Mondovi: Torrentiniana, 1566. Folio. [xii], 491 (ie., 495),  pp., including index and errata. FIRST EDITION. Small woodcut portrait of the author, woodcut historiated initials. Contemporary vellum; the top nearly 90 mm. of the spine is missing, which allows one to view both the material used to back the spine as well as the sewing, and nearly that much of the top of the front cover is also missing, title page torn at bottom corner without loss of any printing, edges of first few leaves chipped, otherwise a very interesting and lovely copy. Item #17329
First edition of Argenterio’s commentary on Galen’s Art of medicine, a fundamental text taught at all major medical schools of the time, and one of the earliest stands against the teachings of Galen in a premier medical curriculum. The text is divided into three parts: the body, symptoms, and potential causes and cures. A common theme throughout Argenterio’s writings is his critique of Galen’s lack of specificity concerning pathology, namely his reticence in distinguishing symptom and disease. “The complimentary preface to Cosimo began with an attack on excessive dependence on Galen which broadens into a general condemnation of the main components common to both scholastic and humanist forms of academic education in the arts, philosophy, and medicine: reliance on ancient authority, teaching by commentary, and disputations or other forms of debate about texts. The grounds on which Argenterio objected to these practices were that the most esteemed ancient authors, notably Galen and Aristotle, were in many instances either factually wrong or internally inconsistent; that exclusive focus on the subject matter they had chosen to treat unnecessarily limited the agenda of inquiry; and that the time, energy, and ingenuity expended in textual exegesis would be better used in the direct investigation of nature.”
Argenterio (1513–1572) was an outspoken critic of Galen, alongside Vesalius and Fernel, among others. He was part of the medical faculty at the University of Pisa from 1543 to 1555 where he began to develop his theories, controversial at the time. Standard histories of medicine and biographical accounts duly note Argenterio’s readiness to criticize Galenic doctrines and to propound alternative views (chiefly on spiritus and the causes of disease). After his death, Argenterio’s ideas continued to play a part in late sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century endeavors to enlarge or replace Galenic explanations of disease.
Lorenzo Torrentino (Laurens Leenaertsz), a Dutch printer based in Florence, published another of Argenterio’s works, Varia opera de re medica, in 1550. His press was essentially a mouthpiece for Duke Cosimo de’ Medici, and an important instrument for officially approved cultural diffusion.