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drug, potion medicine pharmakon poison magic charm scapegoat
• no pharmacological writings
• mixture of dietary and pharmacological prescriptions
• natural substances and inherent properties (dynameis) : cooling/ heating, emetic, astringent/laxative, diuretic • hellebore (emetic, diaphoretic; use against bladk bile) • thapsia
into Plants, History of Plants• first extant Greek herbal• classification in terms of morphology and growing season• evidence from rhizotomoi• rudimentary toxicology
Dioscorides (40-90 CE)
materia medicaOn the Preparation, Properties, and Testing of Drugs• extensive travel in Greek East• illustrated text• roughly 600 species of plants• roughly 5000 medicinal uses• non-humoral basis• system based on drug affinities:
Binding Relaxing Softening Toning
• •• standard pharmacological text for
Trends in Imperial Roman Medicine
institutionalization of medicine
(a) medical corps (triage) (b) legionary hospitals (c) sports medicine (d) urban clinics (valetudinaria)• shift in medical education to cater to specific societal demands• generalization of means for diagnosis and therapy
WE are now about to enter upon an examination of the greatest of all the operations of Nature — for we shall set forth here the state of peace or of war that exists between the various departments of Nature, the hatreds or friendships that are maintained by objects that are voiceless and even inanimate… These states are known to the Greeks as
antipathia, and they point to the first principles of all things. For this explains why water has the property (dynamis) of extinguishing fire, why the sun absorbs water, why the moon produces it, and why each of those heavenly bodies is from time to time eclipsed by the other.—Pliny (23-79 CE), Natural History 2
concordia)antipathia (Lat. discordia)actio in distans (action at a distance)
no place where that
not distribute remedies for the healing of mankind, so that even the very desert itself is a drugstore, full of wonderful examples of that well-known antipathy [discordia] and sympathy [concordia]. The oak and the olive are parted by such hatred that, if the one is planted in the hole from which the other has been dug out, it will die; and the oak also dies if it is planted near the walnut. Deadly too is the hatred between the cabbage and the vine; and the very vegetable that keeps the vine at a distance itself withers away when planted opposite cyclamen or
wild marjoram… Fennel makes very agreeable fodder for the ass; to other beasts of burden, however, it is quick poison.
things, too, even the most insignificant, each have their own special poisons..
. The power of affinity is shown when tar is removed by oil, since both have a greasy nature. Oil alone mixes with lye
, both hating water... Hence
arose the art of medicine.
— Pliny XXIV
This is also why (turning from heavenly things), the loadstone attracts iron while another kind of stone repels it.
diamond, that pride of luxury and opulence, though unbreakable by every other object and resistant to all other forces, is destroyed by goat's blood — in addition to numerous other marvels of which we shall have to speak on more appropriate occasions, equal to this or even still more wonderful. —Pliny (23-79 CE), Natural History 2
Doctrine of Signatures
innate property (
) ~ appearance
)Onosma has long leaves up to about three fingers in length, lying on the ground like those of anchusa. It has no stem, no blossom and no seed. If a woman with child should eat it or step over it, she will miscarry. —(27,86)
Doctrine of Signatures
"Nature marks each growth ... according to its curative benefit"
• appearance of natural material : innate property :: sign : signified
• appearance of natural material : body part :: sign : signified• sign indicates therapeutic benefit relative to corresponding part
protective objectphylaktêrion amulet magic spell
: menstrual problems
garlic hung around the neckamulet shaped like garlic hung around the neckamulet with a picture of garlic hung around the neck“garlic” written on a piece of paper hung around the neck“garlic” spoken out loud