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Carp

(224 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (Family of the Cyprinidae). (1.) The carp that lives in rivers and ponds (Ath. 7,309a) ( Cyprinus carpio L.; κυπρῖνος/ kyprînos, Latin cyprinus or carpa) was a popular edible fish (Cassiod. Var. 12,4,1; cf. Nep. Themistocles 10,3). Aristotle describes its fleshy palate, οὐρανός/ uranós, that simulates a tongue (Hist. an. 4,8,533a 28-30), and mentions that thunderstorms drive it into a daze (Hist. an. 7(8),20,602b 23f.; Plin. HN 9,58). Supposedly it spawns five to six times a year (Aristot. Hist. an. 6,14,568a 16f.; Plin. H…

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' …

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 …

Orache

(229 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (ἀδράφαξυς/ adráphaxys: Theophrastus, ἀνδράφαξυς/ andráphaxys: Dioscorides, ἀνδράφαξις/ andráphaxis: Hippocr.; Latin atriplex), a spinach-like vegetable of the goose-foot family ( Chenopodiaceae), of which only one species (Theophr. H. plant. 7,4,1 = Plin. HN 19,123), i.e. Atriplex rosea L., is cultivated in Greece. According to Theophr. H. plant. 1,14,2 and 7,3,4 it formed its broad leaf-like seeds, which were viable for only two to three years, (Theophr. H. plant. 7,5,5 = Plin. HN 19,181) inside a pericarp (Theop…

Rhododendron

(260 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (ῥοδοδένδρον/ rhododéndron or ῥοδοδάφνη/ rhododáphnē, in Latin for the first time in Ps.-Verg. Culex 402, νήριον/ nḗrion e.g. in Dioscorides 4,81 Wellmann = 4,82 Berendes, Latin nerium, rododafne in Pall. Agric. 1,35,9), the rosebay, the oleander ( Nerium oleander) or the alpenrose ( R. ferrugineum and hirsutum L.), appears only in the 1st cent. AD in Plin. HN 16,79 (and Dioscorides, see below) with all three names ( rhododendron, rhododaphne and nerium) and hence is presumably of Greek origin. This evergreen plant with rose-like flowers,  which grow…

Asbestos

(136 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (ἄσβεστος; ásbestos), according to [1. 171] in Dioscorides 5,115 [2. 85f.] = 5,132 [3. 539] the name for burnt lime, also λίθος ἀμίαντος, or, according to the main site of discovery, Καρύστιος, is the well known fibrous variety of the hornblende that, being fire-resistant, was made into fabrics and lamp-wicks. According to Plin. HN 19,19f. this supposed species of flax from India was very precious; according to Dioscorides 5,138 [2. 99] = 5,155 [3. 550] the amiantus stone from Cypr…

Jay

(213 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (κίσσα/ kíssa or κίττα/ kítta, Garrulus glandarius). It was often confused in Greek with the  Magpie [1. 146] and, as garrulus, in the Middle Ages (among others in Isid. Orig. 12,7,45) with either the graculus, the Alpine chough ( Jackdaw), or the rook (e.g. in Thomas of Cantimpré 5,62; [2. 209]). The colourful crow shows characteristic coloration and behaviour. Plin. HN 10,119 already admires the talkativeness of the related magpies and of the acorn eaters ( earum quae glande vescantur). Aristot. Hist. an. 9(8),13,615b 19-23 describes the changeability o…

Argestes

(123 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (Ἀργεστής; Argestḗs). The north-west wind, e.g. in Aristot. Mete. 2,6,364a 14, that is set on the astronomical wind rose as the middle wind between the north and west (ζέφυρος; zéphyros) winds at the sunset point of the summer solstice. It was considered to be strong, cool, clearing and dry. Other names: Skiron in Attica, among the Greeks sailing to Sicily Iapyx and on the Italian west coast Κερκίας ( Kerkías). In Plin. HN 2,119, Vitr. De arch. 1,6,1 and Sen. Q. Nat. 5,16,5 it is called Corus. Aristot. Ανέμων θέσεις ( Anémōn théseis), 973b 13-15 cites for the Ἰάπυξ ( Iápyx) the …

Bulrush

(101 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] The ancient term σχοῖνος ( schoînos), Latin iuncus covers today's false grasses of the Juncaceae (especially Juncus) and Cyperaceae ( Schoenus and Scirpus among others) families -- the bulrushes and club-rushes, as well as sedges. In antiquity, bulrushes were commonly used for making mats and, in the case of papyrus Cyperus papyrus ( book,  papyrus), as writing materials. The bulbous root of the Mediterranean species C. esculentus provided edible oil [1. 18]. Sweet-tasting leaves were boiled in beer and eaten (μαλιναθάλλη in Theophr. Hist. pl. 4,8,12; cf. anthaliu…

Mint

(299 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] There were several names for the pleasantly smelling members of the genus Mentha of the family Labiatae not precisely described by the Greeks: μίνθη/ mínthē (Theophr. H. plant. 2,4,1), καλαμίνθη/ kalamínthē, σισύμβριον/ sisýmbrion, ἡδύσμον/ hēdýsmon (e.g. in Theophr. ibid. 7,7,1), βλήχων/ blḗchōn or γλήχων/ glḗchōn and among the Romans as menta, mentastrum, pule(g)ium and nepeta. Watermint, horsemint, pennyroyal and catmint were cultivated in antiquity, but peppermint ( Mentha Piperita), which apparently arose spontaneously from watermint ( Mentha Aquatic…

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. …

Sesame

(217 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (Greek τὸ σήσαμον/ tò sḗsamon, from Semitic, Latin sesamum). The oleiferous seeds of Sesamum indicum L. of the Pedaliaceae family, which grows around the Mediterranean, in Mesopotamia and in Egypt, according to Plin. HN 18,96 originally introduced from  India (Greek σησάμη/ sēsámē or σησαμίς/ sēsamís). Solon 40 West and Aristoph. Vesp. 676 record its early use in Greece. Theophrastus (Hist. pl. 8,3,1-4) describes the leaves, the stem, the (white) foxglove-like flowers and the seeds in the elongated bilocular capsules (ibid.…

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,…

Ranunculus

(157 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (βατράχιον/ batráchion = σέλινον ἄγριον/ sélinon ágrion in Dioscorides), buttercup, crowfoot. The widespread family of the Ranunculaceae has more than 100 species in Greece and Italy. The Greek and Latin names for the plant seem to be derived from' frog' (βάτραχος/ bátrachos, Lat. rana), owing to its preference for damp locations. Dioscorides (2,175 Wellmann = 2,206 Berendes) and Pliny (HN 25,172 f.) describe the appearance of four species; it is impossible today to determine exactly which. The leaves and stems in poultice…

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…

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…

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 superstition and magic was reported: supposedly, egrets ( ardeola) and shrews pre…

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 also several varieties of chickpea, Cicer arietinum L., common in the East, named after the similarit…

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 Cleitarchus (FGrH 137 F 21) is reflected tendency (without naming the fla…

Carrot

(199 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] This biennial vegetable, Daucus carota L., that grew wild in Europe and belonged to the family of the umbelliferous plants σταφυλῖνος ( staphylînos), was called καρωτόν ( karōtón), δαῦκον ( daûkon: Theophr. Hist. pl. 9,15,5), Latin pastinaca, daucus. Through cultivation the originally dry and woody root became pleasant-tasting, nutritious and sweet. Dioscorides (3,52,1 Wellmann and Berendes) describes the one purple-coloured ornamental flower of the staphylínos ágrios in the middle of the otherwise white umbel and recommends (cf. Plin. HN 20,30…

Nightjar

(90 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] ( Caprimulgus europaeus L.). The curious earth-coloured bird has its name αἰγοθήλας/ aigothḗlas (Lat. caprimulgus, i.e. 'goat-milker') from the statement in Aristot. Hist. an. 8(9),30,618b 2-9 (= Plin. HN 10,115; Ael. NA 3,39) that it sucks the udder of goats at night [1. 72], causes their milk to dry up and makes the animals blind. In reality the bird flies about at night catching insects with its rather wide beak. Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg) Bibliography 1 Leitner. Keller 2, 68 f.  D'Arcy W. Thompson, A Glossary of Greek Birds, 1936 (repr. 1966), 24 f.

Bal­sam

(197 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (βάλσαμον; bálsamon), also balsam sap or inferior wood balsam (ὀποβάλσαμον or ξυλοβάλσαμον), the aromatic resin of the Burseracea Commiphora (= balsamodendron) opobalsamum (including gileadensis), which is tapped in the summer. Balsam was only known since Theophr. Hist. pl. 9,6 only as a product of two gardens from Palestine (Judea near Jericho) and from Arabia (Str. 16,2,763). Dioscorides (1,19,1-5 [1. 1.24ff.] = 1,18 [2. 45ff.]; following Theophrastus) describes the small bush, which resembles the vin…

Rhubarb

(120 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] ( reubarbarum sive reuponticum in Isid. Etym. 17,9,40, usually ῥᾶ/ rhâ, ῥῆον/ rhêon in Dioscorides 3,2 Wellmann and Berendes, rhecoma in Plin. HN 27,128, in the Middle Ages rhabarber), plant of the knot-grass family (Polygonaceae) Rheum rhabarbarum L., R. officinale L., R. rhaponticum L., named rha ponticum after the river Rha (= Volga) on the Black Sea (Amm. Marc. 22,8) and hence probably introduced from Asia. Plin.  HN 27,128-130 (similarly Dioscorides 3,2) recommends the ground-up root externally for its warming and astringent…

Emerald

(95 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (σμάραγδος/ smáragdos, Lat. smaragdus or zmaragdus). Greenish gemstone, variety of beryl, in the famous ring of  Polycrates [1] (in Hdt. 3,41) among others, one of the 12 stones of  Aaron (Ex 39,10). Theophr. De lapidibus 25 [1. 66] mentions the copper mines of  Cyprus and an island near Chalcedon as the main places where the stone is found. Plin. HN 37,62-75 distinguishes 12 types depending on their origin. Particularly transparent and shiny mirroring specimens were highly regarded. Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg) Bibliography 1 D. E. Eichholz (ed.), Theophr…

Roe

(368 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] ( Capreolus capreolus). A small genus of deer, spread as far as southern Europe, whose way of life was hardly known in Antiquity. Capreolus in Columella describes not only the roe deer (9,1,1) but also a two-tined gardening tool (11,3,46) and the shoots of a vine (e.g. 4,14,1 and 5,6,26). Its short and slightly branching antlers, which are allegedly not shed, are mentioned in Plin. HN 11,124. In Roman authors the usual Latin name was probably caprea (e.g. in Varro Rust. 3,3,3; Ov. Met. 1,442; Columella 9 pr.; Hor. Carm. 3,15,12: lasciva caprea; Plin. HN 8,228: absent in …

Trout

(184 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] These predatorily living fresh-water fish (Salmo trutta L.) were first mentioned by Ambr. Exam. 5,3,7 as ' quite large variegated fish, called trout' ( varii maiores, quos vocant troctas; v.l. tructas), that commit their eggs to the water to develop by themselves ( ova generant ... et aquis fovenda committunt). This view is adopted by Isidore (Orig. 12,6,6) when deriving their name from their variegation ( varii et varietate) and by Hrabanus Maurus (De universo 8,5, PL 111,237) from him. In accordance with a proverb, Alexander Neckam (De naturis r…

Bidens

(96 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] Term for those ruminants that at second dentition had both middle incisors in the lower jaw replaced by larger teeth at the age of 1 1/4 to 2 years (Paul. Fest. 4,17). Servius describes just such sheep as preferred sacrificial animals (Serv. Aen. 6,39: mactare praestiterit ... lectas ex more bidentes, ‘it would be better to slaughter ... bidentes selected as prescribed by custom’; later Isid. Orig. 12,1,9; cf. Serv. Aen. 4,57).  Ruminants Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg) Bibliography Nehring, Jb. für class. Philol., 1893, 64ff. E. Norden, Vergils Aeneis, 6. Buch, …

Falcons

(175 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] While ἱέρακες generally denotes goshawks and ἰκτῖνοι harriers, only the kestrel ( Falco tinnunculus) is identifiable among falcons. Aristophanes calls it Κερχνῇς (Av. 1181 in Ael. NA 12,4), Aristotle κεγχρίς (Hist. an. 6,2,559a 26; cenchris, Plin. HN 10,143f.). According to Aristot. Hist. an. 6,1,558b 28-30, it lays four or more red eggs (as well Plin. HN 10,143f.), has a crop (Hist. an. 2,17,509a 6) and drinks a fair bit (8,3,594a 1f.). Pliny claims that the tinnunculus is a friend of domestic pigeons whom it defends against goshawks (HN 10,109). Like P…

Leopard

(357 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (πάρδαλις/ párdalis or πόρδαλις/ pórdalis; Lat. panthera). This large cat is found not only in Africa, but also in Asia. Thirty leopards ( pardáleis) and cheetahs ( pánthēroi) were led in the procession of Ptolemy II (3rd cent. BC; Ath. 5,201c). Plin. HN 8,62f. describes the eye-like spots of the panthera and claims that they lure other quadrupeds as prey with their pleasant odour. He claimed the second name for the male animals was pardus (cf. Luc. 6,183). Out of zoological ignorance, Isid. Orig. 12,2,11 has the leopardus spring from the crossing of a lioness and a pardus. T…

Oats

(123 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] Unlike barley (Grain), wild and cultivated oats ( Avena sativa L., / brómos, avena) were used only occasionally in human diet in antiquity, for example as flour for pearl barley and dietary porridge (Hippoc. De victu 2,7(= 43) and Plin. HN 22,137); oats were used most frequently as animal fodder (green or as hay: Columella 2,10,32). Dioscorides (with a good description in 2,94 p. 1, 172f. Wellmann = 2,116 p. 203 Berendes) recommends the porridge against diarrhoea and the gruel obtained from it…

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…

Poplar

(292 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] Both the black poplar (αἴγειρος/ aígeiros, Hom. Il. 4,482-87; Od. 7,106; 10,510 and 17,208, Lat. populus nigra) and the silver poplar (ἀχερωίς/ acherōḯs in Hom. Il. 13,389 and 16,482, then λευκή/ leukḗ, Lat. populus alba) are frequently encountered in ancient literature. Theophrastus (Hist. pl. 3,14,2) and Pliny (HN 16,85f.) provide good descriptions, the latter even including the woolly seeds. Medicinal use is to be found for the bark, the resin and the leaves. Dioscorides (1,83 Wellmann = 1,110 Berendes) mention…

Flycatcher

(222 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] This songbird family is represented in the Mediterranean by only two varieties: (a) the grey ( Muscicapa striata Pall.) and (b) the collared flycatcher ( M. albicollis Temminck). The two were not distinguished in antiquity, thus it is impossible to identify them either in zoological records or in ancient illustrations (for instance on mosaics [1. vol. 2, 119]). The ancient name συκαλλίς/ sykallís, ficedula is based on the assumption, already indirectly refuted by Aristotle (Hist. an. 8(9),3,592b 21f. and 28f.) that it eats figs. Aristotle's c…

Owls

(1,020 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
Along with the eagles and falcons, the family of night predator birds is given five main varieties in Aristotle. These were also known to the Romans. [German version] A. Eagle-owls 1. Eagle-owl ( Bubo bubo, βύας/ býas or βρύας/ brýas, derived from the onomatopoeic βύζειν/ býzein, as bubo is from bubulare), the largest, almost eagle-sized kind (Aristot. Hist. an. 7(8),3,592b 9-10). It lives in wastelands, in eerie and inaccessible places (Plin. HN 10,34), on tombs and in caves (Isid. Orig. 12,7,39). Plin. HN 10,35 mentions its imprecise, seeming…

Pelican

(235 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (πελεκάν/ pelekán, gen. -ᾶνος/ -ânos, not to be confused with πελεκᾶς, -ᾶντος/ pelekâs, -ántos = 'woodpecker' in Aristoph. Av. 884 and 1155; also πελεκῖνος/ pelekînos). Many take the name to refer not to the pelican, but to the spoonbill ( Platalea leucorodia). The Latin loan-word pelicanus is used first in Vulg. Ps 101,7. Unlike the Romans, the Greeks knew the bird as a breeding bird in the Danube delta (as it still is today) (e.g. Aristot. Hist. an. 7(8),12,597a 9-13) and a predator of mussels (Aristot. Hist. an. 8(9),10,6…

Francolin

(154 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] ( Francolinus francolinus, ἀτταγήν/ attagḗn, Attic ἀτταγᾶς/ attagâs). This wild hen, which resembles a rock partridge, still widespread in Asia Minor and Africa, often (as in Plin. HN. 10,133) bears the Latin  epithet Ionius. According to Pliny, it multiplied particularly in Gaul and Spain. Aristoph. Ach. 875 mentiones francolins in Boeotia. By the attagḗn caught in the Alps the hazel grouse was probably meant. Hor. Epod. 2,53 and Mart. 13,61 prize its excellent flavour. Alexander of Myndus in Ath. 9,387f gives a good description: i…

Leucrocota

(181 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] This composite creature ( Monsters) (size of a donkey, legs of a deer, badger head with a gaping snout up to the ears and a single bone in place of teeth, similarity to a lion in the neck, chest and tail, cloven hooves, ability to imitate the human voice) in Ethiopia in Plin. HN 8,72f. and Solin. 52,34 should possibly be interpreted as the brown hyaena ( Hyaena brunnea) [1. 154]. However, it is probably a mythical animal that was passed on through the sources mentioned and Honorius Augustodunensis 1,12 ( Ceucocrota) [2. 54] and Jacob of Vitry, Historia orientalis c. 88 …

Hazel

(267 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] The genus Corylus L. of the Betulaceae family is represented in Europe especially by the widespread, bush-forming (cf. Verg. Ecl. 1,14) common or shrub hazel Corylus avellana (already abellana in Cato Agr. 8,2; corylus: hazel wood for the wine press lid ibid. 18,9; corulus Columella 7,9,6). In the Mediterranean region the Turkish hazel C. colurna L., which grows up to 20 m tall and has a range from Asia Minor to the Balkans, C. pontica Koch and the giant filbert C. maxima Mill. (= tubulosa Willdenow; perhaps = nuces calvae, Cato Agr. 8,2 = galbae Plin. HN 15,90) are also f…

Pepper

(240 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (τὸ πέπερι/ tò péperi, Latin piper) in Hippoc. Gynaikia 1,81 (cf. Hippocr. Epidemiai 4,40; 5,67; 6,6,13; 7,64) is the name of the costly spice Piper with two species ( P. album and P. nigrum) which is imported from India. The inadequate descriptions in Theophr. H. plant. 9,20,1, (cited in Athen. 2,66e), Dioscorides (2,159 Wellmann = 2,188 Berendes) and Plin. HN 12,26f. divulge that the seed grains of what is called P. longum grow in small pods, and this has been connected with African pepper ( Xylopia aethiopica A. Rich.), which is common in Africa. Theophrastus deri…

Goshawk

(688 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] It is almost impossible to distinguish exactly whether ἱέραξ/ hiérax (ἴρηξ, in Homer) in each individual instance refers to the goshawk ( Accipiter gentilis), the sparrowhawk ( A. nisus) or a species of the Falconidae. A commonly used synonym was κίρκος/ kírkos (e.g. Hom. Il. 22,139). The pigeon-killer φασσοφόνος/ phassophónos in Hom. Il. 15,237 apparently refers to the goshawk, írēx, however, to the sparrowhawk. In popular etymology, the Latin name accipiter ( acceptor in Lucil. 1130) is derived from accipere (Isid. Orig. 12,7,55, cf. Plaut. Persa 406f.). Aristot. …

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…

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. …

Mussels

(881 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] A. Anatomy The popular collective term τὰ ὄστρεα/ óstrea was replaced by Aristot. Hist. an. 4,4,527b 35-528a 1 with ὀστρακόδερμα/ ostrakóderma. The corresponding Latin terms are ostreum and ostrea (Isid. Orig. 12,6,52), but this often means oyster, or concha (Plin. HN 9,40) in particular. In contrast to  Pliny, Aristot. Hist. an. 4,4,528a 12f. distinguishes bivalves (δίθυρα/ díthyra, modern: Bivalvia) from univalve gastropods (μονόθυρα/ monóthyra). Aristot., unlike Plin. HN 11,129, erroneously mentions a head in gastropods and bivalves (Pa…

Carnation

(212 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] As we do not know of any ancient name, we cannot clarify whether the carnation was found in ancient times. Possibly it is meant by the name Διὸς ἄνθος/ Diòs ánthos, ‘flower of Zeus’ Latin Iovis flos, from which the modern name of the genus, Dianthus, is also derived. At any rate, of the 65 representatives that grow in Greece from among the 120 wild European species of carnation, 20 are regarded as endemic [1. 81]. In the shrub-like Cretan carnation, Dianthus arboreus, archaeologists see the model for wall paintings in the palace of Knossos. As Zeus is said to …

Oriole

(129 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] The magnificent male of the Oriolus oriolus L. with its yellow and black markings and melodious song is probably what is meant by  χλωρίων/ chlōríōn in Aristot. Hist. an. 8(9),22,617a 28 and chlorion in Plin. HN 10,87. Besides the colouring ( chlōrós = greenish yellow) this is confirmed by the late appearance of this migratory bird at the summer solstice and its disappearance in winter. Icterus and galgulus in Plin. HN 30,94, a bird used to cure jaundice, and virio (Plin. HN 18,292) seem to be synonymous terms [1. 85f.]. Its bowl-shaped nest intricately susp…

Mannus

(136 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] ( mannulus) or buricus (according to Porph. Hor. comm. epod. 4,14; Veg. Mulomedicina 3,2,2; for the name [1. 2, 29]) was the name given to the small horse or pony imported from Gaul (for the origin [2. 289]) in the 1st cent. BC to Rome as a luxury animal (Lucr. 3,1063; Plin. Ep. 4,2,3: mannulus; Jer. Ep. 66,8), particularly for ostentatious ladies (Hor. Carm. 3,27,7; Prop. 4,8,15; Ov. Am. 2,16,49f.). People would harness the small, fast and temperamental animal to a two-wheeled coach (‘gig, parva esseda, carpentum, covinnus; [3. 416, 464]: Mart. 12,24,8) or ride it …

Sturgeons

(339 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] In Antiquity - as it still is - the ancient Chondrostei family was represented by the Common Sturgeon ( Acipenser sturio L.) and the smaller Sterlet ( Acipenser ruthenus L.). The latter is described by Apion and Archestratus [2] (in Ath. 7,294e-f) as an ἀκκιπήσιος/ akkipḗsios (Latin acupenser/ accipenser) and identified with the ἔλ(λ)οψ/ él(l)ops (etymology still unclear: [1. 1,500], cf. schol. Theoc. Syrinx 18; Plut. Mor. 728e; Ath. 7,308c) and the γαλεός/ galeós (cf. Varro Rust. 2,6,2; elsewhere always meaning shark). Dorion (in Ath. 7,282) and Plut…

Cabbage

(185 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (ῥάφανος, κράμβη, καυλός; rháphanos, krámbē, kaulós; Latin brassica, crambe, caulis, from this Italian cavolo, French chou, German Kohl) is a European vegetable plant ( Brassica oleracea L.) from the Cruciferae family that today is grown in numerous culture strains. It is first mentioned as the heptaphyllous krámbē by Hipponax 40 Diehl (quoted in Ath. 9,370b). Within the rháphanos, Theophr. Hist. pl. 7,4,4 (related by Plin. HN 19,80 to the radish rhaphanís, Latin raphanus) distinguishes, like Cato Agr. 157,1-3 and Ath. 9,369e-f, three varieties of cab…
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