THE MEDITERRANEAN VOCABULARY OF THE VINE BY JOHN PAIRMAN BROWN Berkeley In any area of culture, classical and Near Eastern literatures share a common "Mediterranean" vocabulary to the extent that culture has actually spread through trade, war, diplomacy or emi- gration.') Nowhere is there a thicker cluster of shared vocabulary than around the vine. The familiar names of the plant itself are local: &[.L7tEÀOc; (no etymology), Lat. vitis (perhaps from vieo "I plait"). As soon as we come to its utilization, Greek, Latin and Hebrew express similar sentiments in similar language. The spreading vine is in fact perhaps the dominant symbol of the ancient cultures, intensely localized but with a memory of foreign origins : "You made a vine spread out of Misrayim" (Ps. lxxx 9). The identification is very explicit : "The vineyard of Yahweh Sebaoth is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are the planting of his delight" (Isa. v 7). This ambiguity of reference between people and land may be resolved in either direction. Hellenistic Laodiceia in Syria, where the mountain behind the city was "covered with vines almost to the summit" (Strabo 16.2.9), is the ideal of every Mediterranean city. One
Vetus Testamentum – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 1969
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