Giorgio Valla and the anatomo-physiology of perception nerves in Greek sources of the De expetendis et fugiendis rebus opus (Venice, 1501)

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Berenice Cavarra
Marco Cilione


The paper is an updated version of a speech presented at 26th annual meeting of the International Society for the History of the Neurosciences, Rome, Italy, 14-18 June 2022.


Abstract. The importance of Giorgio Valla in the history of Renaissance Humanism science has not yet been adequately recognized. In the vast background of his knowledge, gathered in a remarkable encyclopedic work entitled De expetendis et fugiendis rebus (Venice 1501), the natural sciences and medicine occupy a place of particular importance and express all the extraordinary value of his double competence as a humanist and a doctor. In the section of the encyclopedia relating to ‘commoda et incommoda corporis’ (l. 48), Valla dedicates chapters 9 to 13 to the five senses, chapter 14 to imagination, chapter 15 to memory. In addition to proposing a translation of some passages of the text, our contribution intends to evaluate the sources that the author uses in the treatment of the theme of perception; how the theme in the history of ideas arrives from the ancient to the ‘encyclopedia’ of Giorgio Valla; how the author places the physiology of perception in the framework of the Christian orthodoxy that characterizes him.



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