Nepenthes and Cannabis in Ancient Greece

Janus Head 7 (1):34-49 (2004)
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Abstract

Substantial evidence supports the perspective that the people of Ancient Greece had a language for and some use for drugs, both for the purpose of medicine and poison; however, the question remains whether Ancient Greek civilization held a concept approximating what we today call drug addiction. This article explores the textual evidence for the use of two drugs, nepenthes and cannabis, in Ancient Greece. While the existence of nepenthes remains in doubt, the use of cannabis is well documented. Either drug or both drugs may have been used in the rites of the Bacchic and Orphic mysteries, which might explain why there are so few references to these drugs in the Ancient Greek literature.

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