De sedibus variolarum (smallpox)


Published by Sancti Thomae Aquinatis, Naples & Bologna, 1775
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B & L Rootenberg Rare Books, ABAA
Sherman Oaks, CA, U.S.A.

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With 1 plate containing 8 engraved figures. Modern vellum backed marbled boards; very light waterstain to bottom of first few leaves, otherwise text very clean. From the library of Dorothy Schullian. Third edition of Cotugno's investigative report on the localization of variola pustules, the smallpox virus. Cotugno describes the history and pathology of smallpox as well as providing a comprehensive description of the virus and ways to prevent the disfiguration of the face: "He recommended that this part should be frequently bathed with tepid milk and water, under the idea that the continual moisture would be efficacious in opposing the complete development of the pustules" (Olliffe).Despite having been an endemic disease for centuries, smallpox became a true crisis during the second half of the eighteenth century and early nineteenth century, causing nearly half a million deaths. Cotugno's contribution to the study of the disease came at the cusp of Jenner's research and success with the smallpox vaccine, making this work an important part of the early struggle to eradicate the disease from the modern world. The Italian physician Cotugno (1736-1822) was "an outstanding example of the physician-humanist. He was devoted to books and accumulated a large library; was well versed in art, architecture, numismatics, and antiquities . . . Apart from medicine, in which his reputation was such that, the saying went, no one in Naples could die without a passport from him, Cotugno's greatest contributions to science resulted from his fusing of anatomy and physiology to uncover the secrets of the human body." He traced the course of the nasopalatine nerve, which is responsible for sneezing; described the vestibule, semicircular canals, and cochlea of the osseou labyrinth of the internal ear; demonstrated the existence of labyrinthine fluid; formulated a theory of resonance and hearing; differentiated between arthritic and nervous sciatica, etc. He "exemplified to many students the true investigative and selfless spirit in anatomy and medicine" (DSB). Bookseller Inventory # 15596

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Bibliographic Details

Title: De sedibus variolarum (smallpox)

Publisher: Sancti Thomae Aquinatis, Naples & Bologna

Publication Date: 1775


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