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orion Re: Orion Palms/Water

On Thu, 17 Jul 1997 01:05:50 -0400 (EDT),  kraft@ccat.sas.upenn.edu writes:
>Mark Dunn wrote [among other things]:
>> I did want to question ...Kraft that he "would doubt that
>> the [use of] 'socia palmarum' requires palm trees in Pliny's understanding -
>> it may simply be an idiom describing the solitariness and lack of social
>> contamination of this people."  
> ... Pliny is amazed at the non-procreative survival of
>this "gens" which he here calls "socia" (associate, companion, etc.). 
>Socius/socia can also mean marriage partner, and it seemed possible, even
>probable, that Pliny (and/or his source) had this nuance in mind here --

     My 1878 Latin dictionary lists socius,i, m. (from the sanskrit
     sakhi, a friend), socia, ae, f. and the adj, socius, a, um as "an
     associate, companion, comrade, partner; also a female associate,
     partner & c.; as an adj. joint, common, united, associated."  In the
     citations that follow, *<nothing related to matrimony appears>*.

     However, the noun palma, meaning both palm of the hand (Cic.) and palm
     tree (Plin.) is feminine so the use of the feminine form `socia' ought to
     suggest only association not marriage partner.

>this strange "gens" has no human mate, but cohabits with the palms (why
>not with the rocks?). What I expected to find here was not a reference to
>trees, but to the uniqueness or exemplary nature of the group, and indeed,
>my Latin dictionary lists "palmaris, -e" in that sense ("excellent,
>admirable"), but I don't find any such uses elsewhere in Pliny. 

     The same dictionary cites palma as the prize for victory, as Cic.
     palmam dare alcui.  Palmaris, e as an adj. its first meaning is palm. 
     Second meaning is excellence.  The excellence use is from Cicero.

>his source said something of that sort (societas palmare?), and he
>misinterpreted -- I don't know if "palmaris" is sufficiently old in that
>meaning to serve such a hypothesis. (I also rejected, "out of hand" as it
>were, reading "palmarum"  as referring to the human hand rather than the
>tree, and thus finding an ironic, perhaps, homosexual twist to Pliny's

     With all the reserach I've done on third sex matters, I missed this!  
     Unless it's in a mutual situation when it may be of either kind.

> ...  In the end, I convinced
>myself that "a companion people of palm trees" need not depend on the
>known presence of real trees to make Pliny's rhetorical point. Maybe a
>further search of early Latin literature would reveal whether "palm" gets
>used this way by other authors of the period. Something to do, sometime. 

     Note above, the first citation for "palma" meaning "palm tree" was
     Pliny!  Done?

Tom Simms 2.785K<=