Theodor Zwinger the Elder

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Portrait of Theodor Zwinger (Hans Bock the Elder, 1588, Kunstmuseum Basel)

Theodor Zwinger the Elder ( also Theodore Zwinger or Theodoro Zuingero ; * August 2, 1533 in Basel ; † March 10, 1588 ibid) was a federal scholar, doctor, professor of medicine and Paracelsist.


Zwinger was the son of the furrier Leonhard Zwinger and Christine Herbster, a sister of the printer Johannes Oporinus , who was her second marriage to Professor Conrad Lycosthenes . Zwinger studied from 1548 at the University of Basel and then in France (where he came into contact with Petrus Ramus ) and in Italy (where he received his doctorate in medicine from Girolamo Mercuriale in 1559 at the University of Padua ). When he returned to Basel in the same year, he first practiced as a doctor and married. He turned down a call to the medical chair in Marburg, which had been vacant since 1560, in order to serve a promise in accordance with his hometown. He received a professorship in Greek in 1565 and in ethics in 1571 . From 1580 he was a professor of theoretical medicine. In 1565 and 1572 he was rector of the University of Basel.

Zwinger was one of the first university scholars to take up the works of Paracelsus . He was attacked for this, but was able to build up a circle of Paracelsists in Basel. Heinrich Khunrath and Johann Arndt were also among his students .

Zwinger is editor of the encyclopedia Theatrum Vitae Humanae (1565, 1571, 1586, 1604). When creating the theater he was able to fall back on the knowledge of his stepfather Conrad Lycosthenes. His Methodus Apodemica from 1577 is the foundation of an art of travel based on the principles of a Ramist topic .

Zwinger's son, Jakob Zwinger , continued the theater for a short time. The pastor and theology professor Theodor Zwinger the Younger (1597–1654) descended from him.


  • Theatrum Vitae Humanae (see above)
  • Methodus Apodemica in eorum gratiam, qui cum fructu in quocunq [ue] tandem vitae genere peregrinari cupiunt; Typis delineata, & cum aliis, tum quatuor praesertim Athenarum vivis exemplis illustrata . Basel 1577; Argentinae 1594 ( digitized version )
  • Physiologia medica , ed. v. Jacob Zwinger, Basel 1610
  • Specimen Materiae medicae: cum subjunctis ubique Remediorum Formulis in Gratiam & Usum Philiatrorum ac Juniorum Practicorum tumultuaria methodo inter plurimas Mentis Distractiones fideli tamen Opera adornatum . Basel: Thurnisius, 1722 ( digitized version of the University and State Library Düsseldorf )


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Mariacarla Gadebusch Bondio: Medical Aesthetics. Cosmetics and plastic surgery between antiquity and early modern times . Wilhelm Fink Verlag, 2005, ISBN 3770541014 , p. 198 ( online ).
  2. ^ Rolf Heyers: Dr. Georg Marius, called Mayer von Würzburg (1533-1606). (Dental) medical dissertation Würzburg 1957, p. 25 f.
  3. ^ Theo Stammen, Wolfgang Weber: Knowledge assurance, knowledge order and knowledge processing: The European model of encyclopedias . Akademie Verlag, 2004, ISBN 3050037768 , p. 51 ( online ).