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Vichelos velut vichilos .g. tussis. nos transferentes vita in .b. nostrum dicimus bichelos. vichi tussis velut bichi βηχη unde bichichias pillulas et quascunque medicinas ad tussim dicimus. vix etiam βηξ dicunt.


Vichelos A | Victelos B ek | Viththeles f | Vichthelos np | Vichchelos j

velut A fjnp | vel BC ek

vichilos AC | victilos B e | viththeles f | vichthilos np | bichtilos k | michthilos j

nos transferentes ABC efjkp | meam ferentes n

vita A ejknp | iota B | vica f

in ABC efjkp | in nostrum n

dicimus ABC ejknp | om. f

bichelos A | bictilos B | barchtelos e | viethelos f | bichtelos p | bichtelos βιχτελος k | bichthelos j | bictelos n

vichi tussis velut A f | vichtusit B | vichi tussis vel e | vichi tussis βηχ (one or two illegible characters) velut p | vichi tussis βηχι vel k | j rephrases vichi velut bichi .i. tussis p | vichitus sit βηχη n

bichi ABC efjkp | bicu n

quascunque AC | quascumque B f | quascũque ejknp

vix ABC fjknp | vix 28 (illegible abbreviations) e

etiam ABC ej | eciam f | etiam βηξ p | eticam βηξ k | etiam βηξ n

dicunt ABC efjnp | om. k

B starts a new lemma with vichtusit.

j starts new lemmata with vichi and vix.


Vichelos or vichilos is Greek for cough. We transfer the vita {i.e. β} into our 'b' and say bichelos. vichi means cough, or bichi, βηχη, hence we also call cough pills and some medication for cough bichichias. They also say vix, βηξ.


At first sight, this entry looks somewhat confusing and corrupt. But it will quickly become apparent, that these very mistakes and inaccuracies allow us to illustrate the transmission of the Clavis. The key is here that some manuscripts, k, n and p, contain Greek words within the main Latin text. One of these words, βιχτελος /bikhtelos/, is transmitted in only one of these witnesses, and it also contains an incorrect reading that appears to be caused by the Latin tradition rather than the Greek: it is not uncommon for Latin speaking scribes to double consonants in the process of copying, and here a ch became chch. Latin 'c' in turn looks very similar indeed to Latin 't'. Therefore, the readings containing chch or chth are most likely Latin mistakes, which suggests that the Greek word βιχτελος /bikhtelos/ was added by a scribe later on, and is not a genuine Greek word.

The other two Greek words are transmitted in all three manuscripts. The former, βηχη /bēkhē/ or βηχι /bēkhi/, is the Greek equivalent of the preceding Latin transliteration (η was pronounced /ē/ in Classical times and /i/ in the Middle Ages). The latter, βηξ /bēks/, is the basis of the Latin transliteration vix (β was pronounced /b/ in Classical times and /v/ in the Middle Ages) and it seems somewhat out of place in the syntax. However, this could have been caused by its position in the text. The last words of an entry are always in danger of being mixed up, as they may be written in blank space above or below the line. With Latin text, this would be easy to recognize, but not necessarily with Greek text, as the scribe may not have been able to understand it.

When looking at the Clavis in its entirety, these three manuscripts transmit a substantial amount of words written in Greek characters (p also transmits Arabic text). Sometimes, we can see lacunae or fenestrae, i.e. gaps, in the text of several other manuscripts, too, which can only be explained by some foreign alphabet text that dropped out, see for instance Cameleon (1). Moreover, Simon himself states, that he included both Greek and Arabic material, but that he was rather pessimistic as to whether these would be copied correctly, see Preface § 6. These facts support the assumption that Greek or Arabic words could be genuine, but as this entry shows, one also has to remain cautious, as some of these could be later scribal additions, or adaptations, such as it is the case with βηχη and βηχι.

These observations on the history of the text lead us to another important point, the Greek idiom that is being described here. The Classical Greek word for cough is βὴξ /bēks/, with the genitive being βηχὸς /bekhos/. It also frequently occurs in the plural. This word is described in the final sentence of this entry. The other words described here are not attested in this form, but we can easily reconstruct their origins.

Vichelos or vichilos are as such not attested, and seem to be distorted versions of a word similar to βηξιμὸν /bēksimon/, a term for cough that is attested in Kyriakides. Majuscule M and Λ are easily confused, as half an Μ looks like an Λ. The same mistake can easily happen in minuscule as well, as a λ and μ look very similar in this script. Therefore, it is likely that Simon quotes a misspelled form of a hypothetical *βηχιμόν /bēkhimon/ or of βηξιμὸν /bēksimon/ itself, with an added confusion of the Greek letter /chi/, which looks like a Latin 'x'.

The variants that are discussed in the entry differ mainly in that they are either spelled with 'b' or 'v', which would reflect the Classical pronunciation, or 'v', how the letter β would have been pronounced in the Middle Ages. Some of these words appear to be the product of a Latin tradition of Greek loan words, e.g. bichelos.

Of particular interest is, however, the word bichi, which some manuscripts transcribe as βηχη /bēkhē/ or βηχι /bēkhi/. This word does not exist in Greek as a noun. It is, however, attested as a verb, βηχῇ /bēkhē/, which occurs in sentences such as ὅταν βηχῇ /hotan bēkhē/, "when he coughs". A subordinate clause like this could form the beginning of a chapter in a medical text, and it could even form a title. Perhaps bichi is a transliteration of this word, which was then quoted out of context.

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