Alpini, Prospero

, a celebrated physician and botanist, was born the 23d of November 1553, at; Marostica, in the republic of Venice. In his early years he was inclined to the profession of arms, and accordingly served in the Milanese; but being at length persuaded by his father, who was a physician, to apply himself to learning, he went to Padua, where in a little time he was chosen deputy to the rector, and syndic to the students, which offices he discharged with great prudence and address. This, however, did not hinder him from pursuing his study of physic, in which faculty he was created doctor in 1578. Nor did he remain long without practice, being soon after invited to Campo San Pietro, a little town in the territories of Padua. But such a situation was too confined for one of his extensive views; he was desirous of gaining a knowledge of exotic plants, and thought the best way to succeed in his inquiries, was, after Galen’s example, to visit the countries where they grow. He soon had an opportunity of gratifying his curiosity, as George Emo, or Hemi, being appointed consul for the republic of Venice in Egypt, chose him for his physician. They left Venice the 12th of September 1580; and, after a tedious and dangerous voyage, arrived at Grand Cairo the beginning of July the year following. Alpini continued three years in this country, where he omitted no opportunity of improving his | knowledge in botany, travelling along the banks of the river Nile, and as far as Alexandria, and other parts of Egypt. Upon his return to Venice, in 1584, Andrea Doha, prince of Melfi, appointed him his physician; and he distinguished himself so much in this capacity, that he was esteemed the first physician of his age. The republic of Venice, displeased that a subject of theirs, of so much merit as Alpini, should continue at Genoa, when he might be of very great service and honour to their state, recalled him in 1593, to fill the professorship of botany at Padua, where he had a salary of 200 florins, afterwards raised to 750. He discharged this office with great reputation; but his health became very precarious, having been much injured by the voyages he had made. According to the registers of the university of Padua, he died the 5th of February 1617, in the 64th year of his age, and was buried the day after, without any funeral pomp, in the church of St. Anthony.

His works, some of which are still held in esteem, were, 1. “De Medicina Egyptiorum, libri IV.Venice, 1591, 4to, Paris, 1645, and Leyden, 1735, 4to. 2. “De Balsamq dialogus,Venice, 1591, Padua, 1640, 4to. In this he describes the plant in Asia Minor which produces the white balsam. 3. “De Plantis Egyptii liber,Venice, 1592, Padua, 1640, 4to. 4. “De Plantis exoticis, libri II.Venice, 1627, 1656, 4to. 5. “Historiae naturalis Egypti, libri IV.Leyden, 1735, 2 vols. 4to. 6. “De praesagienda vita etmorte asgrotantium, libri VII.Padua, 4to, Leyden, 1710, edited by Boerhaave; the most considerable of all his works, of which there have been various editions, and an English translation by Dr. James, 2 vols. 8vo. 1746. 7. “De Medicina methodica, libri XIII.Padua, fol. 1611, Leyden, 1719, 4to, a work in which he evinces his predilection for the methodists. 8. “Dissertatio de Rhapontico,Padua, 1612, 4to. All these works have been frequently reprinted. Towards the end of his life Alpini became deaf, and in consequence turned his thoughts towards the causes of that privation, and the possibility of cure. The result of his researches he communicated in a treatise on the subject, which, with some other works, still remain in manuscript. He left four sons, one of whom was a lawyer, and another a physician, and the publisher of his father’s posthumous works. The Alpinia, a | of the monogynia order, of which there is but one species, derives its name from him. 1


Gen. Dict. —MoreriHaller Bibl. Mecl. rMatiget. Uibl. Freyeri Tfaea, tmm. Saxii Onoiuast.