science writer; worked 1st century AD (Rome)
Nothing is known about the life of Celsus. He is known as the author of one of the most important medical works from Roman time De medicina. The work is the only surviving part of a complete encyclopaedia that also covered agriculture, military art, philosophy, rhetoric and law.
During Celsus' lifetime De medicina was apparently mostly ignored. Today it is regarded one of the classical cornerstones of medicinal knowledge. It was rediscovered by Pope Nicholas V (1397 - 1455) and published in 1478, one of the first medical works to be printed on the recently invented printing press.
De medicina is structured on three parts. The first part deals with illnesses that require treatment through appropriate diet. The second part is devoted to pharmaceutical treatment, and the third part covers surgery. Another part, which covers the history of medical science, is the main source of our knowledge about Hellenistic medicine and the advances of anatomy and surgery in Alexandria.
Celsus' work gives detailed insight into medicinal practice in Roman times. It stresses cleanliness during treatment and use of antiseptics such as vinegar and thyme oil for wounds. It describes heart disease, hydrotherapy, and the removal of bladder stones. These and other practices must have been accepted standard of Roman physicianship and surgery, otherwise Celsus' book would have been kept on every physician's shelf during his lifetime.
Image: A.C. Celse, lithograph by Pierre Roch Vigneron, Paris, Lith. de Gregoire et Deneux, 1865 (?); public domain (Wikipedia)