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Feniculus dicitur grece maratrum Plinius feniculum nobilitavere serpentes gustatu senectam exuendo oculorumque aciem suco eius reficiendo et cetera, est in hoc genere silvestre quod alii ypomaratron alii miseneum vocant foliis maioribus gustu acriore procerius brachiali grossitudine digiti radice candida, nascitur in calidis et saxosis et cetera. Stephanus maratron rasienegum pro razienigi scripsit, sic enim arabice dicunt.


maratrum AC | maratron B efjp | maracron p {'t' misread as 'c'}
feniculum | fenicclulũ B
gustatu | gustu p
senectam | sonc͡tã f {'e' misread as 'o'}
exuendo ABC ep Pliny | exeundo j | exeunde? f
aciem ABC p | accien ms. e | actiẽ f | atiem j
suco | succo B | succu f
est in hoc AC | Et est in hoc e | et infra in B | est et in hoc f | Et infra et in hoc jp
genere om. B
siluestre | {empty space} om. e
ypomaratron | ypomaratrum B | hippomarathum Pliny
miseneum (-eũ A j) AC j | miseneũ alibi mirseneũ B p | misceneuӡ alibi miseneũ e | misenerieum alibi mirseneum f | myrsineum Pliny
maioribus | minoribus jp
acriore | acrriore ms. e {copying error}
brachiali B efjp | barchiali AC | baculi Pliny
digiti | digii: {?} f
grossitudine AC fj | cossitudĩe p | crassitudine B e Pliny
candida | candidi ms. e
nascitur | naseitur B {typesetting error}
saxosis ABC ep | saxosis locis j | locis saxosis f
etcetera | & cetetera B | om. e
rasienegũ (-guʒ p) ABC ejp | et asienegũ f
razienigi AC | razienegi B p | rasiengi ms. e | razieingi f | raçi erug’ (witten: proraçi erug’) j
sic | sicut jp
arabice | arabes B | a' f
mss. jp add the text of the next entry Feniculus agrestis seamlessly on to the end of this entry.


Feniculus {"fennel"} is called in Greek maratrum. Pliny says: the serpents made feniculus famous; through tasting it they shed their old skin, and by drinking the herb's juice they reinvigorate their eye-sight, etc.

There is also a kind of wild version, which some people call ypomaratron others miseneum, with bigger leaves and a sharper taste. It is taller, the thickness of a finger {Pliny says "of a walking-stick"}, with a white root; it grows in hot and stony places.

Stephanus writes rasienegum for razienigi, this is what the Arabs call it.


Simon quotes from two chapters from Pliny, 20, 95, 254-5, ed. W.S.J. Jones (1938-63: VI.148-50).

in classical Latin faeniculum, foeniculum or feniculum, in Medieval Latin also masculine: feniculus. The literal translation of the word is "little hay".

or hippomarathon, literally "horse-fennel", is a name that occurs already in Theophrastus. In the Greek Dioscorides, cf. 3, 71, ed. Wellmann, (1906-14: II.82), two different plants with the name ἱππομάραθρον /hippomárathron/ are mentioned [[1]].

In Dioscorides Longobardus the two different plants are given their own separate chapters, 3, 76, ed. Stadler (1899: 409), De ippomaratru {"On horse-fennel"}, and 3, 77, ed. Stadler (1899: 409) De alio yppomaratru {"On the other horse-fennel"} [[2]].

The RV version of the Greek Dioscorides, Wellmann ibid., offers some interesting Roman names for the plant in Greek transliteration: φενούκλουμ ἠρράτικουμ /phenoúkloum ērrátikoum/, i.e fenuclum erraticum "{lit. what springs up here and there, i.e.} wild fennel" and φενούκλους ἐκουίνους /phenoúklous ekouínous/ i.e. fenuclus equinus "horse fennel".

a synonym only mentioned in Pliny. It is obviously derived from Greek μυρσίνη /myrsínē/ {"myrtle"} and is an unattested Greek derivation *μυρσίνειον /myrsíneion/, "myrtle-like".

Stephanus in his Breviarium writes maratron … rasianegũ [[3]].

As for the Arabic name, cf. Siggel (1950: 37): ﺭﺍﺯﻳﺎﻧﺞ /rāziyānağ/ Foeniculum vulgare (Umb.), Fenchel {i.e. "fennel"}. This plant name is a Persian loan; see Steingass (1892: 562). See also Rasenigi.

Botanical identification:

"Fennel", Foeniculum vulgare Mill. [[4]], is originally a native of the Mediterranean, but as a culinary and medicinal herb it was soon introduced to Northern Europe.

The botanical identity of hippomarathum is disputed. LSJ gloss it as Prangos ferulacea (L.) Lindl., syn. Cachrys ferulacea (L.) Calest. [[5]], [[6]], [[7]], with a distribution in mountainous terrains from the Balkans to Azerbaijan. For a discussion of previous attempts at identifying the plants, see Berendes (1902: 309).

The word has survived into botanical Latin as a species epitheton in Seseli hippomarathrum Jacq. "horse fennel".

It is hard to see the motivation for the name myrsineum; as André (1985: 167), q.v. asks: is it the scent? This is perhaps the only thing Prangos ferulacea (L.) and Myrtis communis L. "myrtle" [[8]] have in common.

WilfGunther 15/11/2013

See also: Maratrum, Ippomaratro, Rasenigi, Marathron

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