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Bidella sepe pro bdellio in antiquis libris invenitur.


Bidella AC efjp | Bidela B
{Bidella} grece add. f
bdellio | bdelio B j
inuenitur | reperitur B


Bidella: this form is often found instead of bdellium in ancient books.


Greek βδέλλιον /bdéllion/, Latinised bdellium denotes according to LSJ the aromatic gum of Balsamodendrum africanum Arn., "African myrrh", a small deciduous tree of sub-Saharan Africa.

The word-initial consonant cluster /bd-/, although not unusual in Greek, is certainly unusual in Latin. Educated Latin speakers, aware of the Greek origin of this word, would preserve the initial /bd-/ cluster, whereas the less educated would unconsciously make it fit the regular Latin sound combination or phonotactic rules. There are two strategies to avoid unusual combinations, one is elision, the omission of a sound, cf. English Ptolemy or bdellium, and the other is anaptyxis, the insertion of a vowel, cf. English Canute for Knut.

Marcellus Empiricus, a writer at the turn of the 4th to the 5th centuries A.D., although not an author quoted by Simon, is a good source for illustration. His most common form is anaptyctic Bidella, but forms with elision occur as well: delliu drag͂. VIII, {"8 drachmas of bdellium"} here with a Greek genitive {eds. Niedermann & Liechtenhan (1968: I.372, line 24)}, also: dellae recentis – II {"2 ounces of fresh bdellium"} (1968: II.616, line 7). Cf. (1968: 663), s.v. bidella [[1]].

However most late Latin authors opt for anaptyptic bidella.

Dioscorides Longobardus has, Munich ms., book I, chapter ΟΒ' (72) De ebidella id est bdellium, and the Paris ms. LXVIIII De bidella. The chapter itself opens with: Bidella illa est utilior, que gustu amarior fuerit et limpida – "that bidella is the most useful that is of very bitter taste and clean" N.b. limpida here translates the original Greek διαυγές /diaugés/ "translucent" .

In Isidore's Etymologiae the codices all have Bidella but in the OUP edition, vol. II, book XVII, chapter viii, § 6, Lindsay, the editor, has according to the thinking of the time consigned bidella to the apparatus and reclassicised the word to bdellium for the text. But André in his edition of book XVII (1981: 145) of the Etymologiae, now uses the form Bidella in the main text, and in annotation 358 he says, that the anaptytic form of this word is the usual one used by medical and veterinary authors from the 4th c. AD onward, thereby confirming Simon's observation.

WilfGunther 10:57, 27 January 2015 (UTC)

See also: Bdellium

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