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Mithradates’ antidote: A pharmacological ghost

Totelin, Laurence Marie Victoria ORCID: 2004. Mithradates’ antidote: A pharmacological ghost. Early Science and Medicine 9 (1) , pp. 1-19. 10.1163/1573382041153179

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Two kinds of sources are available to the historian to reconstruct the first centuries of the history of Mithradates' antidote: biographical information on Mithradates' interests in medicine, and a series of recipes. In this paper I argue that we cannot reconstruct the original recipe of Mithridatium from our existing sources. Instead, I examine how the Romans remodelled the history of the King's death and used the royal name to create a "Roman" drug. This drug enjoyed a huge popularity in the first centuries of the Roman Empire. An Emperor, Marcus Aurelius, consumed it as well as members of the upper class; and many highly literate physicians recommended it notwithstanding the medical sect they were belonging to. With all its expensive ingredients, and its claim to work as a panacea, Mithridatium responded to a real demand in a Roman Empire at its commercial and political apogee.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: History, Archaeology and Religion
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DE The Mediterranean Region. The Greco-Roman World
Publisher: Brill Academic Publishers
ISSN: 1383-7427
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2022 08:30

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