chapter  8
20 Pages

Garcia de Orta and Amato Lusitano’s Views on Materia Medica: a Comparative Perspective

Garcia de Orta and Amato Lusitano left Portugal for good in 1534. Orta left for the East, while Lusitano embarked on a long journey through the West, passing through towns such as Antwerp, Ferrara, Ancona, Florence, Rome, Dubrovnik and Salonica. Both had been educated in Salamanca and shared, in very different locations and circumstances, a passion for materia medica, as can be seen in the excellence and innovation of their works describing ancient and modern medicinal products. Orta’s work was concerned with the origins of Eastern simples and drugs, while Amato’s was influenced by his location within a European market eager for novelty. Both sought to describe, as far as they were able, the properties and virtues of these products. In 1553, Amato published in Latin his comments on the five books of Dioscorides’s De materia medica1 in Venice, while Orta published the Colloquies on the Simples and Drugs of India in 1563 in Goa in Portuguese.2