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.