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Eruca a Dyascoride et Plinio domestica et silvestris asseritur Plinius in condiendis obsoniis .i. salsamentis in quibus carnes et pisces intinguntur tanta suavitas eis est ut greci heuzomon appellaverint et cetera, euzomium vocari reperi in quampluribus locis arabice vero iergir dicitur.


et Pli. AC | et a Pl': B | et a Plinio ef

asseritur (-it~ A f) AC f | asseritur e | aserit~ B

obsoniis ABC f | absoniis e | opsoniis Pliny

id ē B | .i. AC e | . s. f

eis est AC | ei est (ē f) B f | est e

heuzomon (-mõ A) AC | enzonoma B | enozonoma e | orezonõa f | euzomon Pliny

appellauerint (-rĩt A; -rũt e) AC e | apaellauerĩt B

euzomium (-miuʒ f; -miũ AB) ABC f | Enzomiuʒ e

iergir ABC e | uegir f

dicitur om. f


Eruca: Dyascorides and Pliny state that there is a garden and a wild eruca {"rocket"). Pliny says it is good for seasoning meals, i.e. meals in which meat and fish has been pickled, the two kinds {of eruca} have such a pleasant flavour that the Greeks have called it heuzomon, etc., and I have heard it called euzomium in very many places. But in Arabic it is called iergir.


Simon alludes to ultimately two chapters in Dioscorides Longobardus:

2, 125, ed. Stadler (1899: 226f) De euzumo id est eruca {"On euzomo, i.e. rocket"} and 2, 126, ed. Stadler (1899: 227) De eruca agreste {"On wild rocket"}. The original Greek can be found in Wellmann, 2, 140, ed. Wellmann (1906-14: I.210), εύζωμον and at the end of that chapter there is a section on ἄγριον εύζωμον /ágrion eúzōmon/ {"wild rocket"}.

Pliny, 20, 49, 126, ed. Rackham (1938-63: VII.72) is the source for Simon's brief quote:

in condiendis opsoniis tanta est suavitas ut Graeci euzomon appellaverint – "it is good for seasoning meals, it has such a pleasant flavour that the Greeks have called it heuzomon". Also in the same chapter a brief reference is made to eruca silvestris {"wild rocket"}.

The etymology of Latin eruca is uncertain, despite varying unconvincing efforts. The same word is also used for a certain caterpillar, the "canker-worm".

Simon's heuzomon is a transcription of Greek εὔζωμον /eúzōmon/ with a hypercorrect "h" added. The expected Latinised form of the word would be euzomum, but Simon's euzomium is endowed with the common ending –ium. The word εὔζωμον /eúzōmon/ means literally "making good broth", a meaning Pliny alludes to in the quote above.

Botanical identification:

Most authors identify eruca botanically as Eruca sativa Mill. "garden rocket" [[1]]. It is also generally thought that Dioscorides' ἄγριον εὔζωμον /ágrion eúzōmon/ and Pliny's eruca silvestris {"wild rocket"} is only a wild-growing form of the plant. Until quite recently this edible leaf vegetable was mainly picked in the wild with little or no effort put into producing garden varieties.

Already in antiquity the plant had a wide distribution around the Mediterranean Basin from the Iberian Peninsula to the Levant and back to North Africa, parts of Central Europe and into Western Asia up to Northern India, but due to garden escapees it has now expanded its range almost world-wide. In the Mediterranean it was and still is appreciated for its sharp taste with a mustard-like pungency. However, its culinary use has always been flanked by its role in the materia medica. Apart from certain medical indications it also had the reputation of being an aphrodisiac, the latter opinion being recorded by both Pliny and Dioscorides.

See also: Euzomum, for the Arabic see Gergir, Girgir, Iergir

Wilf Gunther 21/11/13

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