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Kate arabice cucumer ut apud Avicennam kate alhemar arabice cucumer asininus et cetera.


Kate etc. and Kate alkemar etc. are two separate entries in e.
kate alhemar j | kate alheniar A {'m' misread as 'ni'} | kate alhẽiar C | kite alhemer f | cata alhemar p | katealkemar B e
{alhemar} arabice om. B efjp
asininus | aʒininus ms. e
et cetera om. B ef


Kate is Arabic for Latin cucumer {"cucumber"} as attested in Avicenna, and kate alkemar is the Arabic for cucumer asininus {(lit.) "donkey’s cucumber"}, etc.


Siggel (1950: 58): ﻗﺜﺎﺀ /qiṯṯāʔ/ Cucumis flexuosa (Cucurbitac.), Schlangengurke; zur Zucht in gewünschter Form {i.e. "snake melon, used for breeding to the desired shape"}.

Kate alhemar:
ibid. ﻗﺜﺎﺀ ﺍﻟﺤﻤﺎﺭ /qiṯṯāʔ al-ḥimār/ {(lit.) "donkey’s cucumber"} Ecbalium (Momordica) elaterium Rich. (Cucurb.); Springgurke {i.e. "squirting cucumber"}.
ﺣﻤﺎﺭ /ḥimār/ "donkey".

Although the classical form ﻗﺜﺎﺀ /qiṯṯāʔ/ is more common, vocalisations closer to Simon’s are attested:
Karbstein (2002: 248): “ 3) Gurke {i.e. “cucumber”} ﻗﺜﺎ ... ﻗﻮﻏﻤﺮ /qaṯā … qūġumru/ - “{Arabic} /qaṯā/ is {in Romance} cogombro“.
N.b. Old Spanish cogombro {“cucumber”}; Catalan cogombre {IPA [ku'ɣombɾə] id.}.
Id. p. 243: “14) Springgurke {“squirting cucumber”} Ecballium elaterium (L.) A. Rich. ﻗﺜﺎ ﺍﻟﺤﻤﺎﺭ /qaṯā al-ḥimār/.

Cf. also Corriente (1997: 415) s.v. *(QÞʼ).

The chapters in Avicenna Simon alludes to are for ﻗﺜﺎﺀ /qiṯṯāʔ/ (Goehl) Liber II of the Canon, Capitulum 180 (179) De cucumere (followed by: id est sativo. Annotation: chetha); and for ﻗﺜﺎﺀ ﺍﻟﺤﻤﺎﺭ /qiṯṯāʔ al-ḥimār/ Capitulum 181 (180). De cucumere asinino (followed by: id est silvestri cucumere. Annotation: chetha alhamar).
This text is also available online in the Lyons edition (1522: 87), De cucumere Cap. clxxx and De cucumere asinino Cap. clxxxi [[1]].

The Arabic original can be found pp. 249, 250: ﻗﺜﺎ /qiṯṯā/ and ﻗﺜﺎ ﺍﻟﺤﻤﺎﺭ /qiṯṯā al-ḥimār/ [[2]].

Botanical identification:

Following Siggel's identifications:

Kate: is the "snake" or "Armenian melon", Cucumis melo var. flexuosus (L.) Naudin, of the Flexuosus Group [[3]], [[4]]. It has a long and slender fruit, hence another vernacular name being "yard-long cucumber". Though it looks and tastes like a cucumber, botanically it is a muskmelon. The species contains many varieties and subspecies, and since the "snake melon" is a product of cultivation it is grown in virtually all tropical and subtropical regions. The original distribution of the ancestral species C. melo L. [[5]], [[6]], probably already cultivated in the Bronze Age, is Asia and Africa, cf. Zohary, Hopf & Weiss (2012: 155).

Kate alkemar: called cucumer asininus {i.e. "donkey's cucumber"} or agrestis {i.e. "wild cucumber"} in medieval Europe, is Ecballium elaterium (L.) A. Rich. [[7]], [[8]], also of the cucumber family. Its vernacular names are "squirting" or "exploding cucumber". Ecballium {lit. "plant that throws out"}, its botanical name, as well as the afore-mentioned vernacular names allude to the plant’s dispersal mechanism of squirting a stream of mucilaginous liquid containing its seeds, when it is ripe. Its distribution covers Mediterranean and Eastern Europe, northern Africa, and temperate areas of Asia.

WilfGunther 05/12/13

See also: Kiar, Kahifar

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