Pietro D'Abano on Venoms and Poisons


  • Alain Touwaide Department of Botany National Museum of Natural History Smithsonian Institution Washington, D.C., U.S.A.


The Treatise on Venoms and Poisons (Liber de venenis)  by Pietro d’Abanohas been traditionally considered as a collection of superstitions and unscientific data, even though it was also - and paradoxically - deemed interesting for the history of medieval science. The present contribution frames the treatise in the ancient toxicological literature, and suggeststextual similarities with classical Greek works, mainly the two treatises On Venoms and On Poisons ascribed to the first-century A.D. author of De materia medica  Dioscorides. Since Pietro d’Abano sojourned in Constantinople he might have had access to the Greek texts of these two works and could very well have integrated some of their information in his own treatise.  Key words: Toxicology - Byzantium - Translation - Dioscorides