Regole della sanità et della natura de cibi … arricchita d’un trattato nuovo della ebbrietà et dell’ abuso del Tabaco.

Turin, heirs of Giovanni Domenico Tarino, 1618.

16mo, pp. [xxxii], 850 (i.e. 800); engraved device to title, initials, head- and tail-pieces; very occasional light marginal marks and stains, some loss to title due to worming (affecting a few words and device) and corrosion from old ink stamps to verso, old paper repair at title foot (signature visible beneath), old ink stamp to p. [vi] causing staining to adjacent pages, some worming to last five leaves touching a few words; otherwise a very good copy in contemporary vellum, title inked to spine and bottom edge; a little staining and wear to corners, and some worming to endpapers; old ownership inscription to front pastedown, ink stamps lettered ‘S. G. M.’; a very attractive volume.


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Scarce first edition of the vernacular works of the medieval Spanish physician Ugo Benzi (1376-1439) with commentary by the Turinese doctor Giovanni Lodovico Bertaldi (d. 1625), an extraordinary witness to their enduring popularity into the seventeenth century. Benzi’s Italian writings were first published in Milan in 1481 and their re-emergence in Turin in 1618, and again in 1620, is described by Lockwood as their ‘final outburst of glory’. ‘Ugo’s three vernacular works were compendia of Galenic dietary, simple and intelligible to the layman. Their revival in the seventeenth century indicates that ordinary medical practice lagged at least a century behind the development of scientific theory’ (Lockwood p. 392).

Following discussion of air, exercise, sleep, and eating, the bulk of the work details the properties and qualities of various foods and drinks, arranged more or less alphabetically, running up to ‘vino’. The ‘passions’ of the mind (including love, anger, fear, and sadness) and drunkenness and the abuse of tobacco are then considered, and the work ends with Benzi’s advice on keeping one’s body in shape, so that it is neither too fat nor too thin.

NLM/Krivatsy 1102. See D.P. Lockwood, Ugo Benzi (Chicago, 1951). COPAC records 2 copies (Leeds and Liverpool); OCLC has only 4 copies in North America (Harvard, McGill, New York Academy of Medicine, and National Library of Medicine).

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