Disputatio:Selachimorpha

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Intro[fontem recensere]

Transcripsi ex Usor:Rolandus/Most important 1000 pages/Shark‎

Squalus, canis marinus. Pistris and its variants are often translated "shark" but in fact it refers to... er... I think it was the dogfish. --Iustinus 09:20, 19 Martii 2008 (UTC)

We already have an exiguous Squalus, now a dogfish genus. The zoologists will cause us confusion in this area. Since Romans can have known only a few real sharks, we might do better to put our "shark" article at Selachimorpha (on en:wiki, I think, Selachimorpha redirects to shark). We could then reserve the Roman names for the particular species that they knew, if identifiable. Andrew Dalby (disputatio) 09:43, 19 Martii 2008 (UTC)
You beat me to the suggestion, Andrew. I will go ahead and start Selachimorpha.--Ioscius (disp) 12:00, 19 Martii 2008 (UTC)
--Ioscius (disp) 12:24, 19 Martii 2008 (UTC)

A to Z does list a few species known to the ancients, but if Dr. Dalby himself doesn't consider that enough, then who am I to argue? That said, things like squalus do bother me: yes I know that we frequently know too little about the ancient usage of these terms to pin them down precisely, but we often know that the (frequently arbitrary) taxonomic use is dead wrong. Generally when there is a word used differently in Classical and taxonomic Latin, I prefer to disambiguate the taxonomic article, not the Classically named one, e.g. allium vs. allium (genus) (admittedly a somewhat extreme example). --Iustinus 18:28, 19 Martii 2008 (UTC)

Touché, Iustine! Who am I to doubt the validity of A to Z? And I quite agree that the disambiguation method is often best. But in this case we are asked for an article equating to English "shark", and therefore mentioning species and oceans undreamt of by Romans: that's why I felt that the scientific Latin term, which (apparently) covers the semantic field fully, might be best. Andrew Dalby (disputatio) 19:50, 19 Martii 2008 (UTC)

Using classical names of fish as titles in Vicipaedia[fontem recensere]

[Moved up from below:] All that you say is true ... but, Iustine, if our purpose is to reach by discussion an immovable position about whether to call a page about sharks "squalus" or "selachimorpha", we will fail! Either is defensible. ... judging by your new subheadings on the page [below], that's no longer the purpose anyway. Fine! But our evidence on squalus shows us (what we already know) that Roman names for fish are difficult to match uncontrovertibly to modern categories. Andrew Dalby (disputatio) 21:56, 20 Martii 2008 (UTC)

What to call this page long ago became a secondary question to me. At this point, I'm really just trying to expand our vocabulary from the list I started below. That, and I want to find out what each of the Latin words popularly equated with "shark" *actually* means. OK, to find out what we actually know about each word. I am still interested in whether or not squalus is a more appropriate name for this page, but I've been persuaded that Selachimorpha s OK in any case. But no matter what we call this page, we're going to need to discuss the classical vocabulary, right? I'm sorry if I was unclear that I long ago extra calcem decucurri. --Iustinus 22:20, 20 Martii 2008 (UTC)
And why not?
If I may use your words, this -- "OK, to find out what we actually know about each word" and display it -- should, I think, be the purpose of pages under ancient names (at least in the case of these unpindownable fish, and maybe in some other biological cases too). That's why, I think, it is so good that we have a near-infinite range of scientific Latin names to draw on for our pages about actual modern species etc. Because if we try to shoehorn modern species into ancient names, footnoting evidence from ancient authors, we risk confusing ourselves and our readers.
Therefore, if I were us (!), I would be transferring what hereafter follows into draft pages, in Latin, about those classical fish. And let the modern ones bask alongside, in their own pages, with their friendly taxoboxes beside them. Andrew Dalby (disputatio) 10:24, 21 Martii 2008 (UTC)
OK, that makes sense. Of course there's also the problem that in some cases the biological names fly in the face of ancient names that are relatively secure. So while the plan you are espousing is a good one, it can't really be enforced as a universal policy, right? Of course neither can mine! So if anyone is looking for a good universal rule, they're bound to be disappointed, which I suppose is waht you've been trying to say all along. --Iustinus 19:07, 21 Martii 2008 (UTC)

Identification of miscellaneous names[fontem recensere]

Canis/canicula marina[fontem recensere]

Vide nunc quod scribit Ephemeris diei 24 Martii 2010 (in ultimo paragrapho). --Fabullus 14:27, 24 Augusti 2010 (UTC)

...et Plinius in Naturali historia IX.lv.110 de 'marinis canibus' et IX.xi.34 & IX.lxx.151-3 de 'caniculis'. --Fabullus 14:43, 24 Augusti 2010 (UTC)
De 'caniculae' et 'canis marinae' nominibus Bostock & Riley sic iudicant: "It is pretty clear that under the name of "canicula," "dog-fish," or "canis marinus," "sea-dog," Pliny includes the whole genus of sharks." --Fabullus 15:13, 24 Augusti 2010 (UTC)

Squalus[fontem recensere]

Fair enough: the problem really isn't how many sharks the Romans knew about, it's what the name of the category is. Now, in previous conversations with David Morgan, I have been told to use squalus, but in A to Z you list that as referring to the European Chub—not sharky in the least! Do you not accept squalus for shark at all, or does the word refer to both? Usually when Morgan makes such a pronouncement he has in mind the works of André (which I really need to acquire for myself, damn it!), which I know you generally agree with. --Iustinus 08:01, 20 Martii 2008 (UTC)

BTW, I've now contacted Morgan to see if he can add anything to this. It would be helpful to know what he's seen on this (and on the other terms mentioned on this page) --Iustinus 00:03, 23 Martii 2008 (UTC)
Oh, I also notice on p. 298 s.v. Shark "...comprising the scientific order Squaliformes (this name is a direct translation of Aristotle's galeoeideis ‘of the dogfish kind’)...." So at some point biologists presumably (and possibly also biologically-minded classicists) considered squalus and galeos equivalent. --Iustinus 19:40, 20 Martii 2008 (UTC)
I can explain, officer. In my identification of squalus with both "chub" and "dogfish/shark" I was relying on D'Arcy Thompson, who (p. 251) gives it these two different meanings: "I. A shark or dogfish" citing Pliny 9.78; "II. A freshwater fish" based on Varro RR 3.23: he continues, after much tergiversation, "it is one of many subspecies of chub" and adds that another English name for it is "skelly", which he traces back to squalus.
On p. 298 I assumed that the inventor of "Squaliformes" had Pliny (and Aristotle) in mind rather than Varro. Andrew Dalby (disputatio) 20:51, 20 Martii 2008 (UTC)
"Officer?" Oh dear! If I'm being pushy, please think of me not as a demanding officer, but as an over-eager disciple. IN any case, thanks for the reference. That Pliny passage reads:
Planorum piscium alterum est genus, quod pro spina cartilaginem habet, ut raiae, pastinacae, squatinae, torpedo et quos bovis, lamiae, aquilae, ranae nominibus Graeci appellant. quo in numero sunt squali quoque, quamvis non plani.
Squali are cartilaginous but not flat, that's about the only thing certain. All the animals listed in the first sentence are rays, except for the squatina (which modern science considers a shark, but could just as well be considered a ray by other criteria), and possibly the rana (which A to Z identifies with the anglerfish, but clearly in this particular passage it refers instead to some sort of σέλαχος). Given this, it does make sense to tentatively translate it "shark" and/or "dogfish": rays + X = cartilaginous fishes. So far as I can tell there's not a clear distinction between "shark" and "dogfish," at least not among biologsts (canis marinus again!) Or am I wrong? --Iustinus 21:41, 20 Martii 2008 (UTC)
All that you say is true ... [remainder of comment moved to above] Andrew Dalby (disputatio) 21:56, 20 Martii 2008 (UTC)

Biological Latin borrows galeus, but do you suppose, classically speaking, we can just assume galeos and squalus are equivalent? It would help translate some of the names I've put in parentheses below. --Iustinus 20:03, 21 Martii 2008 (UTC)

But look here, mi Iustine, the only evidence that I know of that squalus ever meant a shark/dogfish (before Linnaeus) is Pliny 9.78. Now, come on, is that enough? You know what messes Pliny made with his Greek sources. Obviously the Linnaeans thought squalus would come in handy, hence their use of it in genus Squalus. But others have thought Pliny was making another little mess here: confusing, maybe, the real Latin word squalus for a chub or similar freshwater fish (cf. Varro) with the Greek word galeos (notice the vague similarity) for a dogfish.
When writing the A to Z I was probably very pleased (my notes don't tell me so, but I expect I was) to find no Roman claiming to have eaten a marine squalus. Hence I did not have to reach any conclusion on whether Pliny's squalus existed outside his study or not. But you want to spread this word, even further than scientific Latin does, across the whole class of dogfish, and maybe sharks as well? Andrew Dalby (disputatio) 14:08, 22 Martii 2008 (UTC)
Yes, it is possible that Pliny was simply confused, but I see no reason to assume that. It seems perverse to throw away the word over such a theory. He seems to say that squali are cartilaginous fishes that aren't rays. Unless we're going to worry about the distinction between sharks and dogfish (about which I'm still foggy myself), it pretty much has to mean "shark" there. Is this certain? No, of course not. But it's hardly the biggest jump we've ever made, nor would we be the first to make it. We regularly are forced to equate ancient terms with modern ones despite uncertain evidence, this is nothing new. Usually if the equation is doubtful enough to mention it, but there is no other term, I just explain it in a footnote. And this potential equation doesn't seem all that dubious to me; frankly I'm surprised it has caused so much controversy.
It's a perfectly valid and viable solution (and one with which I am generally content) to put the article on sharks s.v. Selachimorpha, it kind of falls apart when sharks start appearing elsewhere: e.g."Bethania Hamilton selachimorpho morsa sinistram perdidit,"
Ahem, mi Iustine, certe in animo habuisti "Bethania Hamilton selachimorsa sinistram perdidit".--Ioscius (disp) 23:51, 22 Martii 2008 (UTC)
Hmm, you're right, that does somewhat solve the problem ;) --Iustinus 23:57, 22 Martii 2008 (UTC)
"Jaws est nota pellicula de selachimorpho saeviente," or "zygaena est selachimorphum maleolformi capite cernenda." Assuming I lose this debate (I can only challenge an expert for so long), I guess the next best solution is to use canis marinus (whatever a canis marinus is, Pliny considers them scary. And the Greek language seems to have equated γαλεοί with dogs as well, to say nothing of English. So I assume that's not as controversial?
--Iustinus 23:17, 22 Martii 2008 (UTC)
Of course, of course. I really was talking only about the best choice of title for an article that would be linked to en:shark on the list of 1000 articles we have to have!
However, since the better-attested classical meaning for squalus is "Italian species of chub" it still seems to me not ideal as our handy colloquial word for "shark". "Canis marinus" would be fine, surely. Andrew Dalby (disputatio) 10:44, 23 Martii 2008 (UTC)

Rana (marina)[fontem recensere]

continued from comment above: ... and possibly the rana (which A to Z identifies with the anglerfish, but clearly in this particular passage it refers instead to some sort of σέλαχος) ...

Oooh, I'm getting totally off track, but this is interesting: later in the paragraph Pliny (if I read him right) says that the rana is the only type of ray that gives birth live. According to en:Batoidea#Reproduction, that would make it refer to the "skate" family. --Iustinus 21:48, 20 Martii 2008 (UTC)
Yes, that's true. There are other contradictory statements in ancient texts about the reproduction of the batrachus/rana. Thompson points out that the reproduction of Lophius spp. was only accurately known in modern times. So, whether ancient sources on batrachus/rana are all talking about Lophius spp. (but are variously ignorant about its reproduction), or whether they are all talking about another particular fish, or whether they are talking about various different fish, I feel far from sure! I certainly won't say that the identification in A to Z is secure. Andrew Dalby (disputatio) 10:56, 23 Martii 2008 (UTC)
Yes, the reproduction of anglerfish is so creepy that my girlfriend once got mad at me for telling her about it. Um, that sounds like a set-up for a dirty joke, but believe me it's not. Anyway, I haven't gone over the evidence for the "frog-fish" being the "anglerfish," but if there are really loci classici that call it the rana piscator the identification seems very tempting. Frankly my prima facie assumption would be that the word refers to both species. As I've already made clear, that is also my interpretation of the evidence for squalus. These are hardly the only cases where the same word refers to multiple species of (only vaguely if at all similar) fish. Compare for instance torpedo, silurus, porcellus which refer to different fish on the Nile than off the Nile (to say nothing of the fact that porcellus also refers to a mammal.) Of course I haven't checked the ancient texts, so I expect you'll be telling me those identifications aren't secure either ;)
Were I Wikipedia I would just handle such cases with disambiguative parenthetical tags. --Iustinus 19:17, 23 Martii 2008 (UTC)

Pristis[fontem recensere]

Hmm, here's another one. I see that pristis (with its many variants) is usually equated with "sawfish" actually, based on the possible etymology from πρίω/πρίζω "saw." If this equation is correct, then they belong here too (sawfish are selachimorphous). Again, Andrew, what do you think of this one? --Iustinus 19:21, 20 Martii 2008 (UTC)

I had never heard of sawfish. According to en:wiki they are native to the coasts of Australia, tropical Africa and the Caribbean, in which case, few Romans ever met one. But the justification for the scientific name "Pristis antiquorum" must be that the zoologist responsible thought the Romans did meet it. Pliny thought pristes had been seen in the Indian Ocean, which figures, I guess; but that can hardly be the same fish that Epicharmus mentioned. In other words, it's a vague word for a monstrous sea creature, which is roughly what Lewis & Short (and also D'Arcy Thompson) say. [Added later:] It may be fair enough to identify Pliny's mention with "Pristis antiquorum", if that's an Indian Ocean fish, but I think that what we say about classical names as uncertain as this has to be somewhat separate from what we say about currently recognized groups and species. [And still later:] en:wiki seems unclear on distribution. en:Sawfish says "Pristis pristis" was once common in the Mediterranean, but en:Pristis pristis says it's from the Pacific. If both are true, it certainly got around. Andrew Dalby (disputatio) 20:24, 20 Martii 2008 (UTC)
Unless we find some other sources, then probably the best rout is to have pristis cover the sawfish, with all the caveats you mention regarding its actual identification. I mean, unless we find some previously unnoticed ancient text that gives away the identity of the creature, I doubt we'll need a whole article on its classical meaning. "Vague ... monstruous sea creature" indeed! --Iustinus 20:46, 20 Martii 2008 (UTC)
Since I never found a text saying that anyone ate a pristis, I was absolved from investigating the word in the A to Z! Andrew Dalby (disputatio) 20:00, 20 Martii 2008 (UTC)
That of course goes without saying, but I still value your opinion on such matters. Especially because my usual practice is to blindly follow A to Z unless I have a good reason not to ;) What about squalus (see above)? --Iustinus 20:40, 20 Martii 2008 (UTC)

A to Z[fontem recensere]

Just to get some work started, here are all the selachimorphous fish I can find in Food in the Ancient World: A to Z: --Iustinus 08:01, 20 Martii 2008 (UTC)

General[fontem recensere]

  • No general Latin word listed for Shark, but the Greek is listed as kyon, which would imply the attested canis marinus as the Latin equivalent.
  • Elacata (precise identification unknown)
    • Russian акула looks interestingly similar... --Ioscius (disp) 19:23, 20 Martii 2008 (UTC)

Carchariniformes[fontem recensere]

Lamniformes[fontem recensere]

Squaliformes[fontem recensere]

Squatiniformes[fontem recensere]

Tiburon[fontem recensere]

An interesting sidenote:

IN mari Indico ferreis hamis capiuntur piſces Tiburones dicti, maximi, vailidißimi, pugnacißimi, & truci aſpectu, qui cum lupis marinis aßiduè prœliantur.          [Tiburon piſcis.]
Nicolai Monardis, interprete Clusio, Simplicium Medicamentorum ex Novo Orbe Delatorum, Quorum in Medicina Usus Est, Historia p. 363

Tiburón of course means shark in modern Spanish. I have no idea if that's what it means here or not. --Iustinus 23:47, 22 Martii 2008 (UTC)

I didn't know we could do long esses! Thanks, Iustine! Andrew Dalby (disputatio) 10:58, 23 Martii 2008 (UTC)
That link doesn't work for me. Which edition of Clusius/Monardes is this? Andrew Dalby (disputatio) 12:35, 23 Martii 2008 (UTC)
We can do long esses, but I don't make a habit of doing so in actual articles. Unless I feel like it ;) The link no longer works for me either, I don't know why. Try going here and then clicking on the link for page 363. --Iustinus 19:20, 23 Martii 2008 (UTC)