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Two important publications of prof. Maurizio Bifulco and dr. Paolo Cavallo underline scientific importance of the medieval Medical School of Salerno rules


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section by Paolo Cavallo

the Ancient Medical School of Salerno

The Schola Medica Salernitana was an early medieval medical school in the coastal south Italian city of Salerno, the most important native source of medical knowledge in Europe at the time.

The school achieved its splendour between the tenth and thirteenth centuries, during the final decades of Longobard power, during which the school rose, to the fall of the Hohenstaufen. Through the impulse given by Alfano I, Archbishop of Salerno, and Constantine the African, Salerno won the title of "Town of Hippocrates" (Hippocratica Civitas or Hippocratica Urbs). People from all over the world flocked to the "Schola Salerni", both the sick, in the hope of recovering, and the student, to learn the art of medicine.

Its fame crossed borders, as proved by the Salernitanan manuscripts kept in many European libraries, and by historical witnesses. The School kept the Greek-Latin cultural tradition going, merging it harmoniously with the Arab and Jewish culture. The meeting of different cultures led to a medical learning arising from the synthesis and the comparison of different experiences, as is evidenced by a legend that ascribes the foundation of the school to four masters: the Jewish Helinus, the Greek Pontus, the Arab Adela, and the Latin Salernus. In the school, besides the teaching of medicine (in which women too were involved, as both teachers and students), there were courses of philosophy, theology, and law.

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