Aster (2)

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Aster Plinius planta que a quibusdam bubenion dicitur quoniam inguinum presentaneum remedium est cauliculis foliis oblongis duobus aut a tribus in cacumine capitella stelle modo radiata et cetera.


B conflates Aster (1): Aster grece stella, and this entry into one.

{Plinius} ē add. B

bubenion AC e | bribemon B {'u' misread as 'ri' and 'ni' as 'm'} | bubernor f {all of Simon's witnesses show 'o' misread as 'e'} | bubonion Pliny

inguinum f Pliny | ABC e om.

aut a AC | aut B | a' f | ac e

{radiata} est add. e

et cetera ef


Aster, says Pliny, is a plant called by some bubenion, because it is a quick-acting remedy for groin problems, with little stems and two to three oblong leaves, and on top there are little {flower} heads radiating out like stars, et cetera.


Simon's entry is a near-verbatim quote from Pliny, 27, 19, 36, ed. Rackham (1938-63: VII.410).

ἀστήρ /astḗr/ in Greek means "star", Latinized: aster, and Pliny mentions the apparent naming motive, i.e. the flower petals radiating out {i.e. ray-florets} giving a star-like impression.

The synonym Latinized: bubonion, from Greek βουβώνιον /boubṓnion/, is alluding to βουβών /boubṓn/ "groin". The plant was thought to be useful for groin complaints, cf. Pliny who continues to say: bibitur et adversus serpentes. sed ad inguinum medicinam sinistra manu decerpi iubent et iuxta cinctus alligari – "it is swallowed against snakes {bites}, but as a medicine for the groins it is advised to be picked with the left hand and attached to the belt". A similar story is told in the Greek Dioscorides, 4, 119, ed. Wellmann (1906-14: II.268-9), ἀστὴρ Ἀττικός /astḕr Attikós/, and consequently in the Longobardic Dioscorides, 4, 115, ed. Stadler (1901: 56-7) De aster … actico, {"On the Attic aster"}, where it says: Viridis inposita tumore inguinum spargit. Sicca manu sinistra inligata dolore inguinum proibet – "Laid on raw it disperses tumour/swelling of the groins. Dried and tied on with the left hand, it prevents pain of the groins". Pliny and Dioscorides, who also mentions the synonym βουβώνιον /boubṓnion/, were obviously drawing from the same source. Unfortunately most of Simon's witnesses except ms. f have omitted the crucial word inguinum, i.e. inguinum … remedium "a remedy for the groins", inguen being the Latin equivalent of Greek βουβών /boubṓn/.

Botanical identification:

Most authors agree that ἀστὴρ {Ἀττικός} /astḕr {Attikós}/, Latin: aster, is Aster amellus L, the "European Michaelmas daisy", e.g. Berendes (1902: 432), LSJ, André (1985: 29) [[1]].

Carnoy (1959: 42), prefers Aster tripolium L. the "sea aster" [[2]], a maritime plant of the salt marshes. The descriptions in Pliny, that the plant is cauliculis "with small stems" and Dioscorides', op.cit.p.268: ῥαβδίον ξυλῶδες /rhabdíon xylôdes/ has "little wooden-like shoots" do not fit well with the relatively stout stem of A. tripolium. Furthermore one would have expected a statement concerning the maritime habitat of this plant.

Similarly there is little dispute concerning bubonion being a synonym of aster Atticus and therefore A. amellus, cf. André (1985: 39).

WilfGunther 11/05/2013

See also: Asterion

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