Semen in the Works of Hildegard of Bingen


  • Luigi Mantuano Catholic University of Louvain.
  • Gian Carlo Mancini Dept. Experimental Medicine and Biochemical Sciences, History of Medicine, Tor Vergata University Rome, I


Hildegard of Bingen, Andrology , Sexuality , Medieval medicine


Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179), versatile female figure of the late Middle Ages, a passionate lover of music, a mystic, an expert of herbs and medicine, and an abbess in the monastery of Eibingen, besides transmitting the divine word, dedicated her entire life to the study of the natural world. She composed a true encyclopedia of the knowledge of her times, whether it be in regards to natural sciences or medicine, with the conviction that a cure or medical practice could not exist without a theoretical system. The handwritten tradition of her medical achievements relate to the 13th Century; the biographical sources and the protocol of the case for canonization, mention the existence of a medicine handbook entitled Liber subtilitatum diversarum naturarum, handed down from tradition in the form of two distinguished topics: Physica, or Book of medicine for the simple, and Causae et curae, or Composite medicine book. From the reading of her works one gains a vast knowledge of Medieval medicine, basically associated with Galen and Aristotle's philosophy. The analysis of sexuality, which has a very close relationship with astrology, assumes an obvious appearance. If on one hand affliction for the flesh emerges, on the other hand sexuality is seen a divine theorem. Moreover, much space is dedicated to the disorder of sexual life and male impotence, not seen anymore as a remedy to sinful lust, but as a pathology to cure.