[Milton-L] A word

Harold Skulsky hskulsky at email.smith.edu
Tue Nov 20 21:48:16 EST 2007

Horace's malignant witch Canidia imports her noxious herbs from the land of Medea--Caucasian Iberia "fertile in poisons" (Epodes, 1.21). Pliny the Elder discusses the sinister Caucasian place (beyond the Black Sea) here and there in Natural History 6, and so (as to sources in English) Pliny's discussion (probably fortified with the translator's references) will have been circulating in Philemon Holland's English version. I would also consult (Sml) Purchas' Pilgrimage. Milton will also know Herodotus 7 and various Greek geographers (no time to look; is there something in Strabo?). I would look at available English versions (if any) of Herodotus for 16th- or 17th-c. pedantic lore (not that Milton would need English versions or annotations). S.v. "Iberia," the OED cites Ephraim Pagitt's Christianographie (1630, I think).

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