phusa

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Sometimes when I am putting together a post, Ancient words come together in the most surpring ways.  The Portugese Man O’War was given the name Physalia physalis by the great Swedish scientist and father of taxonomy Linneaus.  The Ancient Greek word he chose to describe the creature comes from φυσαλλις phusalis meaning a wind instrument or musical instrument that used a bladder, something like a modern bagpipe.  At the same time I was searching through my lexicons and dictionaries for all the words related to the bladder (the root φυσα phusa meaning bellows or wind gave the Greeks the base for their word for fart), I saw this post about an Ancient Greek bowl with illustrations of constellations.  These large bowls had many names, and antiquities scholars and linguists are still not sure of all the designations, but a calyx (sometimes spelled kalyx) crater was a type of large mixing bowl for wine, similar to the skyphos show here now thought to depict constallations.  The top ‘bladder’ of the Portugese Man O'War that Linneaus used as the basis for his name was also occasionally called a calyx, as far back as the Greeks.  

Image of a Portugese Man O'War (physalia physalis) courtesy Sean Nash, used with permission under a Creative Commons 3.0 license.