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Pepper

(240 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (τὸ πέπερι/ tò péperi, Latin piper) in Hippoc. Gynaikia 1,81 (cf. Hippocr. Epidemiai 4,40; 5,67; 6,6,13; 7,64) is the name of the costly spice Piper with two species ( P. album and P. nigrum) which is imported from India. The inadequate descriptions in Theophr. H. plant. 9,20,1, (cited in Athen. 2,66e), Dioscorides (2,159 Wellmann = 2,188 Berendes) and Plin. HN 12,26f. divulge that the seed grains of what is called P. longum grow in small pods, and this has been connected with African pepper ( Xylopia aethiopica A. Rich.), which is common in Africa. Theophrastus deri…

Goshawk

(688 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] It is almost impossible to distinguish exactly whether ἱέραξ/ hiérax (ἴρηξ, in Homer) in each individual instance refers to the goshawk ( Accipiter gentilis), the sparrowhawk ( A. nisus) or a species of the Falconidae. A commonly used synonym was κίρκος/ kírkos (e.g. Hom. Il. 22,139). The pigeon-killer φασσοφόνος/ phassophónos in Hom. Il. 15,237 apparently refers to the goshawk, írēx, however, to the sparrowhawk. In popular etymology, the Latin name accipiter ( acceptor in Lucil. 1130) is derived from accipere (Isid. Orig. 12,7,55, cf. Plaut. Persa 406f.). Aristot. …

Cuttle­fish

(622 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
The class of cuttlefish called Cephalopoda (‘Cephalopod’) belongs to the μαλάκια/ malákia that live in the sea (cf. Plin. HN 32,149), Lat. mollia, modern molluscs, and to the subphylum Conchifera. Today's system differentiates the two orders of the ten-armed cuttlefish ( Decabrachia) and eight-armed cuttlefish ( Octobrachia). [German version] I. Decabrachia Of the Decabrachia that have, in addition to the eight tentacles on the head (πλεκτάναι/ plektánai: Aristot. Hist. an. 4,1,524a 3 f.), two longer, retractable tentacles (προβοσκίδες/ proboskídes: ibid. 523b 29-33), Ar…

Mite

(200 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] Classical antiquity distinguished (unlike [1]) by name only a few kinds of this order of arachnids: 1.) the tick (κρότων/ krótōn, κυνοραιστής/ kynoraistḗs, Latin ricinus) as a parasite of dogs (Hom. Od. 17,300; Aristot. Hist. an. 5,19,552a 15 and 5,31,557a 16; Zenob. 6,27; first good description by Thomas of Cantimpré 9,20 [2. 303] as engulas, pediculus silvestris or theca = caeca, from which English ‘tick’, German ‘Zecke ’etc.), hedgehogs and foxes (Aisop. 36; Aristot. rhet. 2,20,1393b 24-27: κυνοραιστής), cattle (κρότων βοῶν, Aristot. …

Mussels

(881 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] A. Anatomy The popular collective term τὰ ὄστρεα/ óstrea was replaced by Aristot. Hist. an. 4,4,527b 35-528a 1 with ὀστρακόδερμα/ ostrakóderma. The corresponding Latin terms are ostreum and ostrea (Isid. Orig. 12,6,52), but this often means oyster, or concha (Plin. HN 9,40) in particular. In contrast to  Pliny, Aristot. Hist. an. 4,4,528a 12f. distinguishes bivalves (δίθυρα/ díthyra, modern: Bivalvia) from univalve gastropods (μονόθυρα/ monóthyra). Aristot., unlike Plin. HN 11,129, erroneously mentions a head in gastropods and bivalves (Pa…

Carnation

(212 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] As we do not know of any ancient name, we cannot clarify whether the carnation was found in ancient times. Possibly it is meant by the name Διὸς ἄνθος/ Diòs ánthos, ‘flower of Zeus’ Latin Iovis flos, from which the modern name of the genus, Dianthus, is also derived. At any rate, of the 65 representatives that grow in Greece from among the 120 wild European species of carnation, 20 are regarded as endemic [1. 81]. In the shrub-like Cretan carnation, Dianthus arboreus, archaeologists see the model for wall paintings in the palace of Knossos. As Zeus is said to …

Oriole

(129 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] The magnificent male of the Oriolus oriolus L. with its yellow and black markings and melodious song is probably what is meant by  χλωρίων/ chlōríōn in Aristot. Hist. an. 8(9),22,617a 28 and chlorion in Plin. HN 10,87. Besides the colouring ( chlōrós = greenish yellow) this is confirmed by the late appearance of this migratory bird at the summer solstice and its disappearance in winter. Icterus and galgulus in Plin. HN 30,94, a bird used to cure jaundice, and virio (Plin. HN 18,292) seem to be synonymous terms [1. 85f.]. Its bowl-shaped nest intricately susp…

Mannus

(136 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] ( mannulus) or buricus (according to Porph. Hor. comm. epod. 4,14; Veg. Mulomedicina 3,2,2; for the name [1. 2, 29]) was the name given to the small horse or pony imported from Gaul (for the origin [2. 289]) in the 1st cent. BC to Rome as a luxury animal (Lucr. 3,1063; Plin. Ep. 4,2,3: mannulus; Jer. Ep. 66,8), particularly for ostentatious ladies (Hor. Carm. 3,27,7; Prop. 4,8,15; Ov. Am. 2,16,49f.). People would harness the small, fast and temperamental animal to a two-wheeled coach (‘gig, parva esseda, carpentum, covinnus; [3. 416, 464]: Mart. 12,24,8) or ride it …

Sturgeons

(339 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] In Antiquity - as it still is - the ancient Chondrostei family was represented by the Common Sturgeon ( Acipenser sturio L.) and the smaller Sterlet ( Acipenser ruthenus L.). The latter is described by Apion and Archestratus [2] (in Ath. 7,294e-f) as an ἀκκιπήσιος/ akkipḗsios (Latin acupenser/ accipenser) and identified with the ἔλ(λ)οψ/ él(l)ops (etymology still unclear: [1. 1,500], cf. schol. Theoc. Syrinx 18; Plut. Mor. 728e; Ath. 7,308c) and the γαλεός/ galeós (cf. Varro Rust. 2,6,2; elsewhere always meaning shark). Dorion (in Ath. 7,282) and Plut…

Cabbage

(185 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (ῥάφανος, κράμβη, καυλός; rháphanos, krámbē, kaulós; Latin brassica, crambe, caulis, from this Italian cavolo, French chou, German Kohl) is a European vegetable plant ( Brassica oleracea L.) from the Cruciferae family that today is grown in numerous culture strains. It is first mentioned as the heptaphyllous krámbē by Hipponax 40 Diehl (quoted in Ath. 9,370b). Within the rháphanos, Theophr. Hist. pl. 7,4,4 (related by Plin. HN 19,80 to the radish rhaphanís, Latin raphanus) distinguishes, like Cato Agr. 157,1-3 and Ath. 9,369e-f, three varieties of cab…

Reindeer

(228 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] ( Rangifer tarandus, ὁ τάρανδος/ ho tárandos, Lat. tarand(r)us; parandrus: Solin. 30,25, there [?] shifted to Ethiopia!). The deer-like animal, dispersed as far as northern Italy and southern France during the Ice Age, was known to the Greeks only from the land of the Scythians on the basis of plausible reports in Theophr. fr. 172,2-3; Ps.-Aristot. Mir. 30,832b 7-16 and Aristot. fr. 317 (Antigonus Carystius 25), as well as Plin. HN 8,123-124. A fantastic motif recurring in these sources, such as in Solin. 30,25 (whose report on the pirander was adopted in the Middle …

Hyena

(604 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (ὕαινα; hýaina, from ὕς/ hýs, ‘pig’). First mention in Hdt. 4,192; γλάνος/ glános (Aristot. Hist. an. 7(8),594a 31); κ(ο)ροκόττας/ k(o)rokóttas, first in Ctesias fragment 87 M. and Agatharchides, Periplus maris rubri 39. Latin hyaena and c(o)rocotta(s) in Plin. HN 8,72 and 107; post-Classical belua (belva) (S HA Gord. 33,1). It was probably not just the more common striped hyena ( Hyaena striata in the Middle East and Africa) that was known but according to Opp. Kyn. 3,288 (Περὶ στικτῇσιν ὑαίναις) also the spotted hyena ( Hyaena Crocuta crocuta in Africa). It was er…

Carbasus

(49 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (κάρπασος, καρπήσιον; kárpasos, karpḗsion). Phoenician or previously Indian term for  cotton, such as that from Tarraco (modern Tarragona) in Spain (Plin. HN 19,10). Plants used as antidotes ( Alexipharmaka) such as species of Helleborus and Valeriana were also thus described (cf. Colum. 10,17). Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)

Chrysophrys

(155 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (χρυσόφρυς or χρυσωπός; chrysóphrys, chrysōpós in Plut. Soll. anim. 26,977f), aurata, sea bream, the genuine dorado. The popular edible fish that is up to 60 cm in size is often mentioned in comedies (Ath. 7,328a-b) and frequently portrayed (Keller II, fig. 120,124 and 147). According to Aristotle, it lives in the sea close to land (hist. an. 8,13,598a10), spawns in rivers, maintains a prolonged sleep throughout the summer (Plin. HN 9,58: 60 days), eats flesh and is harpooned with a trident…

Biremis

(109 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] [1] Ship with two oars A ship with two oars (δίκωπος; díkōpos), Eur. Alc. 252; Pol. 34,3,2; Luc. 8,565; 10,56). Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg) [German version] [2] A ship with two protruding banks of oars A ship with two protruding banks of oars, of different length, on the sides (διήρης/ diḗres) and accordingly two synchronous stroke patterns (δίκροτος/ díkrotos). Each oar was serviced by a galley convict (Caes. B Civ. 3,40,4). The Phoenicians were familiar with these ships of two banks of oars as early as around 700 BC.  Ships Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg) Bibliogra…

Larch

(102 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] This conifer, Larix europaea or Larix decidua Mill., which loses its needles in autumn, does not occur in Greece but was imported by the Romans from the Alps and the Carpathians as larix and cultivated in upper Italy. The larch did not reach western central Europe until the 18th cent. Vitr. 2,9,14 mentions for the first time its wood for being resistant to rotting and fire (cf. Pall. Agric. 12,15,1), after that Plin. HN 16,43 and 45. Its solid, resin-rich, reddish wood was used for housebuilding and shipbuilding. Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg) Bibliography R. Stadler, s.…

Rose

(386 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (Greek τὸ ῥόδον/ rhódon, Latin rosa). The first references to the plant, famed for its blossoms and, according to Hehn [1. 253 f.], introduced from Media, are in the Homeric hymn to Demeter (Hom. h. 2,6) and - citing its purple colour - Pind. Isthm. 3/4,36b. According to Hdt. 8,138 (cf. Nic. in Ath. 15,683a-b), the celebrated sixty-petalled scented roses in the so-called 'Garden of Midas' in Macedonia grew in the reign of King Perdiccas [1]. Theophrastus (Hist. pl. 6,6,4) knew a full double rose, allegedly hundred-petalled (cf. Rosa centifolia), from Philippi in th…

Karyotos Phoinix

(121 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (καρυωτὸς φοῖνιξ; karyōtòs phoînix) is a not precisely identifiable species of date palm with tasty fruit (Latin caryotae, derived from the nut κάρυον/ káryon), therefore not Caryota urens L. Plin. HN 13,44f. praises the juice of the fruit, from which outstanding, but intoxicating, wines were made in the Orient. Best of all were the dates from Jericho with their fatty, milk-like juice and very sweet taste. Additional passages: Plin. HN 14,102 and 23,52; Varro, Rust. 2,1,27; Mart. 13,27; Dioscorides 1,10…

Hippocampus

(344 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (Ἱππόκαμπος/ Hippókampos, Latin equus marinus). The sea horse, which Paus. 2,1,9 defines as a ‘horse, which is like a sea monster (κῆτος; kêtos) from the chest downwards’ (cf. Serv. Georg. 4,387: in the first part a horse, changing into a fish in the last part). The hippokampos is not identical with the homonymous Mediterranean fish that is mentioned by Plin. HN 32,58 et passim as a remedy (e.g. the spotted seahorse, hippocampus guttulatus [1. 138]). Literary references are rare (e.g. Str. 8,7,2 [384]). According to Ael. NA 14,20 the stomach of a hippokampos, cooked and…

Cypress

(344 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] Of the conifer genus Lat. cupressus (since Enn. Ann. 262 (223) and 490 (511); late Lat. cyparissus, Isid. Orig. 17,7,34; κυπάρισσος/ kypárissos, probably from the pre-Indogermanic, already in Hom. Od. 5,64) with 14 species, only the wild form C. sempervirens L. with the variant C. horizontalis ( C. mas in Plin. HN 16,141) occurred in south-east Europe. However, the old culture strain [1. 34 ff.] of the variant C. pyramidalis ( C. femina: Plin. HN 16,141; it was already sown by Cato: Cato Agr. 48,1; 151), widespread and well known on Cyprus and Crete…
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