Pietro de'Abano (1250-1315)



Pietro d'Abano was an Italian physician, philosopher, and astrologer well renowned for both medical abilities and his scholastic work. He translated Hippocrates, Galen, and many other classic Greek medical texts into Latin. His major work, the Conciliator differentiarum (Reconcilers of the Differences Between Philosophers and Physicians) represents his attempt to answer medical questions through a synthesis of Greek, Arabic, Jewish, and Latin authorities, including Aristotle, Avicenna, and Averroës. A woodcut displaying the abdominals is the first full-length illustration of muscle dissection.


He lived in Greece for a period of timebefore he move and commenced his studies for a long time at Constantinople (between 1270 and 1290). Around 1300 he moved to Paris, where he was promoted to the degrees of doctor in philosophy and medicine, in the practice of which he was very successful, but his fees were remarkably high. In Paris he became known as "the Great Lombard". He settled at Padua, where he gained a reputation as a physician. Also an astrologer, he was charged with practising magic: the specific accusations being that he got back, by the aid of the devil, all the money he paid away, and that he possessed the philosopher's stone.  

He carried his enquiries so far into the occult sciences of abstruse and hidden nature, that, after having given most ample proofs, by his writings concerning physiognomy, geomancy, and chiromancy, he moved on to the study of philosophy, physics, and astrology; which studies proved so advantageous to him, that, not to speak of the two first, which introduced him to all the popes of his time, and acquired him a reputation among learned men, it is certain that he was a great master in the latter, which appears not only by the astronomical figures he had painted in the great hall of the palace at Padua, and the translations he made of the books of the most learned rabbi Abraham Aben Ezra, added to those he himself composed on critical days, and the improvement of astronomy, but by the testimony of the renowned mathematician Regiomontanus, who made a fine panegyric on him, in quality of an astrologer, in the oration he delivered publicly at Padua when he explained there the book of Alfraganus.


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