Clara’s Abstract

The focus of my research is El compendio delos boticarios – Alonso Rodriguez de Tudela’s Castilian translation of a Latin apothecaries’ manual written by Saladino d’Ascoli in the mid 1400’s. The paper presented at this conference will examine what this document reveals regarding global health from a historical perspective and the benefits of intercultural exchange. The Compendio contains multiple instances which serve as evidence that its author appreciated the contributions of Muslims, Jews, and Christians alike to his field. In describing a type of pill known as trifera sarracenica, for example, it reads, “trifera se dize porque al hombre buelue mancebo/sarracenica porque delos moros fue hallada y escrita,” or, “it is called trifera because it makes men young again/sarracenica because it was invented and described by the Moors [Saracens].” Similarly, but this time in acknowledgement of Jewish tradition, one finds the sentence, “esdra es dicha de esdra propheta que la compuso,” or, “esdra [a type of compound medicine] is named for the prophet Ezra who created it.” A reference to Christianity is found in the description of a substance known as opopira: “Este letuario es compuesto delos santos martyres medicos cosma y damian,” or, “this electuary was created by Cosmas and Damian – saints, martyrs, and physicians.” The proposed presentation will analyze such instances in greater detail, examining what they reveal about the process of intercultural exchange. Additionally, it will explore the implications of said process in a modern context – particularly as it relates to the current situation of the Middle Eastern and Mediterranean regions. It is the possibility of doing so, in fact, that makes this research important. In short, there is much to be learned from this text regarding the exchange of knowledge that characterized the fifteenth-century Mediterranean and informed perspectives on global health at that time.