), an eminent Greek medical writer, who was born probably about A. D. 325. Suidas (s.v. Ὀρειβάσιος
and Philostorgius (Hist. Eceles.
7.15) call him a native of Sardes in Lydia; but his friend and biographer Eunapius says (Vit. Philos. et Sophist.
p. 170, ed. Antw.) he was born at Pergamus in Mysia, the birth-place of Galen.
According to the same author, he belonged to a respectable family, and, after receiving a good preliminary education, he studied medicine under Zeno of Cyprus, and had for his fellow-pupils Ionicus and Magnus.
He early acquired a great professional reputation.
It is not known exactly when or where he became acquainted with the emperor Julian, but it was probably while that young prince was kept in confinement in different places in Asia Minor.
He was soon honoured with his confidence and friendship, and was almost the only person to whom Julian imparted the secret of his apostacy from Christianity. (Eunap. l. c.
p. 90; Julian, ad Athen.
p. 277, B. ed. 1696.) When Julian was raised to the rank of Caesar, and sent into Gaul, Dec. 355, he took Oribasius with him (Julian, l. c
p. 277, C.; Oribas. ap. Phot. Biblioth.
Cod. 217); and in the following year (see Clinton's Fast. Rom.
), on the occasion of some temporary absence, addressed to him a letter, which is still extant (Epist.
17), and is an evidence both of their intimacy and of their devotion to paganism.
It was while they were in Gaul together that Julian commanded Oribasins to make an epitome of Gaien's writings, with which he was so much pleased that he imposed upon him the further task of adding to the work whatever was most valuable in the other medical writers.
This he accomplished (though not till after Julian had become emperor, A. D. 361) in seventy (Phot. Biblioth.
Cod. 217) or (according to Suidas) in seventy-two books, part of which are still extant under the title *Sunagwgai\ *)Iatrikai/, Cocllecta lledicinalia,
and will be mentioned again below. Eunapius seems to say that Oribasius was in some way instrumental in raising Julian to the throne (βασιλέα τὸν Ἰουλιανὸν ἀπέδειξε
), but the meaning of the passage is doubtful, as the writer refers for the particulars of the transaction to one of his lost works.
He was appointed by the emperor, soon after his accession, quaestor of Constantinople (Suid. l.c.
), and sent to Delphi to endeavour to restore the oracle of Apollo to its former splendour and authority; but in this mission he failed, as the only answer he brought back was that the oracle was no more:--
“εἴπατε τῷ βασιλεῖ, χαμαὶ τέ σε δαίδαλος αὐλά.
οὐκέτι Φοῖβος ἔχει καλύβαν, οὐ μάντιδα δάφνην
οὐ παγὰν λαλέουσεν, ἀπέσβετο καὶ λάλον ὕδωρ.
Cedren. Hist. Conpend.p. 304, ed. 1647.
He accompanied Julian in his expedition against Persia, and was with him at the time of his death, June 26, A. D. 363. (Philostorg. l.c.
) The succeeding emperors, Valentinian and Valens, were not so favourably disposed towards Oribasius, but confiscated his property, and banished him to some nation of "barbarians" (as they are called)-pro bably the Goths: they had even thought of putting him to death.
The cause of this treatment is not mentioned; his friend Eunapius (who is not a very impartial witness) attributes it to envy on account of his reputation (διὰ τὴν ὑπεροχὴν τῆς δόξης
), but we may easily suppose the emperors to have had some more creditable motive than this, and might perhaps be allowed to conjecture that he had made himself obnoxious, either in the discharge of his duties as quaestor, or by his enmity against the Christians.
In his exile Oribasius exhibited proofs both of his fortitude and his medical skil, whereby he gained such influence and esteem among the barbarian kings, that he became one of their principal men, while the common people looked upon him as almost a god. As Eunapins does not mention that the emperors who recalled Oribasius were different from those who banished him (l.c.
p. 173), it is probable that his exile did not last long, and that it ended before the year 369.
After his return he married a lady of good family and fortune, and had by her four children, one of whom was probably his son Eustathius, to whom he addressed his "Synopsis," mentioned below.
He also had his property restored out of the public treasury by command of the sueceeding emperors, but Eunapius does not specify which
emperors he means.
The date of his death is unknown, but he was still living with his four children when Eunapius inserted the account of his life in his "Vitae Philosophorum et Sophistarum," that is, at least as late as the year 395. (See Clinton's Fasti Rom.
) Of the personal character of Oribasius we know little or nothing, but it is clear that he was much attached to paganism and to the heathen philosophy.
He was an intimate friend of Eunapius, who praises him very highly, and wrote an account of his life.
He attended the philosopher Chrysanthius on his death-bed (Eunap. l.c.
p. 197); and there is a short letter addressed to him by Isidorus of Pelusium (Epist.
1.437, ed. Paris, 1638), and two epigrams written in his honour in the Greek Anthology (9.199
, and Anthol. Planud.
4.274, vol. ii. p. 106, 3.295, ed. Tauchn,).
He is several times quoted by Aetius and Paulus Aegineta. Some of his works were translated into Arabic (see Wenrich, De Auctor. Graecor. Version. Syriac. Arab.
&c. p. 295); and an abridgement of them was made by Theophanes at the command of the emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus. (See Lambec. Biblioth. Vindob.
vi. pp. 261, 264, 266, ed. Kollar.)
We possess at present three works of Oribasius, which are generally considered to be genuine.
The first of these is called Συναγωγαὶ Ἰατρικαί
, Collecta Medicinalia,
or sometimes Ἑβδομηκοντάβιβλος
(Paul. Aegin. lib. i. Praef.), and is the work that was compiled (as was said above) at the command of Julian, when Oribasius was still a young man.
It would be impossible to give here an analysis of its contents.
It contains but little original matter, but is very valuable on account of the numerous extracts from writers whose works are no longer extant.
This work had become scarce, on account of its bulk, as early as the time of Paulus Aegineta (Paul. Aegin. l.c.
It was translated into Syriac in the ninth century by Honain Ibn Ishak and Isa Ibn Yahya, with the title "Collectionis Medicinalis Libri Septuaginta" (Wenrich, l.c.
); but in the following century, though Haly Abbas was aware of its existence, he says he had never seen more than one book out of the seventy. (Theor.
i. l, p. 5, ed. 1523.) More than half of this work is now lost, and what remains is in some confusion, so that it is not easy to specify exactly how many books are at present actually in existence; it is, however, believed that we possess twenty-five (viz. 1-15, 21, 22, 24, 25, 44-49), with fragments of two others (viz. 50 and 51).
The first fifteen hooks were first published in a Latin translation by J. Bapt. Rasarils (together with the 24th and 25th), Venet. 8vo. without date, but before 1555.
They were published in Greek and Latin by C. F. Matthaei, Mosqu. 1808. 4to.
, but with the omission of all the extracts from Galen, Rufus Ephesius, and Dioscorides.
This edition, which is very scarce, is entitled "XXI. Veterum et Clarorum Medicorum Graecorum varia Opuscula.." The first and second books had been previously published in Greek and Latin by C. G. Gruner, Jenae, 1782, 4to. Books 21 and 22 were discovered in MS. by Dietz about fifteen years ago, but have not hitherto been published, either in Greek or Latin.
(See Dietz, Schol. in Hippocr. et Gal.
vol. i. praef.; Daremberg, Rapport adressé a M. le Ministre de l'Instruction Publique,
Paris, 8vo. 1845, p. 7.) Books 24 and 25 treat of anatomy and may perhaps be the work translated into Arabic with the title "De Membrorum Anatomia." (Wenrich, l.c.) They were translated into Latin by J. Bapt. Rasarius, and published together with the first fifteen books. A Greek edition appeared at Paris, 1556, 8vo. ap. Guil. Morelium, with the title "Collectaneorum Artis Medicae Liber," &c.
; and W. Dundass published them in Greek and Latin in 1735, 4to. Lugd. Bat., with the title "Oribasii Anatomica ex Libris Galeni." Book 44 was published in Greek and Latin, with copious notes, by U. C. Bussenraker, Groning. 1835, 8vo.
; having previously appeared in Greek, together with books 45, 48, and 49, and parts of 50 and 51 (but with the omission of all the extracts from Galen and Hippocrates), in the fourth volume of Angelo Mai's "Classici Auctorcs e Vaticanis Codicibus editi." Rom. 1831, 8vo. Books 46 and 47 were published by Ant. Cocchi at Florence, 1754, fol. in Greek and Latin, with the title "Graecorum Chirurgici Libri," &c. Books 48 and 49 were first published in Latin by Vidus Vidius in his "Chirurgia e Graeco in Latin um a se conversa," &c.;
and are to be found in Greek, together with fragments of books 50 and 51, in Angelo Mai's collection mentioned above.
It will appear at once, from the above list of the editions of the different parts of this work, how much we are in want of a critical and uniform edition of those books which still remain; a want which (as we learn from M. Daremberg's Rapport,
quoted above) is likely to be supplied by Dr. Bussemaker.
The second work of Oribasius, that is still extant, was written probably about thirty years after the above, of which it is an abridgment (Σύνοψις
It consists of nine books, and is addressed to his son Eustathius, for whose use and at whose request it was composed.
This work was translated into Arabic by Honain Ibn Ishak, with the title Ad Filium suum Eustathium Libri Novem
), and was known to Haly Abbas, who, as well as Paulus Aegineta (l.c.
), notices the omission of several topics which he considered ought to have found a place in it.
It has never been published in Greek, but was translated into Latin by J. Bapt. Rasarius, and printed at Venice, 1554, 8vo.
The third work of Oribasius is entitled Εὐπόριστα
, Euporista or De facile Parabilibus
, and consists of four books.
It is addressed to Eunapius, probably his friend and biographer, who requested Oribasius to undertake the work, though Photius says (l.c.
) that in his time some copies were ascribed to a person of the name of Eugenius. Sprengel doubts (Hist. de la Méd.
) the genuineness of this work, but probably without sufficient reason: it appears to be the "smaller" work of Oribasius mentioned by Haly Abbas (l.c.
), and is probably the treatise that was trauslated into Arabic by Stephanus with the title "De Medicamentis Usitatis" (Wenrich, l.c.
). Both this and the preceding work were intended as manuals of the practice of medicine, and are in a great measure made up of extracts front his "Collecta Medicinalia."
The Greek text has never been printed. The first Latin translation was published by J. Sichard, Basil. 1529, fol. at the end of his edition of Caelius Aurelianus
; the next edition is that by J. Bapt. Rasarius, Venet. 1558, 8vo., which is more complete than the preceding. Rasarius united the "Synopsis ad Eustathinm," the "Euporista ad Eunapium," and the nineteen books of the "Collecta Medicinalia" that were then discovered (including the two treatises "De Laqueis" and "De Machinamentis"), and published them together, with the title "Oribasii quae restant Omnia," Basil. 1557, 3 vols. 8vo. They are also to be found in H. Stephani "Medicae Artis Principes," Paris, 1567, fol. The pieces entitled "De Victus Ratione, per quodlibet Anni Tempus" (Basil. 1528, fol.) and "De Simplicibus" (Argent. 1533, fol.) are probably extracted from his larger works.
Lost works attributed to Oribasius
Oribasius is said by Suidas to have been the author of some other works which are now lost, viz.
The last has been conjectured to have been the same work as the" Euporista ad Eunapium," mentioned above.
Commentary on the Aphorisms of Hippocrates attributed to Oribasius
Besides these works, a commentary on the Aphorisms of Hippocrates goes under the name of Oribasius, but is undoubtedly spurious.
It was first published in Latin by J. Guinterius Andernacus, Paris, 1533, 8vo.
, and has been thrice reprinted.
It is probable that the work does not exist in Greek, and that it was written by a person who made use of a Latin translation of the "Synopsis ad Eustathium," and who composed it with the intention of passing it off as the genuine work of Oribasius. If so, it is a clumsy forgery, and betrays its spurious origin to the most cursory inspector, being apparently the work of a Christian, and at the same time purporting to be written at the command of Ptolemy Euergetes.
It has been conjectured that it was composed by some physician belonging to the school of Salerno, about the beginning of the fourteenth century; but this is certainly too recent, as it is to be found in two MSS. at Paris, which are supposed to belong to the tenth century. (See Littré's Hippocrates,
vol. iv. p. 443.)
A further account of Oribasius, especially of his medical opinions, may be found in Freind's Hist. of Physic,
vol. i.; Haller's Biblioth. Anat., Bibliot Chirurg., Biblioth. Botan.,
and Biblioth. Medic. Pract.;
Sprengel's Hist. de la Méd.;
and in J. F. C. Hecker's Litterar. Annal, der gesammten Heilkunde,
1825, vol. i., which last work the writer has never seen.
See also Fabric. Biblioth. Gr.
vol. ix. p. 451, 12.640, 13.353, ed. vet.; and Choulant, Handb. der Bücherkunde für die Aeltere Medicin.