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Limon fructus pulcher odoratus plenus succo acetoso valde apto salsamentis, et ipse etiam comeditur sale conditus, nusquam memini me de ipso legisse apud auctorem autenticum nisi apud Avicennam in quarto canonis capitulo de cura febrium acutarum in generali ubi iubet dari aquam accetositatis limonis non saliti.


pulcer | pulcher AC
succo ABC f | suco ejp
acetoso | accetoso C e
etiã (e͞t A j) ABC ej | e͡c f | ē p {= est}
nusquam AC efp | Nusquam ul' nũquam j | nũquã B
me om. p
auctorem | auctorẽs p
autenticum | auctenticum C
quarto | 2o ms. e
capitulo de cura febrium acutarum | de accuitate febriũ ms. e
acutarum AC fjp | putridarũ B
{generali} cao add. e {= capitulo}
accetositatis AC e | acetositatis B fjp
limonis (-õis BC) ABC | limi fp | limo ms. e | lini j
{non saliti} etcetera add. j


Limon is a fine fruit, sweet smelling and full of sour juice, well suited for brine and pickling, and it is also eaten spiced with salt. I cannot remember having read about this plant anywhere in the relevant authorities except for Avicenna in the 4th book of his Canon in the chapter about the cure of acute fevers in general where he prescribed giving the patient water with the sourness of an unsalted lemon.


Simon is offering a brief quote from Avicenna's Canon liber IIII, Fen I, Tractatus II, capitulum x: De curationibus febrium acutarum p. 318 [[1]], where - for a recipe - he recommends amongst other ingredients: aqua acetositatis limonis non saliti: et aqua acetositatis citri & que sunt his similia … - "water with the sourness {i.e. soured with the juice} of an unsalted lemon and water with the sourness of citron and {sc. fruits} that are similar to these".

Cf. Wehr (1976: 887): ﻟﻴﻤﻮﻥ /laimūn/ /līmūn/ "lemon"; ﻟﻴﻤﻮﻥ ﺣﺎﻣﺾ /laimūn ḥāmiḍ/ "lime" {lit. "sour lemon"}. Siggel (1950: 66): ﻟﻴﻤﻮﻥ /laimūn/ Fr. v. Citrus medica (Rutac.) Zitrone {i.e. "fruit of C. medica, 'lemon'"}.

It is possible that in Antiquity lemons were unknown since there is only ever mention of citrus, generally thought to be the citron Citrus medica L., but Andrews (1961: 44), argues that it is only terminological imprecision of the term citrus that hides the existence of the lemon in those ancient times.

However the Arab authors were the first to clearly describe the lemon and Arab traders were the ones who introduced several trees of the genus Citrus and their fruits to the Caliphate and to the Iberian Peninsula and Sicily, including the lemon tree. It must be said that citron, lemon and lime were often confused in the Middle Ages, especially because yellow lime varieties do exist and the green lime cultivars of today are only a relatively recent product. This confusion affecting the naming of most citrus fruits has been going on for centuries and is still reflected in the modern languages of Europe, cf. English citron, lemon, lime = German Zitronatzitrone, Zitrone, Limone; Spanish has limón "lemon" and lima "lime" in Europe but it is the reverse in some dialects of the Americas, e.g. Peru. Moroccan Arabic says /limūn/ for the 'orange', reflecting a confusion not unknown even in the Arabic speaking countries.

According to Ramón-Laca (2003: 509), the lemon was first identifiably described at the beginning of the 10th c. in al-Andalus by Ibn Waḥšīya using the form ﻟﻴﻤﻮﺍ /līmuwā/. In Ibn Ğulğul (between 982 and 984) we find the first attestation of the term ﻟﻴﻤﻮﻥ /laimūn/ and Abū-l-Ḫair (11th or 12th c.) has already the variants ﻻﻤﻮﻥ /lāmūn/, ﻟﻴﻤﻮﻥ /laimūn/ and /līmūn/, the latter clearly the one Simon's Limon represents.

Corriente (1997: 490) s.v. *(LYM) lists Andalusi ﻟﻴﻤﻮﻥ /laimūn/ or /līmūn/ under the root √lym, /līm/, "fruits of the citron kind, lime", nomen unitatis /līma/, but this etymology is disputed. Others see the word transmitted from Persian, cf. Steingass (1892: 1135): لیمو /līmū/, لیمون /līmūn/, لیمونا līmūnā, "lemon, citron" and the Persian word is traced by some to Sanskrit nimbū. However the intricate interrelationship between Persian and Arabic makes it difficult to determine who gave what to whom.

Botanical identification:

The lemon tree, Citrus x limon (L.) Osbeck [[2]], is a species of hybrid origin and of so far unresolved parentage. The easiness with which citrus plants hybridise causes speciation problems and taxonomic chaos. Unsurprisingly the lemon tree's original distribution cannot be precisely determined. It is described by some botanists as a hybrid between bitter orange Citrus × aurantium L. [[3]] and citron Citrus medica L. [[4]].

WilfGunther (talk) 21:18, 4 August 2015 (BST)

See also: Citrum, Atrogi, Torongi

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