Calamus aromaticus

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Calamus aromaticus defertur ab india secundum Dyascoridem dicitur arabice casab eldherire.


casab heldhererie B | casab eldheiure f | casabolˑherute e | casa belderice AC {wrong word separation; 'r' misread as 'c'} | casab eldherire scripsi (Wilf Gunther)


Calamus aromaticus {"sweet flag"} is imported from India according to Dyascorides. In Arabic it is called casab eldherire.


Simon alludes to Dyascorides alphabeticus f 23v, which is ultimately from Dioscorides Longobardus, 1, 16, ed. Mihăescu (1938: 13) De calamu aromaticu. Calamus aromaticus nascitur in India. The original Greek is in 1, 8, ed. Wellmann (1906-14: I.23-4), which opens with κάλαμος ἀρωματικὸς φύεται μὲν ἐν Ἰνδίᾳ /kálamos arōmatikòs phýetai mèn en Indía/, both meaning "the aromatic calamus grows in India".

Siggel (1950: 59): ﻗﺼﺐ ﺍﻟﺬﺭﻳﺮﺓ /qaṣab aḏ-ḏarīra/ Calamus aromaticus, Droge aus d. Rhizom v. Acorus calamus {i.e. Calamus aromaticus; "a drug made from the rhizome of Acorus calamus”}; lit. "reed of the fragrant scent".

Botanical identification:

Most authors agree that the calamus aromaticus of the medieval druggists is Acorus calamus L., "sweet flag". It seems that the plant was originally a native of India and Southern China, where it has had a long history of cultural and medicinal importance. It was known to the ancient Greeks and Romans only as a foreign rhizome, cf. Dioscorides above. However, A. calamus, which prefers a marshy and swampy habitat, took to the wet and damp soil of the new European environment and has since the 16th century become naturalized. But in Simon's days it was still an imported item.

As a man of the cloth Simon was of course well aware of the several mentions of calamus in the Vulgate and κάλαμος /kálamos/ in the Lxx, e.g. Hieremias vi, 20: ut quid mihi tus de Saba adfertis et calamum suave olentem de terra longinqua - "what is it to me the tus {'incense'} you bring from Saba and the sweet smelling calamus from a land far away".

However, some authors consider the plant of the OT, of Theophrastus and Dioscorides to be a Cymbopogon, "lemongrass" species like Cymbopogon schoenanthus Spreng., "camel grass", a native of North Africa and northwest India. Since only certain parts of the plant calamus aromaticus were then known in Europe and the Middle East one can assume that some writers were likely to confuse the plant with other fragrant grasses.

Cf. also: Miller (1969: 92-4).

See also: Kasab dherire

See also: [[1]] s.v. calamus aromaticus

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