Niccolo Leoniceno Facts

Niccolo Leoniceno Facts
Niccolò Leoniceno (1428 to 1524), was an Italian physician and humanist. He translated ancient Greek and Arabic medical texts into Latin. He is best known for the controversy he created with his criticism of Pliny the Elder.
Interesting Niccolo Leoniceno Facts:
Niccolo was born in Lonigo, in the Veneto region of northern Italy.
His interest in the study of medicine may have been due to his father being a doctor or Niccolo's own struggles with epilepsy.
After completing his study of Greek in Vicenza he studied medicine and philosophy at the University of Padua.
He completed his doctorate in 1494 became a professor of mathematics, philosophy and medicine at the University of Ferrara.
He was among the first to translate the ancient Greek and Arabic medical texts into Latin.
In 1493 he wrote the first paper on syphilis at the time of the first written record of the disease in Italy.
In 1492 Leoniceno wrote an article reporting errors in Pliny's work.
This ignited a controversy with Angelo Poliziano of Florence who hired a lawyer to write rebuttals.
The controversy raged between 1492 and 1509 and resulted in a series of articles but even Poliziano admitted that there were translation problems in Pliny's writings.
Poliziano and others were unhappy at possible slurs to the reputation of the ancient writers and blamed translators but Leoniceno was interested in accuracy of the information.
Before this controversy, it was accepted that most knowledge of natural history was learned by studying the ancient texts.
Leoniceno was concerned about the practical and scientific use of the information recorded.
He recognized that the lack of a standard vocabulary when writing about plants made their identification difficult.
As a physician he was concerned that inaccurate translations could lead to misidentification of plants and render ineffective or even dangerous the medicines that were derived from them.
Leoniceno pointed out factual errors in Pliny's work and emphasized the role experience and first hand observation had to play in verification of knowledge.
Leoniceno died in 1524.


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