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Cordurdon herba solsticialis flore rubeo Plinius.


Cordurdon ABC efjp {'n' misread as 'r'} | Condurdum Pliny
solsticialis | solstitialis B
Plinius om. e


Cordurdon, also known as herba solsticialis {'the solstice herb' or the 'herb that flowers around the time of the solstice'}, has a red flower according to Pliny.


Simon's entry is a brief excerpt from Pliny, cf. 26, 14, 26, ed. Rackham (1938-63: VII.284). Condurdum quoque herba solstitialis, flore rubro, … , which Jones (1938-63: VII.285) translates: "Cordurdum too is a plant blooming at the summer solstice, having a red flower".

is only attested in Pliny and its etymology is unclear.

Botanical identification:

Very little information is given by Pliny for the identification of this plant. Further to the description above - it flowers {around or} at the time of the summer solstice and it has a red flower - Pliny only adds: suspensa in collo conprimere dicitur strumas – "Hung round the neck it is said to arrest scrofula".

herba solstitialis:
The synonym herba solstitialis occurs as early as Plautus (c. 254–184 BC) in his comedy Pseudolus, but this yields no further insight since it is not clear whether he had a specific plant in mind or – more likely – whether the name stands for the ephemerality of summer flowers generally.

Cf. I,1, lines 38/39 [[1]]: Calidorus, who is in love, tells his servant Pseudolus:
Quasi solstitialis herba paulisper fui:
repente exortus sum, repentino occidi.
Calidorus says: "Only for a short while have I been like a/the summer solstice herb; // I have sprung up suddenly, and I have withered just as suddenly".

Concerning the expression "like a summer solstice herb", some commentators think that Plautus refers to some imaginary plant, which was supposed to grow up and wither on the day of the summer solstice. It seems, however, more probable that he is only referring to the short existence of summer flowers in general.

Sprengel (1807: 203) [[2]], without giving any reasons, thinks Condurdum is Saponaria vaccaria L., [[3]], [[4]]. Sprengel's identification was adopted by Lewis & Short (1879). However the pale pink flowers of this plant do not quite fit the description flore rubro, "with a (dark) red flower". Cf. André (1985: 73).

WilfGunther 20/06/2013

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