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Stafisagria grece sonat uva agrestis, unde exponitur apud Serapionem passule montane, Dyascorides stafisagria quam latini pediculariam vocant, nascitur umbrosis locis, habens folia similia viti agresti divisa et scissa tamquam malva agrestis et hastas longas et erectas et nigras, semen est illi simile ysati et flores quod semen in folliculis viridioribus obtectum trium angulorum est et nigrum sed interius album cum gustu viscido acri et calido, vocatur arabice hab elras .i. granum capitis propter excellentem operationem eius in caputpurgio.


Stafisagria | Stafixagria ms. e
sonat | sona p
{unde} no͞m add. e
passule | pasule B
stafisagria (-agria f) AB fj | staphisagria p | stafixagria ms. e | stafistigria C {printer's error}
quam | qua f
pediculariaʒ (-iã ABC) ABC ej | pedicular f | peculariã p
umbrosis locis | l. u. fj
{locis} habens | hʒ {= habet} f | om. e
viti | vitis p
{viti} agresti (agresti j) AC ej | agrestis (agrestis p) B fp
obtectum | obtextũ ms. e
divisa et scissa tamquam malva agrestis om. e
scissa | scisa B
hastas AC | astas B efjp
et erectas om. B
nigras | virgas ms. e {'n' misread as 'u'}
{nigras semen} est om. AC
illi ABC ep | ei f | om. j
{ysati} uel risati add. B e
flores quod semen | f. s. q. A
folliculis (-is f) AC fjp | foliculis (-cl'is B) B e
{nigrum} sed | & j
viscido | viscose j
{calido} etcetera add. B efp | & e͡c {= eciam} j
vocatur om. e
hab elras AC | hal el• ras• j | habel • rus ms. e | abel ras B | habetas f
.i. ABC efj | ã. {= arabice} p
propter | per p
excellentem | excellentiaʒ j
operationem (-nẽ A; operationẽ B p) ABC p | operacionẽ (-co͞eʒ j) fj | operacionem ms. e
caputpurgio AC f | capupurgio p | capprepurgio B | cappurgio ms. e | capud purgio etc. j


Stafisagria is Greek and translates into Latin uva agrestis {"wild grape"}, and Serapion also calls it passule montane {lit. "mountains raisins or dried fruit"}.

Dyascorides says that stafisagria, which Latin speakers call pedicularia {"louse wort"}, grows in shady places and has leaves similar to wild vitis {"grapevine"}. They are jagged and cleft like the wild malvae' {"mallows"} with long, upright and black stems. Its seed is similar to ysatis {"woad"} and so are the flowers. The seed, which is covered by very green capsules that are three-sided, is also black with white inside with an acrid, sharp and hot taste.

The plant is called hab elras in Arabic, which means "head grain" because of its excellent effect in head clearing.


In his introductory sentence Simon gives a Latin translation of Stafisagria i.e. Greek (ἀ)σταφίς /(a)staphís/, "dried grapes, raisins" - but also the name of the plant "stavesacre" Delphinium Staphisagria (LSJ) - and the adjective ἀγρία /agría/ {"wild"}, the literal Latin translation being uva agrestis "wild grape". Concerning Simon's reference to Serapion see further down.

Dyascorides alphabeticus:
Apart from Simon's entry-initial and -final comments this text is an excerpt from Dyascorides alphabeticus, cf. [Bodmer] f 65r [[1]]: Staphisagria quod latini pediculariam uocant. Nascitur locis umbrosis habens folia similia uiti agresti diuisa & scisa tamquam malua agrestis & hastas longas & erectas & nigras semen est ei simile ysaci & flores. Quod semen in folliclis uiridioribus obtectum trium anglorum est & nigrum sed ĩterius albuʒ est gustu uiscido acri & calido.

This text differs in a number of ways from the Longobardic translation, cf. 4, 147, ed. Stadler (1901: 68-9) De stafis agria [[2]] as well as from the original Greek text, cf. 4, 152, ed. Wellmann (1906-14: II.296-8) σταφὶς ἀγρία /staphìs agría/.

The most obvious differences are two interpolations: nascitur umbrosis locis which is not in the Greek original nor in the Longobardic translation but in Dyascorides alphabeticus + Serapio, and divisa et scissa tamquam malva agrestis, which is not in the Greek original nor in the Longobardic translation but in Dyascorides alphabeticus.

Finally there is a mistranslation already present in the Longobardic translation: semen illi est simile ysati et flores - "Its seed is similar to ysatis {'woad'} and so are the flowers", cf. Longobardus: semen simile [t]isaci et flore. The original Greek is unambiguous, op.cit. pp. (1906-14: II.296-7): τὸ δὲ ἄνθος φέρει ἰσάτει ὅμοιον /tò dè ánthos phérei isátei hómoion/ - "the flower it bears is similar to isatis {'woad'}", of which a Latin equivalent would be: *flores illi sunt similes ysati, n.b. it is only the flowers that are compared to those of ysatis {'woad'} and the Greek original does not mention the seed in this sentence.

But the seed is described in the next sentence where - compared to the Greek original - Longobardus and Dyascorides alphabeticus have an omission, i.e. the covering of the seed/ fruit is compared to that of ἐρέβινθος /erébinthos/, Latin cicer, "chickpea": The expected translation should have been: *quod semen in folliculis viridioribus obtectum sicut cicer - "this seed is covered in very green capsules like {that of} cicer {'chickpea'}".

In this passage Simon mentions the synonym pedicularia {s. herba}, which is the adjective to pedic(u)lus/ peduc(u)lus "louse" because of the plant's reputation that it kills (head-) lice. The name occurs in a number of ancient authors, sometimes in a slightly different form, e.g. pedicularis herba (Palladius) or peduclaria/ peduclaris herba (Marcellus). The name is also listed in the RV version of the Dioscoridean text, (1906-14: II.297): Ῥωμαῖοι ἕρβα πηδουκουλάρια /Rhōmaîoi hérba pēdoukoulária/ "The Romans call it herba peducularia".

Simon alludes to Serapion who reads [Goehl]: Staphisagria et granum capitis. 261. (268.) Habel ras id est granum capitis. Dioscurides: staphisagria est dicta passula montana. Et est illa, quae dicitur mirbasag. N.b. this text is also available online p. 176 STAPHYSAGRIA vel Staphylagria CCLXVII [[3]] - "Staphisagria also called granum capitis {'head grain'}. {Arabic} Habel ras translates into Latin granum capitis {'head grain'}". {Serapion then quotes:} "Dioscorides: staphisagria is also called passula montana {lit. 'mountain raisin'}". The plant has another name in Arabic: mirbasag". After this follows a version of the Dioscoridean text, a Latin retranslation from Arabic.

passule montane:
Serapion's passula montana, plural: passule montane, cf. also a similar formulation: uva passa montana in the Latin translation of Avicenna's Canon; it is a direct calque of Arabic: ﺯﺑﻴﺐ ﺍﻟﺠﺒﻞ /zabīb al-ğabal/ lit. "raisin of the mountain", or in the Canon book II, p. 209, chapter on ﻣﻴﻮﻳﺬﺞ /maiwīzağ/ Avicenna has ﺍﻟﺰﺑﻴﺐ ﺍﻟﺠﺒﻠﻰ /al-zabīb al-ğabalīy/ "the mountain raisin" [[4]].
Cf. Siggel (1950: 39): ﺯﺑﻴﺐﺍﻟﺠﺒﻞ /zabīb al-ğabal/ = ﺣﺐﺍﻟﺮﺍﺱ /ḥabb ar-raʔs/ Lec. Delphinium staphisagria.

For Avicenna's Arabic ﻣﻴﻮﻳﺬﺞ /maiwīzağ/, which is Serapion's mirbasag and Gerard of Cremona's miubezegi, see Mimbezigi.

hab elras:
Simon returns to Serapion's Arabic terminology at the end of the entry where he explains that Arabic hab elras, i.e. ﺣﺐ ﺍﻟﺮﺍﺱ /ḥabb al-raʔs/, translates into Latin granum capitis {"head grain"}, and he adds that it received this name because of its excellent quality for head clearing/ purging. See also Hab elras.

Botanical identification:

There is general agreement that staphis agria is likely to be Delphinium staphisagria L. "lice-bane" or "stavesacre" [[5]].

WilfGunther 15:52, 24 May 2015 (BST)

See also: Hab elras, Mimbezigi, Passule montane, Pedicularis herba

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