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Gr. ὄπιον

Lat. Opium poppy. Papaver somniferum plant.


The opium poppy is the only species of Papaveraceae that is an agricultural crop grown on a large scale. Other species, Papaver rhoeas and Papaver argemone, are important agricultural weeds, and may be mistaken for the crop.The opium poppy is, by definition, the root source of all opioids considered opiates. Morphine is the predominant alkaloid found in the varieties of opium poppy plant.The seed pod of the opium poppy is the principal source of most naturally occurring μ-opioid receptor agonist opioids. Incisions are made on the green seed pods, the latex which oozes from the incisions is collected, and dried to produce raw opium.

Opium is a highly addictive narcotic drug acquired in the dried latex form from the opium poppy (Papaver somniferum) seed pod.


1-2. Etymology–General Linguistic Section.

Opium has been actively collected since prehistoric times, and may be the soma plant ubiquitously mentioned in the Rig Veda. Though western scholars typically date the text at 1500 BCE, Indian scholars maintain that the verses and the history contained in them have been orally transmitted thousands of years before. The Ebers Papyrus, circa 1500 BCE, describes a way to "stop a crying child" using grains of the poppy plant strained to a pulp. The Egyptians cultivated opium thebaicum in famous poppy fields around 1300 BCE. opium was traded from Egypt. Opium in Egypt, the use of opium was generally restricted to priests, magicians, and warriors, its invention is credited to Thoth, and it was said to have been given by Isis to Ra as treatment for a headache. Manuscripts of Pseudo-Apuleius's 5th-century work from the 10th and 11th centuries refer to the use of wild poppy Papaver agreste or Papaver rhoeas (identified as P. silvaticum) instead of P. somniferum for inducing sleep and relieving pain.

The Opium Poppy (Papaver Somniferum; also known as the Breadseed Poppy) is arguably the most infamous flower in the history of mankind. Used medically and recreationally since as early as 4200 B.C., Somniferum has been the cause and subject of wars, subjugation, and economic tribulations and prosperities. Used medicinally, it provides the most effective treatments for pain known.

B. TESTIMONIA - A selection of representative sources

Dsc. III 152: καὶ ὄπιον· παύει καὶ στρόφους καὶ δυσεντερίαν (opium is useful to treat colic and diarrhea).

Gal. De comp. sec. locos (12.627.5 K.): τὸ μὲν οὖν ὄπιον ἰσχυρότατόν ἐστι τῶν ναρκαρώδη τὴν αἴσθησιν, ὕπνον φερόντων (the opium promotes sleep and has an anesthetic effect).

Soranus, Gyn. III 41: εἰ δὲ καὶ ἐπιμένοι αἱμορραγοῦσα, καὶ ὑποκιστίδος καὶ ἀκακίας καὶ ὄπιον (opium is useful for haemorrhage).


'Medicinal aspects of opium as described in Avicenna's Canon of Medicine', in Acta Med Hist Adriat 11: 101–12. 2013.

Chandra, Siddharth (2008). "Economic Histories of the Opium Trade"

E. CPGM reference(s)

PSI X 1180, Col. II, 12, 17 ὀπίου. P.Acad. inv. 4.21 [ὀπ]ίου.

E. DDbDP reference(s)

P.Koeln 10 410,2 ὀπίου; P.Prag 1 89, 3 ὀπίου; P.Ryl. 2 141.22 ὀπίου; PSI I 49.2 ὀπίου; P.Vind.Worp 20.9 ὀπίου (δραχμαὶ) δ


Isabella Andorlini

Accepted term: 17-Sep-2015