DIOSCÓRIDES AND THE PORTUGUESE HUMANISM: THE AMATO LUSITANO COMMENTS
The purpose of the Project «Dioscorides and the Portuguese Humanism: Amato Lusitanoís Commentaries» is to present a translated edition of the two books that Amato Lusitano dedicated to the commentary ofthe famous Greek treatise «De materia medica libri quinque» by Dioscorides. In other words, the books of «Index Dioscoridis» (Antwerp, 1536) and «In Dioscoridis Anazarbei de medica materia libros quinque...enarrationes» (Venice, 1553). The translated edition will be accompanied by an introduction and explanatory notes. Additionally, there are two more translations planned, that of books directly related to the Portuguese humanistís books: the first, that of the Greek Dioscorides treatise itself, «De materia medica» (the book on which Amato based his commentary); the second, that of the book suggestively entitled «Apologia aduersus Amathum Lusitanum» (Venice, 1558) written by the humanist Pietro Andrea Mattioli (a critical reaction to Amatoís commentaries).
The commentary of Amato on Dioscorides is of unusual richness, as it does not limit itself to the identification, description and reference to medicinal usage of substances of plant, animal and mineral origin that compose the «materia medica». The Portuguese humanistís narrations contain various textual meanderings. As to scientific commentary, interesting biographical references, fanciful brief accounts, or peculiar personal contemplations of different themes or characters are not infrequent. They can range, for example, from colleagues, patients, merchants and friends to relatives or political and religious authorities.
The publication of the first Portuguese version of Dioscoridesís Greek treatise and of the books by Amato and Mattioli, will constitute a notable achievement. It will make available texts which are essential for the advancement of knowledge in various scientific areas:
- The scientific fields more closely related to «materia medica» (Botany, Medicine, Pharmacy, Geology and Zoology) will henceforth count on a quality translation and scientifically certified essential texts for the History of Science, which in the case of Amatoís and Mattioliís commentaries are, until now, only available in the old Latin editions. Very few people have access to these editions, due to their rarity and the obstacle of the Latin language. In future, these translated texts will become more accessible bibliographical references in the curricular subjects of History of Medicine, or in Pharmacy or Botany.
- In the field of Classical and Humanistic Studies, the books to be published within this project will offer a valuable source for the study of Classical Antiquity and for the development of substantiated studies in the sphere of Renaissance Humanism, particularly on the authors and translated texts.
- Furthermore, the translation of the commentaries by Amato (and Mattioli) represents an important step in the area of History of the Discoveries and the History of the Portuguese Jews, as it will reveal the acute perception of a New Christian physician, who escaped from Portugal. He offers his vision on the business of precious merchandise, which was also that of his family: the international commerce of spices, plants for medicinal uses and drugs.