From Simon Online
Jump to: navigation, search

Tauri secundum Plinium vocantur scarabei terrestres ricino similes nomen cornicule dedere .s. cornua parva que habent alii perdiculos vel pediculos terre vocant.


scarabei ABC efp | scarabres j
terrestres | tres j
ricino ABC p | richinio ms. e | in? ucĩo? j | rino f
cornicule | corniculo f
.s. ABC ep | sʒ {= sed} f | si j
parua | parna B {typesetting error}
perdiculos AC | perdiculos uel peducul..s ms. e | perduculos l' pediculos f | pediculos uel perduculos B | perdiculos ul’ peduculos p | perduculos ul’ pediculos j
{vocant} etc. add. j


According to Pliny scarabei terrestres {lit. "earth beetles"} are called tauri {"bulls"}. They are similar to a ricinus {"tick"}. They gave them the name cornicula, i.e. 'little horns', which they actually have - but others call them perdiculos or pediculos terre {"earth lice"}.


This is a near verbatim quote from Pliny, 30, 12, 39, ed. W.H.S. Jones (1938-63: VIII.302). In this passage Pliny speaks of remedies for scrofulous sores and gout, and the invertebrates he mentions are in the habit of digging up some earth in the course of their conduct, and this earth is supposed to be helpful when applied to the afflicted parts.

Latin pediculus, the diminutive of pedis "louse", is here and in other early prints spelt with an unetymological 'r': perdiculos.

Zoological remarks:

In the Encyclopaedia Londinensis, or, Universal dictionary of arts, sciences, and literature, (1827: XXII.747), Scarabaeus tauri is described as having a "Hind-head with two reclining arched horns", but several species of the genus Scarabaeus have horn-like structures.

Three of the names that appear in Pliny's passage have survived into zoological Latin, naturally without any claim to be identical with the species named by him: Scarabaeus terrestris, and pediculus too lives on in the name of the "body louse" Pediculus humanus humanus, or Pediculus humanus corporis.

WilfGunther 22/06/2014

Next entry