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Cepe Plinius genera apud grecos sunt sarda samothracia alsidena setama sciria ascalonia ab opido iudee nominata.


samothracia A | samothratia C | samucharcia B | samucharacia e | om. f

setama ABC e {'ni' misread as 'm'} | serania f | setania Pliny

sciria AC | siria B | scirania ysciria e {all of Simon's forms show contamination with "Syria", "Siria"} | om. f | schista Pliny

ascalonia (-lõia- B) ABC | ascolonia ef

{nominate} & cetera "add". B


Cepe {"onions"}, according to Pliny the Greeks have these kinds of onions: Sardian, Samothracian, alsidena, setama, sciria and Ascalonian, named after a town in Judaea.


Simon's entry is a near verbatim quote from Pliny, 19, 32, 101, ed. Rackham (1938-63: V.486).

Sardus means "from Sardinia", Samothracia is an island near the coast of Thrace, Alsidena is only mentioned in Pliny, setania means "of this year, annual", schista see Botanical identification below, and Ascalon is an ancient Mediterranian coastal city, in what is now Israel.

Botanical identification:

André (1956: 80-1), s.v. cēpa mentions all these varieties, Simon's sciria etc. is however to be found under schista. It is of course impossible to attempt any clear botanical identification of these varieties/species of onions, with the possible exception of the shallot.

Pliny himself took much of his text over from Theophrastus, who said - 7, 4, 7, ed. Hort (1916: II.86) -

πλείω δὲ τοῦ κρομύου τὰ γένη, οἷον τὰ κατὰ τὰς χώρας ἐπικαλούμενα Σάρδια Κνίδια Σαμοθράκια, καὶ πάλιν τὰ σητάνια καὶ σχιστὰ καὶ Ἀσκαλώνια,

/pleíō dè toû kromýou tà génē, hoíon tà katà tàs khōras epikaloúmena Sárdia Knídia Samothrákia, kaì pálin tà sētánia kaì skhistà kaì Askalṓnia/,

translated by Hort (1916: II.87) "those {sc. various kinds} of the onion are the more numerous, for instance, those called after their localities Sardian …, Cnidian {not in Pliny}, Samothracian; and again the 'annual' {i.e. σητάνια /sētánia/}, the 'divided' {i.e. σχιστὰ /skhistà/} [annotation: i.e. making offsets] (shallot) and that of Ascalon. [annotation: Ἀσκαλώνια, whence Eng. shallot; though this name is applied to. κ. σχιστόν.]

Hort alludes in his annotation to the fact that Linnæus confusingly named the shallot Allium Ascalonicum, the "Ascalonian onion", which is not the Ascalonia of Pliny or Theophrastus, but the one called "divided, split; divisible", σχιστόν /skhistón/ in Theophrastus, schista in Pliny and corrupted to s(c)iria etc. in Simon. This name is seen as referring to the fact, that shallots are formed in clusters of offsets {"are split"} with a head composed of multiple cloves. Taxonomically the shallot is nowadays classified under Allium cepa var. aggregatum.

On the other hand Pliny mentions the alsidena onion, a name missing in Theophrastus and documented nowhere else but in Pliny.

WilfGunther 28/10/13

See Chromion, Basal

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