Periclimenos

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Periclimenos grece Dyascorides sive splenion sive ut latini splenaria vel lienalis frutex est simplex in circuitu folia habens alba similia edere: et circa ipsa folia virge sunt tenues in quibus semen est edere simile quod semen foliis adheret durum: et cum vi levatur radix est illi grossa, nascitur locis cultis et in ortis et inter rosas atque interclusis locis et coheret sibi vicinis fruticibus et circumvolvitur et cetera est matrisilva quam quidam caprifolium vocant.


Apparatus:

Periclimenos AC e | Peridimenos B {'cl' misread as 'd'}

splenion A e | spleniõ C | splemõ B {'ni' misread as 'm'}

splenaria AB | splẽaria C | implenaria e

frutex A e | fructex BC {contamination with fructus}

edere AC e | eddre B

& (et e) circa AC e | et cetera B

semen est edere C | semẽ (semen B) ē edere AB | est semẽ edere e

foliis adheret (adherʒ C) AC e | folia aderet B

radix AC e | radis B

grossa AB e | crossa C

interclusis AC | interclusis e | introclusis B

fructicibus AC | fructibus uel fructicibus B | fructibus e {contamination with fructus}


Translation:

Greek Periclimenos is also called according to Dyascorides splenion or as Latin speakers say splenaria or lienaris. It is a simple, bushy plant, that has light-coloured leaves surrounding it, leaves similar to hedera {"ivy"} and around these leaves there are thin branches, on which there is fruit similar to that of hedera; and this fruit adheres to the leaves; it is hard and can be lifted {only} with force. It has a thick root. It grows in cultivated places and in gardens and among roses and in intervening spaces and attaches itself to neighbouring bushes and twines itself around, etc. It is the matrisilva, which some people also call caprifolium.


Commentary:

Simon's entry is a near-verbatim quote from ultimately Dioscorides Longobardus, 4, 14, ed. Stadler (1901: 15) De periclimenon. The translation follows the Greek original more closely than many other chapters; cf. 4, 14, ed. Wellmann (1906-14: 179-80) περικλύμενον /periklýmenon/.

Greek περικλύμενον /periklýmenon/ - on the face of it - means "well-known, much heard of", although the motive for this name is unclear, and its etymology is disputed. The word was adopted into Latin as periclymenos or periclymenus.

The synonym splenion is Greek σπλήνιον /splḗnion/, obviously derived from σπλήν /splḗn/ "spleen", the Ancient Greek name for a number of plants, that were perceived to be medicinally useful for afflictions of the spleen. This indication is mentioned by Dioscorides, cf. Longobardus: Semen ejus collectu et in umbra siccatu cum vino bibitu diebus .xl. splenem siccat – "Its fruit collected and dried in the shade and drunk down with wine for 40 days 'dries' the spleen". The Longobardic translator chose: splenem siccat, (lit.) "dries the spleen" as a translation of Greek, op.cit., σπλῆνα ἐκτήκει /splêna ektḗkei/ - (lit.) "melts, i.e. reduces or softens, the spleen".

The next two synonyms do not appear in the original Greek text and must have been added by Simon, but the naming motive is still that of "herb good for the spleen",

splenaria {sc. herba} < Latin splen < σπλήν /splḗn/ and lienalis {sc. herba} < lien Latin for "spleen".

At the end of the excerpt Simon adds two further synonyms: matrisilva q.v. and caprifolium q.v.


Botanical identification:

Most authors identify περικλύμενον /periklýmenon/ as either of two species of honeysuckle, although the Dioscordean description does not fit any in every detail. The plant is described as being a frutex simplex, Greek θαμνίσκος ἁπλοῦς /thamnískos haploûs/, i.e. a "simple or plain shrub", which does not seem to be the description of a climber.

The most common identifications are:

1) the "common" or "European honeysuckle", also "woodbine" Lonicera periclymenum L. (André, 1956: 243; Hunt, 1989: 201), a native of much of Europe. Its leaves are however oval to oblong, i.e. not very similar to ivy, and of a dark-green colour above and glaucous underneath, the latter notion might not be covered by the Greek term ὑπόλευκα /hypóleuka/ "whitish” and less so by Latin alba.

2) Lonicera etrusca Santi "Etruscan honeysuckle”, (e.g. Beck, 2005: 257), a native to Europe, the Mediterranean and North Africa. This species has the uppermost leaf pairs fused by their bases and encircling the stem, which fits in well with Simon's description, although other honeysuckle species show similar leaf patterns, cf. L. caprifolium L., L. implexa Aiton. However, its lower leaves are obovate, i.e. egg-shaped with the narrower end at the base, and not shaped like ivy leaves, and they are of a dark-green colour. But 1) and 2) have yellowish-white flowers.


See also: Caprifolium, Matrisilva, Ligustrum, Splenion (2), Lienalis


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