The Geoponica and Sotion’s Agricultural Magic

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?

 

Progress Update

Though still far from complete, the site has made progress in three facets:

Portions of the Leitner bibliography are now surpassed and up to date–especially Oribasius, Rufus of Ephesus, and Aetius of Amida. Leitner and the Ancient Medical Society continuation will eventually be superseded (at the slow and steady speed of a busy graduate student, of course).

There is now a reasonably concise “research guide” up for Animals and Plants, ever the bane of the medical historian. More guides to come as I think of them. Suggestions or requests would be much appreciated!

Aelius Promotus’ Dynameron is now up on the TLG! (Strangely, this text was said to remain unedited in the 4th edition of the Oxford Classical Dictionary (2012), but there’s been an edition for well over a decade). Part of my intentions for this site, as I mentioned in my email to them, was to provide the wonderful folks at the TLG with an easier way to keep up with, shall we say, more obscure texts.