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Fenix Dyascorides aut rium aut anquinopa dicunt folia ordei similia habet sed minora et angusta spicam similem iastro hastas habet sex digitis longas spicas ferens septem aut octo, nascitur locis cultis et in tegulatis novis et cetera.


Whole entry missing in ms. f

Ms. e has the text written twice, with the lemmata in this sequence Fenix – Femequestu – Fenix.

The first version is incomplete: Fenix dyas. folia ordei siml'ia habʒ spicam siml'em iastro astas longas vi. digitis spicas vii. uel viii. The habitat section beginning with nascitur only occurs in the second entry of Fenix.

aut rium AC | aut rũ B | a + empty space ms. e | aut rum Diosc. Longob.

ãquinopa (-qui- B) AC | equinopa ms. e | anqinopa Diosc. Longob.

folia AB e | foila C {printer's error}

iastro | ieraro Diosc. Longob.

hastas AC Diosc. Longob. | astas B e

cultis (-tis A) ABC Diosc. Longob. | occultis ms. e

tegulatis | teculatis Diosc. Longob.


Fenix, according to Dyascorides, they also call it rium or anquinopa. It has leaves similar to ordeum {"barley"}, but smaller and narrow, with an ear similar to iastrum {"darnel"}, having stalks six fingers long, carrying seven or eight ears. It grows in cultivated places and on newly tiled roofs.


Simon's entry is a near-verbatim passage taken from Dioscorides Longobardus, 4, 25, ed. Stadler (1901: 25), chapter Μ' (40) De fenica. The original Greek text can be found in 4, 43, ed. Wellmann (1906-14: II.202): φοῖνιξ /phoînix/.

Greek φοῖνιξ /phoenix/ is Latinised phoenix. The form fenica in Dioscorides Longobardus reflects a late Latin sound change /oe/ > /e/ and is modelled on the Greek accusative φοίνικα /phoínika/ rather than Latin phoenicem, but a Greek accusative Phoenica is also used by Ovid in his Metamorphoses for the bird of the fable. The etymology of the word is ambiguous, Φοῖνιξ /Phoînix/ means the Phoenician, but as an adjective it can also mean "purple or crimson and other shades of brown-red". It is difficult to determine which meaning came first. However for the name of the bird of the fable, Frisk (1960-82: II.1032) thinks it is borrowed from Old Egyptian bjn.

The synonym rium or rum/renders Greek ῥοῦς /rhoûs/, Latinised rhus. It is acc. to LSJ "sumach, Rhus coriaria" (Diosc. I 108) and II. "red ray, Lolium perenne (Diosc. book 4.43). In the original the accusative ῥοῦν /rhoun/ is used, dependent on καλοῦσι /kaloûsi/ {i.e. "they call it"} and here imitated as rum.

The synonym anquinopa / equinopa renders Greek ἀγχύνωψ /ankhýnōps/, again in the accusative form: ἀγχύνωπα /agchýnōpa/. Strömberg (1940: 150) thinks that the name is the result of a crossing of /ἄγχουσα /ánkhousa/, cf. Anchusa from ἄγχω /ánkhō/ {"to strangle"}, and κύνωψ /kynōps/ "dog-faced" {or its variant ἀχύνωψ /akhýnōps/} "rib grass, Plantago laceolata (LSJ). Both versions of this word are attested in Theophrastus.

For comparison Dioscorides refers to these plants:

ordeum, which translates Greek κριθή, /krithḗ/ "barley" Krithe;

and iastro occurring in all of Simon's witnesses and ieraro in Dioscorides Longobardus. This is a corruption of Greek αἶρα /aîra/, Latinised aera, "darnel; Lolium temulentum" (LSJ); cf. Era.

Botanical identification:

Phoenix is first and foremost the name of the date-palm, Phoenix dactylifera L. Dactilos, but the name was transferred to other plants, although the naming motives are obscure.

Most authors agree that the plant mentioned in this entry, which is described by Dioscorides in his fourth book, is Lolium perenne L. "perennial rye-grass" [[1]], [[2]], cf. LSJ, André (1985: 197), Berendes (1902: 387).

WilfGunther 17:22, 20 September 2014 (BST)

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