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date: 25 February 2021


  • John Scarborough


Medical botanist and personal physician of *Mithradates VI of Pontus (120–63 bce), after whom he named mithridatia, the mall, liliaceous Erythronium dens-canis L. (Plin.HN 25. 26. 62). Crateuas composed two or more tracts, known only by fragments: (1) a herbal, title not preserved, which featured coloured drawings of plants accompanied by botanical descriptions and specific instructions for medical employment (ibid. 25. 4. 8); (2) Root Cutting and Gathering (scholia on Nic.Ther. 681a (ed. A. Crugnola, 1971)), a book on the pharmacology of roots and medicinal plants, detailing preparation techniques. Crateuas’ treatises were well known to *Dioscorides (2), whose Materia medica derived some details from Root Cutting and other works, indicated by occasional citations. Perhaps some of the botanical illuminations in the Anicia Juliana manuscript of ce 512 (cod. Vindobonensis med. gr. 1) are based on Crateuas’ drawings, but recent opinion leans against direct borrowing (Riddle, Dioscorides190–1).

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