Bare skin and beautiful initials: the first treatise on healing hot springs

De Balneis Puteoli - Pietro da Eboli

Naples (Italy) — Before 1494

De Balneis Puteoli - Pietro da Eboli

De Balneis Puteoli - Pietro da Eboli

Naples (Italy) — Before 1494

  1. The first treatise about healing springs collects descriptions of 35 hot springs around the Gulf of Naples

  2. A synthesis of the arts offering a vivid glimpse into Italian therapeutic baths in the 13th century

  3. A lot of naked skin is accompanied by gorgeous initials with bright trim, gold leaf, and ornamental braids

De Balneis Puteoli - Pietro da Eboli

Alternative Titles:
  • Petrus de Ebulo: De balneis Puteolanis
  • Arnoldus de Villa Nova: Tabula super balneis Puteoli
  • Über die Bäder von Pozzuoli
De Balneis Puteoli - Pietro da Eboli – BH Ms. 838 (G. 2396) – Biblioteca General e Histórica de la Universidad (Valencia, Spain)
De Balneis Puteoli - Pietro da Eboli – BH Ms. 838 (G. 2396) – Biblioteca General e Histórica de la Universidad (Valencia, Spain)
De Balneis Puteoli - Pietro da Eboli – BH Ms. 838 (G. 2396) – Biblioteca General e Histórica de la Universidad (Valencia, Spain)
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  1. Short Description
  2. Codicology

Short Description

The manuscript De Balneis Puteoli by Pietro da Eboli is an exciting and valuable testimony to the scientific medicine and Italian illumination of the 15th century. As the first treatise about healing springs it collects a description of 35 hot springs around Pozzuoli on the Gulf of Naples and their medicinal healing effect. The explanations are richly illustrated with numerous marvelously designed initials and gorgeous miniatures. These show the individual springs and the manner of their application. The treatise by Pietro da Eboli from the 13th century was supplemented in the manuscript by a medical work from the hand of Arnaldus de Villanova, a contemporary of the author and a famous Spanish doctor and diplomat. The De Balneis Puteoli manuscript thus appears as a synthesis of the arts and offers an impressively vivid glimpse into the world of the Italian therapeutic baths of the 13th century.

De Balneis Puteoli - Pietro da Eboli

The manuscript De Balneis Puteoli by Pietro da Eboli is an exciting and valuable testimony to the scientific medicine and Italian illumination of the 15th century. As the first treatise about healing springs it collects a description of 35 hot springs around Pozzuoli on the Gulf of Naples and their medicinal healing effect. The explanations are richly illustrated with numerous marvelously designed initials and gorgeous miniatures. These show the individual springs and the manner of their application. The treatise by Pietro da Eboli from the 13th century was supplemented in the manuscript by a medical work from the hand of Arnaldus de Villanova, a contemporary of the author and a famous Spanish doctor and diplomat. The De Balneis Puteoli thus represents a synthesis of the arts and offers an impressively vivid glimpse into the world of the Italian therapeutic baths of the 13th century.

Famous Therapeutic Baths in the Gulf of Naples

The baths of Pozzuoli have been known for their medicinal benefits since at least the 13th century. The city of Pozzuoli lies to the west of Naples in the volcanic region and can thus boast numerous hot springs in its environs. These were used since antiquity as thermal baths and healing springs for medical applications. In the tradition of Galen, various ailments and illnesses were cured in the hot springs. Contributing measurably to the fame of Pozzuoli in the 13th century was Pietro da Eboli’s writings from the time around 1220, which is simultaneously a scientific treatise and a didactic work.

A Medicinal Treatise by Famous Doctors and Poets

The manuscript with the title of Nomina et virtutes balneorum Putheoli et Baiarum is housed today in Valencia. The author of this first treaty about healing springs was Pietro da Eboli, an Italian author and chronicler of the 13th century. Eboli recorded, among others, a poem of praise in honor of Holy Roman Emperor Henry VI, which earned him the highest honors, and a laudation of Holy Roman Emperor Friedrich Barbarossa. His work concerning the healing baths of Pozzuoli enjoyed wide circulation and numerous translations, which attest to the popularity of the document. In the manuscript, which presumably originated from Naples at the end of the 15th century, the text of Pietro da Eboli is supplemented by the Tabula super balneis Puteoli by Arnaldus de Villanova (ca. 1240–1311). This conjunction makes the manuscript unique. Arnaldus de Villanova was a Spanish doctor, diplomat, and church reformer and was active, among others, as a personal physician of various popes and Holy Roman Emperor Friedrich II. His Tabula offers an assortment various illnesses in alphabetical order. In this way, one could find out what spring and what bath were recommended for the cure of the sought-after illness. Additionally, the manuscript contains at its beginning a dedicated poem in honor of the Duke of Calabria and King of Naples, Alfonso II, and an elegy at the end.

Lifelike Illustrations of the Poetic Descriptions

The 76 pages of the manuscript are richly adorned with 36 marvelous illustrations. These supplement the descriptions of the 35 baths around Pozzuoli. The full-page miniatures in brightly-colored frames show the springs and the manner of the cure. With a lot of naked skin, many nudes of bathers in the water were illustrated in the explanations. The bathers in the depictions either find themselves in framed pools outdoors or in bath houses, sometimes even in tubs or tanks. They wash off their bodies, some even submerge themselves, others relax after the bath by lying in a tent. The scenes are imbedded in a harmonious landscape and present themselves as marvelously lifelike scenes. Additionally, gorgeous initials adorn the typeface of the poem. Bright trim, gold leaf, and ornamental braids combine with one another in impressive splendor. This conjunction of medical explanation, entertaining-educational treatise, and gorgeous illustrations make the De Balneis Puteoli manuscript a true gem of medieval book art.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Petrus de Ebulo: De balneis Puteolanis
Arnoldus de Villa Nova: Tabula super balneis Puteoli
Über die Bäder von Pozzuoli
Size / Format
76 pages / 30.0 x 21.9 cm
Date
Before 1494
Language
Artist / School
Previous Owners

1 available facsimile edition(s) of „De Balneis Puteoli - Pietro da Eboli“

De Balneis Puteoli - Pietro da Eboli
De Balneis Puteoli - Pietro da Eboli – BH Ms. 838 (G. 2396) – Biblioteca General e Histórica de la Universidad (Valencia, Spain)
De Balneis Puteoli - Pietro da Eboli – BH Ms. 838 (G. 2396) – Biblioteca General e Histórica de la Universidad (Valencia, Spain)
De Balneis Puteoli - Pietro da Eboli – BH Ms. 838 (G. 2396) – Biblioteca General e Histórica de la Universidad (Valencia, Spain)
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De Balneis Puteoli - Pietro da Eboli

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
Scriptorium – Valencia, 1997
Limited Edition
450 copies
Binding
Leather
Commentary
1 volume by D. Luis García Ballester, José López Terrada, D. Felipe Jerez Moliner, D. José Luis Gil Arista, Michael R. Mc Vaugh
Languages: English, Spanish
More Information
Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
Price Category: €€€ (3,000€ - 7,000€)
Edition available
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