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15 - 16 June 1998
LANCISI, Giovanni Maria (1654-1720). De subitaneis mortibus libri duo. Rome: Francisco Buagni, 1707.
4o (229 x 171 mm). Half-title, probable third state of the title, with engraved arms of Pope Clement XI, woodcut initials and tailpieces. Blank a1 removed. (Scattered light foxing, occasional browning, rubbing from effaced inkstamp or signature in lower margin of title, patched on verso, lower blank margin of N4 restored.) Contemporary vellum over pasteboard, morocco lettering-piece, mottled edges (minor worming to spine, slightly soiled); modern cloth folding case. Provenance: Michael Angelus, philosopher and doctor of medicine (18th-century inscription on half-title, his? monogram CMA on title).
FIRST EDITION of a work that "laid the foundation for a true understanding of cardiac pathology" (Garrison-Morton). In 1706 Pope Clement XI asked Lancisi, the pontifical physician, to investigate a mysterious outbreak of sudden deaths in Rome. Without elucidating the cause of the near-epidemic, Lancisi dealt masterfully in the present work with cardiac pathology in general, demonstrating "that sudden deaths were often due to hypertrophy and dilatation of the heart, and to various kinds of valve defects" (DSB). He also "gave the first description of valvular vegetation, and included in his book a historical survey of the literature and a classification of the cardiac diseases then recognized. Leibowitz [The history of coronary heart disease, Berkeley 1970] suggests that Lancisi's work 'must be the first epidemiological study of a non-communicable condition' (pp. 74-75)" (Norman). Garrison-Morton 2731; Heirs of Hippocrates 687; Wellcome III, p. 441; Norman 1273.
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