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On this page: Dioscorius – Dioscorus – Dioscuri – Dioscurus



His work has been compared with that of Theo-phrastus, but this seems to be doing justice to neither party, as the objects of the two authors were totally different, the one writing as a scien­tific botanist, the other merely as a herbalist; and accordingly we find each of these celebrated men superior to the other in his own department. 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 \\hich relates to the plants growing in Greece has be-^n very much illustrated by the late Dr. John Sibthorp, who, when he was elected one of the Radcliffe Travelling Fellows of the University of Oxford, travelled in Greece and the neighbouring parts for the purpose of collecting materials for a " Flora Graeca." This magnificent work was begun after his death, under the direction of the late Sir J. E. Smith (1806), and has been lately finished, in ten volumes folio, by Professor Lindle}'-. With respect to the plants and other productions of the East mentioned by Dioscorides, much still remains to be done towards their illustration, and identification with the articles met with in those countries in the present day. A few specimens of this are given by Dr. Royle, in his " Essay on the Antiquity of Hindoo Medicine" (Lond. 8vo. 1837), and probably no man in Eng­land is more fitted to undertake the task than himself.

Besides the celebrated treatise on Materia Medica, the following works are generally attributed to Dios­corides : Tlepl a^atjtt^cov 4>apuafccoi/, De Venenis; Tlepl 'Io/3oAwj>, De Venenatis Animalibus; TIc-pl Ei?-iropiffrwv 'ATrAtoi/ re Kal ^vvQzruiv ^>ap/,ia/ccoz/, De facile Parabilibus tarn Simplicibus qiiam Cbmpositis Medicamentis ; and a few smaller works, which are considered spurious. His works first appeared in a Latin translation (supposed to be by Petrus de Abano) in 1478, fol. Colle, in black letter. The first Greek edition was published by Aldus Manutius, Venet. 1499, fol., and is said to be very scarce. Per­haps the most valuable edition is that by J. A. Sa-racenus, Greek arid Latin, Francof. 1598. fol., with a copious and learned commentary. The last edition is that by C. Sprengel, in two vols. 8vo. Lips. 1829., 1830, in Greek and Latin, with a useful commen­tary, forming the twenty-fifth and twenty-sixth vols. of Kuhn's Collection of the Greek Medical Writers. The work of Dioscorides has been translated and published in the Italian, German, Spanish, and French languages ; there is also an Arabic Trans­lation, which is still in MS. in several European libraries. For further information respecting Dioa-corides and the editions of his work, see Le Clerc, la Med.; H&\leT,JBibliotk.Botan.; Sprengel, Hist, de la Med.; Fabric. Bibliotli. Graeca; Bo-stock's History of Medicine; Choulant, Handbucli der Bucherltunde fur die Aeltere Medicin.

2. dioscorides phacas (Oa/ras) a physician who was one of the followers of Herophilus (Galen, Gloss. Hippocr. prooem. vol. xix. p. 63), and lived in the second or first century b. c. According to Suidas (s. v. Atocnc.), who, however, confounds him with Dioscorides of Anazarba, he lived at the court of Cleopatra in the time of Antony, b. c. 41—30, and was surnamed Phacas on account of the moles or freckles on his face. He is probably the same phy­sician who is mentioned by Galen ( Gloss. Hippocr. s. v, 'IvSticov, vol. xix. p. 105), and Paulus Aegi-


neta (De Re Med. iv. 24), as a native-of Alexandria. He wrote several medical works, which are not now extant. (Suid. 1. c.; Erotian. Gloss. Hippocr. p. 8.)

3. dioscorides, a Grammarian at Rome, who, if not actually a physician, appears, at any rate, to have given great attention to medical literature. He lived in the beginning of the second century after Christ, probably in the reign of Hadrian, a. d. 117—138, and superintended an edition of the works of Hippocrates, which was much esteemed. He is, however, accused by Galen of having made considerable alterations in the text, and of changing the old readings and modernizing the language. He was a relation of Artemidorus Capito, another editor of Hippocrates, and is several times quoted by Galen. (Galen, Comment, in Hippocr. " DeNat. Horn" i. 1 ; ii. 1, vol. xv. pp. 21, 110; Comment, in Hippocr. " De Humor." i. prooem. vol. xvi. p. 2 ; Comment, in Hippocr. "Epidem. VI." i. prooem. vol. xvii. part i. p. 795 ; Gloss. Hippocr. in v. direfipdcr- o-ero, vol. xix. p. 83.) [W. A. G.]

DIOSCORIUS (AioffKopios) of Myra, was the instructor in grammar of the daughters of the em­peror Leo, at Byzantium, and also prefect of the city and of the praetorians. (Suid. s. v.) [P. S.^

DIOSCORUS (AtoffKopos). 1. A physician, probably born at Tralles in Lydia, in the sixth, century after Christ. His father's name was Stephanus, who was a physician (Alex. Trail, de Re Med. iv. 1, p. 198); one of his brothers was the physician Alexander Trallianus ; another was the architect and mathematician, Anthemius ; and Agathias mentions that his two other brothers, Metrodorus and Olympius, were both eminent in their several professions. (Hist. v. p. 149.)

2. Another physician of the same name, must have lived some time in or before the second cen­tury after Christ, as one of his medical formulae is quoted by Galen. (De Compos. Medicam. sec. Locos, viii. 7, vol. xiii. p. 204.) [W. A.G.]

DIOSCURUS, a togatus of the praetorian forum, was one of the commission of ten appointed by Justinian in a. d. 528, to compile the Constitu- tionum Codex. (Const. Haec quae necessario, § 1, Const. Summa Reip. § 2.) [J. T. G.]

DIOSCURI (Aio'tTKoupor), that is, sons of Zeus, the well-known heroes, Castor and Pollux, or Polydeuces. The singular form Aioa-Kovpos, or Aiofftcopos, occurs only in the writings of gram­marians, and the Latins sometimes use Castores for the two brothers. (Plin. H. N. x. 43 ; Serv. ad Virg. Georg. iii. 89 ; Horat. Carm.iii. 29, 64.) According to the Homeric poems (Od. xi. 298, &c.) they were the sons of Leda and Tyndareus, king of Lacedaemon, and consequently brothers of Helena. (Horn. 11. iii. 426.) Hence they are often called by the patronymic Tyndaridae. (Ov. Fast. v. 700, Met. viii. 301.) Castor was famous for his skill in taming and managing horses, and Pollux for his skill in boxing. Both had disappeared from the earth before the Greeks went against Troy. Although they were buried, says Homer, yet the3r came to life every other day, and they enjoyed honours like those of the gods. According to other traditions both were the sons of Zeus and Leda, and were born at the same time with their sister Helena out of an egg (Horn. Hymn, xiii.,5 ; Theocrit. xxii. ; Schol. ad Pind. Nem. x. 150 ; Apolloii. Rhod. i. 149 ; Hygin. Fab. 155 ; Tzetz. ad Lycoph. 511 ; Serv. ad Aen. iii. 328), or with­out their sister, and either out of an egg or in the

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