Chirurgia Magna in septem libros digesta: in qua nihil desiderari potest, quod ad perfectam, atque integram de curandis humani corporis malis, methodum pertineat. Ab…Prospero Borgarutio, recognita, emendata, ac in lucem edita…

Venetiis [Venice]: Ex officina Valgrisiana. [colophon: 1569].1568

Small 8vo, ff. (xxviii), 475, (1). With the last two preliminary leaves (c7–8, both blank), printer’s device on title and on verso of last leaf (otherwise blank), 23 full-page woodcut illustrations in the text including 4 of the human skeleton, the ‘wound man’, the battle scene, and instruments. Contemporary vellum (endpapers renewed, lacking ties), spine lettered boldly in ink “Chirurgia Vesal”, gauffered edges. Small stamp removed from title-page leaving a slight scar, light browning or foxing (a little heavier in four gatherings). Some early manuscript marginal notes mostly in the “Antidotarium”.

FIRST EDITION, second issue, with the date “V. nonas Octobris 1568” at the end of the dedication and a slightly altered title. This book was published in the year Borgarucci succeeded Vesalius to the chair of anatomy at Padua, and is stated on the title-page as being written by Vesalius and edited by Prospero Borgarucci, who was professor at the university at Padua and formerly a pupil of Vesalius. Although its authenticity has been in question since even before it was published, the Chirurgia Magna was included by Boerhaave and Albinus in the collected works of Vesalius, and it does contain the text of the Epitome. However, it is now seen as not having been written by Vesalius, although it should be remembered that Vesalius had actually taught surgery in Paris and had intended to write a book on the subject. “That the ‘Surgery’ edited by Borgarucci is not the work which Vesalius intended to write on surgery is absolutely certain. However, one may properly suggest that what Borgarucci bought in Paris and edited and published may have been the class notes of some pupils of Vesalius. The custom of publishing students’ notes as the posthumous works of famous lectures was very common, even in the Italy of the Renaissance… Today we may pass judgment on his [i.e. Borgarucci’s] work as being neither correct nor opportune nor authentic, but we cannot with absolute certainty deny Borgarucci the good intention of contributing to the greater glory of Vesalius” (Arturo Castiglioni in Cushing, Bio-bibliography, pp. 216–217.


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