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Fragaria herba ferens fraga Ovidius metamorphoseos montanaque fraga legebant.


Fragaria AC efjp | Fragraria B
{ferens} fraga ABC j | fragra fp | faga ms. e
metamorphoseos AC | metamorfoseos (metha- j) B ejp | methamorphoseus f
montanaque fraga legebant om. p
montanaqʒ ABC j | mõtana nãqʒ ms. e | Montona f
{montanaque} fraga AC ejp | fragra B | fragraqʒ f
{legebant} etcetera add. j


Fragaria is the herb that bears fraga {"strawberries"}. Ovid in his Metamorphoses says: montanaque fraga legebant {"and they used to gather mountain strawberries"}.


Medieval Latin fragaria "strawberry" is derived from fragum, late Latin fraga, "strawberry". Genaust (1996: 254 s.v.) suspects fragaria was first mentioned in Matthaeus Sylvaticus but since Simon precedes Sylvaticus this could well be the first attested mention of the word. However R.E. Latham (1965: 200 s.v.) seems to have found the word in a British document estimated to be written around 1250.

Simon refers to Ovid's Metamorphoses, liber primus, vs. 104 [[1]]. In this section Ovid describes mankind in times past, in the aurea aetas, the Golden Age, where humans still lived an idyllic life untroubled by laws and wars, and the earth, as yet untoiled, nourished all humans:
103: contentique cibis nullo cogente creatis
104 arbuteos fetus montanaque fraga legebant,
105 cornaque et in duris haerentia mora rubetis
106: et, quae deciderant patula Iovis arbore, glandes.
103: "They were content with food produced with no effort// 104: They gathered the fruits of the arbutus tree and wild strawberries// 105: The cornel cherries and the blackberries that hang in the rough bramble thickets// 106: And acorns that had fallen down from Juppiter's wide-branching tree {i.e. the oak}".

Botanical identification:

Fragaria is most likely Fragaria vesca L. the "wild strawberry" [[2]], not to be confused with the "strawberry tree", Arbutus unedo L. [[3]], a totally different plant, also mentioned by Ovid. The "wild" or "wood strawberry" or one or some of its subpecies or varieties was often gathered from the wild, but it was also grown in gardens up to the 18th c. when it was replaced by the hybrid "garden strawberry", Fragaria × ananassa, [[4]]. However some garden subspecies and varieties of F. vesca do survive to this day due to the strong flavour. Clearly the strawberry Simon had in mind was a type of F. vesca.

WilfGunther 20:57, 22 October 2014 (BST)

See also: Comarus

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