Medieval Andrology and the Pseudo-Galenic De spermate

PaÔvi Pahta


The pseudo-Galenic†De†spermate, a theoretical treatise on reproduction that was probably translated into Latin in the early Salernitan period and remained influential throughout the Middle Ages, provides valuable information about†medieval†ideas concerning the male reproductive system. The emphasis is on reproductive physiology. The text describes semen as a fluid that is originally drawn from the four bodily humours, primarily blood, is turned into sperm by coction in specific veins and arteries, and passes through the man's body along spermatic vessels, first ascending to the head and from there desending through particular organs to the testicles, where it is finally made complete for emission. The text also contains a description of male reproductive anatomy, including the internal structure of the testicles. Male reproductive pathology is not explored in any detail in this theoretical account, but a few potential problems in reproductive funtioning are mentioned in the discussion of physiological processes.

Key Words: Medieval andrology - Semen - Pesudo-Galen - De spermate

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