In Latin cicuta means the length of a reed up to the knot, such as the internodes made into a Pan-pipe. Hence Virgil ( Ecl. ii. 36) describes a Pan-pipe as “septem compacta cicutis fistula.” It is called Cow-bane, because cows not unfrequently eat it, but are killed by it. It is one of the most poisonous of plants, and some think it made the fatal draught given to Socratês.
“Sicut cicuta homini venenum est, sic cicutæ vinum.” —Pliny, xiv. 7.
“Quæ poterunt unquam satis expurgare cicutæ.” Horace: 2 Epist. ii. 53.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894