Bachmann, Augustus Quirinus

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Bachmann, Augustus Quirinus

also known as Augustus Quirinus Rivinus

(b. Leipzig, Germany, 9 December 1652; d. Leipzig, 30 December 1723)


Bachmann was a son of the physician Andreas Bachmann (1600–1656), professor of poetry and then of physiology in the University of Leipzig. The father had already adopted the latinized form of his family name, and the son consistently used it. Young Rivinus studied humanities and medicine in Leipzig but took his degree at the then flourishing University of Helmstedt in 1676. He settled in his native town as a medical practitioner and became a lecturer in medicine in the University of Leipzig in 1677. He was appointed to the chair of physiology and botany in 1691; became professor of pathology in 1701; and was made professor of therapeutics and dean perpetual in 1719. His last years were clouded by failing vision and urolithiasis, and he died of what was

diagnosed as a pleurisy. Rivinus was married four times and had one son, Johannes Augustus Rivinus (1692–1725), who also became a physician.

Rivinus wrote many medical dissertations, among them De dyspepsia (1678), in which he describes the excretory ducts of the sublingual salivary glands. He also tried to remove from the materia medica of his time such squalid substances as feces and urine, as well as all superstitious, counterfeit, or otherwise useless drugs.

Rivinus’ main scientific interest, however, was botany, particularly botanical taxonomy. In 1690 he published Introductio generalis in rem hebrariam, with 125 tables of “plants with irregular flowers of one petal” (Labiatae and others). Atlases of “irregular” flowers of four petals (mostly Umbelliferae, 139 tables) and of five petals (mostly Umbelliferae, 139 tables) followed in 1691 and in 1699, respectively. Rivinus published these tables at his own expense; and it is therefore no wonder that he could not afford to bring out the last volume he had prepared, which dealt with “irregular” flowers of six petals (orhids). He anticipated Tournefort and Linnaeus in devising an artificial system of plant classification. His system comprised eighteen classes (ordines) based on the number of petals of a flower and on its regularity or irregularity.

Rivinus’ standards of regularity were extremely high. For instance, he included all the Umbelliferae in the class of irregulares pentapetalae because they have not only one style exactly in the center of the flower but also two eccentric ones. His attempt to base classification on a single part of a plant led Rivinus into a controversy with the famous English naturalist John Ray, who held the sound view that the whole plant must be considered.

Since he emphasized the need for short plant names of no more than two words, Rivinus was a pioneer of modern binomial nomencture.


I. Original Works. Among Rivinus’ works are De dyspepsia (Leipzig, 1678); Introductio generalis in rem herbariam and Ordo plantarum, quae sunt flore irregulari monopetalo (Leipzig, 1690), Introductio also published separately (Leipzig, 1696, 1720); Ordo plantarum, quae suns fore irregulari tetrapetalo (Leipzig, 1691); Epistola botanica ad Johannem Raium (Leipzig, 1694; repr. London, 1696, with Ray’s answer); Ordo plantarum quae suni flore irregulars pentapetalo (Leipzig, 1699); and De medicamentorum officinalium censura (Leipzig, 1701, 1707), repr. with fortysix other papers in Dissertationes medicae, diversis temporibus habitae, nunc vero in unum fasciculum collectae (Leipzig, 1710).

Universal-Lexicon (see below) gives a complete list of Rivinus’ writings, and Jourdan (see below) lists his more important medical publications.

II Secondary Literature. Articles on Rivinus are L.-M. Dupetit-Thouars, in Biographie universelle ancienne et moderne, new ed., XXXVI (ca. 1860), 90–94, which gives a very careful account of Rivinus’ botanical work; A. von Haller, in Bibliotheca botanica, I (Zurich, 1771), 551, para. 651; C. G. Jöcher, in Allgemeines Gelehrten-Lexicon, III (Leipzig, 1751; repr. Hildesheim, 1961); A.-J.-L. Jourdan, in Dictionnaire des sciences méicales-Biographie médicale, VIII (1825); and Zedler’s Universal-Lexicon, XXXI (Leipzig-Halle, 1742). See also C. Rabl, Geschichte der Anatomie an der Universität (Leipzig, 1909).

Huldrych M. Koelbing