An Interactive Annotated World Bibliography of Printed and Digital Works in the History of Medicine and the Life Sciences from Circa 2000 BCE to 2022 by Fielding H. Garrison (1870-1935), Leslie T. Morton (1907-2004), and Jeremy M. Norman (1945- ) Traditionally Known as “Garrison-Morton”

15858 entries, 13798 authors and 1925 subjects. Updated: February 4, 2023

CORNARO, Alvise (Luigi)

1 entries
  • 1592

Trattato de la vita sobria.

Padua: G. Perchacino, 1558.

Garrison considered this “the best treatise on personal hygiene and the simple life in existence”. Cornaro was called the Apostle of Senescence. 

"When he was about 40, Cornaro found himself exhausted and in poor health, a condition he attributed to a hedonistic lifestyle with excessive eating, drinking, and sexual licentiousness. On the advice of doctors, he began to adhere to a calorie restriction diet specially for morbid obese/anorexia nervosa persons,[3] centered on the "quantifying principle" of restricting himself to only 350g of food daily (including bread, egg yolk, meat, and soup) and 414 mL of wine.[4] His book Discorsi della vita sobria (Discourses On the Temperate Life), which described his regimen, was extremely successful, and "was a true reconceptualization of old age. As late as the Renaissance it was largely the negative aspects of this phase of life which were emphasized ... Cornaro’s method offered the possibility for the first time not only of a long but also a worthwhile life." After his conversion to a holistic lifestyle, he remained in vigorous health well into old age.[4]

In 1550, when Cornaro was about 83, he was urged to write down his secrets of health, and its English translation, often referred to today under the title The Sure and Certain Method of Attaining a Long and Healthful Life, went through numerous editions; he wrote three follow-ups in 1553, 1558, and 1562. The first three were published at Padua in 1558. They are written, says Joseph Addison, in the early 18th century periodical The Spectator (No. 195), "with such a spirit of cheerfulness, religion and good sense, as are the natural concomitants of temperance and sobriety." Friedrich Nietzsche criticized the work for mistaking the consequence with the cause,[5] insisting that Cornaro's diet is not the cause of his long life, but rather that the cause of his long life - which Nietzsche gives as his slow metabolism - is the reason for his diet." (Wikipedia article on Luigi Cornaro, accessed 3-2020).

First translated into English by George Herbert as A treatise of temperance and sobrietie, n.p., n.d. [1634]. This was published with Leonardus Lessius, Hygiasticon: Or, The right course of preserving life and health unto extream old age together with soundnesse and integritie of the senses, judgement, and memorie. Written in Latine by Leonardus Lessius, and now done into English. [Cambridge]: Printed by Roger Daniel, printer to the Universitie of Cambridge, 1634. Digital text is available from Early English Books Online at this link



Subjects: GERIATRICS / Gerontology / Aging, Hygiene, NUTRITION / DIET, Obesity Research