Aulus Cornelius Celsus

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Celsus, Aulus Cornelius,

fl. A.D. 14, Latin encyclopedist. His only extant work, De re medicina, consists of eight books on medicine believed to have been written c.A.D. 30. He was not esteemed as a scientist in his time, but his was one of the first works to be rediscovered and printed (Florence, 1478) during the Renaissance and was very influential, largely because of its splendid Latin style. It was translated by James Grieve in 1756 and by W. G. Spencer in 1935. Celsus' first name is also written Aurelius.

Celsus, Aulus Cornelius


Born circa 25 B.C.; died circa A.D. 50. Roman encyclopedic scholar. Celsus’ encyclopedic work Artes, based on Greek sources and written approximately between A.D. 25 and 30, embraced philosophy, rhetoric, law, medicine, agriculture, and the art of war. Of the more than 20 books comprising’ the work, only the section on medicine has been preserved—De medicina (books 6–13); this section contains information on hygiene, dietetics, pathology, therapy, and surgery—most of it borrowed from Greek medical writings, and particularly from such representatives of the Alexandrian school as Herophilus and Erasistratus. De medicina is the only medical work in Latin that has survived from the ancient era until our time.

Celsus’ contemporaries called him the Roman Hippocrates; because of the purity and elegance of his language, he also was known as the Cicero of medicine. Celsus worked out a scientific terminology and identified four characteristic symptoms of inflammation: reddening, swelling, fever, and pain. Certain surgical methods and diseases have been named after him.


In Russian translation:
O meditsine [books 1–8]. Moscow, 1959.


Kovner, S. G. Istoriia drevnei meditsiny, issue 3. Kiev, 1888.


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The Roman, Aulus Cornelius Celsus, first described the use of bilateral buccal flap, made between horizontal parallel incisions with the pedicle based laterally, for upper lip reconstruction in the first century AD.
The disease was first described by Cornelius Celsus and the term alopecia areata was first coined by Sauvages in 1760.
References to mandrake are also found in the work of later Greek, Roman and Byzantine pharmacologists and physicians such as Cornelius Celsus (fl.
His source for identifying the authors is the biography of Milton by his nephew Edward Phillips, who was himself one of the tutees: "Of the Latin, the four grand authors De Re Rustica, Cato, Varro, Columella and Palladius; Cornelius Celsus, an ancient physician of the Romans; a great part of Pliny's Natural History; Vitruvius his Architecture; Frontinus his Stratagems; with the two egregious poets, Lucretius and Manilius" (1, cited from the Hughes edition, John Milton: Complete Poems and Major Prose, 1029).
Hippocrates first used the term (translated as fox's disease) about 400BC, but the symptoms of alopecea areata were first described by Cornelius Celsus in 30AD.