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Dioscorides Pedanos


Dioscorides Pedanos


Dioscorides Pedanos


Dioscorides Pedanos

Dioscorides Pedanos and Pietro Mattioli

Six livres des Simples de Pedacius Dioscoride Anazarbeen commentaries by Pietro Andrea Mattioli (1566).

Pedanius Dioscorides (Pedánios Dioskourídēs in Greek, c. 40–90 AD), "the father of pharmacognosy", was a Greek physician, pharmacologist, botanist, and author of De materia medica (Perì hylēs íatrikēs) (On Medical Material) —a 5-volume Greek encyclopedia about herbal medicine and related medicinal substances (a pharmacopeia), that was widely read for more than 1,500 years. Dioscorides was regarded as the most prominent writer on plants and plant drugs for almost two millennia. It was translated in various languages including, Arabic, Indian, Spanish, French, English. Dioscorides wrote De Materia Medica in Greek, his native language.

A native of Anazarbus, (today's Turkey), Dioscorides likely studied medicine nearby at the school in Tarsus, which had a pharmacological emphasis, and he dedicated his medical books to Laecanius Arius, a medical practitioner there. Though he writes he lived a "soldier's life" or "soldier-like life", his pharmacopeia refers almost solely to plants found in the Greek-speaking eastern Mediterranean, making it likely that he served in campaigns or traveled in a civilian capacity, less widely as supposed. The name Pedanius is Roman, suggesting that an aristocrat of that name sponsored him to become a Roman citizen.

Pietro Andrea Gregorio Mattioli (1501 – 1577) was a doctor and naturalist born in Siena. He received his MD at the University of Padua in 1523. Vesalius attended medical school at the same time. He subsequently practiced the profession in Siena, Rome, Trento, and Gorizia, becoming a personal physician of Ferdinand II, Archduke of Austria in Prague, and of Maximillian II, Holy Roman Emperor, in Vienna.

De materia medicaBetween 50-70 C.E., Dioscorides wrote the five-volume book in his native Greek, which became the precursor to all modern pharmacopeias.  In contrast to many classical authors, Dioscorides' work, materia medica was in circulation through the early modern period and eclipsed even the Hippocratic corpus. It was circulated in Greek, Latin, and Arabic translations.

Several illustrated manuscripts of De materia medica survive. The most famous are the lavishly illustrated Vienna Dioscurides produced in Constantinople in 512/513 AD. Densely illustrated Arabic copies survive from the 12th and 13th centuries, while Greek manuscripts survive today in the monasteries of Mount Althos.

De materia medica is the prime historical source of information about the medicines used by the Greeks, Romans, and other cultures of antiquity. The work also records some plants' Dacian, Thracian, Roman, ancient Egyptian, and Carthaginian names of about 600 plants. It formed the core of the European pharmacopeia through the 19th century. Of the variety of herbal remedies for dental ailments Dioscorides recommends olives in various forms, including an olive oil extract boiled and smeared on unhealthy teeth to extract them, the olive oil as a mouth rinse for badly afflicted gums, and the green sprigs of the olive tree to cleanse the teeth rather than reed twigs.

Pietro Andrea Gregorio Mattioli's translation and commentaries of the De Materia Medica of Dioscorides include 100 new plants. The first Italian translation of De Materia Medica appeared in 1544 in Venice. Ten years later, the first Latin version of Commentarii was published, with the French version in 1561 in Lyon. Our copy is the second edition (1566). The woodcuts in Mattioli's work were of a high standard, allowing recognition of the plant even when the text was obscure. The volume includes hand-colored illustrations of 600 plants. A noteworthy inclusion is an early variety of tomato, the first documented example of the vegetable being grown and eaten in Europe.

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