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The portrait painted on the side of this albarello is of Horatius Publius Cocles. He was a Roman military hero who single-handedly defended a bridge into Rome against the Etruscan army while the bridge was being destroyed and then swam back to Rome. Pictures of him are a common feature on vases from the Faenza region of Italy. The jar was used to store Sciroppo di Stecade, Italian for “Syrup of French Lavender”. The syrup was used to treat disorders of the brain and nerves, including paralysis, epilepsy, spasms, tremors and pain.

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Glossary: epilepsy

A disorder of brain function characterized by seizures that occur suddenly. The seizures can be triggered by fast flashing lights, especially strobe lighting.

Glossary: drug jar

A (usually earthenware) container designed to hold apothecaries' ointments and dry drugs.

Glossary: pharmacy

The preparation and medicinal dispensing of drugs.

Glossary: paralysis

The loss of function in one or more muscle groups. It causes loss of mobility and feeling.

Glossary: tremor

An involuntary quivering or trembling.