Aulus Cornelius Celsus

Aulus Cornelius Celsus (c. 25 BC; † 50 AD) was a Roman encyclopedist and one of the most important medical writer of his time. It is disputed whether Celsus himself worked as a doctor or is only to be regarded as a theorist. Little is known of Celsus ' lives.


His great encyclopedic work Artes encompassed the areas agriculture, military affairs, rhetoric, philosophy, jurisprudence, and medicine ( De Medicina, the only preserved).

Celsus based its findings primarily on the ideas of the Greek physician Hippocrates. Celsus is in the tradition of the Alexandrian school, so he is also called medicorum Cicero. He was the first who translated many medical terms from Greek into Latin.

The still valid four- character of local inflammation were first described by Celsus: tumor ( swelling), calor ( warmth ), rubor (redness ), dolor (pain). Galen ( 129-216 AD) added as a fifth feature, add the functio laesa (Function restriction).

The medical part of the encyclopedia includes eight books:

  • Book 1 is a history of medicine,
  • Book 2 deals with the general pathology,
  • Book 3, the individual diseases,
  • Book 4 of those body parts,
  • 5 and 6 carrying the pharmacology,
  • Book 7 of the surgery and
  • Book 8 of the bone treatment

Importance in the Middle Ages

Celsus ' work was the first classic medical treatise, was after its rediscovery in 1426, printed. Celsus was next to Galen as one of the main sources of medical knowledge in the Middle Ages. Only with Paracelsus ( 1500 - para here translated as " against ", " beyond", after Paracelsus rejected several theories of Celsus and Experimental Medicine preferred ), the performances of the four humors of Hippocratic and thus of Celsus and Galen were increasingly obsolete viewed.


  • Jutta Kollesch, Diethard Nickel: Ancient Healing Art - Selected texts. Philipp Reclam jun., Stuttgart 1994, ISBN 978-3-15-009305-4.
  • W. Spencer: Celsus. De Medicina. Loeb, Cambridge 1935-1938 (Latin - English).