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Lotium est urina apud Dyascoridem et in multis libris antiquis.


Lotium (-tiũ B) ABC | Locium (-ciũ or –tiũ ms. e) ef

et om. AC


Lotium is the word for urine in Dyascorides and also in many ancient books.


The word lotium, sometimes written loteum or luteum, is derived from the root *lau- "to bathe, wash"; it acquired the meaning "urine" - if we are to believe Isidorus - for the following reason: Qui humor {i.e. urina} vulgo lotium dicitur, quod eo lota, id est munda, vestimenta efficiantur - "This fluid {i.e. urine} is called lotium in folk-language because clothes are made lota {i.e. 'washed}, in other words, 'clean' by its use". (Etymologiae, 11, i, 138). N.b.: The most common method for cleaning clothes was until quite recently to use the urine of men or animals mixed with the water in which the clothes were washed.

Simon is right that the word lotium is frequently found in some ancient authors, often specified as to from which animal, whether the urine was to be old or fresh, and with humans especially from which sex, and from adult, virgin, boy or child. Apart from washing, urine was often used on its own or as an ingredient in medications for a wide variety of indications.

Lotium is first recorded as early as in Cato's De agri cultura, ca. 200 BC, where the word urina does not occur; cf. CXXII. Vinum concinnare, si lotium difficilius transibit - "To blend a wine {as a remedy} if it is very difficult to pass urine"), et passim.

In late Antiquity lotium is documented in a number of authors:

- e.g. in the Mulomedicina Chironis, 4th c. AD?: per triduo dabis ex loteo virginis per triduum eminas "for 3 days you will give a "hemina" {of liquid} from the urine of a virgin" 27, ed. Oder (1901: 20); et passim;

- Also Marcellus Empiricus, ca. 400 AD, De medicamentis liber, in recipes requiring a variety of animals' and humans' urine;

- Also in Dioscorides Longobardus, 6th c. AD, 2, 64, ed. Stadler (1899) De lotium humanum {"On human urine"}, translating the Greek original, cf. 2, 81, ed. Wellmann (1906-14: I.81). beginning with οὖρον ἀνθρώπου τὸ ίδιον /oûron anthrṓpou tò ídion/ {"a man's own urine"}, et passim;

- Also in Sextus Placitus Papyrensis, 6th c. AD, lotium is used almost exclusively.

However, in all these books urina occurs as well, and in a number of books of late Antiquity urina is used exclusively, e.g. Ps-Dioscorides: De herbis femininis, Ps.-Apuleius: Herbarius.

Ironically, lotium - in spite of its popularity in Isidore's days, ca. 700 AD - did not survive well into the Romance languages but clings to a marginal existence in some mainly Italian dialects; cf. Meyer-Lübke (1924: 415f.), item 5129.

The word was obviously no longer in common usage with the meaning "urine" in Simon's days, which is why he must have included it, characterising it as occurring in "many ancient book".

Latham (1973) mentions s.v. lot/io the form lotium "water used for washing", the word either having preserved or having reverted to its original meaning.

Similarly du Cange (1883-87) defines it as: Aqua, unde aliquid lavatum est {"water, in which something is washed"}

Wilf Gunther 15/12/13

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