Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Mithridates VI Eupator

There is news that the remains of Mithridates' palace have been excavated on the Taman Peninsula in Russia. He lived from 134-63 BC and was King of Pontus, on the south coast of the Black Sea. He conquered the neighbouring territories, expanding his kingdom into Anatolia and then came up against the Romans, eventually being defeated by Pompey.

He was famous for his paranoia of being poisoned. He suspected his mother of poisoning his father and many of his siblings and is said to have hardened his body against poison by consuming increasing amounts of sub-lethal doses and then making a universal antidote whose ingredients were, according to Aulus Cornelius Celsus: "1.66g Costmary, 20g Sweet Flag, 8g hypericum, gum sagapenum, acacia juice, Illyrian iris and cardamon, 12g anise, Gallic nard, gentian root and dried rose-leaves, 16g poppy-tears and parsley, 17g casia, saxifrage, darnel, long pepper, 20.66g storax 21g castoreum, frankincense, hypocistis juice, myrrh and opopanax, 24g malabathrum leaves, flower of round rush, turpentine-resin, galbanum, Cretan carrot seeds, 24.66g nard and opobalsam, 25g shepherd's purse, 28g rhubarb root and 29g saffron, ginger, and cinnamon. These are pounded and taken up in honey. Against poisoning, a piece the size of an almond is given in wine. In other affections an amount corresponding in size to an Egyptian bean is sufficient."

Do you have a view on whether an almond is larger or smaller than an Egyptian bean?


Blogger Phidelm said...

No view at all.
Interesting to be reminded of the extraordinary Mithridates, tho' - off to look him up!

7:37 am  
Blogger Winchester whisperer said...

Salut Phidelm - hope you're enjoying better weather in France

11:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

an almond is larger than an Egyptian bean (lentil)

The last biography was 50 years ago (1959). Check out Mayor's new book on this amazing indivdual:

"The Poison King: The Life and Legend of Mithradates, Rome's Deadliest Enemy"

7:36 pm  
Blogger Winchester whisperer said...

Thank you Anon - I'll look out for that book

7:48 am  
Blogger Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Depends if it's a Sicilian almond!

11:48 pm  

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