Venice: Giunta, 1571.
First edition, and a fine copy in a contemporary binding, of this very rare work which coined the phrase “circulation of the blood” (circulatio sanguinis, f. 111v) and provided the theoretical basis for Harvey’s experimental and quantitative treatment in De motu cordis (1628). “Cesalpino preceded Harvey in the discovery of the concept of the circulation, and Harvey must have known of his ideas” (Garrison-Morton). “Cesalpino’s most important medical studies concern the anatomy and physiology of the movement of the blood. He gave a good description of the cardiac valves and of the pulmonary vessels connected to the heart, as well as of the minor blood circulation; he also recognized that the heart is the center of the circulation of the blood and accepted the existence of the traditional synanastomoses of the arteries with the veins. He did not, however, discover the major circulation (first demonstrated in 1628 by William Harvey)” (DSB). “No-one who reads Cesalpino impartially can deny the eminent part that he played in the discovery of the circulation of the blood” (Castiglioni, p. 438). ABPC/RBH lists only three other copies in contemporary bindings sold at auction in the last 60 years: Norman copy, Christie’s New York, March 18, 1998, lot 61, $36,800 (“title page stained at edges and with removed stamp”); Swann, May 24, 2001, lot 50, $33,350 (“wormholes through front cover & blank outer margin of opening leaves, title page stamped”); Friedman copy, Sotheby’s New York, November 16, 2001, lot 29, $110,000 (“repaired tear to title page, spine head repaired, C4,5 guarded”). In their description of the Friedman copy, Sotheby’s noted that “the only copy to surface at Anglo-American auctions in the past century was that of Haskell F. Norman.”
“In Quaestio IIII (ff. 107-112) of his Peripatetic problems, Cesalpino first made the critical point, repeated in his later works, that blood flows in a perpetual movement into the heart from the veins and from the heart to the arteries. This statement, as Pagel has noted, marked “a breakaway from Galen and a stepping-stone for Harvey” (p. 171); Cesalpino “replaced [Galen's doctrine] by the more sophisticated idea of arterio-venous plexuses in which the blood is conveyed to the organs by the arteries, although part of it comes from the veins. With this Cesalpinus seems to have taken a progressive step in the direction of the truth — however far this is still removed from Harvey’s idea of the closed arterio-venous circle” (p. 187).
“Cesalpino examined contemporary medical and anatomical research in the light of Aristotelian rather than Galenic philosophy (the “Peripatetic” in this work’s title alludes to Aristotle’s Peripatetic school). His theory of the circulatio sanguinis as a rhythmic to-and-fro movement was based on the Aristotelian model of hot evaporating matter driven upward and then returning to its source after cooling; it emphasized both the continuity and circularity of the cardiovascular system and its essentially automatic, repeating character. Harvey used the same Aristotelian model in De motu cordis — as a student at the Aristotelian University of Padua, Harvey could hardly have escaped noticing Cesalpino’s work, which was very popular with students in Italy and Germany” (Norman).
“In 1571, Andrea Cesalpino (1524–1603), with whose medical works Harvey must have also been acquainted, published Peripateticarum Quaestionum Libri Quinque, a systematic book on the basis of the Aristotelian philosophical framework. In it, he described quite accurately the heart valves and the pulmonary vessels connected to the heart, as well as the pulmonary circulation. Although Cesalpino had not attained a thorough knowledge, founded on anatomical research, of the entire course of the blood, he speculated that the heart is the center of the circulatio sanguinis (blood circulation), a term that he coined, and specified that blood flows in a perpetual movement into the heart from the veins and from the heart to the arteries. He examined experimentally the difference between the blood flow in veins and that in arteries, and he deduced the presence of vasa in capillamenta resoluta, the invisible hair-like “capillaries,” as he was the first to name them, between the two vascular networks; he did, however, acknowledge that these connections were “what the Greeks call anastomoses”.
“Cesalpino operated on living animals, exposed the pulsating arteries and accompanying veins, and investigated what ensued when he cut off the flow through them. He ascertained that when he ligated an artery, it bulged on the cardiac side, implying flow toward the periphery; in contrast, when he ligated a vein, the bulge ensued on the peripheral side, implying flow toward the heart. Moreover, in Quaestio IV of the Peripatetic Problems, the pulmonary circulation is identified unambiguously, although its function is considered to be one of cooling. In paragraph 11, Cesalpino states: “From the contact with cold air or water during its passage (through lungs or gills), nature has provided a cooling process. The lung, then, draws warm blood through the vein-like artery [vena arterialis, i.e., pulmonary artery] from the right ventricle of the heart and returns it through anastomoses to the arteria venosa [pulmonary vein(s)], which enters the left heart … Dissection corroborates this ‘circulatio sanguinis’ from the right ventricle of the heart through the lungs and to the left ventricle of the same. For, there are two vessels which connect into the right ventricle and two into the left. Of these two, one introduces blood only, while the other conducts it out with its valves constituted for that purpose. The vessel which leads in is the great vein on the right which is called the vena cava. The one on the left, leading in from the lung, is small, and has a single coat like other veins. The vessel leading out on the left is the great artery and is called the arteria aorta; the vessel on the right is small, however, and leads to the lungs, and has two coats like other arteries.”
“The preceding excerpt bears upon the question of Cesalpino’s place in history and demonstrates that he had probably penetrated into the enigma of the Circulation further than any other physiologist before Harvey—in Italy, he is regarded as the real discoverer. However, it is highly unlikely that this is a valid allegation. Consider the following: De Venarum Ostiolis, the treatise of the illustrious teacher of Harvey, Fabricius of Aquapendente, was published in 1603, more than 30 years after Cesalpino's own Peripateticarum Quaestionum Libri Quinque, and a year after Harvey left Padua. It provides undeniable direct evidence of Fabricius’s and indirect consequential evidence of Cesalpino’s total ignorance of the simple hydraulics of blood in the systemic loop.
“In it, Fabricius writes that the purpose of the valves in the veins was not to ensure the unidirectional flow to the right heart, but to prevent over-distension of the veins by blood passing through the venous trunks to their tributaries, and also to retard the progress of the venous current so as to afford each part, or organ, time to procure its proper nutriment (in agreement with the Galenic concept). Fabricius also noted that arteries do not need valves because they are not liable to over-distension, given the strength and thickness of their coats. Neither are valves needed to retard the blood stream, because in the arteries there is perpetual flux and reflux of blood (quod sanguinis fluxus refluxusque in arteriis perpetuo fiat). Such, then, was the state of understanding of the systemic loop taught by Harvey's teacher more than 30 years after the publication of Cesalpino's Peripateticarum Quaestionum Libri Quinque.
“The understanding as to the function of the valves was … that they were present to sustain the column of venous blood and thus prevent blood from stagnating at the extremities of the limbs with a consequent unequal distribution of nutriment—a view that was the only conceivable one without the complete refutation of the then current and universally accepted Galenic notions on the movements of the blood” (Pasipoularides).
“Cesalpino (1519-1603) studied philosophy and medicine at Pisa, where he received the doctorate in 1551. Four years later he succeeded his teacher Luca Ghini as professor of medicine and director of the botanical garden at Pisa. In 1592 he was called to Rome as physician to Pope Clement VIII and, simultaneously, professor at the Sapienza, where he taught until his death” (DSB). Cesalpino is perhaps best known as a “botanist who sought a philosophical and theoretical approach to plant classification based on unified and coherent principles rather than on alphabetical sequence or medicinal properties. He helped establish botany as an independent science” (Britannica).
Garrison-Morton 755; Hirsch, I, pp. 866-68; Lilly Library Notable Medical Books 45; Norman 430; Osler 901; Waller 1877; Willius & Dry, History of the heart and the circulation, pp. 43-44, 369. Not in Adams, Cushing, Durling or Wellcome. Castiglioni, A History of Medicine, 1958. Pagel, William Harvey’s biological ideas, 1967. Pasipoularides, ‘Historical Perspective: Harvey’s epoch-making discovery of the Circulation, its historical antecedents, and some initial consequences on medical practice,’ Journal of Applied Physiology (2013), Vol. 114, pp. 1493-1503.
4to (214 x 161 mm), ff. [xiv], 128. Woodcut printer’s device on title, a few woodcut diagrams in text, numerous woodcut initials, many historiated. Contemporary limp vellum with yapped edges, entirely unrestored. A very fresh and crsip copy. Exceptionally rare in such fine condition.