The Herbal of Rufinus


THE botany of the Middle Ages has commonly been held in low esteem by historians of science, who have regarded it merely as a phase in the decline of the text of Dioscorides. The publication of Dr. Lynn Thorndike's edition of Rufinus affords striking evidence, however, that in thirteenth century Italy, at all events, there was a growing interest in plants themselves as well as in their medicinal properties. Rufinus, whose herbal was composed not long after A.D. 1287, was a monk, titular abbot of the monastery of Tyre, and penitentiary to the archbishop of Genoa. His original manuscript is unknown ; but the first half of the unique manuscript now reproduced may date from the late thirteenth century, while the second half seems to be written in a later, Bolognese hand. The table of contents seems to have been added still later.

The Herbal of Rufinus

Edited from the Unique Manuscript by Lynn Thorn-dike, assisted by Francis S. Benjamin, Jr. Pp. xliii + 476. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press; London: Cambridge University Press, 1945.) n.p.

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SPRAGUE, T. The Herbal of Rufinus. Nature 157, 494–495 (1946).

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