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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…

Cockroach

(253 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] English name for the representatives of the Blattaria order of insects which can be found throughout the world in c. 3,000 types since the Carboniferous, one of them the German cockroach Blatella germanica. The Latin name is usually blatta; in Isid. Orig. 12,8,7, however, this name is used for a type of butterfly ─ actually a moth whose name was derived from its colour: when touched, its wings leave a blackish-blue spot on the hand ( blatteum colorem, ‘crimson’). In this text, the only zoological piece of information about the animal is its aversion to lig…

Elder

(217 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] Two shrubs of the genus Sambucus in the family Caprifoliaceae occur in Europe, the common elder ( Sambucus nigra L., sa(m)bucus, ἀκτῆ; aktê) and the red-berried elder ( Sambucus racemosa L.; Verg. Ecl. 10,27: Pan was said to be red because of the berries of the ebulum, according to Serv. ad loc. a comparable plant). A third type is the herbaceous, black-fruited dwarf elder ( Sambucus ebulus L., ebulus/um, χαμαιάκτη; chamaiáktē in Dioscorides 4,173,2 Wellmann = 4,172 Berendes; Plin. HN 24,51: chamaeactis or helion acte). A good description of the species is found …

Ereike

(137 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (ἐρείκη; ereíkē is first mentioned in Aesch. Ag. 295 and Theophr. Hist. pl. 1,14,2). The genus Erica comprises c. 500 species, most of all African shrubs and trees. In the maquis of Greece, however, only three species of the Ericaceae family are represented, amongst them the brier Erica arborea l. which grows like a tree and flowers in spring; in contrast, the popular honey flora, mentioned by Pliny (HN 11,42) and Dioscorides (1,88 [1. 82] and 1,117 [2. 106]), belongs to the autumn flowering ones. In Italy, on the other hand, el…

Tuna

(670 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] The fairly large Common Tuna ( Thynnus thynnus L., Greek ὁ θύννος/ thýnnos, Attic also ἡ θυννίς/ thynnís - primarily the female: Aristot. Hist. an. 5,9,543a 9; Ath. 7,303c-304b - or ἡ θύννη/ thýnnē: e.g. Opp. Hal. 1,756; Latin thynnus or thynnis) and the smaller Albacore ( Albacora thynnus L., perhaps αὐλωπίας/ aulōpías, Ael. NA 13,17) were the economically most important edible fish of the Mediterranean and Black Seas and were therefore given many names. The young (under 1 year) were called πηλαμύς/ pēlamýs or πηλαμίς/ pēlamís (Aristot. Hist. an. 6,17,571a 11, from pēlós…

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 …

Far

(373 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] Originally probably ‘corn’ in the sense of grain [1]. In the historical period, however, the name applied especially to spelt as opposed to common wheat ( triticum). Synonyms are ador and alicastrum; evidently a short form of far adoreum. Plin. HN 18,82 maintains that the zones of cultivation for far (emmer) and ζειά/ zeiá (ζέα/ zéa) are mutually exclusive. According to Dion. Hal. Ant. Rom. 2,25,2, however, these two kinds of grain, along with arinca (ὄλυρα; ólyra) as grown in Gaul, Italy and elsewhere, are identical. 3 kinds of the highly cold-resistant …

Apogei

(86 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (sc. venti), Greek ἀπόγειοι ἀνέμοι ( apógeioi ánemoi), e.g. Aristot. Mund. 4,394 b13-15, are the winds that blow offshore after sunset, i.e. out to sea, that make it easier for the fishermen to leave the harbour by sunrise. Their counterparts often mentioned simultaneously with them are the τροπαῖαι ( tropaîai) blowing in from the sea with which it is possible to return easily during the day. The calm between them is unpleasant [1]. Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg) Bibliography 1 R. Böker, s. v. Winds, RE VIII A, 2245,43 ff.

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…

Nasturtium

(154 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (Latin) corresponds to κάρδαμον/ kárdamon according to Cic. Tusc. 5,99 and describes a type of cress, probably garden cress ( Lepidium sativum), which is mentioned in Xen. Cyr. 1,1,8 as something the ordinary Persian ate with bread. Here it probably means the seeds and not the leaves, which are eaten as salad in present-day Greece and Italy. Both Theophr. Hist. pl. 1,12,1 and Plin. HN. 19,186 mention the mustard-like, sharp taste of kárdamon, and the quick germination is also stressed in Plin. HN 19,117 and 154. For Italy, Columella 11,3,14 recommends…

Pomegranate

(275 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (ῥόα/ rhóa, σίδη/ sídē, malum punicum or granatum; its flower, called κύτινος/ kýtinos and given as a loan word in Plin. HN 23,110ff., has strange medicinal benefits) The species Punica granatum L. grows wild in the Near East from Kurdistan to Afghanistan. It had probably been naturalized since the 16th dynasty in Egypt (around 1600 BC) and in southern Europe since the Neolithic Period, probably by the Phoenicians. The pomegranate as an attribute of Astarte and symbol of fertility because of the many seeds in i…

Libs

(192 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (Λίψ/ Líps). The west-south-west wind that on the twelve-point compass card of Aristotle blew from the setting point of the sun to the winter solstice (Aristot. Mete. 2,6,363b 19f.; [1. 2347, fig. 11]) and that Aristotle (De ventis 973b 11f.) and the Romans associated etymologically with Libya and therefore called Africus (Plin. HN 2,119f. and 18,336). It was considered damp and was set against the Aquilo (Plin. HN 2,125f.), it brought rain and storms, and through its blazing heat it destroyed the shoots of the vine [2]. On the compass card of Timosthenes this Libónotos (A…

Mosquito

(424 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (ἡ ἐμπίς/ empís, ὁ κώνωψ/ kṓnōps, Diminutive κωνώπιον/ kōnṓpion, Lat. culex, culicellus, culiculus; conops: Dioscorides Longobardus 3,23) is the general name for these buzzing insects which cause irritation by sucking blood. Aristotle gives a clear account at Hist. an. 5,19,551b 27-552a 8 and 1,1,487b 3-5 (so [1]) of the development of a midge of the genus Chironomus including the metamorphosis of the empís. The culices ficarii which help to pollinate figs are wasps of the type Blastophaga psenes (Plin. HN 11,118; 15,80 and 17,255). The common mosquito is t…

Domestication

(610 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] By this is meant the gradual and purposeful transformation of wild animal species into domesticated animals by human agency. Because of their biological characteristics, only a few of the wild mammals living during and immediately after the Ice Age were suitable for domestication. Only 5 of 19 orders of mammals provide domesticated species; these are the Lagomorpha (rabbits), Rodentia (guinea-pigs), Carnivora (dog, cat, ferret), Perissodactyla (horse, donkey) and the Artiodactyla (pig, sheep, goat, cattle, camel, llama). Domesticated animals howeve…

Frog

(773 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
(βάτραχος/ bátrachos, Ionian βάθρακος/ bátrakos, βρόταχος/ brótachos, Lat. rana) is the collective name for frog amphibians (βατράχων γένος; batráchōn génos, Aristot. Hist. an. 7(8),2,589a 28f.) comprising the genuine frog species and the toad species. [German version] A. The genuine frog species The genuine frog species include the green water frog (Rana esculenta), the brown grass frog (Rana temporaria L.; the first two distinguished by Theophr. fr. 174,1; cf. dioptes Plin. HN 32,70 and 139) and the tree frog (Hyla arborea), which Pliny (HN 32,75; 92; 122) app…

Buffalo

(143 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (βοῦς ἄγριος; boûs ágrios, bubalus; βούβαλος; boúbalos on the other hand is the gazelle!). Native to southern Asia and therefore originally foreign to the Mediterranean countries. Job 39,9ff. presumably uses this name to refer to the Assyrian wild ox that is also depicted on reliefs from that area (Luther translates it wrongly as ‘unicorn’). The short description of Aristot. Hist. an. 2,1,499a4ff. (cf. Plin. HN 8,38: Africa vituli potius cervique quadam similitudine, ‘as Africa brings forth this animal rather with a certain similarity to calf and dee…

Camomile

(81 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (ἀνθεμίς; anthemís, Latin anthemis, Plin., later chamomilla, from which the English name is derived) probably is today's composite genus, Matricaria L. Dioscorides 3,137 Wellmann = 3,144 Berendes (cf. Plin. HN 22,53f.) knew of three species with differently coloured flowers that had warming as well as thinning powers. In antiquity the camomile, as a flower infusion, was already used externally and internally as an anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic medicine.  Anthemis Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg) Bibliography P. Wagler, s.v. Anthemis (2), RE 1,2364f.

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 …

Wren

(84 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] The smallest European passerine ( Troglodytes troglodytes) is presumably meant by τροχίλος/ trochílos in Aristot. Hist. an. 7(8),3,593b 11 f.; 8(9),6,612a 20-24 (= Plin.  HN 8,90; but there by trochilos = rex avium the so-called crocodile bird, Pluvianus aegyptius, is meant [1. 241]). The alleged enmity between the wren and the eagle (Aristot. Hist. an. 8(9),11,615a 17-20 = Plin.  HN 10,203) refers to the attribute 'king'. Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg) Bibliography 1 Leitner. Keller 2,82-84  D'Arcy W. Thompson, A Glossary of Greek Birds, 1936, repr. …

Hellebore

(180 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (ἑλλέβορος; helléboros, helleborus). The name refers to poisonous plants of various families: 1) the Ranunculacea Helleborus L. (ἑλλέβορος μέλας in Theophr. Hist. pl. 9,14,4, etc., = H. cyclophyllus Boissier, not H. niger L. (the Christmas rose); Dioscorides 4,162 Wellmann = 4,149 Berendes; Paus. 10,36,7). The root, in particular, (Plin. HN 25,48). 2), of the Liliacea Veratrum album L. (ἑλλέβορος λευκός, Helleborus candidus, white hellebore: Hippoc. De victu 1,35 [1. 292]; Theophr. Hist. pl. 9,10,1-4 with many local forms; Dioscorides 4,148…
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