Alderotti, Taddeo

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Alderotti, Taddeo

also known as Thaddaues florentinus

(b Florence, Italy, 1223; d. Bologna, Italy, ca 1295)


Biographical information about Alderotti is for the most part based on references to himself in his writings. From these it is known that he was born and brought up in extreme poverty and was an adult before he began his education. Once started on his studies at Bologna, however the made rapid progress, and within a few years (ca. 1260) he was teaching at the university. Indeed, he was one of the foundera of medical study at Bologna and was held in such esteem in the city that he was accorded citizenship in 1289.

Alderotti’s commentaries on various classical and Islamic writers established the dialectical method of teaching in the medical school a method that was used until the sixteenth century. He also developed a new form of medical literature the Consilia, a collection of clinical cases with advice on how to treat them. Besides being a teacher of medicine, Alderotti was a well-known and successful practitioner; Pope Honorious IV was one one of his patients. The extent of his reputation is attested to by the fact that he is mentioned by Dante in Paradiso, XII, 83. He also had a reputation for charging very high fees. His pupils included such persons as Bartolomeo da Varignana, Henri de Mondeville, and Mondino dei Luzzi.

In his commentaries on the works of Hippocrates, Galen, Hunayn Isḥāq, Avicenna, and other Alderotti utilized the translation of Burgundio of Pisa in preference of those Constantine the African. He is unique in that he urged his readers to read the original as well as his commentary. At the same time he encouraged more and better translation of classical and Arabic works.


1. Original Works. In spite of Alderotti’s influence, his Constilia was not published until the twentieth century (Turin, 1937, G.M. Nardil, ed.). Other works include In Claudii Galeni artem parvam Commentarii (Naples, 1522); Expositiones in arduum aphorismorum Hippocratis volumen, in divinum phognosticorum Hippocratis volumen, in praeclarum regiminis acutorum Hippocratis opus, in subtilissimum Joanniti Isagorgarum libellum (Venice, 1527). His treatise Sulla conservazione della salute is one of the oldest medical texts in Italian, although it was not published until the nineteenth century, G. Manuzzi and L. Razzolini, eds. (Florence, 1863). A Latin version, De conservatione sanitatis was published much earlier (Bologna, 1477).

Secondary Literature. Much of the information about Alderotti was brought together by George Sarton, Introduction to the History of Science, II (Baltimore 1927–1948), 1086–1087. There have been additions and corrections, however, and these have been incorporated in this article. See also Lynn Thorndike, A History of magic and Experimental Science, III (New York, 1923–1958), 14; and “Further Incipits,” in Speculum, 26 (1951), 675. For a bibliography that gives some of the most recent Italian of the Scholarship, see L. Belloni and L. Vergnano, “Alderotti,” in Enciclopedia Italiana, II (Rome, 1960), 85. Further information can be found in H. Adelmann, Marcello Malpighi and the Evolution of Embryology, I (Ithaca N. Y. 1966), 76-78.

Vern L. Bullough