Regimen sanitatis Salernitanum

Regimen sanitatis Salernitanum, Latin: The Salernitan Rule of Health (commonly known as Flos medicinae or Lilium medicinae - The Flower of Medicine, The Lily of Medicine) is a medieval didactic poem in hexameter verse. It is allegedly a work of the Schola Medica Salernitana (from which its other name Flos medicinae scholae Salerni is derived).

First edition title page (1480). The title reads: Regimen sanitatis cum expositione magistri Arnaldi de Villanova Cathellano noviter impressus. Venetiis: impressum per Bernardinum Venetum de Vitalibus, 1480.


The Regimen is believed to have been written in the 12th or 13th century, although some sources estimate this to have been as early as 1050.[1] Even though the book bears the name of the famous medieval medical school, it is not certain if it originated there. Some legends claim the poem was written for the benefit of Duke of Normandy Robert Curthose, while others claim it was a gift from the Saliternitan writers to the king of England.[2] The true author is unknown, but it is commonly attributed to John of Milan.


This poem concerns domestic medical practice such as daily hygienic procedures and diet (e.g. it illustrates the therapeutic uses of wine).[3] The early Regimen was organized by the six non-naturals. According to Galen, they are: air, food and drink, sleeping and waking, motion and rest, excretions and retentions, and dreams and the passions of the soul. The original content addressed the Humors, the Complexions (Temperaments), and some diseases. It also contained a phlebotomy, which provided information on bloodletting.[4]

The original Latin version was annotated and edited by Arnold of Villanova. The Regimen was contemporary with Secretum Secretorum, a health manual written by pseudo-Aristotle. However, the Regimen was more popular because the rhyming verses were easier to remember. The Regimen was translated into vernacular languages, including Irish, Bohemian, Occitan, Hebrew, German, Anglo-Norman, and Italian.[4] Following its first appearance in print, the Regimen was translated into almost every European language, and the book achieved tremendous popularity and nearly forty different editions were produced before 1501. An English translation by Thomas Paynell was printed by Thomas Berthelet in 1528.[5]

The work itself came to be highly revered as a scholarly medical text and was seriously discussed until the 19th century. Various editions and versions of the Regimen circulated throughout Europe, many with commentaries that added or removed material from the original poem. During this interval, the Regimen was expanded from the original 364 lines to 3,526 hexameter verses.[4] The first English translation was made by Sir John Harington in 1608. An attempt to make a medically accurate translation was made in 1871 by the American doctor John Ordronaux.[6]


Si tibi deficiant medici, medici tibi fiant
Haec tria: mens laeta, requies, moderata diaeta (Latin text).
Use three physicions still; first Doctor Quiet,
Next Doctor Merry-man and Doctor Dyet (Harington's translation, 1608).
If doctors fail you, let these three be doctors for you:
A joyful mind, rest, and a moderate diet. (Modern translation)

References and footnotesEdit

  1. ^ (in German) bibliotheca Augustana
  2. ^ LAFAILLE, R., HIEMSTRA, H., Themstra, H. (1990). "The regimen of Salerno, a contemporary analysis of a medieval healthy life style program". Health Promotion International. Oxford University Press. 5 (1): 57–74. ISSN 0957-4824.
  3. ^ "Chronology of Wine as a Medicine". Archived from the original on August 25, 2003.
  4. ^ a b c Melitta Weiss Adamson: Food in Medieval Times, pp. 217-220. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2004. ISBN 0-313-32147-7
  5. ^ de Mediolano, with the Commentaries of Arnaldus de Villa Nova, Regimen sanitatis Salerni: This boke techyng al people to gouerne them in helthe, is translated out of the Latyne tonge in to englishe by Thomas Paynell. Whiche boke is as profitable as nedefull to be had and redde as any can be to obserue corporall helthe (S.I. In fletestrete, in the House of Thomas Berthelet, nere to ye cundite at ye signe of Lucrece, 1528)
  6. ^ Ordronaux, J. Translation into English verse of Regimen Sanitatis Salerni. Scuola Medica Salernitana. Lippincott, 1871.

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