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Kiparissos grece cipressus.


Kiparissos AC e | Kipariasos B | Kyparissos f


Kiparissos is Greek for Latin cipressus {"cypress"}.


Greek κυπάρισσος /kypárissos/ is i.a. "the cypress tree". Latin cupressus is either an old loan from Greek via Etruscan or it stems together with Greek and other languages from a common old Mediterranean source language, cf. also Hebrew גפר /gōper/ "resinous tree".

Latin cupressus had a collateral hybrid form in late Latin: cypressus, obviously influenced by the Greek word, which is used e.g. in the Vulgate, Sir. 24,17: Quasi cedrus exaltata sum in Libano || et quasi cypressus in monte Sion - "I am like the tall cedrus {'cedar'} in Lebanon, and like the cypressus on Mount Sion".

This late form cypressus was to become the source word for most Romance languages, cf. Ptg. cipreste, Sp. ciprés, Cat. xiprer IPA [ʃiˈpre], Fr. cyprès, It. cipresso. Cypressus is also the form Simon is using, with the medieval pronunciation of the letter 'y' as /i/ {as in "ease"}, cipressus.

There is also a rare collateral form directly taken from Greek with only the ending Latinized: cyparissus, which Isidore of Seville in his Etymologiae, book XVII, chapter vii, § 34 clearly marks as Greek: Cyparissus graece dicitur... - "cyparissus is the Greek name for it..." but later on in the passage he uses cypressus when he says: Antiqui cypressi ramos prope rogum constituere solebant, ut odorem cadaverum, dum urerentur, opprimerent iucunditate odoris sui – "People in antiquity used to pile up cupressus branches, so that they conceal through the pleasantness of the cypress scent the smell of the corpses that were being burnt".

Simon mentions ciparissus as an extra entry: Ciparissus.

Botanical identification:

Although the Greek plant name κυπάρισσος /kypárissos/ and Latin cu-/cy-/cipressus can denote several different plants Simon's equating of cipressus with Arabic Saro, which is less ambiguous, points to Cupressus sempervirens L. [[1]], [[2]], the "Mediterranean cypress tree" as the most likely plant Simon had in mind. Its native habitat is the Eastern Mediterranean, but it has been cultivated extensively elsewhere. Other cypress species in the wider Mediterranean region like Cupressus atlantica Gaussen [[3]], the "Moroccan cypress", and Cupressus dupreziana A. Camus [[4]], the "Saharan cypress", are far too restricted in their habitats to be likely candidates.

Wilf Gunther 12/03/2014

See also: Ciparissus, Saro, Serne

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