Aretius, Benedictus

, an eminent Swiss divine and botanist, was born at Berne, in the beginning of the sixteenth century, and rose to great distinction as a teacher of theology at Marpurg, and as a preacher of the reformed religion. His lectures were extremely crowded, and his religious writings very popular. His “Examen Theologicum,” a voluminous work, was printed twelve times within three years. He died at Berne, much lamented, April 22, 1574. His principal theological works are, the “Examen Theologicum,” already noticed: Commentaries on the whole of the New Testament, printed at different times: a Life of Gentilis, with a refutation of his principles, &c. But few of these are now so well known as his reputation for botanical knowledge. On this subject he frequently corresponded with Conrad Gessner, the Pliny of Germany, and with the other eminent botanists of his time. His attention was chiefly directed to the plants growing on the Alps, of which he discovered and described forty of great rarity. Some of them he introduced in gardens, and gave directions for the cultivation of them. He also published a description of two mountains, the Niesen and the Stokhorn, in the canton of Berne, remarkable for their height and the curious plants which grow upon them. It is a small work in the form of a letter, addressed to his friend and countryman Piperinus, and was printed with the works of Valerius Cordus, under the title “Stockhornii et Nessi Helvetia? montium, et nascentium in eis stirpiuni descriptio, impr. in operibus Val. Cordi,” Strasburgh, 1561. Conrad Gessner bestows a high character on Aretius in his “Hortus Germanicus,” and gave the name Aretia to a plant in honour of him, which Haller and Linnaeus have preserved, with equally honourable notice of his skill and useful researches in botany. 1

1 Melchior Adam. Varheiden’s Effigies. Biographic Universelle. —Haller. Fuller’s Abel Redivivus.