From the Dictionary of Medieval Latin in Czech Lands: gracocenderius
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The main aim of this article is to identify the origin and meaning of one Latin zoological term transmitted in the works of Thomas of Cantimpré and the Czech medieval lexicographer Bartholomaeus de Solencia dictus Claretus. Both works employ names of animals that are extremely difficult to interpret either semantically or linguistically and whose Greek or Latin origin is not immediately clear. Most of them are attached to animals which mediaeval authors became acquainted with through Aristotle. Thomas used the Latin translation of Aristotle’s work Historia animalium translated from Arabic by Michael Scotus. Due to phonetical differences between these languages as well as inaccuracies and mistakes in both translations, the text of Aristotle and the forms of the original Greek names were variously modified. Aristotle’s term (genitive plural) κορακοειδων from the phrase το των κορακοειδων ορνίθων γένος, „the birds of the raven group“, appears at Michael Scotus as cracocenderon, at Thomas of Cantimpré in the form gracocenderon and at Claretus in the form gracocenderius. The meaning of the name remained hidden to medieval encyclopedists and lexicographers, and illustrators of Thomas’ encyclopaedia and related works were apparently also at a loss as to the looks of the chaste bird: each took a different approach, which resulted in very divergent visual interpretations.
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