[Sca-cooks] magpie / Athenaeus

Terry Decker t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net
Wed Mar 5 20:35:43 PST 2008

I think the answer may be a little more complex than a lazy translator. 
Pica and cissa (kissa) refer to a class of nutrient deficency eating 
disorders originally classified in Antiquity.  In a footnote on page 49 of 
Temkin's translation of Soranus's Gynecology is the following, "The Kissa is 
the Jay, Garrulus glandarius L., but the name included the magpie (pica in 
Lat.) as well (cf. D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson, A Glossary of Greek Birds, new 
edition, Oxford University Press, 1936, pp. 146-48.)  Soranus speaks of the 
winged Kissa possibly distinguishing the bird from some fish, also named 
Kissa (cf. Liddell & Scott s.v.2).  Through the Latin literature, "pica" has 
become the more customary for designating the condition Soranus names 


> Liddell & Scott's Greek-English Lexicon (the definitive source...) gives 
> the
> definition for "kitta" as "jay, Garrulus glandarius."  Magpies are Pica
> pica.  So I would say this is just a case of a lazy translator who assumed
> that jays and magpies are the same species.
> Vittoria

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