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Umber

(100 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] Named after Umbria, their place of origin, this breed of dog was highly favoured, primarily as a  tracking hound (Grattius, Cynegetica 171 ff.; Sen. Thy. 497 ff.; Verg. Aen. 12,753-55: hound baits deer; Sil. Pun. 3,295 ff.). We do not know its appearance. The Umbrian sheepdogs, mentioned in Varro Rust. 2,9,6, that returned of their own accord to their flocks were certainly not of this breed. An illustration on an aes grave coin from Hatria in Picenum could represent an umber [1. 124, fig. 49; 2. 95]. Dog Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg) Bibliography 1 Keller 2 Toynbee…

Medlar

(202 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (μεσπίλη/ mespílē, μέσπιλον/ méspilon, ἀρωνία/ arōnía: Dioscorides; Lat. mespilus or -a, the fruit mespilum). Mespilus germanica L. (family Rosaceae), a bush or tree probably native to southern Europe, was cultivated in Greece as a wild apple tree at least since about 370 BC on account of its small, three-cored, sweet fruits (Middle Comedy, Eubulus [2] in Ath. 14,640c). Theophrastus (Hist. pl. 3,12,5f. = Plin. HN. 15,84) describes three thorn-bushes under this name, of which only μεσπίλη ἡ σατάνειος/ mespílē hē satáneios is recognized as medlar. Dioscorides (…

Plane tree

(210 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (πλάτανος/ plátanos, poet. πλατάνιστος/ platánistos, Lat. platanus) is the tree Platanus orientalis L., found in southern Europe at least since the time of Homer (Il. 2,307-13). According to Plin. HN 12,6, the plane tree crossed the Ionian Sea to Sicily, and thence to Italy. It was later naturalized in northern Europe. The broad (πλατύς/ platýs, 'broad, wide') leaves, after which it is named, provided goodly shade for rest, as in Plato's Phaedrus (Plat. Phdr. 229a-230b). In antiquity, the tree was favoured as a graft stock for slips of e.g. pear (Pal…

Acipenser

(96 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (Greek ἀκιπήσιος; akipḗsios = (h)elops). Rare delicacy saltwater fish (Plin. HN 9,60 and 32,145; Macrob. Sat. 3,16,1-9; Ath. 7,294f), only very highly valued until the time of the caesars (Plautus in Macrobius; Lucil. 1240 M; Mart. 13,91; cf. Plinius and Hor. Sat. 2,2,46 f.). As early as antiquity the zoological classification was contentious (Plin. HN 32,153 according to Ovid Hal. 96 and Ath. loc. cit.); now it is sometimes regarded as a sturgeon [1. 7; 2. 2,375 and passim] and sometimes as a sterlet ( elops [1; 3]).  Fishes Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg) Bibliograp…

Jackal

(290 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] This wild dog ( Canis aureus), principally found in Africa, still occurs today in Eurasia from the Balkans eastwards. It hunts at night, often in packs, preying mainly on small mammals and birds, but it also eats carrion. An earlier theory that it, together with the wolf, was a progenitor of the domestic dog ([1]; cf. [2. 70-72]), has now been abandoned. The θώς/ thṓs, as distinct from the  wolf, was well known to Aristotle (Hist. an. 2,17,507b 17: internal organs resemble those of the wolf; 6,35,580a 26-31: gives birth to two to four blind w…

Precious stones

(236 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] In the Greek world, archaeological excavations have yielded jewellery but not PS, detectable only from the 5th cent. on. Mineralogical knowledge was almost absent in Antiquity. Plato (Plt. 303e) considers diamonds, for example, as a constituent of gold. The names of PS, such as ἀδάμας ( adámas, 'the invincible'), ἀμέθυστος ( améthystos, 'that which does not make one drunk') and ὀφίτης ( ophítēs, 'that which wards off snakes') reveal the magical effect ascribed to them. Theophrastus is the author of the first scholarly treatment, Περὶ λίθων ( Perì líthōn, 'On Stones' …

Anise

(107 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (ἄνισον; ánison), Pimpinella anisum L. was, like other herbs of the family of the umbelliferous plants (e.g. ἄνηθον; ánēthon, Anethum, dill, and ἄμμι; ámmi, Ammi), introduced to Greece via Egypt. Dioscorides 3,56 (ἄνησσον; ánēsson) [1.2.69 f.] = 3,58 [2.301 f.] considered Cretan aniseed to be the best. According to Plin. HN 20,185-195, Pythagoras in particular and also several Greek doctors praised anesum as a herb and remedy, e.g. for epilepsy. Later it was also a component of theriaca. Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg) Bibliography 1 M. Wellmann (ed.), Pedani…

Artemisia

(350 words)

Author(s): Högemann, Peter (Tübingen) | Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
(Ἀρτεμισία; Artemisía) [German version] [1] Female ruler of Halicarnassus (around 480 BC) Daughter of Lygdamis; prior to 480 BC, took over the rulership of her city of birth,  Halicarnassus, and of a few islands; in 480 joined her ships to the fleet of Xerxes (Hdt. 7.99). Herodotus was related to her. He praised her courage in the battle of Salamis and emphasized her influence on Xerxes (Hdt. 8,68-69). Högemann, Peter (Tübingen) [German version] [2] Queen of Greater Caria (353-351 BC) Sister and wife of  Maussollus and after his death, queen of the satrapal kingdom of Great…

Caecias

(180 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (καικίας; kaikías, Latin caecias). This local wind name is supposedly derived from the river  Caecus [2] in Mysia (Ach. Tat. Introductio in Aratum 33, p. 68 Maas). As one of the ánemoi katholikoí (the common winds [1. 2305]), the C., also called Hellēspontías (Ἑλλησποντίας) by some, was a joint wind of  Boreas and  Eurus; it was said to blow from the north-east and to form large clouds because of its coldness and dampness (Aristot. Mete. 2,6,364b 18f. and 24-29). Originally, the name referred to the wind squall blowing t…

Amomum

(145 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] ἄμωμον ( ámōmon) and καρδάμωμον ( kardámōmon; in Theophr. H. plant. 9,7,2 = amomum and cardamomum in Plin. HN 12,48-50), ἄμωμον ( ámōmon; in Dioscorides 1,15 [1. 1,20 f.] = 1,14 [2. 39-41]) was the name for the aromatic capsules and seeds of several zingiberaceae from India ( Amomum cardamomum etc., Elettaria cardamomum) and tropical Africa ( Aframomum melagueta = semen Paradisi) which came to Europe through the campaigns of Alexander. Their wealth of essential and fatty oil made them much sought-after up till the 16th cent. as a remedy (…

Myrtle

(549 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (ὁ μύρτος/ mýrtos, ἡ μυρσίνη/ myrsínē, μυρρίνη/ myrrhínē and ὁ μύρρινος/ ho mýrrhinos, the berry τὸ μύρτον/ mýrton or ἡ μυρτίς/ myrtís, probably of Semitic origin, but unlikely to be related to μύρρα/ mýrrha (Myrrh); Latin murtus, myrtus, myrta, murta (all feminine), the berry murtum) is the thermophile evergreen tree with white blossoms that is common throughout the Mediterranean region, particularly in the maquis as well as in the Middle East. It was cultivated in gardens from the Hellenistic period. The plant itself …

Zoology and botany

(3,107 words)

Author(s): Böck, Barbara (Madrid) | Hoffmann, Lars | Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
I. Mesopotamia [German version] A. Concept and sources The is no accurate or systematic, zoological or botanical classification of the animal and plant kingdoms from the Ancient Orient. The main source is one of the most voluminous Mesopotamian lexical texts with 24 chapters, known from its initial line as ḪAR-ra =  ḫubullu ('(rate of) interest'). It is a catalogue of objects and living creatures, ordered acrographically (i.e. by the first cuneiform sign) according to semantic aspects (Science). This principle represented a mnemotechnic aid; th…

Blackbird

(207 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] κότυφος (κόψιχος; kótyphos, kópsichos, Aristophanes etc., cf. Ath. 2,65d), merula ( -us Anth. Lat. 762,13), today Turdus merula, relatively well known: Aristot. Hist. an. 5,13,544a 27-29, cf. Plin. HN 10,147 (two clutches of eggs); Aristot. Hist. an. 7(8),16,600a 20 (hibernation! but see Plin. HN 10,72); Aristot. Hist. an. 8(9),1,609b 9-11 (hostility with χλωρίων), 610a 13 (friendship with turtledove); 8(9),9,614b 8 f. (compared in its size with woodpeckers); 8(9),13,616a 3 (nest building); 8(9),1…

Eel

(311 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (ἔγχελυς; éngchelus, anguilla), hardly distinguished from the sea eel (γόγγρος; góngros, conger/congrus). In the Iliad (21,203; 353) contrasted with fish as an amphibian. Its way of life and behaviour were well known to Aristotle (Hist. an. 8,2,591 b 30-592 a 24; 1,5,489 b 26 f.; 2,13,504 b 30 f.; Part. an. 4,13,696 a 3 f.: only two fins). Theophr. fr. 171,4 explains the ability to live on land by its small gills and low requirement of water and believes (fr. 171.9), like Plin. HN 9.160, that i…

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. …

Citrus

(263 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (κίτρος, cedar). This genus of Rutaceae consists of about 20, or rather a narrower spectrum of seven to eight species of evergreen trees and shrubs from subtropical and tropical Asia. The name citrus (κίτρος, κίτριον; kítros, kítrion) originally referred to conifers with aromatic wood, such as Callitris articulata. However, after Alexander's campaigns it was transferred to the species Citrus medica, which had been cultivated in Media and Persia for some time (μῆλον μηδικόν; mêlon mēdikón, κίτριον in Theophr. Hist. pl. 4,4,2; κεδρόμηλα ( kedrómēla) in Dioscurides…

Ostrich

(589 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
( Struthio camelus L.). [German version] I. Names In Greek this giant flightless bird was originally called ὁ (ἡ) στρουθός/ strouthós, but to avoid confusion with the sparrow (other than in unambiguous contexts such as Aristoph. Ach. 1106) descriptive adjectives ( mégas, katágeios, chersaîos, chamaipetḗs, áptēnos or Libykós, Arábios or Mauroúsios) were added. It was not until Diod. 2,50,4 that the hybrid term ὁ (ἡ) στρουθοκάμηλος/ strouthokámēlos (derived from the size, form and even-toedness of the ostrich - Aristot. Part. an. 4,14,697b 21-24; cf. 4,12,695a 1…

Graminea

(214 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] Amongst the herbs ( herbae, ποιώδη; poiṓdē), Gramineae or Poaceae represent the grass family (Glumiflorae, πόαι; póai, in Theophr. Hist. pl. 7,8,3); in antiquity, however, the reeds (Cyperaceae) and rushes (Juncaceae) were not differentiated ( Bulrush;  Byblus). Besides the meadow grass (ἄγρωστις; ágrōstis, e.g. Theophr. Hist. pl. 1,6,7 et passim) and the grass proper ( grain; frumenta), other members of the Graminea family are, 1. the cat's tail Arundo (δόναξ, κάλαμος; dónax, kálamos, i.a. in Theophr. Hist. pl. 4,11,11 and elsewhere), esp. Arundo d…

Notus

(208 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg) | Käppel, Lutz (Kiel)
(νότος; nótos) [German version] I. Meteorology Three winds blowing from the south were distinguished in antiquity: (1.) the nótos (νότος, Latin auster) proper blew from various directions in winter (from November) and is described as rain-bringing, stormy and bringing obscured visibility (evidence in [1]); (2.) the mild, changeable and sky-clearing λευκόνοτος/ leukónotos was encountered after the December solstice and on the dog-days (νότος λαμπρός: Theophr. Hist. plant. 6,3,4). Ps.-Aristot. Probl. 26,20 derives the difference between the visibi…

Clover

(330 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (λωτός/ lōtós, τρίφυλλον/ tríphyllon, Lat. lotus, trifolium). Sometimes growing wild, sometimes cultivated, this important forage crop (in Columella 8,14,2 used also as food for tame geese) from the Leguminosae family is mentioned as early as Hom. Il. 2,776; 14,348; 21,351 and Hom. Od. 4,603. References to this lōtós in Theophr. Hist. pl. 7,8,3 and 7,13,5 (or lotus Verg. G. 2,84; Columella 2,2,20, as an indicator of good soil for growing cereals) as also Dioscorides 4,110 Wellmann = 4,109 Berendes are not sufficiently precise for a cla…
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