ISSN ONLINE: 2558-815X
ISSN PRINT: 1584-9244
ISSN-L: 1584-9244

Diagoras of Cyprus (3rd century BC) – an eminent oculist and opposer to the use of opium



     The objective of this article is to showcase the use of opium in ancient times, as well as the beliefs surrounding it, focusing on the opinion of Diagoras of Cyprus, a physician with great knowledge of pharmacology who probably practiced ophthalmology, composing a rose-based collyrium. Opium, a drug produced from poppy, used to have several uses such as in anesthesia, pain relief and ritualistic purposes. There is evidence of its creation since before 5000BC. In Greece, the first documentation dates back to around 2600-1100 BC in Crete. Many ancient medico-philosophers used to utilize it in their practice, mentioning it in the majority of the medical texts of that time. However, there were others that disapproved of its use due to the possible side effects. Diagoras was one of them, as he categorized opium as a lethal substance that could cause severe problems to the vision. He may even have thought of the possible addiction that it can cause because of the euphoric state it puts a person in. Some practitioners mentioned Diagoras’s opinion on opium, such as Erasistratus and Pliny the Elder. Despite his contributions in opium usage and ophthalmology, Diagoras is still unappreciated as a medical figure.

Keywords: Diagoras, Cyprus, opium, ophthalmology, pharmacology, history of medicine.

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Corresponding author:
Department of Anatomy, Medical School, Democritus University of Thrace,
Alexandroupolis, Greece
Address: Ierolochiton str 155, P.C. 38334, Agioi Anargyroi, Volos, Greece



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Tsoucalas G, Markatos K, Revelou MT, Androutsos G, Korres D, Karamanou M.  Diagoras of Cyprus (3rd century BC) - an eminent oculist and opposer to the use of opium. Arch Balk Med Union 2018; 53(3):449-453. DOI 10.31688/ABMU.2018.53.3.22