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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…

Nepualius

(82 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (Νεπουάλιος/ Nepouálios). The work of this otherwise unknown author, Perì tôn katà antipátheian kaì sympátheian, perhaps from the 2nd cent. AD, belongs,  with its medical-magical conception of nature, to the field of ‘Physika ’literature around Ps.-Democritus (= Bolus of Mendes). Only an edition could clarify whether sympathy and antipathy are here to be understood magically or rationally. The MSS are listed in [1. 68]. Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg) Bibliography 1 H. Diels, Die Handschriften der antiken Ärzte, vol. 2 (ADAW), 1906 (repr. 1970).

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)

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 …

Titmouse

(156 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (αἰγίθαλ(λ)ος/ aigíthal(l)os, αἰγιθάλος/ aigithálos; Latin vitiparra). The Paridae family of songbirds in which Aristot. Hist. an. 7(8),3,592b 17-21 distinguishes three worm-eating (σκωληκοφάγα/ skōlēkophága) species, with many eggs (8(9),15,616b 2f.), enemies of bees (8(9),40,626a 8;  Ael. NA 1,58): 1. the Great Tit ( Parus maior), the size of a finch (σπιζίτης/ spizítēs), 2. a medium-sized titmouse with a long tail (ὀρεινός/ oreinós), perhaps the Long-Tailed Tit ( Aegithalos caudatus), and 3. an unspecified small titmouse with no particular nam…

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]…

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,…

Sea-gull

(311 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] The various ancient names do not admit reliable classification into particular species. Nevertheless, based on Aristot. Hist. an. 5,9,542b 17, Plin. HN 10,91 suggests gavia as the Latin equivalent of λάρος/ láros (λαρίς/ larís) and mergus of αἴθυα/ aíthya ( mergulus, mergunculus with the etymology in Varro, Ling. 5,78: "because it catches its food by diving into the water"). However, since the habit of diving is far more typical of the grebe family, which likewise has several species, these may be what both Pliny and Alb…

Woad

(201 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (Greek ἰσάτις/ isátis, Lat. vitrum and glastum, e.g. Plin. HN 22,2) the dye-plant 'Dyer's Woad', L. Isatis tinctoria. This genus of Brassicaceae thrives in Europe in a number of species. Until the discovery of the dye indigo in the 19th cent., it was used for colouring textiles blue (Dyeing). It is a perennial plant, growing up to 1.4 m in height, with yellow flowers [1. 157, colour photograph 326] developing into single-seed pods which are violet when ripe. A mash of ground dried leaves (flowers acco…

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…

Fossatum

(84 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] The Cod. Theod. 7,15,1 mentions a ditch with a width of 4-10 m which, through aerial photographs, has been shown to be part of the African Limes secured by fortresses. Today it can best be seen near El-Kantara (Island of Djerba, Tunisia) and Gemellae (Batna, Algeria). It served not just military purposes but also to separate the cultivated land from the desert. Dating varies between Hadrian and the Four Emperors (2nd-3rd cents. AD). Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg) Bibliography J. Baradez, Fossatum Africae, 1949.

Polecat

(161 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] Whether γαλῆ/ galê or ἰκτίς/ iktís, Lat. mustela or viverra, respectively, describes the ermine ( Mustela erminea L.) or the polecat ( M. putorius L.) remains unclear. However, the polecat is not found in modern Greece [1. vol. 1, 163]. The Romans evidently feared this animal as a predator of poultry; already Varro (Rust. 3,12,3), using the term faelis (in Columella 8,14,9, the terms are 'viverra, faelesve ... mustela'), states that it must be kept away from poultry yards. Aristotle, in any case, knows the galê well (bony genitalia: Hist. an. 2,1,500b 24 = Plin…

Blackberry bush

(174 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] Of the genus Rubus (blackberry, βάτος; bátos, cf. Dioscorides 4,37 [1. 196f.; 2. 384f.], μόρον, μορέα; móron, moréa) that is rich in species and tends towards hybridization, the most common in the Mediterranean are Rubus ulmifolius and tomentosus. The raspberry Rubus idaeus is only found up to the mountains of Macedonia and Thessaly; it does not grow on the Ida. The fruit resembles the mulberry, particularly the Morus nigra (μορέα, μορέη) that was introduced to Greece from the Caucasus around 400 BC, the colour of which, according to Ovid (Met. …

Agrostis

(149 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (ἄγρωστις; ágrōstis, Latin gramen). Already substantiated in Homer for fodder grasses but not the same as the genus of paniculate grasses of the same name that includes more than 100 species. According to the botanical descriptions (Dioscorides 4,29 [1. 2,192] = 4,30 [2. 381], Apuleius among others), the term refers to cereal plants like couch grass ( Agropyron = Triticum repens L. according to Sprengel [in 2. 381]) or luxuriantly growing cinquefoil ( Cynodon Dactylon, Panicum Dactylum L.), according to Fraas [2. 381] the hippagrostis of the herbal books of t…

Knot-grass

(112 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] ( Polygonum aviculare) For Theophr. Hist. pl. 1,6,11 the numerous thick roots were typical of the so-called rock partridge plant (περδίκιον/ perdíkion). Its name has supposedly been derived from the fact that rock partridges allegedly roll around in them and dig them up. This is an allusion to Polygonum maritimum. In Theophr. Hist. pl. 9,18,5 (reference not in Hort!) Κραταιγόνος/ krataigónos is called the κραταιόγονον/ krataiógonon of Dioscorides (3,124 Wellmann = 3,129 Berendes). It has been defined as Polygonum Persicaria. Its name is derived from the fact…

Channe

(93 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (χάννη, χάννα; chánnē, chánna). A fish of the perch family, perhaps the comber ( Serranus cabrilla), according to Aristot. Hist. an. 8,13,598a 13 a saltwater fish that, according to 8,2,591a 10, was carnivorous. Ath. 7,327f emphasizes its large mouth, the black and red stripes as well as, in 8,355c, its tender flesh. As no males were known -- the channe indeed is a hermaphrodite -- it was thought that the female fertilized itself (Aristot. Hist. an. 4,11,538a 19; Plin. HN 9,56 and 32,153, according to Ov. Halieutica 108). Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg) Bibliography L…

Terebinth

(182 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (ἡ τέρμινθος/ términthos, later τερέβινθος/ terébinthos, Latin terebinthus), the evergreen (Theophr. H. plant. 1,9,3 and 3,3,3; Plin.  HN 16,80), pinnate-leafed, dioecious Terebinth ( Pistacia terebinthus L.) of the genus Pistacia (cf. Pistachio), of which nine species occur in the Mediterranean, in the Anacardiaceae family. Theophr.  Hist. pl. 3,15,3 f. (cf. Plin. HN 13,54) shows accurate knowledge: the resin ( rhētínē, Latin resina; 9,2,2,  cf. Plin.  HN 14,122; 24,32 and 34), which drips from the stem and branches when cut (cf. Theoph…

Thymelaia

(83 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (θυμελαία or χαμελαία/ chamelaía) is the ancient name for the shrub Daphne gnidium L (Kneoron, Daphnoides) of the Thymelaeaceae family, which grows on dry mountain slopes in Greece and northern Italy. Its red fruit (κόκκοι Κνίδιοι/ kókkoi Knídioi, Latin grana Cnidia, Plin. HN 13,114), which burned in the throat and hence was taken e.g. in bread, made a highly effective laxative (Theophr. H. plant. 9,20,2; Dioscurides 4,172 Wellmann = 4,170 Berendes). Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg) Bibliography A. Steier, s. v. T., RE 6 A, 699 f.

Hemlock

(274 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (Greek κώνειον/ kṓneion due to its conical ovary κῶνος; kônos, Lat. cicuta, other names were derived from its poisonous effect, e.g. in Dioscorides 4,78 Wellmann = 4,79 Berendes), the umbellifer which grows wild in Europe in two species (the spotted hemlock, Conium maculatum and water hemlock, Cicuta virosa). Theophrastus (Hist. pl. 1,5,3) mentions the fleshy and hollow (ibid. 6,2,9) stem of the plant which is similar to devil's dung ( Ferula asafoetida) ( Narthex [1]). The root, when brewed, leaves a residue stronger than that of the umbel (differin…

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 (…

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…

Eagle-stone

(203 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (ἀετίτης; aetítēs). According to Plin. HN 36.149 (cf. Plin. HN 10.12) a so-called rattle stone found in both sexes in eagles nests, which like a pregnant woman contained a further stone inside it, of which Pliny according to Sotacus (3rd cent. BC) [1.468] distinguished a total of four kinds in Africa, Arabia, Cyprus and near Leucas. Without its presence the eagle would not produce any progeny. According to the stone book of Evax ch. 1 [2.234-236], the eagle brought it from the peri…

Quail

(524 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (Greek ὁ, ἡ ὄρτυξ/ ho, hē órtyx, Lat. coturnix). The quail ( Coturnix coturnix) is a very small poultry bird which flies poorly against the wind, seeming to murmur in complaint (cf. Aristot. Hist. an. 8(9),12,597b 14; Plin. HN 10,33). It was believed, on its spring and autumn migrations in the northern Mediterranean region (Aristot. ibid. 597a 22-27), to follow the lead of the landrail ( Crex crex), the 'mother of the quails' (ὀρτυγομήτρα/ ortygomḗtra; Plin. HN 10,33). While migrating, it was caught with nets (Diod. Sic. 1,60) into which it was driven w…

Peacock

(414 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (the easily tameable gallinaceous bird Pavo cristatus, indigenous to India). According to unresolved etymology [1.vol. 2, 862; 2.vol. 2, 267] it was called ὁ ταώς/ taṓs, ταῶς/ taôs and Latin pavo or pava. Its introduction occurred probably in the 7th/6th cents. BC via Babylon (peacock throne) to Palestine and via Iran (hence Μηδικὸς ὄρνις/ Mēdikòs órnis, 'Median/Persian bird'; Diod. Sic 2,53 et passim) and the Middle East to Samos. There the peacock was the sacred animal in the temple of Hera (Antiphanes in Athens 14,655b; but on S…

Paeonia

(147 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (παιωνία/ paiōnía, Latin paeonia or glycyside, cf. Isid. Orig. 17,9,48, Paeonia officinalis Rtz.). The red- or white-flowered peony was cultivated not for its beautiful blooms but for its alleged therapeutic effect. According to Dioscorides (3,140 Wellmann = 3,147 Berendes) the plant was called e.g. γλυκυσίδη ( glykysídē), but the root was called paiōnía, perhaps after the god of healing Apollo Paionios (cf. [1. 100]). The root is eaten to promote menstruation and post-natal purification, drunk in wine it is allegedly helpful e.g. …

Cucumber

(352 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] The large annual varieties of the generally tropical family of Cucurbitaceae with sizeable berries all come from the Near East. In antiquity the different varieties were often confused with one another. The real cucumber Cucumis sativus L. (σίκυς; síkys, σίκυος; síkyos, ἀγγούριον; angoúrion, Lat. cucumis) is encountered in Plin. HN 19,64-66 as a vegetable grown in hothouses ( intra specularium munimenta) to ensure a constant fresh supply for Tiberius. Theophr. Hist. pl. 7,1,6 describes the process of leaving the seeds in milk mead ( lac mulsum) for two days before…

Hare

(1,283 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] ( Lepus europaeus Pallas). The hare can be found from Central Europe to the Near East and South Africa in cultivated steppe lands and in forests. Its name: λαγωός ( lagōós; Homeric), λαγώς, λαγῶς ( lagṓs, lagôs; Attic), λαγός ( lagós; Ionian, Doric), λέπορις ( léporis; Aeolian, Sicilian: Varro, Rust. 3,12,6), Latin lepus or the derivatives thereof λαγίον; lagíon, λαγίδιον; lagídion, λαγιδεύς; lagideús, furthermore special appellations according to characteristic features such as ‘ducker’ (πτώξ; ptṓx; Hom. Il. 17,676; Aesch. Eum. 326; Theophr. Hist. pl. …

Bolbos

(209 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (βολβός; bolbós, bulbus). Name of the underground, tuberous roots, like onions and potato tubers, of various plants, especially the Allium varieties (cf. Dioscorides 2,214ff. = 2,178-182 [2. 232-235]) (leek, πράσον), namely Allium cepa (onion, κρόμμυον), Allium scorodoprasum (garlic, σκόροδον) and Allium schoenoprasum (chives, σχοινόπρασον). The magical herb μῶλυ of the Odyssey, the leaves of which Theophr. Hist. pl. 9,15,7 compares to the σκίλλα (squill, Urginea maritima), belongs to the broadleaf Allium varieties, as also the false mandrake ( Allium vict…

Leguminous plants (pulses)

(237 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] ( ervum, Columella 2,10,34 et passim, Plin. HN 18,57; 18, 139 et passim; ervilia, Plin. HN 18,58 et passim; Columella 2,13,1; ὄροβος/ órobos, related to ἐρέβινθος/ erébinthos ‘peas’). Collective name for small-seed legumes. These belong to the following genera: a) Vicia with the subgenus Ervum L. (among these V. ervilia (L.) Willd., the bitter vetch, cf. Columella 8,8,6); b) lens, lentil ( lens, Cato Agr. 35,1; 116; 132,2; 158,1; Columella 2,10,15 et passim; Plin. HN 18,57 et passim; lenticula, Plin. HN 18,123; Columella 2,7,1; 11,10; 8,8,6; φακός/ phakós, Hebrew ʿaḏā…

Asphodelos

(204 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] ἀσφόδελος ( asphódelos) is said to refer to that of the seven white- and pink-flowering species of the Liliaceae genus Asphodelus most frequent around the Mediterranean, Asphodelos microcarpus, which has been mentioned since Homer (Od. 11,539. 573; 24,13) and Hesiod (Op. 41) among others as native to the meadows of the earth and the underworld [1. 68 and fig. 108-111]. With reference to Greek authors, Dioscorides 2,169 ([2. 1. 234ff.] = 2,199 [3. 245f.]) and Plin. HN 22,67-72 praise it as a medicinal plant of manifold use. The albucus of Plin. HN 21,109 has been…

Shrew

(449 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (Greek μυγαλῆ/ mygal, Lat. sorex or Old Latin saurex and mus araneus, 'spider mouse'). Due to its secretive habit, this insectivore family of mammals with various species was hardly known in Antiquity. It was often confused with the ordinary mouse. Pliny describes the ears of the sorex as hairy (HN 11,136) and the tip of the tail as similar to that of the cow or lion (ibid. 11,265). Their hibernation is correctly mentioned by Plin. HN 8,223 (referring only to the garden shrew [1. 175]). Much supersti…

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…

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 al…

Flamingo

(176 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] ( Phoenicopterus ruber L., φοινικόπτερος; phoinikópteros, phoenicopterus). Wader named after its partly scarlet red wings; distinctive, shy brooding bird in north Africa and southern Asia, today also in the Camargue (southern France). It was first mentioned as a rare import by Aristophanes (Av. 270ff.) and also by Cratinus (fr. 114 Kock = 108 Edmonds). The observation of huge flocks made by the Alexander-historian …

Chamaimelon

(103 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (χαμαίμηλον; chamaímēlon, chamomilla, camomile). Certainly the composite Matricaria chamomilla L. that was cultivated as a medicinal plant from Neolithic times onwards. Plin. HN 22,53 knew not just its name,  anthemis, but also the nomenclature allegedly based on its apple smell ( quod odorem mali habeat, but in reality probably the result of its hemispherical thalamus), and emphasized its anti-inflammatory healing power (Plin. HN 22,53; Di…

Woodlouse

(431 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (ὄνος/ ónos, πολύπους/ polýplous, ὀνίσκος/ onískos, κούβαρις/ koúbaris, κύαμος/ kýamos, τύλον/ týlon, centi-, mille- (or mili-) and multipedium). The common woodlouse, rough woodlouse or pill bug (mentioned as early as Soph. fr.363 N2) of the Crustacea subphylum, at Aristot. Hist. an. 5,31,557a 24f. (on similarities between fish lice and many-legged ὄνοι/ ónoi), Dioscorides 2,35 [1. 1. 133] (on many-legged ὄνοι which curl up under water containers when disturbed as helpful against e.g. jaundice and as a component of injections aga…

Salmon

(161 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] Of the Salmonidae family, Antiquity was familiar with: 1. the salmon proper, Salmo salar L., as ἴσοξ/ ísox ( isox Isid. Orig. 20,2,30), mentioned in Plin. HN 9,44 for the Rhine and Sulp. Sev. Dialogi 2,10,4 for the Liger (Loire). Auson. Mos. 97-105 describes it accurately; 2. the sea trout, Salmo trutta trutta, as fario (Auson. Mos. 128-130 and Isid. Orig. 12,6,6: varii) or salmo marinus (Plin. HN 9,68, but according to [1. 119] no. 1); 3. the brown trout, Salmo trutta fario, may be meant by salmo fluviatilis (Plin. HN 9,68) in Aquitania. Auson. Mos. 88 characterizes the sala…

Mother-of-pearl

(81 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] ( unionum conchae). The pearl oyster ( concha, Plin. HN 9,106; cf. Shells D. 3.), imported from India (Plin. HN 9,106), provided the valuable pearl (μαργαρίτης/ margarítēs, margarita), but its shell covered with the same substance was scarcely used. We know only that Nero (Suet. Nero 31) had the walls in his palace in Rome, the domus aurea -- still partially traceable -- decorated with mother-of-pearl. Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg) Bibliography A. Schramm, s.v. P., RE 19, 867  Blümner, Techn. 22, 380.

Thistle finch

(161 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (ἀκανθίς/ akanthís, Latin acanthis and carduelis). A heat-loving bird, which, because of its colourful plumage and beautiful song, people still like to keep in cages in Mediterranean countries today. Its small size (Plin. HN 10,175) and enmity with the ass owing to competition for the thistles they eat are variously mentioned (Plin. HN 10,205 = Ps.-Aristot. 9,1,610 a 4). This interpretation of akanthís (Aristot. Hist. an. 8,3,592 b 30; Ps.-Aristot. 9,1,610a 4; 9,17,616b 31), however, is as disputed as the identification with acanthyllis ( agathillis Codd.) in Pli…

Alaternus

(103 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] Latin a. (Plin. HN 16,108: with leaves between holly oak, Ilex, and olive tree, oliva) means evergreen trees and shrubs of the Mediterranean Sea area with stone fruit (Pliny: without fruit!) from the families of the rhamnaceae (especially Rhamnus alaternus L., buckthorn) and the oleaceae ( Phillyrea media L. and angustifolia L.). In Theophr. Hist. pl. 1,9,3 κήλαστρος ( kḗlastros; celastrus) seems to belong to Phillyrea because the celastreae genus Celastrus L. is not found by the Mediterranean Sea. Hort [1] translates the φιλύκη ( philýkē) that follows there as a. Hünem…

Crow

(565 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] In antiquity seven varieties of the crow family (Corvidae) were identified: 1. the common raven (κόραξ/ kórax, Lat. corvus; Corvus corax L.); 2. the carrion crow and hooded crow (κορώνη/ korṓnē, Lat. cornix, cornicula; C. corone L. and C. cornix L.) and probably also the gregarious nester, the rook ( C. frugilegus L.); 3. the  jackdaw (κολοιός/ koloiós, βωμωλόχος/ bōmōlóchos, Lat. monedula or graculus; Coloeus monedula); 4. the  jay (κίσσα/ kíssa, κίττα/ kítta, Lat. pica; Garrulus glandarius); 5. the  magpie ( Pica pica), linguistically not distinguished from n…

Hedgehog

(351 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (ἐχῖνος χερσαῖος/ echînos chersaîos, Lat. ericius, ire- or erinaceus, seldom echinus), Erinaceus europaeus L., a mammal from the order of insectivores. Its typical characteristics are described by Aristotle and other authors: the spines (Aristot. Hist. an. 1,6,490b 29 and 3,11,517b 24, cf. Emp. fr. 83 Diels/Kranz; Aristoph. Pax 1086), the position of the testicles within the body (Aristot. Hist. an. 3,1,509b 9) and its mating in an upright position, stomach to stomach (ibid. 5,2,540a 3f.; Pli…

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…

Botany

(2,434 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg) [German version] A. Introduction (CT) The term was introduced as early as 1663 by Schorer as Botanic oder Kräuterwissenschaft (botany or herbal science), following botanik-́e (sc. epist-́emē) and Neo-Latin botanica (sc. scientia) [32] and is encountered in the limited sense of a plant system in 1694 in the title of the Elemens de Botanique by Joseph Pitton de Tournefort. Only in the 19th cent. did botany gain the comprehensive meaning of all scientific disciplines involving plants [29]. Before this, botany can only be spoken of in a very limited way. Hüne…

Melon

(257 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] Plant from the cucumber family ( Cucurbitaceae) with two species, the elongated golden-yellow honeydew melon (Cucumis melo L.) and the rounded water-melon ( Citrullus vulgaris Schrad.) with reddish flesh. It is known that they were cultivated early in Egypt and Greece. Greek testimonies, however, offer - aside from more or less incidental descriptions - various names (πέπων/ pépōn, σίκυος πέπων/ síkyos pépōn, σικύα/ sikýa). According to Pliny (NH. 19,67), the golden-yellow (aureus) honeydew melon, melopepo, which he described as a cucumber, first appear…

Rue

(277 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (ῥυτή/ rhytḗ in Nic. Alex. 306, πήγανον/ pḗganon e.g. in Aristoph. Vesp. 480; Latin ruta). A Mediterranean genus of the Rutaceae family comprising some 60 species of aromatic, evergreen (Theophr. Hist. pl. 1,9,4) subshrubs. The leaves, fruits and roots of Ruta graveolens were a favourite condiment, generally in combination with menta (mint) [1. 62] (and sometimes pickled in a solution of vinegar and salt, cf. Columella 12,7,1 f.), and were prescribed internally and externally (esp. in Plin. HN 20,134-143) against gynaecological c…

Ginger

(80 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] Through Plin. HN 12,28 we know that the Romans did not import the rhizome of the zingiber or zimpiber (Zingiber officinalis L.), a bitter-tasting spice, from Asia like today but from Arabia and Troglodytia (southern Egypt). Palladius used it to spice preserved quinces (Agric. 11,20,2). Dioscorides attributes to the zingíberi a warming, stomach-friendly effect (2,160 Wellmann = 2,189 Berendes). It helped with cataracts and in antidotes. Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg) Bibliography R. Stadler, s.v. Ingwer, RE IX 2, 1554.

Fern

(271 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] Pliny names three species of fern ─ felix, dryopteris, and polypodium ─, all of which are characterized by the absence of flowers and seeds. Plin. HN 27,78-80 describes two varieties of felix, one of which the Greeks on account of its pinnae referred to as πτέρις ( ptéris) or respectively βλάχνον ( bláchnon) and male (perhaps Aspidium filix mas L., the Male or Shield Fern, cf. Dioscorides 4,184 p. 2,332f. Wellmann = 4,183 p. 471f. Berendes), the other as female fern θηλυπτερίς ( thēlypterís) or respectively νυμφαία πτέρις ( nymphaía ptéris; Dioscorides 4,185 p. 2,333 W…

Sea urchin

(179 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (ἐχῖνος ὁ θαλάσσιος/ echînos ho thalássios; Latin echinus). This echinoderm (member of the class of Echinodermata) is considered by Aristotle (Hist. an. 4,4,528a 7) to be crustaceous (ὀστρακόδερμα/ ostrakóderma) and described in several species, including the edible Echinus esculentus L., (ibid. 4,5,530a 32-b 20). Their eggs, which were eaten particularly by the Romans as a delicacy (Plaut. Rud. 297; Hor. Sat. 2,4,33 on the best being from Misenum; Sen. Epist. 95,26), are mentioned in Aristot. Hist. an. 5,12,544a 18-23…

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 …
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