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Falcon grece falco avis rapax erodius idem a falcatis unguibus dicta .i. curvis.


Falcon ABC j | Falkon efp
rapax erodius idem a falcatis unguibus dicta .i. curvis om. f
idem | inde ms. e
falcatis | falchatis ms. e
.i. ABC jp | est ms. e


Falcon is Greek for Latin falco {"falcon"}, a bird of prey, also called erodius. It is named after the falcated {"sickle-shaped"} i.e. curved talons.


φάλκων /phálkōn/ is a Byzantine Greek loan of Latin falco {"falcon"}. The word is mentioned in E.A. Sophocles's Greek lexicon, quoting as sources 10th c. authors Achmet and Suidas. Arnott, (2007: 183), also cites a diminutive form φαλκώνιον /phalkṓnion/.

Greek ἑρωδιός /herōdiós/, with variant forms ῥῳδιός /rhōdiόs/ and ἀρῳδιός /arōdiόs/ is adopted into Latin as herodius, herodio. Simon's statement that erodius is "the same" as Greek falcon and Latin falco is somewhat astonishing, since the name is not normally associated with falcons but rather with birds of the heron or related families. But Du Cange, although he gives "Heron" as the French name of herodius, describes it as Rapacissima avis, avium et omnium volatilium major, qui et aquilam vincit, etc. - "a very rapacious bird, of all the birds and every winged creature it is the stronger, it even vanquishes an eagle" (s.v. Herodius 1.).

As a man of the clergy Simon knew herodius from Deuteronomy 14, 16, where ἑρωδιός /herōdiós/ (Lxx) or herodius (Vulgata) is declared unclean and not to be eaten. Here the word translates the Hebrew כוט /kôś/. In English language translations of the Bible the bird's name is usually rendered as "owl, tawny ~, little ~".

Ornithological identification:

Arnott, op. cit., sees Latin falco as denoting almost any kind of smaller raptor, hierax in Greek. Again the distinction between species was not sharply drawn in Antiquity. Arnott thinks, judging by the range of hues, that falco could include species as varied as Falco eleonorae Gene, "Eleonora's falcon", breeding on islands in the Mediterranean and wintering in Madagascar; the summer migrant Falco vespertinus L. "red-footed falcon" of Eastern Europe and Asia; Falco tinnunculus L. "common kestrel" with a wide old-world distribution; or the summer migrant Falco naumanni Fleischer "lesser kestrel" found in the Mediterranean and much of southern and central Asia.

Greek ἑρωδιός /herōdiós/ is often used as a general term for Herons, egrets and bitterns, but occasionally it is used for a sea bird. For the complicated history of this word and pertinent ornithological information cf. Arnott (2007: 47-9).

For more information on Phalkōn, cf. Arnott (2007: 183).

WilfGunther (talk) 12/11/2013

See also: Ierax

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