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Bacharis Dyascorides herba est odorata apta coronis folia habens aspera et lata intercisa cui virga est angulosa longitudine cubiti unius ramulis plena et asperis florem habet purpureum et pinguem et subalbidum et odoratum radicem similem eleboro albo, odorem cinamomo similem locis nascitur asperis et humidis et cetera. In hoc ultimo a Plinio videtur dissentire.


intercisa (inter- e) AC ef | intercissa B | inter diuisa Dyasc. alphabet. 21r | al' {= altitudine?} inter yu et flõmon nascitur intercisa e | inter iu et flommu nascitur Diosco. Longob. {see Commentary}

cubiti vnius (-us e;'unius B) ABC e | vnius cubiti f

et asperis B Diosco. Longob. | ex asperis (-peris f) AC ef Dyasc.alphabet. | Graece ὑπότραχυς /hypótrakhys/ {"somewhat rough"}

{purpureum} et om. f

pinguem {is not mentioned in the Greek original}

{pinguem} et om. B f

eleboro albo ABC | elleboro albo f | eleborre albe e

locis nascitur (-it~ AC f) AC ef | nascit~ locis B

dissentire AC ef | disentire B


Baccaris, according to Dyascorides, is a fragrant herb, useful for wreath making, having rough and broad leaves, in size between those of ion {"violet"} and phlomos {"mullein"}, its stalk {virga, Greek/ καυλός /kaulós/} is angular, having the length of 1 cubit, full of little rough twigs; it has a purple flower, thick, whitish and good smelling, having a root similar to the white helleborus {see Commentary}, having the smell of cinnamomum. It grows in rough and wet places. In this last point Dyascorides' report seems to disagree with Pliny's.


Latin bacchar, baccar, also baccaris, is loaned from Greek βάκχαρις /bákkharis/, βάκχαρ /bákkhar/ or βάκκαρ /bákkar/. The Greek word is itself a loan as stated by Frisk (1960-72: I.211), s.v. βάκχαρις /bákkharis/ and André (1985: 32), s.v. baccar, who refer to scholia to Aeschylos' Πέρσαι /Pérsai/ {Persians}, where it is said to be "Lydian".

Simon's entry is a quote from Dyascorides alphabeticus, cf. Bodmer f 21r s.v. Baccara [[1]], which is ultimately derived from Dioscorides Longobardus, 3, 46, ed. Stadler (1899: 397), De baccaria. The Greek original text can be found in 3, 44, ed. Wellmann, (1906-14: II.55f), βάκχαρις /bákkharis/ [[2]].

The text has undergone some corruption in the course of transmission.

In all of Simon's witnesses the word intercisa, "pierced", occurs, and Dyascorides alphabeticus has inter diuisa, but it does does not occur in Dioscorides Longobardus nor in the Greek original text. Instead Dioscorides Longobardus has: inter iu et flommu nascitur – "{the leaves} grow {in size} between {those of} iu {'violet'} and flommu {'mullein'}". This corresponds to the Greek original, op.cit. p. 56: μέγεθος ἔχοντα μεταξὺ ίου καὶ φλόμου /mégethos ékhonta metaxỳ íou kaì phlómou/ - "{sc. the leaves} having a size between {that of the leaves of} ion {'violet'} and phlomos {'mullein'}."

This statement is missing in all of Simon's witnesses except ms. e, which has this statement and is followed by intercisa as well. A possible explanation is that intercisa is a corrupted version of inter iu et flommu nascitur. And ms. e copied from a version where the original statement plus the corrupted form had both found entry.

Simon speaks of: radicem similem eleboro albo – "it has a root similar to the white helleborus". In Dioscorides Longobardus it says: ellevori nigri, and in the Greek original: μέλας ἐλλέβορος /mélas elléboros/, i.e. "black elleborus", but Dyascorides alphabeticus speaks of ell'o albo, "white elleborus", which Simon has adopted.

Also as Simon rightly observes that the statement: locis nascitur asperis et humidis - "it grows in rough and wet places", which is also found in Dioscorides Longobardus op.cit.: locis nascens asperis et humidis, and Bodmer 21r Baccara: … locis nascit~ asperis & hũidis, is in contrast to Pliny's statement, 21, 16, ed. Rackham (1938-63: VI.182): baccar: gracili solo nec umido provenit – "It succeeds in soil, which is lean but not wet". On this point Pliny is in agreement with the Greek Dioscorides: φιλεῖ δὲ τραχέα χωρία καὶ ἄνικμα /phileî dè trakhéa khōría kaì ánikma/ - "it likes rough ground, which is not moist". The simplest explanation could be that the later statement: locis nascens asperis et humidis is just a misreading of an original: locis nascens asperis nec humidis.

Botanical identification:

The identity of this plant is somewhat uncertain, but a number of authors agree that bacc(h)ar(is) is possibly Helichrysum sanguineum (L.) Kostel., syn. Gnaphalium sanguineum L. "red everlasting". Cf. e.g. Berendes (1902: 292) with a useful discussion; André (1985: 32), and Beck (2005: 99). This plant, a native of the Eastern Mediterranean, grows up 50 cm high, has whitish silvery leaves and a flower which is tiny and hidden in a rounded head composed of red bracts [[3]]. It's habitat is the garigue and the maquis. Cf. Fragman, Levy-Yamamori & Christodoulou (2001). According to Berendes (1902), the flowers – not the root – give off an aromatic scent when rubbed.

Wilf Gunther 22/05/2014

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