Baiting for engagement

Date: 22 Jul, 2023
Posted by: admin
In: fact checking|health|social media

Bookmark and Share

A new trend, new to me at least, is the use of social media to bait for engagement. I suppose it is ages old really, “tune in next week for another exciting episode” and all that. This trend seems more akin to ‘content baiting’ than to ‘click baiting’; here’s a tidbit, follow me, and you’ll find out the conclusion.

Screenshot of Facebook post by Hema United, a quote from a mediaeval source above an apparently mediaeval image of a man passing a boulder to another man.

Content baiting example

Recently I was on Facebook and saw an interesting quote on my feed:

“The work of carpenters, farmers, merchants, et al., is not a physical exercise, since we do not observe voluntary movement” (no attribution)

The quote was provided by Ben Miller of Hema United. So I asked, where the quote was from, and the reply was “I’ll be putting up a lengthy video in the coming days with all the sources“. I mean, really.

So, I did the only thing I know how, got in a huff with someone on the internet and went digging for data … well it’s not the only thing I know how, but I feel like I excel at it.

Where the quote is from

The quote is given in “Rethinking the Mediterranean”, edited by W. V. Harris, p.190 (Google Books). But that’s not where it is from. Luckily, Mr Harris provides a reference: ‘Regimen sanitatis‘,  MS. Cues 508, f. 52vb, trans. Gil-Sotres, ‘Regimens of Health’, 305. He tells us in the text that the quote is from “Bernard of Gordon” (Wikipedia). So … we’re getting close. It turns out that the source is in Latin and P. Gil Sotres provides a translation in the cited “Regimens of Health” which is actually in chapter/section 11 of a larger tome “Western Medical Thought from Antiquity to the Middle Ages”, coordinated by Bernardino Fantini (affiliate:

So there we go.

Not quite the end

Portrait of Bernard de Gordon from Wikipedia, CC-BY 4.0, from Wellcome Trust collectionExcept … Wikipedia tells me what Bernadus Gordonius/Bernard de Gordon’s works were, and Regimen sanitatis was not one of them. A little searching on Google turns up this:

“Bernard was most likely a scion of a noble family with roots in Gourdon, a town in the former French province of Quercy (département of the Lot). He studied and taught at the University of Montpellier from the 1250s to at least 1308. He completed his best known work, Lilium medicinae (“Lily of Medicine”), in 1305. An encyclopedia of diseases with their symptoms, causes, effects, and treatments, the Lilium gained wide circulation in scores of handwritten copies (manuscripts), in translations from Latin into French, Hebrew, Irish, and Spanish and, from 1480 on, in a dozen printed editions.” from the Claude Moore Health Services Library, Virginia Univeristy, USA

But, still no mention of a work called Regimen sanitatis.

Dr Pearn comes up trumps

But another page tells me, in the abstract to a Journal of Medical Biography paper by John Pearn MD, that:

“Chaucer lists Bernard de Gordon as one whose writings were part of the core curriculum of the best-trained European doctors of medieval Europe. Bernard de Gordon was one of that small group of medieval physicians who reverently followed Galenic lore which had endured for a thousand years yet who began to challenge its details and to experiment clinically with new methods of treatment.”

Crucially he gives, and Sagepub’s page doesn’t hide, some references including:

1. de Gordon B. Regimen sanitatis. In: Liber de conservacione vite humane, IV. In the Vatican Manuscript MS Palatine Latin 1174, 14th century, folio 72 Vb. Quoted by L Demaitre’s ‘Theory and Practice in Medical Education at the University of Montpellier in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries’. See reference 2.Google Scholar


2. Demaitre L. “Theory and practice in medical education at the University of Montpellier in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries”. Journal of the History of Medicine 1975; 30: 103–23.Google Scholar

Yay, and there we have it! to the rescue

Screenshot of the cited "Western medical thought ..." book showing the quote from Bernard de Gourdon.Except … it would be nice if we could actually read the text that we’ve found the references to. So, as it happens, (please donate!) have access to the texts. They have Luke Demaitre’s contribution in the compendium I found first on this wild goose chase, namely “Western Medical Thought from Antiquity to the Middle Ages” at page 305 ( You can even borrow the book online from, what a joy and amazing gift to humanity that service is!

But, can we do better and read Bernard de Gordon’s actual Latin text? I think the answer is no, searching on the Vatican Library website for Bernard de Gordon I come up with 4 references, one being “Pal.Lat.1229” … but Demaitre tells us the manuscript is “MS 1174” and indeed “Pal.Lat.1174” can be found and has a page 72v (72vb means 72 verso [on the back] in column b, i.e. the second column). Ta-dah:

image of Latin text from manuscript Palatine Latin 1174 72vb

Is that it? Well, I’ll tell you later, tune in for the next exciting episode where I learn to read and translate mediaeval Latin!

Perhaps there is value in commentators and their work after all.

Aside on manuscript references

Early on in this post there was “MS. Cues 508, f. 52vb” later there was “MS Palatine Latin 1174, 14th century, folio 72 Vb”. This takes a little deciphering.

  • MS just means manuscript.
  • Cues, Palatine Latin are the collections. In the former case it appears to be Cardinal Nicholas of Cues and the latter is someone in the Palatine family, and presumably their collection is large and includes Latin and other languages and so it’s split up.
  • 508, 1174 are the numbers of the manuscripts as applied by researchers.
  • f., folio are both “folio” (Wikipedia page on folios) which is the type of manuscript, how it is constructed, here it is large sheets of paper that are folded and so have 4 “pages” of text on them.
  • 52vb, 72vb means pages 52, 72;
  • vb means “verso b”, which means in a left-to-right language like English, that the page is on the left and the reference is to the second column, column b. One might have a reference “14 ra” which would be page 14, ‘recto’ (the page on the right), first column or column a. Strictly ‘recto’, I think, means correct and ‘verso’ means reverse or backside. An article on Wikipedia on recto-verso has more on this.

When searching for details of “MS. Cues” I searched for “Cues Manuscript”. Remember that can be lots of different manuscripts from different authors, Cues was just the collection. In this case Nicholas of Cues made a library and so the manuscripts in that library might be many and varied.

Be the first to comment

Comment Form

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Flapjacktastic is just a random collection of musings, hints&tips, notes, information ... a collection of stuff really that's overflowed from the brain of this husband, father, potter, business-man, geek ...

past posts