Quid pro quo: Studies in the History of Drugs, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Quid pro quo

Studies in the History of Drugs, 1st Edition

By John M. Riddle


336 pages

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Hardback: 9780860783190
pub: 1992-04-16
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All too often ancient herbal and other remedies have been dismissed as ’simply’ folklore, of no relevance to medical science. John Riddle’s approach, however, has been to explore the history of drugs with the hypothesis that ancient and medieval medicines were effective - a methodology that he expounds in the final essay (hitherto unpublished). Indeed, he shows, both from detailed case-studies and from the comparison of the listings given by classical and medieval authorities with those in modern pharmacopoeias, that our ancestors had discovered and made effective use of many of the drugs used in medicine today, from antiseptics and analgesics to oral contraceptives, even chemotherapy for cancer. There is the suggestion, therefore, that more careful examination and identification of the drugs used in the past may reveal chemicals that can be exploited anew. Central to these studies is the investigation of how a drug was used and how knowledge about it was transmitted - and perhaps also distorted in the process - from the Classical world through the Middle Ages. Les anciens remèdes, phytothérapie et autres, ont trop souvent été mis aux rangs du folklore et considérés comme n’ayant aucun rapport avec la science médicale. L’approche de John Riddle, cependant, a été d’explorer l’histoire des drogues, en prenant pour hypothèse l’efficacité de la médecine ancienne et médiévale - une méthodologie qu’il expose dans son dernier essai (jusqu’à présent jamais publié). En effet, il démontre à partir de cas d’études détaillés et de la comparaison établie entre les listages fournis par les autorités antiques et médiévales et ceux des pharmacopées modernes, que nos ancêtres avaient découvert et mis à bon escient l’utilisation de nombreux remèdes dont se sert la médecine à l’heure actuelle: des antiseptiques et analgésiques, aux contraceptifs oraux et même jusqu’à la chimiothérapie pour le cancer. Sugge


'…Riddle’s reading of medieval texts sheds welcome light on therapeutic practices of the distant past…[there are] substantive contributions to the study of medieval medicine presented in this anthology.' Bulletin of the History of Medicine, Vol. 67

Table of Contents

Contents: Pomum ambrae: amber and ambergris in plague remedies; The introduction and use of Eastern drugs in the Early Middle Ages; Lithotherapy in the Middle Ages - lapidaries considered as medical texts; The Latin alphabetical Dioscorides manuscript group; Amber in ancient pharmacy: the transmission of information about a single drug; Theory and practice in medieval medicine; Book reviews, lectures, and marginal notes: three previously unknown 16th-century contributions to pharmacy, medicine and botany - Ioannes Manardus, Franciscus Frigimelica and Melchior Guilandinus; Albert on stones and minerals; Pseudo-Dioscorides Ex herbis femininis and early medieval medical botany; Gargilius Martialis as a medical writer; The Pseudo-Hippocratic Dynamidia; Ancient and medieval chemotherapy for cancer; Byzantine commentaries on Dioscorides; Folk tradition and folk medicine: recognition of drugs in Classical antiquity; Methodology of historical drug research; Indexes.

About the Series

Variorum Collected Studies

The first title in the Variorum Collected Studies series was published in 1970. Since then well over 1000 titles have appeared in the series, and it has established a well-earned international reputation for the publication of key research across a whole range of subjects within the fields of history.

The history of the medieval world remains central to the series, with Byzantine studies a particular speciality, but the range of titles extends from Hellenistic philosophy and the history of the Roman empire and early Christianity, through the Renaissance and Reformation, up to the 20th century. Islamic Studies forms another major strand as do the histories of science, technology and medicine.

Each title in the Variorum Collected Studies series brings together for the first time a selection of articles by a leading authority on a particular subject. These studies are reprinted from a vast range of learned journals, Festschrifts and conference proceedings. They make available research that is scattered, even inaccessible in all but the largest and most specialized libraries. With a new introduction and index, and often with new notes and previously unpublished material, they constitute an essential resource. 

For further information about contributing to the series please contact Michael Greenwood at Michael.Greenwood@informa.com

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General