The Ancient Library

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great assiduity to every thing which contributed to their comfort, but also upon his flattering their prejudices and indulging their inclinations. In justice to him, however, it must be confessed, that he seems also to have possessed a considerable share of acuteness and discernment, which, on some occasions, he employed with advantage. It is probable that to him we are indebted, in the first instance, for the arrangement of diseases into the two great classes of acute and chronic. Nothing remains of his writ­ings but a few fragments, which have been collected by Gumpert, Ascle-piadis Bithyni Fragment^ Weimar, 1794.

II. dioscorides (AioffKopidris),1 Peddcius or Pedanius (TleSdicios or IleSei-ytos), the author of a celebrated treatise on Materia Medica that bears his name. It is generally supposed that he was a native of Anazarba, in Cilicia Campestris, and that he was a physician by profession. It ap­pears pretty evident that he lived in the first century of the Christian era, and, as he is not mentioned by Pliny, it has been supposed that he was a little posterior to him. He has left behind him a treatise on Ma­teria Medica (Uepl "ta.tjs 'larpiKris), in five books, a work of great labor and research, and which, for many ages, was received as a standard pro­duction. The greater correctness of modern science, and the new dis­coveries which have been made, cause it now to be regarded rather as a work of curiosity than of absolute utility ; but in drawing up a history of the state and progress of medicine, it affords a most valuable document for our information. His treatise consists of a description of all the ar­ticles then used in medicine, with an account of their supposed virtues1. The descriptions are brief, and not unfrequently so little characterized as not to enable us to ascertain with any degree of accuracy to what they refer; while the practical part of his work is, in a great measure, em­pirical, although his general principles (so far as they can be detected) appear to be those of the Dogmatic sect. The great importance which was for a long time attached to the works of Dioscorides, has rendered them the subject of almost innumerable commentaries and criticisms, and even some of the most learned of our modern naturalists have not thought it an unworthy task to attempt the illustration of his Materia Medica. Upon the whole, we must attribute to him the merit of great industry and patient research; and it seems but just to ascribe a large portion of the errors and inaccuracies into which he has fallen, more to the imperfect state of the science when he wrote, than to any defect in the character and talents of the writer. With respect to the ancient writers on Materia Medica who succeeded Dioscorides, they were gen­erally content to quote his authority, without presuming to correct his errors or supply his deficiencies. That part of his work which relates to the plants growing in Greece has been very much illustrated in the splendid Flora Gr&ca of Sibthorp, &c., 10 vols. fol. Besides the treatise on Materia Medica, a few other works are generally attributed to Dioscor­ides, some of which, however, are spurious.2

The first Greek edition of Dioscorides was published by Aldus Manutius, Venice, 1499, fol., and is said to be very scarce. Perhaps the most valuable edition is that of Sara-

1 Greenhill; Smith's Diet. Biogr., 8. v, * Qrgenkill, I. e.

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