Buprestis (1)

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Buprestis Plinius est animal rarum in Italia simillimum scarabeo longipedum fallit inter herbas bovem maxime: unde et nomen invenit devoratumque tacto felle ita inflamat ut rumpat et cetera.


Buprestis AC efjp | Buprastis B
{Buprestis} Plinius om. AC
Italia AC | ytalia B efjp
longi pedum | longipedi Pliny
fallit | falit B
invenit B efjp Pliny | adinvenit AC
{devoratum}que om. e
tacto ABC ef | rapto p | rato j
felle | fele ms. e
inflamat | inflãmat ms. e | infla’t f
et cetera om. f


Buprestis is an animal that is rare in Italy, very similar to a scarabeus and with long legs. It escapes the attention, especially of oxen, among the grass, and from which fact the name was thought up, and when swallowed, having had contact with the animal’s gall, it causes inflammation until the victim bursts.


Simon's entry is a verbatim quote of the initial part of Pliny, 30, 10, 30, ed. ed. Rackham (1938-63: VIII.296).

Greek βούπρηστις /boúprēstis/ is a compound name containing the elements βου- /bou-/ "ox" + πρηθ /prēth- / "swell", which accounts for Pliny’s explanation why the animal was given this name. It is obviously a poisonous beetle, but identification is difficult.

The effect of a buprestis bite is described in detail by Nicander in his Alexipharmaca, 335-346, ed. Gow & Schofield (1953: 116), which Gow & Scholfield translate (1953: 117):
"Do not let the agonising drink of the hateful BUPRESTIS escape your knowledge; and you should recognise a man overcome by it. In truth, when bitten, its contact with the jaws seems that of Soda; it has an evil smell; and all about the mouths of the stomach arise shifting pains; the urine is stopped and the lowest part of the bladder throbs, while the whole belly is inflated, as when a tympanitic dropsy settles in abundance about the mid navel, and all over the man’s limbs the skin is visibly taut. This creature too, I fancy, causes swelling in plum-bellied heifers and calves, whenever they bite it as they graze. For this reason the herdsmen name it Buprestis (cow-inflater)."
The Greek text is available online in the Schneider edition 1856 [[1]].

βούπρηστις /boúprēstis/ is also briefly mentioned in the Greek Dioscorides text, cf. 2, 61, ed. Wellmann (1906-14: I.139), which deals with κανθαρίδες /kantharídes/ {"blister beetles"} [[2]].

Zoological remarks:

Berendes (1891: 194) quotes several species that have been suggested in the literature for buprestis, e.g. Carabus bucida Pallas, syn. of Carabus bucida Pallas, synonym of Scarites (Scallophorites) bucida (Pallas, 1778) [[3]], whose bite is dangerous to cows and horses;
Cimex baccarum L. syn. of Dolycoris baccarum L. [[4]]
and Lytta segetum Fabricius, syn. of Cabalia segetum Fabricius [[5]].

The word Buprestis survives in zoological terminology for a genus of beetles.

WilfGunther (talk) 16:27, 16 November 2016 (GMT)

See also: Buprestis (2)

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