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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…
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