Balanus (2)

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Balanus etiam in libris antiquis vocatur suppositorium.


Whole entry mssing in jp
In B this entry is the final part of the previous entry Balanus (1).
eciam ef | e͡t BC | ē {= est} A
suppositorium | snppositũ B {printer's error}


Balanus is a word for 'suppository' in ancient books.


There are a great number of libri antiqui {"ancient books"} Simon could have had in mind. Here are some examples:

5th c. BC.
Greek βάλανος /bálanos/ in its basic meaning "acorn" is attested as early as in the Odyssey. From the acorn’s shape the meaning was extended in a medical context to "suppository", and the word occurs as such in some books of the Hippocratic Corpus, ed. Jones (1923-95: I.186), ΕΠΙΔΗΜΙΩΝ Α /EPIDĒMIŌN A/ {"Epidemics I"}, where in an appendix to chapter xxvi fourteen case histories are recorded, the first involving a patient with acute fever: προσθεμένῳ δὲ βάλανον φυσώδεα σμιρκὰ διῆλθε /prostheménō dè bálanon physṓdea smirkà diêlthe/ – which Jones (1923-95: I.187) translates: "On the application of a suppository the patient passes, with flatulence, scanty excreta".

1st c. AD.
Greek βάλανος /bálanos/ is adopted into Latin as balanus and it is found e.g. in Pliny, 20, 20, 43, ed. Rackham (1938-63: VI.26). Here Pliny is speaking of the healing power of cepae {"onions"}, and he mentions that different medical schools have different opinions, thus: Asclepiadis schola … haemorrhoidas pellere … subditas pro balanis – "The school of Asclepiades maintains … that onions disperse haemorrhoids when applied as a suppository".

4th c. AD.
Theodorus Priscianus also uses the word in this sense, cf. online [[1]]:

Chapter IIII. De pleuriticis {"For those affected with pleurisy"}, 17, ed. Rose (1894: 116): item ventris officium procurandum est aut balano supponendo aut clystere simpliciore – "One also has to take care of the bowel function by applying a balanus or injecting a very simple clyster".
Chapter VII. De apoplecticis {"For those affected with apoplexy"}, 25, ed. Rose (1894: 122), he says: Balanos supponimus acres et thermanticos – "{sc. "To apoplectics} we apply sharp and warming balani"

5th c. AD.
Caelius Aurelianus, ed. Drabkin (1950: 178) Libri celerum vel acutarum passionum {"On swift or acute diseases"}, liber II, chapter xii, Quomodo aliarum sectarum principes istam curaverunt passionem {"The treatment of catalepsy according to the leaders of other sects". Caelius disapproves of a number of preparations and he mentions, {eds. Bendz & Pape (1990-3: 182) edition online}, § 83 [[2]]: {sc. prohibemus … } item sternutamenta vel rasuram capitis aut articulorum sinapismum, aut supponenda podici acria collyria ob provocandum ventrem, quae appellavit balanos. – Drabkin (1950: 179) translates: "We also disapprove of sternutatories, shaving of the head, mustard plasters for the limbs, and the insertion of sharp suppositories (Greek balanoe) into the anus for the purpose of stimulating the bowels".

WilfGunther (talk) 27/02/2014

See also: Enema

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