Quianos (1)

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Quianos est vena terre et videtur secundum descriptionem Dyascoridis id quod dicitur cuperosum nascitur inquit in cipro in fabrica metallica et in speluncis littoreis, eligendum est limpidum et colorem smaragdinum habens et cetera.


id AC efp | illud B j
quod om. f
nascitur | Nam citur j
cuperosum AC | coperosuʒ ms. e | cuporosum f | cuprosum B jp
inquit om. B
metallica | metalica B
littoreis AC f | litoreis B p | litoris ms. e | licoreis j
eligendum (elli- ms. e) est ABC ejp | ē eligẽdũ f
limpidum | limpidiuʒ j
limpidum et colorem ABC e | limpidum (-ium j) colorem fjp
{colorem} et add. e | et semper add. f
habens | hʒ f (= habet}
et cetera om. ef


Quianos is a metallic vein in the earth, and it seems according to Dyascorides’ description, that it is what is called cuperosum {"copperas"}. It occurs, he says, in Cyprus in metal mines and it is also found in caves by the sea-shore. The best to choose is the one that has a clear and emerald-like colour, etc.


Simon's ultimate source for his quote is Dioscorides Longobardus, 5, 116, ed. Stadler (1902: 216) [[1]] De quiano. Simon's excerpt in the original text reads: Quianos nascitur in cypro in fabricas metallicas et in speluncis litoreis, … Eligendu colore limpido et ismaragdino – "Quianos in Cyprus comes from metal mines and it is found in beach caves. The best to choose: the one with a clear and emerald-like colour".

Greek κύανος /kýanos/ - itacist /kíanos/ - is a word loaned from some source language in Asia minor, cf. Hittite kuṷanna(n) "copper(blue), ornamental stone" (Frisk, 1960-72: II.37). It has multiple meanings in Greek, linked by the common notion of "blue". LSJ gloss: "1. dark-blue enamel, esp. used to adorn armour. 2. lapis lazuli. 3. blue copper carbonate. 4. blue corn-flower. 5. a bird, perh. blue thrush, Turdus cyanus. 6. sea-water. 7. (fem.) the colour blue".

Mineralogical identification:

Although the identification lapis lazuli is often suggested for κύανος /kýanos/, it cannot be the case here since it is clearly stated, that the substance in question is mined in Cyprus, and lapis lazuli does not occur on the island. In contrast, from the early Bronze Age onward, Cyprus has had a long history of copper ore mining. Copper is rarely found pure in nature, so-called "native copper", but it combines, usually oxidized, with other elements, preferably sulphur, to form copper ores, many of which are of a bluish colour. These ores proved to be extremely desirable, when, after the early smelters had learned the process of extracting pure copper from sulphide ores, they detected that with impurities copper proved harder and therefore more valuable.

Simon himself thinks Dioscorides is writing about cuperosum, i.e. "copperas, iron sulphate or green vitriol", a medieval Latin word with many variant forms, cf. LATHAM: cuprosa, cuperosum, cuporosum, cuperosa, coperosa, coperosium, coprosa. Copperas [[2]], [[3]] is of a blue-green colour, which would perhaps fit in better with Dioscorides' colour adjective smaragdine. But it must be said that the wording: limpidum et colorem smaragdinum - "a clear and emerald-like colour" was a somewhat free Longobardic translation of the original Greek σφόδρα κατακορής /sphódra katakorḗs/ "exceedingly deep/intense in colour", and since κύανος /kýanos/ refers to things blue, this must have been the colour Dioscorides had in mind; cf. 5, 91, ed. Wellmann (1906-14: III.64) [[4]].

WilfGunther (talk) 19/01/2014

See also: Cianum

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