Blood, Sweat and Tears

The Changing Concepts of Physiology from Antiquity into Early Modern Europe


The history of anatomy has been the subject of much recent scholarship. This volume shifts the focus to the many different ways in which the function of the body and its fluids were understood in pre-modern European thought. Contributors demonstrate how different academic disciplines can contribute to our understanding of ‘physiology’, and investigate the value of this category to pre-modern medicine.
The book contains individual essays on the wider issues raised by ‘physiology’, and detailed case studies that explore particular aspects and individuals. It will be useful to those working on medicine and the body in pre-modern cultures, in disciplines including classics, history of medicine and science, philosophy, and literature.

Contributors include Barbara Baert, Marlen Bidwell-Steiner, Véronique Boudon-Millot, Rainer Brömer, Elizabeth Craik, Tamás Demeter, Valeria Gavrylenko, Hans L. Haak, Mieneke te Hennepe, Sabine Kalff, Rina Knoeff, Sergius Kodera, Liesbet Kusters, Karine van ‘t Land, Tomas Macsotay, Michael McVaugh, Vivian Nutton, Barbara Orland, Jacomien Prins, Julius Rocca, Catrien Santing, Daniel Schäfer, Emma Sidgwick, Frank W. Stahnisch, Diana Stanciu, Michael Stolberg, Liba Taub, Fabio Tutrone, Katrien Vanagt, and Marion A. Wells.

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Manfred (H.F.J.) Horstmanshoff was Professor of Ancient Medicine at Leiden from 2006-11, having taught Ancient History there since 1976. He is currently a Fellow of the Internationales Kolleg Morphomata, University of Cologne, studying the history of the patient from a comparative perspective. His publications include the co-editorship (with P.J. van der Eijk and P.H Schrijvers) of Ancient Medicine in its Socio-Cultural Context (Amsterdam: Clio Medica, 1995) and editorship of the selected papers of the XIIth Colloquium Hippocraticum as Hippocrates and Medical Education (Leiden: Brill, 2010).
Helen King, formerly Professor of the History of Classical Medicine at the University of Reading, is currently Professor of Classical Studies at The Open University, Milton Keynes. She works on ancient medicine and its reception until the nineteenth century, particularly on gynaecology and midwifery. Her publications include The Disease of Virgins (London: Routledge, 2003) and Midwifery, Obstetrics and the Rise of Gynaecology (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007).
Claus Zittel teaches philosophy and German literature at the Universities of Frankfurt am Main, Berlin (FU) and Olstzyn (Poland) and is the co-leader of the Max-Planck Research group, “The Conscious Image” at the Kunsthistorisches Institut/Max-Planck-Institut Florence. His publications include Theatrum philosophicum. Descartes und die Rolle ästhetischer Formen in der Wissenschaft (Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 2009) and (with Moritz Epple) Science as Cultural Practice Vol. 1: Cultures and Politics of Research from the Early Modern Period to the Age of Extremes (Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 2010).
'' Blood, Sweat and Tears is by no means a work that provides any ‘Big Picture’. Its merit lies rather in its confirmation of the bewildering profusion of themes relevant to pre-modern physiology. It thereby invites further cooperative projects, probably each with a narrower focus, by scholars with multiple disciplinary backgrounds. The editors and their collaborators have rendered a great service to readers. As a book with a number of references to Greek and Roman works, the volume is equipped with an index locorum. A short bibliography at the end of each article provides a good overview of relevant literature. Every article has its summary that facilitates selective reading. Many black and white illustrations make the volume a delight to turn over. These editorial cares can serve as a model for any scholars who are going to edit a large number of essays into a single volume.” - Kuni Sakamoto, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, in: Medical History, 2013
"The editors can therefore rest content, for by bringing together so many outstanding studies of the variety of ways that the living human body has been understood in premodern Europe. They have done a great service." - Harold J. Cook, Brown University, in: Renaissance Quarterly 67.3 (Fall 2014), p. 982.
"Given its objective of presenting an interdisciplinary overview of myriad concerns and approaches, this is a broad collection that brings forth various heuristic principles underlying both scholarly and practical inquiry. The articles do not systematize or harmonize. Instead, they complicate and contextualize intellectual and practical explorations that have often been collapse and conflated into chronology and summary. The result is a thorough representation of the intricacies involved in the definition of such a widely used term as physiology. It emphasizes the presuppositions and prejudices that influenced practice, impeded invention, and posed interpretive and practical problems" - Dorothy Stegman, Ball State University, in: Sixteenth Century Journal 44.4 (2013), p. 1089
"The book is certainly a helpful and clear route into the context of early modern chemistry and its important and intimate connections with religious beliefs." - David Knight, Durham University, in: Ambix 60.4 (November, 2013), p. 428
"Ce collectif résulte d’une sélection de communications présentées lors du colloque international tenu en avril 2009 au Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences (NIAS) à Wassenaar. L’importance et la richesse de ce volume sont une indication de la richesse elle-même de cette rencontre internationale. Le cadre culturel et chronologique proposé est d’une grande amplitude et parvenir à un ouvrage cohérent présentant une certaine unité était un défi que les éditeurs ont su relever à travers notamment le plan retenu pour la succession des différents articles." - Frédéric Le Blay, in: Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2013.09.55
Preface and Acknowledgements
Notes on the Editors
Notes on the Contributors
List of Illustrations

Helen King


Physiologia from Galen to Jacob Bording
Vivian Nutton

Physiological Analogies and Metaphors. In Explanations of the Earth and the
Liba Taub

The Reception of the Hippocratic Treatise On Glands
Elizabeth Craik

Between Atoms and Humours. Lucretius’ Didactic Poetry as a Model of
Integrated and Bifocal Physiology
Fabio Tutrone

Losing Ground. The Disappearance of Attraction from the Kidneys 85
Michael R. McVaugh

The Art of the Distillation of ‘Spirits’ as a Technological Model for Human
Physiology. The Cases of Marsilio Ficino, Joseph Duchesne and Francis Bacon
Sergius Kodera

The Body is a Battlefield. Conflict and Control in Seventeenth-Century
Physiology and Political Thought
Sabine Kalff

Herman Boerhaave’s Neurology and the Unchanging Nature of Physiology
Rina Knoeff

The Anatomy and Physiology of Mind. David Hume’s Vitalistic Account
Tamás Demeter

More than a Fading Flame. The Physiology of Old Age between Speculative
Analogy and Experimental Method
Daniel Schäfer

Suffering Bodies, Sensible Artists. Vitalist Medicine and the Visualising of
Corporeal Life in Diderot
Tomas Macsotay


Blood, Clotting and the Four Humours
Hans L. Haak

An Issue of Blood. The Healing of the Woman with the Haemorrhage
(Mark 5.24b-34; Luke 8.42b-48; Matthew 9.19-22) in Early Medieval
Visual Culture
Barbara Baert, Liesbet Kusters and Emma Sidgwick

The Nature of the Soul and the Passage of Blood through the Lungs.
Galen, Ibn al-Nafīs, Servetus, İtaki, ‘Aṭṭār
Rainer Brömer

Sperm and Blood, Form and Food. Late Medieval Medical Notions of Male
and Female in the Embryology of Membra
Karine van ’t Land

The Music of the Pulse in Marsilio Ficino’s Timaeus Commentary
Jacomien Prins

‘For the Life of a Creature is in the Blood’ (Leviticus 17:11). Some
Considerations on Blood as the Source of Life in Sixteenth-Century
Religion and Medicine and their Interconnections
Catrien Santing

White Blood and Red Milk. Analogical Reasoning in Medical Practice
and Experimental Physiology (1560-1730)
Barbara Orland


The “Body without Skin” in the Homeric Poems
Valeria Gavrylenko

Sweat. Learned Concepts and Popular Perceptions, 1500-1800
Michael Stolberg

Of the Fisherman’s Net and Skin Pores. Reframing Conceptions of the Skin
in Medicine 1572-1714
Mieneke M. G. te Hennepe


Vision and Vision Disorders. Galen’s Physiology of Sight
Véronique Boudon-Millot

Early Modern Medical Thinking on Vision and the Camera Obscura.
V.F. Plempius’ Ophthalmographia
Katrien Vanagt

The Tertium Comparationis of the Elementa Physiologiae. Johann Gottfried
von Herder’s Coception of “Tears’ as Mediators between the Sublime
and the Actual Bodily Physiology
Frank W. Stahnisch


From Doubt to Certainty. Aspects of the Conceptualisation and Interpretation
of Galen’s Natural Pneuma
Julius Rocca

Metabolisms of the Soul. The Physiology of Bernardino Telesio in Oliva
Sabuco’s Nueva Filosofía de la Naturaleza del Hombre (1587)
Marlen Bidwell-Steiner

“Full of Rapture”. Maternal Vocality and Melancholy in Webster’s Duchess
of Malfi
Marion A. Wells

The Sleeping Musician. Aristotle’s Vegetative Soul and Ralph
Cudworth’s Plastic Nature
Diana Stanciu

Index Locorum
Index Generalis
Mostly researchers interested in the history of the body, history of ideas, history of medicine and science. Medical practitioners would also find this material interesting.