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Re: VMs: Re: VMS: Chinese theory, pushed against the wall...

On Sun, 17 Oct 2004, Dana Scott wrote:
> I find it interesting (though I haven't really thought about it much) that
> my (subconscious?) impression has been that the plants in the VMs were
> primarily harvested "in the wild" versus having been planted by farmers for
> a controlled harvest. There might, no doubt, be exceptions (opium?) in the
> VMs. A medicinal garden and/or one for scientific research, associated with
> a university perhaps, was the primary type of garden that I have considered.
> I have not seen evidence for commercial plantations in the VMs, nor have I
> thought of the VMs author as having been a farmer.

I have the same impression, but, even before the issue of crops came up -
my fault, and I apologize - I gathered we were thinking in terms of an
agricultural, or perhaps it was horticultural calendar.  A natural
philosopher with an astronomical bent might well ponder the nature of the
annual cycle in various guises.  My apologies again if this impression was
erronious.  My mind tends to wander and my delete key to grow warm when we
get into post modern astrology, even though I readily grant the potential
relevance of a knowledge of astrology to the interpretation of the VMs and
the potential for post modern thought processes to be applied to any and
everything, even pre-modern (hopefully) manuscripts.

Still, if we are hypothesizing that nymphs in various emblematic poses
might signify life stages associated with the calendar, I continue to
think that plants are the most likely sort of life to be in question.  If
not the local milo crop (probably not!), very likely some of the plants so
copiously illustrated elsewhere in the ms?  Which brings me to my next
question, which is, when does mandrake first poke its head above ground in
the spring, letting forth, as it were, the first mind-curdling shriek of

The only horticultural reference I have that mentions Mandragora is
Culpeper, which says, "It comes from Spain, but grows in our gardens.  It
flowers here [England] in July and August."

I've looked on the Web with no particular luck.  Interesting links:


Pretty much the same information in all cases.  No real details,
suggesting that the folks compiling this information haven't actually
raised it!
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