Pietro Andrea Mattioli’s masterpiece

Pietro Andrea Mattioli

The professional life of Siena-born doctor and humanist Pietro Andrea Mattioli (1501-1578) gravitated around what would become his masterpiece: the commentary and translation of “De materia medica”, an important work by his fellow doctor Dioscoride Pedanio, who was a pharmacist and botanist in Emperor Nero’s Rome.

Mattioli traveled extensively in Italy and Europe – seeing Padua, Rome, Trento, Gorizia, and Prague – due to his work and to his high-up relations with princes and cardinals. Yet, he never lost sight of this book. At last, the incredibly long title – starting with “Di Pedacio Dioscoride Anazarbeo libri cinque Della historia et materia medicinale tradotti in lingua volgare italiana…” – first appeared in Gorizia’s bookstores in 1544.

The book was updated by Mattioli over the years, and translated into at least thirteen foreign editions during his lifetime, reaping success all over Europe, and being published even in a few illustrated editions.

Here are a few pages – dedicated to fish – taken from one of such editions from the 16th century.

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March 6, 2015