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Encyclopedia > Dioscorides

Pedanius Dioscorides (ca. 40 AD in Anazarba, Turkey - ca 90 AD) was a Greek physician whose de materia Medica (on Medical Matters) is an important source on the knowledge of medicinal plants used by the Greeks and Romans. The book was widely used in early herbals.

There is little information about Dioscorides' life. The only reliable source is the preface to the Materia Medica from which we can deduce that he must have been a physician. In the preface Dioscorides writes the following: "Since I was a youth, I have shown a continuous interest in the knowledge of medical materials and I have traveled in numerous lands - for, as you know, I have lived a soldier-like life." This phrase is enough for many to think that he was a legionary physician under Claudius and Nero.

The Materia Medica is one of the most influential books on herbs in history. For over sixteen hundred years the knowledge of herbs, animals and minerals used as drugs came from this source. Dioscorides was not "rediscovered" in the Renaissance as many others because his book had never left circulation.

Illustrated copies of his treatises survive as manuscripts from the 5th and 7th centuries; there exist early translations as well. The most famous of these is the Wiener Dioskurides (512/513).

External link

  • Full Text of Materia Medica (German Translation by Julius Berendes, 1902) (http://www.tiscalinet.ch/materiamedica)
  • [http://www.bnnonline.it/biblvir/dioscoride/index.htm Plates showing many pages from an original illuminated Greek manuscript of the Materia Medica

  Results from FactBites:
Greek Medicine | Other Greek Physicians | Dioscorides (240 words)
Dioscorides of Anazarbus was a Greek physician born in southeast Asia Minor in the Roman Empire in the first few decades C.E. During his lifetime, Dioscorides traveled extensively seeking medicinal substances from all over the Roman and Greek world.
This Spanish edition of Dioscorides is one of the many illustrated editions which came out in the 16th century.
Dioscorides included animal products in his medicines along with plants and minerals.
Pedanius Dioscorides Summary (1565 words)
Dioscorides, the compiler of one of the first important Western herbals, is regarded as the founder of Western pharmacology.
Dioscorides, a keen observer and naturalist, was attempting to devise a more systematic treatment of botany and herbal medicine than his predecessors.
Dioscorides is famous for writing a five volume book De Materia Medica that is a precursor to all modern pharmacopeias, and is one of the most influential herbal books in history.
  More results at FactBites »



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