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Finches

(379 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] As neither Greeks nor Romans paid much attention to many small songbirds, there is no clear evidence of them either. Medieval miniatures show both colourful finch species quite frequently (chaffinch e.g. [2. fig. 37 b]; goldfinch e.g. [2. fig. 10, 11 a-b, 15, 42, 44]). 1) Chaffinch ( Fringilla coelebs L.), σπίζα/ spíza, σπιζίον/ spizíon, σπίνος/ spínos, φρυγίλος/ phrygílos (Aristoph. Av. 763), ποικιλίς/ poikilís (interpretation uncertain, Aristot. Hist. an. 8[9],1,609a 6f.), fring(u)illa ( -us Mart. 9,5,7). A songbird with a melancholic-sounding (Mart…

Wisent

(171 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (βίσων/ bísōn, βόνασος/ bónasos; Latin biso, viso or bonasus). A wild ox which, together with the aurochs ( urus), was common in northern Europe (Plin. HN 8,38 and 40; Solin. 20,4), and particularly in Paeonia (Paeones); it had a horse-like mane (Aristot. Hist. an. 2,1,498b 31), inward-curving horns (Aristot. Part. an. 3,2,663a 13) and the ability to fend off enemies by flinging dung (Aristot. loc.cit; Hist. an. 8(9),45,630a 18-b 17). Paus. 10,13,1-4 describes a method for capturing them [1]. That …

Minium

(216 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (‘red lead’). Latin equivalent for the red mineral cinnabar (κιννάβαρι/ kinnábari, ‘dragon's blood’, cf. Plin. HN 33,115f. and his source Theophr. De lapidibus 58f. [1. 78, 80]), mercury sulphide (HgS). According to Plin. HN 33,4 and 33,111 it was found in the search for silver in ‘red earth’ ( rubens terra). By about 400 BC, it was being mined in Spain, in Colchis and above Ephesus by grinding and washing sand. According to Q. Verrius Flaccus (in Plin. HN. 33,111f.) minium even enjoed religious respect, because the face of the s…

Bidens

(96 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] Term for those ruminants that at second dentition had both middle incisors in the lower jaw replaced by larger teeth at the age of 1 1/4 to 2 years (Paul. Fest. 4,17). Servius describes just such sheep as preferred sacrificial animals (Serv. Aen. 6,39: mactare praestiterit ... lectas ex more bidentes, ‘it would be better to slaughter ... bidentes selected as prescribed by custom’; later Isid. Orig. 12,1,9; cf. Serv. Aen. 4,57).  Ruminants Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg) Bibliography Nehring, Jb. für class. Philol., 1893, 64ff. E. Norden, Vergils Aeneis, 6. Buch, …

Daphnoides

(136 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (δαφνοειδές or χαμαιδάφνη; daphnoeidés or chamaidáphnē). The name used for two types of daphne in the texts of Dioscorides (4,146 [1. 288 = 2. 444] and 4,147 [1. 289f.= 2. 444]), for Daphne laureola L. or alpina L. from the Thymelaecea genus with evergreen leaves similar to laurel. When drunk, an infusion of these leaves was said to have emetic, expectorant and diuretic properties and also to promote menstruation. They were also distinguished from the varieties with leaves similar to the olive tree such as camelaiva (Dioscorides 4,171 [1. 320] = 4,169 [2. 464]…

Sparrow hawk

(712 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (and other birds of prey). In Antiquity many species of the Falconidae family of birds of prey were grouped under the name ἱέρακες/ hiérakes, Latin accipitres. In Aristot. Hist. an. 8(9),36,620a 17-29 there are 10 species, in Plin. HN 10,21 f. as many as 16, but the information is often too vague for a more precise determination. The most important of them are: 1) The universally common Buzzard ( Buteo buteo), Greek τριόρχης/ triórchēs (allegedly with three testicles), Latin buteo. This plump and allegedly strong (Aristot. ibid. 17) hiérax was an important bird of a…

Magpie

(232 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] Because in Greek the same name (κίσσα/ kíssa or κίττα/ kítta) is used for the magpie ( Pica candata) and the jay, and because these two corvids can be trained to talk, the respective context, as in Plin. HN 10,78 with the mention of the long tail, must ensure the designation. Plin. HN 10,98 reports on their removal of the eggs as a reaction to disruptive observation by humans. Actually, magpies build several nests to protect themselves. However, his description of how they hang two eggs stuck to a …

Apheliotes

(166 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (Ion. ἀπηλιώτης; apēliṓtēs, e.g. Thuc. 3,23 and Aristotle, later ἀφηλιώτης; aphēliṓtēs) was the name given to the wind blowing from the east which the Romans translated as subsolanus (Sen. Q. Nat. 5,16,4; Plin. HN 2,119; Gell. NA 2,22,8) or solanus (Vitr. De arch. 1,6,4 f.). On Ephorus' map of the world it comes from the land of the ‘Indoi’, on the wind-rose of the author of the work on the number seven (end of the 5th cent.) it is positioned between the Βορέης ( Boréēs; north-east point) and the Εὖρος ( Eûros; south-east point) [1]. According to Aristot. Met. 2,6,363b…

Gypsum

(425 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (γύψος; gýpsos, gypsum) is the name both for the mineral anhydrite and for the mass manufactured from it by heating until red-hot and mixable with water. Quarrying was carried out in many places, according to Theophrastus (De lapidibus 64, [1. 82]), who also provides details on the properties of gypsum, among these on Cyprus, in Phoenicia and Syria, in Thurii, Tymphaia and Perrhaebia, and according to Plutarch (Mor. 914c) also on Zacynthus. Theophr. l.c. 69 and Plin. HN 36,182 descr…

Boreas

(305 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
(Boρέας; Boréas) [German version] A. Meteorology According to Ps.-Aristot. De mundo 4,394b20, the winds blowing from the north towards Greece were called Βορέαι οἱ ἀπὸ ἄρκτου ( Boréai hoi apò árktou) [1]. When the compass rose was developed in the 5th cent., that term was applied -- instead of to the true north wind ( Aparctias) -- to its eastern neighbours, the north-north-east and the north-east, especially on monuments where the Roman term Aquilo also appears. The Boreas is the stormy ‘king of winds’ (Pind. Pyth. 4,181), bringing darkness, cold and snow. It is o…

Hippopotamus

(540 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] Hippopotamus amphibius L., ὁ or ἡ ἵππος ποτάμιος/ híppos potámios, literally ‘river horse’, Latin hippopotam(i)us or equus fluvialis (Ambr. Hexaemeron 5,1,4), equus Nili (Thomas of Cantimpré, Liber de natura rerum 6,19), known from the  Nile (Plin. HN 8,95 and 28,121), from west African rivers (Plin. HN 5,10) and from Palestine. That the animal was found in the Indus, as alleged by Onesicratus, was rejected by Str. 14,1,45 and Paus. 4,34,3. In Egypt, the hippopotamus was nearly extinct in late antiquit…

Styrax

(279 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (Greek ἡ στύραξ/ stýrax, e.g. Theophr. Hist. pl. 9,7,3: the styrax tree or shrub; τὸ στύραξ/ tò stýrax, Latin styrax or later storax: the balsamic resin extracted from it is called Styrax officinalis). The fragrant resin was much in demand in Rome in the Imperial Period, and because of its high price, it was often adulterated (including with cedar resin, honey or bitter almonds, Plin. HN 12,125). It was imported (at the time of Hdt. 3,107 with the help of the Phoenicians) from Syria and Asia minor ( e.g. Cilicia), rolled in leaves of reeds (hence the earlier name Storax calam…

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…

Pinus (Stone pine)

(174 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (πίτυς/ pítys, Lat. pinus, Pinus pinea L.). This striking broad-crowned conifer, related to the spruce, is common along the coastal fringes of the Mediterranean Sea. Because a wreath of stone pine was awarded to victors in the Isthmian Games (Isthmia), poets from Hom. Il. 13,390 on mention the pinus. Pall. Agric. 12,7,9-12 and, much more briefly, Gp. 11,11 describe its cultivation. In many cases, a cone of pinus crowned Roman funerary monuments (Funerary architecture). Its wood useful for shipbuilding, its bark, needles and cones (κῶνος/ kônos) were used in medici…

Wax

(290 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (κηρός/ kērós, Lat. cera ). On melting (Plin. HN 21,83), the honeycombs of bees yielded cheap (Colum. 9,16,1) wax, which was bleached by boiling in sea water, adding bicarbonate of soda and then drying in the air (Plin. HN 21,84; cf. Dioscurides 2,83 Wellmann = 2,105 Berendes). In medicine it was used to make salves, patches (Plin. HN 22,117 and 30,70) and suppositories (Pharmacology). Small moulded items (κηροπλαστική/ kēroplastikḗ: Poll. 7,165) as toys for children (Aristoph. Nub. 878), toy figures (Plin. HN 8,215; Children's games, Dolls), household gods ( Lares: J…

Anagyris

(110 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (ἀνάγυρις, -ρος, ἄκοπον; anágyris, - ros, ákopon in Dioscorides 3,150 [1. 158 f.] = 3,157 [2. 360], Plin. HN 27,30 etc., modern Greek ἀνδράβανα; andrávana) is the common Mediterranean leguminous malodorous bush A. foetida L. with a tangy odour and cabbage-like flower, in antiquity used as a medicinal plant, e.g. the leaves as a laxative and the seed to induce vomiting. The proverb ἀνάγυριν κινεῖς [ anágyrin kineîs; 3.109] means to touch something unpleasant (cf. Zenob. 2,55 and 3,31). Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg) Bibliography 1 M. Wellmann (ed.), Pedanii D…

Bedbug

(240 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (ὁ, ἡ κόρις/ kóris, Lat. cimex; especially Cimex lectularius, the common bedbug, a troublesome bloodsucking parasite). Aristophanes was the first to refer to the bedbug as a typical inhabitant of the bedsteads of poor people in a work of literature (Nub. 634, Ra. 115, and Plut. 541). That is the origin of the expression ‘not even to own a bedbug’ ( nec tritus cimice lectus, Mart. 11,32,1; cf. Catull. 23,2). As a bad parasite, the bedbug was also used synonymously for a matchmaker or literary critic (Plaut. Curc. 500; Anth. Pal. 11,322,6; Hor. …

Incense

(307 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (λίβανος; líbanos, λιβανωτός; libanōtós as a Semitic loan-word, Lat. tus). Especially frankincense, the resin from bushes of the Boswellia species (e.g. B. Carteri), burnt for its aromatic smell. The actual appearance of the bushes was unknown in Graeco-Roman antiquity (cf. Plin. HN 12,55-57). These bushes also grew in India and the coast of Somalia, but the Greeks only knew them from Arabia (Theophr. Hist. pl. 9,4,2; Plin. HN 12,51). In the eastern Mediterranean, incense was used for cathartic and apo…

Sparrow

(398 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (Greek στρουθός/ strouthós or στρουθίς/ strouthís, diminutive στρουθίον/ strouthíon, also as a name for hetairai, Elean δειρητής/ deirētḗs: Nic. fr. 123; Latin passer, diminutive passerculus: Plaut. Asin. 666 and 694; Cic. Div. 2,65; Arnob. 7,8). Strouthós is a term for the House Sparrow ( Passer domesticus) and every other kind of small songbird, which in Antiquity were not distinguished. Hom. Il. 2,311-317 ( strouthós) is interpreted to some extent as a 'little bird' [1. 269; 2. 73 f.] and to some extent as a sparrow [3. 27 ff.]. Lesbia's f…

Dove/Pigeon

(1,215 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] I. Species The pigeon and dove family, περιστεροειδῆ/ peristeroeidê (Aristot. Hist. an. 5,13,544a 33-b 11 and also 6,4, 562b 3-563a 4), includes several species: 1) Wild pigeons: a) Πέλεια/ péleia (derived from πολιός/ poliós = ‘dark, blueish grey’), the rock dove ( Columba livia L.), the wild progenitor of the domestic pigeon. Homer only speaks of this species, which he labels ‘fearful’ because of its shyness towards people (τρήρων/ trḗrōn; e.g., Hom. Il. 5,778; Hom. Od. 12,62). Its enemies are birds of prey (Hom. Od. 15,525-527 and passim). Aristot. Hist. an. 5,13…
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