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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…

Caurus

(64 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (Χῶρος; Chôros, Plin. HN 2,119). The turbulent north-west wind that blows from 30° from west to north. It is sometimes (as in Vitr. De arch. 1,6,10) distinguished from the Corus.  Winds Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg) Bibliography R. Böker, s.v. Winde, RE 8 A, 2294,45ff., 2352 (fig. 14), 2356,16 ( corus!), 2373 (fig. 26: wind star of Vitruvius) and 2375 (fig. 27: wind-rose of Pliny).

Molluscs

(186 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] Aristotle (Hist. an. 1,1,487b 15 f.) defines molluscs (μαλάκια/ malákia; Lat. mollia sc. animalia, e.g. Plin. HN 9,73; 11,133 and 11,267) as bloodless (marine) animals that are capable of floating and have a rigid internal structure (στερεόν/ stereón = σήπιον/ sḗpion or ξίφος/ xíphos, ‘sword’, here the mostly calcareous shell, well described in ibid. 4,1,524b 22-27), having eight tentacles, each with two rows of suckers (δικότυλοι/ dikótyloi), a head and a body (κύτος/kýtos; ibid. 4,1,523b 1-5 and 21-29) enclosed by a fin (πτερύγια/ pterýgia). Today we refer to…

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.),…

Carbasus

(49 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (κάρπασος, καρπήσιον; kárpasos, karpḗsion). Phoenician or previously Indian term for  cotton, such as that from Tarraco (modern Tarragona) in Spain (Plin. HN 19,10). Plants used as antidotes ( Alexipharmaka) such as species of Helleborus and Valeriana were also thus described (cf. Colum. 10,17). Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)

Aloe

(83 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] The name ἀλόη ( alóē) of the liliaceae genus with succulent leaves precisely described by Dioscorides 3,22 [cf. 1. 276 ff.] and Plin. HN 27,14-20 along with the healing powers (as a laxative, among other effects) of its wood sap is said to be derived from Syrian alwa, elawa (meaning: colastrum). The main species A. vera L. was introduced from Egypt and southern Asia (especially India). Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg) Bibliography 1 J. Berendes, Des Pedanios Dioskurides Arzneimittellehre translation and with a commentary, 1902, repr. 1970.

Polygonon

(83 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (πολύγωνον/ polýgōnon), literally 'multi-fruit', knot-grass ( Polygonaceae family), according to Plin. HN 27,113 Lat. sanguinaria, in four species (cf. Plin. HN 27,113-117); provides a blood-staunching sap because of this plant's astringent and cooling power (Plin. HN 27,114, similarly  Dioscorides 4,4-5 Wellmann and Berendes). The seeds allegedly have i.a. purgative and diuretic effects. According to Columella 6,12,5 polýgōnon also heals cuts; sheep that consume it become seriously ill (ibidem 7,5,19). Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg) Bibliography H. G…

Chicken (Rooster)

(957 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] The domestic chicken, that was originally bred in southern Asia from several wild species of chicken, particularly the Bankiva chicken of the Sunda Islands and India, was introduced to China around 1400 BC and to Bactria and Iran before 1200 (hence Cratinus' name ‘Persian bird’ in Ath. 9,374d and Aristoph. Av. 485; 707; also ‘Median bird’ Aristoph. Av. 276), and from there to Mesopotamia and Asia Minor. There the Greeks encountered it and brought it to their motherland, also to Si…

Sponge

(311 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg) | Hurschmann, Rolf (Hamburg)
[German version] I. Science Σπόγγος/ spóngos, σπογγία/ spongía (Attic σπογγιά/ spongiá), Latin spongia (with the special names peniculus in comedies of such as Plautus and Terence, penicillus in Colum. 12,18,5 and Pliny) is the Bath Sponge ( Euspongia officinalis Bronn.), which grows in the Mediterranean. Four geographical subspecies, three black and one white (ἀπλυσία/ aplysía of the genus Sarcotragus Schmidt), are distinguished by Aristotle in his accurate description (Hist. an. 5,16,548a 30-549a 13; cf. Plin. HN 9,148-150) and a further one by Diosco…

Stork

(600 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (ὁ πελαργός/ ho pelargós, according to EM 659,8 derived form πελιός/ peliós 'black' and ἀργός/ argós 'white', diminutive πελαργιδεύς/ pelargideús in Aristoph. Av. 1356 et passim, Latin ciconia, conea in Plaut. Truc. 691), the White Stork (Ciconia ciconia L.; see Verg. G. 2,319: candida avis, cf. Ov. Met. 6,96). The Black Stork (Ciconia nigra L.), which comes into contact with the Mediterranean area only during migration, was evidently unknown in Antiquity. In terms of size storks were compared to cormorants (Aristot. Hist. …

Chrysophrys

(155 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (χρυσόφρυς or χρυσωπός; chrysóphrys, chrysōpós in Plut. Soll. anim. 26,977f), aurata, sea bream, the genuine dorado. The popular edible fish that is up to 60 cm in size is often mentioned in comedies (Ath. 7,328a-b) and frequently portrayed (Keller II, fig. 120,124 and 147). According to Aristotle, it lives in the sea close to land (hist. an. 8,13,598a10), spawns in rivers, maintains a prolonged sleep throughout the summer (Plin. HN 9,58: 60 days), eats flesh and is harpooned with a trident…

Chondros

(101 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (χόνδρος; chóndros, alica). Groats of grain or spelt. The exact species cannot be established. Galen (Facult. nat. 1,6) relates it to wheat and describes the production of gruel (ῥόφημα) for people with stomach and gall bladder diseases (cf. Dioscorides 2,96 [1. I.73] = 2,118 [2.203f.] and Plin. HN. 18,112-113). Ps.-Hippoc. περὶ παθῶν ( perì pathôn, 6,250 Littré) mentions it together with πτισάνη ( ptisánē), κέγχρος ( kénchros) and ἄλητον ( álēton).  Special diet Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg) Bibliography 1 M. Wellmann (ed.), Pedanii Dioscuridis de mater…

Iris

(406 words)

Author(s): Graf, Fritz (Columbus, OH) | Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg) | Olshausen, Eckart (Stuttgart)
(Ἶρις; Îris, ‘Rainbow’) [German version] [1] Messenger of the gods, personification of rainbow The deified rainbow. In Hesiod's genealogy (Hes. Theog. 266) she is the daughter of  Thaumas (cf. θαῦμα/ thaûma, ‘marvel’) and  Electra [1] (cf. the shining metal electrum) and sister of the  Harpies, who flew as fast the wind. Her genealogy characterizes her: she herself is thought to be fast, and in Greek physics, the rainbow can produce winds. In mythological accounts, she is to a very great extent detached from her element, and…

Ticks

(243 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] In the Ixodides family of  eyeless parasitic mites, chiefly the sheep tick, Ixodes ricinus, ὁ κροτών/ krotṓn (or κρότων; krótōn) in Hom. Od. 17,300, in Aristot. Hist. an. 5,31,557a 17 f. κυνορραιστής/ kynorrhaistḗs, Latin ricinus, according to Plin. HN 30,82 the ' the most hideous of animals' ( foedissimum animalium). The female buries itself into the skin of infested mammals such as dogs, sheep and goats (Cato Agr. 96,2; Gp. 18,16), oxen (Colum. 6,2,6) and pigs (Plin. HN 30,84), as well as humans (cf. Hom. Od. 17,300; Columel…

Insects

(591 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] This class of animals was first named by Aristotle (Hist. an. 1,1,487a 32-34; 4,1,523b 13-15) for the notches (ἐντομαί/ entomaí) on their ventral side or on both the ventral and dorsal sides ἔντομα/ éntoma (sc. ζῷα; zôa), from which the modern term ‘entomology’ and the German word ‘ Kerbtier’ (notched animal) are derived. The other most important characteristics listed by Aristotle are: insects do not breathe in air (Hist. an. 1,1,487a 30-32; 4,9,535b 5; obviously he was not familiar with the tracheal system, which differs from…

Lithika

(682 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (λιθικά/ lithiká, Lat. lapidaria from líthos or lapis, ‘stone’). Books composed of mineralogical information as well as of special magical-medical effects attributed to precious stones. They are part of the physiká-literature that began its expansion in the 2nd cent. BC, and were influenced by Oriental ideas, describing the magical powers of organic and inorganic nature affecting man in terms of sympathy and antipathy. The generally apocryphal collected works appeared under the names of legendary magicians suc…

Narthex

(580 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg) | Willers, Dietrich (Berne) | Nielsen, Inge (Hamburg)
(νάρθηξ; nárth ēx). [German version] [1] Yellow-flowering giant fennel (Latin ferula with uncertain etymology). The umbelliferous plant Ferula communis, the yellow-flowering giant fennel, which Theophrastus (H. plant. 6,2,8f., cf. Plin. HN 13,123) describes [1. 61f. and fig. 95-97]. On the coasts of Greece, on the islands and in Lower Italy this plant grows up to 5 m high. The dried stems were used like a cane for punishment, as the ‘sceptre of paedagogues’ ( sceptrum paedagogorum, Mart. 10,62,10 et passim), but also as a cattle goad and the staff of the Bacchants (Thyrs…

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…

Etesiai

(203 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] The cool, strong winds blowing from the north to the north-east each year from the middle of July (rising of Sirius) for about 40 days (different duration [1. 714]) were called ἐτησίαι (or βορέαι, boréai). These winds blowing from the  Propontis were then a considerable obstacle to navigation on the Black Sea. Isidorus (Orig. 13,11,15) mentions them as north winds that return each year, though without giving any specific timeframe. They were characterized as lashing the waves of the sea, making the sea dark, heal…

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…

Mushrooms

(291 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (μύκης, -ητος or -ου/ mýkēs, Latin mucus, mucor, -oris or σφόγγος/ sphóngos, σπόγγος/ spóngos, Latin fungus) are rarer in Greece than in Italy, where they were used as food despite the possibility of poisoning (Plin. HN 22,97: cibus anceps, ‘doubtful food’, and 22,92: temere manduntur, ‘they were eaten rashly’). They were considered to be produced by fermentation of the earth after heavy rainfall (cf. Plin. HN 22,94 and 100) or generated by tree roots (from their sticky sap, ex pituita: Plin. HN 22,96). Some trees, such as oaks, allegedly produce edible mush…

Antimony

(197 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] Since the 11th cent. in Constantinus Africanus, de gradibus simplicium 4,4 [1. 381 f., cf. 2.138], the name given to this metallic element, said to be warm and dry at four degrees, that was the same as the ancient στίβι ( stíbi) or στίμμι ( stímmi; stibium, from orig. Eg. ṣtim [2.138]), supposedly a type of lead extracted from the silver mines.Use of black antimony trisulphate as eye make-up as well as for an astringent and cooling remedy, the extraction of which was described precisely (Dioscorides 5,85 [3.55 f.] = 5,99 [4.516…

Rosemary

(214 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (Lat. ros marinus or rosmarinum, derived from ῥὼψ μύριος/ rhṑps mýrios; ῥουσμαρῖνος/ rhousmarînos; also λιβανωτίς/ libanōtís, Dioscorides 3,75 Wellmann = 3,(89) Berendes, Lat. libanotis, eg. Plin. HN 19,187). An evergreen labiate with bluish flowers ( Rosmarinus officinalis), popular with the Greeks and Romans. It grows in the maquis and represented an important remedy with its roots, juice, leaves and seeds. Especially for funerary ceremonies, wreaths were made of its branches (cf. Dioscorides loc. cit.). The incen…

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…

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…

Helenium

(197 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (ἑλένιον; helénion, helenium). According to Plin. HN 21,59 and 159, the name is derived from the tears of Helena (rather differently Ael. NA. 9,21). Roman authors meant by the (h)enula or inula in general the elecampane ( Inula helenium L.), a large Composita growing in western Asia and eastern Europe. Since late antiquity it had been grown in gardens as a medicinal plant (cf. Columella 11,3,17 and 35). In particular the bitter root (description of how to preserve it with sweet additives: Columella 12,48,1-5; Plin. HN 19,…

Birch

(78 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] This northern and central European tree genus, of which there are also dwarf varieties ( betulla or betulus, late Latin betula) is represented by only three species in Italy, among these the betula aetnensis that is native to Etna. Only the weeping birch ( betula pendula = verrucosa) colonized the mountains of Greece and the Crimea. In Gaul (Plin. HN 16,75) the flexible twigs were used as weaving materials (cf. Plin. HN 16,176). Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)

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…

Eupatorium

(178 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (εὐπατόριος; eupatórios, Dioscorides 4,41; [1. 198f.] and [2. 386]; eupatoria, Plin. HN 25,65). This plant of the Rosaceae species Agrimonia eupatoria L., the agrimony with yellow inflorescence (cf. [3. fig. 222]), was considered by Dioscorides to be a valuable medicine for dysentery, liver complaints and snake bites. Pliny does not support the name variant hepatoria being derived from liver complaints [4] (nor the synonymous description ἡπατῖτις ( hēpatîtis) in the recensio Vindobonensis of Dioscorides); allocating the regia auctoritas to the plant is …

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…

Prodromoi

(342 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg) | Burckhardt, Leonhard (Basle)
(πρόδρομοι/ pródromoi, 'advance runners'). [German version] [1] Wind phenomenon The north winds which blow for seven days before the heliacal rise of Sirius in the Mediterranean region. Compared with the later Etesiai, they are supposedly cooler. The seven days - like their purported relationship with Sirius and the nine days from their onset until the Etesiai - are arbitrarily determined [1; 2]. Their dates vary between 7 and 23 July (Julian calendar) (= 4 - 20 July in the Gregorian calendar). Winds Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg) Bibliography 1 R. Böker, s. v. Windfristen, RE Su…

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…

Cor­al

(293 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg) | Pingel, Volker (Bochum)
(Hellenistic κοράλ(λ)ιον ( korállion), κουράλ(λ)ιον ( kourállion), Latin curalium, corallium). [German version] A. General comments The fact that coral does not consist of plants but of the calcareous skeletons of minuscule anthozoan coelenterates has only been known since the 19th cent. Theophrastus (De lapidibus 38), Pliny (HN 32,21-24, cf. Isid. Orig. 16,8,1), and Dioscorides (5,121 Wellmann = 5,138 Berendes) praise especially red coral, which was found near Naples, Trapani, on the islands of Huyères, and on the Aeolic islands. Darker coral is mentioned as lace by Plin. HN 3…

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…

Aristolocheia

(141 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] The ἀριστολόχεια ( aristolócheia) in Nicander and Dioscorides 3,4 [1.2.6 ff. = 2.263 ff.], ἀριστολοχία ( aristolochía) in Hippocrates, Theophr. Hist. pl. 9,20,4 (effect against snake bite) and Plin. HN 25,95 ff. etc. was identified as today's genus Aristolochia. Its three more common species in the Mediterranean area, Aristolochia clematitis, longa and rotunda, were already differentiated by Dioscorides and Pliny. Both derive their name, distorted in German to Osterluzei, from their relieving effect on births. According to Dioscorides and other…

Vertragus

(188 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (οὐέρτραγος/ o uértragos). Greyhound, which is particularly prized for hare coursing because of its speed; the Latin name vertragus is derived from a Celtic word. The accurate description in Arr. Cyn. 3-6 of a powerful but slim dog with pointed muzzle and long ears enabled [1] to identify ancient depictions of vertragi. When hunting, the dogs which were kept in large compounds were led on leashes by slaves and released only when the prey had been flushed out and was in view. Hunters used to accompany them on horseback. Usually two vertragi were set on each hare, which t…

Radish

(213 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (ῥαφανίς/ rhaphanís, ῥάφανος/ rháphanos, etymologically related to ῥάπυς/ rhápys, ῥάφυς/ rháphys, 'beet'; Lat. rhaphanus, radix), the species of crucifer probably bred in Asia Minor from the wild, jointed charlock ( Raphanus raphanistrum L., Rhaphanus sativus L., with the edible, thickened storage root; cultivated in Egypt from the 2nd millennium. The Greeks (from Aristoph. Plut. 544 and other comic writers, cited in Ath. 2,56d-57b) valued the salted root as an appetite-stimulating food and extracted oil from it. T…

Rock partridge

(252 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (ὁ, ἡ πέρδιξ/ ho, hē pérdix, its young περδίκιον/ perdíkion, also περδικεύς/ perdikeús and κακκαβίς/ kakkabís after its mating call: κακκαβίζειν/ kakkabízein or τρίζειν/ trízein in Aristot. Hist. an. 4,9,536b 13 f.; Lat. perdix). The scientific name Alectoris graeca Meisner indicates that the bird is still common today, primarily in Greece (but also in Italy) [1. 195 f.], whereas it has been supplanted in other countries by the smaller, browner and synanthropic partridge. Aristotle describes their breeding behaviour, …

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…

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 …

Aconitum

(171 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (ἀκόνιτον; akóniton). It is not known for certain which poisonous plants are meant by ἀκόνιτον λυκοκτόνον ( akóniton lykoktónon) and κυνοκτόνον ( kynoktónon) in Dioscorides 4,77 [1. 2,238 f.] = 4,78 [2. 412 f.], Nic. Alex. 13,41 and aconitum, scorpion and myoctonon, Plin. HN 27,4-7. The ‘Wolfesgelegena’ of Hildegard of Bingen [3. 1,156 = 4. 47], used as a hazardous aphrodisiac, is probably not the arnica but rather like the ‘alexandria’ of Konrad of Megenberg V. 36 (in ch. Eleborus = veratrum) [5. 399] a species of the poisonous ranunculaceae genus Aconitum (monk…

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…

Cormorant

(118 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] Phalacrocorax carbo (L.), a dark-feathered, fish-eating, goose-sized member of the web-footed group ( steganopodes), mentioned in Aristot. Hist. an. 7(8),593b 18-22 as the so-called ‘raven’ (κόραξ; kórax), and as breeding in trees. The phalacrocorax (‘bald-headed raven’) in Plin. HN 10,133, at that time native to the Balearics, used to be identified as the cormorant [1. 196f.], but is nowadays thought to be the hermit ibis or crested ibis ( Comatibis eremita), now extinct in Europe. A synonym found in Plin. HN 11,130 is corvus aquaticus. The Middle Minoan Hagia …

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…

Cricket

(109 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] German ‘Grille’, Pliny's gryllus (HN 29, 138) probably is the field cricket, Gryllus campestris, which runs backwards (thus Nigidius Figulus), digs into the ground and chirps at night with its wings ( stridere). As a paste, a cricket (dug out with its earth) helps against ear aches. It is drawn from its earthen hole using an ant tied to a hair as bait [1. 132]. Isid. Orig. 12,3,8 conveyed this information to the Middle Ages. It is uncertain if the wingless, locust-like insect trixalis in Plin. HN. 30,49 is a cricket because Ael. NA 6,19 only says that the trōchallís is ‘not si…

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. …

Charadrios

(181 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (χαραδριός; charadriós). A water bird, perhaps a shearwater, nesting in holes in the ground and in cliffs, and seldom seen by day (Aristoph. Av. 266). It was held to be gluttonous (Aristoph. Av. 1140f.), of ugly colour and cry (Ps.-Aristot. Hist. An. 9,11,615a1-3), and said to be white (9,3,593b 17; Pl. Grg. 494 b). Sight of it was supposed to heal jaundice, and accordingly it was sold covered (Ael. NA 17,13; Plut. Symp. 5,7,2; Heliodor 3,8 i.a.). In Plin. HN 30,94 it is called avis icterus or galgulus, owing to its yellow colour. In the Greek Physiologus (c. 3) an…

Dill

(131 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (OHG tilli, related to NHG Dolde [umbel], Lat. anetum). Probably identical with the umbellifera ( Anethum graveolens L., ἄ[ν[ν]ηθον; á[n[n]ēthon, Aeolic ἄνητον; ánēton, Alc. in Ath. 15,674d), which was introduced from Asia Minor in antiquity. This popular kitchen herb (sown according to Palladius, Opus agriculturae 3,24,5 and 4,9,5 or 10,13,3 and 11,11,4, in February/March and September/October) with bare seeds (Theophr. Hist. pl. 7,3,2 = Plin. HN 19,119) is mentioned in Theophr. Hist. pl. 1,11,2 and P…

Dormouse

(166 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (Lat. glis). The biggest central and southern European species of the nocturnal rodent family of dormice with a body length of 13-20 cm and a tail length of 10-18 cm. From the 2nd cent. BC onwards the dormouse was fattened for gourmet consumption by the Romans in special breeding enclosures ( gliraria, description in Varro, Rust. 3,15) with beech nuts, chestnuts and walnuts (example of the high return: Varro, Rust. 3,2,14; roasted and coated with honey and sprinkled with poppy: Petron. Sat. 31,10; Apicius 8,408). In 115 BC this …

Taxus

(210 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (Greek ἡ [σ]μῖλος/ [s]mîlos, σμῖλαξ/ smîlax: Dioscorides, τὸ θύμαλλον/ thýmallon
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