From the Wikipedia entry:

Mithridate, also known as as mithridatium or mithridaticum, is a semi-mythical remedy with as many as 65 ingredients, used as an antidote for poisoning, and said to be created by Mithridates VI of Pontus. It was among one of the most complex, highly sought-after drugs during the Renaissance, particularly in Italy and France, where they were in continual use for centuries. … Mithridate was used as part of a regimen to ward off potential threats of plague.

6 Annotations

First Reading

JWB  •  Link

from Benjamin Wooley's "Heal Thyself, Nicholas Culpeper and the 17th C. ...."p140:

"Theriac (treacle) of Mithridates had been the sovereign remedy of the physician's pharmacopoeia since the Middle Ages...its fifty ingredients coming form the four corners of the known earth. It contained myrrh,saffron, agrick, ginger,cinnamon, spikenard, frakincense, oil of nutmeg, turpentine, juice of hypocistis styrax calanitis, cassia ligneam Macedoonian Parsley seed, seeds of Cretan carrot, valerian, the bellies of skinks, the tops of St. John's wort, & Malaga wine."

Pedro  •  Link

Mithridate (3 syl.).

A confection said to be invented by Mithridates, King of Pontus and Bithynia, as an antidote to poison. It contains seventy-two ingredients.

"What brave spirit could be content to sit in his shop ... selling Mithridatum and dragon's water to infected houses?"- Knight of the Burning Pestle. (1635.)

(Brewer's Phrase and Fable)

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

According to historian Christopher Hill, Oliver Cromwell took a large dose of mithridate as a precaution against the plague and found it cured his acne.
The term mithridate has come to refer to any generally all-purpose antidote.…

Bill  •  Link

It was he [Mithridates] who first thought, the proper precautions being duly taken, of drinking poison every day; it being his object, by becoming habituated to it, to neutralize its dangerous effects. This prince was the first discoverer too of the various kinds of antidotes, one of which, indeed, still retains his name...
---Pliny the Elder. Natural History, 77-79 A.D.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

According to the article below, mithridate was the aspirin of the 17th century. It was prescribed for everything, and was on every apothecaries' shelf.

In 1678 the 57-year-old Andrew Marvell MP had the ague (what we now call malaria, and a mild form of which was rampant in London and southeast England).

People knew about the life-saving effects of quinine, but being a good Protestant, Marvell didn't want to take anything which had gone through Jesuit hands in South America. So it is now being proposed that he took his father's recipe for mithridate, which contained opium.

Andrew Marvell had written a poem during Cromwell's reign warning people about the dangers of opium, but that was 35 years ago, and presumably he had forgotten his own caution. He died "mysteriously", and his friends cried "MURDER!" But now historians think it was an accidental O.D.…

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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.


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