Pedanius Dioscorides (Ancient Greek: Πεδάνιος Διοσκουρίδης; circa 40—90 AD) was a Greek physician, pharmacologist and botanist, the author of De Materia Medica—a 5-volume encyclopedia about herbal medicine and related medicinal substances (a pharmacopeia), that was widely read for more than 1,500 years.
A native of Anazarbus, Cilicia, Asia Minor, Dioscorides "practiced in Rome at the time of Nero. He was a surgeon with the army of the emperor, so he had the opportunity to travel extensively, seeking medicinal substances (plants and minerals) from all over the Roman and Greek world."
De Materia Medica
Between AD 50 and 70  Dioscorides wrote a five-volume book in his native Greek, Περὶ ὕλης ἰατρικῆς, known more widely by its Latin title De Materia Medica ("Regarding Medical Materials") which became the precursor to all modern pharmacopeias.
In contrast to many classical authors, Disocorides' works were not "rediscovered" in the Renaissance, because his book had never left circulation; indeed, with regard to Western materia medica through the early modern period, Dioscorides' text eclipsed the Hippocratic corpus. In the medieval period, De Materia Medica was circulated in Latin, Greek, and Arabic. While being reproduced in manuscript form through the centuries, it was often supplemented with commentary and minor additions from Arabic and Indian sources. A number of illustrated manuscripts of De Materia Medica survive. The most famous of these is the lavishly illustrated Vienna Dioscurides, produced in Constantinople in 512/513 AD. Densely illustrated Arabic copies survive from the 12th and 13th centuries, while the most important Greek manuscripts survive today in the monasteries of Mount Athos..
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 the Dacian and Thracian names for some plants, which otherwise would have been lost. The work presents about 600 plants in all, although the descriptions are sometimes obscurely phrased, leading to comments such as: "Numerous individuals from the Middle Ages on have struggled with the identity of the recondite kinds", while some of the botanical identifications of Dioscorides' plants remain merely guesses.
The importance of Dioscorides' work should not be underestimated. His De Materia Medica formed the core of the European pharmacopeia through the 19th century, from which it may be surmised that "the timelessness of Dioscorides' work resulted from an empirical tradition based on trial and error; that it worked for generation after generation despite social and cultural changes and changes in medical theory".
Byzantine De Materia Medica, 15th century
- De Materia Medica: Being an Herbal with many other medicinal materials, translated by Tess Anne Osbaldeston (2000). (Publisher Ibidis Press: Johannesburg). Downloadable
- De Materia Medica, translated by Lily Y. Beck (2005). (Publisher Hildesheim: Olms-Weidmann).
- The Greek Herbal of Dioscorides... Englished by John Goodyer A. D. 1655, edited by R.T. Gunter (1933).
- Borzelleca, Joseph F.; Lane, Richard W. (2008). "The Art, the Science, and the Seduction of Toxicology: an Evolutionary Development". In Hayes, Andrew Wallace. Principles and methods of toxicology (5th ed.). Taylor & Francis Group. p. 13
- De Vos (2010) "European Materia Medica in Historical Texts: Longevity of a Tradition and Implications for Future Use", Journal of Ethnopharmacology 132(1):28-47
- Some detail about medieval manuscripts of De Materia Medica at Ibidis Press
- Nutton, Vivian (2004). Ancient Medicine. Routledge.. Page 177.
- Murray, J. (1884). The Academy. Alexander and Shephrard.. Page 68.
- Krebs, Robert E.; Krebs, Carolyn A. (2003). Groundbreaking Scientific Experiments, Inventions, and Discoveries of the Ancient World. Greenwood Publishing Group.. Pages 75-76.
- Isely, Duane (1994). One hundred and one botanists. Iowa State University Press.
- Allbutt, T. Clifford (1921). Greek medicine in Rome. London: Macmillan. ISBN 1-57898-631-1.
- Bruins: Codex Constantinopolitanus: Palatii Veteris NO. 1 [3 VOLUME SET] Part 1: Reproduction of the Manuscript; Part 2: Greek Text; Part 3: Translation and Commentary Bruins, E. M. (Ed.)
- Hamilton, JS (1986). "Scribonius Largus on the medical profession". Bulletin of the history of medicine 60 (2): 209–216. PMID 3521772.
- Riddle, John M. (1984). "Dioscorides". In Cranz, F. Edward; Kristeller, Paul Oskar. Catalogus translationum et commentariorum : Mediaeval and Renaissance Latin translations and commentaries : annoted lists and guides. Washington, DC: Catholic Univ. of America Press. ISBN 0-8132-0547-6.
- Riddle, John M. (1985). Dioscorides on pharmacy and medicine. Austin: University of Texas Press. ISBN 0-292-71544-7.
- Sadek, M.M. (1983). The Arabic materia medica of Dioscorides. Québec, Canada: Les Éditions du sphinx. ISBN 2-920123-02-5.
- Scarborough, J; Nutton, V (1982). "The Preface of Dioscorides' Materia Medica: introduction, translation, and commentary". Transactions & studies of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia 4 (3): 187–227. PMID 6753260.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Pedanius Dioscorides|
- Dioscorides Material Medica, in English—the full book downloadable in PDF fileformat.
- Dioscorides De Material Medica in Latin
- "Dioscurides Neapolitanus: Codex ex Vindobonensis Graecus 1" (in Italian, Latin). Biblioteca Nazionale di Napoli. Retrieved 18 February 2010.
- "Medic: Catalogue des textes en ligne: Dioscoride/Dioscodirides, Pedacius" (pdf) (in French, Latin). Bibliothèque interuniversitaire de médecine et d'odontologie (bium), Université Paris Descartes. Retrieved 18 February 2010.
- Les VI livres de Ped. Diosc. de la materie medicinale, Lyon (1559), French edition