ORTA, García d’ (G. de Orta, ab Horto, del Jardin; Anrique de Orta). Castelo de Vide 1501? — 1568 (or at latest 1572). Spanish physician and botanist in Portuguese service in India, from 1534 until his death. Born in eastern Portugal as the son of Spanish Jewish refugees, Fernão de Orta (merchant) and Leonor Gomez. Studies of medicine at Alcalá and Salamanca in 1515-23. In 1526 came to Lisbon, applied for a position at the university for the chair of Logic in 1527, of Natural Philosophy in 1529, and of Súmulas in 1530, without success. In 1531-32 acting Professor of Natural Philosophy. In 1534 departed for India, perhaps to evade the growing power of inquisition, and worked as a physician in Goa. Later on lived on the isle called Ilha da Boa Vida, where later was founded the city of Bombay. Because of his Jewish origin he was persecuted by the inquisition in the 1560s, and after his death even exhumated and burned. Married 1543 Brianda de Solis, two daughters.
His Colóquios was one of the first books printed in Goa and the very first published contribution on tropical medicine. It shows that he had consulted āyurvedic and yūnānī physicians and used their medicines. He also kept a botanical garden and made experiments. In form, the book is a dialogue between an experienced physician and his young colleague freshly arrived from Europe, in 59 chapters. Abandoning the dialogue form, —> Cr. d’Acosta revised and rearranged its material and published it in Spain in 1578.
Publications: Colóquios dos simples e drogas he cousas medicinais da India. 217 p. Goa 1563, 2nd ed. Lisbon 1572; abridged Latin translation by Carolus Clusius, 1567; English translation: Colloquies on the simples and drugs of India. Transl. by C. Markham. 508 p. L. 1913.
Sources: Gr. Enc. Port. e Braz. 19, 674-676; Enc. Univ. Ilustr. 40; *Indica 7, 1970, 121ff.; Wikipedia with portrait (modern romantic fantasy) and some further references.
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