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Licedone Cassius felix est morfea nigra et aspera et crinosa que ex melancholia fit.


morfea ABCD | morphea ef

{nigra} et add. f

zernosa f | crinosa BCD | crĩosa A | c’nosa e | (Maculae …) zernosae Cassius Felix {see below}.

ex mel’ia ABD e | ex milina C | ex mlia f | ex melancholico humore Cassius Felix {see Source below}.


Licedone according to Cassius Felix is morfea nigra {"black morphew"}, and it is rough and scabby {"hairy"?? see below} and is brought on by black bile.



Licedone is derived from Greek λειχηνώδης /leikhēnṓdēs/, here possibly transcribing the pl. neuter form: λειχηνώδη /leikhēnṓdē/, which through metathesis of "d" and "n" turned from licenode into licedone. λειχηνώδης /leikhēnṓdēs/ means "like λειχήν /leikhḗn/", λειχήν /leikhḗn/ denoting in its basic meaning "tree-moss, lichen", and "a kind of liver-wort"; and in a figurative sense it was then used for "a lichen-like eruption on the skin".


Simon describes licedone as morfea nigra, however Cassius’ text {see below} does not mention the word morphea, but only maculae nigrae "black spots" are referred to. The term morphea/morfea, of uncertain etymology, became prominent only in the medieval period. But different authors understood different afflictions describing different signs and symptoms under this term. Curry (1922: 396-404) [[1]], says this, p. 396: "In spite of differences of opinion, however, I gather that morphea – by whatever name it may be designated – is a skin disease resulting from the presence of certain impurities in the blood, and that there are four different species of it corresponding to the four natural humours of the body".

Curry goes on to quote Gilbertus Anglicus, Compendium medicine, Lugduni, 1510. f. clxx. v.: Cause autem antecedentes sunt iiij humores. Et que fit ex sanguine propinquior est ad lepram. Unusquisque humor proprium dat colorem cuti. et que est de sanguine est rubei coloris. et que est de colere est citrini coloris et que de salso flegme est flavi coloris. et que de flegme naturali est albi coloris. et que de melancolia est nigri coloris. - "The causes for bringing on {morphea} are the 4 humours. And that type that is caused by {a corruption of} blood is nearest to leprosy. And each one of the humours passes on to the skin {eruption} its appropriate colour: that caused by blood is of a dark red colour; that caused by yellow bile is of a lemon-yellow colour, that caused by salty phlegm is of a light yellow {flaxen or whitish} colour and that of black bile is of a darkish colour." This last type of morfea is obviously what Simon had in mind in this entry.

zernosa/ crinosa:

Zernosus, a variant form of late Latin serniosus means "covered with an eruption, scabby; concerning impetigo". However, most witnesses have crinosa, a word prima facie derived from Latin crinis "hair", and it means "full of hair, hairy". This does not fit in with any description of skin eruptions, which are normally accompanied by hair loss. But ms. f and Cassius, the original source, have zernosa or possibly cernosa, i.e. abbreviated c’nosa, which was then wrongly expanded in the course of the transmission of the text, since the abbreviating sign can stand for multiple readings, all involving at least the letter "r",


Simon is alluding to Cassius Felix’s De medicina, 9, 1, ed. Fraisse (2001: 20, 22) Ad maculas nigras {"On black spots"}: Maculas nigras Graeci alphus melaenas uocant. Nascuntur aliquando in uultu aliquando in brachiis aliquando in toto corpore, aliquando fuscae aliquando nigrae aliquando asperae ueluti zernosae, quas Graeci lichenodes appellant. Ex melancholico humore efficiuntur id est ex nigri fellis redundantia. - "The Greeks call black spots alphoi melainai {id.}. They grow sometimes in the face, or on the arms, sometimes over the whole body. Sometimes they are tawny coloured, sometimes black, sometimes rough and scabby-like, the type the Greeks call lichenodes. They are caused by melancholic humour, i.e. from a superfluity of black bile."

Greek ἀλφός /alphós/ according to LSJ is "a dull-white leprosy, esp. on the face", comparable to Latin vitiligo. However, here in Cassius Felix the noun has changed gender from masculine to feminine and its meaning has been generalised to "type of skin disease", because Cassius mentions explicitly alphus melaenas {acc. pl.}, and in chapter XVIII, Ad maculas albas {"On white spots"} he mentions alphus leucas {} – the Greek for "white spots", p. 19.

Wilf Gunther 13/12/13

See also: Alfos leucas

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