcction of the ‘ male argonaut ’ (after Kolliker) 

22. CongrcHB of Octopus vulgaris (as observed in a tank by E. Raco- 

vitza) .......... 

23. The frog-fish (from Pierre Belon’a De aquatilihus, 1.5f»3) 

24. The electric organ of the torpedo ...... 

25. Enlarged figures of the bee (from Francesco Stellnti’s Persio 

tradotto, 1630) ......... 

26. Herbalists at work on a mountain (from a facsimile in Piero 

Oiacosa’s iSfoZernitoni, 1901) . . . . . 

27. Dioscorides writing while Intelligence holds the mandrake for the 

artist to copy (restored from the Julia Anicia MR., about 
A.D. 512) . 

28. Discovery presents a mandrake to the physician Dioscorides 

(restored from the Julia Anicia MR.) ..... 

29. The genealogy of the earliest manuscript of Dioscorides 

30. ‘ ( ^hamaepitys ’ (from a fragment of an eighth -century Greek Her- 

barium, Bodl. E. 19) . 

31. Outlines of the mandrake and its gatherers (traced from a twelfth- 

century English Herbarium in the British Museum and a con- 
temporary Italian Herbarium) ...... 

32. The plantain (from a thirteenth -century Herbarium; Rloane 1975, 

fo. 12u) . . . . . . . . . 

33. The plantain (from the Herbarius latinus, 1484) 

34. Wall-fiower with dodder. 35. Yellow flag. (From the German 

version of the Hortvs Sanitatis, 1485) ..... 

36. The plantain (from Lignamine’s Apuleius, 1483) 

37. Young dracunculus ; seedling beans : seedlings from the ‘ Ryrian 

Garden ’ of Tethmosis 111 (about 1500 b.c.) at Karnak . 

38. Germination of seeds (from Nathaniel Highmore’s History of 

Generation, 1651) 

39. 40. Rupernatural figures from Nineveh holding male inflorescence 

of date palm (from Layard) ...... 

41. Assur-nasir-pal (about 885-860 B.c.), with winged attendants 

holding male inflorescence of date palm, performing ceremony 
of fertilization (from a bas-relief now in the British Museum) . 

42. The germination of wheat (from Malpighi, Anatome plantarum, 


43. The germination of the bean (from Malpighi) .... 




























1. Diagram of the throe orbits of Sol, Venus, and Mercury (from 

a manuscript of the fourteenth century) .... 

2. Diagram of the Earth and Spheres (from Dreyer, History of the 

Planetary Systems) ........ 



1. Leonardo’s use of serial sections ...... 

2. An experiment of Leonardo on the heart ..... 


1-3. Diagrams of the Pulsilogia (from Sancto Saiitorio, Methodus 
Vitandorum Errorum in Arte Medica, 1602) . 

4. Diagram illustrating the hydrostatic balance 

5. Galileo’s thermometer ........ 

6. Diagram to illustrate the proportions of Galileo’s first telescopes . 

7. Early drawings of Saturn (from the Systema Satumum) 

8. Title-page of Sidereus Nuncius, 1610 . . . 

9. The moon as seen ’jy Galileo, 1609-10 (from Sidereus Nuncius) . 

10. Title-page of II SaggieUore, 1623 ...... 

11. Title-page of Discorsi e Dimostrazioni Matematiche, 1638 

12. Facsimile of design for a i^endulum clock (drawn by V iucenzio Galilei 

from his father’s dictation) ....... 


1. Engraved title of the first edition of De Graaf’s De Usu Siphonis, 

1668 .......... 

2. De Graaf’s injection syringe and accessories, 1668 

3. Uterus injected with red wax by Jan Swammerdam, 1671 . 

4. Swammerdam’s method of injecting the small vessels of insects . 

5. Periosteum of the auditory ossicles injected by Ruysch, 1697 

6. Injection appliances of Caspar Bartholin, 1679 . 

7. The lymphatics of the urogenital organs injected with mercury 

by Anthony Nuck, 1691 ....... 

8. Triple injeption of the arteries, veins, and lacteals of the mesentery 

of the turtle by William Hewson, 1769 .... 

9. Apparatus designed by Herculo Eugene Straus -Durckheim, 1843 


1. The structure of the eye, reconstructed from the descriptions of 

Rufus of Ephesus (first century c.B.) ..... 

2. The structiu'e of the eye, after Alhazeu ..... 



























3. Avicenna’s diagram to explain the less apparent size of distant 

object .......... 303 

4. Diagram of Roger Bacon to illustrate optics of lens . . . 305 

5. Diagram of Roger Bacon to illustrate optics of lens 306 

6. Diagram of Roger Bacon to illustrate optics of burning-glass . 307 

7. The action of spectacle lenses, according to Leonardo . 401 

8. The structure of the eye, according to Leonardo . 402 

0. Diagram of the eye, from Leonardo, showing the ephera crytttallina 403 

10. The action of a pin-hole camera, according to Leonardo . 403 

11. A camera obscura, according to Leonardo .... 404 


1. Edward Llhuyd (from an initial vignette in the Register of Bene- 
factors, Ashmolean Museum, 1708) ..... 475 


By Chablxs Siboeb 

There is an extreme affecting of two extremities : the one antiquity, the other 
novehty ; wherein it seemeth the children of time do take after the nature and malice 
of the fedher. For as he devourelh his children, so one of them seeketh to devour and 
suppress the other; while antiquity envied there should be new additions, and 
novelty cannot be content to add but it must deface : surely the advice of the jprophet 
is the true direction in this matter. State super vias antiquas, et videte quaenam 
sit via recta et bona et ambulate in ea. AntiquUy deserve that reverence, that 
men should make a stand thereupon and discover what is the best way ; but when toe 
discovery is well taken, then to make progression. And to speak truly, Antiquitas 
saeculi inventus mundi. These times are the ancient times, when the world is 
ancient, and not those which we account andent ordine retrogrado, by a computation 
backward from oursdves. — ^Bacon’s Advancement of Learning, q, 1, 


I. The Course of Ancient and of 

Modem Science compared 1 

II. The Record of Ancient and 
the Record of Modem 
Biology 7 

m. The Bases of the Aristotelian 

Biolcmcal System ... 13 

(а) Classification ... 13 

(б) Phylogeny .... 20 

(c) Ontogeny .... 22 

IV. Some Aristotelian Zoological 
Observations and their 
Modem counterparts . . 29 

(а) The Placental Shark . 29 

(б) The Ruminant Stomach 38 

(c) The Generative Pro* 

cesses of Cephalopods . 39 

(d) Habits of Animals. . 46 

i. Fishing-frog and Tor- 
pedo 46 

ii. Bees 60 


The General Course of Botani- 
cal Knowledge .... 66 

(a) Botany among the 

Greeks 66 

(b) Botany in the West 

from the sixth to the 
twelfth century (the 
Dark Ages) .... 67 

(e) Botany in the West 
from the twelfth to the. 
fifteenth century (the 
Middle Ages) ... 73 

VI. The Botanical Results of Theo- 
phrastus compared with 
those of Early Modem 

Botanists 79 

(a) Nomenclature and 

classification of Plante . 79 

(6) Generation and develop- 
ment of Plants ... 83 

(c) Form and stracture of 

Plants 92 

(d) Habits and Distribu- 
tion of Plants ... 96 

I. The Course of Akciekt and of Modern Science compared 

In the pages which follow we discuss certain elements in 
the exact, classified and consciously accumulated knowledge of 
living things possessed •by the Greeks. This biological knowledge 
and the mode in which it was attained are well suited to the 


illustration of Greek scientific method, for the actual achieve- 
ments of the Greek mind were no less remarkable and perhaps more 
characteristic in Biology than in other departments of physical 
science. As a preliminary to the discussion we may briefly 
consider the means available for forming an estimate of Greek 
science as a whole, and in doing this we shall inevitably compare 
and contrast the science of antiquity with that of our own time. 

Ever since man has been man, he has had some control over 
nature through his power to adapt his instruments to make her 
serve his will, and it is possible to define science in terms of this 
power and of the knowledge that lies at the back of it. But the 
conscious formulation of theories to explain natural phenomena, 
and the conscious collection and record of data as a basis of these 
theories, come as a far later phenomenon in human development. 
It is this conscious and more sophisticated process to which, for 
our present purpose, we shall give the title science^ and science 
so interpreted cannot be traced with certainty earlier than the 
speculations of the Ionian philosophers of the sixth century b.c. 
Greek science thus established continued its course of j^ositivc 
acliievement until the second or third century of the Christian 
era. Then, from causes which we need not here discuss, it ceased 
to be original, having run a course of some eight hundred years. 

Our effective record begins with the Hippocratic collection. 
♦Some elements in this are at least as early as the sixth ccjitury b.c., 
and it is therefore impossible that these earliest portions should 
be the work of Hippocrates himself who died in the first half of 
the fourth century. Nevertheless Hippocrates is almost certainly 
the first scientific writer of whom we have substantial remains. 
Tlie latest original Greek scientific works were perhaps those of 
Galen and Ptolemy of the end of the second century of the Christian 
era, or, if we should include mathematics in our scheme, we may 
carry the period forward to Diophantus of the third or even to 
Theon of Alexandria of the fourth century.^ 

We may compare this course with the science of our own time. 
For a thousand years and more after the downfall of Greek science, 
the powers of observation and the scientific imagination of man- 
kind seemed to sleep, a sleep broken only by disorderly dreams 
which either fitfully recapitulated the past, or conjured up what 
never was and never will be. At length, however, Man awoke to 

^ Or perhaps to Theon’s daughter Hypatia, who surviviHi to the second decade 
of the fifth century and is said to have made original mathematical investigations. 



look around and to examine the world into which he had been born. 
During the long twilight of a new dawn he had been stirring in 
his slumber, but the year 1543 gave full proof that the night was 
over and he was at last awake. In that year appeared the two 
works which mark the real sunrise of modern science, the De 
revolutionihtis orhium celestium of the Pole, Nicolaus Copernicus, 
and the De fahrica corporis humani of the Belgian, Andreas 
Vesalius. These two were the first great modern natural historians 
of the Universe and of Man, of the Macrocosm and the Microcosm, 
and if any single year be sclccte<l, 1543 has })erhaj)s a better claim 
than any other to be regarded as the birth year of modern science, 
though we shall see good reason for assigning its conception to a 
much earlier period. 

Beginning from 1543 we are thus near the end of the fourth 
century of modern science, and are now at about the middle of 
the total period of time that Greek science had to run. During 
these four hundred years a vast and ever-growing mass of original 
investigation has bjen recorded, and as time has gone on the 
stream has grown ever broadtsr and fuller. Some idea of its 
enormous and unreadable bulk may be gained by a glance at the 
International Catahnjue of Scientific Literature * which, while giving 
the titles alone of original articles, consists each year of seventeen 
closely printed volumes. The vast intellectual effort which this 
enormous output implies has gradually transformed our mode of 
life, our attitude to the world around us, and even our hearts and 

Now if we seek to compare this extraordinary movement and 
its results with its prototype of antiquity, we (incounter diffi- 
culties at the very outset. These difficulties of (iomparison lie 
not so much in the relative scantiness of the Greek record — that 
in itself might be an advantage for our purpose — but rather in 
the character of that record. The differences in the mode of 
recording ancient and modern science become explicable when we 
consider certain differences in the history of the two systems, and 
to their history we therefore turn. 

The earliest science, in the sense that we are using the 
word, arose in Asia Minor on the confines of the great Easterji 

' Publishofl for the International Council by the Royal Society of Lon<hin. 
First annual issue 1902, last annual issue (with H«;quence disturbed by the int(‘r> 
vention of the war) 1914-16. It is .significant that the number of biological 
pape.rB recorded in this enormous index is dtmble that of the physical and 
mathematical combined. 

B i 


civilizations. In the social systems d the valleys of ^e 
Euphrates, Tigris, and Nile there had accumulated a great mass of 
observations, and upon them rou^ generalizations had bemi 
erected. These generalizations seem in the main to have been 
an evolutionary product of the * social consciouimess *, rather than 
the definite fruit of individual minds, and it is thus characteristic 
of the science of the ancient East that its products are anonymous. 
From all the centuries of intellectual activity of the civilizations 
of Babylon and of Egypt, hardly even the name of a scientific 
discoverer has come down to us. It was into a great imperadmU 
heritage that the philosophers of the Ionian cities were fortunate 
enough to enter ; with it as a basis they began to engage upon 
that active process of cosmical speculation that developed as 
Greek philosophy. 

As time went on, knowledge accumulated, separate sciences or 
departments of knowledge were gradually differentiated and, in 
the course of centuries, these became more .and more distinct from 
the parent stock of philosophy. Yet it is peculiar to Greek 
scientific thought that it never loses direct touch with the philo- 
sophic stem from which it sprang. Whether we look to such early 
traces of the scientific spirit as that of the sixth century b.c., when 
Pythagoras was contriving his first formulated conceptions of the 
relations of number to form, or whether we consider the last vitally 
original works of Greek science in the second century of the Christian 
era, when Galen and Ptolemy were giving forth those ideas on the 
structure of man and of the world that were to dominate Western 
thought for a millennium and a half, from end to end Greek science 
constantly betrays its descent from Greek philosophy. 

Far different is the ancestry of modem science. The 
of modem science will be sought in vain in the lucubrations oi the 
philosophers, who played but a subordinate part in the revival of 
letters. Copernicus and VesaUus were dead before the great 
philosophers of modem science, Francis Bacon and Ren4 Descartes, 
had been bom. Nor is it a more fruitful task to attempt, as man^' 
have done, to draw a picture of our scientific system as but a rebirth 
of the wisdom of ancient Greece, for we must then seek its origin 
in the writings of the men who were the agents of that rebirth. 
Yet from them we get but little lig^t. Science, as we understand 
*the term to-day, was far from the minds of the men who made 
the New Leanfing. The scholars of the fourteenth ai^ fifteehth 
centuries showed scant sympathy for the investigation of Nature 



opy (Ilnd cent. .\. d. ?) of earlier work Pr o bab 1 y wo r k o t IVth cent. 

I' LATE in 


From V A P H I O about X V 1 1 h cent. b. c: 

and the humanistic period dominated by them was, on the whole/ 
baokwaid or at best but retrospective in its scientific conceptions. 
Their thou^ts were rather with the great past of literature and 
of art, which they sou^t to hiring back to life. 

It is cortainly true that there were a few philosophical writers 
of the later part of this period in whom can be traced some con- 
sciousness of the value of the experimental method : Nicholas of 
Cusa (1401-64), Pomponazzi (1462-1625), Fracastor (1478?- 
1663) stand here to witness. But it is far from clear that their 
ideas on the mode of extension of natural knowledge were related 
to the re-discovery of the Greek texts and the diffusion of know- 
ledge of the Greek language. These men, at best, were few. and 
exceptional, and they come mainly in the late and academic period 
of the learned revival ; their place is rather among the founders 
of modem science and they do not naturally fall into the series 
of the scholars of the classical Benaissance. It may, indeed, be 
claimed that the astronomicid work of Regiomontanus (1436-76) 
and Purbach (1423-61) was dependent on their salvage of the text 
of Ptolemy.^ But their recovery of the Greek original was the 
result of their scientific zeal and an incident in their scientific 
researches ; it did not provide the primary stimulus for those 

If we turn to the revival of biological studies, we are encountered 
with the same phenomenon of dissociation from the learned revival 
of the Greek texts. The first modem records of the close scientific 
observation of plants or animals impinge on the intellectuid orbit 
of the age either too early or too late to be explained as attracted 
thither by the new learning. Effective advance in zoological 
knowl^ge hardly begins until the second half of the sixteenth 
century, but it yras preceded by the work of the anatomists 
whose activities we may trace back to the eleventh century. 
The records of botanical observation tell much the same tale. The 
familiar attempts of the * fathers of Botany ’ 4re not encountered 
until well into the sixteenth century, but behind their work we 
can discern a long and slow evolution of first-hand plant-study 
reaching back to the twelfth century. However true it may be 

X Parbaoh died before his project of obtaining the Greek text was attained. 
His Thsoricat novae ptandoftm, Nuremberg, 1472, was published by Regiomon- 
tanus and relies cm the text dtiived from Arabic. The Epytoma Joamue de monte 
reffie [i.e. Regumumtanus] in Ahnageetum PtoUmei, Venice, 1406, goes back 
however to the Greek. 


that Greek thought is the final motive of these developments, 
that the desire to know is but the stirring again of the Greek 
spirit crushed and overlaid by barbarism and misunderstanding, 
it is yet clear that the actual recovery of the texts had no very 
close relation to the recommencement of direct biological observa- 
tion. Above all, we need to distinguish mere passive increase of 
knowledge brought by the revival of the Greek language from the 
active extension of knowledge by direct observation that is the 
essence of the experimental method. This process of active exten- 
sion began centuries before the learned Greek revival and received 
its great impetus long after it. 

Thus modem science arose largely independent both of philo- 
sophy and of scholarship. She was, in truth, conceived in obscure 
and humble circumstances before the days of the new learning and 
in very different surroundings from those of her older sister. She 
did not take her origin, as did Greek science of old, among a group 
of philosophers thinking at large, and with little to check their 
investigations and their speculations save the limits of their own 
intellectual powers and a slowly accumulating mass of observa- 
tions. The lines of modern physical science fell in far less pleasant 
places. Modem science entered on her first period of development 
in a. highly sophisticated society, ruled intellectually by a most 
rigid tradition, limited by the claims of a priesthood, and con- 
stantly checked by an interpretation of Scripture which was 
only one degree more fettering than the scholastic presentation 
of such Greek x>hilo8ophy as had reached that age. It was in 
the twelfth or perhaps the early part of the following century, 
with the flowing tide of the scholastic movement, that men began 
consciously but very slowly to modify by observation the details of 
a vast tradition concerning the structure of the universe and of man.^ 

* Some reservation, so far as Anatomy is concerned, must be made for the 
School of Salerno, where we have evidence that animals were being dissected at 
the end of the eleventh century. There is, however, no evidence that this exapiple 
was followed elsewhere for generations, and perhaps the work of Salerno, so far 
as it is really scientific, is more logically regarded rather as the last phase of the 
ancient than as the first phase of modem science. The two earliest Salernitan 
anatomies are of the pig and they date respectively from about 1086 and 1100 ; 
they may be most conveniently consulted in Salvatore De Renzi, CoUeetio StUemu 
tana, 5 vols., Naples, 1862-9, vol. ii, pp. 388 and 391. Even the earlier of these 
two tracts shows some trace of Arabian infiuence. Light is thrown on these 
early anatomical tractates by a recent excellent graduation thesis of a pupil of 
K. Sudhoff, F. Bedeker, Die ‘ Anatomia moffieiri Nicolai pAMc* ’ Uftd ihr 
VerhSltnis zur Anatomia Chophonia und Bichardi, Leipzig, 1917. 


('oiilMsi l\|)u ill ILiiU' Tji.iilish (liiiwin.L: «•! .mim.ils .md pi. ml -. 'Aitli ( - .h 

(»t f r« )nt is| »ii ( r .111(1 K*( ncr uoils ot TI.iic Nil 


The process of development was perforce slow, for in the 
social, and intellectual environment of the age speculation was 
impossible, and the only practicable advance was that of re- 
peatedly verified experience. It was easy to confine a philosopher 
to his monastic cell for alleging aught new of the constitution of 
matter or of the structure of the heavens, but less easy, even in 
those days, to deny that his gunpowder exploded, when it did 
explode, or that his glasses magnified, when they did magnify. 
Princes and prelates had no need of the fud of Greek thought to 
discern the advantages that they might derive from the applica- 
tions of gunpowder, nor did they aweut the re-discovery of Greek 
letters to become sensible of the uses of spectacles. If necessity 
is the mother of invention, experience is her father, and these 
two rather than Greek letters and Greek philosophy were the 
real begetters of the new experimental method.' 

Perhaps it is in the order of nature that the root of the tree 
of knowledge is bitter though its fruit be sweet ; it is at least 
true that the lesson of scientific verification needed to be well 
learnt before scientific speculation and theorization could become 
profitable. That lesson had at last been learnt, and we may be 
assured that the profound difference in the manner of setting forth 
the science of the modem and that of the ancient world is an 
expression of the historic difference in the origin of the two 

II. The Record of Ancient and the Record of Modern 


Consider examples of the two methods concretely and, turning 
to one of the thousands of files of journals that make up the 
bulk of any modem scientific library, compare its contents with 
one of the scientific works of Aristotle or of Theophrastus. Since 
we are dian ^a sing Biology, we will select a biological journal 
and briefly examine an average article in it, for such articles on 
special and nmrrow problems are a peculiar product of modern 
science and in these * memoirs ’ modem science is most charac- 
teristically represented. 

^ In the history of soientifio development mathemstios and the mathematical 
sciences stand somewhat apart firom the othm* departments of knowledge. It is 
a point that cannot be treated here, but it has been briefly discussed by tiie present 
writer in a pamphlet, Qreek 8eienee cmd Modem Sdenee, a Compariton and a 
Contraat, London, 1920. 


Hie author begins by pointing out a gap in knowledge. The 
structure or habits of some rare organism, he tells us, are inade* 
quately known, or the development of some phuit may be expected 
to throw light on the relationship between two groups of plants, 
or perhaps the function of an organ requires further elucidation. 
Having stated his problem, he reviews the efforts made by others 
to illumine this dark place in knowledge. He points out some of 
their errors or decides to accept their work and base his own 
upon it. Perhaps he distrusts their experiments or would like to 
re-interpret their results. Having summarized their labours he 
details his own experiments and observations. 

But he is not able to tell us all of these. If he did, scientific 
literature would be far more bulky than it already is and science 
would quickly perish, suffocated under the dead weight of its 
own verbosity. Our author must, in fact, omit a great many of 
his mental processes. Space will not permit him to tell us how 
he embarked on many different lines of work and abandoned them 
as unprofitable or too difficult, nor anything of the months or years 
spent in merely repeating the experience of others. He says no 
word of how he acquired and improved his experimental skill and 
technical experience. He tells merely of those developments of his 
work that have yielded him results. But he does not tell us all 
even of these. A^en by gradual steps he had at last reached, or 
perhaps with the instinct of genius had more quickly discerned, 
a profitable direction for his investigations, he reached after a time 
those conclusions which his final line of work has verified and 
rendered more exact. It is this final process of verification that 
he mainly describes in his article, and it is the details of this that 
occupy the bulk, perhaps nineteen-twentieths or more, of all that he 
has to say. Then having, described these verificatory experiments, 
he summarizes his conclusions in a short paragraph of a few lines. 

That is a fair description of the average piece of scientific 
work as it is turned out to-day, and from vast accumulations of 
such work the generalizations of men of scientific genius have been 
mainly though sometimes unconsciously built up. The mass of 
scientific writings, bulky as they are, contain descriptions of only 
the verificatory experiments, and it is on account .of this necessary 
hmitalion that it is impossible to understand scientific method 
from books without making independent observations. 

How does the science of antiquity compare with material such 
as this ? The Greek work is of course less in quantity mid often 


fragmmtaxy in oharaotet, yet it is not that which nuAes oom- 
pariscm difficult. The ffiffioulty arises from the hahit of the 
'Gre^ writers of setting down only their conclusions. Their 
methods of work, even their verifioat(»y observations, they have 
almost completely hidden from us. It is as riiough we had a col- 
lecrion of the last few lines of ,a series of scientific articles. . To 
grasp the nature of modem scientific method from a sdentific 
artiole is difficult, since not all the mental processes involved Me 
represented. In the case of Greek science the difficulty is far 
greater, for here we have only the conclusions with hardly any 
of the processes. There survives to this day a form of scientific 
literature, or rather of literature on scientific topics, which bears 
a distant analogy to some parts of the Greek record as it has 
reached us, though its motive is utterly different. It is the type 
of work known as the * cram-book *, wffich merriy summarizes the 
known or recognized facts without reference to sources or methods. 
Such works present us with the final results of vast amounts of 
intellectual effort but they give little information as to how those 
results have been obtained. 

Now it would appear that it is not the accidents of time that 
have reduced the Greek record to its present state. The responsi- 
bility rests far more with the Greeks themselves and with their 
method of research. The Greek scientific work lacks nothing in 
brilliance, the Greek scientist yields to none in keenness, the 
Greek record is at least the equal of our own in clearness. It is the 
constant solicitude for the exact mode of investigation, a solicitude 
characteristic of our own science, that we so often seek in vrin 
among the Greeks. The method of modem scientific research is 
b^ore all things and above all things a process of verification. 

* The complexity of phenomena *, says a critic of Aristotle, * is 
as that of a lab3nnnth, and one wrong turn may cause the wanderer 
infinite perplexity. Verification is the Ariadne-tiiread by. which 
alone the seal issue must be sought.* ^ Yet the process of verification 
is slow and tedious and often difficult and dull, and Man is by 
nature lazy and impatient, bating labour yet eager for results. 
Hence Credulity. Credulity is the Pandora of Science, promising 
everything, yielding nothing. * If you trust befmre you try,' you 
may repent before you die * is as good a maxim in scientific as 
in human relationships. Mdii.vrj<ro Anumuf would have been 
a salutary phylactery for the Greek scientific Pharisee, serene in 

‘ G. H. Lewes, AtiaMle : a Copter from the hietory of acienee, London, ‘1864. 


the conviction of the power of his reason, to have bound upon his 
hand and to have worn as a frontlet between his eyes. It is true 
that the great Greek minds were singularly free from that baser 
credulity that we call superstition — ^from that they were preserved 
by their conviction that order reigned in Nature — but few indeed 
were the Greeks who showed an adequate scientific scepticism. 
The Greek often accepted data without scrutiny, induction without 
proof. His very brilliance was a source of weakness and he was 
often led to believe that the order of phenomena must perforce 
correspond to his own admirably clear conceptions. 

But although Greek science failed to lay the enormous stress 
on verification that we in this last age have found to be the chief 
condition of scientific progress, it is yet certainly true that all 
Greek scientists were not equally deficient in this respect. Aris- 
tarchus of Samos, Archimedes of Syracuse, Hero of Alexandria, 
these are illustrious exceptions, and the lasting value of their 
results remains the justification of their method. Further, the 
process of verification is easier in some sciences than in others. 
Such are those purely observational studies classed under the 
general title of Natural History, for in them the phenomena are 
visible to all and the difficulty usually hes rather in the collection 
and arrangement of the vastly numerous data than in their veri- 
fication. Moreover, biological phenomena are so exceedingly 
complex that it is very difficult to form general theories to explain 
any considerable proportion of them. The Greek naturalist was 
thus less tempted than the Greek physicist or astronomer to fit 
his facts to his preconceived theories. 

Yet even in the field of natural history the Greek character 
had its OMm special sources of weakness. Tlie Greeks were gifted 
with such a variety of talents that there may be a tendency to 
credit them with qualities that were not theirs, for although 
extraordinarily anxious to explain natural phenomena they were 
not remarkably observant of Nature except when their attention 
was specially drawn to it. It was the world in relation to himself 
and not as a mere objective complex of phenomena that interested 
and appealed to the Greek. Thus in his attention to purely external 
phenomena he ranks no higher than many peoples infinitely his 
inferiors in other respects. It is said that any ^lay can distinguish 
some three hundred species of insects ; set off against this the 
whole fauna of Aristotle with its total of but five hundred and forty 
formi}. Again, Tlieophrastus, a professed botanist, mentions only 


three hundred plants, practically all cultivated ; compare this to 
the record of barbarian Anglo-Saxon speaking tribes of whose 
literature the merest fragment survives, but a fragment containing 
about eight hundred plant names.^ 

But when the attention of the Greek was once fixed upon the 
structure or habits of living things, his success in elucidating or 
portraying them was unrivalled, for then the living things became 
part of his own world and not merely of the world around him, 
personal and not impersonal. With us it is quite otherwise, for 
it is just the impersonal or objective study that gives the hall-mark 
to our science and perhaps also to our art, and it is exactly in 
this objective or impersonal aspect that the Greek often failed. 
And he well knew his own weakness, which Plato has exposed 
for us with a sure hand : ‘ If we consider ’, he says, ‘ the works 
of the painter and the different degrees of gratification with 
which the eye of the sjiectator receives them, we shall see that we 
are satisfied with the artist who is able in any degree to imitate the 
earth and its mountains, and the rivers, and the woods, and the 
universe, and the things that are and move therein ; and further, 
that knowing nothing precise about such matters, we do not 
examine or analyse the painting ; all that is required is a sort of 
indistinct and deceptive mode of shadowing them forth. But 
when he paints the human form we are quick at finding out 
defects, and our familiar knowledge makes us severe judges of one 
who does not render every point of similarity.’ “ This criticism 
of Plato is well borne out by a study of Greek art. 

If we examine the attempts to represent the forms of the 
animal and vegetable creations by early peoples, a very striking 
feature presents itself. A large number of ancient delineations of 
animals and plants have come down to us, and these figures show 
that the habits and forms of moving creatures fixed the attention 
of almost all races long before the same care was expended on 
plants. Animals are more like ourselves than plants, they move 
and feel and are subject to pleasure and passion, and so are 
capable of mqre personal treatment. The natural interest in the 
aninnal rather than in the plant might be illustrated by a himdred 
instances from the palaeolithic cave paintings downwards, but 

^ It is true that of these Early English plant names many are derive<i from 
Greek (through Latin) and many have only a literary use. But even allowing 
for these tendencies their number remains remarkable. 

* Critiaa. 


we will ti^e our example from a pie-Hcdlenie people in Gie lend 
of the Greeks. The best known of all the IBnOah lelios are 
perhaps the Vaphio cups (Plate m), and these betroy the ipbi^ 
careful study of the structure and movements of the bull. His 
anatomy is accurately shown and we can cleurly discern the 
surface markings rais^ by the muscles which move the shoulders 
and the hind>quarters, as well as by those which support the head 
and contool the ribs. Yet the representations of plants on these 
cups are very poor, so that the trees cannot be identified. 

This neglect of plants, the beings least like ourselves, is 
characteristic also of the Hellenic art that succeeded and 
replaced the Minoan, and it has its analogue in Greek science. 
In the Greek scientific writings the interest in plants is usually 
practical ; even Theophrastus, dealing almost exclusively with 
the domesticated varieties, frankly tells us that it was their 
medical application that had led to their more accurate study; 
the same is true of Dioscorides and of a number of minor Greek 
authors who have written on plants and their properties. We 
may search classical art in vain for any striking figures of plants, 
and the best representations come to us from a time when the 
creative force of Greece was dead. The most accurate Greek 
representations of plants are in a series prepared by artists of 
Constantinople as late as the sixth century of the CSuristian era 
(Plates VI and vn). The draftsmen of the Julia Anida MS. of 
about 512 represent their originals faithfully and accurately, 
point by point, idmost hair by hair, but with no trace of imagine* 
tive treatment.' These degenerate scions of the mighty race of 
Pheidias and Apelles were producing pictures of plants which 
are indeed no works of art but are yet accurate and clear and 
represent their subjects much as the illustrator of a modem 
scientific treatise might seek to do. 

If we turn from the graphic representation of living things to 
scientific discourse about them we find ourselves in face of an 
extensive literature. Conrad Gesner, the most learned of biolo- 
gists, estimated the number of Greek works with considerable 
bearing on Botany as over a himdred, and although many of these, 
it must be admitted, axe very trivial, yet about half of them 

^ It is true that some of the figures in this MS. and possibly all of tiiem are 
copied from earlier MSS. and not directly from nature. But even the originals, 
as shown below (p. 63, fig, 29), must have been long posterior to the best period 
of HeUenio, though contemporary with the so*called Augustan art with its re- 
markable treatment of plant forms. 


Julia Anicia MS. fo. 3r5 r Vth Vlth cent. 

<0 AC I O AOC 





stHl find a place in the most exhaustive modem history of botany/ 
The number of works on the structure and habits of animft,l« is 
also considerable. Now if the Greek was interested in men rather 
than things, as Plato tells us, how account for all this output ? 
What is it that thus fixed the attention of the Greek on animals 
and plants f The answer is ti^t these works have in the main 
a practical end ; the plants and animals are described for the use 
to which they can be put by man. But there remains a small 
residuum of works, chiefly those of the Lyceum, which have no 
such end in view. Why were these written, and where among the 
self-centred Greek people was the pubUc 'interested in natural 
knowledge with no direct application to the circumstances of life ? 
The answer is that the best Greek biological opinion had come to 
regard Man himself as a natural product and was growing accus-* 
tomed to look upon him as a member of a whole series of beings. 
These beings extended to the supra-mundane spheres, but the 
lower series also, plants and animals, partook of his essence in 
varying degrees, their resemblance to him increasing with their 
higher rank in the scale. Thus animals and plants, but especially 
animals, helped Man to understand himself. 

III. The Bases of the Aristoteuak Biological System 

(a) Classification 

Of the biological researches of the Lyceum we have the three 
great Aristotelian works, the Historia aninudium, the De pcurtibus 
animaliumf and the De genexcAione animalium, and on plants the 
Historia plarUarum and the De causis filanUiruni of Theophrastus, 
the pupil and successor of Aristotle, as well as the later and 
imperfect peripatetic work De plantis, probably composed by 
Nicholas of Damascus in the first century b.c.* There are also 

^ £. H. F. Meyer, Cfeachichte der Botanik, 4 toIs., Kdnigsberg, 1864-7. 

* The history of this work is curious. The original work on plants by Aristotle 
was commented on by Nicholas in Qreek.. This commentary was translated by 
Hunein ben Ishak into Syriac, and this translation was turned, by his son, into 
Arabic. In its Arabio dress it was then modified by ThftUt ben Com. Item the 
Atebio it was twice translated into Latin in the thirteenth century, on one occasion 
by the dbadowy and elusive Alfredus Anglicus. An authoritative editicm of the 
Latin text of Alfredus was published by £. H. F. Meyer, Nicolai Damasconi de 
planHs lUtri duo Aristotdi vulgo adscripti, Leipdg, 1841. See especially F. WOsten- 
. fdd. Die Ueberedaungen arabie^er Werke in doe Lateiniaehe aeU dem XI. Jahr- 
- Au^rf, Gdttingen, 1877. 



two Aristotelian works on the movements of animals with which 
we are not here concerned, nor shall we take into consideration 
such points in Aristotle’s works as deal with the structure of 
man, since these are best reserved for separate treatment. The 
Aristotelian and zoological writings may be considered first. 

Whatever be concluded as to other works of Aristotle, it is 
probably true that any biologist who examines his zoological 
writings will accept what is known as the ‘ note-book theory *. 
The ill arrangement of much of the material and the gravity of 
some of the errors make it difficult to conceive that these works 
arc in the state designed for publication by the master, with his 
genius for classification and undeniable powers of observation. 
The only explanation that will satisfy is that the more serious 
blunders are the mistakes of the student note-taker who had in 
his hands the rough-note books of the teacher. It is therefore 
probably true that if Aristotle’s best biological observations are 
taken as samples of his scientific work we shall obtain the truest 
]>icture of what he himself was accustomed to teach. 

There can be no doubt that through much of the Aristotelian 
writing there breathes a belief in a kinetic as distinct from a static 
view of existence. It is this aspect of his teaching which brings 
all living things into relation with man. In Aristotle’s study of 
animal forms there are two departments where this kinetic view 
gains specially clear expression. These departments are respec- 
tively the Arrangement or Cla>ssification of Animals, and their 
Development, or, as we now call it, their Embryology. 

It is now customary to summarize our knowledge of living 
beings in tabular form. As interpreted by a modem biologist 
these classificatory tables represent certain degrees of relationship. 
Modern systems of classification are not, however, as is often 
thought, closely comparable to genealogical trees, because two 
species may be very nearly allied and therefore close together in 
the table of classification, although they parted company far 
back in their history, or again historically allied species may 
become widely dificrenti^ated in comparatively few generations. 
Classificatory tables are rather intended to summarize structural 
similarities and structural differences, though, as a rule, the 
naturalists who draw them up have no exact quantitative con- 
ception of the amounts of differences signified by the degree of 
separation in their tables. Indeed this absence of a quantitative 
factor is among the weakest points of modem biology, and it is 


only in very recent times that effective attempts have been made 
to remedy it. 

Now despite the fact that no classificatory table of Aristotle 
has come down to ns, there can yet be no doubt that he formed 
general ideas of a classification based on the consideration of the 
structure and habits of animals. He uses the terms of classification 
and speaks of larger and smaller groups of animals which bear 
greater or less similarity to each other. It is thus in accordance 
with his meaning and is perhaps reproducing his method of 
teaching if we draw up a classification of animals from his works. 

The primary basis of his classification would surely have been 
the method of reproduction, a subject to which he paid a vast 
amount of attention (cf. Table on p. 16). It is therefore necessary 
to examine some of his ideas on this subject. 

He knew nothing of the ipiammalian ovum, and he regarded the 
mammalian embryo as a thing living from the first, and living in 
a higher sense than an egg can be said to live. The mammalia 
were thus for him viviparous internally and not merely exter- 
nally in the sense in which the word viviparous is now used. The 
remaining enaima, sanguineous animals or ‘ vertebrates ’ as we now 
call them, were primarily oviparous, though some among them 
were viviparous in the external sense ; that is to say, while the 
young in these cases were held to develop always from an egg, 
that egg might sometimes be hatched within the mother’s body. 
The ‘ invertebrates ’, or anaifna in Aristotle’s notation, had on the 
other hand their own special methods of reproduction, among 
which the so-called spontaneous generation played an important 

In considering the table of classification that we have drawn 
up from Aristotle’s works and in comparing it with any modern 
system, the difficulties under which he was working must be 
recalled. He makes no attempt to produce a complete system, 
and he deals almost entirely with local forms. He exhibits 
knowledge of about 540 species of animals. When wc consider 
that of insect species alone some half million are now recognized, 
a thousand times as many as his total fauna, we shall be more 
disposed to wonder that he has fastened upon so many points still 
regarded as of classificatory value, than to criticize his errors or 
the gaps in his knowledge. 


ENAIMA. (Sanguineous and either viviparous or oviparous)»Vertebratee. 

rl. Man. 

Viviparous (in the 
internal sense) 

r With 
I perfect 

Oviparous I 
(though J 
sometimes i 




. oVum 

2. Cetacea. 

3. Viviparous Quadrupeds : 

(а) Kon-amphodonta (Ruminants with cloven 
hoofs and incisors in lower jaw only). 

(б) Monycha (with single hoofs). 

^ (e) Other viviparous quadrupeds. 

4. Birds : 

(а) Oampsonyoha (Baptores with talons). 

(б) Steganopodes (Natatores with webbed 

feet). . 

J (c) Peristeroeide (Columbidae). 

\ (d) Apodes (Swifts, martins, swallows). 

(e) Other birds. 

5. Oviparous Quadrupeds (Amphibia and most 


- 0. Ophiode (Serpents). 

{ 7. Pishes : 

(a) Bonyfisb. 

(6) Selaohia (Cartilaginous fish and Fishing" 

ANAIMA (Non-sanguineous and either oviparous, vermiparous or budding) 


j 1. Malaoia (Cephalopods). 
• 1 2 . ■ 

Malacostraca (Crustacea). 

Entoma (Insects, spiders, scorpions, &c.). 

With imperfect ovum . 

With scolex 

With generative slime, buds, 1 4. Ostraooderma (Molluscs except Cephalo 
or spontaneous generation > pods, Echinoderms, &o.). 

^o^y^*^*.***^”* generation | Zoophyta (Sponges, Coelenterates, &c.). 

Aristotle’s primary division into Enaima and Anaima» or as we 
call them Vertebrates and Invertebrates, is one still nniversally 
accepted. The two groups are now, it is true, regarded as incom- 
mensurate in evolutionary value, but tihis has only been recognized 
during the last generation or two, and the division survives as 
an effective dichotomy of our knowledge. When we examine his 
Enaim a we see a division into groups which, with the forms known 
to him, could hardly be improved. The fish-like Cetacea are 
separated too widely from the other mammals, but Aristotle 
neverthdess knows of their mammalian character and reoidls 
the fact that they suckle thm young. He is in no danger of 
confu&dng them with fish. * All animals he says, * that are in- 
ternally and externally viviparous have breasts, as for instance aU 
animals that have hair, as man and the horse, and the cetaceans, 
as the dolphin, tihe porpoise, and the whale, for these animals have 
breasts and are supplied with milk. Apimals that are oviparous 


or only externally Tiviparoua have nnther breaata nor milk* as 
the fishes and the bird.* ^ 

The passages in which Aristotle describes riie Cetaceans are 
worth putting together as giving a general idea of his powers of 
zoological classification, and they provide an excellent illustration 
of the stage that he had reached in the study ctf comparative 
anatomy and physiology. 

‘ Some animals are viviparous, others oviparous, others vermi- 
parous. Among the viviparous are man, the horse, the seal, and 
all other animals that are hair-coated, and, of marine animals, 
the cetaceans, as the dolphin and the so-called Selachia.* . . . 
The dolphin, the whale, and all the rest of the Cetacea, all, that 
is to say, that are provided with a blow-hole instead of gills, are 
[internally] viviparous. That is to say, no one of all these is 
ever seen to be supplied with eggs, but directly with an embryo 
from whose differentiation the animal develops, 'just as in the 
case of mankind and the viviparous quadrupeds.* . . . All creatures 
that have a blow-hole respire and inspire, for they are provided 
with lungs. The dolphin has been seen asleep with his nose 
above water, and when asleep he snores.* . . . One can hardly 
allow that such an animal is terrestrial and terrestrial only, or 
aquatic and aquatic only, if by terrestrial we mean an animal 
that inhales air, and if by aquatic we mean an animal that takes 
in water. For the fact is the dolphin performs both these pro- 
cesses : he takes in water and discharges it by his blow-hole, and 
he also inhales air into his lungs ; for the creature is furnished 
with these organs and respires thereby, and accordingly, when 
caught in the nets, he is quickly suffocated for lack of air. He 
can also live for a considerable while out of the water, but all 
this while he keeps up a dull moaning sound correspon^ng to 
the noise made by air-breathing animals in general ; furthermore, 
when sleeping, the animal keeps his nose above water, and he 
does so that he may breathe the air. . . . For the fact is, some 
aquatic animals [as fish] take in water and discharge it ageun, 
for the same reason that leads air-breathing animak to inhale 
air ; in other words, with the object of cooling the blood. Others 
[as cetaceans] take in water as incidental to their mode of feeding ; 
for as they get their food in the water they cannot but take in 
water along with their food.’ * 

‘ The dolphin bears one at a time generally, but occasionally 
two. The whale bears one or at the most two, generally two. 
The porpoise in this respect resembles the dolphin. . . . The 
dolpl^ and the porpoise are provided with milk, and suckle 

^ HiHoria animaUum, iii. 20 ; 621*21? * HiHoria animalium-, i. 6 ; 489* 34. 

* Hittoria aninuUitim, vi. 12 ; 666* 2. * Hittoria animaUum, vi. 12 ; 666* 12. 

' Historia animalium, viii. 2 ; 689*31. 




their young. They also take their young, when small, inside 
them. The young of the dolphin grows rapidly, being full-grown 
at ten years of age. Its period of gestation is ten months. It 
brings forth its young in summer, and never at any other season. 
Its young accompany it for a considerable period ; and, in fact, 
the creature is remarkable for the strength of its parental affection.’* 

The Historia animalium in wliich these passages occur became 
accessible in versions by Michael Scot (1175 ?— 1294 ?),* by Albertus 

La ftiiiTlurt it F Ovift^ut la Latins ne.vuiUMt Orta vii 

Fig. 1. il K A M PUS AND N K W L Y-B O R N Y O U N G 
The foetus is still surrounded hy its inoinbrane.s and the after-blrth^is in process of extrusion. 
From Pierre Bolon, Ilialmre. iiaturelle Ufia ea! ranges poisaom marins^ at?er la vraie jierncture et 
description du daulphin et de plmieurs aulres de son espece, Paris, 1551. 

Magnus (1206—80),^ and perhaps by William of Moerbeke (died 
c. 1281). The work was again rendered into Latin by Theodore 
Gaza, about 1450.^ Yet the mammalian affinities of the Cetacea 
appear to have been generally overlooked in the Middle Ages 
and at the Revival of Learning until Pierre Belon (1507-64) 
repeated Aristotle’s observations in the middle of the sixteenth 
century and published a description of the cetacean placenta 

^ Historia aninuilium, vi. 12 ; 566** 7. 

* Translated from the Arabic. Cf. P. Wiistenfold, loo. cit., p. 101. Roger 
Bacon tells us that in 1230 ^ Michael Scot appeared [at Oxford] bringing with 
him the works of Aristotle on natural history and mathematics, with wise exposi- 
tors, BO that the philosophy of Aristotle was magnified among the Latins It 
appears that Scot produced two versions of the De AnimalibuSy one entitled De 
Aninuilibua ad Caesarem and the other Traciatus Avicennae de Animalibus. He 
also incorporated ideas from the De Oeneratione Animalium in his lAber de secretis 

* An edition of Albert’s commentary has been protiuced by H. Stadler, Albertus 
Magnus de animalibus libri XXVI nach der Coiner Urachrift, Munster i. W., 1916 
and 1021, in Baeumke’s * Beitrage zur Geschichte der Philosophie des Mittelalters.’ 

^ First printed Venice, 1476. 



(Figs. 1 and 2). Belon is further worthy of commemoration as he 
was perhaps the first among the moderns to make an attempt 
at a comparative anatomy, for in one of his works he sets forth the 
homologues of the vertebrate skeleton along somewhat similar lines 
to those of Aristotle^ (Fig. 3), a conception soon developed by 
Coiter well beyond the Aristotelian level." 

The classification of birds is to this day in an unstable state. We 

may say that Aristotle’s grouping is 
substantially that which ])revailed in 
scientific w'orks till recent times and 
still remains as the popular division. 
His separation of the cartilaginous 
from the bony fishes, on the other 
hand, still stands in scientific works, 
.and is a stroke of genius which must 
have been reached by means t)f careful 
dissection. It is marred only by the 
inclusion of one peculiar bony form, 
the fishing-frog, or Lophins, among 
the cartilaginous fishes, and investi- 
gation shows that the skeleton of 
this creature is, in fact, peculiarly 
cartilaginous. Aristotle himself re- 
garded the Lophiiis as aberrant 
.among cartilaginous fishes. 

For the Anaima or Invcirtebrates 
even modern systems of classification 
.arc but tentative. There is an enor- 
mous number of sp<5cies, and after 
centuries of research naturalists still 

LafcmSiKreJ€PEmhyM I m lAarfom. 


<)|XMiecl to show foetus attached by 
umbilical cord to plaeetita. From 
Pierre Ji«>Ion, Jlistoir*i naturdU dtn 
er^trangcft j^oissons mar ins , avec hi vnn'e 
pehicture ct desr.riptiim tin duulphin H 
de pluslf'iirs anlrt^s #/« stm Paris, 

1551 . 

find vast gaps even in the field of mere naked-eye observatiom 
Nevertheless, with the instinct of genius, and with only some 240 
of these forms on which to work, Aristotle has fastened on some of 
the most salient points. Kspecially brilliant is his treatment of the 
Molluscs. There can be no doubt that he dissected the bodies and 
carefully watched the habits' of octopuses and squids, Malacia as 
he calls them. He separates them too far from the other Molluscs, 

^ Tho suggestion ha«l already been made, though in a less complete form, by 
Vesalius in the De jaJbrica carporia humani, 1.543. There are also trace.8 of tlie 
conception of a comparative anatomy in the 1V1S8. of Leonardo da Vinci. 

^ Volcher Coiter, Lectionea Gabrielia FallopU de partibua aimilaribua humani 
corporis ex dirersis exemphirihus, Nuremberg, 1.57.5. 



grouped by him as Ostracoderma, but his actual descriptions of the 
structure of the Cephalopods are exceedingly remarkable. (Cf. 
p. 39 ft.) His distinction between the Malacoetraca or Crustacea, 

Vtmm 4t M mh m campariirva 

•rMManii 4c ccui 4si affciic. 

ACHamrc ilii M/cnajrfcM.inilceacaiiipctciliiaitbUc 
4c lliaaiaM. pour «o»AfCf IcRioiUicc 4cai. 

Sait 4cco3rfcMi mitt cn compirniiio 

If oi f cffc ovc -a, ^ 

La fcilioa <ffa opfrcu rculeoivir 
I>t tout opfcauc I'micncur 4cm«qrir*:. 
Sira ^a let vncroicai 4a patua Mooftrr 
Aafta«iropfraa4f,aMraa ■ofcoorwob 


From Pierro Belon, L’hiatoire de la nature dea oyeeaux, Patio, 1655, 

Entoma, Sponges, and Jellyfish are also still of value, and these 
divisions remain along much the same lines as he left them. 

(6) Phytogeny 

Aristotle nowhere formally exhibits either a ‘ Soala Naturae ’ 
or a ‘ genealogical tree ’, devices in which naturalists have de- 
lighted for the last two centuries, but he constantly comes so 
near to such conceptions that there is no great difficulty in re- 
constructing his scale from his descriptions (Fig. 4). 

* Nature he says, ‘ proceeds little by little from things lifeless 
to animal life in such a way that it is impossible to determine the 
exact line of demarcation, nor on which side thereof an inter- 
mediate form should lie. Thus, next after lifeless things in the 
upward scale comes the plant, and of plants one will differ from 
another as to its amount of apparent vitality ; and, in a word, 
the whole genus of plants, whilst it is devoid of life as compared 



with* an animal, is endowed with life as compared with other cor- 
poreal entities. Indeed, there is observed in plants a continuous 
scale of ascent towards the animal. So, in the sea, there are certain 
objects concerning which one would be at a loss to determine 
whether they be animal or vegetable. For instance, certain of these 
objects are fairly rooted, and in several cases perish if detached.* ^ 








* Mammalia 

■ Reptiles, Birds, Ainphilia and Fish 
~ Cephalopoda 
^ Crustacea 
' Other Arthropods 
Other Mdluscs 


*• Ascidians etc 
• Holothurians ?? etc. 


Pia. 4. The order of living thingSi put together from the descriptiouH of Aristotle. 

‘ A sponge, in these respects completely resembles a plant, in 
that throughout its life it is attached to a rock, and that when 
separated from this it dies. Slightly different from the sponges 
are the so-called Holothourias and the sea-lungs, as also sundry 
other sea-animals that resemble them. For these are free and 
unattached, yet they have no feeling, and their life is simplv 
that of a plant separated from the grotmd. For even among land- 
plants there are some that are independent of the soil ... or even 
entirely free. Such, for example, is the plant which is found on 
Parnassus, and which some call the Epipetrum. This you may hang 
up on a peg and it will yet live for a considerable time. Sometimes 
it is a ma^er of doul^t whether a given organism should be classed 
with plants or with ammals. The Tethya, for instance, and the like 
so far resemble plants as they never live &ee and unattached, but, 
on the other hand, inasmuch as they have a certain flesh-like sub- 
stance, they must be supposed to possess some degree of sensibility.^ 

* Historia aninudiutn, viii. 1 ; 588** 4. 

^ De partibua animaliutn, iv. 5 ; 681* 15. 


‘ The Acalephac or Sea-uettles, as they are variously called, . . . 
lie outside the recognized groups. Their constitution, like that 
of the Tethya, approximates them on the one side to plants, on 
the other side to animals. For seeing that some of them can 
detach themselves and can* fasten on their food, and that they 
are sensible of objects which come in contact with them, they 
must be considered to have an animal nature. The like conclusion 
follows from their using the asperity of their bodies as a protection 
against their enemies. But, on the other hand, they are closely 
allied to plants, firstly by the imperfection of their structures, 
secondly by their being able to attach themselves to the rocks, 
which they do with great rapidity, and lastly by their having no 
visible residuum notwithstanding that they possess a mouth.’ ^ 
Thus ‘ Nature passes from lifeless objects to animals in such 
unbroken sequence, interposing between them beings which live 
and yet are not animals, that scarcely any difference seems to (‘xist 
between two neighbouring groui>s owing to their close proximity.’ ® 
‘ In regard to sensibility, some animals give no indication 
whatsoever of it, whilst others indicate it but indistinctly. Further, 
the substance of some of these intermediate creatures is flesh-like, 
as is the case with the so-called Tethya (ascidians) and the 
Acalephae (or sea anemones ?) ; but the sponge is in every respect 
like a vegetable. And so throughout the entire animal scale tliere 
is a graduated differentiation in amount of vitality and in capacity 
for motion. A similar statement holds good with regard to habits 
of life. Thus, of plants that spring from seed, the one function 
seems to be tlie reproduction of their own particidar spc(?ies, and 
the sphere of action with certain animals is similarly limited. 
The faculty of reproduction, then, is common to all alike. If 
sensibility be superadded, then their "lives will differ from one 
another in respect to sexual intercourse and also in regard to 
modes of parturition and ways of rearing their young. Home 
animals, like plants, simply i)rocreate their own species at definite 
seasons ; other animals busy themselves also in procuring food 
for their young, and after they are rcarc<l quit them and have no 
further dealings with them ; other animals are more intelligent 
and endowed with memory, and they live with their offspring for 
a longer {period and on a more social footijig.’ •* 

(c) Ontogeny 

So much for Aristotle’s treatment of the kinds of living things. 
Evolutionary doctrine is also foreshadowed by him in his theories 
of the develojiraent of the individual. This fact is obscured, 
however, by his peculiar view of the nature of procreation. On 

1 De partibua animaliutn, iv. 5 ; 68 1** 36. 

* De partibus animaliutn, iv. 5 ; 681* 10. 

* Uistoria aninudium, viii. 1 ; 688** 16. 



this topic his general conclusion is that the material substance of 
the embryo is contributed by the female, but that this is mere 
passive formable material, almost as though it were the soil in 
which the embryo grows. The male contributes the essential 
generative agency, but it is not theoretically necessary for any- 
thing material to pass from male to female. The material that 
does in fact pass with the seed of the male is an accident, not an 
essential, for his essential contribution is not matter but form and 
principle. Aristotle, it appears, was prepared to accept instances 
of fertilization without material contact. 

‘ The female docs not contribute semen to generation but 
does contribute something . . . for there must needs be that which 
generates and that from which it generates. . . . If, then, the male 
stands for the effective and active, and the female considered as 
female, for the passive, it follows that what the female would 
contribute to the semen of the male would not be semen but 
material for the semen to work upon. . . , Now how is it that the 
male contributes to generation, and how is it that the semen from 
the male is the cause of the offspring ? Does it exist in the body 
of the embryo as a part of it from the first, mingling with the 
material which comes from the female ? Or does the semen con- 
tribute nothing to the material body of the embryo but only to 
the power and movement in it ? For this power is that which acts 
and makes, while tliat which is made and receives the form is the 
residue of the secretion in the female. Now the latter alternative 
appears to be the ri^t one both a priori and in view of the facts .’ ' 

There was, however, another view of generation, perhaps of 
Epicurean origin, that was prevalent in antiquity. According to 
this theory the foetus was a joint product of male semen and of 
some analogous factor secreted by the female. “ Among later 
writers, from Galen onward, the Aristotelian and Epicurean views 
were often blended and confused. After the thirteenth century, 
however, the Aristotelian doctrine was that mainly held and it 
lasted on until quite modern times. Thus it profoundly influenced 
William Harvey in the seventeenth century. With the discovery 
of the spermatozoa, however, by Leeuwenhoek and Hamm, in 
1677, it became substantially untenable. The view of AriiEftotle 
fell altogether into discredit in the nineteenth century, during the 

^ De generatione animalium, i. 21 ; 729* 21. 

‘ The theory is succinctly stated by Lucretius, iv, 11. 1229-31 : 

Semper enim partus duplici de semine constat, 
atque utri aimilest magis id quodcumque creatur, 
eius habet plus parte aequa. 



long period of what may be called liistological domination. We 
have now, however, entered on a new experimental period in 
biology, and recent work on mechanical stimulus of the ovum has 
demonstrated that it is indeed possible for development to proceed 
without passage of material from the male. 

Aristotle’s most important embryological researches were made 
upon the chick. He says that the first signs of development are 
noticeable after three days, the heart being visible as a palpitating 
blood spot whence, as it develops, two meandering blood-vessels 
extend to the surrounding tunics. 

‘ Generation from the egg ’, he says, ‘ proceeds in an identical 
manner with all birds, but the full periods from conception to 
birth differ. With the common hen after three days and nights 
there is the first indication of the embryo. . . . The heart appears 
like a speck of blood, in the white of the egg. This point beats 
and moves as though endowed with life, and from it two vein- 
ducts with blood in them trend in a convoluted course . . . and 
a membrane carr5dng bloody fibres now envelops the yolk, leading 
off from the vein-ducts.’ ^ 

A little later he observed that the body had become distin- 
guishable, and was at first very small and white. 

‘ The head is clearly distinguished and in it the eyes, swollen 
out to a great extent. This condition of the eyes lasts on for 
a good while, as it is only by degrees that they diminish in size 
and collapse. At the outset the under portion of the body appears 
insignificant in comparison with the upper portion. Of the two 
ducts that lead from the heart, the one proceeds towards' the 
circumjacent integument, and the other, like a navel-string, 
towards the volk. . . . 

‘ When an egg is ten days old the chick and all its parts are 
distinctly visible. The head is still larger than the rest of the 
body and the eyes larger than the head. At this time also the 
larger internal organs are visible, as also the stomach and the 
arrangement of the viscera ; and the veins that seem to proceed 
from the heart are now close to the navel. From the navel there 
stretch a pair of veinsi one towards the membrane that envelops 
the yolk and the other towards that membrane which envelops 
collectively the membrane wherein the ehick lies, the membrane 
of the yolk, and the intervening liquid. . . . About the twentieth- 
day, if you open the egg and touch the chick, it moves inside 
and chirps ; and it is already coming to be covered with down, 
when, after the twentieth day is past, the chick begins to break 
the shell.’ * 

\ Hiatoriaanimallum, vi. 3 ; 561“4. * Historia animalinm, vi. 3 ; 561* 18. 



To realize what must have been Aristotle’s impressions on 
seeing the developing chick we should not only eliminate our own 
embryological prepossessions but should also divest ourselves of 
such modem conveniences of a laboratory as incubator, water- 
bath, and microscope, and even lens. For our purpose of 
comparison, better thaii the description of a moderh text-book 
of embryology is the account of such a pioneer embryologist as 
Fabricius ab Aquapendente (1637-1619) whose work was done 
before the microscope had come into use (Fig. 6). Fabricius 

Fig. 5. T H K Y O U X (J (J H 1 (.’ K 
From Fabriohis ab Aquape^ndente’s He fornwlione. ovi ei jmUi^ Fadua^ 1604. 

was not, it is true, the first of modern writers to make embryo- 
logical observations ; for that position Leonardo da Vinci is 
perhaps the most likely candidate. Rieff (1600-68) also, in a work 
for midwaves (1654), had written matter concerning the develop- 
ment of the human embryo that was not without point.^ Moreover, 
Goiter (1534-1690) had already (1673) discussed the incubated 
fowl’s egg^ in a mamier that displayed an understanding of the 
nature of the vitelline duct to which neither Fabricius ’nor even 

* Jacob Rieff, Tratlbiichle, Zurich, 1554. There is a Latin edition of this 
work (translated by Wolfgang Haller ?), De conceptu et generalione hominis, 
Zurich, 1554, and an excellent anonymous English translation. The Expert Mid~ 
wife, London, 1637. 

* Volcher Coiter, Extemarum et intemarum prineipaliutn humani corporis 
partium tabulae, atque anatomicae exercitationes observationeaque variae diverais ax 
artificioaaissimis jiguria Uluatratae, Nuremberg, 1573. 


Harvey altogether attained/ although it had been grasped by 
Aristotle.® But Fabricius was the first to imitate Aristotle in 
making extensive embryological observations under controlled 

Like Aristotle, Fabricius carried on his researches without 
nieaas of magnification; like him he did his work almost without 
helf) fronr previous observers; following Aristotle, he held that 
there was a fundamental distinction between the male and female 
contribution to the formation of the embryo in the case of the 
viviparous }>lacental animals, and as with Aristotle, the ovum of 
mammals was unknown to him, though its existence was suspected 
by his puj)il Harvey. For those pioneers of embryology the senien 
or sjierm was indeed literally tlu; seed, the fertilizing principle — 
the word used for the seed of animals was the same as that used 
for plants both in Latin and in Greek — a seed which was sown in 
the soil of the motlier’s womb where it was nonrished and wdiere 
it grew'. Harvey in his w'ork on Generation snggestt'd, without full 
c'videncc, that ‘ almost all animals, even those wdiich bring forth 
their young alive and man himself are produced from eggs but 
it was not until the last quarter of the seveideenth century and the 
appearance of the work of de Graaf “ (Figs. 6 and 7), »Sw'ammerdam,'’ 
and Stensen' that the notioii (!anu‘ (dearly into vitwv that the so- 

' In hkmIitii tinii-.s the nature of tlic vit(?llinp duct was first described by 
t'oitcr, but his work was o\'crlo«)ki‘d until his observations wcni r«?ptuiti‘d by Htensen 
in his muttculitt et tjlandulis oh.ieri'ationiim specimen, Coixuihagcn, 1664. 

® Aristotle, Hislorin animnlium, vi. 3. 

® Hieronymus Fabricius ab Aquapendeiite, L>e formatione ovi et pulli, Padua, 

' The phra.scr omne vicum ex ovo, sometimes attributed to Harvey, cannot, 
however, actually be found in his writings. 

■’ Hcgnier tie Graaf, iJe mulierum organis generalioni inservientibus tractalus 
norus, demonslrans tarn homines et anhwtlia, caetera omnia, quae, vivipara dicuniur, 
hand minus quam ovipara, ab ovo originem ducere, Leyden, 1672. 

*’ Jan Swammerdam, Miraculum naturae sive uter muUebris Jabrica, Leyden, 

' In 1667 Stensen published his Elementorum myologiae specimen . . . cui 
accedunt canis Carchariae dissectum caput, et dissectus piscis ex canum genere at 
Florence, reprinted Amsterdam, l(»69. In the third treatise of this work he 
maintained that the testes of women were analogous to the ovaria of oviparous 
animals and ought to be called by that name. In 1676 he published at Copen- 
hagen in th«^ Acta Hafniensia his Observationes anatomicae spectantes ova viviparo- 
rum in which he briefly described ova in a variety of viviparous animals. In 
an adjacent publication of the same year of the Acta Hafniensia entitled Ova 
ririparorum spectantes obserrationes he gives a diagram illustrating the analogy 



called ‘ testes ’ of the female really contained eggs or ova com- 
parable to the ova of oviparous creatures. In the absence of this 
knowledge Aristotle, like Fabricius, was unable to set forth an 

Kio. G. Krom Kegnior do (jlraafs De vmUerum orfjanift (jtnerntUmi iufff rrivntUm^^ Lcydon, 
1672. To the left in the ' test iele or ovary as he ealls it, of a woman. It is eiit ojmmi along 
the line A ; bb are " ova ’ of various sizes cotitaiii(*d in tlie substanc e of the ‘ testis ’ ; 
cc: are blood vessels ; u is the ligament of the ovary ; E a part of the Kallo[)ian tube 
and G its opening ; ii and i are tin? onvamenta folittevn tnUtrum, I'o the right is the 
ovary of a cow similarly cut opcni along thc^ line aa ; bb is tin? Glandulom snbsltintia^ 
quae post ovi expulsionem in teslibus reperilur, or as we call it tin? corpus luteum, co iKung 
the ‘ almost obliterated cavity ’ in which the ovum was once contained ; dd are ova ; 
EE blood v€)ssels ; k, g, ic the l*'allopian tui>e. Jletwceii the? two larger figures is the Griiafian 
follicle AB of a sheep, c being the ovum removed fn»iu it. 

ox])lana|;iou of the meclianisin of generation that adecinately 
covered the phenomena. 

of the uteri of vipara and ovipara. ThusStensen has the priority in the suygeslian 
that the testes of the female mammal prtMluee ova but tie Graaf has the priority 
of demonstration. 

The claim disseminated by A. Portal in his Histoire de VAnatomie el de la 
ChirurgiSy 6 vols., Paris, 1770-1773, that JeanMathieu Ferrari da^Gradt) (H. 1450) 
was the discoverer of the ovarian nature of the female testes, is effectually dis- 
posed of by da Grade’s collateral descendant U. M. Ferrari, in his Une chaire de 
Medecine au XV siecle, Paris, 1899, p. 115 ff. 



Aristotle, true to the general gradational view that he had 
formed of Nature, held that the most primitive and fundamentally 

Fio. 7. From Regnier do Graaf’s De Mulieruiu 
organic generaiioni ineerviefUibuSf Leyden, 1672. 
Illustrating the development of the rabbit’s ovum : 
1, ova on the third day aft^r conception, 2 on the 
fourth, 3 on the fifth, 4 on the sixth, and 5 on the 
seventh day. The remaining figures show a section 
of the tube oontaining two embryos, 6 being on 
the eighth and 10 on the fourteenth day. The 
last figure shows the placenta. 

what it is becoming. Aristotle’s 

important organs make their 
appearance before the others. 
Among the organs all give 
place to the heart, which he 
considered ‘the first to live 
and the last to die Here 
again he was followed by 
the great investigators of the 
newly revived experimental 
method. Harvey has en- 
shrined this idea in his work 
on the circulation. Indeed the 
conception of a hierarchy of 
the organs hardly departed 
from Biology until the ob- 
servations of Caspar Eriedrich 
Wolff (1733-94) and Karl 
Ernst von Baer (1792-1876) 
had been rationalized by 
Darwin, so that physiologists 
could at last turn from the 
consideration of the organ to 
a contemplation of the or- 
ganism, and naturalists be- 
came enabled to think of the 
individual not as what it is 
but as what it has been and 
kinetic view was at length 

^ This is the sense of Aristotle, e.g. De generatione animalitun, ii, 1 and 4 ; 
735* 25 and 16. The phrase, however, primum .viveru vUimum. ntoriens is, 
I think, first used in Latin translations of Averroes (1 126-98) i the commentator 
on Aristotle. There is a discussion of the origin of the phrase in the MiUeilungen 
z. Oesch. der Med. und Naturuneaenschaften, xix, pp. 102, 219, and 305, Leipzig, 1920. 

* There is a discussion of ancient embryological literature by Bruno Bloch, 
* DiegesohichtlichehGrundlagen der Embryologie bis auf Harvey ’, in the Abhand- 
lungen der hate. Leopald.-Carol. Akad., Izxxii, pp. 213-334, Halle, 1904. There 
is a shorter version of this same article in the Zoologiache Anruden, i, p. 51, 
Wfiizburg, 1905. 


IV. Some Aristotelian Zoological Observations and their 

Modern Counterparts 

(a) The PlacerUal Shark 

We may now turn to observations in the Aristotelian writings 
on the habits of animals and on comparative anatomy.. These 
are far too numerous for extended consideration here, and we 
therefore select a few that are of special historical interest for 
comparison with their modern counterparts. 

Aristotle recognized a distinction in the mode of development 
of mammals from that of other viviparous creatures. Having dis- 
tinguished the apparently viviparous animals as either truly and 
internally or merely externally viviparous, he pointed out that in 
the mammalia, a group regarded by him as internaUy viviparous, 
the foetus is connected until birth with the wall of the mother’s 
womb by the navel string. These animals, in his view, produced 
their young without the intervention of an ovum. Such non- 
mammals, on the other hand, as are viviparous are so in the 
external sense only, that is, the young which arise from ova may 
indeed develop within the mother’s body, but they do so out of 
organic connexion with her, so that her womb acts, as it were, but 
as a nursery or incubator for her eggs. It was thus a sort of accident 
whether in a particular species the ova went through their develop- 
ment inside or outside the mother’s body. ‘ Some of the ovipara ’, 
he says, * produce the egg in a perfect, others in an imperfect state, 
but it is perfected outside the body as has been stated of fish.’ '■ 

But it is exceedingly interesting to observe that although 
Aristotle regarded fishes as a whole as oviparous, he knew also 
of kinds that were externally viviparous and he knew, further, of 
one instance in which the manner of development bore an analogy 
to that of his true internal vivipara. ‘ Some animals ’, he says, 
‘ are viviparous, others oviparous, others vermiparous. Some 
are viviparous, such as man, the horse, the seal and all other 
animals that are hair-coated, and, of marine animals, the ceta- 
ceans, as the dolphin, and ihe scHxMed Sdachia. Of these animals, 
some have a tubular air-passage and no gills as the dolphin and 
the whale, others have uncovered gills, as the Selachia, the sharks 
and rays. ... Of viviparous animals some hatch eggs in their own 
interior as creatures of the shark kind ; others engender in their 
interior a live foetus, as man and the horse.’ ^ 

De Oeneratione animalium, iii. 9 ; 768* 37. * H isloria animalium, i.5; 489'* 36. 


He even attempts to give an explanation of this peculiarity 
of the Selachians. His explanation may seem to modern ears 
to have little meaning, just as many of our scientific explanations 
will seem meaningless to our successors in a generation or two. 
But such explanations are worth recording not only as a stage 
in the historical development of biological theory, but also as 
illustrating the fact that, in those days as in these, while the 
function of science is the description of nature its motive is almost 
always the explanation of nature. Yet it is usually the descrij)- 
tive, not the explanatory element that bears the test of time. 

‘ Birds and scaly reptiles ’, says Aristotle, ‘ because of their 
heat produce a perfect egg, but because of their dryness, it is 
only an egg, the cartilaginous fishes have less heat than these but 
more moisture, so that they are intermediate, for they are both 
oviparous and viviparous within themselves, the former because 
they are cold, the latter because of their moisture ; for moisturti 
is vivifying, whereas dryness is furthest removed from what has 
life. Since they have neither feathers nor scales such as either 
reptiles or other fishes have, all which are signs rather of a dry and 
earthy nature, the egg they produce is soft ; for the earthy matter 
does not come to the surface in their eggs any more than in them- 
selves. That is why they lay eggs in themselves, for if the egg were 
laid externally it would be destroyed, having no protection.’ ’ 

This explanation is, of course, based on his fundamental doctrine 
of the opposite qualities, heat, cold, moistness and dryness that are 
found combined in pairs in the four elements, earth, air, fire, and 

The intermediate character of the ►Selachians between the 
viviparous and the oviparous, as set forth by Aristotle, was 
well brought out by Fabricius ab Aquapendentc * who described 
and figured young dogfish attached each to its own yolk sac and 
developing within the uterus of the mother (Fig. 8). But Aristotle 
had carried his investigation farther than Fabricius, for ho kncAv 
of that small group of Selachian species in which the method of 
nourishment of the young presents remarkable analogies to that 
of the placental mammals. In this group of fishes the wall of the 
yolk sac becomes thickened at one point and attached to a corre- 
sponding thickening in the wall of the uterus. In this way a 
‘ placenta ’ is formed very similar to, though not homologous with, 
the mammalian placenta, and the little developing fish derives 
nutriment from the mother’s body through the placenta and 
navel-string much as in a mammal. 

^ De generatione animalium, ii. 1 ; 733* 0. 

* Hieronymus Fabricius ab Aquapendentc, De formato foetu, Padua, 1604. 


* The so-called smooth shark % says Ariatdtle*^:^*^^ he calls 
.it, and the name is still used by Greek fishermen — * has its eggs 
in betwixt the wombs like the dog-fish ; these eggs shift into each 
of the two horns of the womb and descend, and tibie youi^ develop 
with the navel-string attached to the womb, so that as the egg- 
substance gets used up, the embryo is sustained to all appearance 
just as in quadrupeds. The navel-string is long and t^eres to 
the under part of the womb — each navel-string being attached 
as it were by a sucker, and also to the centre of the embryo in 
the place where the liver is situated. If the embryo is out open, 
even though it has the egg-substance no longer, the food inside is 
egg-like in appearance. Each embryo, as in the case of quadrupeds, 
is provided with a chorion and separate membranes.’ ^ , 

The attachment of the young Selachian to the womb of its 
mother ' was first observed in modem times by Pierre Belon 

Fig. 0. Oalevs laevU^ from Bondelet’s De piacibus marinia^ Lyons, 1554. 

* We have had an illustration made \ says Bondelet, * of the young attached by the 
navel cord to the mother sa that it may be distinguished from sea-dogs, sea-wolves and the 
other sharks, as there is no other shark whose young is covered with seoundines and mem- 
branes and attached to the mother by a navel string. 1 am aware ’, he continues, * that there 
is another shark with a smoother skin than this : yet, as its manner of reproduction differs 
from that just described, I assert that it is not the Qo^a laavia of the ancients but rather the 
Chiaua glaucua of Aelian. [Da fiat, animal, i. 10.] ’ 

(1517-1654) in 1553 ' and roughly figured by Guillaume Rondelet 
(1507-66) in 1554* (Fig. 9). A somewhat similar account was 
given by the missionary du Terte, in 1667.* The description of 
Belon was copied by ' Aldrovando (1522-1607) in a work published 
in 1613 * and this came to the knowledge of Stensen, who definitely 
determined the relationship of the Selachian emb^o to the wall 
of the maternal womb in 1675. 

* In the Oahtta laevis ’, says Stensen, * each foetus has its own 
membrane which may be regarded as the amnion, since like the 

^ Hi^oria animaUum, vi. 10 ; 066" 2. 

* Pierre Belon, Dt a/quatUitnu cum iantibuc ad vivam ipaorum quod 

fieri potuit, Paris, 1003, p. 60. 

* GoiUaume Bmidelet, De piaeibue mannie, Lyons, 1004. 

* Jaoqnes du Terte, Hiatoire ghUrah dee ArdUtea habUiee par ha Fremffaia, 
4 v<ds., Paris, 1667. 

* Ulisse Aldrovando, De piaUbua, Bologna, 1618, p. 370. 

Plate IX. Bibl. nat. sup. grec 247 Nicander IXth cent. 

Xa/x = Bugle? aKavQo^ — Acauthits fo. 16 v dX k i' ^ i ov = A n ch tisa officinalts'i 

Plate X. Paris Bib. nat. MS. grec 2179 Dioscorides IXth cent. 

i 04 r ‘MALE’ AND ‘FEMALE’ MANDRAKES fo. 105 r 



amnion it is the covering of the foetus mid floats in the clear 
liquid. Yet it differs from the amnion in that it is united to the 
placenta in the way characteristic of the chorion (in mammals). . . . 
T^ere is only a single very small placenta to each foetus, red in 
colour and situated close to the lower orifice of the yolk and 
a membrane drawn over forms a cavity. 

* The umbilical vessels pass into the abdomen of the foetus 
by a channel beneath the 
diaphragm between the 
two anterior lobes. By 
following this duct I ob- 
served air bubbles floating 
in the intermediate liquid. 

On being propelled these 
disappeared into the in- 
testine beyond. Next the 
intestine of a second foetus 
was inflated, and while I 
was moving it in different 
directions 1 opened a way 
for the air towr^rds the 

pl^enta. Thus it was After Stenaen’a diagram in Ova viviparorum 

evident that a non-va^t^ apeetanUs dbaemUionea, Oopenhagen, 1675, showing re- 
lar tube was included Ii^tion of yolk sao to umbilical cord and intestine, 
among the vam ' umbili- 

calia ; of this vessel one extremity was joined to the spiral intestine 
within the alxlomen, the other to the placenta where its upper 
surface forms a cavity with a thin membrane covering it. fWm 
•the structure of the tube it is evident that nourishment is brought 
to the intestine from the cavity of the placenta in this fish as in 
birds from the yolk, as long as food is supplied to the foetus by 
the humours of the mother.’ * (Fig. 10.) 

The observations of Stensen were long disregarded. In 1828, 
Cuvier in his great work on fishes* remarked briefly that in 
Carcharias the yolk sac is attached to the uterus as firmly as 
a placenta. Neither Stensen nor Cuvier referred to Aristotle on 
this subject, and the importance of the ancient observations was 
unappreciated until the greatest of modem morphologists, Johannes 
Miiller, took up the subject in 1839. Mtiller made it clear that there 
are at least two genera of Selachians in which this peculiar placental 
development takes place, namely Carcharias and MvMdua (Figs. 11- 

^ -Nioolam Steiuen, Ova viviparomm »peetanU» obaervaUonea, in T. Bartholin’s 
Atia Hafitienaia, 1676. The works of Stensen have been made accessible by 
Vilhslm Maar in his Nicolai Stenonia Opetaphilosophiea, 2 vols., Copenhagen, 1910. 
Cf. U, p. 169. 

* Qeoiges Cuvier, Hiatoire natureUe dea Poiaaona, Paris, 1828, vol. i, p. 341. 
ssn n 


15). There can be little doubt from Aristotle’s descriptions that 
his 0€Ueo8 lews was not a large shark like Carchariaa but a smaller 
dogfish answering to Mtiller’s MvM/dua, Miiller further demon- 
strated the very peculiar fact that within the genus MuaUXus one 
species (AT. laevis) has the foetus firmly united to the uterus by 
means of a placenta, while in another closely allied species {M. 
garis) the yolk sac is quite free and unattached. It is interesting 
to observe that the distinction between the two allied species was 
quite accurately made in 1554 by Bondelet (cf. legend to Fig. 9). 

Johannes Miiller describes the placenta of Carcharuzs (Figs. 12 
and 13) in greater detail than that of Muatdus (Figs. 14 and 15). 

* The placerUa foetalia of these fish he says, * is formed by 
the folded yolk sac. The folds are much more complex in Car- 
charias than in Mustdua laevia,^ ... In Carchariaa the yolk sac, 
as usual, possesses two coats, an internal vascular coat, con- 
tinuous with the intestine through the yolk duct, and an external 
non- vascular coat extending as a sheath over the yolk duct and 
the omphalo-meseraic vessels, and continuous with the skin of 
the foetus. ... In the formation of the placenta both membranes 
are thrown into a mass of folds and the yolk sac thus converted 
into an irregular cavity. These folds on the side approximated to 
the uterus become closely involved with the wall of that organ 
and caniiot be separated except by some force. On the other 
hand the part of the yolk sac on the side away from the uterus 
presents mere floating diverticula. Over the placental area the 
two walls of the yolk sac are in closest contact with each other, 
but elsewhere the membranes are separated from each other by 
a distinct interval. . . . 

‘ The placenta vierina is formed by very prominent wrinkled 
folds of the inner membrane of the uterus which accurately corre- 
spond to those of the pUtcerUa foetalia. The folds of both are inter- 
posed between each other, and are as closely and firmly attached 
as the placenta uterina and placenta foetalis of any mammiferous 
animal. . . . The placenta uterina receives its blood-vessels from 
the uterine vessels, which are of large size, and run to the seat 
of the placenta at the lower part of the organ. The vessels of the 
placenta foetalis are the extraordinarily large vaaa omphalo- 
meaaraica which are proportionally of as great size as the vasa 
umbilicalia of mammals. The organic relation of placenta foetalis 
and placenta uterina to one another is the same as in mammals.’ * 

^ Johannes Mttller, HaniUmch der Phyndtogie des Menatben, 2 vols., Coblenz, 
1840, vol. ii, p. 722. See also translation by William Baly, Embryology, with the 
Phyowlogy of Qeneraiion, London, 1848, p. 1697, and Johannes Miiller in Manats- 
heridU der Ahad. der Wissenschaften zu Berlin, August 6, 1840, Ueber den glatten 
Hai dee Ariatotelea, Berlin, 1842, and in Manaiabericht d. Berlin. Akad., 11th April, 

Embryo of MuMelus laem$, 7 lines long, -with the placentel yolk sac separated from the ntorns. 

Fio. 11. Embryos of two species of Mutsldw, From Johannes Muller, IJeber den glaUen 

Hai dee Ariatoteha, Berlin, 1842. 

Fiq. 12. Embryo o!CVircA«ri«^ with 
umbilioal cord and xilacenta. From 
Johannes Muller. 

Fig. 13. Dissection of umbilical structures of a foetal 
Carchariud, schematically represented. Modified from 
Johannes MiUler. 

Fio. 14. A part of the uterus of Mustelus laetna, showing 
two placental attachments. From Johannes Miiller. 



Since Muller wrote,, other observers have brought the phe- 
nomenon of the placenta of Mustel/ua and Carcharias more into 
line with what we know of allied viviparous forms. The embryos 
of many of these, when the yolk is nearly consumed, are nourished 
from other sources. In some the nutritive material is secreted 

umbilicai cord . 


Modified from Johannes MiUler. 

into the cavity of the uterus and taken into the mouth of the 
embryo dr absorbed by the blood-vessels of the yolk sac or of 
the giU slits. In others the wall of the uterus develops secreting 
villi which pass through the spiracles of the embryo into its 
pharynx. In yet others in which a placenta is actually developed 
the process of absorption is aided by villi which stud the um- 
bilical cord throughout its course.^ 

* These accessory methods are described in the following papers which 
contain a bibliography of the subject : Franz Leydig, BeitrUge xur mikroaleopiaeken 
Anatomie und EtUtoickdungage^iehte der Rochen und Haie, Leipzig, 1862; 


(6) The Buminawl Stomal 

Among the more remarkable of Aristotle’s descriptions in the 
realm of comparative anatomy proper is that of the stomach of 
ruminants. He must have dissected these animate, for he gives 
a clemr and correct account of the four chambers. 

* Animals *, he says, * present diversities in the stoucture of 
their stomachs. Of the vivipmrous quadrupeds, such of the 
homed animals as are not equally fumiidied with teeth in both 
jaws are furnished with four such chambers. These animals are 
those that are said to chew the cud. In these aniinids the oeso- 
phagus extends from the mouth downwards along the lung, from 
the mi^ff to the meffcfle koilia [rumen, or paunch], and this 
stomach is rough inside and semi-partitioned. And connected 
with it near to the entry of the oesophagus is what is called the 
kekryphaloa [reticidumf or honeycomb bag] ; for outside it is like 
the stomach, but inside it resembles a netted cap ; and the kekry- 
phalos is a good deal smaller than the megale koilia.’ 

The term kekryphalos, the reader may be reminded, was applied 
to the net that women wore over their hair to keep it in order. 

’Connected with this kekryphalos ’, he continues, ’is the 
echinos [psaUerium, or manypUea], rough inside and laminated, and 
of about the same size as the kekryphalos. Next idter this comes 
what is called the enpstron [abofna&um], larger and longer than the 
echinos, furnished inside with numerous folds or ridges, large and 
smooth. After all this comes the gut.’* . . . ’All animals that have 
horns, the sheep for instance, the ox, the goat, the deer and the 
like have th^e several stomachs. . . . The' several cavities receive 
the food one from the other in succession ; the first taking the 
unreduced substances, the s^ond the same when somewhat 
reduced, the third when reduction is complete, and the fourth 
when the whole has become a smooth pulp.’ * . . . Such is the 
stomach of those quadrupeds that are homed and have an 
unsymmetrical dentition; and these animals differ one from 

T. J. Parker and A. Liversidge, *Note on tite foetal membranes of 
antmretieita \ Transaetums o/ Jhe New Zeaiand InetH/utet xzii, p. 381, Wellington, 
1800 ; J. Wood-Mason and A. Alcjpok, * On the uterine TiUifonn pa]dllae of 
Plercflataea miemra *, Proe. Roy. 8oe., zlix, p. 860, London, 1801 ; J. Wood* 
Maeon and A. Aloock, * Further observataouB <m the geetatkm of Indian Bays *, 
Proc. Roy. 8oe., 1, p. 202, Londcm, 1802 ; A. Aloock, * Some obeenratimia on the 
embtyonio history of Pteroyilataea miemra,* Aimale and Mayamne ctf Natand 
Bid/tiry, sixth series, x, p. 1, London, 18^; T. Southwell and B. Praahad, 
' Embryologioal and Devdopmentsl Studies of Indian Firiies *, RoDorde of the 
ladkm Mueeum, xvi, p. 216, Calcutta, 1010. 

> Hietmia rndmoBrnm, U. 17 ; 607*88. 

* Be pardbue anmaUtm, iii. 14 ; 074* 6. 

Pi.ATF. XI. From Brit. M u s. MS. Reg. 15 Fill fo. 1 x r 

■ ■ " L ^ 

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9c crp»i^ncC9it cmttciii 
/oir cii ciiHc (ax cr iiiArpit 
coii H Jil.c*- aufiw miX 


9c Qiir 

fy^ovftaulx tttoutit-fib' 
dNi rttoiwnf^f 


‘ HOU0W 

Sc djafi 


Lc lAvre des Proprietcz dc C/ioscs translated bj' Jchan Corbechon from Latin 
of Bartholomew de Glanvil, written at Bruges by Jehan du Ries 
in 1482. Frontispiece of Book XII ‘On Birds’. 

ssectionofLophius t'. 92. 

m a MS. at the Royal College of Phy 


9 ■ - 

pother m the shape and size of the parts, and in the faot of the 
ii^esophagiM reaching the stomach centralwise in some cases and 
4deways in others. Animals that are famished equiedly with teeth 
both jaws have one stomach ; as man, the pig, the dog, the 
ar, the lion, the wolf.* ^ 

iThe general appearance of the stomach of romiiumts must 
always have been roughly known to butchers and its rediscovery 
qai^ot therefore be 
da^ as can many 
of the biological ob- 
servations of Axis- 
toijle that we have 
toi recount. A fair 
scientific description 
of the organ was 
made by Aldrovando 
in 1613 ‘ and by Fa- 
bricius in 1618.* The 
ruminant stomemh 


fectly by Sevenno in stomach of a lamb 

1646 (Fig. 16), and rrom Maroo Aarelio Savttino, EoaUmmia Democritea, 

by Blasius in 1667.” Nuiemberg,’ 1646. 

liiere is a better 

figure by Grew of 1681 * (Fig. 17), and an excellent painting was 
prepared by Tyson, the earliest English comparative anatomist, 
in 1687 (Plate xii). 

(c) The Oenerative processes of Cephalopods 
Nowhere is the contrast between the ancient and modem 
method of setting out biological conclusions better tonight out 
than in the investigation of the extraordinarily interesting genera- 
tive processes of the Cephalopods. An examination of the modem 
accounts of the subject enables us to observe the slow- emergence 
of a true conception of the actual nature of the phenomena, niis 

* Hiatoria animdiium, ii. 17 ; 607” 12. 

* Uliflse Aldroyando, Quadrupeditm omnium biauXeonm historia, Bologna, 1613. 

* Hiercmymo Fabrioius, De guia, Padua, 1618. 

* Ihuoo Auidio Sevenno, Zootomia Democritea id eet Anatome generalia Mine 
animaniiwn opifioH^ libria gainque diatinela, Nnxembeig, 1646. 

* Gerhard Blaea, Obaervata anatomia, Amaterdam, 1676, p. 49, 

* Nehemlah Grew, OaUdogue of the raritiea bdonging to the Boycd Society, 
LoDdooi 1681. 



process continues, in spite of many errors, because each observer 
records his actual observations and places them in such a form 
that the place, time and means of observation can be referred to 

at need, and the reader 
can himself separate 
what is observed from 
what is inferred and 
can grasp not only the 
nature of the observa- 
tion itself but the 
means by which it was 
made. Thus the work 
of each writer can be 
criticized or modified 
by the next. In doing 
this both writer and 
reader are immeasur- 
ably aided by the use 
of figimes. It is true 
that diagrams were 
used also by Aristotle,' 
but these appear to 
have been merely occa- 
sional devices rather 
than an intrinsic part 
of his method. Draw- 
ings or diagrams as 
routine aids to biologi- 
cal descriptions were 
])robably uncommon 
until the first century 

Fia. 17. THE F O U H - C H AM B E R ED Tn his arroimt 


After Nehcmiah Grew, The Comparative Anatomy of the generative pro- 

Sloma^ and Guts Begun, Lundon, 1681. Cesses of the Cephalo- 

pods the ancient na- 
turalist records only the final conclusions, and we hardly know 
which of the observations are his own and which are taken from 

^ Ah intereating reference to the diagrams in Aristotle’s lost work on Anatomy 
will be found in the Historia animalium, i. 17 ; 497* 33. Other references to 
anatomical diagrams are in the De generatione anitnalium, ii. 7 ; 746* 14, and the 
HMoria animalium, iii. 1 ; 510*29. The words used are ox^para, Staypa^i;, and 




others, while he tells us nothing whatever of the conditions under 
whidh they were made. In spite of these faults in the record, 
his descriptions impel conviction that they are those of an acute 
and accurate observer, and that his work does not suffer from any 
lack in his powers as a naturalist. The main references to the 
reproduction of Cephalopods occur however in the ninth book of 
the Historia animaliunit which is of more doubtful authenticity 
than the earlier parts. 

With regard to the Cephalopod Argmmuta Aristotle says that 
it is an 

* octopus, but one peculiar both in its nature and habits.^ . . . 
This pol 3 rpus lives very often near to the shore, and is apt to bo 
thrown up high and dry on the beaeh ; under these circumstances 
it is found with its shell detached, and dies by and by on dry land.'^ 
... It rises up from deep water and swims on the surface. In 
1>etween its feelers it has a certain amount of web>growth resem- 
bling the substance between the toes of web-footed birds ; only that 
with these latter the substance is thick, while with the nautilus it 
is thin like a spider’s web. (Of. Plate xm.) It uses this structure, 
when a breeze is blowing, for a sail, and lets down some of its feelers 
alongside as rudder-oars. (Cf. Fig. 18, p. 43.) If it bo frightened 
it fills its shell with water and sinks. With regard to the mode 
of generation and the growth of the shell, knowledge is not yet 
satisfactory ; the shell, however, does not appear to be there from 
the beginning, but to grow in their case as in that of the other 
shell-fish ; neither is it ascertained for certain whether the animal 
can live when stripped of the shell.’ * 

The use of the membranes of the Argonaut as a sail and the 
arms as oars (Fig. 18) is now known to be pure myth, though many 
excellent naturalists, Verany among them, have given colour to 
one or other of these ideas. It is but right to emphasize again 
that the ninth book of the Historia animalium, in which the state- 
ment occurs, is probably not the work of Aristotle himself.* 

The questions that the Aristotelian treatise asks about the 
Argonaut *can now at last, after many centmies, be answered in 
some fullness, although observation of the animal has been beset 
with numerous difficulties. It is a fact that the shell is not 
necessary to its life, and Lacaze-Duthier observed the animal 
recover the shells which had been taken from it. The shell when 
fully formed is in no organic connexion with the body of the 

^ Historia anitnalium, ix. 38 ; 622** 6. Historia animalium, iv. 2 ; 625*22. 

* Historia aninudium, ix. 38 ; 622'* 6. 

* On the question of the authenticity of the ninth book of the Historia anima~ 
Hum, see H. Aubert and F. Wimmer, Aristotelis Thierleunde, Leipzig, 1868, p. 11. 

42 GREEK BlOl^Y 13% BiXATIOK m 

mil mu], and its fanoti<Hi is but to support and aerate the devetqq^ing 
eggs ; it has therelore be^ ap^)r oouipated to a perambouitbr. 
The animal does not willin^y sink b^w the surface of tiie WBitet, 
and if forced to do so will rise again, and it is indeed doubtful 
if it is able to sink at all by its own effort. The act of congress 
has not been seen in this species, thou^ since the appearance of 
the work of Heinrich Miiller, tiie male, which is much smaller 
than the female, has been recognized. (Plate xm.) 

Turning now to the description given of the sexual processes 
of cephalopods by the naturalist of antiquity we read riiat 

* The Malacia such as the octopus, the sepia and the calamary, 
have sexual intercourse all in the same way ; that is to say, they 
unite at the mouth by an interlacing of their tentacles. When, 
then, the octopus rests its so-called head against the groimd and 
spreads abroad its tentacles, the other sex fits into the outspreading 
of these tentacles, and the two sexes then bring their suckers into 
mutual connexion. Some assert that the male has a kind of penis 
in one of his tentacles, the one in which are the largest suckers ; 
and they further assert that the organ is tendinous in character, 
growing attached right up to the middle of the tentacle, and that 
the latter enables it to enter the nostril or funnel of the female.* ^ 

It is unfortunate that since he has given this accurate descrip- 
tion Aristotle elsewhere contradicts it. 

* In the cephalopods ’, he says, * the same passage serves to 
void excrement and leads to the part like a uterus, for the male 
discharges the seminal fluid through this passage. And it is on 
the lower surface of the body where the mantle is open. . . . Hence 
the union of the nude with the female takes place at this point. 
• . . But the insertion, in the case of the poulps, of the arm of the 
male into the funnel of th^ female, by which arm the fishermen say 
the nude copubites with h^r, is only for the sake of attachment, and 
it is not an organ useful for generation, for it is outside the passage 
in the male and indeed outside the body of the male altogether.’ * 

We may now turn to the rediscovery in modem times of that 
peculiar sexual process of the octojiods known as hectocotyUzaiion 
which explains Aristotle’s description and even his self-contra- 
diction concerning the cephalopods. The story may be given in 
the words of one of the most eminent invesrigators of these 
creatures, Richard Owen. The discussion oonceming the nature 
of the process of fertilization mrose chiefly in connexion with the 
octopod known as ArgonatUa Argo, 

* HistoHa animaUwn, v. 6 ; 541** 1. 

* De genenUione anioiaUuin, i. 15 ; 720^ 26. 


Female argonaut from II. de Lacaze-Duthiers, Archivvsde Zooloifie expMfumtaky 1892. 

The animal is seen in profile and the arrow shows the direction of movement, /i, 
mouth with parrot-like beak. 71 r, the nidamcntal shell projecting beyond the two 
specially developed inell-carrying arms Br.p, If the outline of the shell is followed it 
will be seen to project beyond the shell membrane V, also at C. the funnel pro- 
jecting between the two anterior arms, lir.n. 

Male argonaut from Heinrich Mfiller, Zeitsebrijt fur 1853. 

1. The second and fourth arms of the left side 2. Hcctocotylus unfolded showing how the sac is 

arc depressed to show the hectocolylus sac. formed as a membrane developed at base of arm. 


P'roin J. B. Vcranj', 1851 ; 1-3, Ocfopus carenae of Vcrany ; i, ITcctocotylus extended ; 
2, in sac ; 3, removed from sac ; 4-5, llrdocoiylus ottopodis of Cuvier, 1829 ; 6, Tricho 
cep/tahts aceinbularis of Dcllc Cliiaje, 1828 ; lb alimentary canal, c ovary, li pigmented 
membrane, ef suckers; 78, Alleged tnale of Argonaut from Costa, i8.^i ; nb trunk, 
cc terminal appendix, tf tentacular cirrlius, / suckers, ii mucous sac, d membrane 
with special strands .va*; lo-ii, Ileciocotylns Argonautae Kolliker, 1849 (see text figs. 
19-21) ; T3-J4 Ilectocotylus of Tremoctopus liolaceus of Verany after Ki'Jlliker, figured 
by the latter as a separate animal, e spermatic duct,/ testis, g penis. 



*Th6 oumulatiTe experience of numerous observers rinoe 
1889 *, says Owen, writing in 1866, * had led to the oonviotion 
that the Argonauta with tiie expanded arms and shell was .the 
female form of the species. The discovery of the male has been 
attended with difficulties. .... 

*l>e]le Chiaje first (1828) figured and described an or^ganism 
which he found attache to the female Argonaut,^ and wmoh he 
believed to be a parasite, describing it tmder the name of Triehch 
eephahu aceidbtUaris (Plate xiv, item 6) on account of the number 

Portraiii du Na»tillus,lc^ael Pliitc nome PSpilus i^aufUus. 

Argomuta Argo. Vnm Bal<ni*s HiAok* notereBe Sw utnmgu poUmmo, Paris, 16 & 1 . Tha 
animal is drawn as thoogfa using its anns aa cmus and its membtane as a sail. 

.(rf suckers with which it was beset. In the following year, Cuvier, 
having received a similar cuganism which Laurillard had detected 
in a cephalopod called Octopus gramilosua, also believed it to be 
a parasitic worm for which he proposed the name of Heetocotyhu 
Oetopodia, assigniim the name Hectoootplua Argon/cnUae to the 
previously observed species.* (Plate xiv, items 4 and 6.) In 1842 
Kfilliker, having detected the same organism imparently parasitic 
on the female Argonaut, carefully scrutinized its structure and 
found that of the skin, with its complex pigment cells and that 
of the acetabula, identical with tiie same parts in the Argonaut. 
He detected, morMver, m a dilated hollow part of the <prganism 
a quantity of spermatozoa . . and came to the bold conclusion 

* SteianodelleCSilaje, JfefiKn^MiSaslorM»enofoiiMa<I^Sii»aiiti)iaZ»«eft»i«wr(etrB 
del rgffno di NapdU, 4 wdie. and 2 stlaaee, Naples, 1828, toL ii, Plate 16. 

* Georges Garier, ‘RAmoiresttrunYer parasite d'an nouveau genie (Heetoeoti^ 
oefegweUe)', in tile ^wnolee dee eeteueeenalureUee.zviii, Paris, 1829, p. 147,platell. 



that it was the long-sought-for male of the Argonaut, arrested in its 
development and subsisting practically' pairasitically on the female, 
like the diminutive males of the Rotifera, Epizoa, and Cirrhipedia. 
It may serve as a wholesome warning against entering upon 

Fiq. 19. 

Fia. 20. 


a scrutiny of parts while prepossessed by a foregone conclusion to 
remember that the acute and usually accurate observer describes 
the digestive, circulatory, and respiratory organs of the same 
supposed independent in^vidual male animal.’ ^ (Figs. 19-21 and 
Plate XIV, items 10, 11, 13, and 14.) 

^ Albrecht von Kdlliker, ‘ Hectocotylus Argonautae 1>. Ch. und Hectoootylus 
Tremoctopodis Kiill., die M&nncheu ' von Argonauta Argo und Tremoctopus 



* V^rany first had the good fortune to discover the Hecto- 
cotylus or presumed parasitic male Argonaut, forming one of the 
arms singularly modified and developed, of a little octopod which 
he figured under the name of Octopus carenae (Plate xiv, items 
1—3).^ Miiller and others were not slow in demonstrating that 
this, or a similarly modified octopod, was really the male of the 
Argonauta ^ (Plate xm). 

* Certain species of the Octopod family thus have the male 
apparatus extended into 

Ojt of 
dowL crest 


Opisunff of pads 

Capsule of testis 

Free edge of dorsal 

fhsttrtor unopened 
portion of dorsal 

rifice in 
dorsal crest 

Seminal tube 

one of the cephalic arms. 

... In Octopus granulosus 
and Argonauta Argo the 
spermatic duct is continued 
from the testis . . . into the 
base of the sexual arm and 
opens into a dilated reser- 
voir at the termination of 
.that singularly modified 
member. It is somewhat 
longer than the longest of 
the unmodified ar ms, and 
is much thicker. The ace- 
tabula are larger and more 
numerous, but retain the 
arrangement in a double 
row. . . . 

‘ One presumes that the 
arms of the two sexes being 
interlaced, as described by Aristotle, the expanded receptacular end 
of the modified arm, Avith the spermatozoa, is introduced into the 
funnel of the female . . . and that . . . the modified arm is snapped 
ofi and left adhering to the female by the suckers where it long 
retains the power of motion. Such is the conclusion of the long 
mooted questions of the Argonaut, its shell, the use of the brachial 
membranes as * sails ’, and the true sexual distinctions of the 
male and female.’ ^ 

Seminal tube 

Appendix (from tdtuJi 
nhembranous process 
has been renuivedfin 
its natural positum 

ARGONAUT’. Aft«r Kollikor. 

violaceus D.Cih.’, in the Berickle von der zootomischen Anetalt in WUrzburg fur das 
ScktdjaAr 1847-^, Leipzig, 1849, p. 67. This article is exceedingly rare, but there 
is a copy in the collection of T. H. Huxley at the Royal College of Science, London. 

^ J. B. V4rany, MaUusques mSditerraniemt Genoa, 1861, and ‘ M4moire sur le.s 
hectocotyles de quelques C4phalopodes ’ in the Annates dea sciences naturdles, xvii, 
Paris, 1862. 

‘ Heinrich Mhller, ‘ Ueber das M&nnchen von Argonauta Argo und die 
Hectocotylen ’ in the Zeitschrift fur wissensehafUiche Zodlogie, vol. iv, Leipzig, 
1863, p. 1. 

* Richard Owen, LetAures on the Anatomy and Physiology of the Invertebrates, 
2nd edition, London, 1866, pp. 628 ff. 



It remains only to add that the actual process of congress 
of an octopus, though not of Argonauta itself, has been watched by 
Racovitza (Fig. 22) and the hectocotylized arm of the male has 
been observed to be inserted through the mantle and into the 

as observed in a tank by £. Baoovitza, Archivea de Zoclogie expdrimeniale, S^rie ii, Paris. 
1894. The male is seen to the right. He has fixed himself by the bases of his arms to the 
glass of the aquarium and has intioduoed the extremity of the hectocotylized arm into the 

pallial cavity of the fem^e to the left. 

funnel of the female.' There is still a gap in our knowledge 
however, for the passage of the fertilizing elements from the testis 
into the arm of the male has not yet been observed. 

(d) The Hahita of AnimaU 
i. The Frog-flah and Torpedo 

Aristotle is perhaps at his best and happiest when describing 
the habits of living animals that he has himself observed. Among 
his most pleasing accounts are those of the fishing-frog and torpedo. 
In these creatures he did not fail to notice the displacement of the 
fins associated with the depressed form of the body. 

‘ In the Torpedo and the Fishing-frog,* he says, ‘ the breadth 
of the anterior part of the body is not so great as to render loco- 
motion by fins impossible, but in consequence of it the upper 
pair [pectorals] are placed further back and the under pair \venr- 
trails] are placed close to the head, while to compensate for this 
advancement they are reduced in size so as to be smaller than the 
upper ones. In the Torpedo the two upper fins [pectorals] are 
placed in the tail, and the fish uses the broad expansion of its 

1 £mile Racovitza, ‘ Notes ide biologie ’ in the Archivea de zoologie expiiimentdle, 
series 3, vol. ii, Paris, 1894, p. 25. 


body to suppW thar place, each lateral half of its circumference 
serving the office of a fin.’ ' 

* In marine creatures one may observe many ingenious devices 
adapted to the circumstances of their lives. For the account 
commonly given of the frog-fish or angler is quite true ; as is also 
that of the torpedo. The frog-fish has a set of filaments that 
project in front of its eyes ; they are long and* thin, like hairs, 
and mre round at the tips ; they lie on either side, and are used as 
baits.* . . . The little creatures on which this fish feeds swim up to 
the filaments, taking them for bits of seaweed such as they feed 
upon.* Accordingly, when the animal stirs himself up a place 
where there is plenty of sand and mud and conceals himself 
therein, it raises the filaments, and when the little fish strike 
against them the frog-fish draws them in underneath into its 
mouth. The torpedo narcotizes the creatures that it wants to 
catch, overpowetring them by the force of shook that is resident 
in its body, and feeds upon them ; it also hides in the sand and 
mud, and catches all the creatures that swim in its way and come 
under its narcotizing influence. This phenomenon has been actually 
observed in operation. . . . That the creatures get their living by 
this means is obvious from the fact that, whereas they are peculiarly 
inactive, they are often caught with mullets, the swiftest of fishes, 
in their interior. Furthermore, the frog-fish is unusually thin when 
he is caught after losing the tips of his filaments, while the torpedo 
fish is known to cause a numbness even in human beings.’ * 

The Fishing-frog is well known in northern waters and several 
of the early naturalists give recognizable figures of it (Fig. 23). 
It is remarkable how in most of them a curious error has crept in 
as regards the structure of the fins. The pectoral limbs of the 
Lophiidae are, in fact, specially developed for crawling about on 
the sea floor. In the older pictures, however, the fins are usually 
represented as divided into digits, a mistake perpetuated in 
the careful paintings of dissections of this creature that have 
been left by Edward Tyson (1660-1708) * (Plate xn). 

The peculiar action of the Torpedo described by Aristotle 
has been the subject of a number of classical investigations and 
has been brought into line with widely distributed phenomena. 
It is characteristic of muscle substance that at the moment of 
contraction it produces an electric disturbance. In ordinary 

^ De partUnu animaUum, iv. 13 ; 606* 26. 

* Historia animaUum, is. 37 ; 620** 10. 

* This passage only doubtfully refers to the fishing^frog. Webave transposed 

it from iz. 37 ; 620* 30. * Historia animalium, iz. 37 ; 620* 15. 

* Drawings of these dissections are found in MSS. of Tyson at the Royal 
College of Physicians of London, and at the British Museum. 


muscular tissue this can only be detected by means of delicate 
instruments, but in the Torpedo-fish there are two tracts of muscu- 
lature which show a reduction of the function of contraction 
accompanied by a great increase in the power of producing electric 
disturbance. These electric organs are two large kidney-shaped 
structures occupying the greater portion of the forepart of the 
animal and are controlled by a special set of nerves which have their 
origin in a characteristically developed lobe of the brain (Fig. 24). 


9k A«77i0oGnccis:Rana marma^Lacinii :DiAiio/oMn«#,rcalii« 

Fig. 23. THE FROG - FISH 
From Pierre Belon's De aquatilibuB^ Paris, 1553. 

Aristotle was by no means alone among the ancients in his 
knowledge of the electric action of the torpedo. The animal was 
commonly eaten and is referred to as suitable for invalids in 
several of the Hippocratic treatises (fifth-fourth cent, b.c.).^ Tor- 
pedo and fishing-frog were both known to Pliny (c. a. d. 23-79), and 
it is worth rex>eating his accomit of these fishes, copied evidently 
from Aristotle, in Philemon Holland’s inimitable translation : 

* I marvel *, he writes, ‘ at them who are of opinion that fishes 
and beasts in the water have no sence. Why, the very Crampe-fish 
Tarped (i. e. Torpedo) knoweth her oune force and power, and 
being herselfe not benummed, is able to astonish others. She 
lieth hidden ouer head and ears within the mud unseene, readic 
to catch those fishes, which €ts they swim ouer her, bee taken with 

^ In the De vi^ua ratione, a work in part older than Hippocrates, in the 
spurious but ancient De intemie affectionibua, and in the equally ancient and 
spurious De midieram morbis. 



a 'nummednesse, as if they were dead. Also the fish called the 
sea Diable de Mer, (and of others, the sea Fisher) is as 

craftie everie whit as the other : It puddereth in the mud, and 
troubleth the water, that it might not bee seene : and when the 


^electric or^an. 


nerve passing 
from electnc 

electric lobe. 

common nriueeular 
sheath revering 
^ branchial cleats. 

branchial sacs. 


little seely fishes come skipping about her, then she puts out her 
little homes or Barbils wMch shee hath bearing forth under her 
eies, and by Uttle and little tilleth and tolleth them so neere that 
she can easily seaze upon them.’ ^ 

The torpedo must have been somewhat extensively experi- 
mented upon in antiquity. Galen (a. d. 131-201) knew of its 
power, which he compared to the magnetic effect of a lddestone;‘ 
he noted that it produced numbness or anaesthesia of parts that 

^ TAe Histone of the World, commonly called, the Naturall Historie of C. Pliniiu 
Seoondua, Translated into English by Philemon Holland Doctor in Physieke, 2 vols., 
London, 1601. The quotation is from book ix, chapter 42, of Holland’s notation. 

* Ckden, De loeis affectis, lib. vi. Kilhn viii. 421. 


it touched ' and he therefore recommended the application of the 
living fish to the head for headache.^ Similar remedies are referred 
to by Scribonius Largus (a. d. 47), Marcellus Empiricus of Bor- 
deaux (fifth centiury), and Aetius of Amida (sixth century). 

The Torpedo and its powers have been known continuously 
from Greek times, but many centuries went by without any eluci- 
dation of its structure. The first to suggest the true nature of the 
shock of electric fish was Muschenbroeck in 1762, who compared 
their shocks to those of a Leyden jar.” A series of experiments 
on the Torpedo was undertaken by Walsh in 1772,^ and by 
Ingenhousz in 1775,* and about the same time the structure of 
the electric organ was described by John Hunter.* The special 
electric lobe of the brain and its homologies and those of the 
nerves that arose from it were not completely elucidated until the 
work of Letheby in 1843.’ 

ii. Bees 

Aristotle’s account of bees is remarkable for its extent. He 
has given more attention to these than to any other group of 
insects. Yet it must be confessed that although his account con- 
tains many accurate and striking observations, it also contains 
numerous errors and is obviously largely drawn from hearsay and 
firom secondhand accounts. We have omitted many erroneous 
elements, and have put together some of his best passages on these 

Of the structure of the bee Aristotle tells us very little, nor 
does that little contain any evidence of close observance of the 
actual parts. We read that * some insects have the part which 
serves as tongue inside the mouth as with ants . . . while in others 

^ Galen, De locis affectia. Lib. ii, KQbn viii. 72, and De aympUmalum cauais. 
Lib. i, cap. 5, Kithn, vii. 109. 

* Gktlen, De aitnipUcium medieamemtorum temperameniia oe facultalibua. Lib. xi, 
cap. 11, Kiihn, xii. 365. 

^ Pieter van Muschenbroeck, Jntroductio ad philoaophiam natumlem, Leyden, 

* J. Walsh, ‘ On the Electric Property of the Torpedo ’, Philoaophiccd Tranaae- 
tiona, London, 1772. 

* J. Ingenhousz, ‘ Exiieriments on the Torpedo ’, PhUoacphieal TranaaeUona, 
London, 1775. 

* John Hunter, * Anatomical Observations on the Torpedo *, PhUoaopihiodl 
TranaaeUona, July 1, 1773. 

* H. Letheby, ‘ An account of a second Qymnotua Eledricua, together with 
a deeoription of the electrical phenomena and the anatomy of the Torpedo*, 
Proceedinga of the London Electrical Society for 1843, p. 512, London, 1843. 



it is placed externally. In this latter case It resembles a sting» 
and is hollow and spongy, so as to serve at one aod the same time 
for tasting and for the taking tip of nutriment. This is plmhly to 
be seen in flies and bees.* ^ Thus in these animals, as he tells us, 
the proboscis protiades flrom the mouth,* and he generalized 
correctly that in insects the mouth parts are either biting or 
sucking. Beyond this stage Western biology hardly advanced 
until the time of Mouffet (1553-1604), who prepared beautiful and 
accurate paintings of a large number of insects. Unfortunately 
his best flgures of bees have greatly deteriorated. We reproduce, 
however, his drawing of the hornet (Plate lv).* Definite improve* 
ment of Mouflet*s work was made by the members of the first 
Academy of the Lynx, a small body that came into existence in 
1003 and fell to pieces writh the death of their president, Federigo 
Gesi, in 1628. For the researches of the Academy the microscope was 
used, and as the instrument was hardly available until 1611 (vide 
Article No. 10 of this volume), the period during which their micro- 
scopic work was done is further narrowed.* The figure that we 
reproduce is the earliest drawing known for which the microscope 
was certainly used (Fig. 25). It was probably made about 1625. 

Aristotle’s description of the habits of bees is much more 
entertaining and complete than his account of the structure of 
these creatures. It is impossible, however, to give more than 
a fraction of what he has to say on the subject. 

* There are nine varieties [of bee-like creatures] of which six are 
gregarious — the bee, the king-bee, the drone-bee, the annual wasp, 
. . . the anthrene [or hornet], and the tenthredo [or ground-wasp] ; 
three are solitary^ — the smaUer siren, of a dun colour, the larger 
siren, black and speckled, and the third, the largest of all, that 
is called the humble-bee.' . . . The little bees are more industrious 
than the big ones : their wings are battered ; their colour is 
black, and they have a bumt-up aspect. Gaudy and showry bees, 
like gaudy and showry women, are good for nothing.* * 


^ De partUme animalium, ii. 17 ; 661* 15. 

* De partUnu animalium, iv. 6 ; 678” 16. 

* The flgiues in tiie printed work of Mouffet are much inferior to the drawings 
in his MS. See his Inaeetorum aive minimorum animalium Theatrum, London, 
1634, Eng lish translation in E. TopsdU's Hiatory of four-footed beaeta and aerpente, 
homixm, 1658, and compare with Brit. Mus. MS. Sloane 4014 (Plate nv). 

* Esriy microscopes and miorosoopio observations are described in two papers 
• by CSiaries Singer, * Motes on the Eariy History of Bficrosoopy,’ Proc. Roy. 8oe. 
of Med., Lcmdon, 1914, v<d. vii (sect, at IQst. of MM.), p. 247, and 'The Dawn of 
Microscojdoal Disoovmy,’ Journal Boy. Mieroaoopieal 8oc., London, 1915, p. 317. 

* Biatoria animalium, ix. 39 ; 623” 7. * Hiatoria animalium, ix. 40 ; 627* 12. 



‘ Ants never go a-hunting, but gather up what is ready to 
hand ; the spider makes nothing, and lays up no store, but simply 
goes a-hunting for its food ; while the bee . . . does not go a-hunting, 
but constructs its food out of gathered material and stores it away, 
for honey is the bee’s food. . . . They have also another food 
which is called bee-bread ; this is scarcer than honey and has a sweet, 
fig-like taste ; this they carry, as they do the wax, on their legs. 

‘ Very remarkable diversity is observed in their methods of 
working and their general habits. When the hive has been 
delivered to them clean and empty, they build their waxen cells, 
bringing in the juice of all kinds of flowers and the ** tears ” or 
exuding sap of trees. . . . With this material they besmear the 
ground- work, to provide against attacks of other creatures ; . . . they 
also with the same material narrow by side-building the entrances 
to the hive if they are too wide. . . . They begin building the 
combs downwards from the top of the hive, and go down and 
down building many combs connected together until they reach 
the bottom. The cells, both those for the honey and those also 
for the grubs, are double-doored ; for two cells are ranged about 
a single base, one pointing one way and one the other, after the 
manner of a double goblet. The cells that lie at the commencement 
of the combs and are attached to the hives, to the extent of two or 
three concentric circular rows, are small and devoid of honey ; the 
cells that arc well filled with honey are most thoroughly luted with 
wax.^ The ordinary bee is generated in the cells of the comb, but the 
ruler-bee in cells down below attached to the comb, suspended from 
it, apart from the rest, six or seven in number, and growing in a way 
quite different from the mode of growth of the ordinary brood.* 

‘ The drones, as a rule, keep inside the hive ; when they go out 
of doors, they soar up in the air in a stream, whirling round and 
round in a kind of gymnastic exercise ; when this is over, they come 
inside the hive and feed to repletion ravenously.* . . . The kings are 
never themselves seen outside the hive except with a swarm in 
flight : during which time all the other bees cluster around them.* 
. . . These rulers have the abdomen or part below the waist half as 
large again, and they are called by some the “ mothers ” from an idea 
that they bear or generate the bees ; and, as a proof of this theory 
of their motherhood, they declare that the brood of the drones 
appears even when there is no ruler-bee in the hive, but that the 
bees do not appear in his absence. Others, again, assert that these 
insects copulate, and the drones are male and the bees female.* 

* Bees scramble up the stalks of flowers and rapidly gather 
the beeswax with their front legs ; the front legs wipe it off on 
to the middle legs, and these pass it on to the hollow curves of 
the hind legs ; when thus laden, they fly away home, and one 
may see plainly that their load is a heavy one. On each expedition 

* Historia animalium, ix. 39 ; 623* 13. * Hittoria animaliutn, v. 22 ; 653** 2. 

’ Hiatoria animalium, ix. 40 ; 624* 22. * Hialoria animalium, ix. 40 ; 625*’ 7. 

® Hiatoria animalium, v. 21 ; 563*27. 

\Afe in aito Jicaminare. y Tt/StS tutteleJueJfortl, to ^cttleo, ouero Spina 
’LJi^^JUpino ft *TySLconia1u^uaripie- //* Qomiachem^cr^aia 

3 ckew^ffra i^hncA uerso /k^o/a /^arie inUpriore - 

4,. Co^ho [p ^in^ua conUfuc x ffamSa sttUk kanJii^ 

S ^Penneieirjfpe ^im^uectt,6juam^ estrriore . 

<r. OxAio tuAo fielofo che T ailracctano 

From Francesoo Stelluti’s Persia tradotto^ Rome, 1630. The plate is the product of the Accademia 
dei Lincei. It was based on the work of Cesi (d. 1628), drawn by Fontana (probably about 
1625), and oontains observations by Johannes Faber and Francesco Stelluti. It is probabl 3 * 
the earliest printed hgure drawn with the aid of the microscope. 

£ 3 



the bee does not fly from a flower of one kind to a flower of another, 
but flies from one violet, say, to another violet, and never meddles 
with another flower until it has got back to the hive ; on reaching the 
hive they throw off their load, and each bee on his return is accom- 
panied by three or four companions. One cannot well tell what is 
the substance they gather nor the exact process of their work.^ . . . 
Bees feed on thyme : and the white thyme is better than the red.“ 
. . . Bees seem to take a pleasure in listening to a rattling noise : 
and consequently men say that they can muster them into a hive by 
rattling with crockery or stones.® . . . Whenever the working-bees 
kill an enemy they try to do so out of doors. ^ Bees that die are 
removed from the hive, and in every way the creature is remarkable 
for its cleanly habits ; in point of fact, they often fly away to a dis- 
tance to void their excrement because it is malodorous ; and, as has 
been said, they are annoyed by all bad smells and by the scent of 
perfumes, so much so that they sting people that use perfumes.^ 

‘ When the flight of a swarm is imminent, a monotonous and 
quite peculiar sound made by ail the bees is heard for several 
days, and for two or three days in advance a few bees are seen 
flying round the hive ; it has never as yet been ascertained, owing 
to the difficulty of the observation, whether or no the king is 
among these. When they have swarmed, they fly away and 
separate off to each of the kings ; if a small swarm happens to 
settle neaj* to a large one, it will shift to join this large one, and 
if the king whom they have abandoned follows them, they put 
him to death. So much for the quitting of the hive and the 
swarm-flight. Separate detachments of bees are told ofl for 
diverse operations ; that is, some carry flower-produce, others 
carry water, others smooth and arrange^ the combs. A bee carries 
water when it is rearing grubs. No bee ever settles on the flesh 
of any creature, or ever eats animal food. . . . When the grubs 
are grown, the bees put food beside them and cover them with 
a coating of wax ; and, as soon as the grub is strong enough, he 
qf his own accord broa^ the lid and comes out. . . . 

‘ When the bee-masters take out the combs, they leave enough 
food behind for winter use ; if it be sufficient in quantity, the 
occupants of the hive will survive ; if it be insufficient, then, if 
the weather be rough, they die on the spot, but if it be fair, they 
fly away and desert the hive. Away from the hive they attack 
neither their own species nor any other creature, but in the close 
proximity of the hive they kill whatever they get hold of. Bees 
that sting die from their inability to extract the sting without at 
the same time extracting their intestines. True, they often recover, 
if the person stung takes the trouble to press the sting out ; but 
once it loses its sting the bee must die.* 

The diseases that chiefly attack prosperous hives are (a) first of 

* HUtoria anitnalium, ix. 40 ; 024^35. ® Hiatoria animaUum, ix. 40 ; 626*20. 

^ Hiatoria animaiium,ix. 40; 626*15. * Hiatoria animaUum, ix. 40; 925*31. 

* Hiatoria anitnalium, ix. 40 ; 626* 23. * Hiatoria anitnalium, ix. 40 ; 625* 6. 


\\ aiibnr(le = \\ :ivbroad = Mea(l<.nv u>. J jv I lt-nn« beik' — I lenr>ani- Hyo:)C\ atnits 

riticuiatus. a Mrditerranoan sjx citjh 



aU the deru9 — ^this ooneists in a j^wth of little worms on the floor, 
from wluoh, as they develop, a kind of cobweb grows over the entire 
hive, and the combs decay.' . . . Bees brood over the cofhbs and so 
mature them ; if they fail to do so, the combs are said to go bad 
and to get covered with a sort of 8pider*s web. . . . When the 
combs keep settling down, the bees restore the level surface, and 
put props underneath the combs to give themselves free passage- 
room ; for if such free passa^ be lacking they cannot brood, and 
the cobwebs come on.* ... (6) There is another insect resembling 
the moth, called by some the pyrausteat that flies about a lighted 
candle : this creature engenders a brood full of fine down. It is 
never stung by a bee, and can only be got out of a hive by fumiga- 
tion. (c) A caterpillar also is engendered in hives, of a species nick- 
named the teredOf or “ borer **, with which creature the bee never 
interferes.* . . . (d) Another diseased condition is indicated in a lassi- 
tude on the part of the bees and in malodorousness of the hive.* * 

The account of the diseases of hives described by Aristotle is 
paraphrased by Pliny.* These diseases can be identified with 
comparative confidence. 

(а) The CUraa is held to be the Trichodea apiartvaf a red and 
blue beetle which is known to destroy the larvae of the honey bee. 
When honeycomb is destroyed from this or any other cause a mould 
is liable to grow upon it. It is possible that Aristotle was confusing 
this growth with the cocoons described under the next heading.* 

(б) The motha that inhabit hives are QaUeriidaet a small group, 
many of which, OaUeria meUoneUa especially, live in and consume 
bee Uves. The spider’s web described above is probably, in part, 
the cocoon of this species. 

(e) The caterpillara oaUed Teredo are the larvae of species of 
the QaUeriidae, some of which have the habit of spinning thmr 
cocoons into a mass which is perhaps described by Aristotle as 
the * cobweb * and also as the * brood full of fine down *. 

(d) This is some form of fotU hroodf a condition first described 
in modem times by Schirach in 1769,^ and more minutely ant} 
carefully in the island of Syra by Della Rocca * towards the end 
dl the eighteenth century. The actual nature of the disease— -in 
the causation of which a number of spore-bearing organisms are 

1 Historia anitnalium, iz. 40 ; 620^* 16. * Hiatoria anitnalium, ix. 40 ; 625*6. 

* Hiaioria anitnalium, TUi. 27 ; 606* 12. * Hiatoria anitnalium, ix.‘40 ; 626* 18. 

» Pliny, xi. 20. 

* C. J. Sundevall, Die Thaerarten dea AriaMdea, Stockholm, 1863. 

* A. G. Schirach, Der Sdehaiache Bienenmeiaier, oder kurxe Anweiaung fUr den 
Landmonn ztir Bienenzueht, nAat beygefUtgtem Btenenkedender, LObau, 1760. 

* L*abb4 DdUa Bocca, TraUi eom^^ awr lea AheBlea avee une mBhode nouveUe 
do4ea gouvemer, UUe qu’eUe ae pratique d Syra, Paris, 2 toIs., 1790. 



involved — has been more fully cleared up only in quite modern 
times, beginning with the work of Ferdinand Cohn (1828-98). 

Despite the figures of Mouifet prepared late in the sixteenth 
century,^ and of the Academy of the Lynx early in the seven- 
teenth,* the knowledge of the various forms of bee advanced but 
slowly. The male, female, and neuter were not adequately dis- 
tinguished for what they were until the work of Goedart and 
de Mey 'in 1662.“ The knowledge of the habits of these creatures 
was even more behindhand, and although some advance was made 
by Charles Butler (died 1647) in 1609,* yet Rusden in 1689* was 
still describing the queen bee as a king in the language of Aristotle. 
The whole* subject had, however, by that time, been put on a firmer 
basis by the microscopical researches of Swammerdam (between 
1662 and 1676) • and Malpighi ’ (about 1680).® 

V. The General Course of Botanical Knowledge 
(a) Botany among the Greeks 

The history of Botany is more fortunate than that of its 
companion branch of Biology in that the material exists for telling 
it as an almost continuous story. Thus for the observation of 
plants our own age is linked with, and not separated from, that 
of the Greeks. Much of the material, especially for the period 
from the sixth to the twelfth century, is difficult of access, and 
this we have sought to present here in greater detail than its 
quality would otherwise demand. 

Among uncivilized peoples the knowledge of plants is by no 
means confined to their culinary uses. Even the most primitive 
races have also a herb-lore which instructs them what plants to 
use and how to use them for the treatment of disease. Much 
effort has been expended in attempting to demonstrate the 

^ British Museum MS. Sloane 4014, written before 1689. 

Francesco Stelluti, Persio tradottOj Rome, 1630, illustrates this work. The 
more important Apiarium of Fedcrigo Cesi, Rome, 1626, is excessively rare, and 
r believe there is no copy in this country. 

3 Jean Goedart, Metamorphosis et historia naiuralis insectorum cum com- 
mentario lohannis de Mey, Middelburg (1662-7). 

^ Charles Butler, The Feminine Monarchic or a Treatise concerning Bees and 
the due ordering of Bees, Oxford, 1609. 

* Moses Rusden, A Further Discovery of Bees, London, 1689. 

^ Jan Swammerdam, Bybel van de Natuur, Leyden, 1737. 

^ jMarcello Malpighi, Opera Omnia, London, 1686. 

^ A useful article on the knowledge of bees displayed by the Aristotelian 
writing is by J. Klek and L. Arinbruster, * Die Bienenkundo dcs Aristoteles und 
seiner Zeit Archiv fur Bienenkunde, i, Abt. 6, Freiburg im Breisgau, 1919. 


therapeutic value of such drugs, but it would appear that folk 
herb-lore is no more rational than other departments of folk 
medicine and the majority of the ingredients of all pharma- 
copoeias, save perhaps the most modern, are in fact without 
appreciable physiological action and certainly are no cures for 
the conditions for which they are given. 

The recipients of the herb-lore traditions among the Greeks 
were the rhizolomists. These, as a class, were ignorant men, corre- 
sponding in a measure to our herbalists, and they occupied them- 
selves with gathering herbs, sometimes for the use of the physicians, 
sometimes in order that they might themselves usurp the functions 
of the physicians. Tliey were superstitious and practised a complex 
ritual in obtaining their drugs. Fragments of this ritual have 
survived,^ and we can detect in it ceremonies still closely followed 
by European peasantry engaged in similar practices. Rhizo- 
tomists were often of evil reputation, and Sophocles, who was 
contemporary with Hippocrates, wrote a play, now lost, entitled 
‘ The Rhizotomists ’, the word having been used by him as almost 
equivalent to poiaonmongers. The profession and to some extent the 
tradition of the rhizotomists extended from Greek into mediaeval 
and even modern times, and they and their work are not infre- 
quently illustrated in the manuscripts (Fig. 26). 

We learn little of the botanical knowledge of the sixth and 
fifth centuries from the works that make up the Hippocratic 
collection. About three hundred plants are mentioned as of value 
for medicinal purposes, and this implies considerable botanical 
knowledge, but we can glean almost nothing of the plants them- 
selves from the Hippocratic writings. With the fourth century 
botany as a separate study comes into full view, and there is 
evidence that the subject may have been systematically studied 
at the Academy even before it was taken up by the Lyceum. 
From the latter we possess documents of first-class importance in 
the wofks of Theophrastus, the so-called * father of botany 
whose achievements are considered in greater detail below (p. 79). 

But Theophrastus is the father of botany only in the sense 
that he is the first botanist whose writings have eome down to us. 
There is nothing primitive about his work, nothing to suggest 

^ e. g. in Theophrastua, Hiatoria plantarum^ ix. 8. Other instancea can bo 
found in Pliny and have boon collected by J. J. Mooney in his Hoaidius Geld^a 
Tragedy ‘ Medea \ Birmingham, 1919. Yet further material from both Greek 
and Latin sources may be culled from A. Abt,» Die Apclogie dea Ajndehts von 
Madaura nnd die aniike Zauberei, Giessen, 1908. 



that he is treading paths that none have trod before. On the 
contrary he is a thoroughly sophisticated writer, evidently the 
product of generations of thought and even of research. We 
know, moreover, that his work was preceded by a treatise on 
plants by Aristotle which is now lost, though fragments of it have 
X)erhaps survived.^ But the writings of Theophrastus are specially 
valuable as presenting, after Hippocrates, the first substantially 
complete works of Greek observational science extant. Viewed in 
relation to the completeness and ordered sequence of the Histot'y 
of Plants, the biological works of Aristotle, in the form in which 
they have reached us, seem mere disarranged note-books. Like 
the works of Aristotle, those of Theophrastus are scientific com- 
positions ; that is to say, they are written, in large part at least, 
for the purpose of describing nature and not for the direct 
ax)plicability of such knowledge to the needs and amenities of life. 
In this respect they stand almost alone among Greek botanical 
works, for the rest of Greek botanical history has to be pieced 
together mainly from poetical and pharmaceutical writings. 

From the second century b. c. we have in Greek the Alexiphar-% 
maca and the Theriaca of Nicander, two works on poisons and their 
antidotes which deal with a number of plants from the point of 
•view of their special topics and not from the scientific aspect. 
The De re rtistica of Cato the Censor is contemporary with these 
works and is even more devoid of the Greek scientific spirit. For 
the first century B. c. we are better provided, for we have the 
literary works of Virgil and the agricultural treatises of Varro 
and Columella, supplemented by what can be gleaned from the 
valuable medical compendium of Celsus. 

The first century of the Christian era is richer in important 
botanical works than any period from the fourth century b. c. 
until the sixteenth century. In Pliny’s Natural History we have 
a collection of current views on the nature, origin, uses, and treat- 
ment of plants such as we might expexit from a very intelligent, 
industrious, and honest member of the landed class who was 
devoid of critical or special scientific skill. More valuable and 
ranking second only to Theophrastus in importance is the treatise 

* Put together by F. Wimmer, Phylologiae Arintotdicae Fragmenta, Breslau, 
1838 (unfinished). The spurious X>e Plantia of Aristotle is attributed to Nicholas 
of Damascus by K. H. F. Meyer, Nicolai Damaaceni de plantia . . . Aristoieli 
vulgo adacripti ex laaaci ben Honaici veraione Arabica Latine vertit Alfredua, 
Leipzig, 1841. It probably contains elements in the Aristotelian tradition. See 
note, p. 13. 

Fia. 26. This drawing is traced from a facBimile on Plate xxii of the Atlas to Piero 
Giacosa’s Magistri SaUmitani, Turin, 1901. TJie MS. from which Giatosa's facsimile 
was taken has since perished. It bore the arms of Savoy and was work of the fifteenth 
century. The figure represents herbalists at work on a mountain, the Hlo])es of w'hich are 
covered with a variety of plants. One of the herbalists is climbing an oak tree to secure 
the mistletoe growing on it. The other is digging up plants and placing them in 
a receptacle. 


on Materia Medica of Dioscorides. ' It consists of a series of careful 
descriptions of plants, and of their uses in medicine, arranged, it 
is true, almost without reference to the nature of the plants 
themselves, but quite invaluable for its terse and striking descrip- 
tions which often include habits and habitats. Its history has 
shown it to be the most influential botanical treatise ever penned. 

After Dioscorides Greek botany declines. The monumental 
intellect of Galen in the second century of the Christian era hardly 
applied itself to plants, and his pharmacopoeia, copious though 
it is, gives but a scant glimpse of contemporary botany. Such 
Greek botanical writers as followed were little but copiers of Galen 
and Dioscorides, and the history of Greek botany is from now on 
a story of the continued disintegration of knowledge. 

But, retracing our steps, there yet remains for consideration 
a writer of the first century b. c. the full importance of whom 
has only recently been realized. There is evidence that Crateuas, 
the most intelligent and instructed of the rhizotomists who lived 
during this century, occupied himself not only in collecting but 
also in drawing plants. He is thus the father of the very important 
botanical department of plant illustration.^ Crateuas was the 
attendant of Mithridates VI Eupator, but was also an author, 
and though his works have perished, fragments have survived in 
a Vienna codex.* This manuscript, to which the name of Julia 
Anicia is attached, was prepared in Constantinople a little before 
the year 512 as a wedding gift to that lady, the daughter of 
Flavius Anicius Olybrius, Emperor of the West, and it is not 
improbable that many of the figures in it are copies of Crateuas^s 
own drawings or of pictures prepared under his supervision in 
the first century b. c. He is perhaps represented at work in one 
of the more damaged miniatures of this great manuscript (Fig. 27), 
and we liave what are perhaps portraits of Dioscorides himself in 
this and other miniatures of the same volume (Fig. 28).* 

* Pliny, Hiat. Xat. xxv. 4. 

* Max Wcllmann, * Krateuas Abh. der kgl. OeaeUachaft der WiaaenachaJUn 
2U QiMingen, philologiach-hiatoriaehe Abt., Neue Folge, Bd. ii, No. 1, Berlin, 1897 ; 
and M. Wellmann, * Das altestc Krauterbuch der Griechen in Featgabe fiir 
Franz Suaemihl, Leipzig, 1898. 

^ These miniatures are represented in their damaged state in Bendel Harris, 
The Ascent of Olympm, Manchester, 1917. The entire MS. has been reproduced 
in two luxurious but excessively inconvenient elephant folios by J. dc Karabacek, 
Leyden, 1906. The original work has been removed from Vienna to St. Mark’s 
Librar>’ at Venice. 



Thus oven before the Julia Anicla MS., botanical illustration 
had had a long history, and surviving fragments of a herbal on 
papyrus of the second century ‘ show that a strong tendency to 
diagrammatize the forms of plants had already set in among the 

Fig. 27. Restored from the Julia Anioia MS., fo. 5 v. about a.d. 512. Dioscorides 'writes 
while thtelligence (*K7rcVoiri) holds the mandrake for the artist, Crateuos (?), to copy. 

Greeks. But the tradition represented by the Julia Anicia MS. 
was that which for many centuries largely controlled the whole 
art of plant illustration in Greek-speaking lands. The history of 
this manuscript is thus itself the history of an important line of 
botanical knowledge during the Middle Ages. The Julia Anicia 
MS. is not exactly a text of Dioscorides but is a composite docu- 

^ J. de M. Johnson, ‘ A botanical Papyrus with Illustrations ’ in the Archiv 
f. Ctesch. d. NiUurwisaenschaften und der Technik, iv, p. 40.3, Leipzig, 1913. 



ment of which the nature and origin is represented in the diagram 
opposite (Fig. 29). 

Even in the seventh century the sources of the Julia Anicia 
figures were still being imitated with considerable accuracy and 


Fiu. 28. Restored from tlic Julia Anicia MS., fo. 4 v. about a.d. 512. Discovery (KZp€(Tis) 
presents a mandrake to the physician Dioscorides, The mandrake is still tethered to the 
hound whose life is sacriiiced to obtain it. 

skill,^ but as the centuries went by and the figures were copied and 
recopied without reference to the original they moved further and 
further from the facts until at last they remained as mere diagrams. 
By this time the gift of naturahstic representation had left the 
Greeks, but traces of some power to imitate classical models of 

1 As in the so-called Codex Neapolitanus of the seventh century at St. Mark’s, 
Venice. A facsimile of a page of this work has been reproduced by the New 
PalaeogTaphical Society, ii, Plate 45. Copies of the Julia Anicia itself, of which 
several exist, are much later, e. g. that described by O. Penzig in his Coniribuzione 
aUa storia della Botanica, Genoa, 1904. There is a similar copy in the University 
Library at Cambridge. Press Mark Ee. 6. 7 (Browne 1385). 



plant paintings may still be traced in a fragment of a herbal of 
the eighth century discovered in the cover of an Armenian book * 
(Fig. 30), in the famous eighth-century Vatican MS. of Cosmas 
Indicopleustes,^ in a very peculiar little manuscript of Nicander 
of the ninth century® (Plate ix), in the Paris and Cheltenham 
100 B.C 

Her^jarium of 
Cratevas wiA 


S 00 A.D. ^ Julia Amcia MS. 

600 A.D. 


Dioscorides MSS. of the ninth and tenth centuries respectively 
(Plates X and xviii), in the Smyrna Physiologus of the eleventh 
century,* and in many other works of Byzantine origin. For the 
rest, however, the story of botany is mainly in the West and not 
in the East.® 

' Discovered by F. C. Conybeare. Facsimile in MfcJ. Bodley E. 19 (31528). 

‘ Vat. Gr. 699. Reproduced in facsimile by C. Stornajolo, Rome, 1909. 

3 Bibl. nat.. Supplement grec, 247. 

* Josef Strzygowski, ‘ Der Bilderkreis des griechischen Physiologus in the 
Byzaniimaches Archiv, Heft 2, Leipzig, 1899. 

* We do not here touch on the very interesting group of Dioscorides herbals 
of Persian origin, which are known from the twelfth century onwards. Chinese 
herbals are also known. 


A few words may be devoted to the Greek text and manu- 
scripts of Dioscorides. Modification and interpolation set in early 
and on an extensive scale. This process was encouraged by the 
alphabetical rearrangement of the paragraphs according to the 
name of the drug the properties of which arc described. Such 
a rearrangement was made in the fourth, or perhaps in the third 
century. The oldest codices are of this type, and are thus of 
comparatively little textual value, though the illustrations that 
adorn them have the highest interest, alike for the history of 
Botany and of Art. On the other hand the non-alphabetical 
manuscripts are less ancient and, on the whole, less beautifully 
illustrated, but sonu; of them are of high textual importance. 

Alphabetical Grech Codices of Dioscorides 

The alphabetical Greek codices fall naturally into three classes : 

I. This chbss contains the two most ancient manuscripts. Both 
are elaborately illustrattnl, text and figures being derived from 
one common archetype of the fourth century. The text is alpha- 
betically arranged from beginning to end. It draws on the 
Materia Medica alone among the works of Dioscorides, but also 
contains certain works of otlu‘r authors (as shown in Fig. 29). 
'Phe figures illustrating the text of these manuscrij)ts preserve 
the tradition of Crateuas. 'Phis class iiujludes only : 

(а) The Julia Anicia, written in capitals before .512, and knowJi 
as the Constautinopolitanus. This manuscript was formerly 
at the Vienna Hofbif)liothck, where it was numbered Med. Gr. 1. 
It is now in 8t. Mark’s Library at Venice (Plates vi and VIT). 
The MS. is accessible in a beautiful photographic facsimile. 

(б) The so-called Neopolitanus, written in half uncials in the 
seventh century. This manuscript was also formerly at the 
Vienna Hofbibliothek, where it was numbered Suppl. Gr. 28. 
It is also now in St. Mark’s Library at Venice.* 

II. This class contains a text borrowed not only from the 
Materia Medica, but also from the other works of Dioscorides. 
The text is divided, according to the subject, into five sections or 
books, within each of which the order is alphabetical. These 
sections treat respectively of (1) plants, (2) animals, (3) oils, 
(4) trees, (5) wines and stones. In (c) and (d) the text is com- 

^ There is an excellent but antiquated article on the ConatarUinopolitanua by 
L. Choulant ‘ Ueber die HSS. des Dioscorides mit Abbildungen Archiv fiir die 
zeiehnenden Kiinste, I, p. .56, Leipzig. 1855. In R. Dodoens’ posthumous Stirpium 
Ilieloriae Ftmptadea sex, Antwerfi, 1616, figures on pp. 123, 126, 149,288,372, 377, 
439, and 572 marked e cod. Caesareo are taken from th«! ConstantinopoUtanus. 



bined Avith certain spurious works of Nicander. The ligures. like 
those of class I, preserve the tradition of Crateuas with cei'tain 
well marked differences. There is evidence that they s]Aring from 
an archetype of not later than the fourth century. 

(c) Cheltenham, Phillipps, 21975, tenth cent., now in the 
Pierpont Morgan library. New York (Plate xviit). 

{d) Mount Athos, Laura Monastery, twelftli cent. 

(e) Venice, St. Mark’s Library, No. 92. Cotton jAupi'r, 
thirteenth cent. 

(/) Escurial 2*.T. 17. Paper, fifteentli cent. 

JIT. This class contains only the Materia Medica of Dioscoridcs 

Flo. 30. ‘ Clianiaepity.'A from a fragment of an eiglith ccniury Cireek Herbarium f Bodl. 10. lOJ. 

The xilant is probably replans Linn., the Creeping Bugle, or some allitid species. 

and has an alpliabetical text not dividetl into books. No manu- 
script of this class is earlier than the fourtecuith (century. 

(g) Milan, Ambros. A95 Sup., fourteenth ccjit. 

(h) Home, Vatican Urbinas 66,'fifteenth cent. 

(j) Venice, St. Mark’s 272, fifteenth cent. 

(k) Venice, St. Mark’s 597, fifteenth cent. 

and certain sixtecmth-ccntury manuscripts at Berlin, Paris, 
and the Escurial. 

• Non- Alphabetical Greek Codices of Dioscorides 

The subject-matter of the remaining manuscripts of Dioscoritles 
is not in alphabetical order. These manuscripts are very numerous 
and we need only mention the more interesting. They fall into 
two classes, of which the first is the more important for fixing the 
text as it contains only the genuine work of Dioscorides. In tin* 
second class this text is mingled with other material. 

I. Manuscripts containing only works of Dioscorides. Among 
the most important are. the following : 

(Z) Paris Bibl. nat. MS. gr. 2179, ninth century (Plate x). 


This is tlie most valuable of all the manuscripts for fixing 
the text. It is beautifully illustrated and it is interesting 
to observe that the figures of the mandrake, that are antlu’o- 
|)omorphic in all the other manuscripts, are not here given any 
human attributes. Thus these figures may contain elements in 
an even earlier tradition than tlie Constantinopolitanu^i and 
Neopolitanus and may take us back beyond the fourth century 
and perhaps beyond (Yateuas. The manuscript is badly pre- 
served and ])artially illegible, but is supplemented by 
{m) Wnice, St. Mark’s 273, twelfth century, and 
(m) Florence, LaunMitian Pint. 74, 17, twelfth century. 

(/a) and (w) are parts of one manuscrij)t copied from (?) or 
from a closely similar manuscript. 

(o) Escurial 111, R 3, imperfect, eleventh cent. 

(p) Florence, Laurentian Pint. 74, 23. The only perfect 
manuscript of this <;lass, fourteenth cent. 

{q) Rome, V'atican Pal. 77. The older leaves of this manu- 
scri]>t represent the same tradition as (o), fourteenth cent. 

II. The Greek manuscripts of Dioscorides that contain other 
works besides his are very numerous, but of little importance for th<‘ 
text. A few, however, have interesting figures. Among these are : 
(r) Paris, Bibl. nat., MS. gr. 2180, fifteenth cent. 

{s) Paris, Bibl. nat., MS. gr. 2182, written 1481. 

The relation of tiu? tradition of the figures to that of the text 
has not been investigated. It is a sid^jeet for a special research, 
and would be of great im})ortance for the history of Ait. From 
a first examination we ma_>' say that the line of descent of the 
figures may be trac(*d as fai‘ as the thirteenth century along lines 
jiarallel to those of the text.' 

To sum uji the history of Greek botany, we may say that it 
probably arose with other sciences in the sixth century B. c., but 
that it does not come into clear view until the fourth century B. c. 
It was then firmly established as a scientific discipline, botanic 
gardens had been established, much research hatl been made, 
lectures were being given, and the work of one important writer 
has survived. By the first century b. c. scientific botanical 

' The classification of the manuscripts given above is largely taken from 
M. Wellmann’s masterly article on ‘ Dioskurides ’ in Pauly-Wissowa’s Real- 
Encydopddie. der klassiachen Altertumstvisaenschaft, vol. v, Stuttgart, 1905. Much 
information may also be obtained from H. Diels’ ‘ Dio Handschriften der antiken 
'Ante, II. Teil. Die iibrigen griechischen Arzte ausser Hippokrates und Galenus 
in the Abhandlungen der konigl. preuas. Akademie der Wiaaenachaflen, Berlin, 1906. 



principles had been absorbed into agriculture and medicine, and 
their application is happily illustrated by works which survive 
from the two centuries which follow. Then begins a process of 
decay, but as late as the seventh century a. d. very careful and 
accurately illustrated herbaria were still being prepared. From 
then on only decadent imitations are known. Some of these, 
however, are remarkably accurate, and a study of them aids us in 
forming an idea of the botanical attainments of the earlier and 
the limits in the botanical knowledge of the later c(*nturies. 

Ih) Botany in the Wettl from the sixth to the twelfth century 

{The Dark Ayes) 

During the Dark Ages, and even luitil the twelfth or thirteenth 
century, there were no effective additions to botanical knowledge. 
Up to that time we may say that such codified botanical knowledge 
as existed in the West was contained iii a very small group of 
Latin works of which countless manuscripts existed. The versions 
of these works, their illustrations and their general appearance, 
present remarkable similarities in spite of their wide distribution. 
Thrtie of them especially were often compounded in various 
proportions to form a single text. These three works are ; 

(i) The Materia Medica of Dioscorides. 

(ii) The Herbarium of ‘ Apuleius *. 

(iii) The pseudo-Dioscoridean De Herbis Femininia. 

(i) The work of Dioscorides had already been translated into 
Latin in the time of Cassiodorus (490-585), who recommended the 
study of illustrated coj-ues to such of his monks as were unable 
to read Greek.* The earliest surviving manuscripts of the Latin 
translation of Dioscorides are, however, of thfi ninth century." 
Several of the manuscripts of the Latin Dioscorides contain rci- 
markablo illustrations. ‘‘ The text has been printed in modern times.^ 

(ii) The Herbarium bearing falsely the name of Apuleius 
• * 

1 (Jassiodorus, ImsHtniio divinuiruvi liiterarum^ c, 31 ‘ Si vobis non fijurit 
graocaruni litterarum nota facundia imprimis habetis herbarium Dioscoridis qiii 
herbas agrorum mirabili proprietate disseruit atc{uo depinxit,’ 

“ The two oldest manuscripts of the? Latin Dioscorides are at thi? Bibl. Nat., 
where they are numbered 9332 and 12995. 

® Notably the Munich MS. Monac 377 of the tenth century in the characteristic 
Beneventan script. See H. Stadler, Der lateiniache Dioscorides der Miinchfinf'r 
Hof- ufid Staatsbibliothek, Janus iv, p. 548, Leyden, 1899. 

^ In Vollmoller’s HoTTvanische Forschungeny i, x, xi, and xii, Erlangen. Cl', 
also V. Rose in UernieSy viii, p. 38. 


Platonicus was compiled in Latin perhaps during the fifth century. 
It describes very briefly the character and habitat, and at greater 
length the virtues of herbs, and it is possible that the name of 
Apuleius was attached to it because he was the author of a lAher 
fioridarumt which, however, is of a totally different character. 
The Herbarium of Apuleius is in part taken from the real Dios- 
corides and in part from the work known as the Medicina Plinii. 
At an early date the text became associated with a lexicon of 
synonyms similar to that found in the alphabetical Greek manu- 
scripts of Dioscorides. Some have seen in the character of these 
synonyms evidence of an African origin of this pseudo-Apuleian 
document. The earliest manuscript is of the sixth century,* and 
already exliibits these peculiar synonyms. There are a number of 
other manuscripts of the pseudo-Apuleius which contain a remark- 
ably persistent group of illustrations becoming progressively 
more conventionalized.* The pseudo-Apuleian Herbarium has 
been printed a number of times, usually under the title Apuleii 
PkUonici de virtutibus herbarum. The earliest edition was printed at 
Rome before 1484 by Philip de Lignamine. The printed editions 
of this work, like the manuscripts., vary greatly in their contents. 

(iii) The De herbis femininis of the pseudo-Dioscorides was also 
written or rather compiled in Latin. It is only about half the 
length of the pseudo-Apuleius, and consists of a description of 
seventy-one herbs and their properties without the synonyms. 
It is drawn from Dioscorides, pseudo-Apuleius and Pliny, relying 
perhaps on a separate Latin version of the first of these. The 
earliest manuscript is of the ninth century,’ but the work was 
probably put together no later than the sixth centmy, and 
perhaps in Italy during the domination of the Goths (493-655).’ 
Manuscripts of this work in its pure form are not very common.® 
It has also been printed in modern times.® 

^ Leyden, Voss. lat. Q 9. 

> Among the most anoient of these are the Codex Hertenais of the ninth 
century, described by Sudhoff in the Arch. fUr Oeach, der Med., x, p. 265, Leipzig, 
1916, and the Codex FtUdenaia of Sudhoff of the tenth century at Cassel, where 
it bears the pressmark Phya. et hiat not., fol. 10. 

> Rome, Barberini, ix. 29. 

* M. Wellmann, ‘ Krateuas ’, in Abh. d. kgl. Oeadlachaft d. Wiaaenachaften zu 
Odttingen, Phild.^hiat. Klaaae, Berlin, 1897. 

‘ Ten manuscripts of this work (one of which has been destroyed) are recorded 
by H. Diels, Die Handachriflen der arUiken Arzte, Berlin, 1906. 

* H. F. ELftstner, ‘ Pseudo-Dioscoridis de Herbis feminis in Hermea, xxxi. 
p. 678, Berlin, 1896. 


More interesting than these botanical works themselves are 
the paintings of plants with which a number of them are provided. 
These were copied from manuscript to manuscript, century after 
century, without direct reference to the objects intended to be 
represented, and thus arose definite traditions which can be 
traced in the representation of plants from age to age. Tiie 
traditions of botanical illustration fall along somewhat different 
lines to those of the general history of manuscript illumination, 
and the figures of plants as they are encountered in manu- 
scripts therefore merit a special study which has hardly •yet beeji 
accorded them. In what follows we shall deal mainly with English 
developments which we have had most opportunity to study. There 
is evidence that the evolution of the herbal in other countries took 
M somewhat different course. 

Our earliest illuminated Latin herbal is a sixth-century 
manuscript (Plates viii, xx, and xxi) probably written in southern 
France. Most of its figures are already stylized and far removed 
from nature dravdng. This model remained little altered until 
the tenth century, and herbals of that period from the Rhineland 
and from Italy still preserve the same traditional pictures.^ By 
then, however, another treatment of plants becomes traceable in 
northern France. The figures in this new style have become 
symmetrical and heavy and some of them approach the manner 
which we describe below as Romanesque (Plate xxv). 

An examination of a series of manuscript herbals of between the 
eleventh and thirteenth centuries reveals the fact that the figures 
fall in the main into two divisions, one of which we may call 
Naturalistic and the other Jiomanesque. Both these divisions, 
like other manifestations of Western culture, were doubtless 
derived from Italy, but it would appear that they reached the 
West by different routes, or at least with different cultural 

The naturalistic tradition of these Western herbals of the 
eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth centuries probably took its rise 
in the south of Italy, perhaps in that region where developed the 
peculiar script to which the name of Beneventan has now become 

^ To this group belong Uertensis 192 written in Westphalia (?) in the ninth 
century (cf. Sudhoff, Arehiv fur Oeach. d. Med. x, p. 265, Leipzig, 1916), the 
Laurentian 73, 41 written in southern Italy in the ninth century, and Cassel 
Phys. Fol. 10 written at Fulda in tenth cebtury. Munich Lat. 337, Italian work 
of the tenth century, belongs however to a quite different tradition. 




attached. It drew on Greek models which were already banning 
to undergo the change known as * Byzantinism In line with this . 
view of the southern origin of certain herbal illustrations is the fact 
that a medical work in the Anglo-Saxon language circulating in 
Engl a nd in the twelfth century^ was actuidly a laranslation of a 
known Salernitan document, and Ekighsh leech-craft of the eleventh 
and twelfth centuries was profoundly influenced by Salerno.* It 
is of interest for our purpose to analyse the medical manuscripts 
in the Beneventan script that have actually survived. Some 600 
Beneventan manuscripts (including fragments) are known, and 
nearly half of these are stiU lodged at the Benedictine monastery 
of Montecassino. The manuscripts vary in date from the early 
ninth to the mid-thirteenth century and thus represent the period 
during which Salerno was an importmit medical school. Of the 
Beneventan MSS., 14 (13) or about 2 per cent, are medical.* Of the 
14 surviving early southern medical manuscripts we have adequate 
details of 10, and all of these are of works which were in fact 
influential in establishing the main currents of Dark Age medicine 
and nearly all of them contain Herbaria. The most important 
perhaps was the recently destroyed Turin codex of the eleventh 
century. The flgures in this manuscript, a few of which have 
been fortunately preserved in photographs, were of a definitely 
Byzantine cast and must have been derived from an earlier Greek 
original, and the influence of this manuscript, or one very closely 
resembling it, can be traced in some English herbals.* (Fig. 31.) 

The first herbals brought to this country had however probably 
been prepared in northern France (cf. Betony in central figure of 
Plate XXV with the same plant of Plate xvn). But the models from 
which the artist worked must have betrayed the fullest evidence 
of an origin from a region further south, for traces of a Mediter- 
ranean flora may still be clearly discerned in the English copies (cf. 
Henbane in Plate xvi). During the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth 
centuries there developed a very characteristic English school of 
draftsmanship and this new manner was not without its influence 

^ Max Ldweneck, ‘ ihSdiwy, eine Sammlung von Bezepton in eogUsoher 
Sprache in the Brlanger BeUrSgt zur engliachen PhUologie, ix, Erlangen, 1896. 

* Charles Singer, * A Review of the Medical literature of the Dark Ages with 
a new text of about 1110*, Proceedings of the BoyaH So^ety of Mededne (section 
of the History of Medicine), x. 102, London, 1917. 

* The known B«iieventan MSS. axe recorded byE. A. lAwe in The Beneventan 
Script, a study of the South Italian nunuscule, Oxford, 1914. 

* Especially in the MS. Hariey 2^294. 

to. 20 V I etouica^ Beton^^ fo. 26 v Vcrminacia {columbaris) 

= Verbena officinalis 


on the paintings that adorned the herbals (of. figures of Orobus 
and Teucrium on Plate v and of Ivy on Plate xxin). 

But this native style was, in turn, largely replaced by the 
Romanesque. The change in the figures was accompanied by 
a well-marked alteration in the character of the script. These 
changes took place in England a generation or two after the 

luri n , BiiUo ^aJete Ktt.i 


Traced from a twelfth-oeotury Engliih Herbarium in the British Mueeum and a contemporary 
Italian Herbarium to illustrate the close similarity. 

Conquest, which introduced a revolution into art and letters at 
least as gr^at as that to which it subjected the social system of this 

On the Continent the Romanesque method of plant illustration 
had established itself at an earlier date. This style originated or 
at least emanated from northern and north-eastern Fri^nce. Its 
ultimate origin appears to be a debased style of Roman art pro- 
ceeding from northern Italy and perhaps modified in Carolingian 
times by English influence. Its characteristics, so far as plants 
are concerned, are a replacement of free drawing by symmetrical 



design (Plate v, central figure), while an increased formalism is 
ultimately obtained by the enclosure of the picture in a rectilinear 
frame (Plate xxv, lateral figures). As the style develops, a back- 
ground at first simple and afterwards more elaborate is provided. 
The human body is often drawn half naked or even completely nude, 
and the drapery arranged along characteristic lines (Plate xxiv). 

Comparing the styles we may characterize the Italian as more 
free and the Romanesque as more formal. Both styles are trace- 

1<«!. 32. T HE PLANTAIN Fro. 33. P I. A X T A 1 N 

From, a thirteenth -century Herbarium in From this Herbari us lat intis 

Romanesque style prepared in England. nt JVIainz in 1484. 

Sloane, 11)75, fo. 12 v. 

able even in the later manuscripts and are carried over into the 
early printed herbals. Some manuscripts even contain specimens 
of both styles, and in all herbals the centaur holding a plant is 
a favourite device. It is noteworthy that in none of the English 
herbals is there any trace of the influence of the characteristic 
(>cltic school of illumination, while the peculiar and well-known 
Anglo-Saxon style of draftmanshix) is far less obtrusive in the 
books of plant jnctures than in ecclesiastical documents. The 
influences that jiroduced the herbals were, in fact, mainly of 
a lay character, but nevertheless a certain characteristic English 
manner of plant representation can be detected in them. This 
English manner had completely disappeared by the beginning of 
the thirteenth century (cf. Sloane 1976, Plates xv and xxv). 



(c) Botany in the West from the twelfth to the fifteenth century 

^he Middle Ages) 

After the long depression of the Dark Ages the study of plants 
began to take an upward turn at a much earlier period than the 
sister study. The revival begins with literary rather than scientific 
effort, for neither the poem called that of Macer Floridus composed 
by Odo of Meune (died 1161), nor the account of plants in tlie later 

Cf, Orobiis on Plate v. 

From the German version of the Horlus Sanitatis^ printed at Mainz in 1485. 

Suhtilitatum diversarumque creaturarum liber (early thirteenth cen- 
tury), wrongly attributed to Hildegard of Bingen, contains evidence 
of new or even direct observation. More scientific in spirit is the 
somewhat later work De vegetabilibus of Albertus Magnus (1206?- 
80). This is primarily a compilation based on the peripatetic work 
on plants by Nicholas of Damascus (first century b.c.), of which 
only fragments remain. Albert’s treatise is essentially a learned 
product and its author is hampered by his desire to fit the nature 
of plants into an ill-thought-out system, while his work is marred 



by the scholastic doctrine that * phUowphia is concerned with 
generalities, not particulars *. It is a phrase which itself explains 
the fulure of scholasticism to erect an enduring scientific structure. 
But in spite of such a handicap the work of this extraordinary man 
contains evidence of a certain amoimt of careful first hand observa> 
tion. His botanical treatise gives a not unpleasing impression of 
the common sense and open-eyedness of the great mediaeval 
scholar who has a place among the grandfathers, if not among 
the fathers, of modem botany. We translate one of his chapters 
as a good specimen of mediaeval descriptive botany. 

* Of the Oak and its qualities. 

* The oak is a very large and tall tree with broad branches ; 
it has many roots which go deep down and when old has a veiy 
rough bark, but the young tree is smooth. It has great breadth 
and size in its branches ; when it is thriving its leaves are thickly 
set, broad, and hard. The leaves are wholly surrounded by 
triangles, the bases of which are upon the leaf and the angle at 
the exterior. Many leaves are attached to it, but they faU off. 
When they are dried up, however, they still sometimes cling in large 
numbers. Its wood increasing by straight layers is composed of 
straight pores, can be split to a line and can 1^ hewn and retains 
well the shapes of large incisions, but in this box-wood surpasses 
it. The outer zone is of a pale colour but towards the centre it 
shades into a reddish tint. If it is put in water, at first ft swims, 
but at last sinks owing to its earthy nature and then grows black. 
}ts fruit is called acorn {gUms ) ; it is not joined by a stalk of its 
own to the branch on wMch it grows, but small cups spring out 
from the branches and in these the acom is formed. The acorn 
also has outside a hard shell in which it is enclosed ; this 
resembles well-polished wood, shaped like a column except that 
its apex is not a plane superficies but a hemisphere and has 
a point in the mid^e to represent the pole. Below is the base 
of the acom through which it draws nourishment from the little 
cup ; that also is not simply a plane superficies but is somewhat 
flattened at the pole ; this depression is formed by the weight of 
the acorn, for if it were an exact hemisphere there would be no 
place for the reception of nourishment except the point, and 
through that it cordd not receive enough. The acom within the 
sheath is surrounded by rind, not hard but soft, which is formed 
from the excretion of the acom ; the acom is twisted roimd itself 
and divided down the middle as a column might be cut lengthways 
by a plane surface. At the apex, howevw, is the life germ and 
what is beneath is of a floury substance and is to be regarded as 
matter and food for the germ. The little cup in which the acom 
itself sits is concave and evenly formed as if it were smoothed 
on a lathe inside. The bottom is somewhat levelled since from 
it the acom draws its nourishment ; on the outside it is rough 

fo. 34 V r o r r Y A H i u k. x i i* 

Now in the F i c r p o n t M o r a n Library New York 

















1> . 
t/) o 

3 ■*- 


1 - 'O 
CC -o 

6 . 
o c/2 

u li— I 

^ Ell 

“ l>l?l 

- C'1.1 ^ 

Italian, of about 1450 
Compare Text Fig. 36 




because of its own earthy natore which is expelled from the 
material of the acorn. It is not joined by any sort of stem to 
the branch but sits immediately upon it. This is to {nrevoit the 
acorn foom being too far distant from the branch, because if it 
had to draw its food a long way, it would become hard and cold and 
would do no good, especia^y as the juice of this tree is very earthv. 

On the leaves of the oak often grow certiun round ball«l&e 
objects called galls, which after remaining some time on the tree 
produce within, themselves a small worm bred by the corruption 
of the leaf. If the worm exactly 
reaches the midst of the gall apple 
weather prophets foretell that the 
coming winter will be harder : but 

if it is near the edge of the gall ^ 

they foretell that the winter will jjt m 

be mild. . . . Galls have a juice 
pure in itself as long as the apple f \ 

is green and moist ; out when it is iVl V^vf \ \ I 

rubbed against a flat clean piece \ I I I / )/ 1 

of iron it immediately is trans- \ \ 1 | I / m" E 

formed into a kind of very black I wl J J 

‘The leaves of the acorn are 
extraordinarily astringent but less 
dry. The acorn resembles the if 

chestnut in that both are aster- Vl ^ 

sive and cause flatulence in the 
lower bowel ; both strengthen the 
limbs and both are good food 

espMiaUy for pigs. GWen says ,,^5, pLiSTAiN 

that the acorn ^ well a» the Lignamino’o Apulelus, Borne, 1483, 

chestnut is good for nourishment printed probably from metal blocks, 
and deserves more praise than all 

the fruits of growing trees: but the chestnut is more nutritious 
than the acorn on account of its greater sweetness. But the 
food they afford lacks the praise of men because it is too 
astringent, but if chestnuts are mixed with sugar they make 
good food ; taken otherwise they will be of slow digestion but the 
oak is even slower. The astringency in the inner bark of the acorn 
is greater than in the acorn itself. The leaves of the oak ground 
to powder and laid upon wounds make the flesh unite. The acorn 
is of as much value as the chestnut as a remedy against poison. 

‘ The juice of galls darkens the hair : powder of them gets 
rid of superfluous flesh and warts. Galls are helpful also if placed 
on decayed spots of. the teeth and in many other medical opera- 
tions which must be determined in (books on) simple medicines.* ^ 

Traosiated from Albert’s De vegetabUibvs, lib. VI, Traotatus 1, Dt arboribua, 
heading Quereua. There is a good appreciation of Albert as a botanist in E. H. F. 
Meyer’s Oesehiehte der Botanik, vol. iv, p. 28. Kbnigsbetg, 1867. 

From Lignamine*s Apuleius, Borne, 1483, 
printed probably from metdl blooks. 



In this chapter Albert alludes to the relationship of galls to 
insects. This was not mentioned by Aristotle and hardly suspected 
by the ancients, being but faintly referred to by Pliny. The 
subject had to await the microscopic researches of Malpighi to 
gain further elucidation. In the same passage Albert distinguishes 
the two cotyledons of the acorn, gropes after a botanical nomen- 
clature adequate to describe plant forms, and succeeds in giving 
a description which would convey some definite picture to one 
who had never seen the plant. We can at least say that in the 
hands of Albert botany has begun to move on th4 upward grade 
toward the level at which Theophrastus left it. 

Yet the scholastic movement, to the furthering of which 
Albert’s chief efforts were directed, was of its nature inimical to 
the first-hand study of plants and animals. The thunders of the 
contest between Nominalism and Realism might well drown the 
still small voice with which Nature calls for direct observation. 
The great scholastic centuries from the twelfth to the fifteenth 
are hardly more fertile than the previous period in botanical 
writing exhibiting any first-hand knowledge. In one department 
of intellectual activity, however, there was some clear revival of 
the spirit of the naturalist. The artistic spirit early showed its 
kinship with the scientific by the closeness with which some 
illuminators of manuscripts sought to imitate nature. The her- 
ba^um itself remained a fixed text unaltered from that inherited 
from the preceding age, but its illustration underwent a defimte 
development in the direction of increased naturalism. A close 
study of some of these beautiful works shows that the early 
printed herbals had predecessors, and that already in the thirteenth 
century the older merely stylistic method of plants was giving 
place to a real attempt to represent nature. 

To explain the development of illustration in the herbarium in 
the later mediaeval centuries some reference must be made to the 
mode in which these volumes were prepared. The text was usually 
written before the figures were inserted, and writing and illumina- 
tion were the work of different hands. Thus the figures are as 
a rule a little later and may occasionally be much later than the 
text. Sometimes the provenance of the model can be determined 
from an examination of the figmres. Thus in one of the figures 
from the Anglo-Saxon herbarium of about the year 1000, the plant 
representing the henbane, or to call it by its earlier English name, 
hennehelUf is not our familiar Hyoscyanrns niger but Hyoscyamiis 



reticulatvSf a Mediterranean form not found in this country 
(Plate xvi). The illustrator must have had an herbarium of a far 
southern tradition before him from which he copied his figures. 
Another proof of the way these plant illustrations were copied has 
been afforded by Fig. 31, which shows the mythical piandrake with 
its roots shaped in human form. The form on the left is traced 
from a manuscript prepared in southern Italy, that on the right 
from a manuscript made in England in the twelfth. The English 
figure is clearly based on an Italian original. 

Now it must be remembered that those who used these herbaria 
had no idea of plant distribution. The conception that fiora had 
local peculiarities had been familiar enough to Aristotle and Theo- 
phrastus, and traces of it can be found in Pliny and Dioscorides, 
but the idea had been almost lost in the Middle Ages and remained 
obscured until revived by Euricius Cordus. When the scribe 
copied his text he was accustomed to leave a space of a particular 
size and shape into which the illustrator could then fit his figure, 
and many herba’s have come down to us in which the illustrator 
lias either not completed or not begun liis work, so that these 
spaces remain blank. The gaps might be filled in later, some- 
times centuries later, according as the owner of the book 
had the talent or the financial resources at his disposal. Some- 
times the original model was not available when the later 
figures were inserted, so that these do not fit the sjiaces left 
for them. 

Such figures of plants were usually copied from earlier figures 
and therefore became further removed from nature at each stage. 
But the degradation of the copied herbarium had its limits, and 
those limits were reached when the figures had s?o utterly deterio- 
rated that no semblance to an indigenous plant could be discerned 
by the native scribe or owner of the book. At this jioint it was 
necessary to return to nature and to give some impression of a real 
and local plant, though not necessarily that originally intended 
]by the author of the text. The point of lowest illustrational 
degradation appears to have been generally passed with the full 
developvnent of the Romanesque manner at the end of the twelfth 
or the beginning of the thirteenth century, and from this period 
we can trace the rise towards modern botany. But individual 
instances can be adduced of the onset of the change at an even 
earlier date and there are figures of plants of the first half of the 
twelfth century which show a definite upward tendency (Bod ley 


130, Plates v, xv, and xxm). The movement was continuous 
and in manuscripts of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries we 
can distinguish beautiful attempts to imitate nature comparable 
in their degree to the work of the artists who employed their 
talents on grander schemes (Plate xi, especially margins). Such 
painters of plants as Leonardo da Vinci and Albrecht Durer had, 
therefore, their humbler craftsmen predecessors. 

These general statements require some modification, for not 
only did the naturalistic school of plant illustration produce good 
models in the twelfth century, as we have already shown, but 
also in the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth centuries, side by 
side with real artistic efforts, are still to be found the crudest 
and most wooden imitations of the outworn models. . So it is also 
with the earlier printed herbals. Some of these are mere repeti- 
tions of ancient diagrams, some are real attempts to represent plant 
life as it is, some are a mixture of the two types of illustration, 
and some contain illustrations wliich are themselves a mixture of 
the two types. The early printed herbals therefore present a stage 
of development that can be paralleled in the manuscripts, and it is 
thus perhaps unfortunate that historians of botany have usually 
elected to begin their accounts with these printed works. Botany 
is perhaps alone among the sciences in that it is possible to tell 
its history as an almost continuous tale, and the invention of 
printing introduces no specially new element into that tale nor 
does it mark an important period in it. 

Among the purely traditional pictures in the incunabula we 
may class that of the plantain from the Latin Herbasium printed 
at Rome in 1484, M'hich we can exactly parallel from an Italian 
manuscript of somewhat earlier date (Fig. 32, p. 72, and Plate xix). 
As a naturalistic representation we may place that of the wall- 
flower surrounded by dodder from the German version of the 
Hortus sanitatia of Mainz, 1485 (Fig. 34, p. 73), beside a figure of 
an Orobus from a herbarium written and illustrated in England 
early in the twelfth century (Plate v). As an intermediate form 
we may regard the plantain from the Latin Herbariua latinus of 
Mainz of 1484 (Fig. 33, p. 72) and compare it with the Anglo- 
Saxon effort of about 1000 on the one hand (Plate xvi) and the 
stereotyped thirteenth-century forms on the other (Fig. 32, p. 72). 
An instructive series is also provided by the plants henbane 
(Plates vm, xv, xvi and xix), Betonica (Plates v, xvn, and xxv), 
or Dracunculus (Plates xix, xxi, and xxii). 

fo. 66 V // rialolochia 

fo. 6o V /) rn c o 91 f c a ~ 

A M e cl i t c r r a 

f'jfWfWn .0»#y"s». 1*^1 
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/• c 1/ n r u I It s V u I go r i s 
can Species 



From the begitming of the sixteenth century the development 
of the Herbarium may be foUowed in several readily accessible 
works, and we need therefore pursue it no further.^ 

VI. The Botanical Results of Theophrastus compared 
WITH those of Early Modern Botanists 

(a) Nomenclature and Classification of Plants 

We may now return to glance at the botanical work of the 
Lyceum. If we would realize the course of ancient botany we 
must mentally sever two ideas which we have inherited in com- 
bination, viz. the description of plants and the system of classifica- 
tion of plants. Unlike investigators of- animal forms, botanists of 
the third and fourth centuries b. c. had not developed a system of 
classification. It is true that some would discern the idea of plant 
families in the descriptions of Theophrastus, but it is hardly 
possible to draw from his works a botanical table such as the 
zoological table that we have extracted from Aristotle. Still less 
shall we find in Theophrastus a definite technical nomenclature. 
Even Dioscorides who lived four hundred years later and whose 
names for plants still form the larger part of the popular English 
botanical vocabulary is scarcely more advanced in this respect. 

In the absence of any adequate nomenclature or classification 
the work of Theophrastus gives at first a confused impression. 
It is a descriptive treatise seldom illumined by the philosophic 
fiashes characteristic of the Aristotelian biological writings, and its 
author, unequipped with the exact terms with which we can now 
describe plants and parts of plants, seems to be working under 
insuperable disadvantages. Yet if we take trouble to comprehend 
his method we shall see that he has produced a very scientific 
and thorough piece of investigation. Not only are the descriptions 
almost always accurate and the, illustrations apposite, but the 
writer is unusually careful to distinguish his own observations 
from those which he has merely heard, and to separate hypotheses 
from the records of observations. In this respect Theophrastus 
is unequalled among Greek biologists. But his work, like all 
Greek biology, is marred by the almost complete absence of any 
account of the processes of investigation. Compared to a modern 

^ Agnes Arber, Herbala (Cambridge, 1912), and J. F. Payne, * The Herbarius 
and Horttts Sanitatis ' (TranaacHona of the Bibliographical JSoeietp, vL 63, London, 
1903). A. C. Klebs, * Herbals \ in Papera of the Bibliographical Society of America, 
zi, p. 75, Chicago, 1917. 


scientific work it is therefore but a fragment eontaining the 
conclusions only. 

Wc have said that Theophrastus has no system of classification. 
It would perhaps be better to say that he suggests many systems 
but that he has discovered no natural system, and is fully aware 
of this. Ho develops, however, several tentative methods of 
dividing the kinds of plants. The one which he found in practice 
most effective was a division into trees, shrubs, under-shrubs, and 
herbs. Other distinctions are the common popular divisions into 
wild and cultivated, flowering and flowcrless, fruit-bearing and 
fruitless, or again aquatic, terrestrial, marsh-living, and marine. 
In all this there is no effective and permanejit scheme of arranging 
plant forms, and this defect he shares with all the older botanical 

Yet the methods of arranging plants adopted by Theophrastus, 
im])erfect as they are, were hardly improved upon for nearly two 
millennia. In the illustrated manuscript herbals there is seldom 
any grouping of plants according to their structure. They are 
usually either in alphabetical order or placed according to their 
uses in healing or in some other artificial manner. In Dioscorides, 
however, plants arc roughly groujwd in some places according to 
their form, and occasionally he presents us with a series belonging 
to the same family, e.g. the Compositue, the Labiatae, or the 
Leguminome. The same tendency is also encoujitered in the fine 
Anglo-ISaxon Herbarium of about a. d. 1000 extracted from the 
Herbaria of Dioscorides and Apuleius. In this work there is 
a real grouping of Umbelliferous })lants, and in other respects 
there are traces of a rudimentary attempt at a system of classifica- 
tion. It is a point that does not perhaps appear so clearly from 
the printed text as in the manuscript itself, but there is every 
reason to suppose that such arrangement as exists cannot be 
placed to the credit of the Anglo-Saxon leech, but to the compiler 
of the work from which he was translating. 

In general it may be said that we encounter no real classifica- 
tion until towards the end of the sixteenth century. Among the 
sixteenth-century writers the tendency to grouj) plants according 
to their physical characteristics advanced only with extreme slow- 
ness. The herbal of Brunfels (1484-1634) that appeared in 1530 ^ 
is no more systematically aiTanged than Dioscorides, while that of 

* Otto Brunfels, Uerbarum vivae icones, 3 parts, Strasburg, 1530-40 ; also the 
Contrafayt KreiUerbuch, Strasburg, 1532 


Fuchs (1501-66) dated 1542* is merely alphabetical. Indeed the 
rudimentary classificatory method exhibited by Theophrastus is 
hardly attained even by the work of Bock ( = Tragus, 1498-1554) 
of 1546.* The herbal of Bock is divided into three parts, the first 
and second containing the smaller herbs, the third the slirubs and 
trees. In Bock’s work the feeling for relationshiji is confined 
to smaller groups as with Theophrastus, from whom indeed he 
inherits them. 

No satisfactory basis of classification was in fact forthcoming 
until the appearance of a description of a few plants in the 
Historiae Stirjnnm by Valerius Cordus (1515-44), published post- 
humously in 1561.“ Cordus was the first to suggest the structure 
of the flower as a basis of classification, but his work was largely 
disregarded until reprinted in the eighteenth century, embedded 
in the botanical writings of Conrad Gesner (1516-65),^ who had 
adopted and develoi)ed the views of Cordus. As regards pre- 
cedence of publication, the first modern botanist to attain even 
to the low classificatoiy level of Theophrastus was probably 
Charles de I’Ecluse (Clusius, 1526—1609), the books of whose 
Rariorum j)lanlaruni historia of 1576 * are divided to some extent 
according to the plants of which they treat, the first of trees, 
shrubs, and undershrubs, the next of bulbous plants, the third 
of scented flowers, the fourth of scentless flowers, the fifth of 
poisonous, narcotic, and acid plants, and the sixth of a group 
containing plants with milky juice, Umhelliferaey ferns, grasses, 
Leguminosae, and some Cryptogams. 

In do rObel (1538-1616) “ and Cesalpino (1519-1603) ’ we 
encounter at last two writers who have a jireponderating interest 
in the arrangement of plants according to their natural affinities. 
The primary divisions of de I’Obel are the traditional ones, trees, 
lierbs, &c., and Monocotyledons and Dicotyledons are dis- 

^ Leonhard Fuchs, De historia stirpium commentarii insignes, Basel, 1542. 

* Hieronymus Bock, Neto Kreutfer Buck, Strasburg, 1539 ; 2nd edition, 
witli figures, Strasburg, 154G. 

“ Valerius Cordus, In hoc volumine conlinentur Valerii Cordi Annotationes in 
Pedacii Dioscorides . . . eiusdem Val. Cordi hiatoriae stirpium. . , . Omnia Conr. 
Gesneri collecta, Strasburg, 1501. 

* Conrad Gesner, Opera botanica, 1751. 

® Charles de TEcluse, Bariorum aliquot stirpium per Hispaniaa ohserratarum 
Historia, Antwerp, 1576. 

® Mathias de I’Obel, Plantarum aeu stirpium historia, Antwerj), 1570. 

’ Andrea Cesalpino, De 2 ilantis, Florence, 1583. 


tinguished ' about as clearly as by^Theophrastus. • His system of 
classification, like much of Theophrastus, is largely based on 
leaf form, but he shows real advance in the synoptical tables 
that he constructed for the diagnons of plant forms. Many of 
these tables betray a knowledge of true natural relationsMps. 
Cesalpino brings us into another realm ; he pays much attention 
to the fruit, seed, and flower for purposes of classification, and 
distinguishes clearly though with insufficient emphasis between 
monocotyledons and dicotyledons. He has at last passed definitely 
beyond Theophrastus. 

In the absence of any adequate system of classification almost 
all botany until the seventeenth century consisted primarily and 
mainly of descriptions of species. To describe accurately a leaf or 
a root in the language in ordinary use would often take pages 
and overwhelm the reader by its bulk. Modem botanists have 
invented an elaborate terminology which, however hideous to eye 
and ear, has the crowning merit of helping to abbreviate scientific 
literature. Botanical writers previous to the seventeenth century 
w«re substantially without this special mode of expression. It 
is partly to this lack that we owe the persistent attempts through- 
out the centuries to represent plants pictorially in herbals, manu- 
script and printed, and thus the possibility of an adequate history 
of plant illustration. 

Theophrastus seems to have felt acutely the need of botmiical 
terms, and there are cases in which he ^eeks to give a special 
technical meaning to words in more or less current use. Among 
such words are carj^— fruit, pericarpi<m=B&&A. vessel— pericarp, 
and metra, the word used by him for the central core of any 
stem whether formed of wood, pith, or any other substance. 
Thus he speaks of * the seed belonging to the carpoa (fruit) : by 
carpoa is meant the seeds bound together with the pericarpwn 
(seed-vessel) It is from the usage of Theophrastus that the 
exact scienrific definition of fruit and pericarp has come down 
to U8.‘ We may easily discern also the purpose for which he 
introduces the term me^m, a word meaning primarily the toonA^ 
into botsmy and the vacancy in the Greek language which it 

* Historia plarUarum, i. 2, i. 

* Though it is possible that Theophrastus derived it from Aristotle. Cp. De 
AninHa, ii. 1, 412** 2. In the passage to ^vXXov ir€f»Kapiriov vititnur/M, r6 Si ircpt* 
KapnrMv Kapmv in the De Anima the word does not, however, seem to have the 
full technical force that Theophrastus gives to it. 


Apuleius, printed Rome. 1483, from metal (?) blocks by 

O. Brunfels, Hcrbantm Vivae leones, Vol. Ill, p. 131 Li<ynamine 

Strasburg, 1536 


MS. Bodley 130 written in St. Ai.hans 1120 

• C 

ctrb«r crilbcaiiCLS ^ 
ftnrc: coLoiaT < zairei 

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fo. 5 5 1 C R I S O C. I N T U \ V\G=^\\!Y ( I' 1 o \v e r i n jr fo r in) 



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jb act .42;ppna^ 

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luptaponii- vHubuv ftun^v.' v 

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tnmno fiiE* _ 

0 daa. Al 

inwr' VniTbiaSKlicuC 

fcbrr fiuerti? vaejua- cctl-ibo-* aivnbania;MTmo lg~ajr»ofife>tr> 
7>oc{actcr tuna, tjtmx *>ecxTn,x * ^Hjj^ 

Tr***^^ cbcrc Tubyc fit? 

lr> crt*a,ed«s*, etmTu><nro^Z^^^Ml\ai^^^in»pu^ft^ 

Tmre- forico^. 

01»crc- colora Tfu-nbo^* 

Trualir ole cmcnb.4Z7. - — ^|p 

Gdc/'c. fit? mun cu. tamo Mmebecun 

tnotLtffitne wfvrxctx. dx^kBoao ^rrolk^HBtid dducr^MtaT uiiiraa 
dolA^ Hoi 114 lanicu'r wire 

ad ^ducr^RYC amem 

fo. 55 I 6 '>\S'.SOA^= A/)A'AV^ = YVYIi:=IVY (Climbing form) 



was made to filL Meira'^y he says» Ms that which forms the 
middle of the wood, bemg third in order from the bark and 
oorrespmxding to tiie marrow in bones. Some call this part the 
cardidn (heart), others call it the erolsrtonen (inside), otheirs again 
call only the inner part of the metra itself the cardian^ while 
others distinguish this as marrow.’ ' He is clearly inventing 
a word to coyer all the different kinds of core and importing it 
from another study. This is the method of modem scientific 
nomenclature which hardly existed for the sixteenth-century 
botanists. The real foundations of our modem nomenclature 
were laid in the later sixteenth and in the seventeenth century 
by Cesalpino and Joachim Jung. 

(6) Oeneratixm and DewdoptnerU of Plants 

Theophrastus understood the value of developmental study, 
a conception that he must have derived from his master Aristotle. 
* A plant *, he says, * has power of germination in all its parts for 
it has life in all its parts, wherefore we should regard them not 
for what they are but for what they are becoming.’ ‘ The various 
modes of plant reproduction are correctly distinguished as they 
would be by any farmer. *The ways in which trees and plants 
in general originate are these: spontaneous growth, growth from 
a seed, from a root, from a piece tom off, from a branch 
or twig, from the trank itself ; or again from small pieces into 
which the wood is cut up.’ ’ The spontaneous origin of living 
things was taken for granted by Aristotle and was hardly ques- 
tioned until the sixteenth century, when, in a fiash of genius, 
Eracastor (1478 ?— 1963) suggested that the supposed spontcuaeous 
generation was really a process arising from undiscovered seeds ; * 
the suggestion did not gain demonstration until the experiments 
of Redi (1626-94) in the seventeenth century.* It is therefore 
the more interesting to find an inkling of this idea in the mind 
of Theophrastus. * Of these methods ’, by which plants originate, 
he says, * spontaneous growth comes first, one may say, but 
growth from seed or root would seem most natural ; indeed 

^ HittoHa pkmtarum, i. 2, vi. 

* HUtoria pUmtarvm, i. 1, iv. * Hittoria planiarum, ii. 1, i. 

* GHndamo SVaoastoro, De eontagionibus et eontagiogis morbis, Venice, 1646. 
See also Cibarlee and Dorothea Singer, * The Scientific Poeitieo of Gizvdamo 
Fracaatoro,* AnnaJs of Medical History, i. New York, 1917. 

* fVanceaco Redi, Experimemta circa generaiionem inaeetorum, Amsterdam, 



theae methods too may he called spontaneom ; wherefore they are 
found even in wild kinds, while the remaining methods depend 
on human skill or at least on human choice.* ^ 

There arc other passages in which Theophrastus expresses 
some doubts as to the existence of spontaneous generation.^ He 
quotes the view of Anaxagoras (c. 460 b. o.) who thought that 
the air contained seeds {a-rrtpiiaTa) of all the things, plants among 
them, that make up the visible universe, and contrasts this theorj' 
with that of other philosophers who held that plants and animals 
were generated de novo from special combinations of the elements, 
and then he observes that ‘ this kind of generation is somehow 
beyond the ken of our senses. There are other admitted and 
observ^able kinds, as when a river in flood gets over its banks . . . 
and in so doing causes a growth of forest in that region that by 
the third year casts a thick shade ’, an event which he assures 
ns took place at Abdera. The same results may be brought about 
by heavy rains. 

‘ Now, as the flooding of a river, it would appear, conveys 
seeds of fruits of trees ... so heavy rain acts in the same way ; 
for it brings down many of the seeds with it, and at the same time 
causes a sort of decomposition of the earth and the water. In 
fact the mere mixture of earth with water in Egypt seems to 
produce a kind of v^egetation. And in some places, if the ground 
is merely lightly worked and stirred, the plants native to the district 
immediately spring up.’ “ 

The process of germination of seeds is one that must have 
awakened admiration from a very early date. Even the Egyp- 
tians, a people by no means observant of the miniite phenomena 
of i)lant life, were struck by it, and in a bas-relief, put up to 
record one of the Syrian expeditions of Tethmosis III (about 
1.600 B.C.), we may discern a series of figures illustrating the develop- 
ment of seedlings (Fig. 37). It is thus by no means remarkable that 
the process should have impressed Theophrastus, who has left on 
record his views on the formation of the plant from the seed. 

‘ in germinating some of these plants produce their root and 
their leaves from the same point, some separately from either end 
of the seed. Wheat, barley, spelt, and in general all the cereals 
produce them from either end, in a manner corresponding to the 

^ Huiioria plantarum, ii. 1, i. 

* Theophrastus seems, nevertheless, to accept fully the doctrine of spon- 
taneous generation in the De cauaia plantarum, i. 2. 

® Hiatoria planfartim. iii. 1, v. 

caM-7 nnpoiica 



point < 

poaitkMn of the seed in the ear, the root growing fropi the stout 
lower ^part, the shoot from the upper part ; but the part oorre- 
spsn^hng to the root and that oorresponding to tiie stem fmm 
■tk single continuous whole. Beans and other leguminous plmits 
do not grow in the same manner, but they produce the root and 
th^. stem from the same point, namely, the point at which the 
se^ is' attached to the po^ which, it is plain, is a sort of starting* 
>int of fresh growth. In some oases there is a process, as in 
chick peas, and especially lupines, from which the root 
grows downwards, the leaf and stem upwards. 

* There are then these different wa^ of germinating ; but 
a point in which all these plants agree m that they all send out 

: their roots at the place where 
the seed is attached to the 
pod or ear, whereas the con* 
trazy is the case with the 
seeds of certain trees, as 
almond, hazel, acorn, and 
the like. . . . In certain trees 
the bud first begins to grow 
within the seed itself, and, 
as it increases in size, the 
seeds split — for all such 
seeds are in a manner in 
two halves ; and those of 
l^^minous plants again all plainly have two valves and are double 
— and then the root is immediately thrust out ; but in cereals, 
since the seeds are in one piece, this does not occur but the root 
grows a little before the bud. 

* Barley and wheat come up with a single leaf, but peas, 
beans, and chick peas with severaL All the leguminous plants 
have a single woody root, and also slender side roots springing 
from this . . . but wheat, barley, and the other cereals have 
a number of ^e roots whereof they are matted together. . . . 
And there is a sort of contrast between these two classes ; the 
leguminous plants which have a single root, have many side- 
growths above from the stem . . . while the cereals which have 
many rcpts, send up many shoots, but these have no side- 
shoots.* ‘ 



Fko. 87. Seedlin^i from the ' Syrien Geiden ’ of 
Tethmoeis III (ebont 1600 b.o.) et Kunek.' 

There can be no doubt that this is a piece of first-hand and 
minute observation of the behaviour of germinating seedt. The 
distinction between dicotyledons mid monocofyledons is accurately 

^eee teaoiiigs were made from photographs kindly taken for the purpose 
by Captain Engelheart of the Department of Antiquities of tiie Egyptian Govern' 
ment. Cf. also Muiette-Bey’s Kamak, Ltipsig, 1875, PI. zzzi. 

' Hittoria pknUofum, vili. 1, i. 

*8»i o 


set forth, though the stress is laid not so much on the cotyledonous 
character of the seed as on the relation of root and shoot. In the 
dicotyledons the root and shoot are represented as springing from 
the same point and in the monocotyledons from opposite x)oles 
in the seed. 

No effective work was done on the germinating seed until the 
invention of the microscope, and the appearance of the work of 
Highmore (1613-85) ^ (Fig. 38), and the much more searching 
investigations of Malpighi (1628—94) ‘ (Figs. 42 and 43) and Grew 
(1641-1712) ® after the middle of the seventeenth century. The 
observations of Theophrastus are, however, so accimate, so lucid, 
and so complete that they might well be used as legends for the 
plates of these writers two thousand years after him. 

Much has been written as to the knowledge of the sex of 
plants among the ancients. It may be stated that of the sexual 
elements of the flower no ancient writer had any clear idea. 
Nevertheless, sex is often attributed to plants, and the simile of 
the Loves of Plants enters into works of several of the poets, 
agricultural authors, and writers of fiction. Among these Achilles 
Tatius, the fifth-century author of the romance The Adventures 
of Leucippe and Clitophony offers a good example. 

‘ Plants ’, we there read, * fall in love with one another and 
the palm is particularly susceptible. ... If the female be planted 
at any considerable distance, the loving male begins to wither 
away. The gardener realizes what is the cause of the tree’s grief, 
goes to some slight eminence in the ground, and observes in which 
direction it is drooping (for it always inclines towards the object 
of its passion) . . . ’ Then ‘ he takes a shoot of the female palm 
and grafts it into the very heart of the male. This refreshes the 
tree’s spirit, and the trunk, which seemed on the point of death, 
revives and gains new vigour in joy at the embrace of the beloved ; 
it is a kind of vegetable marriage.’ * 

Plants are frequently described as male and female in ancient 
biological writings, and Pliny goes so far as to say that some 
considered all herbs and trees were sexual.^ Yet when such 
passages can be tested it will be found that these so-called males 
and females are usually different species. In a few cases a sterile 

^ Nathaniel Highmore, A History of Generation, London, 1651. 

’ Marcello Malpighi, Anatome plantaram, London, 1675. 

’ Nehemiah Grew, Anatomy of Vegetables begun, London. 1672. 

* Achilles Tatius, i. 17. ^ Pliny, Naturalis historia, xiii. 4. 



variety is described as the male and a fertile as the female.^ In 
a small residuum of^cases dioecious plants are regarded as male 
and female, but with no real comprehension of the sexual nature 
of the flowers. There remains a minute group, which cannot be 
extendi beyond the palms, in which the knowledge of plant sex 
had advanced a trifle further. 

Fia. 38. GERMINATION OP SEEDS. From Nathaniel Highmore’s 
History of Generation^ liondon, 1651, 

‘ The llrst figure, of the first Table, shews the Kidny Bean opened ; in which is a little 
crooked leaf folded up, which being displayed, shews itself, as in the second ; tind when, 
being set, it arises above ground, it is such a Plant as the third shews, with the very same 
leaves and no other. 

‘ The second figure shews a Colewort seed : the first shews both leaves, with the stalk 
folded up, as they lie in the husk of the seed : the second shews it come up out of the ground. 

The Third Figure hath the small gerinen of an Ash ; lying with his two leaves in the 
kernel of an Ash, both in the husk inclosing them. The second shews him sprung up above the 
Earth, at his first coming abroad. 

‘ The fourth delineates the yoimg germen of the Pease in the midst of the grain, and its 
breaking forth. 

^ The fifth shews the young Plant in the midst of the Bean : with the manner of his 
putting forth, with the same leaves displayed in the third, which are wrapt up in the first 
and second. • 

* The sixth Figure displayes the young Maple wrapt up in his husk ; and how he lies, as 
in the first : The second shews him a little unfolded, when it is taken out of the husk. The 
third shews him gotten from his shell, and the surface of the Earth.' 

‘ Common to all trees *, Theophrastus tells us, ‘ is that by 
which men distinguish the “ male ” and the “ female ”, the latter 
being fruit-bearing, the former barren in some kinds. In those 

^ A good collection of references to plant loves and plant sexes in classical 
'writings can be found in B. J. Thornton’s sumptuous Neu) illustrations the 
sexual of Carolus von Linnaeus, London, 1807. 

a 2 



kinds in which both forms are fruit-bearing, the “ female ” has 
fairer and more abundant fruit, however, some call these the 
“ male ” trees — ^for there are those who actually thus invert the 
names. This difference is of the same character as that which 
distinguishes the cultivated from the wild tree.’ * The description 

by Theophrastus of the fertilization of the date palm is, however, 
quite clear. ‘ With dates it is helpful to bring the male to the 
female ; for it is the male which causes the fruit to persist and 
ripen, and this process some call by analogy (!) the use of the 
toild fruit. The process is thus performed ; when the male palm 
is in flower they at once cut off the spathe on which the flower 
is, just as it is, and shake the bloom with the flower and the dust 
over the fruit of the female, and, if this is done to it, it retains 
the fruit and does not shed it.’ * The fertilizing character of the 
spathe of the male date palm was familiar in Babylon from 
a very early date, and is represented by a frequent symbol on 
the monuments in which a divine figure is represented as holding 

^ Uiatoria platUarum, iii. 8, i. • Uiatoria plantarum, ii. 8, iv. 


the male inflorescence of the palm and fertilizing the female tree 
by shaking it (Figs. 39, 40, and 41). 

The description of caprification by Theophrastus may here be 
appropriately related. He tells us that there are certain trees, 
the fig among them, ‘ which are apt to shed their fruit prematurely 
and remedies are sought for this. In the case of the fig the device 
adopted is caprification. Gall insects come out of the wild 

Fig. 41. Assur-nasir-pal, King of Assyria, about 885-860 B.C., with winged attendants 
holding male inflorescence of dato palm, performing oeremony of fertilisation before con- 
ventionalized tree. Above is the symbol of the god Assur. From a bas-rdief on the walls of 
the palace of Assur- nasir- pal, discovered at Calah (NimrAd), now in the British Museum. 

figs which are lianging there, eat the tops of the cultivated figs, 
and so make them swell’.* These gall-insects ‘are engendered 
from the seeds. The proof given of this is that, when they come 
out, there are no seeds left in the fruit ; and most of them in 
coming out leave a leg or wing behind. ... A fig which has been 
subject to caprification is known by being red and parti-coloured 
and stout, while one which has not been so treated is pale and 
sickly *.*• That Theophrastus had no idea whatever of the true 
nature of this caprification he shows a little farther on by observing 
that ‘ in the case both of the fig and of the date it appears that 
the “ male ” renders aid to the “ female ” — ^for the fruit-bearing 
tree is called female — ^but whilst in the case of the fig there is 
a union of the two sexes, in the case of the palm the result is 
brought about somewhat differently 

^ Hiatoria pkmtarum, ii. 8, i. * Hiatoria planiarum, ii. 8, ii. 

’ Hiatoria pikmtarvm, ii. 8, iv. 



It is interesting to observe that Herodotus (about 500 b. c.), 
describing the fertilization of the date palm in Babylon, compares 
the process with that of the fig. ‘ The people of Babylon says 
Herodotus, ‘ have date-palms growing over all the plain, most of 
them fruit-bearing, and to these they attend in the same manner 
as to fig-trees, and in particular they take the fruit of those palms 
which the Hellenes call male-palms, and tie them upon the date- 
bearing palms, so that their gall-fly may enter into the date and 
ripen it and that the fruit of the palm may not fall off ; for the 
male palm produces gall-flies in its fruit just as the wild fig does.* ^ 
Neither Theophrastus nor any ancient author ever saw the 
flowers of the fig. These were first distinguished by the youthful 
botanical genius Valerius Cordus in the first half of the sixteenth 

(c) Form and Strttclure of Plants 

Theophrastus was not successful in distinguishing the nature 
of the primary elements of plants, though he was able to separate 
root, stem, leaf, stipule, and flower on morphological as well as 
to a limited extent on physiological grounds. For the root he 
adopts the familiar definition, the only one possible before the 
rise of chemistry, that it ‘is that by which the plant draws up 
nourishment *,® but he shows by many examples that he is capable 
of following out its morphological homologies. Thus he knows 
that the ivy regularly puts forth roots from the shoots between 
the leaves, by means of which it gets hold of trees and walls,* 
that the mistletoe will not sprout except on the bark of living 
trees into which it strikes its roots, and that the very peculiar 
formation of the banyan tree is to be explained by the fact that 
‘ this plant sends out roots from the shoots till it has hold on 
the ground and roots again : and so there comes to be a continuous 
circle of roots round the tree, not connected with the main stem 
but at a distance from it He did not succeed, however, in 
distinguishing the real nature of such structures as bulbs, rhizomes, 
and tubers, but regards them all tts roots. Nor was he more 
successful in his discussion of the nature of stems. 

^ Herodotus, i. 493. 

* The passage in Valerius Cordus in which the flowers of. the flg are described 
presents certain difficulties. It is discussed by E. L. Greene, Landmarks of 
Botanical History, Washington, 1009, p. 292. 

’ Histoiia plantarum, i. 1, iz. * Historia flantarum, iii. 18, x. 

“ De eausis plantarum, ii. 23. 



As to leaves he is more definite and satisfactory though 
wholly in the dark as to their function. In speaking of them he 
is especially handicapped by the absence of a botanical nomen- 
clature, so that his descriptions are seldom more than comparisons 
to well-known objects. ‘ Leaves he says, ‘ differ in their shape, 
some are round, as those of pear, some rather oblong, as those of 
apple ; some come to a sharp point and have spinous projections 
at the side, as those of smilax . . . some are divided and like a saw, 
as those of silver fir and of ferns. To a certain extent those of 
the vine are also divided, while those of the fig one might compare 
to a crow’s foot. Some leaves again have notches, as those of 
elm, filbert, and oak, others have spinous projections both at the 
tip and at the edges, as those of kermes-oak, oak, smilax, bramble, 
Paliouros [Christ’s thorn], and others. . . . Again there is the differ- 
ence that some leaves have no leaf-stalk, as those of squill and 
purse-tassels, while others haye a leaf -stalk. . . ^ He was well on 

the way, however, towards arriving at a correct idea of the nature 
of certain pinnate leaves. Thus of the mountain ash he says that 
‘ the leaves^ grow attached to a long fibrous stalk, and project on 
each side in a row, like the feathers of a bird’s wing, the whole 
forming a single leaf but being divided *into lobes with divisions 
which extend to the rib ; but each pair are some distance apart, 
and when the leaves fall, these divisions do not drop separately 
but the whole wing-like structure drops at once.’ * Again of the 
elder, ‘ the leaf is composed of leaflets growing about a single 
thick fibrous stalk to which they are attached at either side in 
pairs* at each joint ; and they are separate from one another, 
while one is attached to the tip of the stalk and of the Tere- 
binth, ‘ the leaf is made up of a number of leaflets, like bay leaves, 
attached in pairs to a single leaf-stalk. So far it resembles the 
leaf of the [mountain ash], there is also the extra leaflet at the 
tip, but the leaf is more angular than that of the [mountain ash] 
and the edge resembles more the leaf of the bay ’.* These passages 
on the nature of pinnate leaves are the more remarkable when 
we recall that they remained neglected until similar distinctions 
and observations were published by Johann Vaget in 1678 in his 
edition of the work of his master Joachim Jung (1587-1657).^ 

* Hiaioria planiamm, i. 10» v, vi and vii. 

‘ Histaria plantarum^ iii. 12, vi. ^ Historia plantarum, iii. 13, v. 

^ Historia planiarum^ iii. 15, iii. 

^ Joachim Jung, Isagoge phytoacopica^ Hamburg, 1678. 



111 sjiitc of his frequent use of the terms ‘ male and female ’ 
as applied to plants, Theophrastus, as we have already said, had 
no correct idea of the nature of sex in flowers. His description 
of flowers is tlius almost entirely morphological. ‘ Some flowers 
lie says, ‘ are hair-like, as that of the vine . . . some are “ leafy ” 
as in almond, afiple, peai‘, plum. Again some of these flowers 
are conspicuous, while that of the olive, though it is “ leafy ”, is 
inconspicuous ’. The flowers of annuals are usually, he says, ‘ two 
coloured and twofold. I mean by twofold that the plant has 
another flower inside the flower in the middle, as with rose, lily, 
violet. Some flowers again consist of a single leaf, [i.e. are gamo- 
petalous or sepalous], having merely an indication of more, as 
that of bindweed. For in the flower of this the separate leaves 
are not distinct ; nor is it so in the lower part of the narcissus, 
but there are angular }»rojections from the edges. . . ^ 

Notwithstanding his laiik of insight as to the nature of sex 
in flowers, he attained to an apjiroximately correct idea of the 
relation of flower and fruit. ‘ Some plants he says, ‘ have the 
flower close above the fruit as vine and olive ; in the latter, when 
tlu' flowers <lro]) off, they are seen to have a hole through them, 
and this men take for a sign whether the tree has blossomed well ; 
for if the flower is burnt up or sodden, it sheds the fruit along 
with itself, and so there is no hole through it. The majority of 
flowers have the fruit case in tlie middle of them, or it may be 

• tk' 

the flower is on the top of tlu? fruit (?ase .as in pomegranate, appk?, 
pear, plum, and myrth* . . . for these have their seeds below, 
beneath the flower, and this is obvious in the rose because 
of till* size of the seed vessel. In some cases again the flower is 
on to|) of the actual seeds as in j)ine, thistle, safflower, and all 
thistle-like plants. . . . In some other plants the attachment is 
peculiar as in ivy and mulberry, and in these the flower is closely 
attached to the whole fruit-case.’ “ Thus Theophrastus, while 
never finally defining a flower, really comes gradually to abandon 
his first suggestion that a flower is but a whorl of specially coloured 
k?a\ es, aiul almost comes to regard as the essential floral element 
its relation to the fruit. He has, moreover, succeeded in dis- 
tinguishing between the hypogynous, j)erigynous, and epigynous 
types of flowers. 

in spite of the discoveries of N'alerius Cordus and the use of 
flow’^ers for classification by tie rOl>el and by Cesalpino in the 

‘ IliMoria planlftrinn, i. 13, ii. - Historin phintannn. i. 13, iii. 


Bixteenth century, the sexual character of flowers remained very 
obsejore for a hundred years after their time. Grew (1641—1712) 
in 1682 distinguished the stamens, or attire as he called them, from 
the outer floral whorls. He watched the anthers or semets bursting 
and scattering their pollen. Grew almost ignores the pistil, but 
‘ in discourse with our learned Savilian Professor 8ir Thomas 
Millington, he told me, he conceived. That the Attire doth serve, 
as the Maley for the Generation of the Seed. I immediately reply’d. 
That I was of the same opinion and gave him some reasons for 
it. . . . But withall, in regard every Plant is Male and Female, 
that I was also of opinion. That it serveth for the Separation of 
some Parte as well as the Ajfnsion of others Ray (1627—1705) 
spoke in somewhat similar indefinite terms,- and the sexual 
character of flowers was only cleared uj) by the work of Jacob 
Camerarius (1665-1721) in the last decade of the seventeenth 

(d) Habits and Distribution of Plants 
Thtjophrastus had a pcrfetdly clear idea of plant distribution 
as dependent on soil and climate. ‘ Differences in situation and 
climate, he says, affect the result. In some places, as at Philippi, 
the soil seems to produce plants which resemble their parent ; on 
the other hand a few kinds in some few places seem to undergo 
a change, so that wild seed gives a cultivated form, or a poor 
form one actually better.’ ■* These changes he acutely contrasts 
to the metamorphoses of animals. 

‘ In pot-herbs ’, he says, ‘ change is produced by cultivation ; 
for instance, they say that if celery seed is trodden and rolled in 
after sowing, it comes up curly ; it also varies from change of 
soil, like other things. ... It would seem more surprising if such 
changes occurred in animals naturally and frequently ; some 
animals do indeed seem to change according to the seasons, for 
instance, the haw'k, the hoopoe, and other similar birds. . . . Most 
obvious are certain changes in regard to the way in which animals 
are produced, and such changes run through a series of creatures ; 
thus a caterpillar changes into a chrysalis, and this in turn into 
the perfect insect. . . . But there is hardly anything abnormal 
in this, nor is the change in plants, which is the subject of our 
inquiry, analogous to it. That kind of change occurs in trees and 

^ Nehemiah Grew, The Anatomy oj Plants, London, 1682, p. 171. 

® John Kay, The Wisdom of God manifested in the Works of the Creation, 
London, 1691. 

® R. J. Camerarius, Ephern. Leopold. Carol. Acad., 1691, and De sexu ptantarum 
epistola, Tiibingeu, 1694. * Historia ptantarum, ii. 2, vii. 



in all woodland plants generally, as was said before, and its effect 
is that when a chiuige of the required character occurs in the 
climatic conditions, a spontaneous change in the way of growth 
ensues.’ ^ 

He is very clear as to the difference between the vegetation 
of mountain and plain, and gives formal lists to illustrate it.* 

* Again the character of the position makes a great difference 
as to fruit-bearing. The peraea of Egypt bears fruit . . . but in 
Rhodes it only gets as far as flowering. The date-palm in the 
neighbourhood of Babylon is marvellously fruitful ; in Hellas it 
does not even ripen its fruit, and in some places it does not even 
produce any.* ‘ That each tree seeks an appropriate position 
and climate is plain from the fact that some districts bear some 
trees but not others ; the latter do not grow there of their own 
accord, nor can they easily be made to grow, and that even if 
they obtain a hold, they do not bear fruit. . . . Thus in Egypt 
there are a number of trees which are peculiar to that country, 
the sycamore, the tree called peraea . . . and some others. Now 
the sycamore to a certain extent resembles the tree whieh bears 
that name in our country. Its leaf is similar, its size, and its 
general appearance ; but it bears its fruit in a quite peculiar 
manner . . . not on the shoots or branches, but on the stem ; in 
size it is as large as a fig.* * 

At times Theophrastus seems to be on the point of passing 
from a statement of climatic distribution into one of real geo- 
graphical regions. Thus : 

* Among the plants that grow in Arabia, Syria, and India the 
aromatic plants are somewhat exceptional and distinct from the 
plants of other lands ; for instance, frankincense, myrrh, cassia, 
balsam of Mecca, cinnamon, and all other such plants. ... So in 
the parts towards the East and South there are these special 
plants and many others besides. 

* In the northern regions it is not so, for nothing worthy of 
record is mentioned except the ordinary trees which love the cold 
and are found in our country.* * 

The general question of plant distribution long remained at, 
if it did not recede from, the position where Theophrastus left it. 
The usefulness of the manuscript and early printed herbals was 
marred by the retention of plant descriptions prepared for the 
Greek East or Latin South, and these works were saved from 
complete ineffectiveness only by an occasional appeal to nature. 

^ Hi^oria plantarum, ii. 4, vi. and vii. * HUtoria pUiiUarum,^. 1, i. 

* HiHoria plantarum, iii. 3, v. * Hutoria plantantm, iv. 1, v. 




Euricus Cordus (1486-1535) was perhaps the first to realize that 
there was only a general and not a specific correspondence between 
the plants of middle Europe and those of the Mediterranean region 
known to Dioscorides. With the extension of travel in the prepara> 
tion of works on exotic botany such as those of Oviedo, Clusius 
and Acosta, this point gradually came into clearer view, but the 
conception of botanical regions was a very slow growth. 

Theophrastus does not abandon the doctrine of plant meta- 
morphosis and he applies this view especially to the transformation 
of com into tares. ‘ They say *, he says, ‘ that wheat and barley 
change into darnel, and especially wheat ; and that this occurs 
with heavy rains and especially in well watered and rainy districts.’ 
1^ is a fact that in damp fields the Lolium is Uablo to spring up, 
ai I this event, it is said, is still held by farmers to be of the 
nature of a metamorphosis. Theophrastus, though he does not 
deny that this is a metamorphic process, expresses his doubts. 
* That darnel he says, ‘ is not a plant of the spring Uke others 
(for some endeavour to make this out) is clear from the following 
consideration : it springs up and becomes noticeable directly winter 
comes ; and it is distinguished in many ways ; the foliage is narrow, 
abundant, and glossy.’ ^ 

In the case of the Loliiim Theophrastus rightly expresses his 
disbelief in a dimorphism or transformation that we now know 
does not exist. There is another case in which a plant exhibits two 
stages of development that were almost invariably regarded by the 
ancients as separate species. The habit of the ivy is to develop 
a climbing shoot well provided with rootlets which hold it to its 
support. The climbing shoot is beset with dark angular foliage. 
After reaching the top of the object on which it is climbing there sets 
in an extensive production of free terminal branches bearing some- 
what paler and larger ovate leaves. On these terminal twigs the 
fiowers are bom, and often the production of the terminal growth 
becomes so extensive as to conceal the climbing portion. In ancient 
times, as in the Middle Ages and indeed into quite modern times, 
these two stages in the development of the ivy were regarded 
as two species (Plate xxiii). The climbing plant was named by 
the Greek hdix and the bushy terminal growth cittus or chrysa- 
canthus. Theophrastus, however, ventures to traverse this view. 

‘The helix', he says, ‘presents . . . differences in the leaves, 
which are small, angular, and of more graceful proportions, while 

‘ Hisloria plantarum, viii. 7, i. 


those of the cittus are rounder and simple ; there is also differ- 
ence in the length of the twigs, and further in the fact that 
this tree is barren. For as to the view that the helix by natural 
development turns into the cittus some assert that this is not so, 
the only true ivy according to these being that which was ivy 
from the first ; whereas if, as some say, the helix invariably turns 
into [cittus], the difference would be merely one of age and con- 
dition and not of kind.’ * 

We may terminate our discussion with a summary of the 
botanical position of Theophrastus : 

1. He distinguished the external organs of plants, naming 
them iji regular sequence from root to fruit, and attained in many 
cases to a really philosophical distinction. 

2. He definitely set forth the leaf homology of the perianth 
members of flowers but attained to no real knowledge of their 
sexual nature. 

3. He established the first rudiments of a botanical nomen- 

4. He watched the development of seeds and was able to some 
extent to distinguish between dicotyledons and monocotyledons. 

5. He established a relationship between structure and habits 
and approaches the conception of geographical distribution. 

6. He saw the need for a general classification of plants and 
made some attempt at a system though he failed to produce one 
which was in fact workable. 

7. He perceived a general relation between structure and 
function in plants, and thus laid the basis of scientific botany. 

Note. — I have to thank many friends for much kind help 
during the preparation of this essay. 

Mrs. Agnes Arbcr and Professor D’Arcy Thompson read the 
work in manuscript and made a number of corrections and 

Professor Sudhoff has most generously handed over to me 
a large collection of ])hotographs of early herbals which must 
have taken years to put together. It is a source of great regret 
to me that these photographs reached me too late for full use in 
illustration of my text. I have, however, been able to include 
figures of the Leyden Apuleius and it is a pleasure to me to 

^ Historia plantarum, iii. IS. vii. 


acknowledge that f owe my acquaintance with that iinpoHant 
document and many others, including the frontispiece of this 
book, entirely to his good offices. In a later publication 1 hope 
to display more fully the rich vein of treasure which the generosity 
of this eminent scholar has placed at my disposal. 

I am grateful to Mr. Hem-y Balfour, Dr. A, H. Ghurch, Pro- 
fessor F. J. Cole, Professor Clifford Dobell, Dr. Olaridge Druce, 
Professors Ernest and Percy Gardner, Mr. E. A. Lowe, Mr. Eric 
Maclagan, Mr. F. S. Marvin, Professor F. W. Oliver, Mr. i\ Tate 
Regan, Mr. R. R. Steele, and Dr. W. J. Tiirrell for a number of 
suggestions that they have made. 

For the loan of the blocks of Plates vi and vii illustrating the 
Julia Anicia MS. 1 liave to thank Mrs. Arber and the ( *ambridge 
University Press. Plate xviii of the Phillipps Dioscorides is from 
photographs taken for me by Mr. E. A. Lowe byfkind ])ermission 
of the then owner, Mr. Fitzroy Fenwick. The Paris Bibliotheque 
nationale MSS. lat. 6862 and gr. 2179 were examined for me l)y 
Miss A. Anderson who has heli)ed me also with many details 
of the work. Miss U Hugon has redrawn many of tin? text 
figures and has been of great assistance in tins pr(‘]»aration of 
the plates. 

In quoting passages from the works of Aristotle 1 liave used 
the translations of Professor D’Arcy Thompson, Professor A. Platt, 
and the late Dr. Ogle in the Oxford Aristotle. The only deviation 
I have made has been the restoration, in a few cases, of the Greek 
term for that used by the translator. In every case I have given 
the reference by page and line to Bekker’s Greek text. For the 
History of Plants of Theophrastus, the translation by Sir Arthur 
Hort has been followed. In one instance, however {llwtoria 
plantarum, i. 1, iv, p. 83 of my essay) I have ventured to diverge 
from it. To all these writers and to their publishers, the Clarendon 
Press, and the Loeb Classical Library, my thanks are due for 
permission to avail myself of these translations. There is no 
English version of the De causis plantarum and for that I have 
used Wimmer’s text. 

The Appendix contains a list of Aristotelian MS»S. abstracted 
from the Catalogue of Scientific and Medical MSS. in the British 
Isles that is being prepared by my wife. She has helped me in 
innumerable ways and the revision of the j^roofs has been lier 




A list of the MSS. as they exist in tlu^ public libraries of this country is 
hero given. For convenience of reference the Greek MSS. have been included 
in the list but not in the summary at the end. All MSS. are Latin unless 
otherwise described. Many give aliridged versions of the works. 

The time distribution of the MSS. is significant. It does not suggest any 
revived interest in Aristotelian biology with the revival of Greek learning 
in the fifteenth century. On the contrary, the number of Aristotelian 
biological MSS. of the fifteenth century is but a third of that of the fourteenth. 
The fall in numbers in the fifteenth century cannot be explained by the 
advent of printing, since the number of medical and scientific MSS. of almost 
every class of the fifteenth century is, in fact, greater tliaii of the fourteenth 

// fMorta a n i ma liv m 

1. Hritirih Miisciiiii : lloviil 0 A XIV". Imricrfcc t ..... l.'Uh centurw 

2. Uritiflh Miiseuia : Royal 12 C XV^ Translation by Mic*hat* I St-ot . . RUli 

;i. British Museum : Royal 12 F XV". Translation by Michael Scot . . 1 3th „ 

4. Oxford : Balliot 250 ......... 1 3th ,, 

5, Oxford ; Baliiol 252 ......... 13tf\ 

(). Cambridge: Oon. & Cains 100. Translation by Michael Srot . . 1.3tli 

7. (. Ui mb ridge : Peterhouse 121 . . . . . . . . 13th ,, 

8. (Tunbridge Cniv. Lib. li. 111. 16. Translation by Michael Scot . . 1 3th 

0. Salisbury Cathedral 11 1 ......... 1 3th 

10. British Museum : Harley 4070 ........ 1 4th 

11. British Museum ; Royal 7. (•. 1. Translation hy Michael Seot . . 14tli „ 

12. Oxfoixl : All Souls 72. Avicenna's iMiraphrase ..... Hth „ 

13. Oxford : VIerton 278. Translation by Michael Seot .... 14th ,, 

14. ('ambridge Cniv. lab. Dd. IV". 30. Translation by Michael Scot . . I4tli „ 

15. Oxford: Bod. Can. misc. 418 ...... ? early 1 51 h, 1 4th „ 

16. Oxford: Bod. Barocci 05. Kxcerpts. (iKKEK . . . / . 15th 

17. Lincoln Cathetiral B. 6. 4. Begins iinperfec-tly . . . . . 15th 

De partihus animalivw 

1. Oxfonl : ( ■.(■.C. 108. Cheek. Ends imperfeetly . . . late 12th century. 

2. British Museum : Royal 0 A XIV". . . . . . . . 13th 

3. British Museum : Royal 12. F. XV’'. Ends liiujcrfectly , . . 13th 

4. Cambridge: Peterhouse 121 . . . . . . . . 1 3th 

5. Cambridge ("iiiv. Lib. li. III. 16 ...... . 13th „ 

6. British Museum : Harley 4070. ....... I4tli 

7. British Museum : Royal 7. C. I . Translation by .Michael Scot . . 14th 

8. Oxford : Merton 270 ......... 14th 

0. Oxford : Merton 271 ........ . Hth „ 

10. Oxford: Bod. Can. misc. 412 ....... early 15th 

De generafione arrimaihnn 

1. Oxford: (UJ.C. 108. Greek ....... late 12th century. 

2. British Museum : Royal 0. A. XIV" ....... 13th „ 

3. Cambridge : Peterhouse 121 . . . . . . . . 13th „ 

4. Cambridge I'niv. Lib. li. III. 16 . . . . . . . 13th „ 

5. British Museum : Harley 4070 ........ Hth 

0. British Museum : Royal 7. C. f. 'rraiislation by Michael Scot . . I4tli „ 

7. Oxford : Merton 270 ......... Hth „ 

8. Oxford : Merton 271 . . . . . . . 14tli „ 

0. Oxford: Bod. l^an. misc. 412 ....... early 15th „ 

10. Oxford: Xew' Coll. 226 ‘ 15th 



De. incessn animaliuw 

1. Oxford : C.C .C. 108. (Irkkk 

2. Oxfcml : Balliol 250 ...... 

ti. Cambridge: Feterhouse 121 . 

4. Cambridge : Feterhouse IIMI . 

5. Cambridge : Fitzwilliam. 155 . 

0. Oxfonl : Halliol 232 A ..... . 

7. Oxford : Trinity 67 

8. Oxford : Merton 271 

0. Cambridge Cniv. Lib. li. II. 10. 

10. Oxford : Ilod. Can. mise. 418 . 

11. Oxford: Xew Coll. 226. fiRF.FK . . . . 

12. Cambridge Univ. Lib. Mm. 111. 11. Extraids . 

De moUt animal hnn 

1. Oxford : B^illiol 250 ...... 

2. Oxford : ilalliol 25^>. Fragment .... 

3. Cambridge : Feterhouse 12 . 

4. ( ■Hiiibridge : Fit/. william 154 . 

5. Cambridge : Fitzwilliam 15."i ..... 

6. British Museum .Add. 19582 . . . . . 

7. Oxford : Bod. Can. auet. 21H» .... 

8. Oxford : Merton 270 ...... 

0. Oxford : Balliol 232 A 

10. Oxfonl : Trinity 67. 

11. Cambridge Cniv. Lib. li. II. lO . . . . 

12. Oxford : Bod. ( 'an. mise. 412 . 

13. O-vford : Bod. Digb;, 44. Kxt racts .... 

14. Oxfonl: Xew' Coll. 226. (iRFFK . . . . 

15. Caiulnidge Cniv'. lab. Mm. 111. II. Extraets 

De planfhs 

1. Oxford ; Bod. .Auet. F. 5. 31 . 

2. Oxford: C.C.(\ 114 

3. (Cambridge : Con. ik (Uiiiis 409. Fragment 

4. Cambridge : Con. & ('aiiis 452 . . . , . 

5. ( -am bridge : (*on. & Cains 500 . . . . . 

0. Cambridge : Fitzwilliam 154 . 

7. British Aluseiim : Harley 3487 ..... 

8. British Museum : Add. 19582 ..... 

9. Oxford : Bod. (.’an. l^t. auet. 291 . 

10. Oxford : Balliol 232 A 

11. Oxford: C.C.C. Ill 

12. (’ambridgc Univ. Lib. li. II. 10 

13. Durham (-athedra I C. III. 17 . 

14. Durham (Jathedrul C. IF. 18 . 

15. British Museum : Sloane 2159 ..... 

16. Oxford : Bod. Bod ley 675 

17. Oxford : C.C.(\ 113. Crcfk ..... 

18. Cambridge : Feterhouse 181 . 

late 12th eenturv. 
. 13th 
. 13th 
. 13th 
. 14th 
. I4th 
. 14th 


early 15 th 
. 15th 

I3tli eentury. 
. I3tli 
. 14tli 
I Itb 
. I4tb 
. 14lh 
. 15th 

. 12th ceutiirv. 

. 13th 
. 13th 
. 13 th 


14 th 


. 14th 
. 15th 
. 15th 
. 15th 

Summary of Latin Tk.vts 

12th eenturv ..... 




No, of MiSS. 


. :« ) 

. 32 

. 12 




By J. L. E. Dbeyer 

The study of Mediaeval Cosmology and Astronomy has 
hitherto not attracted many students. This is perhaps partly 
due to the fact that the period in question is one of stagnation, 
during which astronomy made absolutely no progress in Christian 
countries, while the high state reached by science at Alexandria 
had gradually to be won back. But the chief reason of the 
neglect is that many interesting writings from the Middle Ages 
have never been printed and have therefore to be looked for 
among the manuscript treasures in great libraries, particularly 
in the Biblioth^que Nationale at Paris. The great work of 
M. Pierre Duhem, Le Syst^me du Monde, Histoire des Doctrines 
cosmologiqties de Platon d Copemic,^ is therefore particularly 
welcome, and it is quite up to the high standard of excellence of 
his previously published historical works, J^tudes sur Leonard de 
Vinci and Les Origines de la Statique. So far, five volumes of 
more than five hundred pages each have been published, and it 
is remarkable that so great a work should have appeared in France 
during the terrible struggle in which that country was then in- 
volved. The five volumes reach to the beginning of the fifteenth 
century ; and how far the work will be continued may be doubtful, 
as the death of the author was announced in 1916. It was stated 
in the Paris Academy in December 1916 * that the work was to 
have been completed in ten volumes, and that the fifth and sixth 
had been entrusted by M. Duhem’s daughter to the Academy. 
The fifth volume appeared in 1917. But even if not completed 
according to the original plan, the work will be of exceptional 
interest on accoimt of the great number of manuscripts which 
M. Duhem has examined, and from which he has given lengthy 

The work is (so far) divided into three parts. * Greek Cos- 
mology * occupies the first volume and four-fifths of the second 

* Paris, A. Hermann et Fils, 5 vols., 1913-17. 

* Comptea rendua, December 18, 1916. 



one. * Latin Astronomy in the Middle Ages ’ reaches to the 
middle of the fourth volume, and is followed by ‘ The rise of 
Aristotelism which at the end of the fifth volume is carried a^ 
far as Thomas Aquinas. As Greek Cosmology has been dealt 
with in two works published in England during the last fifteen 
years, that part of M. Duhem’s work does not call for special 
notice in this place. Neither do the chapters of Part I dealing 
with Arabian astronomy (which the author considers as a mere 
continuation of Greek seicnce) eontain anything new. As a rule, 
the author shows a thorough acquaintance with the literature of 
his subject, though we have in a few cases failed to find references 
to important works, such as the lAher Jesod Oktm of Isaac Israeli 
or Le livre de V Ascension de V esprit of Abu’l Faraj. It is par- 
ticularly the chapters dealing with Latin Astronomy in the Middle 
Ages which will be of permanent value, as they give accounts of 
many manuscript treatises never before described. 

The last great astronomer of the Alexandrian school, Claudius 
Ptolemy (about a. d. 140), wrote a complete compendium of 
ancient astronomy as finally developed by Hipparchus and 
himself. During the 270 years which had elapsed since the days 
of Hipparchus astronomy had certainly not stood still, but wo 
know next to nothing about the progress made, as Ptolemy gives 
very little historical information. The details given by Pliny 
about the situations of the apsides of the excentric orbits of the 
planets show, however, that Ptolemy had more than the work of 
Hipparchus to build on. Pliny’s source was no doubt the book 
De novem disciplinis by M. Terentius Varro, which is unfortunately 
lost. It seems to have been a sort of condensed encyclopaedia, 
and was superseded by writings of a similar kind from the fourth 
and fifth centuries which have come down to us. These arc, 
the commentary to Plato’s Tinmens by Chalcidius, the commentary 
to Cicero’s Somnium Scipionis by Macrobius, and the encyclo- 
paedic book De nuptiis Philologme et Mercurii by Martianus 
Capella. Being written in Latin they were more readily accessible 
to Western readers than the lengthy Greek works of Proklus and 
Simplicius ; and during the first half of the Middle Ages they were, 
together with Pliny’s Natural History, the only books from which 
some knowledge of Greek science might be derived by students 
in the West. »■ 

The first feeble light after the dark night of the patristic 

10 + 


writers came from Isidore, Bishop of Seville, who dietl in 636. 
When dealing with dangerous topics such as the figure of the 
world and the earth he docs not lay down the law himself, but 
quotes ‘ the f)hilosophers ’ as teaching this or that, though without 
finding fault with them. In this manner he repeatedly mentions 
that heaveji is a sfdiere rotating round an axis and having the 
spherical earth in its centre. The water above the firmament 
mention(‘d in the first ehaf>ter of Genesis had of course to be 
brought in, and Isidore states that tin; (Creator temptu’ed the 
natur(‘ of heav(‘n witli water, lest the conflagration of the upper 
fire should kindle the lower elements. Isidore gives as his authori- 
ties Hyginus (author of a versified description of the constella- 
tions), Clement of Alexandria, and the patristic writers, but does 
not mention Pliny, so that it is no wonder that his knowledge is 
very fragmentary. 

TIu? VeiK'rablc! Bede, who lived a century later (he died about 
735), was better informed. The contents of his treatise Dt 
Xalura Rerutn are taken from Pliny, often almost verbatim ; and 
the spherical form of the earth, the order of the sev^en planets 
circling rounrl it, the sun being much larger than the (?arth, and 
similar facts are plainly stated. But the water around the heaven 
anti the usual explanation of its existence could not be kept out 
of the book, even though Pliny did not mention it and though 
Bede had stated that the earth was a sj)here. Another and much 
larger book on chronology {De Temponim Hatione) shows a fair 
knowledge' of tht' annual motion of the sun and the other principal 
celestial jihenornena. It is deserving of notice that Bede from his 
study of PlijiN' and from |)ersonal observation knew a good deal 
about th(5 tides, and was the first to show that the ‘ establish- 
ment ’ of a j)ort (or the mean interval between the time of high 
water and the time of the moon’s ])revious meridian passage) is 
different for <liffcr<'nt f)orts. But the sphericity of the earth was 
still rather unpopular amojig ecclesiastics, and even in the first half 
of the ninth century llrabanus Maurus, Archbishop of Mainz, 
thought it best to say nothing about it. He merely says that the 
earth is in the middle of the world, and tries hard to reconcile the 
roundness of the horizon with the four corners of the earth alluded 
to in Scripture. His statement that the heaven has two doors, 
east and west, through which the sun passes, also looks as if his 
point of view was much the same as that of the patristic \vTiters. 



But he was the last prominent author of whom tliis may be said, 
and from about the ninth century the spherical figure of the 
earth and the geocentric system of planetary motions were re- 
instated in tlio places they had held as facts ascertained with 
certainty among Greek philosophers twelve hundred ytnirs earlier. 

Among the writers of the ninth century who paitl any atten- 
tion to the construction of the I ’inverse, the most I'emarkahle 
was John Scotus Erigena. In his great work De Divisionc Salurac 
he shows that h<^ is acquainted with Chalcitlius aiul Mai'tianus 
( ^apella, and for the first time we pi'^rceive a very curious influence 
which these rather inferior writers <‘x<‘r(.*ised throughout tin* 
Middle Ages. In the fourth century u. e. Herakleides of Pontus, 
struck with the fact that M(‘r<Miry and V’enus are lu^ver seen at 
a great distanc(5 from the sun, liad (anne to tlu^ conclusion that 
these two planets move, not round the earth, as tlu^ sun and tin? 
othc'r planets were supposed to do, but round th(^ sun, so that th(‘y 
are sometiiiK's nearer to us and sometimc‘s fartlun- off than the 
sun. But this idea was coldly r(‘ceived ; it was ipiitc ignored liy 
Ptolemy and is only nuMitioned by I’heon of Smyrna and Macrobius 
(without alluding to Herakleides), and by Martianus Ga])ella and 
Ghalcidius, who give the credit to Herakleides. Tlu'on was not 
known in the Middle Ages, but the three other writ<‘rs were lu‘ld 
in high repute ; and this led to the })lanetary system d(*scribed 
by thean being known to many mediaeval writers, tliough to most 
of them rather confusedly, as if they did not (pjit(‘ undc^rstand it. 
Thus Erigena says : ‘ As to the ])lanets which mov(^ round the 

sun, they show different colours acconling to tin* tjuality of the 
regions which they trav<‘rse ; 1 speak of Jupiter, .Mars, Venus, 
and -Mercury, which incessantly circle round the sun, as Plato 
t<‘aches in the Tiwaeus. When these pianists are above the sun, 
they show us clear as])ects, they look red when tlu?y are below it.’ 
Plato says nothing at all about this ; but perhaps Erigena had 
only read tlialcidius and assumed that what he said was also to 
be found in the Timieus. (Jialcidius only mentions Venus as 
moving round the sun, but as h(^ had already described the apparent 
motions of the two inferior planets, he probably made no distinc- 
tion between them. .M. Duhem seems to consider it highly 
creditable to Erigena that he extended the system of Herakleides 
to Mars and Jupiter, which nobody clsti did for fully seven hundred 
years, till Copernicus and Tycho Brahe let all the five ]>lancts 


move round the sun. But with regard to Jupiter, it is simply 
absurd to imagine that it is sometimes above the sun (i. e. more 
distant than the sun), sometimes below it (or nearer). As to 
Mars, that planet is certainly at opf>osition nearer to the earth 
than the sun is, but there is no reason to think that the astrono- 
mical knowledge of Erigena included that fact, as it is in other 
directions scanty enough and is confined to carelessly copied 
scraps from his few authorities. We need only mention his state- 
ment that half the circumference of the earth is equal to its 
diameter ! 

Probably also from the ninth century is another book about 
the Universe, De mundi caelestis terrestrisque consHtutione libert 
formerly ascribed to Bode, but quite certainly of much later date, 
since there are several allusions to the chronicles of Charlemagne. 
The author has a fair knowledge of the general celestial phenomena 
such as could be gathered from the above-mentioned sources, but 
no more. It is interesting to see that he favours the old idea 
sometimes met with among the Greeks, that the planets do not 
really travel from west to east, but from oast to west, only more 
slowly than the sphere of the fixed stars do ; so that Saturn, 
which comes to the meridian about eight seconds later every 
night, is the quickest planet, and the moon, which takes fully 
three-quarters of an hour longer than the fixed stars do, is the 
slowest — contrary to the usual idea, that Saturn, which takes 
29J years to go round the heavens in its orbit, is the slowest 
planet, and the moon, ^oing round the heavens in 27 days, is 
the fastest.* We shall see jnesently that this primitive idea 
obtained many adherents towards the end of the Middle Ages. 
As to Mercury and Venus, the writer’s opinion is, that they are 
sometimes above the sun and sometimes below it, as it is recorded 
in the Historia Caroli that Mercury was visible for nine days as 
a spot on the suii, though clouds prevented both the ingress and 
the egress being seen. But he docs not say that they move hi 
orbits round the sun. The writer shows himself somewhat 
independent of his authorities by adding a good deal of astrology 
and suggesting various rationalistic theories about the unavoid- 
able ‘ supercelestial waters ’. 

Passing over the extremely elementary Imago Mundi of 

* See for iiiatancc Plato, Timaeus, pp. 38-1), Leg. 821 



doubtful age and authorship, we must next mention another work 
formerly counted among the writings of Bede, entitled Ile/jt 
SiSd^ecav sive etementorum philosophiae libri IV. It was written 
by William of Qonches, a Norman of the first half of the twelfth 
century.^ It is strange that it should ever have been attributed 
to Bede, as it shows a freedom of thought which would have been 
impossible early in the eighth century. But his astronomical 
knowledge is often confused and erroneous. For instance, he 
knows that the orbit of the sun is a circle excentric to the earth, 
but he imagines that the great heat in summer 
is caused by the sun being at that time nearer 
to the earth than in winter. He is aware of 
the difference of opinion among the ancients 
as to the position of the solar orbit, whether 
it was just outside the lunar orbit (according 
to the Pythagoreans, Plato, Eudoxus, and 
Aristotle), or between the orbits of Venus 
and Mars, as taught by Archimedes and 
all subsequent writers, including Ptolemy. 

William of Conches thinks that this difference 
of opinion is caused by the fact that the periods of Mercury, 
Venus, and the sun are nearly equal, so that their circles must 
also be nearly equal and therefore are not contained one within 
the other but intersect each other. He therefore did not grasp 
the real meaning of the system of Heraklcides, but merely conceived 
the tluree orbits to be nearly equal in size with their centres at 
short distances from each other and in a line with the earth ; 
and Ills description agrees with a diagram given in an anonymous 
manuscript of the fourteenth century, copied by M. Duhem. 

The question of the orbits of Mercury and Venus continued 
to crop up now and then, as long as Chalcidius and other late 
authors continued to be considered as great authorities by some 
writers who were much behind their own time. The Rabbi 
Abraham ben Ezra of Toledo (1119-76) in several of his astro- 
logical writings, which were printed in 1507 at Venice in a Latin 
translation, alludes to the orbits of Mercury and Venus being 
between those of the moon and the sun ; but in one place he says 

* Two manuscript's in the Bibliothdque Nationale give the author’s name as 
William of Conches, and there are other proofs from other undoubted^ writings 
of his. 



that the two planets are sometimes above and sometimes below 
the sun. The same expression is used in the following century by 
Bartholomacus Anglicus in his encyclopaedic work De proprie- 
lalibus rerum (c. 1276). The only time that it is clearly and dis- 
tinctly stated that Mercury and Venus travel round the Sun is 
in an astrological manuscript in the Biblioth^que Nationale of 
the year 1270 by an anonymous astrologer to the last Latin 
Emperor at Constantinople, Baldwin of Courtenay. After saying 
that the orbits of moon, sun, and three outer planets surround the 
earth, he continues : ‘ Li cercles de Venus et de Mercure ne 

I’enviroiient inie. Ainz corent environ le Soloil et ont lor centre 
de lor cercles el cors del Soloil ; mes Mercurius a le centre de son 
cerclc el milieu del cors del Soloil, Venus I’a en la sou^ainete del 
cors del Soloil ; et por ce sunt il dit epicercle, qu’il n’environent 
mie la terre, si cum j’ai dit dcsus des autres.’ The author might 
have lived hundreds of years earlier ; he knows nothing of Ptolemy 
or of the Arab writers on Ptolemaic astronomy, who long before 
the time he wrote had become known in the west of Europe. 

For while Euroi^e had been content to pick up a few crumbs 
here and there, the East had been feasting on the intellectual 
repast left by the Greeks. Works on Philosophy and Science had 
been translated into Arabic, and Mohammedan authors had 
written text-books founded on them and had continued the work 
of the Greeks in Mathematics and Astronomy. Arabic authors 
began to be known in the West from about the year 1000 ; Gerbert 
(Pope Sylvester II) probably wrote a book on the astrolabe 
founded on Arabic writings, and several tracts on the same subject 
were written in the eleventh and twelfth centuries in France, 
especially at (Chartres, at that time the principal seat of learning 
there. Translations were also made in Italy by Plato of Tivoli ; 
but it was in Spain, where science was still under the protection 
of powerful Arabian kings, that the work of translation was 
chiefly carried on. The first translations were the work of a college 
of interpreters established at Toledo ; an Arabian scholar trans- 
lating a book into the vulgar tongue, and a Spaniard afterwards 
turning this into Latin. Ptolemaic astronomy became known 
about the middle of the twelfth century through the medium of 
the books of A1 Battani and A1 Fargani. The original work of 
Ptolemy, the Syntaxis or the Almagest^ as it was generally called 
in Latin countries from a corruption of part of the Arabic title 



(A1 -fieyCarri), was first translated about the same time by 
Gherardo of Cremona, who died about 1184 at the age of 73. He 
seems to have spent most of his life at Toledo, where he went to 
find the Almagest. Seeing what a great number of valuable works 
in Arabic were to be found there, he learned Arabic and is said 
to have translated no less than sev'enty-four different works, both 
by Greek and Arabian authors. But it took a very long time 
before people could be found capable of mastering the great work 
of Ptolemy. 

That there were some people in the middle of the twelfth 
century anxious to sprearl knowledge of astronomy may be seen 
from a manuscript in the Biblioth^quc Nationale, examined by 
M. Duhem. The name of the author of the ‘ Tables of Marseilles ’ 
is not kiiowi ; from internal evidence it apjxjars that they were 
prepared about the year 1140. The author says that students of 
astronomy were compelled to have recourse to worthless w’ri tings 
going under the name of Ptolemy and therefore blindly followed ; 
that the heavens were never examined, and that any lihenomena 
not agreeing with such books were simply denied. He therefore 
decided to transform the astronomical tables of A1 Zarkali, which 
were computed for the meridian of Toledo and ada]>ted to Arab 
years, so as to arrange them for the meridian of his iiative city 
and according to years dated from the birth of our Lord. This 
attempt to make the Toledo tables known in Latin countries did 
not bear fruit immediately ; but early in the thirte(*nth century 
Imitations of the tables of Mars(iilles began to ap])ear, adapted to 
^the meridians of Paris, London, Pisa, and Palermo, even for that 
of Constantinople, at that time ruled by Latin Emperors. The 
London tables date from the year 1232 ; the author mentiojis 
Ptolemy, but evidently only knows his work by name.^ I’his is 
certainly also the case with the celebrated little book on the 
Sphere by John of Holy wood (Joh. de Sacrobosco), written 
in the first half of the twelfth century, which continued to 
be a favourite text- book for three hundred years and was 
repeatedly printed. He only had his wisdom from A1 Fargani 
and A1 Battani, for he copies a mistake made by them and omits 
what they omit. 

^ Similar tables, founded on those of A1 Zarkali, were made at Muntp<dlier 
towards the end of the thirteenth century by the .lew .Ja<;ob bon .Makir, gen«TaIIy 
called Profatius. 



But astronomical books were far from being the only ones 
transmitted through the Arabs. The philosophical books of 
Aristotle and of his commentators, as well as neoplatonic and 
Arab s^jeculations, also crossed the Pyrenees. At first they were 
not welcomed by the Church, and at a provincial council held 
at Paris in 1209 it was decreed that neither Aristotle’s books on 
natural philosophy nor commentaries on them should bo read 
either publicly or privately in Paris. In 1215 this prohibition was 
renewed in the statutes of the University of Paris. But this 
resistance wore off by degrees ; better translations both of 
Aristotle and of Arab astronomers were produced by Michael 
Scot ; while Guillaume d’ Auvergne, Bishop of Paris from 1228 
(died 1248), lent his powerful aid to the spreading of knowledge. 
He was a prolific writer, and was the first to make serious use of 
Greek and Arab philosophy, rejecting what was contrary to the 
Christian faith and combining the rest with what the Church 
taught, to compose a philosophical system acceptable to the 
Christian world. Among his writings was a treatise De Universo, 
which stands half way between the old works of Isidore, Bede, 
Pseudo-Bede, Honorius, and the later encyclopaedias of Albertus 
Magnus and Vincent of Beauvais, containing more philosophy and 
less theology than the former. But his opinions on celestial 
motions are very confused. For instance, he thinks that one can 
* by means of astronomical instruments and certain geometrical 
instruments ’ determine the distance of the earth from each of the 
fixed stars and from each of the planets. The waters above the 
moving spheres arc neither fluid nor in a state of vaj)our ; they . 
form an ethereal mass, perfectly transparent and immobile, 
separating those spheres from the Empyrean. 

The introduction of Aristotelian natural philosophy in the 
Universities of Paris and Oxford brought about a prolonged strife 
between Aristotelian ideas of the construction of the Universe 
and the Ptolemaic system of the world ; or rather a revival in 
France and England of an old dispute which had existed first in 
the Hellenistic and then in the Mohammedan world. Aristotle 
had adopted the ‘ homocentric spheres ’ of Eudoxus to account 
for the motions of the planets ; but though this would to some 
extent explain the chief irregularities in these motions, continued 
observations soon showed that the system was insufficient to 
‘ save the phenomena ’, particularly as it could not account for 



the variable distance of a planet from the earth. A totally different 
system had therefore been developed at Alexandria in the course 
of nearly four hundred years, until it was completed by Ptolemy. 
According to this, a planet moved on the circumference of a circle 
(the epicycle), the centre of which travelled on a larger circle (the 
excentric or deferent) the centre of which was at some distance 
from the earth ; but in such a manner that its motion was uni< 
form, not with regard to the centre of the deferent, but as seen 
from another point, the punctum aequans. The centre of the 
deferent was midway between that point and the earth. Further 
complications had to be introduced to account for the motion 
in latitude of the planets. From a mathematical point of view 
this system was perfect, as it really could ‘ save the phenomena ’, 
that is, represent the actually observed motions with an aceuracy 
nearly corresponding to that attainable by the crude instruments 
then in use. But it was totally at variance with Aristotelian 
Physics, the adherents of which viewed the movements around 
points outside the centre of the world with extreme disfavour. 
Long before Ptolemy’s time attempts Iiad therefore been made to 
reconcile the tM'O systems. This was simple enough, as long as 
the deferent was assumed concentric with the earth. The epicycle 
might then be conceived to be the equator of a solid sphere, rolling 
between two solid concentric spheres. This idea is described by 
Thcon of Smyrna (soon after a. d. 100), but it must be much 
older. It became untenable, as soon as the deferents became 
excentric circles. In the Syntaxis Ptolemy merely alludes to 
planetary spheres when describing the order of the various orbits 
(ix. 1) ; and his attitude with regard to the equivalence of the 
epicyclic and excentric theories shows that he had broken with 
the idea described by Theon and did not attribute any reality 
to the multiple motions of the Syntaxis, but merely considered 
them as geometrical means of representing the real motions. But 
in a later work. Hypotheses of the Planets, or rather in the second 
book of- it, Ptolemy’s ideas are quite different.^ Here he proposes 
to do for the complicated theories of the Syntaxis what the system 
of Theon did for the simple epicyclic motion, producing not a mere 
model but a real representation of the constitution of the universe, 

^ The Greek original is'lost, but a translation into Arabic has been preserved, 
from which a German translation was printed in 1907 {Claudii Ptolemaei 0\^e.ra, 
ed. Heiberg, T. ii). 


as real as that (lescanbed in Ainstotlc’s Melaphymcs, The epicycle- 
sphere now fits between two excentric spherical surfacc^s which 
touch two other surfaces (an inner ajid an outer one), in the 
common centre of which the earth is situated. This system of 
the world does not seem to have been a success ; in the neoplatonic 
schools the theories of the Syniaxis apj)ear to have been more 
valued, although tlui old Platonic and Aristotelian dogma, that 
every celestial motion must be circular and uniform round the 
centre of the earth, still found partisans. 

ToAvards the end of the eighth eentury Mohammedan nations 
began to become acquainted with Alexandrian astronomy, in the 
lirst instance through the medium of northern India, where 
a knowledge of Greek science had spread in the first couple of 
centuries after the compiests of Alexander the Great.^ TJie 
system of spheres s(?ems to have appealed strongly to Eastern 
minds ; and throughout the time when astronomy continued to 
be succ(;ssfully cultivated in the Mohainmedan world we find that 
various combinations of s|)heres were ])ropos(?d by people who 
could not be satisfied with the Ptolemaic system of circles, while 
the latter was accepted and ustMl by ])rofessional astrojiomers. 
The first to describe the spheres Avas Tabit ben Korrah, in the 
second half of the ninth century. He secerns to have been the 
first to fix the Jiumber of spheres at nine, and ho Avas followed 
by the ‘ Brethren of Purity ’ in the tenth century and by Ibn 
al Haitham (c. a. d. 1000).^ The necessity of introducing a ninth 
sphere above the eighth s|>here (the spliere of the fixed stars) Avas 
due to the imaginary phenomenon of tn*pidation or oscillatory 
movement of the equinoxes. This dates back to the time before 
Ptolemy, but he quite ignored it and taught that the Precession of 
the Equinoxes is uniformly progress! A’^e, Avhile Tabit (though speak- 
ing with a certain reserA'^ation) accepted the phenomenon of 
trepidation as real. The Arabian combinations of spheres were 
mainly borroAved from Ptolemy, though Avith modifications. It 

‘ From what AI. Puht*ni says (vol. ii, p. 213) it looks as if he thought that 
Arabian astronomy was founded on indigenous Indian knoAvledge. But it is 
quite certain that the Indians derived all their knowledge of planetary motion 
from the Gretfks. iSce .T. Burgess, in Journal of the R. Asiatic Society, October 
1893, pp. 746 sq., anti Dreyt>r, Hiet. of the PlaneAary Systems (Cambridge, 1906), 
pp. 240 sqq. 

® Know n in the West as Alhazen, author of a etdebratetl hot)k on Optics. 



was particularly in Spain that tlie opposition to the Ptolemaic 
system of excentrics and epicycles came to the front, being 
intimately connected with tlie rapid rise of Aristotelian philosophy 
in that country in the twelfth century, which culminated in the 
work of Averroes, the greatest philosox)her of Islam. An ingenious 
attempt at reviving the principle of homocentric spheres in 
a perfectly novel manner was made by the astronomer Al Bitrugi 
(Alpetragius), though the U'ading idea was probably due to the 
philosopher Ibn Tofeil. 

This system of homocentric spheres differs from that of 
Eudoxus and Aristotle by assuming that tlu* prime mover (the 
ninth si)here) everywhere produces only a motion from east to 
west, the independent motioji of tlie planets from west to east 
being rejected. We have already mentionetl that this was a very 
old idea which had been revived in Europe by Pseudo- Bede. 
But Al Betrugi saw that this was not sidlicient, as not only is the 
pole of the ecliptic diffcTent from that of the equator, but the 
jilanets do not even keep at the same distance from the pole of 
the ecliptic but have each their motion in latitude as well as 
a v^ariable v'clocity in longitude, all of which had to be accounted 
for. This is done by letting the pole of each planet’s orbit describe 
a small circle round a mean |)osition (the fiole of the ecliptic) in 
the synodic period of the planet.' But the system was not worked 
out in detail ; and only ])hilosophers who wanted nothing more 
than a representation of the principal phenomena could be satis- 
fied with it. In the eyes of astronomers it had many faults, the 
greatest being (as in the case of the system of Eudoxus) that it 
assumed a planet to be always at the same distance from the 
earth. • 

When Michael Scot about the year 1230 had produced his 
translations, the attacks of Averroes and Al Betrugi on the 
epicyclic system spread rapidly among the Scholastics. Though 
people who only desired to account for the apparent motions of 
the planets as seen jirojected on the celestial vault continued to 
follow the rules of Ptohmiy, philosophers were greatly eoncerne(l 

^ The account given by M. Duhein of this historically important system is 
most unsatisfactory. For further details see Hist, of the Planetary Systems, 
p. 265, a book which seems to be unknown to M. Duhem. It is curious to sc^c 
how astronomical historians have fought shy of exj>Iaining the system ; see t*. g. 
Delambre, Hist, de VAsir. da Moyen Age^ p. 174. 



about the contradiction between Aristotle and Ptolemy. During 
the whole of the second half of the thirteenth century this agitated 
the two rival orders of Dominicans and Franciscans, who dominated 
the University of Paris. Among the former Albertus Magnus was 
at first the most prominent. He was much attracted by the 
• system of A1 Bitrugi, Avhich he thought was very simple, because 
he ignored the small circles and thereby made it quite useless. 
It was in this simplified form only that the system continued to 
be known to most of the Scholastics, which sufficiently characterizes 
their superficial knowledge of celestial motions. Yet Albert was 
quite aware of the fatal objection to every form of homocentric 
system, and he finally declared for Ptolemy. The same was the 
case with his disciple Thomas Aquinas. For the simplified system 
of A1 Bitrugi he substituted the idea that celestial bodies are 
animated by two movements ; the first is a uniform rotation 
from cast to west, a principle of eternal duration ; the second is 
a rotation from west to east round the poles of the ecliptic, a 
principle of generation and transformation, a movement in which 
the different orbs take part to a lesser extent the more noble they 
are. Like Albert he ends by abandoning Averroes for Ptolemy, 
chiefly on account of the change of distance. 

If we turn to the Franciscans we are met with more hesitation 
as to the choice between the rival theories. Bonaventura, the 
Doctor seraphicus, does not seem to have devoted much attention 
to astronomy. According to him there is a ninth heaven, the 
aqueous one, which is the primum mobile ; some philosophers 
have perceived that the firmament has a proper motion of I** in 
a hundred years,' but whether this is true or not it is certain that 
Doctors of Theology admit that there is a moving heaven^without 

But in Roger Bacon we meet at last with a man who wUs 
thoroughly acquainted with the astronomical writings both of 
Greeks and Arabs. At Oxford ho was under the influence of 
Robert Grosse-Testc, afterwards Bishop of Lincoln, who had 
devoted some attention to astronomy and was a follower of 
Ptolemy, except when he wanted to be a metaphysician and had 
to follow A1 Bitrugi. But it was not till Bacon went to Paris 
(about 1235) that he was able to study scientific problems 
seriously. M. Duhem gives a lengthy account of a manuscript 
’ Tho amount of precefjsion according to Ptolemy. 



in the municipal library of Amiens, containing several series of 
questions on the Physics and Metaphysics of Aristotle. They are 
probably written by pupils of Bacon at Paris, at latest about 
the year 1250. The questions on the Metaphysics must be the 
earliest ; the teacher does not appear to know Ptolemy’s works, 
and only to have heard of A1 Bitrugi. The questions on Aristotle’s 
Physics show more knowledge, especially of the system of Eudoxus 
and of Precession. The subsequent Avritings of Bacon shoAv how 
he persevered in his study of cosmology and astronomy ; but he 
continues all his life to hesitate 
between the two systems of the 
world. He studies the Almagest^ 
he borrows from A1 Fargani what 
he says about the dimensions of 
the planets and of their orbits ; 
on the other hand he makes him- 
self thoroughly acquainted with 
the theory of A1 Pitrugi, the de- 
tails of which hitherto had scared 
readers in France. In his Opus 
tertium he gives a carefully written 
summary of that theory, and then Fm. 2 

gives an account of the system 1. Kpicyde Sphere. 2 , Excentric Sphere, 
of solid orbs described by Ptolemy 3* The Surrounding Sphere. 4. Compleinent 

in hU aypotk^ea and taken up *■ 

by Ibn al Haitham. Bacon ac- 
knowledges that it does away with many of the objections formu- 
lated by Averroes against the cpicyclic system, but he thinks that 
there are too many questionable hjrpotheses in it. His main objec- 
tion is, that the two bodies between which each deferent is com- 
prised have in their various parts different thickness,^ but this 
cannot be the case in celestial bodies on account of their simple and 
homogeneous nature. He also thinks that a celestial body cannot 
be supposed to be devoid of all motion. Other objections made 
by Bacon seem to show that he cannot have been acquainted 
with the second book of Ptolemy’s Hypotheses, the Greek original 
of which was probably lost before that time ; and that he only 
had before him an incomplete r6sum6 of the systems of spheres 

A Compare the dia^am in the History of the Planetary Systems, p. 2o9 
(reproduced above), the surrounding sphere and its complement. 


of Ptolemy and I bn al Haitham.’ Bacon therefore never 
reachetl any conclusion as to which system of the world was the 
true one. 

But a younger contcunporary of Bacon among the Franciscans, 
Bernard of V'erdun. made up his mind to break with Aristotle and 
Al Bitrugi. In a Tractattis optimus super lotmn Astrologiaw, of 
which two manuscri])ts are known to exist, and which shows 
familiarity with Bacon’s works, he begins by counting up the 
facts which must b(‘ explaijied : the change of velocity of the 
planets ; tlu' variability of the moon’s diameter, the moon being 
more or less completely eclipsed even in the same point of the 
ecliptic ; the u])per planets {particularly Mars) being brightest 
at opposition to the sun, while Mercury aiid Wnus are of great€*r 
brightness after leaving the sun and moving eastward than when 
thev leave it to move westward. All these facts distinctly con- 
tradict all homocentric theories, and Bernard therefore finally 
rejects the system of Al Bitrugi, Avith which he shows that he is 
well acquainted. In the system of spheres of Ptolemy or its 
imitation by Tbn al Haitham he sees the means of shielding th(‘ 
Ptolemaic system from Aristotelian attacks ; and as the theory 
of exeentrics and epicycles is the only one which is able to produce 
tables of plaiu'tary motions aiul ‘ save the phenomena ’, Bernard 
does not hesitate to proclaim it as the true system. The above- 
mentioned objection raised by Bacon he brushes aside by saying 
that the surrounding s])heres, &c., an* not pro|)er celestial bodies, 
but like tluise parts of a cithern which do not giv^e any sound. 

This treatist* by B(*rnard of \'erdun s(.‘ems, at least for tht) 
I'nivcrsity of Paris, to mark the epoch when the Ptolemaic system 
liegan to reign absolutely among students of astrononiy ; the 
adherents of .Al Betrugi had to give u{) the struggle. There are 
various other tracts in existence from the time around the y(*ar 
1800 which confirm this result, while they show at the same time 
that the question about the precession of the equinoxes, whether 
it was a st(‘ady juogressive motion or only an oscillation, was 
still unsettled, which involved uncertainty as to the number 
of s])heres above* those of the planets. The Alfonsine Tables, 
prepared under the direction of King Alfonso X of Vastille, were 
finished about 1270, but they were probably not at once issued to 

1 The fact that lu* calls the system Vniaginalio modernorum also points to his 
only havinp known an Arabic account of it. 



the public. At any rate it is certain that they were not known at 
Paris until towards the end of the thirteenth century, the tables 
of A1 Zarkali (the tables of Toledo) being still in use there. The 
time had come however when some people among the Christian 
nations had begun in a small way to occupy themselves with 
practical astronomy, instead of merely speculating whether there 
were nine or ten heavens, or considering whether an astronomer or 
a philosopher was the best guide among the stars. There is a cotlex 
in the Bibliotheque Nationale which contains several tracts from 
the end of the thirteenth and the begiiming of the fourteenth 
century ])earing witness to this- change of stmly. Among these 
are two by Guillaume de St. Cloud, oj\e being an Almanac for 
twenty years from 1292, the other a Calendar, the date of which 
is 1296, which gives the time of entry of the sun into each of the 
twelve signs for two hundred years before* and aft(‘r the year 
1296. At the beginning of tin* Almanac it is stated that the 
tables of Ptolemy of Alexandria, Tolosa (?), and Toledo do not 
agree with obs(‘rvations ; there is no mention of tlie Alfonsine 
Tables. From observed solstitial altitudes of the suu in 1290 the 
obhquity of the ecliptic is found to be 23° 34' and the latitude of 
Paris 48° oO'. Guillaume also determines the time of the spring 
equinox of 1290 (March 12, 16'*) and corrects the errors of the 
Tables of Tolosa by the simple expedient of correcting the mean 
motions thus: of Saturn by - 1° 15', of Jupiter by i-l°, of Mars 
by 3°.* M. Duheni does not explain what the Tables of Tolosa 
are, but a fragment of a tract by Guillaume de St. ( 'loud quoted 
by Nicolaus de Cusa gives the clue to this i-iddle.- The fragment 
gives the errors of the Alfonsine Tables for the three* planets, and 
the amounts are exactly the same as those given in the codex 
as the errors of the Tables of Tolosa. This shows that the Alfonsine 
Tables had become known at Paris bv the year 1202. 

The same interesting codex also contains a tract by Johannes 
de Muris, at native of Normandy. He quotes the determination of 
the equinox of 1290 and <iescribes how he repeated it at Evreux in 
1318 (March 12, 16'* 40'") ; he says this agrees wdth King Alfonso’s 
and Guillaume de St. Cloud’s observations. Joh. de Muris and 
Firmin de Belleval wrote a report on the reform of the calendar, 
by order of the Pope, which if adopted would have settled this 
question more than two hundred years before the time when the 
^ Duheni, T. iv, p. 18. . - Ibid., p. 23. 

2391 T 



Gregorian reform was actually carried out. Firmin wrote a little 
book on Meteorology which was printed at Venice in 1485.* 

Another astronomer of the first half of the fourteenth centiury 
who must not be passed over here, though not connected with 
Paris, was a Jew, Levi ben Gerson of Avignon, who died in 1344. 
He wrote against the system of A1 Betrugi and (what is more 
important) he invented (or at least introduced) the instrument 
known as Baculus Jacobi or Cross Staff for measuring the angular 
distance between two stars ; and better still, he applied a diagonal 
scale to it. The latter invention (not mentioned by M. Duhem) 
appears to have remained unnoticed for about two hundred years.* 
Practical astronomy was also cultivated by Johannes de Lineriis 
(Jean de Idni^res), from whose hand there are several manuscript 
treatises in the Biblioth^que Nationale, among them a guide to 
the use of the Alfonsine Tables and Theorica Planetarum, anno 
Ohristi 1335. The latter is an account of the Ptolemaic System 
from the Almagest (without spheres) ; there is a chapter on the 
motion of the eighth and ninth spheres, in which it is shown 
that T&bit’s theory of oscillation must be rejected, as the equinox 
has now receded more than that theory allows ; the author is inclined 
to adopt the theory proposed by Alfonso X combining progressive 
and oscillatory motion. Jean de lini^res also produced a catalogue 
of positions of forty-seven stars, the first attempt in Europe to 
correct some of the star-places given in Ptolemy’s Catalogue.* 

^ Opttaculum repertorii profioaticon in mviationes aeris. M. Duhem (T. iv, 
p. 42) says that according to a manuscript copy in the Bibl. Nat. there was an 
interval of 68 years between the Alfonsine Tables and the epoch of certain tables ; 
this gives the date of the book 1252 + 68=1320. The sentence quoted occurs in 
the printed book on f. 12v at the foot, but the interval is 86, which gives 1338. 
The context shows that 86 is a misprint ; yet compare f. 3v, where 1338 is 
given as the epoch of ^somo star-places brought up from Ptolemy’s catalogue. 

‘ M. Duhem (T. iv, p. 40) says that the use of the baculus was introduced 
among Portuguese navigators by the Glerman scientist Martin Behaim towards 
the end of the fifteenth century. But it has been conclusively shown by Joaquim 
Bensaude (L' Astromomie ruiutique au Portugal d Vipoque des grandes dicouvertea, 
Berne, 1012) that the baculus was known in Portugal long before the time of 
Behaim, to whom and his compatriots the Portuguese owed nothing. M. Duhem 
quotes this book in a footnote without noticing that it demolishes what he has 
just stated in the text. 

’ See a paper by G. Bigourdan in the Comptea rendua, December 1915 and 
January 1916. The catalogue was printed in Biccioli’s Aatronomia JReformaia, 
i, p. 216. 



Other manuscripts from the fourteenth century show that 
various teachers at Paris continued to expound the Ptolemaic 
system, with or without spheres. At the beginning of the century 
Aegidius, a native of Rome, wrote a HexaSmeron (printed several 
times in the sixteenth century) in which he proposes to let the 
epicycle-sphere lie, not between two spheres, but in a cavity in 
the celestial matter of the form of an anchor ring. Some of these 
writers had not a very clear idea of what they wrote about ; e. g. 
Albert of Saxony in a Commentary to Aristotle’s De Cado (also 
printed, several times) says that the moon does not move in an 
epicycle ; for if it did, the figure of a man in the moon carrying 
a bundle of sticks would sometimes be soon upside down ! Ho 
means of course that the moon would not always turn the same 
side to the earth. 

Though M. Duhem several times alludes to the Alfonsine 
Tables, he has evidently not examined any codices of them. 
He has thus missed the interesting fact, that the tables first 
published at Toledo about the year 1270 were totally different 
from those first printed in 1483. The latter were a modification 
of the original tables made at Paris, probably by Jean de l^ini^res. 
At Oxford, where there seems to have been a good deal of interest 
taken in astronomy from the beginning of the fourteenth century, 
the tables in their original form remained in use longer than 
anywhere else.‘ 

While science had thus begun to be earnestly cultivated in France 
and England, Italy had remained behind. Though Gherardo of 
Cremona had translated the Almagest about the year 1175, more 
than a century passed before a single ItaUan studied it, while 
the text-book of A1 Fargani was the usual guide. But it is remark- 
able how badly, even that book was understood, the most extra- 
ordinary blunders being made by the best of the Italian writers.- 
Dante is an' honourable exception ; there are no blunders in his 
cosmological ideas, neither in the Divine Comedy nor in the 
Cemvivio, The latter shows the craze for astrology which pre- 
vailed in Italy, while this branch of learning was at Paris always 
of secondary importance. The Italians took no part in the dispute 
whether a system of Physics deduced from peripatetic principles 

^ Cf. Dreyer, ‘On the original form of the Alfonsine Tables’, in Montidy 
JSoiicea of the Royal Aatronomical Society, vol. Izxx, pp. 243-62. 



or a science constructed to agree with observed facts should 
(;onqucr. Only Petrus de Abano (about 1300) alludes to it, but 
th(’! dispute had betui scuttled before he went to Paris. In the 
Universities of Spain and Portugal the fight did not begin till 
the middle of the fifteenth century and lasted about a hundred 
years, during which time objtjctions were raised which had been 
demolished elsewliere long before*.' 

The second half of M. Duliem’s fourth volume and the whole 
of the fifth eh-*al with Arabian and Scholastic Philosophy. His 
account of mediaeval cosmology and astronomy reaches to the 
end of the fourteenth century, except that it does not deal with 
any English writers after Roger Bacon. 'I’lic revival of astronomy 
in Europe has hitlicrto bevn su])|>osed to date from the middle 
of the* fifteenth century, and to have commenced with the labours 
of Cusa, I'curbach, and Regiomontanus in Germany. We know 
now from tlie rest‘arclu‘s of M. Duhem that the revival began in 
France fully a hundred years earlier, while the studies of M. Ben- 
saude have shown that tlu^ scientific light spread by the Arabs in 
Spain and Portugal had never been put out, so that the navigators 
who found the way to the Indies and to the New World had 
nothing to learn from German astronomers. We shall look forward 
with great interest to the promised si.xth volume of M. Duhem, 
while deepU’’ regretting that his early death should have pre- 
vented him from completing this vast monument of learning and 

* In the south of France a last attempt to substitutes spheres for epicycles and 
exeentrics was in the fourteenth century made by Levi ben Gerson in his work 
Milchamot Adonai, of which an account was ]>ublis}ied by Carlebach in 1910 
(Duhem, v, pp. 201 sqq.). 



The real value of a man’s work can only be estimated with 
any approach to accuracy when it is seen against the baekgiouiul 
of the intellectual life of his time : when his contribution to the 
world’s thought is confronted with the ideas of his contemporaries, 
whether they run together in harmony or diverge into independent 
ways of development. The position of Roger Bacon in the history 
of science depends not only on the actual contributions to the 
stock of knowledge he made, but also, and more especially, on 
his mode of approach to the problems of his age, and on the 
foresight with which he selected the objects of his study. 

I’he story of his life has often been told, and is tolerably 
familiar to most readers. Born about 1214, the yeai* before Magna 
Carta, he first appears in history, if it be indee<l the same, as 
a young clerk at the court of Henry 111 in 12iW. Soon afterwards 
he hift Oxford and went t<* Paris, at least for a time, before? 123(>. 
He seems to have travelleel in Italy, dt'tlicated a book to I’ope 
Innocent IV, returned to Paris, lectured there? as a Master in tin? 
University, and r(?turned to Oxford about 1251. He joined the 
Franciscans about 1254, and towartls 1257 was s<?Jit to their Paris 
convent, where he remained ten years. In 1266 he received the 
commands of Po[)e Clement IV to send him a fair copy of his 
works, but (’Icment’s deatJi in 1268 frustrated any hopes from 
him, and in 1278 he was condemned for teiu;hing ‘ suspected 
novelties ’ and, tradition says, imprisoned till 1292, in which year 
he composed his last work, and shortly afterwards die<l. 

The public life of Roger Bacon, then, exteiwls from 1236 to 
1272, the middle y(?ars of the great thirteenth century, almost 
the same as that of Louis IX, .St. Louis of Krance, 1236-70. He 
was a contemporary of two great Poi)es, Gregory IX (1227 41) 
and Innocent IV (1242-54), and of the Emjw'ror Frederic 11, the 
new ‘ Stupor Mundi ’, who died in 1250. Two great ( 'ouncils were 
held in his time at Lyons, and two Crusades were midcu-taken, 
while the Latin Empire of (Constantinople came to its end and 


the Greek rule there was restored. The Mongols had spread out 
and conquered from Cliina to >Silesia. Europe from end to end 
was filled with unrest and criticism of established authority, while 
authority was asserting itself with varying degrees of success. 
I’he strife between Pope and Emperor ended in the defeat of the 
Hohenstauffen and the extinction of his line, leaving the Imperial 
crown vacant for a score of years. Heresy stoutly fought a losing 
battle in the south of France, while in the north free cities estab- 
lished tlieir rights under the royal protection. In England the 
controversies begun under John culminated in the summoning of 
a Parliamentary assembly by Simon do Montfort in 1265 before 
his defeat and death at Evesham. Among the masses this feeling 
of unrest manifested itself in opposition to the clergy, usually by 
a more or less good-humoured incredulity towards their i)ersorial 
character and teaching, but sometimes showing itself, as in the 
case of the revolt of the Pastoreaux, in the determination to 
destroy the clergy, suppress the monks, and turn on the knights 
and lords, as the Custos of the Franciscans of Paris puts it. 

Civilized Euro|)e was in thos(> days comparatively small. 
Roughly speaking, from the Black Sea to the North Sea the 
northern boundary of civilization lay along th(> valleys of the 
Danube and the Rhine, and its common language was some sort 
of French, from England to (yonstantinoplc, and along the Medi- 
terranean. French nobles ruled in Athens and Thebes, a French 
king gained the crown of the Sicilies, and everywhere there was 
a movement to and fro which made for internationalism. With 
the end of tin* thirteenth century this particular unifying influence 
had deicreased almost to the vanisliing-point, but others remained, 
only less potent. Every magnate of Europe, lay or clerical, had 
at some time or another of his career business to transact with 
the Papal Court : and this caused a continual streani of suiters 
journeying to Rome or returning from it to their own lands. 
Every prelate had to visit, at least once, the threshold of the 
Apostle, every ecclesiastical lawsuit found there its final court of 
appeal. The existence of the great Universities was another 
influence making for the international spirit. The readiest way 
to high promotion in the Church, and often in the State, for 
a i)oor man, was eminence in the law. Canon or Civil, and this 
eminence could only be attained in the schools of Bologna, while 
Theology, the Queen of Sciences, had her chosen seat at Paris, 


and welcomed students from every country to her bosom. Lastly, 
modem commerce was beginning to appear in the great cities 
situated on the routes between the East and the West ; and 
Florence, Genoa, and V’^enice were extending their relations in 
every direction within the ring-fence of Christendom, and sending 
outposts to the ends of the known eartli. Interjjenetrating all 
this was the Jewish community, whose solidarity and love of 
learning make the exact amount of its iiiHuence on Christendom 
hard to estimate. 

The temperameiit of this great commonwealth is reflected in 
its popular literature, especially that of France. The two great 
vernacular works of Bacon’s jK'rio<l are Reyrmrd the Fox and the 
first part of the Romance of the Ro,s‘c, the former a satiric criticism 
of life — of Church and State, not political but human ; the second, 
gathering up all the poetry of its predecessors and veiling it in 
a symbolism instinct with study. No one can be said to have 
any real conception of mediaeval thought to whom tliese books 
do not appeal. The passionate love of beauty and the tolerance 
for human weaknesses of the age reveal themselves too in tht* 
architecture and the sculpture of such a church as Rheirns was as 
much as in the literature of the day ; they are a background 
which must be borne in mind while our attention is directed to 
other asi^ects of the thought of the day. 

As the distinguishing feature of the late twelfth century was 
a revival of literature, so the thirteenth century was distinguished 
% a revival of science. The immediate cause of this was the 
introduction of the scientific works of Aristotle to western Europe, 
in nearly every ease through the medium of Arabic translations. 
Up to the middle of the twelfth century the only works of Aristotle 
known were the Categories and De Inter pretalione in the translation 
of Boethius, which, with the Isayoye of Porphyry and the Timaens 
of Plato, represented to Western Euroi)e the sum total of the 
scientifie work of the Greeks. Not that Greek was unknown in 
these lands ; on the contrary, a knowledge of it seems to have 
been fairly common, but the interest of the learned of the 
Byzantine Empire and of Magna Grecia lay in mysticism and 
devotional theology, while the ordinary speaker of Greek was 
about as fitted to translate Aristotle as an English merchant in 
an Asiatic port would be to translate modern philosophy or 
biology into the language of his surroundings. 


It was in the Arabic-speaking countries ‘that the new scientific 
movement began. Its great names are Avicenna (d. 1057), Algazel 
(d. 1111), and Averroes (d. 1198). Their commentaries on the 
text of Aristotle represented the highest point of the efforts of 
the battle between reason and faith, between the philosophers 
and the theologians of Islam. The battle spread from Islam to 
the Synagogue, but though the Mohammedan theologians finally 
crushed the school of Arabic Aristotelianism, its Jewish disciples 
carried on the tradition, and played a not unimportant part in 
its transfer to the Christian community. 

The texts used by the Arabs were translations, in some cases 
made from Syriac versions, in others directly from the Greek ; 
from manuscripts not always perfect, as may be seen from the 
phrase ‘ album in Greco ’ — a blank space in the Greek — ^so often 
met with in early Latin manuscripts of Aristotle. When these 
translations were turned into Latin, it was usually by means of 
two persons, a Jew or native who knew Arabic and gave the 
sense of the passage in Latin or the vernacular, and a writer who 
.set -doMm the passage in a more or less coherent and intelligent 
form. A good deal of our information as to these versions comes 
from the pen of Bacon himself, who knew personally some of the 
translators, and was markedly sensible of the faults in their work* 

The spread of knowledge in the thirteenth century lay through 
three distinct channels, the Universities, the schools of religious 
houses both of the older orders and of the new friars, and through 
little groups and individual scholars working on their own account 
without any organization to back them up. The Universities 
were the chief means of spreading the study of philosophy and 
theology ; the religious houses more or less preserved the chain 
of literary study and of historiography, in addition to their normal 
devotional writing ; while the study of astronomy, cosmogony, 
alchemy, and such experimental science as existed was in the 
hands of small groups such as those of Pisa, Marseilles, and 
London, who issued astronomical tables for the calculation of the 
position of the sun, moon, and planets ; of the alchemists of Italy, 
France, and, perhaps, England ; and of such experimentors as 
Peter de Maricourt, the ‘ magister experimentorum ’, and others 
whose name and work are lost to us by their isolation and obscurity. 
Bacon himself for many years of his life seems to have belonged 
to this class. 


It is, however, to the Universities that we must turn for the 
main influences on European thought, and more especially to 
Paris and Oxford. It was to them that the new Aristotelianism 
came, at first possibly as summaries of the text with the com- 
mentaries of Avicenna and Algazel, and, as curiosity was aroused, 
by more or less complete versions of the text of ‘ The Philosopher ’ 
himself (Aristotle) and of the works of ‘ The Commentator ’ 
(Averroes). The first of these versions that we can date witli 
certainty were made in Spain about 1160 at Toledo, which long 
continued to be a centre of translation. It was from there that 
the new text-books came, according to Giraldus Cambrensis, ‘ libri 
quidam tanquam Aristotclis intitulati Toletani Hispanic finibus 
nuper inventi et translati, Logices quodam mode doctrinara pro- 
fitentes ’, which led to the adoption of so many ‘ novitates et 
hereses ’ that their use was prohibited in Paris in 1210. These 
must have caused inquiry at Constantinople after its capture by 
the Latins in 1204, for in 1209 we learn ‘ legebantur Parisiis libelli 
quidam de Aristotcle ut dicebantur compositi, qui docebant Mcta- 
physicam, delati de novo a Constantinopoli et a Greco in Latinum 
translati, qui . . . iussi sunt omnes comburi ’, at the council next 

Thus reaction triumphed for a while, and in the earliest statutes 
of the University of Paris (1215) dealing with the course of study 
we find that the only works of Aristotle studied were the old and 
new Dialectics and the Nichomachean Ethics (four books) with the 
Topics of Boethius. The prohibition was renewed by Gregory IX 
in 1231, but, long before, the Physics in one form or another were 
studied. Giraldus Cambrensis, in his old age (c. 1220), comxfiains 
of young men arriving at the professorial chair (the M.A. degree) 
in three or four years instead of the twenty years of his own time, 
and devoting themselves to logic and physics instead of the poets 
and historians who used to be studied. William of Auvergne, 
who became Bishop of Paris in 1228 and was still writing in 1248, 
quotes the Metaphysics, the De Anima, the Physics, the De Caelo 
et Mundo, the Meteorics, the De Animalibus, the De SoniTio et 
Vigiliis, and the Ethics. Everything goes to prove that the end 
of the first quarter of the thirteenth century saw a nearly complete 
Aristotle in the hands of the Western world. But in practice 
these translations, passing through the hands of unnumbered and 
anxious copyists, soon grew to be wofully corrupt. Even Bacon 


himself, lecturing at Paris, is led into accepting as a dictum of 
Aristotle the exact opposite of what now appears in the mediaeval 
texts, and we may perhaps attribute to this unfortunate experience 
a part of the criticisms which he lavishes on the ignorance of the 

It was not, however, the study of Aristotle that first aroused 
the mind of western Europe to the pursuit of science. Only one 
branch of study at that period could present in the fullest way 
the essential requisites for a complete science, the study of Astro- 
nomy. Its two branches, theoretical and experimental, allowed 
for close and detailed observation, the construction of theories 
founded on that observation, the prediction of future phenomena 
from theory, and the verification of these predictions, in a way 
that no other study could begin to approach : the only other 
scientific studies of that time. Medicine and Alchemy, being at 
the stage of empirical arts. Astronomy was another of the 
heritages of Europe from the Arabs. Since the time of the Greeks 
its greatest advances had been made in the country of its origin, 
at Bagdad. Tlie Almagest of Ptolemy was translated into Arabic 
about A. D. 800 and reached Europe at the end of the twelfth 
century. The observatory at Bagdad was a centre of study, and 
here Thebit was led to his theory of the trepidation of the 
equinoxes to explain discrepancies between the calculated and 
observed positions of the heavenly bodies. From here a constant 
influence was exercised west and east from Granada and Cairo to 
Samarkand. With better observations, more correct tables were 
from time to time calculated and issued, and these tables were 
seized on by the Western world when they came into their hands, 
and adapted to their use. With each advance in precision came 
improvements in geometrical methods, more accuracy in the 
determination of periods like the length of the solar year or the 
relation of its length to the lunar month, to name no others. 
But in all this Arab science there was no fundamental difference 
from its Greek source, nothing was changed by the additions 
made, so that when it came into Europe it harmonized well with 
the traditional astronomy handed down from the Latins by Isidore 
of Seville and his copyists. 

The science of Mathematics had grown with the needs of 
Astronomy : the art of the algorists had been improved by the 
publication of the Liber Abaci of Fibonacci in 1202, and was now 


perfectly adequate not only for the ordinary needs -of commerce 
but for the intricate calculations demanded by the observations 
of astronomers : a general method of extracting roots had been 
obtained, and was taught in the ordinary work of the schools. 
The works of Euclid had been translated by Adelard of Bath in 
the twelfth century and were revised by Campanus of Novara 
in 1246, and a sufficient amount of spherical geometry had been 
obtained for the needs of the day, while a sort of algebra and the 
elements of trigonometry only awaited a scientific nomenclature 
to be recognized as new branches of the science. What was 
needed to make it a vigorous study were better teachers taiid 
a wider outlook. 

The science of medicine received a new impulse in the early 
])art of the thirteenth century by the translation of the medical 
work of Avicenna, made by the order of Frederick II — a transla- 
tion which dominated the teaching of medicine till the seventeenth 
century, and long survived its usefulness. It furnished a complct(‘ 
body of medical teaching, theoretical and practical, and, though 
Avicenna did not differ greatly from his Eastern ])redecessors, it 
introduced some new theoretical principles as a foundation or as 
an explanation of medical practice. But this translation was 
only one of the services rendert^d to medical science by the court 
of Sicily ; a far greater one was the iiisistenee on the valiu' of 
dissection in the course of mc<lical study, in 1231 the Emperor 
issued an ordinance forbidding any one to practise surgery, unless 
he had studied at least a year in human anatomy, and he is said 
(on, we are afraid, insufficient grounds) to have ordered the medical 
schools of Salerno to dissect publicly a human corpse at least 
once in five years. But it cannot be said that this practical side 
of the study of medicine has left much trace on the writings of 
the thirteenth century, i^erhaps because surgeons were of an inferior 
class to physicians, regarded as handicraftsmen simply obeying their 
orders, perhaps because the needful stimulus to original thought 
was drowned by the vast mass of literature thrust upon it. 

Later in the century the University of Bologna was a great 
centre of medical teaching. An English bishop of Durham in 
1241, Nicholas of Farnham, had been a professor of medicine in 
Bologna, but the formation of a scientific school there dates from 
about 1260 and is associated with the name of Thaddeus of 
Florence, who seems to have founded his teaching on Avicenna. 



It is to Bologna later on at the end of the century that we owe 
the close connexion between medicine and astrology. Surgery 
was well taught there, judging by the many famous names of its 
pupils — Theodoric of Lucca, William of Saliceto, and Roland of 
Parma among others. Anatomy was taught by public annual 
dissections to which medical students of over two years* standing 
were admitted. 

Of the Experimental Science of the early thirteenth century 
we know almost nothing except that it existed, and that some 
teachers of it were famous enough to be called ‘ Experimentator ’. 
Thomas of (^antimpre quotes one such. Villars d’Honcourt, the 
thirteoiith-ceiitury architect, has left us a sketch of a perpetual 
motion machine he had designed, the properties of the magnet 
had been studied, and it is difficult to believe that the fine archi- 
tecture of the period was arrived at without an exact knowledge 
of mechanical law. 

Chemistry and Alchemy were indistinguishable, but metallurgy 
was sufficiently advanced to ensure that the properties of the 
commoner metals and ores were known experimentally and that 
a theory to account for their more obvious properties should be 
evolved. One has only to consider the number of treatises quoted 
by Albertus Magnus to realize the mental activity expended on 
this subject. But no scientific study was possible until a much 
wider and deeper knowledge was attained, sufficient to indicate 
the points to which inquiry should be deyote<l. In the thirteenth 
century only empirical knowledge could be hoped for. 

In this world of awakening science Roger Bacon began to take 
part somewhere about 1235, after having been at Oxford for 
some years, and having possibly attended the teaching of Grosse- 
teste, who was lecturing in the Franciscan schools from about 
1230 to 1235. There is no doubt that Grosseteste {maximua 
'naturaMs et perspectivus quern vidi) was the man from whom more 
than any other Bacon derived, not only much of his knowledge 
and many of his theories, but above all his love of mathematics 
and his insistence on the value of a mathematical demonstration. 
But certain features of his early teaching of astronomy in the 
notes of his lectures preserved by the Amiens manuscript lead us 
to the conclusion that Bacon*s early studies were in the hands of 
more conservative teachers, whose astronomy was derived from 
that current before the invasion of Mohammedan science. 


However that may be, Bacon seems to have come to Paris with 
a reputation good enough for him to be taken up by the Chancellor 
of the University, who advised him in the direction of further 
studies. Bacon was recommended tc^ study medicine, and to 
apply himself to the compasition of a work on some branch of it. 
The subject ho selected was the relief of old age, and his Epislola 
de accidentihus senectutis, dedicated and sent to Innocent IV 
(1243-54), was the result. In the preparation of this work Bacon 
visited Italy ‘ in partibus Romanis ’ and made himself acquainted 
with those works of Mohammedan medicine which had been 
introduced into Europe. His book is largely a compilation, 
perhaps one of the most complete on its subject that has been 
made, from Avicenna, Rhazes, Haly, Isaac, and Damascenus, and 
contains little that would mark out its writer as an independent 
or innovating spirit. It was after this visit that Bacon began the 
study of Greek, then a si)oken and written language in southern 
Italy, as his treatise makes it pretty evident that he knew no 
Greek, Hebrew, or Arabic at the time, his knowledge of Greek 
medicine — Galen and Dioscorides — being obtained from Italy. 

We owe to the piety or the industry, it would seem, of one 
of the pupils of Roger Bacon a report of several of the courses 
given by him as a regejit master at Paris. They consist of two 
courses on the Physics of Aristotle and three on th(5 Metaphysics, 
with another on the De plantis. An (examination of the contents 
assures us that we have in the questions on the Physics the report 
of two distinct courses, not two reports of the same lectures, and 
the three sets of que.stions on the Metaphysics must belong to at 
least two courses and most probably three. As the Physics and 
Metaphysics were lectured on at the same time in 1245, and most 
likely earlier, we thus have records of three years’ teaching — 
ending most probably in or before 1247. We put this date because 
Bacon, writing in 1267 or 1268, speaks of the twenty years in 
which he h*ad laboured specially in the study of wisdom, after 
abandoning the usual methods. 

These lectures bear the mark of youth — a youth of genius. 
They have been examined at some length by the late M. Duhem, 
who has made it plain that the principal subjects dealt with in 
them are those which preoccupied Bacon throughout his career, 
and that his treatment shows a progressive growth in knowledge 
and boldness of views. Even at this early stage of his career he 


is an innovator, and it is to liis exposition of the question as to 
the existence of a vacuum, that mediaeval science owed the 
theory which htdd sway for centuries till new facts were observed 
which showcid its unsoundness, a theory crystallized into the 
c^xprcssion ‘ Natun? abhors a vacuum It is j)robable that the 
earlier courses re])res(mts the views current at Oxford, the later 
was certainly »^iven at Paris. 

The stylt; of tlx'se <'arly works has little in common with that 
of twenty years later, and this offers a warning to us, forbidding 
the n^jection of works attributtjd to Bacon merely on account of 
their style, provided that their subjects and treatment permit of 
their being placed among the ‘ rnulta in alio statu . . . propter 
iuvenum rudimenta ’ written by him, or the ‘ aliqua capitula 
nunc de una sci<‘ntia nuiu; de alia . . . aliquando more trajisitorio 
There is, it is true, none of the fierce and outspoken criticism 
which marks his later work, but it must be remembered that few 
of the abuses Ik? attacks had come into existence. His period of 
lecturing must hav<? coincid(?d with the last teaching of Alexander 
of Hales, who died in 1245, and the first appcnirance of Albertus 
Magnus in the Jacobin (jonv(;nt at Paris in the sanu? year, and 
he had retired from his chair before »St. Thomas came to lecture 
at Paris in 1252. His teaching comparers favourably with that 
of Albert, as pr(‘served in the Commentary on Aristotks’s Physicfi, 
written most probably at or soon after this period. 

It is in astronomy that these lectures show best the fluid 
state of Bacon’s knowl(?dge. fn the earlier of them, that on the 
eleventh Metaphysics, his theory is a tlevelopment of the Aristo- 
telian reasoning in the de ('aelo et Miindo. He seems entirely 
ignorant of tht; Ptolemaic theories, and to found his teaching 
(jn the Commentator of tin? Timaeus rather than on Alpetragius. 
His theories are thos<? of the twelfth-(;entury school of Chartres. 
In his se(!ond lectures on the Physics his knowledge of contem- 
porary astronomical theory is greatly enlarged. He now finds tin? 
jK?cessity of supposing nine orbs instead of eight, to account for 
the precession of the equinoxes, and though he is not yet prepared 
to acknowledge the opposition between the homocentric system 
of Aristotle and that of the school of Ptolemy, he is evidently on 
the road to this position. 

We cannot with any tiertainty give a reason for Bacon’s with- 
drawal from his work as. a master at Paris. It may have been 


due to the public affront he received, when, bungling over a strange 
word in the text of the De plantis he was explaining, and calling 
it Arabic, one of his students replied that it was Spanish. Certainly 
it is a curious fact that the reported 'lectures on tliis book break 
off just beforci the point at which tliis })assage occurs. At any 
rate we may date from this period his resolution to become 
a master of the languages in which the fundamental documents 
of religion and sciencis were written. 

It was about this time that a revival of the teaching of 
mathematics in the University of Paris took place, following tin' 
republication of the Euclidean corpus by Campanus of Novara in 
1246. Bacon tells us that he attended the lectures of many new 
masters on mathematics, but found that they did not understand 
the terminology of their subjects, so that lu' su])pli(‘d them with 
geometrical proofs of positions from Aristoth; and Avt‘rroi*s which 
none of the official critics in the disputations could attack. About 
this time (1248), Bacon seems to have learnt from (Irossctesto his 
theory as to the origin of the tides and now probably 
that intensive study of natural science of which his work bears 
such witness. He writes in 1267 that during the last twenty years 
Ik'S had spent more than 2,000 livres (a sum equal in purclui^ing 
power to something under £10,000 at present) in purchasing secret 
books, on various experiments, languages, and instruments, and 
astronomical tables, in forming friendships with the wist?, ajul in 
instructing helpers in languages, figures, numbers, tables, instru- 
ments, and the like. 

I’he experiments to which he devoted his attention may bt? 
gathered from his account of the mysterious Peter dt? Maricourt, 
whom he seems to have met about this tinu;. The account of 
him in the Opus Terlium seems to be Bacon’s ideal of a student. 
‘ He makes no account of speeches and wordy conflicts but follows 
up the works of wisdom and remains there. He knows natural 
science by experiment, and medicaments and alchemy and all 
things in the heavens or beneath them, and he would be ashamed 
if any layman, or old woman or rustic, or soldier should know 
anything about the soil that he was ignorant of. Whence he is 
conversant with the casting of metals and the working of gold, 
silver, and other metals and all minerals ; he knows all about 
soldiering and arms and hunting ; he has examined agriculture 
and land surveying and farming ; he has further considered ohl 


wives’ magic aii<l fortune-tolling and the charms of them and of 
all magicians, and tlie tricks and illusions of jugglers. But as 
honour and rewards would hinder him from the greatness of his 
experimental work lie scorns them.’ W<^ learn that in 1267 he had 
just eomf)let(^d a concave mirror capable of acting as a burning- 
glass, after three years’ work, at an expense of 100 livres. 

A reflection of this acquaintance may be found in the rather 
puzzling work known under the name of De mirnhili polesfafe 
ariifi el nalurae, consisting of ten or eleven chapters, of which the 
first six must have been written about this time, prom]d.ed, there 
is little doubt, by a reeejit denunciation by William of Auvergne. 
Bishop of Paris, of dealings in magic. 'I’lie remaining chapters 
are of a different character and may ])Ossibl\' liave formed part 
originally of another work. 

'I’he ])rincij)al subject of tliese chapters is a delimitation of the 
wonders tliat can fie wrought Iiy an application of scientific 
principles from those which are mere trickery or those* which may 
be due to the [lowers of evil. He? seems to have gone* thoroughly 
into th(‘ question <if magic, and to have attended the thirteenth- 
century spiritualistic seances. ‘ Wlien inanimate olijects are 
quickly movt‘d afiout in the darkness of morning or evening 
twilight, there is no truth therein but downright cheating and 
cozenage.’ He allows a certain utility in charms, for example in 
the hands of a jihysician, that the jiatient may lie induced to 
ho])e and confidence of a cure, quoting Avicenna as to the eff(‘ct 
of the mind on the body. He then proceeds to give a general 
exjilanatiou of the way in which one person or thing can act on 
another, confusing what we now recognize as infection, sym[iathy, 
and hypnotism into one class of action at a distance, and while 
re[indiating such liooks as pay worshi[i to evil, warns his rc'ader 
that many liooks re]iuted magical contain much useful knowledge. 

He then proceeds to describe a few of these wonders, which give 
iis sonu* id<‘a of what were really the mechanical [iroblems <if the 
time. The first is a ship, without men rowing ytt movnng faster 
on rivers or the sea than a galley. This seems to ]ioint either tti 
an improv(‘d form of sails, or to something lik(^ a paddle moved 
with cranks. The car moving without animals to draw it may 
have depended on the same thing, the real obstacle to its use 
being the want of good roads. The flying machine with wings 
ho acknowledges has only existed in plans. The small instrument 


ior lifting weights is evidently a sort of ja»ck, unless it is a system 
of pulleys ; similarly, the instrument by whieh one man ean pull 
a thousand toward him. Walking under the s(‘a, building suspen- 
sion bridges, and so on, .are also mentioned by him as possible at 
the tiim*. He himself lays much stress on the jiropertic's of mirrors. 
Soiiu* ol these appear obvious enough to us, such lus the arrange- 
ment by which images of an object are repeated indetiuitely, 
whieh it is difficult to belie\e had not been observed before, 
though he uses it to (^\plaiil the existence of parhelia and mirages, 
and proposes its utilization in war. He also speaks of an arrange- 
ment of lenses by which distant things may be brought near .and 
small things made visible : ^ possnnt enim sic fignrari pt'rspicne 
lit longissime appareant propinquissima, et e converso.’ This is 
undoubt(‘dly a description of the teleseojM' witliout the (Miclosing 
tub(‘. .Snell an arrangement is known to have Ihs'ii made by 
Leonard Digges, who diial in 1571, from his stiulv' of Racon’s 
works. I’he magic-lantern is not obscurely hinted at, in a descrip- 
tion ol some optical illusions. But Bation ri'siu’ves his great(‘st 
praise for the use of lenses and mirrors as burning-glasses, and 
for tlu^ construction of a self-moving c(‘Iestial globe, probable- 
dependent on the us(‘ of a magnet, as was that of Peter do Mari- 
eourt. He further describes some inflammable mixtures and an 
explosive mixture which later on prov'es to be guiqiowdi'r. 

We do not know how much of this period of investigation was 
spent at Paris, and (‘verything points to the fact that Bacon re- 
turiKMl to Oxford about 1251 and entered th(‘ Franciscan ()rdt*i- 
about 1253 to 12.5fi. But during these ye.ars of absence^ from the 
ITniversity schools another and a rival influence was establishing 
itself there. 

•Albert the Great, the first doctor of the Dominican Order, 
had come to Paris in 1245 ; he some years older than Bacon 
and brought with him a great renown as a t(‘ach(‘r. He was 
accompanied by his ympil and soeius Thomas Aquinas, now in his 
eighteenth year, whose fame was destined to jnit his own in the 
shade. Their task was to explain Aristotle and to reconcile him 
with dogma. In some respects this was difficult. Aristotle tells of 
no Creator, no Adam, no Providence, no eternity of the individual 
soul after death ; and his commentators had to pass ov(‘r these 
defects in silence, sometimes to deny the jilaiii meaning of what he 
wrote, and occasionally to throw his teaching overboard altogether. 


Albert’s encyclopaedic work on the Physics and MeUtphysics 
of Aristotle, begun perhaps before 1245 in view of his coming to 
Paris, was concluded by about 1266. His Logic and his Svmma 
are parts of another scheme. It was written as a result of a demand 
from the Dominicans for a compendious account of physics which 
would enable them to understand the works of Aristotle on the 
subject. Albert felt himself unequal to the task," but after repeated 
entreaties set to work to write a Commentary for the use of the 
friars and of all those who desired to attain to natural science — 
a commentary many times longer than the original text. He 
goes on to describe the plan on which he worked, and to explain 
that there are three divisions of real philosophy ; that is, philo- 
sophy not caused in ourselves by our own work like Moral 
Philosophy. These three parts are Natural Philosophy or Physics, 
Metaphysics, and Mathematics ; and he promises to deal with 
each in turn. As a matter of fact he never did deal with Mathe- 
matics, and it is probable that he was not in a position to do so, 
but he dealt fully with everything included in the thirteenth 
century in Physics and Metaphysics. 

Albert was, beyond doubt, one of the most learned men of his 
age, as Bacon, his severest critic, admits. Writing to the Pope 
in 1267 he mentions Albert and William de Sh3nrwood as the two 
most famous scholars of the day, and challenges comparison with 
them. In the Opus Minus he says of Albert, ‘ truly I praise him 
more than all the crowd of students, for he is very given to study 
and has seen an infinite number of things, and has spent much, 
and so has been able to collect many useful facts from an ocean 
of authors ’. But Bacon insists that being a self-taught student 
he is not thoroughly grounded, seeing he was never trained by 
hearing, lecturing, and disputing in the ordinary arts course. 
Moreover, he does not know languages, and so cannot check the 
errors of his texts, and as he is ignorant of the laws of perspective 
he cannot fully explain any part of natural philosophy. 

The dates of Albert’s treatises are not well established, and 
the order in which they were written is only partly known, so 
that we cannot say how far Bacon’s statement as to his ignorance 
of Greek and Arabic was true at the time. There seems no doubt 
that Albert consulted Greek texts and probably Arabic ones, 
though he may have had expert help. He certainly was a very 
keen and diligent observer; his tracts on mineralogy contain 


many proofs of it. Perhaps this was because he could not find 
the complete hook of Aristotle de Minercdihua : ‘ que diligenter 
quesivi per diversas mundi regiones . . . exul enim aliquando 
factus fui longe vadens ad loca metallica ut experiri possem 
naturas metallorum.* He goes on to describe his investigations 
among the alchemists, theoretical and practical, and compares his 
impressions with his own knowledge of how gold, silver, and 
other metals mre found native or as ores. Of course these studies 
may have followed Bacon’s criticisms and resulted from them. 
We know that Albert was sensitive to them. 

But Bacon’s criticism of Albertus, however strong, was, from 
the point of view that we share with him, well founded. The 
ideal science of Albertus JSiagnus was a science based on words and 
books, not on the phenomena of nature. He looked to logic for 
advance in knowledge. ‘ Et hoc est quod per investigationem 
rationis ex cognito devenitur ad cognitionem incogniti, hoc enim 
fit in omnia scientia quocunque modo dicta, sive sit demon- 
strativa ’, he says ir. asserting the claims of logic to be a science. 

‘ Investigatio enim sive ratio investigans ignotum per notum, 
speciale quoddam est.’ It is true that he says elsewhere, ‘ Dicen- 
dum quod scientie demonstrative non omnes facte sunt, sed plures 
restant adhuc inveniende ’, but these demonstrative sciences are 
further branches of logic, not sciences founded on observation of 
nature. Similarly the statement, ‘ Oportet experimentum non in 
uno modo sed secundum omnes circumstancias probare ’, does not 
apply to experiments in natural science but to words. Summing 
up our impressions, his infiuence on his time is on the whole bad ; 
his value for us is that he presents us with a resume, from the 
scholastic point of view, of the knowledge already acquired by 
western Europe at the end of the first half of the thirteenth 

Albert’s great pupil, St. Thomas, enters late into the scheme of 
Bacon’s surrbundings. He may have been the ‘ Doctor Parisius ’ 
on whom an attack is made, but his treatment of the Aristotelian 
system of nature seems to have been a little later in date than 
the Opus Tertium, and certainly to have avoided some of Bacon’s 
criticisms by an attempt to obtain a new version made directly 
&om the Greek. That this version was defective, too, was not 
his fault. Thomas was lecturing in Paris in 1252, after having 
spent three years there as a pupil of Albertus in 1245-8, and he 


took his divinity degree at the same time as Bonaventura in 
1257. His commentaries on the NcUuralia of Aristotle are said 
to have been begun in 1263, and he lectured in Paris again from 
1268 to 1272, when he left to take up a post in the reorganized 
University of Naples. The ‘ duo modern! gloriosi ’ of the Com- 
munia Naturalium must have been Albert and Thomas, but it is 
not till later that Thomas is mentioned (1271) in the Compendium 
Studii, with Albert as an example of the * pueri duorum ordinum 
studeiitium *, and it must be about this time or a little earlier 
(1268-9) that the strictures in the later part of the Communia 
Naturalium on his doctrines were written. ‘ Temporibus autem 
mcis non fiebat mencio de istis erroribus.’ But while these dis- 
cussions have lost much of their meaning to us of this day, Thomas 
remains the greatest of the schoolmen, and his supremely intel- 
lectual attitude has carried over his theological work to our own 
days almost unaltered. 

The work of Albert was not the only attempt to sum up the 
totality of human knowledge at the time. Several veritable 
encyclopaedias were composed about 1250, large and small, 
including all that was known or believed about the universe. 
Of these the most notable was that of Vincent of Beauvais, 
a Dominican like Albert and St. Thomas, who wrote between 
1240 and 1264 his colossal Imago Mundi divided into three 
sections — the Speculum Naturale, Speculum Doctrinale, and Specu- 
lum Historialef to which was later added by other hands the 
Speculum Morale. Perhaps Bacon had Vincent in mind when he 
wrote to Pope Clement that his own scheme could only be carried 
out by the aid of the Pope or of some great prince like the King 
of France, for it w€bs to St. Louis that Vincent was indebted for 
the unrestricted use of the royal library, containing, it is said, 
some 1,200 manuscripts, and for the large staff of copyists and 
heli)ers necessary for the completion of the work. His method 
is to make extracts from the various authorities on each subject, 
and when necessary to add a few remarks of his own. It has 
been computed that he quotes from some 450 writers by name, 
some of whom we only know by his extracts. 

The Speculum Naturale is divided into 32 books and 3,718 
chapters, and is intended to be a full description of all created 
living beings, from angels down to fishes and plants. Book 15, 
for example, treats of astronomy and the calendar ; books 23 to 


27 deal with the psychology, physiology, and anatomy of man. 
In book 6, cap. 7, the question is discussed as to what would 
happen if a stone were dropped down a hole passing tlurough the 
centre of the earth, and he decides that it would stay there. 
The Speculum Doctrinale treats of sciences and arts, beginning 
with the trivium, ethics, the economic arts, housekeeping, and 
agriculture, and so on. The eleventh book treats of the mechanical 
arts, which include architecture, navigation, alchemy, and metal- 
lurgy, weaving, smith-work, commerce, and hunting. Books 12 
to 14 deal with medicine, theoretical and practical, and book 16 
with mathematics. It is a most useful summary of the knowledge 
and belief of the time. The Speculum Historiale is, as its name 
implies, a gossipy abstract of the history of the world. 

Another encyclopaedia, the most popular of all, was the De 
Proprietatihus Rerum of Bartholomew Anglicus, a Franciscan friar, 
in nineteen books. It is of the same general character as the 
Speculum Doctrinalet but shorter. It exists in hundreds of manu- 
scripts and several early translations were made, while its ]>opu- 
larity in the early days of printing was very great. It ap])ears 
to have been written somewhere about 1250, for use, not in 
University circles, but among the general body of friars. The 
taste for encyclopaedic manuals spread to the laity, and we have 
a number of compositions in the vulgar tongue such as Vimage 
du monde of Gautier de Metz, written about 1245, treating of 
cosmogony, astronomy, and geography, and the Fontaine de 
toutes sciences — a dialogue between King Boetus and the philo- 
sopher Sidrach on things in general — written a little earlier. The 
Tresor of Brunetto Latini, written in French about 1265, was 
a book of a superior sort, with as wide a range. 

Bacon after these years of study, after repeated entreaties 
from his friends, and, it may be, criticisms from opponents, 
determined in his turn on the composition of an encyclopaedia 
which was to be a compendium of real knowledge, not a com- 
mentary on the works of Aristotle or on the compilations of other 
and lesser minds than his. The great work was to be founded 
on a reasoned scheme of mental progress, leading up to the 
supreme science of the mind, for him as for every one else in 
that century, the science of theology. 

The scheme of his great encyclopaedia, as he conceived it, 
included four principal divisions : the 6rst volume comprised 


Grammar and Logic, the second Mathematics, the third Natural 
Science (Physics and Experimental Science), the fourth Meta- 
physics and Morals. He worked at this scheme until his task 
was arrested by his condemnation in 1277, only breaking off 
during the year devoted to the compilation of the Opus Maius, 
the Opus MinuSf and the Opus Tertium^ much of these works 
being obviously composed of material ready to hand. He seems 
to have worked at them in a desultory way, writing now on one 
subject now on another. ‘Aliqua capitula de diversis materiis*, 
‘ nihil continuum est ’ arc his words. This accounts for the great 
number and diversity of the smaller works that pass under his 
name, destined to take their place in a larger frame, and often 
unrelated to their fellows. Attempts have obviously been made 
since his death to effect this synthesis ; the fine Royal MSS. of 
Bacon have been through the preliminary stages of such an 
attempt. 'Phe Oxford MS. of the Opus Maius is evidently an 
aggregation of several tractates to the original work, and the 
Mazarine MS. of the Communia Naluralium offers undoubted 
proof of having been made up at the end of the fourteenth 
century from a number of independent fragments written for 
the Opus Tertium, and added to the work as it left the pen of 

The first volume of this encyclopaedia has not been handed 
down to us in any complete form. Several fragments of it remain ; 
a nearly complete Greek grammar, a fragment of a Hebrew 
grammar, a Summa grammatice^ and the tract published by 
Brewer under the title Compendium Studii Philosophiae. Most of 
them, in the form we have them at any rate, appear to have been 
written after 1267, though a part of what we find concerning 
Grammar and Logic in the Opus Tertium was probably taken 
from pre-existing fragments. Bacon returns to the subject in his 
latest work the Compendium Studii Theologies written in 1292. 

The second volume was intended to deal with Mathematics, 
pure and applied, of which nine divisions were recognized at the 
time, five speculative and four operative. This division is due to 
Alfarabi ; he divides geometry, arithmetic, astronomy (to use our 
modern nomenclature), and music into two sections each, theoretical 
and applied, and precedes them by a general study of principles 
‘ de communibus mathematice We have a part of this treatise 
written before 1267, and a later and enlarged form of it written 


some time after, together with some shorter additional tracts on 
Geometry. Astronomy was relegated to the third volume. 

The third volume dealt with Natural Philosophy, the modern 
Physics. It was intended to include a treatise on the first principles 
of physics, the nature of rest and motion, of the four elements, 
of the theory of compounds both inanimate and animate, of 
generation and corruption, alteration, growth, and diminution. 
After this he proposed to treat of seven special sciences : Per- 
spective, Astrology, the Science of Weights, Alchemy, Agriculture, 
Medicine, and Experimental Science. His scope is fully explained 
in the surviving x>^rts of this volume, two forms of which exist, 
one written before 1267, the other after. We have in addition to 
those parts formally included in this volume a number of detached 
works, which would naturally fall into their place in the scheme, 
on Alchemy, Medicine, and Experimental Science. 

The fourth volume of the Compendium dealt with Metaphysics 
and Morals. Of tliis we have a number of detached j^arts, a 
separate treatise on the lines of the Metaphysics of Avicenna, and 
a treatise on the x>ropagation of force treated mathematically, 
which has been printed with the Opus Maius. There is no doubt 
but that he had completed a part of his treatment of the subject 
long before 1266, and two important treatises written at this 
period, showing the development of his theories, are still unprinted. 
A number of references to this work are to be found in the Opws 
Maius. The Morals would probably correspond largely to the 
seventh part of that work. 

Not only had this great encyclopaedic compendium been 
undertaken, but Bacon had given considerable attention to 
a matter which was becoming rather urgent, the reform of the 
Calendar. The slightest knowledge of the beginnings of our history 
will remind us of the importance attached by early (Christianity 
to the observance of Easter on the proper date. By the middle 
of the thirteenth century the Julian (Calendar had amassed so 
great an error that it was perfectly possible that Easter might 
be celebrated a month later than the date on which, according 
to the spirit of the rule, it should fall. 

Two works of Bacon on the subject are known. The large 
de Computo is an historical and general treatise on the various 
divisions of time and on the methods of using tables for the 
calculation of festivals or reducing Arabic to Christian dates. 



That included in the Opus Maine is more controversiaL It exposes 
the faults of the Julian Calendar, by the observance of which 
Easter is celebrated on the wrong date in the third and fourteenth 
years of the lunar cycle. He points out the superior advantage 
of using the Arab system of 30 years of 12 lunations, making 
10,631 days, or of adopting the Hebrew system which is nearly 
the same. In this attack on the established order of things Bacon 
stands nearly alone in his time ; and though his arguments 
were repeated in the next two centuries several times, it took 
three hundred years to effect this simple reform. 

In connexion with his study of this work Bacon seems to have 
written several treatises, one de Temporibue which once existed 
in the Austin Friars* Library at York but is now lost; the long 
work, the Cmupniusy written in 1263-4 ; and a shorter treatise 
dealing with times and seasons in 1266. He sums up his arguments 
in the fourth part of the Opiis Mainsy returning to the ijoint in 
the Opus Terlium. 

The turning-point in Bacon’s career was in 1266. Probably 
about 1264, Cardinal Guy de Foulkes heard of Bacon’s writings 
from a clerk in his service, Raymond of Laon, whom he com- 
missioned to obtain them. In 1266 the Cardinal became Pope 
under the title of Clement IV. In March 1266 Sir William Bonecor 
was sent by Henry HI on a special mission to the new Po])e, and 
he seems to have carried with him a communication from Roger 
Bacon, which Professor Little conjectures, with some probability, 
to have been the Metaphysica de viciia contraciis in studio theologi. 
On receiving this the Pope replied in a letter, first printed by 
Martene, asking him to indicate the remedies he would propose 
for the evils he had pointed out, and ordering him to send the 
writings he had previously asked for, secretly and without delay, 
any Constitution of his Order to the contrary notwithstanding. 
This letter is dated June 22, 1266. 

As a result of this Papal command we possess the most widely 
known of Bacon’s works ; the Opus Mains — ^a preliminary work 
he calls it — a ‘ tractatus preambulus ’ in contradistinction to his 
great encyclopaedia, and with it three treatises, summaries and 
supplements to it : the introductory letter and summmy found 
in the Vatican Library by Cardinal Gasquet ; the Opus Minus — 
a summary with additional remarks on the causes of error in the 
church. Biblical textual criticism, and a short theory of alchemy ; 


and the Tertiumt a work . of which the exact size is still 

uncertain, which was probably never completed. The Opus Maiua 
and Opus Minus, with some other treatises, were probably sent 
to the Pope early in 1268, but as he died in the same year, and 
his successor was not elected till 1271, no answer was received by 
Bacon and no result followed from them. 

Of the work of the succeeding years there is little to tell. 
Bacon seems to have worked on his Compendium, to have com- 
pleted his introduction to the Secreium Secretorum, and about 
1272 to have written the work published by Brewer. He was 
evidently in residence at Oxford at this period, to which may be 
referred the legends as to his construction of magical mirrors and 
perspective glasses referred to in the foundation for Greene’s play 
of Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay. He was imprisoned in 1278 by 
the Minister-General of his Order for some ‘ suspected novelties *, 
and it is believed, on no definite grounds, that he remained in 
prison till 1292, the date of composition of his last fragment, the 
Compendium Studii Theologie, published by Rashdall — ^a work 
which was intended to be completed in seven parts, including 
much of his earlier writing. 

It would be wrong to infer, because his name is rarely quoted 
in the few works of the half-century succeeding him, that his 
influence was negligible. Nearly all the manuscripts of his works 
we possess must have been written after his death. They range 
in date from the end of the thirteenth century to the middle of 
the fifteenth, and their form attests a constant attempt to edit and 
rearrange them according to the author’s intention. In the face 
of his express condemnation, the wish that his ‘ dangerous teaching 
might be completely suppressed’, the absence of his name is easily 
understood, but the influence of his thought is clearly discernible 
in Oxford teaching up to the time of the Renaissance. 

In estimating Bacon’s position among the men of his own time 
it is important to remember, first of all, the complete originality 
of his scheme. His great work, unfinished though it most probably 
was, and almost beyond the powers of any one unaided scholar 
to complete, the Compendium Studii Philosophic or Theologie, 
as the case may be, was as distinct in kind as in form from the 
works of his great contemporaries. As we have already said, it 
was an age of encyclopaedias, but none of them were independent 
in form. Albert’s life-work consisted in a series of comments on 


the words of Aristotle, following the order of his text with occa- 
sional excursuses when the subject seemed to suggest them, but 
breaking no new ground, and making no rearrangement of his 
matter. The great work of St. Thomas is conditioned by the 
Sentences^ following its order with more originality and power 
than Albert, but, after all, adopting another man’s scheme. His 
physics are mere commentaries on the text of Aristotle. On the 
other hand, the encyclopaedia of Vincent of Beauvais owes nothing 
of its arrangement to Aristotle, and comparatively little to its 
early forerunners, and was, so far, original. But there its origin- 
ality ceased : it was merely a collection of facts and dicta collected 
from apj)roved authors by the industry of a small college of clerks, 
and arranged under convenient headings. It added nothing to 
human knowledge, no inspiration for the progress of thought. 

Bacon’s schematic arrangement was not only unparalleled 
among the writers of his time ; it was absolutely new. Nothing 
like it had been devised since the time of Aristotle, and it had 
the advantage of not being obliged to combat a large number of 
exploded hypotheses. The whole system of human thought was 
re-cast, and the plan simplified to an extraordinary degree to meet 
the necessities of the age. It may be that the framework of his 
scheme owed something to A1 Farabi’s de, Scienciia, or to Avicenna, 
but in its conception and execution its originality is manifest. 
His plan has already been described, its execution was to be 
marked by the most rigorous economy. Everything superfluous 
or unnecessary to the development of the argument was to be cut 
away ; all the excrescences which dialectical skill had embroidered 
on the simplest notions were to be discarded. Bacon did not 
exclude the notion of special treatises ancillary to the main lines 
of his course, but he did not regard them as necessary to every 
pupil. He thought it more necessary, for example, that the results 
of geometry should be known as a whole, than that the pupil 
should be able to prove the fifth proposition and be ignorant of 
the sixth book of Euclid. 

The foundation of his system was laid on an accurate study 
of language ; ‘ Notitia linguarum est prima porta sapientie.’ 

Latin, of course, was taken for granted like English or French 
(is it, by the way, noticed that English is spoken by a Norman 
family as early as 1270 ?). But Latin alone was no sufficient key 
to the treasury of knowledge : its vocabulary was too limited. 



the masterpieces of the world’s teaching were either not translated 
into it, or were so badly translated that they were wholly mis- 
leading to such teachers and taught as attempted to profit by 
them. We need not labour the point as Bacon had to do ; the 
fact remains that no mediaeval translation of Aristotle or his com- 
mentaries is .now consulted, except as a curiosity. Bacon’s study 
of languages, Orammaticaf included not only the modern Philology 
but also a strictly utilitarian Logic and Dialectic, sufficient for 
the study of mediaeval science which was to follow : ‘ Grammatica 
et logica priores sunt in ordine doctrine.’ We have a great part 
of Bacon’s teaching on the subject, scattered over many wi-itings. 
BKs main work was destructive ; the schools were lumberc'd with 
inefficient text-books and antiquated errors. After tliat came 
reconstruction, ‘ secundum linguas diversas pront valent immo 
eciam necessaric sunt studio Lati norum * ; Greek, Hebrew, and 
Arabic. He recognized three stages in the knowledge of languages, 
looking at the question from the point of view of actual life, not 
of a teacher. Tho first was that of a man who recognizes that 
a word is Greek, Hebrew, &c., can read it and even pronounce it, 
knows approximately what grammatical forms it may take, and 
so on ; something like a man who can read enough German to 
know the names of the streets and the directions on the traincars, 
but cannot speak the language. This is the sort of knowledge 
of Hebrew or Greek which Bacon pledged himself to impart in 
three days, when writing in his Opua Tertium and elsewhere. The 
second stage of knowledge was the power to read and understand 
in an ordinary way. ‘ Certes,’ he says, ‘ this is difficult, but not 
so difficult as men believe.’ His third stage is only reached when 
the student can talk and write and preach in the foreign language 
as in his own. The only grammars actually preserved to our own 
day whieh have been identified are the Greek and a fragment of 
the Hebrew. It is doubtful whether he ever knew Arabic or 
composed *a grammar of that language. He certainly knew 
Chaldaic enough to explain its relation to and difference from 
Hebrew. His Greek Grammar is a very remarkable one for the 
time, even if it be true that it is founded on a Byzantine original. 
As we have it, the work is not complete, and the study of GrtHsk 
made no progress in this country for nearly two centuries and 
a half. 

This, then, is his first distinction in the study of languages. 


that he laid down the principle that every language has an 
individuality of its. own, and that the grammar appropriate for 
one of them, say Latin, would not lend itself to the study of* 
another, such as Greek. It is a principle which was only i^ecognized 
in practice towards the end of the nineteenth century, and is still 
disregarded by many writers. But he was also distinguished as 
a critic. 

All human knowledge was, in his day, assumed to lead up to 
the study of theology — the queen of sciences. Whatever progress 
was made on the great lines of modem thought was made, not 
with that aim, but with the intention of facilitating the formation 
of right conclusions as to the relation between God and man. 
If we are to undervalue our predecessors on this account, we need 
not study the thought of the Middle Ages. Bacon’s criticism of 
liis contemporaries was actuated by the thought that they were 
bad teachers beeause they were insufficiently taught, that they 
taught in error because they were unable to test the truth of the 
maxims they repeated. His zeal for truth, his application of the 
tests of truth, remain of value if his conception of the highest 
truths no longer satisfies us. His criticism was applied to the 
text of the Vulgate ; the principles of textual criticism he laid 
down are of universal application. 

A large part of Bacon’s published work on the subject is taken 
up with the proofs of the corrupt state of the Vulgate text, made 
worse by the number of correctors, for tl^e most part ignorant of 
both Greek and Hebrew. More than that, many of these correc- 
tions would not have been made if the correctors had even con- 
sulted a good T^atin grammar. The scheme he proposes is an 
official attempt to restore the genuine text of the Vulgate as 
issued by St. Jerome from a comparison of the oldest manuscripts, 
which were to be collected, examined, and compared, while the 
readings were to be judged by the original Greek or Hebrew from 
whieh St. Jerome had made his translation. Here for the first 
time in the Middle Ages wdre the true principles of textual 
criticism laid down, principles valid for the work of every editor 
since his time. 

After the science of language had been thoroughly mastered, 
so that the student was able to read the principal documents of 
scholarship in the original and follow their train of thought. 
Bacon next directed his attention to Mathematics. As we have 


already pointed out, this science was already reviving in western 
Europe. In Italy Leonardo Fibonacci had published his lAher 
Abaci, Campanus had re*edited Euclid and written on the sphere, 
de Lunis had begun the study which was to become algebra. In 
France Alexandre de Villedieu had written the Carmen de Algo-" 
risfno, the popular treatise on Arithmetic ; in Germany Jordanus 
Nemorarius on the theory of numbers, the geometry of the sphere 
and on triangles ; while the English John of Halifax wrote c. 1232 
the De aphera mundi, the most popular text-book on the subject 
of the Middle Ages, and his Tractaiua de arte Numerandi ; and 
Peckham’s Perspecliva communis and Grosseteste’s semi-mathe- 
matical tractates were also published. 

Bacon’s own teading, as evidenced by quotations in his Com- 
munia Maihemaiica, was considerable. Besides the general 
scholastic learning of his day he quotes from all the works of 
Euclid, the Alnmgest and Aspects of Ptolemy, Theodosius on the 
Sphere, Apollonius, Archimedes, Vitruvius, and Hipparchus. 
Boethius is his Uiain stand-by. The Arabic writers were well 
known to him, and early mediaeval writers such as Adelard of 
Bath, Jordanus, Anaricius, Bernelius, Gebert, and others are often 
quoted ; indeed, we learn of a hitherto unknown work by Adelard 
from his \Vritings. It would seem, however, that the general 
interest in mathematics of his time was strictly utilitarian. ‘ The 
philosophers of these days,’ says ho, ‘ when they are told that they 
ought to know perspective or geometry, or languages, and many 
other things, ask derisively, “ What good are they ? ” asserting 
that they are useless. Nor will they listen to any account of 
their utility, and so they neglect and despise the sciences of which 
they are ignorant.’ 

His own view of the value of mathematics in education was 
a very high one. Like Plato, he saw in it the master key to all 
correct reasoning and all progress in knowledge. ‘ Mathematica 
est omnino necessaria et utilis aliis scientiis.’ ‘ Impossibile est 
res huius mundi sciri, nisi sciatur mathematica.’ ‘ Oportet ut 
fundamenta cognitionis in mathematica ponamus.’ It was not so 
much mathematics for its own sake, as mathematics a handmaid 
to the natural sciences and theology. We have already referred 
to his classification of the subject as speculative and practical, 
following a study of the elements of the science. His remaining 
work is largely taken up by discussions of the meaning of con- 


tinuity, infinity, dimensions, axioms, postulates, definitions, and 
the like, and he spends much time on the various ratios, arith- 
metical, geometrical, and harmonical. But in pure mathematics 
he was not an originator, he made no discoveries in geometry or 
the theory of numbers ; his title to remembrance as a mathe- 
matician is his sympathy with it, his wide knowledge, and his 
insistence on its value as the foundation of a liberal education. 

Bacon’s work on optics was really a part of a larger scheme 
in his own mind — a study of the propagation of force at a dis- 
tance. This he treated geometrically and used one variety of 
force as an example which was susceptible of measurement — flight. 
Thus is explained the emphasis laid on the science of optics, or 
perspective, as he called it. His main treatises on it, the Per- 
spective and the MidtipUcation of SpecieSf were written before the 
Opus Maitis. The scheme of the Perspective was not entirely new, 
of course ; it had to include much that had been treated by his 
predecessor Alhazen, and, as a summary, to omit many of his 
detailed geometrical extensions of theorems. But on the other 
hand, it carried on the science a considerable way, as, for example, 
by proving that a coneave spherical mirror would bring the 
reflected rays from different parts of its surface to a focus on 
different parts of its axis, and that to obtain a single focus the 
mirror must have a surface produced by the rotation of a parabola 
or hyperbola. 

His study of the theory of optics went hand in hand with 
practical work ; he caused to be constructed concave mirrors for 
use as burning-glasses, time after time, remarking on the diminish- 
ing cost as the craftsman grew more skilful ; he was familiar with 
the use and properties of a convex lens both for magnification of 
objects, i.e. the simple microscope, and as a burning-glass ; and 
there is every reason to suppose that he was acquainted with the 
combination of lenses which makes up the telescope, though he 
only used it for terrestrial objects and did not make it portable. 

It is this combination which lies at the base of the legend of 
Bacoffi and Bungay’s magic mirror which had grown up by 1385. 

‘ Friar Roger Bacon took such delight in his experiments that 
instead of attending to his lectures and writings he made two 
mirrors in the University of Oxford : by one of them you could 
light a candle at any hour, day or night ; in the other you could 
see what people were doing in the uttermost parts of the earth. 


The result was that the students either spent their time in lighting 
candles at the first mirror instead of studying books, or, on looking 
into the second and seeing their relations or friends dying and 
lying ill, left Oxford to the ruination of the University — and so 
both mirrors were broken by the common counsel of the Univer- 
sity.’ This legend refers evidently to the burning-glass and tele- 
scope. The latter is shown to have existed by a statement printed 
in 1679 that Leonard Digges, then dead, ‘ was able by Perspective 
Glasses duely situate upon convenient Angles, in such sort to 
discover every particularitie of the (^ountrie round about, where- 
soever the Sunne bcames might pearse . . . which partly grew by 
the aid he had by one old written book of the same Bakon’s 
experiments, that . . . came to liis hands ’. This work of Bacon’s 
is no longer known to exist. 

We have already spoken of his devotion to Astronomy in the 
modern sense of the word. His account of the science in the 
Opus Maius^ the De Celestibus, and the fragment of the Opus 
Teriium published by Duhem, not only shows that he was abreast 
of the best work of his time, but also forms the best epitome of 
the state of knowledge at the day. His continual labour in the 
construction of astronomical tables bore fruit in his attempt at 
the reformation of the calendar, of which we have given some 
account. His work on Chronology, sacred and setmlar, is closely 
connected with this subject. 

Bacon also takes rank as one of the earliest mediaeval writers 
on Geography, and part of his treatise was reprinted for the first 
time by Purchas in 1625 from the Opus Maius manusen’ipt. His 
study was founded in the first place on Ptolemy, checked by 
modem travel, and his first consideration is an a];)proximate 
determination of the relative amounts of land and water on the 
globe. It was a passage of this part of his work which had 
a leading part in deciding (k)lumbus to make an attempt to reach 
the Indies by the Atlantic route, as shown by his letter from Haiti 
to Ferdinand and Isabella. Bacon’s description covers the known 
world with the exception of western Europe, and he insists on 
the habitability of the earth south of the equator, and on the 
extension of Africa to the south. We have only to compare this 
treatise with Albert’s De natura locorum to understand the great 
advance Bacon has made. 

His position in the history of Chemistry has yet to be fully 


investigated. The very large number of alchemical tracts which 
pass under his name ^low that his induence upon the students 
of the next century was very great. We naturally, at a loss 
to do more than form a reasonable conjecture as to the extent 
of his practical acquaintance with the operations of chemistry or 
alchemy, since his writings are devoted rather to theoretical than 
practical considerations. There was, of course, a large number 
of industries which depended on chemical reactions for their 
methods ; brewing, dyeing, enamel-making, glass-making, metal- 
lurgy, lime-works, are but a few examples ; but the eyes of 
inquirers were rarely turned towards these, and a superficial 
reason was given for the effects produced. What was really being 
sought by students was the general formula of the universe, 
adopting more modern terms, its integral equation, which, once 
found, would resolve any particular case by substituting suitable 
values for its constants. Whether he had made up his mind as 
to the existence of a universal primary matter in our modern 
sense, taking up the properties which made it a distinct material, 
is doubtful. The theories he held as to the action of the celestial 
bodies on this earth swayed him first one way, then another, 
while the dicta of Aristotle and Avicenna that no change can 
happen ‘ nisi fiat resolutio ad materiam primam ’, which he 
accepted without questioning, led him towards its acceptance. 
His doctrine of the multiplication of species was one of the most 
fruitful in his theory of alchemy. Just as celestial fire produced 
fire by means of a lens, so the celestial bodies might act on 
a suitable primary matter to produce their cognate metal, if their 
infiuence were as great. The science of weights was a branch of 
alchemy, because what distinguished the four elements in change- 
able matter from those in the super-celestial regions was their 
combination with the qualities of heaviness and lightness. 

Alchemy, according to Bacon, was either speculative or 
practical. Speculative or theoretical alchemy treats of the genera- 
tion of materials from their elements inanimate or animate. His 
list of inanimate things comprises metals, gems, stones, colours, 
salts, oils, bitumen, &c. ; his animate things include vegetables, 
animals, and men. Alchemy was for him linked with Physios 
and Medicine in a chain of development. Among the treatises 
which give us the clearest views of his thought are the Opwa 
Minus fragments and the Opus Tertium ; by these the others 


are to -be tried and accepted or rejected. A striking example of 
the effect of his teaching is to be found in the treatise De lapide 
philosophici, attributed to St. Thomas Aquinas but really written 
by Fr. Thomas, chaplain to Robert, son of Charles of Anjou, 
in 1296. 

Nothing has yet been said of his relation to the peculiar science 
of his scholastic contemx>oraries — speculative philosophy. This 
was almost a creation of his own time, due to the fuller study of 
Aristotle now possible. The meaning of matter, form, and sub- 
stance, the struggle between realist and nominalist, the question 
of species and individual, all involved questions of the highest 
religious importance, pantheism or theism. Here Bacon, leading 
the Oxford schoolmen of later years, rejects much of the con- 
troversy as useless. There is no answer to the question what 
causes individuality or what universality : God makes things as 
their nature requires. The second part of the Communia Naturor 
Hum alone is quite enough to place Bacon in a high place among 
mediaeval schoolmen : its clear treatment shows solid thinking 
as well as sound criticism. 

Looking back on the whole activity of this remarkable scholar 
we may try to sum up the interest he has for the modern world. 
Perhaps to himself the question would have been otiose : he was, 
like many men of science to-day, prepared to accept results and 
methods without lingering over the history of how they came 
into being. But on the other hand, to the large and increasing 
number to whom the history of scientific thought and method is 
often almost as important as its results, Roger Bacon stands out 
prominently as the first English leader of scientific thought. More 
still, he has the special English quality of fighting a lone battle 
for his views, unsupported as he was by his own order, attacking 
its opponent’s chiefs, and remaining unshaken to the end. His 
works, though not entirely neglected, have usually been treated as 
curiosities, while those of his two great contemporaries have been 
held in reverence for centuries, and even to-day are receiving the 
full honours of scholarship in new editions from the manuscripts. 
The publication of his remains would be invaluable, if only as 
marking the development of a mediaeval thinker, ranging as they 
do over a period of forty years’ a>ctivity from his early lectures at 
Paris. In them we can trace the process of emancipation from 
established ruts of thought and the entrance of new conceptions. 


. We ctati follow . Me. :#ttenipto .to. 

'.-eiiole body, jonk^ . 

.tlie iiu>oi«^-'^xeipife^ a foS^'fytiBt^ 
see hint as a pioii^ oritio of estiy^^^ 

autiioritiM in whom tbe' spitit ci Beynard ike JVw and lfe^lhi^ 
is i^paniat^ a eritio of reodyed doctrines who applm to fhmn 
in sSi ever-increasing degree the test of common sense and experi- 
mmit. The work of such a one should he availaUe to all the 
wmld of scholars : more^ than half fA it in bulk is stUl looked up 
in sini^e manuscripts diffioultdy legible and almost inaccessible. 

Leonardo da V’^inci (1452 i5i9» Quaderni V to. 8 r 

From a crayon portrait by hiinsclt at the Royal Library. foifiis in ti/ero and relations of membranes to uterine wall 


By H. Hopstook 


Wisdom is the daughter of Experience, 

Truth is only the daughter of Time. 


The greater part of Leonardo da Vinci’s anatomico-physio- 
logical manuscripts are preserved at Windsor. Sixty leaves of 
these, with altogether about 400 drawings, have been published in 
facsimile with a diplomatic transcription and French translation 
as Fogli A, Paris, 1898, and FogH By Turin, 1901, the two together 
constituting the edition of the Russian Sabachnikoif and the 
Italian Piumati, with a preface by the French anatomist Duval. 
The remaining Windsor manuscripts of 129 leaves, with altogether 
about 1,050 drawings, have been published in facsimile with diplo- 
matic transcription and English and German translations as the 
six volumes of the Quademi d^AnatomUt by Vangensten, Fonidm, 
and Hopstock, Christiania, 1911-16. 

The facsimiles in the Fogli show Leonardo’s drawings without 
colour. The Quademi contain an exact reproduction of his 
manuscripts, showing the various tones of the paper, and the 
shades of the red chalk, pencil, ink, and other pigments which he 
used. The drawings and text of the Fogli, with very few excep- 
tions, treat of anatomical and physiological questions only. Of 
the Quademi, three-quarters are concerned with these subjects, 
whilst a quarter of the drawings, and much of the text, deals 
with other matters, especially mathematics, geometry, physics, 
and Rrt. * 

The Quademi show more clearly than the Fogli the manner 
in which Leonardo carried out his anatomical researches, and the 
period during which these developed. The pages of the Fogli, 
on the whole, reveal Leonardo as an independent and confident 
anatomist, especially with regard to his drawings. These manu- 
smpts must therefore have been written in his later years. They 
discuss osteology, myology, the peripheral nervous system, the 



blood-vessels* the abdominal organs* and so on* all in a coni- 
paratively fluent and clear style. The Quademi* on the other 
hand* cover a very long period in Leonardo’s investigations*- 
from his very first anatomical studies in 1489 up to his latest 
years. His language in the Quaderni is consequently not infre- 
quently uncouth and involved* so that it is difficult to make out 
the meaning. The style* however* is extremely characteristic 

Leonardo apparently at first made extensive use of old ana- 
tomical literature and diagrams. He attempted to elucidate and 
explain these* but as his authorities were inaccurate* so also were 
his delineations indefinite and clumsy. He then began to pursue 
his own studies* cautiously and tentatively at first* and then with 
more ease and definite purpose* until at last* emancipated from 
tradition* he stands forth as what he is* a great biologist. 

He carried out his own precept to dissect the same part 
repeatedly. This is evident from the Quaderni* where sometimes 
on the same page, sometimes on different folios* numerous sketches 
appear of the same organ* sketches which show his progress from 
a hesitating student to a confident and independent investigator. 

The Quaderni show also that Leonardo dissected animals. 
He has in part applied these discoveries to man* and it is evident 
from some embryological drawings and sketches of the processes 
of reproduction that there are instances in which he rested satisfied 
with these* though for the most part he finally portrays conditions 
as .they occur in man. Yet strange to say* in the midst of his 
best topographical work* he occasionally takes an illustration of 
a single organ from an animal ; it would seem that he has done 
this but as a trial or experiment* for in other cases the organ 
is correctly reproduced. 

Certain departments of anatomy* only lightly touched on in 
the Fogli* are made the subject of careful study in the Quaderni. 
Such* for example* are the study of embryology* the structure of 
the generative organs* the form and functions of the diaphragm* 
the lungs* the brain cavities* and especially the heart and vascular 
system* as well as surface anatomy* and the study of proportion. 
It is indeed evident from the Quaderni that Leonardo undertook 
his dissections* not only in order to obtain anatomical data* but 
also* with the aid of this knowledge* to arrive at a clear under- 
standing of physiological processes. He therefore makes his 


anatomical and physiological researches conjointly, exjjencling not 
infrequently more work on the latter. 

Great physicist and mathematician as Leonardo is, he corrobo- 
rates his physiological investigations by experiments and by 
proofs and tests drawn from physics and mathematics ; several 
of his dicta emphasize this fact : * He who is not a mathematician 
according to my principles he says, *. must not read me ’ ; ‘ and 
again, ‘ Oh, students, study mathematics, and do not build without 
a foundation’.* For Leonardo the naturalist it was a matter of 
course to seek the principles of movement in animals in the laws 
of mechanics. 

Under the heading On Mtichines he indicates four primary 
natural forces : (1) local movement which is produced by the 
three other forms of movement, (2) natural weight, (3) force and 
(4) percussion. 

‘ We shall therefore ’, he says, ‘ first describe this local motion 
and how it produces and is produced by each of the three other 
Powers. Then wc shall describe the natiu*al weight, although no 
weight can be termed otherwise than accidental ; but so it has 
pleased (us) to call it, to distinguish it from the force which is, 
in all its operations, of the nature of weight and is therefore called 
accidental weight ; and this is set up as the third Power of Nature 
or the one produced by Nature. The fourth and last Power shall 
be called percussion, i. e. end or impediment of motion. And we 
shall first mention that every local involuntary motion is produced 
by the voluntary motor, like the counterpoise of a clock lifted up 
by its motor, Man.* ® 

Thus in his opinion every local or involuntary movement is, 
in the ultimate analysis, produced by a motive power that is 
itself voluntary, just as the involuntary movements of a clock 
depend ultimately on the voluntary movements of him who 
raises the clock weight. 

‘ Furthermore, the Elements mutually repel or attract each 
other, as one sees that water expels the air and the fire entered as 
heat into the bottom of the cauldrons and escapes through the 
bubbles on the surface of the boiling water. And again the flame 
attracts the air, and the heat of the Sun draws up the water in 
the form of moist vapour, which afterwards falls down as heavy 
rain ; but percussion is the immense Power of things which is 
produced in the Elements.’ ■* 

* Q. iv, f. 14 V. 

» Q. i, f. 7 r. 

> Q. i, f. 1 r. 

* Q. i, f. 7 r. 



Leonardo’s general idea of the proper method for the investi- 
gation of the human body and its parts is given in his Plan for 
the Book : 

* This my exposition of the human form % he days, * shall be 
demonstrated to you not otherwise than if you had the real man 
before you ; and the reason is, that if you want to know thoroughly 
the parts of a dissected person, you must turn him, or your eye, 
examining him from different aspects, from below, from above, 
and from the sides, turning him, and investigating the origin of 
each member, and in this way the natural dissection has satisfied 
you as to your knowledge. But you must know that such know- 
ledge does not satisfy you on account of the great confusion of 
pannicles (membranes) with veins, arteries, nerves, tendons, 
muscles, bones, and blood, which colours each part with the same 
colour, and the vessels which empty themselves of blood are not 
recognized on account of their diminution ; and the integrity of 
the membranes is broken by the examination of the parts which 
are enclosed in them, and their transi)arency, tinged by blood, 
prevents you from recognizing the parts covered by them on 
account of the similarity of their blood-colour ; and you cannot 
learn to know these parts without confounding and destroying 
the others. It is therefore necessary to do several dissections. . . . 
Thus each part and each whole will become known to you by 
my diagrams with the aid of demonstrations from three different 
aspects of each part. . . . Accordingly, the cosmography of the 
microcosm {minor mondo^ i. e. man) wiU be demonstrated to you 
here through 15 full figures in the same order as has already 
been adopted before me by Ptolemy in his cosmography of the 
macrocosm (i. e. the world).’ ' And Leonardo adds ; ‘ You must 
in your anatomy, depict each phase of the parts from man’s 
conception until liis death and till the death of his bones, stating 
which part of them decays first, and which x><^rt of them lasts 
longer.’ ® 

Leonardo was a well-read man, conversant with the anatomical 
writings of Galen, Avicenna, Mondino, and Benedetti, but his 
opinion of authors is apparent from many passages in his works. 

‘ 1 do not understand ’, he says, ‘ how to quote as they do from 
learned authorities, but it is a much greater and more estimable 
matter to rely on experience, their masters* master. These men 
go about puffed up, and boasting, adorned, not with their own 
qualifications, but with those of others, though they will not 
admit mine. They scorn me who am a discoverer ; yet how 
much more do they deserve censure who have never found out 

» Q. i, f. 2 r. 

« Q. Vi, f. 22r. 



anything but only recite and blazon forth other people’s works. . . . 
Those who only study old authors and not the works of nature are 
stepsons, not sons of Nature, who is mother of all good authors.’ ^ 

The depth of feeling which animates Leonardo during his work 
of dissection can be gauged from the following passage : 

* O searcher of this our machine, you must not regret that you 
impart knowledge through the death of a fellow creature ; but 
rejoice that our Creator has bound the understanding to so perfect 
an instrument.’ ‘ 

And what demands he makes on the dissector arc seen in the 
following : 

* And if you have love for such things you may be prevented 
by nausea ; and if this does not hinder you, you may be prevented 
by fear of living during the night hours in the company of these 
quartered and flayed corpses, hideous to look at ; and if this 
does not deter you, perhaps you lack the good art of draughtsman- 
ship, which is essential for such demonstrations, and if you have 
the art of drawing, it may not be. accompanied by the sense of 
perspective, and even if it is, you may lack the order of geometrical 
demonstrations, and the method for calculating the force and 
strength of the muscles ; or perhaps you lack patience, so that 
you will not be painstaking. . . . 

* As to whether all these things have been in me or no, the 
hundred and twenty books written by me will furnish sentence, 
yes or no, for in these I have not been hampered by avarice, or by 
negligence, but only by time. Vale.’ “ 

Liconardo’s nomenclature is very dehcienlf; Bones, muscles, 
nerves, and vessels, have, as a rule, no definite names but arc 
indicated by letters or some such means. In the case of the bones, 
the old names that were in use by mediaeval writers often occur, 
for example, adiutorium for humerus, furcula for clavicle, focile 
maitis and minus for the ulna and radius ; €he muscles are also 
indicated by their origins and insertions, thus pars domeslica and 
pars silvestrjs describe the palmar and dorsal sides of the extremities, 
rascetta and pectm manus indicate carpus and metacarpus ; and 
then there are the mediaeval Arabic terms men for oesophagus, 
sifac for peritoneum, and mirac for abdomen. 

Leonardo’s representation of embryological conditions is 
naturally by no means complete. He seems to have examined the 

^ Quoted from Oswald Siren’s Leonardo da Vinei, Stockholm, 1911. 
*Q. ii, f. 6v. »Q. i. f. 1.3v. 



embryos of animals, hens, and calves, before he studied the human 
foetus. He says in fact : * But you must first dissect the hatched 
egg before one shows the difference between the liver in the 
foetus, and the fully developed human.* ^ One of his figures ^ 
is evidently taken from a bird*s egg, and he counsels one to 
observe ‘ how the bird nourishes itself in the egg He remarks 
that chickens can be hatched by the warmth of an oven.* 

* Ask the wife of Biagin Crivelli how the capon rears and 
hatches the eggs of a hen, when he is intoxicated. Her chickens 
are given into the care of a capon, which is plucked on the under- 
side and then rubbed with nettles and set under a basket ; then 
the chickens go in under it, feels it is being tickled by the 
warmth and Ukes it, for which reason it afterwards leads them 
%and fights for them, jumping into the air against the goshawk in 
ferocious defence.’ * ^ 

He seems also to have sought after the cause of difference of 
sex, and considers he has found it in that * eggs that are round- 
shaped produce males, and those that are long-shaped produce 
females *.* 

Leonardo has a series of very beautiful drawings of the human 
foetus lying in the uterus’ (Plate xxvi). The position of the 
foetus is correct, and apparently he must have had opportunity to 
dissect a gravid uterus, but much of his work must have been done 
on the foetal calf. The foetus is surrounded by three membranes, 
the ‘ animus *, ‘ alantoydea ’, and * secondina *, probably correspond- 
ing to the amnion, allantois, and chorion of our notation. He does 
not describe a placenta, but on the other hand his drawings show 
how the chorion connected in several places with the inner surface 
of the uterus by cotyledons, the male cotyledons on the chorion 
embracing the female cotyledons on the uterus. 

‘ The child in the uterus ’, he says, ‘ has three pannicuU which 
surround it, of which the first is called Animus, the second Alanr 
toydea, the third Secondina ; with this Secondina (chorion) the 
uterus is conjoined by means of the cotyledons, and all join in the 
umbilical cord, which is composed of vessels.* . . . How the three 
panniculi of the uterus bind themselves together by means of the 
cotyledons . . . female and male cotyledons. . . . Let some one 
give you the secondina of a calf when it is bom, and observe the 
form of the cotyledons whether they retain the male or female 

> Q. i, t 10 r. a Q. in, f . 8 v, fig. 3. » Q. iii, f. 9 v. 

* Ibid. • Ibid. ’ Q. iii, ff. 7 r. and 8 r. 

‘ Q.iii, f. 7r. 
* Q. iii, f. 8 V. 


cotyledons ; 1 observe bow the fetal membranes are joined to the 
uterus, and how they loosen themselves from it/ ^ 

The word aecondina is thus used by him in various senses : as 
chorion, as secundine, and as foetal membrane generally. 

The foetus does not breathe in the uterus, for it would drown 
if it did so, lying, as it does, in water.’ Leonardo considers as the 
reason for this arrangement that heavy things weigh less in water 
than in air,’ and that the foetus does not require to breathe because 
it is animated and fed by the mother’s life and nourishment.’ 
He denies the truth of the old story that the foetus cries or wails 
in the uterus, and considers that any sounds that seem to emanate 
from a gravid uterus must be caused by maternal flatus.’ He 
frequently remarks that ‘ one soul governs (the) two bodies and 
that what the mother eats, and the impressions she receives, leave 
their mark on the foetus.’ He deflnes the length of the full-grown 
foetus as a hrticcio and the length of an adult as three times that 
of the full-grown foetus.^ He has examined a foetus which was 
less than half a fircuxio in length at nearly four months.’ He 
remarks * how in four months the child is half of its length, 
i. e. eight times less in weight than when it is born.’ * He draws 
attention to the fact that the foetus in the uterus grows three 
times as quickly as the new-born infant, and that a year after 
birth a child has not yet attained to twice the length of a nine- 
months-old foetus.*® He has examined the viscera of the foetus, 
and draws attention to the relatively greater size of the left lobe 
of the liver at this stage of development, and points out that it 
diminishes after birth.** He seems to have observed the conversion 
of the umbilical vein of the foetus into the round ligament of the 
liver of the child.** 

As a result of his study of conception and of the growth and 
birth of the foetus, Leonardo comes to the conclusion that man 
and his works are in no way things isolated in nature, but are 
only a part of one great whole, a single link in one vast chain, 
so that man is subject to the same * necessity ’ as all other living 
things. He formulates these thoughts in the following words : 
* Every seed has an umbilical cord which breaks when the seed is 

1 Q. iii, f . 8 r. * Q. iii, f. 7 r. • Q. iii, f. 1 v. * « Q. iii, f. 8 v. 

» Q. iii, f. 7 V. « Q. iii, ft. 3 v. and 8 v. ’ Q. iii, f. 7 r. 

• Q. iii, f. 7 V. • Q. i, f. lOr. « Q. iii, f. 7 v. 

« Q. iii, f. 8vand Q. i, f. 10 r. 

« Q. iii, f. 10 V. 

158 ' 


mature. And similarly they have matrix and seoondina as the 
herbs and all the seeds which grow in pods show.* ^ In this con- 
nexion we meet one 6f Leonardo’s characteristically abrupt 
transitions of thought. While sketching a foetus in the intra- 
uterine position with elbow bent and hand prone, he suddenly 
asks himself which muscles flex the elbow-joint, and, immediately 
under the drawing of the foetus, makes two rough sketches of the 
muscles of the arm with pronated hand and the following legend 
attached. * Demonstrate here only those muscles which serve to 
bend the arm to a right angle and those which cause it to turn the 
hand back and forward. Do not concern yourself with an3rthing 
else, but demonstrate only the functions performed by those muscles 
which rise immediately from the bone of the said humerus.* * 
Leonardo differs from many of the mediaeval writers who 
preceded him in representing the uterus with only one cavity. 
The tubes go outwards and upwards and the ovaries lie to the 
side of the uterus. On the right the artery of the ovary is seen to 
come from the aorta and the vein to go to the vena cava inferior 
(Plate xxvii). The ovaries are designated as ‘seed-vessels {vaai 
spermatid) in the form of testicles, and her seed is flrst blood Uke 
that of the male *.^ He is aware too that there is a difference 
between the male and the female ^Ivis. ‘ Measure how much less 
the woman’s pubic bone is than the man’s. It is for the sake of 
the space between the lowest part of the pubic bone and the 
point of the coccyx in view of parturition.* * 

It is apparent from various drawing that Leonardo had 
a fairly good knowledge of the ' structure and relations of the 
testis, vas deferens, vesiculae seminales, vasa spermatica and 
nervi spermatici interni (Plate xxvn), ‘ nerves, originating in the 
vertebral column, which join the vein of the testicle *,' although 
here also he partly transfers his flndings from animals to man. 

Leonardo discusses the results of conception from the union 
of white and black parents, and remarks that the colour of the 
offspring is not conditional upon the influence of the sun but of 
the parents’ colour, and states * that the mother’s seed has an 
influence on the embryo equal to that of the father *.* 

A number of general ob^rvations on Osteology are found in 

^ Q. iii, f. 9 y. 
* Q. iii, f. 4 V. 

• Q. iii, f. 7 V. 

* Q. iii, f. 3 r. 

* Q. iii, f. 1 V. 

• Q. iii, f. 8 V. 

Qiiadtrrn i III fo. i v 

General slruetnre uf’ uterus and sourer 
of its hlood supply. 

Male orjrans. 

Qiiadcrni V fo. i8r 

ropograpliical nn.'itoniy of neck and shoulder 
a thin aged individual. 


iho Quiididniiy whioh oould only have been written by one well 
yemed in the snl]jeot> In the Pina /bribe JBcoibocouze this pessai^e: 

* lt is neoeas^ to make three diaseorions for the anatomy 
of riie bonea, which must be aawn through to demonatrate whi<m 
ia perforated and whioh ia not, whioh ia medullary and whioh ia 
apottgyr and whioh from without inwards ia thioK A.n«i whioh ia 
thin, and whioh at one piaoe haa great tMnneaa, and at one place 
is thiok and at one ia perforated or full of bone, or medullary or 
■ptmc^, and thua all theae tiiinm will aometiimea be found in the 
aame bone, and there may be a TOne whioh haa none them.* ^ 

In another place, Leonardo writea : * Bone ia of inflexible 
hnrdneaa adapted for reaiatanoe, and is without feeling. It 
terminates in oartilagea at its extremities. And the medulla is 
oomposed of sponge, blood and soft fat oovered with the flnest 
veiL Spongy bone is a aubstanoe oomposed of bone, fat and blood.*' 

Leonardo*s treatment of the hands in hia paintings is well 
known. Under the heading The Hand from Ihe Ituide he 
that the bones shsdl first be studied in order, so that their number, 
shape, and position should be learnt, and afterwards they should 
be further examined by being sawn through ; they must t he n be 
put together according to the arrioulations ; then the muscles 
that connect carpus with metacarpus and the tendons whioh move 
the first, second, emd third joints must be demonstrated ; next 
the nerves, arteries and veins, then the hand as a whole with the 
skin must be examined, and lastly the* measurement of the hand 
and its parts must be given. A similar systematic procedure must 
be adopted in dealing with the back of the hand.' 

With the exception of two dehcate sketches in red chalk of 
the bones of the lower Mmbs set at the correct inclination to the 
pelvis (Plate xxxv), the Quademi— in contrast with the 
contain no osteologioal drawings of great interest, but only 
a few loug^ sketches, mostty of the bonce of the extremities. 
A drawingwof the cranium, the cervical, and part of the thoracic 
vertebrae has no close relation to the actual facts.' This drawing 
must date from the eariiest period of Iieonardo*s anatomical, 
studies, before he had begun to dissect, and when his fantasy had 
fitee reign, working rather on information gained ficom books, 
and possibly ^m old drawings that have now disappeared tiian 
on actual observation. 

'Q. i,f>2r. *Q. ii, f. 18 t. 

* Q.i.f.8r. 

« Q.U,f.Sr. 


Ab r^sards the morphology of ^ mosolea, Leonardb rmtea : 

* Muscles are of many kinds, some wi^out tendons, like the 
trabeculae in the right ventricle of the heart, and othm similar* 
Some are round like the above-mentioned and isolated {tMueuU 
papUiarea), being connected only by tendons {chordae tmdineae) 
urith that <rf the flexible part. . . . Some are broad and thin,» some 
broad and thick, some long and narrow, others loi^ and thick ; 
some are thin -and oval, some shaped like a flsh, others like a 
lizard, some are twisted and some straiuht. Some have tendons 
along one side only, others at both enw, others are divided by 
several tendons, as for instance the lonmtudinal muscles. Some 
may move the part £rom either end, omers from one end only, 
another moves behind its tendon, others draw their tendons 
towards themselves.’ * 

Leonardo states that muscles move longitudinally,* and he 
speaks generally of muscles with several heads.* In a passage on 
D^nition cf Ihe Jnetrumenta he writes : * The muscles, the func- 
tionaries of the- nerves, draw to themselves the tendons which 
are connected to these members. . . . The tendons are mechanical 
instruments which in themselves have no feeling, but carry out 
whatever is imposed upon them.* * 

In order to demonstrate the structure of the lower limb and 
the actions of its muscles he gives three illustrations of models 
formed from copper wire (Plate xxvm). These are in the main 
correct and to them Leonardo attaches the following text : 

* How many muscles orimnating in the hip are formed for the 
movement of the femur ? Present the leg in full relief and make 
the cords of red-hot ooppo* wire, and bend them on it to thdr 
natural position, and when ^ou have done this you will be able 
to sketch them from four sides, and place them as they are in 
nature, and discuss their functions. When you have finished 
with the bones of the lower limb, (^ve the numbw of all the bones, 
and having completed the tendons, give the number of these 
tendons, and you mbti» do the same with the muscles' and tiie 
nerves, the vtins and tiie arteries, stating: the thigh has so many, 
the leg so many, the foot so many, and the toes so many, and 
then you must say: so many^ muscles spring from a bone ana 
end in a bone, and there are many that iquring from a bone and 
end in another muscle, and in this manner vou can describe eadh 
detail oi ev^ part of the body, and espeddUy the ramifications 
made by some muscles which pr^uce various tendons.* * 

15r. • •Q.iH,f.9v. 

18v. • 


Ijdoatia^ emgteiMtaitia.tbB fact thai witli ilia knee flexed the 
aetSdii of the muede gives ziae to inteniel lotafeioii eod 

the biceps to external n)tatioii> but when on the other hvid tiie 
losee is extended, rotation <d the limb can only occur at the hip- 
joint. He adds :. 

Nature has attached all the muscles which control the move- 
ments of the toes to the bones of the leg and not to the diigh, 
because these muscles, when the knee is l^t, would, if they wme 
attached to the thigh-bone, contract and bmme locked under 
the knee-joint, and would not be able without great difficulty and 
effort to work the toes.’ ^ 

The hieepa bmehii is described as a flexor and supinator, the 
brachwUa anHcua as a powerful flexor only, the pronator radii terra 
as pronator and antagonist of the biceps.* All these are compared 
with the cords of the ‘trepan* which serve to pronate Mid 
supinate the hand. The ulna is characterised as ‘non-rotating* 
in contradistinction to the radius, and it is specified that pronation 
and supination take place ‘ without alteration of the bone which 
is called adjutorium (humerus) *.* It is stated that when the 
arm is bent at the elbow the fiexor muscles contract whilst the 
extensors stretch as the angle of the bend becomes more acute.* 
The three parts of the deltoid muscle and their functions, together 
with those of the pectoralia major and terea majors are cprrectly 

The muscles of the back are stronger than those of the front, 
for, since one can bend farther forward than backward, more power 
is required to nute oneself after bending forward than backward.* 

The topographical dissections carried out by Leonardo, of the 
throat and adjacent parts, axe significant.^ Of thmie he has made 
a series of drawings ranging from rough sketches to illustrations 
which reproduce carefully performed dissections in great detail. 
With these may be olass^ a pair of delicate silver-points where, 
throu^ the thin skin of aged subjects, we discern the fossae of the 
throat with the underlying muscles (Plate xxvn). In another 
(^wing Leonardo has topographically reproduced the lower 
section of the face, the column of the neck, the Irpoid bone and its 
oonnexi<m to the atyloid process, the larji^fuc, trtu^ea, aterno-eleido- 
maatoid, trapeziua, apleniue, eoalei^i^ aeapidae, the 

» Q. Vi, 1. 17 r. > Q. iu, f. 9v. • Q. iV. t U r. • Q. vi, f. 20r. 

» Q. vi, £. 13 r. • Q. iv, f . 6 r. ; » Q. v, ff. 15-18, and 20. 



jugular vein with' its tributaries, the carotid artery, the vagus 
with the superior laryngeal and the hypoglosstd nerves and what 
seems to be the sub-maxillary gland, though it is perhaps a 
lymph node (Plate xxx). It is remarkable that in these regional 
drawings of the human throat he should have taken his model for 
the hyoid bone and larynx not from a human subject but from 

an animal, perhaps a dog. 
His serial sections of the 
lower extremities are also 
noteworthy. Leonardo 
seems to have been the first 
to make topographical dis- 
sections and serial sections 
to illustrate the structure 
of the parts (Fig. 1). 

Leonardo*s papers on 
comparative anatomy also 
display his great skill as a 
dissector, and his under- 
standing of anatomical 
conditions. As comment- 
ary to a finished drawing 
of the abdomen and lower 
limbs of a muscular man, 
he writes ; 


‘ In order to make the 
comparison you must draw 
the leg of a frog which has 
great resemblance to that 
of a man in the bones as in the muscles. This must be followed 
by the hare’s hind leg, which is very muscular, with conspicuous 
muscles unimpeded by fat.’ ‘ 

Fio. 1. Leonardo's use of serial sections 

On a folio of red-brown paper, between exquisite drawings of 
muscular men and of the skeleton of the pelvis and the lower 
limbs of a man and a horse, in which some muscles are marked 
out by cords (Plate xxxv), Leonardo thus writes : 

‘ The union of the fieshy muscles with the bones without any 
tendon or cartilage — ^and you must do the same with several 
animals and birds. Represent the man on tiptoe so that you can 

* Q. V, f. 23 r. 



more easily compare him with other animals. Draw the man’s 
knee bent like the horse’s. In order to compare the skeleton of 
a horse with that of a man, you must present the man on tiptoe, 
when portraying the bones. On the affinity, which the conformity 
of bones and muscles of animals have with the bones and muscles 
of man.* * 

Leonardo’s great dissecting skill is seen again in the most 
perfect way in certain figures which display the muscles and 
tendons on the distal portion of the leg and on the foot, together 
with a part of the crucial ligament as well as the vaginal sheaths 
of the tendons. In these figures the toes are armed with claws of 
some cat-like animal, perhaps a lion ‘ (Plate xxx). These drawings 
are by no means faultless in details, since the inner and outer 
edges of the foot have been interchanged, but they show, by the 
combination of the foot of a man with an animal’s claws, one of 
Leonardo’s most outstanding traits, his highly imaginative and 
artistic creative spirit. The treatment of these sketches with 
silver-point and colour, united to the author’s power as a dissector 
and artist, give them a peculiar charm. They are without text, 
and Leonardo must have felt that they conveyed a sufficiently 
obvious and clear meaning. 

The study of the diaphragm is a subject which Leonardo pursues 
with especial predilection. 

‘ It is shaped he says, ‘ like a deeply hollowed spoon.® ... If 
it were not arched so that it could receive the stomach and other 
viscera into its concavity it could not afterwards contract . . . 
and exert pressure on the intestines, and drive the food from the 
stomach into the intestines, nor could it help the abdominal muscles 
to expel the faeces, nor could it by contracting enlarge the thoracic 
cavity and compel the lung to expand, so that they may inspire 
air to refresh the veins coming from the heart.’ * 

Leonardo points out that the diaphragm has four functions, 
primarily it is a respiratory muscle, secondly it presses on the 
stomach and drives its contents into the intestine, thirdly it aids 
the abdominal wall in the act of defaecation, and fourthly it 
divides the * spiritual parts ’ (the lungs and heart) from the * natural 
parts ’ (the abdominal organs).* All these functions are brought 
into action by the rise and fall of the diaphragm. The way in 
which the movements of the diaphragm and the abdominal wall 

» Q. V, £. 22 r. 

• Q. i, f. 4 V. 

Q. V, If. 11-14. •Q. i, f. 5r. 

» Q. i, f. 5 r. and v. 



alternate, like ebb and flow, is desoribed and illustrated by an . 
outline drawing.' Leonardo states that the muscles outside the 
ribs {aerrati) must regulate them when the diaphragm contracts, 
as it would otherwise draw down the ribs, it being attached to 
them at its margin.* 

Leonardo’s treatment of the cerebral ventricles clearly shows 
the development of his investigations from vague and groping 
efforts, based on ancient and erroneous views (Plate xxix, upper 
figure) to his own independent study of the phenomena (Plate 
XXIX, lower figure). By means of sagittal and horizontal sectimis 
through the head, he sketches the cerebral ventricle as three small 
vesicles lying behind each other and nearly equal in size, the 
foremost of which is, by means of cancUa (i. e. nerves), connected 
with the eye and ear.* In all this he has simply followed earlier 
authors. On the same sheet is drawn a cross-section of an onion. 
After he has calculated the layers he successively cuts through in 
bisecting the head, he says : 

‘ If you cut an onion through the middle you will be able to 
observe and count all the circular layers and cases which cover 
the centre of the onion. In the same way, if you wish to bisect * 
a human head, you will first cut through the hair, then the skin, 
then the muscular flesh and the peri-cranium, then the skull, and 
inside that the dura mater and pia mater, and the. brain, thereupon 
(i. e. at the base) again the pia and dura mater, and rate mirtmle 
and the base, the bone.* 

But on another folio he approaches much nearer the actual con- 
ditions and illustrates almost perfectly by horizontal sections and 
profile drawings the inner aspect of the base of the skull, the base of 
the brain, the surface of the cerebral hemispheres, and the cerebral 
ventricles and their relations to each other.* He enumerates three 
ventricles and the drawings show that he counts both the lateral 
ventricles, which are connected, as one (Plate xxix). He designates 
the lateral ventricl^ as impreaaiva, the third cerebral ventricle as 
aenaua communia, and the fourth as memoria ; this last seems to 
continue downwards into the spinal cord as a thin tube (? the 
central canal). The fourth cerebral ventricle is mentioned as the 
source or meeting-point of * all nerves which give feeling *. 

In order to acquire a correct idea of the ventricles, Leonardo 
performed the following experiment. Into a brain removed from 
the cranium, he injected melted wax through a hole in the fourth 

^ Q. i, f. 0 V. • Q. iv, f . 1 r. * Q. v, f. 6 v. • Q.r, £. 7 r. 

IiimABOO AS mATOUm 1^ 

hftvi^ alveady nuMte an opening in botl\ the IntmJ 
ynMote and inseried a tube so that * the air can stream dot *. 
He ^en removed the brain matter from the wax so as to dis{ilay 
the shape of the easts formed in the Ventrioles* He made a lumilar 
experiment with a brain without removing it from the oranium* 
iojeoSng tlm wax through a hole bored throng the base of the 
skull, which probably led up through the infundibulum. HSs 
words are — 


* Make two air-holes in the horn of the larger, ventricle and 
inject the melted xSax into it, at the same time middng a hole 
hi the memoria and fill through such a hole the three ventricles 
of the brain.; and then when the wax has hardened, remove the 
brain and you wiU see the exact form of the three ventricles. But 
fimt insert the 'fine tubes into the air-holes, so that the air in the 
ventiioles can stream out, giving place to the injected wax. The 
shape of the sensus communis fiU^ wit^ wax tmough the hole M 
at the bottom of the basis cranii, before the cranium was sawn 
through ’ (Plate xxix). 

These operatmi^«s of filling the soft brain cavity with a solidi- 
fying spbstance are fraught with many difficulties, and it is not 
an easy matter to get oasts true to nature. As is to be expected, 
therefore, the figures show certain deviations from the actual 
state of the parts. He was, however, the first to conceive the 
idea of injecting a solidifying substance into the cerebral cavities, 
mod he was the first to give a fairly correct reinesentation of 
those cavities. Yet as recently as the twentieth century the 
claim of priority in this method has been made' for a modem in- 
vestigator, though it was in use nearly four hundred years before 
his time.' 

On several pages in the Quademi are drawings of *a number of 
cerebral nerves and of the spinal cord.* In one such drawing 
of the base of the briun we see the olfactory nerves, and behind 
them the optio tract with chiasma and opH6 nerve and bulbs, 
behind these again are shown branches tilie superior maxilla 
from the trigeminal, next the vagi, and farthest back the spinid 
cord. iBlsewhere the vagi are sketched in their length, and shown 
pawling from the thorax into the abdomen, where they obviously 

^ Cf. Begins on the Baalw<Weldie drawings, BfologiMhe UnUrmukimgem, 1011. 

* CX. HoU, ‘Leonardo da Vinoi *, In the ArMofikr AmUomU tmd PkyaMogie, 
1011 . 

* e. g. Q. V, f. 8 r. 



m jk8 

ramify.’ On other pages are seen the hypogloaMl, and the vagna, 
with the Bupwior laryngeaL* Lecmaido often mentions the 
inferior laryngeal, nem reversivi, as he calls them. * The reonixe^ 
nerves are bent upwards only because they would be torn asundnr 
in the great movement which the neck makes in. extending itsell 
forward and further because it partly carries with it the tracheal 
and such nerves.’ * 

In one outline drawing Leonardo probably intended to repre- 
sent the medulla oblongata.^ To this sketch, indistinct and 
obscure, are attached some passages which show that he had 
grasped the importance of the spinal cord by experiments on 
foogs. * The frog retains life for some hours after the head, heart, 
and intestines are removed. And if you perforate this cord, it 
immediately shrivels and dies. All the nerves of the animals 
derive from here. And if you perforate the said string it suddenly 
twitches and dies.* And on the back of the sheet the description 
of these experimental investigations continues thus : * The frog 
instantly dies when its spinal cord is perforated. And formerly 
it lived without head, without a heart, or any entrails or intestine 
or skin. It thus seems that here lies the fundamentum of ' motion 
and of life.* Similar outline drawings are found in others of 
Leonardo’s manuscripts.* 

Both in the Fogli and the Quademi, a cord-like structure is 
seen on either side of the spinal cord stretching down from the 
brain to the foramina in the transverse processes of the vertebrae. 
There are several connexions shown b^ween these cord-like 
structures and the spinal cord, and they are also connected with 
the brachial plexus. These structures are products of his imagina- 
tion : they cannot be the vertebral arteries. It may be that an 
explanation of them would result from a further investigation of 
his sources.* 

In the Fogli much of the peripheral nervous system is correctly 
reproduced, but in the Quademi it is on the whole cursorily 
treated. The brachial plexus can be traced sometimes to the 
elbow, sometimes to the wrist and hand.^ The lumbar plexus is 
seen to consist of three lumbar nerves from which issue the femoral 

1 Q. i, f. 13 y. • Q. y, if. I6r. sad 17 r. » Q. i, f. ISy. 

* Q. V, 1. 21 r, fig. 6. *6. g. B, 1. 4 r. and y. and f. 28. 

* C2. HoU, * Leonardo da Vind: Qaademi d'AMtomia*, y and yi, Atedtv 
/. Anaiomit tmd Phyakiogiet 1917. 

» Q. V, ft. 19 r,, 21 r. and y. 

Quaderni V fo. i6r Quadeini \ to. ii i 

Dissection of triangles of neck Dissection of fc.-t. Nails replaced by e'.aws. 

AsjM^a^ i^ 

i#itii a ImucAk to the iimide of the leg beeides a namber of 
otiMar bram^esy* and the sacral plexus is represented with branches 
of the ischiadic nerve distributed to the privis/ hi^ up on Ihe 
thi|^ * and above the knee.* 

Leonardo devotes a large portion of his researches to the 
consideration of the lungs and respiration. His portrayal of the 
lungs seem to be based on examination of animals* as well as of 
man.* He knows the riiape of the lui^;s and thrir lobes.* Their 
substance is dilatable, extensiUe and spongy, and they are enclosed 
in a delicate membrane (the pleura) which interposes itself into 
the spaces between the ribs when they expand.* He shows how 
tiie pleura covers the inner side of the ribs and the surface of the 
diaphragm * and he discusses if there be air in the pleura. ‘ Whether 
between the lungs and the chest, at any part, a quantity of air 
interposes itself or not.*** Later he decides against this view 
* because there can be no vacnum in nature, the lung, which 
touches the ribs on the inside, must follow their dilatation ** 

The bronchi^' ramify in the lung substance, and gradually 
diminish until they become blind tubes which develop minute 
vesicles when inflated. These endings are drawn and described, 
both inflated and empty, * trachea minima uninflated and again 
inflated which redoubles its capacity in its increasing*,** and 
throughout the lungs the bronchi are accompanied by the blood- 
vessels and the finest ramifications of the bronchi are in close touch 
with the most minute branches of the blood-vessels.** Whilst in 
many of Leonardo*8 drawings the two bronchi enter the lung 
near its apex, others show approximately the actual conditions 
(Plate XXXVI), and here he says, * first describe the entire 
ramification of the trachea in the lung, and then the ramifica- 
tions of the veins and arteries each separately, and then all three 
together *.** 

On the findings of his experiments with inflation of the lungs, 
Leomurdo oonsiders it impossible that air, as such, can reach the 
heart from the bronchi ; on the contrary he holds that it is the 
pulmonary arteries that receive * the fireshness of the air * from the 
bronchi. * To me it seems imposrible that any air cmi penetrate 

* Q. T, il. 9r., 2Pv., and 21 r. * Q. iv, I. Or. * Q. v, f. Ov. 

« Q. V, f. 15 r. * e.g. Q. U, f. 1 r. • eg. Q. ii, f . 7 v. 

« Q.ifi,f.4v.fig.7. •Q.ii.f.’lr. • 

»*, l.7v. »F. A.f. 15v. u Q.ii,f. Ir. andf. 2r. 

" Q. a, 1. 1 r. . “ Q. ai, f. 10 V. 

intj^ tlirons^ tlie tanw^iM;^ ^ liic^^ 

inii^ th^ does not expel' any. i^’.|ieM^|^'pa^'^;ij^^ 
thie occurs because of the dense panidetdo, with 
ramification of the trachea is coated, udiich ramifliMdkk 
on dividing into the minutest branches together udib inii^^ 
branches of the veins.*' And * the lung is unKble to iransmltil^ 
to the heart . . . and further the air which is inhaled by the lha^ 
continually enters dry and cool, and leaves moist and hot.^ .;^ 
the arteries which join themselves in continuous contact ^tk tbe 
ramification of the trachea distributed through the lung ai^ thocle 
which take up the freshness of the air which enters so«dtiuni(»* 
Leonardo thus represents the bronchi as a tubulmr systmn* 
terminating blindly, from the expanded ends of udnoh the inhaled 
air passes to the pulmonary blood-vessels. *The dilatation dfrtha 
lungs occurs in order that the lungs may inhale tiie air with whhm 
the veins which the heart sends into them can refresh themselves.* 
Leonardo frequently affirms that the diaphragm is the most 
essential respiratory muscle ; but in deep inhalations such as 
a yawn ^r sigh, the contraction of the diaphragm is insufficient 
then the' serratus posticus superior comes into action- ^Hiis he 
describee as made up of six muscles, three on either side, whii^ 
stretch from the vertebral column to the uppermost ribs. 
mode of action of these musdes is demonstrated by levers.* IBa 
further states that the scaleni -and the serratus anterior are 
inspiratory muscles, and that th^ prevent the diaphragm from 
drawing the costal cartilages inwards, ^^his is also illustrated by ’ 
drawings.* Both in text and drawings he defines the internal 
intercostal muscles as expiratory, stating that they proceed 
obliquely upwards and forwards, that the external interooetal 
muscles are insinratory ahd run in the opposite direction, and that 
the intercostal nerves, arteries and veins pass between tiie ribs** 
The thorax expands on account of the oblique disposition of theribs 
and of the bending of the costal cartilages,* the loww idbs.moye 
more than the upper ; but in the caseof irregidar breathing IrfSonardo 
draws attention to the intervention of the abdominal mpscles with 
action on the intestines, which again act on the diaj^iragm.’ 
light sketches appear of the oblique jdane of the superior 

‘ Q. ii, I. Ir. 

* Q. i, I. 4 V. The (id * vena arterialis * -Barteria pnhnonalhi. ' 

• Q. i. f. 2 V. « Q. i, if. 2 r. and 8r. • Q. tv, f. 9r. * Q. fi, t 6 v. 


Qiiaderni II lo. 3 V 

Dissection of coronary vessels 

Quaderni 1 1 fo. 1 r 

Dissection of bronchi and bronchial vessels 



thorado «pertiue» with the union of the oosti^ owtilages with the 
etemiun,* end also of the certileges of the lower ribs which fonn the 
costal ardi and are ranged one below the other, like a part of 
e cable, so that the skin may more easily ^de over the cartilages 
when they move. The ribs are * pivot-shaped * at their attach- 
ment to the vertebral column for the benefit of the respiration.' 

Leonardo has observed that the shoulders move in breathing 
but * the rmsing of the shoulders does not always force the lungs 
to inhale *. The thorax is the receptacle for the sjuritual organs, 
the abdomen for the naturaL The lungs expand and contract 
continuously in all directions, but mostly downwards.* Leonardo 
has observed a calcified focus in a lung and meditates — as this 
unique observer always does when he meets anything unknown 
to him — over the causes of the process.' Emphasizing the re- 
cuperative power of Nature, he concludes that Nature prevents 
a break in the bronchi, by the thickening of the substance which 
becomes cartilaginous, and forms an ‘ incrustation like the shell 
round a nut *. Inside the focus is found * dust and watery humor *. 
From the passage containing this description, he draws a line to 
the focus on the drawing. In another manuscript which also treats 
of the lungs he remarks that * diist is injurious so that he seems 
to have fixed on the idea of diseases of the lung as originating 
from this cause. 

Leonardo points out that the cartilaginous ring of the trachea, 
which is elastic as a spring, is incomplete at the back, where the 
oesophagus enters.* * But the trachea contracts in the epiglottis 
in order to condenm the air which seems mumated from the lungs 
in order to form various tones of voice.* ' He considers that the 
relation of the trachea to the formation of the voice must be studied 
and he describes which and how mmiy muscles act on the lamyx 
in phonation.* *And thus you must not. give up tins study of 
the voice and of the trachea and its muscles until you have 
acquired fuil knowledge of all the parts- contiguous to the larynx 
and cl their functions made by nature for the modulation of this 
voice. And of all this you must make a special drawing, sketching 
and discusring the various * parts.* Then resuming his experiments 
he deals with various phonetical problems." He now buries him- 
self with the development of sound and shows, both in text and 

•Q.iv.f.8r. • 

»Q.i.f.8y. 'Ibid. 

** Q. iv, f. 10 r. and r. 

* Q.a.f.6v. 

1 ▼. 

• Q. i,f.9r. 

* Q. It, f. 1 r. 

• Q. 1. f.0r. 



drawings, that the palate divides the air current, so that it goes 
partly through the nose, partly through the mouth. He describes 
the position of the lips and the part played by the soft palate in 
the formation of vowels and arranges these in conjunction with 
various consonants in tables. He compares the trachea to an 
organ-i^pe, and thinks that the voice can be modulated by its 
lengthening and shortening, its expansion or contraction. 

Although in other manuscripts Leonardo has reproduced the 
larynx very clearly, it is uncertain how exactly he understood its 
function.' He does not use the word larynx, but calls it sometimes 
the ‘trachea*, sometimes the ‘upper part of the trachea*, or its 

* ring *, sometimes the ‘ epiglottis * or the ‘ fistula or flute, i. e. the 
place where the voice is formed *.* He states that by the dissection 
of animals he will make an experiment of pressing the air in and 
out of a lung, ‘ contracting and dilating the fistula, the generator 
of their voices *. 

In dealing with the trachea and larynx Leonardo also brings 
in the tongue, which consists of 28 or 24 muscles, but he ‘ notes 
how they transform themselves into six in their formation in the 
tongue . . . and further it must be demonstrated where such muscles 
have their origin, that is to say from the cervical vertebrae, where 
they join the oesophagus, and some from inside from the maxilla, 
and some from the outside from the side of the trachea The 
tongue takes part in the enunciation and articulation of syllables, 
sets the masticated food in motion, cleanses the mouth and teeth, 
‘ and its principal functions are seven, i. e. extension, retraction 
and attraction, thickening, shortening, dilation and straightening *. 
On account of its great mobility, Leonardo frequently compares 
it to the penis : ‘ but here you might perhaps argue with the 
definition of the membrum which receives in itself so much natural 
heat, that it, besides its thickening, lengthens very much *. The 
surface of the tongue in the cat and bovine tribes is v«ry rough, 
and as an illustration of this, Leonardo relates the following: 

* I once saw a lamb being licked by a lion in our town of Firenze 
where there are always twenty-five or thirty of them, and where 

,, they are bred ; this lion removed writh a few strokes the whole 
^l^ skin of the lamb, and, thus denuded, ate it up.* ' 


* See C. L. Vangensten, * Leonardo da Vinci og fonetiken FideaekoAtf* 
uhbabeU Fcf^andlinger, No. 1, 1913. 

* Q. iv, ft, 9 V. and 10 r. , 

• Q. iv, f. 9 V. 


HWe again Leonardo madcea a deviation in his train of thou|^t. 
After deaUng with the ron^ suifaoe of the leonine tongne on one 
page, on the next his thon^^te tom for a moment to fletenoe, 
for here appears a lightly sketched representation ci that town ‘ 
in the form of two inscribed circles jmned by lines which go to the 
centre* and on which are written the names of its eleven gates. 

In no less than three of the Quademi* besides other niano* 
scripts* Leonardo pursues* with surpassing skill* the study of 
the heart and tiie movement of the blood in it and in the larger 
blood-vessels. A number of drawings and paragraphs in one of 
the Quademi * suggest that these manuscripts must have been 
written in his early days as an author* whilst others show that he 
had dissected and made much pogress in comprehension of the 
vascular system.* It is obvious from these drawings that the 
representations of the heart are* for the most part* based on 
investigations of the hearts of animals* principally cattle. Occa- 
tionally however drawings of the human heart appear. * In several 
places Leonardo mentions the veins and arteries. He frequently 
indicates by the word * veins ** both veins and arteries — ^in other 
words* the blood-vessels. In some manuscripts he must mean 
arteries when he writes * veins % and occasionally it is doubtful 
whether veins or arteries are im^died. He draws the outer surfaces 
of the heart (Plate xxxi)* and by longitudinal and transverse 
sections* he demonstrates its cavities* their form and projections 
(Plates xxxm and xxxiv)* with the trabeculae* the p^inati 
muscles with the depressions between the septum* the papillary 
muscles* the cordae tendineae* the valves* the columnae cameae* 
and again in a transverse section of the base* he shows the 
venous and arterial openings with their similarly disposed valves 
(Plate xxxm* upper figure). 

Leonardo draws the heart in the shape of a cone* with the 
base upwards and to the right. On the surface of the heart are 
seen the coronary vessels* arteries as well as veins. These *]ie 
together* the arteries deeper than the veins* but some of the 
arteriid ramifications lie above those of the veins *** and * with 
regard to the third vein* I have not yet seen whether it has an 
artery with it* for which reason I shall make a dissection (really 
peel off the flesh) to satisfy myself *.* The coronary vessels are 

* Q. i. • Q. ii. and iv. 

* Q. iv, f. 14 r. 

‘ Q. iv,f. 10 V. 

* e. g. Q. ii, f. 14 r., fig. 1. 

• Q. U, f. l.r. 

» Q iv. f. 13 V. 



surrounded with fat, and covered by the pericardium which covers 
half the width of the vessels, the other half is covered by the 
flesh.' The arteries feed the heart’s substance,' and spring from 
the aorta ; • they * issue from both the outer openings of the left 
ventricle By this is perhaps meant Leonardo’s hemicyclest 
later known as the sinuses of Valsalva. The coronary veins are 
called ‘ vene were ’, * probably because they are dark in colour on 
account of their venous blood. Leonardo describes how the outer 
surface of the heart is visibly divided by the coronary vessels * 
and these anastomose at the apex.* 

He states that the heart has four ventricUs^ two larger on the 
right, and two smaller on the left. The two lower ones lie in the 
heart’s substance, and the two upper ones outside it. He opposes 
those who say that there are only two cavities in the heart, and 
maintains that if one means that the two right and two left 
ventricles each only form one cavity, then the room and ante* 
room which are separated by a small door are only one room.’ 
The upper or outer ventricles should in this case answer to the 
ante-rooms and this word is indeed often used to designate them.* 
In consequence of the fact that most of Leonardo’s material on 
the subject of the heart is derived from animals, his outer or upper 
ventricles are sometimes to be taken not as atria but as auricles, 
and he occasionally says this himself. ‘ The hemrt has four ven- 
tricles, that is to say, two upper, called heart-ears (‘ orechi ’), 
and below them the two lower ones called the right and left 
ventricles.’ • He says that these ears of th^ heart are of the nature 
of expanding pockets, so as to receive the percussion on the 
movement made by the blood when it is forcibly driven out pf 
the ventricles when these contract, and he compares them to the 
bundles of wool and cotton placed on the bulwarks of a ship to 
soften the impact of shots from enemy bombardment.'* 

It seems reasonable to assume that Leonardo, who has dissected 
ammal as well as human hearts, often meant atria when he used 
the words ‘ upper ventricles *, and ‘ ears ’. This is also obvious 
from a drawing and observation he made of an open foramen 

»Q. ii, f. Ir. *Q. u,f.4r. » Q. ii, f. 3 v. «Q. u,f. 4r. 

» Q. iv, f . 13 V. • Q. iv, £. 14 V. » Q. i, f. 3 r. 

• HoU points out that Leonardo was the first to introduce the designation 
ventricles for the cardiac cavities : before Leonardo, various other expressions 
were in use, as rinits, vacuitaa, or ctmeaviUu cordis. 

• Q. ii, f. 17v. andf. 3v. 

'* Q* ii. f- 3 r. Here is one example of the many images in which Leonardo’s 
work is so rich. 



owde. ‘ I have found from (a) in the left to (b) in the right ven- 
tricle a perforation which I here note to ascertain whether it also 
occurs in other hearts.* * 

The muscles of the heart consist of longitudinal and transverse 
fibres. In all the four ventricles the interior muscles, which are 
adapted for contraction, are of a similar nature. The surface 
muscles on the other hand serve only the lower ventricles, but 
the upper ones have a continuous membrane, dilatable and con- 
tractable ; elsewhere * he states that the upper ventricles could not 
empty themselves if they could not fold together, and if they had 
not longitudinal, oblique, and transverse muscles, able to contract. 

Leonardo considers and represents the wall of the left ven- 
tricle as much thicker than that of the right,® and the apex of the 
heart to be formed mostly by the left ventricle * (Plate xxxiv, 
lower figure, and Plate xxxvi, left). To obtain a correct idea of 
the shape and contour of the heart’s cavities, they^muut be inflated 
before dissection.® One can then find ‘cells * or ‘ cavernosities * 
separated by rounded walls (i. e. the trabeculae and pectinati 
muscles). ‘ If you inflate the auricle you will find out the shape 
of the cells.’® The cavity of the heart is divided into two parts 
by a septum in which are pores, meaft, for the passage of blood 
from the right to the left ventricle. As a rule, Leonardo makes 
the septum quite solid, occasionally with indications ’ of the meutit 
but these he admits he was unable to find himself, for he refers 
to them as invisible.® 

Musculi papiUarea^ which Leonardo calls the muscles of the 
heart, merge ‘ near the valves ’ into the cordae (tendineae), and the 
valves are held firmly by these cords. These muscles of the heart 
divide into two parts, each having its own cordae, and Leonardo 
has noticed that the cordae are fastened to different parts of the 
cusps of the valves.® He has made a very beautiful drawing of the 
palmary muscles with cordae, fixed to the tricuspid and bicuspid 
valves*® (Plate xxxm, upper fig., and Plate xxxiv, upper fig.). 

In some of his drawings of ventricles Leonardo sketches the 
intraventricular moderator band,** which takes its origin in the 
septum and is attached at the base of a papillary muscle or a 
trabecula** (Plates xxxiv and xxxvi) This band he called . 

» Q u, f. 11 r. * Q. i, f. 4 r. > Q. ii, f. Hr. 

* Q" u» f. 4 r. * Q. iv, f. 13 r. and v. • Q. iv, f. 13 v. 

* g* Q* i. f. 3 r. • Q. iv, f. 11 v. • Q. ii, £. 3 r. 

** Q. iv, f. 13 r. and v., f. 14 r. “ Q. i, f, 14 r ; Q. iv, £, 13 r. 

” Q. iv, f. 13 r. 



cattum^ and in his opinion it serves to prevent the heart dilating 
more than necessary, for without this structure the heart would 
draw too much blood from those vessels into which it had previously 
thrown it * (Plates xxxiii and xxxiv). 

In one of his drawings the vena cava superior and inferior are 
distinctly seen to enter the right auricle separately.® The other 
drawings of these vessels and their relation to the heart seem to 
be taken from animals. To the xmlmonary artery and vein he 
gives the old names of vena arterialis and arteria venalis respectively. 

The aorta {vena aorto or arteria aorto) comes from the left 
ventricle.* ‘The right ventricle has two orifices, one in the vena 
aorto, and when the heart dilates in the left ventricle its base 
contracts to close the door of the arteria aorto.’ ® The, other 
orifice is ‘ the arteria venalis (pulmonary vein),* and goes from the 
heart to the lung ’. Leonardo is here indefinite. He does not 
mention the left auricle. 

On one occasion Leonardo calls the pulmonary artery ‘ the 
door of the lung ’. Under the heading On the namen of the vessels 
of the heart he says, in fact, ‘ the door of the lung, and it is called 
vena arterialis, and it is named vena, because it conveys the blood 
to the lung.’ Leonardo has here erased these last words to the 
lung, but that he meant that the pulmonary artery carries blood 
to the lung seems obvious from the continuation of the passage : 

* And it has three valves which open from within outwards (val- 
vulae semilunares) with perfect closure, and thesei are in the right 
ventricle.’ ’ The dominating position attributed by him to the 
aorta is seen from the following passage : ‘ And in the middle of 
the base of the heart is the source or base of the aorta, founded in 
the centre of the heart’s base, having power over the state of this 
heart’s base as the latter has power over the animal’s life.’ * 

Leonardo deals often with the valves of the heart. The atrio- 
ventricular valves are formed, according to Leonardo, by the 
endocardium above and the cordae tendineae below ; these may 

1 Q. ii, f. 4 V. 

^ Uoll points out that Leonardo was the first to observe these fibres passing 
through the ventricular cavities and suggests that, in honour of their discoverer, 
they should be calltKl Leonardo da Vinci’s columnae carneae. Tawara in 190lfi 
first pointed out that these fibres form bridges through which the fibres, the 
atrio-ventrieular bundle of His, reach from the septum to the papillary muscles. 

» Q. ii, f. 14 r. 

* Q. ii, f. 2 v. HoU points out that Leonardo must here have written right 
for left. * Q. ii, f. 13 v. * Q. ii, f. 2 v. 

» Q. ii. f. 2 V. • Q. iv, f. 14 v. 



stretch from one of the papillary muscles to two of the cusps of 
the valve.^ Valvulae semilunares are portrayed both open* and 
closed.* Leonardo describes how the inside of the artery (i. e. 
either of the aorta or pulmonary artery) is covered by a thin 
membrane (intima) which merges into and forms one side of the 
valves, the other side of the valve being formed of another layer 
of the pannicle.* A similar pannicle is found in the ventricles 
(endocardium) and in the pericardium. The 8hai)e of the closed 
semilunar valves seen from above and below are so beautifully 
reproduced that they must have been coxwed after the large vessels 
had been filled up with a solidifying substance. Leonardo indeed 
here remarks : ‘ but first [)our wax into the ]>orts of an ox heart, 
so that you can see the true form of these doors.’ ® 

In his opinion the valves and the roots of the great arteries 
are enclosed in the substance of the heart, so that the blood when 
it presses against the closed valves will not destroy these, but 
will break its impetus against the walls of the blood vessels by 
dilating them.* And in dealing with the closing of the semilunar 
valves when the blood passes over them, he finds, from his x>hysico- 
mathematical reflections that three aorta-valves are more satis- 
factory than four,’ for if their number were more than three, their 
angles or triangles w'ould be weaker than those “ formed by three 

It is difficult to judge how' Leonardo pictured to himself the 
working of the heart, the movement of the valves and of the blood. 
He is not in the least clear in his pronouncements concerning them, 
and his remarks on these jjoints are spread over many leaves of 
manuscript. He often says that when the ante-chambers, the 
upper ventricles (i.e. auricles), contract, the heart-chambers, the 
lower ventricles, expand, and vice versa, e.g. ‘ On the two lower 
ventricles situated in the root of the heart ; their dilatation and 
contraction arc made at one and the same time through the flux 
of the flodd, and the reflux of the blood is made at one and the 
same time, succeeding the first, through the reflux in the uj^iier 
ventricles, situated above the root of this heart.’ • The movement 
of the blood at the alternating dilatation and contraction of the 
upx>er and lower ventricles is thus compared with ebb and flow. 
By the contraction of the auricles, the blood is driven through the 
atrio-ventricular ox)emngs into the ventricles which o;)en, causing 

1 Q. ii, £. 3 r. * Q. u, ff. 3 v. and 4 r. ® Q. ii, f. 9 v. 

* Q. iv, f. 14 V. ® Q. ii, f. 12 r. • Q. iv, f. 14 v. 

» Q. iv, f. 12 r. ® Q. iv, £. 12 v. • Q. ii, £. 4 v. 



the aemilunar valves to close. When tile ventricles contoaot, some 
blood letunis to the ante-chambeis before- the atoio-venbEionlar 
Valves have dosed enriidy ; ' the latter when so stretched in- 
crease somewhat in size and approach one another, causing ulti- 
mately a comfdete closure both of the right and left atrio-ventri- 
cular orifices.' With the s3^stole of the right venhricle, aoother 
portion of the blood goes throng the pulmonary artery to the 
lungs, while a third portion goes through the septum into the left 
ventricle.* Thus less blood is driven back from the ri(^t ventricle 
to the right auride than goes from the auricle to the ventricle, and 
the right auricle has its quantity of blood made good from the 
vena cava inferior, ‘ through tl\e liver, the treasurer, the generator 
of blood *. * The blood *, which comes to the lungs, * gives without 
hindrance the necessary nourishment to the pulmonary veins, 
where the blood, after it has been refreshed in the lung, returns 
for the most part to refresh the blood left in the ventricle where 
it divided.* * What Leonardo means by this is obscure, as he does 
not mention through which vessels the blood returns to the heart. 
* In the lungs the arteries which are connected with the minute 
branches of the bronchi absorb the freshness of the air entering 
the lungs.* * 

Elsewhere he asks : ‘ Whether the pulmonary veins send back 
the blood to the heart when the lung contracts at the expulsion 
of the air*,* and he says that the contraction of the diaphragm 
compels the lungs to expand, * which occurs in order that they may 
absorb the air with which the veins (venh arteridis => pulmonary 
artery) {nroceeding from the heart may refresh themsdves.’ The 
blood is heated in the heart*s cavity, part of it evaporating (spiritus 
vitalis), and this vapour, mingled with dense moisture, is excreted 
through the farthest ends'Of the capillaries (* vene cha^dlari *) from 
the skin in the form Of perspiration.* * When the left ventricle 
contracts, the blood goes through the aorta * (* the upper vessd *), 
and the wave of blood thus formed goes through all the arteries,^* 
and with the pulsation of the blood in the heart, which closes the 
valves, * a tone is created which goes through every artery and 
* which the ear often hears in the temples *.^ 

By drawings as well as descriptions, Leonardo discusses the 
fiow of the blood from the left ventricle through the opening of 

* Q. ii, ff. 3 r., 8 v., 11 r., and 12 r. 

•Q. u, f. Hr. •Q.i.f. 5r. 

• Q. ii, f. 17 “ Q. il, f. IS v. 

> Q. ii,f.8v. 
« Q. ii,f.4v. 
• Q. ii, 1. 11 r. 

» Q.ii,f. 17 V. 
» Q.i,f. 4v. 


Qiiaderni V to. 14 r 

Dctailsi of cardiac anatomy 


Quaderni IV fo, 8r 

Blood-vessels in inguinal region 

IJ^ARDO AS mATtOmSTE » ' 177 

the aoKta Mid its IwMiohes.^ The eemilniuMr valyes open at the 
ingfeee of the blood and close with its withdrawaL He tiieoiiaes 
as to how far the arterial ostia open only with the central part of 
the swnilnnar yalves, and to what extent the openings of the 
heart’ could have closed by mere muscular action without valves ; 
he comes to ^e conclusion that the closure of the heart’s openings 
inroceeds both better and mmre quickly witii the aid of the valves 
than if it occurred by action of the heart’s substance. 

When the left ventricle contracts* the blood* as already stated^ 
flows into the aorta ; its speed is there vMried proportionately to 
the calibre of the vessel. When the wave of blood enters the 
aorta* the centre part of the waye which goes directly upwards is 
lugher than the sides* the impetus of which dissipates itself by 
the lateral motion. Leonardo proves that in this the blood acts 
like other fluids* demonstrating both by words and drawings the 
action of water when it runs ‘out of a vertical and a horizontal 

During his deliberations over the movement of the blood in 
the osHum aortae, and above its semilunar valves* Leonardo made 
several exx>eriments with models. His wax castings of the heart 
have already been mentioned** and in this connexion he says: 
* A form of gypsum to be inflated* and a thin glass within* and 
then break it from head to foot ’ ; and : ’ The form of the 
glass* to see in the glass what the blood does in the heart when 
it shuts the openings of the heart’.* In order clearly to under- 
stand the movement of the blood in the heart* Leonardo thus 
flrst made a wax cast of the ventricles and their vessels* over 
this he made a gypsum cast* and from this a glass oast. Through 
this glass oast he has examined the vortices made by the blood 
when it is driven out by the s3rBtole into the aorta and pulmonary 
artery* as shown in some of his drawings * (Plate xxxn). The 
semilunar valves close during these vortices* mid the walls of the 
blood-vessels protrude into the * semivCntrioles ’ or * hemioyoles ’ 
(sinuses of Valsalva). 

Leonardo* however* flnds it difficult to gauge to what extent 
this actually occurs. He says: *It is doubtful whether tiie 
percussion caused by tiie forcible movement in the front of the 
uppm arch of the hemiqyole divides into two parts* of which one 
goes upwards and the other backwards* and this doubt is subtile 

* Q. fv. 1. 11 r. and r* f. 12 r. • Q. Iv, f. 11 r. 

•Q«U»fl2r. «Q.U*f.6r. • Q. U* ff. 12 r. and 18 ▼. 



and difficult to elucidate.* ^ He l^en moAes another experiment : 
* Make this experiment in a glass and move . . • the pannicnlae 
(i.e. the valves) about in it * *. And now his doubt has vanuhed ; 
he has comple^ his experiments and has come to the following 
conclusions : When the blood enters the hemicycles, it strikes the 
wall of the aorta and divides at the topmost edge of the hemioycle 
into an ascending and a descending stream. The descending part 
makes a spiral curve, follows the concavity of the hemioycle, and 
percolates through its base ; it then follows the surface of the 
semilunar valve, stretches the valve and closes it against the 
other valves, the stream then turns upwards in a retrograde 
movement and ends in a reflex vortex.* The ascending part of 
the blood'Stream also makes a whirling motion, but in the other 
direction. This vortex again forms other vortices, which gradually 
decrease until *the impetus consumes itself*. When the blood 
by the systole of the left ventricle is driven through the mouth 
of the aorta, it strikes against the blood over the semilunar valves, 
and * this concussion shakes all the arteries and pulses distributed 
throughout the body *.* The systole collapses simultaneously with 
the concussion of the apex and the thorax, idso with the heat of 
the pulse, and the entry of the blood into the auricle* (Pistes 
xxxn and xxxiv). 

One must investigate the relations of the recurrent nerve to 
the heart, he tells us, to see whether this nerve lends movement to 
the heart, or whether the heart’s movement is spontaneous.* Its 
dilatation and contraction are spontaneous, he concludes, and 
these movements occur on the heart’s longitudinal axis. 

In the .ventricular hollows, between the trabeculae and the 
pectinati muscles, to which we have already referred* the blood 
is driven round in a whirling movement,’ a>nd because it does not 
meet any edges or comers this movement acquires * its vertiginous 
impetus *, which causes heat, and this can become so great as to 
cause suffocation. Leonardo says that he has witnessed such an 
occurience in the case of a man whose h«srt * broke * as he fled 
from the enemy, a blood>stained sweat exiiding from all the pores 
of his skin. Leonardo’s thought then turns to the general and vital 
purpose of heat, mid he states: *Andaoheat ipves life to all things, 
just as one sees that the warmth of the hen and turkey hen gives 

» Q. a, f. 18 V. * Q. It, f. Hr. 

* It seems, to judge from f<d. Hr., par. 11, and fol. 11 v., par. 11, that 

Leonardo means the sinus of Valsalva. 4 i^, 1. 11 v. 

• Q. It, f. 11 r. • Q. iv, f. 7r. » Q. ^ 1 l«r„ par. i:i. 


1 78 

, ;.:! 


#% 5 ^‘ 



^ it 

s»»m 9 ^' 


ill •!>, { 


^*'‘'. \ - 

^rt\ V 

•««% 'W '\ 

':'^^ V 

jg3 1 ‘ 

rt . . rt.H Af ■•illJ flWr < 

Quaclerni II fo. 12 r 

Right ventricle pulmonary artery and mus- 
i'ttti fnfiilftnrs, 'I he eddies of blood arc shown 
around the semilunar valves. 



^^lj qnK»<rg 

1 ^6^ v)V^ 

fif»in* w 

V- .. V,. 

• « 


Quaderni 1 1 fo. 14 r 

itriclcs, right auricle, and great vessels 


lifo and torth to their diiokene, and tiie aun when it letams gives 
life and Uoaaondng to all fruits.* * 

Leonardo endeavooied also to study the movement of the 
living heart. He relates that when pigs were killed in Toscany, 
^e animal was turned on its back, fastened securely, and an 
instoument called a ‘sj^o*, used to draw wine from casks, is 
thrust into its heart.* He observes that if it' enters the heart the 
instrument bogins to move : at the diastole its point goes upwards, 
and its handle downwards, with the shortening of the heart, — the 
contrary with its lengthening. At last, when the heart has ceased 
to move, the handle becomes 
stationary in the exact 
middle of the two extremes. i 
During the experiment Leo* il^ 
nardo estimated the length «* 

of the movements. And 2. An experiment of Leonardo on the heart. 

1 have seen this several 

times and taken,.such measurements, and left such an instrument 
in the heart until the animal was cut up.* Leonardo demonstrates 
the experiment by drawings, and points out that the movements 
of the instrument do not continue equal in extent, giving reasons 
for this (Fig. 2). 

Of all the bodily movements Leonardo evidently found that 
of the heart and vascular system the most perplexing. To this 
question he returns again and again, expending on it much of 
his time, his art of dissection, his keen observation, and his know- 
ledge of the laws of physics. He seeks to elucidate this theme 
with question and counter-question directed from every point. 
He controverts actual authors and fancied antagonists, and his 
drawings, experiments, and deliberations tell their tale of his 
unceasing efforts to reach the ultimate truth concerning this 
abstruse problem. The fact that more than a quarter of all the 
anatomical, and phycdologicai drawings in tiie six Quademi deal 
with the heart and its cavities shows how intense was his con- 
centration on this subject, and it is evident from the following 

* It is extremely interestiiig to fdlow Leonaido's train of thought in this 
mannsoript. Bar, iii reaches neariy to the edge the manusoript; it is therefore 
evidsnt that he did not intend to write anything further, but his thoughts turned 
to the general value of heat, and he made a note of them (par. iv)inthe narrow 
margin at the aide ot par. W. From this par. iv he drew a line to the foot of 
par. iii to indicate the order in which they riionld be read. See ^ate xxxvi. 




■ passage how necessary he thought it to use drawings as well -as 
words for the purpose of demonstratiion. * With what words will 
you describe this heart so that you do not fill a book ; and the 
more minutely and elaborately you describe it, the more ‘you 
will confuse the mind of the listener, and you will ever require 
a commentator or to revert to experience, which in your case has 
been very short, and explain few things concerning the subject 
in its entirety about which you wish full knowledge * ; ‘ and it is 
in connexion with this subject that he exclaims : * Give an address 
on the shame, which is necessary for the students, imi)eders of 
anatomy and abbreviators thereof,* nay not abbreviators but 
destroyers should they be called who curtail such a task as this.* * 
To judge from the Quademi, the main results of Leonardo’s 
research concerning the working of the heart may be stated as 
follows : At the coiitraction of the auricles the blood flows through 
the venous ostia into the ventricles. At the systole of the ventricles 
the blood goes out into the pulmonary artery and the aorta. By 
means of the pulmonary artery the blood goes' from the right 
venl^cle to the lungs, from where it returns * refreshed * to the 
heart — ^by which vessels is not stated. From the left ventricle 
the blood is driven into the aorta and from it into all the arteries. 
Towards the skin it passes into the ‘ capillary veins *. Blood enters 
the right auricle by the vena cava. 

Leonardo has not given any clear description of the circulation, 
his comments on the subject being disconnected and incomplete. 
He was not able entirely to emancipate himself from the old idea 
of the passage of the blood from the right ventricle through the 
septum into the left ventricle, although he himself seems doubtful 
about the truth of it, for he says that the pores in the septum 
are invisible. He likewise maintains that with the systole of the 
ventricles, some blood returns to the auricles until the atrio> 
ventricular .valves have closed entirely. On the other hand, one 
must remember that Leonardo has not given any systematic 
expose of the subject ; his remarks are distributed oVer many 
years and many manuscripts. Nor is it surprising that Leonardo, 
who was no physician, and who occasionally fell short in the 
matter of proportion, of which as an artist he made daily .use, 
should be incomplete and obscure in dealing with one of the most 
difficult physiological problems. It, is also to be noted that 
Leonardo did not seek to publish the results of his research — 
it is only comparatively recently that they have been found in 
^ Q. ii, f. 1 r. ■ Q. i, f. 4 v. » Q. i, f. 4 r. 

LBONAiyiMi iui ■ m 

lira mamiaoriplp. It is theref^ iii s^te of emm and 

dmiawons, that ho had a fablj^docpMt ocoioeplioii of tho dronla- 
tfoo. It is ceitain that in tho Qnadeoni he bi^Mld the Pltoinised 
Land— -that he began to enter it seems evident aben one compares 
the Qnademi with the {<d]oaing statements in the 1V>|^ : 

* By the ramification of the vdns in the mesm&tary, the food 
is drawn from the corruption of the aliments in the intestines, 
and eventually it returns by the ultimate ramifications of the 
artery to these intestines . . ; and again, * the origin of the sea 

is the contoary of that of the blood, for the sea receives in its 
bosom all the rivers, which are produced only by the vapours of 
water, risen into the air : the sea of the blocKl is the cause of all 
the veins. The aorta is only one which subdivides into as many 
principal branches as there are prinoi^ parts to be nourished, 
Wnohes which continue to nunify ad infinitum.* ^ 

From this it may be inferred that Leonardo came very near 
to the conception of the circulation of the blood. 

The drawings of blood-vessels in the Fogli are so beautiful that 
Leonardo must have prepared the vessels by injections. Many of 
those in the Quaderni date from an earlier period. A large and very 
fine full-page drawing in one Quaderni,* named the ‘Vessel-tree’ 
and ‘Spiritual Parts’, is, however, not very accurate, although the 
three great blood-vessels springing from the arch of the aorta are 
correctly rendered (Plate xxxv). His advice on the study of the 
blood-vessels is, ‘Bisect the heart, liver, lungs, and kidneys, so 
that you may be able to portray the complete ramification of the 
blood-vessels ’. Below a very rough sketch of the vascular system 
he writes, under the heading Anatomia venarum : ‘ The vascular 
system must be treated as a whole as Ptolemy represented the 
world in his cosmography. Later the‘blood-vessels of each part 
mpst be described separately and from various aspects. Study 
the ramifications of the blo^-vessels from the back, the front, 
and the sides, otherwise you cannot give the true information as 
to their rainifications, form, and posilion.’ * Elsewhere he gives 
a beautiful and quite correct representation of the subcutaneous 

^ Fo|^ A, f . 4 r. Here is written ' la vena *, bat there is no reason why vena 
should not here mean vessel, tiiat is aorta, as it does in Q. i, 1 . 1 r., f<» example, 
whne Leonardo calls the abdominal anrta and the vma cava baterior U vene 
nuurime, and in Q. ii, I. 2v., where he deals among other things with die aorta 
tinder the heading *de nomti ddU vene del eHuore *, which is translated as * On die 
names of the vessels of the heart In the same place Leonardo calls die aorta 
* Vena acnto 

•Q. V, f. Ir. *0. V, f. 2r. 

mt H 



veins of the groin. ^ One sees here the union of the vetui saphena 
magma and the vena femoralis, which latter is depicted as lying 
mesial to the arteria femoralis. To this figure the following 
passage is subjoined : ‘ From the soft parts (anguinaie) of the 
arms and thighs go veins, which, branching from the main veins, 
traverse the body between the skin and the flesh. And remember 
to note how the arteries part from the company of the veins and 
nerves.* The vena dorsalis penis also appears on the drawing, and 
the remark : * There are two kinds of vein ramifications, simple 
and compound ; it is the simple one which continues dividing 
itself indefinitely. A comjiound vein is one which is formed by 
two branches, as one sees n.m. and m.o. branches from two veins 
which unite at m. and form the vein m.p. which goes to the ]:)enis.* 
This sketch of Leonardo’s, like many others of his anatomical draw- 
ings, might well be placed in a modern text-book (Plate xxxiii). 
One would expect Leonardo’s study of proportion ^ to be dis- 
cussed in Tratiato della Piituray a work which is composed of 
extracts from various of his manuscripts, but it is not. In that 
work the fact that Nature never makes two individuals exactly 
alike is emphasized, the inference being that one eannot draw all 
one’s figures from the measurement of a single subject. Only 
a few special measurements appear in this book. The manu- 
scripts constituting the opening section of one of the Quaderni 
contain the most important part of Leonardo’s studies of the 
proportion of an adult. ^ These are sometimes rather obscure, 
some of the points of measurement being represented by letters 

* Q. iv, f. 8 r. 

‘ The study of proportion is the teaching concerning a harmonious relation 
between the body and its jMuts stated in figures formulated for practical as well 
as artistic requirements. fVom ancient times artists have sought a basic measure- 
ment, a modulo, by which they could establish a standard, i. e. the normal 
length and breadth of the body and its parts, and the schedule used has been 
called a ‘ canon The length of the head, the face, the hand and the foot, have 
all been used for the purpose, and the length of the body and the limbs deducted 
from these. The Egyptian canon seems to have been calculated from the length 
of the middle finger, the length of the body being 19 middle fingers. Judging 
from the Doryphorus of Polycleitus, the Greek canon may be taken from the 
Egyptian, or as some think, from the length of the head which should go eight 
times into the length of the body. With Albrecht Dfirer the length of the body 
ranges from six and a half to eight times the length of the head. According to 
Michael Angelo’s canons the length of the body seems to be between nine and 
ten times the length of the head. * Q. vi, ft. 1-12. 

* Leonardo states (see Bichter, The Literary Works of Leonardo, dsc., ii, 
p. 109) that he will describe the proportions of the adult man and woman, but 
no orderly exposition of these is known to have been written by him. 



which do not appear in the adjacent sketches. He also uses for 
purposes of measurement points which vary in different individuals, 
for instance, the margin of the hair, and some of his text and draw- 
ings are difficult to interpret. He is also liable to designate the same 
part by different terms, thus the base of the nose is named^ae di soto 
del nasOf principio del luiao, and again, nasscimetUo di sotto del naao,' 

Like many contemporaries, as well as earlier and later artists, 
Leonardo made for himself a canon of proportion, and as a basis 
for this he took sometimes the length of the head, sometimes that 
of the face or of the foot, but he also made use of others. Thus 
be tells us that the entire height is four times the breadth of the 
shoulders, and again, that four times the breadth of the shoulders 
equals only the distance from the sole of the foot to the base of 
the nose. In one manuscript the head is the length of the hand, 
in another it is the face that is of this length. One gathers from 
such contradictions that Leonardo has measured various subjects 
of different heights and proportions. 

It is thus by no means easy to follow Leonardo’s study of 
proportion. The manuscripts containing this material are evi- 
dently a collection which he intended to revise, for here — as 
elsewhere in the abundant material that he has left behind him — 
he deals several times with the same subject, probably at different 
periods and with different models, and jots down his findings 
without putting them in order, so that we do not know which 
of his measurements are individual and which general. A resume 
of the partially worked-up sections of Leonardo’s study of pro- 
portion may, however, be attempted. 

Bases. The height of the head is the distance from the under- 
side of the chin to the highest point of the head. The length of the 
face from the lower edge of the chin to the edge of the hair. The 
length of the foot is from the back of the heel to the point of the 
big toe or second toe. The width of the shoulders is to be measured 
between the contours of the deltoid muscles, though occasionally 
he indicates the ‘ shoulder-joints ’ as points of measurement. 

The proportions of the head. Half the length of the head is 
from the crown to the inner canthus, from the inner canthus to 
the under edge of the chin, or from the under edge of the chin to 
the angle of the jaw, also from the top of the ear to the crown of 
the head ; the width of the throat from back to front is also equal 
to half the height of the head. The distance between the mouth 

^ The quotations are given in Leonardo’s own orthography, which is not always 
consequent (e. g. wio in one place, aoUo in the next). ^ 

N 2 



and tiie edge of the hair, and between the chin and the nape of 
the neck is three-quarters the length of the head, as is also the 
greatest width of the face. 

The /ace is divided into three equal parts, namely, from the 
chin to the base of the nose, from here to the root of the nose, 
* where the eyebrows begin ’, and thence to the commencement 
of the hair. Half the length of the face is from the middle of 
the nose to the chin, quarter from the lower edge of the chin to 
the orifice of the mouth, from the back of the ear to the nape, 
from the most prominent part of the chin to the throat. The 
width of the mouth is also one-quarter the length of the face. 
From the labio-mental furrow to the edge of the hair is five-sixths 
the length of the face, one-sixth from the labio-mental furrow to 
the under side of the chin, one-seventh from the edge of the hair 
to the crown, and from the base of the nose to the orifice of the 
mouth, one-twelfth of the length of the face from the labio-mental 
furrow to the orifice of the mouth (Plate xxxvii). 

The height and its proportions. The total height equals eight 
times the length of the head. From the edge of the hair to the 
ground is nine times the length of the face, three times the distance 
between the wrist and the top of the shoulder, four times the 
width across the shoulders, four times the distance from the centre- 
line of the body to the elbow of the stretched and abducted arm. 
Any of these measures equals four ells, one ell (chupido) being 
the distance from the elbow to the point of the middle finger 
with stretched arm, or the distance from the point of the elbow 
to the point of the thumb with bent arm. Again, the height may 
be expressed as six times the distance from the hair edge to the 
[)it of the throat, 12 times the width of the face, 12 times the 
distance from the mouth to the edge of the hair, 15 times the dia- 
meter of the throat in profile, 15 times the distance from the chin 
to the eye, 16 times the distance from the point of the chin to 
the angle of the jaw, 16 times the distance from the chin to the 
inner corner of the eye, 16 times the distance from the top of 
the ear to the crown, 18 times from the upper bend ‘of the throat 
to the pit of the throat, 42 times from the front to the back of 
the arm at the wrist, and 54 times the distance from the labio- 
mental furrow to the underside of the chin. 

If one compares some of these measurements of the body with 
those for proportions of the head, one finds that the body varies 
between 7^ and sometimes nine times the length of the head. 



By kneeling, the height is lessened by a quarter. When in 
this attitude the hands are folded on the breast, the navel is the 
centre>point and the elbows are on a level with the navel. In the 
sitting posture the lower margin of the shoulder>blades and the 
breast will be on the same plane and both at equal distances 
from the seat, and from the crown of the head, while from the 
seat to the crown * will be as much more than half of the man as 
the thicknes9 and length of the testicles *. In an upright position, 
the aural orifice, the top of the shoulder, the great trochanter, and 
outer ankle bone will lie in a line (Plate xxxvii). 

The proportions of the trunk. The width of the shoulders equals 
the distance from the pit of the throat to the navel, and is twice 
the height of the head ; from the navel to the root of the penis 
is equal to the length of the head. From the nipple to the navel 
is one foot, as is also the distance from wrist to elbow, and from 
elbow to armpit. The width across the shoulders is equal to the 
distance from the great trochanter to the knee and from here to 
the ankle. The distance between the arm-pits is equal to the 
width of the nips, and to the distance from the shoulder-joint to 
the top of the hip, and from here to the lower extremity of the 
buttocks. The waist lies midway between the shoulder-joint and 
the lower extremity of the buttocks. 

The proportions of arm and leg. h'Voin the point of the longest 
finger of the hand to the slioulder-joint there are four hands or, 
if you like, four heads, also three feet ; one foot from the wrist 
to the elbow, also from here to the arm-pit, and with bent elbow, 
the distance from the top of the shoulder to the point o'f the 
elbow, and from here to the base of the fingers both equal two 
heads ; from the finger-points to the arm-pits is equal to the 
ilistance from the top of the hip to the knec-cap, and from here to 
the sple of the foot, and each of the distances is two feet ; two 
feet is also the distance from the sole of the foot to the front of 
the knee bent at a right angle, and from here to the back part of 
the buttocks ; the distance from the great trochanter to the knee, 
and from here to the ankle, are equal. 

It is probable that Leonardo\s study of anatomy first sprang 
from his wish to represent the surface anatomy as perfectly as 
possible. In this he carried out his motto ‘ to know is to see ’. 
He gradually became enthralled by his work of investigation and 
so decided to continue until he became complete master of the 
subject. His success was achieved through his intuition, his 



power to handle a variety o^ subjects, his tireless research, and 
his unparalleled skill as a draughtsman. He knew how to leinro- 
duce as he saw, and he saw perfectly. On account of his intimate 
knowledge of nearly every part of the human frame, and of Ins 
deUcate and artistic treatment of them, his di^wings Acquired 
a rare and hitherto unsurpassed beauty. He excels in his many 
delineations of surface anatomy, and in them we see portrayed 
a life vigorous in all its many richly varied phases and a power 
of observation that pierces all the layers of the body. His plastic 
colour drawings of the* body in Afferent positions, of which 
a number on red-brown and blue-grey paper appear in the Qua- 
derni, show clearly his greatness alike as anatomist and as artist. 

Under the heading ' On the human eihape he asks, * Which part 
of the man is it where the flesh never increases when the man 
gets fat. Which is the part which, when a man gets thin, never 
becomes emaciated with too noticeable an emaciation ? Among 
the parts ^tiiich become fat, which become the fattest ? Among the 
parts which become thin, which become most thin ? Amoi^ 
those men who are very strong, which muscles are of greater 
thickness and development ? * And he continues under the 
heading On Painting : 

* Which are the muscles which, in old age, or in a young person 
who is becoming thin, separate ? Which are the parts of the 
human limbs where the flesh never increases on account of some 
quality of the fat, and where also the flesh never decreases, on 
account of some quality of the fat, and where also the flesh never 
decreases on account of some degree of thinness ? What one 
see& in all these questions will be found at all the surface joints, 
as the shoulder, the elbow, the joints of the hands and fingers, 
the hips, the knee, ankles, and toes, and such things which will 
be discussed at their places.* 

The following singular remark shows Leonardo’s sx>eculative 
turn. He states : that Nature has disposed in front all the parts 
most liable to be bruised, for example, the brow, the nose, the 
skin. If these parts were not highly sensitive, they would certainly 
be destroyed by the many blows to which they are exposed.* 

Fearless and imperious, zealous and grave, Leonardo reproaches 
those who scorn the mathematical sciences *in which the true 

knowledge of things is contained *, those who satisfy themselves 
with superficial acquirements, those who deliberately abbreviate 
authors, and those who think they can dissect the spirit of God. 

* Q. vi, f. 22 r. 

* Ibid. 


Heart, great vessels, bronchi, \c. The intraventricular muscle band 

soonu so^iistB ttod despises humMi folly. He oondemns those 
who make a god of their stomaoh, and the betrayers of the weak 
and innooent. He oonnsds humility and the recognition of genius, 
and warns against persecuting them : 

* And if any one is found to be virhtoao and good, do not drive 
him away, honour him so that he. will not flee from you, and retire 
to deserts or holes or other solitwy places to escape your snares. 
Add if any one of these is found, honour him for these, our 
earthly gods, merit statues, portraits, and marks of honour. But 
I had better remind you that you must not eat their portraits, 
as M done in some parts of India, where, when -their portraits 
perform some miracle, the priests cut them up when they are 
made of wood, and give a piece to each inhabitant — and not 
without compensation ; and each shaves his jnece and strews it 
on the fint food he eats; and in this way they think they 
have eaten his virtue, and believe that he thereafter protects 
them from all dangers. What think you, man, of your species, 
here : Are you as wise as you think ? Are these things which 
ought to be done by men ? * ^ 


How his steadfast will stands out. * Obstacles *, he says, * do 
not deter me ; every obstacle can be overcome by resolution.* 
Leonardo approaches with awe and reverence the anatomical 
problems he sets himself, but he meets them with energy and 
ardour, and it is in the elucidation of these scientific difficulties 
that his fascinating personality, his creative imagination, most 
spontaneously appear; it is then that one meets the full force 
of this powerittl mind. 

An illegitimate child, disinherited by his father, hated by his 
step-brothers, and often misjudged by his contemporaries, who 
regarded him as a mystic and one possessed of many secrets 
which he would not divulge — ^he naturally felt forsaken and 
misunderstood. He became meditative, and he commends soli- 
tude, for it alone gives time for study. * When you are alone, 
you are yourself absolutely ; but if you are attended by a single 
companion, you are only half yourself— and if you serve two 
masters, giving yourself sometimes to society, sometimes to 
thoughts of Mrt — ^then I assure you that in this you will faiL* * 

Althou^^ Leonardo was without doubt the greatest naturalist 
of the fifteenth century, and must have realised the importance of 
the diverse discoveries he . made, yet he remained an unassuming 
man. * As I see *, he says in a proemio, * that I cannot acquire 

^ Q. ii, f. 14 r. * Quoted lirom Sir4n. 



any more useful or more attractive matter for study since those 
who have gone before me have secured all that is most useful 
and necessary, I shall imitate the man who, through poverty, 
went last to the market, and being unable otherwise to get aught 
else, seized those things thrown aside for their worthlessness — 
trivial and despised wares, the leavings of many customers. These 
1 shall lay on my miserable pack-ass and with them wander, not 
through the big cities, but through the poor villages, distributing 
them there and earning a recompense in keeping with my deeds.* ' 
This attitude may also be taken as an outcome of his loneliness. 
A genius, whose creative impulses never left him any x>®ace, 
Leonardo hardly felt himself held by any of the common bonds 
which force other mortals to remain where they have settled 
down. He seeks service with various princes — ^Ludovico Moro, 
Caesare Borgia, Louis XII, and Francois I, Wherever he thought 
he might find suitable conditions for the development of his talent 
and his plans, and for the appeasement of that force which con- 
tinuidly drove him onward, his insatiable desire to learn, to 
understand, and to create. 

Leonardo seeks, line by line, to trace the lineaments of Nature 
in all her moods. Ho has the whole always in view, regarding 
Nature as one. He arrives at the conclusion that there is but 
one Natural Law which governs the whole world, and that Law 
is Necessity, Necessity is Nature*s master and guardian ; it is 
Necessity that makes the eternal laws.‘ 

All Leonardo’s study of Nature, a research which has been 
called a divine service — ^is visibly inspired by a great love for 
everything in Nature, from man to the meanest creature, and 
fortune always follows his researches, whether on the Alps at 
Mombosa’ he formulates the first scientific hypothesis regarding 
glaciers, or whether in his study he is examining the minute parts 
of the smallest insect or plant. 

* Great love is born of great knowledge of the objects one 
loves. If you do not understand them you can only admire them 
lamely or not at all — and if you only love them on account of 
the good you expect from them, and not because of the sum of 
their qualities, then you are as the dog that wags his tail to the 
person who gives him a bone. Love is the daughter of knowledge, 
and love is deep in the same degree as the knowledge is sure— 
Love conquers all things.* * 

1 Codiee AOantieo, f. 119 r. * Richter 1135. 

’ Probably Monte Rosa.^ * Quoted from Sir^n. 



The mau who says: *When I think I have learned to live, 
(then) 1 will learn to die,* seee clearly the vanity of all our desires.* 

* Man who with ceaseless longings awaits the new festive spring, 
the new summer, coming months and coming years — man imagines 
that all this lingers too long on the way, and does not perceive 
that it awaits his own dissolution. But*, he adds, Hhis desire is 
the quintessence, the true spirit of the elements wUch feed them* 
selves through the soul, imprisoned in the human form and is 
always demanding to return — and 1 wish you to understand that 
this longing is that quintessence which is nature’s ally, and that 
man is the model for the whole world.* * 

Leonardo’s significance as an anatomist judged from the 
Windsor manuscripts can thus be shortly summed up: No one 
before him, so far as is known, made so many dissections on human 
bodies nor did any understand so well as he how to interpret the 
findings. His account of the uterus was far more accurate and 
intelligible than any that preceded liim. He was the first to give 
a correct description of the human skeleton — of the thorax, the 
cranium and ics various pneumatic cavities, of the bones of the 
extremities, of the vertebral column, of the correct ])osition of 
the pelvis and the corresponding curvatures of the column. He 
was the first to give a correct picture of practically all the muscles 
of the human body. 

No one before him had drawn the nerves and the blood-vessels 
even approximately as correctly as he, and in all probability he 
was the first to utilize dissections of a solidifying mass in research 
on the blood-vessels. Nobody before him knew and depicted 
the heart as Leonardo. He was the first to describe the intra- 
ventricular moderator band. Whether and to what extent he 
understood the circulation of the blood is still an open question. 

He was the first to make casts of the cerebral ventricles. He 
was the first who employed serial sections. No one before him, 
and hardly any one since, has given such a marvellous description 
of the plastic surface anatomy, nor had any one before him 
brought forward that wealth of anatomical details which he 
observed, nor given such correct information as regards topo- 
graphical and comparative anatomy. 

Most of Leonardo’s anatomical and physiological drawings 
must be said to belong* to the domain of science rather than of 
art. An artist has no use for any knowledge of the cerebral 

' CodUse Ailantieo, f. 252 r. * Quoted from Herzfcldt CXX. 

190 LE0NAB1>0 >8 ANAt^iHl^ 

ventricles, of the anatomy and physiology cd the heart, of the 
situation of the nerves and deeper blood-vessels, of the ram^toa'* 
tion of the bronchi and their relation to the pulmonary vessels. 
The man who takes interest in such thin^^ and makes them tiie 
object of his study and research is surely a seientisf. It was in 
drawing that he found the most satisfactory medium for dealing 
with such problems, and in these drawings he is scientist and 
Mtist alike. He has drawn even the most intimate anatonuoal 
details with the accurate objectivity of a scientist and yet with 
a virile sense of beauty which seems unparalleled. 

Although Leonardo has not left a complete and systematic 
descriptive anatomy nor even dealt with all its chapters, although 
he has not always given an exhaustive description of such chapters 
as he has dealt with, and although in hia descriptions vm can trace 
his dependence on old and traditional ideas, yet in the history of 
science Leonardo wiU rank as the first to have iUuatntted anatomy 
hy drawings from the oibjeet, ike first of the modems to have treated 
anatomy in a methodical and scientific way hy means of independent 
research and post-mortem disseUions. His singular form of observa- 
tion and concentration, his careful treatment of the scientific 
problems before him, his intuitive powers and his ability draw 
right conclusions and prove them by experiment, all these resulted 
in the many discoveries which he made in human anatomy and 
physiology, discoveries that placed him centuries ahead of his 
contemporaries in knowledge and in thought. 

He placed anatomy in close relation to physiology, he regarded 
the human organism as well as that of animals mid plants, as 
ruled by the general laws of Nature ; he is, in short, a modem 
biologist in the disguise of a mediaeval artist. 

When we bear in mind^that Leonardo’s writings and drawings 
hive shared the fate of his pictures — that most of them have 
been lost and the remainder consists of fragments only— when we 
further contemplate what a wealth observation, what a sum 
of natural science these fragments contain, when we realize that 
Leonardo throughout his life was busied with numerous differmit 
occupations, then we can only marvel at the gigantic energy and 
genius that found time for such intimate and painstaking anato- 
xttical research of a kind foreign to the Qrdinary artist. No one 
has ever, with the same right as Leonardo, been able to apply 
the quotation from Horace which in a somewhat free translation 


Quiulerni VI to. 8 r 

IVoporlions of trunk 

Quaderni \T fo. i r 
Proportions of head 


we Ibid bi one of faiis manusoripts, * Ck>d sells us everytliini; good 
at the jsrioe of fattgue.* ' 

One may aric perhaps what do we learn from Leonardo’s 
anatomical writings and drawings t They can have had no influ- 
ence on the development of anatomy, for the fragments were not 
collected, interpreted, and published till centuries after his death. 
Is it not a sad tale of labour lost, a tragedy of genius working in 
vain without influencing the development of science T And yet 
Leonardo’s anatomical investigations have not been altogether 
vain ; th^ will for all time stand out as a proof of what human 
genius is capable, and Leonardo will always remain a glorious 
example of an unconquerable will, of continuous and intense 
application to work, of reverent self-restraint, of love for created 
things — a glorious example whose influence on posterity has not 
been lost with the majority of his works. Truly he is to be regarded 
as a genius of the highest order that the worM has ever known. 

To have had the opportumty to try to track his way of 
reasoning, the development of his theories, his methods of 
research, hhs been a privilege which has given more pleasure 
and joy than one can easily express. Gratitude is the predominant 
and overwhelming sentiment of one who has had the opportumty 
of laying even a single stone to the building now being reared out 
of the remnants of the products of one of the world’s greatest 
investigators and thinkers, a work of restoration which yet will 
for ever remain unfinished since many of its fundamental stones 
will be for ever wanting. 

NOTE . — In the English translation of the manuscript of 
Leonardo’s Qwxdemi an attempt was made to maintain some of 
his quaint personal style of writing. The quotations given above, 
however, have not been given the identical form of that publication 
but have been altered into a more readable English. 

*■ Q * V, f. 24 r. Horace, Satire ix, liber i, vers. 59 ; 

Nil sine msgno 
vita labore dedit m<»talibiis. 

The ^uase is doubtless derived from Epioharmus in Xenophon’s Memorabilia, 
ii. 1. 20 • ir&mr wAXanow oiarru ol $mi. 



By E. T. Withington 

In the ancient history of medicine there are two epochs of 
special interest : its apparently sudden appearance as an art, or 
rather the art par exeeUenee, with its rules and method laid down 
in the Hippocratic treatises in the fifth century B.O., and the 
transmission of this Greek medicine in modified form to the nations 
of the west and north in the early Middle Ages. The obscurity 
which cov^ both processes tempted early historians to seize upon 
any plausible explanation, and they declared that the first had 
its origin in the Asclepieia or temples of Asclepius, and the second 
in the monasteries of St. Benedict. 

It was soon objected to the former theory that there is nothing 
priestly about the. Hippocratic writings, and that no ancient author 
ever calls Hippocrates a priest, or represents any physician as 
practising in a temple. The controversy thus begun still continues, 
and we are told by two distinguished authorities in the same 
work that : 

(1) * Born of a family of priest physicians, and inheriting all 
its traditions and prejudices, Hippocrates was the first to cast 
superstition aside. . . . His training was not altogether bad, though 
superstition entered largely into it. . . . There is every reason to 
believe that the various asclepia ” were very carefully conducted 
hospitals, possessing a curious system of case books in the form 
of vDtive tablets left by the patients. . . . One of his great merits 
is that he was the first to dissociate medicine from priestcraft.’ * 

(2) * The priests of Asclepius were not physiciems. Although 
the latter were often called Asclepiads, this was in the first place 
to indicate their real or supposed descent from Asde^us, and in 
the second place as a complimentary title. No medical writing 
of antiqiiity speaks of the worship of Asclepius in such a way as 
to imply any connexion with the ordinary art of healing. The two 
systems appear to have existed side by side, but to have been 
ustinot. . . . The theory of a development of Greek medicine from 

Art. * Hippocrates *, Sir J. B. Tuke, Encyclopaedia Britanniea, ed. 1911. 


British Museum Ilncl or I I I rd cent. b.c. British Museum I\ th cent. 


the rites of Ascleisiis^ though defended by eminent names, must 
be rejected.* ^ 

Sixty years earlior, Adams, the British translator of Hippo- 
craUa, and his French trmislator, Daremberg, were contradicting 
each other in almost the same terms. Among German authorities 
on Greek antiquity, von Wilamowitz opposes Thraemer, who, 
though less famous as a scholar, has written the articles on 
Asclepius in Ro8cher*8 Lexicon and the Pavly-Wissowa Cydopcudia 
as well as that on Health Deities in the CyeU^paedia of Religion 
and Ethics, now in progress, and continues a stubborn upholder 
of the priest-physician theory. FinaUy, the great name of littr^, 
always mentioned with reverence by students of Hippocrates, must 
be quoted on the side of the priests, though we may hope that 
with our present knowledge he would have thought cUfferently. 

It is therefore not surprising that, though the priest party 
were supposed to have received a knock-out blow by the discovery 
in 1883 of the Epidaurus inscriptions,* with their amazing mixture 
of miracles, dogs, snidces, and bare-faced quackery, at the head 
centre of Asclepius worhsip, they should have rapidly recovered, 
and that most casual references to the subject assume rather than 
defend the priest theory, while a beautiful book by Dr. Aravan- 
tinos,* with the prestige of being written in Greek, supports the 
same view writh copiousness and ingenuity. 

It is not intended to discuss here the whole of this wide and 
intricate subject, but merely to contribute ^certain munitions in 
the way of arguments (some perhaps not used hitherto) to the 
side represented in the second extract. 

The most important quotations are : 

(1) Strabo, Geography, xiv. 2. *They say Hippocrates was 
trained in the knowledge of dietetics by the cures dedicated 
there * (the temple at Cos). 

(2) Pliny, Natural History, xxix. 1. * Hippocrates is alleged 
to ha^e coped out the accounts written by 'the patients cured in 
the temple of this god.* He proceeds to connect this with a story 
of the burning of the temple, apparently by Hippocrates himself 

^ Art. * Mediome,’ Br. F. Payne, Ene, Brit., ed. 1911. 

* Ephemeria ArduMedogike, 1883-d. For En^ieh tramdatione see Hamilton, 
InedKttkm, London, 1006, 17 ff. ; ti^diingtmi, Medical Hiatory, London, 1894, 
appendix 2. 

* ^hvkKrfwm mu 'A-vtcktiwtua, l^ipxig, 1907. 



to hide the source of his wisdom. A similar tale had been told 
three centuries earlier by the physician, Andreas,' who, however, 
makes him burn not the temple of Cos, but the library of Cnidus. 

(3) Pausanias. Tour, ii. 27, says he saw six pillars at Epi- 
daurus ‘ inscribed with the names of men and women healed by 
Asclepius, as well as the disease from which each suffered, and 
how ho was cured *. Two of these pillars were discovered in 

(4) Strabo, viii. 6. ‘ Epidaurus is famous for the manifestation 
(epiphany) of Asclepius and he is relied upon to heal all kinds of 
disease, and has a temple there which is always full of patients 
and dedicated tablets on which the cures are inscribed just as at 
Cos and Tricca.’ 

The first of these is the main argument for the priest theory. 
Pliny is later and less reliable, and the story of the deliberate 
burning of the temple is universally discredited. If good for 
anything, it rather favours the other side, for it may indicate 
that no ‘ cures ’ of scientific value were to be found in the existing 
temple, while Andreas, who by age and profession was nearer to 
the facts, may have known that no temple ever contained records 
that could have been of much use to Hippocrates, and so substituted 
a library. But 8trabo is a good authority, and his statement was 
accepted by lattr^,* who even declared that the two treatises 
known as Prorrhetics I and The Coan Prenotioms are probably 
collections of temple records — an assertion frequently repeated. 

When a great scholar makes what appears an amazing error 
it is well to get another great scholar to point it out. Daremberg 
in his translation of Hippocrates not only discusses the general 
subject, but addressing Littr4 on this particular point, asks, *' Why 
not say also that the Aphorisms are derived from these tablets ; 
except that, from the little known of the temple inscriptions, the 
supposition is still more improbable ? Strabo speaks of votive 
tablets at Epidaurus describing treatment. Now the Coan Pre- 
luitiofies contain only prognostic statements, treatment is rarely 
mentioned. They have, then, nothing to do with Asclepius, nor 
with his priests, nor with the patients they treated ’.® 

Ldttre made his assertion before editing the treatises, and 

1 Soranus, Vila Hip., in Kiihn’s Hippocrates, iii. 851. 

* Hippocrates, i. 48. 

* (Euvres choisies d’Hippocrate, Paris, 1855, Introduction, p. 85. 


afterwards admitted himself partly converted.* But his original 
statement is still repeated by adherents of the old theory, though 
the treatises can now be read in several languages, and are 
obviously attempts to discover a natural history of diseases and 
their probable terminations. These, in a large proportion of cases, 
are disastrous — * they have a painful death * ... * they are carried 
off quickly this symptom is pernicious * ... * that is fatal ’. 

How could this sort of thing be derived from votive tablets 
intended to encourage future suppliants, and advertise the grati- 
tude of the patients and power of the deity ? For, though there 
were doubtless sceptics in the background, so far as our records 
go no one (except possibly Aristophanes, the precise limit of whose 
ridicule is hard to define) doubted the fact of supernatural inter- 
ference. It is the god who works every cure throughout the 
thousand years of his known activity. In the earlier period he is 
alleged to have cured most frequently by immediate miracles, 
later he often prescribed natural remedies, but the prescrijrtion 
remained oracular, and was admitted to be so by all writers, 
medical and lay. No one is ever described as going to an Asclc- 
pieion to benefit by change of air, (kc., or for the cure of a disease 
obviously amenable to * the art % any more than a Catholic patient 
goes to Lourdes for the sake of the climate, or to get a tootli 
stopped. They all hoped, if highly favoured, to get an immediate 
miraculous cure, or, failing that, supernatural advice in a dream ; 
and unless we reject a vast amount of evidence, they nearly 
always got the dream, and sometimes the instantaneous cure. 

It seems improbable that any one should even begin to study 
the natural course of disease, the great object of Hix>pocratic 
medicine, in conditions where supernatural intervention was con- 
tinually expected. 

We may add a subsidiary argument which seems to have 
escaped notice. The 34th Prorrhetic says, ‘ Muttering delirium 
with tsembling of the hands and carphology are strong indications 
of phrenitis, as with Didymarchus in Cos ’. Strangely enough, 
though many localities are mentioned in the Hippocratic Collec- 
tion, this is the only patient said to have been treated * in Cos ’. 
But if these are the records of the local Asclepieion, they were 
obviously all treated there, and the remark is quite uncalled for. 
Further, a large proportion of the patients evidently suffered front 

* Op. cit. viii. 628. 



very acute disease, but our records give hardly a single case of 
a patient carried to a temple ; they could almost all walk. 

Disturbed by the discovery of the pillars at Epidaurus, later 
upholders of the Strabo-Littr6 view attempt to distinguish between 
pillars and tablets in quality as well as size. They even suggest 
that the tablets were like our hospital charts put at the head of 
the patient’s bed, with a diagnosis of the disease and daily 
remarks ; ^ but this is inconsistent both with the words of Strabo 
and all else we know of the tablets. The first case on the pillars 
is that of Cleo, who was safely delivered of a five years* boy, 
* and he promptly washed himself and walked about with his 
mother. Now when this had happened to her, she wrote on 
a votive tablet, 

Marvel not at the size of this tablet but at the occurrence. 

Five years Cleo was pregnant ; she slept and the god made 
her whole 

This lady evidently did things on a large scale, but even her 
tablet only contained a couplet. There is no reason to suppose 
that those of others contained more than a brief mention of how 
they were cured by the god, and when, in the late Roman period, 
we meet with something like a clinical history in the record oi 
M. J. Apellas,’ it requires much more than a tablet. 

Still, there must be some explanation of Strabo’s statement, 
and the following suggestion, though novel, may be worth notice. 
The four books ‘ On Diet ’, ascribed to Hippocrates, end with the 
statement that the author has investigated the rules of diet as 
well as he could ‘ with the help of the gods ’. This common 
phrase occurs nowhere else in the Collection. It would therefore 
be noticeable, and might have been used by votaries of super- 
natural as opposed to secular treatment somewhat in this way : 

‘ Hippocrates himself admits he got his knowledge of dietetics by 
the aid of the gods. He must evidently have meant Asclepius 
in particular, and how could he learn his treatment except from 
the temple cures ? ’ 

Here is a possible origin for Strabo’s ‘ They say ’ — which is 
after all a qualification, while his statement that there was no 
difference between the tablets at Epidaurus and those at Cos, 
which the priest party now tries to distinguish, is categorical. 

* Ararantinos, op. eit., p. 164. 

* See the Epidaurna inscriptions. 



To pass to wider questions : when we try to find dates for 
the definite establishment of the therapeutic dream oracle they 
strike us as unexpectedly recent. Getting advice in dreams is, 
of course, as old as mankind. Some anthropologist has said that 
when primitive man was in a difiiculty he first asked advice of 
his friends ; if they were no good he went to the old men, and 
if they failed him, to those still older, the dead. He slept on 
the tomb of his ancestors and got advice in a dream, as Herodotus 
tells us was the custom of certain Africans. But for incubation 
in Asclepieia the oldest definite date is 420 b. c., when the worship 
of the god was established at Athens, and his method of cure 
received with ridicule by the sturdy conservative Aristophanes. 
This, no doubt, shows that the custom had been long in use, and 
there is one example of possibly earlier date in a fragment of 
Hippys of Bhegium, who is supposed to have flourished ‘ during 
the Persian wars ’, about 480 b. c. This case also occurs on the 
pillars, which were set up two centuries later, but the following 
is the Hippys version : 

‘ A woman had a worm, and the ablest physicians gave up 
curing her. So she went to Epidaurus and besought the god for 
deliverance from the domestic plague. The god was not there, 
but the attendants made the patient lie down where the god is 
wont to heal the suppliants, and she went to rest as directed. 
But they, in the absence of the god, began her treatment and cut 
off her head. Then another put his hand down and took out tho 
worm, a great thing of a beast, but they were no longer able to 
put the head back and fit it accurately to the old joining. Then 
the god came, and was angry with them for undertaking a task 
beyond their wisdom, but he himself by power invincible and 
divine put the head back on the trunk, and raised up the guest.* ’ 

On the pillars the story is told with variations and additions. 
The woman was Aristagora of Troizen, and she incubated there, but 
Asclepius was at Epidaurus and had to be sent for — a hint that if 
one wants prompt supernatural aid, Epidaurus is the place. 

Admitting the date of Hippys, this story not only shows the 
existence of lay physicians before Hippocra^, of which we have 
ample proof, but also indicates a clear distinction acknowledged 
to exist between human medicine and the supernatural aid of the 

It is fair to add that Dr. Aravantinos sees in this case 
a. pretended tracheotomy by medical student deacons. Then 

^ Aelian, H..A. iz. 33. 





enters the priest phyridan and administers a strong emetic or 
vermifuge. In the pillar version Asclepius extracts the worm 
after gastrotomy. The patient meanwhile is under narcosis from 
mandragora, or the like, and dreams of decapitation followed by 
gastric disturbance. Her story, though not accurate, was con- 
sidered edifying, and was published accordingly. The priest 
physicians kept their real treatment secret and performed sham 
superficial operations to mislead and increase the wonder of the 
public.^ There is something to be said for this, but its bearing 
on our present problem lies in the application. 

Apart from the above, Greek literature of the fifth century 
has nothing to say about the therapeutic dream oracle. It is 
perhaps not strange that Athenian writers should ignore it, and 
we may notice that they always speak of medicine as a secular 
art. Thucydides, describing the plague at Athens,^ contrasts the 
human art of medicine with prayers, divinations, and the like, 
saying that they were equally useless. Sophocles, in the famous 
ode in the Antigonet^ puts the healing of diseases among the 
things achieved by unaided man. Even Aeschylus classes medicine 
with agriculture and navigation as a natural art, and if he gives 
it a demigod as founder, he is not Asclepius but Prometheus * — 
a myth which the Hippoeraties with their emphasis on prognosis 
would have readily explained. 

But the silence of Herodotus is remarkable. He came from 
the immediate neighbourhood of Cos, from a Dorian colony founded 
by Troizen, as was Cos by Epidaurus, though, like the Hippocratic 
Asclepiadae, he writes in Ionic. He was interested in medicine, 
giving us vivid glimpses of certain physicians and mentioning 
medical schools, as to which it is noteworthy that while the oldest 
Asclepieia are all in Greece proper, the oldest medical schools are 
all outside.* He was still more interested in the gods and their 
strange oracles ; yet he has no word of Asclepius or the great 
therapeutic oracle supposed to exist close to him and to be a main 
source of the medicine of the age ; and that though he mentions 
other dream oracles both among Greeks and barbarians. 

1 Op. dt., p. 118. * ii. 47. > Line 364. « Prom. 460, 484. 

* There is, perhaps, as much to be said for the suggesti(m that the prominence 
of the dream oracle in Greece proper hindered the development of medical schools 
there as for the tiieoiy Giat it gave migin to the actual schools of Cos, Cnidus, 
Rhodes, C^yrene, and Croton. 



Most amazing is the silence of the Hippocratic writers them* 
selves. Omitting the late and spurious * Letters % the collection 
contains literally one word on the subject ; the name, Asclepius, 
coming after Apollo in the Oath. And even the Oath gives some 
evidence against the priest theory, for it is taken by visiting 
practitioners. * Into whatever houses 1 enter I will go for the 
good of the patients.’ These Asclepiadae are great travellers 
{nepioBevTox), and if they settle anywhere they practise not in 
a temple but a surgery (larptiov), concerning which there is 
a special treatise. There are also two works of great antiquity 
and excellence On the Art and On Ancient Medicine dealing with 
its nature and history. Here surely we might expect something 
about Asclepius, his priests and his temples, but there is nothing, 
nor do the writers show the least consciousness that the Art is 
being, or has been, freed from superstition. 

This Art makes no claim to supernatural aids or inspired 
knowledge, but * clearly has and ever will have its essence in 
causation and the power of foretelling ’. In other words, relying 
on the uniformity of causal sequence in nature we can, from 
observation of like cases, foretell the probable sequence of events 
in diseases, and the modifications which may be produced by 
changes in diet and other agencies.^ 

The author of Ancient Medicine^ perhaps Hippocrates himself, 
also makes diet the main source of the art, but knows nothing 
of temple cures. It was observed of old, he says, that if healthy 
men ate the coarse uncooked food of animals they were taken 
ill, and, similarly, if the sick followed the diet of the hbalthy 
they became worse, and combining these observations with reason 
men proceeded to establish by experiment the rules of dietetics. 
This he calls a great invention elaborated and perfected with no 
mean display of intelligence and observation.^ 

The healing art, he adds, ‘ possesses all things from of old, 
a principle and a beaten track along which in the course of ages 
many splendid discoveries have been made, and along which the 
rest will be discovered, if competent men, knowing the things 
already discovered, set out thence on further inquiries. He who, 
rejecting these, takes another road and claims to have discovered 
something is deceived and deceives himself, for it is impossible 
This idea that the method of medical progress by observation 
* De Arte, § 6, vi. 10. * § 4, Littr4, i. 580. > § 2, Littr4, i. 572. 



and reason has long been established is repeated elsewhere,^ and 
though * charms, amulets, and other such vulgarity ’ may be used 
by some, there is no suggestion that true votaries of the art have 
ever been deluded by these or other superstitions. What is 
objected to is not priestcraft, but theorizing philosophy. * 

The Ancient Medicine contains the one intimation that the 
art was thought worthy to be ascribed to a god.‘ We look out 
hopefully for Asclepius, but the writer tells us instead that this 
saying is justified because medical discovery depends on the 
application of reason to the nature of man. 

Physicians are called STjfuovpyoif^ * practisers of a public art * 
as in Homer,* and Plato, our best authority on Hippocrates, 
classes the physician with Pheidias and Polyclitus as an * artist *. 
If you pay any of these men money- they will teach you their 
art, medicine, or sculpture.* Similarly, Socrates is made to draw 
his comparisons with about equal frequency from the arts of the 
cobbler, the pilot, and the physician. 

The Collection also contains a treatise On Dreams.* Certain 
diviners are said to be skilled in predicting from dreams things 
about to happen to cities and individuals, but when they try to 
interpret dreams foreboding bodily affections they get hopelessly 
muddled owing to their ignorance of physiology. The writer then 
makes a laudable attempt at a naturalistic theory of dreams, 
connecting them A^ith bodily states, but there is not a word about 
therapeutic dreams. Various gods are mentioned who may be 
prayed to for preservation of health and prevention of disease, 
but Asclepius is not among them. 

Diviners come off badly in these treatises. Ignorant physicians 
who quarrel with one another and give contradictory advice are 
stfid to bring scandal on the art, * and almost make it resemble 
the art of divination, for this is how diviners act Another 
treatise holds up to reprobation certain * cheating diviners * who 
persuade young women recovered from h3rBterio affections to 
dedicate their best dresses and many other things * to Artemis, 
and hints that they would be better used to get married in.* 

The forty>two clinical histories of the * genuine * Hippocrates 

1 lattr^, vi. 3^ ; Loc. Horn., § 46. * § 14, Littrd, i. 600. 

* S 1, Littr4, i. 670. * Od. xvii. 384. * Protagoras, 311 b. 

* Littr4, vi. 640. ^ Lit1x4, ii. 242, Morb. Acut. 3. 

* Littre, viii. 468, Morb. Virg. 1. 


correspond in number with the forty-two * Cores of Apollo and 
Asdepius *. on the pillais, but in everything else it is impossible 
to imagine a greater contrast. Afost of the Hippocratic cases end 
fatally, and the treatment of those who recover is rarely con- 
sider^ worth mention. The temple cures are instantaneous or 
nearly so ; ‘ when day appeeured he went away healed * is the 
usual ending, the few instances of delay being due to want of 
faith or over hastiness of the attendants, as with Aristagora. 

To sum up : if there was a therapeutic dream oracle at Cos 
in the fifth century, the Hippocratic writers will have nothing to 
do with it, they will not even mention it. As von Wilamowitz 
says, * The Epidaurian colonists carried Asdepius with them to 
Cos, but not medicine. Where medicine is concerned ‘ the god 
disappears. Instead of the priest comes the physician ; instead 
of the dream oracle, science ; instead of Asdepius the Asdepiad 

A partial explanation of this remarkable silence may be found 
in the practical certainty that the Asclepiadae were not only not 
priests but not Dorians. Our earliest information about them is 
a chapter-heading from Theopompus. * Concerning the physicians 
in Cos and Cnidus, how they are called Asclepiadae, and how they 
first came from Syrnus a town in Caria. They came, then, from 
the East, not West, and belonged to an older stratum of Greek 
emigrants. They wrote in a dialect more Homeric than Doric, 
and held the Homeric view of Asdepius, that he was a mere man, 
the founder of their guild and ancestor of its more prominent 
members. They were, perhaps, astonished by the appearance of 
their patron as a Dorian earth-god followed Iby mystic snakes ; 
and though they may soon have established a modus vivendi with 
the invaders, a difference of view as to Asdepius remained per- 
manent, for both Galen * and Pausanias ’ tell us that it was 
disputed even in their time whether Asdepius was a deified man 
or * a god from the beginning *. 

Thefe is evidence of this difference at Cos. The temple certainly 
acktLowledged the primacy of Epidaurus, whence it got its snakes, 
but, according to another story, it was founded direct from Tricca, 
the home of the Homeric and purely human Asdepius. A deified 
hero mif^t appear and give advice at his tomb, as did Amphiaraus, 
but an epiphany of Asdepius, like that of the high gods, might 

* layUoa von Epidaurus, Berlin, 1886, pp. 87 end 103. 

^ i. 22. Ktthn’s edit., Protrept. 9. ’ ii. 26. 



ooour anywhere, for he was also an embodiment of the great 
earth-spirit in his capacity of counsellor and healer. Possibly 
there was first a simple shrine at Cos, where the Asolepiadae 
celebrated the memory of their patron but did not expect him 
to appear ; while the dream oracle and the snakes came later 
from Epidaurus, and were for a time deliberately ignored by the 
medical school. 

So much for the silence of Hippocrates, or rather, of the 
Asolepiadae, the importance of which as regards our problem, 
especially when combined with what they do say, has perhaps 
been overlooked. 

Neither Oelsus nor the author of the brief outline of medical 
history in the Introduction, formerly ascribed to Galen,^ men- 
tion priest-physicians, and the former tells us that Hippocrates 
separated medicine from philosophy. 

For the bearing on the question of inscriptions concerning 
medical men and priests the reader should refer to the work of 
Pohl (De Qraecorum medioie publicia, Berlin* 1905), where full 
references are given. The writer sums up his conclusion thus : 
‘ In the latest age, then, the true art of medicine and that of the 
priests of Asclepius got mixed, after arising from widely separated 
sources and continuing a long time distinct.’ 

The slight modificatipn we would make in this statement may 
be illustrated from another point of view, not yet su£Biciently 
studied, the attitude of later medical writers towards the oracle. 

We have seen that the earlier ignore it, and our first available 
reference is from Rufus of Ephesus, called by Oribasius ‘ the 
Great whose fragments reveal a man of much ability and sober- 

" A certain Teucer, afflicted with epilepsy, went to the Ascle- 
pieion at Pergamus and besought the god to heal him. Asclepius 
appeared, as usual, in a dream, and asked whether he would like 
another disease instead. Teucer replied, this was not his most 
earnest desire, in fact he would rather be healed entirely ; but if 
that was imx>ossible, and the other disease less troublesome, he 
would accept it. The god replied that it was less troublesome, 
and was also the best cure for his complaint. Thereupon he was 
attacked^ by a quartan fever, but was delivered from his epilepsy.* 
^ xiv. 674, InlroducUo aeu Medicua. 

* Oribasius, xlv. 30, Daromberg’a edition, iv. 86, Paris, 1862. 



This is told in illustration of the Hippocratic Aphorisms that 
fevers generally,^ and quartans in partioular,‘ relieve spasms, 
a principle which, according to Rufus, had been successfully 
utilized in medicine. 

We pass to Chlen with great expectations, for he was a native 
of Pergamus. He calls Asclepius his ancestral god (though he 
was not an Asclepiad), and tells us he saved his life at least once 
by curing a disease, and perhaps again by warning him not to 
go with Marcus Aurelius to the Danube. He therefore became 
a special OepaTrevnj^ or votary of the god. Yet the vast bulk of 
his extant works affords us only four or five cases, including his 
own. This, he says, was * a pernicious abscess but he describes 
it elsewhere as a chronic pain between the liver and diaphragm.* 
He was then a young man and thought he was going to die, but 
Asclepius in a dream recommended bleeding from an artery and 
he rapidly recovered. The god ordered the same toeatment in 
the case of another * votary * with a chronic pain in his side, and 
it' was partly owing to these ‘ cures * that Galen, became convinced 
of the value and safety of arteriotomy, of which he previously 
had doubts. 

A third case is that of the corpulent Nicomachus,* whose 
treatment unfortunately is not given, but may be connected with 
a remark made elsewhere that patients will obey the directions 
of Asclepius even to the extent of going entirely without drink 
for fifteen days, which they would never do on the orders of 

A fourth cure is that of ‘ elephas ’, supposed to be leprosy.^ 
Here the patient was summoned by the god from Thrace to 
Pergamus, and the treatment ordered was the internal use of 
theriaCf a famous medicine containing viper’s fiesh, combined with 
viper’s'flesh ointment. The disease was thereby converted into 
* lepra ’, which was cured * by drugs ordered by the god ’. Accord- 
ing to* Galen, the treatment of elephas by viper’s fiesh had been 
discovered accidentally some time before, and had been success- 
fully used by himself. There is also evidence that it had been 
employed by Archigenes half a century earlier (Aetius, xiii. 121). 

‘ iv. 67, littr^, 4, 622. * v. 70, 662. 

* xix. 19, Kahn’s edition, Libr. Propr., 2. * xi. 314 ff., Venuect. 23. 

“ vi. 869, Dif. Morb. 9. • xvii6. 137, In Hipp. Epid. vi. 4, 8. 

’ xii. 316, Simpl. Med. xi. 1. 


Finally, we have a recommendation in a dream of a local application 
for swollen tongue, confirming Galen’s advice against that of other 
physicians, but this is not clearly attributed to Asclepius.' 

In these cases the treatment, so far as known, contains an 
element of recognized medicine, but the theurgic side remains 
prominent. It is the god who cures, and the patients attribute 
their recovery to his supernatural interference. So, too, Rufus 
and Galen, as will be clearer to those who look up the context, 
show not the slightest doubt of the supernatural character of the 
intervention. They may point out the medicinal nature of the 
means, and some circumstances which favour success, but the 
cure is essentially divine even when it gives divine sanction to 
human methods. There is no true mixture : the ‘ Cures * of 
Asclepius are separated to the last from those of the art by 
a strong element of miracle : they are two distinct things, and 
medical writers show no consciousness that they ever had been, 
or were tending to become, the same. The latest recorded temple 
cure is as purely miraculous as the earliest, though in a different 

Archiadas of Athens had a daughter afflicted by a painful and 
incurable disease. 8o he besought Proclus the philosopher to 
intercede with Asclepius for her cure. Proclus, whose benevolence 
equalled his wisdom, at once \(rent to the Asclepieion, ‘ fortunately 
not yet plundered ’, and prayed according to the ancient rites. 
The patient felt a sudden change in her condition and great relief, 
and when the philosopher, having ended his petitions, came to 
see the effect, he found her ‘ delivered from her pains and in 
perfect health This was in the latter part of the fifth century. ‘ 

The closing of the Asclepieia was followed almost immediately, 
or even preceded, by the establishment of dream oracles in 
Christian shrines, especially that of SS. Cyrus and John at 
Alexandria. Seventy of their cures are recorded by Sophronius, 
Patriarch of Jerusalem (d. 640), who had himself been healed 
by them. They closely resemble those of Asclepius, the chief 
difference being that the saints are represented as indignant at 
suggestion that their cures are not miraculous throughout, 

’ X.' 971, Med. xiv. 9. 

^ Marinus, Vita Prodi. For translation see Taylor, Proclus, London, 1788, 
i. 26. The god also appeared to Proclus on his deathbed, ‘ and would probably 
have cured him had he desired it,’ op. cU. i. 27. 



and inflict severe punishment on a rash physician who declared 
that some of their prescriptions might be found in Oalen and 
Hippocraitea,^ In fact secular and sacred medicine are in open 

To return to the fifth century b.o. and the origin of Hippo- 
cratic medicine. While not professing to solve that obscure and 
interesting problem, it is hoped that some additional reasons for 
rejecting the superficial view that ‘ it originated in the health 
temples * are given in these notes. What can be said in favour 
of that view may be found in the works noticed at the beginning. 
It may seem to some that the arguments there adduced do not 
outweigh the single fact (the most certain in medical history) that 
in the fifth century B. c. medicine was known throughout Greece 
as an art, the chief of arts, too long to be learnt in this short life. 
For arts are not learnt in temples by observing real or supposed 
sui>ematural intervention, but, as the Hippocratic writers tell us, 
by experience and the application of reason to the natures of men 
and things. 

^ Mai, Spieilegium, vol. iii, case 30, Rome, 1840. 


( 1564 >- 1642 ) 


Being a Review of Favaro*s Ediztone nazioncUe deUe Opere di 


By J. J. Fahib 


I. The GMileian Beeeftrohes of III. Life Work (1693-1632) . 217 

Antonio Favaro . . . .206 iv. The Trial and Abjuration 

II. Early Manhood of Galileo (1633) 267 

(1664-92) 207 V. Deolining Years (1634-42) . 272 

1. The Galxlbiajdt Rbsbabohes of Antonio Favabo 

In the current year 1920, Professor Antonio Favaro, of Padua 
University, completes forty-four years of GaUleian studies. The 
result is monumental ; besides editing the National Edition of 
Galileo’s Works in twenty large quarto volumes, Favaro has 
published over 460 separate studies on matters relating to the 
life, times, and activities of the great n^ter. The vastness of the 
labour involved in this kind of literary work can be appreciated only 
by those who have themselves engaged in historical researches. 

Antonio Favaro was born on the 21st of May, 1847, in the 
Villa Favaro at Fiesso d’Artico, bn the Brenta, and about half-way 
between Padua and Fusina. He was educated at the Universities 
of Padua, Turin, and Ziirich, and, after a few years of private 
teaching, was elected in 1872 to the newly created chair of 
Graphical Statics in the University of Padua, being then only 
twenty-five years of age. A few years later he was appointed 
Director of the Scuola ^appUcazume per gli Ingegneri, In 1877 
he published his first work in Padua, his Leziom di Siatiea gre^/ica. 
This same year was destined to be of the first importance in the. 
ordering of his life, for at this time, stimulated in the first instance 
by a suggestion from the poet Giacomo ZaneUa, Favaro bogan to 
devote himself to the study of the life and work of Galileo. 

the Hodleian brought from Florence in i66i 

From a portrait in 


After four years of close study and research, chiefly amongst 
the 303 volumes of Galileian MSS. and papers in the National 
Library at Florence, Favaro came to the conclusion that a new 
and complete edition of Galileo’s works was necessary. After six 
years of strenuous advocacy he had the satisfaction of seeing his 
ideas crowned with the highest recognition.^ On the 20th of 
February, 1887, .King Umberto issued a Royal Order decreeing 
the publication of a new and complete edition of the works of 
Galileo, at the cost of the State, and under the care of the Minister 
of Public Instruction. Favaro was appointed Editor-in-Chief, and 
there were nominated as his coadjutors Professor Isidore Del 
Lungo, of the Accademia della Crusca, who was to occupy himself 
with all that concerned the care of the text, and Professors 
Genocchi, Govi, and Schiaparelli to assist in surmounting the 
scientific difficulties that might present themselves.'^ The first 
volume appeared in 1890, and the twentieth and last in 1909. 
The series represents a magnificent tribute by tin? Italian lieoplo 
to the greatest scientific genius that their nation has produced. 

In our exposition of the science of Galileo, we shall follow the 
chronological order adopted in the National Edition, prefixing to 
our presentment in each case a note indicating all the places in 
the National Edition where the particular matter is dealt with. 

We desire to express our obligations to Mr. .Tohn Murray for 
kindly allowing us to utilize part of the material of our book 
OcUileo ; His Life and Worky London, 1903. 

II. Early* Manhood of Galileo, 1oG4-92 
1. Training and Educalimi 

Galileo Galilei was born of Florentine parents at Pisa on th(' 
15th of February, 1564. Herts he passed the first ten years of 
his life, and he received his early education, partly at thtJ school 
of one Jacopo Borghini, and partly at home, where he was helped 
in the study of Greek and Latin by his father, who was a good 
scholar and mathematician, and an authority on the theory and 
practice of music. 

At the age of twelve Galileo was sent to the monastery of 
Vallombroso, near Florence, for a course of the ‘ Humanities 

^ Intomo ad una nuova edizumc delle Opere di Galilejo, Venezia, 1881. 

^ Per la Edizione nazionale deUe Opere di Galileo — Eapoaizime e Divegno, 
Firenze, 1888. 


the literary education then considered indis])ensahle for a well- 
born youth. Here he made himself acquainted with the best 
Latin authors, and acquired a fair command of Greek. For the 
course on logic, as then taught, he had little taste, contenting 
himself with what scraps of elementary science and philosophy 
he could pick out of the lessons. 

From early boyhood Galileo was remarkable for mental 
aptitudes of various kinds, coupled with a very high degree of 
mechanical skill and inventiveness. His favourite pastime was 
the construction of toy-machines or models, such as wind and 
water mills, boats, and other common mechanical contrivances. 
When unable to supply some essential part, he would adapt the 
machine to an entirely new or quaint purpose, never resting 
satisfied until he saw it work. 

As he grew he imbibed from his father something of the theory 
and practice of music, and became skilful with the lute. He was 
also, it is said, a creditable performer on the organ and one or 
two other instrunnuits. Music, and es|)ecially the lute, gave him 
pleasure through life aiwl afforded the greatest solace in later 
years, when blindness was added to his other afflictions. His 
talent in drawing and painting was equally striking. In later life 
he UH(!d to tell his friends that, had circumstances permitted him 
to choose his own career, he would have decided to become 
a painter.' G^ilileo was also very fond of poetry, and his essays 
on Dante, Tasso, and Ariosto, as well as some verses and the 
fragment of a play, bear witness to a cultivated taste. ^ 

In 1581, when seventeen and a half years old, Galileo was sent 
to study nuulicine and philosophy at the University of Pisa, 
a course whicdi his father, who was in straitened circumstances, 
regarded as likely to prove lucrative. 

2. On the Pulsilogia^ 

About a year after his matriculation (1582-3), Galileo made 
his first discovery — that of the synchronism of the oscillations of 

^ Atniing the circumstances wfiich assisted the rise and progress of the re- 
formed Florentine School, Lanzi includes ‘ the readiness with which the celebrated 
Galileo imparted to artists his discoveries and the laws of perspective History 
of Painting, Bohn’s edition, vol. i, p. 210. 

* These are collected in vol. ix of the National Edition of his works. 

® Cf. Nat. Ed., v'ol. x, p. 97 ; vol. xix, pp. 003, 648. 


the pendulum, timing the excursions by his pulse. This was the 
first attempt at accurate measurement of any bodily function, as 
well as the basis of the modern clocks. He was not, however, then 
thinking of clocks, but only of the construction of an instrument 
which should mark with accuracy the rate of the pulse and its 
variation from day to day. He quickly gave form to his idea, 
and it was welcomed with delight by pliysicians, and was long in 
general use under the name of Pulsilogia. Sancto Santorio, Pro- 
fessor of Medicine at Padua, wjis the first to give diagrams of the 
Pulsilogia in his Melhodus Vitandorum Errorum in Arte Medim 
(Venice, 1602), tliree of which we reproduce (Figs. 

Fio. 1. 

Fig. 1 shows a weight at the end of a string held at the top of a seale, wliich «'aii 
bo graduated so as to show tlie number of pulsations |)C?r minute. The string is gathered 
up in tho hand till the oscillations of the weight coincide with the beats of the patient's pulse*. 
Then, a greater length of string, i. o. a longer ijenduluin, would indicate a slower pulse, and 
a shorter length a more lively action. In Fig, 2 an iinymivoment is made by connecting the 
soalo and string ; tho length of tho lattor is regulated by turning the ]>eg a, and a bead 
on the string indicates the rate of pulsation. Fig. 3 is still more compact, tho string being 
adjusted by winding (or unwinding) ujkjii an axle or drum at the back of tlio dial plate. 

In many of his subsequent exiJeriments and investigations, 
Galileo utilized this jmneiple, as in his innumerable experiments 
on motion, his long-continued observations on the periods of 
Jupiter’s satellites, and, just before he died, iji the dcisign of 
a pendulum clock. 

Vincenzio Viviani, a pupil and the earliest biographer of Galileo, 
tells us that the young Galileo’s attitude from the first in the 
XJhilosophical classes was not at all to the satisfaction of his 


teachers, owing to his habit of examining every assertion to see 
what it was worth. In consequence of this he soon acquired 
a reputation among the professors and students for bold contradic- 
tion, and was dubbed ‘ Hie Wrangler His eager questioning, 
especially of the dictates of Aristotle, found no favour in their 

The first volume of the National Edition opens with what the 
editor calls Juvenilia, written in or before the year 1684, and 
entirely in Galileo’s own hand. They are commentaries in Latin 
on the De Caclo and kindred tractates of Aristotle, and are almost 
entirely transcripts of lectures he had attended. Beside their 
personal interest these Juvenilia are of value for the light they 
throw on the scholastic character of the teaching then prevalent 
in Italy. 

3. Galileo and the Slate of Mechanics in Italy at the e/nd of the 

sixteenth century 

ITp to Galileo’s time the study of mathematics, although 
includtid in the Tiotoli or lists of University lectures, was practically 
neglectetl in all the Universities of Italy, though (’omraandino 
(1509-76) and Mauroli(!o (1494-1575) had recently revived a taste 
for the writings of hluclid and Archimedes ; and Victa (1540-1603), 
Tartaglia (1500— 59), Cardano (1501—76), and others had made con- 
siderable prtigress in algebra. Guido Ubaldi del Monte (1540—1607),^ 
soon to become a warm friend and patron of Galileo, Besson (d. c. 
1580),^ Ramelli (1531-90),^ and one or two others had done some- 
thing towards the apfdication of statics, the only part of mechanics 
as yet cultivated. Thus Guido Ubaldi’s M echanicorum Liber of 1577 
consists of little more than bald descriptions of the mechanical 
powers — the balance, the lever, the pulley, &c. He explains 
combinations of pulhjys at great length, and reduces their theory 
to that of the lever, but his solution of the })roblem of equilibrium 
is very erroneous. The other contemporary works on mechanics 
consist solely of descriptions of actual and imaginary machines, 
with no reference to general principles. There was, in fact, no 
general recognition of the necessity of apjJying mathematics to 
the study of mechanisms. 

* M echanicorum Liber, Pisauri (now Poaaro), 1577. 

“ Theatrum Instrumentorum, Lyon, 1582. 

® Le diverse ed artificiose macchine, Paris, 1588. 



To the close of his nineteenth year, Galileo knew nothing of 
mathematics, and appears to have been first led to study geometry 
by his fondness for drawing and music, the underlying principles 
of which he wished to understand. His father tried to prevent 
these studies, but the natural bent of the young man’s mind was 
not to be denied. 

During the winter and spring of 1582-.3 the Court of Tuscany 
was at Pisa, and among the suite was one Ostilio Ricci, mathe- 
matical tutor to the Grand-Ducal pages, and a friend of the 
Galilei family. The tutor and the young student became friends. 
Going on one occasion to pay Ricci a visit, (.hilileo found him 
lecturing to the pages on some problem in Euclid. He did not 
enter, but, standing by the door, followt‘d the instruction with 
rapt attention. This wsis the awakening of a new craving of tlu' 
intellect, under the influences of which he found himself drawn 
repeatedly to the class-room. Each time, concealing himself 
behind a door, he listened, Euclid in hand, to the teacher’s demon- 
strations. At last, taking courage, he begged th(^ tistonished tutor 
to help him, which Ricci readily consented to do. Hxmeeforth, 
mathematics were more studied than medicsine, for whicrh, truth 
to say, he never showed any relish. For some unknown rc'ason, 
however, after nearly four years’ residence, and without taking 
the doctor’s degree, Galileo withdrew from the University, and 
went home to Florence about the middle of 1.58.5, when*, still 
under the guidaiuje of Ricci, he devot(‘d himself heart and soul 
to mathematics and physics. From Euclid he passed to Archi- 
medes, whose work in mechanics he was destined to continue, and 
for whom he then conceived a life-long veneration.^ 

4. The, Hydrostatic Balance ~ 

In 1586, when fresh from the study of the great Syracusan’s 
work on hydrostatics, Galileo constructed a hydrostatic balance 
(La Bilancetta) for finding with accuracy the relative weights of 
any two metals in an alloy. In describing it he refers to the 
popular account of the way in which Archimedes detected the 
fraud committed by the goldsmith in the making of Hiero’s crown. 
He doubts the correctness of that oft-told story, the results of 
which, he says, are fallacious, or at least little exact, and he 

» Nat. Ed., ToJ. i, pp. 231-42. 

® Cf. Nat. Ed., vol. i, pp. 211-28. 



believes that liis own ‘ most exact method ’ was that really 
employed by Archimedes himself. 

Take a lever a b (Fig. 4) at least a yard long (the longer it is, 
the more accurate its indications) and delicately suspend it from 
its centre c, and at the end B let there be means of attaching 
the body to be tested, say an alloy of gold and silver, and its 
counter- weight at the oth(;r end a. First, take a piece of pure 
gold and weigh it in air ; now immerse it in water ; it will seem 
to be lighter, and the counterpoise d must be moved from a to, 
say, E to obtain a balance. Then, as many times as the space 
c A contains the space a e, so many times is gold heavier than 
water. Proceed in the same way with a piece of pure silver. 
When placed in water it will seem to lose more of its weight than 

Fig. 4. 

tlie gold, and its counterpoise will have to be moved to, say, e, 
showing that silver is specifically less heavy than gold in the ratio 
A E to A E. Now taking the alloy, it is clear beforehand that it 
win weigh less than an equal volume of pure gold, and more than 
an equal volume of pure silver. Weigh it in air, and then in water, 
when it will be found that its counterpoise must be moved to 
some point between e and F, say, g. From this we conclude that 
the weight of the gold in the alloy is to that of the silver as fg 
is to E G. 

5. I'he Centre of Gravity in Solid Bodies ^ 

After this work Galileo passed to the investigation of the 
centre of gravity in solid bodies. The results are embodied in an 
essay first circulated in manuscript, and only printed in 1638, 
as an appendix to the I^eyden edition of his Dialoghi delle Nnove 
Scienze. His first intention was to prepare an exhaustive treatise 
in completion of the work of Commandino on the same subject. 
There chanc<?d, however, to fall into his hands the book of Luca 
Valerio (1552-1618),* the Neapolitan mathematician, in which he 

^ Cf. Nat. Ed., vol. i, p. 182 ; vol. viii, p. 313 ; vol. xvi, p. 524. 

2 Be Centro gravitalis solidorum, Romo, 1604. 



found the matter treated so fully that he discontinued his investi- 
gations, althougli, as he tells us, the methods he employed were 
quite different from those of V'^alerio. This study, however, 
attracted the attention of the Marquis Guidt) Ubaldi del Monte of 
Pesaro, himself an able mathematician, who introduced the author 
to the notice of Ferdinando I, Grand Duke of Tuscany. 

Late in 1587 Galileo made his first journey to Rome, probably 
with the object of finding there some opening, or in furtherance of 
his designs on the chair of mathematics at Bologna, which had 
been vacant since 1583. The visit led to his acquaintance with 
Father Cristoforo Clavio (1557—1612) of the Society of Jesus, 
a celebrated mathematician, to whom mainly the world is indebted 
for the reform of the calendar in 1582. In later years he was 
a stout oy)poncnt of the new astronomical doctrines of tlie younger 
man, tJiough before his death on the 6th of February, 1612, he 
became one of Galileo’s most distinguislunl converts. 

Evidently while in Rome the two new friends had been dis- 
cussing mathematics, for, on his return to Florence, Galileo sent 
a letter to Clavio, under date 8th January, 1588 (the earliest of 
his letters known), respecting his theorem on the centre of gravity 
of‘a rt‘ctangular conoid, or truncated pyramid. ‘ Those ’, he says, 
‘ to wliom he had already submitted it, were not satisfied, and, 
therefore, he coidd not be so himself.’ In this dilemma he? solicits 
the learned Father’s opinion, adding that, ‘ if it, too, was unfavour- 
able, he would not rest until he had found such a dcunonstration 
as would be convincing to all.’ 

Galileo’s efforts to secure employment in Bologna were frus- 
trated, and he was equally unfortunate in successive applications 
for similar posts at Padua, Pisa, and Florence. Disappointed by 
repeated rebuffs, he and a young Florentine friend decided, 
towards the end of May, 1589, to seek their fortunes in the East. 
’Phey had reached Milan, and were setting out for X'enicc eM roiile 
to Constantinople, when the mathematical chair at Pisa became 
again vacant. Once more he applied for the post ; and this time 
was successful, through the joint influence of his Maecenas, the 
Marquis Guido Ubaldi del Monte, and Cardinal Francesco del 
Monte, brother of the Marquis. He was still barely twenty-five 
and a half years old. The salary itself was insignificant, onlv 
sixty scudi per annum, or about £14 of our juoney ; moreover, the 
appointment was for three years only, though renewable. But iu 
his needy circumstances ev'en this meagre opy)ortunity was not to 

2301 p 


be rejected, and the office would after all enable him to add some- 
thing to his means by private tuition. 

6. Certain Mathematical Problems 

No sooner was he settled in Iiis new office than he resumed 
liis physico-mathematical investigations. In the first year ho 
carried to greater length his studies on the centre of gravity of 
solids, an<l arrived at results which excited afresh the admiration 
of Guido Ubaldi del Monte. At about the same time he undertook 
the investigation of that particular curve which is described by 
a point in a circle (as a nail in the rim of a wheel) while it rev'olves 
along a surface. To this curve thus described he gave the name 
Cycloid. This curve (known as Aristotle’s wheel) and its pro])erties 
had long been a puzzle to geometers, and had passed into a proverb 
— ‘ Rota Aristotelis quae magis torquet quo magis torquetur.’ He 
attempted the problem of its quadrature, and guessed that the area 
contained between the cycloid and its base is three times that of 
the describing circle, but he was unable to show this geometrically 
— a task which his disciple Torricelli (1608-47) achieved soon 
after his death.’ Galileo recommended the curve as a form of arch 
for bridges, ami it is said to have been applied in the construction 
of one across the Arno at Pisa (?the present Ponte di Mezzo). 

Side by side with these studies Galileo was at this time steadily 
riivolving those novel ideas on motion which were to be the basis 
of his latest and greatest work. In pursuance of these ideas, 
he now began a systematic experimental inv(‘stigation of the 
mechanical doctrines of Aristotle. 

Galileo was not the first to call in question the authority of 
Aristotle in matters of science, (cardinal Nicholas do Ousa (1401— 
64) was among the earliest to enter the lists.” The philosopher, 
Peter Ramus (1515-72), was another early opponent, and suffered 
the penalty for his convictioiLs in the massacre of »St. Bartholomew. 
Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1510) also held some very correct views 
on mechanics, and even anticipated Galileo in a few instances.® 

’ Opera (feameirica, Florence, l(i44. (*£. Nat. Ed., vol. xviii, p. 163. Huygens 
applied the t autochronic property of this curve to the better regulation of pendulum 
clocks. ** Ciisa, De, Dfictn Ignorantia, Paris, 1.514. 

3 His writings, mostly short notes and memoranda, wen* not known in 
flalileo’s time. They remained in MS., practically lost to the w'orld, till 1797, when 
Venturi brought them to light in his Essai sur les Ouvra^ea physico-mathematigues 
tie Leonard de Vinci, Paris, 1797. Cf. Favaro’s ‘ Ijeonardo da Vinci e Galileo’ 
(EetraMo daJla Raccolta Vinciana, July 1906), and " Leonard do Vinci a-t-ilexerce 
une influence sur Galilee et son l5cole ? ’ {Scientia, December 1916). 


Rizzoli,^ again, in a posthumous work, liad condennuHl the peri- 
patetic philosophy in forcible terms, <leclaring tluit, altliough 
there were many excellent truths in Aristotle’s l*hy,sicf<. the 
number was scarcely less of false, useless, and ridiculous propo- 
sitions. Oiovanni Battista Boucfletti,’^ anotlu'r sixteeiith -century 
writer, had written expressly to eojifute several of Aristotle’s 
mechanical problems, and so clearly expounded some prinei|)le8 
of statical equilibrium that he may be regarded as a pn'trursor 
of Galileo. Tartaglia •* had discussed the theojy of projectiles, and 
V'arrone wrote on the force of inertia, and recognized the power 
of gravity as the cause! of accelerated motion in falling bodies. 

But while Galileo was thus by no means the lirst to question 
the authority of Aristotle, he was undoubtedly the first whose 
questioning produced a profound and lasting effect in men’s 
minds. ’I’he reason is not far to seek. Galileo came at tin* fitting 
moment, but, above all, he came armed with a new instrument 

7. Sermo'iieJi de Motn Gravinm. ‘ 

The results of these earlier isolated investigations on the 
foundations of dynamics are given at great length iji the treatise 
Sermones de Motu Gravinm, written in 1590, and, as was then th(> 
custom of Galileo and for many years after, the work A\'as first 
circulated in manuscript. It did iTot appear in print until two 
lumdrc'd years after his death,® and then in an incom])l<*te form. 
These iS'erwwnw consist chiefly of objections to Aristotelian doetri nes, 
but a few of the chapters are devoted to an entirely new fit id of 
speculation. Thus, the 1 1th, 13th, and I7th Serniones reflate* to the 
motion of bodies along planes inclined at various angles, and of 
projectile motion ; the 14th enunciates a new theory of accelerated 
motion ; while in the 16th his tussertion, that a body falling 
naturally for however great a time would never acipiire more than 
an assignable degree of velocity, shows that he had already formed 
accurate Jiotions of the action of a resisting medium.® 

' Kizzoli, Antibarbarm ‘philosophica, Frankfurt, 1674. 

“ Benedetti, Speculaivmnm liber, Venice, 158.7. 

“ Tartaglia, Quesiii e.t Inventionl diverse, Venezia, 1546. 

« Cf. Nat. Ed., vol. i, pp. 24.7-419. 

* In Alberi’s Le Opere di Oalileo, Florence, 1842 -56. 

** Most of these theorems were afterwards developed and incorporated in hL-! 
larger work, Dialoghi detle Xuove Seienze, I^eyden, 1038, and they can bc.<t be 
stmliod in that admirable compendium. 

V 2 


Galileo did not content himself with writing and circulating 
his Sennonefi, but as soon as he succeeded in demonstrating the 
falsehood of any Aristotelian proposition he did not hesitate to 
tlenouncc it from his professorial chair. 

H, Puh/ic hLcperiments <m Fallinf/ Hodies, 1596-1 ‘ 

From professorial denunciation he proceeded to those pubUc 
experiments with which the leaning tower of Pisa has become for 
ever associated. Aristotle had said that, if two different weights 
of the same material w<‘re let fall from the same height, the two 
would r<‘ach the ground in a period of time inversely proportional to 
their weights. Galileo maintained that, save for an inconsiderable 
difference due to the disproportionate resistance of the air, the}’’ 
would fall in tiu? same time. The Aristotelians ridicided such 
‘ blasphemy ’, but Galileo determined to make his adversaries see 
the fact with their own eyes. One morning, Ixffore the assembled 
professors and students, he asceiuled the leaning tower, taking 
with him a 10 lb. shot and a I lb. shot. Balancing them on the 
overh.anging edge, he let them go together. Together they fell, 
and together tlu*y struck the ground. 

Neglecting the resistanet* of the air, he now boldly announced 
the law that all bodies fall from the same height iji ecpial times. The 
coiTeetness of this law was easily, if roughly, established by the 
leaning tow(‘r experiments, but, as tlu’^ vertical fall was too rapid 
to admit of exact measurement, he made use of the inclined plane 
— a long straight piece of wood, along which a groove was accurately 
made, and down which bronze balls wen^ free to move with the 
least friction. With this he proved that, no matter what the 
inclination of the ]ilane, and, consequently, no matter what the 
time of fall, the movement of the balls was always in accordance 
with his law. In these investigations he utilized his discovery of the 
isochronism of pendulum oscillations as a measurement of time. 

It might have been thought that such exjjcriments would 
have settled the* questioji. Vet Avith the sound of the simul- 
taneously fallen weights ringing in their ears, the Aristotelians 
still maintained that a weight of 10 lb. would reach the ground iJi 
a tenth of the time taken by a weight of 1 lb. A temper of mind 
like this could not fail to produce ill-will, and we learn that, with 
the exception of the newly appointed Professor of Philosophy, 

‘ Of. Nat. Ed., vol. i, p. 240 ; vol. xix, p. 600. 


Jacopo Mazzoni, tlie wlioh* body of the teaching stall* now turned 
against their young colleague. 

Stiinano infamia il eonfessar da vec*ehi 
Per falso quel ehe giovani appremlero. 

Viviani. after Ihnuct . 

Soon a wholly unforeseen eircunistaiuje eaint^ to their aid, aiul 
led to Galileo’s retirement from Pisa. Giovajini de Medici, natural 
son of Cosinio 1, was at the time Govt'rnor of Legliorn. He was 
not unskilled as an engineer and architect, ajid hjwl himself just 
clesigned a monster machine which he wished to use in cleaning 
tlie harbour. A model was submitted to the Grand Didce, anti 
Galileo commissioned to examine anti report on it. Ht* tlitl so, 
and declared it useless — an opinioji which subsequent trial ftilly 
confirmtHl. Smartijig undt‘r this failurt*, the inveuttu* was intluct‘tl 
to combine with the Aristotelians, to whose machinations \t t‘re now 
added intrigues at Gt)urt. The positioji became intt)leral)le, anti 
Galileo resignt'tl his |)ost before the three yt'ars’ term had expiretl, 
and once mort returned to Fltwenct; abtiut the mitldlt* of 151)2. 

Ml. Life Wokk, 15});j-lb;i2 
I. Early Years at Padua 

Galilet) had not long to wait for a new pt)st, ft^r <m the 22nti of 
Septembt'r, 1592, he was apjiointetl to the; mathematical chair in 
Padua. Here he tIisjJayed at once (‘xtraortlinary and varied 
activity. Besides the routine lectures on Fiielitl, tlu^ Sphert*, and 
Ptolemy’s Almagest, he gave sjMM'ial courses on .Military Archi- 
tecture and Fort-ifieations,’ on Mechanics, and on Gnt>monics. 
On tlit'se anti other subjet;ts he prejiartvl treatises which long 
circulated in manuscri|»t among his ]>upils. Some were printed 
many years afterwards ; others, like the treatise; on (inomonics, ai e 
lost ; while others again found their way into the hands of [)ers(ms 
who did not scruple to claim and publish them as their own. 

The treatise on the Sphere, j)ubli.shed in Itome in lt>5(i,” 
is supposed by some to be ajiocryphal, as it teaches the I’tolcrnaic 
cosmogony, ]ila(;ing the earth immovabU^ in tlu‘ centre of thc^ 

' Cf. Kat. E«l., vol. ii, jjp. Jii this there* is nothing v«‘ry original, his 

object being to lay before the student a eompendium f>f th«* most a|i|)rov«l 
principles of military scien<*e as then known. 

- Tmttato della Sfera di (Inlileo, &<•., by I'l'hano Oaviso, uinler tin; ps«*udonyni 
of Buonanlo Savi. Cf. Xat. Ed., vol. ii, ]>p. 20;>-.'5.‘i. 



universe, and adducing the usual orthodox arguments. But we 
have it from Galileo’s own hand that for many years he taught the 
Ptolemaic system in his classes in deference to popular feeling, 
although at heart he was even then a follower of Copernicus.' 

2. On Mechanics ® 

Tlie treatise Ddle Meccaniche was written in 1594, and deals 
with the powers of the balance, the lever, the windlass, the screw, 
the pulley, cogged wheels, and the endless screw ; and concludes 
with a note on ‘ The Forge of Percussion ’, added later, apparently 
in 1599. Galileo had not yet discovered the principle of the 
decomposition of forces, but in his present treatment of these 
subjects he ingeniously uses the theory of the screw, reducing the 
screw to the inclined plane, the inclined plane to the pulley, and 
the pulley to the simple lever. Here for the first time is mentioned 
that condition of equilibrium, regarded from an entirely new 
aspect, to which modern mechanics owes all its splendid achieve- 
ments. This condition of equilibrium is now called the principle 
of virtual velocities, and the credit of its discovery is with Galileo, 
who undoubtedly perceived its importance. 

3. Machine far Raising Water ® 

While carrying on his professorial duties, giving private lessons, 
and A\Titing learned tracts, Galileo was occupied in giving practical 
form to his ideas on the proper application of mechanics to 
machinery. Thus, towards the end of 1593, he devised a machine 
for raising water, of small dimensions but of great power, so con- 
structed that one horse could raise the water and distribute it 
through twenty channels. The Venetian Government gave him the 
monopoly of this invention for a period of twenty years, though 
it does not appear to have been used in a practical way.* 

* liis letter to Kepler dated August 4, 1697. His lectures on the Now 
Star ()>. 220, infra) may be regarded as his first pvhlic note of antagonism to tho 
ruling astrtmomy. Cf. Kavaro, Oalilea e lo Studio di Padova, vol. i, pp. 148-67. 

^ Cf. Nat. Ed., vol. ii, p. 149 ; vol. viii, pp. 216, 321. 

^ Cf. Nat. Ed., vol. xvi, p. 27 ; vol. xix, p. 126. 

* The early biographers of Galileo, Viviani and Gherardini, state that he 
was often employed ‘ to his groat honour and profit ’ in tho construction or 
superintendence of other machines for use in the Venetian State, but repeated 
searches in the archives of Vtmice and Padua do not afford any ground for this 
statement. Cf. Favaro, Inlomo ai aervigi atraordinarii preatati da Qalilao alia 
Republica Veneta, Venezia, 1890. 



4. The Oemnetrical and Military Compass * 

In 1597, however, he invented a more profitable instrument, 
and one that came into very extensive use, the Geometrical and 
Military Compass. This instrument is now known as Ounter^s 
Scale, or the Sector, It consists of two straight rulers connected 
by a joint so that they can be set to any required angle. On one 
side are four sets of lines : 

Arithmetical lines, which serve for the division of lines, the 
solution of the Rule of Three, the equalization of money, tlu' 
calculation of interest. 

Geometrical lines, for reducing proportionally superficial figures, 
extracting the square root, regulating the front and flank forma- 
tions of armies, and finding the mean proportional. 

Stereometrical litter, for the proportional reduction of similar 
solids, the extraction of the cube root, the finding of two mean propor- 
tionals, and for the transformation of a parallelopiped into a cub(^ 

Metallic lines, for finding the proportional weights of metals 
and other substances, for transforming a given body into one of 
another material and of a given weight. 

On the other side of the instrument are : 

Polygraphic lines, for describing regular polygons, and dividing 
the circumference of the circle into equal parts. 

Tetragomcal lines,ioT squaring the circle(approximately) orother 
regular figure, for reducing several regular figures to one figure, and 
for transforming an irregular rectilineal figure into a regular one. 

Joined lines, used in the squaring of the various portions of 
the circle and of other figures contained by parts of the circum- 
ference, or by straight and curved lines together. 

There is joined to the compiiss a quadrant, which, besides the 
usual divisions of the astronomical compass, has transversal lines 
for taking the inclination of a scarj) of a wall.- 

• 5. The Thermometer •* 

To a somewhat later period may be referred his invention of 
the air thermometer. The date is uncertain, for while Viviani 
asserts that the instrument was designed during the first term of 

1 C£. Nat. Ed., vol. ii. pp. 337-601 ; vol. xix, pp. 167, 222. 

^ The treatise on this subject, Le Operazioni del tlompaaao geomelrico e tnilitare 
(1606), is Galileo’s first printed work, and was entirely set up in his own house 
in Padua. * Of. Nat. Ed., vol. xvii, p. 377. 



Ill's jirofcssorship at Padua (1592-8), other evidence takes us back 
only to about 1602. Thus Benedetto Castelli (1577-1643), A\Titing 
to Ferdinando Cesarini, on the 20th of September, 1638, says : 

‘ 1 remember an experiment which our Signor Galileo sliowed 
me more than thirty-five years ago. He took a small glass bottle 
about the size of a hen’s egg, the neck of which was about two 
palms long {about 22 inches], and as narrow as 
a straw. Having well heated tlie bulb in his hand, 
he inserted its mouth in a vessel containing a little 
water, and, withdrawing the heat of his hand from 
thc! bulb, instantly the water rose in the n(*ck 
more than a palm above its level in the vessel. 
Hf is thus that he constructed an instrument for ’ 
measuring the degrees of heat and cold.’ 

In this instrument dillerent degrees of tem- 
^KM’ature were indicated by th(^ ('xpansion or 
contraction of the air which remained in the 
bulb ; so that thc scale was the revt'rsc of that 
of the thermometer now in use, for the water 
would stand at tln^ highest level when tin* weather 
was coldest. So long as the orifice of the tube 
remained op(‘n, this instrument could not be an efficient measurer 
of temperature, for it would be impossible to distinguish the 
effects of heat and cold from the effects of varying atmospheiic 
pressure. Tt was, in truth, a l)arometer as well as thermometer, 
although Galileo did not recognize this (Fig. 5). 

His friend Sagredo of Veniee (1571-1620) was the first to 
<livid(^ the tube into 100 degrees in 1613. Sagredo also appears 
to have experimented with closed tubes from about 1615 ; but 
it was not until many years later (1653), after the death of Galileo, 
that the practice of closing the orifice, after exhausting tlie air, 
Avas intnxluced.’ 

6. Xfiw Star of 1604 ■ 

In 1604 a new star a]>peared with great splendour in thc con- 
stellation Serpentarius. Maestlin, one of the first to notice it, says : 

‘ How wonderful is this new star ! 1 am ceilain that T did not 

’ The cTetlit of this capital iniprovemetit is clue to Leopoldo de" Aledic'i, 
brother of 4'erdinando TT, who adopted the x>lan of filling thc^ tube with spirit, 
boiling it, and sealing the orifice whilst the contained spirit was in an cxpand»-d 
state, thus obtaining a ])artial vacuum, and d(‘priving the instrument of its 
barometrical property. - Cf. Xat. »!., vol. ii, jij). 209-305, 520. 


see it before tlie 29tli of September, nor, indeed, on account of 
several cloudy nights had I a good view till the 6th of October. 
Now that it is on the other side of the sun, instead of surpassing 
Jupiter as it did, tand almost rivallijig Venus, it scarcely equals 
the Cor Leonis, and hardly surpasses Saturn. It continues, how- 
ever, to shine with the same bright and strongly s])arkliug light, 
and changes colour almost every moment, now tawny, then 
yellow, presently purple and red, and, when it has ris<‘n above the 
vapours, most frequently white.’ 

Galileo appears to have noticed the new star about the loth of 
October. The a])pearanee of the new phenomenon had given rise 
to the most bewildering statements. Some said it was a light 
in the inferior regions of sjiaec, in ^ the tdementary sphere ’, that 
is, in that sphere of the four (‘leinents below that heavenly 
and incorruptible region where the Aristotelian school ])laced 
the heavenly bodies. Others thought that it was an old star 
hitherto unnoticed ; others again believed that it was a new 
creation, while the astrologers ilcdueed from it the wildest 

After observing the new star for some time, (jlalilt'o (‘xjuiundtid 
his views upon it in threis extraordinary lectures, whic'h were 
delivered to the public in the great hall of thc! Lhiixersity in 
December, 1604. rnfortunately, only fragments of these lectures 
have come <lown to us, but from these and one or two other 
references,’ we learn that his ])urpose was to indicate the 
position of tin? new phenomenon as ‘ far ahovi^ the sphere of 
the Moon ’. 

Now, unlike his contemporaries, 'Pycho Brahe and J\i*pler, who 
thought that new stars wen? temporary conglomerations of a 
vapour-filling space, Galileo had suggested that the^’^ might 
products of terrestrial exhalations of extnnnc tenuity, at immejist! 
distances from tlm earth, and reflecting the sun’s rays — an hypo- 
thesis which, as we shall see later oji, he also aj>])lied to comets. 
From the absence of p.arallax he showed that the iiew star could 
not be, as the current theory held, a meteor engendered in our 
atmosphere, and nearer to us than the moon, but that it must be 
situated beyond the ] Janets and among tin; remote heavenly 
bodies. 'Phis was inconceivable to thc Aristotelians, who 

’ Cf. Difesa conlro alh Cniunnie. di Baldafsnart-. (Japrn, Nat. K<1., vol. ii, and 
Postille nl Libro d' Antonio liocco, Nat. Kd., voJ. vii. 


thought of the outer sphere of the Universe as an incorruptible 
and unchangeable heaven, subject neither to growth nor to decay, 
where nothing was created or destroyed. 

7. On Magnetism ‘ 

Galileo’s study of the magnetic properties of the loadstone 
dates from about 1600, apparently after he had seen the De 
Ma^nete of William Gilbert of Colchester ( 1544-1 600)^ which was 
published in London in 1600. Gilbert’s book had very great 
attraction for him, firstly, because its arguments traversed many 
of the principles of the Aristotelian school, and secondly, because 
it contained a number of original experiments, coupled with 
})hilosophicaI reflections of a far-reaching kind which appealed to 
his own daring spirit. Both Sagredo and Paolo Sarpi (1552-1623), 
his Venetian friends, tell us that at this time (1602) Galileo had not 
only repeated many of Gilbert’s experiments, but made new ones of 
his own, especially on the best method of arming loadstones. 

During the long vacations at Padua Galileo was wont to return 
to Florence, where he gave lessons to th(‘. young Prince Cosimo 
de’ Medici. In the summer of 1607 he had evidently been re- 
hearsing the wonderful properties of loadstones, and on returning 
to Padua he sent his pupil a stone which he had picked up in 
Venice, about ^ lb. in weight, not elegant in form but very powerful. 
In the letter which accompanied it he speaks of another stone 
belonging to Sagredo. 

‘ I’liis is elegantly shaped, and weighs about 5 lb. I have made 
it capable of sustaining 5^ lb. of iron, and J think 1 can make it 
do more before it leaves my hands. Much diligence is required in 
finding the true poles of these stones, that is, where their virtue 
is most robust, and where, consequently, their full sustaining power 
is manifested. This sustaining force depends as much on the 
(piality of the armature as on the stone itself. Not every piece of 
iron of any size and shape is equally sustained, but well-made 
steel of a ])articular size and figure is most powerfully attracted. 
Then again, a slight shifting of the armatures from their true 
positions causes a great variation in the sustaining force. In 
the last four days I have so arranged that the stone now bears 
1 lb. more than its owner was ever able to make it carry, and 
I hope, after preparing some pieces of the finest steel, to make it 
sustain still more.’ 

^ Cf. Nat. Ed., vol. iii, p. 279 «‘t Beij . ; vol. x, pp. 89, 185 et seq. ; vol. xiii, p. 328. 


He then describes a curioits case of what is now called super- 
posed magnetism : 

‘ I have also observed in tliis stone another admirable effect 
which I have not met with in any other, namely, that the same ))ole 
repels or attracts the same piece of iron according to distance. 
Thus, placing an iron ball on a smooth and level table, and quickly 
presenting the stone, at a distance of about one finger, the ball 
moves away, and can be chased about at pleasure. But no\\% 
when the stone is sharply withdrawn to a distance of about four 
fingers, the ball moves, iotmrds it, and, with a little dexterity, can 
be made to follow it about.’ 

Ultimately Galileo was able to sc.^cure this stone also for Princ e 
Cosimo, and in an accom})anying letter to (Uiief Secretary Bclisario 
Vinta, dated 3rd May, 1608, he writes : 

‘ 1 send for his Highness the loadstone' wiiich, after many 
cixperiments, I have finally made to sustain a weight of 12 lb., or 
more than double its own, and I am certain that, luul I more time 
and more suitable; tools at my disposal, I could have done betten* 
still. 1 have fashiojied the two armatures in the form of anchors, 
in allusion to the fable of a stone so large ajid powe^rful as to hold 
securely a ship’s anchor. The form is also convcnic;nt for attaching 
weights to measure its holding capacity. 1 have purposely not 
made these anchors equal to the largest weights that I know the; 
stone will carry, first, to leave a margin of safety, so that it will 
hold them firmly when presented, anci secondly, bc'cause 1 am of 
opinion that its power may vary according to locality with respect 
to the poles of the great magimt, the earth ; for, whereas along the 
t;quinoctial line both poles will bo of equal strength, one* may be 
more powerfid than the other in the northern hcMuisphere, and 
vice versa in the southern. Hence I am U?d to believe that the 
more powerfid pole sustains hc;re in Padua somewhat more than 
it can in the more southerly latitude of Florence or Pisa.* . . . 

‘ I have marked the poles, so that one can readily see where the 
anchors or armatures should be applied ; that with the greater 
Aveight should be attached to the more robust pole, and the less 
heavy one to the weaker pole, taking care to apjily them at the 
same instant, for I have found, not without grc;at astonishment, 
that the stone more willingly supports two weights togethc'r than 
one alone. Thus, a piece of iron, so heavy as not to be supported 
when applied alone, will be held if at the same time: another piece 
is applied to the other jiole. ... I have* in mind some othet 

* Here he confuses two properties of the magnet, (1) its portative force, and 
(2) its directive force or ‘ inclination ’. 



artiJicos to render the stone still more marvellously powerful, and 
I am {!(*rtain that 1 shall not fail. J believe 1 can make it sustain 
four times its own u eight, or 20 lb., which, for such a larg(‘ stone, 
is something very admirable. Indeed, T have no doubt that with 
proper cutting it can be made to support mor(^ than 30, and even 
40 lb. I hav(i noticed in this stone, not only that it never tires 
<jf holding a weight, but that with time it invigorates itself the 
more.’ ’ 

The ^ other artifices ’ 

referred to in the letter consisted in 

breaking up large stont's, shaping the best piece's so as to bring 
out their maximum of ])olarity, and provifling them with suitable 
armature's, with thc! result that the portative' force of the se'lected 

pie'e;e*s far e^vcecded his owji first and Gilbert’s aehieve*ments iji the 

same directiem. Thus, in the; De Magnelt,~ thc English j)hile)so])he;r 
speaks e)f a stone' (weight imt given) Avhieh Jieuinally e'e)uld sustain 
4 07 j. e)f iron, but wliie'h, whe;n e;apped with ste'e*!, e*ou!el support 
12 e)Z. " But ’, he' goes em, ‘ the gre'atest fore;e of a e-e)inbining, or 
rathe'i’ unite'el, nature^ is se'e'ii wlu'H twe) stone's, armed with iron 
ca])s, are so joine'el by the;ir ce)ncurre'nt (commemly e*alle*el ceuitrary) 
e'liels that they mutually a1trae*t ajid raise euie; another. In this 
way a weight of 20 e)Z. of iroje is raise'd, whe'ji e'ither stone unarmed 
woulel only allure; 4*oz.’ 

Galileo w'ent far beyojiel this, since he; was able te) fashion 
small steuu's e)f extiaemlinary ])ow'er. Of such a e)ne; he spe'aks in 
a lette'r te) Gesare Marsili, dated 27th dune', 1620. It weighed 
r> oz.* anel unarnu'd coulel only su})i)ort 2 oz., but whe'Ji armed it was 
able te> siistaiji IbO oz., e)r twi;nty-six time's its own weight. He 
hael this by him when writijig his Dialogue; e)f 1632, where he 
speaks e>f it as still in his ])ossessie)n. Later he a})])e'ars to have 
j)rcsente'(l it te; the; Grand Duke e)f Tuseainy, J^'erelinaiido II, as we 
gather fre)m Gastelli’s Dificorso ,sopra fa ( ^alamlta {circa 1639-40). ' 

' Thfse t wo stn?\« s wm- Idst in after ye'ars, for in H)9S J.<‘il)ni1z searched for 
tlieiii in vain. 

- ('liapler .WII, hook Jl. 

* 'Fhis stone is now j)rcserve<l in tlie Trilnina di Galileo, Florence. 'I'ljc weight 
is in th«; form of a tomb (Mrpolrro), a form which was probabb' suggested by the 
Icgenel of Mohammed's cotlin siis|x-ndt'd in the air by loadstone's. 

The K«litor of tin- Florentine edition of Galileo's Works, 1718. mentions 
another small stone fashion<‘<l by Galih'O, and of still mor<‘ extraordinary power. 
It weighed only three-tenths of a grain, yet could support 121 grains (vol. i. 
Preface, p. xlvi). This, if true, beats Sir Isaac Newton’s stone, which he wore 
set in a ring. It w<'ighed .‘1 grains, anti was able to support 74<i grains. 


2 ‘>'» 

a. Developtnent of (kdileo\'< fden,'< on Mcchonivs. l.lDO-KiOl* ‘ 

In the years lo90 to 1609. Galileo eoinplet€‘d, t)r, at least, laid 
the foundations of, his Dialofjhi delle Nuove Scienze. of lO.'lS, In 
the 6th Day of these dialogues, he speaks of Paolo Apit)ino as 
assisting at a great number of experiments in Padna on diverse 
problems in meehanics, and especially, ‘ on the marvellous prob- 
lems of percussion On the 29th of November, 1602, we hnd him 
wilting to the Marquis Guido Ubaldi on tlu' fall of bodies through 
two suecessive chords of a quadrant (discussed in Urd Day), 
and on pendulum oscillations of different am|)litudes. In 1604-6 
he further studied the properties of the inelined plane, and took 
up the subject of naturally accelerated ?Jiotion (discussed in 
3rd Day). During 1609 he was occupied with the strength of 
beams and their resistance to fracture (discussed in 2iul Day). 
In the same year h(‘ investigated the motioji of projectiles as 
applied to artillery, using the exj)eriences ilerived from his manv 
visits to the a’senal in V'enic^'^ (discussed in 4th Gay), and the 
coherence of the particles of solid bodies (discussed in 1st Day). 
In fact, about May, 1609, he was intending to [uiblish an a(;couiit 
of all these studies as a complete system of mechanical philosophy, 
when the telescope and consequent astronomical work interv'ened, 
and turned his (Miergy in another direction. 

Writing of this period, 1602—9, Fax aro says : 

‘ In truth the house of Galileo in Padua was nf)t only a [)laee 
for genial intercourse' ; not only a school to wl)ieh Hocked stude*nts, 
Italians and foreigners from every country in Europe*, but inon; 
than this, it was a laboratory, where his marvellous me^chanical 
talent knew how to devise ever new ex])edients. It was an academy 
in the true sense of the word, where* the gravest problems in 
]>hysics, in nu'chanics, in astronomy, anel in mathematic;s were* 
eliscussed with jierfe'ct freedom, and where it was pejssible t<» 
submit the deductiems of re}xsf)n te) tlie* salutary test of e.vperiment, 
and the results e)f experiments, in their turn, to reasoning and 
calculation. Thus it may be saiel that the principal ])roblems in 
the Dialofjlii delle Nnove. Scienze were raise'el and eiiscusse*el within 
the walls f)f Padua.’ ■ 

* Cf. Nat. Kfl., vol. ii. p. 2i»!t ; vol. x. pp. 07. 22S, 2tt, 24S. 

■ Oalileo e lo filutlio di Padova. 2 vots.. Firenzi*, iSS.'t, v<jI. i. p. .‘J14. Mm li 
tho same may be .said of hi.s Dialogue of 10.32, wlu-re many of the arguments are 
drawn from his experiments in Padua. 



Galileo had long been desirous to return to his native Tuscany, 
and he now (1609) ox>ened negotiations with the Chief Secretary 
of the Grand Duke, explaining that what he especially sought was 
leisure to pursue his researches without the distraction and strain 
of teaching and lecturing. 

‘ The works which I have to finish he wrote in May 1610, 
‘ are chiefly : (1) two books on the system or structure of the 
Universe, an immense undertaking full of philosophy, astronomy, 
and geometry ; (2) three books on local motion, a science entirely 
new, no one, ancient or modern, having discovered any of the 
many admirable consequences which I demonstrate in natural and 
violent motions, so that I may with reason call it a new science 
invented by me from its very first principles ; (3) three books on 
mechanics, two of them on the demonstration of principles, and 
one of problems. Although others have treated tMs subject, no 
one either in quantity or quality has done a quarter of what I am 
writing on it. I have also treatises on natural subjects such as on 
soimd and speech ; on light and colours ; on the tides ; on the 
composition of continuous quantity ; on the movements of 
animals ; and others. 1 have also an idea of writing some books 
relating to the military art. . . . 

‘ Then I need not say what an amount of labour will be required 
to fix the periods of the four new planets, a task the more laborious 
the more one thinks of it, as they are separated from one another 
by very brief intervals, and are all very similar in size and 

Some of the treatises named in this letter are now lost, partly 
through the accidents of Galileo’s stormy life, and in transport 
from place to place, and partly, through the extraordinary negli- 
gence and criminality of custodians. The loss of the essay on 
Continuous Quantity is particularly to be regretted. It is to his 
early disciple Buenaventura Cavalieri (1698-1647), who refused to 
publish his own book ^ so long as he hoped to see Galileo’s printed, 
that we owe The Method of Indivisiblea, which is recognized as 
containing some of the germinal ideas of Newton’s Fluxional 
Calculus. The treatises on Sound and Speech^ and on Light and 
GedourSt were probably never completed, but we find fragments 
of them in later works, as, II Saggiatore and the Dialoguea of 1632 
and 1638. Similarly, of the movements of animals we have the 
fragment Intmno al camminare dd cavallo.^ 

* Oeometria indivisibilibm continuorum nova qitadam ratione promota, Bologna, 
1635. 2 Nat. Ed., vol. viii, last section. 

.ATi: XL. From the Galileo Museum at Florence 

Galilo<.>\s Lodestone and Military Compass Galileo’s Telescopes 

The cracked lens is mounted in centre 


9. The Invention of Ihe Tdeacope"^ 

Leaving aside the vexed question of the priority of invention 
of the telescope, and of the reports of it which circulated in Italy 
from about November 1608,‘ we pass to Galileo’s own account 
of his share in the discovery. Of this there are three slightly 
discordant versions — one to his brother*in>law, Landucci, dated 
29th August 1609, the second in Sidereua Nunctua^ published in 
March 1610, and the third in II SaggUUore, 1623. In the first 
version (probably the most reliable, as being nearest in time) 
he says : 

^ I write now because 1 have a piece of news for you, though 
whether you will be glad or sorry to hear it I cannot say, for I have 
now no hope of returning to my own country, though the occur- 
rence which has destroyed that hope has had results both useful 
and honourable. You must know then that about two months 
ago (i. e. about June 1609) a report was spread here that in 
Flanders a spy-glass had been presented to Prince Maurice, so 
ingeniously constructed that it made the most distant objects 
appear near, so that a man could be seen quite plainly at a distance 
of two miles. This result seemed to me so extraordinary that it 
set me thinking, and, as it appeared to me that it depended upon 
the laws of perspective, 1 reflected on the manner of constructing 
it, and was at length so entirely successful that 1 made a spy-glass 
which far surpasses the report of the Flanders one. As the news 
had reached Venice that I had made such an instrument, six days 
ago 1 was summoned before their Highnesses the iSignoria, and 
exhibited it to them, to the astonishment of the whole Senate. 
Many of the nobles and senators, although of a great age, mounted 
more than once to the top of the highest church tower in V''enice, 
in order to see sails and shipping that were so far ofl that it was 
two hours before they were seen without my spy-glass, steering 
full sail into the harbotur ; for the effect of my instrument is such 
that it makes an object 50 miles ofl appear as large as if it were 
only five miles away. 

* Pe];ceiving of what great utiUty such an instrument would 
prove in naval and military operations, and seeing that his Serenity 
the Doge desired to possess it, I resolved on the 24th inst. to go to 
the palace and present it as a free gift. On quitting the presence- 

^ Cf. Nat. Ed., vol. iii, pp. 18, 80, 869 ; vol. x, pp. 250-3 ; vol. xix, p. 687. 

‘ Favaro diBOUSBes these questions very fully in OtUUeo e h Studio di Padova, 
▼ol. i, ch. xi, and in La InvenzUme dd Tdeaeopio socofodo gli vUinU Studi, 
Venecia, 1006. Cf. Diinkwater’s Life o/ OalUeo, 1833, pp. 20-6 ; Grant’s History 
of Phffsicdl Astronomy, 1862, pp. 614-37. 



chamber I was commanded to bide awhile in the hall of the 
Senate, whereunto the Procurator, Antonio Prioli, one of the 
heads of the University of Padua, came, and, taking me by the 
hand, said that the Senate, knowing the way in which I had served 
it for seventeen years at Padua, and being sensible of my courtesy 
in making it a present of the spy-glass, had ordered my election 
(with my goodwill) to the Professorship for life.’ 

This telescope is unfortunately lost. It is mentioned with 
some particulars in his Sidereus Nuncius, and consisted of a leaden 
tube, with a plano-concave eye-glass and a plano-convex object- 
glass, and had a magnifying power of three diameters. From other 
sources we learn that the tube was 2*39 metres long and about 
42 millimetres diameter (see Fig. 6, p. 228). This instrument was 
shown for the first time in public on the 21st of August, 1609, 
from the top of the (;ampanile of San Marco, when the farthest 
object that could be seen clearly was the campanile of the Church 
of San. Giustina in Padua, distant about 35 kilometres. 

10. Invention of the Microttcope ‘ 

The inv'ention of the telescope could hardly fail to lead to the 
disclosure of the ])rinciple of the microscope, which at first was 
but a telescope adapted. John Wodderborn, a Scotch student 
who attended Galileo’s lectures at Padua, in a defence of his 
master (published in 1610),* states that he ‘ heard Galileo describe 
in what manner he perfectly distinguishes with his teIcsco])e the 
organs of motion and of the senses of the smaller animals, especi- 
ally in a certain insect which has each eye covered by a rather 
thick membrane, which, perforated with seven holes, like the* 
visor of a warrior, allows it sight 

In 1614, the Frenchman, Jean Tarde, called on Galileo, whom 
he found ill in bed, and he says that 

‘ Galileo told me that the tube of a telescope for observing th<^ 
stars is no more than 2 feet in length ; but to see objects well, 
which are verv near, and which on account of their small size, 
are hardly visible to the naked eye, the tube must be two or thretj 
times longer. He tells me that with this long tube he has s(!en 
flies which look as big as a lamb, are covered all over with hair, 

^ Cf. Nat. Ed., vol. xiii, pp. 36, 40, 199, 201, 208. 

* John Wodderborn, Scotobritannus, QucUuor problemalum quae Martimm 
Horky contrp, Nuntium Sidereum de qualuor planetia novia diapulanda propoauit 
confiUatio, Padua, 1610. 

* Nat. Ed., vol. ill, pp. 161-78. 

»•! a 


and have very pointed nails, by means of which they keep them- 
selves up and walk on glass, although hanging feet upwards.* ^ 

In II Saggiatore, and in Viviani’s biographical sketch there are 
similar references, the latter adding that in 1612 Galileo presented 
a microscope to the King of Poland. All this shows that he vas 
well acquainted from the first with the use of his invention qua 
microscope. For many years, however, he gave the matter little 
attention — not, indeed, until his visit to Rome in 1624, when he 
found the microscope discussed as a novelty which nobody could 

An optician of Middelburg had invented a form of microscope 
about 1590, in which objects were seen inverted. One of these 
instruments he presented to the Archdukes (^harles Albert of 
Austria, who in turn gave it to Cornelius Diebbel, a Dutchman, 
tlien living in London. For many years after, tlie instrument 
was practically forgotten ; but about 1621 Cornelius Drebbel 
a[>pears to have resumed its manufacture.” In the following year 
Jacob Kufiler, a relative of Drebbel, brought a specimen to Rome, 
a present from Nicholas Fabri <le Peiresc of Paris (1580-1637) to 
one of the Cvardinals. Unfortunately, Kuffier died before he had 
time to explain the management of the instrument, and so it 
r<>maincd a mystery. Two years later two other specimens arrived, 
also sent by de Peirese, with brief instructions as to their use. 
One of these was nothing more than a magnifying glass, but of 
the other, consisting of two glasses, nobody in Rome could make 
anything, ‘ although they had the help of mathematicians ’. 

At this moment Galileo arrived. The instrument was shown 
him, and he at once told his friends that he had himself made 
a somewhat similar instrument many years previously, ‘ which 
magnified things as much as 50,000 times, so that one sees a fly 
as large as a hen ’. Ho made some specimens, showing objects 
crecty which he sent to his friends, and soon his microscojMJS w'crc 
in as great request as his telescopes. Amongst others, he sent one 
to Prince Fedcrigo Cesi, on the 23r4 of September, 1624, with the 
following letter : 

* Cf. Nat. Ed., vol. xix, p. 589. Tardcr’s vo^-agos in Italy are in MS. at the 
Bibliothequc nationalo, Paris. 

* (lharles Sing<‘r, * Notes on the Early History of the Mieroscopo in the 
Proceedings of the Iloyal Society of Medicine, Historical Section, 1914, vol. vii, 
p. 247, and ‘ The Dawn of Microscopical Discovery,’ Journal of the Royal Micro- 
scopicul Society, 1915, p. 317, and the article by him in this volume. 



‘ I send yowr Excellency a little spy-glass {occliiali nv) for 
observing at close quarters the smallest objects, Miiicli 1 hope 
will afford you the same interest and ydcasure that it has to me. 
I delayed sending it because my first attempts were imjK'rfeet by 
reason of the difficulty in fashioning the lenses. The object is 
placed on a movable circle (at tlie base t)f the instrument), Avhieli 
can be turned in such a way as to show successive ]>ortions, 
a single pose being unable to show more than a small part of the 
whole. As the distance between the lens and the object imist be 
precisely adjusted in order to see things that are in relief, it is 
necessary to bring the glass nearer to or farther from the object 
according to the jiarts to be examined. Therefore the little t\ibe 
is made adjustable on its stand or guide. The instrument should 
be used in a strong light, or even in full sunlight, so as to illuminate 
the object as much as possible. 

‘ I have examined with the greatest tlelight a large niimber of 
animals, amongst which the bug is most horrible, the gnat and the 
moth very beautiful. I have also been able to discover how the 
fly and other little smimals are able to walk on window-panes and 
ceilings feet upwards. But your Excellency will now have tluj 
opportunity ol observing thousands of other details of the most 
(uirious kind, of which I shall be glad to have an account. 

‘ P.S. — The little tube is in two pieces, so that you may 
lengthen it or shorten it at pleasure.’ ^ 

11. The Sidcrius Nmicius 
Firal Telescopic Discoveries in the Heavens ■ 

After exhibiting his tcIesco})e in Venice, Galileo returned to 
Padua, and at once constructed a third instrunumt, of which he 
only says that ‘it made objects appear more than sixty tinies 
larger ’, equivalent to a juagnifyijig power of about eight diameters. 
But in a very few days he had a much bctttM* telescope which 
enlarged four hundred times. With this in the autumn of IbOt) 
he made his first discoveries in the heavens — an immense number 
of fixed stars, more than tenfold tlie number at that time cata- 
logued* He noticed the property of irradiation common to all 

^ The only relics (two tubes) of these instruTnents now known tf) exist an* 
preserved in the Tribuna di Oalileo, Florence. The lenstw ans missing, and the 
genuineness of the tubes themselves is doubtful. For much interesting informa- 
tion on this subject see Prof. Govi’s ‘ The Gomj^ound Microscope invented by 
Galileo’, in Journal of the Ttoyal Microscopical Society, 1889, pp, .‘>74 et .scfj., ami 
the two articles by Charles SingcT quoted abovi*. 

* Cf. Nat. Ed., vol. iii, Part 1, jtassim ; vol. x, pp. 273, 410 ; vol. xix, ]<ji. 229, 

Q :: 

610 . 


luminous bodies, and the scintillation of the fixed stars, which 
differentiated them from the planets. Upon directing the telescope 
to the more conspicuous star-clusters, he was astonished to find 
that they contained a great number of other stars too faint to be 
recognized by the naked eye. Thus, the number of the Pleiades, 
from six or seven, now rose to thirty-six ; while in Orion, instead 
of tliirty-seven, he now counted as many as eightj*^ stars. Next, 
examining portions of the Milky Way and other nebulous patches 
lie resolved tliem into congeries of stars of various magnitudes. 
Turning to the moon, he brought it to a distance of less than three 
semi-diameters of the earth, making it aiipear about twenty 
times nearer and four hundred times larger than when seen by 
the unaided eye. 

Early in January, 1610, Galileo had constructed a still more 
])owerful tclesco])e, which showed objects more than thirty times 
nearer and nearly one thousand times larger. With this instru- 
ment he not only verified and completed the observations begun 
the previous autumn with his fourth telescope, but he also dis- 
co vereil Jupiter’s moons. 

W’riting to a friend at the Tuscan f-ourt on 30th January, 
1610, he thus alludes to this series of discoveries : 

‘ I give thanks to God, who has been ])leased to mak(> me 
the first observer of marvellous tilings unrevcaled to bygone 
ages. I had already ascertained that tln> moon was a body very 
similar to the earth, and had shown our Serene Master, the Grand 
Duke, as much, but imx>erfectly, not then having such an excellent 
spy-glass as I now possess, which, besides showing the moon most 
clearly, has revealed to me a multitude of fixeil stars never before 
seen, being more than ten times the number of those that can be 
seen by the unaided eye. Morcov'cr, I hav'c ascertained w'^hat has 
always been a matter of controversy among jihilosophers, namely, 
the nature of the Milky Way. But the greatest marvel of all is 
the discovery of four new jjlanets. I have observed their motions 
proper to themselves and in relation to each other, and wherein 
they diffiT from the motions of the other jilanets. These new bodies 
move round another very great star, in the same way as Mercury 
and \’'enus, and, xieradventure, the other known jilanets, move 
round the sun. As soon as my tract is printed, ... I shall send 
a copy to his Highness, the Grand Duke.’ 

This tract is the Sidereiis Xunciu.s, the xirefacc of wliich is 
dated 4th March, 1610. In this epoch-marking treatise he gives 
the results of his observations. He speaks first of the moon. 
The discovery of sjiots, added to those already visible to the 
naked eye, and observations on the changes of light on those 


spots, led him to the conclusion that the surface of the moon, far 
from being smooth and polished according to the then accepted 
•opinion, was rough with deep depressions and high mountains. 
The brilliant parts lie inferred Avere land, while those which 
remained obscure — the permanent spots — he regarded as water. 
The illuminated edges of the moon showed themselves smooth 
and without those indentations which one Avould ex])eet from the 
inequalities of the surface. G.alileo ex]>lained this appearance 
(1) by supposing that the mountainous parts imisked each other 
as it were, so that at the distance of the earth the intervening 
depressions were not disc(‘rnible, and (2) by the existence of a lunar 
atmosphere of a density such as tt) reflect the solar I’cays while Jiot 
obstructing the vision. From the appearance of illuminated 
mountain-tops in the dark ])art of the moon, at some litth* distance 
from the broken line along which sunrise or sunset was general, 
he was able to judge of the height of some of the im^untains, 
and his calculation agrees very well with the modc'in estimate*. 
The higher mountains Avere found to rise four or live mih*s above 
the general hjA’el. 

Galileo remarked the feeble light,* Avhich, in the first and last 
quarters of the moon, makes visible to us that part of its disk 
which is no hmger illuminated directly by th<^ sun. After showing 
that the light did not originate in the moon its(‘H', that it was not 
caused by sunlight |)assing through its hotly, that it Avas not 
reflected there from V'enus, he concludes that it can only be due 
to the sunlight reflected from the earth to the mtjon, anti tlicnce 
reflected back to our eyt*s. He ct)ntended thereft>re that t>ur earth 
shines, like the moon and planets, by light frt)in tlte sun ; that it 
far exceeds the moon in luminosity ; anti that sincts it is ti moving 
planet it is thus fully comparable to the otht*r heavenly bt)dies. 

In using the telesct)po to examinti the fixed stars and ct)mparing 
them with the planets, Galileo tibserved a remarkable tlifference. 
While 'the planets shoAved themselves as tlisks, like little moons, 
the stars appeared but little larger than Avith the naked eye, just 
bright specks sending forth twinkling rays. He explain(*d this 
apparent failure of the telesco|>e to (*nlarge in jirojiortion to its 
magnifying poAver »us due to the effect of irnwliation. In virtue 

^ Now known as earthshlne. Pniviously rifilicfMl by Pythagoras (c. 580-504 
B.c.)» by Plato (428”4147 B.r.), and by Leonardo da Vinci (1452- 1510). In 1040 
Fortunio Liccti held that the moon is a phosphorescent bcxly like the Bologna 
Stone. This drew from Galih?o a reply — hi.s last great effort . S# e Xat. Kd.: vol. 
viii, pp. 467-556. 


of this principle, a light projected upon a dark ground is dilated 
in all directions, so as to appear larger than it really is, and the 
greater its luminosity the greater is the irradiation, and the larger 
the light appears to be. A star, then, as seen by the naked eye 
is a luminous point x)lus its dilated corona. Now, the telescope 
has the property of cancelling or masking, more or less according 
to the degree of luminosity, this false light, so that what we see 
is the resultant of two opposite effects, (1) the star bereft more 
or less of its corona, and (2) the star as enlarged by the power 
of the glass ; and, since the resultant enlargement is but little, 
we must conclude, not that the telescope fails in such cases, but 
that the corona, though diminished, is still able to nearly counter- 
balance the telescopic enlargement, with the result that the 
ap[)arcnt size is little larger than that exhibited to the naked eyc.^ 
When Galileo turned his fourth telescope to the planets he 
saw them as little moons. Jupiter’s disk was of considerable size, 
but in no other way did he differ from the other planets. Now, 
on the 7th of January, 1610, directing his fifth and more powerful 
glass towards Jupiter, lus attention was drawn to three small but 
bright stars in his vicinity, two on the oast side and one on the 
west. He at first imagined them to be fixed stars, and yet thertj 
wfis something in their ap|)earance which he thought curious, and 
they were all disposed in a right line parallel to the plane of the 
ecliptic. Haxjpening, by mere accident, as he says, to examine 
Jupiter again on the next night, he was surprised to find these 
stars now arranged quite differently. They were all on the west 
side, nearer to each other tlian on the previous evening, and at 
equal distances ajjart. Ho therefore waited for the following night 
with some anxiety, but he was disajipointed, for the heavens were 
enveloped in clouds. On the 10th of January he could see only 
two stars, and they were both on the east side ! He suspected 
that the third might be concealed behind the disk of the planet. 
Those visible apx)eared as before in the same right line, and lay 
in tlie direction of the eclii>tic. Unable to account for such changes 
by the motion of the [>lanot, and being fully assured that he 
always observed the same stars, he concluded that the motions 
must be referred to the stars themselves and not to the x)lanet. 

On the 11th of January he again saw only two stars, still on 
the east side, but the outer one was now nearly twice as large 

^ He has a great deal more on this subject in his letters to Griembcrger on 
Lunar Mountains, in his works on Sun-spots, and in II Saggiatore, which see infra. 
Irradiation was first treated as a general principle by Kepler in 1604. 


as the other, although on the previous night they were almost 
equal. This fact, taken in connexion with the constant change 
of the relative positions of the stars, and the total disappearance 
of one of them, now revealed to him their real character. He 
concluded that there are in the heavens three stars revolving 
round Jupiter in the same way as Venus and Mercury revolve 
round the sun. On the 12th of January he again saw three stars, 
two on the east side, and one on the west. The third began to 
appear about tliree o’clock in the morning, emerging from the 
eastern limb of the planet ; it was then very small, and discernible 
only with great difficulty. On the 13th of January he saw four 
stars, three on the west side an<l one on the east. They were all 
in a line }>arallcl to the ecliptic, with the exception of the central 
one of the western group, which was a little towards the north. 
They were all about the same size, and shone with a much greater 
lustre than fixed stars of the same magnitude. Januaiy the 14th 
was cloudy, but n<*xt night he saw all four stais to the west of 
the planet, all nearly in the same right line, and increasing in 
siz(5 and brilliancy, according to their distance from Jupiter. And 
so he continued nightly, up to the 2nd of March, 1610, to mak<! 
these observations, sixty-six of which arc figured and described 
in the Sidereus Nuncim.^ 

The persistence of the relati^^e distances between tlu'se four 
bodies and Jupiter in all their changes left no room for doubt 
that they accomplished with him, and in about twelve years, 
a revolution around the sun as a centre. Their own orbits round 
the planet were unequal in time, those m^arest moving more 
rapidly than those more remote ; while the most remote of all 
appeared to complete its revolution in about fiftecji days. 

During the Easter recess of 1610 at Padua, Galileo had an 
express invitation from the Tuscan Court, then at Pisa, to explain 
to the Grand Duke his discovery of the four satellites of Jupiter, 
which; in honour of the reigning family, he iwoposed to call Medicean 
Stars, after the four brothers Cosimo If, Francesco, Carlo, and 
Lorenzo. Cosimo II, who all his life showed a sincere attachment 
to his tutor, asked for and obtained the gift of the instrument 
with which this discovery was made ; but Galileo quickly repented 
of his generosity. He evidently could not part with his ‘ old 

^ There are also (1) Diagram tr> illustrate principle of the teleHco|x?, (2) fivc^ 
drawings of the moon’s superficies, (3) two diagrams on lunar nieasuremenfM 
(4) Orion, (5) Pleiades, (6) Nebulosa Orionia, and (7) Nebulosa Praesepe. 



discoverer as he affectionately called it in after years ; so, while 
always reserving it for the Grand Duke, he kept it near himself 
till his death, when it was handed over to Prince I^opoldo, brother 
of Ferdinando II. 

Of its subsequent history little is known with certainty. It 
would appear that in Galileo’s last years the instrument was acci- 
dentally broken. Then, in 1675, there is a record in the inventory 
of the effects of C’ardinal Leopoldo de’ Medici, of a ‘ broken object- 
glass with wliich Galileo discovered the four new' planets ’ ; and 
in 1677 another record of its having been set in an ivory frame. 
It is jiow preserved, together with tw'O telescopes, said to have 
been made by Galileo, and certainly of his time, in the Tribmia 
di Galileo at Florence, with many other precious relics of the 
period. A(!eurate measurements of it have be^n made quite 
recently by Professor Hoiti of the University of Florence, as 
follows: Focal distance 1-70 jnetres, <liameter 0056 metre. One 
face has the curvature of a s]>hcre with radius of 0-9.35 metre, and 
the other face is practically plane, having just a trace of convexity.^ 

12. On Saturn - 

After completing his study of Jupiter, Galileo turned Iiis glass 
to the other planets to see if they also had attendant moons. 
On the 25th of July, 1610, he was rewarded by another bril- 
liant discovery — the phenomenon that we now describe as the 
ring of Saturn. To him, however, it did not appear as a ring, 
but as a tri})le star of which the central part was about three 
times larger than the laterals, and all three almost touching, and 
in a plane parallel to the zodiac. He made further observations 
in the autumn, when Saturn was well above the horizon, and, 
fearing that some one might forestall him, he announced the 
discovery in a brief letter, dated Padua, 30th July, 1610, to 
Belisario Vinta, at Florence, but begged him to keep it secret for 
a while. As a further precaution lest his clai’ttis should be fore- 
stalled he sent to friends in Italy and Germany a cryptogram of 
thirty-seven letters as follows : 


Kepler and other friends puzzled long over this anagram, the 
former thinking it had some reference to his favourite planet 

* Cf. Favaro’s Intorno at Camiocchiali costruiti ed usali da (Jalileo, Venezia, 
1901. ® Cf. Nat. E<1., vol. x, pp. 410, 474 ; xi, p. 439 ; xviii, p. 238. 


Mars. At length, Giuliano de’ Medici, Tuscan ambassador at the 
German Court, was charged by the Emperor Rudolph 11 to ask 
for the solution, to whom Galileo, replying 13th November, 1610, 
gave the following startling solution : 

‘ Altissimum Planetam Tergeminum Observavi.’ 

‘ I have observed he says, ‘ with great admiration that Saturn 
is not a single star but three together, which, as it were, touch 
each other. They have no relative motion, and art* constituted 
in this form [see Fig. 7, i], the middle being much larger than 
the lateral ones. They are not strictly in the line of tlie zodiae, 
but rather parallel to tlu* equinoctial line. ... 1 have already 
discovered a court for Jupiter, and now there are two attendants 
for this old man, who aid liis steps and never leave his side.’ 

The learned world had not yet had time to digest the surprising 
facts announced in the Sid€reu.s Nunciu'i, when this asserted triple 
nature of Saturn again (^ontraveiuid the prevailing Aristotelian 
ideas. Continuing his observations, Galileo found that the lat»‘ral 
bodies did not retain the same apparent magnitudes. In fact, 
they ha,d been gradually diminishing, although they appc'ared to 
be immovable, both with respect to each other and to the e(‘ntral 
body. They continued to grow less and less during the next two 
years, and towards the close of 1612 they vanished altogether ! 
Horrified at this extraordinary ]»henomenon, and full of alarm for 
the consequences to himself when his Aristotelian oppoueuts 
should come to hear of it, he thus wrote to \V(*lser on l)eeeiubt*r 
1st, 1612 : 

‘ Looking at ►Saturn within these last few days, I found it 
solitary without its accustom<!d stars, and, in short, perfcH-tly 
round and definetl like Jupiter, and such it still remains ! Now 
what can be said of so strange a metamorphosis ? Are, |)erhaps, 
the two smaller stars consumed like spots on the sun ? Have 
they suddenly vanished and fled V Or has Saturn devour(‘tl his 
own children ? Or was the app<*arance, indeed, fraud and illusion, 
with which the glasses have for so long mocked me and many 
others who have observed with me V ’ 

He continued, however, to conjecture that the two attendant 
stars would reappear after revolving with the planet, and that, 
by the summer solstice of 1615, they would be not only again 
visible, but more luminous and larger. And by the middh? of 
1615 he was able to verify his prediction, for the lateral stars 
were now reappearing (Fig. 7). 



No change calling for special comment was noticeable until 
the summer of 1616, when he made a new observation relating to 
Saturn. In August of that year, writing to Prince Cesi, Galileo 
savs : 

‘ I cannot rest without signifying to your Excellency a new 
and most strange phenomenon observed by me in the last few 
days in Saturn. Its two companions are no longer two small 
and perfectly round globes, as they have hitherto appeared to 
be, but are now bodies much larger, and of a form no longer 
round, but, as shown in the annexed figure (see Fig. 7, iii), with 

the two middle f)arts obscured, 
that is to say, the very dark 
triangular-like spaces contiguous 
to the middlt* line of Saturn’s 
globe, which latter is seen, as 
always, perfectly round.’ ^ 

Up to the last, Galileo made 
no announcement as to the preeise 
nature of Saturn’s appendages. 
He contented himself with de- 
scribing wliat he saw, and, re- 
cognissing the incompleteness of 
his knowledge, and, perhaps, the 
inadecpiate pow(>r of his glass, he 
left it to the future to solve the 
problem. This was done by 
( 'hristian Huygens in 1655. Working with a refracting telescoiie, 
magnifying 100 diameters, this astronomer not only saw and 
described the ring as a ring, but discovered one of Saturn’s 

l-’ft!. 7. EAltLY DRAWINGS OF 

From the Si/stetna Satumum. 

13. Venus, Mercury, and Mars - 
1 hose discoveries stimulated yet further the interest of Galileo’s 
grand-ducal pu]nl, and in June 1610 Cosimo II nominated him 
‘ First Mathematician of the University of Pisa, and First Mathe- 
matician and Philosoplier to the Grand Duke ’. Galileo now 
returned to Florence. Here, on September 30, he made another 
astounding discovery in the heavens, namely, the occasional 

^ ('f. Favaro, ‘ Intomo all’ Apparenza di Saturno osaervata da Galileo nel- 
1 Agosto 1616 ’ (Atti del Reale IstihUo Veneto, February, 1901). 

2 Cf. Nat. Ed., vol. x, pp. 483, 499, 503 ; vol. xi. pp. 11-12. 


crescent form of the planet Venus. After satisfying himself, by 
three months’ observations, of its correctness, he announced the 
fact in a letter (11th December) to his friend Giuliano de’ Mediei 
at Prague, but concealed it again in an anagram as follows : 
‘ Haec immatura a me iam frustra leguntur o y.' He did not, 
however, leave his friend long in |K'r])lexity, for on the 1st of 
January, 1611, he sent him the solution : ‘ (Viithae Hguras aemu- 
latur mater amoruin.’ ‘ That is, Vcnn-s rival** the appearance of 
the moon ; for, being now arrived at that j)oint of her orbit in 
which she is between the earth and the sun, and with only a part 
of her enlightened surfa(?e tmrned towards us, the telesco])e shows 
her in a crescent form, like the moon in a similar position.’ 
Following her through the visible portion of her orbit, he had the 
satisfaction of seeing the illuminated part assume sueeessively the 
crescent forms appropriate to his hy[>otliesis. 

It was with reason, thendore, that lie laid stress on the impor- 
tance of these observations, which established yet another fact 
obnoxious to the Aristotelians a further resemblance between 
the earth and moon and one of the principal planets. .-Vs he had 
shown in SidereMt* Nnneius that the earth, like' tlu' moon, is 
luminous only where exi>osed to the sun’s rays, so this change 
of figiu’c in Venus demonstrate'd that she and, probably, all the 
other planets were not luminous of themselves, but icHcctcd the 
sun’s light. Thence lu; concludeul that they must all revolve* 
rounel the sun — ‘a fact surmiseel by Pythagoras, ('opcrnicus, 
Kepler, anel their elisciple^s, but that could not be* preiveel by 
ocular demenistratiems ’. h’eir it h'ael always been a formidable 
objectieni to the Copernican thce)ry that Venus and .Mercury eliei 
not exhibit the same phase*s as the^ moon, which the*y slieiuld elo 
if they revolved rounel the sun, anel (^’ope'rnicus himse'lf hael 
endeavoured to account for this by sufiiieising that the* sun’s rays 
passed freely through the boely of the> planets. 

Of .similar changes in Mercury, the existence of which he* 
inferred by analogy, he could observe nothing, because that 
planet’s orbit does not take him far from the sun, anel, in con- 
sequence, his small disk is always so resplendent that not even 
the best telescope coulel deprive him of his factitieius rays.‘ 

^ The revolution of Mercury about the sun, which Galileo assumed, was con- 
firmed twenty years lat«er. Just before his death in IfiSO, Kepler predicted a transit 
of Mercury for the next year, and it was duly obsc^rved, on Xovernber 7, 1631, 



The orbit of Mars being exterior to that of the earth, he is 
not subject to phases like tlie inferior planets Venus and Mercury, 
but in certain ]) 08 itioris he assumes a gibbous appearance, like 
that of the moon a littk; before and aft(?r the full. GaUleo recog- 
nized this feature, and, after four months’ careful observation, he 
announced that ‘ wluui Mars is in cpiadrature, or the middle points 
of his path on each side of the sun, his figure varies slightly from 
a perfect circle. I dare not allirm that 1 can observe phases, but, 
if I mistake not, I alrtwly perceive that luj is not always perfectly 
round.’ He also observed that the a|»parent size of the planet 
varied aetjording to its distance from the sun, being sixty times 
larger when in op]>osition than when in conjunction. 

14. (hi Sun-Spots ’ 

In eonsi(h?ration of the intense interest, friendly and otherwise, 
ti.xcited by these discovtiries in Rome, Galileo thought it desirable 
to go there himself, and accpiaint at lirst hand the savants and 
dignitaries of the ('hurch with his work. It was not till March 
23, 1611, that ho was able to set out, ])rovided with many 
letters of introduction, amongst tlumi one from Michelangelo the 
younger (nephew of th(' gr<*at sculptor and 7 )ainter) to (.'ardinal 
Barberini (afterwards Pope I'rban VIII). lie was received with 
distinction by princes and all the Church dignitaiies, as well as 
by the learned laymen. lOven those who discrcMiited his discov(*rics, 
cither through obstinacy or through fear of their r(\sults, were as 
«‘ager as the true friends of science to sei^ aiul hear this wonder 
of the age. 

After exhibiting on several occasions all his recent discoveries, 
or ‘ celestial Jiovelties ’ as th(‘y were called, a commission of four 
scientific members of the Roman (’ollege was appointed to examine 
them, 'riieir re])ort of Aj)ril 24 was favourable on all points, and 
was consitlered as equivalent to an ollicial Imprimatur. Pope 
Paul V' granted him a long audience, and assured him of his 
unalterable goodwill ; high dignitaries of the Church followed suit, 
and the Aecademia dei Lincci elected him a member. 

Immediately after the publication of the re})ort of the com- 

by CasHpiitli, Avho followed Kp|)ler\s iiint met inns. Our om ii countryman, Horrocks, 
was the first to observe a transit of Venus, in 1639. 

^ Of. Nat. Ed., vol. V, ])]). 10 260 ; vol. vii, p. 372 ; vol. xiv, p. 299. 


N V N C I V S 

SpcAacula pandcnr « nifpiciendd^ue propoacns 
vnicuiquc* prxlcrcifn vccd 
9 ir t LO SOP H rs y ^ stronom t s , m, 



Pacauini Gymnaii j Publico Mathcmactco 


^^peraferepertibcneficior^ntobfcruaisinLt^J^i^yC^ F^CTEyFTXTS 17 ^ 

c/^pprtme ipcro tn 


Circa T O V I S Scellam dilparibus mccruallis* aique ^nodis » cclcrt- 
tPtc mirabi7f circumuolurfs ; quos # ncmioiin hancvfque 
4ijcm cogniros* noutHtm^ Aachor dcpr^- 
hcndic primus* acquc 



V E M ET IIS, Apud Thomam Baglionum. M D C X . 
: SttpertornM PcrnnffM , Prttttlegtt , 

Kio. 8. TitNj-p/iuro of Sifli.TiMi.s Xiiiu-ius. 


mission, Galileo announced yet another new discovery in the 
heavens, namely, dark spots on the body of the sun, which, 
towards the end of April 1611, he showed to several prelates and 
men of science in Rome. Describing these phenomena,^ he states 
that at first he Avas undecided whether to explain the ever-changing 
form and position of the spots by supposing that the sun revolved, 
or by imagining that other and hitherto unknown planets revolved 
about the sun, and were visible only as spots on his disk. Further 
observation, however, led him to abandon the latter supposition 
and to announce positively that the spots were in contact with 
the body of the sun, where they were continually appearing and 
disappearing much as clouds about our earth. These observations 
were, in their consequences to Galileo, particularly unfortunate, 
as he thereby became embroiled with t|ic powerful Jesuit party 
whose influence Avas one of the chief causes of his subsequent 

A Jesuit father, Christopher Scheiner, Professor of Mathematics 
at Ingolstadt, claimed priority in tlui discovery of the sun-spots, 
asserting that early in 1611 he first noticed them and showed 
them to his pupils. Scheiner stated his case in three open letters 
addressed to Mark Wclser, Chief Magistrate of Augsburg, thou'gh 
it is clear from these letters that at first he attached no importance 
to these appearances, and even thought them due to defects in 
his glasses. The spots he supposed to be caused by multitudes 
of little planets, revolving round the sun in an orbit inside Mercury, 
and producing the appearance of spots in crossing his disk. 

On the juiblication of Scheiner’s letters, Welser sent a copy 
to Galileo, requesting to be favoured with his opinions of the 
phenomena therein described. He replied in throe letters dated 
respectively 4th May, 14th August, and 1st December, 1612. In 
the first letter (the autograph copy of which is now in the British 
Museum) he begins by saying that the phenomena are not illusions 
produced by the glasses, but veritable facts, which he himself had 
observed eighteen months before in Florence, and which he had 
shoAvn to many people in Rome in April of the past year." He 

^ Discourse on Floating Bodies^ 1612, which see infray p. 249. 

2 At the end of II Saggiatore (1623), and in the Dialogue of 1632 (3rd Day), 
he states that In* first observed the spots while still in Padua, and that he showed 
them to some friends. This would take the date back to the summer of 1610. 
The claim is supported by Fulgenzio Mieanzio and Viviani. Galileo explains his 


then proceeds to combat Scheiner’s various and often contradictory 
assertions as to the nature of the spots, and their places and 
movements in relation to the body of the sun. 

‘ I would say he writes, ‘ that they are formed on the sun’s 
superficies, that they are carried round with him in his rotation, 
remaining visible for about one-half month ; and that they may 
be something of the nature of our own clouds. Certainly, if our 
earth were self-luminous and surrounded by clouds, it would seem 
to a far-distant observer to have spots like those we see on the 
sun, now uniting, now separating, and now dissolving. They 
would follow her in her rotation, appearing very large at the 
centre of her disk, where their motion would be most rapid, and 
contracting towards the edges, w’here they would be smallest, and 
where also their velocity would be least.’ 

This he recognized as an effect of fore-shortening which would 
result if, and only if, the spots were on or very near the sun. 

Jn the second letter ho restates his views, adding some further 
particulars as to the constant, slow, and irregular changes in the 
form of the spots, and their varying tlensity, being very dark at 
the centre, and less so towards the circumference — ‘ a manifest 
proof of the sun’s sphericity ’. They are confined to a zone about 
the sun’s equator, extending 28 or 29 degrees (in his third letter 
he says 29 or 30) on each side, beyond which they arc never seen ; 
and, finally, they all have a common motioji of rotation. From 
all these facts, and from the fwlditional one, tliat often the same 
spot disa[)pcaring at one side reaijpcars at the other, lie concludes 
that the sun is a sphere, that it rotates on its axis from west to 
east, and that it performs one such rotation in about a lunar 
month. In an appendix he gives forty sketches of sjiots as observed 
from day to day during June, July, and August, 1612. 

In his third letter, dated 1st December, 1612, Galileo notices 
some observations of Scheiner on Venus and the moon, and shows 
the falsity of liis ' facts ’ and deductions ; he recurs to the sun- 
spots and adduces a further proof of the correctness of his own 
hypothesis in the behaviour of some very bright spots (piazzattf', 
now called faculae). Home parts of the sun’s disk are perceived 

silence as to these earlier observations thus ; ‘ Having regard to the (!xtraordinary 
nature of the phenomena, so contrary to the received opinions, I judged it more 
prudent to wait until I had convincing proof. I prefer to bo the to prcKluee 
a true conception than to anticipate others at the risk of having to unsay what 
I was in a hurry to affirm * (Nat. Ed., vol. v, p. 94). 



to bf brighter than the rest, and these parts appear to traverse 
the disk just as the otlier spots do. Now, were these very bright 
spots planets, as Schoiner would have it, they ought sometimes 
to a])})ear beyond the sun’s limb, but this they never do — an 
irrefragable proof that they are ]>art and parcel of the sun liimself. 

After ref(*rring to various subjects; as tlu^ inhabitability of the 
y)lanets, the su|)posed crystalline and transparent substance of 
the moon, the diversity of figure amongst the planets, and the 
])criods of .lupiter’s satellites (of which Scheiner had recently 
‘ dis(;overed ’ a fifth), he returiLS once more to the sun-spots and 
their gtjjieral resemblance to clouds or smoke. Wc can, he says, 
imitate them in variotis ways, as, for instance, by dropping on 
a red-hot iron ])lat(‘ bits of bitumen. He supyioses that the sun’s 
light (and h(*at) may be sustained by a constant su{)[)ly of n<iw 
yabnlnm, which, like the bitumen, first gives off black smoke, 
which we see as spots. In a later letter, 23rd March, 1615, t(^ 
Piero Dini, he refers to this idea. ' 1 suggested’, he says, ‘that 
these spots might bt* part of that pabulum (or ratlu^r the debris 
of it), of which, according to certain ancient philosophers, the 
sun has need for his sustentation.’ ' 

Those letters were ultimately publisluHl at Rome in 1613, at 
the expense of the Aecademia dei Lineei, and under the title 
Islorld e ditnoslrazioni iuforno alle ntacchie solar ir 

15. ( h> Lunar Mountains -^ 

Soon after his return to Florence in June, 161 1, Galileo wrob^ 
a series of letters on I'hr Lnrqualities of (he Moon's Surface, in 
defence of the views expressed in his SIdereus Xuncius. The moon 
was with him a stock subject for observation, the results of which 
he utilized in his astronomical works, or communicated in long 
U*tti‘rs to friends, notably to Gricmberger and Gallanzoni in Rome, 
and to Welser and Berneggcr in Germany. His last astronomical 

* Newton iiiul Tluffoii conjectured that comets might bi‘ the aliment of the 

sun, ami, at present, a nearly similar explanation finds favour, viz. that streams 
of meteoric tnatter, varying in volume, are constantly pouring into tlu^ sun from 
the regions of .space. Profe.ssor Turner of Oxford is the exponent of thi.s 
hypothesis. 8eo hi.s paper in Monthly Xofirr.'t of 7/./l.(Si., December, lOUl. (’f. 
■Mayer. Hvitriiije zur Dynnmik di's Heilbronn, 1S48. 

• .Nat. Kd.. vol. V, pp. 7.1-200. 

’ Cf. Nat. Kd., vol. iii, [)p. 301, 313; x, pp. 461, 466; xi, pp. 141, 178. 



discovery, towards the close of life and jnst before ho i)ecaine 
blind, was connected with the moon. 

ft had been asserted that, as the full moon always presented 
a well-defined outline, whether viewed witli tlu* naked eye (»r 
through a telesco])e, it was impossible that there could exist any 
inequalities around her circumfereiUH*. (Talileo maintainisl that, 
the irradiation of the moon’s light might be great emnigh to mask 
th(i asperities aroimd her edge, and so elfe(‘tually concc'al the n*al 
nature of her surface. With respect to irradiation generally, he 
remarked that it in- 
creases with the bright- 
ness of the object. It 
is from this cayse that 
the planets near th(‘ sun 
hav<* a greater irradia- 
tion than those more 
remote. So intense is 
the irradiation of INIer- 
cury that it is impossi- 
ble, even with the most 
])owerful tel<5S(!0|)e, to 
dc])rive him of his bril- 
liajit corona. The same' 
is true, though in a less 
(legree, with r(‘S|)ect to 
Mars. On the other Fio. U. Tht- moon as sn u in- (jalil M»')U U). 
hand, Jujiiter, and espt;- >'<«■'< Xmiriiis. 

cially Saturn, being more feebly illuminated by tlu^ solar light, lose 
their irradiation in the telescope, and disclose their true figures. 

With respect to Venus, when she is near her inferior {;onjunc- 
tion, she in reality re.scrnblcs the new moon; but such is tlu^ 
effect of her irradiation that she apj)ears to the naked eye round 
like any other star. In this position, as the extent of the illu- 
minated surface is small and the light is at th(‘ same tinu^ enfijcbled 
by the obliquity of tin* surface, it is po.ssible l)y means of a telijscojie 
to discern the real crescent appearance of the ])lanet. When, 
however, she is near her superior conjunction, she presents a com- 
])letc hemisphere of vivid light towards the earth of such intensity 
that even the most perfect telescope does not reveal to us her 
true figure. Galileo therefore contends that it is y)robablc that 



«veii the telescope will fail to efface the irradiation of the moon 
enough to disclose the eminences and cavities which may be 
situated near the edge of her disk. 

His peripatetic opponents next tried to reconcile the old 
doctrine of a polished and perfectly plane surface with these new 
observations. Father davio doubted at first the reality of the 
inequalities, and thought that the appearances were due to 
inequalities in the reflecting power of the moon’s substance. 
Other Aristotelians, as delle Colombe and Lagalla,' supposed that 
every part of the moon, which to us appears hollow, is, in fact, 
filled 'with clear crystal matter, thus preserving a round and 
smooth superficies, and it is this diversity of aubaUmce, 'with its 
more or less transparency, which gives the impression of inequality 
of /om. 

16. Discussion of Hcibik^lity of Moon and Planets ^ 

Among the many burning questions to which the Sidereus 
Nuncius gave rise was that of whether the moon and planets 
were inhabited. This was openly discussed in Rome from 1611 
onwards, and it$ ‘ manifest absurdity ’ was used as an argument 
against the Copemicem theory in general and GaUleo’s lunar 
observations in particular. If the moon, it was said, is so like 
the earth 'with land and 'water, mountains and valleys, and sur- 
rounded by an atmosphere, we may suppose that she too is the 
hopie of lyings like ourselves. Again, if our earth be not the 
centre of the universe, but one of a number of planets, and a small 
one at that, then the other planets are inhabited like ours. The 
arguments thus resolved themselves into the syllogism — all planets 
are alike, the earth is a planet and is inhabited, ergo all planets are 
iidiabited. The peripatetic philosopher, Lagalla, maintained this 
thesis in a public discourse in Rome in 1612. The same was 
gravely adduced by Scheiner in one of the numerous digressions 
in his letters on Sun-spots, and he insinuates that Galileo must 
hold tke belief as a necessary consequence of his observations. 

Yet far from admitting this view, Galileo took pains to show 
its impossibility. In his third letter to Welser on Sun-spots, he 
points out that for fifteen days continuously the moon is exposed to 
the scorching sun-rays, and for another fifteen consecutive days is 

' Nat. Ed., vol. iii, Part I. 

* Cf. Nat. Ed., vd. zii, p. 240. 



plunged in cold and darkness. A day of glare and heat equal to 
fifteen of ours, and a night of cold and darkness of equal length 
were, he pointed out, impossible conditions for life such as ours.* 

17. On Finding the Longitude <U Sea* 

Very soon after he had discovered the satellites of Jupiter in 
1610, Galileo began a work the difficulty and fatigue of which he 
has himself indicated by comparing it with the labours of Atlas. 
It was a series of observations on the periods of the satellites, 
* with a view to drawing up tables so as to be able to predict all 
particulars of their situations, relations, and eclipses, and thus to 
have the means of determining at any hour of the night the 
longitude of the place of observation ’. Kepler thought this 
enterprise so difficult as to be wellnigh impossible, and certainly 
Galileo did not find it easy. Notwithstanding many hundreds of 
observations in the next twelve months, repeated often twice and 
sometimes three times in a night, he had made little or no progress 
up to April, 1611. It was not until another year and more had 
elapsed that he was able to announce satisfactory results in his 
‘ Discourse on Floating Bodies *. To show their close approxima- 
tion, we give them here side by side with the modern figures. 

Prriods of Bsvoltttios 

OeUUeo. ' Modem. 

Innermost satellite 
Second „ 


Fourth „ 

1 day 18 hrs. 30 mins. 
3 days 13 „ 20 „ 

7 „ 4 „ 0 „ 

16 „ 18 „ 0 „ 

I 1 day 18 hrs. 29 mins 

I 3 days 13 ,, 18 ,, 

! 7 „ 4 „ 0 „ 

I 16 „ 18 „ 0 „ 

Our moon had already been suggested for the same purpose : 
it changes its position amongst the stars continuously, and, if at 
specified times throughout the night that position can be pre- 
dicted, the mminer is able to determine his longitude. But, at 
the beginning of the seventeenth century, tables of the moon’s 
positions were very inaccurate ; and even its proximity to the 
earth was a disadvantage, for an observer at sea would get 

^ Cf. his letter to Giacomo Muti, February 28, 1616 ; Dialogue of 1632, first 

* Cf. Nat. Ed., vol. iii, Port II, passim ; vol. v, pp. 415-25 ; vcd. Tiii, p. 451 ; 
vol. zi, p. 321 ; vol. xii, pp. 256, 280, 311, 358, 392 ; vol. ziii, pp. 17. 370 : 
vol. ziv, pp. 58, 91, 202, 349, 374. 

R 2 



a different view of it from one on land, and thia difference in the 
nipon’s position amongst the stars would have to be allowed for. 
The errors due to these defects would, it was thought, be avoided 
if Jupiter’s satellites were used instead of the moon. The much 
greater distance, the frequency of their eclipses (more than 1,000 
yearly), and (it was expected) their suddenness seemed to promise 
success to Galileo’s method. But in practice difficulties cropped 
up. First, there was the difficulty of observing such small objects 
as the satellites from a moving ship, and secondly, there was the 
want, common to both methods, of accurate time-keepers. To 
obviate the first he contrived what he called the Celatone or 
Tesliera : 

‘ I made ’, he says, ‘ for the use of our navy a kind of cap, 
fitted to the head of the observer, and supporting a telescope in 
such a way that it always points in the same direction as the 
free eye, so that an object viewed by the latter is also seen by 
the other eye through the telescox>e. A similar apparatus could 
be made and fixed on the shoulders and chest of the observer, 
to support a telescope of a power sufficient to show the satellites 
of Jupiter, and adjustable as in the case of the Celatone. When, 
then, the free eye is turned towards Jupiter, the other eye sees 
through the telescope not only the planet but its satellites.’ ‘ 

With this contrivance, and a chair for the observer, hung like 
a ship’s compass on a binnacle, he hoped to overcome the first 
difficulty of unsteacUness ; while to remedy the second he had 
hopes of utilizing his early observations on the pendulum and 
applying it as an exact measurer of time. 

In September, 1612, Galileo offered his method to the Spanish 
Government for use in their navy, but the proposal was not well 
received, and for the next four years he took no further steps in 
the matter. Now, during his visit to Rome in 1616, he reox>ened 
the negotiations through Count di Lemos, the Spanish Viceroy of 
Naples. Di Lemos was fully aKve to the importance of the pro- 
posal, and promised to submit it to his Government. This was 
done, after much unaccountable delay, in March, 1617, and, in 
the same leisurely way, the proposal was discussed by the King 
in Council. To the various objections advanced Galileo replied, 
and oven offered to go himself to Spain, but he could not, with 
all his enthusiasm, bring the Spanish Court to a decision. TTi« 

^ Letter to Lorenzo Realio, June 6, 1637. From this it is dear that Galileo 
did not propose a binocular telescope as has sometimes been supposed. 



disappointment was mitigated by liis own sovereign taking up 
the method for use in the Tuscan navy. Its practical application, 
however, proved to be beset with so many difficulties that .it soon 
fell into disuse.^ 

18. On Floating Bodies - 

During the summer of 1611 the subject of floating bodies had 
been debated at one of the scientific parties which the Grand 
Duke liked to assemble round him. The general opinion was that 
of Aristotle, that the sinking or floating of a body in water 
depended upon its shape. Galileo undertook to show this view 
to be untenable,’ and he embodied his arguments in a famous 
treatise, published in Florence in 1612, ‘ Discorso intorno alle cose 
che stanno in su I’Acqua, o che in quella si muovono \ In this 
work he restores the true principles of hydrostatics as laid down 
by Archimedes, alludes to the so-called hydrostatical paradox, 
first noticed by his contemporary Stevin of Bruges, and explains 
it on the principle of virtual velocities, as first clearly enun- 
ciated by himself in his treatise on the mechanical powers in 

In the coume of the discussion it was asserted that condensation 
is the effect of cold, and ice was mentioned as an example. Galileo 
retorted that ice is rather water rarefied than water condensed, 
the proof of which is that it always floats upon water. His 
opponents rejoined that this was due, not to the lightness of the 
ice, but to its incapacity, owing to its flat shape, to overcome 
the resistance which the water opposed to its sinking. Galileo 
denied this, and asserted that ice of any shape would float, and 
that if a flat piece were forced to the bottom it would, when left 
to itself, rise again to the surface. 

The behaviour of ebony was then instanced, which in the shape 

* In August, 1636, Galileo offered his method to the States General of Holland, 
but hsire again its practicability was questioned and for the same reasons as 
above. The negotiations dragged on wearily, and by the middle of 1640 came to 
•an infructuous end, except for a collar of gold, as a mark of the Dutch Govern* 
ment’s esteem, which Galileo refused, or, as is more likely, was not allowed by 
the Inquisitimi to accept. 

* Of. Nat. Ed., vol. iv, passim ; vol. xi, pp. 176, 304, 317. 

* Gonzaga and Maffeo Barberini (afterwards Pope Urban Vlll) 

were the guests, and the latter took Galileo’s side in the discussion against 

the peripatetics led by G<kizaga. 


of a ball Binks, but as a thin board floats when gently placed on' 
the surface. To this he replied : 

* The diversity of figure given to any solid cannot be the cause 
of its floating or sinking in water, though the breadth of the 
figure may indeed retard its velocity as well of ascent as of descent, 
and more and more in proportion to the breadth and thinness. 
If you examine carefully your thin boards of wood you will see 
that they have part of their thickness under water ; tuid, more- 
over, you will see that shavings of ebony, stone, and metal, when 
they float, have not only broken the continuity of the water, but 
are vnth aU their thicknese under the surface, and this more and 
more according to their specific gravity.’ 

To show more clearly the non-resistance of water to penetra- 
tion, he directs a cone to be made of wood or wax, and asserts 
that when it floats, either with its base or its apex in the water, 
the solid content of the part immersed will be the same, although 
the apex is by reason of its shape better adapted to overcome 
the resistance of the water to division. Shape, then, cannot be the 
cause of the buoyancy. He goes on : 

* Now, let us return to the thin plate of gold or silver, or the 
thin board of ebony, and lay it lightly upon the 'water, so that 
it may stay there without sinking, and observe the effect. It will 
be seen that the board or plate is lower than the surface of the 
water, which rises up and makes a kind of rampart round it. But 
if it have already penetrated the water, and is of its own nature 
heavier than the water, why does it not continue to sink ? My 
answer is, because in sinking till itS' surface is below that of the 
water, it carries with it the air, so that that which descends is not 
merely the board of ebony, but a compound of ebony and air, 
from which results a body no longer specifically heavier than the 
water, as was the ebony alone. But, gentlemen, we want the same 
matter ; you arc to alter nothing but the shape, and therefore 
hhve the goodness to remove this air. This may be done .by 
washing the upper surface of the board, for the water, having 
once got between the board and the air, will run together, and 
the ebony will sink to the bottom. To demonstrate how truly 
the air does support these solids, I have found that when one of 
these bodies (which float when placed lightly on the water) is 
thoroughly bathed and sunk to the bottom, by carrying down to 
it a little air, without otherwise touching it in the least, I am 
able to raise and carry it back to the top, where it floats as before. 
To effect this I take a ball of wax, and with a little lead make 
it just heavy enough to sink slowly to the bottom, taking care 
that its surface is quite smooth and even. This, if put gently 
into the water, submerges almost entirely, there remaining outside 



only a very little of the top, and, so long as it is thus joined to 
the air, the ball floats ; but if we tiUke away the air, by wetting 
this top, the ball sinks to the bottom. . . . There is, therefore, 
a certain affinity between air and other bodies, which holds them 
united, so that they separate not without a kind of violence, just 
as between water aiid other bodies, for, in dravring such bodies 
wholly out of the water, we see it follow them, and rise sensibly 
above its level before it quits them.* 

There is a confusion here between the phenomena of hydro- 
static pressure and of capillary attraction or surface tension ; and 
Galileo would, perhaps, have carried conviction more readily had 
he realized himself that the floating plate of metal indicated a 
natural property of liquids which deserved special investigation. 

This book, like all his other works, encountered violent oppo- 
sition from the * book philosophers * ; and it was in reference to this 
controversy that we have one of his fine obiter dicta. ‘ Ignorance *, 
he said, * had been the best teacher he ever had, since, in order 
to be able to demonstrate to his opponents the truth of his con- 
clusions, he had been forced to prove them by a variety of 
experiments, though to satisfy his own mind alone he had never 
felt it necessary to make many.* 

19. First EricourUer vnth the Inquisition ^ 

The uncompromising boldness with which Galileo published 
and supported his opinions, as we have seen, raised crowds of 
enemies against him. The Aristotelian professors, the Jesuits, the 
political churchmen, and those timid and respectable persons who 
at all times dread innovation, were drawn together against the 
man who threatened them with the penalties of too much know- 
ledge. No longer able to combat his observations and deductions 
by asserting that the former were due to faults in his glasses or 
to apparatus * devilishly designed to produce them *, and that the 
latter were vainglorious and philosophically absurd, his enemies 
now*took their stand on theology. After some months of under- 
ground agitation. Father Caccini, of the Dominican convent of 
San Marco, was the first to declare war openly, in a sermon from 
the pulpit of Santa Maria Novella in Florence. Preaching on the 
fourth Sunday in Advent (December 21, 1614), and selecting as 
his text Joshua x. 12, 13, and Acts i. 11, he opened with the words : 

^ C£. N»t. Ed. vol. V, pp. 264, 281, 291, 309, 361 r vol. xU. pp. 123, 183, 244. 
277 : vol. XIX, pp. 272-421. 



‘ Viri Galilaei, quid statis aspicientea in caelum ? * Galileo explained 
and defended his position in long letters to Castelli, to Piero Dini, 
and to the Grand Duchess Cristina (December, 1614, to Jime, 1615), 
which together constitute a poweHul Apologia.^ 

The pith of his argument is contained in the saying of Cardinal 
Baronius, which he quotes — * The Holy Spirit intended to teach 
us in the Bible how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go *. 
One or two passages from his letter to the Grand Duchess may 
be quoted : 

* Methinks that in the discussion of natural problems we ought 
not to begin with the authority of passages from Scripture, but 
with sensible experiments and necessary demonstrations. . . . 
Nature being inexorable, acting only through immutable laws 
which she never transgresses, and caring nothing whether her 
reasons and methods of operating be or be not understandable 
by men, 1 hold that our conception of her works, which either 
sensible experience sets before our eyes, or necessary demonstra- 
tions prove, ought not to be called in question — much less con- 
demned upon the testimony of Scriptural texts which may conceal 
under their words senses or meanings seemingly opposite. ... To 
command professors of astronomy that they see to confuting their 
own observations and demonstrations is to ask the impossible. . . . 
As to opinions which are not directly articles of faith, certainly, 
no man doubts that his Holiness hath always an absolute power 
of admitting or condemning them ; but it is not in the power of 
any creature to make them to be true or false otherwise than as 
they are.’ 

All through the year 1615 the agitation went on with unabated 
violence, denunciations were sent to the Holy Office, and the 
Inquisition began to make secret inquiries. At length the situa- 
tion became so threatening, not only for our philosopher himself, 
but for science in general and the Ck>pemican theory in particular, 
thht Galileo, with the advice of friends, decided to take himself 
to Rome. Accordingly, on December 3, 1615, he set out, pro- 
vided with cordial letters from the Grand Duke to his Ambas- 
sador Guicciardini, to Cardinals del Monte and Orsini, and others. 
After many weeks of alternating hopes and fears, the matt^ came 
officially before the Inquisition, with the result that on February 
26, 1616, Cardinal Bellarmine, who had sat on the commis- 
sion that investigated his discoveries on his former visit to 
Rome, was directed * to summon before him the said Galileo, 
and admonish him to abandon the said opinions, and, in case of 
* Cf. his letter to Francesco Ingoli, Nat. Eld., vol. vi, pp. 504-61. 


refusal, the Commissary is to intinlate to him, before a notary 
and witnesses, a command to abstain altogether from teaching or 
defending the said opinions, and even from discussing them. If 
he do not acquiesce therein, he is to be imprisoned *. 

Here the process ended so far as Galileo was concerned, but 
on March 5 a decree was issued prohibiting and suspending 
certain writings. Amongst them the book of Copernicus {Revolu- 
tions of the Celestial Orbs, first published 1543) was ordered to 
* be suspended until corrected *. Galileo appears to have taken 
the admonition with a very bad grace, if we are to believe Guic- 
ciardini, who was no friend of his. Writing to the Grand Duke 
on May 13, 1616, he says : 

‘ Galileo seems disposed to emulate the monks in obstinacy. . . . 
It may be heard at any moment that he has stumbled into some 
new abyss or other. However, the heat will probably drive him 
from Rome before long, and that will be the best thing that can 
happen to him.’ ' 

20. The Tides * 

Yet amidst all these cares and worries Galileo’s teeming mind 
was busy with many scientific problems. He had not been many 
days in Rome when a suggestion from Cardinal Orsini was enough 
to start him on a treatise on the Flux and Reflux of the Sea. 
This problem had from the earliest ages deserved its name — * The 
grave of human curiosity ’. Some supposed the rise of the waters 
to be due to the influx of rivers ; others supposed the existence 
of subterraneous fires which periodically made the sea to boil up ; 
while others again attributed this boiling effect to changes of 
temperature in the sun and moon, or to variations in the amount 
of their light. 

The ancient philosophers had vague ideas that the moon’s 
attraction was the cause. * The flow *, says Pliny, ’ takes place 
every day at a different hour, according to the rising of the moon, 
which,* with greedy draught, drags the seas along with it.’ In 
modem times, Gilbert of Colchester had speculated on this con- 
nexion. * There are ’, he says, ’ two primary causes of the motion 
of the seas — ^the moon and the diurnal revolution of the earth. 

^ Cf. lettor from Antonio Querengo to Cmdinal d’Este, January 20, 
1616 ; and, on the other side, Cardinal del Monte’s letter to the Grand Duke, 
June 4, 1616. 

* Cf. Nat. Ed., Tol. ▼, pp. 373-05. 


The moon does not act on the seas py its heat rays, or by its 
light. How, then ? Certainly by the common or mutual effort of 
the bodies, or, to explain it by something similar, by then* magnetic 
attraction.’ The Jesuits of the celebrated college of Coimbrat, as 
well as Marc Antonio de Dominis, once Catholic Archbishop of 
Spalatro, later Protestant Canon of Windsor, and finally himself 
a martyr of the Inquisition, and Kepler, the law-giver of the 
planets, all held much the same views. Kepler’s words are worth 
quoting, as they embody his ideas of that universally mutual 
gravitation, which BoreUi, Wallis, and Hoo^e after him saw more 
clearly, and which it was the glory of Newton to establish : 

* Gravity is a mutual affection between cognate bodies towards 
union, similar in kind to the magnetic virtue, so that the earth 
attracts a stone more than the stone attracts the earth. Assuming 
the emrth to be the centre of the world, then, wherever it may be, 
or wheresoever it may be carried by its animal faculty, heavy 
bodies will always incline towards its centre. If two stones be 
placed in any part of the universe near each other, and beyond the 
influence of a third cognate body, they, like two magnetic needles, 
will come together at an intermediate point, each approaching the 
other by a space proportionate to its mass. If the moon and 
the earth were not retsdned in their orbits by their animal force, 
or some other equivalent, the earth would moimt towards the 
moon by one fifty-fourth part of the distance between them, and 
the moon would fall towards the earth by the other fifty-three 
parts, i.e. in the inverse ratio of their masses, and assuming their 
substances to be of the same density. If the earth should cease 
to attract its waters to itself, all the waters of the sea would be 
raised and flow towards the moon. This attractive virtue of the 
moon extends as far as the earth, and entices its waters, but, as 
she flies rapidly across the zenith, and the waters cannot follow 
so quickly, a flow of the ocean is occasioned in the torrid zone 
$md towards the west.’ ^ 

Galileo’s theory is that the tides are the visible effects of the 
terrestrial double movement, since they are the combined result 
of (1) the earth’s daily rotation on its axis, and (2) the inequality 
of the absolute velocities of the various parts of the earth’s surface 
in her revolution round the sun. In- the whole range of the 
sciences over which Galileo left indelible marks of his genius, he 

^ Aatronomia Nova, Prague, 1609. Ten years later Kepler abandoned these 
correct ideas, and depicted the earth in his Uamtonice Mundi as a living monster 
whose whale>like mode of breathing occasioned the rise and fall of the oceans in 
recurring periods of sleeping and waking dependent on solar time. 


made very few fundamental errors, and this is perhaps his most 
spoils one.^ 

21. On Comets and * II Saggiatore ’ 

In August, 1618, three comets appeared, and the very brilliant 
one in the constellation of the Soorpion->-one of the most splendid 
of modem times — especially attracted the attention of astronomers. 
Although this comet was visible until January, 1619, Galileo had 
little opportunity of observing it, as he was confined to bed nearly 
the whole time. However, on a small basis of observation he 
reflected much and imparted his views to his friends, amongst 
others to Mario Guiducci, a Florentine disciple. In May of the 
same year, 1619, Guiducci, in a Presidential address to the Acca- 
demia Florentina, gave the views of the Master — * not as demon- 
strative truth, but as plausible conjectures in a matter so abstruse *. 

This address was published immediately under the title Diacorso 
deUe Cornett (Florence, 1619), and from it we learn that Galileo 
did not regard comets as heavenly bodies analogous to the planets, 
but as atmospheric phenomena — columns of vapour which, rising 
from the earth to great heights, far beyond the moon {s'pazi 
cdesti), became there temporarily visible by reflection of the sun’s 
light. In fact, he classed them in the same category as rainbows 
and mock suns, thus for once agreeing with Aristotle, and opposing 
himself to the more correct views of his contemporaries, Tycho 
Brah6 and Kepler.’* Referring to some proposed observations for 
parallax he pointed out the difference in this respect between 
a fixed object, the distance of which may be calculated by two 
angular observations at a known distance apart, and atmospheric 
appearances like rainbows, which are simultaneously formed in 
different drops of water for each spectator, so that two observers 
in different places are, in fact, viewing different objects. He then 

^ Between 1630 and 1637 Galileo would seem to have changed his view and 
suggested that the moon’s librations may be t&e cause of the tides — ‘ which by 
the coftimon consent of all philosophers are ruled by the moon See his letters 
to Fulgenzio Micanzio, 7th November, 1637, and to Alfonzo Antonini, 20th Feb- 
ruary, 1638. 

• Of. Nat. Ed., vol. vi, paasim ; vol. xi, p. 41 ; vol. xii, pp. 466, 494 ; vol. 
xiu, pp. 43, 46, 80, 90, 98, 106, 116, 142 ; vol. xviii, p. 423. 

* Brah4 thought that comets were the result of sudden condensations of the 
ether of space, while Kepler accounted them to be exhalations of the planets. 
Santucci held that they were produced in the heavens by the sun. See his 
TraUaio nuovo deUt Comete, Fiorenza, 1611. In later years, Galileo changed his 
opinion as to their ‘ probably terrestrial ’ origin. 


warns astronomers not to engage in a discussion on the distance 
of comets before they assure themselves to which of these two 
classes of phenomena they are to be referred. The remark is in 
itself perfectly just, although the opinion which occasioned it is 
now known to be erroneous ; but it is questionable whether the 
few observations which up to that time had been made upon 
comets were sufficient to justify the censures which have been 
cast on Galileo on account of it. 

In the course of Guiducci’s essay, some opinions of the Jesuit 
Father, Orazio Grassi, were so indiscreetly handled as to raise the 
ire of the Jesuits* College at Rome.^ Grassi, under the pseudonym 
of Lotario Sarsi, published an onslaught on Galileo’s cometary 
theory in a book called The Astronomical and Philosophical Balance 
(1619) — a violent pamphlet full of abuse of Galileo and his school. 
Friends, like Prince Cesi and Mgri. Oiampoli ai>d Cesarini, now 
advised tha^ the master himself should take up the fight ; but 
ill health and the troubled state of the religious and political 
horizons prevented the appearance of his reply for four years. 
At length, on October 19, 1622, he sent the manuscript of II 
Saggiatore (The Assayer) to Mgr. Cesarini in Rome, and for five 
months it passed from hand to hand among the members of the 
Accademia dei Lincei, who examined it carefully and (with the 
author’s consent) altered some passages which might possibly have 
given a handle to his enemies. The Papal Imprimatur was 
granted on February 2, 1623, and the book appeared at the end 
of October with a dedication to Pope Urban VIIT, and under the 
auspices of the Accademia dei Lincei. This celebrated work is 
a masterpiece of dialectics, for the author not only dexterously 
avoids the snares laid for him by Father Grassi and his abettors, 
but brings defeat and ridicule upon them at every turn. He 
takes, in order, the mistakes of his adversary, his false citations 
and false deductions, his errors of logic, of geometry, of physics, of 
astronomy, and exposes them all ; and this is done so courteously 
and in such sparkling style that II Saggiatore deserves its reputa- 
tion as a model of dialectic skill, and an ornament of classical 
Italian literature. 

The book (Fig. 10) was a great success, but it intensified the 

^ Soon after the appearance of the comete, a discussion upon them took 
place in the Collegio Romano. It was published early in 1619 under the title 
De Tribua Cornelia anni 1618 ; DiapuUUio Aatronomicay &c. It is interesting to 
note that Mazarin, then a boy of sixteen, took part in this discussion. 



bitterness of the Jesuitical party, and the General of the Order 
forbade the members to speak of it, even among themselves. It 
is important to note that the Pope was delighted with it, and 
had it read aloud to him at table. Euly in 1625 the book was 
denounced anonymously to the Inquisition as a veiled defence of 
the Copemican doctrines, and a movement was begun to have 
it prohibited, or, at least, * corrected *. This attempt, however, 
failed, and brought only further discredit upon the agitators. 

IV. The Trial and Abjuration 

1 . 0alile6*8 Plea for Copemicaniam 

On the election of Cardinal Maffeo Barberiui to the Papacy 
as Urban VIII, August 8, 1623, Galileo conceived the idea of 
going to Rome to offer his congratulations in person, and to use 
his influence with the new Pope to obtain, at least, toleration for 
the Copemican doctrines, now no longer subject to the weighty 
opposition of Cardinal Bellarmine, who died two years before. 
Remembering the warmth of Barberini’s regards for him while 
Cardinal, Galileo had much to hope from a Pontiff so enlightened. 
He was encouraged, moreover, by hopeful reports from friends in 
Rome. Prince Cesi, writing October 21, 1623, was able to tell him : 

* Under the auspices of this most excellent, learned, and benignant 
pontiff science must flourish. . . . Your arrival will be welcome 
to his Holiness. He asked me if you were coming and when, and, 
in short, seems to love and esteem you more than ever.’ Rinuccini, 
Cesarini, Ciampoli, and others wrote in the same strain. Ciamppli, 
the Pope’s private secretary, wrote on March 16, 1624 : ‘ It is 
certain that the longer your coming is deferred the more it is 
desired by all those gentlemen who esteem you, and keep you 
green in their memory. You will And in the Holy Father no 
ordinary affection towards your person.’ Ill-health, however, and 
then the bad weather and worse roads, intervened, but, at 
length, Galileo set out for the Eternal City on April 1, 1624. 

All Rome was aware of the favour in which the Pope held 
Galileo, and his letters express great satisfaction with his reception, 
but as regarded the object which was nearest his heart, he made 
no progress. Within six weeks he had had six long interviews 
Mrith Urban VIII, who always received him most affably, and 
allowed him to bring forward all his arguments in support of the 
Copemican theory ; but all to no puipose ; for while the Pope 


listened to his arguments, he would not grant his entreaties for 
even a passive toleration of the new doctrines. 

Finding that his efforts to get the decree of March 5, 
1616, revoked were of no avail, Galileo resolved with a heavy 
heart to return home, though the Pope had loaded him with 
favours which must have seemed like mockeries. His Holineiis 
promised him a pension for his son, and sent a picture lor himself ; 
then two medals — one of gold and one of silver, and quite a number 
of Agnus Dei ! Not content with these oiarks of favour, he 
addressed an official letter to the Grand Duke, on June 8, in 
which, to the no small chagrin of Galileo’s enemies, his Holiness 
not only did full justice to our philosopher’s services to science, 
‘ the fame of which will shine on earth so long as Jupiter and his 
satellites shine in heaven ’, but laid special stress on his religious 
sentiments. Yet Galileo departed with the object of his visit 

2. Dialogue tm the Two Chief Systems of the World, 
the Ptolemaic, and the Copemican ‘ 

Nevertheless, from various indications in the ecclesiastical 
world in the next two years, 1624-6, Galileo was led to think 
that the advocates of Copemicanism had now little to fear, pro* 
vided that the defence was so circumspectly handled as not to 
outrage the Inquisition’s decree of March 5, 1616, which con- 
demned the doctrine not as * heretical ’, but only as * rash ’.’ 
He resolved to push on to completion a work he had contemplated 
as far back as 1610. This was to be entitled A Dialogue on the 
Flux and Beflux of the Tides, From 1626 to 1630 he was almost 
entirely engaged on this work, but was interrupted by frequently 
recurring illnesses and family troubles.’ 

Mr At length, by the beginning of 1630, he had practically com- 
pleted this Dialogue, and in announcing the fact to his ^end 

^ Of. Nat. Ed., Tol. vii ; vol. xiii, pp. 104, 236, 260-4, 366 ; vd. ziv, pp. 49, 
64-70, 79, 97, 120, 160-67, 278-66, 331 ; vol. adz, pp. 327-30. 

* Indeed it was known that Urban VIII, as Cardinal, didnot approve of that 
decree. Earlj* in 1630, when discussing it with Campanella he said : It was nevw 
our intention and, if it depmded upon us, that decree would not have been 
issued ’ (Nat. Ed., vol. ziv, p. 88). 

* About this period he was often consulted, with others, on hydraulic ques- 
tions connected with the hooding of Tuscan rivers (Nat. Ed., vol. vi, p. 613). 
Cf. Cambiagi, BaccoUa d'Autori ehe trattano del moto ddV Aequa, Hrense, 1766-74 ; 
Napier, Florentine History, London, 1847. 


Prince Cesi, he expressed his intention of going himself to see to 
the printing at Rome, where the state of affairs seemed still 
favourable for this enterprise. Galileo’s disciple, Castelli, had 
bwn called from Pisa in March, 1626, to be mathematician to the 
Pope, and enjoyed great consideration with all the members of 
the Barberini family. This life-long friend, like Cesi, approved 
the design, and informed our philosopher (February 9) that Father 
Niccolo Riccardi, another old pupil and now chief censor of the 
press, had promised his assistance. Filled with hope and with his 
manuscript complete, Galileo at length set out on May 1 in 
a Court litter, and travelling fast arrived in Rome on the evening 
of the 3rd. He had a long audience of the Pope, and wrote on 
May 18 to Florence in high spirits: ‘His Holiness has begun 
to treat my affairs in a way that permits me to hope for a favour- 
able result *. But Galileo was far too sanguine, for toleration, to 
say nothing of the recognition, of the Copernican theory was as 
far off as ever. Urban VIII would not object to the publication, 
but certain conditions must be fulfiUed. The title of the book, 
Dialogtie on the Flux and Eeflux of the Tides, w&a misleading and 
must be altered. The subject, being a discussion of the relative 
merits of the Copernican and Ptolemaic systems, should be indi- 
cated in the title. The subject, moreover, would have to be 
treated from a purely hypothetical standpoint, and this fact must 
be clearly set forth in a preface. Then, the book must conclude 
with an argument which the Pope communicated to Galileo in 
1624, and which his Holiness considered unanswerable. That 
argument was as follows : ‘ God is all-powerful ; all things are 
therefore possible to Him ; ergo the tides cannot be adduced as 
a necessary proof of the double motion of the earth without 
limiting God’s omnipotence.’ Rather than forgo the publication 
of a work towards which he had laboured and thought for over 
thirty years, Galileo consented to these conditions. 

Meanwhile the manuscript had been submitted to Father 
Riccardi, who, after certain revisions and alterations, granted 
permission for the printing in Rome. Thus, by the end of June, 
1630, Galileo was back in Florence with his manuscript revised 
and corrected, and with the ecclesiastical Imprimatur for its 
publication in Rome, on the understanding that a preface and 
conclusion would be added in accordance with the Papal wish. 
Publication seemed imminent, yet for another twenty months our 
author was tormented with obstacles and delays on the part of 


the censors, now in Rome, now in Florence. It would be little 
profitable to set out in detail these quibbling complications ; but 
the work was at last issued from the Florentine press in February, 
1632. It was in Italian, was dedicated to Ferdinando II of 
Tuscany, and bore the title, * Dialogue of Galileo Galilei, Lyncean, 
Mathematician Extraordinary of the University of Pisa, Philo- 
sopher and First Mathematician of the Most Serene Grand Duke 
of Tuscany ; where in meetings of four Days are discussed the 
Two Chief Systems of the World, indeterminately proposing the 
Philosophical and Natural arguments, as well on one side as on 
the other 

The dialogue is carried on by three interlocutors, of whom two 
adduce the scientific reasons for the double motion of the earth, 
while the third tries to defend the opinions of the Ptolemaic and 
Aristotelian schools. Galileo gave to the defenders of the Coiiernican 
doctrine the names of two of his warmest friends, both long dead — 
Filippo Salviati of Florence (d. 1614), and Giovanni Francesco 
Sagredo of Wuiice (d. 1620). Salviati is the special advocate of 
the Co|)crnicau doctrine ; Sagredo is witty, impartial, and oj^en 
to conviction. To him are allotted such objections as have real 
force, as well as lively illustrations and digressions, which would 
be inconsistent with the gravity of Salviati’s character. Simplicio, 
a name borrowed from the noted Cilician commentator of Aristotle 
who wrote in the sixth century, is a confirmed Ptolemaist and 
Aristotelian, and produces, as occasion requires, all the arguments 
of the jieripatetic school ; and as these fail to convince he has 
recourse to all the arts of sophistry. 

The condition that the Copernican doctrine is to be treated 
as an hypothesis is ostensibly complied with. If Salviati or 
Sagredo show the untenableness of some Ptolemaic axiom, or add 
a stone to the Copernican structure, a remark is interpolated by 
one or other to weaken the effect. When we remember its history 
we cannot be surprised that the preface or introduction has no 
logical agreement with the contents of the Dialogue. The con- 
clusion agrees no better than the preface with the body of the 
work. At the end of the fourth Day, which is almost wholly 
taken up with the tides, comes naturally the Poiie’s ‘ unanswer- 
able ’ argument of 1624. Salviati treats it accordingly : ‘ It is *, 
he says, ‘ an admirable and truly angelic argument, and perfectly 
in accord with that which, coming from God Himself, permits us 
to discuss the constitution of the world — tloubtless with the view 



of preventing by exercise the diminution and enfeeblement of our 
intellectual faculties, while withholding from us the power of fully 
comprehending the works of His hands.’ 

The contents of the Dialogue can be given only in outline. 
Salviati opens by defining its object, which is to examine all the 
physical arguments evoked for and against their opinions by the 
defenders of Aristotle and Ptolemy on the one hand, and of 
Copernicus on the other. In a few words, the Aristotelian doctrines 
amounted to a statement that, whereas things earthly are imperfect 
and full of change, things heavenly are eternal, unchangeable, and 
perfect. Salviati proves that this statement, in the spirit in which 
it was usual to accept it, is untenable. The telescope shows 
imperfections on the sun’s surface, while the recently observed 
new stars (of 1572 and 1604) are instances of change in the heavens. 
He thus prepares the way for a still wider departure from Aristo- 
telian theory ; he insists that the time has come to consider the 
nature of the world de novo, suggesting that Aristotle, had he the 
opportunities which the telescope afforded, would himself have 
realized the inadequacy of his own teaching. 

Salviati proceeds to point out certain resemblances between 
the earth and moon and the more distant heavenly bodies. It 
was admitted that the moon shines only in virtue of the sunlight 
falling on her. The idea that the earth might similarly appear 
luminous to an inhabitant of the moon is less familiar and less 
readily accepted. And yet the visibility of the moon during 
a total eclipse of the sun, and the appearance * of the old moon 
in the arms of the new ’ (as we now speak of it), are due most 
probably to reflected earth-light. The phenomena of Venus’s 
phases are shown to be similar to those of the moon, and may 
be explained as due to the same cause. Venus, then, like the 
moon, owes her brilliance to the sun’s light falling on her. The 
same probably applies to Mercury and Mars. The obvious inference 
seenu^ to be that all these heavenly bodies ore not so unlike the 
earth as men had thought. Points of resemblance there cer- 
tainly are, and there may be many more which the distance 
of the planets alone prevents us from discovering. Salviati then 
refers to the spherical form common to earth, sun, moon, and 
planets, and suggests the existence of a common cause for that 

Here follow some remarks which show the idea of universal 

SWl 8 



gravitation hovering in Galileo’s mind. He perceived the analogy 
between the power which holds the moon in the neighbourhood 
of the earth and compels Jupiter’s satellites to circulate round 
their primary, and that attractive power which the earth exercises 
on bodies at its surface ; but he failed to conceive the combination 
of central force with initiiJ velocity, and was disposed to connect 
the revolutions of the planets with the axial rotation of the sun — 
a notion which tended more towards Descartes’ theory of vortices 
than towards Newton’s theory of gravitation. 

Having laid stress on the resemblance of earth and planets, 
Salviati proposes for them all a similar motion round the sun — 
one of the two main points of the Copemican theory. He shows 
how the apparent paths of all the planets can be thus explained, 
and in a far simpler way than by the Ptolemaic formula. On 
the Copemican hypothesis all motions of revolution and rotation 
take place in the same direction from west to east, whereas the 
Ptolemaic system requires some to be in one direction and some 
in another. A glance through a telescope turned towards Jupiter 
shows a family of small bodies circling round a great planet ; 
here one could see on a small scale the very thing that Copernicus 
had described as going on in the case of planets and sun. * 

On the second Day the discussion passes to the other chief 
point in the Copemican hypothesis — ^that the apparent daily 
motion of the stars is mally due to the daily rotation of the earth 
on its axis. Here he breal^ entirely new ground in his treatment 
of motion. His great discovery, which threw a new light on 'the 
mechanics of the solar system, was substantially Newton’s first 
law of motion — * Every body continues in its state of rest or of 
uniform motion in a straight line, except in so far as it is compelled 
bv force applied to it to change that state ’. Putting aside any 
discussion of this * force ’, a conception first defined by Newton, 
and only imperfectly grasped by Galileo, we may interpret the 
law as meaning that a body has no more inherent tendency to 
diminish its motion or to stop than it has to increase its motion 
or to start, and that any alteration in either speed or direction 
Is to be explained by the action on it of some other force. As it 
is impossible to isolate a body from all others, we cannot experi- 
mraitally realize the state of things in which it goes on moving 
indefinitely in the same direction and at the same rate ; it may, 
however, be shown that the more we remove it fropi external 



influence the less alteration there is in its motion. Galileo 
illustrates this idea by a bidl on an inclined plane. If the ball 
is projected upwards its motion is retarded ; if downwards it is 
continually accelerated. This is true if the plane be fairly smooth 
and the inclination not very small. If now we imagine the 
experiment performed on an ideal plane, which is perfectly 
smooth, we should expect the same results, however small the 
inclination. Consequently, if the plane be quite level, so that 
there is no distinction between up and down, we should expect 
the motion to be neither retarded nor accelerated, but to continue 
without alteration. 

Othei^ more familiar examples are given of the tendency of 
a body when once in motion. This principle of motion being 
once established, it, becomes easy to deal with several common- 
objections to the motion of the earth. The case of a stone dropped 
from the top of a tower, which, if the earth be moving rapidly 
from west to east, might be expected to -fall to the west, is com- 
pared to that of a stone dropped from the masthead of a moving 
ship. It is, therefore, entirely in accord with theory that the 
stone should fall as it does at the foot of the tower. 

No objections to the hypothesis of the earth’s rotation being 
found tenable, it is shown by Salviati how much more simple is 
the real motion proposed than the supposition that the universe 
revolves daily round a fixed earth. ‘ To make the universe 
revolve ’, he says, * in order to maintain the immobility of the 
earth is as little reasonable as to require, in order to see Venice 
from the top of the Campanile, that the whole panorama should 
move round the -spectator instead of his simply moving his 

The primitive notion of the stars as fixed in a crystal sphere 
had been long overthrown. And, supposing that they were 
distinct and independent bodies, it was difficult to imagine laws 
contrdlling their motion about a fixed earth that should result in 
revolutions timed uniformly for all and at the same time of 
enormous rapidity. Salviati makes the improbable practically 
impossible by referring to the phenomenon now known as the 
* precession of the equinoxes ’, in virtue of which the direction 
of the earth’s axis in space moves slowly, completing a revolution 
in about 26,000 years. As a consequence of this change, some of 
those stars, which in Ptolemy’s time were describing very small 


circles and, therefore, moving very slowly, must now be describing 
larger circles at a greater speed, and vice versa. The system of 
stellar motions that would be necessary to account for all this 
would be inconceivably complex, whereas, on the Copemican 
theory, they are adequately explained by the rotation of the 
earth and a simple displacement of its axis of rotation. 

A. great part of the third Day is devoted to the question of 
stellar parallax. In this lay one of the most serious objections 
to the Copernican theory. If it was true that the earth swept 
round the sun in an orbit some two hundred million miles across, 
then it must follow that at one time of the year we should get 
a different view of the arrangement of the stars from that bbtained 
six months later, when the earth was at the opposite point of its 
orbit. The nearer stars should undergo displacements in their 
apparent positions relative to those more distant. The answer to 
this was that these displacements probably did take place, but 
were too minute to be detected. But this answer, though strictly 
true, implied that the distances of even the nearest stars were 
great beyond all comprehension ; and this in turn implied that 
the visible size of the stars indicated a real size of inconceivable 
dimensions. The latter difficulty was reduced by Salviati’s asser- 
tion that the visible size of a star was an optical illusion ; the 
telescope showed the stars to be sharp points, in contrast to the 
planets which though small to the eye really did possess visible 
ffimensions. But the former difficulty remained, and nearly two 
centuries passed before Bessel made the first rough measurement of 
a stellar parallax. His method was essentially that suggested in the 
Dialogue, though the results obtained indicated for the star 61 Cygni 
a distance which would have astonished even Galileo himself. 

. Towards the end of the third Day reference is made to an 
annual rotation of the earth about an axis perpendicular to the 
plane of its motion, as postulated by Copernicus. But this third 
rotation is an unnecessary complication introduced by confusion 
in geometrical thought. That the actual state of things is quite 
simple Salviati illustrates by a reference to the motion of a ball 
fioating in a basin of water. If the basin be held in the hand, 
the ball fioating at or near the centre, and the experimenter turn 
round steadily on his feet, holding the basin in front of him, the 
ball remains in a position which is unaltered with reference to 
the walls and furniture of the room, although with reference to the 


man supporting the basin it might be said to have spun once 
completely round. And so with regard to the annual rotation 
spoken of by Copernicus, * What other is the earth than a globe 
librated in tenuous and yielding air ? * 

The fourth Day is devoted to an examination of the cause of 
the tides, and is a development of his letter on the same subject 
to Cardinal Orsini in 1616. It is a singular circumstance that the 
argument on which Galileo mainly relied, as furnishing a physical 
demonstration of the truth of the Copemican theory, rested on 
a misconception. The tides, he says, are of three kinds — daily, 
monthly, and yearly. The first and principal ones are a visible 
effect of the terrestrial double movement, since they are the com- 
bined result of (1) the earth*s daily rotation, and (2) the inequality 
of the absolute velocities of the various parts of the earth*s surface 
in its revolution round the sun. The monthly tides depend in 
a secondary way on the moon’s motion, and the annual tides, 
also in a secondary way, on the sun’s action. These bodies, 
according to their positions relatively to the earth and to each 
other, produce inequalities in the earth’s movements, and these 
inequalities are the cause of the monthly and yearly tides. To 
such notions Galileo attached capital importance, and he was 
inclined to ridicule Kepler’s suggestion that the attraction of the 
moon was in some way the cause of the phenomenon. The 
influence of the moon on the tides had been recognized from 
ancient times, but a scientific explanation was not to be expected 
imtil the law of universal gravitation had been fully realized. 
Indeed, even now, with all the resources of modern science, the 
problem cannot be said to be completely solved. 

This last part of the Dialogue is therefore of little value, and 
may be' passed over. The chief work was to establish the Copemi- 
can theory, which, first promulgated in the days when human 
vision was unaided, had been found by Galileo to be supported 
by all the evidence that could be gathered by means of his tele- 
scope. The problem — ^if it may be still said to exist — stakes 
a different form at the present day. So far are we now from the 
pre-Copemican theory of a fixed earth^ that we look upon no 
single object in the universe as fixed. The sun itself has its motion 
amongst the other 'visible stars, mid the present direction and rate 
of that motion are roughly known. Accordingly, the alternative 
which offered itself to the controversialists of Galileo’s day, that 


either the sun or the earth is stationary, does not concern us any 
* more ; both of these bodies are moTing. 

3. Galileo's Second Encounter with the Inquisition, 

His Trial and Abjuration, 1632-3 ‘ 

The publication of the Dialogue on the Tvx> Chief Systems of 
the World raised a tumult in the ecclesiastical world, and especially 
among the Jesuits, who now resolved to pursue the author with 
the utmost energy. They claimed the monopoly of instruction 
and the first rank in the learned world, and were jealous of all 
intruders. Galileo was in every way inconvenient to them, and 
the more obnoxious in that he had already measured swords with 
distinguished members of the Order, Fathers Scheiner and Grassi. 
And now appeared his Dialogue, in which some old sores are 
reopened. The book was, therefore, denounced as a defence of 
Copemicanism under the flimsiest of disguises, as a gross violation 
of the admonition and decree of 1616, as an insult to the Pope 
himself. He was Simplicio — ^the Simpleton ! Was not his un- 
answerable argument of 1624 put into the mouth of ,a simpleton, 
dragged in at the end, and summarily dismissed with a pious 
ejaculation ? Galileo was charged with daring, after solemn 
warning, to interpret the Scriptures to his own ends. It was 
bad enough, they said, to upset the old beliefs and spoil the face 
of nature with his celestial novelties, but at least he must be 
taught to leave the Bible alone. Inobhis he was rebellious against 
Mother Church, and, further, deceitful in that he obtained the 
Imprimatur by suppressing material facts in his dealings with the 
censors. Although the safety of the Church and the vindication 
of its decrees were the ostensible reasons for the subsequent 
proceedings, it would not be far from the truth to say that revenge 
for an assumed insult was the primary and determining factor. 
Urban VIII and many of the high dignitaries of the Church, if 
not Copemicans at heart, were indifferent and cared little one 
way or the other.® As regards the Pope himself, we have seen 
evidence of his affection for Galileo and of his liberal sentiments, 
of his relish for the works on Sun-spots, on Floating Bodies, 

^ Cf. Nat. Ed., vol. xiv, pp. 372, 402 ; vol. xvi, various ; vdl. xix, pp. 272-421. 

* Even members of the CoUegio Romano, including his old antagonists 
Fathers Scheiner and Grassi, were Copemicans in disguise. Cf. Favaro’s Adver- 
saria Oalileiana, Serie Seconda, Padova, 1917, p. 27. 


tl Saggiatore, &c. Then, we have his statements (1) that the 
Copernican doctrine is not heretical but only rash, and (2) that if 
it rested with him the decree of 1616 would never have been issued. 
All this seems to show that, if the question of a personal insult had 
not arisen, the Dialogue would at the worst have been put on the 
Index, as was the book of Copernicus, in 1616, * until corrected 

Early in August, 1632, the sale of the book was prohibited 
and its contents submitted to a special commission, who reported, 
after a month’s session : 

* 1. Galileo has transgressed orders in deviating from the hypo* 
thetical standpoint, by maintaining decidedly that the earth moves 
and that the sun is stationary. 2. He has erroneously ascribed 
the phenomena of the tides to the stability of the sun and the 
motion of the earth, which are not true. 3. He has been deceit- 
fully silent about the command laid upon him in 1616, viz. to 
relinquish altogether the opinion that the sun is the centre of the 
world and immovable and that the earth moves, nor henceforth 
to hold, teach, or defend it in any way whatsoever, verbally or 
in writing.* 

On September 23 Galileo was ordered to appear in the 
course of the following month before the Commissary-General 
of the Holy Office in Rome. His friends pleaded his age and 
infirmities and the inclemency of the season, and begged that he 
might therefore be interviewed in Florence, but to no purpose. 

* In Rome he must appear, and as a prisoner in chains if he will 
not come Avillingly ’, came the answer. To avert the most extreme 
measures the Grand Duke caused him to be informed (January 11, 
1633) that it was at last necessary to obey the orders of the 
supreme authorities at Rome, and, in order that he might perform 
the journey more comfortably. Grand-ducal litters and a trust- 
worthy guide would be placed at his disposal, and he would be 
lodged in Rome in the house of the Grand Duke’s Ambassador. 
The pitiful impotence of an Italian ruler of that day in face of 
the Roman Church is painfully obvious in this decision. The 
Sovereign does not dare to protect his subject — even his old and 
respected tutor, but gives him up to the Inquisition, as if he were 
an alien malefactor.' 

* The Venetian Republic was the only State in Italy that would have asserted 
its independence, as it had often done, and would have refused to hand over one 
of its officials to the Roman power. Indeed, when these proceedings began, 
Francesco Morosini of Venice offered to reinstate him in his old chair at Padua 
on Miy conditions that he chose to make, and to print his Dialogue in Venice. 


On January 20, 1633, he left Floienoe, halted twenty days in 
great discomfort at the frontier on account of quarantine, and. 
arrived in Rome on Felnmary 13. For the next four months the 
proceedings dragged on. He himself was inclined to hold out, 
his friends besought him to submit,* he was ruthlessly haled 
backwards and forwards by his judges, questioned here and 
threatened there — the threat being a * rigorous examination*, 
an euphemism for ph3rsioal torture. At last, on June 22, sentence 
was pronounced, and Galileo made his pitiful abjuration. After 
setting out in detail his various delinquencies, the Inquisitors 
conclude : 

* Therefore, having seen and maturely considered the merits 
of your case, with your confessions and excuses, and everything' 
else wMch ought to be seen and conridered, we pronounce, judge, 
and declare that you have rendered yourself vehemently suspected 
by this Holy Office of heresy, in that (1) you have believed and 
held the doctrine (which is false and contrary to the Holy and 
Divine Scriptures) that the sun is the centre of the world and that 
it does not move from east to west, and that th^ earth does move 
and is not the centre of the world ; and (2) that an opinion can 
be held and defended as probable after it has been decreed con- 
trary to the Holy Scriptures, and, consequently, that you have 
incurred all the censures and penalties enjoined in the sacred 
canons and other general and particular codes against delinquents 
of this description. From tins it is Our pleasure that you be 
absolved provided that, with a sincere heart and unfeigned faith, 
in Our presence you abjure, curse, and detest the smd errors and 
heresies, and every other error and hbresy contrary to the Catholic 
and Apostolic Church of Rome, and in the form that shall be 
prescribed to you. But that your grievous and pernicious error 
may not go altogether unpunished, and that you may be more 
cautious in future, and as a warning to others to abstain from 
delinquencies of tffis sort. We decree that the book Dialogw of 
Galileo Galilei be prohibited by public edict, and We condemn 
you to the prison of this Holy Office for a period determinable 
at Our pleasure, and by way of sidutary penance We order you 
during the next three years to recite, once a week, the seven 
penitential psalms, reserving to Ourselves the power of moderating, 
commuting, or taking off the whole or part of the said pumshment 
or penance.* 

In conformity with this sentence, Galileo was made to kneel 
before the Inquisition, and make the following abjuration ; 

* I, Galileo Galilei, son of the late Vincenzio Galilei of Florence, 


Aged seyentv years, b^ng brought personally to judgement,, and 
hn^eling before you. Most Eminent and Most Reverend Lord 
CarduuMS, Genend Liquisitors of the Universal Christian Repubho 
Malnst heretical depravity, and having before my eyes the Holy 
Cfospels which I touch with my own hands, swear that I have 
always believed, and, with the nelp of God, will in future believe 
every article which the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church of 
Rome holds, preaches, and teaches. But bemuse I have been 
enjoined b]( this Holy Office altogether to abandon the false 
opinion that the sun is the centre and immovable, and been 
forbidden to hold, defend, or teach the said false doctrine in any 
manner ; and because, a^r it had been signified to me that the 
said doctrine is repugnant to the Holy Scripture, I have written 
and printed a book, in which I treat of the same condemned 
*dootrine, and adduce reasons with great force in support thereof 
without giving any solution, and. therefore have been judged 
mevously suspected of heresy, that is to say, that I held and 
believed that the sun is the centre of the world and immovable, 
and that the earth is not the centre and is movable, I am willing 
to remove from the minds of your Eminences, and of every 
Catholic Christian, this vehement suspicion rightly entertained 
towards me. Therefore, with a sincere heart and. unfeigned faith, 
I abjure, curse, and detest the said errors and heresies, and 
^nerally every other error and heresy contrary to the said Holy 
^urch, and I swear that I will never more in future say, or assert 
anything, verbally or in writing, which may give rise to a similar 
suspicion of me ; and that if I shall know any heretic, or any 
one suspected of heresy, 1 will denounce him to this Holy Office, 
or to the Inquisitor and Ordinary of the place in which I may be. 
I swear, moreover, and promise that I will fulfil and observe fully 
all the penances which have been or shall be laid on me by this 
Holy Office. But if it shall happen that I violate any.of my said 
promises, oaths, and protestations (which God avert), I subject 
myself to all the pains and punishments which have been decreed 
and promulgated by the sacred canons and other general and 
particular constitutions against delinquents of this description. 
So, may God help me, and these His Holy Gk>spels which I touch 
with,my own hands. 

* I, the above-named Galileo Galilei, have abjured, sworn, pro- 
mised, and bound myself as above, and, in witness thereof, with 
my own hand have subscribed this my abjuration, which I have 
recited word for word, in Rome, in the Convent of Minerva, this 
22nd June, 1633. I, Galileo Galild, have abjured as above with 
my own hand.* 

While the older writ^ generally go to one extreme and say 
that Galileo was tortured, thrown into a dungeon for years, or 


for the rest of his life, and was in ph 3 ^ical fact a martyr, some 
recent authors have gone to the other extreme, and aver that he 
had no claim to much S 3 rmpathy, that he had brought his troubles 
on himself by want of tact and temper. Others, again, blame 
lum for not * seeing this thing through Brewster, for example, 
compares him to the Christian martyrs, and|[finds him sadly 
degenerate. * Had Galileo \ he says, * but added the courage of 
the majrtyr to the wisdom of the sage ; had he carried the glance 
of his indignant eye round the circle of his judges ; had he lifted 
his hands to Heaven, and called on the living God to witness the 
truth and immutability of his opinions, the bigotry of his enemies 
would have been disarmed, and Science would have enjoyed 
a memorable triumph.* Perhaps ; but perhaps, on the otheif 
hand, his judges, instead of being cowed by the glance of his eye, 
would have delivered him to the stake, as they did Giordano 
Bruno earlier in the century (1600), and Marc* Antonio de Dominis 
only eight years before. Revealed truth may require its martyrs, 
and perhaps the blood of the martyrs may be the seed of the 
Church, but scientific truth is not thus established.' 

After his sorrowful drama had concluded, Galileo was led back 
to the buildings of the Holy Office. And now that he and the 
Copernican theory were condemned with all the terrifying forms 
of the Inquisition, the Pope’s wounded vanity was soothed, and 
he gave the word for a little mercy. GaUleo was not to be kept 
in the prison of the Holy Office, but was banished to the villa of 
the Grand Duke of Tuscany at Trinita dei Monti, which he was 
to consider as a prison. A week later he was allowed to retire 
to Siena to the palace of Archbishop Ascanio Piccolomini (a former 
pupil in Padua), where he was to remain under the orders of the 
Archbishop, and on no account to leave the house, except to hear 
mass, without permission from Rome. 

He was informed of this decision on July 2, and early 
on the 6th he shook the dust of Rome from off his feet. He 
reached Siena on the 9th and was warmly received by Piccolomini 
and other friends ; but kindness could not make him forget that 
he was a prisoner. As the weary months rolled on, the old man 
became a little resigned to the situation, and began to occupy 

* Gf. Bruno and Galileo, Quarterly RevieWi 1878, No. 290, p. 362, a Plutarchian 
contrast by John Wilson. 



himself with another of his great works, Dialoghi deUe Nvove 
Scienze, the writing of which he spoke of as far back as 1610, in 
his letter to Vinta. 

In November, 1633, thinking the time favourable, the Tuscan 
Ambassador in Rome began to move for a free pardon, but the 
Pope was not disposed to go so far, and pretended there would 
be a difficulty in getting the consent of the Holy Office — a patent 
evasion, as the decision rested solely with himself. At length, on 
December 1, 1633, the question of pardon or rather release 
from x>ersonal restraint came before the Congregation, the Pope 
presiding. It was refused, but Galileo was allowed to retire 
to his villa at Arcetri, near Florence, where he was to remain till 
further orders. 

V. Declining Yeabs (1634-42) 

1. Dialoghi delle Nuove Scienze^ 

The Dialogues on the New Sciences ( (1) on coherence and 
resistance to fracture, and (2) on uniform, accelerated, and violent 
or projectile motions) were begun in Siena in 1633, and were 
completed by the end of 1634. After the condemnation in 1633, 
the Holy Office placed Galileo’s name on the list of authors Arhose 
writings edita et edenda were strictly forbidden. Galileo tried to 
publish at Vienna, only to find that all books printed there must 
be approved by the J^esuits, amongst whom happened to be Father 
Scheiner. He tried Olmiitz and Prague, but at each place licensing 
and other difficulties cropped up. Finally he opened direct 
negofaations with the Elzevirs, and the work was issued from their 
press at Leyden early in 1638.” 

The Dialoghi deUe Ntiove Scienze is practically a compendium, 
v^th later adffitions, of his early mechanical work in Pisa and Padua, 
and rightly did he call it, in his letter to Vinta of May 7, 1610, a 
new science invented by himself from its very first principles. 

* Dynamics’, says Lagrange, * is a science due entirely to the 
moderns, and Galileo is the one who laid its foundations. Before 
him philosophers considered the forces which act on bodies in 

^ Of. Nat. Ed., Tol; viii, pp. 12 et seq. ; v<d. xiv, p. 386 ; vol. zv, pp. 248, 267, 
284 vol. xvi, pp. 59, 72. 

* See Fig. 11. In order to obviate trouble 'with the Holy Office, he pretended 
that the book was pirated from a manuscript copy, which he had given to Comte 
de Noailles (lately French Ambassador in Rome), to whom it is dedicated. 



a state erf equilibrium only, and, although they attributed in 
a vague way the acceleration of falling bodies and the curvilinear 
movement of projectiles to the constuit action of gravity, nobody 
had yet succeeded in determining the laws of these phenomena. 
Ghdileo made the first important steps, and thereby opened a way, 
new and immense, to the advancement of mechanics as a science.*^ 

In this new dialogue the discussion is carried on by the same 
speakers as in the Dialogue of 1632. The first two Days are 
mainly concerned with the resistance of solids to fracture, and 
the cause of their coherence. Their scientific value lies in the 
incidental experiments and observations on motion through 
resisting media. The debate opens with an examination of the 
current belief that machines built on exactly similar designs, but 
on different scales, were of strength in proportion to their linear 
dimensions. It is shown that the larger machine will equal the 
smaller in all respects, except that it will not be so strong or so 
resistant to violent actions. After explaining the strength of 
ropes made of fibrous or filamentous^materials, he comes to the 
cause of coherence of the parts of such things as stones and 
metals, which do not show a fibrous structure. Presently, Salviati 
asks what is the nature of the force that prevents a glass or metal 
rod, suspended from above, being broken by its own weight or 
by a pull at the free end ? No satisfactory explanation is forth- 
coming ; but that suggested depends upon nature’s so-called 
repugnance to a vacuum, such, as is momentarily produced by 
the sudden separation of two flat surfaces. This idea is extended, 
and a cause of coherence is found by considering every body as 
composed of very minute particles, between any two of \^hich is 
exerted a similar resistance to separation. 

This leads to an experiment for measuring what is called the 
force of a vacuum. The experiment occasions a remark from 
Sagredo that his lifting-pump would not work when the water 
had sunk to the depth of 36 feet below the valve. This story is 
sometimes told as if Galileo had said jokingly that nature’s horror 
of a vacuum does not extend beyond 35 feet ; but it is plain 
that the remark was made seriously. He held the then current 
notion of suction, for he compares the column of water to a 
rod of metal suspended from its upper end, which may be 
lengthened till it breaks with its own weight. It is extra- 
ordinary that he failed to see how simply this phenomenon could 
^ Michanique atudytique, Paris, 1788. 


be explained by the weight of the atmosphere, with which he was 
w^ll acquainted* 

We come next to the violent effects of heat and light. It is. 
suggested that, perhaps, heat dissolves bodies by insinuating itself 
between their minute particles. The effects of lightning are 
mentioned and experiments with burning-glasses referred to. 
Then as regards light, Sagredo asks whether its effect does or 
does not require time. Simplicio is ready with an answer — that 
the discharge of artillery proves the transmission of light to be 
instantanedus, to which Sagredo cautiously replies that nothing 
can be gathered from that observation except that light travels 
more swiftly than sound ; nor can we draw any decisive con- 
clusion from the rising of the sun. Who can assure us that he 
is not in the horizon before his rays reach our eyes ? 

We next come to Aristotle’s ideas on motion in pleno and in 
vacuOf and especially his assertion that bodies fall with velocities 
proportional to their weights and inversely proportional to the 
densities of the media through which they are moving. This 
proposition is examined in a strict scientific method. Heavy 
bo^es of different weights are dropped in air to test the truth of 
the first part of the statement ; and afterwards the motion of 
bodies rising or falling in liquids is considered ; the result being 
to substitute for Aristotle’s assumption that law of the motion of 
falling bodies which is the foundation of the science of dynamics. 

After having discussed the first point and shown that the rate 
of fall is not proportional to weight, Salviati proceeds to examine 
the motion of bodies sinking or rising in water and other liquids ; 
and brings forward experimental facts which, viewed in the light 
of Aristotle’s statement, form a mass of contradiction. Putting 
t^en this antiquated theory aside, Salviati inquires what is meant 
by the rising of some bodies in a medium, and shows that only 
those bodies rise which are lighter than the medium. The rising 
of an inflated bladder in the air suggests that the atmosphere must 
have weight. Simplicio’s assertion that it is on the contrary the 
bladder in this case that has levity is trivial, and is immediately 
disproved. Continuing his line of argument, Salviati points out 
that the question of rising or falling depends on the gravity of 
the medium as compared with that of the moving body ; further, 
that when the motion of the body, either upwards or downwards, 

* Nat. Ed. xi. 12, and xii. 33. 


has once commenced, the different media offer different resistances 
to the motion, the heavier media, such as quicksilver and water, 
interfering more than air. We are thus led to the bold deduction 
*that if the resistance of the media be wholly taken away all 
matter would descend with the same velocity *. 

In the concluding part of this first Day the theory of the 
pendulum is applied to musical concords and discords, which 
result from the concurrence or opposition of vibrations of the air 
striking upon the drum of the ear. These vibrations may be made 
manifest by rubbing the finger round a glass set in a large vessel 
of water ; * and, if by pressure the note is suddenly made to rise 
to the octave above, every one of the undulations, which will be 
seen regularly spreading round the glass, will suddenly split into 
two, proving that the vibrations that occasion the octave are 
double those belonging to the simple note *. Galileo then describes 
a method he discovered by accident of measuring the length of 
these waves more accurately than can be done in the agitated 
water. While scraping a brass plate with an iron chisel, he occa> 
sionally produced a hissing or whistling sound, and whenever this 
occurred he observed the dust on the plate to arrange itself in 
small parallel streaks equidistant from each other. In repeated 
experiments he produced different tones by scraping with greater 
or less briskness, and remarked that the streaks produced by 
high notes stood closer together than those from low. Among the 
sounds produced were two, which by comparison with a viol he 
ascertained to differ by an exact fifth*; and measuring the spaces 
between the streaks he found thirty of one equal to forty-five of 
the other, which is exactly the proportion of the lengths of strings 
of the same material which sound a fifth to each other. ^ 

Salviati also remarks that if the sounding materials be different, 
as for instance if it be required to sound an octave to a note on 
catgut on a wire of the same length, the weight of the wire must 
be made four times as great, and so on for other intervals. 

Salviati : * I will now show you an experiment from which the 
eye will derive a similar pleasure. Suspend three balls of load 
by cords of different lengths, such that, while the longest makes 
two oscillations, the shortest makes four, and the medium three. 
This will occur when the longest string measures 16 of any assumed 

^ This besutifal expeiiment has been largely used in modem times by Chladni, 
Savart, and Wheatstone, with very interesting results. 


unit (inches, feet, or yards), the medium 6, and the shortest 4. 
Now, pull these three pendulums aside and let them go at the same 
instant. You will observe a very curious interplay of the strings, 
passing each other in various ways, but such that, at the com-, 
pletion of every fourth oscillation of the longest pendulum, all 
three arrive simultaneously at the same terminus, whence they 
start afresh to perform the same cycle. This combination of 
oscillations is precisely that which in music yields the interval of 
the octave ana the intermediate fifth. By changing the lengths 
of the cords in such ways that their oscillations correspond with 
agreeable musical intervals, we shall see quite different crossings, 
but always such that, after a definite time and after a definite 
number of oscillations all the pendulums will reach the same 
terminus at the same moment, and then begin again and so on. 
If, however, the strings are altered so that the oscillations are 
incommensurable and never complete a series together, or if 
commensurable complete the series only after a long interval and 
after a great number of oscillations, then the eye is offended by 
a disorderly succession of crossing threads, just as the ear is pained 
by an irregular sequence of air waves.’ 

The second Day is occupied entirely with an investigation of 
the strength of beams — an amplification of his researches on the 
same subject dating back to 1609. Beyond Aristotle’s remark 
that long beams are weak, because they are at once the weight, 
the lever, and the fulcrum, nothing appears to have been written 
on the subject before Galileo took it up. The discussion opens 
with a consideration of the resistance of solid bodies to fracture. 
This resistance is very great in th^ case of a direct pull, but is 
much less in the case of a bending force. Thus, a rod of glass or 
iron will bear a longitudinal pull of, say, 1,000 lb., while 50 lb. will 
break it if it be fastened by one end into a wall or other upright 
jpupport. It is this second kind of strain that is here discussed. 

* In order to arrive at the resisting values of prisms and 
cylinders of the same material, whether alike or not in shape, 
length, and thickness, I shall take for granted the well-known 
mechanical principle of the lever, namely, that the force bears to 
the resistance the inverse ratio of the ^stances which separate 
the fulcrum from the force and resistance respectively.’ 

He assumed as the basis of his inquiry that the forces of 
cohesion with which a beam resists a cross fracture in any section 
may all be considered as Acting at the centre of gravity of the 
section, and that it breaks always at the lowest point. An elegant 



result deduced from this theory is that the form of a beam, to 
be equally strong in every pi^, should be that of a parabolio 
prism, the vertex of the parabola being the farthest removed from 
the point of support. As an easy way of drawing the curve for 
this purpose, he recommends tracing the line in which a heavy 
flexible string hangs supported from two nails.* 

The curvature of a beam under any system of strains is a sub- 
ject into which, before the days of Newton, it was not possible to 
inquire, and even in the simpler problem considered by Galileo 
he makes assumptions which require justifying. His theory of 
beams is erroneous in so far as it takes no account of the equili- 
brium which must exist between the forces of tension and com- 
pression over any cross-section. 

In the third Day we find no new physical facts of importance, 
and much of the time is taken up with theorems and formulae 
deduced geometrically from the phenomena of uniform and 
accelerated motion as dealt with in the first Day. The further 
discussion of that subject, however, leads to a 'more detailed 
statement of the principle of inertia; but the definition of 
uniformly accelerated motion at once introduced a difficulty. 
Salviati gives the correct description of it as that of a body which 
moves in such a manner that in equal intervals of time it receives 
equal increments of velocity. 

There follows an interesting application of the results obtained. 
He examines the times of descent down differently inclined planes, 
assuming as a postulate that the velocity acquired was the same 
for all planes of the same height. This fact he had verified by 
careful experiments, although he was unable at the time to prove 
it mathematically.’ 

The fourth Day plunges at once into the consideration 
of the ‘ properties which belong to a body whose motion is 

^ This curve is not strictly a parabola, it is now called a catenary ; but it is 
pUun, from the description of it further on (in the fourth Day), that Galileo was 
aware of this fact. The catenary resembles the parabola, and, as ho justly re- 
marks, the resemblance is all the more striking if the string is so taut that the 
depth of the lowest point is less than a quarter of the distance between the two 

* Viviani relates that, soon after he joined Galileo in 1639, he drew his master’s 
attentum to tiiis. The same night, as Gidileo lay in bed, sleepless through indis- 
poaitkni, he discovered the necessary mathematical demonstration. It was intro- 
duced into the subsequent editions of the IMalogues, sixth Day. 

S3»I X 



compounded of two other motions, one uniform, and one 
naturally accelerated. This is the kind of motion seen in a pro* 

After some preliminary instruction in the properties of the 
parabola, Salviati returns to the subject of projectiles, and lays 
down the law of the independence of the horizontal and the 
vertical motions. A body projected horizontally would — but for 
its weight and external impediments— continue to move in a 
straight line ; and Salviati contends that, as the effects of gravity 
acting by itself would be entirely downwards, gravity acting on 
the projected body can neither increase nor diminish the rate 
at which it travels horizontally. Therefore, whatever be the 
shape of the path or the direction of motion at any moment, 
the distance travelled horizontally may be taken as a measure 
of the time that has elapsed since motion began. He proves 
that on this assumption the path described has geometrical 
properties which identify it with the curve known as the parabola. 
His demonstration is essentially that now given in works on 
elementary dynamics. 

After demonstrating the parabolic nature of the path, he 
inquires into certain points of interest with regard to it, and gives 
proofs of many of the elementary propositions which in modern 
text-books are associated with parabolic motion. He also draws 
up a table giving the position and dimensions of the parabola 
described with any given direction of projection, finding by this 
means what he would have been unable to give a strict mathe- 
matical proof of — ^that the range on a horizontal plane is greatest 
when the angle of elevation is 46®.* 

2. The Laivs of Jlotion 

No sooner was the manuscript of these dialogues out of his 
hands (summer of 1636) than Galileo occupied himself with new 
projects. ‘ If I live,’ he wrote on July 16, 1636, to Bemeg- 
ger of Strasburg, ‘ I intend to put in order a series of natural 

* ‘ In solving the problems of falling bodies and of projectiles, Galileo was 
essentially applying the principles of the Differential or Fluxional or Indivisible 
Calculus. If pure mathematics had attracted him as strongly as its application 
to physics, he would have thought these problems out, and would have founded 
the Fluxional Calculus, which is the glory of Newton and of Leibnitz.' Professor 
Jack, in Nature, vol. xxi, p. .' 58 . 



Mid mathematical problems which I think will be as curious as 
they are novel.* These were left unfinished, and now form the 
fifth and sixth Days, which were added to later editions by 
Viviani after Galileo’s death.* The fragment of the fifth Day is 
on the subject of Euclid’s definition of ratio (Book V, props. 5 
and 7) and was intended to follow the first proposition on equable 
motion in the third Day’s debate. The sixth Day contains his 
investigations on the force of percussion^ on which he was employed 
at the time of his death. 

‘ In the last days of his life ’, says Viviani, " and amid much 
physical suffering, his mind was constantly occupied with mechani- 
cal and mathematical problems. He had the idea of composing 
two other dialogues to be added to the four already published. 
In the first he intended to give many new demonstrations and 
reflections on various passages in the first four dialogues, and the 
solution of many problems in Aristotle’s physics. In the second 
he proposed to discuss, treating it geometrically, an entirely new 
science, viz. the wondrous force of percussion, which he claimed 
to have discovered and which, he said, exceeded by a long way his 
speculations on the same subject formerly published ’ (Nat. Ed., 
vol. xix. Part ii). 

In these admirable dialogues Galileo does not formulate in 
definite laws the interdependence of force and motion. This was 
done for the first time by Newton at the beginning of his Principia 
(1687), and hence they are rightly called ‘Newton’s Laws of 
Motion ’ ; but in justice to Galileo it must be admitted that he 
not only prepared the way for Newton, but supplied him with 
much of his materials. Thus, the first law — that a body will 
continue in a state of rest, or of uniform motion in a straight line, 
until it is compelled to change its state by some force impressed 
upon it — ^is a generalization of Galileo’s theory of uniform motion. 
Since all the motions that we see taking place on the surface of 
the earth soon come to an end, we are led to suppose that con- 
tinuous movements, such, for instance, as those of the celestial 
bodies, can only be maintained by a perpetual consumption and 
a perpetual application of force, and hence it was inferred that 
rest is the natural condition of things. We make, then, a great 
advance when we comprehend that a body is equally indifferent 
to motion as to rest, and that it equally perseveres in either state 
until disturbing forces are applie<^! 

• Cf. Nat. Eni., vol. viii, pp. 321-62. 


The second law — ^that every change of motion is in proportion 
to the force that makes the change, and in the direction of that 
straight line in which the disturbing force is impressed — is involved 
in Galileo’s theory of projectiles. Before his time it was a com- 
monly received axiom that a body could not be affected by more 
than one force at a time, and it was therefore supposed that a 
cannon-ball, or other projectile, moves forward in a straight line 
until the force which impelled it is exhausted, when it falls vertically 
to the ground. 

The establishment of this principle of the composition of forces 
supplied a conclusive answer to the most formidable of the argu- 
ments against the rotation of the earth, and, accordingly, we find 
it in the second Day of the Dialogue of 1632. The distinction 
between mass and weight was, however, not noticed, and, conse- 
quently, Galileo failed to grasp the fact that acceleration might be 
made a means of measuring the magnitude of the force producing 
the motion. How far he was from this discovery may be gathered 
from a remark by Salviati, incidental to the main argument,: to 
the effect that when different bodies are falling freely towards the 
earth’s centre, ‘ the difference of their gravities has nothing to 
do with their velocities.’ 

Of the third of the laws of motion — ^that action and reaction are 
always equal and opposite — ^we find traces in many of Galileo’s 
researches, as in his theory of the inclined plane, and in his defini- 
tion of momentum. It is also adumbrated in his ‘ Della Scienza 
Meccanica ’ (1594), and in his latest ideas on percussion. 

His services were little less conspicuous in the statical than 
in the dynamical division of mechanics. He gave the first direct 
and entirely satisfactory demonstration of equilibrium on an 
inclined plane. In order to demonstrate this he imagined the 
weight and the resistance to be Applied to the ends of a bent lever 
whose arms were equal to the vertical and slant sides of the 
plane ; then reducing the lever to a straight one it was easy to 
prove that the forces in equilibrio on the plane were also in equilu 
brio on the lever, and were to one another as the length to the height 
of the plane. By establishing the theory of ‘ Virtual velocities ’, 
he laid down the fundamental principle which in the opinion of 
Lagrange contains the general expression of the laws of equilibrium ; 
while as regards that still obscure subject, molecular cohesion, he 
brought it for the first time within the range of mechanical theory. 



• 3. On the Moon* 8 Librations * 

Just before his sight began to fail,* Galileo made his last 
astronomical discovery, which is now known as the moon’s libra- 
tions. This discovery was announced in letters to Fulgenzio 
Micanzio (November 7, 1637) and Alfonso Antonini (February 20, 
1638). To the former he writes : 

‘ I have observed a marvellous appearance on the surface of 
the moon. Though she has been looked at such millions of times 
by such millions of men, I do not find that any have observed 
the slightest alteration in her surface ; but that exactly the same 
side has always been supposed to bo presented to our eyes. Now 
I find that such is not the case, but that she changes her aspect, 
as one who, having his full face turned towards us, should move it 
sideways, first to the right and then to the left ; or should raise 
and then lower it ; or, lastly, should incline it first to the right 
shoulder, then to the left. All these changes I see in the moon ; 
and the large, anciently-known spots which are seen on her face 
will help to make evident the truth of what I say. Add to these 
a further marvel, which is that these three mutations have their 
several periods — ^the first daily, the second monthly, the third 

Galileo was not long in detecting the causes of the apparent 
libratory or rooking movement. The diurnal or parallactic 
libration he saw was occasioned by our distance as spectators from 
the centre of the earth, which is also the centre of the moon’s 
revolution. In consequence of this, as the moon rises we get an 
additional view of the lower part and lose sight of that portion of 
the upper part which was visible while she was low in the horizon. 
The causes of the other motions are not so easily explained, nor is 
it certain that Galileo himself understood them ; his conjecture of 
a connexion with the tides is certainly wide of the mark. 

The moon in revolving round the earth spins once on her axis, 
so turning the same side always towards the earth’s centre. But 
this familiar truth is only approximate. The speed of rotation is 
uniform ; but the speed of revolution in her orbit is not so, because 
that orbit is not a circle but an ellipse, in which (as is always the 
case with elliptic motion) the moving body travels faster while 

^ Cf. Nat. Ed., vol. xvii, pp. 212, 291. 

* Ektfly in 1636 his sight began to fail. By the end of June, 1637, the sight of 
die right eye was gone, and early in December following be became totally blind. 


near the centre of attraction than when farther away. The iresult 
is that we see alternately a little round the eastern edge, and 
a fortnight later a little round the western. 

The two librations, duo to independent causes, have approxi- 
mately the same period — about one month. Their effects, ho ever. 


J.)rawn by Viiicenzio Galilei from hia father's dictation. 

vary according to the changing position of the earth in its orbit ; 
and any particular phase of the libration is more nearly reproduced 
after twelve months than after one. Galileo was, therefore, justi- 
fied in suggesting an annual period, although it is not customary 
at the present day to associate the annual period with any very 
distinct librations. 



4. Application of the Pendulum to Clocks ^ 

A few months before his mortal illness Galileo once more gave 
proofs of his mechanical genius. It has been remarked in the 
progress of science and scientific invention that the steps, which 
on looking back seem the easiest to make, are often those which 
are the longest delayed. The application of the pendulum to 
clocks is an instance of this. We have seen that Galileo was early 
convinced of the value of the pendulum as a measurer of time, and 
that as far back as 1582-3 he used it in the Pulsilogia ; yet fifty- 
five years later, although constantly using it meanwhile, he had 
not devised a more practicable application than that described 
in his letter of June 6, 1637, to Lorenzo Realio, and in his 
* Astronomical Oper 9 *tions * of 1637-8 for finding the longitude 
at sea. 

‘ T make use of a heavy pendulum of brass or copper, in the 
shape of a sector of twelve or fifteen degrees, the radius of which 
may be two or three palms (the greater it is the less trouble in 
attending it). This sector I make thickest in the middle radius, 
tapering gradually towmrds the edges, where I terminate it in 
a tolerably sharp line, to obviate as much as possible the resistance 
of the air, which is the main cause of its retardation. This sector 
is pierced at the centre, through which is passed an iron bar 
shaped like those on which steelyards hang, terminated below 
in an angle or wedge which rests on two bronze supports. If the 
sector (when accurately balanced) be removed several degrees 
from the perpendicular, it will continue a to-and-fro motion 
through a very great number of oscillations before coming to rest ; 
and in order that it may continue its oscillations as long as it is 
wanted, the attendant must occasionally give it a push so as to 
carry it back to large oscillations. 

* Now to save the fatigue of continually counting the oscilla- 
tions, this is a convenient contrivance, — a small delicate needle 
extends from the middle of the sector which in passing strikes 
a rod hung at one end. The lower end of this rod rests- on the 
teeth of a horizontal wheel as light as pax>er. The teeth are cut 
like those of a saw. The rod striking against the perpendicular 
side of a tooth moves it, but when returning, it slips over the 
oblique side of the next tooth and falls at its foot, so that the motion 
of the wheel will be in one direction only. By counting the teeth 
you may see at will the number passed, and, consequently, the 
number of oscillations or periods of time which you wish to 
measure. You may also fit to the axis of the wheel a second, with 

* Cf. Nat. Ed., vol. viii, p. 451 ; vol. xvii, pp. 96, 212 ; vol. xix, pp. 647-69. 



a smaller number of teeth and in gear with a third wheel having 
a greater number of teeth, and so on.* 

It was chiefly because of the inadequacy of this method that 
the negotiations with the States-General were finally broken off. 
Now, in the second half of 1641, it occurred to GaUleo that the 
problem could be solved by adding the pendulum to the ordinary 
clock as a regulator of its movements. He explained his idea to 
his son, Vincensio, who made a drawing (of which we reproduce 
a facsimile. Fig. 12) from his father’s direction. Before the plan 
could be tried Galileo fell ill, and died January 8, 1642. The 
matter was laid aside, but seven years after his father’s death 
Vincenzio resumed it, and was engaged in constructing what 
would have been the first pendulum clock, when he, too, fell ill 
and died. May 16, 1649.^ 

^ A working model of this clock, inscribed ‘ Eustachio Porcellotti costniito 
a Firenze I’anno 1883 is in the Science Museum, South Kensington, and keeps 
very good time. 


By F. J. Cole 

* The purpose of injections,* says Robin with admirable brevity, 
* is to make kiiown to us the absolute vascularity of the tissues * ; 
and the practice of the method, to quote Lacauchie, ‘ founded 
an hundred reputations, and filled the museums with beautiful 
preparations *. The history of a scientific method such as this, 
established alike by its aims and results, may well be traced in 
some detail. 

It will not surprise many to learn that the scope of this inquiry 
cannot be kept within the terms of Robin*s definition. No method 
of scientific research long retains its original character. The 
further we traoe it back the more it changes, until the question 
when, how, and with whom it originated may indeed be debated 
but not resolved. Thus the earlier injections wore of a general 
or random character, and were used to fill the larger cavities of 
the body, such as the bladder from the penis, or to explore the 
solid inscrutable bulk of tumours. Afterwards specific injections 
into blood-vessels were attempted, but even then the endeavour 
was to test or illustrate the doctrine of the circulation, or to 
demonstrate the local distribution of certain vessels. 

The reception of the injection method did not quite follow the 
traditional course. The results obtained by it were too obvious 
and striking to be either questioned or ignored. It passed rapidly 
into general use, and quickly reached its point of maximum utility. 
For a time it monopolized attention, and its importance was so 
grossly exaggerated as to countenance the belief that all problems 
of ana^my and physiology might be solved by its means.^ In 
1727 the French Academy of Science could find no more worthy 

* The method is honoured by a reference in Gibbon’s Dedine and Fall (first 
edition, 1788, vol. v', p. 429). He says : * A superstitious reverence for the dead 
confined both the Greeks and the Arabians to the dissection of Apes and Quad- 
rupeds ; the more solid and visible parts were known in the time of Galen, and 
the finer scrutiny of the human frame was reserved for the Microscope and the 
Injections of modem artists.’ 


successor to Sir Isaac Newton than Frederik Ruysch — the most 
famous injector of his time. How unsound contemporary judge- 
ment may be could not have a more significant confirmation than 
the verdict of posterity on the work of these two men — a verdict 
which exemplifies the practical wisdom of Boyle’s remark that 
‘ we are not near so competent judges of wisdom as we are of 
justice and veracity The frenzy for injections finally exhausted 
itself, and as a means of research the method may almost be said 
to have served its purpose, and to have passed into the shadow 
of history. In stating this, however, certain modern developments 
must not be ignored.' In 1886 Camillo Golgi introduced the intra- 
vitam method of fixing animal tissues by a vascular injection of 
the fixative, and in 1900 Flint studied the circulation in the living 
embryo by throwing an injection into the blood-stream. 

There are manifestly several important questions which the 
injection method is peculiarly adapted to elucidate. The circula- 
tion of the blood can be demonstrated beyond question by an 
injection experiment ; the existence of foetal and uterine portions 
in the pl^enta is establishable only with the assistance of the 
syringe ; the connexion of the vas deferens, epididymis, and testis 
is made beautifully clear by mercury injections ; and the indepen- 
dence of the blood vascular and lymphatic systems rests upon 
a series of carefid injections. Again, certain negative results may 
claim attention. Descartes’ speculation that nerve fibres were 
valvular tubes transmitting fluid contents was finally disposed of 
by injection experiments, in spite of the fact that at first such 
support wa^ in some cases claimed for it. On the other hand, 
erroneous views were undoubtedly suggested and maintained by 
the injections of the earlier anatomists. Of these lapses mercury 
was the most frequent cause, and on that account it is now rarely 
if ever used. Even when a mercury injection is successful, the 
least abrasion results in an extensive bleeding of the mercury, 
and x>reparatipns so delicate were justly considered to have but 
a doubtful value. With other injection masses extravasation 
effects frequently resulted in serious error and controversy among 
anatomists, and tended to bring the method into disrepute. The 
dis])utes between the Hunters and the Monros owed something to 
this cause, and extravasations into minute extra-vascular spaces 
of a tubular character explain the ‘ capillicules ’ of some of the 
later French injectors. 


The frequent use of the word * art ’ indicates an axDpreciation of 
the beauty of the injected specimen by the earlier anatomists, 
and it is easy to picture their wonder as smaller and yet smaller 
vessels were disclosed. What, therefore, must their delight have 
been when, the unaided eye being able to see no more, the micro- 
scope revealed the amazing spectacle of the blood capillaries in 
all their profusion of number and form. We can scarcely blame 
them if they abandoned Science for display, and injections were 
undertaken merely because the result was picturesque. Pole 
says : * The veins in the kidney of a cat run very sujierHcial, 
and branch out in a maimer peculiarly beautiful, which is the 
only inducement to make this preparation.’ And again, an 
injected and corroded kidney of the horse ‘ makes a noble and 
beautiful preparation ’. 

In this article it is not proposed to refer other than briefly to 
the injection of living animals, or to the transfusion experiments 
which greatly occupied the attention of the Royal Society and 
the French \cademy of Science in the second half of the seven- 
teenth century. The history and literature of this subject has 
already been exhaustively dealt with, but it does concern also the 
anatomical application of the injection method, and to that extent 
must receive attention. Although certain transfusion and intra- 
vitam injections had been attempted before the doctrine of the 
circulation was established in 1628, there can be no question that 
Harvey’s work was the fundamental and determining influence in 
these early injection experiments. Before 1650, however, the new 
doctrine, though indeed accepted, had not succeeded in energizing 
contemporary investigation, and it was only from this latter date 
onwards that a further advance is to be noted. The period of 
injection lies between 1650 and 1750, after which time interest 
in injections gradually declined as it was found that the new 
method was unable to realize the great expectations of its pro- 
fessdrs. Ruysch’s activities are comprised between the dates 1665 
and 1728, and hence coincide almost exactly with the middle of 
the injection period. The first injections, however, were not 
anatomical, but were undertaken for physiological or medical 
reasons. The object was to transfer blood from one living animal 
to another, and to test the effect of injecting various liquids, drugs, 
or air into the vessels of the living body. Great hopes were based 
on these haphazard and ruthless efforts. In 1667, and again in 


1670, the French Academy conducted numerous injection experi- 
ments in the belief that the reinvigoration and even the rejuven- 
escence of mankind would be thereby accomplished, but they 
were quick to acknowledge the vanity and futility of their hopes. 
The failure, however, was not absolute, for it was soon perceived 
that the humbler but still important requirements of anatomy 
could be promoted by the new method, and in a short time the 
success of the anatomical injection provided an ample compensa- 
tion for the failure of the physiological. 

Before 1660 there exist only a few references to injection 
experiments in the literature of Biology. The idea was in the 
background, but its exploitation was delayed. In this early work 
wo should expect the seeker to precede the syringe, and thus we 
find Aretaeus the Cappadocian,* who lived in the second or third 
century of the Christian era, demonstrating that ‘ one may pass 
a plate of metal from the vena cava comiected with the heart to 
that by the spine, and from the spine through the liver to the 
heart ; for it is the same passage leading upwards *. Galen * goes 
a step further, and studied the distribution of the cerebral vessels 
by inflating them with air through a tube. Thus the blood 
channels were distended, and acquired the relief necessary to 
enable them to be followed the more easily. According to Michele 
Medici, Alessandra Giliani of Persiceto, who died in 1326, filled 
the blood-vessels with liquids of different colours, which thickened 
and hardened as soon as they were injected, but did not de- 
compose. This statement, however, lacks confirmation. The 
first reference to injections after the invention of printing occurs 
in the commentary of Jacobus Berengarius published in 1521.® 
He employed a syringe and injected the renal veins with warm 
water — * per syringam, aqua calida plenam ’. Massa (1536) ® in- 
flated the kidney by forcing air into the renal vein, and Stephanus 

^ Aretaeus Cappadoz, Z)e causis et signis acutorum et diulurnorutn fnorborwn, 
Venice, 1662, 4to. Tite extant works of Aretaeus the Cappadocian, F. Adams, 
London, 1866, p. 280, 8vo. 

* Claudius Galenus (c. 130-200), De AnaUmicis AdministrationUnis, lib. iz, 
cap. 2. Ed. C. G. Kiihn,’ r.,eipzig, 1821-33, 8vo. 

* Giacomo Berongario da Carpi (1470-1630), Comtnentaria cum atnpUssimis 
additionibus super anatomiam Mundini, Bologna, 1621, 4to. 

* Nicolaus Massa (ob. 1669), Anatomiae Liber Introductorius, seu dissectionis 
corporis humani, Venice, 1636, 4to. 


(1545) ^ devised a pump to inflate the vessels with air — thus making 
their distribution more conspicuous to the unaided eye. Sylvius,^ 
in his last work published shortly after his death, * the work of 
his old age % states that the blood-vessels are better seen if they 
are inflated with air, or when a coloured liquid is introduced into 
them by means of little tubes. He used variously coloured fluids 
such as saffron and wines, but rejects the injection method because 
the liquid escapes when the vessels are cut and the preparation 
is thereby spoilt. In 1556 the Portuguese physician Amatus 
Lusitanus ® filled the vessels with a liquid by means of a siphon, 
or forced it in through a tube by air pressure supplied from the 

Eustachius * is undoubtedly one of the pioneers of the modern 
injection method, and is credited by later authors, such as Portal 
and Milne-Edwards, with having practised more elaborate injec- 
tions than his writings justify. In his work on the structure of 
the kidney he describes the following procedure. The kidney was 
kept warm by applying to it a sponge soaked in hot water. Tubes 
were inserted into the renal artery and vein, and spirit or water 
was injected into the vessels by the force of the breath. The 
fluids entered the kidney, extended through its substance, and 
passed ultimately into the pelvis and ureter. In the converse 
experiment of injecting the ureter it was found that the injection 
passed into the tissue of the kidney and reached the arteries and 
veins. Again, the renal artery was inflated, and air found its 
way into the ureter. The erroneous belief in a direct Connexion 
between the arteries and the uriniferous tubules, based as it was 
on injection experiments, survived for a long time, and was taught 
in the anatomical schools throughout the eighteenth century. It 
was not until Bowman published his work on the kidney in 1842 
that the correct relation of the renal arteries and veins to the 
glandular tubules was first completely demonstrated. Eustachius 
also followed the course of the vessels by the tedious process of 

1 Charles Estienne (1504-64), De dissecHone parlium corporis humani, Paris, 
1545, fol. 

> Jacques Dubois (1478-1555), In Hippocratis et Oaleni pkysiologiae partem 
anatomicam isagoge, Paris, 1555, fol. 

* Johannes Rodriguez da Gastello Bianco (1611-68), Curationwn Medicinalium 
Centuriae 7, Basle, 1556, Cent. 4 fol. 

* Baiitolommeo Eustacchi (1620-74), De Benum Slructura, Venice, 1563, 
4to ; TabvJae Anatomicae, Rome, 1714, fol. Text by J. M. Lancisi. 


excarnation, in which, unlike later anatomists, he does not appear 
to have used any injection. Boerhaave is of opinion that Eu8ta> 
chius must have known of a more perfect method of investigation 
than inflation with air, because of the great exactness with which 
he traced the vessels, and von Haller considers that plates 13 and 
27 of the Tabulae, published long after the death of Eustachius, 
represent the vessels so skilfully that it is hardly credible they 
could have been prepared without the assistance of fluid injections, 
unless, as Boerhaave adds, Eustachius brought to bear upon the 
study of anatomy an ‘ application and exactness more than 
human In recommending the injection of liquids he was cer- 
tainly in advance of a time which favoured the distension of the 
vessels with air rather than Ailing them with a more solid medium. 
Thus Laurentius, in 1593,^ ascertained that there was a connexion 
between the umbilical vein and the portal vein and inferior vena 
cava of the foetus by inflating the first named with a ‘ hollow 
bugle *, and Crooke, in 1615,* refers to the necessity of having 
‘ reeds, quils, glasse-trunkes or hollow bugles to blow up the 
parts ’. 

At about this time the possibility of diverting blood from the 
vessels of one living animal into those of another was first con- 
ceived and practised. The earliest writer to mention transfusion 
experiments was Magnus Pegel in 1604, and others are Andreas 
libavius (1546-1616) in 1615 and Johannes Colle (ob. 1631) in 
1628. It is to be noted that these works were published before 
Harvey’s treatise on the circulation of the blood. 

It is appropriate that the most important of the early injection 
experiments should have been made by Harvey himself — ‘ that 
ocular philosopher and singular discloser of truth ’. His treatise 
on the circulation, however, is silent on the matter of injections. 
In a letter addressed to Paul Marquard Siegel, dated March 26, 
1651, and published later by Sir Gleorge Ent,® he returns to the 
criticisms of Riolan on the doctrine of the circulation, and adds 
the following remarkable piece of evidence : 

‘ It may be well here to relate an experiment which I lately 
tried in the presence of several of my colleagues and from the 

1 Andr^ du Laurens (155^1609), Historia AneUomiea Humani Corporis, 
Leyden, 1693, 8to. 

> Helkiah Crooke (1576-1635), Microcosmographia, London, 1615, fol, 

® Sir George Ent (1604-89), Opera omnia JUedico-Physica, Leyden, 1687, 8vo. 


cogency of which there is no means of escape. . . . Having tied 

the pulmonary artery, the pulmonary veins and the aorta, in the 

body of a man who had been hanged, and then opened the left 

ventricle of the heart, we passed a tube through the vena cava 

into the right ventricle of the heart, and having, at the same 

time, attached an ox’s bladder to the tube, in the same way as 

a clyster-bag is usually made, we filled it nearly full of warm 

water, and forcibly injected the fluid into the heart, so tliat the 

greater part of a pound of water was thrown into the right auricle 

and ventricle. The result was, that the right ventricle and auricle 

were enormously distended, but not a drop of water or of blood 

made its escape through the orifice in the left ventricle. The 

ligatures having been undone, the same tube was passed into 

the pulmonary artery, and a tight ligature having been put round 

it to prevent any reflux into the right ventricle, the water in the 

bladder was now pushed towards the lungs, upon which a torrent 

of the fluid mixed with a quantity of blood, immediately gushed 

forth from the perforation in the left ventricle ; so that a quantity 

of water, equal to that which was pressed from the hlad<ler into 

the lungs at each effort, instantly escaped by the perforation 

mentioned. You may try this experiment as often as you please ; 

the result vou will still find to be as T have stated it.’ 


Priority of publication, however, for this experiment belongs 
to others. Marchettis, for example, who supported Harvey as 
against Riolan, in the presence of Thomas Bartholin in 1652, 
demonstrated that liquid injected into the arteries emerged by 
the veins. ^ 

Passing over Riolan,* who practised inflation of the vessels for 
demonstration purposes, and Lyser,® who published the first 
general treatise on anatomical methods, in which a blowpipe is 
mentioned for inflating with air or filling cavities with water, but 
in which injections are not considered, the next contribution to 
the subject is by Glisson.® He injects with a tube to which 
a bladder containing the medium is attached. The tube is pushed 
into the vessel and tied, the bladder filled with the injectioji and 
bound to the tube, and the fluid forced into the vessels by com- 
pressing the bladder at first gently and then more firmly. The 

> Domenico cle Marchettis (1626-88), Anatomia, cui respontiiones ad Riolanum 
. . . addUae sunt, Padua, 1652, 4to. 

‘ Jean Riolan, fil. (1577-1667), Opuscula anatomica varia et nova, Paris, 
1662, 12mo. 

* Michael Lyser (1627-60), CuUer Anatomicus, Cop<‘nhageii, 1663, 8vo. 

* Francis Glisson (1697-1677), Anatomia Hepalis, London, 1664, 8vo. 


media employed are hot water by itself or mixed witii milk^ water 
coloured with safiron, and ink. A figure is given of his apparatus, 
but it is of little assistance in following the. description. 

We now come to * that miracle of a youth — Christopher Wren % 

whose experiments have been described by Boyle ' and Oldenberg.* 

According to the Philosophical Transactions of 1605, Wren (1632- 

1723) first suggested to Boyle at Oxford not later than 1669 * to 

ligature the veins of a living animal, open them on the side of 

the ligature nearest the heart, and inject with ‘ slender syringes 

or quills fastened to bladders *. He recommended as the subject 

* pretty big and lean dogs This operation appears to have l^n 

frequently practised in O^ord, and also in London before the 

Royal Society. * And they hope likewise, that beside the medical 

uses, that may be made of this inv&nUon^ it may also serve for 

arutUmical purposes, by filling, after this way^ the vessels of an 

a.TiimA.1 as full, as they can hold, and by exceedingly distending 

them, discover new vessels.* * To and in it, to Dr. Christo^ 

pher Wren, this invention is due.* Wren, then a youth of twenty- 

four, injected wine and ale into the blood of a living dog by one 

of the veins, and noted that the animal became extremely drank. 

The experiment he takes * to be of great concernment and what 

wiD give great light to the theory and practice of physic *, and 

Sinrat refers to it as that * noble anatomical experiment of injecting 

liquors into the veins of animals We may now complete what 

remains to be said on the history of ^physiological injections, which 

we have already seen were known to Pegel and libavius long 

before Wren*8 first experiment in 1666. According to J. M. 

Verdries, a large ox at once died when Wepfer injected air into 

its jugular vein, and Major * asserts that transfusion experiments 

on dogs were practised by Hans Jurge de Wahrensdorf in 1642. 

Elsholz * injected medicines into the veins of man and dogs, and 

• , 

^ Hon. Robert Boyle (1627-91), 0/ the U^d^ulneue of NatumU PhUoeoghff, 
Oxford, 1668, 4to, pp. 62-6. 

* H^uy Oldeubeig (1616-77), * Aooonnt of the Rise and Attempts of a way 
to oonvay liquors immediately into the mass of Uood,’ PkHoao^^ieal Tranoaetion», 
"London, 1666, 4to, vol. i, p. 128. 

* An error. Wren’s first experiment was undertaken in 1656. 

* Johann Daniel Major (1634-93), Prodrotmu inventae a »e Chirurgiae 
sorioe, Leipsig, 1664, 8vo. 

> Johann l^egesmund Elsholz (1623-88), Ctyamatioa Nova, Berlin, 1666, 


From the first edition of the De Usu Siphonts (1668). 
Sig^nature from a MS. in the possession of the Royal 
Society (Photograph supplied by Dr. Charles Singer). 


^ the t&a 


of aabtlier, and in the lolloTdn^ year Jean 
<|h» same operation on iaan«^* a droomatanoe 
to t^ Firenoh *. Boeriiaave, in oommenting 
^dn reault, says : * the expeiiment was soon received with 
^^lanae both throtij^ SVanoe and Bni^and, and great things 
were expected from it in the cure of disease s and the recovery of 
yonth . 1 , . bat in a little dme all these expectations disappeared, 
and Ihte experiment was prohidted to be made on men by the 
paUic law *. Ih a letter to N. Steno, dated 1067, but not published 
at the lime, Franbesco Redi (1626-68) mentions that he had 
iiKitaatly killed two dogs and a hare by injecting air into the 
veins, but a sheep and two foxes died more slowly. !Flnally 
Clarke (1668) * states that he had been engaged for many years 
in injecting various liquids into the blood of living animals, but 
he had grave doubts as to its utility except for anatomical pur- 
poses. Theininutes of the Royal Society for May 28, 1660, reo<nd 
that *Dr. Churke was intreated to bring in the experiment of 
injections into the veins *--^which doubtless refers to the phyno- 
logical experiment. 

Froih Glisson up to the time of de Graaf sufficient progress 
was made in the methods of injection to justify the statement 
that de Graaf simply collated and fixed the knowledge of his 
time, but added to it little that was new. Wepfer * investigated 
the vascular supply of the brain by means of injections of saffron 
water, and gives the first correct descripidon of the course and 
branching of the carotid artery and of the vessels of'Uie brain 
meml^anes. Important results were achieved by Malin^** He 
recommends examining the vessels of the lungs under the powerful 
illumination of the rays of the sun. If this should inove inadequate 

1 Lower (1631-91), * The snooew of the experiment of tnuufosing the 

Uood of one into ao^er', Phitotopkieal Trantaetioits, London, 1666, 

4to, vdL i, p. SSST. 

• Timothy OlariKe (ob. 1672), 'Some anatomioal invmitians and obaenrations, 
parlioolariy rdalive to the orii^ of the injeotkm into veina, the tranafoalon of 
blood, and the pacta of gmeration *; PkiUtiopkkai TrantaeiioiUt London, 1668, 
4io, iii, p. 678. 

* Johann Jakob Wepfer (1620-86), Obaanwrionaa riiMriomteia, Schaffhauaen, 
1668, 8w>. 

« MacoaOo Malpighi (1688-U4), De Pvlmimibue, Bologna, 1661, Id. 



air may be driven into the main trunk of the pulmonary artery, 
when the vessels will swell up and appeur in all their ramifications 
as if they were carved with a chisel. Even the smallest branches 
are dilated and stretched out like the branches of a tree. Or if 
a still more refined method be necessary, mercury can be S3ndnged 
into the same vessel, whereupon all its branches up to the finisst 
twigs will assume a beautiful silver colour. But the doubt which 
still, he says, tortured his mind, which his injection of liquids of 
different colours did not resolve, was whether the arteries and 
veins were discontinuous, and only connected up indirectly by 
a spongy parenchyma, or whether the junction was effected 
directly by microscopic vessels. He repeats Harvey’s experiment, 
and finds that water or a black liquid syringed into the pulmonary 
artery emerges by the pulmonary vein. Sometimes also it emerges 
by the trachea. He is not misled by this surprising result, but 
realizes that injections may extravasate and give rise to erroneous 
conclusions. Subsequently he saw the blood capillaries in the lung 
of the frog, but injections played no part in that memorable 
discovery. A few years later, in 1666,' Malpighi is investigating 
the structure of the kidney by injection methods. He used ink, 
urine coloured with ink, a black or other coloured liquid, and 
a black liquid mixed with spirits of wine. A coloured fluid injected 
with a syringe into the renal artery reaches the smallest branches 
of the artery and the * internal glands ’ (since called Malpighian 
bodies), so as to produce the appearance of a * beautiful tree 
loaded with apples He was not able to inject these bodies from 
the veins, nor could the uriniferous tubules be injected either 
from arteries or veins. He regards the uriniferous tubule as the 
excretory duct of the Malpighian body, but did not succeed in 
actually demonstrating the connexion ^tween them. 

Bellini, who was only nineteen years of age when he produced 
his remarkable work on the structure of the kidney,^ is said to 
have used an injection medium which melted with heat. He 
mentions mercury, which he appears to have employed for injec- 
tion purposes, and talks of artificially distinguishing the vessels 
by injecting some coloured liquid into the renal artery and vein, 
but does not state the nature of the medium or the colours selected. 

^ Marcello Malpighi, Exereiiatio Anatomica de Reniims, Bologna, 1666, 4to. 

* Lorenzo Bellini (1643-1704), De Struetwra Itenvm, Florencio, 1662, 4to. 


Robert Boyle ^ is responsible for a striking contribution to the 
technique of injection. He sa^^ : 

* And perhaps there may be some way to keep the arteries 
and the veins too, when they are empty*d of blood, plump, and 
unapt to shrink overmuch, by filling them betimes with some 
such substance, as, though fluid enough when it is injected to run 
into the branches of the vessels, wiU afterwards quickly grow hard. 
Such may be the liquid plaister of burnt Alabaster, formerly 
mention'd, or ising-glass steeped two days in water, and then 
boild up, till a drop of it in the cold will readily turn into a still 
gelly. Or else Saccarum Satumi, which, if it be dissolv'd often 
enough in spirit of vinegar, and the liquor be each time drawn 
pff again, we have observ'd to be apt to melt with the least heat, 
and afterwards to grow quickly into a somewhat brittle consistence 

This is the first unequivocal mention of solidifying injection 
media, and it is noteworthy that two of them, plaster and gelatin, 
are in use at the present day, and also that Boyle does not suggest 
the addition of colour — an improvement with which he can hardly 
have been unfamiliar. Whether he ever carried his suggestions 
into practice is doubtful. It is true that Grew in 1681 asserts 
that Boyle was the first to use wax as an injection mass, but 
Boyle himself says, ‘ but I must not insist on these fancies ' ; and 
again in 1659, when commenting on the anatomical methods of 
de Bills, ‘ most of the ways I proposed to myself were as yet little 
more than bare designs ’. Saccarum Saturni, it may be mentioned, 
is acetate or sugar of lead, the preparation of which by the old 
method is given by James.’ It has a waxy consistency. 

In his work on the anatomy of the brain, Willis ’ brings the 
new method into useful practice. The vessels of the brain, he 
says, are * seen better and more distinctly, if you first squirt into 
the carotidick artery some black liquor ’. He injects the rete 
mirabile of ruminants from the carotid .with ink, and finds that 
the injection reaches the carotid of the other side. In another 
passage his instruments are mentioned, as follows : 

* Let the carotidick arteries be laid bare on either side of the 
cervix or the hinder part of the head, so that their little tubes or 

^ Hon. Robert Boyle (1627-91), Of the Usefuhuaee of NatureM PhVoMphy, 
Oxford, 1663, 4to. 

* Robert James (1706-76), A Medicinal Dictionary, London, 1745, fob, 
Yol. iii, art. Plumbum. 

* Tliomas Willis (1621-76), CerAri AnaUmc, London, 1664, 4to. 


pipes, about half an inch long, may he exhibited together to the 
sight ; then let a dyed Uquor, Mid contained in a large squirt or 
pipe, he injected upwards in the trunk of one side, after once 
or twice injecting, you shall see the tincture or dyed liquor to 
descend from the other side by the trunk of the opposite artery ; 
yea, if the same he more copiously injected towards the head, 
from thence returning through the artery of the opposite side, it 
will go thorow below the Praecordiay even to the lower region of 
the body ; when in the meantime, little or nothing of the same 
tincture is carried thorow the outward and greater jugular veins. 
Then the head being opened, all the arteries, before the entrance 
of the head, and the veins of the same band with them, will be 
imbued with the colour of the same injected liquor.* 

Some years later, in 1672,' Willis was the first, to inject an 
Invertebrate. In an involved passage describing the heart and 
gills of the lobster, he mentions injecting a * black liquor * into 
the heart, from which it passed to the gills (!). He also injected 
the same liquid into the afferent branchial artery of a fish, and 
noted that it circulated through the gill and finally reached the 
dorsal aorta. Notwithstanding this significant result his ideas on 
the circulation of the blood in fishes are confused and difficult 
to follow. In 1676 “ Willis investigates the structure of the lungs 
by means of injections of the arteries, veins, and bronchi. He 
notes how these three factors are associated in the lung tissue, 
and points out how impossible it is to grasp their relations, or 
make a representation of them, without injections. He recom- 
mends * quicksilver, hot and flowing gypsum, wax mingled and 
made liquid with oyl of turpentine, or some such matter *. No 
colours are mentioned, which is again extraordinary, seeing that 
he was writing after Swammerdam, with whose work he must 
haye been acquainted. 

On March 27, 1667, Pecquet * described a supposed connexion 
between the thoracic duct, which he had rediscovered in 1661, 
and the renal vein in Man by inflating the duct with air through 
a quill. In this work he was assisted by Louis Gayant, one of 

1 T. Willis, De Anima Brviomm, Londem, 1672, 8vo. Also editions at Oxford 
and Amsterdam bearing same date. 

* T. Willis, PJutrmaceviice BatUmalU, 2, Oxford, 1076, 4to. 

* Jean Pecquet (1622-74), ‘ A new Discovery of the communication of the 
ductus thoracicus with the emulgent vein ’, Philoeophiad Transactiona, London, 
1667, 4to, vol. ii, p. 461. Tnmslation of a letter which appeared in the Journal 
dea Sfavana, 1667, 8vo., and elsewhere. 


the Parisian comparative anatomists. On February 8, 1672, 
Pecquet '■ professes to have discovered by injections a direct con- 
nexion between the thoracic duct and the postcaval vein. He 
forced into the thoracic duct with a syringe hot milk or a substance 
which was fluid when thrown in hot but solidified on cooling. He 
gives no indication as to what this substance was, but states that 
the method succeeded ‘ in part *. Before the operation, the body 
was warmed by injecting nearly boiling milk. As regards publica- 
tion, Pecquet slightly anticipates Swammerdam’s ‘ invention ’ of 
a solidifying injection medium, and was himself anticipated by 
Boyle. Walter Needham, who criticizes Pecquet’s paper in the 
Philosophical Transactions for 1672, and points out his mistakes, 
refers to the ‘ coagulating injection ’, but docs not appear to have 
been greatly impressed by it. 

A year before the publication of de Graaf’s tract, * Theodorus 
Aides ’ ^ injected the arteries of a foetal cow with a black liquid, 
and found correctly that the uterine cotyledons were uninjected. 
The reverse experiment of injecting the uterine arteries was 
responsible for the erroneous belief that the placentae could bo 
injected from the cotyledons. Monro, however, considers that in 
the latter case Slade’s expression * “ carried into the substance of 
the placentae ” may signify no more than effused on their unequal 
pappy substance ’. 

The small tract by do Graaf, published in 1668,^ is important 
not as an original contribution to the subject, but because it 
brings contemporary knowledge to a focus, and determines the 
fate of the injection method. He is the first to figure an injecting 
syringe of the modern pattern, and is credited with having 
injected mercury into the spermatic vessels. He says his atten- 
tion had been directed to the subject of injections five years 
previously, owing to the great difficulty of tracing the blood- 
vessels by the methods of dissection then in use. By means of 
his S3ailige, however, it was possible to demonstrate all the arteries 
and veins of the body in a single day. Again, it was possible 

^ J. Pecquet, ‘ Une nouvelle d^couverte de la communication du canal thora- 
chique avec la veine cave infdrieure Journal des Sfavans, Paris, 1672, 8vo. 

* Matthaeus Slade (1628-89), Dwertatio epiatalica contra Chd. Harvtum 
interpolata, Amsterdam, 1667, 8vo. 

s Beinier de Qraaf (1641-73), De Uau Siphonis in Anakmia, Leyden and 
Rotterdam, 1668, 8vo. 


to establish by ea^riment the oiroulation of the blood. A liquid 
injected into the oarolid artery, after circulating through the 
brain, returned by the jugular vein, and if injected into the 

Fka. 1. Engraved title of the fixet edition of the Dt Unt Sif^tmia (1668). 

pulmonary artery it returned by the pulmonary vein to the left 
side of the heart. Other experiments of a inmilar nature are 
described. Thus de Graaf, as well as Malpighi and oth^, anti- 
cipates the publication of Harvey’s pioneer experiment made in 
1651. De Graaf describes the injection liquids used.' They are 


all watery preparations and have no permanency. A beautiful 
dark blue colour, he says, may be obtained by the action of sal 
ammoniac on copper. If this is found too ^fficult to prepare, 
use may be made of colours extracted from flowers, such as the 
violet, cornflower, and rose. All these colours may be changed 
by appropriate reagents, so that if only one extract is to hand 
other colours may be prepared 
from it. Further colours avail- 
able are gamboge and indigo, 
and a green is obtainable by 
mixing the two. He recom- 
mends gamboge and indigo be- 
cause they are easily procured, 
and,' unlike sal ammoniac, do 
not aflect the metal of the 

A typical and important 
experiment is thus described 
by de Graaf. If the carotid 
artery is injected towards the 
head with the green medium 
one sees 

* omnes partes, tarn internas, 
quam externas, quae ab arte> 
riis carotidibus sanguinem acci- 
piunt, colore viridi tingi ; quod 
iucundissimum spectaculum in 
cerebro exhibet, cuius super- 
ficies tarn dextra quam sinistra, 
propter anastomosin, quam in- 
terse habent utriusque lateris 
arteriae ab iniecto colore viridi 
plurimas quasi arborum figuras repraesentare videntur, quae non 
sunt nisi arteriarum ramificationes per cerebrum excurrentes 

Another example of de Graaf’s ingenuity is to inject the coeliao 
i^ery with a green medium, and the mesenteric artery with 
a yellow. He was thus able to delimit in a very diagrammatic 
way the portions of the gut supplied respectively by these two 
vessels. Milk injected into the liver gives it a white colour, and 
similarly the gland becomes green if a green liquid is used, from 
which he concludes that the colour of the liver is dependent on 

Fio. De Graaf s injection S3nringe and 

aocessories ( 1668 ) 

:m THE HiJSTORy of anatomical injections 

the contents of its vessels. I’he thoracic duct is injected and 
distended with milk, and the uterine vessels are inflated with air 
(1672). He also investigates the connexion between the vas 
deferens, seminal vesicles, and urethra by injections, and in the 
same way shows that the penis can be erected after death by 
injecting the internal iliac artery. His injection experiments were 
largely responsible for the debatcable view, held until comparatively 
recently, that the Mammalian seminal vesicle acts as a receptacle 
for the sjicrmatozoa. 

De Graaf’s syringe is not dissimilar to the modern instrument. 
It is made of copper or silver, 'riie canula is long and bent, and 
is screwed directly to tlie syringe, being tighteiM?d with a key and 
the joint made good by a leather washer. There is no stopcock. 
The pi.ston is packed with thread, and the key is drilled out to 
contain brass wires for cleaning the canula. Straus- Durckheim 
in 1843 states that the injection syringe had hardly been modified 
since the time of de Graaf, and that Swammerdam’s methods 
were still in use. 

In a paper dated December 17, 1668, King ‘ describes the 
structure of tht' testis. He holds that, apart from the arteries 
and veins, the testis consists of massed tubules — ‘ is a mere scheme 
or congeries of vessels ’. He proves that they ai’e liollow by 
injecting them with coloured spirit. These tubules, according to 
King, can be demonstrated in the rat by dissecting off the tunica 
albuginea and shaking them out in water, as first shown by de 

The Parisian eomparativc* anatomists of the seventeenth 
century - made little use of injection methods, but the few experi- 
ments they describe deserve attention. They study the structure 
of the: kidney of man and the lion by injee-ting milk into the renal 
vein, and are thus able to dis}>ose of the statement of Vesalius 
that the factors of the renal vein arise in the centre of the kidney. 
If an injecition be thrown into the pulmonary artery of a dog, it 
traverses the lung and emerges by the pulmonary vein muc;h more 
easily and quickly if the lung be kept inflated by a pair of bellows. 
In the tortoise tlu\v investigate the relations of the epididymis 

1 Sir Ediniinil King (1021J-170J)), ‘ ObsprvationH enneoming tho urgan8 of 
genoration PhiUmypMcal Travsnctionfi, London, 1609, 4to, vol. iv, p. 1043. 

* Claade Porrault (1613 -88), Nfynoireji potir semr a VhiMoire nalureJh deg 
animavx, Paris, 1671, 1676, fol. 


and testis, and conclude that the former is simply a convoluted 
tube. ‘ Having made an injection of a coloured liquor into this 
ductus, a great many other little ductus’s were made to rise, 
which did not appear before, and which went from the testicle 
to the epididymis ; these ductus’s being enclosed in the membrane 
which retained the circumvolutions of the epididymis, and which 
fastened it to the testicle.’ This result, combined with tliat 
described by King in 1668, may be said to inauguratt; our modern 
knowledge of the structur<‘ of tlu; testis and its related duets, but 
it was not until 1745 that Haller put the whole matter in a con- 
vincing light. 

Swammerdam ^ is usually regarded as the inventor of the 
solidifying injection mass. W(‘ have already seen that this claim 
cannot strictly be maintained, but it is also undeniable that Swam- 
merdam stereotyped tlui method, and was responsible for its 
general adoption bj" anatomists, after his time. Priority of publica- 
tion may belong to Boyle and Pecquet, but it is to Swammerdam, 
ont‘ of the grea^^est practical anatomists of all time, that the credit 
rightly belongs. According to the life by Boerhaave, who is 
followed by Straus-Durckheim, the first wax injection was made 
in van Horne’s house in Leyden on January 22, 1667, but this 
date is obviously an error, and is in fact contradicted not only 
by another passage in the same work, but also by Swammerdam 
himself, who states that in 1666, 1669, and 1670 h<? demonstrated 
his method to van Horne, Slade, Thevenot, and Steno. His results 
were to some extent incorporated in J. van Horne’s Prodromus 
of 1668, but the facts seem to be that whilst van Horne suggested 
the wax method, it was Swammerdam who first reduced it to 
practice. Swammerdam says ; ‘ Factum est, ut D. van Horne 
proj)onerem, structuram venarum et arteriarum beneficio iniectae 
rubrae vel virentis cerae detegi posse.’ J. Hudde (1640-1704), 
the eminent Dutch mathematician, also proposed to Swammerdam 
the use* of coloured injection media. Boerhaave adds that thci 
three plates of six figures were sent to the Royal Society on May 1, 
1672, accompanied by the actual specimen itself. The Imdy of 
the published work is dated March 5, 1670 [1671], and the ap{)endix 
May 1, 1672. The preparation of the uterus was in the collection 

* Jan Swammerdam (1637-SO), Mirarulum naturae, aive uteri muliefma 
fabrica, Leyden, 1672, 4to. 


of the Royal Society in 1681, when it was catalogued by Grew 
in the following words : * The womb of a woman, blown up mid 
dried. Together with the apermatiek veaada annexed; and the 
arteriea in the bottom of the uterua, undulated like the claspers 
of a vine ; all filled up with soft wax. Also the membranous and 
round ligameMa of the womb, the ureUray bladdery ditoriay nympluiey 
hymeny Fallopian fu&e, and the ovarya, commonly called the 

> Fto. 3. Utorus injected with red wax by Jan Swammerdam (1671), who preaonted this 

apeoimen to the Royal Society. 

tediclea ; all made most curiously visible, and given by Dr. 8vxim~ 
merdam. The descriptions and figures hereof may be seen in the 
same author’s book, printed at Leyden, 1672, and presented to 
the Boyal Society* In 1781 the Royal Society’s museum was 
handed over to the British Museum, and Swammerdam’s injected 
specimens of the uterus, gall bladder, and spl^n have since been 
lost sight of. • Swammerdam gives a brief description of his method. 
He used pure white wax, to which, when liquid, the red, yellow, 
green, or other colour as required was added. The medium was 
injected as a hot liquid with a syringe, care being taken to avoid 
the admission of air into the vessels because this was found to 


impede the injection. Before injecting, the blood was pressed out 
of the larger vessels in order that they might quickly and easily 
fill. When cool the wax solidified in the vessels, and the result 
was a permanent preparation which could not bleed if it should 
be necessary to dissect it. The discovery was communicated to 
his friend Buysch, who hailed Swammerdam in emphatic language 
as the inventor of the wax method. The uterus described in 1672 
was injected with soft red wax, blown up, and dried. Swam- 
merdam also practised colouring the wax differently for arteries 
and veins, and had previously in 1667 attempted physiological 
injections of acid liquids into 
the veins of living animals. In 
his history of bees, first pub- 
lished in 1738,' there is an inter- 
esting description of how he 
injected the blood-vessels of a 
Lepidopterous larva. He says 
the blood-vessel i of insect larvae 
are so very delicate and trans- 
parent that they cannot ordin- 
arily be discerned. 

‘tho»ghtherea»inven«o^.of ’Sii 
art, by the assistance of which 

we may come to the knowledge of them. In Silkworms I suc- 
ceeded by thn following method. ... I provide myself with a little 

glass tube, . . . which I take care to have made like a vial in the 
middle, at one end to be drawn out to the utmost smallness, and 

at the other end made thicker and broader, in order that the air 

blowing into it, may be conveniently forced in at this end : this 
done, I fill the little pipe with some thin liquor coloured, not, how- 
ever, of a very penetrating kind, let in through the thicker end, 
and then with the greatest caution xierforating the skin, I thrust the 
thinner end into the heart. This may be done easily enough. By 
these means, and then gently blowing into it, the heart, and many 
of the vessels shooting out from it, may be filled.* 

It is generally admitted that Prederik Buysch, the Professor 
of Anatomy at Amsterdam, is the apostle of the injection method,* 
which was in fact for some time referred to as the * Ruyschian 

^ J. Swammerdam, Biblia Naturae, Leyden, 1737-8, fol. 

* SVederik Ruysoh (1638-1731), Opera Omnia Anaiomico-tnedico-chirurgiea, 
Amsterdam, 1721-5, 4to. 


art *. Even his opponent Bidloo admits that he was a * subtle 
butcher % who welcomed even a dvil war which was to provide 
him with material for his studies. Ruysch was occupidl with 
anatomy between 1665 and 1728, and from about 1676 onwards 
was recognized as the leading exponent of injection experiments. 
He was the intimate friend of de Graaf, Swammerdam, and 
Boerhaave. Ruysch’s object was to produce finer and more com- 
plete and permanent injections than his predecessors. In the 
latter respect he was anticipated by Swammerdam, but he suc- 
ceeded in being the first to obtain extensive injections of the 
blood capillaries. His preparations surprised ‘ even the most 
learned part of mankind *, and, to quote Boerhaave, he was the 
first to demonstrate that there were not two arteries distributed 
alike throughout the whole body, for * in the liver they appear 
like small pencil brushes, in the testicles they are wound up like 
a ball of thread, in the kidneys they are infiected into angles and 
arches, in the intestines they ramify like the branches of trees, 
in the uvea they form circles aiid radii, in the brain they are 
waved in and out in a serpentine course, in the omentum they 
are disposed something like the meshes of a net, and in almost 
every other part of the body they assume a different and peculiar 
structure *. Already in 1664, as he tells us himself, Ruysch was 
making injected preparations of the spleen of the calf which were 
publicly demonstrated with applause by J. van Horne. 

Galen and the ancients believed ^hat there were parts of the 
body, to which they gave the name * spermatic % which had no 
vascular supply of any kind. This belief survived until the 
seventeenth century, when the fine wax injections of Ruysch 
demonstrated the occurrence of blood-vessels in bones, ligaments, 
tepdons, and membranes — ^in fact in all living tissues almost 
without exception. Ruysch therefore may claim the credit of 
establishing the ubiquity of the vascular system. 

Ruysch followed Swammerdam in injecting a substance which 
cooled in the vessels, and thus ensured the permanence of the 
preparation. His first attempts exceeded the achievements of 
Swammerdam, and vessels of extreme tenuity became visible to 
the naked eye. He was hence able to discover the thin fibrous 
periosteum of the auditory ossicles (1697), which had up to that 
time been regarded as naked, the vasa vasorum, the capillaries 
of the bronchial tubes, and the vessels of the choroid and other 


membranes. It is natural ^hat he should exalt the significance of 
his own discoveries, and that he should regard this most subtle 
and intrusive vascular system as having an existence per se. In 
1723, almost at the end of his life, his enthusiasm for injections 
is expressed in the foliowring passage : * Yah quantum est, quod 
nescivimus ante repletionis artem ! quantum didicimus per illam ! 
O minis naturae in ultima vascula olim invisibilia appulsus, quo 
tarn abscondita manifestantur ! O grata repletio, numquam con- 
temnenda deinceps, numquam laudanda satis ! ’ He claims, for 
example, that by establishing the high vascularity of the cerebral 
cortex, he has disproved its glandular 
nature as asserted by Malpighi, and 
his substitution of the vascular for the 
glandular theory of the cortex tends to 
obscure the important advance wrhich 
wras actually made. He is unusually 
and unfortunately emphatic on this 
point. Of all the discoveries which 
he has been making for forty years, 
he says in 1705, the most important 
is the proof that the cerebral cortex is 
not a gland but only a mass of blood- 
vessels. His injections were so refined 
that the parenchymatous elements Periosteum of the auditory 

were overlaid and obscured by the by R.,»h (1607). 

multitude of vessels which sprang into view. This, and doubtless 
certain extravasation effects, induced him in 1696 definitely to 
formulate the doctrine that the tissues were only vascular networks 
variously arranged (* totum corpus ex vasculis *). Already in 1605 
H. Ridley had stated this view, and as late as the eighteenth century 
William Hunter was still teaching that the glands consisted of a 
concourse of vascular elements and excretory ducts wdthout any 
definite br apparent parenchymatous basis. Ruysch had injected 
the arteries and veins of certain glands, macerated them in water, 
and then unravelled them without finding anything but a tangle 
of injected vessels. Ruysch, however, did not hold that a gland 
was formed wholly of blood-vessels, but admitted that between 
the extremities of the vessels there existed a neutral pulpy sub- 
stance. He believed, further, that the blood was poured directly 
into the factors of the excretory ducts of the glands, since his 


wax injection thrown into an artery emerged by the excretory 
duct without entering any intermediate non>vascular tissue or 
spaces on the way. * The ceraceous injection of Ruysch being 
artfully impelled makes its way [via the uriniferous tubules] even 
into the pelvis of the kidney from the arteries * (Boerhaave). 

* This was the principal ground for the famous, but now exploded 
theory of the existence of exhalant arteries with open mouths, 
which in the secretory glands opened directly into the excretory 
ducts * (Bowman). On this view there was no need for a paren- 
chyma, but Ruysch was unable to deny the existence of a non- 
vascular tissue in the lingual glands, although he maintained that 
the lobules of the liver consisted of bunches of vessels without 
any parenchyma. His views on the ultimate structure of animal 
tissues were strongly supported by Cowper and Nuck. 

As a result of Ruysch’s experiments there arose a * despotism 
of injections ’, which attributed the functions of the tissues to the 
specific disposition and peculiarities of their vascular supply. This 
disposition was believed to exist in infinite variations, and the 
diverse activities of the tissues were explained as the necessary 
consequence of such variations. Malpighi, who had correctly 
stated the relations between glandular tissue and its blood supply, 
was thus strongly opposed and beaten down by Ruysch and his 
followers, who denied the very existence of glandular tissue, and 
saw nothing in a gland but a subtle complex of blood capillaries. 
Two exceptions to this vascular autocracy were admitted — the 
ovary and the testis, the fabric of which Ruysch was never able 
to prepare by injection, and he concluded therefore that red blood 
did not penetrate into the essential parts of these glands. Nuck 
and Cowper (1697) also failed to inject the testis. 

. Another consequence of Ruysch’s injections was an improved 
method of preserving bodies from putrefaction, for which his name 
became famous in all the schools of Europe. In 1666, by order 
of the Dutch Government, Ruysch, who was then in his twenty- 
eighth year, undertook to preserve by vascular injection the body 
of Vice-Admiral Sir William Berkeley, whose ship had been 
captured, and the admiral himself killed, when leading the van 
in the gallant but hopeless contest of June 1. The experiment, 
though made more difficult by the putrefaction of the body and 
the admiral’s wounds, was wholly successful, and the Dutch 
chivalrously returned the body to England in condition as fresh, 


we are told, as that of an infant. Ruysoh was encouraged to 
attempt other preparations of a simihur nature for his own Museum, 
which has been described as a * perfect necropolis, all the inhabi- 
tants of which were asleep and ready to speak as soon as they 
were awakened *. Buysch himself says : * Sunt mihi parvula 
cadavera, a viginti annis balsamo munita, quae tarn nitide sunt 
conservata, ut potius dormire videantur, quam exanimata esse 
corpuscula.* Entire bodies of infants and adults were mummified 
by vascular injection of possibly some preparation of arsenic, with 
what success the following paraphrase of an eloquent passage in 
Eloy provides ample testimony : ' * 

All the bodies which he injected preserved the tone, the 
lustre, and the freshness of youth. One would have taken them 
for living persons in profound repose — ^their limbs in the natural 
paralysis of sleep. It might almost be said that Buysch had 
discovered the secret of resuscitating the dead. His mummies 
were a revelation of life, compared with which those of the 
Eg 3 rptians presented but the vision of death. Man seemed to 
continue to livo in the one, and to continue to die in the other. 

A quaint manifestation of Buysch’s interest in injections is to 
be found in his Museum. The skeletons are throwm into dolorous 
attitudes and provided wdth anatomical pocket handkerchiefs of 
injected omentum, their wrists are adorned with organic and 
Injected frills, and even the bladder used to seal the mouths of 
the jars has been carefully injected. Of the methods by which 
his wonderful preparations were produced we have but scanty 
knowledge. Even his friend Boerhaave, who was occasionally 
present when Buysch was injecting, is silent as to his methods. 
When Peter the Great, on his second visit to Amsterdam, acquired 
Buysch’s collections in 1717, having first seen and coveted them 
in 1698, it is said that he stipulated that the preparations should 
be accompanied by a description of the methods of the preparateur. 
This was accordingly drawn up by Buysch, and ultimately found 
its way into the library of the University of St. Petersburg, 
founded in 1819. In 1742 an account of tMs manuscript, based 
on the copy in Buysch’s handwriting, was published by Joannes 
Christophorus Bieger. Bieger had been in the employ of Peter 
the Great, after whose death in 1726 he retired to Holland, where 

^ Obviously inspired, however, by a passage in Fontenelle’s Sloge de Ruyteh, 
publidied in 1731 , which itself owes something to the rhetoric of Ruysch himself. 



he lived over a bookseller^s shop, and oomialed the work which 
» includes the description of Buysch’s methods. He states that he 
saw the manuscript by permission of the President of the Imperial 
Academy of St. Petersburg. Now, the Academy was only founded 
in 1725, so that he must have examined the manuscript b^ore 
his retirement to Holland, and after the death of Peter the Great. 
It seems probable that Buysch’s collections and manuscript 
were for a time handed over to the care of the Academy, since 
a description of the preparations was issued by that body in 1741.‘ 
From Bieger we learn the following details of Buysch’s pro- 
cedure. Macerate the body to be injected in cold water for a day 
or two. Slit up the aorta and vena cava and press out the blood, 
and immerse the body in hot water from four to six hours. The 
injection used is in the winter suet or tallow, and in the summer 
a little white wax is added. Another mass may be prepared by 
mixing wax, turpentine, and resin. The colour employed is ver- 
milion, or spirits of wine and vermilion, and the larger vessels 
are afterwards filled with wax to prevent the escape of the spirit. 
Two tubes are fixed in the aorta, one being directed forwards aifd 
the other backwards, and the vena cava is hgatured. The vessels 
are filled by means of two heated syringes, and the subject is to 
be moved about continually in cold water after the operation to 
prevent the gravitation of the heavy vermilion whilst the mass is 
setting. Having been injected the specimen is preserved in diluted 
idcohol, which Buysch distilled hims^ from barley. Black pepper 
was added to assist its penetrative power. The strength of the 
alcohol was only about 67 per cent. — too weak for the purposes 
of permanent conservation, although no deterioration was observ- 
able during Buysch’s own lifetime. Hyrtl suggests that the secret 
handed over to Bieger when it was seen that the preparations 
were becoming worthless, and we have the statement of Jesse 
Foot, publish^ in 1794, that * 1 saw the preparations, belonging 
to Buysch, which are deposited in the Museum at Petersburg, 
going apace into decay*, and before this, in 1748 lieberktihn, 
who had examined examples of Buysch’s injection mass, con- 
sidered it too fluid to last, whilst the preparations themselves did 
not stand microscopic examination. In order to display the 

> Ruysoh's second odleotaon was catalogued by himsdf in 1724 and 1728, 
and by Abraham Vater, who had been (me of his pu]^, in 1736-40. 


From the first edition of his collected works 

ii^ipited «!ith oil 

It IB c^'dooi in tiie Bioger dbennimt that Ri^rBoh ooneoBlB 
duclosee. In tlie sabeequent literatiue there ere, 
’ bj various anatomicrte as to the composition of 

but none of them cany the authority or con- 
the definite if meagre statements of Rieger. Besides 
was very successful in the use of the infiati<Hi 
methlid. The lymphatior vessds were infiated by means of glass 
■ tttbesy dried, and dissected so as to expose the valves, of which 
^.Buysch, though not the discoverer, was the earliest to publish 
a careful study in his first paper issued in 1605. 

From Ruysoh to lieberktthn, who established the importance 
of microwopic injections, there is an extensive literature— *not, 
however, of sufficient interest to be dealt with other than briefly. 
Blankaart ^ seems to have been the first to demonstrate 6y injee~ 
Hona that thf connexion between arteries and veins was not by 
a spongy peuenohyma but by ca^Uaries, a conclusion already 
reached by liibdiHighi, and confinD^ a few years later by Lange * 
and Leeuwenhoek (1689)» spn of Thomas 

and the grandson cd two works dealing with 

injections when he st^ vctyv young, in the earlier of which 
he was accused ty his cofiftlmippsilw^ oi subtle pla§^arism. His 
advance on de Qraaf is itel %e was the first to recommend 
systematically flushing out the vessels with water before throwing 
in the coloured injection, thus anticipating a modem refinement. 
He proceeds as follows : the part is steeped in tepd water in 
order to soften the clotted blood, which is then removed from the 
vessels by an injection of warm water. This preliminary operation 
is facilitated by ligaturing the return vein and suddenly releasing 
the ligature, when the sharp rush of the hot water carries the 
blood with it. He claims for tiiis method a finer and more general 
injection, but this was questioned by later writers, who asserted 
that the water foft the vessels, and produced misleading infiltra- 

^ Steven Blankaart (16S0-1702), TraetahM imu$ die eiradatione eanj/uime, 
Awateidaiii, 1876, 12mo. 

» CSifigtiaii JdhaimeB Lange (1666-1701), Diepukdio ie eiremUidone aanfuinU, 
1680, 4to. 

• Catpir Ba r tholin (1666 t 1768), JDe diapkf^igmatk etruetura nova, Paris, • 
16741^ ‘Ovn. Adminiiehviiomm anatomkamm eftHdmm, j^nnkfurt, 1670, 8vo. 




tions in the surrounding tissues. Bartholin’s apparatus was either 
a modified syringe or a specially constructed machine devised to 
facilitate his irrigation experiments. The principle of both, how- 
ever, is the same, viz. that an unlimited supply of the injection 
fluid can be forced into the vessels without withdrawing the nozzle 
from the artery. This is effected by a T-piece and valves, but he 
admits that, owing to temperature difficulties, his contrivance is 
not suitable for wax injection, for which the ordinary syringe 

must still be used. Bartholin was the 
first to devise an injection apparatus with 
a continuous feed, but it found little 
favour until Straus-Durckheim in 1843, 
and Robin in 1849, developed the idea 
and recommended a more complex form 
of it. It is to be noted that de Graaf 
and Bartholin are the first to figure in- 
jection syringes. Bartholin injected air, 
water, and various coloured liquids, but 
does not favour wax. He produces a 
green by mixing gamboge and indigo, as 
already described by de Graaf. 

Duncan is perhaps the earliest writer 
definitely to advocate the use of mercury,^ 
and to contrast the arteries and the veins 
by injecting them with different colours. 

Via. 6. Injection appliances He employs usually melted wax thinned 
of Caspar Bartholin (1679). The •v^rith turpentine aiid oil, and also a black 

disconnecting the apparatus. hquid. His wax injection IS according 

to the method of M, Swammerdam ’, 
except that ho recommends that as the wax hardens quickly 
it is better to inject the animal when it is still alive ! He. 
refers to Swammerdam also as experimenting with mercury for 
injections. Duncan injected one colour first by the jugular vein, 
and then another colour by the vertebral artery. ‘ Thus the 
arteries and veins are easily distinguished by their different 
colour ’, and the communications between the arteries and veins 
are demonstrated. The experience which the great comparative 
anatomist Duverney derived from injections was strangely 

1 Daniel Duncan (164&-1736), Explication nouveUe et micanique dea actions 
animales, Paris, 1678, 12mo. 


unfortunate.^ In two papers written in 1679 and 1683, but not 
published until 1733, he anticipates the speculation of Ruysch 
by stating that the so-called solid tissues of the body are 
nothing but a miraculous concourse of different vessels, and that 
when all the liquids have been expressed from a tissue nothing 
is left but canals and vesicles. In the Stork his injections failed 
to reveal the lacteal vessels or the thoracic duct, the occurrence 
of which in Birds he therefore doubts. An injection thrown into 
the mesenteric vein passes into the cavity of the intestine, and 
conversely if a portion of the gut be filled with milk, ligatured at 
both ends, and then compressed, the milk is forced into the 
mesenteric vein. He holds that the chyle in the Bird passes via 
the mesenteric veins to the liver. 

Dismissing Charleton,® who refers to ‘ various manual opera- 
tions besides mecr dissection such as ‘ infiations, injections of 
clivers liquors by syringes *, Simon Lescot (c. 1615-90), the surgeon 
who is supposed to have introduced Swammerdam’s wax method 
into France c. 1680, and de Heyde, who practised physiological 
injections on living dogs,’’ we come to Bidloo,* who inaugurated 
an injection experiment which, appUed as it afterwards was to 
the blood system, became very popular in the eighteenth century. 
He filled the lungs with ‘ fused bismuth *, afterwards removing 
the soft parts by corrosion, thus producing a permanent cast in 
metal of the cavities of the lung. By ‘ fused bismuth ’ must be 
understood not the pure metallic substance, which melts at too 
high a temperature for the purpose, but a complex mixture con- 
taining bismuth and mercury, some preparation^ of which had 
almost the consistency of wax. 

The English comparative an&tomist Samuel Collins ” has never 
achieved the reputation which his work undoubtedly deserves. 
It is contemptuously regarded by Hutchinson as ‘ of less value 
than the head that is placed before it ’ — ^referring to the beautiful 

1 Joseph Guichard Duvemey (1648-1730), Histoire de I’Acadimie Royale dee 
Scieneea, Paris, 1733, 4to, T. 1, pp. 278 and 363. 

• Walter Charleton (1619-1707), Enquiries into Human Nature, London, 
1680, 4to. 

• Anton van der Heyde, Ceniuria Observationum Medicarum, Ainsterriam, 
1683, 8vo. 

* Govard Bidloo (1649-1713), Anatomia hutnani corporis, Amsterdam, 
1686, fol. 

* Samuel Collins (1618-1710), A System of Anatomy, London, 168^, 2 vols., fol. 


engraving of Collins by Faithorne which constitutes the frontis- 
piece. Collins, however, made little use of injections, and his few 
experiments served but to mislead him. He employed white wax 
and vermilion, and as a result adopted views on the relations of 

t'lo. 7. The lymphatics of the urogenital organs injected with mercury 

by Anthony Nuck (1691). 

the cephalic and genital arteries and veins contrary to the know- 
ledge even of his own time. His contemporary Nuck,' on the 
other hand, wielded the syringe with admirable results. He 
injected red coloured wax and coloured fluids. The wax was 
mixed with oil to make it sufficiently fluid to reach the flnest 
branches, but his chief medium was mercury, which he was the 
^ Anthony Nuck (1650-92), De dwAu aalivali novo, Leyden, 1685, 16mo. 
Adenographia euriosa, Loj-den, 1691. 8vo. 


first to put to extensive use. He also experimented with an 
amsdgam of mercury and lead or tin, and a preparation called 
tinctura mercurialis, the composition of which is not given. 
Nuck*s general description of the lymphatics is one of the most 
complete before Mascagni. He investigated the structure of the 
secretory glands by injecting their ducts, lymphatics, and arteries 
and veins, and also by inflation. He was the first to demonstrate, 
by means of mercury injection, that the lymph stream passes 
through and beyond the lymphatic glands and is not interrupted 
by them. He was also the first thoroughly to explore the 
constitution of the secretory and lymphatic glands and of the 
lymphatic system by mercury injections. But his experiments led 
him into numerous errors. He found that mercury passed from 
the lacteals and lymphatics into the arteries, and concluded from 
this that the lymphatics arose from the arteries. In the same 
way he deduces that the ramifications of the arteries are connected 
up with the factors of the salivary ducts. He inflated the arteries 
of the spleen and kidney and saw air pass into the lymphatics, 
and hence believed that the lymphatics were veins. It was not 
until 1767 that Monro sccundus finally demonstrated that Nuck’s 
errors were due to extravasation effects. A similar misconception 
was based on his injection with mercury of the glandular lobules 
of the mammary gland, when the mercury found its way into the 
blood-vessels — especially the arteries. 

The botanist Camerarius ^ was one of the pioneers of mercury 
injection. He injected the testis from the vas deferens, and other 
organs, with milk, wax of diverse colours, and mercury, and also 
inflated them with air. Compare the preceding and later work on 
the injection of the testis of Perrault, King, and Haller. The 
inevitable mercury extravasation induced the belief that there 
was a connexion between the seminal tubules and the lymphatics. 
In 1686 A. van der Heyde injected the gastro- vascular canals of 
Aurelia.with a black liquid. Contrary to expi;ctation Leeuwenhoek * 
does not appear to have practised injections himself, but he 
mentions injections of hot wax, and gives the following interesting 
description of a mercury injection ; ‘ A certain doctor of Physic, 

1 Budolphus Jacobus Camerarius (1605-1721), ‘ De nova vasorum semini* 
feromm et lymphaticorum in testibus communicatione *, Ephem. Acad. Nat. 
Cur., Ann. 1686, 1688, NOrnberg, 1687, 1689. Dec. 2, Ann. 7, p. 432, 4to. 

* Anthony van Leeuwenhoek (1632-1723), Vervolg der Brieven geschretvn aan 
de Koninglijke Societeit tot Lond>m, Delff, 1689, p. 336, 4to, 


to whom, among other persons, I had shown the circulation of 
the blood, told me thfiat this circulation had also been exhibited 
to him by a chirurgical gentleman ; and on my desiring to know 
how it was shown to him, he said by injecting quicksilver into 
an artery, which circulated back again through a vein ; but 
when I asked him how they were assured that one of the vessels 
in which the experiment was made was an artery, and the other 
a vein, he answered that they were not certain as to that xx)int. 
I also asked him what was the size of the vein in which the 
quicksilver, so injected, was circulated ; to which he answered, 
that it was above a thousand times larger than those vessels in 
which he had seen the circulation of the blood at my house.’ 
Leeuwenhoek was not convinced by this experiment, holding 
that it was possible the injection might return by an artery 
instead of a vein, and thus not necessarily demonstrate the 
circulation. On the other hand, Ray ^ believes that the structure 
of the body may easily be detected by blowing air into the 
vessels and drying the preparation, or by injecting melted wax 
or quicksilver with syringes. He accepts the doctrine of the 
tubular (i. e. non-parenchymatous) structure of the glands, and 
considers it wonderful that * all the glands of the body should be 
congeries of various sorts of vessels cur’d, circumgyrated, and 
complicated together, whereby they give the blood time to stop 
and separate through the pores of the capillary vessels into the 
secretory ones, which afterwards all exonerate themselves into one 
common ductus ’. In his work on the brain Ridley ® found 
injection experiments very helpful. He says : ‘ Other bodiSs have 
been introduc’d by injection, as tinged wax and mercury^ the first 
of which by its consistence chiefly, the other by its permanent 
nature and colour, contribute mightily towards bringing to view 
Uie most minute ramifications of vessels, and secretest recesses of 
Nature.’ He prefers mercury to wax, the latter being too coarse 
for the finest vessels. ‘ By an injection with mercury I find scarce 
any nerves but what hath some such small ramifications of blood* 
vessels in them.’ His ‘ chief hopes ’ were based on mercury, but 
he is almost the first to recognize that extravasations might make 
mercury injections * altogether, useless *. 

1 John Bay (1628-1706), Tht Wisdom of Qod manifested in the works of the 
Creation, London, 1601, 8vo. 

* Humphrey Ridley (1653-1708), The Anatomy of the Brain, London, 1605, 8vo. 


The Ruyschian art found an enthusiastic supporter in the 
arch'pla^anst Cowper.^ Besides inflating the vessels with air and 
drying the prepajration, he used as injection masses plaster of 
Paris, wax, and mercury. With the latter he injected the biliary 
ducts, kidney, lymphatic system, and carotid artery. He demon- 
strates by mercury injections that the maternal blood-vessels 
penetrate into the placenta,* but although he found, as related 
by Drake, that mercury injected into the uterine artery of a cow 
passed via the cotyledons into the foetus, ho hesitates definitely 
to comniiit himself to the continuity of maternal and foetal blood. 
There was a strong tendency at the time- to believe so natural an 
assumption, as witness the following passage from Drake (1707) : 

‘ On the other hand, if the arteries of the uterus were continued 
to the veins of the same part, and those of the foetus in like 
manner, without communicating with each other, their confluence 
in the placenta seems to be altogether impertinent and of no use, 
and the umbilical arteries and vein fram’d for no other service 
or purpose, than to give the blood room for an idle sally.’ Cowper 
injected mercury into the lactiferous tubes of the mammary gland, 
and he confirms Nuck in finding it emerge by the blood-vessels. 
His injection experiments lead him into many other errors, as, for 
example, when he describes a mass thrown into the renal artery 
escaping by the ureter. Mercury is used, and also variously 
coloured wax, to inject other than vascular cavities, e. g. the 
Fallopian tubes. The arteries of a foetus are demonstrated by 
a wax injection. He uses wax of four different colours to inject 
the liver — hepatic artery, red ; portal vein, ‘ dark ’ colour ; post- 
caval, ‘ distinguishable ’ colour ; and bile duct, yellow. The liver 
lobules were next roughly separated, slightly macerated, and the 
parenchyma removed with a stiff brush of hog’s bristles. Wax is 
injected into the salivary and pancreatic ducts to ascertain how 
these ducts are formed within the gland. Cowper also fiUed the 
pulmonary passages with ‘ block tin and macerated off the soft 
pa^ts. These preparations of liver and lung are among the earliest 
corrosion experiments of which we have any record, but the idea 
is obviously borrowed from Bidloo, who in his turn owes something 

‘ William Cowper (1666-1709), The Anatomy of Humane Bodies, Oxford, 1698, 
fol. Some copies are dated 1697, but the work was not published until May, 1 698. 

* Monro concludes that on this point Cowper is speaking d priori, and not 
from what he actually saw. 


to the excarnation preparations of Spigelius and Glisson described 
in 1627 and 1654., Block tin in the seventeenth century was 
a more or less pure tin as now, and hence on account of its high 
melting-point could not have been employed as Cowper states. 
He must therefore have made use of an alloy. 

A short but important paper by Homberg was written in 1699, 
but not published until 1702.^ Homberg experimented with wax, 
mercury, and turpentine — not the modern oil of turpentine, but 
a resin of the consistency of honey. He is also the first, if not to 
introduce, at least to demonstrate the practicability of injecting 
metals of low fusibility. His metal injection consisted of equal 
parts of lead, tin, and bismuth, which remains liquid at a tem- 
perature below the scorching-point of paper. Subsequently Newton 
and d’Arcet found that by altering the proportions of these three 
ingredients, and principally by increasing the percentage of bis- 
muth, the melting-point was reduced, and the addition of mercury 
carried the reduction still further. Homberg finds the consistency 
and melting-point of wax and turpentine unsuitable for injection, 
whilst mercury escapes from the smallest cut. He believes the 
principal difficulty to be air in the vessels, and he professes to 
have overcome this difficulty by means of a complicated piece of 
apparatus which inflated and dried the vessels, thus facilitating 
the escape of the air. This apparatus, however, was afterwards 
discarded as an unnecessary refinement, and he next tried the 
interesting experiment of exhausting the air in the vessels by 
means of an air pump before throwing in the injection — a method 
said to have been one of the secrets of Ruysch. Then he runs in 
the hot metal as above, and after it has cooled, he removes the 
soft parts by maceration or otherwise, so that he has finally 
a permanent metal cast of the cavities of the vessels. He is alive 
to the danger of attempting such an injection on material which 
has been in water, and he recommends that such material should 
be first dried for a day in the air pump. Homberg is undoubtedly 
the pioneer of the so-called corroded preparation — ^a method which 
lost interest in the nineteenth century but was never absolutely 
abandoned, whilst recently the popular use of the low fusible 
alloys has resulted in its re-introduction. 

In the first half of the eighteenth century the sciences of 

^ Guillaume Homberg (1652-1715), * Essais sur les injections anatomiques,’ 
Hist, de VAcadimie Royale des Sciences, Paris, 1702, Ann. 1600, 8vo. 


Anatomy and Physiology were making great progress principally 
by means of injection methods. All the literature of the period 
refers to the still fascinating doctrine of the circulation, and the 
injection syringe was the most popular and trusted instrument of 
the time. Hovius * worked out the circulation in the iris, ciliary 
process, and lachrymal gland by injections of wax and mercury. 
He describes vessels in the cornea, although none are present in 
a state of health, and professes also to have discovered vessels 
in the lens and humours of the eye, and to have established 
a dehnite circulation in those parts. Mery’s injections of air and 
water ‘ represent a very definite advance towards an understanding 
of the mechanism of respiration, but the unsoundness of his 
methods, as pointed out by G. B. Biilffinger in 1732, was against 
a more important result. 

Vieussens’ injection experiments * can only be generally con- 
demned, and it is doubtful whether he obtained a single valid 
result. In his earlier work on the brain he used spirits of wine 
or brandy tinged with a saffron colour, and also black and green 
liquors and ink, but he gives no account of his material or pro- 
cedure. Only local injections are described. Thus coloured spirits 
of wine pumped into the carotid artery reaches the longitudinal 
sinus directly from the arteries of the dura mater — an error after- 
wards corrected by Ruysch and Rau. His later publications arc 
more detailed as regards injections, and he is now using mercury. 
His injections of the latter substance, obviously conducted at too 
great a pressure, result in deplorable errors. Mercury thrown into 
the trachea passed into the blood-vessels of the lungs, if injected 
into the mesenteric artery it escaped into the cavity of the intestine, 
from the cystic artery it found its way into the gall-bladder, and 
from the uterine arteries it penetrated into the cavity of the 
vagina but not that of the uterus. As the result of his injections 
he deduces that there is a connexion between the arteries and the 
lymphatic system. The lymphatic duct is regarded as a lymphatic- 

^ Jacobus Hovius, De circulari humorum oeularium motu, Inaug. diss. Utrecht, 

1702, 4to. EJditio nova, Leyden, 1716, 8vo. 

* Jean de M4ry (1645-1722), Histoire de VAeadimie Rnyede dee Sciences, Paris, 

1703, Ann. 1700. Ibid. 1708, Ann. 1707,. 8vo. 

* Raymond Vieussens (1641-1716),' Neurographia Universalis, Lyons, 1684, 
fol. ; Novum vasorum corporis human* systema, Amsterdam, 1706, 8to. ; Disser- 
tatio anatomica de structura uteri et placentae muliebris, Cologne, 1712, 4to ; 
Expiriences et Edflexions sur la structure el Vusage des vischres, Paris, 1756, 8vo. 


arteriAl-nervous apparatus, and he invents a new class of short- 
circuit vessels to explain the rapidity with which liquids taken 
into the stomach are removed by the kidneys, to account for 
which, he claimed, the Harveian circulation was too slow. Again, 
he injected the left coronary artery with coloured brandy, and 
describes the fluid as passing * without violence ’ not only into 
the entire substance of the left auricle, but also into its cavity. 
Hence we have another of his theories that the coronary arteries 
and veins are not connected up by capillaries but by the* cavities 
of the heart, with which both arteries and veins communicate 
by conspicuous apertures. An experiment of Vieussens which 
obtained wide currency and belief was the injection of the carotid 
artery of a living bitch with four pounds of mercury. He holds 
that the mercury * without breaking any vessels, or the effusion 
of one drop of blood, passed through the placenta surrounding each 
whelp, and was pushed into the umbilical vessels themselves *. This 
experiment was twice repeated by Monro with quite different (but 
correct) results. The latter states that the mercury travelled into 
the very minute branches of the vessels of the maternal placenta, 
but none whatever reached the umbilical vessels or the foetus. 

Noues,^ who used rectified spirits with cinnabar ground in, and 
speaks of injections of coloured wax, has little of importance, but 
Schacher ‘ carries Homberg’s experiment a stage further, and is 
the first to draw the injection through the vessels with a vacuum 
pump. His mass, besides starch, is pig’s fat, mutton suet, and 
spermaceti, each in combination with wax, to facilitate the filling 
of the smallest vessels, and the colours are vermilion, red oxide of 
lead, verdigris, Florence lake, the blue extract of corn-flower, and 
carmine. At this time Salzmann ’ describes injecting the thoracic 
duct from the lymph vessels in the neighbourhood of the renal 
yfein, and Cheseldeh * injects the blood-vessels with wax and the 
lymphatics with mercury, but does not discuss his procedure. He 

1 Guillaume des Noues, Lettres de Mr. de Nouea a Mr. Onillidmini, Rome, 
1706, 8vo ; Avertieaement pour Us anatomies toutes nouvelles de dre colorie. Pane, 
1717, 12mo. 

* Polycarpus Gottlieb Schacher (1674-1737), De anaUmica praeeipuarum par- 
Hum administratione, Leipzig, 1710, 4to. 

* Johannes S alzmann (1672-1738), Dissertatio encheiresis inveniendi duetum 
ikofaeioum, Strassburg, 1711, 4to. 

* William Cheselden (1688-1762), The Anatomy of the Humane Body, London, 
1713, 8vo. 


points out that the lymphatics of fish, first observed by T. Bar* 
thoHn, may be seen in the mesentery without injection. Injection 
as a method of preservation was practised by Bavius/ many of 
whose preparations in the Anatomy Hall at Leyden were cata* 
logued by his successor, B. S. Albinus, in 1726. 

An early, if not the earliest, attempt at histological injection 
*is described by Muys.* He first of all removed the blood from 
the vessels by an injection of warm water, and then threw in 
a coloured liquid. His object was to ascertain the vascular supply 
of muscle fibres, and he wrongly concluded that the muscle fibrillae 
were tubular, and that the capillary artery discharged * a part of 
its liquor ’ into the cavities of the fibrillae. The latter, however, 
were too small to admit the coloured blood corpuscles, which 
therefore underwent fragmentation before entering the fibre. 
A figure supports this fiight of the imagination. The short paper 
by Rouhault, written in 1718,’ is important and exceptional, since 
no attempt is made to conceal laboratory methods. He says the 
mass usually employed is a mixture of hog’s lard, white wax, 
mutton suet, and turpentine, or spirit of turpentine charged with 
a little wax. His colours are vermilion for arteries and verdigris 
or indigo for veins, and he claims to be the first to employ different 
colours for arteries and veins. In this, as we have already seen, 
he is mistaken. Before throwing in the mass, the blood is cleared 
out of the vessels, and the body warmed, by an injection of tepid 
water, after which the body is wrapped in warm linen. The above 
injection does not pass through the capillaries, and he only uses 
it to demonstrate the coarser circulation, admitting that it gives 
preparations inferior to Ruysch’s. We have pointed out that 
Boyle was the first to suggest isinglass as an injection mass, but 
Rouhault may claim the credit of demonstrating its importance. 
He was not aware of Boyle’s work, and the use of gelatine was 
suggested to him by M4ry. He dissolved Ghent glue or isinglass 
in water, and in 1716 obtained a perfect injection of the finest 
vessels, the mass, for example, passing right through the placenta 

1 Johannes Jacob Ran (1668-1719), De metiiodo anaiomen docendi et discendi, 
Leyden, 1713, 4to. 

* Wyer Guillaume Muys (1682-1744), Journal lAttiraire, La Haye, Jan., Feb., 
1714, 8vo. 

» Pierre Simon Rouhault (ob. 1740), ‘ Sur les injections anatomiques 
Histoire de I’Acadimie Royale des Sciences, Paris, 1720, 8vo, Ann. 1718. 


and emerging by the veins. He exliibited at the Academy the vessels 
of the placenta injected with different colours. Comparing his 
preparations with some believed to have been injected by Ruysch’s 
method, he considered his own as good as Ruysch’s, which latter 
he adds, had not been injected with wax. Rouhault also used 
spirits of wine coloured with orchanette or carmine, which pene- 
trates equally well into the finest vessels, but, like mercury, the- 
preparation cannot be dissected afterwards without bleeding, and 
hence this method is only suitable for whole preparations. 

Boerhaave,' though less a practical anatomist than a com- 
mentator, brings to bear on the subject so intimate a knowledge 
of his contemporaries and their methods that his observations 
invite attention. He does not believe that the minutest vessels 
are demonstrated even by ‘ the most subtile coloured liquor *. 
For example, while the membranes of the testis are richly provided 
with blood, the ‘ pulp of the testicle is supplied -with pellucid 
juices by arteriolae much smaller than the sanguiferous, and into 
which the Ruyschian injection will not enter ’. It was commonly 
noted at the time, in the case of vermilion masses, that the waxy 
or other vehicle penetrated into vessels which would not admit 
the vermilion, and Boerhaave believed tliat the pressure exerted 
by the injector forced the injection into vessels which were not 
normally traversed by red blood, ‘ since no part of the cortex 
ever apftears red without injection ’. He thus supports Malpighi 
as against Ruysch in the controversy on the structure of the 
glands, holding that Ruysch’s injections unnaturally dilated the 
blood capillaries and thus obscured or even destroyed the glandular 
tissue, nor will he assent to Ruysch’s view that injection mass 
passes from the arteries into the excretory ducts of a gland. 
Boerhaave makes one statement the origin of which the writer 
has not been able to trace. Ho says that some English anatomists 
injected the carotid arteries with urine coloured with ink (a medium 
employed by Malpighi), and found that the nerves of the brain 
were tinged with the colour. Wlion one of the nerves was sectioned 
it appeared full of black specks, which were supposed to represent 
the cavities of the nerve tubes. It will be remembered that at 
this time the theory of Descartes that nerve fibres were tubes 
transmitting fiuid contents was generally accepted. 

» Hermui Bofrhaave (1668-1738), A method oj studying Physic, London, 
1719, 8vo. 


In 1720 Valentin ‘ gives formulae for injecting the alveoli of 
the lungs and the blood-vessels with low fusible metals, the flesh 
being afterwards boiled away, leaving a cast of the injected 
cavities. He uses also a wax medium made of white wax mixed 
with mutton suet and coloiured with verdigris or vermilion, which 
passes tlurough capillaries and sets when cold. Albinus,^ who 
claimed that the art of injecting coloured liquids into the vessels 
was a Belgian invention, employed a red liquid which stiffened 
when the vessels were distended with it. His injections were finer 
than Ruysch’s, and he filled the minutest vessels in the skin, brain, 
and capsule of the lens. The latter, however, must have been in the 
foetus, as there are no vessels in the capsule of the adult. William 
Hunter, who examined his injections in 1748, was deeply impressed 
by them. In 1756 Albinus is combating vigorously Ruysch’s 
doctrine that the human body is composed entirely of vessels. 

Between J721 and 1732, when Momo primus published his 
first paper on injections, several writers deal with the subject, but 
little is added to what was already known. Helvetius ® supports 
Ruysch in holding that the whole body is almost nothing more 
than a prodigious assemblage of lymphatic and blood vessels, but 
considers that injections arc deceptive in attracting too much 
attention to the blood-vessels. The latter belief finds an apt 
illustration in the work of 8tukclcy on the spleen,* whose injections 
of wax in two colours induced him to adopt the view that tin* 
spleen consists almost entirely of the ramifications of the splenic 
artery. He admits the presence of a few muscular fibres, but 
even the veins, according to this author, are only slightly con- 
cerned with the internal economy of the gland. According to 
Wilham Hunter, who as a contemporary might be expected to 
know, Nathanael *St. Andre (1680-1776) was one of the early 
English injectors, and Haller asserts that 8t. Andre claimed to 
have injected vessels in the ejiidermis with quicksilver. This 

1 Michael Bernard Valentin (16{>7~1729), Amphitheatrum Zootomicum, Frank- 
furt, 1720, fol. 

* Bernard Siegfried Albinus (1097 -1770), Oratio, qua in veram viam, quae ad 
fabricae humani corporis cognitionem ducat, Leyden, 1721, 4to. Acadetniearum 
Annotaiionum, Leyden, 1754, Lib. i, 4to. 

* John Claude Adrian Helvetius (168.5-1755), Jdie gentle de Voeconomie 
animale, Paris, 1722, 8vo. 

* William Stukeley (1687-1765), OJ the Spleen, its description and History, 
I/)ndon, 1723, fol. 


sinister physician is also said to have possessed a collection of 
anatomical preparations, but, to quote Hutchinson, * after his 
decease Mr. Christie’s auction room bore abundant witness to the 
frivolity of his collections *. Nicolai ^ praises isinglass as an injec> 
tion medium, but finds that it extravasates too readily, and is 
apt to fill cavities and leave the vessels empty. Isinglass is also 
recommended by Mauchart,* who again is the first to experiment 
with injections of plaster — ^previously recommended by Boyle. 
The desire to imitate Ruysch’s preparations, and the difficulty of 
doing so owing to a lack of knowledge of his procedure, is referred 
to by Wagstaffe,* who reproaches Ruysch, then living, for con- 
cealing his methods. He refers to the futility of exhibiting injec- 
tions as a mysterious curiosity, and not as a scientific invention 
available to all for the advancement of knowledge. ‘ Dr. Ruysch 
has given us several excellent and curious drawings of the finest 
'preparations in the world ; but we had certainly been more 
obliged to him, if he had communicated his observations on the 
manner of preparing them, and form’d from thence a noble, a just 
and a demonstrative rationale of the uses of the parts.’ This lack 
of candour, however, continued to discredit the publications of 
anatomists, for much later, in 1784, Sheldon, when referring to 
the great improvement in the art of injection ‘ in late years ’, says 
that ‘ progress of the science has undoubtedly been much impeded 
by the mystery observed among anatomists, respecting the com- 
position of their injections, and their method of dissecting, injecting, 
and preparing the different parts : a mystery which deserves the 
severest censure, and is unworthy of the character of a philosopher 
or a man ’. He adds : ‘ I shall disclose, without reserve, whatever 
I am acquainted with on this head.’ Jesse Foot, in 1794,* praises 
Sheldon for ‘ his unreserved discovery [disclosure] of the art of 
injecting ’, and endorses his disapproval of a proprietary anatomy. 
On the other hand, Drake, in a posthumous work,® explains and 

» Heniicus Albertus Nicolai (1701-33), De directione vasorum pro modificando 
aanguinia circulo, Strassburg, 1726, 4to. 

* Burchard David Mauchart (1696-1762), Programma Anatomicum de iniec- 
tionibtis aic dictis aiutiomicis, Tubingen, 1726, 4to. 

s William Wagstaffe (1686-1726), In Drake’s Anthropologia Nova, London, 
1727, 8vo, ed. 3, vol. i, p. xi. 

< Jesse Foot (1744-1826), The Life of John Hunter, London, 1794, 8vo. 

> James Drake (1667-1707), Anthropologia Nova, London, 1728, 8vo, Appendix, 
Plate 61. 


figures a large injecting syringe holding twenty ounces. The intake 
is separate from the outflow, and both have cocks so that the 
syringe can be refilled without removing the nozzle from the 
vessel, as first practised by C. Bartholin. The outflow pipe is 
a flexible one of leather, and the nozzle is of brass or silver, aiid 
small enough to * pass into the lacteal vessels and chyliferous 
ducts *. Lancisi,* by syringe injections of mercury, coloured water, 
and air, perpetuates the error of Vieussens, Verheyen and others 
that * there are meanders, winding passages, and diverticula 
leading from the coronary veins into each of the four cavities of 
the heart, and that the blood makes use of these as outlets ’. By 
means of these ‘ outlets ’ Lancisi believes that the blood ‘ alter- 
nately goes in and out with a kind of ebb and flow *. An attempt 
at histological injection was made in 1728 by Price,^ who studied 
the structure of the villi of the ox and filled the vessels with wax, 
but no results of interest or importance accrued. Weiss,® improving 
on the practice of Ruysch, adopts a method which was almost at 
once developed and standardized by Monro and Cassebohm. He 
injects the human body by immersing it for a long time in warm 
water, and then throwing in first coloured turpentine to fill the 
smaller vessels, and afterwards a wax medium to distend and seal 
the larger ones. * A gross mixture of wax, tallow, and vermilion ’ 
is used by Mortimer * to inject the arteries, and the same substance, 
but coloured with smalt, to fill the veins. This is one of the few 
references to a differential injection of arteries and veins since the 
method was first introduced by Duncan in 1678. A general 
description of wax injection is given by Thiesen,® and Trew • is 
an early experimenter with fluid plaster, which, however, he does 
not consider an efficient substitute for wax. He tried also the 

1- Giuseppe Maria Lancisi (1664-1720), De motu cordis, Rome, 1728, fol. 

* Charles Price, ‘ Remarks on the Villi of the Stomack of Oxen,’ PhU. Trans., 
London, 1728, vol. xxxv, p. 632, 4to. 

* Jdhannes Nicolaus Weiss (1702-1783), Theses sistentes viscerum glandularum, 
Altdorf, 1729, 4to ; De structura venarum, ibid., 1733, 4to ; De aquae adminiculo 
in administratione anatomica, ibid., 1733, 4to. 

* Cromwell Mortimer (ob. 1762), ‘ Case of some uncommon anastomoses of 
the spermatic vessels in a Woman’, Philosophical Transactions, London, 17.30, 
vol. xxxvi, p. 373, 4to. 

* (Gottfried Thiesen (n. 1706), De materia ceracea eiusgue iniectione anatomica, 
Kdnigsberg, 1731, 4to. 

* Christopher Jacob Trew (1696-1769), Commercium lAUerarium, Nttmberg, 
Spec. 9, 1731, Hebd. 30, 1736, 4to. 


vegetable resins, resina anime and sandaraoh, and isinglass, uid 
shoiiro that injected mercury passes through the capillaries and 
completes the circulation. Vater ^ was a pupil of Ru3rBch, and was 
trained in injection methods by him. He employed different 
coloured liquid and wax, and according to HiJler was moet skilled 
in the art of filling the vessels, producihg results equal to those 
of his master. The shori paper published by Monro primus in 
1732 * is important, not on account of its originality, but because 
of the influence it exercised, and the method there recommended 
was very widely adopted, and is not even now entirely abandoned. 
Monro’s article, for example, forms the basis of the chapter on 
injection by Daubenton in Buffon’s Histoire natwreUe. ■ Monro 
says : * Scarce any anatomical books describe with accuracy the 
method of injecting,* ^d again, ‘few have hit on the art of 
injecting the very small capillary tubes *. He uses a brass syringe 
which includes a contrivance for re-fiUing without removing the 
nozzle from the vessel — as previously recommended by Bartholin 
and Drake. For ‘ subtile or fine injections * he proceeds as follows : 
Macerate in warm water to liquefy the blood. First inject coloured 
oil of turpentine to fill the very small vessels, and follow up at 
once with a coarser injection to distend the larger ones. The two 
media mingle in the vessels, so that it is impossible to tell from 
inspection that two have been used. The colours employed are 
vermilion for arteries and cUstiUed verdigris for veins — mixed with 
clear oil of turpentine and filtered or decanted to get rid of the 
granules. His coarse injection is composed of tallow, one pound, 
bleached white wax, five ounces, and salad oil, three ounces. Melt 
and add two ounces of Venetian turpentine. Sprinkle in the 
colour and filter through a linen cloth. Some, if not most, of the 
Hunterian pre|^ations in the Royal College of Surgeons must 
have been injected by this method, since when they are cut or 
dissected they bleed from the finer vessels only. Two years later 
Monro published a striking but neglected paper* in which the 
independence of the maternal mid foetal bloods in the placenta 
Abraham Vater (1684-1761), De inketionig variorum cokrum uiiUkUe ad 
vioeerum otrueturam detegendam, Wittemberg, 1731, 4to. 

* Alexander Monro, primus (1007-1767), * An Essay on the Art of injecting 
the vessels animals *, Medical Beeaye and Obeervai^om peMiehed by a Bodehy ta 
Edinburgh, Edinbare^, 1732, vol. i, 12mo. 

* * An Essay mi die Nutrition of Foetuses’, Medical Beeaye, Ac., Edinburgh, 
1734, V(d. ii, 12mo. Some copies are dated 1733. 

■ ■ ■ I? . . , 

18 for the firrt time {daoed beyond question by injection e:<pert* 
• ments. On this occasion he makes use of oil of turpentine coloured 
with yermilion, and mercury. He says: 

* The liquors are not carried from the mother to the foetus, or 
from the foetus to the mother by continued canals, that is, the 
uterine arteries and veins do not anastomose witii the veins and 
arteries of the secundines ; but the extremities of the umbilical 
vein take up the liquors by absorption in the same way as the 
lacteal vessels do in the guts ; and the umbilical arteries ^ur 
their liquors into the lairge cavities of the sinuses, or other cavities 
analogous to them.’ 

It should, however, be pointed out that in Monro’s time, to 
quote his own words, absorption was a process ’ whereby the small 
open orifices of vessels imbibe liquors lodged in the cavities of 
tiie body ’, and hence the above passage is not as strictly accurate 
ais it appears. Monro proves his case by injections of the human 
snbject, and also of cows, sheep, and dogs. When the uterine 
arteries are fully injected none of the medium passes into the 
umt^cal yesc>els or the foetus, though it was searched for most 
carefully. Conversely, if the umbilical arteries are injected, not 
one drop of the mass could be found in the uterine vessels. 

* 1 have tried injections of very different kinds so often into 
the vessels of the womb and secundines of cows, prepared in all the 
different ways I could contrive for making liquors pass from 
the one to the other, vrithout having once made a drop to pass, 
that I cannot be more certain of an^hing, than that there is no 
anastomosis or continuity of these vessels in cows.’ 

It is somewhat difficult to understand how Monro reconciled 
the results of his experiments with his definition of absorption 
just quoted. In 1736 Monro describes an attempt to inject the 
testis from the vas deferens with mercury,^ but he only succeeded 
in partially filling the epididymis, the convoluted tubular nature 
of which and its communication with the vas deferens being 
therebjr demonstrated. 

Hales' is responsible for an ingenious and oharaoteristio 
innovation. In order that the of the injection might be 
known and kept constant, which oinf^ be the case when a syringe 
is used, he. provided for the necessf^ lie^sure by using a known 

*■ * Rmnsriu <m the Spermatic V e M e k and Sorotum, with its contents 
MedMl ftc., Edinburgh, 1736, v(d. v, 12mo. 

* Stephmi Hales (1077-1761), Haemastatkka, London, 173^, 8vo. 

am X 


column of the fluid to be injected, which column was maintained 
at such a level as to ensure a driving power equal to that of the 
arterial bloods Nevertheless, in spite of this precaution, extravasa* 
tions occurred into the cavity of the gut. The apparatus consisted 
of a gun-barrel heated with boiling water, and having a brass 
cock at the bottom with which to regulate the height of the 
column. Sometimes two barrels were joined together, giving 
a height of ten feet. Hales confirms, what had previously been 
noticed, that vermilion is sometimes stopped by the capillaries, 
even when the vehicle of the injection passes into the veins. 
Before operating, the animal is heated with warm water, and 
occasionally Hales irrigates the vessels prior to throwing in the 
injection mass. The latter was either melted beeswax or a pre- 
paration wliich he attributes to ‘Mr. Ranby ’ [John Ranby, the 
surgeon]. The latter medium consists of white resin and tallow, 
two parts of each, turpentine varnish, eight parts, and colouring 
matter (vermilion or indigo), three parts. 

According to Cuvier, NichoUs ‘ was celebrated for injections 
only inferior to those of Ruysch. In a manuscript copy of William 
Hunter’s lecture notes in the possession of the writer, Nicholls is 
stated to favour coloured varnish as a fine injection. W. Hunter 
and Straus-Durckheim both assert that Nicholls was the first to 
make corroded preparations. We have seen that Bidloo, Cowper, 
and Homberg anticipated him by some forty years. The error 
is repeated in the Dictionary of National Biography^ and Munk’s 
Roll of the Royal College of Physicians. Kaau-Boerhaave ‘ 
injected water into the cavity of the gut, and when the latter 
was compressed, the water was observed to pass into the veins 
and finally to wash the blood out of the portal vein. This experi- 
ment was held to prove that absorption was by the veins, and 
on the same grounds Duverney had previously concluded that the 
lacteal vessels were absent in birds. Kaau also studied how the 
lymph vessels might be made most conspicuous by injection. 

Cassebohm,’ who produced the first general treatise on 

* Frank NichoUs (1690-1778), Compendium Anatom%co~Oecommicvm, London, 
1736, 4to. 

* Abraham Kaau>Boerhaave (1716-68), Perspiratio dicta Hippocrati per 
univermm corpua anatomiee iUuatrata, Leyden, 1738, 12mo. 

* Johannes Friedrich Cassebohm (ob. 1743), Mdhodua aeeandi et cotUemplandi 
corporis humani muaculos, Halla, 1740, 12mo. 


anatomical methods after Lyser, devotes an interesting chapter to 
injections. He adopts the sound practice of experimenting with 
but few and simple methods, but their possibilities are exhaustively 
canvassed, and very detailed directions are given. Two types of 
media are tested : (1) non-coagulating fluids injected cold, such 
as coloured spirit, varnish, and mercury ; (2) coagulating liquids 
injected warm, such as wax, suet, and isinglass. An ordinary 
thick medium is prepared from yellow or white wax thinned with 
deer or goat suet, lard, or turpentine according to the time of 
the year and consistency required. For fine injections isinglass 
is recommended. The colours selected are vermilion for arteries 
and verdigris for veins. A successful method was found to be 
first to inject paper or copal varnish coloured with vermilion to 
fill the smallest vessels, and to follow it immediately with a waxy 
medium similarly coloured to demonstrate the larger trunks. This 
agrees almost exactly with the procedure of Monro. Cassebohm 
made many attempts to wash out the blood from the vessels with 
warm water before injecting the solidifying medium, but he is 
only partially successful, and does not recommend it. As a subject 
he prefers a newly born child, or an abortion of seven or eight 
months with the umbilical string intact. The body is warmed 
with water before injecting, and in the case of the foetus the 
umbilical vein is filled first with the non-coagulating and then 
with the coagulating medium. Thus both arteries and veins may 
be injected in a single operation. His methods of injecting the 
adult body are complicated, e.g. his general injections are made 
from at least ten different points in the arteries and veins. Before 
filling the veins he endeavours to rupture the valves by means of 
an iron rod. 

Le Cat ^ appears to have been the first to investigate the natural 
relations of a part by filling the cavities with a solidifying medium, 
and then preparing optical sections. This is also the essential 
principle of the paraffin section. Le Cat made use of melted resin 
and wax or very thick glue. A combined alcoholic and waxy fine 
injection, in which the human element is literally represented, is 
recommended by Fabricius,* but not elsewhere referred to. Its 

* Claude Nicolas Le Cat (1700-68), * On the figure of the canal of the Urethra *, 
PhU. Trane., Lond<m, 1741, 4to, vol. zli, p. 681. 

* Philii^uB Conradus Fabridus (1714-74), Idea anatomiae praetieae, Wetzlar, 
1741, 8vo. 



composition is : Rectified #^ts of ^ ; iNififi (iM^^ 

rach)» 2 ounces; resin (elemi)» 1 ounce/ ^1^^ 
a sand bath, and then add : yellow wax, 2 biMces ; humai^vla^ 

6 ounces. Colour with vermilion or verdigris worked up in alcohol. 
At about this time Westphal published a short tract on anatomical 

An important experiment was described by 'Haller in 1745.’ 
He injects the testis with mercury from the vas deferens so 
to make its structure plainly visible to the naked eye. He doubts* 
if it is possible to demonstrate this in any other way. An excelieht 
figure is given, which is, however, too delicate to be reproduced 
except as a metal engraving.’ In 1749 Haller sent an account of' 
his experiment to the Royal Society which was printed in the 
Phihaophical Tranaactiona for 1750. * Let the ejndidymis he ^ 

says, * ^ gently and carefully filled with quicksilver, by the ductuS 
'deferens, now and then pausing, or dipping the testicle in war^; 
water, that the vessels, being gradually expanded, may give way,;' 
for a sudden repletion will be apt to burst the middle or upper 
part of the epididymis. By this method, it has often appeared 
to me, that the epididymis, through its whole length by whioE/ 
it a^eres to the testicle except the head, is one subtile canal, 
winch is capable of being unfolded, as was perceived by de Graaf.* 
Hallw also demonstrated the vasa efierentia and coni vasculosi, 
the rete vasculosum, the yasa recta, and the seminiferous tnbules. 
All these structures had been already described|^ but less comlpletely 
and accurately, by de Graaf in 1668, and soine them by Aiistbtla..^ 
A portion of the mercury had even penetrated into the setni-^ 
niferous tubules, thereby establishing their tubular nature, and , 
enabling Haller to determine the exact course of the seminal fluid 
on leaving the testis. He also discovered the vas aberrans. By 
further injections of wax and mercury Hidler worked out thti 
relations and structure of the vesiculae seminaliM. For gei^al 
injections, however, Haller preferred the tuEpcmtifie and veniilfilll^ 
medium to all others. It is difficult tq tuidarstand, afl^^^ 

Haller’s paper, what was left for the and the Hunbm to 

^ Andreas Westphal (1720-88), De inieeHonibua emalomiei*, Ckei&wald, ' 
1744, 4to. 

* Banon Albrecht von Haller (1708-77), De lAia se«i»tnilr,'G5tffiigen, 1745, 4to. 

* Tlfii^figure appears in Qnihi’a AmUmy, but the beauty of die U 

■omevhat lacking 


' ^ IKJSCnONS 989 

dwpute ftboQt ^ regards pricMcity erf the ii^eotion erf the test^ 
witJi iiieroQiy. The only advance iSiey uwde on Haller's results 
was the quite minor one of filling more oomj^etely the serfdnilerous 
tubules. The success of the experiment of injecting the testis 
with mercury firom the vas defmrens may be gathered ^i^m th^; 
statement of Bowman in 1842 that * there are not 
that can be pronounced at all full in tiie Museums of Euro|ieJ^^ 
and there is no evidence that, even in the best of these, ti^ 
injected material has reached the very extremity of the tubes ^ 
On the other hand, in the abstracts of the PAtlosopAftCol 2!bMU|- 
(ustiona published in 1809, it is stated : ' Beautiful specimens of 
the serpentine vessels or seminiferous tubes of the testicles, filled 
with quicksilver, are to be seen in the private anatomical museums 
of this metropolis.' 

lieberkUhn^ shares with Buysch the honour of having made 
the most important contributions to the practice of anatomical 
injection. He carried Buysoh's methods a stage further, and is 
one of the first successfully to injeot the microacopic vessels, and 
to make corroded preparations. His material was drawn mostly 
from the human subject, and he uses the same injection mass for 
the large and small vessels, except that for the finest branches 
it is further thinned with turpentine and the quantity of colouring 
matter increased. Sixty of his microscopical injections are still 
in the Museum of Human Anatomy at Vienna University. These 
preparations include the giUs of the pike, salivary glands injected 
by the artery, vein, and excretory duct, periosteum and peri- 
chondrium, lung of frog, tortoise, ox and man, the villi of the 
intestine, and the placenta. Other injections are at the University 
of Berlin, where they are available for inspection. According to 
Adams, there were a few preparations by Lieberktthn in the 
British Museum. Some are at St. Petersburg, and were described 
by C. F. Burdach in 1817. A number were purchased by G, 0. 
Beireis on the death of Lieberkfihn's son, and are stated to be 
very beautiful and manifestly superior to Ruysch's preparations 
in St. Petersburg. lieberkiihn's injections were in fact so gobd 
that, a century after they were made, Henle was using them for 

* jobaan NathaiiaSl lieberkflhn (I711-S6), Dt Fabriea et AeUone viUorum 
ttUMUnomm tenuium hominia, Leyden, 1745, 4to. Some ooidee are dated 1744. 
*Snr lea inoyeaa pnqnea k d^oonvrir la omutraotion des Tiaotres Mimoirea de 
VAeaHmie Boyah dea Bciaaieea, Berlin, Ann. 1748, 4to. 


the purposes of original research. He is the first injector whose 
sections will bear the highest magnification, and have undergone 
no deterioration since they were made. His injection apparatus 
was described and figured by J. C. F. Bonegarde in 1741, i.e. before 
the publication of Lieberkfihn’s work on the viUi. J. 0. Bohl also 
refers to Lieberkiihn’s experiments before 1745, so that his reputa- 
tion as an injector therefore must have been established before 
the publication of his most famous work. The plates in this tract 
on the mucous membrane were etched by Pierre Lyonet — ^perhaps 
the greatest of anatomical engravers. Lyonet*s beautiful plates of 
the Goat Moth larva were published in 1760, and his’first attempts 
at copper-plate engraving, as he tells us, were made in 1743. 
Hence the plates in Lieberkiihn’s memoir must have been among 
the first efforts of the master. 

In his 1745 paper Lieberkiihn describes how he succeeded in 
injecting the arteries and veins of the villi of the intestine separately 
with different colotured wax. He first attempted a simultaneous 
injection from the artery and vein with two syringes, having 
nozzles adapted to the relative capacity of artery and vein. This 
resulted, however, in a mixing of the colours where they mot. 
He then substituted injecting first the mesenteric artery with red, 
until by naked eye inspection some, but not all, of the villi were 
injected. Then he throw a green injection of lower melting-point 
into the mesenteric vein. Hence the two injections might meet 
but could not mix. Some of the villi were green and others red, 
and at the places where the red and green patches were in contact 
the arteries of the villi were red and the veins green. Thus was 
Lieberkuhn the first to demonstrate microscopically the vascular 
supply of the mucous membrane. This had been injected before 
by Buysch and others, but a microscopic examination of their 
preparations by lieberkfihn himself showed that they had not 
succeeded in injecting the capillaries either completely or without 
rupture. But Lieberkiihn’s injection and inflation experiments 
led him to perpetuate one serious error. By pushing the injection 
too far, the mass escaped into the cavity of the gut. He thus 
concluded, and his views were accepted almost without question 
for some time after, that the blood-vessels of the villi communicated 
with the lacteal vessels, and that the latter opened directly into 
the lumen of the intestine, each villus having at its apex one or 
more orifices. This mistake was revived bv Hewaon, and even 


as late as 1849 Robin states that some anatomists still believed 
in the existence of these orifices. Before Lieberkilhn*s time the 
injections of Ruysch and his pupils had encouraged the belief 
that both the lacteal and the mesenteric blood-vessels opened 
directly into the cavity of the gut by largo apertures. For example, 
a solution of indigo in urine forced into the intestine between two 
ligatures was found to pass into the lacteal vessels. 

Lieberkiihn’s method of making corroded preparations, pub- 
lished in 1748, was as follows : Take white wax free from grease, 
add a fifth part of resin, a tenth part of Venetian turpentine, 
and of vermilion as much as is necessary. Inject the largo vessels 
with cs^. Put the injected part into strong nitric or sulphuric 
acid diluted with water. Leave in the acid until the orgam'c parts 
are destroyed, wash in water, and the result is a cast of the cavities 
of the large vessels. As, however, such preparations were very 
fragile, he devised a method of producing casts of the vessels in 
silver. Make a corroded preparation as above, and embed it in 
a paste made of two parts plaster and one part pulverized tiles 
in water. When set burn out the wax by graduated heat, and 
pour in the molten silver. Put the mould into vinegar, which 
disintegrates the plaster, and allows of its easy removal. To make 
a surface preparation of the vessels, the part is injected with the 
finer medium, and the vascular network is developed by directing 
on to it a strong stream of water, thus removing the organic 
matter. This gives very beautiful pictures in relief of the capillary 

The eminent comparative anatomist Daubenton, who wrote 
the chapter on injections in Buffon,^ occupies himself chiefly with 
a discussion of Monro’s jtaper, and discloses no methods of his 
own. He describes in some detail fifty-five injected preparations 
in the Royal Museum at Paris, but does not state how they were 
prepared. Sue, in his general treatise on preserving and injecting 
methods,^ gives practical directions for the preparation of injection 
media, and Quellmaltz * adds palm oil to the list of recommended 

* Louis Jean Marie Daubenton (1716-90), ‘ Description du Cabinet du Roi'. 
In Buffon’s Histoire ruUureUe, Paris, 1740, 4to, T. iii, p. 133. 

* Jean Joseph Sue (1710-02), L* AiitiuropoUmii ou Part d’injedar, Paris, 
1740, 8vo. 

* Samuel Theodor Quellmalta (1606-1768), De oleo palmae, materie iniectioni- 
bus anatomids aptissima, Leipzig, 1760, 4to. 


masses. Dr. Sandys is said by several contemporary writers to 
have been the first to make injected preparations transparent^ 
with oil of turpentine (c. 1750)» but this useful and beautiful 
method was practised by Swammerdam, whose procedure was 
described by Schrader in 1674, and later by Ruysoh. 

We now reach the period of the second Monro and of the 
Hunters, whose teaching activities and Museums, if not exhibiting 
great originality in the matter of injections, did more perhaps 
than anything else to stereotype the anatomical injection in 
England. In January 1763 Monro sccundus ‘ injected the tubuli 
testis from the vas deferens with mercury, and hence confirmed 
the precise connexion between these two structures already estab- 
lished by Haller. A preliminary description Avith figure was 
published in 1764, and the complete work appeared in October 
1766. Also in 1766, and again in 1767, he describes injecting the 
lymphatics with mercury, and concluded that they arose from 
the lacunar membranes and cavities of the body, and not from the 
arteries, as was at the time believed. In 1786 Monro investigated 
the structure of the gills of the Skate by injections of distilled oil 
of turpentine coloured with vermilion. Another, and quite novel, 
experiment was the injection of the lateral line canal of the Skate 
with water, air, milk, mercury, and oil of turpentine and vermilion. 
He discovered the tubules which arise from the main canals and 
open on to the surfs ce of the skin, but committed the serious 
error of concluding that the lateral line system was a part of the 
lymphatic apx)aratus. He states that in 1766 he injected the 
mesenteric arteries with red wax, the corresponding veins with 
yellow wax, and the lymphatics with quicksilver, but the descrip- 
tion of what must have been one of the earliest triple injections 
was not published until 1770. In the meantime, in 1769, Hewson 
had figured an injection of the mesentery of the turtle, in wliich 
the arteries had been filled with red wax, the veins with black 
wax, and the lacteals with mercury. Nearly all the early injectors 
confined their operations to Mammals, and Monro’s work is there- 
fore doubly interesting because of its strong comparative bias. 
Thus he was the first to inject an Echinoderm. Mercury was led 
into the tube feet of a common sea urchin, and he was able to 

* Alexander Monro, necundue (1733-1817), Essaytt and Obaervationa Phyaical 
and Literary t Edinburgh, 17i)4, 8vo, vol. i ; De Teatibua el Semine in variia 
animalibua, Edinburgh, 1755, 8vo ; De Venia lymphaticia valvuloaia, Beilin, 1757, 
8vo ; The alrueture and phyaioloyy of Fiahea explain^, Edinburgh, 1786, fol. 


demonstrate the connexion between the tube feet, ampullae, and 
radial water-vessel. The subject was not an easy one and he 
made mistakes, but certain facts were correctly elucidated. Again 
in the same animal he injects the vessels of the intestine with 
mercury, and from them ‘ filled a beautiful network of vessels, 
not only on the intestines, but dispersed on fine membranes, 
which tie the intestine to the inner side of the shell ’. Tlie 
injections of Echinoderms to be seen in the Museum of Anatomy, 
Edinburgh University, were probably made by Monro. 

In 1762, William and John Hunter * injected the epididymis 
and seminiferous tubules of the testis with mercury from the vas 
deferens, thus re^ieating the experiment first demonstrated by 
Haller. This injection was described by William Hunter in his 
lectures, but no account of it was published until 1757, and then 
only a very brief one. From 1746 William Hunter taught, but 
again did not publish before 1757, that the lymphatics were 
independent of the arteries and veins. This view was based on 
Injections of both systems, it being found that an injection mass 
would not pass from the blood-vessels to the lymphatics or vice 
versa, and either system could be completely injected without 
affecting the other. Only by forcing the injection and rupturing 
the vessels could other results be obtained. The blood vascular 
apparatus was therefore a closed system of tubes without any 
direct connexion with the lymphatics, as was in Hunter’s time, 
and indeed for long after, generally accepted. The presence of 
numerous valves in the lymphatics suj>ported Hunter’s view that 
the motion of the lymph was independent of the driving power 
of the blood-stream. The lymphatics were held to commence 
blindly from the lacunar surfaces and interstices of the body. 

In the description of his plates of the gravid uterus, published 
posthumously in 1794, William Hunter states that he first injected 
the vessels of the foetal placenta from the navel string in 1743, 
but it was only when the plates were first issued in 1774 that this 
experiment was described. He says that he injected the placenta 
with wax of different colours — ^the uterine arteries red and the 
veins blue, but none of the injection mass passed into the vessels 
of the navel string. In the 1794 publication further details are 
added. The placenta of man and quadrupeds, he remarks, is 

> WilBam Hunter (1718-83), Critical Review, London, 1757, 8v6 ; Anaiomia 
uteri humani gravidi, Birmingham, 1774, fol. ; An Anatomical Deaeriptum of the 
Human Oravid Dterua, London, 1704, 4to. 


composed of two parts intimately blended — ^a foetal element, which 
is the continuation of the umbilical vessels of the foetus, and 
a maternal, which is an ^ efflorescence of the internal part of the 
uterus *. Injection experiments carried out on man and quadru- 
peds demonstrated that the maternal and foetal bloods were 
absolutely distinct in the placenta, and both systems might be 
injected * to an amazing degree of minuteness * without the two 
masses mingling. Nevertheless, each mass completed the circula- 
tion of its respective part, 'and returned to the parental or foetal 
centre from which it originated. This hypothesis is, of course, an 
old one. It was originally suggested by 6. C. Aranzio in 1564, 
denied by Dulaurens in 1698, Fabric! in 1600, and Noortwyk in 
1743, reaffirmed by Harvey in 1651 and Needham in 1667, but 
was first clearly established by the injection experiments of Monro 
primus published in 1 734, of whieh the subsequent work of William 
Hunter afforded ample confirmation. Harvey’s reasoning on this 
point is remarkably sound, but it is apparent that he and the 
writers before him base their views not on observation but on 
probabilities. Indeed Fabrici, in supporting the view of the 
ancients, admits that he has no positive evidence to offer ‘ because 
the fleshy mass itself stands in the way of any accurate investiga- 
tion ’. When the second Monro and William Hunter were students, 
it was still believed that the me>ternal blood circulated through 
the foetus by the navel string, and returned to the parental 
vessels, in spite of the positive demonstration to the contrary by 
the first Monro. Hunter’s belief in injection methods was deeply • 
strengthened by his visit to Albinus in 1748, when the beautiful 
preparations of the Leyden Professor fired the imagination of the 
Scots anatomist. 

William Hunter was teaching anatomy from 1746 to the year 
of his death in 1783. In an excellent manuscript transcript of 
his lectures in the writer’s possession, unhappily without date, 
four lectures out of eighty-two are devoted to injection methods — 
a proportion large enough to emphasize the importance in which 
injections were held at the time. He states that nothing has 
contributed more to the promotion of anatomical discovery, and 
that ‘ there is no making a good practical anatomist without it ’. 
His watery injections are made from glue, isinglass, or gum arable, 
and for the finest injections he used turpentine thickened with 
a little resin. The directions given for preparing lead casts of the 


vascular and other cavities of the body arc too similar to those 
published by lieberkiihn in 1748 to have been independently 
evolved by Hunter. 

John Hunter,' in some notes written about 1770 but not 
published until 1861, contrary to modern practice, prefers stale 
material for injection purposes — even material which has been 
preserved in spirit. He soaks it in water until it has undergone 
a certain degree of putrefaction. This produces a relaxed condi- 
tion of the vessels, and the blood is then cleared out by injections 
of warm water. His injection media are : resin and tallow ; 
turpentine, hog’s lard or tallow ; hog’s lard by itself or butter ; 
glue or size ; and isinglass. He notes that the finer the injection 
the more colour is wanted. The gravid uterus is injected simul- 
taneously by the artery and the vein, so that the distribution of 
these vessels may be studied in the placenta. The coloiu’s selected 
are vermilion, King’s yellow (a preparation of orpiment), blue 
verditcr (a hydrated oxide of copper), and flake white. Green is 
made by combining yellow wax with the blue verditer. For 
corroded preparations, the material for which must be fresh and 
healthy, he recommends a vigorous injection of a mixture of wax, 
rosin, turpentine varnish, and tallow. 

After the Hunters, no imx>ortant development in injection 
methods is to be recorded until the introduction of the ‘ soluble ’ 
form of Prussian blue, and carmine gelatine and other precipitates 
as colouring matters, in the nineteenth century. By the end of 
the eighteenth century the superiority of a solidifying gelatinous 
vehicle, such as isinglass or size, had, after many years of trial, 
at length asserted itself. Wax and varnish media were still 
employed for ordinary coarse and fine injections, but for injections 
of the capillaries intended to challenge the scrutiny of the micro- 
scox>e, gelatine was manifestly the most appropriate medium, and 
it is astonishing that recognition of this fact was so long delayed. 

The remaining work of the second half of the eighteenth century 
may be briefly dismissed. Laghi ‘ uses nut oil and thin glue or 
size. Lyonet,* the author of a great work on the anatomy of the 

^ John Huntpor (] 728-93), Eaaayg and Obaervatwna on Natural HiHory, Ix>ndori, 
1861, 8 VO. 

’ Thomas Laj{hi, ‘De Inicctionibus De Bononiensi Scientiarum et Arlium 
InstUuto atque Academia Commentarii, Bologna, 1767, 4to, T. iv. 

* Fierro Lyoiiet (1707-89), TraiU anatomique de la Chenille, La Mayo, 1760, 4to. 


Cossus larva, made little use of injeetion methods. He tried, 
however, injecting ink and coloured liquids into the heart of 
his larva. The results made him doubt whether the animal 
possessed blood-vessels at all, and he suspects that nutrition is 
effected by some means apart from the heart, for which another 
function must be sought. The connexion between arteries and 
vdns by means of closed capillaries was confirmed by the injection 
experiments of Jancke,^ but the work of the period is concerned 
rather with the lymphatic system, for the injection of which 
mercury was still the most popular medium. Hewson* states 
that the waUs of the lymphatics, though thin, are strong, and 
will withstand a higher column of mercury than the blood-vessels. 
The lymphatic;^ of fish are injected with mercury or thin coloured 
size from the ventral or abdominal lymphatic trunk, from which 
the medium passes into the entire lymphatic system. His experi- 
ments support the doctrine of the independence of the lymphatics, 
and, apart b'om extravasations, he holds that there is no connexion 
between them and the blood-vessels. Meckel’s mercury injections ’ 
of the lymphatic and mammary glands and other organs resulted 
in the unfortunate conclusion that the veins are directly connected 
with the cavities of the tissues and thus absorb from them — 
a result at once questioned by Hewson. A new use of an old 
substance of unknown composition called cera punica or Punic 
wax was initiated by the injections of Walter.^ His museum 
included a large number'^of beautifully injected preparations, but 
these apparently were injected with the usual red, yeUow, and 
green wax. According to H3rrtl, Punic wax was soluble equally 
well in oil,, spirit, and water, and combined readily with quick- 
silver. Womum believes that it is prepared by boiling common 
yellow wax three times with sea water, to which a small quantity 
of potassium nitrate has been added. It would be difficult to 

* Joliannes Gottfried Jancke (1724-63), De Baiione venas anffustiores imprimis 
eulaneas ostendaidi, Leipzig, 1762, 4to. 

* William Heweao (1736-74), * On the Lymiduttio System in Birds ’, ' On the 
Lymphatio System in Amphibious Animals *, PkUotophioal TranMoUotu, Londcm, 
1768-9, 4to, Yols. Iviii and liz, pp. 217 and 198 ; A Deacri^ion of ihe Lpmphatie 
Syatem in tiie Human Subject, London, 1774, 8iro. 

* Jtiiaan Etiedrioh IMeekel (1724^74), Nova eseperifnenta et obeervaHonee de 
Jtnibu* oenamm, Berlin, 1772, 8vo. 

^ Joannes Gottlieb Walter (1734-1818)^ Obaervationea AnaUmUeae, Berlin, 
1776, lol.' 


deoide which statement discloses a greater ignorance of the aotuid 
oonstitotion of the substance in question. The first author to 
devise a method of injecting the uriniferous tubules of the kidney 
was Schumlansky.^ This was done by forcing the injection into 
the arteries until the glomeruli were ruptured^ thus permitting 
the injection to extravasate into the tubules, and to jmms from 
thence into the pelvis of the kidney. The method was afterwards 
successfully practised by Bowman in 1842. Ruysoh had acci- 
dentally produced the same 
result before, but he con- 
sidered the passage of the 
mass from the arteries to* 
the tubules to be effected by 
natural channels. 8chumlan- 
sky was also the first to hold 
that the Malpighian body not 
oply secreted the urine but 
constituted the origin of the 
uriniferous tubule, which 
therefore was the means by 1 

which the secretion was con- L y 

veyed to the ureter. Further, ^ 

with the assistance of a ' ' 

vacuum pump, he inflated Triple injection the 

. . . X 1. I x*i lecteele of the meeenteiy of the turtle by Williiuu 

the unmferous tubules until (nes). 

the air reached and filled the 

tubules in the cortex of the kidney. Sheldon * considers that the 
lymphatics can seldom be injected by any other medium than 
quicksilver, except the thoracic duct, which he fills with a coloured 
* coarse injection* compounded of yellow resin, pure mutton suet, 
and wax. He was the first to shape the end of the canula as in 
the modern h 3 rpodermic syringe in order to facilitate its entry into 
the vessels, and he recommends drying injected specimens and 
afterwards making them transparent with turpentine. Full direc- 
tione are given for mercury injections. Faujas * prints an interesting 

* Alexander Sohumlaiuiky, De SintOmi Bemum, Straebourg, 1782, 4to. 

* Jdhn Sheldtm (1752-1808), Tkt Hittofy ttj A&aortesf Sjfatem, London, 

* Bactbdeini Fanjaa de Saint«F<»d (1741-1810), Voyage en Angkterre, en 
Jfeoeee, et am the H&mdee, Fsria, 1797, 2 vda., 8vo. 


and familiar account of an interview with Sheldon, who com- 
municated to him his method of preparing mummies by injection. 
The body was injected at intervals with strong spirit saturated 
with camphor and diluted with a little turpentine. The skin was 
well rubbed with finely powdered alum, and a flesh tint imitated by 
a coloured preparation being thrown into the carotid artery. A 
varnish composed of powdered camphor and common resin was 
found to preserve excellently the soft parts of the body. A final 
injection of the alcoholic solution of camphor by the crural artery 
completed the process, and the body was then protected from the 
air by a double case of timber. The entire corpus of a young 
woman so preserved, after the lapse of many years showed no signs 
of decay, the arms remaining flexible and the flesh throughout 
almost as supple and elastic as in life. This specimen is now in 
the Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons. 

There are injections preserved in the Museum of Human 
Anatomy at Vienna, prepared by Joseph Barth (1745-1818), said 
to be quite equal to those made by Lieberkiihn. Barth used wax, 
mastic varnish, and a small quantity of fatty oil, to which a lavish 
proportion of vermilion was added. The English anatomist 
Cruikshank,^ who enjoyed the patronage of Dr. Johnson and 
achieved the doubtful distinction of being referred to by Do 
Quincey in his Murder Essays, has his own method of injecting 
the lymphatics. He first injects the arteries and veins of the 
part in question, and also the excretory duct if a gland — ^the 
object being to fill all the cavities which are not lymphatic. He 
then throws the preparation into water and allows it partly to 
putrefy. Gas collects in the only vessels uninjected, i.e. iq the 
lymphatics, which therefore become visible. They can now be 
punctmed, the air forced out, and filled with mercury. The work 
on the lymphatics by Mascagni,* published in 1787 but dating 
some years earlier, surpasses all other efforts of a similar nature, 
to whatever period they belong. He filled the lymphatics with 
mercury, and counter-injected the blood-vessels chiefly with glue 
and vermilion. He points out that the particles of the vermilion 
are only slightly larger than blood corpuscles. He tried also 

^ William Cumberland Cniikahank (1745-1800), The Anatomy of the Absorbing 
Vessels of the Human Body, London, 1786, 4to. Second edition, 1790, 4to. 

* Paolo Mascagni (176S^-1816), Vasonan Lym^haiicorvm Corporis Human* 
Hisforia, Senis, 1787, fol. 


tallow, wax, and plaster. The mercury was introduced as usual 
by a gravity tube, in this case of glass, having two arms at right 
angles to each other. The vertical arm was the larger and con- 
tained the mercury, the horizontal arm being sufficiently tenuous 
to be introduced into the finest vessel. Poli ' injected Lamelli- 
branchs with mercury. The injection was pressed too hard and 
penetrated into the visceral ganglion, from thence forcing its way 
along the nerves radiating from the ganglion. Poli was hence led 
to conclude that the ganglion was a part of the lymphatic system 
and acted as a lacteal reservoir, the nerves corresponding with 
the lactiferous vessels. A novel and highly interesting paper was 
published in 1794 by Sir Anthony Carlisle.* He injected the 
excretory canals and reproductive organs of the cestode joint 
with coloured size, and was the first to work out the course of the 
former vessels, in which he correctly suspected the presence of 
valves. An excellent discussion of injection methods in use at 
the time, accompanied by practical directions, is given by Sir 
Cnarles Bell.* ‘ Injection *, he says, ‘ has been the great instrument 
in the hands of modern anatomists.’ His masses include prepara- 
tions of varnish, wax, resin, tallow, size, oil, and turpentine. The 
colours are as usual, except that lamp-black is included. The 
general method is that of Monro — a thin non-coagulating medium 
followed by a stiff solidifying mass for the larger vessels. Bones 
are injected, decalcified, dried, and finally made transparent with 
turpentine. Pole’s ‘ Instructor ’ has evidently been drawn upon. 

The first general treatise in Englisli on anatomical injection 
methods and technique was produced by Pole in 1790.* No 
original researches are embodied in the work, which is a com- 
prehensive and thoroughly practical account of what was known 
at the end of the eighteenth century. The English Lyser of 1740 
does not deal with injections. Four tyjjes of injection media are 
described — coarse (seven formulae), fine (six formulae), minute 
(six formulae), and mercurial. A cold injection, which sets after 

^ Giuseppe Ssverio Poli (1746-1826), Teslaeea Utriuaque Sicilute, Parma, 
1791, fol. 

* Sir Anthony CSarlisle (1768-1840), Transactions of the Linnean Society, 
London, 1794, 4to, vol. ii. 

* Sir Charles Bell (1774-1842), A System of Dissections, exftaining the Anatomy 
of (he Human Body, Edinburgh, 1798, fed. 

* Thomas Pole (1763-1829), The Anatomical Instructor, Lemdon, 1790, 12mo. 


some hours, is added on the authority of William Hunter. I3ie 
eoarse injections are preparations of wax; the fine, of varnish; 
and the minute, of gelatine. According to Pole, mercury was 
going out of fashion, and was seldom employed when other masses 
were available. It is significant of the expense of spirit and 
glass that most preparations are recommended to be dried and 
varnished.^ V'ermilion injections are directed to be preserved face 
downwards, so that when the colour settled in 1/he vessels it will 
be on the side that is seen. There is no mention of fusible metal 
in the section on corroded preparations. Another text-book on 
practical anatomy was published by Hooper in 1798.’ Its inspira- 
tion, however, is obviously derived from Pole, than which it is 
also less complete. 

Between the opening of the nineteenth century and the incep- 
tion of the modern period there is little of importance to record. 
In 1819 C. A. Budolphi injected the digestive system of lihe Liver 
Fluke with mercury. Huschke ’ injected the uriniferous tubules of 
the kidney. The surface of the kidney was exposed to the action 
of a vacuum pump, and an injection of size and vermilion was 
thrown into the ureter. It penetrated along the tubules as far as 
the surface of the kidney, but the operation was not generally 
successful. Huschke saw the artery enter and leave the glomerulus 
in the Salamander, but denied that the glomerulus was continuous 
with the uriniferous tubule. Injections of Vertebrates other than 
mammals, and Invertebrates, were so much the exception that it 
is interesting to note that, as catalogued by Alessandrini,’ such 
a collection was instituted in the University of Bologna in 1808. 
Fohmann ’ was the first to inject the lymphatics by random 
punctures in places where they form a network. This is the 
so-called ‘ ponction r^ticulaire % as distinguished from * ponction 
directe *, where the syringe is inserted into a specific, and recog- 
nizable vessel. The method was revived by Rolleston in his 

X Cf. Cole, ‘ History of the Anatomical Museum Maekay Misedlanyt liver* 
pool, 1914, 8vo, p. 304. 

* Robert Hooper (1773-1836), Th^AnaUmUA'a Vade-Mecwm, Londmi, 1798, 8vo. 

* Emil Huschke (1796-1883), ‘ Ueber die Textur der Nieren Okan, laia, 
Jena, 1828, Bd. xxi, col. 660-72. 

* Antonio Aleasandiini (1786-1861), Catalogo del Qdbinetto d'Anatomid com* 
porato ddla Pontifieia Vniveraitd di Baiogna, Bologna, 1864, 8vo. 

> Vinomis Fdimann (1794-1837), Mkewin aur lea vaiaaeawe lymjketHyuea de 
la Pea«, li^, 1833, 4to. 


Mercury injection of the lymphatics of the human colon and abdomen 

by Paolo Mascagni (1787) 

e xpw ii ibi ^ ii^ iitaaQ^ widert^^ 

to'fii i|i|6(^^ fine 1 ^ Hmh of it ooww 

IMMotlMd by Afonro ; but it was soesetimss used to distfaipfidi tiis 
escpsiifaiieiit of Doy^ and Qoatrefages.^ These authors iujeetsd 
a dog sttoeesaiyely with two different scdutions. which met in the 
ycssels and there »ve rise to a predpitate. TwoOf thesubstanoes 
employed wme pouMsium chromate and acetate of lead, the result 
being a yellow precipitate of chromate of lead. In spite of the 
fact that this method was successfully exploited and spoken highly 
of by Bowman in 1842, it has never been developed, and indeed did 
not survive the criticisms directed against it by Robin in 1849. 

A general and important review of injection methods, based 
largefy on first-hand investigation, was published by the dis- 
tinguished comparative anatomist Straus-Durckheim in 1843,* and 
the issue of this work may be considered to mark the termination 
«of the historical period covered by this article. Straus-Burckheim, 
/Who speaks frequently of the expense of the materials employed, 
classifies injection masses into three groups ; (1) coarse injections, 
of which fifteen are described ; (2) fine injections, nine described ; 
(3) corrosion injections, seven described. Ike substances tested are 
many and various. They include : yellow or white wax, tallow, 
lard, spermaceti, fatty oils, essential oils especially of turpentine and 
lavender, Venetian turpentine. Burgundy resin, hard resin, plaster, 
gelatine, white of egg, milk, water, alcohol, mercury, and fusible 
metal He recommends spermaceti mixed with an essential oil 
because it penetrates the best, solidifies well, is transparent, takes 
a very brilliant colour, and any extravasations are easily remov- 
able. He has a cold solidifying injection mass made by the action 
of nitric acid on olive oil, but it does not appear to be very satis- 
factory. He findg that the setting of plaster masses may be delayed 
by the addition of gelatine. Gelatine he considms the best material 
for fine injections, and the variety oi it he uses is isinglass. White 
of egg is diluted with water and coagulated with ferric sulphate — 
a procedure which has much to recommend it. Straus-Durckheim 

^ lionis Boytie (1811-48) sad Armaod de QnsWefagM (1810-42), * Sor let 
capillairM — *, XxImitB del Proete-Ferftmta; dei Biamu» de la SoeUU PhUo- 
mofjgM, Puis, 1841, 8vo, p. 17. 

. • HMouk Elkina gtnNU^HixQklMiu (1790^1808), TraiU pmHfue ef tMorigue 

^ PsM i rt iui fe Psiis, 1849, 8 to. 


regards merciuy as one of the worst injections it is possible to 
employ — an opinion which had been gaining ground before his time, 
and b^ame general soon after. His fusible metal for corroded 
preparations is made of bismuth, eight parts ; lead, five ; and 
tin, three parts. A small addition of mercury further reduces 
the melting-point. He experimented with the following colours : 
vermilion, carmine, indigo, Prussian blue, gamboge, verdigris. 



In the top figure the syringe can be lechaa^B^ without disconnecting any part of the 
apparatus. In the lower figure the necessary pressure is obtained by the gravitation of the 

lamp-black, madder, * orcan^te ’ (a vegetable red dye extracted 
from the roots and bark of Anchusa), ‘ orseille ’ (a reddish purple 
extract of lichens), chrome yellow, Indian yellow, and neutral 
Potassium chromate. As regards instruments, for small injections 
the syringe of Swammerdam is satisfactory, but he prefers a more 
complicated injection pump which enables a considerable body of 
liquid to be thrown in without removing the canula from the 
blood-vessel. The figure (9) explains itself. Other simpler con- 
trivances are described for injecting small animals such as Mollusca 


and Crustacea. For fine injections, and especially for the lym- 
phatics, he devised an apparatus called the injector, which he 
himself had used for eighteen years (Fig. 9). It consists of the 
vessel a filled with the injection mass, which passes by the outlet 
g to the canula. The vertical tube c may be varied in height, and 
extends almost to the bottom of the vessel a. If now mercury be 
introduced by c, it accumulates at the bottom of a and forces the 
injection mass out by gr, the actual pressure depending on the 
height of the column of mercury selected. This apparatus was 
afterwards modified by Robin. Straus-Durckheim also describes 
methods of inflation, of exhausting the vessels with a vacuum 
pump before injecting, and of filling the vessels of very large 
animals such as the rhinoceros and elephant. 



By F. S. Marvin 

This volume appears at a moment in world-history which will 
always be recalled for criticism or for admiration, probably for 
much of both. After a time of devastation and loss throughout 
the world unparalleled in history, a supreme attempt has just 
been made to combine mankind in a working union to prevent 
future conflicts and promote the peaceful solution of the inter- 
national differences of the future. This is the greatest political 
fact of the moment. And in the sphere of knowledge science has 
reached the iK>int at which its volume and complexity, its necessity 
for life and for education, are being at last fully realized in all 
civilized countries. There are thus two maxima before us, one 
in the political, the other in the intellectual world. We arc in 
these studies interested in science, and especially in its history. 
But it would be a fatal mutilation of the history of science to 
attempt to treat it without regard to the accompanying social and 
})olitical conditions of mankind. Whichever is root or trunk or 
flower in the tree of progress, the whole is vitally connected, and 
we are therefore bound as historians of science to ask what are 
the relations between bur two maxima ; can wc trace any direct 
relation between the .growth of scientific knowledge and the uni- 
hcation of the world which has led to. this new expression in the 
League of Nations. 

The inquiry is large and difficult enough. The war seemed for 
the moment the heaviest blow which the cause of unity had ever 
borne. Yet it was the war which has given birth to the League 
of Nations. The war diverted, too, some of the best brains from 
the study of science, and has laid many of them to rest for ever. 
Yet it was to the war that we owe the recent triumphs of aviation, 
besides a multitude of minor inventions which may have their use 
in peace. Neither optimist indeed, nor cynic, can hold his own 
in this debate, and we shall be content with very wide and sug- 
gestive rather than demonstrated conclusions. 

There is first the abstract question, the essentially social nature 
of science itself. It must be noted how science arises in the active 


mingling of the thought of many minds, and at times and places 
where men of various race and antecedents have met and inter- 
changed ideas. Then comes the historical, or a posteriori, inquiry, 
how far the growth of science has been accompanied by a closer 
knitting up of the world as one community. This may be shown 
in a growing intimacy of all sorts of relations, in politics, commerce, 
culture, and religion. And the historical argument will lead finally 
to some consideration of the actual links which science has forged 
for the process of unification, and what it may do in the future 
to hasten it. 

First, then, the abstract question, how far docs the nature of 
science itself point to unity in mankind ? Science, i.e. organized or 
connected knowledge, is a social product. It made its appearance 
after communities of men on a fairly large scale had already been 
formed, and it was both the result and the means of a widening 
intercourse and communion between them. This fact, which is 
clear historically, is in no contradiction with the equally obvious 
fact that science in a rudimentary sense is present in the simplest 
inference by which the savage, or the animal for that matter, 
guides his action by the observation of certain sequences in the 
external world. The storm threatens, the plant poisons, the fire 
burns, and the most elementary of minds frames its conduct 
accordingly. ‘ All men ’, says Aristotle at the ojicning of the 
Metaphysics, ‘ desire to know ’, and it is by this differentia of 
conscious knowledge that the species is defined. But at the outset 
it was the necessities of life and not only or even mainly man’s 
intellectual curiosity which prompted the forward process. By 
his quicker wits, his better memory, his greater readiness to fit 
means to ends, man was enabled to endure the trials of nature 
and to gain the mastery over the other animals, many of them 
far stronger physically than himself. Now all these desirable 
qualities are elements in the structure of science. Yet it is neces- 
sary for clearness of definition to limit our terms. There is a point 
at which man’s growing knowledge and experience take on a dis- 
tinctive character and make a fresh start, and this point was the 
birth of Greek philosophy in Ionia. It concurs — and the con- 
currence is significant — ^with the intense social activity which 
centred on the western sea-board of Asia Minor in the seventh 
and eighth centuries B.c. Here was the meeting-place of travellers 
and trade-routes both from the eastern empires of AsHynsi, and 


Babylon, and from the south and south-east, Egypt, Phoenicia, 
and Crete. Here the quick-witted Greek was in touch with all 
that could be reported by woi^ of mouth from the centres of old 
priestly learning, here he could meet men who had seen the greatest 
wonders of man’s activity on earth, and could set out himself to 
explore and to question the thinkers and the workers who could 
describe these things on the spot. Hence the figure of Thales and 
of those early Sages of Ionia must be regarded not only as charac- 
teristic types of the Hellenic race, but as the recipients and trans- 
muters of wisdom and observations long anterior to themselves — 
the mouthpieces of a social product to which the toiling millions 
of the Nile valley and the Euphrates, the royal owners of wealth 
and authority, the priestly houses of record and study, had all 
contributed their part. And they again rest on the more primitive 
cultivators of the same soil in ages of stone. This social connexion 
is of the essence of science, and it spreads far, not only in space — 
as we see in this first appearance in the Middle East — but in time 
also. There is affiliation with the past as well as widespread 
intercourse in the present. Science was not born until these two 
conditions had been fulfilled, and to them it owes the special 
intensity of its social character, purer even than the social nature 
of language or religion or art. It is the sociality of reason itself, 
the ‘ connected experience ’ which, as Aristotle says in the same 
passage of the Metaphyaica^ differentiates the reason of man from 
that of the other animhls. * Of all the mental treasures of the 
race scientific truth alone compels general acquiescence.’ ^ To it 
alone the differences of race or age or nationality are indifferent. 
In it alone we see the complete fusion of mind with mind which 
constitutes * sociality And through the steady spread of this 
general acquiescence, or communion in truth, over all obstacles 
of ignorance or prejudices or remoteness on earth, the growth of 
humanity is best exhibited. Just as in Aristotle’s view the ‘ desire 
to know ’ is the differentia of mem from the other animals, so in 
the spread and acceptance of science we have the groundwork of 
humanity, the progressive Being par excellence known to us in 
the world. 

It is interesting and significant that the perception of the 
universal nature, the sociality of reason, was, like science itself, 
only gradually acquired. It has kept pace through the ages with 
* Sir Wm. Osier’s Hsrveian Oration of 1906, Clarendon Press. 


the growth of science, and is only in these latter da3rs fully 
accepted, with the full acceptance of the dominating voice of 
science. To the classical Greek the light of truth appeared to be 
only granted to a small Hite of mankind. Round the little island 
of right-thinking and enlightened men was a great ocean of bar- 
barian outsiders, perverse in their mental processes and language, 
unintelligible to those who were on the way to truth. The Stoics, 
who were the universalists of the ancient world, made all men 
equal and all accessible to the dictates of reason. But they 
attained this position rather by evacuating reason of the scientific 
content which it had acquired during the Greek evolution than 
by seeking in all the humblest manifestations of reason the germs 
of the fuller growth. It was the universalism of Tolstoi rather 
than of Comte, though the Greek generalizing mind had made the 
premature attempt possible. Something of the same sort is true 
about the mediaeval theory, profoundly and impressively though 
Dante puts it. He tells us,^ as Aristotle did, that the height of 
human power, the quality of man that makes him man, is thought, 
the power of understanding things. And he goes further than 
Aristotle towards the social source of knowledge. He is explicit 
that this endowment of reason is not an individual thing ; no. one 
can thus think by himself. It belongs to man as a species, and 
only by the multitude of other men can any one man enjoy his 
faculty or increase it. On this side, then, Dante goes further and 
deeper than any one had gone before, for the universalism of 
Christianity was behind him and inspired his thought. But on 
the side of the nature of science he shared the arrested develop- 
ment inherent in the mediaeval position. These multitudes of 
men from whom the individual derived his reason and with whom 
he should enjoy it, were not co-operating agents in an infinite 
process of building up truth, but humble participants in a feast 
already provided by divine wisdom for those who had grace to 
hear the invitation and a pure heart to partake of the bounties 
offered. It is not till the re-birth of science in the sixteenth and 
seventeenth centuries that we can see both the social nature and 
the infinite progressiveness of knowledge first dawning together 
on the Western mind. ^ Mind begets mind *, said William Harvey, 
in a pregnant phrase, at the beginning of the seventeenth century, 
and it is in that century that we can first trace clearly the two 

1 De JfonareAia. 


connected, and hereafter dominating thoughts, of * progress ’ and 
* humanity *, both based on the growth of a collective mind, 
exhibited in its most articulate form in the conclusions, constantly 
verified and constantly modified, of scientific truth. We cannot 
stay here to watch the gradual expansion of these ideas ; but one 
feature in the nineteenth century demands some notice as perhaps 
the greatest single contribution to the conception of science as 
a social product. This is the contribution from archaeology. It 
was archaeology which established the notion of a firm, converging 
tendency in human thought towards common conclusions about 
ourselves and the world we live in. It has dispelled the barriers 
which seemed both to the Greeks and to the Catholic mediaevali&ts 
to divide mankind. It shows us the whole of our species struggling 
together from a common starting-point, by very similar steps to 
a common goal. The story thus unfolded is no more an idyll of 
brotherly love than any other part of history. It must indeed 
have been far less so, difficult though that may be to believe. 
Multitudes of races, as of individuals, fell by the way, more 
perhaps by the hands of fellow men than by other enemies. And 
yet the real progress which was achieved was by extended co- 
operation. The directing mind was social in its origin and social 
in its purpose, conscious or unavowed. And in the light of 
archaeology wo can see that the same social processes of thought 
were at work wherever our first fathers set up a totem to protect 
their tribe, or sacrificed to the divinity of an ancestor or a nature- 
spirit, or devised some machine or word to make the common 
work more effective or the common emotion more intense. 

This theory of the sociality of thought which Durkheim worked 
out fully, and perhaps too exclusively, in the sphere of religion, 
might, we think, be pressed further home than it has been at 
every stage. It would then appear that science, in the systematic 
sense, is the strongest of all links both between individuals and 
between groups of men. The friends of science must, on this 
subject, part company from emotionalists of the Tolstoi type. It 
is true that, either for association or disruption, emotion is for 
the moment a far more effective force. It is simpler, more obvious, 
more accessible to the masses of mankind. But the links of reason 
persist and spread, they go back to the distant past for those who 
can follow them, and while capable of indefinite reinforcement by 
emotion, they can maintain their hold and are a force in them- 


selves, independent either of support or assault by passion. In thjg 
sense it is true that science is the fundamental bond of our race. 

But we must turn from the difficulties of a summary apprecia* 
tion of the most complicated of psychological questions to the 
clearer iSsues which are presented on the historical side. Here 
we may see — ^if we start on a backward journey from the present 
• into the past — ^that the world is now more of a unity than it hm* 
ever been, and that science is at a maximum. These are firm 
starting-points, and as we look back, we may trace some three 
or four great moments or pre-eminent steps in the advance of 
knowledge linked up with the unification of the world. The 
earliest, the first occasion on which we can speak of science in 
the stricter sense, is the Greek construction of science and philo- 
sophy which extends from Thales and Pythagoras in the fifth and 
sixth century B. c. to Ptolemy, the continuer of Hipparchus, in 
the second century a. d. Connected with that is the formation 
of the Greco-Roman world at the head of which were men trained 
in Greek philosophy and attempting to apply the rules of reason 
to the congeries of human facts which had come together in their 
hands. The second would be the revival of science in the fifteenth 
and sixteenth centuries, ‘based on the recovery of the work of the 
Greeks. Connected with that on the practical side is the discovery 
of the New World and the expansion of the West. Then, toward^ 
the end of the eighteenth century, begins the last and most rapid 
movement of all; it may be dated from the .invention of the 
steam-engine. In this period, the last hundred and fifty years, 
the progress on both of our parallel lines has been unexampled. 
An increase in scientific knowledge, a new linking up of the world, 
have taken place, which completely eclipse in volume all that the 
earlier centuries have done of the same kind. 

Our historical argument is to review very briefly these great 
stages and point out a few of the salient facts which support the 
theory that science and unity are essentially connected. 

When we look first at the Greek evolution, we are struck 
raither by the marked incapacity of Greek cities and Greek states- 
men to achieve any form of permanent co-operation than by their 
tendency to unity. If the argument for the unifying power of 
science rested here, its foundations would be bad. But it is of 
course impossible thus to isolate the prominent contesting Greek 
states from their environment, Athens from Alexander, or on the 


larger field, Greece from Rome. We should not be inclined to d^ 
so at all, were it not for the vicious tendency of the orthodox 
teaching of history which concentrates attention on the activities 
of Cleon and makes no serious estimate, probably does not even 
mention, Pythagoras, Hippocrates, Archimedes, or Hipparchus. 
And when we see how in the last two centuries b. c. the work and 
thought of the Greeks mingled finally with that of the Romans, 
it is clear that we must treat the two as complementary, parts 
of one whole, the organization of the Western world on the lines 
of the first scientific synthesis. Roman law is in fact a close 
analogue of Greek science, and in itself scientific. The two peoples, 
common in their racial origin, closely associated in the building 
up of city-state, were finally in the Roman Empire of the second 
century socially and politically merged ; for the Empire restec^ 
intellectually as much on Greek thought as it did practically on 
Roman roads and legions and municipia. 

It may be said that in this very vague and general way every 
form of orderly government might be called scientific. No doubt 
there is force in this criticism, and if we could follow it out, we 
should find that the impulse to seek orderly sequence in external 
nature, and to apply consistent rules to the management of men, 
are indeed near akin. But we may make some rather closer 
applications of Greek scientific notions to public order and unifica- 
tion in the Greco-Roman world. Think of the infiuence of astro- 
nomy. Pliny tells us in< one of his letters that the Greek science 
of the heavenly bodies had done much to allay the superstitious 
fears of the populations of Asia and to produce calm and order 
in the public mind. And when one remembers the primitive 
explanations offered of eclipses and the panics which they have 
caused among untutored peoples, one can well understand the 
change which must have come over the general mental attitude 
in the eastern Mediterranean, as the Greek precise and natural 
explanation of such phenomena made its way. But there is 
another astronomical conclusion which seems of even greater 
moment for the unification of the world and has not been generall;)^ 
treated of in that connexion. That is the sphericity of the earth 
and the first perception of the truth that our planet is one of the 
multitude of spherical bodies, suspended or pursuing a certain 
path in space. This was a Greek achievement, and to the deeper 
vision of history which is now opening up to us, it will appear 


as one of the capital moments in human evolution. It seems to 
have been achieved by the time of Pythagoras. From that time 
on, but not before, it was possible for all the inhabitants of the 
earth to regard themselves as partners in one home with a common 
fate. Not till then could the ‘ humanum genus ’ of the Romans, 
the * Dear City of Man * of the Stoics, begin to be envisaged with 
any reality. The subtle bias of such a thpught towards the 
pacification and unity of the Roman world is obvious, though we 
cannot demonstrate its course of working. We may be as sure 
of it as we are of the world-wide desire at present for some effective 
confederation of mankind, though the conflicting policies of 
governments and newspapers will obliterate some of the approaches 
to the ideal for the future historian. 

For us, reviewing now the approaches to the Greco-Roman 
system at its best, the main current seems to be the tradition of 
the Stoics and Cicero, down to men like the Elder and Younger 
Pliny, who were the backbone of the Empire. To Pliny the Elder 
Cicero ranked highest of all writers, save Homer alone, and Cicero 
was the man who, as quaestor in Sicily, showed his public spirit 
and his sympathy for Greek thought by rescuing the tomb of 
Archimedes from neglect. This t3rpe of Roman was no original 
thinker, not himself a contributor of any stones to the structure 
of science or philosophy, but being formed philosophically by 
Greece, and fully aware of the Greek superiority in abstract 
thought, he was able, in the Roman position of command, to 
spread ideas of intellectual as well as political order both East 
and West. East they spread more than West, for the area was 
already fertilized by Greek thought, and in that region the Greek 
tradition, in which a scientific habit of mind played its part, kept 
the Eastern Empire in being for a thousand years after the bar- 
barians had broken up and resettled the Western. In the Catholic 
West, too, it was Greek thought which dominated and systematized 
the theology and philosophy of the Middle Ages, and thus formed 
again a link of unity. 

But we must pass on to the re-birth of science in the stricter 
sense, when the men of the Renaissance brought their theories 
about nature into contact with the facts of observation and 
experiment. This was really the capital achievement of the 
Renaissance, outweighing the literary revival and the outburst of 
zeal for art, adventure, and enjoyment. The re-birth of science 


is often represented as the throwing off of bad Greek traditions, 
and, so far as it consisted in abandoning the idolatrous following 
of the mistakes of Aristotle and Giden, this is true enough. Yet 
all the leading thinkers who began the new scientific movement 
of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were in contact with 
the Greek masters who had worked in the same field before, and 
made iise of their results. So far as the earlier thinkers had 
thought scientifically, so far as truth grows as a whole, just as 
mankind is a whole, this filiation is clearly essential unless the 
entire work is to be done over again. Descartes and Galileo were 
just as much subject to the condition in mathematics and physics 
as were the schools of medicine and philosophy. It was Arab 
thinkers who, in many cases, had kept the torch alight. 

But there is one point of contact which is of special interest 
here, both as it concerns the unification of the world, and as 
a striking example of the successful union between science and 
practice, which was to become increasingly fruitful in later years. 
We spoke of the doctrine of the sphericity of the earth, and saw 
that it had been accepted some time before the meridian of Greek 
thought. Aristotle clearly stated it, and it was worked out in detail 
by Ptolemy. The maps of Ptolemy, with latitude and longitude 
fairly correct for the parts of the world known to him, were 
forgotten in the West for a thousand years, . and replaced by 
imaginary constructions based on the supposed teachings of Holy 
Writ. The sphericity of 4he earth was, in fact, formally denied 
by the Church, and the mind of Western man, so far as it moved 
in this matter at all, moved back to the old confused notion of 
a modulated * flatland ’, with the kingdoms of the world sur- 
rounding Jerusalem, the divinely chosen centre of the terrestrial 
disk. But at the beginning of the fifteenth century Ptolemy was 
recovered and translated into Latin, and by that time also inter- 
course with the Arabs and the journeys of Marco Polo and others 
to the East had prepared the way for a wider view. It was the 
re-establishment of the Greek doctrine of sphericity, the maps of 
Toscanelli based on Ptolemy, the currency which i^gan again to 
be given to more scientific notions of geography, which inspired 
Columbus to seek the East by crossing the Atlantic. This is 
a salient instance of science stimulating the active powers of man 
to gain a completer knowledge of his earthly home, and through 
knowledge to bring it into one sphere of thought and action. 


If we have an eye fixed on the ultimate goal of human federation, 
as we have in this essay, the expansion of the Western world 
which began at this time, the linking up of Europe with the Far 
West and the Far East by voyages of discovery, by commerce 
and by settlement, may well seem at least second if not first of 
all the achievements of the Renaissance, and ultimately far more 
important than the disruption of the Church and the rivalries of 
the new-born national states which absorb the larger part of tiie 
interest of the political historian of the period. 

Another institution, also inspired by scientific thought, appeared 
at about this time, side by side with the Renaissance of physical 
science, even more potent perhaps in furthering the future unity 
of the world. This was Grotius^s construction of international 
law, written in the first quarter of the seventeenth eentury, and 
contemporary with the work of Galileo and Harvey. 

The analogy in the way of thinking between the first and 
greatest master of international law and the founders of physico- 
mathematical science is as close and striking as their coincidence 
in time. Both are clearly scientific. Just as in external nature 
thinkers from the time of the Greek Sages had been seeking laws, 
or forms, true for all geometrical figures of certain shapes, for all 
movement, celestial and terrestrial alike, so in Grotius a man 
arose who set out to ascertain what truths about man’s nature 
in society might bo assumed to be of universal validity and 
universal application. He was the first to look for these principles 
of universal right in man’s own nature, apart from religious sanc- 
tions and superior to local fluctuations of time or race. On these 
universal principles he would build a universal code. Nothing 
obviously could be more consonant with, or more favourable to, 
our ideal of the unity of mankind. And this great effort appeared 
in the West at the same moment that the greatest of physical 
laws was being worked out by the labours of Galileo, and that 
Harvey was framing the first great mechanical law of physiology. 
Thus, if the statue of Grotius stands high, as it should stand, in 
the Courts of the League at Geneva, it should be recognized that 
the basis of his work, his own chief title to fame, rests in the 
application of scientific method to human affairs, and that this 
capital step was taken at the same time that modern science of 
the physical order was being launched on its triumphant career. 
Broadly considered, Grotius’s work was part of the same move- 


ment, the constitution of truth by human reason acting on the 
observation of facts and reducing them to general laws by induc- 
tion tested by experiment. And if we are told that in the case 
of international law, the experiments of history have proved 
disastrous to the generalizations, we shall reply that in the case 
of any law of life, and above all of human life, time for realization 
is of the essence of the problem. -The infractions of international 
law no more destroy it than occasional murders destroy the general 
prevalence of the law — if we may call it a law — of conjugal and 
filial affection. Grotius stands firm, and for his justification we 
do not need a record of unbroken conformity to his laws, but 
of a progressive acceptance and enforcement of them by the 
nations. History, even the history of the war, has fully estab- 
lished this, and Grotius’s ideal is brighter than ever as a beacon 
for a world travelling towards peace and international justice. 

We have to pass now, much too hastily, from the time of these 
first great essays of modern science to our own, or recent times, in 
which the youth of the seventeenth century, with all his vigour 
of invention and enthusiasm of faith, may seem to have come of 
age, stained with many faults, but vastly stronger and more 
competent and well-grounded in a knowledge both of his errors 
and his power. We are still tracing the unifying process, assisted 
by scienee, and we claim to find it in spite of the wars of religion 
in the sixteenth century, the wars of trade in the eighteenth, the 
wars with France and Napoleon at the Revolution, or the Great 
War which has just closed. This last might perhaps be called 
a scientific war in its methods and engines, but it can no more be 
attributed to the growth of science as its cause than the wars of 
the Revolution could be ascribed to Lavoisier or Watt’s engine. 

The steam-engine may indeed be taken as the turning-point 
in the history of modern science, from which its growth, steadily 
progressive from the seventeenth century, became markedly 
quickened, especially in its applications to life and above all in 
those applications which promoted the unification of the world. 
Apart from its subsequent uses in linking up the M'orld, Watt’s 
invention is a classical instance of the linking up of science and 
practice, theoretical training and industrial profit. For the 
inventor was a man of general scientific attainments, especially 
on the mathematical side, and he was working at Glasgow in 
a department for study and not in an ordinary workshop, when 


Newcomen’s engine was brought to him for repair and led to his 
capital improvements. And the decisive thought was suggested 
to him by another scientist, Black, the professor of chemistry in 
the university. The same story, of the immediate linking of 
abstract and disinterested study with practical applications, may 
fee told of the other principal agent in improved comniunications 
in the nineteenth century, the electric telegraph. It derives 
directly from the researches of Oersted and others into the nature 
of electricity, just as the waves of Hertz fifty years later gave us 
wireless telegraphy. 

It is enlightening, from many points of view, to examine closely 
such cases as these because they exhibit clearly the active thought 
of the West in contact with facts, giving increased power iji 
practice, and forming fresh associations between men. The con- 
trast with Eastern, especially Indian, thought is palpable, the 
thought which turns constantly inwards and gives one the con- 
structions of mysticism, the ideals of Nirvana. Tt becomes an 
obvious truth, as these contrasts and these connexions are realized, 
that the unification of the world, proceeding from the nucleus 
forged by Greco-Roman thought round the Mediterranean, is 
essentially the creation of that form of orderly, organized, and 
objective thinking which we have called science. 

We have been dealing rather with some of the material an<l 
mechanical expressions of the unification of thought than with 
the spiritual unity itself, though the latter must be regarded as 
fundamental, and is as certain as the former. The similarities of 
life induced by the spread of great industries, the rise of great 
cities, the connexions of railway, steamship, and telegraph all over 
,the globe, are obvious to every globe-trotter, and are by no means 
an unmixed good. Side by side with the revival of regional 
associations and nationalist feelings and self-government has gone 
a general flattening out of ancient peculiarities, a diminution of 
separate languages, a dying down of secluded cults and customs. 
Tt is hard to strike the balance between the two tendencies, but 
on the whole the world seems, to most of those who have seen 
much of it in recent times, a more uniform and, some would say, 

‘ vulgar place than it used to be. This, so far as it is true, is 
one side of the process of unification, the depressing side. No 
birth takes place without some loss and suffering, and if a true 
birth of a spiritual kind is taking place — which our’ whole argument 


tends to prove — then we may confidently hope that suitable forms 
and garments will follow to clothe the child of the future. 

* It is no accident \ Dr. A. N. Whitehead tells us in his recent 
book on the * Organization of Thought ‘ that an age of science 
has developed into an age of organization. Organized thought is 
the basis of organized action.’ The words might have been taken 
as the text of this article. They sum up in the shortest and most 
unanswerable way the argument, that science being the ‘ organiza- 
tion of thought \ the effort, and the result , of the effort, to bring 
more and more facts of experience into an organic unity, must 
be, and has been, accompanied by a corresponding organization 
and unification of the beings who have produced that science. 
We have seen some of the external workings. It remains to look 
for a moment beneath the surface, and to consider how these 
spiritual forces may by cultivation, and with right direction from 
the general will, conduce to greater unity — of the desirable type — ■ 
in future. 

Social unity rests now, both nationally and internationally, in 
every unit large or small in which it exists, on the conscious 
co-operation of all the individuals who compose it. This is clearly 
and admittedly true in all civilized communities which have 
attained a national existence. It is true also of the large aggregates 
such as Russia, China, or India, which are struggling in various 
circumstances and difficulties to attain a conscious national exis- 
tence. It was not the case in the great political aggregates of the 
past, the Roman Empire or the Holy Roman Empire of the Middle 
Ages. In these the unity was imposed from above. It is now to 
be attained from within, a task of incomparably greater difficulty 
and longer effort. But the new units, when organized, will have 
in them an enduring life of quite another order than the old. 
Within the family, the town, or the national state, besides the 
bonds of affection, there are the feelings of decency, of honour, 
of common interest, present more or less to the minds of all. 
Certain anti-social acts are never done except in moments of 
criminal excess ; such acts, and others short of criminal, are 
reprobated and mostly checked by the social conscience of the 
community. Now, when we turn to the human community as 
a whole, we notice at once marked differences in the force and 
incidence of the various elements in the social conscience. Affec- 
tion is far weaker : decency and honour are rather the reflections 



of the smf^er social conscience than of the, human conscience as 
a whole : the common interest is hardly felt, when we are thinking 
of all humanity face to face with the unplumbcd perils of the 
universe. But considerations of the more strictly intellectual 
order, of human dignity, of the solidarity of mind, of our debt 
to the past and the possibilities of the future, all these feelings, 
which are social also, are stronger on the wider basis of humanity 
than on the narrower. But they require more cultivation : they 
are present consciously to the minds of only a minority ev'eii in 
the best educated countries ; they seem to many of us to be 
unattainable by the mass. Yet they are essential to the unit}’^ 
of the future ; and science probably provides the most accessible 
channel for their entry to the mind. In no other branch of human 
progress is the advance so clearly demonstrable from the past, 
and in no other is it so obviously the joint work of all civilized 
nations, and even of the uncivilized, all co-operating according to 
their gifts. 

The teaching of history in a new spirit will be one of the means, 
perhaps the most widely applicable, of deepening the intellectual 
basis of unity. If, as we believe, the League of Nations bc'comcs 
shortly the dominant political fact in the world, the attention of 
all the associated peoples will be directed perforce to the character 
and history of their fellow members and the baeis of the union 
between them. As soon as this question is raised, we come to 
science in the* various senses and manifestations which have been 
alluded to in this paper. Hence any teaching of history which 
may be favoured by the League — and there are good reasons 
why it should interest itself in the matter and give advice — must 
give a large place to the history of science as the field on which 
the nations have always worked most easily together, used one 
another’s results and helped one another, except in cases such 
as dye-stuffs or munitions of war, where war-like or commercial 
rivalry has disturbed the natural harmony of truth. In this study 
the citizen, who will in an international system be more than the 
citizen of one state, may find the means of strengthening those 
social feelings of the more intellectual kind which are weaker and 
limited in the merely national sphere. The sense of human dignity 
eannot be better served than by observing the growth through 
the ages of that quality in mankind as a whole which Aristotle 
taught us to regard as the differentia of man as a species. Our 

*»*1 AS 


sense of a debt to the past is most vivid in the case of that expect 
of man’s thought where congruence with the established results 
of earlier workers is most essential. And those earlier workers, 
even if hostile in the flesh, become, when dead, men sans ‘phrase, 
all organs alike of one spirit whose nature is to struggle unceasingly 
for more strength, more clearness, and more comprehension. 

Science here touches religion, as indeed any system of thought 
which involves the unity of mankind is bound to do. And the 
relation between the two suggests a contrast which has been often 
noticed before, but is of special interest to our argument and 
would lead us far if we had space to pursue it. The Middle Ages 
were noted for an internationalism in religion, which within its 
area — something like but something wider than the Roman Empire 
of the West — ^was the most intense and searching unity mankind 
has ever achieved or endured. The break came in the sixteenth 
century, and since that date it has been impossible, inconceivable 
even, to hold an oecumenical council for the whole West which 
would determine the right opinions to be held on any question of 
religion. But simultaneously with this dispersion on the religious 
side came a drawing together, a new internationalism, on the 
basis of science. The seventeenth century saw the establishment 
in the leading countries of the West of national societies and 
academies of science, which at once began to exchange visits, con- 
fer membership on one another, and advance by friendly rivalry. 
In the eichteenth ceittury regular international* co-operation 
began, and a multitude of x>ermanent international associations 
followed, which are the most hopeful of all the prominent new 
organizations of the latest age. There are some hundreds of such, 
centred before the war chiefly in Brussels and The Hague ; and 
their multiplicity is not due to difference of opinion but to variety 
of topic. They do not, as d Papal council would, declare the right 
opinion on a filioque clause either ex cathedra or through an official 
majority ; but they welcome differences of view, supported by 
knowledge, on any vexed question within their range. They do 
not despair of agreement on any subject where evidence is avail- 
able. But the agreement must be free, by conviction and not by 
force, by reason, and not by authority. This is the unity of the 


By F. C. Oonybeabe 


I. Introduction .......... 350 

II. Contents of British Museum M8. Or. 6708, fo. 2-1 1 . . 904 

in. Translation of the Four Tracts ....... 3»;7 

T. Introduction 

Armenian medicine was a closed subject until the appearance 
of Ernest Seidel’s Mechitar'a Trost bei Fi^em in 1908. That 
work, together with the texts here rendered, will enable the 
occidental reader to form some idea of the character and sources 
of mediaeval Armenian scientific ideas. 

The British Museum Codex, Or. 6798 (Catalogue, no. 138),* is 
the source of our four treatises on the formation and Structure of 
the Human Body. It is a composite MS. formed of several distinct 
books and written by at least four different hands. The first 
section of this MS. contains our four treatises. This section 
consists of some 60 vellum leaves in double columns of 35 lines 
each. The writing is of the late cursive type called noiergir, or 
notary’s, small, but neat and clear. The titles of the sections 
or chapters are given in red. Folios 56-127 contain a second and 
separate book, written on paper in double columns of 32 lines, 
in a hand closely resembling the 6rst. This second, book gives 
our first two treatises over again in an identical text, with the 
same trimcated colophon (see § 21 below). Either it was copied 
from the vellum book, or both were copied from a common source. 
As in the first book, so in this, the last tract is attributed to 
Gregory of Nyssa (§ 23 in our translation). 

In addition to the two copies of our texts in the British Museum 
1 I would like here to correct an error in my catalogue of the Armenian M>SiS. 
of the British Museum. Misled by the numeral 3 affixed in the maigin to the 
so>called treatise of Gregory of Nyssa on the folio of MS. 6798, 1 suggested that 
it was misplaced and should precede f. 4, in such a way that this treatise 
followed the Introduction and intervened between §{ 2 and 3. The folio was 
really in its right placse, and the secondary text at f. 109b equally begins 
Gregory of Nyssa’s tract after § 20 which describes the Seven Members, although 
§ 21, on the Parts of the Body, is omitted. 

A a 2 


volume, nine others arc known to exist in a more or less complete 
state : of these, seven are in the Mechitarist Library at Vienna, 
one is at Munich, and one in the Biblioth^que nationale at Paris.^ 
The four texts vary a good deal, but our version is practically 
identical with one of the Vieimese (294). The great variety of 
readings indicates that the works had long been current and 
popular at the time when the variant MSS. were written. 

The circumstance that the excerpt of Mechitar Hcratzi (see § 1) 
occurs in at least two other MSS., and is followed by a passage 
which may be attributed to Asar (see next paragraph), suggests 
that the latter may himself have made the addition. As a physician 
Asar may well have had access to other works of Mechitar (who 
was a Cilician physician, c. 1150-1200) besides that on Fevers; 
that work the Mcchitarists of Venice imntcd in Armenian in 1832, 

^ The Vienna MSS. 678 and 294 exactly agree with ours in texts and in the 
ordering of the cont(*nts. No. 658 of the same collection resembles it. 

Another Vienna MS. no. 17 in Bashean's Catalogue, less allied in text to ours 
than no. 294, is a rc'cent copy of an older MS. of unknown age ; it gives the 
same contents in the same order. 

The Vienna collection contains five other similar MSS. No. 436 is a late 
cursive. It begins with § 1 and ends with § 18, but Dashean’s Catalogue gives no 
further information. No. 442 also contains it, and begins with § 1, but ends with 
§ 17. The thin.1 MS., no. 466, begins with § 2, but what else it contains Father 
Dashean does not say. No. 254 is of the 17-18th century. The tract begins 
f. 7 r®, and contains §§ 1, 3, &c., but the codex is very defective through loss of 
leaves, and Dashean does not record its contents very fully. A fifth text is given 
in codex 540 of the same library, written in 1669. This contains the works of 
Galust, a i)hysician of Amasia of that age. This text begins with § 1 and ends 
with § 20. 

A Munich codex, no. 2, written in 1602, contains our text, Ixginning f. 71 r®, 
but 1 have only the barest details of its arrangement and contents, though 
Hunanean in his two volumes on ancient vulgar idioms of Armenia (Vienna, 
1897), gives excerpts of — 

A Paris MS., no. 108, ff. 29-45, contains the same text. Hunanean writes 
that he had examined ten MSS. of this w'ork, and notes that two of them only, 
Vienna 294 and Paris 108, insert the excerpt from Mechithar Heratzi which 
I number §§ 3, 4. It ends with the words : ‘ So ends the description of the 
visual faculty by the will of God.’ Our MS. continues without a break the rest 
of the discourse about the eye. Our MS. is thus a member of a close group 
consisting of three texts. Very slight differences divide them in respect of this 
excerpt ; e. g. Vienna 294 and our MS. employ the word Quaivwha, whereas Paris 
108 substitutes Vmlays, and 294 and our MS. use the Middle Armenian plural 
tutarni, whereas Paris 108 has the classical form aatarq. 

Hunanean cites § 1 according to the four codices, Vienna 294, Vienna 540 
(Galust’s codex), Munich 2 (written probably in 1602), and Vienna 17. 



and a scholarly German version of it, with valuable commentary, 
was published in 1908 by Ernest Seidel. This treatise is much 
quoted in Asar’s Manual of Therapeutics in the Mechitarist Library 
of Vienna (MS. 287), and is given twice over in a British Museum 
MS. (Codex f. 129 b and 41 a). It consists of 123 chapters, and 
cites many of the ancient Arabic and Armenian medical writers 
that are cited indejjendently in the Great Tri})artite manual of 
Medicine or Akhrapatin (i. e. rpa<f>iSiov) of Ainirtovlath of Anuisia, 
of which a magnificent vellum codex exists in tluj British Museum 
(Cat. Armen. MSS. 134, Or. 3712). Ainirtovlath wrote c. 1466. 

It ih thus not impossible that § 1 of our tract is from the pen 
of this Asar, for in the preface to that writer’s Manual of Thera- 
peutics the comparison of the physician’s art to that of tlie religious 
confessor (§ 1, paragraph .5) recurs in tin* same words. However, 
it is a commonplace often met with in Armenian medical tn'atises, 
so we must not attach too much importance to this. That one 
was copied from the other, or both from a common source, is, 
however, certain, since the language is the same. I translate 
herewith Asar’s preface as it is found in our MS. (Brit. Mus., 
Or. 6798) and the Vienna MS. 287 : 

‘ In the name of God the merciful and compassionate. A book 
of the healing art, as prescribed by wise; philosojiliers and h(‘aling 
doctors for the understanding of man’s nature and for ministration 
to the sick unto the uses of healing. 

‘ For as by means of confession an<l true? repentance tliey 
receive healing of soul, so likewise at the hands of healing doctors 
and with the aid of drugs they shall receive bodily health and 
be quit of their maladies. So now the humble in sjiirit, 1, the 
servant of God’s servants, the unlearned and much sinning Asar 
of Sebaste, have desired to collect the selection, and in brief to 
set forth according to our wants, a little out of much of the words 
of the philosophers, and to minister to sufferers, unto the uses of 
healing. And may the Creator vouchsafe health unto all according 
to his good and benevolent will, and to him be glory,’ &c. 

We may now devote a few lines to the discussion of the identity 
of the physician Abu Sayid, who is quoted in the first of our 
tractates (§ 1, paragraph 2). Two physicians of that name meet 
us in the history of Armenian medicine. The earlier was a con- 
temporary of Gregory son of Vahram early in the eleventh century, 
and Amirtovlath cites his remedies more than once, e. g. in the 
following, which is given in Hunanean (ii. 415) : 

‘ For liver disease due to fever we also cojiy out the remeily 


used by Grigor son of Vahram much to his advantage at a time 
when he suffered in his liver through fever, and went to Mufarxin 
(i. c. Nfkert) in the year 1037. And it was a prescription of Busayid 
and did him good. And his symptoms were these : pain in the 
back and right arm and heaviness of the hand, and internal 
stabbing pain in the back where the ribs fall away. When he 
lay down on his right side he felt acute pain and grow feverish, 
and wine and anything he ate hot gave him constipation (or ? 
aggravated it). So when this malady came on he went to Mufarxin ; 
as it was in winter time, the doctor gave him no medicine, saying : 
At this time of the year drugs will do you no good, for the man 
is frozen like the earth, and drugs arc useless. But he gave him 
cool drinks, such as pomegranate liquor, &c., and let him eat 
what he liked. Then when spring came he prescribed him this 
treatment for forty days,’ &c. 

The Armenian prince evidently suffered from neuritis. Here 
is another mention of Abu Sayid from the same source : 

* Another remedy which we have copied from Abu Sayid’s 
manual of medicine, which Gregory son of Vahram used when his 
liver pained him and he went to Mufarxin, as he did every spring, 
and derived great profit therefrom for several reasons : Take 
damask plums and twelve jujubes,* &c. 

This Abu Sayid of 1037 was probably a Syrian or an Arab, but 
some of his writings were clearly preserved among the Armenians 
as late as the second half of the fifteenth century, either in the 
original or in Armenian translations. 

Rather more than one hundred years later we have a notice 
of another Abu Sayid, a physician and savant, who was a friend 
and correspondent in turn of Nerses Shnorhali the Graceful, 
patriarch of Sis in Cilicia, who died a. d. 1173, and of Nerses of 
Lambron, bishop) of Tarsus, who died 1198. Shnorhali, in his 
commentary on St. Matthew, states that he consulted this Abu 
Sayid about the reconciliation of the rival pedigrees of Jesus in 
the first and third gospels. He calls him a physician and savant, 
and wanted to know what solution was provided of the difficulty 
in Abu Sa 3 rid’s Church. This proves that Abu Sayid was not an 
Armenian but a Syrian Christian. It was also at his request that 
Nerses of Lambron composed his tract on the Names of City 
Builders, published in the Ztschr.f, Arm, PhiUdogie, 1903, I, p. 206. 
As Nerses wrote in Armenian, we infer that his friend Abu Sayid 
could at least read that tongue. He probably wrote in Syriac or 


It is impossible to say for certain to which of these personages 
the reference in § 1, the Prologue* refers. The circumstance that 
the tract is in the Middle Armenian idiom of Cilicia proves nothing* 
for if it was originally written in Syriac or Arabic* an Armenian 
might translate it as well later as sooner. There is* however* 
some evidence for Nerses of Lambron being the translator, in 
which case it is likely to be the work of the Abu Sayid who was 
his contemporary. This evidence consists of three notices to the 
effect that this Nerses composed such a treatise. The first is 
found in a short but anonymous life of him cited by Alishan, the 
modern historian of Armenia* in his volume of Siauan^ p. 01. 
The second is in a colophon printed* apparently from the MS.* 
of Nerses’s meditation and prayers in connexion with the Dormitio 
lohannis. The third is a notice* printed in an edition of sundry 
works of Nerses printed at Cpl. in 1736* to the effect that he 
wrote the book on the Fonnation of Man. On the strength of 
these notices Hunanean inclines to believe that Nerses of Lambron 
vas the translator. He was certainly familiar with Syriac* for 
we have Armenian versions of Syriac originals from his pen. 
Hunanean confesses himself unable definitely to fix the date of 
the tract from the language in which it is composed* but finds 
no difficulty* as we have seen* in attributing it to Nerses of 
Lambron* who died in 1198. I find myself a great affinity between 
its idiom and that of Mechitar Heratzi* the author of the work on 
Fevers. It would be out of place here to go into details* and 
I will mention only two striking facts. Both in it and in Mechitar 
we find ukhtavoruthiun for akhtavonUhiuny a sign* though one 
rarely encountered* of the phonetic decay of the vowel a in that 
age. Again* instead of writing erkouorek for ‘ testicles ** both 
writers employ the form ekavorek. This is a rare form* so rare 
that Dr. Seidel* excellent scholar as he is* has not understood it. 
1 confess that I can in general see no distinction between the 
Armenian style and idiom of Mechitar and that of the author* 
whoever he was, of our tract. It is possible that Mechitar* who was 
a friend of Nerses Shnorhali* and wrote his work on Fevers in the 
year 1184 (when Nerses was Patriarch of Sis)* may himself have 
executed the translation of Abu Sayid at the wish of Nerses. It 
was a common thing for learned men to undertake such tasks at 
the behest of a prelate ; and that may be the reason of Nerses 
of Lambron’s name being attached to it. 



As regards our fourth treatise, it is needless to say that Gregory 
of Nyssa, whose name is attached to it, had nothing to do with 
the work, and that the tract of which 1 have here (§ 23) translated 
the first few pages is falsely attributed to him. It awaits more 
complete treatment than I have been able to give it. It was the 
connexion in literary tradition of this Father of the Church with 
Nemesios which gave rise to such an extravagance. The work of 
the latter exists in Armenian, but has nothing in common with the 
work ascribed here to Gregory of Nyssa. 

We have, then, in these four treatises a monument of the 
medical learning of the Armenians not later than the twelfth 
century. It would need a wider acquaintance with the many 
MSS. of these works than I have had the opportunity of making, 
to decide whether and how far the texts have been amplified by 
medical editors and scribes like Asar of Sebaste. We must not, 
for example, without further inquiry, attribute to the original 
form of the treatise the ascription to some planet' or other of each 
organ of the body. These ascriptions in our work invariably come 
at the end of the section devoted to the particular organ, and 
may easily therefore bo a later accretion from the pen of Asar, 
who in the colophon of § 21 admits that he in some way completed 
Abu Sayid’s work, and who no doubt incorporated in it §§ 3, 4. 

Like the later medical schools of Europe, the Armenian was 
dominated by Arabic learning. Most of the technical terms used 
are Arabic, much disguised in their Armenian dress. Equally so 
are the names of Greek medical writers that often came first 
through S 3 rriac, and from Syriac through Arabic. Bagarat, for 
example, a common and distinguished name in Armenia and 
Georgia, disguises Hippocrates. In other Armenian medical 
treatises we have Archigenes disguised as Ardjidjanes or Ardjiasus, 
Paul (of Egina) as Flaus, Oribasius as Arpisaus, Rufus as Upufaus, 
Diogenes as Deudjanis, and so on. 

IT. Contents of British Museum Text 
[P ress-mark Or. 6798 ; Cat., no. 138, fo. 2-11] 

The text that we here print contains four separate works, of 
somewhat different style and motive : 

I. § l-§ 18 is a complete and systematic treatise on the structure 
and functions of the organs of the body. It is perhaps 
the work of the ph 3 r 8 ician Abu Sayid, who lived in the 


twelfth century, but his work has been ainplihed by one 
or more medical scribes such as Asar. 

The British Museum MS. has a colophon at the end of § 18 
attesting that * This Book was written by Halathzaden % and we 
are asked to remember Astuadsatur the Elder, ‘ our father 

Whether ‘ this book ’ refers only to the treatise wliich precedes 
is not clear. It is, however, an indication that §§ 19 and 20 formed 
once a work separate from the treatise. 

II. § 19-§ 21 is a separate and more theoretic work, which 
deals chiehy with the numbers of the various organs and 
with their relation to the mental and spiritual qualities 
and with the causes of disease. The colophon expressly 
states that it is imperfect. 

In the British Museum Codex Or. 6798 this colophon, § 21, is 
truncated. But in the Codices of the Mechitarists’ Library at 
Vienna, 678 and 294, which otherwise presents a text identical 
with ours and which was copied from 678 in a. d. 1625, it runs 
thus : 

‘ NoWy Brethren, our original toas very imperfect and faulty, but, 
by the help of God, Asar of ijebaste (8ivas), the scribe and true 
disciple of the book, having with excessive erudition given his 
leisure to foreign works, with much labour was barely able to 
bring it to so much accuracy as this. But you that are aided by it, 
bear in mind the sinful much toiling Asar the Scribe and myself, 
the sinful penman who has soiled the pages of the paj)er and am 
also called the penman. Mark, O beloved among sages, to accept 
from me the word of the Apostle Paul, that there is won of your 
goodwill the grace of the Lord ’ . . . 

It is highly improbable that the author of this longer notice 
would have gone out of his way to incorporate in it the phrases 
italicized from the shorter notice. The MS. which thus enables 
us to restore the colophon was written in 162.5 at Ispahan by one 
Paul the Monk. 

III. § 22 is a short note on the relationship of the various 
organs to each other. It was, as its colophon tells us, 
transcribed by, if not the work of, one Halathidy. 

IV. § 23 is a spurious work attributed to Gregory of Nyssa 
(c. 331-c. 396) on the formation of the foetus in the 
mother’s womb. Only the first part is here rendered by 
way of giving an idea of its contents and character and 
of identifying it. 



The tractates here translated consist of the following sections, 
the numbers affixed being my own and not those of the MSS. : 

I. 1. Introduction. 

2. Concerning the Head and Brain. 

3. Concerning the Eyes. 

4. Concerning the Muscles of 'the Eye. 

6. Concerning Vision (in the text no title is given). 

6. On the Ear. 

7. On the Nose. 

> 8. On the Mouth. 

9. On the Heart. 

10. On the Lungs. 

11. On the Liver. 

12. On the Spleen. 

13. On the Kidneys. 

14. On the Gall. 

15. On the Bladder. 

16. On the Testicles. 

17. On the Stomach. 

18. On the Guts. 

II. 19. On Sinews (or Nerves), Ducts (or \''eins), and Blood 

in Greneral. Begins : ‘ The all wise God formed 
the joints of man . . 

20. On the Seven Members (or Organs) whereby man hath 

life. The first is the Brain. 

21. Colophon. 

HI. 22. The Parts of the Body. 

IV. 23. A work attributed to Gregory of Nyssa, beginning: 
* Man is said to be of four constituents.’ 

I have to thank Dr. Singer for supplying me with photographs 
of the British Museum MS. as well as for many suggestions ; and 
my gratitude is especially due to Father P. N. Akinian of the 
Mechitarist Convent of Vienna for the care with which he has 
revised my translation, correcting it in numerous passages and 
furnisjiing the right meanings of many obscure terms. 



III. Translation of the Four Tracts 

1. Concerning the fortneUion of man and the creation of all the members (or 
organs) of man, by the will of Ood. 

Of truly able select philosophers and healing doctors, Hellenes and 
Greeks, for the understanding' of the nature of man's body, mouldings and 
members, bones and articulations, ducts (or veins) and sinews. How they 
were created and ^hat are their respective natures or functions, whereby 
they supply with moisture all the members ^ of the body. 

But also the exciting causes (lit. movements) of diseases and the 
remedial aidinu of the same, and the operation, as understood by the great 
physicians Galen, Aristotle, and Bagarat (Hippocrates), by whom [the 
remedies] were disseminated among Greeks and Assyrians and Persians and 
Indians, among Hellenes and Arabs, and were disseminated unto all the 
comers of the world by the Giver of grace from above, and there were able 
men of all races. And at their behest and by their words many investigated 
and made themselves wise and able. Among whom was also one called Abu 
Sayid, who took from the books of the chief physicians sincerely and con* 
cisely, and bestowed on us this treatise, correct and succinct, unto the 
praise and glory of God, who fashioned creation and equipped all with 
utilities as he willed and made all, and what he commands comes to bo. 

And who is able to search out the deep things of God ? for whatsoever 
God made is exceeding good. 

God made water, earth, sea, and dry land, beings of fire and iMungs of 
clay, beings spiritual and those that breathe, animals and birds, plants and 
vegetables, and all else. God made the body of Adam, and vouchsafed to 
him rational spirit and charged him to love God and keep his commandments. 
And the love and science of man, to discover this was the art of healing, by 
means of healing doctrine and co-operation of drugs to minister to the 
suffering unto the uses of health. 

For by means of the confession of sins and acceptance of repentance 
a man shall receive healing of soul, and at the hands of physicians and with 
the aid of drugs he shall receive bodily health by the will of God, as saith 
the prophet : He that hath not bodily health, cannot serve God in spirit. 

The wise * Galen says that God created man like a city, having twelve 
gates by which drugs and foodstuffs enter, while superfluities go out, whereby 
the system (or person) is constantly aided. 

And of these twelve gates, of which we spake, two are eyes, two ears, 
two nostrils, one the mouth, two the breasts, one the navel, and two exits, 
one for discharging water and the other the posterior. 

But there are two great channels on the two sides of the haunches 
(buttocks, lumbus, ilium, or com). And on each side of the haunch 180 
channels open, which makes 360 ducts in movement, from all of which the 
members eferive material and are strengthened. 

Also as there are four winds which blow over the world, from East, 
West, South, and North, and as the year is divided into four seasons. Spring, 

^ Member is used both of internal organs, heart, liver, Ac., and of external 

* Perhaps the treatise of Abu Sayid begins here rather than with § 2. In 
any case § 1 up to this point must be a composition of Asar’s, the editor or redactor 
of Abu Sayid’s work as we have it here. 



Summer, Autumn, and Winter, so the life of man is divided into four 
portions. For in childhood and the first age, man’s nature is hot and 
moist, because it is dominated by blood and eastern air and follows the 
spring season, for the nature of spring is hot and moist. But in the second 
age, while youth lasts, nature is hot and dry, being dominated by bile and 
southern air, and follows the summer season, for the nature of summer is 
hot and dry. 

And the third portion of life is in nature cool and dry, being dominated 
by bile (savta, and western air, and it follows the autumn season, 

for the nature of autumn is cool and dry. And when man enters the fourth 
portion, it is old age, and his nature is cold and moist, for it is dominated 
by phlegm (palAam, pituita) and north wind, and follows the winter season, 
for its nature too is cold and moist. 

The wise say that when God created Adam it was springtime, and night 
and day each consisted of twelve hours, and the sun was in Aries in the 
first degree. Therefore when spring comes, everything turns green and 
sprouts up out of the ground ; and all animated beings are stirred, and 
humours (lit. minglings) of body are subtilized, and blood and bile ferment 
and are rarefied. Wherefore all physicians have bidden in spring days to 
bleed and imbibe purgatives, for all men’s humours in this manner arc made 
to ferment and in these days grow soft and rarefied. But there are formed 
in the person of man four kinds of liquid, salt and bitter, sweet and ill- 
smelling. Salt liquid is of the eyes, for were it not salt it would melt the 
fat of the eyes. And bitter liquid is of the ears, for were it not bitter, flies 
and creeping things would enter the ears, and a maggot would be there and 
do harm. And sweet liquid is of the mouth, which receives the savour of 
things eaten. And ill-smelling liquid is in the loins, whence comes seed, 
and offspring is generated therefrom. 

So far so good. 

2. Concerning the alrncliire of the Head and the. Brain. 

The wise Galen says that God made the human head and set within it 
the brain, and of all wisdom and faculty of movement did he set the seat 
therein. God made the huihan head in three portions. The first he made 
the place of sensation and of light’s filaments of the eyes. The second 
portion he made a vessel of the consciousness and of the intelligence 
(antidjeli, djddsch). Add the third portion he made the place of guarding, 
that whatever it sees and understands, therein it may guard and study it. 

And God devised the head of seven layers (tapaXa) and seven membranes, 
in every layer one membrane. For all these are a protection of the brain 
that there may reach it suddenly no whit of mischief (? zemUhiun) nor any 
pain. The first layer is the hair ; the second the skin ; the third the flesh ; 
the fourth the bone ; the fifth is another skin enclosed within the bone ; 
the sixth is a skin over the brain and interiorly another ; the seventh is 
the brain. And God instituted all this protection of the brain that chill or 
heat shovdd not be able to penetrate to it, and do harm (? zen) to it ; for the 
brain is master of the house and in command of the heart. And the heart is 
sovereign of the whole person, and than the heart or brain there is no more 
excellent (aA^) member in the body. For health and life reside within the 
heart, but intelligence (or consciousness) and initiative in the brain. 

And the hair of man was made by God and devised out of consumed (or 
burned) blood, and in proportion as the consumed blood increases, the hair 
takes increase (? \alapa) and waxes strong and long ; and more and more 
this arises from the blood which is consumed, for while the man is alive 
and healthy it is made from pure blood. But when fleshiness (? mts) increases 



and phlegm {^pituita) in him, the hair does not sprout, and the man whose 
hair grows thin, his nature l^omes phlegmatic ; but if a man’s head is 
grown bald, that is due to red bile. But man hath grace and shame in the 
brain, and when a blow' {or pain) affects the brain, it causes a lack of two 
things in the man, and the man becomes unconscious (lit. silly) and insensible, 
so that he cannot know' and understand what is good and w'hat bad. And if 
the blow falls on the middle of the brain, w'hich is the seat of domination 
and consciousness, or if it be excessive and concentrated, the mind fails and 
he swoons and can comprehend nothing. 

But if the injury befalls the posterior cavity w'hich is the retentive 
{X Iktocos), forgetfulness comes over him, so that he knows no more, either 
past or future. Medical men have said that they knew cases where men 
were so injured, with the result that they forgot the names of their own 
fathers and mothers who begat and bore them. And there w'ere some who, 
when they w'ere yawning, even forgot to shut their mouths, so oblivious 
did they become. And this affection visits men in grey-haired age more 
severely than at any other time, and interiorly is due to phlegm (pituita). 

And there is, furthermore, a path leading from the brain to the heart, 
so that the brain incessantly has the heart in view ; and when this path is 
open, a man is subject to the disease called swooning {mqthay => syncope) ; and 
it often happens that when this affection prevaib, a man is j^reft of con- 
sciousness and intelligence, and the colour of his face goes. And not a few 
physicians through ignorance of this affection imagine the patient to ix* 
dead and hand him over for burial, for one who is suffering from it is as it 
were dead and the colour leaves his face. For when the passage to the brain 
from the heart is blocked, the heart is unable to absorb water any mure 
from the brain, and the life of the heart and its warmth arc unable to reach 
the brain, with the result that the latter is congealed ; and then this affection 
occurs and manifests itself in the man. For if life and illumination and 
substance were not in (or from) the heart, the brain w’ould quickly 1 h< <'on- 
gcaled and the man die. 

But if there were not coolness and moisture in the brain to counteract' 
the heart’s heat, this heat would rapidly consume the entire person. And 
God made the brain cool and damp, and set the moon over it as its 
controller ^ (or arbiter), but made the heart hot and dry, and set the sun 
over it as its controller. And these two by their nature give strength and 
support to one another, and substantiate each other, and they farc^ well 
with God’s help. 

3. Concerning the structure and formation of the Eyes. 

The great Mcchithar has said that every physician who wishes to ttmd 
the eyes must study the structure of the eyes, treatment of which is [given] 
by philosophy ; and in these recipes (vuslays) * the eye was not described, 
not even in the alrapatin {Ypa<t>ibia, pharmakopoiia or therapeutica). So then, 
I, Mechithar, was minded to describe the formation of the eye in brief, and 
relate how many tunics {tapala) there are which are linings (aatami) of 
the eyes, or how many rutupat which are humours of the eyes, or how many 
tendons azaUunae (Arab, zala) which are muscles of the eyes. And 1 
describe the visual {or contemplative) spirit, where it belongs and how it 
proceeds and progresses along conjoined (or equal) fibres which they name 
the Lushiion (i. e. retina) : it is necessary to know this, because ancient 

^ tanuter, an astronological term, lit. house-lord. 

* Nuslay or Nuskhay in Paris MS. 108. Our MS. and Vienna 294 read 
Qunnash ; ? an Arabic word. 



philosophers have somewhat contradicted each other concerning the mem* 
oranes of the eyes ; for some say there are six ; others five, others four, 
others three, and some two tunics. But I hold with Galen, for Galen and 
his following said there are seven [of] the eyes, and three humours and 
nine muscles, and 1 mention all, one by one, by the aid of God. 

We now describe the tunics of the eyes. 

Now the first tunic that is interior attached to the bone, which the Tadjiks 
(Arabs) caU the z/ulpie, which is to be translated the hard body (i. e. sclerotic) ; 
it is more sinewy and firm and hard than the other membranes, which is 
why they so named it, and it attaches to the bone which separates the bony 
ruggedness (?) from the eyes, and protects the eyes and prevents mischief 
{zahoknt aocus. ahok) from getting into the eyes. For the first meninx (mizX) 
is interior, and of the cranium there are two menin^, the one (attached to) 
the bone and the other attached to the ]>rain. Now the one attached to 
the bone, hard is its body and sinewy, and it possesses many veins (or ducts) 
from the artery, and its use is to keep off the bone's ruggedness and weight 
from the brain, and prevent injury {tchahok ?) to the brain. 

And the second meninx which attaches to the brain is more delicate 
and soft and pure than the first, so that it may not weigh on the brain, 
and its body likewise is subtle ^ of veins, and of the artery. And this mem- 
brane which is named sclerotic, is engendered of (or ? engenders) this 
meninx which attaches to the cranium. 

And the second tunic is that which is named shmima, i.e. placenta ; 
this they call sekin (choroide), and they call shmima the skin which covers 
a child in its mother’s womb, and it is bom with this membrane ; by this 
metaphor they have illustrated it, and have called it by this name (viz. 
mater). And it bdongs to this meninx which lies upon the brain, as we 
mentioned before. 

The third tunic which they have named lapagia, which is to be translated 
ark (i. e. retina), for it has the semblance of an ark, wherefore it was so 
called, and the thing owes its origin to the placental (? shmima) membrane. 

But after this come three humours. There is a humour winch they 
have named glass (zudjadi»),vwhich is to be translated apikeni * (i. e. vitreous), 
because it has the semblance of white glaze. Wherefore they have so 
named it. 

Now this is followed by a humour which they have named djaliti, which is 
to be translated sameni (or crystalline), pure and resplendent and circular, 
and you must know that the crystalline is a conspicuous (lit. glorious) and 
precious appurtenance of the eyes. . . . For through it arises the visual (faculty) 
and perception of colours and forms, and its roundness is to the end that it 
may not incur mischief (tchahok) and adverse shocks, impinging on it. 
For the reason that the arteries in those places remain at peace from the 
roundness, and the crystalline (temic) is in the middle of the eyes like a bsB. 
held in the midst, or like a (central) point in a circle, and it is surrounded 
and protected by all the membranes, and humours subserve the precious 
(thing), in order to ward off mischief (tchahok) and secure its welfare con- 

And after this is the fourth tunic which they name yanqa^hia, which is 
translated sardosteni (arachnoid), because it resembles a spider’s web, and 
is subtle and limpid and pure, wherefore it is so cidled. And it lies between 
the crystalline and the white of egg in the middle, that mischief (tchahok) 
may not from its humours happen to the crystalline. 

■ ^ Perhaps the sense is ‘ delicately veined and supplied with arteries ’. 

* In Paris 108 apakini. 


And besides this there is an humour which they name subtile white of 
egg (i.e. aqueous humour), because it resembles egg in whiteness, and 
therefore they have so named it. 

Filth is the tunic which they call jfampia, to be translated khakoKeni 
(vine, uva), because it resembles that fruit of the vine, wherefore it is so 

And the sixth membrane is named kharnojtia, to be translated eldsehereni 
( a eomea), which is why they have so named it. In itself it is exteriorly 
limpid and resplendent and smooth as if hard skinned, and this is the reason 
why when you open the eye you see the imago. 

But Oelianos (? Galenus) said these three tunics weie one (or the first) 
meninx, and applied in witness to the fact that when karha arises, which 
is a tumour (or ? blister, pimple, &c), and if it issues upwards into the 
aponeurosis {mizK or ^ = emnios), it is quickly inflamed (lit. boiled) and at 
once opens and the spin (cicatrix) due to it is soft and there is not a white 
facula, and a remedy is quickly ascertained. 

But if the tumour (?) is in the second mizK {aponeurosis or membrane), 
it inflames (e^) and opens late, and the spin (? cicatrix) which is due thereto 
(?) is thicker and white in colour, and a rem^y is quicklv ascertained. 

But if the tumour penetrates the third mizK (? membrane), it is late to 
inflame and the spin (? cicatrix), which comes in it, is denser and firm and 
the colour, a white facula (? dschah), and no remedy whatever is known. 

And if the tumour is large, so that it bursts itself, or the matter {KJdtv 
=• acrid {sur, or sharp), so that it opens, and the uvea appears 

exposed, if it appears small, they call it a musca (fly in the head). 

If it appear large, they call it a bepp ^ in the head, and name it karhay 
(i.e. wound), and also they call it bath and khakuart (abscess). 

And there is a seventh tunic called muUhahimav, to be translated Koshrads 
( s conjunctiva), and it is inside like a mantle (or shelter) to protect exteriorly, 
and it spreads out upon the membranes, wherefore they gave it this name, 
for it is a cartilage {khrdjtam). Wherefore they make a wide perforation 
in it and let pass the water, named tube inside like a kamsh (i.e. garnysh 
= reed-tube), and open the eyes by God’s will. 

4. Concerning knowledge of the Muscles of the Eye and their function. 

And be it known that the eye has four chief muscles : one, on the upper 
side (dih), which draws up the eye, towards the eyebrow, and one on the lower 
side, which draws the eye down, towards the nose and cheek, and one on 
the side of the source (or fountain), which pulls the eyes towards the eyebrow, 
and another on the side of the ear *, and there are four to the four sides, 
strong (? brnen), and if to any one of them humour penetrates, and they 
relax, the eye ^oops and drops and goggles, for it lengthens and is drawn 
back obliquely. But if one of them is affected by dryness, it is drawn back 
to the other in the same way, and that distorts the eyes, for whatever dries 
up the eyes drags them up and makes a squint, and this is the cause of 

And there are' two other muscles which they call thevq (winss). It is 
they that move the eye in a circular direction, up and down and from side 
to side, as a man desires. 

And thtao are three other muscles destined to control the tube of the 
nerve fibre, at the end where the pupil is, so as to concentrate and keep 
the light in it. And if the mixture of these muscles be moistened and softened, 

’ Btpf, Persian for leopard. 


or if they be lacerated by any outside shock, the light is poured out and 
dispersed all over the eyeball (lit. fruit), which they name irUhishar, and 
which they translate vathata, i.e. outflow. 

But if their composition dries up, and they contract, as for example 
a thong (or rope), fmling into water, relaxes and is stretched ; and if it 
falls into fire conversely contracts and shortens (lit. comes together), so 
now the muscles, when they are wet, become intkiahar, anc^when they dry 
up, draw together the tube of the sinew at its origin, and tne pupil is com- 
pressed. And the pupil appears the eye of a needle. And this is what 
they name compression or contraction. 

And there are three sinews (muscle or nerves) which control the upper 
lids of the eyes, and their function is to draw the two lids down. And one 
draws up the lid and opens the eye, but the lower lid has no sinews, and for 
that reason is not moved, and if it moves does so unnerved (lit.. by non- 
muscle or non-sinew). 

And these are the nine muscles in the eye we wrote of, three supplying 
the upper lid. 

Now 1 describe the tube of the muscle {or sinew or nerve) and say whence 
it is generated, and how it goes to the eye, and its use or function. And we' 
must remark that the head has three cavities : one on the hinder side in 
the occiput, one on the front side in the forehead, and one in the middle. 
And the hinder cavity contains the faculty of memory,^ the middle one the 
understanding, which is the brain, and the front one the sense.H. And from 
the front cavity springs an united (or conjoint) nerve, which they name 
the first pair or conjoint, and at middle distance (or in the middle of its 
position) it has as it were a tube, and proceeds straight along the right side 
to the right, eye, and leftwise to the left eye. And when they reach the 
inner part of the bone of the forehead, they confront each other and mingle 
and become one, and separate afresh at the same spot, and pass along the 
right side to the left eye, and leftwise to the right. And the reason why 
Giod so arranged is that in case one eye be blind^, the light collects in the 
other and is gathered in it adventitiously. And we have evidence of this 
in the fact that (he that) wishes to see things clearly, that is, thin^ dim or 
afar, covers one eye for the light to collect in the other eye. And this Nature 
has taught us and made clear, and this is the tube of the nerve, along which 
visual faculty passes and reaches the eye. 

Now I have to mention the visual soul, whence it arises and how the 
visual (faculty or object) comes to be through it,^ when the stomach dis- 
solves and exhausts (or presses) the food, and sends it on to the liver, 
and the liver receives and concocts it, until it is converted into blood ; 
and in this concoction an exhalation rises as from all things in process 
of being cooked (or boiled), and this air, so far as it is in the liver, they 
name a spirit of Nature. Now what of it is limpid and pure (decent or 
normal or temperate) goes to the heart, and there is named vitid spirit, 
and what is pure in it ascends by. the ducts to the brain and enters the 
firm meninx, which is within the cranium, and there circulates ^ong all the 
ducts and is further concocted and purified. And then it enters the second 
meninx, which is above the brain. In the same way it circulates these along 
all the ducts and is cooked and purified. 

But nature which stood in need of this warm vapour knew well how to 
refine it, wherefore she made the road a long one and the passages narrow. 

^ Read iahdluthiun for »«%of. 

* The transition is so abrupt that words may have dropped out. 


And 80^ it enters the front cavity of the head, and is there named the 
perroptive spirit, and when it is there sufficiently refined it enters first the 
conjoint nerve (or muscle), which contains it in its midst like a tube, 
and so it passes to the eyes, where it is named the visual spirit and accom- 
plishes vision, through the moisture of the crystalline, and through the 
mediation of the tunics. So ends the description of the visual facidty by 
the will of God. 

6. And you must know that the benevolent God set surely the faculty 
of vision in the middle of seven tunics, and made them a protection that no 
ill may reach it ; by way of convenience also in order that the brain’s moisture 
may do it no harm. 

And as for the water of the eyes, he provided it that the heart’s warmth 
and wind might not do harm to the eyes. And on the outside of the eyes 
Gk)d has provided two sets of hair, one on the lower lids and one on the upper 
lids.^ The one he made ior the sight and the other to carry away moisture 
from the eyes ; for if there were not eyelashes, the water of the eyes would 
continually be leaking out. For see you not that when the lashes are kept 
away from the eyes, tears come regularly. If there were not upper lashes 
a man could not see anything from afar. The eyelashes enable him to sec 
what is near, and the upper lids what is afar. And the latter it is that keep 
off the sun sxifficiently tor it to do no harm to the eyes. And a nmn whose 
eyelids are removed is like a channel into which the water enters, while 
there lack trees and grass along the banks ; the channel is ruined by the 
soil filling it up. For the trees and grass along the banks kept it from tH'ing 
damaged. 8o with a man’s eyes ; when the hair is cut away from the lids 
he is liable to many malaAics of the eye. God made man’s eyes of light, and 
the sun takes light from light. When a child is separated from its mother 
and in that hour the moon is in star chamber of Zohal (Saturn), the child 
becomes atchika (blind or ophthalmic), for when the moon is in a foul star 
chamber, the seed of disease enters the eye. 

6. On the formation of the Ears, 

God fashioned the ears for hearing, and the audition of man was arranged 
by him within the brain. And he ^pointed two ducts leading from the 
brain outwards to the ears. And God made the ears like a strain of 
music (or like a goblet) apeurd (? spiral),^ which when you strike it, gives 
a sound like a flute ; and what is heard, it transmits to the brain which takes 
it in, and makes of it what is convenient. 

And many men are deaf from their mothers’ wombs, and that is owing 
to the fact that these two channels are blocked up. But those who being 
grown up go deaf, the cause is this : that from a superfluity of bilious 
matters a vapour ascends to the brain, and from the brain issues into the 
car to the two channels and fills them up, and stops the hearing. For the 
passage by which we hear is then bloclmd. And often enough the cause 
resides in the phlegm (=>ptfu»to), for an excess of this affects these two 
channels, and the ears, and stops them up, and denies you hearing. Scabies 
however, does not create phlegm. But of black bile and of red bile 
and of blood a superfluity creates severe scabies, and they interfere with 
and prevent hearing. 

God made the ear like a cellar (?) and built its entrance with a twist, so 

* The word Irander * upper lids ’ usually means ‘ eyebrows ’, but to so render 
the passage would make nonsense of it. 

* The Vienna MSS. read apetro, which recidls apectrum, but that gives no good 
sense in the context. 

nsi B b 


that foul air might not enter, nor an injurious sound easily enter the ear, 
and reach the brain and do harm. And (God) put in a naturally bitter 
liquid, and did so to check any harmful insect that might like to enter the ear, 
for it encounters the bitter liquid and is prevented from entering ; for l^ause 
of its smell and taste they do not venture within, but flee and go back. 

And God made more precious than the whole person the eye and ear ; 
but some physicians have said that the oar is more excellent than the 
eye, because, when it is dark and night-time, the eye cannot see anything, 
whereas the ear, oven if it be night or day, hears everything, and, what is 
more, hears better by night than by day. And some physicians have rated 
the eyes higher than the ears for the reason that, if you do not hear a thing 
with your ears, you cannot tell another about it ; whereas the eye sees 
everything, and describes it to another person. And by way of example 
they adduce the thunder and lightning, but the eye sees the lightning and 
only afterwards the ear hears the thunder. 

But God made the ear because of the brain, so that whatever is hoard, 
is sent on to the brain, as the gentleman’s doorkeeper docs, who does not 
allow everyone, especially the imsuitable, to enter his master’s chamber (or 
court), until he receives an order to do so from him, and then lets him enter. 
Just so the ear, which does not allow the unsuitable to come in. 

7. Concerning the formation of the Nostril. 

God formed the nostrils in order to perceive all good or bad odours, and 
to expel and disperse