Original French:  Aſphodele,

Modern French:  Asphodèle,

Among the plants that, like Pantagruelion, have two sexes.




Ortus sanitatis. Mainz, Germany: Jacob Meydenbach, 1491. 5v. University of Cambridge Digital Library

Affodillus (text)

Affodillus (text)

Ortus sanitatis. Mainz, Germany: Jacob Meydenbach, 1491. 5v. University of Cambridge Digital Library


Asphodelus, genus de Liliacées. Celui que décrit Pline (XXI, 68) est Asphodelus ramosus L. (Paul Delaunay)

Rabelais, François (ca. 1483–1553), Oeuvres. Édition critique. Tome Cinquieme: Tiers Livre. Abel Lefranc (1863-1952), editor. Paris: Librairie Ancienne Honoré Champion, 1931. p. 343. Internet Archive


Ceterae eiusdem generis folio differunt: asphodelus oblongum et angustum habet, scilla latum et tractabile, gladiolus simile nomini. asphodelus manditur et semine tosto et bulbo, set hoc in cinere tosto, dein sale et oleo addito, praeterea tuso cum ficis, praecipua voluptate, ut videtur Hesiodo. tradunt et ante portas villarum satum remedio esse contra veneficiorum noxiam. asphodeli mentionem et Homerus fecit. radix eius napis modicis similis est, neque alia numerosior lxxx simul acervatis saepe bulbis. Theophrastus et fere Graeci princepsque Pythagoras caulem eius cubitalem et saepe duum cubitorum, foliis porri silvestris, anthericum vocavere, radicem vero, id est bulbos, asphodelum. nostri illud albucum vocant et anthericum hastulam regiam, caulis acinosi, ac duo genera faciunt. albuco scapus cubitalis, amplus, purus, levis, de quo Mago praecipit exitu mensis Marti et initio Aprilis, cum floruerit, nondum semine eius intumescente, demetendum findendosque scapos et quarto die in solem proferendos, ita siccati manipulos faciendos. idem oiston adicit a Graecis vocari quam inter ulvas sagittam appellamus. hanc ab idibus Maiis usque in finem Octobris mensis decorticari atque leni sole siccari iubet, idem et gladiolum alterum quem cypiron vocant et ipsum palustrem, Iulio mense toto secari iubet ad radicem tertioque die in sole siccari, donec candidus fiat, cotidie autem ante solem occidentem in tectum referri, quoniam palustribus desectis nocturni rores noceant.

The other plants of the same kind differ in the leaf: asphodel has an oblong, narrow leaf; the squill one broad and flexible; the gladiolus one that its name suggests. Asphodel is used as food. Both the seed and the bulb are roasted, but the second in hot ashes; salt and oil are added. It is also pounded with figs, which Hesiod [Works and Days, 41; here however Hesiod mentions asphodel as a common but wholesome food. Theophrastus, whom Pliny copies, has πλείστην ὄνησιν ἔχει, which is much nearer Hesiod’s ἀσφοδέλῳ μέγ᾿ ὄνειαρ.] thinks is a special delicacy. There is a tradition that if asphodel be planted before the gate of a country house it keeps away the evil influences of sorcery. Homer also mentioned asphodel. Its root is like a navew of moderate size, and no plant has more bulbs, eighty being often grouped together. Theophrastus and the Greeks generally, beginning with Pythagoras, have given the name of anthericus to its stem, a cubit and often two cubits long, with leaves like those of wild leek; it is the root, that is to say the bulbs, that they call asphodel. We of Italy call this plant albucus, and anthericus “royal spear”, the stem of which bears berries, and we distinguish two kinds. Albucus has a stalk a cubit long, large, without leaves and smooth, which Mago recommends should be cut at the end of March or the beginning of April, when the blossoming has ceased but before its seed has begun to swell; he adds that the stalks should be split, and brought out into the sun on the fourth day, and that of the material so dried bundles should be made. The same authority adds that the Greeks call oistos, the plant which we include among sedge and call arrow. He recommends that from the fifteenth of May to the end of October it should be stripped of its skin and dried in mild sunshine, and also that the second kind of gladiolus, called cypiros, which too is a marsh plant, should be cut down to the root through-out July, and on the third day dried in the sun until it turns white. Every day however before sunset it should be put back under cover, since night dews are harmful to marsh plants after they have been cut down.

Pliny the Elder (23–79 AD), The Natural History. Volume 6: Books 20–23. William Henry Samuel Jones (1876–1963), translator. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1951. 21.68. Loeb Classical Library


The Daffadill, Affodill, of Asphidoll flower

Cotgrave, Randle (–1634?), A Dictionarie of the French and English Tongue. London: Adam Islip, 1611. PBM


Asphodel, adopted from Greek asfodel-oj, of unknown origin. The earlier form (adaptation of medieval Latin affodillus) was affodil, q.v., whence daffodil.]

A genus of liliaceous plants with very handsome flowers, mostly natives of the south of Europe. The White Asphodel or King’s Spear covers large tracts of land in Apulia, where its leaves afford good nourishment to sheep. From the genus the order has sometimes been called Asphodeleæ.

1578 Henry Lyte, translator Dodoens’ Niewe herball or historie of plantes 649 This herbe is called in Greke asfodeloj; in shops Affodilus… in English also Affodyl and Daffodyll.

1597 John Gerard (or Gerarde) The herball, or general historie of plants 85 To shew vnto you the sundry sorts of asphodils… Dioscorides maketh mention but of one asphodill: but Plinie setteth downe two.

1601 Philemon Holland, translator Pliny’s History of the world, commonly called the Natural historie II. 128 Asphodel hath a property to chase away mice and rats.

1611 Randle Cotgrave, A dictionarie of the French and English tongues Asphodile [French], The Daffadill, Affodill, or Asphodill flower; also the root or bulbes thereof.

1712 Pomet’s History of Drugs I. 39 The Root is like the Asphodel, and yields… Salt and Oil.

1859 Rawlinson Herodotus iv. cxc. III. 169 Dwellings… made of the stems of the asphodel, and of rushes, wattled together.

1877 Mrs. King Discip., Ugo Bassi i. 51 The moonlight spires Of asphodel rose out of glossy tufts In straight white armies.

By the poets made an immortal flower, and said to cover the Elysian meads. (Cf. Homer Odyssey. XI. 539)

1634 Milton Comus 838 To embathe In nectared lavers strewed with asphodel.

1658 Sir Thomas Browne Hydriot. 37 The dead are made to eat Asphodels about the Elysian meadows.

1713 Pope St. Cecilia’s Day 74 Happy souls who dwell In yellow meads of asphodel Or amaranthine bowers.

A. 1842 Tennyson Lotos-Eaters 170 Others in Elysian valleys dwell, Resting weary limbs at last on beds of asphodel.

1858 Longfellow Poems 90 He who wore the crown of asphodels, Descending, at my door began to knock.



Posted 21 January 2013. Modified 23 February 2019.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.