Iovis flos

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Iovis flos planta sine odore.


Iovis flos {i.e. "Juppiter’s flower"} is a plant without scent.


This plant is only mentioned in Pliny, 21, 59 and 67, ed. W.H.S. Jones(1938-63: VI). All that is said in § 59 is: Etiamnum … folio coronant Iovis flos, …. - "flower-wreaths are made with the leaves of Iovis flos {'Juppiter’s flower'}", etc… and further on: colore tantum placet Iovis flos, odor abest, … - "It is only by its colour that Iovis flos pleases, because it has no scent" …. And § 67 Pliny just states that Iovis flos is vernus flos, i.e. "a summer-flowering plant".

The ultimate source for Pliny was most likely Theophrastus, because the name Iovis flos {"Juppiter's flower"} appears to be a direct translation from a Greek plant name Διὸς ἄνθος /Diòs ánthos/, lit. "the flower of Zeus". In Theophrastus’ Historia Plantarum, 6, 2, ed. Hort (1916: II.2) [[1]], a διόσανθος /diósanthos/ is mentioned as a cultivated undershrub belonging to the group of στεφανωτικοί /stephanōtikoi/ "plants for wreath-making"; and in cap. vi, § 2, p. 36 [[2]] this plant is described as ἄνοσμον /ánosmon/ "not scented"; § 11, p. 44 [[3]] tells us: σπείρεται /speiretai/ "it is grown from seed" and calls it ξυλώδες /xylṓdes/ "woody"; finally in cap. viii § 3, p. 50 [[4]] he calls it: θερινόν /therinón/ "summer-flowering". Even if Iovis flos and Διὸς ἄνθος /Diòs ánthos/ mean the same plant, and there are clearly matching descriptions, e.g. both authors describe the plant as good for wreath-making and being odourless and summer-flowering, the information is still too little to hazard a botanical identification.

These Greek and Latin names have survived into botanical Latin: the genus Dianthus is derived from Διὸς ἄνθος /Diòs ánthos/, and flos-jovis occurs as the epitheton for the plant Lychnis flos-jovis (L.) Desr. But one should be aware that botanists treat ancient Greek and Latin plant names only as a convenient reserve pool for their terminology and most often ancient and modern plant names have literally nothing in common but their name.

WilfGunther (talk) 01/12/2013

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