by Stein Thue
|Reidar Aulie illustrated Ingjald Reichborn-Kjennerud's |
reinterpretation of The Salernitan Rule of Health.
This is a collection of poems offering health advice which the former medical school in the southern Italian city of Salerno published in Latin in the thirteenth century. The medical school, the first in Europe, was widely famous across Europe in the Middle Ages.
Reichborn-Kjennerud's reinterpretation of the poem, which was illustrated by Reidar Aulie (1904-1977) and published in Norway in the 1930s, was widely popular.
The new medical school In Salerno – Universita Nuova Scuola Medica Salernitana – has awarded the honorary title to Reichborn-Kjennerud. The university is carrying forward the heritage from the medical school which was renowned across Europe, and today is a centre for art, culture and science for the Mediterranean region.
The award ceremony was held during an event for teachers, students, school pupils and the general public in Salerno City Hall in the autumn of 2018. Here the university's "new" facsimile edition of the The Salernitan Rule of Health was introduced with texts in Italian in addition to the original's stanzas in Norwegian and Latin (see illustration above). Reichborn-Kjennerud's life achievements as a medical historian were praised by the university's administration. Musical performances were given by school pupils, and the undersigned, a descendant of Reichborn-Kjennerud, received a diploma from the university on his behalf.
The Norwegian reinterpretation features the original text in Latin on every other page, making the poems accessible to a wider readership. An added bonus is Reidar Aulie's humorous illustrations.
My connection to Salerno came about through a chance encounter with an Italian physician who became my companion on a walk to Rome some time ago. I told her about the Norwegian version of the poem, and sent copies of the book to Rome and Salerno. This initiated an Italian-Norwegian cultural collaboration on an old collection of poems, which has now seen its renaissance in Latin, Norwegian and Italian. One of the health maxims from the ancient medical school in Salerno has withstood the ravages of time, and is presented here in Latin, Norwegian and English:
- Latin original version:
Si tibi deficiant medici, medici tibi fiant/
Haec tria: mens laeta, requies, moderata diaeta.
- Reichborn-Kjennerud's reinterpretation in Norwegian:
Sinnsro og hvile med passende kost er lægende krefter, holder deg frisk uten lægenes hjelp, når du lever derefter.
- Modern English translation:
If doctors fail you, let these three be doctors for you: A joyful mind, rest, and a moderate diet.
The diploma awarded by the New Medical School in Salerno to the translator of the Salernitan Rule of Health says:
“This award is in memoriam of Dr. med. Ingjald Reichborn-Kjennerud, Magister Insignis and author of “Helsediktet fra Salerno” with the highest respect from Nuova Scuola Medica Salernitana, granted by Pio Vicinanza, President and Carlo Montinari, Dean. Salerno, 6 October 2018.”