De medicamine faciei

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De medicamine faciei , also called Medicamina faciei femineae , is a pharmacological-cosmetic didactic poem by the Roman poet Publius Ovidius Naso . Ovid refers to this little book in his Ars amatoria . So it is an early work. Only the introductory part and four recipes have survived.


The didactic poem De medicamine faciei is the earliest collection of pharmaceutical prescriptions in Latin . Because, possibly due to the coincidence of the text's preservation, there is only the medical information in De agri cultura of the older Cato before the writings of Aulus Cornelius Celsus . However, the pharmaceutical versions of Catos do not contain exact quantities and therefore do not have the character of a recipe. In the introductory 50 lines, Ovid recognizes care and good looks in all areas of life and especially among young women. There are numerous content and linguistic overlaps with the Ars amatoria . The following four recipes are for clear, shiny skin, for blemishes on the face, for applying a make-up base and for removing make-up. The active ingredients used, u. a. cerussa ( white lead ), Iris Illyrica and alcyoneum later name Scribonius Largus and Pliny the Elder , also with skin damage. To Galenik Honey is mainly used.

Language and tradition

The meter of the work is the distich . The dry list of active ingredients is loosened up by a pleasant description of the preparation. However, the recipes are much less poetic than you are used to from Ovid.
The fragment has been preserved in numerous manuscript collections. The oldest is the Codex Laurentianus Marcianus 223 (M) from the 11th century. It did not in any way received the same interest as Ovid's other writings.

Text editing and translation

  • Publius Ovidius Naso: Medicamina faciei femineae. In: Ibis, Fragments, Ovidiana. Edited, translated and explained by Bruno W. Häuptli. Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 1996.


  • Bruno W. Häuptli: Publius Ovidius Naso: Ibis, Fragments, Ovidiana. Edited, translated and explained by Bruno W. Häuptli, introduction. Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 1996.
  • Martin Schanz : History of Roman literature up to the legislative work of Emperor Justinian. Second part: The Roman literature in the time of the monarchy up to Hadrian. Beck, Munich 1911.
  • Christian Schulze: The pharmaceutical literature in antiquity. Duehrkohp & Radicke, Göttingen 2002.

Web links

Wikisource: Medicamina faciei femineae  - Sources and full texts (Latin)

Individual evidence

  1. Christian Schulze: The pharmaceutical specialist literature in antiquity , pp. 52–57.
  2. Bruno W. Häuptli: Publius Ovidius Naso, Introduction , p. 296.
  3. Martin Schanz: History of Roman Literature , p. 300.
  4. Bruno W. Häuptli: Publius Ovidius Naso, Introduction , p. 293.