MINIATURIST, Byzantine
(active 510s in Byzantium)

Vienna Dioscorides

c. 512
Manuscript (Codex Vindobonensis Med. gr. 1), 380 x 310 mm
Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Vienna

From amongst the rich variety of scientific manuscripts of late antiquity, the Vienna Dioscorides, which survived only in part, stands out by virtue of its artistic quality and the number of illustrations. Written in Greek, it is a compendium of six pharmacological and scientific works; an herbarium, minor medicinal works, a book of birds. It consists of 392 full page miniatures, 66 pictures of venomous animals, 47 pictures of birds.

The manuscript, named after one of the authors, Pedanius Dioscorides (1st century AD), was made for Princess Anicia Juliana of Byzantium (462-527).

Folio 282 recto illustrates a rose (rosa centifolia) which was valued medicinally for the cooling effect ascribed to it. It was used for an ointment for the eyes, and for compresses used for abdominal inflammations, stomach disorders and skin rashes. The leaves were used for headache, and pains in the eyes, ears, intestines and womb.




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