Trini Colores, Candidus Primo, Mox Rubens, Maturis Niger (nat. 15, 97) Trees Colours Medicine: Suggestions from Books 15 and 23 of the Naturalis Historia by Plinius the Elder


  • Daniela Cavallo Archaeologist, Rome


Naturalis Historia (Books 15 and 23), Botany, Olive Tree, Fruits Trees, Medicinal Properties, Remedia , Traditional Chinese Medicine


  Books 15 and 23 of the Naturalis Historia by Plinius the Elder are part of his opera dedicated to botany. Book 15 is a compendium relating to the observation and description of specific nature and characteristics of the olive tree and of fruit trees, mostly cultivated; these trees are also analyzed in the book through digressions on the remedia. Book 23 is articulated as a broad reflection on medicinal properties (medicinae arborum) of the trees described in Book 15. These two books, even if one independent from the other, can be read in parallel. Basically, I present my study about the two books following the original organization of the Plinian opera; it focuses not only on the investigation about the term colour itself, but also about the names of the different colours and other terms or attributions attributable to the colour/colours. The search for colour in the original texts is more emphasized in the analysis of Book 15; otherwise, I offer Book 23 as a reduced promptuarium medicinarum arborum, obviously based on the Plinian description. In the end, some brief considerations on the value of colour in Traditional Chinese Medicine.