World's first pharmacology book compiled by the Greek Pedanius Dioscorides


The world's first book which became the precursor to all modern pharmacopeias was compiled by the Greek Pedanius Dioscorides in 77 AD, entitled Περὶ ὕλης ἰατρικῆς or by the known latin title De materia medica.

Διοσκουρίδης 1

De materia medica. is a 5-volume Greek encyclopedia about herbal medicine and related medicinal substances (a pharmacopeia), that was widely read for more than 1,500 years. For almost two millennia Dioscorides was regarded as the most prominent writer on plants and plant drugs.

In contrast to many classical authors, Dioscorides' 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.

A native of Anazarbus, Cilicia, Asia Minor, Dioscorides likely studied medicine nearby at the school in Tarsus, which had a pharmacological emphasis, and he dedicated his medical books to Laecanius Arius, a medical practitioner there.

Though he writes he lived a "soldier's life" or "soldier-like life", his pharmacopeia refers almost solely to plants found in the Greek-speaking eastern Mediterranean, making it likely that he served in campaigns, or travelled in a civilian capacity, less widely as supposed.

The name Pedanius is Roman, suggesting that an aristocrat of that name sponsored him to become a Roman citizen.


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