Advice on Living Well from the First Century CE

As an alchemist, Miriam sought to identify the philosopher’s stone, the legendary substance capable of turning base metals into gold. That same substance was also believed to have the potential to heal, rejuvenate, and extend human life. Accordingly, Miriam was learned in the medical practices of her time. And so, she was well acquainted with the work of Aulus Cornelius Celsus (c.25 BC—c.50 CE), the Roman nobleman and encyclopaedist known for writing De Medicina.

In The Deadliest Lie, Miriam’s apothecary refers to De Medicina when compounding suppositories from crushed cannabis leaves to relieve the pain of hemorrhoids. In The Deadliest Sport, Miriam follows Celsus’s recommendation to use garlic instead of bloodletting to improve Amram’s circulation, as long as he’s not sensitive to onions or ginger. And in The Deadliest Fever, to be released next year, Miriam is cautious about concluding that a death was caused by a heart attack. Based on her knowledge of De Medicina, she warns that an overdose of black hellebore can mimic those same symptoms, and so she suspects murder.

Although many sections of Celsus’s encyclopedia have been lost, his information on diet, pharmacology, and surgery known as De Medicina is still available, even as an e-book. And speaking of available, my books are as well. Just click here.

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