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Ami Plinius capitulo de cimino est inquit cimino simillimum quod greci vocant ami. Crates vero regium appellat videlicet quod efficacius in egypto iudicavit, plerique alterius nature in totum putant quoniam sit exilius et candidius: similis autem ei cum cimino usus namque et panibus alexandrinis subiicitur et cum alimentis interponitur et cetera.


Ami | Amij f

{Plinius} ĩ {= in} add. B e

cimino ABC efjp | cymino H

est inquit cimino ABC ej | om. f | est inquite cymino H | est ĩquid cimino p

simillimũ A | similimũ C e | similimuʒ (-mũ B jp) BH fjp

{greci} vocant om. f

Crates ABCH efjp | Hippocrates Pliny

regium ACH efjp | region B

appellat AC fjp | appellant H e | vocãt B {Crates misinterpreted by B and e as a plural}

efficacius (-us fp) AH efp | efficatius (-us B) BC j

egypto AC p | egipto BH efj

putant BH efjp | puta vt AC {= putant, 'nt' misread as 'ut'}

autem ABC efjp | namque H

{cum} cimino {-miõ B e) ABH efp | cĩmio C {printer's error < cimĩo } | cymino j

alexandrinis ABCH fjp | allexandrinis e

subicit~ C e | subiicit~ AB (f?)jp | subditur Pliny

alimentis ABC efjp | condimentis Pliny

etcetera om. ef


Ami: Plinius in the chapter de cimino {"On cumin"} says that this is a plant very similar to ciminum {"cumin"}, and the Greeks call it ami. But <Hippo>crates calls it "royal", obviously because he judged it to be more efficacious {if grown} in Egypt. Many people do however think that it is of a totally different nature {from cumin}, because it is smaller and lighter. The {medical and culinary} use of it is also similar to ciminum, because it is put under the loaves baked in Alexandria and it is added to foods.


Greek ἄμι /ámi/ or ἄμμι /ámmi/ "ajowan" is generally seen as a loan from Old Egyptian. The name was Latinised ami or ammi or amium.

Also a synonym is mentioned: regium {sc. ciminum or a(m)mi} "royal {cumin or am(m)i}", a calque on Greek βασιλική /basilikḗ/, see Basilicen, Ameos.

This is a near-verbatim excerpt from Pliny, Natural History, 20, 58, 163, ed. Rackham (1938-63: VI.96). In the previous chapter, i.e. chapter lvii, Pliny speaks of the different kinds of cumin and in the relevant chapter lviii he mentions that ami is very similar to cumin.

Pliny as well as Dioscorides have excerpted much of their information from the same source. Presumably at one time this entry and the entry Ameos were combined in a single entry: *Am(m)i, but the chance adoption of the genitival form Ameos in the Dioscoridean excerpt and alphabetisation were the motive for separating the two paragraphs.

Botanical identification:

Most authors, e.g. Berendes (1902) quoting Sprengel, André (1985), Beck (2005), agree that ἄμι /ámi/ or ἄμμι /ámmi/ can be identified with Trachyspermum ammi Sprague, syns. Carum copticum (L.) Benth. & Hook. and Ammi copticum L., also known as "ajowan" {< Hindi ajvan} or "bishop's weed" [[1]]. It is a native of the Near East.

Other identifications are e.g.: Daems (1993), p. 106, 28. Ameos, who offers two candidates: Ammi majus L. [[2]] and the previously mentioned C. copticum.

Berendes (1902) alternatively quotes Fraas who sees Ammi visnaga (L.) Lam., "toothpick weed", in it [3]].

WilfGunther 20:54, 28 May 2015 (BST)

See also: Ameos, Ciminum agreste

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