From Simon Online
Jump to: navigation, search

Comarus Dyascorides arbor est similis cidonio, sed folia minuta habet et fructum similem coccimelle sine ossibus quam multi memequilon vocant, cum vero maturatum fuerit ruffum facit colorem comestum ut furfures invenitur et cetera, vocatur arabice catilabich .i. interfector patris sui, et ficus lupi. Et est arbustum quod vocatur nostro ydiomate armoni, fructus eius est in superficie asper et habet saporem mixtum ex dulcedine et acetositate cum stipticitate aliqua Stephanus comaros catolebie et catelebum et cetera, quidam gombare dicunt.


est om. e
cidonio | citonio p
coccimelle (-mele B) ABC j | coctimelle f | arcimelle e | camomille p
(ossibus} quam | quẽ jp
memequilon (-quilon efj; -quilõ AB) ABC efjp | meq’lon Dyasc.alphabet. | memescula Diosc. Longob.
ruffum | rufum C e
mss. jp start a new line with Comestũ … and treat the subsequent text as an extra entry.
{comestum} aut. et add. e
et cetera om. e
vocatur arabice | vocant a’ {= arabice or arabes} f
chatilabich AC | catilabich B fp | cacilabich ms. e | katilabich j
ficus | fiscus jp
arbustum | arbustrum B
ydiomate AC ep | ydyomate j | ydeõate f | idiomate B
armoni AC | armõni f | armõ ul’ armõi B | armoin j | armoyn ms. e | armoiri p
acetositate | accetositate ms. e
{acetositate} mixta add. p
comaros | comares f {'o' misread as 'e'}
catolebie ABC efjp | cathelebihe Stephanus
catelebum | cacelebuʒ f
gombare | gorabare p (‘m’ misread as ‘ra’?}


Comarus {"strawberry-tree"} is similar to cidonium {"quince"}, but it has very small leaves and a fruit similar to coccimella {"a plum"} but it is without stones, and many also call the fruit memequilon; when it is ripe it has a reddish colour; and when eaten chaffy particles are shed; etc.

In Arabic it is called catilabich, which is in Latin interfector patris sui {"killer of its father"} and ficus lupi {"wolf's fig"}. And it is a small tree which is called in our language armoni. Its fruit is rough on the surface and it has a taste mixed of sweetness and sourness with astringency. Stephanus has this gloss: comaros catolebie et catelebum {see Commentary below}; etc. Many people also call this plant gombare.


The first part of Simon's entry is an excerpt from Dyascorides alphabeticus, Bodmer f 30r, of which the ultimate source is Dioscorides Longobardus, book I (Mihăescu), p. 66, chapter ΡΛΓ' (133) De comarus. The originl Greek text is found in 1, 122, ed. Wellmann (1906-14: I.112) κόμαρος /kómaros/.

Comarus, memequilon: < Greek κόμαρος /kómaros/, "strawberry-tree", together with the name for the fruit of this tree μεμαίκυλον /memaíkylon/, with variant forms μιμαίκυλον /mimaíkylon/, μεμαίκυλος /memaíkylos/ and μιμάκυλος /mimákylos/, are of uncertain etymology. Battisti (1968: I.108): s.v. àlbatro (1) (àrbatro) corbezzolo {"strawberry-tree"} believes them to be pre-Indoeuropean substrate words. The form quoted in Simon's witnesses memequilon - pronounced */memékilon/ - is derived from this Greek variant: μεμαίκυλον /memaíkylon/.

catilabich: The Arabic name is ﻗﺎﺗﻞ ﺍﺑﻴﻪ /qātil-abīhi/, cf. Siggel (1950: 57): Arbutus unedo (Ericac.), Erdbeerbaum {i.e. "strawberry tree"}, which is correctly translated by Simon into Latin as interfector patris sui {"killer of its father"}.

For ficus lupi, lit. "the fig of the wolf" see Cathilhabiheb.

armoni: Simon also offers a vernacular name: armon and armoin are further variants in the witnesses. Again Battisti (1968: I.108), states that arbutus had two parallel forms: *armutus and *armōne, which are principally Ligurian forms, the language/dialect of the Italian peninsula, that was presumably Simon's native tongue. Battisti mentions the Ligurian form armuìn, which he also sees as the source for Sicilian armuìna.

Battisti (1968: I.294) also has the following entry: ~armóne, meaning “strawberry-tree”, the “~” marking it as a regional and dialectal form. He sees this particular word as derived from a Ligurian form armùn, which – he says- presupposes *armō,ōnis.

Stephanus: Simon quotes the relevant gloss from Stephanus's Breviarium [[1]]: komaros cathelebihe cathelebũ. The latter two are - just as above - renderings of Arabic ﻗﺎﺗﻞ ﺍﺑﻴﻪ /qātil-abīhi/, "killer of its father", cathelebũ is an attempt to Latinise the word.

gombare: Simon concludes with introducing yet another vernacular word gombare, which has the form gomarem {acc. sg.} in the entry Katilabich . This form is also mentioned in Battisti (1968: III.1841): ~gòmaro, gòmara, corbezzolo {i.e. "strawberry-tree"}, again marked as regional and dialectal, and he characterizes it as a Venetian word. He further points out that many Southern dialects have similar forms. In (1968: II.1025), s.v còmaro Battisti quotes a number of these regional words. Etymologically gomaro is a Romance form either derived from a Greek loaned Latin comarus or directly from a Greek comaros.

These vernacular words found here in Simon's entry could well be the oldest documented occurrences of these words in the literature of the Italian Peninsula.

Botanical identification:

There is relatively little discussion about the identification of comaros/-us. Arbutus unedo L. {"strawberry tree"} [[2]] is a small evergreen shrubby tree native to the Mediterranean Basin, where it is found in the Macchia or Maquis shrub land that grows along the borders of most of the Northern and Southern fringes of the Mediterranean coast. The plant's distribution does however include disjunct forays into parts of Northern France or even Western Ireland. Its fruit resembles the strawberry but is by no means very palatable. In fact the Roman poet Ovid in his Metamorphoses, book I, when describing the paradisiacal golden age of a primitive but happy humankind, counted the strawberry-tree fruit amongst the humble staples of that age:

103: contentique cibis nullo cogente creatis // 104: arbuteos fetus montanaque fraga legebant - "they were content with foods that had grown without husbandry // collecting the produce of the strawberry tree and mountain strawberries …"

This low esteem is also expressed by Pliny, 25, 28, 98, ed. Rackham (1938-63 IV.356), where he characterizes the strawberry-tree fruit: pomum inhonorum, ut cui nomen ex argumento unum tantum edendi – "it is a fruit without high regard since its name comes from the fact that not more than one fruit is ever eaten", i.e. un{um tantum}edo - "I only eat one". This explanation is most likely a folk etymology, and etymologists often assume that the word unedo, like its synonym arbutus, is a pre-Indoeuropean substrate word.

WilfGunther 07/03/2014

See also: Fragaria, Komaros, Katilabich, Cathilhabiheb

Next entry