Antidotarium Nicolai — Athanasia

Marco Ponzi
Jan 8, 2018 · 3 min read

BNF Latin 6823 (Southern Italy, first half of the XIV Century) includes a famous illustrated herbal treaty (by Manfredus de Monte Imperiali). At the end of the manuscript, an unillustrated copy of the Antidotarium Nicolai appears. The Antidotarium was written in Salerno in the XI Century and mostly consists of an alphabetically sorted list of recipes for the preparation of compound medicines. The example presented below (Athanasia) requires more than thirty different ingredients (mostly plants). The text is rather technical and complex: I am sure my tentative translation is not 100% accurate.

A 1917 scholarly transcription of the Antidotarium can be found here (this transcription was mentioned on


Dissinterias subvenit athanasia et sangui- | nis fluxum
Atanasia idest inmortalis. | proprie valet contra fluxum sanguinis | mulieris. data cum suco plantaginis. diu prius | sucus debet duci super lapidem molarem cum lapi | de ematitis donec quasi sanguis effluatur | cum quo ipsa medicina detur distemperata et sup- | positorium de adem medicina intinctum et in vul- | vam missum sanguinem stringit. hoc idem | facit emoptoicis et fluxum ventris mirabili | ter sedat. que similiter et naribus actracta fluxum | sanguinis e naribus sistit .vi. pars confecta est lib[ra] | i R[ecipe] cinamomi. cassie fistule an[?]. drachme iii et | grana vi croci iusqami squinanti storaci cal[idi]| fu sileris betonice apii dauci anisi opii. | an[?] drachme 1 et S[?] et grana iii spice folii castorei mir | re lapi[di]s ematitis sanguinis draconum corallis | rubei mumie costi bolii sinphiti elempnias[?]. | asari mandragore corticis acori polii [pulegi?] bacce | lauri meu macropiperis leucopiperis petrosellini | an drachme 5 mel q[uod] sufficit. dosis eius drachme iii cum pre | dicto succo propinata. ventericis discintericis et dia | riis multum valet.


Athanasia heals dysentery and loss of blood
Athanasia means “immortal”. | It helps for the loss of blood | in women. It is given with the juice of plantain. The juice | must first be worked on a grindstone with | haematite until it almost flows like blood. | The medicine must be distempered in it. | A tampon imbibed in the medicine and put | inside the vulva stops the bleeding. It has the | same effect for those who spit blood and it wonderfully stops flux from | the belly [dysentery?]. Similarly, inhaled from the nose, it stops | the flow of blood from the nose. The sixth part of[?] a pound | is made. Take cinnamon and cassia bark, 3 drachmas and | six grains. Crocus, hyoscyamus, quinsy, hot styrax, | fu[?], brook-willow, betony, apium, wild carrot, anise, opium, | one and a half drachma and three grains. Spike, leaves[?], castor, | myrrh, haematite, dragon’s blood, red | coral, mummy, costus[?], bolus, comfrey, orpiment[?], | hazelwort, mandrake, bark, iris, polium, laurel | berries, meu, large pepper, white pepper, petroselinum, | five drachmas. Honey as required. Its dosage is three drachmas, | given with the above mentioned juice. It is very helpful for those with bowel illness, dysentery | and ephemeral fever.


Botanical manuscripts and other old stuff. I am an amateur, not a palaeographer.

Marco Ponzi

Written by


Botanical manuscripts and other old stuff. I am an amateur, not a palaeographer.

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