Monday, January 15, 2007

The Pseudo-Apuleius Herbarium

Peristereon

Peristereon (Vervain) and Brionia (Black Bryony).
Nimphea (Water-lily) and Chrision (Red Clover).



Salvia
Salvia (Sage), Coriandrum (Coriander) and Portulaca (Purslane).
Cerefolium (chervil), Sisimbrium (Water Mint),
Oleastrum (Alexanders), Lilium (Lily) and Tytimallum (Spurge).



Senecion
Senecion (Groundsel) and Filix (Asplenium). Gramen
(Ttwitch Grass), Gladiolus (Flag) and Rosmarinus (Rosemary).



Silvaticum
Silvaticum (Sonchus), Lupinum (lupin), Lacterideum (Daphne gnidium)
and Lactuca leporica (Lettuce). Scicideagria (Cucumber),
Canapus silvaticus (Hemp) and Ruta montana (Ruta montana).



Yperum
Yperum (Horsetail) and Malva sivatica terratica
(Malva sylvestris). Lingua bovis (Bugloss) and Scillitici (Squill).



Mandragora
Mandragora (Male Mandrake) Book of Extracts from Dioscorides.



Mangdragora (female)
Mandragora (Female Mandrake).



Muoluta
Muoluta (House Leek), Eliotropion and Grias (Madder).
Pollitricum (Hop Trefoil), Astula regia (Woodruff) and Splenion (Hartstongue).



Papaveris silvatici
Papaveris silvatici (Opium Poppy) and Ynantes (Dropwort).
Narcissos (Narcissus poeticus) and Polion (Teucrium Polium).



Pastinaca
Pastinaca (Carrot) and Pericalis (Pellitory).
Mercurialis (Cheadle) and Radiolus (Everfern).



Achillea
Achillea (Yarrow) and Ruta hortensis (Rue).
Mentastrum (Horse-mint) and Ebulum (Danewort).



Aristologie rotundae
Aristologie rotundae (Smearwort). Nasturcium, Eribuluus,
Apollinaris (Glovewort) and Chamomelum (Chamomile).



Diptannum
Diptannum (Dittany) and Solago maior (Heliotropium europaeum).
Solago minor (African Marigold) and Peonia (Peony).



Eptafillos
Eptafillos, Ocimum (Wild Basil) and Appium (Apium). Crosocantis (Ivy),
Menta (Cornmint), Anetum (Dill), Origanum (Marjoram) and Semperviva.



Feniculum
Feniculum (Purplered), Erisifion and Simphitum.
Petrosilinum (Parsley), Silvatica and Basilisca.



Autumn Gentian and Squill
Autumn Gentian and Squill



Narcissus poeticus and Yarrow
Narcissus poeticus and Yarrow



4 plant images from 10th cent. Pseudo-Apuleius herbal
Herba senecion; Herba altea - hibiscus (heemst);
Herba aristolochia rotunda (pijpbloem); Herba narcissus


Herbals are a particularly interesting group in the history of written communication in that they have always been in circulation since the antiquities and were not 'rediscovered' during the renaissance.

Despite the faithful transcription of the manuscript text by monastic scribes, distortions inevitably crept in as the work passed from one hand to the next. Greater variation exists among the illustrations which were often painted without reference to the living world. Regional variation in both plant types and knowledge as well as differences in editorial control also contributed over a thousand years of copying to a body of herbal manuscripts deriving from a few ancient sources.

This all makes for a complex history but there are two lines or branches generally identified in classifying the lineage of a herbal. Perhaps the most important is the five volume pharmacopoeia/herbal, 'De Materia Medica' by Dioscorides from the first century AD, which represents the Greek/Arabic tradition. This work also supplies much of the textual origin for the other branch, the latin tradition - the subject of this post - which is contained within a corpus of works by an amalgamated author, referred to as Pseudo-Apuleius (sometimes called Apuleius Platonic, to distinguish him or them from a number of other authors from the middle ages called Apuleius). The original Pseudo-Apuleius Herbal was produced in about the 5th century AD.

The illustrations seen above are thought to derive from unknown manuscripts from the antiquities. As best I can tell, there are about four or five extant copies of the Pseudo-Apuleius Herbal of particular importance.

The last image above includes four drawings from a 10th century work; the two preceding images come from a manuscript of collected works from the late 11th century that includes extracts from the Pseudo-Apuleius Herbal; and all the rest of the images are from a complete manuscript, produced in about 1080. Additionally, there is a 9th century version in the Abbey of Monte Cassino (Codex casinensis 97) which doesn't appear to be online but was published in book form together with a facsimile of the first printed version of the Herbal from 1481. I also saw mention of a 6th or 7th century manuscript still in existence but I couldn't track it down.

Oxford University scanned existing filmstrips and slides to produce digitized versions of these manuscripts so the quality is not up to the usual standards of modern photography. Nevertheless, the reason these works grabbed my initial attention was because of the vividness and range of the colours. A thousand years old and they still appear bright and arresting. I think that's just amazing.


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I've changed over to the new blogger, simply to stop it asking me to do so. It was rather painless. Sorry if there were a whole bunch of feed entries blurted out at the same time. I don't think I'll bother with the tags - to my mind they are pretty useless for this site without some summary and as both tags and summaries are already at del.icio.us, blogger tagging is an unnecessary redundancy isn't it? So far the only real difference I've noticed is that uploading images seems to take longer. Oy.

6 comments :

glassblowingman said...

great stuff,as usual !
are you familiar with the voynich manuscript ?

Kristi said...

It does look like the voynich, doesn't it? Add in some astrology ..but the plants look similiar, or perhaps copied.

Kristi said...

Do you know where there is a text copy of the book? I can handle the Latin but I can't READ that. :) If you do, could you email me - I've been looking for a while skullaria at gmail dot com thanks

peacay said...

The only two links I could think of to start the search are Amazon (it's a more narrow results set using the google) and Worldcat. Good luck!

carrotmuseum said...

Got any more carrot illustrations? - for the World Carrot Museum. OR places where I might find some?

Thanks, John

peacay said...

Um.. well one presumes you have done some searching already. I wouldn't want to regurgitate ideas already followed. Obviously hitting up all the galleries, libraries and suchlike repositories online with that term 'carrot' is the way to go. I predict you will get enormous numbers. If you want to get more specific about it, email me: peacay --> gmail.

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