Brion (1)

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Brion herba est duorum cubitorum longa virgas multas et tenues habens in quibus folia nascuntur lepido similia mollia et alba et in summo virgarum profert semen florem album habens.


{Brion} .dy. add f
longa | lũga B
virgas | virtas f
mollia | molia B
{mollia} et om. f
{album} habens | hʒ {= habet} f


Brion is a herb of two cubits' length, having many thin/small branches on which its leaves grow like those of lepidium {"cress"}, tender and white, and at the top of its twigs it produces seeds, and it has a white flower.


Simon’s entry is taken from Dioscorides alphabeticus [[1]], which in turn is from Dioscorides Longobardus, 2, 143, ed. Stadler (1899: 232), De brio id est alga [[2]], alga in Latin meaning “sea-weed”. Unusual for Simon the source is not acknowledged by most witnesses. In the Greek Dioscoridean text, 1, 157, ed. Wellmann (1906-14: I.223) [[3]], the plant is called δράβη πόα /drábē póa/ “the herb drábē”. The translator obviously chose the word bryon for his translation, which is again a Greek loan from βρύον /brýon/, a word of multiple meanings. This explains why Simon has altogether 4 entries involving brion.

Botanical identification:

Whether the translator's choice of the word Brio was a happy one is questionable. The original Greek text makes no mention of this word at all and the description of the plant given, e.g. having white flowers, excludes many of the possible meanings of Greek βρύον /brýon/, like algae, mosses and liverworts; also the height is said to 2 cubits high, i.e. ≈ 40 inches or ≈ 1 meter, although the Greek text only speaks of one πῆχυς /pêchys/ {"cubit"}.

The plant identified by some authors, but by no means the only one, is Lepidium draba L., syn. Cardaria draba (L.) Desv. - "hoary cress" [[4]],[[5]], a native to western Asia and eastern Europe.

Greek βρύον /brýon/ was adopted into Latin as bryon and has survived into botanical Latin as a genus name Bryum for certain mosses.

Greek δράβη /drábē/ has survived into botanical Latin in the form of Draba, draba as a genus name and a specific epithet.

WilfGunther 19/05/2013

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