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Lonicerus (Lonitzer), Adam

Lonicerus (Lonitzer), Adam

(b. Marburg, Germany, 10 October 1528;d. Frankfurt, Germany, 29 May 1586)


Lonicerus was the son of Johann Lonitzer, a philologist and professor at Marburg. He received his baccalaureate in 1540 and his master’s degree in 1545. In the latter year he began teaching at the Gymnasium in Frankfurt, but he returned to Marburg of disorders caused by war. He studied medicine there and later in Mainz, where he was a private tutor in the home of a Dr. Osterod. In 1553 Lonicerus became professor of mathematics at Marburg, and in 1554 he received his medical degree. Also in 1554 he married the daughter of the Frankfurt printer Egenolph Magdalena; and following the death of Graff, the municipal physician of Frankfurt, in that year, he was appointed to the post. Lonicerus worked as a proofreader in the printing shop of his father-in-law, who specialized in the revision of old herbals (for example, those of Eucharius Röslin and Dioscorides).

Lonicerus wrote extensively in many fields, including botany, arithmetic, history of medicine, and medicine, particularly public health books such as regulations for controlling the plague (1572) and regulations for midwives (1573). His herbals were so influential that in 1783 at Augsburg—almost 250 years after the first edition—Adam honkers Krkuter–,Buch was still published. In addition, Linnaeus immortalized his name in the genus Lonicera.

Lonicerus based the first, Latin edition of his herbal on Röslin’s revision of the Onus sanitatis (1551), which contained many illustrations, most of them borrowed from Bock. The popularity of Lonicerus’ herbal is shown by the many, steadily enlarged editions he brought out. Although the provision of plant names in German, Latin, Greek, French, Italian, and Spanish lends the herbal a scientific air, the inclusion of fabulous stories betrays its late medieval character. (For example, the formation of bezoars is attributed to the hardening of the tears of stags!) The herbal also lists animal and metallic medicaments and contains one of the earliest descriptions of local flora. In addition, the book distinguishes the deciduous trees from the conifers; the group composed of the yew, the cypress, the juniper, and the savin is contrasted with that containing the spruce and the fir. Lonicerus’ son Johann Adam (b. 1557) edited his father’s writings.


I. Original Works. Lonicerus’ writings include Naturails historiae …, 2 pts.: I, Naturalis historiae opus novum, in quo tractatur de natura arborttm, fructicum, herbarum …(Frankfurt, 1551), 11, Naturalis historiae de plantarum potissimum quae circa Francofurtum nascunturt descriptione et virtute … (Frankfurt, 1555); Aphorismoi Hippocratis (Frankfurt, 1554); Kreuterbuch, neu zügmcht, kumtliehe Conterfeytunge der Bäume … Item von fürnembsten Gethieren der Erden, Vögeln und Fischen; auch von Me-tallen …, a German version of Naturalis historiae (Frankfurt, 1557; later eds. at Frankfurt, 1560–1650; Ulm, 1679–1770; Augsburg, 1783)—this is simply a revision of a work by Cube (municipal physician in Frankfurt l4B4–ca. 1503), which was first issued by Roslin: only the medicinal plants were described in pt. I, local flora in pt. II; Botanicon Plantarum historiae cum eanmdem ad vivum arteficiouse expressis iconibus tomi duo… (Frankfurt, 1565); Brevis et utilis arithmetices introductio … (Frankfurt, 1570); Beschreibung der Arzney und fürmhmsten Compositionen (Frankfurt, 1572); Hebammenibüchlin, Empfengnuss and Geburt dess Menschen… (Frankfurt, 1582), a revision of Röslin’s work; Omnium corporis humani affeetttum explicatio methodica … (Frankfurt, 1594); and De purgationi-bus libri III, ex Hippocrate, Galeno Aetio et Mesne depromti… foras dati per Teuc, Annaeum Privatum, C, Adami Loniceri… filium ,.. (Frankfurt, 1596).

A partial list of his works is in Catalogue général de la Biblioihéque nationale XC1V (Paris, 1930), cols. 925 f.

II, Secondary Literature. See A. Arber, Herbals, Their Origin and Evolution, 2nd ed. (Cambridge, 1953), 72, 134, 221; A. von Haller, Bibliotheca botanica, 2 vols. (Zurich, 1771–1772; repr. Hildesheim, 1969): L 309 f., II, 451; W. Kallmorgen, 700 Jahre Heilkunde in Frankfurt am Main (Frankfurt, 1936), 342 (portrait p. 146); Linnaeus, Bibliotheca botanica (Amsterdam, 1736), 14, 25; M. Möbius, Geschichite der Botanik, 2nd ed. (Stuttgart, 1968), 30, 138; G. A. Pritzel, Thesaurus literaturae botanicae (Leipzig, 1872), 195 f.; F. W. E. Roth, “Botaniker Eucharius Rösslin, Theod. Dorsten u, Adam Lonicer (1526–1586),” in Zentralbtatt fur Biblioihekswesen,19 (1902), 271–286, 338–345; H. Sehelenz, Geschichte der Pharmazie (Berlin, 1904), 432, 446; and G. Strieker, in Allgemeine deutsche Biographie, XIX (1884), 157.

Karin Figala

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