Why: In the short story "Julia and Byron" by Craig Raine:
The medication had a beautiful name. Mandragorax. Made by a pharmaceutical company that knew its Shakespeare.Answer: Mandragorax is from plant genus Mandragora or Mandrake. Remember them from Harry Potter? Sometimes the roots are bifurcated so they look like little people.
Shakespeare wrote about mandrakes 4 times, twice by the name mandragora:
- "...Not poppy, nor mandragora,
- Nor all the drowsy syrups of the world,
- Shall ever medicine thee to that sweet sleep
- Which thou owedst yesterday."
- Shakespeare: Othello III.iii
- "Give me to drink mandragora...
- That I might sleep out this great gap of time
- My Antony is away."
- Shakespeare: Antony and Cleopatra I.v
- "Shrieks like mandrakes' torn out of the earth."
- Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet IV.iii
- "Would curses kill, as doth the mandrake's groan"
- King Henry IV part II III.ii
The More You Know: References to the mandrake also appear in The Bible (ex. Leah gives some to Rachel), in plays by Machiavelli ("The Mandrake") and Samuel Beckett, and in poems by John Donne and Ezra Pound.