Iovis barba

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Iovis barba a Macro vocatur semperviva minor.


etc. add. j


Iovis barba is the name Macer Floridus gives to semperviva minor.

Commentary and botanical identification:

Simon refers to certain verses in Macer Floridus, 18, 711ff, ed. Choulant (1832: 57), ACIDULA {"sorrel"}, [[1]], a plant which he equates with Greek aizon. This is quite unusual since acidula is commonly identified with Rumex acetosa L., "sorrel" [[2]], and is not normally seen to correspond to Greek aizon, i.e. αείζωον /aeízōon/, which refers to plants of the genus Sempervivum [[3]]. Needless to say the genera Rumex [[4]] and Sempervivium are botanically unrelated.

Macer says in verses
739: Altera vero minor species est istius herbae,
740: Quam Sempervivam dicunt, quoniam viret omni
741: Tempore, Barba Iovis vulgari more vocatur; ...
"There is another lesser kind of the herb sorrel, // they call it Semperviva because it greens at all // time; in popular parlance it is called Barba Iovis {i.e. 'Jupiter’s beard'}."

To make matters worse, the first time Barba Iovis is mentioned in the literature is in Pliny, 16, 76, ed. Rackham (1938-63: IV.436-8), where he speaks of a different plant again - yet another plant totally unrelated to both the above. Describing water-hating plants, Pliny characterizes it as:
odit et quae appellatur Iovis barba, in opere topiario tonsilis et in rotunditatem spissa, argenteo folio - "And it hates {sc. water} too, the plant called Iovis barba is used in topiary and is clipped into a fat roundish shape, and it has silvery leaves".
This Iovis barba is generally identified as Anthyllis barba-jovis L. [[5]], [[6]], often actually called "Jupiter's beard", a plant of the Mediterranean coastal areas.

The name "Jupiter's beard" is often explained as referring to the Roman god of thunder and lightning, Jupiter, because the plant - when equated with Sempervivum tectorum L. -, the "house-leek" [[7]], is believed to protect against lightning strike, or because the leaf rosette resembles the god's beard in sculptures.

WilfGunther (talk) 01/12/2013

See also: Ayzon, Haiaelem, Semperviva

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