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3701 P. Oxy. 53 = Trismegistos 62721 = LDAB 3909


Collection of pharmacological extracts by an unknown author (Oxford, Sackler Library, Papyrology Rooms P. Oxy. 3701). Papyrus fragment (10x18,5cm) which contains remains of two columns and was probably part of a roll. The upper margin is preserved and amounts to ca. 4,5cm. There is no punctuation, except of paragraphoi marking the passages between two entries. Moreover, the verso is blank. The extract lists materials, including animals (bile), minerals (copper, earth, talc) and plants (poppy, nigella, figs), and describes their properties (δυνάμεις), their method of preparation (σκευασία) as well as their parmacological application or usefulness for various afflictions, but the principal of arrangement is not clear. Because of this topic, the text is possibly congeneric with Dioscorides' Materia Medica. In fact, a possible author might be Sextius Niger, an immediate predecessor of Dioscorides (cf. Dsc. praef. 2), who was also admired by Galen (cf. Simpl. vi prohoem.). Furthermore, in addition to the similarities to the MM, there are also parallels to Pliny's Natural History and a citation of a certain Apollodorus in col. 1 l. 23 (vd. commentary ad loc.). The text was written by a documentary hand which also corrected some errors calamo currente and may belong to the latter half of the first century AD.

(This papyrus has been digitally edited by Marcel Moser as part of the Project "DIGMEDTEXT - Online Humanities Scholarship: A Digital Medical Library based on Ancient Texts" (ERC-AdG-2013, Grant Agreement no. 339828) funded by the European Research Council at the University of Parma (Principal Investigator: Prof. Isabella Andorlini). The digital edition is mostly based on the previous edition (M.W. Haslam, P.Oxy. LIII 3701).)

DCLP transcription: 62721 [xml]

column 1
[ -ca.?- ]ο̣ν̣ε̣   ̣  ̣  ̣ υ̣σσω
[ -ca.?- ]τ̣α χρη̣[σι]μ̣εύει
[ -ca.?- κατ]α̣πλάσμα̣τ̣α καὶ
[ -ca.?- ]   ̣ ν̣υ̣μ̣ε̣   ̣ κ̣αι
5[ -ca.?- ]   ̣  ̣  ̣ α̣ς̣ μ̣ετ̣ὰ̣ μ̣η̣-
[ -ca.?- ]σ̣α̣ κ̣αὶ κατα̣πλα-
[ -ca.?- χρησιμ]εύει δὲ καὶ τοῖς
[ -ca.?- π]οτιζομένη
[ -ca.?- ]μ̣η̣ ἐνιεμένη
10[ -ca.?- ]  ̣  ̣  ̣ι̣γ̣γ̣οις(*) με-
[ -ca.?- ] κ̣αὶ κεφαλαλγοῦσι
[ -ca.?- ]   ̣ γ̣ὰρ ποιεῖ μέγαλα
[ -ca.?- ]ν φ̣λεγματώδη
[ -ca.?- ]ώ̣δ̣η· π̣λ̣είω δὲ πεινο-
15[ -ca.?- ](*) [ώ]δ̣η̣ καὶ ὕφαιμα
[ -ca.?- ] μ̣έλανα. vac. ?
[ -ca.?- ]  ̣πις(*) ὑ̣δατώδη vac. ?
[ -ca.?- ]τ̣ου ῥίζα φλεγματώδη ἀν\ω/
[ -ca.?- κ]α̣ὶ̣ χολώ̣δ̣η μετὰ κνη-
20[ -ca.?- ]χ̣αλκοῦ ἄ̣νθος φλεγμα-
[ -ca.?- ]  ̣ κ̣αὶ χολώδη ἀμφοτε-
[ -ca.?- ἔ]λ̣αιον μέλι χολ̣ώδη vac. ?
[ -ca.?- ]ν̣ Ἀπολλοδώρου μελάνθι\ο/(ν)
[ -ca.?- ]  ̣(*) ἔχει ἄν̣οσμα καὶ ἀ-
25[ -ca.?- ] ἐ̣π̣ι̣σ̣κ̣ο̣π̣ο̣ῦντα
[ -ca.?- ]δ̣ι̣αχει τὰ πη-
[ -ca.?- ]α̣ι̣θ̣ρ̣ων̣ θερ-
[ -ca.?- ]εται δὲ καθα-
[ -ca.?- ]  ̣ι. vac. ?
30[ -ca.?- ]ο̣  ̣  ̣υ̣ν̣α[  ̣  ̣]  ̣
[ -ca.?- ]σ̣
[ -ca.?- ]  ̣
[ -ca.?- ]  ̣
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
column 2
τοῦ τρείβειν(*) ἕω̣[ς -ca.?- ]
εἶτ' ἐν ἡλίωι ξη̣ρ̣[α -ca.?- ]
πάλιν καὶ χρῶ   ̣ [ -ca.?- ]-
μικῶν(*). vac. ? [ -ca.?- ]
5γῆς Σαμίας τῆς̣ [ -ca.?- ]
μις τὴν δύναμι[ν -ca.?- σκευ-]
ασίαν ἔχει παραπ̣[λησίαν -ca.?- τῆι]
Ἐρετριάδι(*) καὶ   ̣[ -ca.?- ]-
ρα(*) καὶ χρησιμω̣[τέρα -ca.?- ](*)
10λευκογραφὶς δύ̣[ναμιν ἔχει -ca.?- μα-]
λάσσει καὶ πληρ[οῖ κοιλώματα -ca.?- ]
ματα μετὰ στύψ̣[εως -ca.?- ]
σταλαγμὸς ἄνθου[ς -ca.?- ]
τὰ αὐτὰ τῶι ἄνθε̣[ι -ca.?- ]
15πολλῶι ἐνεργεστ̣[ερ -ca.?- ]
συκῆς κλάδη(*) δύν[αμιν ἔχει -ca.?- ](*)
ἀποκαθαίρει με[τὰ -ca.?- ]-
σίας(*) καὶ στύψεως̣ [ -ca.?- σκευάζε-]
ται δὲ οὕτως· λαβ  ̣[ -ca.?- ]
20κράδας τὰς παραφυ̣[ -ca.?- ]-
τάτας(*) καὶ ἐλαφρω̣[τάτας -ca.?- κα-]
τακαύσας τρεῖβ̣ε(*) ὑ̣[ -ca.?- ]-
χέων(*) καὶ παραπάσσ[ων -ca.?- ]
τὸ βέλτιστον ἕως [ -ca.?- ]
25σποδοειδὲς καὶ α  ̣[ -ca.?- ](*) [πλε-]
ονάκις ἀναπλάσας̣   ̣[ -ca.?- ](*)
χολὴ{ς} σκορπίου θα[λασσίου -ca.?- ]
δύναμιν(*) ἔχει απ[ -ca.?- ](*)
ρει τάς τε ἀχλῦς καὶ̣ [ -ca.?- ἀκα-]
30θαρσίας καὶ τὰς ο̣ὐ̣λ̣[ας -ca.?- ]
σαρκ̣ώδη καὶ το̣λ̣[ -ca.?- ]
ἔκκρισι̣ν̣ ποιεῖτα[ι -ca.?- ](*)
δὲ καὶ ἡ τ̣ο̣ῦ καλλιω̣[νύμου -ca.?- ]
[  ̣  ̣]ν̣ης(*) θαλασσίας̣ [ -ca.?- ](*)
35[παρ]α̣πλησίως δὲ πρ[ -ca.?- ]
[  ̣  ̣  ̣ τ]ρ̣α̣γεία ἰσχυρ\ο/[τέρα](*) [ -ca.?- ]
[  ̣  ̣  ̣]ν ἡ πέρδικος α̣[ -ca.?- ]
[ -ca.?- ]  ̣[ -ca.?- ]  ̣[ -ca.?- ]
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --


^ 1.10. or [ε]ἰ̣λ̣ε̣ι̣γ̣γ̣οις (l. εἰλίγγοις(?) (or ἰλίγγοις(?)))
^ 1.14-15. l. πινο|[ -ca.?- ], or πεινο|[μένη] (l. πινο|[μένη]) [χρόνον(?) -ca.?- ]
^ 1.17. or [ -ca.?- (χαλκοῦ) λ]ε̣πίς
^ 1.24. or [ -ca.?- ἄνθ]η̣
^ 2.1. l. τρίβειν
^ 2.3-4. or [ -ca.?- ἐπὶ τῶν ὀφθαλ]|μικῶν
^ 2.8. corr. ex Ἐρετριά⟦ι̣⟧
^ 2.8-9. or ἐ̣[λαφροτέ]|ρα
^ 2.9. or [ἐστίν.]
^ 2.16. l. κράδη
^ 2.16. or [ἀποκαθαρτικήν -ca.?- ]
^ 2.17-18. or [ -ca.?- θερμα]|σίας
^ 2.20-21. or παραφυ̣[άδας τὰς ἁπαλω]|τάτας
^ 2.22. l. τρῖβε
^ 2.22-23. or ὕ̣[δωρ   ̣  ̣  ̣ προσεπι]|χέων
^ 2.25. or [ τρὶς τῆς ἡμέρας ἢ καὶ]
^ 2.26. or χ̣[ρῶ.]
^ 2.28. corr. ex δύναμι⟦ς⟧
^ 2.28. ἀπ[οκαθαρτικήν -ca.?- ] Haslam ap. ed. pr.
^ 2.32. or [ ὁμοίως]
^ 2.33-34. or [καὶ ἡ τῆς χε]|[λώ]ν̣ης
^ 2.34. or [καὶ ὑαίνης.]
^ 2.36. corr. ex ἰσχυρ⟦ατέρα]

Editorial History; All History; (detailed)

Creative Commons License © Duke Databank of Documentary Papyri. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.


  • 1.1.

    If the traces are forced, ἀλύσσῳ or ἀνήσσῳ might be read (curing madness - disease).

  • 1.5-6.

    Perhaps μετὰ μή-[κωνος] or -[κωνίου] can be supplied which would yield "opium puppy(-juice)".

  • 1.6-7.

    Haslam thinks the incomplete form καταπλα- belongs to καταπλάσσω or a cognate word, while Dr. Scarborough suggests a form of καταπλατύνειν (cf. Gal. ii 298 Kühn).

  • 1.17.

    [(χαλκοῦ) λ]ε̣πίς would comport well with χαλκοῦ ἄνθος in col. 1 l. 20. They are also successive entries in Dsc. MM 5.77-8. Furthermore, ὑδατώδη could refer to the properties of λεπίς as in MM 5.78.1: πινομένη δὲ μετὰ μελικράτου ὕδωρ ἄγει.

  • 1.19-20.

    Haslam supposes μετὰ κνή-[κου, -κίνου] as ingredient of a potion or another preparation, while Dr. Scarborough suggests κνη-[μάτων] (scrapings of cupric sulphate) referencing PGM xii 195, 199, Dsc. MM 3.80 and Plin. NH 34.123.

  • 1.23.

    The author cites the authority of Apollodorus, presumably the iobiologist from the third century BC. Several applications of μελάνθιον (nigella) are found in later pharmacological texts that may derive from him: against snake-bite (Nic. Ther. 43; Dsc. MM 3.79.2; 'Dsc.' Eup. 2.132 W), against spider-bite (Dsc. loc. cit.; 'Dsc.' Eup. 2.262.2 W), against various bites and stings (Philum. Ven. 10,13,16,18,24 W; Plin. NH 20.182-4). Moreover, the plant is also said to be lethal, if drunk in excess (cf. Dsc. loc. cit.). Alternatively, Dr. Scarborough also suggests an identification with a certain Apollodorus who wrote a treatise περὶ μύρων καὶ στεφάνων with a quasi-medical background (Ath. 15.675 E; Plin. NH 14.76).

  • 2.1-9.

    Apparently, the preparation of Eretrian (ll. 1-4?) and Samian earth (ll. 5-9) is described (cf. Dsc. MM 5.152-4; Plin. NH 35.191-3,38; Gal. xii 188 Kühn). The direct common source is supposed to be Sextius Niger.

  • 2.3-4.

    A specifically ophthalmic application is mentioned by Dioscorides or Pliny (oculorum quoque medicamentis miscentur) just in the case of Samian earth. One of the two kinds of Samian earth was κολλούριον, which might imply use as an eye-salve.

  • 2.5-9.

    According to Dsc. MM 5.153.1 and Plin. NH 35.191, there were two kinds of Samian earth, κολλούριον and ἀστήρ, but it's not clear, if they are distinguished here.

  • 2.10-13.

    λευκογραφίς seems to be another clay called λίθος μόροχθος by Dioscorides in MM 5.134 (cf. also Plin. NH 27.103). Similar properties like in this case are also listed for washed lead (cf. MM 5.81.3) and litharge (cf. MM 5.87.2). Dr. Scarborough suggests λευκογραφίς might actually be a form of an acid metasilicate of magnesium, called variously talc, soapstone or steatite, the different names in antiquity being a result of its variations in colour, from white to pearly-gray or from silver-white to apple-green. The distinctive feature, however, is the 'greasy feel' of the mineral.

  • 2.13-15.

    Although there is no paragraphus in the papyrus, Haslam supposes that a new entry began with σταλαγμὸς ἄνθου[ς] concerning the 'droppings' of flower of copper. He also presumes it might be the form of χαλκανθές elswhere attested as σταλακτόν (cf. Dsc. MM 5.98) or stalagmias (cf. Plin NH 34.124).

  • 2.16-26.

    For pharmacological application of fig, specifically the young shoots, confer P. Ross. Georg. I 19, 58-60; Dsc. MM 1.128.4-5 and Plin. NH 23.118-129: Dioscorides only knows of its use for culinary preparation, while Pliny reports a variety of uses, e.g. the ash of dark-fig leaves for gangrenes and excrescences and the ash of wild-fig shoots for soothing a sore uvula.

  • 2.19.

    Haslam prefers to restore λαβὼ̣[ν] instead of λαβέ̣.

  • 2.20.

    According to Haslam, παραφυ[άδας] or παραφυ[ομένας] should be restored.

  • 2.27-37.

    The section about bile can be compared chiefly to Dsc. MM 2.78, where the bile of creatures has various, largely ophthalmic uses. Also Gal. Simpl. 10.13 is largely based on this passage.

  • 2.33.

    Concerning καλλιώνυμος, Pliny also mentions this kind of bile in NH 32.69. In a later passage (NH 32.77), he adds that callionymus bile infused with rose-oil is good for the ears, but the papyrus doesn't seem to mention it.

  • 2.35.

    The end of the line might be supplied with πρ[οβάτου], πρ[οβατεία] or instead πρ[ὸς e.g. θύμια].

  • 2.36.

    The special properties of goat-bile include lifting warts (Dsc. MM loc. cit) and controlling leprosy (Plin. NH 28.186).