The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

“What manner o’thing is your crocodile?”: November 2021

What is going on in this image? Does something look a little odd to you? Is it all Gr— well now, that would be giving it away. Leave your thoughts in the comments and we’ll be back next week with more info!

4 Comments


  • It looks like some sort of mixture of Latin and Greek

    The first two sentences, ending in what looks like du[m] sufficiant are in Latin.

    The next several words appear to be Greek, though the endings on what looks like anados- and dunam- look like -ii or -y, which is wrong for Greek unless it’s a very exaggerated η, and I can’t find katektik- in my Ancient Greek dictionary.

    helktike (attractive, in the feminine gender) appears to be translated by attractrix immediately below, and the same might be true of katektike/rententrix though I can’t translate the former or reliably read the latter.

    But attractrix and retentrix were two of the four “faculties” of the stomach according to the Greek physician Galen, the other two being alteratrix/concoctrix and excretrix/expultrix depending on whose translation into Latin you use. Expultrix might even be the cut-off word in the line below retentrix. And it’s not too much of a stretch to see dunamis (in the image) as a translation of facultas. The last word on the fourth line is probably peptike, meaning relating to digestion, which also ties in with the stomach idea.

    So my guess is that the crocodile image is a gloss or translation of a medical text on Galenic theory of the stomach.

    • Update:
      By breaking katektike up into its components kata + (h)ektike I found it in my Greek dictionary under kathektike – the middle “h” sound was missing in the spelling in the crocodile image.
      One of the quotations given in the entry was kathetike dunamis from Galen, confirming my guess above.

      Also I wonder if the final character in anadosis and dunamis in the image is supposed to be a (Latin alphabet) s or long s rather than a sigma.

  • The use of colons suggest that perhaps it is a list of words in various language equivalents, or maybe a listing of synonyms? I do not know the words or language(s) used. If it was written in 2021, it might be part of a smiley face – hah! ~:0)


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