For those who are interested in the text of the Geoponica, a new article by Carl Scardino has just come out in Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies entitled, “Editing the Geoponica: The Arabic Evidence and its Importance.” I have not had a chance to read it yet, but look forward to doing so. One still wonders when we will receive an update from Rodgers as to his promised critical edition of the Greek text?
I’ve had the Geoponica on my mind lately as I’m tracking down bibliography for a seminar paper on Late Antique Agronomy. While reading through Dalby’s translation, I was struck in particular by 2.19.1, a supposed excerpt from an otherwise unknown “Sotion.” The Greek (from Beckh) reads:
Ἐπίγραψον ἐν τῷ ἀρότρῳ φρυήλ, καὶ ἐν τῷ νεάζειν καὶ ἐν τῷ σπείρειν τὴν γῆν, καὶ εὐθαλήσει ἡ χώρα.
Dalby transliterates φρυήλ as “Phyrel” without comment, while other commentators suggest that it’s some sort of acrostic that’s not clear. Having had a brief stint with Hebrew (which I unfortunately can no longer read), though, I immediately suspected “-el” was something to do with a Hebrew name for God (El). H.J. Rose apparently caught this back in his 1933 article, “The Folklore of the Geoponica“, where Rose gives (at the suggestion of a colleague) פְריִאֵל phri El, “fruit of God.”
Always pays off to be a bibliographical pedant. Or at least most of the time?