Antonius Musa

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Antonius Musa

Antonius Musa (Greek Ἀντώνιος Μούσας) was a Greek botanist and the Roman Emperor Augustus's physician; Antonius was a freedman who received freeborn status along with other honours.[1] In the year 23 BC, when Augustus was seriously ill, Musa cured the illness with cold compresses and became immediately famous.

Musa, the plant group which includes the banana, the plantain and numerous other species, was apparently named after him.[2] However, Musa may be a Latinization the Arabic mauz (موز) name for the fruit. Mauz meaning Musa is discussed in the 11th century Arabic encyclopedia The Canon of Medicine, which was translated to Latin in medieval times and well known in Europe.[3]

Musa's brother was Euphorbus, physician to king Juba II of Numidia, after whom the plant Euphorbia, which has given its name to a scientific genus, was originally named.

A short medical treatise called De herba vettonica and speaking of the properties of this herb has been transmitted under his name, but is thought instead to have been written in the 4th century. It seems to have been a source for the Roman medical writer Theodorus Priscianus.[4]

According to Francis Atterbury, the character Iapis in Virgil's Aeneid represents Musa while Aeneas represents Augustus.[5]


  1. ^ Henrik Mouritsen (2011). The Freedman in the Roman World. Cambridge University Press. p. 107. 
  2. ^ Liberty Hyde Bailey, The Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. 1916. pp. 2076–9
  3. ^ Arabic Mauz meaning Musa or banana is in the medieval Arabic medical encyclopedia by Avicenna, which is online at Avicenna: Book Two. See also "Musa" at See also Musacées in Dictionnaire Étymologique Des Mots Français D'Origine Orientale, by L. Marcel Devic (year 1876).
  4. ^ D. R. Langslow, Medical Latin in the Roman Empire, Oxford University Press, 2000, pp. 67-68
  5. ^ Tanya M. Cladwell (2008). Virgil Made English, The Decline of Classical Authority. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 156. 


External links[edit]

Media related to Antonius Musa at Wikimedia Commons