Book One -- The things that sustain and support the entire body, and what braces and attaches them all. [the bones and the ligaments that interconnect them] | Chapter 18 On the Sacral Bone and the Coccyx

The reason for the name of the coccyx and sacrum

No one should doubt that these four human ossicles had been called ko/kkuc by the ancients from their obliquity of shape, their pointed outline, and their red color, because the ancients compared all these features to the beak of a cuckoo for the benefit of their sons. 45 Yet there is no similarity between these bones in dogs and humans. The features which fit Galen's description apply to the lumbar vertebrae in every point of resemblance, as we have stated. They called the sacrum platu/, or wide and broad, because its breadth easily exceeds that of the other vertebrae, beneath which it is placed as a basis and very safe foundation. 46 I do not believe they compared it in breadth with all the bones, since the iliac bones are known to be broader than the sacrum. It is unclear why they called it i(ero/n or sacred, unless they called it so from its rare appearance and shape, or because it so resembles a divine bulwark, or because many people think (falesly) that by divine aid, without the aid of muscles, the connections 47 of this bone with the ilium are opened during childbirth, and joined again by natural instinct; or because it is grand and spacious, as we think Troy, the sea, hunger, and such like are called “sacred” by the poets. 48 But as we have said regarding its breadth, the sacrum would need to be compared only with the vertebrae, since the bones attached to it on each side, as well as the femur and the tibia, are larger than the sacrum. Moreover, these consist only (if I may say so) of a single bone, while the sacrum is a combination of six. Others investigating the reason for this name cite one thing or another about the sacrifices of the ancients. Since I am everywhere quite happy to leave to others the reason for names, I shall gladly withdraw from the investigation of this name.



Book One -- The things that sustain and support the entire body, and what braces and attaches them all. [the bones and the ligaments that interconnect them] | Chapter 18 On the Sacral Bone and the Coccyx