Latin tetrapharmacum, Greek tetrapharmakon (the "fourfold drug") was a pharmaceutical compound known in ancient Greek pharmacology, a mixture of wax, pine resin, pitch and animal fat, most often pork fat.

Apparently named after this unprepossessing concoction, tetrafarmacum (standard Latin tetrapharmacum) was a complicated and expensive dish in Roman Imperial cuisine. It contained sow's udder, pheasant, wild boar and ham in pastry. The only surviving source of information on the tetrafarmacum is the Historia Augusta, which mentions it three times. All three mentions are credited to the now-lost biography of Hadrian by Marius Maximus. According to this source, the Caesar Aelius Verus (died 138) invented the dish; his senior colleague, the Emperor Hadrian, liked it; a later emperor, Alexander Severus, liked it too.


  • Galen, On the properties of simples (vol. 12 p. 328 Kühn).
  • Historia Augusta Hadrian 21, Aelius Verus 5, Alexander Severus 30.


  • , pp. 324-325

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