Alumen (1)

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Alumen tres habet species medicine aptas .s. iameni et est scissum quod de pluma vulgo dicitur, et est rotundum quod zucarinum vocatur et ob similitudinem zucari et liquidum quod vocatur de rocha vel lipparinum ut Cassius felix capitulo de stomachi morbis.


Translation:

There are three kinds of alumen that are useful for medicine, that is to say: iameni {"Egyptian alum"} also called scissum {"split alum"} and in common parlance de pluma {"feather alum"}; {secondly} there is the round alum, which is called zuccarinum {"sugary"} because of its similarity to sugar; and {thirdly} alumen de rocha {"rock alum"} or alum "from Rocha or Lipari", an alum mentioned in Cassius Felix’s chapter "On stomach diseases".


Commentary:

Cassius Felix, in his De medicina, chapter XLII Ad stomachi passiones {i.e. "For diseases of the stomach"}, § 12, p. 113, gives instructions for a preparation, of which one ingredient is alumen liparum id est liquidum and he uses the same formulation in chapter XLVIII Ad dysenteriam {"For dysentery"} when listing the ingredients for a preparation against that affliction, {p. 140}.

Concerning Simon's alumen quod vocatur de rocha vel lipparinum - "alumen which is called from Rocha" or from Lipari"; cf. D. Goltz, p. 161, who says that in the early Middle Ages a new kind of alum became famous, alumen Rupeum or Roche. It came from the city of Edessa, in Turkish Rochha, and was exported via Aleppo.

alumen lipparinum is clearly seen by Simon as named "alumen from the Lipari islands", which were in fact great exporters of alum in antiquity. However alumen liparum, specifically liparum is derived by V. Rose, p. 211, and A. Fraisse from Greek λιπαρός /liparós/ "fatty, oily, shiny"; Fraisse translates it as "alun gras" {"greasy, fatty alum"). As mentioned above it is defined in Cassius Felix twice as alumen liquidum but also once as alumen rotundum, apart from being called simply alumen liparum once.


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