Registres et savoirs invoqués dans le De venenatis animalibus de Philouménos


fr Anthropozoologica 47 (1) - Pages 51-72

Published on 29 June 2012

This article is a part of the thematic issue Ophiaca. Diffusion and Reception of Ophidian Lore in Antiquity

Scientific registers and knowledge adduced in Philumenus' About Venomous Beasts

This paper focuses on the structure and the issue of the Greek texts belonging to the discipline known as iology, and dealing with venomous animals and their bites/stings. Considering the treatise of Philumenus (About Venemous Beasts) and more generally the iologic corpus of prosaic works that form a coherent network (Aelius Promotus, Pseudo-Dioscorides) it scrutinizes the types of knowledge involved in these treaties and their relationship with medical and naturalist knowledge, especially in the case of the snakes. The organization and importance of the various data (naturalistic, toxicological, clinical, therapeutic and pharmacological), the name of the experts invoked in these texts and the role played by the author of the treatise help define the scientific and generic characteristics of this literature. “Treaties on venomous animals” are compilatory books that are strictly neither medical textbooks nor guides of herpetology, and they generally focus on clinical matters (even more than therapeutical). If they form a “genre”, it is determined as much by litterary practice and tradition as by a medical context and horizon.


Philoumenus, Aelius Promotus, Dioscorides, Snake, Iology, Nicander, Epistemology, Toxicology, Theriac.

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