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Re: Prediction time...
With regards to silphium, it is my understanding that this herb (which is
thought to have been a species of fennel) has been extinct since the
classical period (so popular did it become as an abortifacient in the
Mediterranean world!) so it would be very curious if it were to appear in
an early Renaissance gynaecological text (except as an item of historical
interest, or something copied blindly from ancient sources). Hence Dennis'
While silphium is *extremely* unlikely, I do believe that it is far more
likely to be here than just about anywhere else, so it's worth keeping it
in mind as a possibility... just in case. :-)
In my own forays into the botany of the VMS (much less extensive than
Dana's I will admit) I have not seen any of the abortifacient herbs you
list. I'm sure they would have jumped out at me had I seen them, because
they are all such obvious candidates for inclusion in an herbal. I would
have been overjoyed to spot one of them, because what is so frustrating
about the VMS is that it features so little of what one would *expect* to
find in such a work (whatever it may actually be) and so much of what one
would never expect.
I briefly touched on this: I think the VMS' author was most familiar with
roots, and (frankly) had probably never even seen half or more of the
flowers depicted, and then possibly only dried or pressed: so it's
similarities between stylised root-systems that I believe we should be
looking for... although that isn't half so glamorous (nor half so easy) as
finding a matching flower. :-/
Rue for one is a very distinctive plant with strong-scented bluish-green
compound foliage and interesting green fruits which resemble tiny limes.
<snip> It would be easy to spot if it were in the VMS.
What are rue family-members' roots like?
Which Artemisia was it that was used? (There are many species of
Artemisia.) I would assume it was either wormwood (Artemisia absinthium)
or mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris), as they are two of the most common.
All the page said was "artemisia", sorry. :-( I'll see if I can dig up
more Soranus (stop sniggering at the back). :-)
I don't mean this to be a direct challenge to your gynaecological theory,
Nick, but I don't see how the botanical images can support it (or any
other theory, as yet).
Well... me too. :-) All the same, the scientist in me likes devising
theories that are powerful enough to derive predictions from - much more
fun to test, and so much easier to [dis]prove. :-)
I have been a great (if silent) fan of your work
for some time, and enjoy reading your messages to the group.
Thanks very much! :-)))
I know that sometimes I can be a little guilty of using the list as a
research log, but, as I honestly believe I'm not smart enough to crack the
VMS on my own, my aim is to be as transparent as I can, so that you can see
what I'm headed... and correct me when I (inevitably) get it wrong. :-)
Happy New Year!, .....Nick Pelling.....