In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Reviewed by:
  • Diccionario herbario de textos antiguos y premodernos by Thomas M. Capuano
  • Steven N. Dworkin
Capuano, Thomas M., compiler. Diccionario herbario de textos antiguos y premodernos. New York: Hispanic Seminary of Medieval Studies, 2017. 495 pp. ISBN: 978-1-56954-158-6

Thomas M. Capuano has devoted his career to the study of the texts and the lexicon of medieval and early modern Spanish agricultural, medical, and botanical treatises. The starting point for this activity is his dissertation at the State University of New York, entitled "Agricultural Terminology in Spanish Medieval and Renaissance Treatises" (1986). His research has culminated in 2017 with two major publications, the Diccionario herbario de textos antiguos y premodernos (the work under review), and an edition of the Latin text of Saladino Ferro d'Ascoli's Compendium aromatariorum (ca. 1450) with Alonso Rodríguez de Tudela's El compendio de los boticarios, a 1515 translation of d'Ascoli's work. This edition, published as Volume 71 of Romance Philology (Spring 2017), includes an English translation of the Spanish text prepared by Capuano and Chelsea Firra, and a Glossary that repeats some of the material found in the Diccionario herbario.

The Diccionario seeks to record and define those terms referring directly or indirectly to flora found in selected medieval and early modern texts dealing with agriculture, nutrition, and medicine. It does not purport to offer a complete list of all plant names recorded in texts from this period. The main sources range from two texts from the second half of the thirteenth century, the Libro de las formas y de las imágenes (of which only the lengthy Table of Contents has survived) and the cynegetic treatise Libro de Moamín, to Andrés Laguna's translation (1566) of Dioscorides's Materia medicina. The remaining medieval sources are Tratado de agricultura de Ibn Wafid, Los nueve libros de Valerio Máximo, Menor daño de medicina, Suma de la flor de cirugía, Libro de recetas, Compendio de medicina, Libro de los olios, Libro de Palladio, Recetas, Tratado médico, Corbacho, Tratado de la peste, Tratado útil, Compendio de la humana salud, Lilio de medicina, Sumario de la medicina, and Regimiento contra la peste, as well as the 1499 edition of the Comedia de Calisto y Melibea, and several early sixteenth-century editions of the Tragicomedia de Calisto y Melibea. To demonstrate the continued vitality of this lexical field, Capuano includes relevant examples from selected additional texts through the late eighteenth century (all identified in Apéndice I, pp. vi-viii). [End Page 126]

The individual entries display a structure that will be familiar to readers who have consulted other dictionaries prepared by -or in collaboration with- the Hispanic Seminary of Medieval Studies, for example the Diccionario español de textos médicos antiguos (Herrera, 1996) or the Diccionario de la prosa castellana del Rey Alfonso X (Kasten and Nitti, 2002). The headword appears in modern Spanish spelling, followed by a definition in Spanish. In the case of names of plants, the definition is followed in parentheses by the appropriate Latin designation, following Linnaeus's binomial nomenclature. The entry next offers selected examples in context with the precise identification of the location in the text. In the case of words documented with a wide semantic range, the individual meanings are numbered and presented in separate paragraphs. I give here one example chosen at random: s.v. apretar, Capuano distinguishes five meanings, each of which he illustrates with appropriate quotations: 'apiñar estrechamente'; 'unir'; 'apiñarse estrechamente las uvas del racimo'; 'encogerse una planta o parte de ella, como por el frío o por el rigor del trasplante'; 'trepar una planta sobre otra ahogándola'. A separate section lists the forms in their medieval or early- modern orthographical garb as found in the texts and, when relevant, multi- word lexical units (unidades pluriverbales) involving the item in question.

Capuano has not limited the dictionary entries to names of plants and herbs. He includes nouns, adjectives, and verbs that appear in the texts with meanings specifically related to the world of plants. The data on these specialized meanings may prove valuable in the preparation of future historical...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 126-128
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.