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Girba grece pila pistatoria mortarius Cassi. fe. in pluribus locis.


Girba is the Greek word for Latin pila pistatoria {lit. "mortar or cup-shaped vessel for crushing"} or mortarius id. The word is found in Cassius Felix in numerous passages.


The word occurs in Cassius Felix's De medicina, chapter XXXI. Ad polypum et ozaenas {"Against polyps and ozaenae {"fetid nasal polypus"}, where it says, p.72: in girba contusis "having well pounded {the ingredients} in a mortar vessel …". Girba also occurs in Dioscorides Longobardus.

Girba is not a Greek word but is of Semitic origin, cf. Arabic: ﺟﺮﺍﺏ /ğirāb/ "sack, bag, travelling bag; knapsack; scrotum; covering, case; sheath, scabbard for sword" (Wehr). It entered late Latin changing its meaning from an original "container made of hide for liquid" to becoming synonymous with pila and mortarium {both meaning "mortar vessel"}. For a more detailed history of the word with further references, cf. Fraisse, Cassius Felix p.72, annotation 241.