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Re: Finocchio = occhio fino? (Re: Could f17r be fennel?)

Hi everyone,

At 09:22 21/01/02 +0000, Jacques Guy wrote:
Seriously now, the belief in fennel
being good for the eyes must have derived from the
name, finocchio, not the other way around. Sure, the
"eyes" in the roots of the drawing might be a
result of that folk etymology. And again they might

According to Ernst Breisach, Caterina Sforza's recipes are a heady mixture of (1) empiric experiments, (2) collected herbal traditions and (3) pure folk nonsense. The purpose of his noting her association between "finocchio" and "occhio" was to give an example of (3).

Still, Caterina Sforza believed it sincerely (in the Aristotelian sense), as would probably others compiling herbals in the same region at the same time: so it's worth bearing in mind here.

And what about the tiny little dragon frolicking
between the roots of another plant on I forgot which

I recently suggested that this plant could be mandrake, and the dragon was actually a dog pulling up the root (in the traditional medieval herbal way, with the herb-picker out of earshot).

But, similarly, this could be a Romagnan Italian pun: can anyone tell me the etymology of "mondragone" (as in the villa, which was established in 1586) as opposed to "mandragora"? Neither word appears in my (otherwise excellent) Collins Italian dictionary.

"Finocchio" BTW, also means "pederast" in Italian.

I can see how this might prove embarrassing to non-Italian field botanists in Italy. :-/

Cheers, .....Nick Pelling.....