Insects and Other Invertebrates in Classical Antiquity

Insects and Other Invertebrates in Classical Antiquity

Ian C. Beavis
Copyright Date: 1988
Edition: 1
Pages: 286
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt5vjcvr
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  • Book Info
    Insects and Other Invertebrates in Classical Antiquity
    Book Description:

    A comprehensive survey of insects and terrestrial invertebrates (worms, scorpions, spiders, etc) in Antiquity.

    eISBN: 978-1-78138-059-8
    Subjects: Zoology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. PREFACE
    (pp. ix-x)
    Ian C. Beavis
  4. NOTES ON ABBREVIATIONS AND SHORT TITLES
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. xiii-xvi)

    In the introduction to his valuable work on the etymology of Greek insect names, Gil Fernandez states that although it was not his intention to provide a complete natural history of the species known in classical antiquity, along the lines of D’Arcy Thompson’s glossaries of Greek birds and fishes, he entertained the hope that his book might provide a basis for the compiling of such a history by some later author. It is the intention of this present work to provide just such a natural history as Fernandez envisages.

    Classical entomology, to use a convenient if imprecise term to denote...

  6. I WORMS, LEECHES, CHNTIPEDES, WOODLICE, etc.
    (pp. 1-20)

    Γήs ́́́́ěv́́ěpov andlumbricusare the chief classical names for the terrestrial annelids which we know as earthworms.¹ The former term—literally ‘earth’s guts’—is vividly descriptive of the creatures’ general appearance. They are normally spoken of collectively, and examples of the use of the singular are rare (for example, Aelian IX.3). The order of the two elements in the name tends to be fixed, though there are a few cases of the formenteron ges(for example, Numenius fr.¹) and one with the article between (Athenaeus 305a). The eventual evolution of the name into a compound is attested by...

  7. II SCORPIONS, SPIDERS, MITES AND TICKS
    (pp. 21-60)

    Scorpions were the most feared invertebrates in antiquity. Among the venomous animals that played such a considerable part in classical medicine, they ranked second in importance only to snakes, and were therefore prominent in the popular imagination to a degree shared by few other invertebrates.

    Classical knowledge of scorpions extended over the whole of the known world. They are reported from Southern Europe, North Africa, Egypt, thiopia, the Middle East, Asia Minor, and India. With so wide an area in view, we are clearly dealing with a considerable variety of modern day species, but in much of the materialat our...

  8. III GRASSHOPPERS, COCKROACHES MANTIDS, MAYFLIES etc.
    (pp. 61-90)

    At the close of his discussion, which does not claim to be comprehensive, of the smaller spontaneously generated animals (HA557b 11 ff.), Aristotle states that in general creatures are found to be produced ‘in almost anything, both in dry things that are turning moist and moist ones which are becoming dry, anything which contains life’.This immediately follows his description of thesesor clothes-moth, theakaridiscussed above, and the book-scorpion. It is in this same context that Pliny (XI.115), reproducing Aristotle’s account, speaks in rather more specific terms of certain jumping insects generated from dirt by the sun’s...

  9. IV CICADAS, BUGS AND LICE
    (pp. 91-120)

    In general terms the above names present no problem of identification, covering as they do the Southern European species of cicada. These insects belong to a single family, the Cicadidae, and are of similar appearance and habits, making themselves a conspicuous part of the countryside by reason of their loud monotonous stridulation. Along with honey bees they may be said to have been the most popular insects in classical antiquity, one among the small number of living creatures that the ancients felt genuine affection for, and allusions to them are frequent in a wide variety of Greek and Roman

    In...

  10. V BUTTERFLIES, MOTHS AND WOOD-BORING LARVAE
    (pp. 121-156)

    These terms refer in their most general sense to any species of butterfly or moth, i.e., of diurnal or nocturnal Lepidoptera.¹ Unlike Latin, Greek also has a specific term for nocturnal forms (see next article) and Ψυχή is never explicitly used for these outside lexicographical sources. However, since the ancients were chiefly interested in insects from the point of view of their importance as pests, rather than for aesthetic reasons,psycheandpapiliorefer primarily, not to the many attractive species of butterfly native to Europe, but to two pest species not distinguished in antiquity. These are the ‘cabbage whites’Pieris...

  11. VI BEETLES
    (pp. 157-186)

    The Greek kάνθapos¹ is not a precise equivalent of the Latin scarabaeus, since its use is normally restricted to the various species of dung-beetles, and is only rarely extended to cover other beetles of similar appearance.² Thus Aristotle does not employ it as a general term equivalent to our ‘beetle’, but instead supplies the need of such a term by coining koλεó́́́́́ПTεpos of whichkantharoiare a subdivision.³Scarabaeus, by contrast, though more often than not referring expressly to dung-beetles, does indeed cover much the same ground as our English ‘beetle’. So that Pliny (XI. 97–9) is able to...

  12. VII BEES, WASPS AND ANTS
    (pp. 187-218)

    These two pairs of names cover the various species of colonial wasps along with their larger relative the hornet, plus certain solitary wasps which were sometimes distinguished by name from their allies.¹

    The colonial wasps, which are far more conspicuous than the solitary forms, belong to the family Vespidae. They include species which nest underground, for exampleVespula vulgaris(Linn.),V. germanica(Fab.) andV. rufa(Linn.), and others which suspend their nests from the branches of trees and bushes, for example the tree waspVespula sylvestris(Scop.). The closely related hornet,Vespa crabroLinn., prefers to nest in hollow trees. Colonies...

  13. VIII FLIES AND FLEAS
    (pp. 219-242)

    Mυία¹ andmuscaare corresponding terms covering the larger two-winged Aies or Diptera, as distinct from the smaller gnats, midges and related insects. More specifically they cover those species of the two families Muscidae and Calliphoridae which infest houses and/or have larvae which feed upon carrion or other decaying material.² A distinction is usually maintained betweenmyia/muscaand the various species of horse and cattle Aies,³ but the former names do sometimes seem to be extended to cover the latter as well.⁴

    The family Muscidae includes most importantly the common houseflyMusca domesticaLinn., which infests houses and is attracted...

  14. IX UNIDENTIFIABLE AND FABULOUS INSECTS AND INVERTEBRATES
    (pp. 243-258)

    The creature known as òρσοδάκνη, literally ‘bud eater’,¹ is referred to only twice in surviving sources. According to Aristotle (HA552a 29-30) it results from the metamorphosis of small larvae which are spontaneously generated in (or on) the stalks of the cabbage. It is not, as one might otherwise suspect, to be equated with thekrambisor cabbage white butterfly,² since the latter is dealt with elsewhere in theHistoria.Hesychius, presumably using Aristotle as his source, identifies the insect as ξώυΦίον τι έν κράμβη γινόμενον. Aubert and Wimmer³ and Gossen⁴ suggest that we are dealing here with some species...

  15. INDEX
    (pp. 259-269)