From Simon Online
Jump to: navigation, search

Nictegrecon Plinius a parthis chenantis vocatur quoniam anseres a primo aspectu eius expavescunt ab aliis nictalopa quoniam e longinquo noctibus fulgeat coloris higini folio ut spina nec a terra se extollit.


Nictegrecon (-grecon jp; -grecõ A) ABC jp | Nictericon f | Nitegrecon ms. e | Nyctegreton Pliny
partis | parthis AC
chenãtis AC | gerammichis B | geramicis f | gemmichis ms. e | g’amitis p | ge͠inucl’is j | chenamychen {= accusative} Pliny
vocatur | vocat f
anseres | anseret j
a primo AC ep | a po fj | proprio B
expauescunt | expavescant j |
nictalopa efp | nyctalopa Pliny | metalopa ABC {'nic' misread as 'me' due to confusion with 'meta-'} | metalopa or nictalopa? j
e lõgĩquo A | ex longinquo f | lũgĩquo B | e longĩgo C | elongiqoms. e
noctibus | noctili f | nocubus j
fulgeat | fulgeas j
coloris | colore AC
folio | folia AC | filio j
higinis eip | hignis (higĩis B) B f | higini AC | hysgini Pliny
ut | et B
attolit f | attollit p | atolit B |atollit j | extollit AC | tollit ms. e
et cetera add. Bp


Nictegrecon, says Pliny, is called by the Parthians chenantis {"goose scratcher"}, because at first sight of it the geese develop great fear. This plant is also called by some nictalopa {lit. "night-blindness"} because it glares from far away in the night.
It is of a dark-red colour, has leaves like a thorn, and it does not raise itself off the ground.


Simon's entry is a quote from Pliny, 21, 36, 62, ed. W.H.S. Jones (1938-63: VI.204-6), somewhat more corrupted than usual. Especially the Greek names and synonyms have in the course of transmission suffered considerably.

The plant names mentioned in this excerpt are only attested in Pliny.

in Pliny: Nyctegreton. Simon's form shows the change from υ > ι {/y/ > /i/} and 't' was misread as 'c' in all witnesses.
The Greek word: νυκτήγρετον /nyktḗgreton/ is a compound of νυκτ- /nykt-/ {"night"} and a derivative of ἐγείρω /egeírō/ "to wake, arouse" > "night watcher", because the plant is said to be luminous at nighttime (LSJ).

said to be a Parthian name, represents Pliny's chenamychen {accusative}. The Greek original is χηναμύχη /khēnamýkhē/, a compound of χήν /khḗn/ {"goose"} + ἀμυχή /amykḗ/ {"scratch, skin wound"} i.e. lit. "goose scratcher, wounder" because of the fear it supposedly causes in geese.

is the accusative of nyctalops from Greek νυκτάλωψ /nyktálōps/, which is a compound of νυκτ- /nykt-/ {"night"} + -αλ-{αóς} /-al-{aós}/ {"blind"} + ὤψ /ṓps/ {"eye, face, countenance"}, resulting in a variety of meanings like "day-blindness" and "night-blindness", here presumably saying as André (1985: 173) puts it: "qui ne voit que la nuit" {i.e. "which only sees the night"}, or some such meaning.

Botanical identification:

It is not possible to identify this plant.
Some attempts have been made, e.g. Sprengel (1807: 203) [[1]] thought of Caesalpinia pulcherrima L., without however giving any reason for his identification. This is at any rate a most unlikely identification since the plant is native to the tropics and subtropics of the Americas.

WilfGunther 30/12/2013

Next entry