n Acta Classica : Proceedings of the Classical Association of South Africa - Drugs and drug lore in the time of theophrastus : folklore, magic, botany, philosophy and the rootcutters : keynote address

Volume 49, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0065-1141
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Theophrastus of Eresus on Lesbos (c. 370-c. 287 BC) is famed for his pioneering manual of botany, the Enquiry into Plants (Historia Plantarum); embraced are plants used as foods, drugs, and those with special magical properties known in folklore. Aristotle's students included both Theophrastus and Alexander, and the Lyceum in Athens became the hub of inquiry into every aspect of human activity, including the customs of farmers, hunters and fishermen as linked to what we would term 'natural history', and among the disparate topics researched in the contexts of philosophy were the powers of animal products and plants storied in myth, folklore, and the rural expertise of the professional 'rootcutters', the rhizotomoi.

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