Medicine and Hellenism in the Renaissance: the problem of Greek in Baillou

Caroline Petit


Guillaume de Baillou stands out among the Paris Hippocratics for his sophisticated Latin style and his frequent use of Greek. This article explores Baillou’s language, style, and rhetoric in the context of historical problems regarding the formation of medical language. Through an analysis of Greek terms in his works, this paper reconsiders Lonie’s assumption that Greek is simply part of Baillou’s Hippocratic posture in a world of medical philologists. In fact, Baillou’s Greek appears to be as Galenic as it is Hippocratic, and Galen’s ideas and texts pervade Baillou’s framework as well as his terminology. Hence the popular idea that physicians turned back towards Hippocrates at the end of the sixteenth century is to be taken with caution, especially in assessing late Renaissance medical beliefs, methodologies, and practice. Indeed, another facet of Baillou’s devoted attention to Greek and to language generally is his keen interest in signs and symptoms.


Baillou; Hippocrates; Latin; Galen; Greek; medical language; medical rhetoric

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