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Casia

(119 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] ( cassia, κασσία; kas〈s〉ía) was the name originally given to species of Cinnamomum, especially C. zeylanicum ( Cinnamon, κιννάμωμον in Hdt. 3,107) and C. cassia (from southern China, cf. Theophr. Hist. pl. 9,5,1 and 3; Dioscorides 1,13 [1. 1,17f.] = 2.1,12 [2. 35ff.]), but also, already in antiquity, to species of the genus of leguminosae Cassia, especially the black husks of C. fistula ( C. solutiva, κασσία μέλαινα, γλυκοκάλαμος) introduced via Alexandria. Their edible pith that acts as a laxative (called senna pulp) was used frequently also in the Middle Ages. Hü…

Dog

(1,444 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] [1] An animal (κύων/ kýōn, κυνίδιον/ kynídion, κυνίσκος/ kynískos, σκύλαξ/ skýlax, σκυλάκιον/ skylákion, canis, canicula, catellus). Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg) [German version] A. Breeds One of the oldest domestic animals, bred in various parts of the world, probably starting in the Mesolithic era, from varieties of wild dogs that have now died out. The theory of its descent from the golden jackal ( Canis aureus) [2] has now been abandoned. From bone remains and from graphic representations several early breeds can be identified as the a…

Lark

(288 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] Classical antiquity knew only one species each from two genera of the Alaudidae family: the crested lark ( Galerida cristata L.), ἡ κόρυδος/ kórydos, κορύδαλος/ korýdalos; Latin corydalus (Marcellus, De medicamentis 29,30), galerita (Plin. HN 10,137), cassita (Gell. NA 2,29,3), Celtic alauda (Plin. HN 11,121; Marcellus, ibid. 28,50), is distinguished from the skylark ( Alauda arvensis L.), which appears in Greece only as a winter visitor, by the feather crest according to Aristot. Hist. an. 8(9),25,617b 19-23. The crested lark is the s…

Agnos

(204 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (ἄγνος; ágnos). Like Greek λύγος ( lýgos; Homeric), Latin vitex for the shrub or tree Vitex agnus-castus L. from the tropical genus of the verbenaceae that is the only species common around the Mediterranean Sea and Black Sea on coasts and river banks. Popular etymological interpretation as early as antiquity sometimes as ἅγιος ( hágios) = holy (Dioscorides), sometimes as ἄγονος ( ágonos; Galen) = castus = chaste and in the Middle Ages as agnus = lamb (Albertus Magnus) and castus ( Agnus castus in the 13th cent. [2. lib. 10,5 = 1. lib. IV. A. 1 among others]. Th…

Seal

(565 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (φώκη/ phṓkē, Latin vitulus marinus, 'sea-calf', or phoca, Manil. 5,661) was the term in Antiquity for the monk seal, Monachus monachus, up to 4 m long with a whitish underside  and rare in the Mediterranean. Only Tac. Germ. 17 seems to allude to the pelt of the common seal ( Phoca vitulina). The monk seal is known as early as Homer (Hom. Od. 4,404-06, cf. H. Hom. 3,77 φῶκαί τε μέλαιναι/ phôkaí te mélainai, 'the black seals'), but also in Aristophanes (Vesp. 1035; Pax 758) and Theocritus 8,52. Despite their innocuousness  (Diod. 3,41) they were hunted…

Worms

(623 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] As late as the 18th cent., Carl von Linné combined the different phyla of Plathelminthes (flatworms), Nemertini (ribbon worms) and Nemathelminthes (roundworms) into the single phylum of Vermes. Only a very few representatives were known in Antiquity, almost all parasites, with confusion between true worms and worm-like maggots and larval forms being common. By σκώληξ/ skṓlēx, τερηδών/ terēdṓn, εὐλή/ eulḗ, ἴψ/ íps and ἡ ἕλμι(ν)ς/ hē hélmi(n)s both insect larvae or maggots as well as worms can therefore be meant. 1. Common Earthworms ( Lumbricus terrestris), ἔντερα …

Silphion

(248 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (Greek σίλφιον/ sílphion, word of non-Greek origin, from σίλφι/ sílphi or σίρφι/ sírphi; Latin sirpe, laserpicium from lac sirpicium). An as yet unidentified plant, imported from the 6th cent. BC from Cyrenaeca in northern Africa, and the resinous milky juice obtained from its stem and root (Latin laser, main citation in Plin. HN 19,38-46 and 22,100 f. according to Theophr. Hist. pl. 3,1,6; 6,3,1; 6,3,3; 6,4). It seems to have been related to asafoetida ( Ferula asa-foetida L.). The plant is supposed to have had a strong but pleasant smell. Theophr. (Hi…

Squill

(248 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (σκίλλη/ skíllē, Latin scilla), Urginea maritima of the Liliaceae family. In the Mediterranean area, metre-high flowering stems with numerous white and red blooms issue from its large bulb [1. 114f. and figs. 190-192] in autumn before leaf-formation (Theophr. Hist. pl. 7,13,6). According to Dioscorides 2,171 Wellmann = 2,202 Berendes the spicy-flavoured bulb was roasted on a fire wrapped in clay or wheat dough, or stewed in a lidded pot. It was then cut up and dried in portions on line…

Gurnard

(245 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] Seven of the probably 15 identified representatives of the family of the Cottidae are of major significance: 1) The armed gurnard (Peristedion cataphractum C.) that growls after being caught is ─ according to Aelianos (NA 13,26), who calls it τέττιξ ἐνάλιος/ téttix enálios (‘Sea Cicada’) ─, darker than the κάραβος/ kárabos, the lobster. The inhabitants of Seriphus are said to have spared it because it was dedicated to Perseus. 2) The flying gurnard (Dactylopterus volitans L.) is said, as ἱέραξ ὁ θαλάττιος/ hiérax ho thaláttios, Latin accipiter (‘Marine goshawk’), t…

Gum (kommi)

(105 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] As a loan-word from Egyptian, κόμμι ( kómmi) first appears in Hdt. 2,86 as an adhesive for the linen bandages of embalmed corpses. It was extracted from the so-called Egyptian thorn Acacia arabica = nilotica ( Acacia) that is already described by Theophr. Hist. pl. 4,2,8 (cf. spina nigra, Plin. HN 13,63). Plin. HN 13,66 mentions further suppliers of gum. Dioscorides 1,133 p. 1, 205 Wellmann = 1,160 p. 225 Berendes knows gum from the skeletonweed, Chondrilla iuncea L. ( Compositae). The medical importance of various cummi, for eyes and wounds among other things, is…

Pine

(406 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] In the Mediterranean region there are about 12 species of the coniferous genus P inus (cf. p icea spruce): In the west, 1) p inus pinea L ., the stone pine (Italian: pino domestico cf. πεύκη ἥμερος; peúkē hḗmeros) with cones (στρόβιλοι / stróbiloi, θύρσοι / thýrsoi) containing edible seeds (κόκκιλοι / kókkiloi, κόκκωνες / kókkōnes); 2) the maritime pine, Pinus maritima (= p inaster Sol.); In the east, 3) the fine-needled aleppo pine, Pinus halepensis; 4) Pinus peuce Grisebach, which grows only on a few mountains of the northern Balkans along with various sp…

Quince

(218 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] The identification of the 'Cydonian apples' (μῆλα κυδώνια/ mêla kydṓnia) or the Lat. mala cotonea - Italian cotogna denotes quince - with the quince ( Cydonia oblonga) is at the very least dubious. The features of the fruits mentioned in the descriptions since Alcman (fr. 90 Bergk) and Stesichorus (fr. 27 Bergk) (pleasant odour, suitability for making jam and the comparison between their round shape and female breasts) can also refer to other species of apple. Even Solon's prescription (Plut. Mor. 138d 1; …

Andrachle

(169 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (ἀνδράχλη, -νη; andráchlē, - ). By this Dioscorides 2,124 [1.196 f.] = 2,150 [2.219 f.] meant on the one hand the purslane ( Portulaca oleracea) and on the other hand 2,186-187 [1.1.254 f.] = 2,217 [2.259] the waxflower Cerinthe aspera L. (τηλεφώνιον; tēlephṓnion) and then 4,168 ([1.2.316 f.] = 4,166 [2.462] = Plin. HN 20,210) the sea spurge Euphorbia Peplis L.; Plin. HN 13,120 (following Theophr. Hist. pl. 3,16,5) describes the andrachle as an evergreen (cf. Theophr. Hist. pl. 1,9,3 = Plin. HN 16,80) species of the eastern strawberry tree with…

Mackerel

(265 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (σκόμβρος/ skómbros, σκομβρίς/ skombrís, Latin scomber, κολίας/ kolías with unexplained etymology according to [1], Latin colias), the predatory marine fish, Scomber scombrus L. of the sub-species of the Scombroidea, that is often confused with the tuna because of its kinship with it. The mackerel, which according to Plin. HN 9,49 has a sulphury yellow colour in the water ( sulpureus color), comes, according to Aristot. Hist. an. 7(8),13,599a 1-3, in large schools to spawn on the sea coasts. Its catch (details in Opp. Hal. 3,576-595) was p…

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…

Ochre

(254 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (ὤχρα/ ṓchra, Latin ochra, sil: Plin. HN 33,158), weathered clayey iron oxide compound, which was the most widely used brownish yellow paint in antiquity, sometimes resembling oxblood in appearance. There were four common types of ochre (Plin. HN 33,158-160), the best of which was no longer available after the Laurium silver mines in Attica were depleted (cf. Vitr. De arch. 7,7,1). The second-best type, a grainy ochre containing marble that could withstand etching with burnt lime, was…

Ibex

(146 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] The ibex ( Capra ibex L.), which belongs to the genus of goats, lives in the high mountains of Europe (Alps, Pyrenees) and in Palestine. It was not known to the Greeks; the Romans mention it as ibex only since Pliny (HN 8,214). Where Isidore (Orig. 12,1,17) got the nonsensical claim that the ibex would throw themselves from the peaks when enemies approached and catch themselves unharmed by their horns is unknown. Mass capture and use in arena fights is recorded for the emperors Gordianus (SHA Gord. 3,7) and Probus (S…

Umbilicus

(137 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] [1] Plant (κοτυληδών/ kotylēdṓn, κυμβάλιον/ kymbálion, σκυτάλιον/ skytálion, γῆς ὀμφαλός/ gȇs omphalós; Latin umbilicus Veneris, cotyledon), genus of the Crassulaceae family: navelwort with two species ( Umbilicus erectus and Umbilicus horizontalis) still growing on rocks and walls in the Mediterranean area, mentioned in Dioscorides (4,91-92 Wellmann = 4,90-91 Berendes) and Pliny (HN. 25,159). Its small fleshy leaves, sap pressed from them and it roots were prescribed for rashes, inflammations (primarily of th…

Verbenaca

(130 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (Late Antiquity verbena; Greek ἱερὰ βοτάνη/ hierà botánē, 'sacred herb', or περιστερεών/ peristereṓn, 'dove herb'), the Common Vervain ( Verbena officinalis L.) in the Verbenaceae family. It grows as a herbaceous plant, chiefly on walls and paths, and has small purple flowers on branched panicles. The modern scientific name indicates its great medicinal significance, primarily as an astringent for haemorrhage, fever, headaches and hyperhidrosis (Dioscorides 4,59 f. Wellmann = 4,60 f. Berendes;  cf. Plin.  HN 25,105 f.). Among the Romans, verbenaca was used…

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…

Myrrh

(265 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (μύρρα/ mýrrha, σμύρνα/ smýrna or σμύρνη/ smýrnē as a loan word from the Semitic; Latin murra, murrha, myrrha). The aromatic resin of the true myrrh tree Commiphora abyssinica Engl., which grows to an altitude of 300 to 2000 metres, is imported from Southern Arabia, Eritrea and Northern Abyssinia and obtained by tapping young branches. When heated, it gives off a pleasant aroma that has been prized since time immemorial by the peoples of the Southeastern Mediterranean region (cf. for example Prov. 7,17; HL 1,12 et passim; Mt 2,11). Theophr. H. plant. 9,4,2-9 provi…

Pumice

(101 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (κίσ(σ)ηρις/ kís(s)ēris, pumex). The relatively soft eruptive rock from volcanic eruptions or porous dripstone. It was used as a building material. In cosmetics it served as an exfoliant agent to smooth the skin (cf. Plin. HN 36, 154-156). A powder made of thrice-burnt pumice helped with eye ulcers and was used for dental care and as a stopper for fermenting wine (cf. Dioscorides 5,108 [1. 78f.] = 5,124 [2. 534f.]). Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg) Bibliography 1 M. Wellmann (ed.), Pedanii Dioscurides de materia medica, vol. 3, 1914, repr. 1958 2 J. Berendes (ed.),…

Swan

(655 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (Κύκνος/ kýknos, Latin cygnus or olor) is the term not only for the mute swan., Cygnus olor, which breeds in Europe, but also for the Nordic whooper swan, C. cygnus (L.), which migrated as a winter visitor, probably occasionally as far as Greece and Italy. Hom. Il. 2,460-463 has them gather with geese and cranes in Lydia on the 'Asian meadow' (cf. Str. 14,1,45). Homer's Hymn 21 to Apollo locates them on the river Peneius in Thessaly, Aristoph. Av. 768 on the Hebrus in Thrace, Ov. Epist. 7,1 on the Maeander [2]…

Fly

(508 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] As μυῖα (μῦα; myîa, mŷa; Lat. musca), which Aristotle attributed to the dipterans (δίπτερα; díptera), not only the housefly, but also the gadfly or blind fly (also κυνόμυια; kynómyia) and the bluebottle were conceived. In Aristotle, Pliny and Lucian ( Muscae Encomium = ‘Praise of the Fly’) usually the housefly is referred to, but the sting of the gadfly (Aristot. Hist. an. 1,5,490a 20; 4,7,532a 21; Plin. HN 11,100; Lucian. Muscae Encomium 6) and its buzzing during flight (Aristot. Hist. an. 4,9,535 b 9-11; Plin. HN 11,266) are also mentioned. Homer (…

Taxus

(210 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (Greek ἡ [σ]μῖλος/ [s]mîlos, σμῖλαξ/ smîlax: Dioscorides, τὸ θύμαλλον/ thýmallon; Latin taxus, f.), a fir-like evergreen (Theophr. Hist. pl. 1,9,3; Plin.  HN 16,80) and long-lived (cf. Plin. ibid.  16,212) forest tree, the yew ( Taxus baccata L.). In Antiquity the cold-insensitive taxus (Verg. G 2,113) was widespread. Homer does not mention it, but Theophrastus knows the  mîlos well (Hist. Pl. 3,4,2 and 3,10,2; 4,1,3 and 5,7,6;   cf.  Plin.  HN 16,50 f.). Its needles and seeds (within the red berries) were already known to be poisonous…

Monkey

(339 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (πίθηκος/ píthēkos, simia, Vulgar Latin clura), only in Africa and southern Asia; earlier instances on Pithecusa (Ischia) (Xenagoras fr. 13) disputed by Plin. HN 3,82 (cf. the legend Ov. Met. 14,92 ff.). Those known in antiquity (Aristot. Hist. an. 2,8,502 a 16-b 24; Plin. HN 8,216) were: 1. the tailless Turkish monkey (πίθηκος), 2. the tailed guenon (κῆβος/ kȇbos, κερκοπίθηκος/ kerkopíthēkos), 3. grey baboon (κυνοκέφαλος/ kynoképhalos, Latin satyrus). Species 1 and 2 were popular, often portrayed [cf. 1, ch. 3 and figs. 13-15] and (because of th…

Anise

(107 words)

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

Duck

(576 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] Athenaeus (9,395D-E, drawing on Alexander from Myndus, Περὶ ὀρνίθων; Perì ornithōn, ‘On birds’) recorded that several varieties of the family of Anatidae, widely dispersed throughout the world , were found in the Mediterranean region. These were: 1) the very common stock duck (or wild duck, mallard) ( Anas platyrhynchos), νῆττα; nêtta, lat. anas (diminutive form νηττάριον; nēttárion, lat. aneticula); 2) the smaller βοσκάς; boskás, perhaps the migratory garganey (or querquedule) ( Anas querquedula), but according to Gossen [1. 418] the red-crested pochard ( Nett…

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 …

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…

Fishes

(425 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] Aristotle had a knowledge of fish (ἰχθύς; ichthýs, Pl. ἰχθύες; ichthýes), the modern class of vertebrates, as a sub-group of aquatic animals (ἔνυδρα; énydra) that was almost even better than his knowledge of birds, and he provides about 133 names in the Historia animalium. Of these however many sea fish must remain unidentified. He was informed by experienced fishermen whom he questioned, for example, at the rich fish market in Athens. He clearly distinguishes the cartilagenous fish that are phosphorescent in the dark as σελάχη ( seláchē; of σέλας, sélas, ‘light’) [1.…

Nitrum

(179 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (νίτρον/ nítron, λίτρον/ lítron, Latin nitrum). Collective name for the sodium and potassium salts obtained from brine. Pliny (HN 31,106-122) deals with them in detail on the basis of a lost work of Theophrastus. Some nitrum-releasing waters (e.g. at Clitae in Macedonia) and mines, e.g. in Egypt at Naucratis and Memphis (e.g. Nitria), were known. Nitrum could also, however, refer to potash (Plin HN 31,107) obtained from burnt oak wood. Its property of destroying leather shoes was known (ibid. 31,115). Owing to its heating, thinning, c…

Rhinoceros

(520 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] The Indian rhinoceros ( Rhinoceros unicornis L.) and the two African species, the Black rhinoceros ( Diceros bicornis L.) and White rhinoceros ( Ceratotherium simum Burch.), were referred to without distinction as ῥινόκερως/ rhinókerōs, more rarely μονόκερως/ monókerōs (literally 'unicorn' and translated as unicornis in Isid. Orig. 12,2,12), Latin rhinoceros, monoceros. 1. Indian rhinoceros: in literature, the Indian rhinoceros was known only from Ctesias (fr. 14; Phot. Bibl. 72,48b 19ff. Bekker), used by Aristot. Hist. an. 2,1,49…

Garden rocket

(162 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (εὔζωμον / eúzōmon, Latin eruca), of the Cruciferae family with few species, the most important being the common rocket ( Eruca sativa), cultivated in the Mediterranean region, with a lignified stem (Theophr. Hist. pl. 7,2,8). According to Plin. HN 19,117 the seeds open after only three days (cf. Theophr. Hist. pl. 7,1,3). Its popularity as a spice gave rocket its Greek name according to Plin. HN 20,126 (literally ‘good for soups’). It was enjoyed raw and with onions and was considered an aphrodisiac for which the only antidote was to simultaneously eat lettuce (  lactuca…

Fig

(523 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] The fig has been indigenous to southern Europe since at least the Neolithic period, as documented by fruit discoveries from Lerna, the Argolid and the Bronze Age at the Mincio. The first literary references are in the Odyssey (e.g. Hom. Od. 11,588; 12,103). The fig is represented by two deciduous species of the genus Ficus of the Moraceae: (a) Ficus carica L. as ἐρινεός ( erineós), the goat fig as a wild form besides to the συκῆ ( sykê), the cultivated eating fig that was pollinated by a male plant ( caprificus) of (a). (b) the sycamore or mulberry fig, Ficus sycomorus L. (συκόμορ…

Ocimum

(115 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (ὤκιμον/ ṓkimon, Lat. ocimum) was identified as the labiate sweet basil, Ocimum basilicum L., that bloomed for a long time and was probably introduced to Greece and Italy from the Orient (first mentioned in Theophr. Hist. pl. 7,2,1 and passim; Theophr. Hist. pl. 7,3,1 = Plin. HN  19,100). Theophr. Hist. pl. 7,1,2-3 and passim and Caus. pl. 1,4,3 as well as Plin. HN 19,119-123 describe how it is sown. Pliny - as also Dioscorides (2,141 Wellmann = 2,170 Berendes) - review both negative assessments (Plin. HN 20,119-120; [1. 76-78]) by …

Beaver

(385 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (κάστωρ; kástōr, fiber, Old Latin feber and as a loan word castor). The amphibian marsh dweller is slightly broader than the otter (ἔνυδρις), has strong teeth for night-time cutting of aspens (κερκίδαι) and a hard pelt. It was described also under the name of σαθέριον/ sathérion or σατύριον/ satýrion and λάταξ/ látax, by Aristot. Hist. an. 8,5,594b31-595a6 (= Plin. HN 8,109; Ael. NA 6,34). In antiquity it was apparently eradicated early in Italy and Greece. In Gaul, Spain, and Central and Eastern Europe, especially on the Black Se…

Tithymal(l)os

(83 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (τιθύμαλ(λ)ος/ tithýmal(l)os, Latin herba lactaria). The genus Euphorbia (Spurge), with a characteristic milky sap, of many species which were well described in Antiquity (e.g. three species in Theophr. H. plant. 9,11,7-9; seven species in Dioscorides 4,164 Wellmann = 4,162 Berendes and Plin.  HN 26,62-71). Despite being slightly poisonous it was used in a variety of ways as a purge and  an emetic [1. 122, figs. 228 and 233]. Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg) Bibliography 1 H. Baumann, Die griechische Pflanzenwelt, 1982. A. Steier, s. v. T., RE 6 A, 1524-1531.

Jackdaw

(306 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] The smallest species of crow. Pliny (HN 10,77) mentions this flocking bird of upper Italy, with its characteristic proverbial predilection for shiny objects like gold and coins, calling it monedula ( Coloeus monedula, probably identical to κολοιός/ koloiós, attested since Hom. Il. 16,583 and 17,755; atypical statements about the bird in Aristotle (Hist. an. 2,12,504a 19; 2,17,509a 1; 9(8),9,614b 5 and 9(8),24,b 16); common in Aristophanes ([1. 155; 2. 2. 109ff.]). In addition, Pliny knows the graculus, probably the Alpine chough ( Pyrrhocorax alpinus, κορακία…

Juniper

(252 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] For the Greeks, the name κέδρος/ kédroscedrus ) described, among other things, various species of juniper, such as the prickly juniper (also ὀξύκεδρος/ oxýkedros: Juniperus oxycedrus L.) and the common juniper ( J. communis L.) which grows in the higher mountains of Greece. The latter is also called κεδρίς; kedrís (Theophr. Hist. pl. 1,9,4; 1,10,6; 1,12,1), while ἄρκευθος/ árkeuthos is thought to refer to the Phoenician juniper ( J. phoenicea), whose berries only ripen in the second year (ibid. 1,9,3; 3,12,3 f.). Six species occur in Greece today…

Pistachio

(166 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (πιστάκη/ pistákē from the Aramaic fustaqā, Arabic fustuq; Lat. pistacia). The fruit-tree Pistacia vera, of the family Anacardiaceae, originated in Mesopotamia and Syria, and produces flavoursome drupes (πιστάκια/ pistákia). The pistachio became known to the Greeks through the conquests of Alexander [4] the Great. Theophr. Hist. pl. 4,4,7 mentions it as being similar to the 'terebinth' (τέρμινθον/ términthon) - still unnamed - which grew in Bactria. According to Plin. HN 15,91, L. Vitellius introduced it to Italy from Syria in AD 35 under Tiberius, and the eques Po…

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, …

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 …

Broom

(206 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] ( ginestra) includes several mostly yellow-flowering genera of bushes of Tribus Genistae of the leguminosae. These are Genista L., the two kinds of prickly broom, Ulex and Calycotome ( Aspalathos), and especially the Spanish broom Spartium junceum L. (σπάρτον/ spárton: Hom. Il. 2,135; σπαρτίον/ spartíon and σπάρτη/ spártē: Dioscorides, 4,154 p. 2,300 Wellmann = 4,155 p. 454 Berendes; on its cultivation: Columella 4,31,1 and 11,2,19). From this species people have, since antiquity, been using the long branches with few leaves …

Equisetum

(150 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] Because of their mode of growth, since antiquity four different leafless or small-leaved species of plant bear the name equisetum, equisaeta, cauda equina or caballina, ἱπποχαίτη ( hippochaítē) or ἵππουρις ( híppouris), horsetail or mare's-tail. This is true of: Equisetum L. and Hippochaete Milde, equisetum, shave grass or scouring rush; of Ephedra L., ἔφεδρον ( éphedron) or ἵππουρις, the jointfir members of the Gymnospermae, some of them climbers; also of water-plants in the case of the candelabra alga Chara, still called E. foetidum in the 16th cent. by C. Ba…

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…

Anthyllis

(93 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (ἀνθυλλίς, ἀνθύλλιον, ἄνθυλλος; anthyllís, anthýllion, ánthyllos) was, according to Dioscorides 3,136 [1.2.144 f.] = 3,143 [2.351 f.] and Plin. HN 21,175, the name given to two medicinal herbs used i.a. in gynaecology that are hard to classify, namely the Cretan cress ( Cressa cretica L., Convolvulaceae) and perhaps the labiate Ajuga Iva Schreb. Since the 16th cent. anthyllis has been used for the kidney vetch. Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg) Bibliography 1 M. Wellmann (ed.), Pedanii Dioscuridis de materia medica vol. 2, 1906, repr. 1958 2 J. Berendes (ed.),…

Iuglans

(243 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] or iugulans. Etymology according to Varro, Ling. 5,102: a Iove et glande appellata (‘named after Jupiter and the acorn’; cf. Isid. Orig. 17,7,21 according to Serv. Ecl. 8,29f. and Plin. HN 15,91, translated from Διὸς βάλανος/ Diòs bálanos, which otherwise designates the edible chestnut), the walnut ( Iuglans regia L.). Introduced into Italy from Persia on the Black Sea via Greece (according to Pall. Agric. 2,15,14-19, sown from the end of January onwards, according to Columella 5,10,14 in March), it was already known to Theophra…

Mullus

(460 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] The striped mullet ( Mullus surmuletus) and red mullet ( M. barbatus), popular for eating, were called τρίγλη/ tríglē or Latin m. (for an ocean fish μύλλος/ mýllos: [1]). Mention is made of the red colouring (Sen. Q Nat. 3,18; Opp. Hal. 1,130; Athen. 4,135b and 7,325e), the beard strands on the lower lip (Plin. HN 9,64; Cic. Parad. 5,38: barbatulus; Cic. Att. 2,1,7; Varro Rust. 3,17,7: barbatus) as well as a gluttony that does not shrink even from floating corpses (Ael. Nat. 2,41; Opp. Hal. 3,432-442; Aristot. Hist. an. 7(8), 2,591a 12f.). Aristo…

Origanon

(117 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (ὀρίγανον/ oríganon or ὀρείγανον/ oreíganon, also ὁ/ἡ ὀρίγανος/ ho/hē oríganos, Modern Greek ρίγανη, Lat. origanum) referred to a not positively determinable species of the labiate genus origanum or marjoram. Its seed was (and still is today) a popular spice for foods which was also used with the addition of wine in decoction for medical purposes because of its warming and dissolving effects. It served (Dioscorides 3,27 Wellmann = 3,29 Berendes, cf. Plin. HN 20,175) especially as a remedy against poisoning…
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