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Lupulus est secundum Aben mesue species volubilis et est habens folia similia foliis vitis asperrima, flos eius est sicut ampule adherentes simul et ipsa planta serpit in sepibus, a gallis et theotonicis humulus vocatur cuius florem in medone ponunt.


Aben mesue AC | abẽmesue ej | aben mesede f | ebẽ mesue B | heben mesue p
ampule ABC f | ampulle ejp
theotonicis ABC p | theutonicis f | teotonicis ms. e | theotomeis j
humulus B efjp | humilis AC {interference from Latin humilis}
{cuius} semẽ seu add. B
{medone} et seruicia add. e
{ponunt} hanc credo quod sit bruscandol' padue & hoppe ĩ terra scriptoris add. e {see Botanical identification}.


Lupulus is according to Aben mesue a species of volubilis {"climbing plant"}, and it has leaves similar to the leaves of a very rough vine; its flower is like little flasks {ampulle here: seed cones} clinging together, and this plant spreads in the hedges. It is called humulus by the French {Galli} and the Germans {Theotonici} who put its flower in mead.


In this entry Simon quotes from Mesue, whose works were read in medieval Europe in Latin translations. Since there are no critical editions of these works early prints must be consulted for the time being, here a print issued in Venetia 1513 with a commentary by Mondinus <Lucius>. This quote is from a liber often styled: De simplicibus, De volubili cap. xxiiii [[1]], where it says: & est alia {sc. species volubilis} habens folia aspera: sicut folia citrulli : cuius flos est sicut ampulle adherente : & vocatur lupulus. - "And there is another species that has rough leaves like the leaves of citrullus, and whose flower is like hanging little flasks {i.e. seed cones}, and it is called lupulus. Simon's version is not fully identical with that of the early print, e.g. he speaks of vitis asperrima "a very rough vine" rather than citrullus {"a kind of melon"}.

means lit. "little wolf". The word does not occur as a plant name in Antiquity, but it is generally assumed that Pliny's lupus salictarius ([Loeb] Pliny, 21, 50, 86, ed. Rackham (1938-63: VI.222) - apparently a wild-growing delicatessen - is the hop plant. The name lupulus perhaps alluding to this plant's being rough to the touch is therefore compared to a wolf's teeth. The word lupulus itself occurs much later and is possibly first mentioned in a Latin translation – if translation it is - of a certain Mesue – if the historical Mesue, يوحنا بن ماسويه Yuḥannā ibn Māsawaih was indeed the author. At any rate as shown above Simon relied on this translation.

To his quote from Mesue Simon adds that the plant is a climber or creeping plant in the hedges and that the French and the Germans call it humulus. Modern French houblon is indeed derived from a reconstructed Frankish *humilo which corresponds to a number of similar words in the Germanic languages, cf. Kluge & Götze (1951: 327), s.v. Hopfen: Old English hymele, Middle Dutch hommel, Old Norwegian humli, Old Swedish humbli. Reflexes of this word are still used in the Scandinavian languages, cf. Modern Danish humle {IPA ['homlǝ]}. But the other Germanic languages have now adopted a different word, e.g. Dutch hop and German Hopfen, English hop(s) is possibly a Dutch/Low German loan, and it is not attested before the 15th c.; Kluge & Götze ibid. state that {originally} reflexes of the hommel family denote the cultivated variety of hops while the hop/Hopfen family denotes the wild growing plant.

According to Genaust (1996: 294), s.v. Húmulus, the first attestation is of a derivative of this word is in the Polyptychon Irminonis (9th c.), an inventory of all his convent's properties ordered by the abbot Irminon, amongst which are humlonarias "hop gardens". The form humulus itself is first attested in Hildegard of Bingen's Physica (12th c.), where she speaks of Hoppho-Humulus. [[2]]

Simon's form theotonici {"Germans"} is an amalgam of theotisci and teutones, cf. Du Cange: THEOTISCI, Theodisci, Teutones, Germani, unde Theodisca lingua, or it could simply be a fanciful spelling of Teutonici.

Botanical identification:

The identification of lupulus/humulus is not disputed by most authors, it is Humulus lupulus L. "common hop" [[3]]. In his entry Simon mentions that hops are added to medo {"mead"}, which is however not usually the case. The scribe in witness e adds an interesting comment: hanc credo quod sit bruscandol' padue & hoppe ĩ terra scriptoris – "I believe this {plant} to be what is called bruscandoli in Padua and hoppe in the homeland of this scribe".

Bruscandolo, pl. bruscandoli {not listed in Battisti} is the North Italian, more precisely Ferrarese/Venetan dialect word for the young hop sprouts, which were consumed in a similar fashion to asparagus. And Padua is indeed a commune in the Venetan region. The scribe's homeland must have been Northern Germany/Holland/Flemish Belgium in modern terms because he quotes the form hoppe attested in Middle Dutch and Middle Low German and not the then contemporary High German hoppho/hophe. Furthermore he knew the hop plant and its use very well because he adds to medo {"mead"} that it is also used in seruicia {"beer"}. It appears that this scribe was probably a student of Padua University, one of the most famous universities at the time, which explains why he knew the Venetan word, but he himself originated from West-Germanic-speaking Northern Europe, an area where beer was a common alcoholic drink and wine was still an expensive import.

WilfGunther 18:40, 7 November 2014 (UTC)

See also: Volubilis

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