Thursday, January 19, 2012


A Greek Botanical Catalogue

Eupolis, fragment 13 (from Nanny-Goats, preserved in Plutarch, Moralia 662d, tr. Ian C. Storey):
We feed off every sort of tree: fir tree, prickly oak, and strawberry tree, munching on their tender shoots and also the foliage: the medick tree and fragrant sage, and leafy bindweed, wild olive, lentisk, ash tree, poplar, holm oak, oak tree, ivy, heather, willow, thornbush, mullein, asphodel, rockrose, deciduous oak, thyme, and savory.
The same, translated by T.R. Glover, "The Greeks and the Forest," The Challenge of the Greek (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1942), pp. 29-50 (at 46):
Every kind of tree must render
Tribute in its shoots so tender;
Oak and fir and arbutus
All are eatable for us;
Spurge, laburnum, fragrant sage
Must our goatish greed assuage;
Smilax, olive, mastich, ash—
All their hopes of growth we dash;
Sea-oak, ivy, heather, pine,
Buckthorn, mullein, asphodel,
Rock-rose, ilex—but why tell
One by one, when twig and prickle,
Leaf and flower, our throats must tickle.
The Greek:
βοσκόμεθ' ὕλης ἀπὸ παντοδαπῆς, ἐλάτης, πρίνου κομάρου τε
πτόρθους ἁπαλοὺς ἀποτρώγουσαι, καὶ πρὸς τούτοισί ἔτ' ἄνθην,
κύτισόν τ' ἠδὲ σφάκον εὐώδη, καὶ σμίλακα τὴν πολύφυλλον,
κότινον, σχῖνον, μελίαν, λεύκην, ἁρίαν, δρῦν, κιττόν, ἐρίκην,
πρόμαλον, ῥάμνον, φλόμον, ἀνθέρικον, φηγόν, κισθόν, θύμα, θύμβραν.
As others have noted, this is a good list of typical species in the Mediterranean maquis.

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