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Abano, Pietro D’

Abano, Pietro D’

(b. Abano, Italy, 1257; d. Padua, Italy, ca. 1315)

medicine, natural history, alchemy, philosophy.

D’Abano completed his early studies in Padua and later took many voyages which focused his attention upon nature studies and ethics. He lived in Constantinople and then, about 1300, went to Paris, where he attended the university and perhaps taught and composed his Conciliator differentiarum philosophorum et praecipue medicorum. In 1307 d’Abano returned to Padua, where for several years he taught philosophy and medicine, arousing the apprehension and the perplexity of the academic and ecclesiastical authorities. Although he was acquitted during his lifetime of the charge of heresy—of which he had been accused because of his attempt to interpret the birth and ministry of Christ as other than miraculous—his reputation as a sorcerer persisted. Some forty years after his death his writings were again put on trial; they were found to be heretical, and his bodily remains were disinterred and burned.

In his Conciliator, d’Abano undertook a superb synthetic program: the reconciliation of medicine with philosophy. In this he states 120 questions that give rise to as many controversies between physicians and philosophers. For their solution he adopts the method of didactic demonstration that is characteristic of the period, yet on the whole there are signs of a new intention and a new uncertainty.

The practice of medicine implies the necessity of resolving every problem in a natural manner. D’Abano maintained more or less that “the art of medicine must not consider only things that can be seen and felt.” Hence he possessed a good knowledge of anatomy; he affirmed, in opposition to the authority of Aristotle (who thought the nerves originated in the heart) that the center of all sensation and motion resides in the brain. His notions of the central nervous system are probably derived from direct visualization. According to d’ Abano. the doctor is the symbol of the zealous servant and the collaborator of nature. Considerable importance is attached to the relationship of trust that exists between the doctor and the patient. A good reputation is more useful to the doctor than rare drugs.

These concepts as d’Abano developed them in his work, have considerable importance. The doctor must be free in his reasoning and must have no ties with scholastic authorities. Such ideas imply a revolt against established and wearisome tradition: they prepare for a rupture with the past and indicate a new path for scientific progress. D’Abano’s voice was one of those that, at the dawn of humanism, announced the beginning of a scientific revival.

The Paduan master acknowledged the dependence of every living being and of earthly events on planetary influences. The Conciliator gives an outline of astrology as a two-part science comprising one that deals with the laws of celestial movements(astronomy) and another, more important, that draws from these laws the judgements and predictions concerning the effects of those motions on our world—on all human events, on human conception, and even on religion.

D’Abano has been considered by such scholars as Ferrari and Troilo as the initiator of Latin Averroism in Italy. Others—Theorndike, Nardi and Giacon—have maintained that d’Abano’s thought bears no trace Averroistic these—above all, that dealing with the unity of the intellect, either as an agent or as a possibility.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

I. Original Works. The most important work of d’Abano are Additio in librum Joh. Mesue (Venice, 1471); Conciliator differentiarum philosophorum et praecipue medicorum (Mantua, 1472); De Venenis (Mantua, 1473) Liber compilationis physignomiae (Padua, 1474); Expositio probelematum Aristotelis (Mantua, 1475); Expositiones in Dioscoridem (Colle [Tuscany], 1478); Quaestiones de febribus (Padua, 1482); Hippocratis libellus de medicorum astrologia (Venice, 1485) and Geomantia (Venice 1549).

SECONDARY LITERATURE. The most important works on d’Abano are M. T. d’Alverny, “Pietro d’Abano et les ‘naturalistes’ a 1’epoque de Dante,” in Leo S. Olschki, Vittore Branca, Giorgio Pedoan, eds., Dante e la cultura veneta (Florence, 1966), pp. 207-219; G. Delta Vedova, Biografia degli scrittori padovani, I (Padua, 1832), 25-33; P. Duhem, Le systeme du monde. Histoires des doctrines cosmologiques de Platon a Copernic, IV (Paris, 1916), 229-263; S. Ferrari, I tempi, la vita, le dottrine di Pietro d’Abano (Genoa, 1900), which contains considerable information on d’Abano, and “Per la biografia e per gli scritti di Pietro d’Abano,” in Atti Regale Accademia Lincei, Memorie Classe Scienzi Morali, Storiche e Filologiche, 5th ser., 15 (1915), 629-725; C. Giacon, “Pietro d’Abano e l’averroismo padovano,” in Atti XXVI riunione S.I P. S. (Rome, 1938), pp. 334-339; B. Nardi, “La teoria dell’anima e la generazione delle forme secondo Pietro d’Abano,” in Rivista filosofica neoscolastica, 4 (1912), 723-737; “Intorno alle dottrine filosofiehe di Pietro d’Abano,” in Nuova rivista storica, 4 (1920), 81-97, and 5 (1921), 300-313; and Dante e Pietro d’Abano, saggi di filosofia dantesca (Milan, 1930), pp. 43-65; L. Norpoth, “Zur Bio-Bibliographie and Wissenschaftslehre des Pietro d’Abano, Mediziners, Philosophen and Astronomen in Padua,” in Kyklos, 3 (1930), 292-353, which contains considerable information on d’Abano; J. H. Randall, Jr., The School of Padua and the Emergence of Modern Science (Padua, 1961); G. Saitta, II pensiero italiano nell’umanesimo (Bologna, 1949), pp. 32-39; L. Thorndike, A History of Magic and Experimental Science, II (New York, 1947), 874-947; and E. Troilo, “Averroismo o aristotelismo ’alessandrista’ padovano,” in Rendiconti classe scienze morali, storiche e flologiche, Accademia Nazionale Lincei, 8th ser., 9, nos. 5-6 (1954), 188-244.

Loris Premuda

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Abano, Pietro d'

Pietro d' Abano (pyā´trō dä´bänō), 1250?–1316?, Italian physician and philosopher, a professor of medicine in Padua. His famous work Conciliator differentiarum was an attempt to reconcile Arab medicine and Greek speculative natural philosophy and was considered authoritative as late as the 16th cent. His efforts marked the rise of the Paduan school as a center for medical study. He was tried twice by the Inquisition on charges of heresy and practicing magic. Acquitted at the first trial, he was found guilty at the second, after his death.

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Pietro d'Abano

Pietro d'Abano: see Abano, Pietro d'.

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