Naples, Biblioteca Nazionale Vittorio Emanuele III, Ms. ex Vindob. gr. 1

Dioscorides Neapolitanus Facsimile Edition

Used from

2,430

approx US$ 2,854


New from

€ 4,800


Our price

More Buying Choices

Request Info

Composed by Greek surgeon Pedanius Dioscorides in the 1st century AD, the Codex Neapolitanus is among the most ancient manuscripts of Materia Medica, the most popular medical work of Greco-Roman times. Apart from its contents, the codex is extraordinary due to the vast number of botanical illustrations and extremely detailed plant descriptions.

The Dioscorides Neapolitanus: a Medieval Best-Seller

Dioscorides was a major authority in his field, as witnessed by the widespread use of his works in time. During the 6th century the opus was translated into Latin; since the 9th century Arabic, Syrian and Hebrew versions also apperad. Materia Medica was thus the medical point of reference for doctors throughout the West and East and was read by physicians and botanists alike. The Dioscorides Neapolitanus dates back to the early 7th century, even though scholars are still unsure if it was composed in Italy or Byzantium. Professor Cavallo sees the manuscript's illustrations as the obvious product of Greek artists in Italy.

The Miniatures: Tradition Renewed

In the opinion of some scholars, the 403 botanical and pharmaceutical miniatures of the Dioscorides Neapolitanus are not 'originals': rather, they could be copies of more ancient models. Among them Dioscorides might have used the herbal of Crateuas, a text that falls in the field of Alexandrian or Pergamene textbook illumination of the 2nd and 1st centuries BC. One, two or three depictions of plants occupy the upper half of each page, the lower half containing explanatory text. The verso pages are mostly blank or only bear brief text, thus avoiding writing over the colour that shows through the parchment.

Legibility and an Aid to Readers

The script used in the Dioscorides Neapolitanus the so-called Biblical majuscule, an extremely readable Greek book hand. Each botanical illustration is flanked below by the the name of each plant in red ink, another aid to legibility. Several annotations and marginalia in the codex witness that the Neapolitan manuscript was extremely popular and used throughout the centuries.

A Textbook for Physicians and Surgeons

In each chapter, Dioscorides describes a single plant. The latter's name is first defined (with many synonims); then, its properties are described together with its pharmacological use in curing specific diseases. Thus, the Dioscorides Neapolitanus is both a botanical and pharmacological work, which  was conceived as a textbook on drugs to be used by doctors and surgeons. The order in which each plant appears in the text is purely alphabetical: a systematic order based on the therapeutic properties of each specimen was forced out in favor of a an easier method for users to find their way round the book as fast as possible.

A Mysterious History

Little is known about the history of the Dioscorides Neapolitanus. Up to the 18th century, it was preserved in the Augustinian monastery of S. Giovanni a Carbonara in Naples. In 1718, the Habsburg family moved it to the Viennese Court Library: in 1919, after the peace negotiations following WWI, the codex was retaken to Naples, this time to the Biblioteca Nazionale, where it is still preserved among its greatest treasures.

Binding description

Leather

We have 2 facsimiles of the manuscript "Dioscorides Neapolitanus":

Request Info / Price

#1 Dioscurides Neapolitanus

Rome: Salerno Editrice, 1988

  • Commentary (Italian) by Cavallo, G.; Lilla, S.; Orofino, G.; Bertelli, C.
  • Limited Edition: 480 copies
  • Full-size color reproduction of the entire original document, Dioscorides Neapolitanus: the facsimile attempts to replicate the look-and-feel and physical features of the original document; pages are trimmed according to the original format; the binding might not be consistent with the current document binding.

Used and new from

€ 4,700

approx US$ 5,518


Our Price

More Buying Choices

Request Info

#2 Der Dioskurides Neapolitanus

Graz: Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt (ADEVA), 1988

  • Commentary (English, German, Italian) by Cavallo, G.; Lilla, S.; Orofino, G.; Bertelli, C.
  • Limited Edition: 480 copies
  • Full-size color reproduction of the entire original document, Dioscorides Neapolitanus: the facsimile attempts to replicate the look-and-feel and physical features of the original document; pages are trimmed according to the original format; the binding might not be consistent with the current document binding.

In the commentary volume, a general introduction to the manuscript and its background is followed by a codicological analysis and an expert examination of the miniatures from the perspective of the history of art. The commentary is complete with a contribution on the commissioner of the manuscript. The facsimile edition comes with a complete German translation of all 5 volumes of Materia Medica, edited by J. Berendes, with valuable observations, an introduction, a Greek, Latin and German directory and a complete record of the plants treated in the Codex Neapolitanus (compiled by H. Riedl).

Facsimile in a slip case.

Binding

Leather, faithful replica of the original.

Used from

€ 2,430

approx US$ 2,854


New from

€ 4,800

approx US$ 5,636


Our Price

More Buying Choices

Request Info