Friday, November 04, 2005

fyi...

One of the housing projects in North Little Rock is named Hemlock Courts. I have always assumed this was the worst of the housing projects, as the name made my skin crawl. I was familiar with the term from Theatre History and AP English in high school, as well as a myriad of humanities classes in college. But today the name came up again and I just wanted to verify it was what I thought it was, so I gave myself a refresher course:

The Ancients were familiar with the plant, which is mentioned in early Greek literature, and fully recognized its poisonous nature. The juice of hemlock was frequently administered to criminals, and this was the fatal poison which Socrates was condemned to drink. The old Roman name of Conium was Cicuta, which prevails in the mediaeval Latin literature, but was applied about 1541 by Gesner and others to another umbelliferous plant, Cicuta virosa, the Water Hemlock, which does not grow in Greece and southern Europe. To avoid the confusion arising from the same name for these quite dissimilar plants, Linnaeus, in 1737, restored the classical Greek name and called the Hemlock (Conium maculatum), the generic name being derived from the Greek word Konas, meaning to whirl about, because the plant, when eaten, causes vertigo and death. The specific name is the Latin word, meaning 'spotted,' and refers to the stem-markings. According to an old English legend, these purple streaks on the stem represent the brand put on Cain's brow after he had committed murder.

I'm thinking a name change is definately in order...

3 comments:

Ramonsito said...

That's horrible. My friend Ross and I decided the only worse ones might be Shotgun Manor or There's No Hope For You Now Place.

the hamster said...

whew, lady! i was just thinking that Hemlock Rose Still would be a great name for a first born daughter. i've been rolling the name around a bit but have been slow to look it up for any solid meaning. i guess now i'll have to go with Lacy Lily Still or Bertrand Russel Still. what do you think?

Kimberly said...

definately Bertrand... there are enough idealists running around this planet without adding any more to the mix... plus you could call her Bert...