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Celsa mora celsi.


Celsa ABC | Celsa .i. ms. e | Celsa sunt f


Latin celsa {"mulberry"} is synonymous with mora celsi {id.).


Of the two most common mulberry species, Morus alba L. {"white mulberry tree"} [[1]], [[2]] and Morus nigra L. {"black mulberry tree"} [[3]], [[4]], only the latter seems to have been known in antiquity. Although silk clothes were popular, there are no clear references to the white mulberry, on whose leaves the silk worm feeds. It is generally thought that the white mulberry was only introduced for silk production in Italy beginning between the 9th and the 11th cc. A.D.

In antiquity the Latin tree-name morus could stand for two very different trees, Morus nigra {"black mulberry tree"} and Ficus sycomorus L. [[5]], [[6]], "the sycamore fig" or the "fig-mulberry", because its leaves are similar to those of the true Mulberry.

Further confusion was caused by the fruit of the true mulberry, called morum, later mora (fem.sg.) in Latin, whose shape is similar in appearance to the blackberry, Rubus fruticosus agg. [[7]], [[8]], as well as the raspberry Rubus idaeus L. [[9]], [[10]], and in fact these fruits were commonly confused in the writings of ancient authors. In order to distinguish the "true" mulberry, i.e. the fruit of Morus nigra, a late Latin synonym of the mulberry: celsum or celsa was added in the genitive case: morum celsi, mora celsi, also mora celse (Ysaac Iudaeus ap. Rufin. p. 196, § 32). However it must be said that confusion still persisted, as witnessed by Isidore, Etymologiae, 17, 7, 19-20.

Celsum is mentioned by the 5th c. author/translator Caelius Aurelianus, chron. 4, 126. Speaking of worm cures he writes: faciunt praeterea mora cibi data, quae vulgo celsa Latini vocaverunt, Graeci vero sycamina "Moreover mora {"mulberries"}, called celsa by ordinary Latin speakers and sycamina by the Greeks, can help when given with food".

Due to a late Latin tendency to make the gender of edible fruits grammatically feminine, a sg. form celsa; developed early on as e.g. shown in Dioscorides Longobardus, 1, 138, ed. Mihăescu (1938: 68f), De sicamina. id est celsa. Celsa, quam multi sicaminum dicunt, arbor est omnibus nota - "On the sicamina {i.e. the Greek word for "mulberry"}, i.e. celsa: Celsa, which many people call sicaminum, is a tree known to everyone".

See also: Sicamina, Sicaminon (1), Tut

WilfGunther 28/102013

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