Circa instans

by Matthew Platearius, d. 1161

Portrait of Matthaeus Platearius, ca. 1470 by Robinet Testard

The Circa instans, attributed to Matthaeus Platearius (died 1161), was one of the most influential botano-medical texts of the high Middle Ages and beyond, featuring in around 240 mss. and several languages. This website presents a modern English translation of the text by Anna Kirkwood Graham, with contributions from Brandon Conley and Madi Pehringer. The translations are based on two easily accessible editions:

Practica Joannis Serapionis dicta breviarium … Liber de simplici medicina, dictus circa instans. Practica platearii. (Venice: Octavian Scot, 1497). f. 186r: the opening of Circa instans. Translated from the Arabic by Gerardus de Sabloneto and Simon a. Cordo. GW M41687Digital version available at See image below.

The second is

Dispensarium Nicolai Praepositi ad aromatarios infinitis penè mendis diligentissimè repurgatum. Cui accedit Platearius vulgo circa instans nuncupatus de simplici medicina eadem diligentia correctus. Cum indice.

Printed by Nicolas Bonfonius, 1582.

A third, modern edition, is available as an e-book: Hans Wolfel, Das Arzneidrogenbuch Circa instans in einer Fassung des XIII. Jahrhunderts aus der Universitätsbibliothek Erlangen : Text und Kommentar als Beitrag zur Pflanzen- und Drogenkunde des Mitterlalters : Inaugural-Dissertation zur Erlangung des Doktorgrades… (Berlin, 1939).