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Xifion Dyascorides xifion sive ut alii fagasmon sive ut latini gladiolus segetalis folia habet iridi similia sed minora et angustiora et acuta sicut macheria et astam asperam et cubitalem cum floribus purpureis radices sunt illi due parvule et rotunde, una super alteram posita sicut bulbi minoris inferior vero subtus tenuis est et superior grossior frigidior acrioris virtutis nascitur locis cultis.


frigidior acrioris virtutis is not in Dioscorides Longobardus nor in the Greek original text.}

Xifion Dya. AC | Xifiõ dia. B | Xifiũ dyas e

fagasmon | fasganon Diosc. Longob | φασγάνιον /phasgánion/ Dioscorides Graece

segetalis ABC | segetalix e

& angustiora & acuta AC | sed minora & ãgustiora & acuta B | sed mĩora et angustiora e

sicut macheria et astam om. e

cum (cũ e) floribus C e | cũ floribus A | cũ foliis B

sunt illi AB e | sunt ille C

super alteram (-erã C) AC | super alteraʒ e | super aliã B

subtus AB | subtus C | suptus e

est (ē A) & superior AC | ē & superior B | est superior e

grossior AB e | crossior C

frīdior A | frior C | superior B | om. e


Xifion. Dyascorides says: xifion or as some say fasganon or as in Latin gladiolus segetalis has leaves similar to iris, but smaller and narrower and pointed like a sword, and it has a rough stalk a cubit long with purple flowers. It has two very small and round roots, arranged one above the other like small onions; but the lower one underneath is thin, and the upper one is very thick, {colder and of a very pungent nature – not part of the Dioscoridean text}. It grows in cultivated places.


ξίφιον /xíphion/ or ξιφíον /xiphίon/, is the diminutive of ξίφος /xíphos/ "sword", i.e. "little sword". It is glossed by LSJ "corn-flag, Gladiolus segetum". The word was adopted into Latin as xiphion.

φασγάνιον /phasgánion/ diminutive of φάσγανον /phásganon/ "a cutting instrument, a sword". The name was transferred onto a plant with sword-like leaves. This synonym is also mentioned in Pliny and in the Herbarius of Ps.Apuleius.

Simon's form is probably the result of the following changes: fasganion {misheard as} > fagasnion {'ni' misread as 'm'} > fagasmon

μάχαιρα /máchaira/, adopted into Latin as machaera means "large knife or dirk; carving knife; sacrificial knife; as a weapon: short sword, dagger". In Simon's form the relatively rare Greek ending –(a)era was replaced by the more common –eria.

segetalis is the adjectival form to seges "the standing, growing corn, crop", gladiolus segetalis meaning "a plant/weed that grows among the corn". This synonym is already suggested in the Greek Dioscorides, 4, 20, ed. Wellmann (1906-14: II.184-5): RV: Ῥωμαῖοι γλαδιώλουμ, οἱ δὲ σεγετάλεμ /Rhōmaîoi gladiṓloum, hoi dè segetálem/ "the Romans say gladiolum, and some say segetalis"; and in the otherwise lost Dioscorides translation, excerpts of which occur sporadically as interpolations in the text of the Herbarius Ps. Apulei, cf. 79, ed. Howald (1927: 142-3). Herba Gladiolum, (1927: 143), where the same is said: Latini gladiolum, segetalem.

Simon's entry is an excerpt from Dioscorides alphabeticus, Codex Bodmer 58, f 77r, which is ultimately from Dioscorides Longobardus, 4, 20, ed. Stadler (1901: 17-8). De xifion. For the Greek original see the previous comment on segetalis.

See also: Gladiolus, Fagasmon

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