Medicine and Humor from the Writings of Hans Sachs and Hans Folz, Meistersinger

Thomas G. Benedek, M.D.
University of Pittsburgh, School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA, USA

Series: Historical Figures
BISAC: MED039000

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Hans Sachs (1494-1576), while also a cobbler, was the most prolific German author of the 16th century. He was the immediate literary successor in prestige to Hans Folz (died 1513) who thought of himself as a barber. Both lived in the important Bavarian city of Nuremberg. Folz, after about two centuries of performance, began to modernize the art of Master Song, as well as produce rhymed contemporary and satyrical commentary on various topics, including medicine. Sachs followed Folz in further advancing Master Song as well as composing humorous anecdotes, satirical comedies and tragedies, along with biographical and political essays on numerous topics (more than 6,000 in all). Folz was critical of the papacy, and Sachs demonstrated in many verses to be a devout Christian, as well as becoming a strident follower of Luther. However, this book largely focuses on writings that have relevance to medicine both metaphorically and realistically, and especially on how the doctor-patient relationship is depicted. While 16th century therapeutics obviously have little relevance to modern practice, the reader should see similarities with the contemporary idealized doctor-patient relationship. Furthermore, do conflicts that were considered funny five centuries ago elicit similar reactions now?

Preface

Introduction

Chapter 1. Money and Barter (pp. 1-2)

Chapter 2. Nuremberg Medical Resources (pp. 3-6)

Chapter 3. Writing Styles of Folz and Sachs (pp. 7-8)

Chapter 4. Biography of Folz (pp. 9-10)

Chapter 5. Biography of Sachs and His Two Wives (pp. 11-22)

Chapter 6. History of Meistergesang and Shrovetide Plays (pp. 23-24)

Chapter 7. Sachs: Self Identification (pp. 25-26)

Chapter 8. Literary Sources (pp. 27-30)

Chapter 9. Book of Trades (pp. 31-34)

Chapter 10. Folz: Bathing Booklet (pp. 35-38)

Chapter 11. Sachs’ Bathing Verses (pp. 39-52)

Chapter 12. Folz and Sachs: On Furnishing a Home (pp. 53-54)

Chapter 13. Folz and Sachs: Their Different Approach to Spices (pp. 55-78)

Chapter 14. Sachs: On Theriac and Musk (pp. 79-88)

Chapter 15. On the Improper Use of Words (pp. 89-98)

Chapter 16. Folz and Sachs on Quackery (pp. 99-108)

Chapter 17. The Qualities of Water, and a Dry Bath (pp. 109-124)

Chapter 18. Sachs’s Use of Pregnancy (pp. 125-132)

Chapter 19. The Status of Jews and a Dramatic Depiction by Sachs (pp. 133-146)

Chapter 20. Folz and Sachs on Plague (pp. 147-176)

Chapter 21. Dentistry (pp. 177-186)

Chapter 22. Medical Ethics (pp. 187-194)

Chapter 23. Uroscopy (pp. 195-196)

Chapter 24. Alcohol and Alcoholism (pp. 197-232)

Chapter 25. The Origin of Medicine According to Greek Mythology (pp. 233-136)

Chapter 26. Gout, Vices, and Medical Terms (pp. 237-296)

Chapter 27. Unusual Clinical Observations (pp. 297-312)

Chapter 28. The Hazards of Leisure (pp. 313-318)

Chapter 29. Play: Adultery and Anesthesia (pp. 319-336)

Chapter 30. Comparison of Lawyers and Physicians (pp. 337-338)

Chapter 31. The Cutting for Fools (pp. 339-350)

Chapter 32. Autobiography and Categories of Writings (pp.351-366)

Chapter 33. Sachs: Post Mortem (pp. 367-370)

Chapter 34. Chronology of Sachs’s Cited Writings (pp. 371-378)

References (pp. 379-386)

About the Author (pp. 387-388)

Index of Historical and Mythological Figures (pp. 389-390)

Index of Terms (pp. 391-392)

Claus A. Pierach, MD, Professor of Medicine, Minneapolis USA. To read the review, click here.

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