28. Medical miscellany
Constantinople, beginning of the 10th century
parchment; 370 x 280 mm; fols. iv (i–iii paper) + 408 + iii (paper)
This famous codex, written in minuscule in two columns by the physician Nicetas (9th– 10th century) and thought to have been produced by the imperial scriptorium during the reign of Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus (905–59), unites the medical works of various Greek writers (Hippocrates, Galen, Oribasius, Heliodorus, Archigenes, Antyllus, Asclepiades, Diocles, Amyntas, Apollonius of Citium, Nymphodorus, Apelles, Rufus of Ephesus, Soranus, Paulus Aegineta and Palladius). The collection is preceded by a table of contents (fols. 2r–7v) and three epigrams (fols. 8v, 9r, 9v), considered autographic, which credit Nicetas with having discovered and assembled these ancient medical texts. Conserved at the hospital annexed to the church of the Forty Martyrs in Constantinople, as indicated in an ownership inscription (fol. 407v), the manuscript was then acquired by the humanist Janus Lascaris (1445–1535) during his second trip to Greece (1492) on behalf of Lorenzo de’ Medici (1449–92) and it became part of the private library as “n° 231”, indicated on fols. 2r and 10r of the codex. Two of the works rediscovered by the Byzantine physician—and for some of them the Laurentian manuscript is the only witness—are illustrated. The first (fols. 180va–227rb) is Peri arthron by Apollonius of Citium (1st century BC), discussing the reduction of bone fractures; the second (fols. 228ra–40va) is Peri epidesmon by Soranus of Ephesus (2nd century AD), explaining and illustrating the broad range of possible bandages. The manuscript is open at fols. 196v–7r, with two examples of how to set hand fractures.