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Pistachio

(166 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (πιστάκη/ pistákē from the Aramaic fustaqā, Arabic fustuq; Lat. pistacia). The fruit-tree Pistacia vera, of the family Anacardiaceae, originated in Mesopotamia and Syria, and produces flavoursome drupes (πιστάκια/ pistákia). The pistachio became known to the Greeks through the conquests of Alexander [4] the Great. Theophr. Hist. pl. 4,4,7 mentions it as being similar to the 'terebinth' (τέρμινθον/ términthon) - still unnamed - which grew in Bactria. According to Plin. HN 15,91, L. Vitellius introduced it to Italy from Syria in AD 35 under Tiberius, and the eques Po…

Purple swamphen

(157 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] ( Porphyrio porphyrio, πορφυρίων/ porphyríōn, Lat. porphyrio). The particularly splendid, blue-coloured purple swamphen with red bill and long red legs belongs to the rail family. Aristot. Hist. an. 7(8),6,595a 12 knew it for its peculiar snatching of water when drinking (Plin. HN 10,129: “solus morsu bibit”). Its neck is rather long (Aristot. Hist. an. 2,17,509a 10 f.). Pliny intimates that it breaks up its food in water and moves it towards its bill with its feet. A good description, …

Anchousa

(167 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (ἄγχουσα; ánchousa). Identified as the Mediterranean boraginaceae Alkanna tinctoria (L.) Tausch used for red dye (because of the alizarine content of the root) and as an astringent medicinal plant; in Aristophanes, Theophr. Hist. pl. 7,9,3 (with red rhizome), Dioscorides 4,23 [1.2.187 f. = 2.378] (cf. 4,24-26), Plin. HN among others [3.158]. Among other plants, the ox tongues, on the other hand, belong to the current genus Anchusa L. (βούγλωσσον; boúglōsson). The olive tree-like leaves of the bushy officinal (cf. Dioscorides 1,95 [1.1.86] = 1,124 …

Broom

(206 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] ( ginestra) includes several mostly yellow-flowering genera of bushes of Tribus Genistae of the leguminosae. These are Genista L., the two kinds of prickly broom, Ulex and Calycotome ( Aspalathos), and especially the Spanish broom Spartium junceum L. (σπάρτον/ spárton: Hom. Il. 2,135; σπαρτίον/ spartíon and σπάρτη/ spártē: Dioscorides, 4,154 p. 2,300 Wellmann = 4,155 p. 454 Berendes; on its cultivation: Columella 4,31,1 and 11,2,19). From this species people have, since antiquity, been using the long branches with few leaves …

Equisetum

(150 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] Because of their mode of growth, since antiquity four different leafless or small-leaved species of plant bear the name equisetum, equisaeta, cauda equina or caballina, ἱπποχαίτη ( hippochaítē) or ἵππουρις ( híppouris), horsetail or mare's-tail. This is true of: Equisetum L. and Hippochaete Milde, equisetum, shave grass or scouring rush; of Ephedra L., ἔφεδρον ( éphedron) or ἵππουρις, the jointfir members of the Gymnospermae, some of them climbers; also of water-plants in the case of the candelabra alga Chara, still called E. foetidum in the 16th cent. by C. Ba…

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…

Anthyllis

(93 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (ἀνθυλλίς, ἀνθύλλιον, ἄνθυλλος; anthyllís, anthýllion, ánthyllos) was, according to Dioscorides 3,136 [1.2.144 f.] = 3,143 [2.351 f.] and Plin. HN 21,175, the name given to two medicinal herbs used i.a. in gynaecology that are hard to classify, namely the Cretan cress ( Cressa cretica L., Convolvulaceae) and perhaps the labiate Ajuga Iva Schreb. Since the 16th cent. anthyllis has been used for the kidney vetch. Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg) Bibliography 1 M. Wellmann (ed.), Pedanii Dioscuridis de materia medica vol. 2, 1906, repr. 1958 2 J. Berendes (ed.),…

Iuglans

(243 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] or iugulans. Etymology according to Varro, Ling. 5,102: a Iove et glande appellata (‘named after Jupiter and the acorn’; cf. Isid. Orig. 17,7,21 according to Serv. Ecl. 8,29f. and Plin. HN 15,91, translated from Διὸς βάλανος/ Diòs bálanos, which otherwise designates the edible chestnut), the walnut ( Iuglans regia L.). Introduced into Italy from Persia on the Black Sea via Greece (according to Pall. Agric. 2,15,14-19, sown from the end of January onwards, according to Columella 5,10,14 in March), it was already known to Theophra…

Mullus

(460 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] The striped mullet ( Mullus surmuletus) and red mullet ( M. barbatus), popular for eating, were called τρίγλη/ tríglē or Latin m. (for an ocean fish μύλλος/ mýllos: [1]). Mention is made of the red colouring (Sen. Q Nat. 3,18; Opp. Hal. 1,130; Athen. 4,135b and 7,325e), the beard strands on the lower lip (Plin. HN 9,64; Cic. Parad. 5,38: barbatulus; Cic. Att. 2,1,7; Varro Rust. 3,17,7: barbatus) as well as a gluttony that does not shrink even from floating corpses (Ael. Nat. 2,41; Opp. Hal. 3,432-442; Aristot. Hist. an. 7(8), 2,591a 12f.). Aristo…

Origanon

(117 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (ὀρίγανον/ oríganon or ὀρείγανον/ oreíganon, also ὁ/ἡ ὀρίγανος/ ho/hē oríganos, Modern Greek ρίγανη, Lat. origanum) referred to a not positively determinable species of the labiate genus origanum or marjoram. Its seed was (and still is today) a popular spice for foods which was also used with the addition of wine in decoction for medical purposes because of its warming and dissolving effects. It served (Dioscorides 3,27 Wellmann = 3,29 Berendes, cf. Plin. HN 20,175) especially as a remedy against poisoning…

Helenium

(197 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (ἑλένιον; helénion, helenium). According to Plin. HN 21,59 and 159, the name is derived from the tears of Helena (rather differently Ael. NA. 9,21). Roman authors meant by the (h)enula or inula in general the elecampane ( Inula helenium L.), a large Composita growing in western Asia and eastern Europe. Since late antiquity it had been grown in gardens as a medicinal plant (cf. Columella 11,3,17 and 35). In particular the bitter root (description of how to preserve it with sweet additives: Columella 12,48,1-5; Plin. HN 19,…

Elm

(312 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (Latin ulmus, f.). Several species of this genus of trees in the Ulmaceae family grow in the Mediterranean region, notably the smooth-leaved elm ( Ulmus carpinifolia Gled., Greek πτελέα/ pteléa) and the wych elm ( U. scabra Mill.), which only grows as a shrub in Greece. It is already encountered in Homer (Il. 6,419 f.; 21,242-245 and 350). Theophrastus (Hist. pl. 3,14,1) differentiates in his excellent description a ὀρειπτελέα/ oreipteléa ( Ulmus scabra; atinia in Plin. HN 16,72; cf. Columella 5,6,2 and De arboribus 16,1) from the shrubby common elm, probably U. nemora…

Guineafowl

(284 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] The ancient names (μελεαγρίς/ meleagrís, Latin meleagris, synonym: gallinae Africanae or Numididae) actually only meant the common guineafowl ( Numida meleagris L.) ─ in spite of Columella 8,2,2 (cf. [1. 19]) ─ among the total of 23 species spread over southern Asia and the Middle East as well as North and West Africa. The guineafowl was probably introduced to Greece in the 4th cent. BC and only in the 1st cent. BC to Italy (Varro, Rust. 3,9,18, cf. Plin. HN 10,74: ‘the last of the southern birds brou…

Bear

(419 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] The brown bear ( Ursus arctos; ἄρκτος/ árktos, Lat. ursus) occurred widely in southern and central Europe into the Roman imperial period. Aristotle [6] is very familiar with it: mating in December, birth of usually one-two cubs during hibernation (until March; Aristot. Hist. an. 6,30,579a 18-28), possible owing to reserves of fat; the bear eats everything (it even likes honey), but above all meat, such as that of deer, wild boar and cattle (ibid. 7(8),5,594b 5-17). Aristotle also gives a d…

Peach

(165 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] ( Prunus persica Batsch from Persica sc. malus, Greek Περσικὸν μῆλον/ Persikòn mȇlon or Latin Persicum malum, i.e. literally 'Persian apple-tree', for the fruit), introduced to Italy from Persia or Armenia only in the 1st cent. AD (Plin. HN 12,14 and 15,44f.). Plin. HN 15,39f. distinguishes several kinds according to origin, including the supernatia, i.e. the one from the Adriatic Sea. It is likely that early peaches ( praecocia) meant apricots, which were initially very expensive. Peaches, which were rated particularly innocuous (cf. Dioscorides …

Lobster

(185 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] This superior species of crab ( Homarus vulgaris) belonged, according to Aristotle (Hist. an. 1,6,490b 12), under the name ἀστακός/ astakós (according to Frisk ‘provided with bones’) to the soft-shelled species (μαλακόστρακα/ malakóstraka), but according to Aelianus (NA 9,6) it was one of the crustaceans (ὀστρακόδερμα/ ostrakóderma). Its precise description (black speckles on a white background, eight feet, large claws with teeth on them, a tail composed of various parts) in Aristot. Hist. an. 4,2,526a 11-b 18 facilitates ide…

Aiorai

(41 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (Αἰῶραι; aiôrai). According to Poll. 4,131, a theatre machine consisting of cables with which the gods or heroes were able to float forth in flight, obviously a Hellenistic invention [1.291]. Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg) Bibliography 1 H. Bulle, in: ABAW 1928.

Alausa

(79 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] From Celtic tree names alausa, aliza or alisa the Roman and Germanic names for two genuses of rosaceae are probably derived, namely the whitebeam and the serviceberry ( Sorbus aria and torminalis) and the bird cherry or racemosa ( Prunus padus = Padus racemosa). It is uncertain whether ἄλιζα ( áliza; Hesychius) that is said to also mean alnus (alder) and populus (poplar) also belongs to this. Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg) Bibliography Bertoldi, in: Zschr. für Celtische Philol. 17, 1927.

Plantago

(123 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] The names ἀρνόγλωσσον/ arnóglōsson, κυνόγλωσσον/ kynóglōsson, ἑπτάπλευρον/ heptápleuron, πολύπλευρον/ polýpleuron, προβάτειον/ probáteion, ψύλλιον/ psýllion and Lat. plantago, all descriptive of appearance, indicate various species of the plantain ( plantago). Pliny, by virtue of its familiarity, compares it in habit with many other plants. Plin. HN 25,80, citing his contemporary  Themison, praises two species as excellent in desiccating and solidifying the body. Dioscorides (2,126 Wellmann = 2,152 Berendes)…

Lizard

(498 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (σαύρα/ saura or σαῦρος/ sauros, Latin lacerta and lacertus, possibly connected with ‘upper arm’, cf. [1. 1,743]). Genus name for various species of reptiles native to the Mediterranean: 1. the common wall lizard ( Lacerta muralis), 2. the green lizard ( L. viridis, χλοροσαύρα/ chlorosaúra), 3. the ocellated lizard that occurs especially in south-western Europe and North Africa ( Lacerta lepida; perhaps mentioned for the first time by Hdt. 4,183), 4. probably the monitor lizard ( Varanus) that is more than 20 cm long and is mentioned by Plin. HN 8,141 ( lacertus Arabiae …
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