Sources : Mandrake
Pliny the Elder [1st century CE] (Natural History, Book 8, 41; 25, 94): [Book 8, 41] When bears have swallowed the fruit of the mandrake they lick up ants. [Book 25, 94] Some physicians used to employ the mandrake also; afterwards it was discarded as a medicine for the eyes. What is certain is that the pounded root, with rose oil and wine, cures fluxes and pain in the eyes. But the juice is used as an ingredient in many eye remedies. Some give the name circaeon to the mandrake. There are two kinds of it: the white, which is also considered male, and the black, considered female. The leaves are narrower than those of lettuce, the stems hairy, and the roots, two or three in number, reddish, white inside, fleshy and tender, and almost a cubit in length. They bear fruit of the size of filberts, and in these are seeds like the pips of pears. When the seed is white the plant is called by some arsen, by others morion, and by others hippophlomos. The leaves of this mandrake are whitish, broader than those of the other, and like those of cultivated lapathum. The diggers avoid facing the wind, first trace round the plant three circles with a sword, and then do their digging while facing the west. The juice can also be obtained from the fruit, from the stem, after cutting off the top, and from the root, which is opened by pricks or boiled down to a decoction. Even the shoot of its root can be used, and the root is also cut into round slices and kept in wine. The juice is not found everywhere, but where it can be found it is looked for about vintage time. It has a strong smell, but stronger when the juice comes from the root or fruit of the white mandrake.- [Rackham translation]
Josephus (Jewish historian; ca. 37-100 CE): A furrow must be dug around the root until its lower part is exposed, then a dog is tied to it, after which the person tying the dog must get away. The dog then endeavors to follow him, and so easily pulls up the root, but dies suddenly instead of his master. After this, the root can be handled without fear.
Isidore of Seville [7th century CE] (Etymologies, Book 17, 9.30): Mandrake [mandragora] is so called because it has a sweet-smelling fruit the size of a Matian apple; hence Latin speakers call it ‘apple of the earth.’ Poets name it mandragóras [“human-formed”], because it has a root that resembles the human form. Its bark, mixed with wine, is given for drinking to those whose bodies need to undergo surgery, so that they are sedated and feel no pain. There are two kinds of mandrake: the female, with leaves like lettuce’s, producing fruit similar to plums, and the male, with leaves like the beet’s. - [Barney, Lewis, et. al. translation]