HERB - Re: Tree diagrams

khkeeler kkeeler at unlinfo.unl.edu
Thu Dec 3 10:42:38 PST 1998

Gaylin Walli wrote:
> Agnes wrote: 
> >The idea of "new" and "original" should replace the established,
> >historical view, is, as I understand it, one of the things that
> >separates the Renaissance and the Age of Reason from the Middle Ages. 
> This was only in western Europe, though was it not?
I'm deLanvallei of the Angevin Empire (1190)--that's the world I'm clear
I note you are of Cordoba and probably interact with Unbelievers.
I don't know much about the philosophy of Arab science in the MA.  Nor
of Jewish science.

> I'm only vaguely remembering something I read last night, so pardon
> my struggling here. The schools in Italy, say, did not have the same
> problem even as late period progressed. Schools in Italy and
> those with direct contact to the schools with Arabic backgrounds, as
> I remember reading (poorly remember!) had a better chance of going
> beyond the copying stage and producing new material, though it was
> often additional material, rather than supplanted text. Is it not
> true that the only reason we have some of the greatest Greek documents
> is because the Arabic people preserved them while western Europe
> futzed around and destroyed them or let them decay and get lost,
> no?
Yes, to all of it.  I think the changes that became the Renaissance
began about 
the time Italy had recognized medical schools.  And as the medical
profession changed
from being all churchmen to basically secular professionals, they were
less dogmatic 
more pragmatic, tho the watershed is supposed to have been the failure
of medicine
in the Plague years.  
  When did herbalists and physicians stop being the same people? 
> Here's the way I understand it: the Arabs and schools in Italy which
> had some contact with them, had better medicine knowledge and made
> more of a serious effort (in later period) to move beyond the simple
> rote teaching. 
> Throw in basic human disecction there too (bear with
> me here). Schools in Italy and progressing further south had a better
> change of teaching dissection and autopsy (though most often it was
> taught in winter). Many many things were learned during this kind
> of process, medical information previously thought to be wonderful
> started taking on a tarnish, and many medical writers from the southern
> and Arab schools started adding to the works rather than just copying
> them or translating them.

Yes, I'd put that as 
One interesting phenomenon is that the classical knowledge base of early
Period was 
only a small fraction of what the Greeks and Romans wrote.  Middle and
Late Period
brought new translations of all sorts of things --Galen, Pliny,
Aristotle I'd have to look--
into the [should we call it Western Europe?  anyway, the Roman Catholic,
Latin speaking
intellectual community] which apparently had very complicated effects on
the knowledge base.
Coming both from Arabs and from Byzantium
> >Macer is a selection of Dioscorides in Latin verse:  shorter, and
> >easier to learn because its poetry.
> Only in some copies of the manuscript, as I understand it, right?
> Macer dates from the middle of the 15th century AFAIR. 
The translation I have says "from about 1200 "  And German, I think, tho
in Latin.
I want to find the original but havent' found the time to go hunting. I
figure I could memorize
some of it.

I don't have very detailed references [on the plants in Period] here at
work, unfortunately.
> >And, as you get to the printed ones, the philosophy of knowledge is
> >changing radically. 
> Did they really? I mean for the first ones printed? Or was there
> a time lag? 
I always argued that.  Certainly Culpeper is "old fashioned"
> Having not read it, I have to ask how the _Herbarium Apuleii_ fits in
> that picture? Didn't Pliny just catalog plants too?
I don't know.  None of my available history of plant classification
chapters mention him at  
all: Theophrastus is their "father of plant taxonomy" or "father of

Riddle in his book on Dioscorides argues convincingly that in the
original Dioscorides probably had a rather modern classification system
(like with like) and a a chemical/ practical treatment focus.  And was
illustrated.  But the oldest edition known is from about 500, by which
time it has been rearranged to reflect the Ptolomic system of humors
(not, says Riddle, in the original), and illustrations added back or

So some of the problem is The Dark Ages: things lost from earlier times,
or ruled unacceptable because of Pagan associations, or "corrected". 
That's a real challenge for us: to try to know Plato based on what was
available in 1200, rather than what is available now (a lot more and a
lot better translated).  

I was thinking this morning about my statement on plagiarism of
yesterday [that they wouldn't understand the idea of plagiarism], and
today I'm less sure.  Certainly by 1300 there were guilds in England,
France and Italy protecting guild secrets.  So the concept of ownership
of information was familiar.  An apothecary might not share his compound
for soothing upset stomachs.  So why/how would that apply in
intellectual circles?  The old is copied unchanged, the new can be
proprietary? When would you avoid changing anything? What am I missing? 

kkeeler1 at unl.edu
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