Fantastic Friday: Magic Stones and Human Honey

Apollonios the Paradoxographer is credited with a text of 51 anecdotes usually dated to the 3rd or 2nd century BCE.  Some of these translations are pretty rough, so suggestions and corrections are welcome.

36 “Sotakos in his book On Stones records that there is a stone which is called Karystios which has outgrowths which are woolly and downy—from these hand-cloths are woven and spun. They also braid from these lampwicks which burn brightly and without burning out completely. The washing of these hand-cloths happens when they are covered in dirt and not in water, and then brush is burned and the cloth is placed on them. Then they become white and clean thanks to fire and are returned for use to the same women [?]. The candle wicks remain incompletely used up for all time as long as they are burned with olive oil.

The smell of the candlewicks as they burn makes people think they are about to fall. That stone is also in Karystos and took is name from the place, but there are many in Kypros [for those going up from the Gerander, as if  towards those traveling on the left of Elmaios below the cliffs. [Solous?]. This stone also increases during the full-moon and diminishes again as the moon wanes.”

36 Σώτακος ἐν τῷ περὶ λίθων· ὁ Καρύστιος, φησίν, λεγόμενος λίθος ἐπιφύσεις ἔχει ἐριώδεις καὶ χνοώδεις, ἐξ οὗ νήθεται καὶ ὑφαίνεται χειρεκμαγεῖα. στρέφουσι δὲ ἐξ αὐτοῦ καὶ ἐλλύχνια, καὶ ἔστιν καιόμενα λαμπρὰ καὶ ἀκατάκαυστα. τῶν δὲ ἐκμαγείων τῶν ῥυπαινομένων ἡ πλύσις γίγνεται οὐ δι’ ὕδατος, ἀλλὰ κληματὶς κάεται καὶ τότε τὸ ἐκμαγεῖον ἐπιτίθεται, καὶ ὁ μὲν ῥύπος ἀπορρεῖ, αὐτὸ δὲ λευκὸν καὶ καθαρὸν γίνεται ὑπὸ τοῦ πυρὸς καὶ πάλιν εἰς τὰς αὐτὰς ἐγχρήζει χρείας.  τὰ δ’ ἐλλύχνια μένει τὸν ἅπαντα χρόνον ἀκατάσβεστα καιόμενα μετ’ ἐλαίου.

δοκιμάζει δὲ καὶ τοὺς πτωματιζομένους ἡ ὀσμὴ τοῦ ἐλλυχνίου καιομένου.γίγνεται δὲ ὁ λίθος οὗτος καὶ ἐν Καρυστῷ μέν, ἀφ’ οὗ καὶ τοὔνομα ἔλαβεν, πολὺς δὲ ἐν Κύπρῳ, [καταβαινόντων] ἀπὸ τοῦ Γεράνδρου ὡς ἐπὶ Σόλους πορευομένοις ἐν ἀριστερᾷ <τῶν> τοῦ ᾿Ελμαίου ὑποκάτω πετρῶν. καὶ κατὰ τὸ πανσέληνον αὔξεται καὶ πάλιν φθίνοντος τοῦ σεληνίου μειοῦται καὶ ὁ λίθος.

37 “Aristotle in his natural problems writes: the respiration of [humpbacks?] goes heavily through the mouth. He also provides a reason for why this happens.”

37᾿Αριστοτέλης ἐν φυσικοῖς προβλήμασιν· τῶν κυρτῶν βαρεῖα ἡ ἀναπνοὴ διὰ τοῦ στόματος ἐξέρχεται. ἀποδέδωκεν δὲ καὶ τοῦ γιγνομένου τὴν αἰτίαν.

38 “Eudoxos the Knidian in the seventh book of his Circuit of the Earth [writes] there is a certain tribe in most of Libya which lies down beyond the Syrteoi and the Carthaginians near the West; these people are called the Guzantes. They practice a skill [whereby] they gather flowers in their regions to make honey so great and of such a kind that it is similar to that which is made by bees.”

38 Εὔδοξος δὲ ὁ Κνίδιος ἐν τῷ ζ′ γῆς περιόδου· ἔστιν ἐπὶ πλεῖστον ἐν Λιβύῃ τι ἔθνος, [ὃ] ὑπεράνω Σύρτεων τε καὶ Καρχηδόνος πρὸς ἀνατολὰς κείμενον, οἳ καλοῦνται Γύζαντες· οἵτινες τέχνην ἐπιτηδεύουσιν τὰ ἄνθη συλλέγοντες τὰ ἐν τοῖς τόποις μέλι ποιεῖν τοσοῦτον καὶ τοιοῦτον, ὥστε γίγνεσθαι οἷον τὸ ὑπὸ τῶν μελισσῶν γιγνόμενον.

39 “Aristotle writes in his Selections of Anatomies that there was a snake observed in Paphos with two feet similar to a land crocodile.”

39᾿Αριστοτέλης ἐν ταῖς ἐκλογαῖς τῶν ἀνατομῶν φησιν· ὄφις ὤφθη ἐν Πάφῳ πόδας ἔχων δύο ὁμοίους χερσαίῳ κροκοδείλῳ.

Image result for medieval manuscripts human bees
from The Hours of Catherine of Cleves, c.1440.

2 thoughts on “Fantastic Friday: Magic Stones and Human Honey

  1. What a coincidence! You posted some stuff about honey right before the day my community is to celebrate our tradition’s version of Pannychia (ours focuses on Ariadne as the Cretan Aphrodite). What makes this amusing is that Ariadne is known for Her love of honey. As I’m sure you have heard, the Cretans traditionally gave to Ariadne one entire jar of honey which was equal to the amount of honey that the other Gods received together!

Leave a Reply