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MA Tutorial Latin: De medicina by Celsus; translation, syntax, Greek sources and reception



Celsus’ work is one of the most influential texts in medical history and an example of creating a new vocabulary in Latin on the basis of Greek originals. Introduction into the work of Celsus in its social and cultural context, criticising and commenting an unpublished modern translation, introdction into the history of the reception of the text.

Teaching method

Research seminar

Admission requirements

The seminar is open to (research)master students in Classics

Course objectives

  1. Training in studying documentary sources as a basis for medical history in its socio-cultural context
    1. Training in formulating a research question and answering this in a paper
    2. Introduction in the history of the reception of an influential classical text (manuscript history, early printed texts, book history)
    3. Training in criticising the translation of a Latin scientific text into Dutch

Course load

10 ects

Required reading

Prescribed primary texts
-Celsus, De medina, provisional Dutch translation by J. Nagelkerken. (This text will be provided by the teachers)
-Celsus, De medicina (ed. W.G. Spencer, Loeb 1935 [many reprints]
Prescribed secundary texts
D. Gourevitch(1997) Analysis of clinical symptomology of mental illnesses in Aulus Cornelius Celsus’work “De medicina”. Concepts of mental illness in Roman medicine’. History and Philosophy of the Life sciences, vol. 19, 2, 257-261.
G.G. Fagan (2006) Bathing for health with Celsus and Pliny the Elder. Classical Quarterly, 56, 1, 190-207.
G. Highet (1975) The mediocrity of Celsus. The Classical Journal, Vol. 70, 4, 57.
E.Le V Crum (1932) Diet in ancient medical practice as shown by Celsus in his De medicina.
I. Vol. 25, 20, 153-159.
II. Vol. 25, 21, 161-165.
III. Vol. 25, 22, 169-173.
La médicine de Celse. Aspects historiques, scientifiques et littérarires (ed. G. Sabbah & P.Mudry), St. Etienne 1994 (in part)
P. Mudry (1982) La preface du De medicina de Celse: texte, traduction et commentaire, Rome.
N.S. Papavramidou & H. Christopoulou-Aletras (2005) Treatment of “Hernia” in the writings of Celsus (First Century AD) World Journal of Surgery, 1343-1347.
N.S. Papavramidou & H. Christopoulou-Aletras (2007) Greco-Roman and Byzantine views on obesity. Obesity Surgery, 17, 112-116.
H. Pinkster Notes on the syntax of Celsus. In: Ancient medicine in its socio-cultural context (ed. Ph.J. van der Eijk, H.F.J. Horstmanshoff & P.H.Schrijvers). Amsterdam, Atlanta: Rodopi, Vol 2, 1992, 555-566
C.Schulze: Celsus Hildesheim, Zürich & New York, 2001

Test method

Paper, presentation, over all participation (5.2.3) The paper (maximum 5000 words) on a topic of the student’s own choice to be agreed in consultation with the supervisor(s).

Time table

not applicable


Prof. dr. H.F.J. Horstmanshoff (


Please enroll in U-twist, choose “GLTC” in the administration list:


Yes,course information and (part of) the literaure will be available on Blackboard. Blackboard can also be used for communication with teacher or between participants).


Knowledge of Dutch required because a translation into Dutch will be used next to the original Latin text