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FOËS, Anuce (1528–1595)

Œconomia Hippocratis, alphabeti serie distincta.
Francofurdi, Apud Andreæ Wecheli heredes, Claudium Marnium, & Jo. Aubrium, 1588.

van der Linden’s copy of the first edition of this “invaluable concordance to Hippocrates” (Garrison) with Linden’s hand written marginalia. “The works of no ancient author owe more to the excertions of a single individual than those of Hippocrates do to the labours of Foës.” (Francis Adam, Genuine Works of Hippocrates). Foës, or Foesius, studied philology at first and began his medical training later on. He was appointed town physician to Metz, his home-town, Thanks to Jean François Fernel (1497–1558), the famous French physician who introduced the term ‘physiology’, Foës was permitted to copy or collate three old Hippocratic manuscripts in the Royal Library of Fontainbleau and also obtained a manuscript from the Vatican library. He devoted forty years of his life to prepare his concordance of Hippocrates and it was unsurpassed until Emile Littre’s great work in ten volumes appeared some two hundred and fifty years later. We owe to him a Greek Latin edition of the Hippocratic collection, decidedly superior to all the previous ones. It was published by the heirs of Wechel in Frankfurt in 1595. This great edition was preceded by his Œconomia Hippocratis, a kind of Hippocratic encyclopedia, or we might call it an encyclopedia of Greek medicine, of almost unbelievable wealth. When we handle such a book as this we cannot help wondering: How could he carry it through? Would any scholar of today be able to repeat such a performance? Would any institution be rich and generous enough to patronize its publication? The great folio bearing Foës’ name represents the climax of the Renaissance Hippocratic tradition. No scholar ever had the courage to write an encyclopedia more elaborate than Œconomia Hippocratis. It is still a valuable book, one which every student of Greek medicine should keep near at hand. (Sarton)

Collation: Pp. (8), 694, (2). Double columns. Wechel’s Pegasus device on title and last page. On verso of title is a portrait of Foës by the celebrated French engraver Pierre Woeiriot, dated 1580.

Binding: Contemporary vellum.

Provenance: According to a note on front fly-leaf by Arnold Syen (1640–1678), professor of medicine and botany in Leyden, this copy has belonged to the famous medical bibliographer Johan Anton van der Linden (1609–1664), who used Foës’ concordance of Hippocrates (1588) as one of the chief sources for his own, highly esteemed edition of Hippocrates with parallel Greek and Latin texts. It also has Linden’s marginal notes.

References: GM 6793; Sarton, The Appreciation of Ancient and Medieval Science during the Renaissance (1955), pp 11-12; Durling 1589; Wellcome I, 2334; Hagelin, Rare and Important Medical Books in the Library of the Swedish Society of Medicine, p. 15; Choulant, Bibliotheca Medico-Historica, p 42: “A work of lasting value, indispensable for the comprehension of Hippocrates’ writings ...” Waller 3101.

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