Cross-cultural influences in science: first edition of a Western abridgement of Ibn Sina

Ibn Sina (Avicenna). Flores Avicenne.

(Lyon, Claude Davost for Barthélemy Trot, 14 Aug. 1508).

8vo. (2), CLXVI ff. With several botanical woodcut initials. Contemporary dark goatskin, blind-tooled in a panel design.


First edition of this important capsule edition of Ibn Sina's comprehensive Canon of Medicine (Kitab al-Qanun fi al-tibb). Designed with the Western medical student and practicioner in mind, Michael de Capella's abridgement of the greatest and most influential work in medieval and early modern medical history is here pared down to a nutshell manual of 166 leaves. "The preface … refers to the importance in medicine of aphoristic works that can readily be committed to memory and to the example of Hippocratic writings. The task of abbreviation was undertaken with such enthusiasm that Avicenna's chapter on the elements (Canon 1:1:2) [...] was compressed from about 550 words in the full Gerard of Cremona version into 53 in the 'Flores'. This compendium was twice reissued, in 1514 and again in 1528" (Siraisi).

Provenance: 1) Title-page shows handwritten ownership of the Augustinian monastery of Zaragoza, Spain, dated 1743. 2) 20th century bookplate of Karl and Thilde Wagner to front pastedown.

Binding somewhat worn, spine-ends and extremeties chipped. Some browning throughout, inkstains on title-page and a couple of minor stains in text. A good copy.


Adams A 2319. Durling 411. USTC 143378. N. G. Siraisi, "The Changing Fortunes of a Traditional Text", in The Medical Renaissance of the Sixteenth Century (1985), p. 21. Cf. BM-STC French 234 (1514 ed. only). Cf. Wellcome I, 577 (1528 ed. only).

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