LANCISI, Giovanni Maria (1654-1720). Dissertatio de nativis, deque adventitiis Romani coeli qualitatibus, cui accedit historia epidemiae rheumaticae. Rome: Francisco Gonzago, 1711.
4o (245 x 181 mm). 2 parts in one, section title to part 2, engraved title vignette by Jakob Frey after Passari, one engraved initial, woodcut head-piece, tail-pieces and initials. (Foxing, light dampstaining to lower margins of first and last few leaves, a very few marginal marks in blue crayon.) Contemporary Roman red morocco, covers panelled in gilt with gilt arms of Pope Clement XI, spine gilt, gilt edges (minor dampstain to bottom of covers, slight wear to corners, joints, and extremities of spine, few small wormholes to spine and one to upper cover.)
Provenance: Bound for the dedicatee Pope Clement XI (Giovanni Francesco Albini, 1649-1721, Pope 1700-1721); papal(?) inkstamp on title; a few minor ink textual corrections; effaced 18th-century inscription, with shelfmarks, on front flyleaf; unidentified owner (Christie's London, 30 May 1984, lot 117).
FIRST EDITION, THE DEDICATION COPY, OF ONE OF THE EARLIEST WORKS ON ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH. As papal physician for 30 years, Lancisi was deeply interested in public health and epidemiology, and his research into contagious diseases was well in advance of his time. "In the present work, the first on municipal hygiene, he examined what he considered to be the health-affecting aspects of the Roman environment, particularly her water supply and the insalubrious Pontine marshes" (Norman). A few years later Lancisi published a study exclusively devoted to the disease-causing effects of the marshes (De noxiis paludum effluviis libri duo, 1717), in which he reported on his research into malaria, epidemic in Rome, attributing the disease "by a brilliant intuition" (DSB) to the proliferation of mosquitoes in the swamps, and urging that they be drained, unfortunately without success. The second part of the present work describes the devastating influenza epidemic that originated in Italy in 1709 and swept through most of Europe. Before his death Lancisi donated his personal medical library of over 20,000 volumes to the Hospital of Santo Spirito in Rome for the education of its physicians and surgeons. The Lancisi library, which opened in 1716, remains one of the more important collections for the study of the history of medicine.
Heirs of Hippocrates 689; Osler 3149; Waller 5543; Wellcome III, p. 441; Norman 1274.