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Pseudo-Apuleius is the name given to the author of a 4th-century herbal known as Pseudo-Apuleius Herbarius or Herbarium Apuleii Platonici. He is not identical with Apuleius of Madaura (124-170), the Roman poet and philosopher. The oldest surviving manuscript of the Herbarium is 6th century Leiden, MS. Voss. Q.9. Until the 12th century it was the most influential herbal in Europe with numerous extant copies surviving into the modern era. Thereafter it was more or less displaced by the Circa instans, a herbal produced at the school of Salerno.

Pseudo-Apuleius Herbarius[edit]



The text of Pseudo-Apuleius herbarius is based on late antique sources, especially on historia naturalis of Pliny and on de materia medica of Dioscorides. Scholars agree that the herbarius was compiled in the 4th century, according to Sigerist (1930, p. 200) from Latin, according to Singer (1927, p. 37) from greek sources. Each of the 128 up to 131 chapters of the book (the number varying between manuscripts) dealt with one medical plant. In these chapters the name of the plant was followed by the enumeration of indications in the form of recipes and by synonyms of the plants name.

For example: Chapter 89, Herba millefolium (Edition of Howald/Sigerist 1927):

Text (Howald/Sigerist 1927) Translation
Herba millefolium The herb millefolium [now interpreted as Achillea millefolium]
1. Ad dentium dolorem. Herbae millefolium radicem ieiunus conmanducet. 1. For toothache. The root of the herb millefolium should be chewed before breakfast.
2. Ad uulnera de ferro facta. Herba millefolium cum axungia pistata et inposita uulnera purgat et sanat. 2. For wounds inflicted by iron. If you put on the herb millefolium crushed in fat, so it cleans and heals wounds.
3. Ad tumores. Herbam millefolium contusam cum butiro inpone. 3. For tumors. Put on the herb millefolium crushed in butter.
4. Ad urinae difficultatem. Herbae millefolium sucus cum aceto bibitur, mire sanat. 4. For difficulties of urination. The juice of the herb millefolium drunk mixed with wine vinegar, heals wonderfully.
Nomina herbae. A Graecis dicitur miriofillon, alii ambrosiam, alii ciliofillon, alii crisitis, Galli mulicandos, alii uigentia, Daci diodela, Itali millefolium, alii militaris, alii Achillion, alii supercilium Veneris, alii cereum siluaticum. Hanc herbam Achilles inuenit, unde ferro percussus sanabat, quae ob id Achillea uocatur, de hac sanasse Telephium dicitur. Names of the herb. The Greeks call it miriofillon, others ambrosia, others ciliofillon, others crisitis. The Gauls [call it] mulicandos, others vigentia. The Dacians [call it] diodela. The Italians [call it] millefolium, others militaris, others Achillion, others supercilium Veneris, others cereum silvaticum. This herb was discovered by Achilles because it healed wounds, beaten by iron. It was therefore named Achillea.
[Interpolationes ex Diosc.] Nascitur in palustris locis … [ Interpolations from de materia medica of Dioscorides.] It grows in swampy areas …


Manuscript classes according to Howald-Sigerist 1927 edition.
Simplified schedule by Singer 1927.

In the codices the Pseudo-Apuleius Herbarius was combined with other treatises:

  1. De herba vettonica. Treatise dealing with the herb Stachys officinalis. It was falsely ascribed to Antonius Musa, physician of the Roman emperor Augustus.
  2. Pseudo-Apuleius Herbarius.
  3. De taxone liber. Anonymous treatise on the use of the European badger in medicine.
  4. Liber medicinae ex animalibus ascribed to an unknown roman physician named "Sextus Placitus Papyriensis".[1]
  5. (Pseudo-)Dioscorides de herbis femininis. According to Riddle[2] written before the 6th century in South-Europe.[3]
  6. Precatio terrae matris (Incantation of the mother of earth) and Precatio omnium herbarum (Incantation of all herbs).[4]

According to the variing mixture of these treatises in the codices Howald and Sigerist (edition 1927, V-XVI) divided the codices in 3 classes (α, β and γ):

  • α-class containing parts 1, 2, 3, 4a and 5, moreover better synonyms than in the β-class-texts and no interpolations. The α-class ist considered to be the class with the best text-tradition.
  • β-class containing parts 1, 2, 3, 4b, 5 and 6, moreover interpolations. The ß-class is considered to be the class with the best illustrations.
  • γ-class containing parts 1, 2 and 6, without the interpolations of the β-class. γ-class is containing the oldest manuscripts.
Class Abbreviation (Howald/Sigerist) Name of the codex Century
α Ca Monte Cassino, Archivo de la Badia, Cod. 97[5] 09th century.
α M Munich, Bayrische Staatsbibliothek, Fragmenta Emeranensia, Clm 14672, 14766 und 15028, in all 8 pages.[6][7] 07th century.
α L Lucca, Bibliotheka Governativa, MS. 236[8] 09th century.
α Hal Halberstadt, Domschatz (Bibliothek des Domgymnasiums), Inv.-Nr. 465-466 fol. Ir-IIv, Palimpsest (upper writing). 07th century.
α Be Berlin, Staatsbibliothek Fragmentum Berolinense Ms. Lat. fol. 381 no. 1 08th century.
α Ha London, British Museum, MS Harley 4986[9] 12th century.
α V Vienna, Codex Vindobonensis 187 (nach Grape-Albers 1977, p. 3: Eton College MS. 204)[10] 12th century.
α A London, British Library, MS Cotton Vitellius C. iii 11th century.
β Hil Hildesheim, Beverinsche Bibliothek, MS. 658[11] 08th century.
β Vr Bratislava, Codex Vratislaviensis Bibl. univ. III F 19 09th century.
β Bodley 130 Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS. Bodley 130[12][13] 11th century.
β He Herten, Codicis medici Hertensis, destroyed by fire[14] 09th century.
β B Bamberg, Codex Bambergensis med 8 (L III.15) 13th century.
β Laur. 7341 Florence, Bibliotheca Laurenziana, MS. 73,41 09th century.
β Va Vatican, Codex Vaticanus Barberinus 160 11th century.
β Vat. Lat. 6337 Vatican, Codex Vaticanus lat. 6337 15th century.
β Laur. 7316 Florence, Bibliotheca Laurenziana, MS. 73,16 13th century.
β Vi Vienna, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Herbarium Apuleii Platonici|Codex Vindobonensis 93[15] 13th century.
β Arsenal 1031 Paris, Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal, Codex 1031 15th century.
β Paris 6862 Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, MS. lat. 6862 10th century.
β Ber Berlin, Codex Berolinensis Hamil. 307 15th century.
γ E Fragmentum Epporigiense 07th century.
γ Vo Leiden, Universitätsbibliothek, MS. Voss. Q. 9 06th century.
γ C Kassel, Landesbibliothek, 2° MS. phys. et hist. nat. 10[16] 10th century.

Singer (1927), Grape-Albers (1977, pp. 2–5) and Collins (2000) cited more manuscripts:

  • St. Gallen, Stiftsbibliothek, Cod. 217, 9th century.[17][18]
  • London, British Museum, MS. Harley 585, 11th – 12th century.[19]
  • London, British Museum, MS. Harley 1585, 12th century.[20]
  • London, British Museum, MS. Harley 5294, 12th century.[21]
  • London, British Museum, MS. Harley 6258 B, 12th century.[22]
  • London, British Museum, MS. Sloane 1975, 12th century.
  • Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS. Ashmole 1431, 11th century.[23]
  • Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS. Ashmole 1462, 12th century.[24]
  • Turin, Bibliotheca Universitaria, MS. K IV 3, 11th century, destroyed by fire.

Incunabula and early printings[edit]

Based on a 9th-century manuscript of Monte Cassino the first incunable of Pseudo-Apuleius Herbarius was printed in Rome in 1481.[25][26][27]

The first printing in northern Europe was done 1537 in Zürich.[28]


  • Oswald Cockayne. Leechdoms Wortcunning, and Starcraft of Early England Being a Collection of Documents, for the Most Part Never Before Printed Illustrating the History of Science in this Country Before the Norman Conquest. London: Rerum Britannicarum Medii Ævi Scriptores (Rolls Series) Vol. I. 1864. (London, British Library, MS Cotton Vitellius C. iii - 11. Jh. - as groundwork for this edition.) Digitalisat.
  • Ernst Howald and Henry E. Sigerist. Antonii Musae De herba vettonica, Liber Pseudo-Apulei herbarius, Anonymi De taxone liber, Sexti Placiti Liber medicinae ex animalibus. Corpus medicorum latinorum Bd. IV, Teubner, Leipzig 1927.


  • Minta Collins. Medieval Herbals. The Illustrative Traditions. The British Library, London 2000. pp. 165–220.
  • Heide Grape-Albers. Spätantike Bilder aus der Welt des Arztes. Medizinische Bilderhandschriften der Spätantike und ihre mittelalterliche Überlieferung. G. Pressler, Wiesbaden 1977.
  • Stephanie Hollis and Michael Wright. Old English prose of secular learning. Brewer, Cambridge 1992.
  • Henry E. Sigerist. Zum Herbarius Pseudo-Apuleius. In: Sudhoffs Archiv. vol. 23 (1930), pp. 197–204.
  • Charles Singer. The Herbal in the Antiquity. In: The journal of Hellenic studies. vol. XLVII (1927) pp. 1–52 (37-48).
  • Karl Sudhoff. Szenen aus der Sprechstunde und bei Krankenbesuchen des Arztes in mittelalterlichen Handschriften. In: Sudhoffs Archiv, vol. 10 (1916), pp. 71–90.
  • Georg Swarzenski. Mittelalterliche Kopien einer antiken medizinischen Bilderhandschrift. In: Jahrbuch des kaiserlichen deutschen archäologischen Instituts. vol. XVII (1902), pp. 45–53. Digitalisat


  1. ^ Printing: Sexti Placiti Papyriensis, de medicamentis ex animalibus, libellus. Nürnberg: Johann Petri. 1538. 
  2. ^ Riddle, J. M. (1980). Cranz, F. Q.; Kristeller, P. O., eds. "Dioscorides". Catalogus translationum et commentatorium, 4, Medieval and Renaissance Latin translations and commentaries (Washington DC): 125–126. 
  3. ^ Edition: Kästner, H. F. (1896). "Pseudo-Dioscorides de herbis feminis". Hermes 31: 578–636. 
  4. ^ In english translation according to Ms Harley 1585 (London, British Museum, 12. Jh.) in: Singer 1927, p. 48.
  5. ^ F. W. T. Hunger. The Herbal of Pseudo-Apuleius. From the ninth-century manuscript in the abbey of Monte Cassino (Codex Casinensis 97) together with the first printed edition of Joh. Philippus de Lignamine (Edition princeps Romae 1481) both in facsimile, described and annotated. Brill, Leyden 1935.
  6. ^ Leonhard v. Spengel (1803-1880). Codex Monac. Emer. E XLIII. In: Philologus, Göttingen, vol. XXI (1864), p. 119ff.
  7. ^ Karl Sudhoff. Die Fragmenta Emmeranensia des Pseudo-Apuleius in München und der Leidener Sammelkodex Cod. Voss. Lat. Q. 9. In: Sudhoffs Archiv, vol. 8 (1915), pp. 446-450.
  8. ^ Augustus Mancini. Pseudo Apulei Libellum de medicaminibus herbarum ex codice Lucensi 296, descripsit, prolegomenis auxit Augustus Mancini. In: Atti della Reale Accademia Lucchese di Science, Lettere ed Arti. vol. XXII (1904), pp. 251-301.
  9. ^ "MS Harley 4986". Digitised Manuscripts. British Museum. 
  10. ^ Rainer Reiche. Deutsche Pflanzenglossen aus Codex Vindobonensis 187 und Codex Stuttgart HB XI 46. In: Sudhoffs Archiv. vol. 57 (1973), pp. 1-14.
  11. ^ Paul Lehmann. Apuleiusfragmente. In: Hermes, vol. 49 (1914), pp. 612-620 (616).
  12. ^ R. T. Gunther. The herbal of Apuleius Barbarus, from the 12th century manuscript formerly in the abbey of Bury St. Edmunds (Oxford, MS. Bodl. 130). The Roxburgh Club, Oxford 1925.
  13. ^ MS. Bodl. 130 Digitalisat
  14. ^ Karl Sudhoff. Codex medicus Hertensis (Nr. 192). Handschriftenstudie. In: Sudhoffs Archiv, vol. X (1917), pp. 265-313.
  15. ^ Hans Zotter. Kommentar zur Faksimileausgabe des Codex Vindobonensis 93. Akad. Dr.- und Verl.-Anstalt, Graz 1996. ISBN 3-201-01659-4
  16. ^ 2° Ms. phys. et hist. nat. 10, Kassel. Digitalisat
  17. ^ E. Landgraf. Ein frühmittelalterlicher Botanikus. Diss. med. Leipzig. In: Kyklos. Jahrbuch des Instituts für Geschichte der Medizin der Universitäts Leipzig, vol 1 (1928), pp. 1-35.
  18. ^ Monica Niederer. Der St. Galler Botanicus. Ein frühmittelalterliches Herbar. Kritische Edition, Übersetzung und Kommentar. P. Lang, Bern 2005.
  19. ^ MS Harley 585 Digitalisat
  20. ^ MS Harley 1585 Digitalisat
  21. ^ MS Harley 5294 Digitalisat
  22. ^ MS Harley 6258 B Digitalisat
  23. ^ MS Ashmole 1431 Digitalisat.
  24. ^ Ms Ashmole 1462 Digitalisat.
  25. ^ Franzesco Gonzage. Herbarium Apulei Platonici. Rom 1481/82. Digitalisat
  26. ^ F. W. T. Hunger. The Herbal of Pseudo-Apuleius. From the ninth-century manuscript in the abbey of Monte Cassino (Codex Casinensis 97) together with the first printed edition of Joh. Philippus de Lignamine (Edition princeps Romae 1481) both in facsimile, described and annotated. Brill, Leyden 1935.
  27. ^ Ivins, William M. "The Herbal of 'Pseudo-Apuleius'" (PDF). New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art. Retrieved 2014-12-02. 
  28. ^ Pseudo-Apuleius-printing by Gabriel Humelberg 1537

External links[edit]