Paulli, Simon

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(b. Rostock, Mecklenburg, 6 December 1603; d. Copenhagen, Denmark, 23 April 1680)

botany, anatomy.

Paulli was the son of Heinrich Paulli, a professor at Rostock and physician in ordinary at the Danish court. He studied anatomy at Rostock and Leiden, and later at Paris under Jean Riolan. After a trip to England he received his medical degree at Wittenberg in 1630. He practiced medicine at Rostock and Lubeck from 1634 to 1639 and from 1639 to 1648 was professor of medicine at Rostock. In 1648 Paulli was appointed professor of anatomy, surgery, and botany at Copenhagen. Simultaneously he became physician in ordinary to the Danish king, who granted him the revenue from the bishopric of Aarhus. In 1655 he gave a series of botany lectures in Rostock.

Paulli made notable contributions to the technical literature of anatomy and botany. His botanical writings were discussed in detail by Albrecht von Haller, who praised him not only for compiling existing botanical knowledge but also for comparing it with information derived from his own experiments. More a practitioner than a theoretician, he recommended the use of simple medications. His biography is included in the posthumous Frankfurt edition of Quadripartitum botanicum (1708).


I. Origianal Works. paulli’s major work is Quadripartitum botanicum de simplicium medicamentroum facultatibus… (Rostock, 1640; Strasbourg, 1667–1668; Frankfurt, 1708), in which he arranges plants according to the seasons, in the form of a flora almanac; within each season the plants are listed in alphabetical order. Along with the uses and effects of the vegetal medicines, he provides bibliographical information. The star-thistle (Centaurea calcitrapa) is discussed here, apparently for the first time. An appendix reprints his Rostock inaugural lecture, “De officio medicorum, pharmacopoeorum et chirurgorum,” which contains the first mention of the use of a cow’s bladder in giving enemas. The lecture was printed separately at Rostock in 1639.

He also wrote Flora Danica, der er Dansk Urtebog… (Copenhagen, 1648), which is also arranged according to the seasons and, besides descriptions of plants, includes information on their synonyms and medicinal properties and 393 illustrations, some original and some taken from Matthias de Lobel and Joannes Moretus (Moerentorf); Viridaria varia regia et academica publica… (Copenhagen, 1653), which consists of catalogs of the botanical gardens of Copenhagen, Paris, Warsaw, Oxford, Leiden, and Groningen, as well as catalogs of exotic and native plants, listed according to location; Parekbasis seu digressio de … causa fabrium… Appendix, seu Historia relatio de… anatomicao et chirurtico casu ad… Johannem Riolanum… anno 1652 (Frankfurt, 1660), which includes a description of scurvy and venereal diseases; Miscella antiquae lictionis cujus quatuor monumenta in praefatione enumerata in publicam lucem reduxit… (Strasbourg, 1664), a historical work; Commentarius de abusu tabaci Americanorum veteri et herbae Theé Asiaticorum in Europa navo…. (Strasbourg, 1665, 1681), also in English trans. by Robert James (London, 1746)—according to Haller, Paulli also published Libellum de usu et abusu tabaci et herbae Theae in 1635; Orbis terraqueus in tabulis geographicis et hydrographicis descriptus… (Strasbourg, 1670), a geographical work; and Historia litteraria, sive Dispositio librorum omnium facultatum… (Strasbourg, 1671), an encyclopedic work.

Miscella…, Orbis… and Historia… are cited in Catalogue gėnėral de al Bibliothéque Nationale, CXXXI (Paris, 1935), cols. 671 ff. Haller mentions a letter entitled “De gramine ossifrago epistola ad Th. Bartholinum a Beughemio citatur.”

II. Secondary Literature. See A. Blanck, Die mecklenburgischen Aerzte (Schwerin, 1874), 30; A. von Haller. Bibliotheca botanica, 2 vols. (Zurich, 1771–1772; repr, Hildesheim-New York, 1969); I, 459, and II, 333; C. Krause, in Allgemeine deutsche Biographie, XXV (1885), 274; J. Krey, Andenken an die Rostocker Gelehrten, VI, 8 f.; Linnaeus, Bibliotheca botanica (Amsterdam, 1736), 36, 48, 69–71, 71, 78–79, 86, 92, 97, 143; and H. Schelenz, Geschichte der Pharmazie (Berlin, 1904), 495, 526.

Karin Figala