Greek Dioscorides

Chig. F.VII.1590 - Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)

Alternate Titles:

Dioscórides Greco-Latino del Papa Alejandro VII, Dioscurides graeco-latinus, Greek Latin Dioscurides

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Codiology

Alternate Titles

Dioscórides Greco-Latino del Papa Alejandro VII
Dioscurides graeco-latinus
Greek Latin Dioscurides

Type
Extent / Format

484 pages / 28.3 x 19.8 cm

Origin
Date
Mid 15th century
Style
Genre
Language
Artist / School

Scribes: Isidore Ruthenus and five other hands

Illustrations

600 plants, 90 minerals and 30 animal products, with a drawing of each one

Former owners

Pope Alexander VII (Cardinal Fabio Chigi)

Short description

The manuscript of the so-called Dioscorides Greaco-Latinus, also known as the Greek Dioscorides, is a significant work lying somewhere between botany and medicine from the famous library of Pope Alexander VII. The Dioscorides is based on an ancient manuscript from the first century after Christ and is named after its author, the Greek physician Pedanios Dioscorides Anazarbeus. This was considered to be the fundamental text concerning the effects and applications of efficacious plants and substances. The Greek Dioscorides, originating from the Monastery of St. John the Baptist in Constantinople, impresses with its magnificent depictions of the plants and herbs presented therein.

Facsimile editions available

Description

Greek Dioscorides

The manuscript of the so-called Dioscorides Greaco-Latinus, also known as the Greek Dioscorides, is a significant work lying somewhere between botany and medicine from the famous library of Pope Alexander VII. The Dioscorides is based on an ancient manuscript from the first century after Christ and is named after its author, the Greek physician Pedanios Dioscorides Anazarbeus. This was considered to be the fundamental text concerning the effects and applications of efficacious plants and substances. The Greek Dioscorides, originating from the Monastery of St. John the Baptist in Constantinople, impresses with its magnificent depictions of the plants and herbs presented therein.

The Pope’s Herbal Book

This great treasure of medicine and botany is stored in the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana. 484 wonderfully illustrated pages 28.3 x 19.8 cm presents the standard work of ancient herbal books. Originating from the Monastery of John the Baptist in Constantinople (the author or illustrator is mentioned in the text as Isisor Ruthenus), probably came into the possession of Cardinal Fabio Chigi, who was later Pope Alexander VII (1655-67), and whose coat of arms is depicted on the cover with gold embossing. The Greek Dioscorides – with text in Greek, Latin, and other languages – undoubtedly represents a highlight of the famous Vatican library!

The Ancient Author

The so-called Dioscorides manuscripts trace their roots back to an ancient doctor. Pedanios Dioscorides Anazerebus was a doctor and naturalist who was born in Anazarba in Asia Minor in the 1st century. He was active as a physician in the Roman military under the Emperors Claudius and Nero. With his treatise concerning the medicinal effects of plants, but also animal and mineral materials, he composed the primary work of early medicine and the template and example for medieval pharmacopeias. The Dioscorides enjoyed great fame both in the Orient and the Occident.

Gorgeous Depictions of the Remedies

The Dioscorides shows the typical applications of known medicinal herbs. In his work, he presents and depicts herbs, trees with their roots, additional efficacious plants, but also animals and minerals; the handsome and realistic pictures are furnished with various names and designations. Additionally, one finds notes on the properties and applications of various remedies from roots, bulbs, bark, resin, buds, leaves, flowers, as well as seeds from trees, shrubs, plants, herbs, and vegetables. Up until the Renaissance, the treatise – a work between botany and medicine – was famous and was used for advice by doctors and pharmacists as well as all kinds of people who wanted to learn something about the medicinal effects of natural remedies.

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