Search

Your search for 'dc_creator:( "Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)" ) OR dc_contributor:( "Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)" )' returned 785 results. Modify search

Sort Results by Relevance | Newest titles first | Oldest titles first

Peas

(200 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] The seeds of several legumes of the Vicieae group of genera of the order Leguminosae are called peas (Old High German arawiz, related to ὄροβος, órobos, and ἐρέβινθος, erébinthos). They have been cultivated for food in the Near East since the Mesolithic and in southern and central Europe since the Neolithic. Primarily they are Pisum sativum L. (also elatius and arvense, πίσ(σ)ον/ pís(s)on or πίσος/ písos, from which proper names such as Pisa and Piso derive), and also several varieties of chickpea, Cicer arietinum L., common in the East, named after the similarit…

Abrus

(130 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] Arabic (orig. Indian) name for the coral-red, poisonous seeds of the legume Abrus precatorius L. that have been used in India since antiquity in medicine, criminal science and as weights as ‘rati’ like those of Ceratonia (karat; seed of the carob tree), but which were probably not brought to Europe until after 1550 (according to Prosper Alpinus, 1553-1617, in 1592), in [1] pisa rubra, in [2. 343] pisum indicum minus coccineum, called ‘semen Jequiritii’ or ‘rosary peas’ by other botanists, especially common for rosaries like the stones of the oleaster.  Weights Hünemörd…

Gi­raffe

(280 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] The ancient sources give varying accounts of the place of origin of the giraffe ( Camelopardalis girafa): Agatharchides (De mare rubro = Phot. bibl. 250,455b 4 B.) considers that it was among the Troglodytae in Nubia, Plin. HN 8,69 under the name nabun it had there in Ethiopia, Artemidorus of Ephesus (Str. 16,775) locates it in Arabia, whilst Paus. 9,21,2 places it in India. The name καμηλοπάρδαλις, camelopardalis ( -parda, -pardala) comes from similarities with the camel and panther: ‘it has the figure of a camel but the spots of a panther’ (Varro,…

Beetle

(759 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] Of the beetle order, whose name κολεόπτερα/ koleóptera Aristotle (Hist. an. 1,5,490a 13-15 and 4,7,552a 22f.) derives from the fact that their wings were under a cover (ἔλυτρον, élytron; crusta: Plin. HN 11,97), only a few species were distinguished. The popular name for them was κάνθαροι, kántharoi, Latin scarabaei. They form from larvae (κάμπαι, Aristot. Hist. an. 5,19,551b 24) or worms (σκώληκες, 5,19,552b 3, Latin vermes). The most important of the 112 species probably identified through more detailed information on them are the following: A. Ground beetle: 1. …

Ivy

(506 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg) | Graf, Fritz (Columbus, OH)
[German version] I. Botanical Ivy (κισσός/ kissós, ἕλιξ/ hélix, Latin hedera) represents the only European genus of Araliaceae. English ‘ivy’ as well as German Efeu and Eppich (another word for ivy;  Celery) are derived from Old High German ebihouui or eboue. Because of confusion with the rock-rose mentioned in Theophrastus (κίσθος/ kísthos, Hist. pl. 6,2,1), Pliny (HN 16,145) distinguishes between a male ( hedera mas) and a somewhat smaller female form ( h. femina). In his further statements on ivy, he also follows Theophrastus who in turn regards the ivy as being r…

Mouse

(1,145 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (ὁ μῦς/ ho mŷs, in dialects σμῦς/ smŷs, σμίς/ smís, σμίνθος/ smínthos, σμίνθα/ smíntha; Latin mus, dimin. musculus; in this regard [4. 2,132]), representative of the family Muridae of rodents (Rodentia), rich in species, with constantly regrowing incisor teeth. The terms mentioned mostly refer to the long-tailed mice, the house mouse ( Mus musculus L.), wood mouse ( Apodemus sylvaticus L.), the harvest mouse that builds a nest of grass above the ground ( Micromys minutus Pallas) as well as the field mouse ( Microtus arvalis Pallas) that belongs to the vole family ( Arvico…

Reed

(86 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (Greek κάλαμος/ kálamos (Calamus [2]), Lat. (h)arundo). Phragmites communis and other species of grass are often mentioned in Theophrastus and Plinius (cf. the indexes of the Naturalis Historia s.v. harundo) as plants by and in lakes and rivers. The various applications of this 'extremely useful water plant' (Plin. HN 16,173: qua nulla aquatilium utilior) and related species - e.g., for thatched roofs and as arrows (see also Pen; Musical instruments [V B]) - are compiled in Plin. HN 16,156-173. Graminea Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)

Partridge

(54 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] The central European partridge ( Perdix perdix) can be found in Greece in the form of the rock-loving Rock partridge ( Alectoris graeca, πέρδιξ/ pérdix). The smaller partridge, which is found in Italy (which, unlike the rock partridge, does not have a red beak) is described only by Ath. 9,390b. Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)

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…

Byssos

(105 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (βύσσος; býssos). Plant and animal fibres that were made into mainly see-through garments (βύσσινος, βύσσινον πέπλωμα). These are probably especially linum (λίνον, linen, flax), later (obviously already in Hdt. 2,86) seed hairs of  cotton, perhaps of the Asclepiadacea Gomphocarpus fruticosus introduced from Africa, as well as fibres of mushrooms and lichens. Still called byssus today, the adhesive fibers of seashells clinging to the bottom of the sea, such as the large Mediterranean Pinna nobilis, also supplied 3-8 cm long fibres used for making ropes,…

Glow-worm

(164 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] Thomas of Cantimpré 9,11 [1. 300] clearly described the glow-worm with the name cicendula (= firefly) as a beetle ( scarabeus) the size of a small fly that occurs mainly in Italy and flies 15 days before and after the summer solstice. The glowing, which is only visible at night as sparks ( scintillarum modo), is especially noticeable at the tail but not after the wings have been folded. He adopted the name and etymology ( cicindela ... quod volans vel gradiens lucet) from Isid. Orig. 12,8,6, but the remainder of the context from Plin. HN 11,98 and 18,250. There, cicindela is eq…

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, …

Jellyfish

(274 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (zoological: Medusa). The swimming reproductive form of polyp from the seanettle subspecies ( Cnidaria) of zoophytes. Aristot. Hist. an. 4,6,531a 32-b 17 describes very well their stinging tentacles, the ἀκαλήφη/ akalḗphē sc. θαλασσία/ thalassía ‘stinging nettle’ (nettle-jellyfish) or, synonymously, κνίδη/ knídē (ibid. 5,16,548a 22-27) (The comic passages quoted by Ath. 3,90a-b mean by akalḗphē not the jellyfish, but the stinging nettle). In Latin the urtica marina corresponds to the knide (Plin. HN 32,146). Aristotle classes jellyfish as molluscs …

Apple

(261 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] Crab apples ( Malus silvestris, pumila, tomentosa etc., ἀγριομηλέα; agriomēléa, e.g. in Dioscorides 1,115,4 [1.1.108] = 1,163 [2.136]) were collected as early as the Asian and European Stone Age. Cultivated strains with larger fruits reached the Alpine and Baltic area in the Neolithic period [3.94-104]. In imperial Rome about 30 varieties of apples (cf. Plin. HN 15,51 f. and passim) were known and these were achieved, among other ways, through various grafting procedures (cf. Colum. De arb…

Moray

(544 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] In antiquity (σ)μύραινα/ (s)mýraina, Latin murena mostly meant the Mediterranean moray, Muraena helena L., a long, eel-like (cf. Aeschyl. Choeph. 994f.) edible fish, distinguished from the related σμῦρος ( smŷros, M. christini) by its markings. The latter kind of moray ( smŷros) is admittedly considered to be the male (Aristot. Hist. an. 5,10,543a 24-28; Plin. HN 9,76). Others believed in a mating of morays with snakes (Plin. l.c. and ibid. 32,14; detailed description in Opp. Hal. 1,554-579: Ael. Nat. 1,50), but Andreas …

Weasel

(403 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (γαλῆ/ galê, also γαλέα/ galéa; Latin mustela, the 'mouse-hunter', in Isid. Orig. 12,3,3 interpreted with a false etymology as a 'long mouse'; usually the weasel ( Mustela nivalis L.), but also other members of the Mustelidae = marten-like family). The galê is sometimes identified with the ἰκτίς/ iktís (schol. Nic. Ther. 196; Plin. HN 29,60; cf. Polecat, Marten); Aristot. Hist. an. 2,1,500b 24 and 8(9),6,612b 10 contradicts this, however. Weasels hunt mice, moles (Pall. Agric. 4,8,4), snakes, lizards and birds. People caught them with live-catch traps (γαλεάγρα/ gal…

Achates

(297 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg) | Graf, Fritz (Columbus, OH)
[German version] [1] Precious stone According to Theophr. De lapidibus 31 [1.68], a precious stone ( gemma) named after the river of the same name in Sicily (today's Carabi or Canitello), and which, along with 11 others, adorned the official escutcheon of the High Priest Aaron (Ex 39,10-13) [2.204 f.]. According to Plin. HN 37,5, King Pyrrhus of Epirus owned a specimen whose naturally occurring streaks ( maculae) depicted Apollo and the nine Muses. According to Plin. HN 37,139-142, the achates and its many variants, whilst having decreased in value owing to ma…

Water nut

(152 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] The only representative of the Trapaceae (formerly Hydrocaryaceae) family is called, from the shape of the nut, ὁ τρίβολος/ tríbolos sc. ἔνυδρος/ énhydros ('tricorn'), βουκέφαλος/ boképhalos ('ox's head'), ταυροκέρας/ taurokéras ('bull's horn') in Greek, and tribulus sc. aquaticus in Latin. The plant grows primarily in marshy places in soft-water rivers in the climatically favourable zones of Europe and Asia, with all but the leather-like serrated floating leaves under water (good description in  Theophr. Hist. pl. 4…

Kneoron

(86 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (κνέωρον; knéōron). By κνέωρος Theophr. (Hist. pl. 6,1,4) understands, as does Dioscorides (4,172 [1. 2,320ff.] = 4,170 [2. 464f.]) several small shrubs of the Thymelaeaceae with a poisonous sap that causes itching (cf. Plin. HN 21,55), namely Thymelaea tartonraira and hirsuta, Daphne gnidium (Southern daphne) and oleifolia. The red berries used for medicinal purposes (Plin. HN 13,114 grana Cnidia) were still prescribed in the 19th cent., as semina Coccognidii, as a laxative. Poisonous plants Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg) Bibliography 1 Wellmann 2 2 Berendes

Tortoise

(984 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg) | Klose, Dietrich (Munich)
[German version] [1] Animal (χελώνη/ chelṓnē, ἐμύς/ emýs: Aristot. Hist. an. 5,33, 558a 7-11, cf. Arr. Ind. 21; Latin testudo, in Plin. HN 9,71 and 166 mus marinus, literally 'sea mouse'). The following are known: 1.) the Hermann's Tortoise, χελώνη (χελών, χελύς, χελύνη) χερσαία/ chelṓnē ( chelṓn, chelýs, chelýnē) chersaía; 2.) the very similar Spur-Thighed Tortoise, χ. ὄρειος ( ch. óreios) in Ael. Nat. 14,17 and Plin. HN 9,38: chersinae; 3.) the Pond Terrapin, ἐμύς ( emýs) or χ. λιμναία ( ch. limnaía); 4.) the Loggerhead Sea-Turtle, Thalassochelys caretta, χ. θαλαττία ( ch. thalattía) …

Strychnos

(163 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (Greek ὁ/ἡ στρύχνος/ strýchnos, Latin solanum and strumus). Various species of the nightshade family ( Solanaceae). They comprise (1) the edible vegetable plants (=ἐδώδιμος/ edṓdimos; ἥμερος/ hḗmeros = 'tame, cultivated', κηπαῖος/ kēpaîos = 'belonging to the garden') and those used as medicinal herbs (e.g. externally for itching, Plin. HN 26,120), such as Black Nightshade ( Solanum nigrum; Theophr. Hist. pl. 3,18,11; 7,7,2 and 7,15,4; Dioscorides 4,70 Wellmann = 4,71 Berendes; Plin. HN 27,132) and its varieties (including the tomato, w…

Cantharides

(168 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (κανθαρίδες; kantharídes) are slim, metallic-green oil beetles, such as the so-called Spanish fly ( Lytta vesicatoria), that were used for medicines; when taken orally, their active ingredient -- cantharidin -- leads to poisoning, as Plin. HN 29,93-96 (cf. [1. 70f.]) shows with reference to one case. Externally applied to wounds together with e.g. mutton suet, the cantharidae were said to be useful because of their blistening, caustic effect which the Middle Ages learnt about through Isid. Orig. 12,5,5. The beetles -- that lived on pl…

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 …

Violet

(435 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (ἴον/ íon, ἰωνία/ iōnía; Latin viola). The ancient names referred not only to the various types of Violaceae, but also to certain cruciferous plants with yellow and white blossoms (wallflower: Cheiranthus cheiri L., gillyflower: Mathiola incana R. Br., dame's rocket: Hesperis matronalis L.) that are not the focus of interest here. The word íon in Hom. Od. 5,72 may refer not to a violet, but more generally to a ‘flower with a dark blossom’ [1]. Theophrastus (H. plant. 6,6,7) describes the fragrant violet with blue-violet blossoms called Viola odorata (ἴον μέλαν/ íon méla…

Strawberry tree

(269 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg) | Walde, Christine (Basle)
[German version] In the macchia shrubland of Mediterranean countries the genus Arbutus L. of the Ericaceae family is represented by two of its total of 20 evergreen species, namely a) the ST Arbutus unedo L. (κόμαρος; kómaros) with its strawberry-like sour-tasting drupes ( arbuta Verg.  G. 3,301 and 4,181), which ripen in a year, and b) the andrachle, Arbutus andrachle L. (ἀνδράχνη; andráchn ē), spread from Greece to the east as far as the coast of the Black Sea, with small orange-yellow inedible fruits. The fruits of the arbutus, which grows as far west as the Atlantic coast of Ir…

Sulphur

(114 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (θεῖον/ theîon, Epic θέειον/ théeion or θήιον/ thḗion, Latin sulphur). Because of its alleged power to ward off evil, derived from theîos ('divine'), mentioned as early as in Homer (Od. 14,307; 22,481 f. and 493 f.: as a means of purification after the killing of the suitors by Odysseus). Aristotle (Mete. 3,6, 378a 23) mentions it as an example of fossil substances burnt by dry exhalation (ξηρὰ ἀναθυμίασις/ xērá anathymíasis) [1. 42 f.]. Sulphur was mined, primarily in Sicily, and was used to combat vermin and to preserve wine ('sulphuration' of …

Whale

(245 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] Employing a term originally used for large marine animals in general, the whale, he largest marine mammal and related to dolphins [1], was called τὸ κῆτος/ kêtos (first in Hom. Od. 12,97; Latin loanword cetus, plural cete(a): Ambrosius, Exameron 5,10,28 and 5,11,32; Isid. Orig. 12,6,8); there also is the term φάλαινα/ phálaina (Aristot. Hist. an. 1,5,489b 4 f.), Latin ballaena (Plaut. Rud. 545; Ov. Met. 2,9; Plin.  HN 9,4; 9,8 and 9,16) for the supposedly female animal, and for the male the ironic term musculus ('little mouse', Isid. Orig. 12,6,6). Furthermore, …

Marmot

(146 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] Plin. HN 8,132 refers to the Marmota marmota as ‘Alpine mouse’ ( mus Alpinus) and stresses its size (like a badger, meles) and its hibernation ( conduntur hieme) thought to be based on its collection of food [1. 175]. The fact that its pelt is scrubbed off on the back he explains by saying that both sexes, lying on their back and holding food with their front legs, pulled themselves by their tails backwards into their den. The story of their supposed locomotion on two legs (ibid. 10,186) is, of course, not …

Bat

(402 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] Because of its appearance in the evening it was called νυκτερίς ( nykterís) or vespertilio. From the Orient, the flying fox ( Pteropus medius Tem.) apparently was also known under the name of ἀλώπηξ ( alṓpēx, Aristot. Hist. an. 1,5,490a 7) or νυκταλώπηξ ( nyktalṓpēx, Ps.-Callisthenes 3,17,21; Str. 16,1,7 = p.739; cf. Hdt. 3,110, accordingly Plin. HN 12,85). The order of Chiropterais described as ‘skin-winged’ (δερμόπτερα, cf. Plin. HN 11,228: siccis membranis volat) by Aristot. Hist. an. 1.1.487b 22f. and 490a 7f., and thus seen as being close to that…

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…

Mullein

(136 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (φλόμος/ phlómos, Latin verbascum), a member, according to a good description in Dioscorides 4,103 Wellmann = 4,102 Berendes (cf. Plin. HN 25,120f.; Isid. orig. 17,9,94), of the Scrophulariaceae family, occurring in two kinds, one with white and one with black leaves ( Verbascum sinuatum L.). Of the white one Dioscurides distinguishes a male form ( V. thapsus L., Common Mullein) from a female one ( V. plicatum Sibthorp). Their roots are said to be effective e.g. as an astringent for diarrhoea. According to Plin. HN 26,23, drunk with water it help…

Camara [I]

(114 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (καμάρα; kamára), the correct version for camera, related to camurus (‘curved’), describing the curvature of a room or a barque or indeed the barque itself. This type of small round-bottomed sailing vessel with inward-curving side walls, which could travel in a circle and in both directions, was used on the north-eastern coast of the Black Sea, particularly by pirates (Str. 11,2,12, 495f.; Tac. Hist. 3,47,3). The side walls could be raised in such a way that they formed a closed canopy in …

Conger

(117 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (γόγγρος; góngros, sometimes, e.g., Ath. 8,356a: γρύλλος; grýllos), a marine eel, a sea fish that was popular like the  eel and, therefore, expensive (Plaut. Mil. 760; Persa 110; cf. information in Ath. 7,288c). Aristotle mentions two species that differ in colour (Hist. an. 8,13, 598a13), their unusual length, thickness and smoothness, the large stomach and the tallow-like fat. The conger feeds on fish including its own species and octopuses but, in turn, is the prey of moray eels and c…

Spruce

(159 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] This name (πεύκη/ peúkē, picea, derived from pix = pitch) encompasses three genera of conifer, namely (a) the Common or Norway Spruce Picea abies [L.] Karst. = excelsa Link, which is found hardly anywhere in the Mediterranean, (b) the Fir ( abies, ἐλάτη, in some species on Mediterranean uplands) and (c) the Pine ( pinus, πίτυς/ pítys, πεύκη/ peúkē). Spruce and fir wood, felled on a large scale in the southern Alps and mountains of the Balkans, was used from Antiquity  for wood for building - including ships and masts [1. 38] - and for fi…

Hawthorn

(257 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] Greek κράταιγος/ krátaigos or κραταιγῶν/ krataigôn, Lat. spina alba are names for various thorny plants (cf. Plin. HN 24,108; Columella 3,11,5; 7,7,2 and 7,9,6); in Plin. HN 21,68 spina alba, for instance, obviously means the edible Carline thistle ( Carlina). This also includes ὄα/ óa or ὄη/ óē, Lat. sorbus, the mountain ash. An exact identification of what is meant in ancient texts with crataegus and sorbus is not possible. In Theophr. Hist. pl. 3,15,6, the Azarole/Crete hawthorn ( Crataegus azarolus) is probably being described, which Plin. HN 27,63 incorr…

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…
▲   Back to top   ▲