On the Camels of the Aorsi: Dioscorides and the Medicine Trade of the Bosporan Kingdom. Part I. The “Soldier’s Life” of Dioscorides

Braund D.

We know only a little about the life of Dioscorides, a medical botanist who wrote in the first century AD or so. His reference to his “soldier’s life” has been important in reconstructions of his activities, often linked with campaigns in Armenia under Nero. However, a “soldier’s life” was a common enough metaphor in the first century AD for a life of hard work, which need have no connection at all to military service. His work shows scant knowledge of the Caucasus. The evidence for his dates makes it likely that he wrote after AD 77, when Pliny the Elder completed his Natural History, in which Dioscorides’ important work is not mentioned. Therefore, his remarks on the Bosporan Kingdom were made after AD 77.

Keywords: Dioscorides, ancient pharmacology, ancient botany, medicine, Corbulo, Ephesus, Laecanius

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