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Onoma Dyascorides aut nomidana aut floniti aut nomen dixerunt folia habet similia anchuse sed oblonga et molliora unius palmi habens altitudinem spansa super terram sicut ancusa sed nec astam habet nec semen nec florem, radix est illi tenera et minus fortis et rufa, nascitur locis asperis et cetera.


Dya.scorides om. f
Onoma | Onama ms. e
{Dioscorides} aut om. p
nomidana | nomida f
flonitim e | flonitĩ AC p | flõtin j | flõtĩ B | florinum f
aut nomen C | aut nomẽ A | aut (a’ f) nomi B fj | aut nom. p | naʒ e
anchuse | ancuse B
{anchuse} sil͞ia add. f
oblonga | oblunga B
molliora | moliora B f
{sicut} anchusa efp | anchusaʒ j | ancusa (ãcu- B) ABC
{ancusa} sed om. B
astam | hastam p
Semen (-mẽ C e) nec florem C ej | semen nec florẽ A p | florẽ nec semẽ B | nec semen sine f {Cappelli 355}
rufa AC ep| ruffa B fj
et cetera om. ef


Onoma has also been called nomidana or flonitis or nomen. It has leaves like anchusa {"alkanet"?}, but oblong and softer; it has the height of one palmus {about three to four inches}, it spreads over the ground like anchusa. But it does not have a stem nor seed nor flower. It has a root that is tender and less strong and reddish-brown. It grows in rough places, etc.


This excerpt is a near-verbatim quote from ultimately Dioscorides Longobardus, 3, 142, ed. Stadler (1899: III.434-5) [[1]].

The Greek original can be found in 3, 131 and 131RV, ed. Wellmann (1906-14: II.140-1) [[2]].

The plant name onoma, variants anoma, onomia is from Greek ὄνοσμα /ónosma/. The Greek name itself appears to be a compound of ὄνος /ónos/ "donkey" and ὀσμή /osmḗ/ "smell", i.e. "donkey's smell", but the motive for the name is unclear, unless there is some allusion to the plant's smell. It is quite likely that folk-etymology came to work on some foreign name.

The synonyms found in Simon and ultimately those in the Latin Dioscorides Longobardus are at times badly corrupted from their Greek originals.

nomidana, v.l. anomiada goes back to Greek ὀσμάς /osmás/, acc. ὀσμάδα /osmáda/, possibly related to ὀσμή /osmḗ/ "smell",

flonitis < φλονῖτις /phlonîtis/, acc. φλονῖτιν /phlonîtin/, the accusative form is used in Simon's text. Carnoy (1959: 215) derived this synonym from φλονίς /phlonís/, "horny scale of a reptile", thus alluding to the plants rough and hairy leaves.

nomen, in Dioscorides Longobardus noin is Greek ὄνωνις /ónōnis/ or ὀνωνίς /onōnís/, acc. ὄνωνιν /ónōnin/. The name is thought by some to be derived from ὄνος /ónos/ "donkey". Carnoy (1959: 195) derives it from ὄνος /ónos/ "donkey" + ὄνις /ónis/ "donkey's droppings", which makes it a tautological formation alluding to the fetid smell of the plant, cf. onosma above. But some doubt remains since a variant ἄνωνις /ánōnis/ occurs in Theophastus and Dioscorides. Simon's confused reading nomen, lit. meaning "name" in Latin, was most likely triggered by the plant's name onoma, which can easily be misinterpreted as Greek ὄνομα /ónoma/, meaning "name" as well.

Botanical identification:

Greek ὄνοσμα /ónosma/ is cautiously identified by a number of authors as Onosma echinoides L. [[3]], [[4]] "golden drop, stone bugloss" (LSJ), André (1956: 228); in Berendes (1902: 349) it is mentioned as Fraas's identification. O. echinoides has a distribution from the Western Mediterranean to South-East Europe.

The statement in the Greek and Latin Dioscorides, that the plant has neither stem nor seed nor flower, also mentioned by Pliny, 27, 86, 110, ed. Rackham (1938-63: VII.456), makes little sense to a botanist.

Onosma has been preserved in botanical Latin as a genus name and so has Ononis.

WilfGunther (talk) 03/01/14

See also Anconum

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