Pinus arbor

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Pinus arbor ab acumine foliorum dicta pinum enim antiqui acutum dicebant, greci aliam pitim aliam peucem vocant quam nos piceam dicimus eo quod desudet picem Ysidorus.


Pinus | Pinns B {printing error}
dicta | uocata Isidore
pinum | pini ms. e | pinum, vv.ll.: pinnum, penum, pennum Isidorus
enim antiqui | a. e. B
acutum | actutuʒ ms. e
pitim A | pitĩ C efp | pitimi j | pinus B | πίτυν /pítyn/, in codd. pitin Isidorus
peucem (-cẽ B ejp) ABC ejp | pencẽ f | πεύκην /peúkēn/ Isidorus
vocant om. f
quam | quas f
piceam | pictum f
desudet AC efjp Isidorus | defũdet B
{picem} etcetera add. j


The pinus tree {"pine-tree"} is named after the pointedness of its leaves/ needles, because our forefathers used to call something that was pointed: pinum. The Greeks call one kind pitis and another peuce, which we call picea because it exudes pitch {cf. Latin: pix, picis "pitch"}, says Isidore.


This passage is taken from Isidore of Seville’s Etymologiae, 17, 7, 31, Oxford edition (1911) [[1]].

is Greek πίτυς /pítys/, itacist: /pítis/ denoting certain pine species, see below. Simon's pitim imitates the Greek accusative πίτυν /pítyn/, itacist /pítin/.

is Greek πεύκη /peúkē/ {“(Corsican) pine”}; Simon’s form peucem imitates the Greek accusative πεύκην' /peúkēn/; see Peucis.

is derived from Latin pix {“pitch”}. It is the name for a pine species from which pitch was produced; see below.

pinum = acutum:
For this word Isidore has pinnum, v.l. penum, XI,i,46 [[2]]. However Isidore’s etymology that pinus comes from an ancient word *pinnus meaning “pointed” is an invention he sourced from Quintilian, the Roman grammarian and orator, who in his Institutiones rhetoricae or Institutio oratorica (“Institutes of Oratory”) speaks of the etymological skills he wants to see installed in a student: I,4,12: … [[3]]: … puer … nec miretur cur ex 'scamno' fiat 'scabillum' aut a 'pinno', quod est acutum, securis utrimque habens aciem. 'bipennis', - “… a pupil … should not be astonished that scabillum {‘footstool’} is derived from scamnum {‘bench, stool’} nor should he be astonished that bipennis , a double-edged axe, comes from pinnus, which means ‘pointed’.”

Botanical identification:

Isidore mentions several names of different pines, many of which are not clearly identifiable and were also often confused with each other even in ancient times.

Pinus is sometimes identified with Pinus sylvestris L., the "Scots pine" [[4]], cf. Lewis & Short (1879). The tree is a native of Europe and Asia, ranging from Portugal in the west to Siberia in the east and south to the Caucasus Mountains and north well inside the Arctic Circle. In southern countries it is a rare tree growing only in high altitude mountain regions at 1,200–2,600 m altitude. It was probably not the tree Isidore had in mind.
More likely is Pinus pinea L., the "stone pine" [[5]], which is a native of the Mediterranean, Southern Europe, North Africa and the Levant. Stone pines have been cultivated for their edible pine nuts since prehistoric times.

Greek πίτυς /pítys/ can stand for a number of pine species, cf. LSJ: Pinus Laricio Poir., synonym Pinus nigra J.F.Arnold, the "Corsican pine" [[6]]; Pinus halepensis Miller, the "Aleppo pine" [[7]]; Pinus pinea L., the "stone pine" {see above}, and Pinus brutia Tenore the "small-seeded pine" [[8]]. All these pines have – at least a partial – Mediterranean distribution.

Greek πευκή /peukḗ/ is often identified with Pinus Laricio Poir. the "Corsican pine" {See above}. N.B. this tree is sometimes classed as a variety of a subspecies of Pinus nigra subsp. salzmannii var. corsicana. Its distribution is the western Mediterranean. It abounds in Corsica, as the name suggests, but is also found in Spain, southern France, and Greece.

Finally Isidore mentions picea, often identified as Picea excelsa Link., syn. Picea abies (L.) H. Karst. "Norway spruce" [[9]]. Originally it had a mainly northern and eastern European distribution. In southern countries it only occurs naturally in high mountain regions (Pyrenees, Alps, Northern Greece).

Greek πευκή /peukḗ/ has survived into botanical Latin as a species epitheton in Pinus peuce Griseb., the "Macedonian pine".

WilfGunther 08/01/2014

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