Pedanius Dioscorides, De medicinali materia libri quinque

(Henri Estienne, Paris, 1516)

This is the first book on medicinal plants as an applied science. In the 1st century the Greek physician Dioscorides, while travelling with the Roman army, collected information on plants which he compiled into De materia medica, describing over 600 plants and their medical properties. For over 1500 years this work reigned as the almost infallible authority on medical botany and many believed nothing existed beyond his teachings. This pictured example is the first edition of the translation by Jean Ruel, made from the Aldine Greek edition of 1499. Altogether over 30 editions of this translation were published, the last in 1554.