The Marriage between the Physician and Philology

Danielle Gourevitch


The day before yesterday: the physician-philologist. The times of the first appearence of printed books and of the re-discovery of ancient texts are also the time of syphilis. The Physician, more than a philosopher as Galen suggested, is also a philologist. A very interesting example is fournished by Antonio Benivieni (+1502) and by his book De causis abditis (1506) Yesterday: the philologist-physician. Charles Daremberg (1816-1872) is our example. In 1841, he wrote his medical thesis Exposition des connaissances de Galien sur l'anatomie, la physiologie et la pathologie du système nerveux (faculté de médecine de Paris, n° 222).

Today: a necessary couple, the physician and the philologist. Greek and Latin are no more subjects of teaching in school, and the philologists seem to be strange, dusty and dirty people. Is the physician-philologist still alive or not? To be useful to the daily practice of medicine, history of medicine will be also a philological matter, philology is the complete study of ancient, modern and contemporary texts. It teaches to read well, to undersand all that has been written and, as a consequence, all that patients tell today to their physicians. The problem is not teaching something more (new facts, new notions...) but teaching to know well; in a word, teaching the famous continuous learning, which is still a difficult reality. 



Key words: Filologia - Testi Antichi - A. Benivieni - C. Daremberg 

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