De spermate: the tradition

De spermate is at present known to survive in 48 Latin manuscripts, some of them containing only fragments of the text, and in several sixteenth- and seventeenth-century prints. The attribution of the treatise to Galen at the end of the twelfth century (see De spermate: the origin) most probably ensured its success during the Galenic revolution of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. While the attribution of the translation to Constantine the African is dropped after the middle of the thirteenth century, Galen's name as author persists well into the fifteenth century.   De spermate figures among other authentic and pseudo-Galenic treatises (the so-called New Galen, consisting of translations made after the end of the twelfth century) in the large omnibus volumes for advanced students which were produced in university circles both in the North (N. France, England) and in the South (N. Italy, maybe S. France).  The treatise was first printed in the 1502 edition of Latin translations of Galen by Girolamo Suriano and then, although severely criticized for errors and considered spurious, reprinted several times with the Latin Galen in the sixteenth century, often as the third book of Galen's de semine.  The treatise was still included in the spuria section of the Giunta edition of Galen's works printed in 1625.  In 1638 René Chartier, while denouncing de spermate as his precedessors had, still published it as the third book of Galen's de semine but in a linguistically classicized version.

Apparently there is only one mediaeval translation of the text into a European vernacular: a Middle English translation survives in a unique copy in the fifteenth-century Cambridge, Trinity College R.14.52 (ed. by P. Pahta).  There is no modern edition of the Latin De spermate.

 Problems in editing mediaeval medical texts in general and De spermate in particular (lecture given at the École des chartes, Paris, 2 April 2008).