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orion Re Orion: Palms/Water

Bob Kraft wrote re:  'socia palmarum':  

> 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 --
>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. Perhaps
>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 can't help wondering if there might have also been a Hebrew source which
may have described these people in terms of (HB) Psalm 92: 13-15--"zadiq
katamar yifrax". (Apologies in advance to Judith and Sigrid, who will no doubt
find fault with even my best efforts at transliteration ;-)  .  Yes, you are

> ...  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.

Or his sources.


Marsha B. Cohen
Florida Int'l University
Miami, FL