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Potamogiton Dyascorides folia habet bete similia in media aqua supernatans videtur et cetera.


Whole entry missing in f
Potamogiton ejp | Potamagiton vel potamigon B | Potamogioton (-tõ A) AC
bete AC jp | blete B e {see Commentary}
aqua | qua C
et cetera om. ej


Potamogiton {?"pondweed"} has leaves similar to beta {"beet"}, and it appears to swim above the surface in the middle of the water.


Simon's entry is a near verbatim quote ultimately from Dioscorides Longobardus, 4, 96, ed. Stadler (1901: 51) De potamogiton [[1]].
The original Greek text can be found in 4, 100, ed. Wellmann (1906-14: II.256). ποταμογείτων /potamogeítōn/ [[2]].

Greek ποταμογείτων /potamogeítōn/ is a compound noun consisting of the nouns ποταμός /potamós/ "river" + γείτων /geítōn/ "neighbour, borderer", i.e. "neighbour to a river". In later Greek the diphthong ει /ei/ was pronounced /i/ and ω /ō/ was pronounced like /o/ resulting in /potamogíton/. The word was adopted into Latin as potamogeton or potamogiton.

Witnesses B and e have bleta, a collateral form of beta {"beet", Beta vulgaris L. [[3]] }, which shows contamination with blitum "orache", a kitchen leaf vegetable, which was used in a similar way to the leaves of the leafy varieties of B. vulgaris. Bleta rather than beta became the source word for some Romance languages, cf. Catalan bleda {IPA ['blɛðə]}

Botanical identification:

As for the botanical identification, André (1956: 259-60) mentions several possible water plants:

First Ottelia alismoides Pers "duck-lettuce", also accepted by Beck (2005: 290). This plant, which occurs wild from tropical Asia to Australia, is suspected to have been introduced as a weed with rice. In antiquity rice was not planted in Greece and Roman Europe but imported from India and the Middle East. O. alismoides is therefore a less likely candidate.

Second: Potamogiton {sic!} natans L. "broad-leaved pondweed" [[4]], the identification is also suggested by Berendes (1902: 424); also LSJ.

Third: A possible further species of Potamogeton. Cf. the Greek Dioscorides, op.cit., RV version, which mentions ποταμογείτων ἔτερος /potamogeítōn héteros/ "a further potamogeiton", which Berendes, op. cit., identifies as Potamogeton zosteraefolium Schumch.

Fourth: Hippuris vulgaris L. "common mare's tail" [[5]]. This plant can be excluded because of the shape of its leaves, long and thin translucent whorls, whereas the leaves of wild Beta vulgaris are heart-shaped. However see Pliny's additional paragraph in Mogiton.

WilfGunther 12/05/2014

See also Mogiton

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