In the Footsteps of Scribonius Largus, a Pioneer of Clinical Pharmacy in Ancient Rome

Christos Tsagkaris (1) , Anna Loudovikou (2) , Dimitrios V. Moysidis (3) , Andreas S. Papazoglou (4) , Konstantinos Kalachanis (5)
(1) University of Crete , Greece
(2) Aristotle University of Thessaloniki , Greece
(3) Aristotle University of Thessaloniki , Greece
(4) Aristotle University of Thessaloniki , Greece
(5) New York College , Greece


Clinical pharmacy involves pharmacists in direct patient care concerning optimizing medicines and promoting health awareness and disease prevention. The whereabouts of the field can be traced to Scribonius Largus, a renowned physician and pharmacist in ancient Rome. Although Largus served as an imperial physician, he has also been an exemplary pharmacist authoring a comprehensive pharmacognosy textbook and dedicated a big part of his life to improving pharmacotherapy and advancing ethics in the field. Revisiting his contributions provides valuable lessons for contemporary clinical pharmacists.

Full text article

Generated from XML file


1. Aldrete GS. History of the Ancient World: A Global Perspective. Virginia: The Great Courses; 2011.
2. Milwaukee Public Museum. The Roman Empire: A Brief History [Internet]. Milwaukee: Milwaukee Public Museum; 2021. Available from:
3. Del Castillo FF. Scribonius Largus. Hektoen Int. 2016;8(2). Available from:
4. Cartwright M. 1453: The Fall of Constantinople [Internet]. Quebec: World History Foundation; 2018. Available from:
5. Faria MA. Another medical journey to ancient Rome and Roman medicine with medical historian Plinio Prioreschi, MD, PhD. Surg Neurol Int. 2015;6:104
6. Masic I, Skrbo A, Naser N, Tandir S, Zunic L, Medjedovic S, et al. Contribution of Arabic Medicine and Pharmacy to the Development of Health Care Protection in Bosnia and Herzegovina - the First Part. Med Arch. 2017;71(5):364-72. doi:10.5455/medarh.2017.71.364-372
7. Ekor M. The growing use of herbal medicines: issues relating to adverse reactions and challenges in monitoring safety. Front Pharmacol. 2013;4:177. doi:10.3389/fphar.2013.00177
8. Cambiaghi M, Sconocchia S. Scribonius Largus (probably before 1CE-after 48CE). J Neurol. 2018;265(10):2466-8. doi:10.1007/s00415-018-8739-5
9. Zunic L, Skrbo A, Dobraca A. Historical Contribution of Pharmaceutics to Botany and Pharmacognosy Development. Mater Sociomed. 2017;29(4):291-300. doi:10.5455/msm.2017.29.291-300
10. Stephens MDB. The Dawn of Drug Safety. 3rd ed. Hampshire: George Mann Publications; 2012.
11. Thomas LR. The dental aspects of the "Compositiones medicamentorum" of Scribonius Largus: a glimpse of dental treatment in the 1st century A.D. Bull Hist Dent. 1978;26(1):21-7
12. Nutton V. Ancient Medicine. 2nd ed. London: Routledge; 2012.
13. Baker R. Medical Ethics, History of. In: Chadwick R, Callahan D, Singer P. Encyclopedia of Applied Ethics. 2nd ed. Massachusetts: Academic Press; 2012. p. 61-9.
14. Nutton V. Scribonius Largus, the unknown pharmacologist. Pharm Hist. 1995;25(1):5-8
15. Witkamp RF, van Norren K. Let thy food be thy medicine….when possible. Eur J Pharmacol. 2018;836:102-14. doi:10.1016/j.ejphar.2018.06.026
16. Lehmann Y, Lehmann H. [Pharmacology in ancient Rome. First appearance, development, extension]. Rev Hist Pharm. 2015;62(384):447-58
17. Galenus C. De compositione medicamentorum secundum locos libri X. ed C.G. Leipzig: Knobloch; 1826
18. Bliss SE. A Lesson from Greek Physician, Scribonius Largus [Internet]. Burlington: The University of Vermont;2013. Available from:
19. Jocks IT. The Compositiones Medicamentorum of Scribonius Largus [thesis]. Glasgow: University of Glasgow; 2013
20. Rajapakse T, Kirton A. Brain Stimulation Applications in Pediatric Headache and Pain Disorders. In: Kirton A, Gilbert D. Pediatric Brain Stimulation: Mapping and Modulating the Developing Brain. 1st ed. Massachusetts: Academic Press; 2016. p. 375-397
21. Tsoucalas G, Karamanou M, Lymperi M, Gennimata V, Androutsos G. The "torpedo" effect in medicine. Int Marit Health. 2014;65(2):65-7. doi:10.5603/imh.2014.0015
22. Matis GK. Spinal Cord Stimulation Therapy: New Technological Advances in Treating Chronic Pain. Nurs Stud Pract Int. 2019;2(2):1012
23. Andrade P, Heiden P, Visser-Vandewalle V, Matis G. 1.2 kHz High-Frequency Stimulation as a Rescue Therapy in Patients with Chronic Pain Refractory to Conventional Spinal Cord Stimulation. Neuromodulation. 2021;24(3):540-5. doi:10.1111/ner.13278
24. Faria MA. Religious morality (and secular humanism) in Western civilization as precursors to medical ethics: A historic perspective. Surg Neurol Int. 2015;6:105. doi:10.4103/2152-7806.158894


Christos Tsagkaris (Primary Contact)
Anna Loudovikou
Dimitrios V. Moysidis
Andreas S. Papazoglou
Konstantinos Kalachanis
Tsagkaris C, Loudovikou A, Moysidis DV, Papazoglou AS, Kalachanis K. In the Footsteps of Scribonius Largus, a Pioneer of Clinical Pharmacy in Ancient Rome. Borneo J Pharm [Internet]. 2021Aug.30 [cited 2024May28];4(3):226-30. Available from:

Article Details