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Re: VMS -- Botany (f51r) Henbane

Hi Dana,

This may be just a coincidence, but the most common medicinal theme that I have
noticed in the study of herbs found in the VMS is their application to the ailments of
the eyes. It may just be that the ancients applied many different ointments to
deseased eyes in hopes of finding cures.

I have seen numerous references to medieval eye treatment. According to Nancy Siraisi, "Medieval & Early Renaissance Medicine":-

p.38    Specialization in particular kinds of care -- eye conditions,
        hernia, midwifery (the last practiced only by women) -- was
        a mark of low status.

p.177   The pupil of Guillaume de Congenis was honest enough to
        admit that wandering specialists in couching cataract were
        often more successful than "famous surgeons" because
        the itinerants got more practice. [Notulae on the surgical
        treatise of Guillaume de Congenis, 1.34, ed Sudhoff,
        "Beitraege", 2:331.]

From sources not so easily to hand, I recall reading many times about a large medieval demand for (especially herbal) cures for eye problems: so I would expect just about any herbal collection of the time to feature eye-related herbs strongly. The VMS appears to be no exception. :-)

BTW: have you considered the relation of herbs to the correct bifolio binding order? Given that we know that some bifolios of the VMS are definitely in the wrong order, it may be that a particular original quire was devoted purely to eye-related herbs.

My guess is that f17r - which may or may not be fennel - would always have been on the front of the outer bifolio of a quire... so is f17v also eye-related? And f24r and f24v (which are on the other half of the bifolio)? If so, which then would have been the inner bifolios?

It would be great if we could find *some* principle underlying the pager ordering. :-)

Cheers, .....Nick Pelling.....