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(379 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] As neither Greeks nor Romans paid much attention to many small songbirds, there is no clear evidence of them either. Medieval miniatures show both colourful finch species quite frequently (chaffinch e.g. [2. fig. 37 b]; goldfinch e.g. [2. fig. 10, 11 a-b, 15, 42, 44]). 1) Chaffinch ( Fringilla coelebs L.), σπίζα/ spíza, σπιζίον/ spizíon, σπίνος/ spínos, φρυγίλος/ phrygílos (Aristoph. Av. 763), ποικιλίς/ poikilís (interpretation uncertain, Aristot. Hist. an. 8[9],1,609a 6f.), fring(u)illa ( -us Mart. 9,5,7). A songbird with a melancholic-sounding (Mart…


(82 words)

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


(86 words)

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


(217 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] Two shrubs of the genus Sambucus in the family Caprifoliaceae occur in Europe, the common elder ( Sambucus nigra L., sa(m)bucus, ἀκτῆ; aktê) and the red-berried elder ( Sambucus racemosa L.; Verg. Ecl. 10,27: Pan was said to be red because of the berries of the ebulum, according to Serv. ad loc. a comparable plant). A third type is the herbaceous, black-fruited dwarf elder ( Sambucus ebulus L., ebulus/um, χαμαιάκτη; chamaiáktē in Dioscorides 4,173,2 Wellmann = 4,172 Berendes; Plin. HN 24,51: chamaeactis or helion acte). A good description of the species is found …


(156 words)

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


(136 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (δαφνοειδές or χαμαιδάφνη; daphnoeidés or chamaidáphnē). The name used for two types of daphne in the texts of Dioscorides (4,146 [1. 288 = 2. 444] and 4,147 [1. 289f.= 2. 444]), for Daphne laureola L. or alpina L. from the Thymelaecea genus with evergreen leaves similar to laurel. When drunk, an infusion of these leaves was said to have emetic, expectorant and diuretic properties and also to promote menstruation. They were also distinguished from the varieties with leaves similar to the olive tree such as camelaiva (Dioscorides 4,171 [1. 320] = 4,169 [2. 464]…


(280 words)

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


(311 words)

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


(201 words)

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


(435 words)

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


(84 words)

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


(161 words)

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

Blackberry bush

(174 words)

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


(149 words)

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


(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…


(93 words)

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


(182 words)

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


(83 words)

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


(274 words)

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


(202 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[German version] (μεσπίλη/ mespílē, μέσπιλον/ méspilon, ἀρωνία/ arōnía: Dioscorides; Lat. mespilus or -a, the fruit mespilum). Mespilus germanica L. (family Rosaceae), a bush or tree probably native to southern Europe, was cultivated in Greece as a wild apple tree at least since about 370 BC on account of its small, three-cored, sweet fruits (Middle Comedy, Eubulus [2] in Ath. 14,640c). Theophrastus (Hist. pl. 3,12,5f. = Plin. HN. 15,84) describes three thorn-bushes under this name, of which only μεσπίλη ἡ σατάνειος/ mespílē hē satáneios is recognized as medlar. Dioscorides (…
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