Joseph Ziegler

title.none: Arnaldus de Villanova, Regimen sa~itatis, Ed. Garcia-Ballester and McVaugh (Ziegler)

identifier.other: baj9928.9703.002 97.03.02

identifier.issn: 1096-746X

description.statementofresponsibility: Joseph Ziegler, University of Haifa,

publisher.none: .

date.issued: 1997

identifier.citation: Arnaldus de Villanova. Regimen sanitatis ad regem aragonum. Arnaldus de Villanova Opera Medica Omnia, vol. X.1. Edited by L. Garcia-Ballester and M. R. McVaugh. Barcelona: Seminar ium Historiae Scientiae Barchinone (C.S.I.C.), 1996. Pp. 933. $55.00. ISBN: ISBN 8-479-35338-4.

type.none: Review

relation.ispartof: Bryn Mawr Medieval Review

The Medieval Review 97.03.02

Arnaldus de Villanova. Regimen sanitatis ad regem aragonum. Arnaldus de Villanova Opera Medica Omnia, vol. X.1. Edited by L. Garcia-Ballester and M. R. McVaugh. Barcelona: Seminar ium Historiae Scientiae Barchinone (C.S.I.C.), 1996. Pp. 933. $55.00. ISBN: ISBN 8-479-35338-4.

Reviewed by:

Joseph Ziegler
University of Haifa

Since 1975 an international enterprise of Catalan, Spanish and American scholars has at regular intervals been providing the students of medieval medicine with carefully edited and well commentated medical treatises by the Catalan physician Arnau de Vilanova (d. 1311) who taught medicine at Montpellier between 1290 and 1300 and possibly also between 1305 and 1308. Thanks to the dedicated work of these scholars we now have a growing corpus of critical editions to medical texts which offer reliable tools for studying the contents of academic medicine around 1300. This reduces the need to rely on Renaissance editions, which too often offer corrupt texts and occasionally include spurious treatises. The present volume is the eighth of its kind and at least five more are in various stages of preparation.

This mammoth-size volume should not deter the reader. The Latin critical edition itself, carefully prepared by Luis Garcia-Ballester and Michael McVaugh, is only 47 pages long. It is preceded by an exhaustive study in Catalan prepared by Pedro Gil-Sotres (with the collaboration of Juan A. Paniagua and Luis Garcia-Ballester) of the genre of the regimina sanitatis, of the medieval regimen of healthy living, and of the particular content of Arnau's treatise. Due to a strange policy of the publishers (which presumably reflects contemporary tensions between Catalans and Spaniards), the same study appears again verbatim after the edition, this time in Spanish (hence the unusual thickness of the volume). This effort to satisfy cultural needs only renders more conspicuous the absence of a concise English summary of this valuable study. An index of names followed by a highly useful index of key-words and an index of manuscripts ends this volume.

The Regimen was drawn up between 1305 and 1308 by Arnau for his patron James II king of Aragon. The first six chapters of the text are structured according to the six non- naturals (air and baths, activity and exercise, sleep, food and drink, evacuations, and the emotions). The following eleven chapters constitute a detailed manual for healthy diet. A discussion of treatments for hemorrhoids ends Arnau's regimen, which is written in simple and non- scholastic language. It can teach us about daily life not only at the royal court but among many aristocratic and urban households. The treatise, which acquired a Catalan translation before 1310 at the instigation of Queen Blanche of Aragon, enjoyed tremendous popularity which is attested by at least 78 manuscripts identified by the editors (62 of which were directly consulted during the preparation of the edition). For their edition the authors consulted the work of Anna Trias-Teixidor, who recently reproduced wholly unchanged the text of her doctoral thesis (1992) that included a critical edition and a useful lexicographic commentary of Arnau's Regimen sanitatis [Arnaldi de Villanova, Regimen sanitatis ad regem aragonum, ed. A. Trias-Teixidor with a commentary and notes (Barcelona: ETD Micropublicaciones, S.L., 1994)]. Both editions are based on the same key manuscript from the cathedral archive of Valencia, but the editors opted for different editing policies. While Trias-Teixidor collated the basic manuscript with five other Latin manuscripts (and consulted 54 out of the 70 manuscripts known to her), the editors of the present edition corrected their text by collating it with another Latin manuscript and by comparing it with the Catalan translation. By setting the treatise in the broad social, medical and literary contexts of the period, the editors of this volume substantially enhance the value of this accurate edition. Whilst the text is highly important for those interested in the minute details of preventive medicine in the Middle Ages, it hides fascinating material which is of interest to all who study daily life and mentalities amongst the lay aristocracy around 1300. The treatise is not gender specific; women's particular needs are not discussed and the only subgroups particularly targeted are the old, the hemorrhoid stricken and those who fast. The text communicates an interesting notion of old age: untimely old age (intempestiva senectus) is the destiny of those who deviate from the suggested regimen, whilst long, elegant and natural old age (extrema, munda, naturalis senectus) is the prize for those who abide by the rules of the healthy life style. The Regimen teaches us about the relationship between medicine and politics, and shows that a concept of public utility, which should guide the ruler in his actions, existed at that time. We learn that late medieval people had an environmental consciousness which was expressed in the awareness of the physical and spiritual importance of pure air and clean waters (polluted air has a mentally debilitating effect which harms reason and paralyzes the emotions; it is forbidden to eat fish which breed in polluted lakes.) We learn how wealthy people chose their houses (ventilation was highly important) andshow aware they were of the need to take care of bodily fitness through moderate exercise before the meal (not to maintain a lean body but to facilitate the ordered release of redundant superfluities and to help the digestion). The king was advised to refrain from ball games and wrestling, which denigrate royal dignity. Arnau reveals the desirable washing habits of his clients (bathing was a medical necessity for those who sweat and produce excessive superfluities due to physical exercise or specific diet; but generally, washing the legs and head in moderately warm water was sufficient), and advises them to obey the biological clock of thirst and hunger for planning their meal time rather than succumb to rigid patterns. Arnau stresses the importance of proper mastication, of simple one- to two-course meals (with only a short interval between the courses), of refraining from drinking during the meal and of resting and preferably taking a nap after the meal -- all this for efficient digestion which can be enhanced by the calm installed by good music and stories about saints. He gives detailed instructions regarding the desired position of the sleeping person. Lying on the back is not recommended and the old, for example, are advised to sleep on their right side so that the hot liver will contribute its heat to the stomach above it and thus help the process of digestion. Sexual intercourse is obviously part of the healthy regimen if it is performed moderately and for nature's advantage. The better timing for sex is after sleeping.r The ideal diet of such people can be accurately reconstructed on the basis of chapters eight to seventeen.

Alm this suggests that the text and the introductory study contain a mine of information which will delight not only historiansiof medicine. We can only anticipate with great pleasure the forthcoming publication of Volume X.2 which should include a parallel critical edition of the Catalan and Hebrew versions of Arnau's Regimen sanitatis ad regem aragonum.