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Hanxi arabice serpens liber de doctrina arabica sed apud Avicennam haiet.


Hanxi efjp | Hanxi uel haxi B | Hanixi AC
liber om. e but a gap is left in the writing
arabica | greca uel arabica ms. e
haiet B efp | haiet or haret j | haieth AC


Hanxi is Arabic for Latin serpens {"snake"} according to the liber de doctrina arabica, but in Avicenna it is called haiet.


Simon’s often quoted source, the liber de doctrina arabica, has so far not been identified, but cf. what must be a similar glossary/dictionary- Vocabulista - ed. Schiaparelli (1871: 90): ﺣﻨﺶ /ḥan(a)š/ Serpens [1]]; (1871: 577): ﺣﻴﺶ ﻭﺣﻨﺶ ﺣﻨﺎﺵ ﺣﻴﺔ ﺍﺕ / ḥayš wa-ḥanaš ḥināš – ḥayya ~āt/ SERPENS [[2]].

Dozy (1877-81: I.331): ﺣﻨﺶ /ḥanaš/ quoting i.a. Vocabulista and Pedro de Alcalá as his sources, and he mentions that in Spain the word has changed from /ḥanaš/ to /ḥayš/, with both forms occurring in Vocabulista, cf. above and p. 91: ﺣﻴﺶ /ḥayš/ Serpens [[3]] and p. 577: SERPENS ﺣﻴﺶ /ḥayš/, ﺣﻨﺶ /ḥanaš/.
In Pedro de Alcalá “háix” occurs 3 times glossed "culebra" {i.e. "snake"}, although he lists under culebrilla enfermedad {i.e. “shingles, the disease”; lit. "little snake"} the form honáyxa {i.e. /ḥunayša/} the diminutive form of /ḥanaš/ [[4]].

Cf. also Corriente (1997: 141) s.v. *(ḤNŠ) for further witnesses.

Dozy lists ﺣﻨﺶ /ḥanaš/ under the root ﺣﻨﺶ /ḥnš/, which he glosses servir quoting Vocabulista as his only source. In fact Vocabulista (1871: 577) has under SERVIRE i.a. ﻧﺤﻨﺶ ﺣﻮﻞ ﻓﻼﻥ /niḥannaš ḥaula fulān/ (lit.) "I protect someone’s power"; cf. also Corriente (1989: 89), s.v.*ḤNŠ who also glosses servir. However, it is difficult to find any semantic bridge between "serving, protecting" and "snake".

A simpler solution is offered by Lane (1984: 656), who mentions a verb ﺣﻨﺶ /ḥanaša/ meaning "hunt, catch, capture" from which ﺣﻨﺶ /ḥanaš/ is derived with a variety of meanings: "anything that is hunted, caught or captured, birds, … venomous or noxious reptiles … such as scorpions and serpents" and he mentions a variety of other animals, among them kinds of vipers and serpents.

Wehr lists ﺣﻨﺶ /ḥanaš/ … "snake" in his dictionary, proving that the word has still some currency in Modern written Arabic, but Prémare lists the word with a large number of derivations. This seems to indicate that it has a mainly Maghribic distribution.

Simon’s observation that Avicenna uses the word ﺣﻴﺔ /ḥayya/ "snake, serpent, viper", pl. ﺣﻴﺎﺕ /ḥayyāt/ rather than ﺣﻨﺶ /ḥanaš/ is correct.

See e.g. Avicenna capitulum 616. De serpente, also available online p. 120: De serpẽte. Cap. dcxvi [[5]], which is in the Arabic original p.180: ﺣﻴﺔ /ḥayya/ "snake, serpent, viper" [[6]].

Also e.g. in his capitulum 44. De agno casto, also available online p. 73: De Agno casto. Cap. xliiii [[7]], which is in Arabic ﺑﻨﺠﻨﺠﺴﺖ /banğanğust/ {"chaste tree"}, p. 147 {not 144!}, he writes: ﺑﻨﻔﻊ ﻣﻦ ﻟﺴﻊ ﺍﻟﺤﻴﺎﺕ /bi-nafʕin min lasʕi al-ḥayyāt/, in its Latin translation: confert morsui serpentis - "it is of use for snake bites" [[8]].

WilfGunther 11:55, 26 September 2014 (BST)

See also: Hayet

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