Adversaria Anatomica Omnia. 1723 (First edition)

Giovanni Battista Morgagni (1682-1771)

     

Adversaria Anatomica Omnia. 1723 (First edition)

   

     

Giovanni Battista Morgagni (1682-1771)

Giovanni Battista Morgagni was born on February 25, 1682, in Forli, southeast Italy. He taught anatomy for 56 years as a Professor of Anatomy at the University of Padua. He is credited with founding modern anatomical pathology by coupling post-mortem findings to the etiology of diseases.

In 1701, three years after starting his studies at the University of Bologna, he earned doctorates in philosophy and medicine with great honors. Morgagni served as Antonio Maria Valsalva's prosector there before succeeding him as the Demonstrator of Anatomy. One of his first publications, Adversaria Anatomica Prima, the first of a six-volume compilation in our library, was released in 1706. It contained observations on the larynx, the female pelvic organs and fixed errors made by predecessors. In 1712, Morgagni gave up his post at the University of Bologna and moved to Padua as a professor of Theoretical Medicine. Three years later, he became the Chair of Anatomy, where he remained until his death. At Padua, Morgagni produced two more parts to the Adversaria Anatomica. The final three volumes appeared in 1719 but were folded into the volume in our possession; Adversaria Anatomica Omnia.

In 1761, at 79, Giovanni Battista Morgagni published his most influential work, De sedibus et causis morborum per anatomen indagatis (Seats and causes of diseases investigated by anatomy). It was a collection of 640 pathologic observations from his patient's autopsies. De sedibus demonstrated the link between clinical manifestations and post-mortem anatomopathological correlates. 

Although Adversaria Anatomica Omnia is not Morgagni's most famous work, it is his earliest work, which enhanced his reputation and credibility as an anatomist throughout Europe. Compared to his predecessors, Morgagni exercised more caution in making anatomical preparation and recording microscopical observations. Adversaria Anatomica Omnia contains descriptions of the minute organic mechanisms, including the glands of the trachea, the male urethra, and the female genitals, as well as observations on gallstones, the larynx, the lacrimal apparatus, and different venae cavae varieties. Given that Morgagni was the first to describe the condition now known as Morgagnian cataract, it is unsurprising that Morgagni also explores and extensively illustrates sections on the eyes and eyelids in the compiled edition.

Based on research done by Veronika Gavrylenko, class of 2026 as part of her assignment in Elective in History of Medicine and Dentistry, 2022-2023. Edited by Andrew I Spielman.

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