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Asterion liber de medicina antiqua Romani inquit inguinalem dicunt nascitur inter petras et loca aspera hec herba nocte tanquam stelle in celo lucet adeo ut eam videns ignorans putat se fantasma videre a pastoribus maxime videtur et cetera.


Asterion C efjp | Asterion uel astericon B | Aestrion A {'e' misplaced}
medicina (mea p) ABC jp | doctrina f | doctrina uel medicĩa ms. e
inquit | ĩq͢d ms. p
stelle AC | stella efjp | stela B
in celo lucet j | l. i. c. ms. p
celo | cello B
maxime om. f
videtur | ut infra ms. e
et cetera om. ef


Asterion, cf. the liber de medicina antiqua {"the book of ancient medicine"}: the Romans – says the book - call it inguinalis. It grows between rocks and in rough places. This herb shines at night like stars in the sky, and s/he who sees it, and does not know this, thinks that s/he is seeing an apparition. It is most often seen by herdsmen.


ἀστέριον /astérion/ is the diminutive of ἀστήρ /astḗr/ "star", the petals of the flower are supposed to make the flower resemble a shining star. The name is mentioned in the RV version of the Greek Dioscoridean text as a synonym to aster Attica, cf. p. 268: ἀστὴρ Ἀττικός … οἱ δὲ ἀστέριον /astḕr Attikós … hoi dè astérion/ {i.e. the "Attic aster … some call it asterion"}, see below; and Asterion is the name used in the Herbarius of Ps. Apuleius, see also below.

{sc. herba} < inguen "groin, privates", because the herb is supposed to help with inflammations and pains in the groin, cf. Dioscorides Longobardus, 4, 115, ed. Stadler (1901: 57) [[1]], De aster actico: 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". Cf. also the Greek text in 4, 119, ed. Wellmann (1906-14: II.268-9) ἀστὴρ Ἀττικός /astḕr Attikós/ {i.e. the "Attic aster"} [[2]]. In the RV version of the text, p. 268, among the synonyms it says: Ῥωμαῖοι ἰγγυνάλις, v.l. ἰγγυνιάλις /Rhōmaîoi ingynális v.l. inguinális/ "the Romans {call it} ingynális v.l. inguinális".

Simon is quoting from the Herbarius of Ps.-Apuleius, 60, ed. Howald (1927: 114), HERBA ASTERION [[3]]. Simon's source seems to have been a witness very similar to the text version of the Herbarius found in the Viennese Codex 63, ed. by Hans Zotter in Antike Medizin/ Medicina antiqua, which says (1927: 128): LXI. Nomen herbe Asterion. Romani dicunt Inguinalem. Nascitur inter petras et loca aspera. Hec herba nocte tamquam stella lucet et ut qui videt eam ignorans dicet fantasmata se videre et metu plenus irridetur; maxime autem a pastoribus invenitur pecorum – "The herb Asterion. The Romans call it inguinalis. "It grows between rocks and in rough places. This herb shines at night like a star; and he who sees it, not knowing [this], thinks that s/he is seeing apparitions {missing in Simon: and full of fear s/he is mocked}; it is mostly found with cowherds."

This particular Latin text in the Medicina antiqua and quoted by Simon is found in the Herbarius of Ps. Apuleius and only in certain mss of Dioscorides. It is a translation of a Greek text that is considered to be a later addition to the original Greek Dioscorides, cf. ed. Wellmann (1906-14: II.269) [[4]]: γίνεται δὲ μέσον πετρῶν καὶ τόπων τραχέων. ταύτης οἱ ἀστέρες ἐν νυκτὶ λάμπουσι. οἱ γὰρ μὴ εἰδότες ὅταν αὐτὴν ἴδωσι, νομίζουσι φάντασμα εἶναι. εὑρίσκεται δὲ παρὰ βοσκοῖς προβάτων /gínetai dè méson petrôn kaì tópōn trakhéōn. taútēs hoi astéres en nyktì lámpousi. hoi gàr mḕ eidótes hótan autḕn ídōsi, nomízousi phántasma eînai. heurísketai dè parà boskoîs probation/ - "It grows between rocks and in rough places. Its stars shine in the night. Those who do not know and see it, think it is an apparition. It is found with the shepherds".

Botanical identification:

Most authors, i.e. André (1985: 56, 85), Berendes (1902: 432), Fischer (1929: 261), agree that in this context asterion is most likely Aster amellus L. the "European Michaelmas daisy". [[5]]. Needless to say - this plant does not shine at night.

WilfGunther (talk) 11:16, 14 May 2016 (BST)

See also: Aster (2), Inguinaria

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