In a footnote of Vives' Dialogs (for the word "Ad brechma"):

Ad Brechma, brechma, tis; sive bregma, pars anterior capitis, synciput a Breco Graeco, quod est pluo, et irrigo; haec enim pars maxime humida, et tenera esse solet praecipue infantibus: Gaza tamen aliquoties occiput vertit.

It is understood that brechma is the forehead where we humans used to sweat. Yet I have 3 distinct questions (in order of importance) about this passage:

  1. what is "Gaza tamen aliquoties occiput vertit", my guess Gaza is Theodorus Gaza (fits the timeline), but I am puzzled with respect to "aliquoties occiput vertit" — "Gaza reversed the back-head several times"(?) [attributed the opposite meaning?]
  2. what is tis in "Ad Brechma, brechma, tis"?
  3. What is the Greek word "Breco" that is the source of our brechma. Other version renders this footnote as "synciput a verbo Graeco" (instead "synciput a Breco Graeco"), but I suspect the correct reading is indeed Breco.


I was able to locate the Greek word, which is βρέχω (I wet, rain) as said in the footnote.


In order of certainty:

2. As this is essentially a dictionary entry, explaining a word, I think "Ad Brechma, brechma, tis" indicates the declension. The -tis is the genitive ending, so this is a Greek style third declension neuter. Modern dictionaries could write this as "brechma, brechmatis" or "brechma, -tis". So the missing bit that helps parsing this correctly is the dash before tis.

1. I am less sure about this one, but it seems possible that here vertere means "to translate". If you read the verb like this, the sentence says: "Gaza sometimes translates this as occiput."

3. I think the full version would be "synciput a verbo Graeco breco", "synciput from the Greek word breco". Leaving out the explicit word verbo is not a big surprise, nor is a later editor adding it in. Why they would leave out breco beats me; perhaps they thought it was a misprint for verbo? Unfortunately I don't know nearly enough Greek to be of any help with the actual Greek word.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.