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Title: The Natural History of Pliny, Volume 3 (of 6)
       By Pliny, the Elder

Author: Pliny the Elder

Translator: John Bostock
            Henry T. Riley

Release Date: March 26, 2019 [EBook #59131]

Language: English

Character set encoding: UTF-8


Produced by Turgut Dincer, Stephen Rowland and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at (This
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The cover image was created by the transcriber and is placed in the public domain.







H. T. RILEY, Esq., B.A.,





Chap.   Page

The extreme smallness of insects


Whether insects respire, and whether they have blood


The bodies of insects




The order displayed in the works of bees


The meaning of the terms commosis, pissoceros, and propolis


The meaning of erithace, sandaraca, or cerinthos


What flowers are used by the bees in their work


Persons who have made bees their study


The mode in which bees work




The qualities of honey


Where the best honey is produced


The kinds of honey peculiar to various places


How honey is tested. Ericæum. Tetralix, or sisirum


The reproduction of bees


The mode of government of the bees


Happy omens sometimes afforded by a swarm of bees


The various kinds of bees


The diseases of bees


Things that are noxious to bees


How to keep bees to the hive


Methods of renewing the swarm


Wasps and hornets: animals which appropriate what belongs to others


The bombyx of Assyria


The larvæ of the silk-worm—who first invented silk cloths


The silk-worm of Cos—how the Coan vestments are made


Spiders; the kinds that make webs; the materials used by them in so doing


The generation of spiders

29 iv



The stellio


The grasshopper: that it has neither mouth nor outlet for food


The wings of insects


The beetle. The glow-worm. Other kinds of beetles






The chrysalis


Animals which breed in wood


Insects that are parasites of man. Which is the smallest of animals? Animals found in wax even


An animal which has no passage for the evacuations


Moths, cantharides, gnats—an insect which breeds in the snow


An animal found in fire—the pyrallis, or pyrausta


The animal called hemerobion


The nature and characteristics of all animals considered limb by limb. Those which have tufts and crests


The various kinds of horns. Animals in which they are moveable


The heads of animals. Those which have none


The hair


The bones of the head


The brain


The ears. Animals which hear without ears or apertures


The face, the forehead, and the eye-brows


The eyes—animals which have no eyes, or have only one eye


The diversity of the colour of the eyes


The theory of sight—persons who can see by night


The nature of the pupil—eyes which do not shut


The hair of the eye-lids; what animals are without them. Animals which can see on one side only


Animals which have no eye-lids


The cheeks


The nostrils


The mouth; the lips; the chin; and the jaw-bone


The teeth; the various kinds of teeth; in what animals they are not on both sides of the mouth: animals which have hollow teeth


The teeth of serpents; their poison. A bird which has teeth


Wonderful circumstances connected with the teeth


How an estimate is formed of the age of animals from their teeth


The tongue; animals which have no tongue. The noise made by frogs. The palate


The tonsils; the uvula; the epiglossis; the tracheal artery; the gullet


The neck; the throat; the dorsal spine


The throat; the gullet; the stomach


The heart; the blood; the vital spirit


Those animals which have the largest heart, and those which have the smallest. What animals have two hearts


When the custom was first adopted of examining the heart in the inspection of the entrails


The lungs: in what animals they are the largest, and in what the smallest. Animals which have nothing but lungs in the interior of the body. Causes which produce extraordinary swiftness in animals

67 v

The liver; in what animals, and in what part there are two livers found


The gall; where situate, and in what animals it is double. Animals which have no gall, and others in which it is not situate in the liver


The properties of the gall


In what animals the liver increases and decreases with the moon. Observations on the aruspices relative thereto, and remarkable prodigies


The diaphragm. The nature of laughter


The belly: animals which have no belly. Which are the only animals that vomit


The small guts, the front intestines, the anus, the colon. The causes of the insatiate voracity of certain animals


The omentum: the spleen; animals which are without it


The kidneys: animals which have four kidneys. Animals which have none


The breast: the ribs


The bladder: animals which have no bladder


The womb: the womb of the sow: the teats


Animals which have suet: animals which do not grow fat


The marrow: animals which have no marrow


Bones and fish-bones: animals which have neither. Cartilages


The nerves: animals which have none


The arteries; the veins: animals without arteries or veins. The blood and the sweat


Animals, the blood of which coagulates with the greatest rapidity: other animals, the blood of which does not coagulate. Animals which have the thickest blood: those the blood of which is the thinnest: animals which have no blood


Animals which are without blood at certain periods of the year


Whether the blood is the principle of life


The hide of animals


The hair and the covering of the skin


The paps: birds which have paps. Remarkable facts connected with the dugs of animals


The milk: the biestings. Cheese: of what milk cheese cannot be made. Rennet; the various kinds of aliment in milk


Various kinds of cheese


Differences of the members of man from those of other animals


The fingers, the arms


Resemblance of the ape to man


The nails


The knees and the hams


Parts of the human body to which certain religious ideas are attached


Varicose veins

88 vi

The gait, the feet, the legs




The feet of birds


The feet of animals, from those having two feet to those with a hundred.—Dwarfs


The sexual parts.—Hermaphrodites


The testes.—The three classes of eunuchs


The tails of animals


The different voices of animals


Superfluous limbs


Signs of vitality and of the moral disposition of man, from the limbs


Respiration and nutriment


Animals which when fed upon poison do not die, and the flesh of which is poisonous


Reasons for indigestion. Remedies for crudity


From what causes corpulence arises; how it may be reduced


What things, by merely tasting of them, allay hunger and thirst


The honourable place occupied by trees in the system of nature


The early history of trees


Exotic trees. When the plane-tree first appeared in Italy, and whence it came


The nature of the plane-tree


Remarkable facts connected with the plane-tree


The chamæplatanus. Who was the first to clip green shrubs


How the citron is planted


The trees of India


When ebony was first seen at Rome. The various kinds of ebony


The Indian thorn


The Indian fig


The pala: the fruit called ariena


Indian trees, the names of which are unknown. Indian trees which bear flax


The pepper-tree.—The various kinds of pepper—bregma—zingiberi, or zimpirebi


Caryophyllon, lycion, and the Chironian pyxacanthus






Trees of Ariana, Gedrosia, and Hyrcania


Trees of Bactriana, bdellium, or brochon, otherwise malacha, or maldacon, scordastum. Adulterations used in all spices and aromatics; the various tests of them and their respective values


Trees of Persis


Trees of the islands of the Persian Sea. The cotton tree


The tree called cyna. Trees from which fabrics for clothing are made in the east

118 vii

A country where the trees never lose their leaves


The various useful products of trees




Nard. The twelve varieties of the plant


Asarum, or foal-foot






The country of frankincense


The trees which bear frankincense


Various kinds of frankincense




The trees which produce myrrh


The nature and various kinds of myrrh




Ladanum and stobolon




The tree called bratus


The tree called stobrum


Why Arabia was called “Happy”


Cinnamomum. Xylocinnamum




Cancamum and tarum


Serichatum and gabalium






The sweet-scented calamus; the sweet-scented rush








Aspalathos, or erysisceptrum




Balsamum; opobalsamum; and xylobalsamum














Bryon, œnanthe, and massaris


Elate or spathe


Cinnamon or comacum


Unguents—at what period they were first introduced


The various kinds of unguents—twelve principal compositions


Diapasma, magma; the mode of testing unguents

166 viii

The excesses to which luxury has run in unguents


When unguents were first used by the Romans


The palm-tree


The nature of the palm-tree


How the palm-tree is planted


The different varieties of palm-trees, and their characteristics


The trees of Syria: the pistacia, the cottana, the damascena, and the myxa


The cedar. Trees which have on them the fruit of three years at once


The terebinth


The sumach-tree


The trees of Egypt. The fig-tree of Alexandria


The fig-tree of Cyprus


The carob-tree


The Persian tree. In what trees the fruits germinate the one below the other


The cucus


The Egyptian thorn


Nine kinds of gum. The sarcocolla


The papyrus: the use of paper: when it was first invented


The mode of making paper


The nine different kinds of paper


The mode of testing the goodness of paper


The peculiar defects in paper


The paste used in the preparation of paper


The books of Numa


The trees of Æthiopia


The trees of Mount Atlas. The citrus, and the tables made of the wood thereof


The points that are desirable or otherwise in these tables


The citron-tree


The lotus


The trees of Cyrenaica. The paliurus


Nine varieties of the Punic apple. Balaustium


The trees of Asia and Greece; the epipactis, the erica, the Cnidian grain or thymelæa, pyrosachne, cnestron, or cneoron


The tragion: tragacanthe


The tragos or scorpio; the myrica or brya; the ostrys


The euonymos


The tree called eon


The andrachle


The coccygia; the apharce


The ferula


The thapsia


The capparis or cynosbaton, otherwise ophiostaphyle


The saripha


The royal thorn


The cytisus


The trees and shrubs of the Mediterranean. The phycos, prason, or zoster

209 ix

The sea bryon


Plants of the Red Sea


Plants of the Indian Sea


The plants of the Troglodytic Sea; the hair of Isis: the Charito-blepharon


1 and 2.  The nature of the vine. Its mode of fructification


The nature of the grape, and the cultivation of the vine


Ninety-one varieties of the vine


Remarkable facts connected with the culture of the vine


The most ancient wines


The nature of wines


Fifty kinds of generous wines


Thirty-eight varieties of foreign wine


Seven kinds of salted wines


Eighteen varieties of sweet wine. Raisin-wine and hepsema


Three varieties of second-rate wine


At what period generous wines were first commonly made in Italy


The inspection of wine ordered by King Romulus


Wines drunk by the ancient Romans


Some remarkable facts connected with wine-lofts. The Opimian wine


At what period four kinds of wine were first served at table


The uses of the wild vine. What juices are naturally the coldest of all


Sixty-six varieties of artificial wine


Hydromeli, or melicraton




Twelve kinds of wine with miraculous properties


What wines it is not lawful to use in the sacred rites


How must is usually prepared


Pitch and resin


Vinegar—lees of wine






Liquors with the strength of wine made from water and corn


The olive.—How long it existed in Greece only.—At what period it was first introduced into Italy, Spain, and Africa


The nature of the olive, and of new olive oil


Olive oil: the countries in which it is produced, and its various qualities

279 x

Fifteen varieties of the olive


The nature of olive oil


The culture of the olive: its mode of preservation. The method of making olive oil


Forty-eight varieties of artificial oils. The cicus-tree or croton, or sili, or sesamum




The various kinds of fruit-trees and their natures. Four varieties of pine-nuts


The quince. Four kinds of cydonia, and four varieties of the struthea


Six varieties of the peach


Twelve kinds of plums


The peach


Thirty different kinds of pomes. At what period foreign fruits were first introduced into Italy, and whence


The fruits that have been most recently introduced


Forty-one varieties of the pear


Various methods of grafting trees. Expiations for lightning


The mode of keeping various fruits and grapes


Twenty-nine varieties of the fig


Historical anecdotes connected with the fig




Three varieties of the medlar


Four varieties of the sorb


Nine varieties of the nut


Eighteen varieties of the chesnut


The carob


The fleshy fruits. The mulberry


The fruit of the arbutus


The relative natures of berry fruits


Nine varieties of the cherry


The cornel. The lentisk


Thirteen different flavours of juices


The colour and smell of juices


The various natures of fruit


The myrtle


Historical anecdotes relative to the myrtle


Eleven varieties of the myrtle


The myrtle used at Rome in ovations


The laurel; thirteen varieties of it


Historical anecdotes connected with the laurel


Countries that have no trees


Wonders connected with trees in the northern regions


The acorn oak. The civic crown

341 xi

The origin of the presentation of crowns


Persons presented with a crown of leaves


Thirteen varieties of the acorn


The beech


The other acorns—wood for fuel


The gall-nut


Other productions on these trees besides the acorn




The kermes berry




Trees of which the bark is used




The pine


The pinaster


The pitch-tree: the fir


The larch: the torch-tree


The yew


Methods of making tar—how cedrium is made


Methods by which thick pitch is prepared


How the resin called zopissa is prepared


Trees the wood of which is highly valued. Four varieties of the ash


Two varieties of the linden-tree


Ten varieties of the maple


Bruscum: molluscum; the staphylodendron


Three varieties of the box-tree


Four varieties of the elm


The natures of the various trees according to their localities: the mountain trees, and the trees of the plain


Trees which grow on a dry soil: those which are found in wet localities: those which are found in both indifferently


Division of trees into various species


Trees which do not lose their foliage. The rhododendron. Trees which do not lose the whole of their foliage. Places in which there are no trees


The nature of the leaves which wither and fall


Trees which have leaves of various colours; trees with leaves of various shapes. Three varieties of the poplar


Leaves which turn round every year


The care bestowed on the leaves of the palm, and the uses to which they are applied


Remarkable facts connected with leaves


The natural order of the production of plants


Trees which never blossom. The juniper


The fecundation of trees. Germination: the appearance of the fruit


In what order the trees blossom


At what period each tree bears fruit. The cornel


Trees which bear the whole year. Trees which have on them the fruit of three years


Trees which bear no fruit: trees looked upon as ill-omened

385 xii

Trees which lose their fruit or flowers most readily


Trees which are unproductive in certain places


The mode in which trees bear


Trees in which the fruit appears before the leaves


Trees which bear two crops in a year. Trees which bear three crops


Which trees become old with the greatest rapidity, and which most slowly


Trees which bear various products. Cratægum


Differences in trees in respect of the trunks and branches


The branches of trees


The bark of trees


The roots of trees


Trees which have grown spontaneously from the ground


How trees grow spontaneously—diversities in their nature, the same trees not growing everywhere


Plants that will not grow in certain places


The cypress


That the earth often bears productions which it has never borne before


The ivy—twenty varieties of it


The smilax


Water plants: the rush: twenty-eight varieties of the reed


Reeds used for arrows, and for the purpose of writing


Flute reeds: the reed of Orchomenus; reeds used for fowling and fishing


The vine-dresser’s reed


The willow: eight varieties of it


Trees, in addition to the willow, which are of use in making withes


Rushes: candle-rushes: rushes for thatching


The elder: the bramble


The juices of trees


The veins and fibres of trees


The felling of trees


The opinion of Cato on the felling of timber


The size of trees: the nature of wood: the sappinus


Methods of obtaining fire from wood


Trees which are proof against decay: trees which never split


Historical facts connected with the durability of wood


Varieties of the teredo


The woods used in building


Carpenters’ woods


Woods united with glue




The age of trees. A tree that was planted by the first Scipio Africanus. A tree at Rome five hundred years old


Trees as old as the City


Trees in the suburban districts older than the City


Trees planted by Agamemnon the first year of the Trojan war: other trees which date from the time that the place was called Ilium, anterior to the Trojan war

431 xiii

Trees planted at Argos by Hercules: others planted by Apollo. A tree more ancient than Athens itself


Trees which are the most short-lived


Trees which have been rendered famous by remarkable events


Plants which have no peculiar spot for their growth: others that grow upon trees, and will not grow in the ground. Nine varieties of them: cadytas, polypodion, phaulias, hippophæston


Three varieties of mistletoe. The nature of mistletoe and similar plants


The method of making birdlime


Historical facts connected with the mistletoe


Trees which have been sold at enormous prices


The influence of weather upon trees: what is the proper situation for the vine


What soils are to be considered the best


The eight kinds of earth boasted of by the Gauls and Greeks


The employment of ashes




Crops which tend to improve the land: crops which exhaust it


The proper mode of using manure


The modes in which trees bear


Plants which are propagated by seed


Trees which never degenerate


Propagation by suckers


Propagation by slips and cuttings




The mode of propagating the elm


The holes for transplanting


The intervals to be left between trees


The nature of the shadow thrown by trees


The droppings of water from the leaves


Trees which grow but slowly: those which grow with rapidity


Trees propagated from layers


Grafting: the first discovery of it


Inoculation or budding


The various kinds of grafting


Grafting the vine


Grafting by scutcheons


Plants which grow from a branch


Trees which grow from cuttings: the mode of planting them


The cultivation of the olive


Transplanting operations as distributed throughout the various seasons of the year

487 xiv

The cleaning and baring of the roots, and moulding them






Other plants that are cut for poles and stakes


The culture of the vine and the various shrubs which support it


How grapes are protected from the ravages of insects


The diseases of trees


Prodigies connected with trees


Treatment of the diseases of trees


Methods of irrigation


Remarkable facts connected with irrigation


Incisions made in trees


Other remedies for the diseases of trees


Caprification, and particulars connected with the fig


Errors that may be committed in pruning


The proper mode of manuring trees


Medicaments for trees



Acetabulum. R 18 of a Sextarius, .1238 pint.
Actus. R 120 Pedes or Roman feet.
Amphora. R 48 Sextarii, 5 gall. 7.577 pints.
As. R 218 farthings. Copper.
As. R weight See “Libra.”
Concha, Smaller, G and R .0412 pint.
Concha, Larger, G and R .1238 pint.
Congius. R 5.9471 pints.
Cubitus. G 1 foot 6.2016 inches.
Cubitus. R 1 foot 5.4744 inches.
Culeus. R 20 Amphoræ, 118 gall. 7.546 pints.
Cyathus. G and R 112 of a Sextarius, .0825 pint.
Denarius. R 16 Asses, 812 pence. Silver.
Denarius. R. weight 52.5 to 60 grains.
Digitus, or Finger. R 116 of a Pes, .7281 inch.
Drachma. G .63 grains.
Hemina. R See “Semisextarius.”
Jugerum. R 240 Pedes or Roman feet by 120.
Libra, or Pound. R 1134 ounces 60.45 grains, avoird.
Mina.1 G 15 ounces 83.75 grains, avoird.
Modius. R. [dry measure] 13 of an Amphora, 1 gall. 7.8576 pints.
Obolus, G 112 pence + .5 farthings. Silver.
Obolus. G. weight 10.5 grains.
Palmus, or Handbreadth. R 2.9214 inches.
Passus, or Pace.2 R 5 Roman feet, 4 ft. 10.248 inches.
Pes, or Foot. R 12 Unciæ, 11.6496 inches.
Pollex, or Thumb. R See “Uncia” [lineal measure].
Quadrans. R .53125 farthings. Copper.
Quadrans. R weight 3 Unciæ, 234 ounces 97.21 grs.
Quadrantal. R See “Amphora.”
Quartarius. R 14 of a Sextarius, .2477 pint.
Quinarius. R 12 of a Denarius.
Scripulum, or Scruple. R 124 of an Uncia, 18.06 grains.
Semisextarius. R 12 of a Sextarius.
Sestertius. R 14 of a Denarius. Brass or Silver.
Sestertium. R 1000 Sestertii, £7 16s. 3d.
Sextarius. R 16 of a Congius, .9911 pint.
Spithama, or Span. G 9.1008 inches.
Stadium. G and R 18 of a Roman mile, 606 feet 9 in.
Teruncius. R See “Quadrans” [weight & money].
Ulna, or Ell. R 6 feet, 81 inch.
Uncia, or Inch. R 112 of a Pes, .9708 inch.
Uncia, or Ounce. R 112 of a Libra. 433.666 grs.
Urna. R 12 of an Amphora.
Victoriatus. R See “Quinarius.”

The Schœnus, an Egyptian and Persian lineal measure, varied considerably; being sometimes thirty, and sometimes forty Stadia. See B. v. c. 11, B. vi. c. 30, and B. xii. c. 30.

The Attic Talent, as a weight, was equal to 56lb. 1514oz. 100.32 grains. The Commercial Talent was 85lb. 212oz. 70.7 grs. The Silver Attic, or Great Talent, was in value £343 15s. or, according to Pollux, £406 5s. The Gold, or Sicilian Talent, was equal in weight to six Attic Drachmæ, or about 34 oz. and 71 grs. The Egyptian Talent, as a measure of weight, was equal to about twice the Attic Talent.





WE shall now proceed to a description of the insects, a subject replete with endless difficulties;3 for, in fact, there are some authors who have maintained that they do not respire, and that they are destitute of blood. The insects are numerous, and form many species, and their mode of life is like that of the terrestrial animals and the birds. Some of them are furnished with wings, bees for instance; others are divided into those kinds which have wings, and those which are without them, such as ants; while others, again, are destitute of both wings and feet. All these animals have been very properly called “insects,”4 from the incisures or divisions which separate the body, sometimes at the neck, and sometimes at the corselet, and so divide it into members or segments, only united to each other by a slender tube. In some insects, however, this division is not complete, as it is surrounded by wrinkled folds; and thus the flexible vertebræ of the creature, whether situate at the abdomen, or whether only at the upper part of the body, are protected by layers, overlapping each other; indeed, in no one of her works has Nature more fully displayed her exhaustless ingenuity.

(2.) In large animals, on the other hand, or, at all events, 2in the very largest among them, she found her task easy and her materials ready and pliable; but in these minute creatures, so nearly akin as they are to non-entity, how surpassing the intelligence, how vast the resources, and how ineffable the perfection which she has displayed. Where is it that she has united so many senses as in the gnat?—not to speak of creatures that might be mentioned of still smaller size—Where, I say, has she found room to place in it the organs of sight? Where has she centred the sense of taste? Where has she inserted the power of smell? And where, too, has she implanted that sharp shrill voice of the creature, so utterly disproportioned to the smallness of its body? With what astonishing subtlety has she united the wings to the trunk, elongated the joints of the legs, framed that long, craving concavity for a belly, and then inflamed the animal with an insatiate thirst for blood, that of man more especially! What ingenuity has she displayed in providing it with a sting,5 so well adapted for piercing the skin! And then too, just as though she had had the most extensive field for the exercise of her skill, although the weapon is so minute that it can hardly be seen, she has formed it with a twofold mechanism, providing it with a point for the purpose of piercing, and at the same moment making it hollow, to adapt it for suction.

What teeth, too, has she inserted in the teredo,6 to adapt it for piercing oak even with a sound which fully attests their destructive power! while at the same time she has made wood its principal nutriment. We give all our admiration to the shoulders of the elephant as it supports the turret, to the stalwart neck of the bull, and the might with which it hurls aloft whatever comes in its way, to the onslaught of the tiger, or to the mane of the lion; while, at the same time, Nature is nowhere to be seen to greater perfection than in the very smallest of her works. For this reason then, I must beg of my readers, notwithstanding the contempt they feel for many of these objects, not to feel a similar disdain for the information I am about to give relative thereto, seeing that, in the 3study of Nature, there are none of her works that are unworthy of our consideration.


Many authors deny that insects respire,7 and make the assertion upon the ground, that in their viscera there is no respiratory organ to be found. On this ground, they assert that insects have the same kind of life as plants and trees, there being a very great difference between respiring and merely having life. On similar grounds also, they assert that insects have no blood, a thing which cannot exist, they say, in any animal that is destitute of heart and liver; just as, according to them, those creatures cannot breathe which have no lungs. Upon these points, however, a vast number of questions will naturally arise; for the same writers do not hesitate to deny that these creatures are destitute also of voice,8 and this, notwithstanding the humming of bees, the chirping of grasshoppers, and the sounds emitted by numerous other insects which will be considered in their respective places. For my part, whenever I have considered the subject, I have ever felt persuaded that there is nothing impossible to Nature, nor do I see why creatures should be less able to live and yet not inhale, than to respire without being possessed of viscera, a doctrine which I have already maintained, when speaking9 of the marine animals; and that, notwithstanding the density and the vast depth of the water which would appear to impede all breathing. But what person could very easily believe that there can be any creatures that fly to and fro, and live in the very midst of the element of respiration, while, at the same time, they themselves are devoid of that respiration; that they can be possessed of the requisite instincts for nourishment, generation, working, and making provision even for time to come, in the enjoyment too (although, certainly, they are not possessed of the organs which act, as it were, as the receptacles 4of those senses) of the powers of hearing, smelling, and tasting, as well as those other precious gifts of Nature, address, courage, and skilfulness? That these creatures have no blood10 I am ready to admit, just as all the terrestrial animals are not possessed of it; but then, they have something similar, by way of equivalent. Just as in the sea, the sæpia11 has a black liquid in place of blood, and the various kinds of purples, those juices which we use for the purposes of dyeing; so, too, is every insect possessed of its own vital humour, which, whatever it is, is blood to it. While I leave it to others to form what opinion they please on this subject, it is my purpose to set forth the operations of Nature in the clearest possible light, and not to enter upon the discussion of points that are replete with doubt.


Insects, so far as I find myself able to ascertain, seem to have neither sinews,12 bones, spines, cartilages, fat, nor flesh; nor yet so much as a frail shell, like some of the marine animals, nor even anything that can with any propriety be termed skin; but they have a body which is of a kind of intermediate nature between all these, of an arid substance, softer than muscle, and in other respects of a nature that may, in strictness, be rather pronounced yielding,13 than hard. Such, then, is all that they are, and nothing more:14 in the inside of their bodies there is nothing, except in some few, which have an intestine arranged in folds. Hence it is, that even when cut asunder, they are remarkable for their tenacity of life, and the palpitations which are to be seen in each of their parts. For every portion of them is possessed of its own vital principle, which is centred in no limb in particular, but 5in every part of the body; least of all, however, in the head, which alone is subject to no movements unless torn off together with the corselet. No kind of animal has more feet than the insects have, and those among them which have the most, live the longest when cut asunder, as we see in the case of the scolopendra. They have eyes, and the senses as well of touch and taste; some of them have also the sense of smelling, and some few that of hearing.

CHAP. 4. (5.)—BEES.

But among them all, the first rank, and our especial admiration, ought, in justice, to be accorded to bees, which alone, of all the insects, have been created for the benefit of man. They extract honey and collect it, a juicy substance remarkable for its extreme sweetness, lightness, and wholesomeness. They form their combs and collect wax, an article that is useful for a thousand purposes of life; they are patient of fatigue, toil at their labours, form themselves into political communities, hold councils together in private, elect chiefs in common, and, a thing that is the most remarkable of all, have their own code of morals. In addition to this, being as they are, neither tame nor wild, so all-powerful is Nature, that, from a creature so minute as to be nothing more hardly than the shadow of an animal, she has created a marvel beyond all comparison. What muscular power, what exertion of strength are we to put in comparison with such vast energy and such industry as theirs? What display of human genius, in a word, shall we compare with the reasoning powers manifested by them? In this they have, at all events, the advantage of us—they know of nothing but what is for the common benefit of all. Away, then, with all questions whether they respire or no, and let us be ready to agree on the question of their blood; and yet, how little of it can possibly exist in bodies so minute as theirs.—And now let us form some idea of the instinct they display.


Bees keep within the hive during the winter—for whence are they to derive the strength requisite to withstand frosts and snows, and the northern blasts? The same, in fact, is done by all insects, but not to so late a period; as those6 which conceal themselves in the walls of our houses, are much sooner sensible of the returning warmth. With reference to bees, either seasons and climates have considerably changed, or else former writers have been greatly mistaken. They retire for the winter at the setting of the Vergiliæ, and remain shut up till after the rising of that constellation, and not till only the beginning of spring, as some authors have stated; nor, indeed, does any one in Italy ever think of then opening the hives. They do not come forth to ply their labours until the bean blossoms; and then not a day do they lose in inactivity, while the weather is favourable for their pursuits.

First of all, they set about constructing their combs, and forming the wax, or, in other words, making their dwellings and cells; after this they produce their young, and then make honey and wax from flowers, and extract bee-glue15 from the tears of those trees which distil glutinous substances, the juices, gums, and resins, namely, of the willow, the elm, and the reed. With these substances, as well as others of a more bitter nature, they first line the whole inside of the hive, as a sort of protection against the greedy propensities of other small insects, as they are well aware that they are about to form that which will prove an object of attraction to them. Having done this, they employ similar substances in narrowing the entrance to the hive, if otherwise too wide.


The persons who understand this subject, call the substance which forms the first foundation of their combs, commosis,16 the next, pissoceros,17 and the third propolis;18 which last is placed between the other layers and the wax, and is remarkable for its utility in medicine.19 The commosis forms the first crust or layer, and has a bitter taste; and upon it is laid the pissoceros, a kind of thin wax, which acts as a sort of varnish. The propolis is produced from the sweet gum of the vine or 7the poplar, and is of a denser consistency, the juices of flowers being added to it. Still, however, it cannot be properly termed wax, but rather the foundation of the honey-combs; by means of it all inlets are stopped up, which might, otherwise, serve for the admission of cold or other injurious influences; it has also a strong odour, so much so, indeed, that many people use it instead of galbanum.


In addition to this, the bees form collections of erithace or bee-bread, which some persons call “sandaraca,”20 and others “cerinthos.” This is to serve as the food of the bees while they are at work, and is often found stowed away in the cavities of the cells, being of a bitter flavour also. It is produced from the spring dews and the gummy juices of trees, being less abundant while the south-west wind is blowing, and blackened by the prevalence of a south wind. On the other hand, again, it is of a reddish colour and becomes improved by the north-east wind; it is found in the greatest abundance upon the nut trees in Greece. Menecrates says, that it is a flower, which gives indications of the nature of the coming harvest; but no one says so, with the exception of him.


Bees form wax21 from the blossoms of all trees and plants, with the sole exception of the rumex22 and the echinopodes,23 both being kinds of herbs. It is by mistake, however, that spartum is excepted;24 for many varieties of honey that come from Spain, and have been made in the plantations of it, have a strong taste of that plant. I am of opinion, also, that it is without any sufficient reason that the olive has been excepted, seeing that it is a well-known fact, that where olives are in the greatest abundance, the swarms of bees are the most numerous. Bees are not injurious to fruit of any kind; they will 8never settle on a dead flower, much less a dead carcase. They pursue their labours within three-score paces of their hives; and when the flowers in their vicinity are exhausted, they send out scouts from time to time, to discover places for forage at a greater distance. When overtaken by night in their expeditions, they watch till the morning, lying on their backs, in order to protect their wings from the action of the dew.


It is not surprising that there have been persons who have made bees their exclusive study; Aristomachus of Soli, for instance, who for a period of fifty-eight years did nothing else; Philiscus of Thasos, also, surnamed Agrius,25 who passed his life in desert spots, tending swarms of bees. Both of these have written works on this subject.


The manner in which bees carry on their work is as follows. In the day time a guard is stationed at the entrance of the hive, like the sentries in a camp. At night they take their rest until the morning, when one of them awakes the rest with a humming noise, repeated twice or thrice, just as though it were sounding a trumpet. They then take their flight in a body, if the day is likely to turn out fine; for they have the gift of foreknowing wind and rain, and in such case will keep close within their dwellings. On the other hand, when the weather is fine—and this, too, they have the power of foreknowing—the swarm issues forth, and at once applies itself to its work, some loading their legs from the flowers, while others fill their mouths with water, and charge the downy surface of their bodies with drops of liquid. Those among them that are young26 go forth to their labours, and collect the materials already mentioned, while those that are more aged stay within the hives and work. The bees whose business it is to carry the flowers, with their fore feet load their thighs, which Nature has made rough for the purpose, and with their trunks load 9their fore feet: bending beneath their load, they then return to the hive, where there are three or four bees ready to receive them, and aid in discharging their burdens. For, within the hive as well, they have their allotted duties to perform: some are engaged in building, others in smoothing, the combs, while others again are occupied in passing on the materials, and others in preparing food27 from the provision which has been brought; that there may be no unequal division, either in their labour, their food, or the distribution of their time, they do not even feed separately.

Commencing at the vaulted roof of the hive, they begin the construction of their cells, and, just as we do in the manufacture of a web, they construct their cells from top to bottom, taking care to leave two passages around each compartment, for the entrance of some and the exit of others. The combs, which are fastened to the hive in the upper part, and in a slight degree also at the sides, adhere to each other, and are thus suspended altogether. They do not touch the floor of the hive, and are either angular or round, according to its shape; sometimes, in fact, they are both angular and round at once, when two swarms are living in unison, but have dissimilar modes of operation. They prop up the combs that are likely to fall, by means of arched pillars, at intervals springing from the floor, so as to leave them a passage for the purpose of effecting repairs. The first three ranks of their cells are generally left empty when constructed, that there may be nothing exposed to view which may invite theft; and it is the last ones, more especially, that are filled with honey: hence it is that the combs are always taken out at the back of the hive.

The bees that are employed in carrying look out for a favourable breeze, and if a gale should happen to spring up, they poise themselves in the air with little stones, by way of ballast; some writers, indeed, say that they place them upon their shoulders. When the wind is contrary, they fly close to the ground, taking care, however, to keep clear of the brambles. It is wonderful what strict watch is kept upon their work: all instances of idleness are carefully remarked, the offenders are10 chastised, and on a repetition of the fault, punished with death. Their sense of cleanliness, too, is quite extraordinary; everything is removed that might be in the way, and no filth is allowed to remain in the midst of their work. The ordure even of those that are at work within, that they may not have to retire to any distance, is all collected in one spot, and on stormy days, when they are obliged to cease their ordinary labours, they employ themselves in carrying it out. When it grows towards evening, the buzzing in the hive becomes gradually less and less, until at last one of their number is to be seen flying about the hive with the same loud humming noise with which they were aroused in the morning, thereby giving the signal, as it were, to retire to rest: in this, too, they imitate the usage of the camp. The moment the signal is heard, all is silent.

(11.) They first construct the dwellings of the commonalty, and then those of the king-bee. If they have reason to expect an abundant28 season, they add abodes also for the drones: these are cells of a smaller size, though the drones themselves are larger than the bees.


The drones have no sting,29 and would seem to be a kind of imperfect bee, formed the very last of all; the expiring effort, as it were, of worn-out and exhausted old age, a late and tardy offspring, and doomed, in a measure, to be the slaves of the genuine bees. Hence it is that the bees exercise over them a rigorous authority, compel them to take the foremost rank in their labours, and if they show any sluggishness, punish them30 without mercy. And not only in their labours do the drones give them their assistance, but in the propagation of their species as well, the very multitude of them contributing greatly to the warmth of the hive. At all events, it is a well-known fact, that the greater31 the multitude of the drones, the more 11numerous is sure to be the progeny of the swarm. When the honey is beginning to come to maturity, the bees drive away the drones, and setting upon each in great numbers, put them all to death. It is only in the spring that the drones are ever to be seen. If you deprive a drone of its wings, and then replace it in the hive, it will pull off the wings of the other drones.


In the lower part of the hive they construct for their future sovereign a palatial abode,32 spacious and grand, separated from the rest, and surmounted by a sort of dome: if this prominence should happen to be flattened, all hopes of progeny are lost. All the cells are hexagonal, each foot33 having formed its own side. No part of this work, however, is done at any stated time, as the bees seize every opportunity for the performance of their task when the days are fine; in one or two days, at most, they fill their cells with honey.

(12.) This substance is engendered from the air,34 mostly at the rising of the constellations, and more especially when Sirius is shining; never, however, before the rising of the Vergiliæ, and then just before day-break. Hence it is, that at early dawn the leaves of the trees are found covered with a kind of honey-like dew, and those who go into the open air at an early hour in the morning, find their clothes covered, and their hair matted, with a sort of unctuous liquid. Whether it is that this liquid is the sweat of the heavens, or whether a saliva emanating from the stars, or a juice exuding from the air while purifying itself, would that it had been, when it comes to us, pure, limpid, and genuine, as it was, when first it took its downward descent. But as it is, falling from so vast a height, attracting corruption in its passage, and tainted by the exhalations of the earth as it meets them, sucked, too, as it is from off the trees and the herbage of the fields, and accumulated in the stomachs of the bees—for they cast it up 12again through the mouth—deteriorated besides by the juices of flowers, and then steeped within the hives and subjected to such repeated changes—still, in spite of all this, it affords us by its flavour a most exquisite pleasure, the result, no doubt, of its æthereal nature and origin.


The honey is always best in those countries where it is to be found deposited in the calix of the most exquisite flowers, such, for instance, as the districts of Hymettus and Hybla, in Attica and Sicily respectively, and after them the island of Calydna.35 At first, honey is thin, like water, after which it effervesces for some days, and purifies itself like must. On the twentieth day it begins to thicken, and soon after becomes covered with a thin membrane, which gradually increases through the scum which is thrown up by the heat. The honey of the very finest flavour, and the least tainted by the leaves of trees, is that gathered from the foliage of the oak and the linden, and from reeds.


The peculiar excellence of honey depends, as already stated,36 on the country in which it is produced; the modes, too, of estimating its quality are numerous. In some countries we find the honey-comb remarkable for the goodness of the wax, as in Sicily, for instance, and the country of the Peligni; in other places the honey itself is found in greater abundance, as in Crete, Cyprus, and Africa; and in others, again, the comb is remarkable for its size; the northern climates, for instance, for in Germany a comb has been known to be as much as eight feet in length, and quite black on the concave surface.

But whatever the country in which it may happen to have been produced, there are three different kinds of honey.—Spring honey37 is that made in a comb which has been constructed of flowers, from which circumstance it has received the name of anthinum. There are some persons who say that this should not be touched, because the more abundant the nutriment, the 13stronger will be the coming swarm; while others, again, leave less of this honey than of any other for the bees, on the ground that there is sure to be a vast abundance at the rising of the greater constellations, as well as at the summer solstice, when the thyme and the vine begin to blossom, for then they are sure to find abundant materials for their cells.

In taking the combs the greatest care is always requisite, for when they are stinted for food the bees become desperate, and either pine to death, or else wing their flight to other places: but on the other hand, over-abundance will entail idleness, and then they will feed upon the honey, and not the bee-bread. Hence it is that the most careful breeders take care to leave the bees a fifteenth part of this gathering. There is a certain day for beginning the honey-gathering, fixed, as it were, by a law of Nature, if men would only understand or observe it, being the thirtieth day after the bees have swarmed and come forth. This gathering mostly takes place before the end of May.

The second kind of honey is “summer honey,” which, from the circumstance of its being produced at the most favourable season, has received the Greek name of horaion;38 it is generally made during the next thirty days after the solstice, while Sirius is shining in all its brilliancy. Nature has revealed in this substance most remarkable properties to mortals, were it not that the fraudulent propensities of man are apt to falsify and corrupt everything. For, after the rising of each constellation, and those of the highest rank more particularly, or after the appearance of the rainbow, if a shower does not ensue, but the dew becomes warmed by the sun’s rays, a medicament, and not real honey, is produced; a gift sent from heaven for the cure of diseases of the eyes, ulcers, and maladies of the internal viscera. If this is taken at the rising of Sirius, and the rising of Venus, Jupiter, or Mercury should happen to fall on the same day, as often is the case, the sweetness of this substance, and the virtue which it possesses of restoring men to life, are not inferior to those attributed to the nectar of the gods.



The crop of honey is most abundant if gathered at full moon, and it is richest when the weather is fine. In all honey, that which flows of itself, like must or oil, has received from us the name of acetum.39 The summer honey is the most esteemed of all, from the fact of its being made when the weather is driest: it is looked upon as the most serviceable when made from thyme;40 it is then of a golden colour, and of a most delicious flavour. The honey that we see formed in the calix of flowers is of a rich and unctuous nature; that which is made from rosemary is thick, while that which is candied is little esteemed. Thyme honey does not coagulate, and on being touched will draw out into thin viscous threads, a thing which is the principal proof of its heaviness. When honey shows no tenacity, and the drops immediately part from one another, it is looked upon as a sign of its worthlessness. The other proofs of its goodness are the fine aroma of its smell, its being of a sweetness that closely borders on the sour,41 and being glutinous and pellucid.

Cassius Dionysius is of opinion that in the summer gathering the tenth part of the honey ought to be left for the bees if the hives should happen to be well filled, and even if not, still in the same proportion; while, on the other hand, if there is but little in them, he recommends that it should not be touched at all. The people of Attica have fixed the period for commencing this gathering at the first ripening of the wild fig; others42 have made it the day that is sacred to Vulcan.43

(16.) The third kind of honey, which is the least esteemed of all, is the wild honey, known by the name of ericæum.44 It is collected by the bees after the first showers of autumn, when the heather45 alone is blooming in the woods, from which circumstance it derives its sandy appearance. It is mostly produced 15at the rising of Arcturus, beginning at the day46 before the ides of September. Some persons delay the gathering of the summer honey until the rising of Arcturus, because from then till the autumnal equinox there are fourteen days left, and it is from the equinox till the setting of the Vergiliæ, a period of forty-eight days, that the heather is in the greatest abundance. The Athenians call this plant by the name of tetralix,47 and the Eubœans sisirum, and they look upon it as affording great pleasure to the bees to browse upon, probably because there are no other flowers for them to resort to. This gathering terminates at the end of the vintage and the setting of the Vergiliæ, mostly about the ides of November.48 Experience teaches us that we ought to leave for the bees two-thirds of this crop, and always that part of the combs as well, which contains the bee-bread.

From the winter solstice to the rising of Arcturus the bees are buried in sleep for sixty days, and live without any nourishment. Between the rising of Arcturus and the vernal equinox, they awake in the warmer climates, but even then they still keep within the hives, and have recourse to the provisions kept in reserve for this period. In Italy, however, they do this immediately after the rising of the Vergiliæ, up to which period they are asleep. Some persons, when they take the honey, weigh the hive and all, and remove just as much as they leave: a due sense of equity should always be stringently observed in dealing with them, and it is generally stated that if imposed upon in this division, the swarm will die of grief. It is particularly recommended also that the person who takes the honey should be well washed and clean: bees have a particular aversion, too, to a thief and a menstruous woman. When the honey is taken, it is the best plan to drive away the bees by means of smoke, lest they should become irritated, or else devour the honey themselves. By often applying smoke, too, they are aroused from their idleness to work; but if they have not duly incubated in the comb, it is apt to become of a livid colour. On the other hand, if they are smoked too often, they will become tainted; the honey, too, a substance which turns sour at the very slightest contact with dew, will very 16quickly receive injury from the taint thus contracted: hence it is that among the various kinds of honey which are preserved, there is one which is known by the name of acapnon.49


How bees generate their young has been a subject of great and subtle research among the learned; seeing that no one has ever witnessed50 any sexual intercourse among these insects. Many persons have expressed an opinion that they must be produced from flowers, aptly and artistically arranged by Nature; while others, again, suppose that they are produced from an intercourse with the one which is to be found in every swarm, and is usually called the king. This one, they say, is the only male51 in the hive, and is endowed with such extraordinary proportions, that it may not become exhausted in the performance of its duties. Hence it is, that no offspring can be produced without it, all the other bees being females,52 and attending it in its capacity of a male, and not as their leader. This opinion, however, which is otherwise not improbable, is sufficiently refuted by the generation of the drones. For on what grounds could it possibly happen that the same intercourse should produce an offspring part of which is perfect, and part in an imperfect state? The first surmise which I have mentioned would appear, indeed, to be much nearer the truth, were it not the case that here another difficulty meets us—the circumstance that sometimes, at the extremity of the combs, there are produced bees of a larger size, which put the others to flight. This noxious bee bears the name of œstrus,53 and how is it possible that it should ever be produced, if it is the fact that the bees themselves form their progeny?54

A fact, however, that is well ascertained, is, that bees sit,55 like the domestic fowl, that which is hatched by them at 17first having the appearance of a white maggot, and lying across and adhering so tenaciously to the wax as to seem to be part of it. The king, however, from the earliest moment, is of the colour of honey, just as though he were made of the choicest flowers, nor has he at any time the form of a grub, but from the very first is provided with wings.56 The rest of the bees, as soon as they begin to assume a shape, have the name of nymphæ,57 while the drones are called sirenes, or cephenes. If a person takes off the head of either kind before the wings are formed, the rest of the body is considered a most choice morsel by the parents. In process of time the parent bees instil nutriment into them, and sit upon them, making on this occasion a loud humming noise, for the purpose, it is generally supposed, of generating that warmth which is so requisite for hatching the young. At length the membrane in which each of them is enveloped, as though it lay in an egg, bursts asunder, and the whole swarm comes to light.

This circumstance was witnessed at the suburban retreat of a man of consular dignity near Rome, whose hives were made of transparent lantern horn: the young were found to be developed in the space of forty-five days. In some combs, there is found what is known by the name of “nail” wax;58 it is bitter and hard, and is only met with when the bees have failed to hatch their young, either from disease or a natural sterility, it is the abortion, in fact, of the bees. The young ones, the moment they are hatched, commence working with their parents, as though in a course of training, and the newly-born king is accompanied by a multitude of his own age.

That the supply may not run short, each swarm rears several kings; but afterwards, when this progeny begins to arrive at a mature age, with one accord59 they put to death the inferior ones, lest they should create discord in the swarm.60 There are two sorts of king bees; those of a reddish colour are better than the black and mottled ones. The kings have 18always a peculiar form of their own, and are double the size of any of the rest; their wings are shorter61 than those of the others, their legs are straight, their walk more upright, and they have a white spot on the forehead, which bears some resemblance to a diadem: they differ, too, very much from the rest of the community, in their bright and shining appearance.


Let a man employ himself, forsooth, in the enquiry whether there has been only one Hercules, how many fathers Liber there have been, and all the other questions which are buried deep in the mould of antiquity! Here behold a tiny object, one to be met with at most of our country retreats, and numbers of which are always at hand, and yet, after all, it is not agreed among authors whether or not the king62 is the only one among them that is provided with no sting, and is possessed of no other arms than those afforded him by his majestic office, or whether Nature has granted him a sting, and has only denied him the power of making use of it; it being a well-known fact, that the ruling bee never does use a sting. The obedience which his subjects manifest in his presence is quite surprising. When he goes forth, the whole swarm attends him, throngs about him, surrounds him, protects him, and will not allow him to be seen. At other times, when the swarm is at work within, the king is seen to visit the works, and appears to be giving his encouragement, being himself the only one that is exempt from work: around him are certain other bees which act as body-guards and lictors, the careful guardians of his authority. The king never quits the hive except when the swarm is about to depart; a thing which may be known a long time beforehand, as for some days a peculiar buzzing noise is to be heard within, which denotes that the bees are waiting for a favourable day, and making all due preparations for their departure. On such an occasion, if care is taken to deprive the king of one of his wings, the swarm will not fly away. When they are on the wing, every one is anxious to be near him, and takes a pleasure in being seen in the performance of its duty. When he is weary, they support him on their shoulders; and 19when he is quite tired, they carry him outright. If one of them falls in the rear from weariness, or happens to go astray, it is able to follow the others by the aid of its acuteness of smell. Wherever the king bee happens to settle, that becomes the encampment of all.


And then, too, it is that they afford presages both of private and public interest, clustering, as they do, like a bunch of grapes, upon houses or temples; presages, in fact, that are often accounted for by great events. Bees settled upon the lips of Plato when still an infant even, announcing thereby the sweetness of that persuasive eloquence for which he was so noted. Bees settled, too, in the camp of the chieftain Drusus when he gained the brilliant victory at Arbalo;63 a proof, indeed, that the conjectures of soothsayers are not by any means infallible, seeing that they are of opinion that this is always of evil augury. When their leader is withheld from them, the swarm can always be detained; and when lost, it will disperse and take its departure to find other kings. Without a king, in fact, they cannot exist, and it is with the greatest reluctance that they put them to death when there are several; they prefer, too, to destroy the cells of the young ones, if they find reason to despair of providing food; in such case they then expel the drones. And yet, with regard to the last, I find that some doubts are entertained; and that there are some authors who are of opinion that they form a peculiar species, like that bee, the very largest among them all, which is known by the name of the “thief,”64 because it furtively devours the honey; it is distinguished by its black colour and the largeness of its body. It is a well-known fact, however, that the bees are in the habit of killing the drones. These last have no king of their own; but how it is that they are produced without a sting, is a matter still undetermined.

In a wet spring the young swarms are more numerous; in a dry one the honey is most abundant. If food happens to 20fail the inhabitants of any particular hive, the swarm makes a concerted attack upon a neighbouring one, with the view of plundering it. The swarm that is thus attacked, at once ranges itself in battle array, and if the bee-keeper should happen to be present, that side which perceives itself favoured by him will refrain from attacking him. They often fight, too, for other reasons as well, and the two generals are to be seen drawing up their ranks in battle array against their opponents. The dispute generally arises in culling from the flowers, when each, the moment that it is in danger, summons its companions to its aid. The battle, however, is immediately put an end to by throwing dust65 among them, or raising a smoke; and if milk or honey mixed with water is placed before them, they speedily become reconciled.


There are field bees also, and wild bees, ungainly in appearance, and much more irascible than the others, but remarkable for their laboriousness and the excellence of their work. Of domestic bees there are two sorts; the best are those with short bodies, speckled all over, and of a compact round shape. Those that are long, and resemble the wasp in appearance, are an inferior kind; and of these last, the very worst of all are those which have the body covered with hair. In Pontus there is a kind of white bee, which makes honey twice a month. On the banks of the river Thermodon there are two kinds found, one of which makes honey in the trees, the other under ground: they form a triple row of combs, and produce honey in the greatest abundance.

Nature has provided bees with a sting, which is inserted in the abdomen of the insect. There are some who think that at the first blow which they inflict with this weapon they will instantly die,66 while others, again, are of opinion that such is not the case, unless the animal drives it so deep as to cause a portion of the intestines to follow; and they assert, also, that after they have thus lost their sting they become drones,67 21and make no honey, being thus castrated, so to say, and equally incapable of inflicting injury, and of making themselves useful by their labours. We have instances stated of horses being killed by bees.

They have a great aversion to bad smells, and fly away from them; a dislike which extends to artificial perfumes even. Hence it is that they will attack persons who smell of unguents. They themselves, also, are exposed to the attacks of wasps and hornets, which belong to the same class, but are of a degenerate68 nature; these wage continual warfare against them, as also does a species of gnat, which is known by the name of “mulio;”69 swallows, too, and various other birds prey upon them. Frogs lie in wait for them when in quest of water, which, in fact, is their principal occupation at the time they are rearing their young. And it is not only the frog that frequents ponds and streams that is thus injurious to them, but the bramble-frog as well, which will come to the hives even in search of them, and, crawling up to the entrance, breathe through the apertures; upon hearing which, a bee flies to the spot, and is snapped up in an instant. It is generally stated that frogs are proof against the sting of the bee. Sheep, too, are peculiarly dangerous to them, as they have the greatest difficulty in extricating themselves from the fleece. The smell of crabs,70 if they happen to be cooked in their vicinity, is fatal to them.


Bees are also by nature liable to certain diseases of their own. The sign that they are diseased, is a kind of torpid, moping sadness: on such occasions, they are to be seen bringing out those that are sick before the hives, and placing them in the warm sun, while others, again, are providing them with food. Those that are dead they carry away from the hive, and attend the bodies, paying their last duties, as it were, in funeral procession. If the king should happen to be carried off by the pestilence, the swarm remains plunged in grief and listless inactivity; it collects no more food, and ceases to issue 22forth from its abode; the only thing that it does is to gather around the body, and to emit a melancholy humming noise. Upon such occasions, the usual plan is to disperse the swarm and take away the body; for otherwise they would continue listlessly gazing upon it, and so prolong their grief. Indeed, if due care is not taken to come to their aid, they will die of hunger. It is from their cheerfulness, in fact, and their bright and sleek appearance that we usually form an estimate as to their health.

(19) There are certain maladies, also, which affect their productions; when they do not fill their combs, the disease under which they are labouring is known by the name of claros,71 and if they fail to rear their young, they are suffering from the effects of that known as blapsigonia.72


Echo, or the noise made by the reverberation of the air, is also injurious to bees, as it dismays them by its redoubled sounds; fogs, also, are noxious to them. Spiders, too, are especially hostile to bees; when they have gone so far as to build their webs within the hive, the death of the whole swarm is the result. The common and ignoble moth,73 too, that is to be seen fluttering about a burning candle, is deadly to them, and that in more ways than one. It devours the wax, and leaves its ordure behind it, from which the maggot known to us as the “teredo” is produced; besides which, wherever it goes, it drops the down from off its wings, and thereby thickens the threads of the cobwebs. The teredo is also engendered in the wood of the hive, and then it proves especially destructive to the wax. Bees are the victims, also, of their own greediness, for when they glut themselves overmuch with the juices of the flowers, in the spring season more particularly, they are troubled with flux and looseness. Olive oil is fatal74 to not only bees, but all other insects as well, and more especially if they are placed 23in the sun, after the head has been immersed in it. Sometimes, too, they themselves are the cause of their own destruction; as, for instance, when they see preparations being made for taking their honey, and immediately fall to devouring it with the greatest avidity. In other respects they are remarkable for their abstemiousness, and they will expel those that are inclined to be prodigal and voracious, no less than those that are sluggish and idle. Their own honey even may be productive of injury to them; for if they are smeared with it on the fore-part of the body, it is fatal to them. Such are the enemies, so numerous are the accidents—and how small a portion of them have I here enumerated!—to which a creature that proves so bountiful to us is exposed. In the appropriate place75 we will treat of the proper remedies; for the present the nature of them is our subject.


The clapping of the hands and the tinkling of brass afford bees great delight, and it is by these means that they are brought together; a strong proof, in fact, that they are possessed of the sense of hearing. When their work is completed, their offspring brought forth, and all their duties fulfilled, they still have certain formal exercises to perform, ranging abroad throughout the country, and soaring aloft in the air, wheeling round and round as they fly, and then, when the hour for taking their food has come, returning home. The extreme period of their life, supposing that they escape accident and the attacks of their enemies, is only seven years; a hive, it is said, never lasts more than ten.76 There are some persons, who think that, when dead, if they are preserved in the house throughout the winter, and then exposed to the warmth of the spring sun, and kept hot all day in the ashes of fig-tree wood, they will come to life again.


These persons say also, that if the swarm is entirely lost, it may be replaced by the aid of the belly77 of an ox newly killed, 24covered over with dung. Virgil also says78 that this may be done with the body of a young bull, in the same way that the carcase of the horse produces wasps and hornets, and that of the ass beetles, Nature herself effecting these changes of one substance into another. But in all these last, sexual intercourse is to be perceived as well, though the characteristics of the offspring are pretty much the same as those of the bee.


Wasps build their nests of mud in lofty places,79 and make wax therein: hornets, on the other hand, build in holes or under ground. With these two kinds the cells are also hexagonal, but, in other respects, though made of the bark of trees, they strongly resemble the substance of a spider’s web. Their young also are found at irregular intervals, and are of unshapely appearance; while one is able to fly, another is still a mere pupa, and a third only in the maggot state. It is in the autumn, too, and not in the spring, that all their young are produced; and they grow during the full moon more particularly. The wasp which is known as the ichneumon,80 a smaller kind than the others, kills one kind of spider in particular, known as the phalangium; after which it carries the body to its nest, covers it over with a sort of gluey substance, and then sits and hatches from it its young.81 In addition to this, they are all of them carnivorous, while on the other hand bees will touch no animal substance whatever. Wasps more particularly pursue the larger flies, and after catching them cut off the head and carry away the remaining portion of the body.

Wild hornets live in the holes of trees, and in winter, like other insects, keep themselves concealed; their life does not exceed two years in length. It is not unfrequently that their sting is productive of an attack of fever, and there are authors who say that thrice nine stings will suffice to kill a man. Of 25the other hornets, which seem not to be so noxious, there are two kinds; the working ones, which are smaller in size and die in the winter; and the parent hornets, which live two years; these last, indeed, are quite harmless.82 In spring they build their nests, which have generally four entrances, and here it is that the working hornets are produced: after these have been hatched they form other nests of larger size, in which to bring forth the parents of the future generation. From this time the working hornets begin to follow their vocation, and apply themselves to supplying the others with food. The parent hornets are of larger size than the others, and it is very doubtful whether they have a sting, as it is never to be seen protruded. These races, too, have their drones. Some persons are of opinion that all these insects lose their stings in the winter. Neither hornets nor wasps have a king, nor do they ever congregate in swarms; but their numbers are recruited by fresh offspring from time to time.


A fourth class of this kind83 of insect is the bombyx,84 which is a native of Assyria, and is of larger size than any of those which have been previously mentioned. They construct their nests of a kind of mud which has the appearance of salt, and then fasten them to a stone, where they become so hard, that it is scarcely possible to penetrate them with a dart even. In these nests they make wax, in larger quantities than bees, and the grub which they then produce is larger.


There is another class also of these insects produced in quite a different manner. These last spring from a grub of larger size, with two horns of very peculiar appearance. The larva then becomes a caterpillar, after which it assumes the state in which it is known as bombylis, then that called necydalus, and after that, in six months, it becomes a silk-worm.85 26 These insects weave webs similar to those of the spider, the material of which is used for making the more costly and luxurious garments of females, known as “bombycina.” Pamphile, a woman of Cos,86 the daughter of Platea, was the first87 person who discovered the art of unravelling these webs and spinning a tissue therefrom; indeed, she ought not to be deprived of the glory of having discovered the art of making vestments which, while they cover a woman, at the same moment reveal her naked charms.


The silk-worm, too, is said to be a native of the isle of Cos, where the vapours of the earth give new life to the flowers of the cypress, the terebinth, the ash, and the oak which have been beaten down by the showers. At first they assume the appearance of small butterflies with naked bodies, but soon after, being unable to endure the cold, they throw out bristly hairs, and assume quite a thick coat against the winter, by rubbing off the down that covers the leaves, by the aid of the roughness of their feet. This they compress into balls by carding it with their claws, and then draw it out and hang it between the branches of the trees, making it fine by combing it out as it were: last of all, they take and roll it round their body, thus forming a nest in which they are enveloped. It is in this state that they are taken; after which they are placed in earthen vessels in a warm place, and fed upon bran. A peculiar sort of down soon shoots forth upon the body, on being clothed with which they are sent to work upon another task. The cocoons88 which they have begun to form are rendered soft and pliable by the aid of water, and are then drawn out into threads by means of a spindle made of a reed. Nor, in fact, have the men even felt ashamed to make use89 of garments formed of this material, in consequence of 27their extreme lightness in summer: for, so greatly have manners degenerated in our day, that, so far from wearing a cuirass, a garment even is found to be too heavy. The produce of the Assyrian silk-worm, however, we have till now left to the women only.


It is by no means an absurdity to append to the silk-worm an account of the spider, a creature which is worthy of our especial admiration. There are numerous kinds of spiders, however, which it will not be necessary here to mention, from the fact of their being so well known. Those that bear the name of phalangium are of small size, with bodies spotted and running to a point; their bite is venomous, and they leap as they move from place to place. Another kind, again, is black, and the fore-legs are remarkable for their length. They have all of them three joints in the legs. The smaller kind of wolf-spider90 does not make a web, but the larger ones make their holes in the earth, and spread their nets at the narrow entrance thereof. A third kind, again, is remarkable for the skill which it displays in its operations. These spin a large web, and the abdomen suffices to supply the material for so extensive a work, whether it is that, at stated periods the excrements are largely secreted in the abdomen, as Democritus thinks, or that the creature has in itself a certain faculty of secreting91 a peculiar sort of woolly substance. How steadily does it work with its claws, how beautifully rounded and how equal are the threads as it forms its web, while it employs the weight of its body as an equipoise! It begins at the middle to weave its web, and then extends it by adding the threads in rings around, like a warp upon the woof: forming the meshes at equal intervals, but continually enlarging them as the web increases in breadth, it finally unites them all by an indissoluble knot. With what wondrous art does it conceal the snares that lie in wait for its prey in its checkered nettings! How little, too, would it seem that there is any such trap laid in the compactness of 28its web and the tenacious texture of the woof, which would appear of itself to be finished and arranged by the exercise of the very highest art! How loose, too, is the body of the web as it yields to the blasts, and how readily does it catch all objects which come in its way! You would fancy that it had left, quite exhausted, the thrums of the upper portion of its net unfinished where they are spread across; it is with the greatest difficulty that they are to be perceived, and yet the moment that an object touches them, like the lines of the hunter’s net, they throw it into the body of the web. With what architectural skill, too, is its hole arched over, and how well defended by a nap of extra thickness against the cold! How carefully, too, it retires into a corner, and appears intent upon anything but what it really is, all the while that it is so carefully shut up from view, that it is impossible to perceive whether there is anything within or not! And then too, how extraordinary the strength of the web! When is the wind ever known to break it, or what accumulation of dust is able to weigh it down?

The spider often spreads its web right across between two trees, when plying its art and learning how to spin; and then, as to its length, the thread extends from the very top of the tree to the ground, while the insect springs up again in an instant from the earth, and travels aloft by the very self-same thread, thus mounting at the same moment and spinning its threads. When its prey falls into its net, how on the alert it is, and with what readiness it runs to seize it! Even though it should be adhering to the very edge of its web, the insect always runs instantly to the middle, as it is by these means that it can most effectually shake the web, and so successfully entangle its prey. When the web is torn, the spider immediately sets about repairing it, and that so neatly, that nothing like patching can ever be seen. The spider lies in wait even for the young of the lizard, and after enveloping the head of the animal, bites its lips; a sight by no means unworthy of the amphitheatre itself, when it is one’s good fortune to witness it. Presages also are drawn from the spider; for when a river is about to swell, it will suspend its web higher than usual. In calm weather these insects do not spin, but when it is cloudy they do, and hence it is, that a great number of cobwebs is a sure sign of showery weather. It is29 generally supposed that it is the female spider that spins, and the male that lies in wait for prey, thus making an equal division of their duties.


Spiders couple92 backwards, and produce maggots like eggs; for I ought not to defer making some mention of this subject, seeing, in fact, that of most insects there is hardly anything else to be said. All these eggs they lay in their webs, but scattered about, as they leap from place to place while laying them. The phalangium is the only spider that lays a considerable number of them, in a hole; and as soon as ever the progeny is hatched it devours its mother, and very often the male parent as well, for that, too, aids in the process of incubation. These last produce as many as three hundred eggs, the others a smaller number. Spiders take three days to hatch their eggs. They come to their full growth in twenty-eight days.

CHAP. 30. (25.)—SCORPIONS.

In a similar manner to the spider, the land scorpion also produces maggots93 similar to eggs, and dies in a similar manner. This animal is a dangerous scourge, and has a venom like that of the serpent; with the exception that its effects are far more94 painful, as the person who is stung will linger for three days before death ensues. The sting is invariably fatal to virgins, and nearly always so to matrons. It is so to men also, in the morning, when the animal has issued from its hole in a fasting state, and has not yet happened to discharge its poison by any accidental stroke. The tail is always ready to strike, and ceases not for an instant to menace, so that no opportunity may possibly be missed. The animal strikes too with a sidelong blow, or else by turning the tail 30upwards. Apollodorus informs us, that the poison which they secrete is of a white colour, and he has divided them into nine classes, distinguished mostly by their colours—to very little purpose, however, for it is impossible to understand which among these it is that he has pronounced to be the least dangerous. He says, also, that some of them have a double sting, and that the males—for he asserts that they are engendered by the union of the sexes—are the most dangerous. These may easily be known, he says, by their slender form and greater length. He states, also, that they all of them have venom in the middle of the day, when they have been warmed by the heat of the sun, as, also, when they are thirsty—their thirst, indeed, can never be quenched. It is an ascertained fact, that those which have seven joints in the tail are the most95 deadly; the greater part, however, have but six.

For this pest of Africa, the southern winds have provided means of flight as well, for as the breeze bears them along, they extend their arms and ply them like so many oars in their flight; the same Apollodorus, however, asserts that there are some which really have wings.96 The Psylli, who for their own profit have been in the habit of importing the poisons of other lands among us, and have thus filled Italy with the pests which belong to other regions, have made attempts to import the flying scorpion as well, but it has been found that it cannot live further north than the latitude of Sicily. However, they97 are sometimes to be seen in Italy, but are quite harmless there; they are found, also, in many other places, the vicinity of Pharos, in Egypt, for instance. In Scythia, the scorpion is able to kill the swine even with its sting, an animal which, in general, is proof against poisons of this kind in a remarkable degree. When stung, those swine which are black die more speedily than others, and more particularly if they happen to throw themselves into the water. When a person has been stung, it is generally supposed that he may be cured by drinking the ashes of the scorpion98 mixed with wine. It 31is the belief also that there is nothing more baneful to the scorpion and the stellio,99 than to dip them in oil. This last animal is also dangerous to all other creatures, except those which, like itself, are destitute of blood: in figure it strongly resembles the common lizard. For the most part, also, the scorpion does no injury to any animal which is bloodless. Some writers, too, are of opinion that the scorpion devours its offspring, and that the one among the young which is the most adroit avails itself of its sole mode of escape, by placing itself on the back of the mother, and thus finding a place where it is in safety from the tail and the sting. The one that thus escapes, they say, becomes the avenger of the rest, and at last, taking advantage of its elevated position, puts its parents to death. The scorpion produces eleven at a birth.

CHAP. 31. (26.)—THE STELLIO.

The stellio100 has in some measure the same nature as the chameleon, as it lives upon nothing but dew, and such spiders101 as it may happen to find.


The cicada102 also lives in a similar manner, and is divided into two kinds. The smaller kind are born the first and die the last, and are without a voice. The others are of the flying kind, and have a note; there are two sorts, those known as achetæ, and the smaller ones called tettigonia: these last have the loudest voice. In both of these last-mentioned kinds, it is the male that sings, while the female is silent. There are nations in the east that feed upon these insects, the Parthians 32even, wealthy and affluent as they are. They prefer the male before it has had sexual intercourse, and the female after; and they take103 their eggs, which are white. They engender with the belly upwards. Upon the back they have a sharp-edged instrument,104 by means of which they excavate a hole to breed in, in the ground. The young is, at first, a small maggot in appearance, after which the larva assumes the form in which it is known as the tettigometra.105 It bursts its shell about the time of the summer solstice, and then takes to flight, which always happens in the night. The insect, at first, is black and hard.

This is the only living creature that has no mouth; though it has something instead which bears a strong resemblance to the tongues of those insects which carry a sting in the mouth: this organ is situate in the breast106 of the animal, and is employed by it in sucking up the dew. The corselet itself forms a kind of pipe; and it is by means of this that the achetæ utter their note, as already mentioned. Beyond this, they have no viscera in the abdomen. When surprised, they spring upwards, and eject a kind of liquid, which, indeed, is our only proof that they live upon dew. This, also, is the only animal that has no outlet for the evacuations of the body. Their powers of sight are so bad, that if a person contracts his finger, and then suddenly extends it close to them, they will come upon it just as though it were a leaf. Some authors divide these animals into two kinds, the “surcularia,”107 which is the largest, and the “frumentaria,”108 by many known as the “avenaria;”109 this last makes its appearance just as the corn is turning dry in the ear.

(27.) The grasshopper is not a native of countries that are bare of trees—hence it is that there are none in the vicinity of the city of Cyrene—nor, in fact, is it produced in champaign countries, 33or in cool and shady thickets. They will take to some places much more readily than others. In the district of Miletus they are only to be found in some few spots; and in Cephallenia, there is a river which runs through the country, on one side of which they are not to be found, while on the other they exist in vast numbers. In the territory of Rhegium, again, none of the grasshoppers have any note, while beyond the river, in the territory of Locri,110 they sing aloud. Their wings are formed similarly to those of bees, but are larger, in proportion to the body.


There are some insects which have two wings, flies, for instance; others, again, have four, like the bee. The wings of the grasshopper are membranous. Those insects which are armed with a sting in the abdomen, have four wings. None of those which have a sting in the mouth, have more than two wings. The former have received the sting for the purpose of defending themselves, the latter for the supplying of their wants. If pulled from off the body, the wings of an insect will not grow again; no insect which has a sting inserted in its body, has two wings only.


Some insects, for the preservation of their wings, are covered with a crust;112 the beetle, for instance, the wing of which is peculiarly fine and frail. To these insects a sting has been denied by Nature; but in one large kind113 we find horns of a remarkable length, two-pronged at the extremities, and forming pincers, which the animal closes when it is its intention to 34bite. These beetles are suspended from the neck of infants by way of remedy against certain maladies: Nigidius calls them “lucani.” There is another kind114 of beetle, again, which, as it goes backwards with its feet, rolls the dung into large pellets, and then deposits in them the maggots which form its young, as in a sort of nest, to protect them against the rigours of winter. Some, again, fly with a loud buzzing or a drony noise, while others115 burrow numerous holes in the hearths and out in the fields, and their shrill chirrup is to be heard at night.

The glow-worm, by the aid of the colour of its sides116 and haunches, sends forth at night a light which resembles that of fire; being resplendent, at one moment, as it expands its wings,117 and then thrown into the shade the instant it has shut them. These insects are never to be seen before the grass of the pastures has come to maturity, nor yet after the hay has been cut. On the other hand, it is the nature of the black beetle118 to seek dark corners, and to avoid the light: it is mostly found in baths, being produced from the humid vapours which arise therefrom. There are some beetles also, belonging to the same species, of a golden colour and very large size, which burrow119 in dry ground, and construct small combs of a porous nature, and very like sponge; these they fill with a poisonous kind of honey. In Thrace, near Olynthus, there is a small locality, the only one in which this animal cannot exist; from which circumstance it has received the name of “Cantharolethus.”120

The wings of all insects are formed without121 any division in 35them, and they none of them have a tail,122 with the exception of the scorpion; this, too, is the only one among them that has arms,123 together with a sting in the tail. As to the rest of the insects, some of them have the sting in the mouth, the gad-fly for instance, or the “tabanus,” as some persons choose to call it: the same is the case, too, with the gnat and some kinds of flies. All these insects have their stings situate in the mouth instead124 of a tongue; but in some the sting is not pointed, being formed not for pricking, but for the purpose of suction: this is the case more especially with flies, in which it is clear that the tongue125 is nothing more than a tube. These insects, too, have no teeth. Others, again, have little horns protruding in front of the eyes, but without any power in them; the butterfly, for instance. Some insects are destitute of wings, such as the scolopendra, for instance.126


Those insects which have feet, move sideways. Some of them have the hind feet longer than the fore ones, and curving outwards, the locust, for example.

(29.) These creatures lay their eggs in large masses, in the autumn, thrusting the end of the tail into holes which they form in the ground. These eggs remain underground throughout the winter, and in the ensuing year, at the close of spring, small locusts issue from them, of a black colour, and crawling along without legs127 and wings. Hence it is that a wet spring destroys their eggs, while, if it is dry, they multiply in great abundance. Some persons maintain that they breed twice a year, and die the same number of times; that they bring forth at the rising128 of the Vergiliæ, and die at the rising of the Dog-star,129 after which others spring up in 36their places: according to some, it is at the setting130 of Arcturus that the second litter is produced. That the mothers die the moment they have brought forth, is a well-known fact, for a little worm immediately grows about the throat, which chokes them: at the same time, too, the males perish as well. This insect, which thus dies through a cause apparently so trifling, is able to kill a serpent by itself, when it pleases, by seizing its jaws with its teeth.131 Locusts are only produced in champaign places, that are full of chinks and crannies. In India, it is said that they attain the length of three132 feet, and that the people dry the legs and thighs, and use them for saws. There is another mode, also, in which these creatures perish; the winds carry them off in vast swarms, upon which they fall into the sea or standing waters, and not, as the ancients supposed, because their wings have been drenched by the dampness of the night. The same authors have also stated, that they are unable to fly during the night, in consequence of the cold, being ignorant of the fact, that they travel over lengthened tracts of sea for many days together, a thing the more to be wondered at, as they have to endure hunger all the time as well, for this it is which causes them to be thus seeking pastures in other lands. This is looked upon as a plague133 inflicted by the anger of the gods; for as they fly they appear to be larger than they really are, while they make such a loud noise with their wings, that they might be readily supposed to be winged creatures of quite another species. Their numbers, too, are so vast, that they quite darken the sun; while the people below are anxiously following them with the eye, to see if they are about to make a descent, and so cover their lands. After all, they have the requisite energies for their flight; and, as though it had been but a trifling matter to pass over the seas, they cross immense tracts of country, and cover them in clouds which bode destruction to the harvests. Scorching numerous objects by their very contact, they eat away everything with their teeth, the very doors of the houses even.


Those from Africa are the ones which chiefly devastate Italy; and more than once the Roman people have been obliged to have recourse to the Sibylline Books, to learn what remedies to employ under their existing apprehensions of impending famine. In the territory of Cyrenaica134 there is a law, which even compels the people to make war, three times a year, against the locusts, first, by crushing their eggs, next by killing the young, and last of all by killing those of full growth; and he who fails to do so, incurs the penalty of being treated as a deserter. In the island of Lemnos also, there is a certain measure fixed by law, which each individual is bound to fill with locusts which he has killed, and then bring it to the magistrates. It is for this reason, too, that they pay such respect to the jack-daw, which flies to meet the locusts, and kills them in great numbers. In Syria, also, the people are placed under martial law, and compelled to kill them: in so many countries does this dreadful pest prevail. The Parthians look upon them as a choice food,135 and the grasshopper as well. The voice of the locust appears to proceed from the back part of the head. It is generally believed that in this place, where the shoulders join on to the body, they have, as it were, a kind of teeth, and that it is by grinding these against each other that they produce the harsh noise which they make. It is more especially about the two equinoxes that they are to be heard, in the same way that we hear the chirrup of the grasshopper about the summer solstice. The coupling of locusts is similar to that of all other insects that couple, the female supporting the male, and turning back the extremity of the tail towards him; it is only after a considerable time that they separate. In all these kinds of insects the male is of smaller size than the female.

CHAP. 36. (30.)—ANTS.

The greater part of the insects produce a maggot. Ants also produce one in spring, which is similar to an egg,136 and they 38work in common, like bees; but whereas the last make their food, the former only store137 it away. If a person only compares the burdens which the ants carry with the size of their bodies, he must confess that there is no animal which, in proportion, is possessed of a greater degree of strength. These burdens they carry with the mouth, but when it is too large to admit of that, they turn their backs to it, and push it onwards with their feet, while they use their utmost energies with their shoulders. These insects, also, have a political community among themselves, and are possessed of both memory and foresight. They gnaw each grain before they lay it by, for fear lest it should shoot while under ground; those grains, again, which are too large for admission, they divide at the entrance of their holes; and those which have become soaked by the rain, they bring out and dry.138 They work, too, by night, during the full moon; but when there is no moon, they cease working. And then, too, in their labours, what ardour they display, what wondrous carefulness! Because they collect their stores from different quarters, in ignorance of the proceedings of one another, they have certain days set apart for holding a kind of market, on which they meet together and take stock.139 What vast throngs are then to be seen hurrying together, what anxious enquiries appear to be made, and what earnest parleys140 are going on among them as they meet! We see even the very stones worn away by their footsteps, and roads beaten down by being the scene of their labours. Let no one be in doubt, then, how much assiduity and application, even in the very humblest of objects, can upon every occasion effect! Ants are the only living beings, besides man, that bestow burial on the dead. In Sicily there are no winged ants to be found.

(31.) The horns of an Indian ant, suspended in the temple 39of Hercules, at Erythræ,141 have been looked upon as quite miraculous for their size. This ant excavates gold from holes, in a country in the north of India, the inhabitants of which are known as the Dardæ. It has the colour of a cat, and is in size as large as an Egyptian wolf.142 This gold, which it extracts in the winter, is taken by the Indians during the heats of summer, while the ants are compelled, by the excessive warmth, to hide themselves in their holes. Still, however, on being aroused by catching the scent of the Indians, they sally forth, and frequently tear them to pieces, though provided with the swiftest camels for the purpose of flight; so great is their fleetness, combined with their ferocity and their passion for gold!


Many insects, however, are engendered in a different manner; and some more especially from dew. This dew settles upon the radish143 leaf in the early days of spring; but when it has been thickened by the action of the sun, it becomes reduced to the size of a grain of millet. From this a small grub afterwards arises, which, at the end of three days, becomes transformed into a caterpillar. For several successive days it still increases in size, but remains motionless, and covered with a hard husk. It moves only when touched, and is covered with a web like that of the spider. In this state it is called a chrysalis, but after the husk is broken, it flies forth in the shape of a butterfly.



In the same manner, also, some animals are generated in the earth from rain, and some, again, in wood. And not only wood-worms144 are produced in wood, but gad-flies also and other insects issue from it, whenever there is an excess of moisture; just as in man, tape-worms145 are sometimes found, as much as three hundred feet or more in length.


Then, too, in dead carrion there are certain animals produced, and in the hair, too, of living men. It was through such vermin as this that the Dictator Sylla,146 and Alcman, one of the most famous of the Grecian poets, met their deaths. These insects infest birds too, and are apt to kill the pheasant, unless it takes care to bathe itself in the dust. Of the animals that are covered with hair, it is supposed that the ass and the sheep are the only ones that are exempt from these vermin. They are produced, also, in certain kinds of cloth, and more particularly those made of the wool of sheep which have been killed by the wolf. I find it stated, also, by authors, that some kinds of water147 which we use for bathing are more productive of these parasites than others. Even wax is found to produce mites, which are supposed to be the very smallest of all living creatures. Other insects, again, are engendered from filth, acted upon by the rays of the sun—these fleas are called “petauristæ,”148 from the activity which they display in their hind legs. Others, again, are produced with wings, from the moist dust that is found lying in holes and corners.


There is an animal,149 also, that is generated in the summer, 41which has its head always buried deep in the skin [of a beast], and so, living on its blood, swells to a large size. This is the only living creature that has no outlet150 for its food; hence, when it has overgorged itself, it bursts asunder, and thus its very aliment is made the cause of its death. This insect never breeds on beasts of burden, but is very commonly seen on oxen, and sometimes on dogs, which, indeed, are subject to every species of vermin. With sheep and goats, it is the only parasite. The thirst, too, for blood displayed by leeches, which we find in marshy waters, is no less singular; for these will thrust the entire head into the flesh in quest of it. There is a winged insect151 which peculiarly infests dogs, and more especially attacks them with its sting about the ears, where they are unable to defend themselves with their teeth.


Dust, too, is productive of worms152 in wools and cloths, and this more especially if a spider should happen to be enclosed in them: for, being sensible of thirst, it sucks up all the moisture, and thereby increases the dryness of the material. These will breed in paper also. There is one kind which carries with it its husk, in the same manner as the snail, only that the feet are to be seen. If deprived of it, it does not survive; and when it is fully developed, the insect becomes a chrysalis. The wild fig-tree produces gnats,153 known as “ficarii;” and the little grubs of the fig-tree, the pear-tree, the pine, the wild rose, and the common rose produce cantharides,154 when fully developed. These insects, which are venomous, carry with them their antidote; for their wings are useful in 42medicine,155 while the rest of the body is deadly. Again, liquids turned sour will produce other kinds of gnats, and white grubs are to be found in snow that has lain long on the ground, while those that lie above are of a reddish156 colour—indeed, the snow itself becomes red after it has lain some time on the ground. These grubs are covered with a sort of hair, are of a rather large size, and in a state of torpor.


That element, also, which is so destructive to matter, produces certain animals; for in the copper-smelting furnaces of Cyprus, in the very midst of the fire, there is to be seen flying about a four-footed animal with wings, the size of a large fly: this creature is called the “pyrallis,” and by some the “pyrausta.” So long as it remains in the fire it will live, but if it comes out and flies a little distance from it, it will instantly die.


The Hypanis, a river of Pontus, brings down in its waters, about the time of the summer solstice, small membranous particles, like a grape-stone in appearance; from which there issues an animal157 with four legs and with wings, similar to the one just mentioned. It does not, however, live more than a single day, from which circumstance it has obtained the name of “hemerobion.”158 The life of other insects of a similar nature is regulated from its beginning to its end by multiples of seven. Thrice seven days is the duration of the life of the gnat and of the maggot, while those that are viviparous live four times seven days, and their various changes and transformations take place in periods of three or four days. The other insects of this kind that are winged, generally die in the 43autumn, the gad-fly becoming quite blind159 even before it dies. Flies which have been drowned in water, if they are covered with ashes,160 will return to life.


In addition to what is already stated, we will add an account of every part of the body of an animal, taken limb by limb.

All those which have blood, have a head as well. A small number of animals, and those only among the birds, have tufts of various kinds upon the head. The phœnix161 has a long row of feathers on it, from the middle of which arises another row; peacocks have a hairy tuft, resembling a bushy shrub; the stymphalis162 has a sort of pointed crest, and the pheasant, again, small horns. Added to these, there is the lark, a little bird, which, from the appearance of its tuft, was formerly called “galerita,” but has since received the Gallic name of “alauda,”163 a name which it has transferred to one of our legions.164 We have already made mention, also, of one bird165 to which Nature has given a crest, which it can fold or unfold at pleasure: the birds of the coot kind166 have also received from her a crest, which takes its rise at the beak, and runs along the middle of the head; while the pie of Mars, and the Balearic crane, are furnished with pointed tufts. But the most remarkable feature of all, is the crest which we see attached to the heads of our domestic fowls, substantial and indented like a saw; we cannot, in fact, strictly call it flesh, nor can we pronounce it to be cartilage or a callosity, but must admit that it is something of a nature peculiar to itself. As to the crests of dragons, there is no one to be found who ever saw one.



Horns, too, of various forms have been granted to many animals of the aquatic, marine, and reptile kind, but those which are more properly understood under that name belong to the quadrupeds only; for I look upon the tales of Actæon and of Cippus even, in Latin story, as nothing more nor less than fables.167 And, indeed, in no department of her works has Nature displayed a greater capriciousness. In providing animals with these weapons, she has made merry at their expense; for some she has spread them out in branches, the stag, for instance; to others she has given them in a more simple form, as in the “subulo,” so called from the resemblance of its horns to a “subula,”168 or shoemaker’s awl. In others, again, she has flattened them in the shape of a man’s hand, with the fingers extended, from which circumstance the animal has received the name of “platyceros.”169 To the roe-buck she has given branching horns, but small, and has made them so as not to fall off and be cast each year; while to the ram she has given them of a contorted and spiral form, as though she were providing it with a cæstus for offence. The horns of the bull, again, are upright and threatening. In this last kind, the females, too, are provided with them, while in most it is only the males. The chamois has them, curving backwards; while in the fallow deer170 they bend forward. The strepsiceros,171 which in Africa bears the name of addax, has horns erect and spiral, grooved and tapering to a sharp point, so much so, that you would almost take them to be the sides of a lyre.172 In the oxen of Phrygia, the horns are moveable,173 45like the ears; and among the cattle of the Troglodytæ, they are pointed downwards to the ground, for which reason it is that they are obliged to feed with the head on one side. Other animals, again, have a single horn, and that situate in the middle of the head, or else on the nose, as already stated.174

Then, again, in some animals the horns are adapted for butting, and in others for goring; with some they are curved inwards, with others outwards, and with others, again, they are fitted for tossing: all which objects are effected in various ways, the horns either lying backwards, turning from, or else towards each other, and in all cases running to a sharp point. In one kind, also, the horns are used for the purpose of scratching the body, instead of hands.

In snails the horns are fleshy, and are thus adapted for the purpose of feeling the way, which is also the case with the cerastes;175 some reptiles, again, have only one horn, though the snail has always two, suited for protruding and withdrawing. The barbarous nations of the north drink from the horns of the urus,176 a pair of which will hold a couple of urnæ:177 other tribes, again, point their spears with them. With us they are cut into laminæ, upon which they become transparent; indeed, the rays of a light placed within them may be seen to a much greater distance than without. They are used also for various appliances of luxury, either coloured or varnished, or else for those kinds of paintings which are known as “cestrota,”178 or horn-pictures. The horns of all animals are hollow within, it being only at the tip that they are solid: the only exception is the stag, the horn of which is solid throughout, and is cast every year. When the hoofs of oxen are worn to the quick, the husbandmen have a method of curing them, by anointing the horns of the animal with grease. The substance of the horns is so ductile, that even while upon the body of the living animal, they can be bent by being steeped in boiling wax, and if they are split down when they are first shooting, they may be twisted different ways, and so appear to be 46four in number upon one head. In females the horns are generally thinner than in the males, as is the case, also, with most kinds of wool-bearing animals.

No individuals, however, among sheep, or hinds, nor yet any that have the feet divided into toes, or that have solid hoofs, are furnished with horns; with the sole exception of the Indian ass,179 which is armed with a single horn. To the beasts that are cloven-footed Nature has granted two horns, but to those that have fore-teeth in the upper jaw, she has given none. Those persons who entertain the notion that the substance of these teeth is expended in the formation of the horns, are easily to be refuted, if we only consider the case of the hind, which has no more teeth than the male, and yet is without horns altogether. In the stag the horn is only imbedded in the skin, but in the other180 animals it adheres to the bone.


The head of the fish is very large in proportion to the rest of the body, probably, to facilitate its diving under water. Animals of the oyster and the sponge kind have no head, which is the case, also, with most of the other kinds, whose only sense is that of touch. Some, again, have the head blended with the body, the crab, for instance.


Of all animals man has the longest hair upon the head; which is the case more especially with those nations where the men and women in common leave the hair to grow, and do not cut it. Indeed, it is from this fact, that the inhabitants of the Alps have obtained from us the name of “Capillati,”181 as also those of Gallia, “Comata.”182 There is, however, a great difference in this respect according to the various countries. In the island of Myconus,183 the people are born without hair, just as at Caunus the inhabitants are afflicted with the spleen 47from their birth.184 There are some animals, also, that are naturally bald, such as the ostrich, for instance, and the aquatic raven, which last has thence derived its Greek185 name. It is but rarely that the hair falls off in women, and in eunuchs such is never known to be the case; nor yet does any person lose it before having known sexual intercourse.186 The hair does not fall off below the brain, nor yet beneath the crown of the head, or around the ears and the temples. Man is the only animal that becomes bald, with the exception, of course, of such animals as are naturally so. Man and the horse are the only creatures whose hair turns grey; but with man this is always the case, first in the fore-part of the head, and then in the hinder part.


Some few persons only are double-crowned. The bones of the head are flat, thin, devoid of marrow, and united with sutures indented like a comb. When broken asunder they cannot be united, but the extraction of a small portion is not necessarily fatal, as a fleshy cicatrix forms, and so makes good the loss. We have already mentioned, in their respective187 places, that the skull of the bear is the weakest of all, and that of the parrot the hardest.


The brain exists in all animals which have blood, and in those sea animals as well, which we have already mentioned as mollusks, although they are destitute of blood, the polypus, for instance. Man, however, has, in proportion to his body, the most voluminous brain of all. This, too, is the most humid, and the coldest of all the viscera, and is enveloped above and below with two membranous integuments, for either of which to be broken is fatal. In addition to these facts, we may remark that the brain is larger in men than in 48women. In man the brain is destitute of blood and veins, and in other animals it has no fat. Those who are well informed on the subject, tell us that the brain is quite a different substance from the marrow, seeing that on being boiled it only becomes harder. In the very middle of the brain of every animal there are small bones found. Man is the only animal in which it is known to palpitate188 during infancy; and it does not gain its proper consistency until after the child has made its first attempt to speak. The brain is the most elevated of all the viscera, and the nearest to the roof of the head; it is equally devoid of flesh, blood, and excretions. The senses hold this organ as their citadel; it is in this that are centred all the veins which spring from the heart; it is here that they terminate; this is the very culminating point of all, the regulator of the understanding. With all animals it is advanced to the fore-part of the head, from the fact that the senses have a tendency to the direction in which we look. From the brain proceeds sleep, and its return it is that causes the head to nod. Those creatures, in fact, which have no brain, never sleep. It is said that stags189 have in the head certain small maggots, twenty in number: they are situate in the empty space that lies beneath the tongue, and around the joints by which the head is united to the body.


Man is the only animal the ears of which are immoveable. It is from the natural flaccidity of the ear, that the surname of Flaccus is derived. There is no part of the body that creates a more enormous expense for our women, in the pearls which are suspended from them. In the East, too, it is thought highly becoming for the men, even, to wear gold rings in their ears. Some animals have large, and others small ears. The stag alone has them cut and divided, as it were; in the field-mouse they have a velvet surface. All the animals that are viviparous have ears of some kind or other, with the sole exception of the sea-calf, the dolphin, the fishes 49which we have mentioned190 as cartilaginous, and the viper. These animals have only cavities instead of ears, with the exception of the cartilaginous fishes and the dolphin, which last, however, it is quite clear possesses the sense of hearing, for it is charmed by singing, and is often taken while enraptured with the melody: how it is that it does hear, is quite marvellous. These animals, too, have not the slightest trace of olfactory organs, and yet they have a most acute sense of smell.

Among the winged animals, only the horned owl and the long-eared owl have feathers which project like ears, the rest having only cavities for the purpose of hearing; the same is the case, also, with the scaly animals and the serpents. Among horses and beasts of burden of all kinds, it is the ears which indicate the natural feelings; when the animal is weary, they are drooping and flaccid; when it is startled, they quiver to and fro; when it is enraged, they are pricked up; and when it is ailing, they are pendant.


Man is the only creature that has a face, the other animals having only a muzzle or a beak. Other animals have a forehead as well, but it is only on the forehead of man that is depicted sorrow, gladness, compassion, or severity. It is the forehead that is the index of the mind. Man has eyebrows, also, which move together or alternately; these, too, serve in some measure as indications of the feelings. Do we deny or do we assent, it is the eyebrows, mostly, that indicate our intentions. Feelings of pride may be generated elsewhere, but it is here that they have their principal abode; it is in the heart that they take their rise, but it is to the eyebrows that they mount, and here they take up their position. In no part of the body could they meet with a spot more lofty and more precipitous, in which to establish themselves free from all control.


Below the forehead are the eyes, which form the most precious portion of the human body, and which, by the enjoyment50 of the blessings of sight, distinguish life from death. Eyes, however, have not been granted to all animals; oysters have none, but, with reference to some of the shell-fish, the question is still doubtful; for if we move the fingers before a scallop half open, it will immediately close its shell, apparently from seeing them, while the solen191 will start away from an iron instrument when placed near it. Among quadrupeds the mole192 has no sight, though it has something that bears a resemblance to eyes, if we remove the membrane that is extended in front of them. Among birds also, it is said that a species of heron, which is known as the “leucus,”193 is wanting of one eye: a bird of most excellent augury, when it flies towards the south or north, for it is said that it portends thereby that there is about to be an end of perils and alarms. Nigidius says also, that neither locusts nor grasshoppers have eyes. In snails,194 the two small horns with which they feel their way, perform the duties of eyes. Neither the mawworm195 nor any other kind of worm has eyes.


The eyes vary in colour in the human race only; in all other animals they are of one uniform colour peculiar to the kind, though there are some horses that have eyes of an azure colour. But in man the varieties and diversities are most numerous; the eyes being either large, of middling size, remarkably small, or remarkably prominent. These last are generally supposed to be very weak, while those which are deep-seated are considered the best, as is the case also with those which in colour resemble the eyes of the goat.


In addition to this, there are some persons who can see to a 51very great distance, while there are others, again, who can only distinguish objects when brought quite close to them. The vision of many stands in need of the rays of the sun; such persons cannot see on a cloudy day, nor yet after the sun has set. Others, again, have bad sight in the day-time, but a sight superior to that of others by night. Of persons having double pupils, or the evil eye, we have already spoken196 at sufficient length. Blue197 eyes are the best for seeing in the dark.

It is said that Tiberius Cæsar, like no other human being, was so endowed by Nature, that on awaking in the night198 he could for a few moments distinguish objects just as well as in the clearest daylight, but that by degrees he would find his sight again enveloped in darkness. The late Emperor Augustus had azure eyes like those of some horses, the white being larger than with other men; he used to be very angry if a person stared intently at them for this peculiarity. Claudius Cæsar had at the corners of the eyes a white fleshy substance, covered with veins, which would occasionally become suffused with blood; with the Emperor Caius199 they had a fixed, steady gaze, while Nero could see nothing distinctly without winking, and having it brought close to his eyes. The Emperor Caius had twenty pairs of gladiators in his training-school, and of all these there were only two who did not wink the eyes when a menacing gesture was made close to them: hence it was that these men were invincible. So difficult a matter is it for a man to keep his eyes from winking: indeed, to wink is so natural to many, that they cannot desist from it; such persons we generally look upon as the most timid.

No persons have the eye all of one colour; that of the middle of the eye is always different from the white which surrounds it. In all animals there is no part in the whole body that is a stronger exponent of the feelings, and in man more especially, for it is from the expression of the eye that we detect clemency, moderation, compassion, hatred, love, sadness, and joy. From the eyes, too, the various characters of persons are judged of, according as they are ferocious, menacing, 52sparkling, sedate, leering, askance, downcast, or languishing. Beyond a doubt it is in the eyes that the mind has its abode: sometimes the look is ardent, sometimes fixed and steady, at other times the eyes are humid, and at others, again, half closed. From these it is that the tears of pity flow, and when we kiss them we seem to be touching the very soul. It is the eyes that weep, and from them proceed those streams that moisten our cheeks as they trickle down. And what is this liquid that is always so ready and in such abundance in our moments of grief, and where is it kept in reserve at other times? It is by the aid of the mind that we see, by the aid of the mind that we enjoy perception; while the eyes, like so many vessels, as it were, receive its visual faculties and transmit them. Hence it is that profound thought renders a man blind for the time, the powers of sight being withdrawn from external objects and thrown inward: so, too, in epilepsy, the mind is covered with darkness, while the eyes, though open, are able to see nothing. In addition to this, it is the fact that hares, as well as many human beings, can sleep with the eyes open, a thing which the Greeks express by the term κορυβαντιᾷν. Nature has composed the eye of numerous membranes of remarkable thinness, covering them with a thick coat to ensure their protection against heat and cold. This coat she purifies from time to time by the lachrymal humours, and she has made the surface lubricous and slippery, to protect the eye against the effects of a sudden shock.


In the midst of the cornea of the eye Nature has formed a window in the pupil, the small dimensions of which do not permit the sight to wander at hazard and with uncertainty, but direct it as straight as though it were through a tube, and at the same time ensure its avoidance of all shocks communicated by foreign bodies. The pupils are surrounded by a black circle in some persons, while it is of a yellowish cast with others, and azure again with others. By this happy combination the light is received by the eye upon the white that lies around the pupil, and its reflection being thus tempered, it fails to impede or confuse the sight by its harshness. So complete a mirror, too, does the eye form, that the pupil,53 small as it is, is able to reflect the entire image of a man. This200 is the reason why most birds, when held in the hand of a person, will more particularly peck at his eyes; for seeing their own likeness reflected in the pupils, they are attracted to it by what seem to be the objects of their natural affection.

It is only some few beasts of burden that are subject to maladies of the eyes towards the increase of the moon: but it is man alone that is rescued from blindness by the discharge of the humours201 that have caused it. Many persons have had their sight restored after being blind for twenty years; while others, again, have been denied this blessing from their very birth, without there being any blemish in the eyes. Many persons, again, have suddenly lost their sight from no apparent cause, and without any preceding injury. The most learned authors say that there are veins which communicate from the eye to the brain, but I am inclined to think that the communication is with the stomach; for it is quite certain that a person never loses the eye without feeling sickness at the stomach. It is an important and sacred duty, of high sanction among the Romans, to close202 the eyes of the dead, and then again to open them when the body is laid on the funeral pile, the usage having taken its rise in the notion of its being improper that the eyes of the dead should be beheld by man, while it is an equally great offence to hide them from the view of heaven. Man is the only living creature the eyes of which are subject to deformities, from which, in fact, arose the family names of “Strabo”203 and “Pætus.”204 The ancients used to call a man who was born with only one eye, “cocles,” and “ocella,” a person whose eyes were remarkably small. “Luscinus” was the surname given to one who happened to have lost one eye by an accident.

The eyes of animals that see at night in the dark, cats, for instance, are shining and radiant, so much so, that it is impossible to look upon them; those of the she-goat, too, and the wolf are resplendent, and emit a light like fire. The eyes of the sea-calf and the hyæna change successively to a thousand 54colours; and the eyes, when dried, of most of the fishes will give out light in the dark, just in the same way as the trunk of the oak when it has become rotten with extreme old age. We have already mentioned205 the fact, that animals which turn, not the eyes but the head, for the purpose of looking round, are never known to wink. It is said,206 too, that the chameleon is able to roll the eye-balls completely round. Crabs look sideways, and have the eyes enclosed beneath a thin crust. Those of craw-fish and shrimps are very hard and prominent, and lie in a great measure beneath a defence of a similar nature. Those animals, however, the eyes of which are hard, have worse sight than those of which the eyes are formed of a humid substance. It is said that if the eyes are taken away from the young of serpents and of the swallow,207 they will grow again. In all insects and in animals covered with a shell, the eyes move just in the same way as the ears of quadrupeds do; those among them which have a brittle208 covering have the eyes hard. All animals of this nature, as well as fishes and insects, are destitute of eye-lids, and their eyes have no covering; but in all there is a membrane that is transparent like glass, spread over them.


Man has lashes on the eye-lids on either side; and women even make it their daily care to stain them;209 so ardent are they in the pursuit of beauty, that they must even colour their very eyes. It was with another view, however, that Nature had provided the hair of the eyelids—they were to have acted, so to say, as a kind of rampart for the protection of the sight, and as an advanced bulwark against the approach of insects or other objects which might accidentally come in their way. It is not without some reason that it is said that the eyelashes210 fall off with those persons who are too much given to venereal pleasures. Of the other animals, the only ones that have eyelashes are those that have hair on the rest of the body as well; but the quadrupeds have them on the upper 55eyelid only, and the birds on the lower one: the same is the case also with those which have a soft skin, such as the serpent, and those among the quadrupeds that are oviparous, the lizard, for instance. The ostrich is the only one among the birds that, like man, has eyelashes on either side.


All birds, however, have not eyelids: hence it is, that those which are viviparous have no nictation of the eye. The heavier kinds of birds shut the eye by means of the lower eyelid, and they wink by drawing forward a membrane which lies in the corner of the eye. Pigeons, and other birds of a similar nature, shut the two eyelids; but the quadrupeds which are oviparous, such, for instance, as the tortoise and the crocodile, have only the lower eyelid moveable, and never wink, in consequence of the hardness of the eye. The edge of the upper eyelid was by the ancients called “cilium,” from which comes our word “supercilia.211” If the eyelid happens to be severed by a wound it will not reunite,212 which is the case also with some few other parts of the human body.


Below the eyes are the cheeks, a feature which is found in man only. From the ancients they received the name of “genæ,” and by the laws of the Twelve Tables, women were forbidden to tear them.213 The cheeks are the seat of bashfulness; it is on them more particularly that blushes are to be seen.


Within the cheeks is the mouth, which gives such strong indications of the feelings of joyousness and laughter; and above it, but in man only, is the nose, which modern notions have stamped as the exponent of sarcasm and ridicule.214 In no other animal but man, is the nose thus prominent; birds, serpents, and fishes, have no nostrils, but apertures only for the purpose of smell. It is from the peculiarity of the nose 56that are derived the surnames of “Simus”215 and “Silo.” Children born in the seventh month often have the ears and the nostrils imperforate.


It is from the “labia,” or lips, that the Brocchi216 have received the surname of Labeo. All animals that are viviparous have a mouth that is either well-formed, or harshly defined, as the case may be. Instead of lips and mouth, the birds have a beak that is horny and sharp at the end. With birds that live by rapine, the beak is hooked inwards, but with those which gather and peck only, it is straight: those animals, again, which root up grass or puddle in the mud, have the muzzle broad, like swine. The beasts of burden employ the mouth in place of hands in gathering their food, while those which live by rapine and slaughter have it wider than the rest. No animal, with the exception of man, has either chin or cheek-bones. The crocodile is the only animal that has the upper jaw-bone217 moveable; among the land quadrupeds it is the same as with other animals, except that they can move it obliquely.


Teeth are arranged in three different ways, serrated, in one continuous row, or else protruding from the mouth. When serrated they unite together, just like those of a comb, in order that they may not be worn by rubbing against one another, as in serpents, fishes, and dogs,218 for instance. In some creatures they are set in one continuous row, man and the horse, for instance; while in the wild boar, the elephant, and the hippopotamus, they protrude from the mouth.219 Among those set in one continuous row, the teeth which divide the food are broad and sharp, while those which grind it are double; the teeth which lie between the incisive and the molar teeth, are those known as the canine or dog-teeth; these 57are by far the largest in those animals which have serrated teeth. Those animals which have continuous rows of teeth, have them either situate on both sides of the mouth, as in the horse, or else have no fore-teeth in the upper part of the mouth, as is the case with oxen, sheep, and all the animals that ruminate. The she-goat has no upper teeth, except the two front ones. No animals which have serrated teeth, have them protruding220 from the mouth; among these, too, the females rarely have them; and to those that do have them, they are of no221 use: hence it is, that while the boar strikes, the sow bites. No animal with horns has projecting teeth; and all such teeth are hollow, while in other animals the teeth are solid. All222 fish have the teeth serrated, with the exception of the scarus,223 this being the only one among the aquatic animals that has them level224 at the edges. In addition to this, there are many fishes that have teeth upon the tongue and over the whole of the mouth, in order that, by the multitude of the bites which they inflict, they may soften those articles of food which they could not possibly manage by tearing. Many animals, also, have teeth in the palate, and even in the tail;225 in addition to which, some have them inclining to the interior of the mouth, that the food may not fall out, the animal itself having no other means of retaining it there.


The asp also, and other serpents, have similar teeth; but in the upper jaw, on the right and left, they have two of extreme length, which are perforated with a small tube in the interior, 58just like the sting of the scorpion, and it is through these that they eject their venom. The writers who have made the most diligent enquiries on the subject, inform us that this venom is nothing but the gall of the serpent, and that it is conveyed to the mouth by certain veins which run beneath the spine; indeed, there are some who state that there is only one poison-fang, and that being barbed at the end, it is bent backwards when the animal has inflicted a bite. Other writers, however, affirm that on such an occasion the fang falls out, as it is very easily displaced, but that it soon grows226 again; this tooth, they say, is thus wanting in the serpents which we see handled about by persons.227 It is also stated that this fang exists in the tail of the scorpion, and that most of these animals have no less than three. The teeth of the viper are concealed in the gums: the animal, being provided with a similar venom, exercises the pressure of its fangs for the purpose of instilling the poison in its bite.

No winged creatures have teeth, with the sole exception of the bat. The camel is the only one among the animals without horns, that has no fore-teeth228 in the upper jaw. None of the horned animals have serrated229 teeth. Snails, too, have teeth; a proof of which are the vetches which we find gnawed away by snails of the very smallest size. To assert that among marine animals, those that have shells, and those that are cartilaginous have fore-teeth, and that the sea-urchin has five teeth, I am very much surprised how such a notion could have possibly230 arisen. With insects the sting supplies the place of teeth; the ape has teeth just like those in man.231 The elephant 59has in the interior of the mouth fourteen teeth, adapted for chewing, in addition to those which protrude; in the male these are curved inwards, but in the female they are straight, and project outwards. The sea-mouse,232 a fish which goes before the balæna, has no teeth at all, but in place of them, the interior of the mouth is lined with bristles, as well as the tongue and palate. Among the smaller land quadrupeds, the two fore-teeth in each jaw are the longest.


The other animals are born with233 teeth, whereas man has them only at the seventh234 month after his birth. While other235 animals keep their teeth to the time of their death, man, the lion, the beasts of burden, the dog, and the ruminating animals, all change them; the lion and the dog, however, change none236 but the canine teeth. The canine tooth of the wolf, on the right side, is held in high esteem as an amulet.237 There is no animal that changes the maxillary teeth, which stand beyond the canine teeth. With man, the last teeth, which are known as the “genuini,” or cheek teeth,238 come about the twentieth year, and with many men, and females as well, so late even as the eightieth; but this only in the case of those who have not had them in their youth. It is a well-known fact, that the teeth are sometimes shed in old age, and replaced by others. Mucianus has stated that he, himself, saw one Zocles, a native of Samothrace, who had a new set of teeth when he was past his one hundred and fourth year. In addition to these facts, in man males have more teeth than females,239 which is the case also in sheep, goats, and swine. 60 Timarchus, the son of Nicocles the Paphian, had a double240 row of teeth in his jaws: the same person had a brother also who never changed his front teeth, and, consequently, wore them to the very stumps. There is an instance, also, of a man having a tooth growing in the palate.241 The canine teeth,242 when lost by any accident, are never known to come again. While in all other animals the teeth grow of a tawny colour with old age, with the horse, and him only, they become whiter the older he grows.


The age, in beasts of burden,243 is indicated by the teeth. In the horse they are forty in number. At thirty months it loses the two fore-teeth in either jaw, and in the following year the same number next to them, at the time that the eye-teeth244 come. At the beginning of the fifth year the animal loses two teeth, which grow again in the sixth, and in the seventh it has all its teeth, those which have replaced the others, and those which have never been changed. If a horse is gelded245 before it changes its teeth, it never sheds them. In a similar manner, also, the ass loses four of its teeth in the thirtieth month, and the others from six months to six months. If a she-ass happens not to have foaled before the last of these teeth are shed, it is sure to be barren.246 Oxen change their teeth at two years old: with swine they are never changed.247 When these several indications of age have been lost in horses and other beasts of burden, the age is ascertained by the projecting of the teeth, the greyness of the hair in the eyebrows, and the hollow pits that form around them; at this period the animal is supposed to be about sixteen248 years old. In the human 61teeth there is a certain venom; for if they are placed uncovered before a mirror, they will tarnish its brightness, and they will kill young pigeons while yet unfledged. The other particulars relative to the teeth have been already249 mentioned under the head of the generation of man. When teething first commences, the bodies of infants are subject to certain maladies. Those animals which have serrated teeth inflict the most dangerous bites.250


The tongue is not similarly formed in all animals. Serpents have a very thin tongue, and three-forked,251 which they vibrate to and fro: it is of a black colour, and when drawn from out of the mouth, of extraordinary length. The tongue of the lizard is two-forked, and covered with hair.252 That of the sea-calf also is twofold,253 but with the serpents it is of the thinness of a hair; the other animals employ it to lick the parts around the mouth. Fishes have nearly the whole of the tongue adhering to the palate, while in the crocodile the whole of it does adhere thereto: but in the aquatic animals the palate, which is fleshy, performs the duty of the tongue as the organ of taste. In lions, pards, and all the animals of that class, and in cats as well, the tongue is covered with asperities,254 which overlap each other, and bear a strong resemblance to a rasp. Such being its formation, if the animal licks a man’s skin, it will wear it away by making it thinner and thinner; for which reason it is that the saliva of even a perfectly tame animal, being thus introduced to the close vicinity of the blood, is apt to bring on madness. Of the tongue of the purple we have made mention255 already. With the frog the end of the tongue adheres to the mouth, while the inner part is disjoined from the sides of the gullet; and it is by this means that the males give utterance to their croaking, at the season at which 62they are known as ololygones.256 This happens at stated periods of the year, at which the males invite the females for the purposes of propagation: letting down the lower lip to the surface of the water, they receive a small portion of it in the mouth, and then, by quavering with the tongue, make a gurgling noise, from which the croaking is produced which we hear. In making this noise, the folds of the mouth, becoming distended, are quite transparent, and the eyes start from the head and burn again with the effort. Those insects which have a sting in the lower part of the body, have teeth, and a tongue as well; with bees it is of considerable length, and in the grasshopper it is very prominent. Those insects which have a fistulous sting in the mouth, have neither tongue nor teeth; while others, again, have a tongue in the interior of the mouth, the ant, for instance. In the elephant the tongue is remarkably broad; and while with all other animals, each according to its kind, it is always perfectly at liberty, with man, and him alone, it is often found so strongly tied down by certain veins, that it becomes necessary to cut them. We find it stated that the pontiff Metellus had a tongue so ill adapted for articulation, that he is generally supposed to have voluntarily submitted to torture for many months, while preparing to pronounce the speech which he was about to make on the dedication of the temple of Opifera.257 In most persons the tongue is able to articulate with distinctness at about the seventh year; and many know how to employ it with such remarkable skill, as to be able to imitate the voices of various birds and other animals with the greatest exactness. The other animals have the sense of taste centred in the fore-part of the tongue; but in man it is situate in the palate as well.


In man there are tonsils at the root of the tongue; these in swine are called the glandules. The uvula,258 which is suspended between them at the extremity of the palate, is found only in man. Beneath this lies a smaller tongue, known by the 63name of “epiglossis,”259 but it is wanting in animals that are oviparous. Placed as it is between two passages, the functions of the epiglottis are of a twofold nature. The one of these passages that lies more inward is called the tracheal artery, and leads to the lungs and the heart: the epiglottis covers it during the action of eating, that the drink or food may not go the wrong way, and so be productive of suffering, as it is by this passage that the breath and the voice are conveyed. The other or exterior passage is called the “gula,”260 and it is by this passage that the victuals and drink pass: this leads to the belly, while the former one communicates with the chest.261 The epiglottis covers the pharynx, in its turn, when only the breath or the voice is passing, in order that the victuals may not inopportunely pass upwards, and so disturb the breathing or articulation. The tracheal artery is composed of cartilage and flesh, while the gullet is formed of a sinewy substance united with flesh.


The neck is found to exist in no animal but those which have both these passages. All the others which have the gullet only, have nothing but a gorge or throat. In those which have a neck, it is formed of several rounded vertebræ, and is flexible, and joined together by distinct articulations, to allow of the animal turning round the head to look. The lion, the wolf, and the hyæna are the only animals in which it is formed of a single262 rigid bone. The neck is annexed to the spine, and the spine to the loins. The vertebral column is of a bony substance, but rounded, and pierced within, to afford a passage for the marrow to descend from the brain. It is generally concluded that the marrow is of the same nature as the brain, from the fact that if the membrane of exceeding thinness which covers it is pierced, death immediately ensues.263 Those animals which have long legs have a long throat as well, 64which is the case also with aquatic birds, although they have short legs, as well as with those which have hooked talons.


Man only, and the swine, are subject to swellings in the throat, which are mostly caused by the noxious quality of the water264 which they drink. The upper part of the gullet is called the fauces, the lower the stomach.265 By this name is understood a fleshy concavity, situate behind the tracheal artery, and joining the vertebral column; it extends in length and breadth like a sort of chasm.266 Those animals which have no gullet have no stomach either, nor yet any neck or throat, fishes, for example; and in all these the mouth communicates immediately with the belly. The sea-tortoise267 has neither tongue nor teeth; it can break anything, however, with the sharp edge of its muzzle. After the tracheal artery there is the œsophagus, which is indented with hard asperities resembling bramble-thorns, for the purpose of levigating the food, the incisions268 gradually becoming smaller as they approach the belly. The roughness at the very extremity of this organ strongly resembles that of a blacksmith’s file.


In all other animals but man the heart is situate in the middle of the breast; in man alone it is placed just below the pap on the left-hand side, the smaller end terminating in a point, and bearing outward. It is among the fish only that this point is turned towards the mouth. It is asserted that the heart is the first among the viscera that is formed in the fœtus, then the brain, and last of all, the eyes: it is said, too, that the eyes are the first organs that die, and the heart the very last of all. The heart also is the principal seat of the heat of the body; it is constantly palpitating, and moves as though it were one animal enclosed within another. It is also enveloped 65in a membrane equally supple and strong, and is protected by the bulwarks formed by the ribs and the bone of the breast, as being the primary source and origin of life. It contains within itself the primary receptacles for the spirit and the blood, in its sinuous cavity, which in the larger animals is threefold,269 and in all twofold at least: here it is that the mind270 has its abode. From this source proceed two large veins, which branch into the fore-part and the back of the body, and which, spreading out in a series of branches, convey the vital blood by other smaller veins over all parts of the body. This is the only one271 among the viscera that is not affected by maladies, nor is it subject to the ordinary penalties of human life; but when injured, it produces instant death. While all the other viscera are injured, vitality may still remain in the heart.


Those animals are looked upon as stupid and lumpish which have a hard, rigid heart, while those in which it is small are courageous, and those are timid which have it very large. The heart is the largest, in proportion to the body, in the mouse, the hare, the ass, the stag, the panther, the weasel, the hyæna, and all the animals, in fact, which are timid, or dangerous only from the effects of fear. In Paphlagonia the partridge has a double heart. In the heart of the horse and the ox there are bones sometimes found. It is said that the heart increases every year in man, and that two drachmæ in weight are added272 yearly up to the fiftieth year, after which period it decreases yearly in a similar ratio; and that it is for this reason that men do not live beyond their hundredth year, the heart then failing them: this is the notion entertained by the Egyptians, whose custom it is to embalm the bodies of the 66dead, and so preserve them. It is said that men have been born with the heart covered with hair, and that such persons are excelled by none in valour and energy; such, for instance, as Aristomenes,273 the Messenian, who slew three hundred Lacedæmonians. Being covered with wounds, and taken prisoner, he, on one occasion, made his escape by a narrow hole which he discovered274 in the stone quarry where he was imprisoned, while in pursuit of a fox which had found that mode of exit. Being again taken prisoner, while his guards were fast asleep he rolled himself towards a fire close by, and, at the expense of his body, burnt off the cords by which he was bound. On being taken a third time, the Lacedæmonians opened his breast while he was still alive, and his heart was found covered with hair.


On an examination of the entrails, to find a certain fatty part on the top of the heart, is looked upon as a fortunate presage. Still, however the heart has not always been considered as forming a part of the entrails for this purpose. It was under Lucius Postumius Albinus, the King of the Sacrifices,275 and after the 126th Olympiad, when King Pyrrhus had quitted Italy, that the aruspices began to examine the heart, as part of the consecrated entrails. The first day that the Dictator Cæsar appeared in public, clothed in purple, and sitting on a seat of gold, the heart was twice found wanting276 when he sacrificed. From this circumstance has risen a great question among those who discuss matters connected with divination—whether it was possible for the victim to have lived without that organ, or whether it had lost it at the very moment277 of its death. It is asserted that the heart cannot be 67burnt of those persons who die of the cardiac disease; and the same is said of those who die by poison. At all events, there is still in existence an oration pronounced by Vitellius,278 in which he accuses Piso of this crime, and employs this alleged fact as one of his proofs, openly asserting that the heart of Germanicus Cæsar could not be burnt at the funeral pile, in consequence of his having been poisoned. On the other hand, the peculiar nature279 of the disease under which Germanicus was labouring, was alleged in Piso’s defence.


Beneath the heart are the lungs, the laboratory in which the respiration is prepared. The use of these, is to draw in the air and then expel it; for which purpose their substance is of a spongy nature, and filled with cavernous holes. Some few among the aquatic animals have lungs, as we have already stated;280 and among the rest of those which are oviparous, they are small, of a fungous nature, and containing no blood; hence it is, that these animals do not experience thirst. It is for the same reason also, that frogs and seals are able to remain so long under water. The tortoise, too, although it has lungs of remarkable size, and extending throughout the whole of the shell, is also equally destitute of blood. The smaller the lungs are in proportion to the body, the greater is the swiftness of the animal. It is in the chameleon that the lungs are the largest in proportion to the body; in which, in fact, it has no other viscera at all.281


The liver is on the right side: in this part is situate what has been called the “head of the entrails,” and it is subject 68to considerable variations. No liver282 at all was found in a victim which was sacrificed by M. Marcellus, about the period when he was killed in battle against Hannibal; while in a victim which was slain on the following day, a double liver was found. It was wanting, also, in a victim sacrificed by C. Marius, at Utica, and in one which was offered by the Emperor Caius283 upon the calends of January,284 on the occasion of his entering the year of the consulship in which he was slain: the same thing happened, also, to his successor, Claudius, in the month in which he was cut off285 by poison. When the late Emperor Augustus was sacrificing at Spoletum, upon the first day of his entering on the imperial dignity, in six different victims the liver was found rolled over within itself, from the very lowest lobe; and the answer that was given by the diviners was to the effect that, in the course of the year, he would gain a twofold sway. It is of evil omen to find an incision in the head of the entrails, except on occasions of disquietude and alarm; for then it is significant of cutting all cares, and so putting an end to them. The hares that are found in the vicinity of Briletum286 and Tharne, and in the Chersonnesus on the Propontis, have a double liver; but, what is very singular, if they are removed to another place, they will lose one of them.


In the liver is the gall, which, however, does not exist in every animal. At Chalcis, in Eubœa, none of the cattle have it, while in the cattle of the Isle of Naxos, it is of extraordinary size, and double, so that to a stranger either of these facts would appear as good as a prodigy. The horse, the mule, the ass, the stag, the roe-buck, the wild boar, the camel, and the dolphin have no gall, but some kinds of rats and mice have it. 69 Some few men are without it, and such persons enjoy robust health and a long life. There are some authors who say that the gall exists in the horse, not in the liver, but in the paunch, and that in the stag it is situate either in the tail or the intestines; and that hence it is, that those parts are so bitter that dogs will not touch them. The gall, in fact, is nothing else but the worst parts of the blood purged off, and for this reason it is that it is so bitter: at all events, it is a well-known fact, that no animal has a liver unless it has blood as well. The liver receives the blood from the heart, to which it is united, and then disperses it in the veins.


When the gall is black, it is productive of madness in man, and if it is wholly expelled death will ensue. Hence it is, too, that the word “bile” has been employed by us to characterize a harsh, embittered disposition; so powerful are the effects of this secretion, when it extends its influence to the mind. In addition to this, when it is dispersed over the whole of the body, it deprives the eyes, even, of their natural colour; and when ejected, will tarnish copper vessels even, rendering everything black with which it comes in contact; so that no one ought to be surprised that it is the gall which constitutes the venom of serpents. Those animals of Pontus which feed on wormwood have no gall: in the raven, the quail, and the pheasant, the gall-bladder is united to the renal parts, and, on one side only, to the intestines. In many animals, again, it is united only to the intestines, the pigeon, the hawk, and the murena, for example. In some few birds it is situate in the liver; but it is in serpents and fishes that it is the largest in proportion. With the greater part of birds, it extends all along throughout the intestines, as in the hawk and the kite. In some other birds, also, it is situate in the breast as well: the gall, too, of the sea-calf is celebrated for its application to many purposes. From the gall of the bull a colour is extracted like that of gold. The aruspices have consecrated the gall to Neptune and the influence of water. The Emperor Augustus found a double gall in a victim which he was sacrificing on the day of his victory at Actium.



It is said, that in the small liver of the mouse the number of lobes corresponds to the day of the moon, and that they are found to be just as many in number as she is days old; in addition to which, it is said that it increases at the winter solstice. In the rabbits of Bætica, the liver is always found to have a double lobe. Ants will not touch one lobe of the liver of the bramble-frog, in consequence of its poisonous nature, it is generally thought. The liver is remarkable for its powers of preservation, and sieges have afforded us remarkable instances of its being kept so long as a hundred years.287


The entrails of serpents and lizards are of remarkable length. It is related that—a most fortunate omen—Cæcina of Volaterræ beheld two dragons arising from the entrails of the victim; and this will not be at all incredible, if we are ready to believe that while King Pyrrhus was sacrificing, the day upon which he died, the heads of the victims, on being cut off, crawled along the ground and licked up their own blood. In man, the entrails are separated from the lower part of the viscera by a certain membrane, which is called the “præcordia,”288 because it is extended in front of the heart; the Greeks have given it the name of “phrenes.” All the principal viscera have been enclosed by Nature, in her prudent foresight, in their own peculiar membranes, just like so many sheaths, in fact. With reference to the diaphragm, there was a peculiar reason for this wise provision of Nature, its proximity to the guts, and the chances that the food might possibly intercept the respiration. It is to this organ that is attributed quick and ready wit, and hence it is that it has no fleshy parts, but is composed of fine sinews and membranes. This part is also the chief seat of gaiety of mind, a fact which is more particularly proved by the titillation of the arm-holes, to which the midriff extends; 71indeed, in no part of the body is the skin more fine; for this reason it is, also, that we experience such peculiar pleasure in scratching the parts in its vicinity. Hence it is, that in battles and gladiatorial combats, many persons have been known to be pierced through the midriff, and to die in the act of laughing.289


In those animals which have a stomach, below the diaphragm the belly is situate. In other animals it is single, but in those which ruminate it is double; in those, again, which are destitute of blood, there is no belly, for the intestinal canal commences in some of them at the mouth, and returns to that part, as is the case with the sæpia and the polypus. In man it is connected with the extremity of the stomach, and the same with the dog. These are the only creatures that have the belly more narrow at the lower part; hence it is, too, that they are the only ones that vomit, for on the belly being filled, the narrowness at its extremity precludes the food from passing; a thing that cannot possibly be the case with the animals in which the belly is more capacious at the extremity, and so leaves a free passage for the food to the lower parts of the body.


After the belly we find in man and the sheep the “lactes,”290 the place of which in other animals is occupied by the “hillæ:”291 it is through these organs that the food passes. We then find the larger intestines, which communicate with the anus, and which in man consist of extremely sinuous folds. Those animals which have the longest intestinal canal, are the most voracious; and those which have the belly the most loaded with fat, are the least intelligent. There are some birds, also, which have two receptacles; the one of which is the crop, in which they stow away the food which 72they have just swallowed, while the other is the belly, into which they discharge the food when it is duly prepared and digested; this is the case with the domestic fowl, the ring-dove, the pigeon, and the partridge. The other birds are in general destitute of crop, but then they have a more capacious gorge, the jackdaw, the raven, and the crow, for instance: some, again, are constituted in neither manner, but have the belly close to the gorge, those, for instance, which have the neck very long and narrow, such as the porphyrio.292

In the solid-hoofed animals the belly is rough and hard, while in some land animals it is provided with rough asperities like teeth,293 and in others, again, it has a reticulated surface like that of a file. Those animals which have not the teeth on both sides, and do not ruminate, digest the food in the belly, from whence it descends to the lower intestines. There is an organ in all animals attached in the middle to the navel, and in man similar in its lower part to that of the swine, the name given thereto by the Greeks being “colon,” a part of the body which is subject to excruciating pains.294 In dogs this gut is extremely contracted, for which reason it is that they are unable to ease it, except by great efforts, and not without considerable suffering. Those animals with which the food passes at once from the belly through the straight intestine, are of insatiate appetite, as, for instance, the hind-wolf,295 and among birds the diver. The elephant has four296 bellies; the rest of its intestines are similar to those of the swine, and the lungs are four times as large as those of the ox. The belly in birds is fleshy, and formed of a callous substance. In that of young swallows there are found little white or pink pebbles, known by the name of “chelidonii,” and said to be employed in magical incantations. In the second belly of the heifer there is a black tufa found, round like a ball,297 and of no weight to speak of: this, it is generally thought, is singularly 73efficacious in laborious deliveries, if it happens not to have touched the ground.


The belly and the intestines are covered with a caul known as the “omentum,” consisting of a fatty, thin membrane; except in the case of those animals which are oviparous. To this membrane is attached the spleen, which lies on the left side, and opposite the liver: sometimes, indeed, it changes place with the liver, but such a case is looked upon as nothing less than a prodigy. Some persons imagine that a spleen of extremely diminutive size exists in the oviparous animals, as also in serpents; at all events, it is to be detected in the tortoise, the crocodile, the lizard, and the frog; though it is equally certain that it does not exist in the bird known as the “ægocephalos,”298 nor yet in those animals which are destitute of blood. The spleen sometimes offers a peculiar impediment in running, for which reason the region of the spleen is cauterized299 in runners who are troubled with pains there. It is said also, that if the spleen is removed300 by an incision, animals may survive. There are some persons who think that with the spleen man loses the power of laughing, and that excessive laughter is caused by the overgrowth of it. There is a territory of Asia, known as Scepsis,301 in which it is said that the spleen of the cattle is remarkably small, and that from thence it is that remedies for diseases of the spleen have been introduced.


About Briletum and Tharne302 the stags have four kidneys: while, on the other hand, those animals which have wings and scales have303 none. The kidneys adhere to the upper part of 74the loins. Among all animals, the kidney on the right side is more elevated than the other, less fat, and drier. In both kidneys there is a certain streak of fat running from the middle, with the sole exception of those of the sea-calf. It is above the kidneys, also, that animals are fattest, and the accumulation of fat about them is often the cause of death in sheep. Small stones are sometimes found in the kidneys. All quadrupeds that are viviparous have kidneys, but of those which are oviparous the tortoise is the only one that has them; an animal which has all the other viscera, but, like man, has the kidneys composed, to all appearance, of several kidneys, similar to those of the ox.


Nature has placed the breast, or, in other words, certain bones, around the diaphragm and the organs of life, but not around the belly, for the expansion of which it was necessary that room should be left. Indeed, there is no animal that has any bones around the belly. Man is the only creature that has a broad breast; in all others it is of a carinated shape, in birds more particularly, and most of all, the aquatic birds. The ribs of man are only eight in number; swine have ten, the horned animals thirteen, and serpents thirty.


Below the paunch, on the anterior side, lies the bladder, which is never found in any oviparous animal, with the exception of the tortoise, nor yet in any animal that has not lungs with blood, or in any one that is destitute of feet. Between it and the paunch are certain arteries, which extend to the pubes, and are known as the “ilia.” In the bladder of the wolf there is found a small stone, which is called “syrites;” and in the bladders of some persons calculi are sometimes found, which produce most excruciating pains; small hairs, like bristles, are also occasionally found in the bladder. This organ consists of a membrane, which, when once wounded, does not304 cicatrize, just like those in which the brain and the heart are enveloped: there are many kinds of membranes, in fact.



Women have all the same organs, except that adjoining to the bladder there is one like a small sac,305 from which circumstance it is called the “uterus.” Another name for this part is “loci;”306 but in other animals it is known by the name of “vulva.” With the viper and other animals which generate their young within themselves, the womb is double; while with those which are oviparous, it is attached to the diaphragm. In woman it has two concavities, one on either side: when the matrix becomes displaced, it is productive of fatal effects, by causing suffocation.307 It is asserted that the cow, when pregnant, carries her young only in the right concavity of the womb, and that this is the case even when she produces twins. The womb of the sow is considered better eating if she has slipped her young, than if she has duly brought forth: in the former case it is known by the name of “ejectitia,” in the latter it is called “porcaria.” The womb of a sow that has farrowed only once is the most esteemed, and that of those which have ceased farrowing, the least. After farrowing, unless the animal is killed the same day, the womb is of a livid colour, and lean. This part, however, is not esteemed in a young sow, except just after the first farrowing: indeed, it is much more highly valued in an animal of a more mature age, so long as it is not past breeding, or has been killed two days before farrowing, or two days after, or upon the day on which it has miscarried. The next best after that of a sow that has miscarried, is that of one that has been killed the day after farrowing: indeed, the paps of this last, if the young have not begun to suck, are excellent eating, while those of an animal that has miscarried are very inferior. The ancients called this part by the name of “abdomen,” before it grew hard, and were not in the habit of killing swine while in a state of pregnancy.


Those among the horned animals which have teeth in one 76jaw only, and pastern bones on the feet, produce tallow or suet. Those, on the other hand, which are cloven-footed, or have the feet divided into toes, and are without horns, have simple fat only. This fat becomes hard, and when quite cold turns brittle, and is always found at the extremity of the flesh; while, on the other hand, the fat which lies between the skin and the flesh forms a kind of liquid juice. Some animals naturally do not become fat, such as the hare and the partridge, for instance. All fat animals, male as well as female, are mostly barren; and those which are remarkably fat become old the soonest. All animals have a certain degree of fatness in the eyes. The fat in all animals is devoid of sensation, having neither arteries nor veins. With the greater part of animals, fatness is productive of insensibility; so much so, indeed, that it has been said, that living swine have been gnawed even by mice.308 It has been even asserted that the fat was drawn off from the body of a son of L. Apronius, a man of consular rank, and that he was thus relieved of a burden which precluded him from moving.


The marrow seems also to be formed of a similar material; in the young it is of a reddish colour, but it is white in the aged. It is only found in those bones which are hollow, and not in the tibiæ of horses or dogs; for which reason it is, that when the tibia is broken, the bone will not reunite, a process which is effected309 by the flow of the marrow. The marrow is of a greasy nature in those animals which have fat, and suetty in those with horns. It is full of nerves, and is found only in the vertebral column310 in those animals which have no bones, fishes, for instance. The bear has no marrow; and the lion has a little only in some few bones of the thighs and the brachia, which are of such extraordinary hardness that sparks may be emitted therefrom, as though from a flint-stone.



The bones are hard, also, in those animals311 which do not grow fat; those of the ass are used by musicians for making flutes. Dolphins have bones, and not ordinary fish-bones; for they are viviparous. Serpents, on the other hand, have bones like those of fish. Among aquatic animals, the mollusks have no bones, but the body is surrounded with circles of flesh, as in the sæpia and the cuttle-fish, for instance; insects, also, are said to be equally destitute of bones. Among aquatic animals, those which are cartilaginous have marrow in the vertebral column; the sea-calf has cartilages, and no bones. The ears also, and the nostrils in all animals, when remarkably prominent, are made flexible by a remarkable provision of Nature, in order that they may not be broken. When cartilage is once broken, it will not unite; nor will bone, when cut, grow again, except in beasts of burden, between the hoof and the pastern.

Man increases in height till his twenty-first year, after which he fills out; but it is more particularly when he first arrives at the age of puberty that he seems to have untied a sort of knot in his existence, and this especially when he has been overtaken by illness.


The nerves312 take their rise at the heart, and even surround it in the ox; they have the same nature and principle as the marrow. In all animals they are fastened to the lubricous surface of the bones, and so serve to fasten those knots in the body which are known as articulations or joints, sometimes lying between them, sometimes surrounding them, and sometimes running from one to another; in one place they are long and round, and in another broad, according as the necessity of each case may demand. When cut, they will not 78reunite, and if wounded, it is wonderful what excruciating pain they cause; though, if completely cut asunder, they are productive of none whatever. Some animals are destitute of nerves, fish, for instance, the bodies of which are united by arteries, though even these are not to be found in the mollusks. Wherever there are nerves found, it is the inner ones that contract the limb, and the outer ones that extend it.

Among the nerves lie concealed the arteries, which are so many passages for the spirit; and upon these float the veins, as conduits for the blood. The pulsation of the arteries is more especially perceptible on the surface of the limbs, and afford indications of nearly every disease, being either stationary, quickened, or retarded, conformably to certain measures and metrical laws, which depend on the age of the patient, and which have been described with remarkable skill by Herophilus, who has been looked upon as a prophet in the wondrous art of medicine. These indications, however, have been hitherto neglected, in consequence of their remarkable subtilty and minuteness, though, at the same time, it is by the observation of the pulse, as being fast or slow, that the health of the body, as regulating life, is ascertained.


The arteries are destitute of sensation, for they are devoid of blood. They do not, all of them, however, contain the vital spirit, and when one of them has been cut, it is only that part of the body that is reduced to a torpid state. Birds have neither veins nor arteries, which is the case also with serpents, tortoises, and lizards; and they have but a very small proportion of blood. The veins, which are dispersed beneath the whole skin in filaments of extreme thinness, terminate with such remarkable fineness, that the blood is able to penetrate no further, or, indeed, anything else, except an extremely subtle humour which oozes forth from the skin in innumerable small drops, and is known to us as “sweat.” The knot, and place of union of the veins, is the navel.


Those animals in which the blood is more abundant and of an unctuous nature, are irascible; it is darker in males than in females, and in the young than in the aged: the blood of the lower extremities is the thickest. There is great vitality, too, in the blood, and when it is discharged from the body, it carries the life with it: it is not sensible, however, of touch. Those animals in which the blood is the thickest are the most courageous, and those in which it is the thinnest the most intelligent; while those, again, which have little or no blood are the most timorous of all. The blood of the bull coagulates and hardens the most speedily of all, and hence it is so particularly deadly313 when drunk. On the other hand, the blood of the wild boar, the stag, the roe-buck, and oxen of all kinds, does not coagulate. Blood is of the richest quality in the ass, and the poorest in man. Those animals which have more than four feet have no blood. In animals which are very fat, the blood is less abundant than in others, being soaked up by the fat. Man is the only creature from which the blood flows at the nostrils; some persons bleed at one nostril only, some at both, while others again void blood by the lower314 parts. Many persons discharge blood from the mouth at stated periods, such, for instance, as Macrinus Viscus, lately, a man of prætorian dignity, and Volusius Saturninus,315 the Prefect of the City, who every year did the same, and yet lived to beyond ninety. The blood is the only substance in the body that is sensible of any temporary increase, for a larger quantity will come from the victims if they happen to have drunk just before they are sacrificed.


Those animals which conceal themselves316 at certain periods of the year, as already mentioned, have no blood at those times, with the exception, indeed, of some very small drops about the 80heart. A marvellous dispensation of Nature! and very similar to that witnessed in man, where the blood is sensible of various modifications from the slightest causes; for not only, similarly to the bile, does it rush upwards to the face, but it serves also to indicate the various tendencies of the mind, by depicting shame, anger, and fear, in many ways, either by the paleness of the features or their unusual redness; as, in fact, the redness of anger and the blush of modesty are quite different things. It is a well-known fact, that when a man is in fear, the blood takes to flight and disappears, and that many persons have been pierced through the body without losing one drop of blood; a thing, however, which is only the case with man. But as to those animals which we have already mentioned as changing317 colour, they derive that colour from the reflection318 of other objects; while, on the other hand, man is the only one that has the elements which cause these changes centred in himself. All diseases, as well as death, tend to absorb the blood.


There are some persons who are of opinion that the fineness of the wit does not depend upon the thinness of the blood, but that animals are more or less stupid in proportion to the skin or other coverings of the body, as the oyster and the tortoise, for instance: that the hide of the ox and the bristles of the hog, in fact, offer a resistance to the fine and penetrating powers of the air, and leave no passage for its transmission in a pure and liquid state. The same, they say, is the case, too, with men, when the skin is very thick or callous, and so excludes the air. Just as if, indeed, the crocodile was not equally remarkable for the hardness of its skin and its extreme cunning.


The hide, too, of the hippopotamus is so thick, that lances,319 even, are turned from it, and yet this animal has the intelligence to administer certain medicaments to itself. The hide, too, of 81the elephant makes bucklers that are quite impenetrable, and yet to it is ascribed a degree of intelligence superior to that of any quadruped. The skin itself is entirely devoid of sensation, and more particularly that of the head; wherever it is found alone, and unaccompanied with flesh, if wounded, it will not unite, as in the cheek and on the eyelid,320 for instance.


Those animals which are viviparous, have hair; those which are oviparous, have feathers, scales, or a shell, like the tortoise; or else a purple skin, like the serpent. The lower part of all feathers is hollow; if cut, they will not grow again, but if pulled out, they will shoot afresh. Insects fly by the aid of a frail membrane; the wings of the fish321 called the “swallow” are moistened in the sea, while those of the bat which frequents our houses are dry; the wings of this last animal have certain articulations as well. The hairs that issue from a thick skin are rough, while those on females are of a finer quality. Those found on the horse’s mane are more abundant, which is the case also with the shoulders of the lion. The dasypus has hair in the inside of the mouth even and under the feet, two features which Trogus has also attributed to the hare; from which the same author concludes that hairy men are the most prone to lust. The most hairy of all animals is the hare. Man is the only creature that has hair as the mark of puberty; and a person who is devoid of this, whether male or female, is sure to be sterile. The hair of man is partly born with him, and in part produced after his birth. The last kind of hair will not grow upon eunuchs, though that which has been born with them does not fall off; which is the case also with women, in a great degree. Still however, there have been women known to be afflicted with falling off of the hair, just as some are to be seen with a fine down on the face, after the cessation of the menstrual discharge. In some men the hair that mostly shoots forth after birth will not grow spontaneously. The hair of quadrupeds comes off every year, and 82grows again. That of the head in man grows the fastest, and next to it the hair of the beard. When cut, the hairs shoot, not from the place where they have been cut, as is the case with grass, but at the root. The hair grows quickly in certain diseases, phthisis more particularly; it grows also with rapidity in old age, and on the body after death. In persons of a libidinous tendency the hair that is produced at birth falls off more speedily, while that which is afterwards produced grows with the greatest rapidity. In quadrupeds, the hair grows thicker in old age; but on those with wool, it becomes thinner. Those quadrupeds which have thick hair on the back, have the belly quite smooth. From the hides of oxen, and that of the bull more especially, glue is extracted by boiling.


Man is the only male among animals that has nipples, all the rest having mere marks only in place of them. Among female animals even, the only ones that have mammæ on the breast are those which can nurture their young. No oviparous animal has mammæ, and those only have milk that are viviparous; the bat being the only winged animal that has it. As for the stories that they tell, about the screech-owl ejecting milk from its teats upon the lips of infants, I look upon it as utterly fabulous: from ancient times the name “strix,”322 I am aware, has been employed in maledictions, but I do not think it is well ascertained what bird is really meant by that name.

(40.) The female ass is troubled with pains in the teats after it has foaled, and it is for that reason that at the end of six months it weans its young; while the mare suckles its young for nearly the whole year. The solid-hoofed animals do not bear more than two young ones at a time: they all of them have two paps, and nowhere but between the hind legs. Animals with cloven feet and with horns, such as the cow, for instance, have four paps, similarly situate, sheep and goats two. 83 Those which produce a more numerous progeny, and those which have toes on the feet, have a greater number of paps distributed in a double row all along the belly, such as the sow, for instance; the better sorts have twelve, the more common ones two less: the same is the case also with the female of the dog. Other animals, again, have four paps situate in the middle of the belly, as the female panther; others, again, two only, as the lioness. The female elephant has two only, situate between the shoulders, and those not in the breast, but without it, and hidden in the arm-pits: none of the animals which have toes have the paps between the hind legs. The sow presents the first teat to the first-born in each farrow, the first teat being the one that is situate nearest to the throat. Each pig, too, knows its own teat, according to the order in which it was born, and draws its nourishment from that and no other: if its own suckling, too, should happen to be withdrawn from any one of them, the pap will immediately dry up, and shrink back within the belly: if there should be only one pig left of all the farrow, that pap alone which has been assigned for its nutriment when born, will continue to hang down for the purpose of giving suck. The she-bear has four mammæ, the dolphin only two, at the bottom of the belly; they are not easily visible, and have a somewhat oblique direction: this is the only animal which gives suck while in motion. The balæna and sea-calf also suckle their young by teats.


The milk that is secreted in a woman before her seventh month is useless; but after that month, so long as the fœtus is healthy, the milk is wholesome: many women, indeed, are so full of milk, that it will flow not only from the mammæ, but exudes at the arm-pits even.323 Camels continue in milk until they are pregnant again. Their milk, mixed in the proportion of one part to three of water, is considered a very pleasant beverage. The cow has no milk before it has calved, and that which immediately follows upon its bringing forth is known as the “colostra:”324 if water is not mixed with it, it will 84coagulate, and assume the hardness of pumice. She-asses, as soon as they are pregnant, have milk in their udders; when the pasturage is rich, it is fatal to their young to taste the mother’s milk the first two days after birth; the kind of malady by which they are attacked is known by the name of “colostration.” Cheese cannot be made from the milk of animals which have teeth on either jaw, from the circumstance that their milk does not coagulate. The thinnest milk of all is that of the camel, and next to it that of the mare. The milk of the she-ass is the richest of all, so much so, indeed, that it is often used instead of rennet. Asses’ milk is also thought to be very efficacious in whitening the skin of females: at all events, Poppæa,325 the wife of Domitius Nero, used always to have with her five hundred asses with foal, and used to bathe the whole of her body in their milk, thinking that it also conferred additional suppleness on the skin. All milk thickens by the action of fire, and becomes serous when exposed to cold. The milk of the cow produces more cheese than that of the goat: when equal in quantity, it will produce nearly twice the weight. The milk of animals which have more than four mammæ does not produce cheese; and that is the best which is made of the milk of those that have but two. The rennet of the fawn, the hare, and the kid is the most esteemed, but the best of all is that of the dasypus: this last acts as a specific for diarrhœa, that animal being the only one with teeth in both jaws, the rennet of which has that property. It is a remarkable circumstance, that the barbarous nations which subsist on milk have been for so many ages either ignorant of the merits of cheese, or else have totally disregarded it; and yet they understand how to thicken milk and form therefrom an acrid kind of liquid with a pleasant flavour, as well as a rich butter: this last is the foam326 of milk, and is of a thicker consistency than the part which is known as the “serum.”327 We ought not to omit that butter has certain of the properties of oil, and that it is used for an ointment among all barbarous nations, and among ourselves as well, for infants.



The kinds of cheese that are most esteemed at Rome, where the various good things of all nations are to be judged of by comparison, are those which come from the provinces of Nemausus,328 and more especially the villages there of Lesura and Gabalis;329 but its excellence is only very short-lived, and it must be eaten while it is fresh. The pastures of the Alps recommend themselves by two sorts of cheese; the Dalmatic Alps send us the Docleatian330 cheese, and the Centronian331 Alps the Vatusican. The kinds produced in the Apennines are more numerous; from Liguria we have the cheese of Ceba,332 which is mostly made from the milk of sheep; from Umbria we have that of Æsina, and from the frontiers of Etruria and Liguria those of Luna, remarkable for their vast size, a single cheese weighing as much as a thousand pounds. Nearer the City, again, we have the cheese of Vestinum, the best of this kind being that which comes from the territory of Ceditium.333 Goats also produce a cheese which has been of late held in the highest esteem, its flavour being heightened by smoking it. The cheese of this kind which is made at Rome is considered preferable to any other; for that which is made in Gaul has a strong taste, like that of medicine. Of the cheeses that are made beyond sea, that of Bithynia334 is usually considered the first in quality. That salt exists in pasture lands is pretty evident, from the fact that all cheese as it grows old contracts a saltish flavour, even where it does not appear to any great extent;335 while at the same time it is equally well known that cheese soaked in a mixture of thyme and vinegar will regain its original fresh flavour. It is said that Zoroaster lived thirty years in the wilderness upon cheese, prepared in such a peculiar manner, that he was insensible to the advances of old age.



Of all the terrestrial animals, man is the only biped: he is also the only one that has a throat, and shoulders, or “humeri,” parts in other animals known by the name of “armi.” Man, too, is the only animal that has the “ulna,” or elbow. Those animals which are provided with hands, have flesh only on the interior of them, the outer part consisting of sinews and skin.


Some persons have six fingers on the hands. We read that C. Horatius, a man of patrician rank, had two daughters, who for this reason had the name of “Sedigitæ;” and we find mention made of Volcatius Sedigitus,336 as a famous poet. The fingers of man have three joints, the thumb only two, it bending in an opposite direction to all the other fingers. Viewed by itself, the movement of the thumb has a sidelong direction, and it is much thicker than the rest of the fingers. The little finger is equal in length to the thumb, and two others are also equal in length, the middle finger being the longest of all. Those quadrupeds which live by rapine have five toes on the fore feet, and four on the hinder ones. The lion, the wolf, and the dog, with some few others, have five claws on the hind feet, one of which hangs down near the joint of the leg. The other animals, also, which are of smaller size, have five toes. The two arms are not always equal in length: it is a well-known fact, that, in the school of gladiators belonging to Caius Cæsar,337 the Thracian Studiosus had the right arm longer than the left. Some animals also use their fore-paws to perform the duties of hands, and employ them in conveying food to the mouth as they sit, the squirrel, for instance.


As to the various kinds of apes, they offer a perfect resemblance 87to man in the face, the nostrils, the ears, and the eyelids; being the only quadrupeds, in fact, that have eyelashes on the lower eyelid. They have mammæ also on the breast, arms and legs, which bend in opposite directions, and nails upon the hands and fingers, the middle finger being the longest. They differ somewhat from man in the feet; which, like the hands, are of remarkable length, and have a print similar to that of the palm of our hand. They have a thumb also, and articulations similar to those in man. The males differ from man in the sexual parts only, while all the internal viscera exactly resemble those of man.

CHAP. 101. (45.)—THE NAILS.

It is generally supposed that the nails are the terminations of the sinews. All animals which have fingers have nails as well. In the ape they are long and overlapping,338 like a tile, while in man they are broad: they will grow even after death. In the beasts of prey they are hooked, while in others, such as the dog, for instance, they are straight, with the exception, indeed, of the one which is attached to the leg in most of them. All the animals which have feet [and not hoofs], have toes as well, except the elephant; he, also, would appear to have toes, five in number, but rudely developed, undivided, and hardly distinct from one another, bearing a nearer resemblance, in fact, to hoofs than to claws. In the elephant the fore-feet are the largest, and in the hind-feet there are short joints. This animal is able, also, to bend the hams inward like a man, while in all the others the joints of the hinder legs bend in a contrary direction to those of the fore ones. Those animals which are viviparous bend the fore-leg forward, while the joint of the hind-leg is directed backward.


In man the knee and the elbow bend contrary ways; the same is the case, too, with the bear and the ape, and it is for this reason that they are not so swift of foot as other animals. Those quadrupeds which are oviparous, such as the crocodile and the lizard, bend the knee of the fore-leg backwards,88 and that of the hind-leg forwards; their thighs are placed on them obliquely, in a similar manner to a man’s thumb; which is the case also with the multipede insects, the hind-legs only excepted of such as leap. Birds, like quadrupeds, have the joints of the wings bending forwards, but those of the legs backwards.


In accordance with the usages of various nations, certain religious ideas have been attached to the knees. It is the knees that suppliants clasp, and it is to these that they extend their hands; it is the knees that they worship like so many altars, as it were; perhaps, because in them is centred the vital strength. For in the joint of either knee, the right as well as the left, there is on the fore-side of each a certain empty space, which bears a strong resemblance to a mouth, and through which, like the throat, if it is once pierced, the vital powers escape.339 There are also certain religious ideas attached to other parts of the body, as is testified in raising the back of the right hand to the lips, and extending it as a token of good faith. It was the custom of the ancient Greeks, when in the act of supplication, to touch the chin. The seat of the memory lies in the lower part of the ear, which we touch when we summon a witness to depose upon memory to an arrest.340 The seat, too, of Nemesis341 lies behind the right ear, a goddess which has never yet found a Latin name, no, not in the Capitol even. It is to this part that we apply the finger next the little finger, after touching the mouth with it, when we silently ask pardon of the gods for having let slip an indiscreet word.


Men only, in general, have varicose veins in the legs, women but very rarely. We are informed by Oppius, that 89C. Marius, who was seven times consul, was the only man ever known to be able to have them extracted in a standing position.


All animals take a right-hand direction when they first begin to walk, and lie down on the left side. While the other animals walk just as it may happen, the lion only and the camel walk foot by foot, or in such a way that the left foot never passes the right, but always comes behind it. Men have the largest feet; in every kind of animal the female has the smallest. Man only342 has calves, and flesh upon the legs: we find it stated by authors, however, that there was once an Egyptian who had no calves on his legs. All men, too, with some few exceptions, have a sole to the foot. It is from these exceptional cases that persons have obtained the names of Plancus,343 Plautus, Pansa, and Scaurus; just as, from the malformation of the legs, we find persons called Varus,344 Vacia, and Vatinius, all which blemishes are to be seen in quadrupeds also. Animals which have no horns have a solid hoof, from which circumstance it is used by them as a weapon of offence, in place of horns; such animals as these are also destitute of pastern bones, but those which have cloven hoofs have them; while those, again, which have toes have none, nor are they ever found in the fore-feet of animals. The camel has pastern bones like those of the ox, but somewhat smaller, the feet being cloven, with a slight line of division, and having a fleshy sole, like that of the bear: hence it is, that in a long journey, the animal becomes fatigued, and the foot cracks, if it is not shod.

CHAP. 106. (46.)—HOOFS.

The horn of the hoof grows again in no animals except beasts of burden. The swine in some places in Illyricum have solid hoofs. Nearly all the horned animals are cloven-footed, no animal having solid hoofs and two horns. The Indian ass is only a one-horned animal, and the oryx is both 90one-horned and cloven-footed. The Indian ass345 is the only solid-hoofed animal that has pastern-bones. As to swine, they are looked upon as a sort of mongrel race, with a mixture of both kinds, and hence it is that their ankle-bones are so misshapen. Those authors who have imagined that man has similar pastern-bones, are easily to be confuted. The lynx is the only one among the animals that have the feet divided into toes, that has anything bearing a resemblance to a pastern-bone; while with the lion it is more crooked still. The great pastern-bone is straight, and situate in the joints of the foot; it projects outwards in a convex protuberance, and is held fast in its vertebration by certain ligaments.


Among birds, some have the feet divided into toes, while others, again, are broad and flatfooted—in others, which partake of the intermediate nature of both, the toes are divided, with a wide space between them. All birds, however, have four toes—three in front, and one on the heel; this last, however, is wanting in some that have long legs. The iynx346 is the only bird that has two toes on each side of the leg. This bird also protrudes a long tongue similar to that of the serpent, and it can turn the neck quite round and look backwards; it has great talons, too, like those of the jackdaw. Some of the heavier birds have spurs also upon the legs; but none of those have them which have crooked talons as well. The long-footed birds, as they fly, extend the legs towards the tail, while those that have short legs hold them contracted close to the middle of the body. Those authors who deny that there is any bird without feet, assert that those even which are called apodes,347 are not without them, as also the oce, and the drepanis,348 which last is a bird but very rarely seen. Serpents, too, have been seen with feet like those of the goose.



Among insects, those which have hard eyes have the fore-feet long, in order that from time to time they may rub the eyes with their feet, as we frequently see done by flies. The insects which have long hind-feet are able to leap, the locust, for instance. All these insects have six feet: and some of the spiders have two very long feet in addition. They have, all of them, three joints. We have already349 stated that marine insects have eight feet, such as the polypus, the sæpia, the cuttle-fish, and the crab, animals which move their arms in a contrary direction to their feet, which last they move around as well as obliquely: they are the only animals the feet of which have a rounded form. Other insects have two feet to regulate their movements; in the crab, and in that only, these duties are performed by four. The land animals which exceed this number of feet, as most of the worms,350 never have fewer than twelve feet, and some, indeed, as many as a hundred. The number of feet is never uneven in any animal. Among the solid-hoofed animals, the legs are of their proper length from the moment of their birth, after which they may with more propriety be said to extend themselves than to increase in growth: hence it is, that in infancy they are able to scratch their ears with the hind feet, a thing which, when they grow older, they are not able to do, because their increase of growth affects only the superficies of the body. It is for the same reason also, that they are only able to graze at first by bending the knees, until such time as the neck has attained its proper length.

(49.) There are dwarfs to be found among all animals, and among birds even.


We have already spoken sufficiently351 at length of those animals, the males of which have the sexual parts behind. In the wolf, the fox, the weasel, and the ferret, these parts are bony; and it is the genitals of the last-mentioned animal 92that supply the principal remedies for calculus in the human bladder. It is said also that the genitals of the bear are turned into a horny substance the moment it dies. Among the peoples of the East the very best bow-strings are those which are made of the member of the camel. These parts also, among different nations, are made the object of certain usages352 and religious observances; and the Galli,353 the priests of the Mother of the gods, are in the habit of castrating themselves, without any dangerous results. On the other hand, there is in some few women a monstrous resemblance to the male conformation, while hermaphrodites appear to partake of the nature of both. Instances of this last conformation were seen in quadrupeds in Nero’s reign, and for the first time, I imagine; for he ostentatiously paraded hermaphrodite horses yoked to his car, which had been found in the territory of the Treviri, in Gaul; as if, indeed, it was so remarkably fine a sight to behold the ruler of the earth seated in a chariot drawn by monstrosities!


In sheep and cattle the testes hang down to the legs, while in the boar they are knit up close to the body. In the dolphin they are very long, and are concealed in the lower part of the belly. In the elephant, also, they are quite concealed. In oviparous animals they adhere to the interior of the loins: these animals are the most speedy in the venereal congress. Fishes and serpents have no testes, but in place of them they have two veins, which run from the renal region to the genitals. The bird known as the “buteo,”354 has three testes. Man is the only creature in which the testes are ever broken, either accidentally or by some natural malady; those who are thus afflicted form a third class of half men, in addition to hermaphrodites and eunuchs. In all species of animals the male is more courageous than the female, with the exception of the panther and the bear.


Nearly all the animals, both viviparous as well as oviparous, 93with the exception of man and the ape, have tails in proportion to the necessities of the body. In animals with bristles the tail is bare, as in the boar, for instance. In those that are shaggy, it is small, such as the bear; while in those animals that have long hair, the tail is long also, the horse, for instance. The tail of a lizard or serpent, if cut off, will grow again. The tail governs the movements of the fish like a rudder, and turning from side to side, to the right or to the left, impels it onwards, acting in some degree like an oar. A double tail is sometimes found in lizards. In oxen, the stalk of the tail is of remarkable length, and is covered with rough hair at the extremity. In the ass, too, it is longer than in the horse, but in beasts of burden it is covered with bristly hairs. The tail of the lion, at the extremity, is like that of the ox and the field-mouse; but this is not the case with the panther. In the fox and the wolf it is covered with long hair, as in sheep, in which it is longer also. In swine, the tail is curled; among dogs, those that are mongrels carry it close beneath the belly.


Aristotle355 is of opinion that no animal has a voice which does not respire, and that hence it is that there is no voice in insects, but only a noise, through the circulation of the air in the interior, and its resounding, by reason of its compression. Some insects, again, he says, emit a sort of humming noise, such as the bee, for instance; others a shrill, long-drawn note, like the grasshopper, the two cavities beneath the thorax receiving the air, which, meeting a moveable membrane within, emits a sound by the attrition.—Also that flies, bees, and other insects of that nature, are only heard while they are flying, and cease to be heard the moment they settle, and that the sound which they emit proceeds from the friction and the air within them, and not from any act of respiration. At all events, it is generally believed that the locust emits a sound by rubbing together the wings and thighs, and that among the aquatic animals the scallop makes a certain noise as it flies.356 Mollusks, however, and the testaceous animals have no voice and emit no sounds. As for the other fishes, although 94they are destitute of lungs and the tracheal artery, they are not entirely without the power of emitting certain sounds: it is only a mere joke to say that the noise which they make is produced by grating their teeth together. The fish, too, that is found in the river Acheloüs, and is known as the boar-fish,357 makes a grunting noise, as do some others which we have previously358 mentioned. The oviparous animals hiss: in the serpent this hissing is prolonged, in the tortoise it is short and abrupt. Frogs make a peculiar noise of their own, as already stated;359 unless, indeed, this, too, is to be looked upon as a matter of doubt; but their noise originates in the mouth, and not in the thorax. Still, however, in reference to this subject, the nature of the various localities exercises a very considerable influence, for in Macedonia, it is said, the frogs are dumb, and the same in reference to the wild boars there. Among birds, the smaller ones chirp and twitter the most, and more especially about the time of pairing. Others, again, exercise their voice while fighting, the quail, for instance; others before they begin to fight, such as the partridge; and others when they have gained the victory, the dunghill cock, for instance. The males in these species have a peculiar note of their own, while in others, the nightingale for example, the male has the same note as the female.

Some birds sing all the year round, others only at certain times of the year, as we have already mentioned when speaking of them individually. The elephant produces a noise similar to that of sneezing, by the aid of the mouth, and independently of the nostrils; but by means of the nostrils it emits a sound similar to the hoarse braying of a trumpet. It is only in the bovine race that the voice of the female is the deepest, it being in all other kinds of animals more shrill than that of the male; it is the same also with the male of the human race when castrated. The infant at its birth is never heard to utter a cry before it has entirely left the uterus: it begins to speak at the end of the first year. A son of Crœsus,360 however, spoke when only six months old, and, while yet wielding the child’s rattle, afforded portentous omens, for 95it was at the same period that his father’s empire fell. Those children which begin to speak the soonest, begin to walk the latest. The human voice acquires additional strength at the fourteenth year; but in old age it becomes more shrill again, and there is no living creature in which it is subject to more frequent changes.

In addition to the preceding, there are still some singular circumstances that deserve to be mentioned with reference to the voice. If saw-dust or sand is thrown down in the orchestra of a theatre, or if the walls around are left in a rough state, or empty casks are placed there, the voice is absorbed; while, on the other hand, if the wall is quite straight, or if built in a concave form, the voice will move along it, and will convey words spoken in the slightest whisper from one end361 to the other, if there is no inequality in the surface to impede its progress. The voice, in man, contributes in a great degree to form his physiognomy, for we form a knowledge of a man before we see him by hearing his voice, just as well362 as if we had seen him with our eyes. There are as many kinds of voices, too, as there are individuals in existence, and each man has his own peculiar voice, just as much as his own peculiar physiognomy. Hence it is, that arises that vast diversity of nations and languages throughout the whole earth: in this, too, originate the many tunes, measures, and inflexions that exist. But, before all other things, it is the voice that serves to express our sentiments,363 a power that distinguishes us from the beasts; just as, in the same way, the various shades and differences in language that exist among men have created an equally marked difference between us and the brutes.


Supernumerary limbs, when they grow on animals, are of no use, which is the case also with the sixth finger, when it grows on man. It was thought proper in Egypt to rear a human monster, that had two additional eyes in the back part of the head; it could not see with them, however.



I am greatly surprised that Aristotle has not only believed, but has even committed it to writing, that there are in the human body certain prognostics of the duration of life. Although I am quite convinced of the utter futility of these remarks, and am of opinion that they ought not to be published without hesitation, for fear lest each person might be anxiously looking out for these prognostics in his own person, I shall still make some slight mention of the subject, seeing that so learned a man as Aristotle did not treat it with contempt. He has set down the following as indications of a short life—few teeth, very long fingers, a leaden colour, and numerous broken lines in the palm of the hand. On the other hand, he looks upon the following as prognostics of a long life—stooping in the shoulders, one or two long unbroken lines in the hand, a greater number than two-and-thirty teeth, and large ears. He does not, I imagine, require that all these symptoms should unite in one person, but looks upon them as individually significant: in my opinion, however, they are utterly frivolous, all of them, although they obtain currency among the vulgar. Our own writer, Trogus, has in a similar manner set down the physiognomy as indicative of the moral disposition; one of the very gravest of the Roman authors, whose own364 words I will here subjoin:—

“Where the forehead is broad, it is significant of a dull and sluggish understanding beneath; and where it is small, it indicates an unsteady disposition. A rounded forehead denotes an irascible temper, it seeming as though the swelling anger had left its traces there. Where the eye-brows are extended in one straight line, they denote effeminacy in the owner, and when they are bent downwards towards the nose, an austere disposition. On the other hand, when the eye-brows are bent towards the temples, they are indicative of a sarcastic disposition; but when they lie very low, they denote malice and envy. Long eyes are significant of a spiteful, malicious nature; and where the corners of the eyes next the nose are fleshy, it is a sign also of a wicked disposition. If the white of the eye is large, it bears tokens of impudence, while those who are incessantly closing the eyelids are inconstant. Largeness of97 the ears is a sign of loquacity and foolishness.” Thus much of what Trogus says.


The breath of the lion is fetid, and that of the bear quite pestilential; indeed, no beast will touch anything with which its breath has come in contact, and substances which it has breathed upon will become putrid sooner than others. It is in man only that Nature has willed that the breath should become tainted in several ways, either through faultiness in the victuals or the teeth, or else, as is more generally the case, through extreme old age. Our breath in itself was insensible to all pain, utterly devoid as it was of all powers of touch and feeling, without which there can be no sensation; ever renewed, it was always forthcoming, destined to be the last adjunct that shall leave the body, and the only one to remain when all is gone beside; it drew, in fine, its origin from heaven. In spite of all this, however, certain penalties were discovered to be indicted upon it, so that the very substance by the aid of which we live might become a torment to us in life. This inconvenience is more particularly experienced among the Parthians, from their youth upwards, on account of the indiscriminate use of food among them; and, indeed, their very excess in wine causes their breath to be fetid. The grandees, however, of that nation have a remedy for bad breath in the pips of the Assyrian citron,365 which they mix with their food, and the aroma of which is particularly agreeable. The breath of the elephant will attract serpents from their holes, while that of the stag scorches them. We have already made mention366 of certain races of men who could by suction extract from the body the venom of serpents; and swine will even eat serpents,367 which to other animals are poisonous. All those creatures which we have spoken of as insects, can be killed by merely sprinkling them with oil.368 Vultures, which are put to flight by unguents, are attracted by other odours: the beetle, too, is attracted by the rose. The scorpion puts to death certain serpents. The Scythians dip their arrows in the poison of 98serpents and human blood: against this frightful composition there is no remedy, for with the slightest touch it is productive of instant death.


The animals which feed upon poison have been already369 mentioned. Some of them, which are harmless of themselves, become noxious if fed upon venomous substances. The wild boar of Pamphylia and the mountainous parts of Cilicia, after having devoured a salamander, will become poisonous to those who eat its flesh; and yet the danger is quite imperceptible by reason of any peculiarity in the smell and taste. The salamander, too, will poison either water or wine, in which it happens to be drowned; and what is more, if it has only drunk thereof, the liquid becomes poisonous. The same is the case, too, with the frog known to us as the bramble-frog. So numerous are the snares that are laid in wait for life! Wasps greedily devour the flesh of the serpent, a nutriment which renders their stings fatal; so vast is the difference to be found between one kind of food and another. In the country, too, of the Ichthyophagi,370 as we learn from Theophrastus, the oxen are fed upon fish, but only when alive.


The most wholesome nutriment for man is plain food. An accumulation of flavours is injurious, and still more so, if heightened by sauces. All acrid elements are difficult of digestion, and the same is the case if food is devoured greedily, or in too large quantities. Food is also less easily digested in summer than in winter, and in old age than in youth. The vomits which man has invented, by way of remedy for this evil, render the body more cold, and are more particularly injurious to the eyes and teeth.


Digestion during sleep is more productive of corpulence than strength. Hence it is, that it is preferable for athletes to 99quicken digestion by walking. Watching, at night more especially, promotes digestion of the food.

(54.) The size of the body is increased by eating sweet and fatty substances, as well as by drinking, while, on the other hand, it is diminished by eating dry, acrid, or cold substances, and by abstaining from drink. Some animals of Africa, as well as sheep, drink but once every four days. Abstinence from food for seven days, even, is not of necessity fatal to man; and it is a well-known fact, that many persons have not died till after an abstinence of eleven days. Man is the only animal that is ever attacked with an insatiate371 craving for food.


On the other hand, there are some substances which, tasted in small quantities only, appease hunger and thirst, and keep up the strength, such as butter, for instance, cheese made of mares’ milk, and liquorice. But the most pernicious thing of all, and in every station of life, is excess, and more especially excess in food; in fact, it is the most prudent plan to retrench everything that may be possibly productive of injury. Let us, however, now pass on to the other branches of Nature.

Summary.—Remarkable facts, narratives, and observations, two thousand, two hundred, and seventy.

Roman authors quoted.—M. Varro,372 Hyginus,373 Scrofa,374 Saserna,375 Celsus Cornelius,376 Æmilius Macer,377 Virgil,378 Columella,379 Julius Aquila380 who wrote on the Tuscan art of Divination, Tarquitius381 who wrote on the same subject, Umbricius Melior382 who wrote on the same subject, Cato the Censor,383 Domitius Calvinus,384 Trogus,385 Melissus,386 Fabianus,387 Mucianus,388 Nigidius,389 Manilius,390 Oppius.391


Foreign authors quoted.—Aristotle,392 Democritus,393 Neoptolemus394 who wrote the Meliturgica, Aristomachus395 who wrote on the same subject, Philistus396 who wrote on the same subject, Nicander,397 Menecrates,398 Dionysius399 who translated Mago, Empedocles,400 Callimachus,401 King Attalus,402 Apollodorus403 who wrote on venomous animals, Hippocrates,404 Herophilus,405 Erasistratus,406 Asclepiades,407 Themison,408 Posidonius409 the Stoic, Menander410 of Priene and Menander411 of Heraclea, Euphronius412 of Athens, Theophrastus,413 Hesiod,414 King Philometor.415





Such, then, is the history, according to their various species and their peculiar conformations, of all the animals within the compass of our knowledge. It now remains for us to speak of the vegetable productions of the earth, which are equally far from being destitute of a vital spirit,416 (for, indeed, nothing can live without it), that we may then proceed to describe the minerals extracted from it, and so none of the works of Nature may be passed by in silence. Long, indeed, were these last bounties of hers concealed beneath the ground, the trees and forests being regarded as the most valuable benefits conferred by Nature upon mankind. It was from the forest that man drew his first aliment, by the leaves of the trees was his cave rendered more habitable, and by their bark was his clothing supplied; even at this very day,417 there are nations that live under similar circumstances to these. Still more and more, then, must we be struck with wonder and admiration, that from a primæval state such as this, we should now be cleaving the mountains for their marbles, visiting the Seres418 to obtain our clothing, seeking the pearl in the depths of the Red Sea, and the emerald in the very bowels of the earth. For our adornment with these precious stones it is that we have devised those wounds which we make in our ears; because, forsooth, it was deemed not enough to carry them on our hands, our necks, and our hair, if we did not insert them in our very flesh as well. It will be only proper, then, to follow the order of human inventions, and to speak of the trees before treating of 102other subjects; thus may we trace up to their very origin the manners and usages of the present day.


The trees formed the first temples of the gods, and even at the present day, the country people, preserving in all their simplicity their ancient rites, consecrate the finest among their trees to some divinity;419 indeed, we feel ourselves inspired to adoration, not less by the sacred groves and their very stillness, than by the statues of the gods, resplendent as they are with gold and ivory. Each kind of tree remains immutably consecrated to its own peculiar divinity, the beech420 to Jupiter,421 the laurel to Apollo, the olive to Minerva, the myrtle to Venus, and the poplar to Hercules: besides which, it is our belief that the Sylvans, the Fauns, and various kinds of goddess Nymphs, have the tutelage of the woods, and we look upon those deities as especially appointed to preside over them by the will of heaven. In more recent times, it was the trees that by their juices, more soothing even than corn, first mollified the natural asperity of man; and it is from these that we now derive the oil of the olive that renders the limbs so supple, the draught of wine that so efficiently recruits the strength, and the numerous delicacies which spring up spontaneously at the various seasons of the year, and load our tables with their viands—tables to replenish which, we engage in combat with wild beasts, and seek for the fishes which have fattened upon the dead corpse of the shipwrecked mariner—indeed, it is only at the second422 course, after all, that the produce of the trees appears.

But, in addition to this, the trees have a thousand other uses, all of which are indispensable to the full enjoyment of 103life. It is by the aid of the tree that we plough the deep, and bring near to us far distant lands; it is by the aid of the tree, too, that we construct our edifices. The statues, even, of the deities were formed of the wood of trees, in the days when no value had been set as yet on the dead carcase423 of a wild beast, and when, luxury not yet deriving its sanction from the gods themselves, we had not to behold, resplendent with the same ivory, the heads of the divinities424 and the feet of our tables. It is related that the Gauls, separated from us as they were by the Alps, which then formed an almost insurmountable bulwark, had, as their chief motive for invading Italy, its dried figs, its grapes, its oil, and its wine, samples425 of which had been brought back to them by Helico, a citizen of the Helvetii, who had been staying at Rome, to practise there as an artizan. We may offer some excuse, then, for them, when we know that they came in quest of these various productions, though at the price even of war.


But who is there that will not, with good reason, be surprised to learn that a tree has been introduced among us from a foreign clime for nothing but its shade? I mean the plane,426 which was first brought across the Ionian Sea to the Isle427 of Diomedes, there to be planted at his tomb, and was afterwards imported thence into Sicily, being one of the very first exotic trees that were introduced into Italy. At the present day, however, it has penetrated as far as the country of the Morini, and occupies even a tributary428 soil; in return for which 104those nations have to pay a tax for the enjoyment of its shade. Dionysius the Elder, one of the tyrants of Sicily, had plane-trees conveyed to the city of Rhegium, where they were looked upon as the great marvel of his palace, which was afterwards converted into a gymnasium. These trees did not, however, in that locality, attain any very great height. I find it also stated by some authors, that there were some other instances, in those days even, of plane-trees being found in Italy, and I find some mentioned by name as existing in Spain.429


This circumstance took place about the time of the capture of the City of Rome; and to such high honour, in the course of time, did the plane-tree attain, that it was nurtured by pouring wine upon it, it being found that the roots were greatly strengthened by doing430 so. Thus have we taught the very trees, even, to be wine-bibbers!


The first plane-trees that were spoken of in terms of high admiration were those which adorned the walks of the Academy431 at Athens—[in one of which], the roots extended a distance of thirty-three cubits, and spread far beyond its branches. At the present day, there is a very famous plane in Lycia, situate in close proximity to a fountain of the most refreshing coolness; standing near the road, with the cavity in its 105interior, it forms a species of house eighty-one feet in width. Its summit, too, presents the foliage of a grove, while it shields itself with huge branches, each of which would equal an ordinary tree in size, as it throws its lengthened shade across the fields. In addition to this, that nothing may be wanting to its exact resemblance to a grotto, there is a circle of seats within, formed of stone, intermingled with pumice overgrown with moss. This tree was looked upon as so worthy of remark, that Licinius Mucianus, who was three times consul, and recently the legatus of that province, thought it a circumstance deserving of transmission even to posterity, that he, together with eighteen persons of his retinue, had sat down to a banquet in the interior of it. Its leaves afforded material for their couches in the greatest abundance, while he himself, sheltered from every gust of wind, and trying in vain to hear the pattering of the rain on the leaves, took his meal there, and enjoyed himself more than he would have done amid the resplendence of marble, a multiplicity of paintings, and beneath a cieling refulgent with gold.

Another curious instance, again, was that afforded in the reign of the Emperor Caius.432 That prince was so struck with admiration on seeing a plane in the territory of Veliternum, which presented floor after floor, like those of the several stories of a house, by means of broad benches loosely laid from branch to branch, that he held a banquet in it—himself adding433 very materially to the shade it threw—the triclinium being formed for the reception of fifteen guests and the necessary attendants: to this singular dining-room he gave the name of his “nest.”

At Gortyna, in the Isle of Crete, there is, in the vicinity of a fountain there, a single plane-tree, which has been long celebrated in the records of both the Greek and the Latin language: it never loses434 its leaves, and from an early period one of the fabulous legends of Greece has been attached to it, to the effect that it was beneath this tree that Jupiter lay with Europa; just as if there had not been another tree of a similar nature 106in the island of Cyprus. Slips of the tree at Gortyna—so fond is man by nature of novelty—were at an early period planted at different places in Crete, and reproduced the natural imperfections of the tree;435 though, indeed, there is no higher recommendation in the plane than the fact that in summer it protects us from the rays of the sun, while in winter it admits them. In later times, during the reign of the Emperor Claudius, a Thessalian eunuch, the freedman of Marcellus Æserninus,436 who, however, from motives of ambition had enrolled himself in the number of the freedmen of the emperor, and had acquired very considerable wealth, introduced this plane into Italy, in order to beautify his country-seat: so that he may not inappropriately be styled a second Dionysius. These monstrosities of other lands are still to be seen in Italy, independently of those which that country has herself devised.


For we find in Italy some plane-trees, which are known as chamæplatani,437 in consequence of their stunted growth; for we have discovered the art of causing abortion in trees even, and hence, even in the vegetable world we shall have occasion to make mention of dwarfs, an unprepossessing subject in every case. This result is obtained in trees, by a peculiar method adopted in planting and lopping them. C. Matius,438 a member of the Equestrian order, and a friend of the late Emperor Augustus, invented the art of clipping arbours, within the last eighty years.


The cherry and the peach, and all those trees which have either Greek or foreign names, are exotics: those, however, of 107this number, which have begun to be naturalized among us, will be treated of when I come to speak of the fruit-trees in general. For the present, I shall only make mention of the really exotic trees, beginning with the one that is applied to the most salutary uses. The citron tree, called the Assyrian, and by some the Median apple, is an antidote against poisons.439 The leaf is similar to that of the arbute, except that it has small prickles440 running across it. As to the fruit, it is never eaten,441 but it is remarkable for its extremely powerful smell, which is the case, also, with the leaves; indeed, the odour is so strong, that it will penetrate clothes, when they are once impregnated with it, and hence it is very useful in repelling the attacks of noxious insects. The tree bears fruit at all seasons of the year; while some is falling off, other fruit is ripening, and other, again, just bursting into birth. Various nations have attempted to naturalize this tree among them, for the sake of its medical properties, by planting it in pots of clay, with holes drilled in them, for the purpose of introducing the air to the roots; and I would here remark, once for all, that it is as well to remember that the best plan is to pack all slips of trees that have to be carried to any distance, as close together as they can possibly be placed. It has been found, however, that this tree will grow nowhere442 except in Media or Persia. It is this fruit, the pips of which, as we have already mentioned,443 the Parthian grandees employ in seasoning their ragouts, as being peculiarly conducive to the sweetening of the breath. We find no other tree very highly commended that is produced in Media.


In describing the country of the Seres, we have already 108made mention444 of the wool-bearing trees which it produces; and we have, likewise, touched445 upon the extraordinary magnitude of the trees of India. Virgil446 has spoken in glowing terms of the ebony-tree, one of those which are peculiar to India, and he further informs us, that it will grow in no other country. Herodotus, however, has preferred to ascribe447 it to Æthiopia; and states that the people of that country were in the habit of paying to the kings of Persia, every third year, by way of tribute,448 one hundred billets of ebony-wood, together with a certain quantity of gold and ivory. Nor ought we here to omit the fact, inasmuch as the same author has stated to that effect, that the Æthiopians were also in the habit of paying, by way of tribute, twenty large elephants’ teeth. So high was the esteem in which ivory was held in the year from the building of our city, 310: for it was at that period449 that this author was compiling his History at Thurii, in Italy; which is all the more remarkable, from the implicit confidence we place in him, when he says450 that up to that time, no native of Asia or Greece, to his knowledge at least, had ever beheld the river Padus. The plan of Æthiopia, which, as we have already mentioned,451 was recently laid before the Emperor Nero, informs us, that this tree is very uncommon in the country that lies between Syene, the extreme boundary of the empire, and Meroë, a distance of eight hundred and ninety-six miles; and that, in fact, the only kind of tree that is to be found there, is the palm. It was, probably, for this reason, that ebony held the third place in the tribute that was thus imposed.



Pompeius Magnus displayed ebony on the occasion of his triumph over Mithridates. Fabianus declares, that this wood will give out no flame; it burns, however, with a very agreeable smell. There are two kinds452 of ebony; the rarest kind is the best, and is produced from a tree that is singularly free from knots. The wood is black and shining, and pleasing to the eye, without any adventitious aid from art. The other kind of ebony is the produce of a shrub which resembles the cytisus, and is to be found scattered over the whole of India.


There is in India, also, a kind of thorn453 very similar to ebony, though it may be distinguished from it, by the aid of a lantern even; for, on the application of flame, it will instantly run across the tree. We will now proceed to describe those trees which were the admiration of Alexander the Great in his victorious career, when that part of the world was first revealed by his arms.


The Indian fig454 bears but a small fruit. Always growing spontaneously, it spreads far and wide with its vast branches, the ends of which bend downwards into the ground to such a degree, that they take fresh root in the course of a year, and thus form a new plantation around the parent stock, traced in a circular form, just as though it had been the work of the ornamental gardener. Within the bowers thus formed, the shepherds take up their abode in the summer, the space occupied by them being, at once, overshadowed and protected by 110the bulwark which the tree thus throws around; a most graceful sight, whether we stand beneath and look upwards, or whether we view its arcaded foliage from a distance. The higher branches, however, shoot upwards to a very considerable height, and, by their number, form quite a grove, springing aloft from the vast trunk of the parent tree, which overspreads, very frequently, a space of sixty paces in extent, while the shade that is thrown by it will cover as much as a couple of stadia. The broad leaves of the tree have just the shape of an Amazonian buckler; and hence it is that the fruit, from being quite covered by the leaves, is greatly impeded in its growth. The fruit, indeed, of this tree is but scanty, and never exceeds a bean in size; being ripened, however, by the rays of the sun, as these penetrate the leaves, the figs are remarkable for their singular lusciousness, and are quite worthy of the marvellous tree by which they are produced. These fig-trees are found, more particularly, in the vicinity of the river Acesines.455


There is another tree456 in India, of still larger size, and even more remarkable for the size and sweetness of its fruit, upon which the sages457 of India live. The leaf of this tree resembles, in shape, the wing of a bird, being three cubits in length, and two in breadth. It puts forth its fruit from the bark, a fruit remarkable for the sweetness of its juice, a single one containing sufficient to satisfy four persons. The name of this tree is “pala,” and of the fruit, “ariena.” They are found in the greatest abundance in the country of the Sydraci,458 a territory which forms the extreme limit of the expedition of Alexander.

There is another459 tree, also, very similar to this, but bearing a still sweeter fruit, though very apt to cause derangement of 111the bowels. Alexander issued strict orders, forbidding anyone in the expedition to touch this fruit.


The Macedonians460 have made mention of various other kinds of trees, the greater part of which, however, are without names. There is one which resembles the terebinth461 in every respect, except the fruit, which is very similar to the almond, though less in size, and remarkable for its extreme sweetness. This tree was met with in Bactria, and some persons looked upon it as a variety of the terebinth, rather than as bearing a strong resemblance to it. As to the tree from which they manufacture a kind of linen462 cloth, in leaf it resembles the mulberry-tree, while the calix of the fruit is similar to the dog-rose.463 This tree is reared in the plains, and there is no sight throughout the cultivated parts of the country that is more enchanting than the plantations of it.


The olive-tree464 of India is unproductive, with the sole exception of the wild olive. In every part we meet with trees that bear pepper,465 very similar in appearance to our junipers, 112although, indeed, it has been alleged by some authors that they only grow on the slopes of Caucasus which lie exposed to the sun. The seeds, however, differ from those of the juniper, in being enclosed in small pods similar to those which we see in the kidney-bean. These pods are picked before they open, and when dried in the sun, make what we call “long pepper.” But if allowed to ripen, they will open gradually, and when arrived at maturity, discover the white pepper; if left exposed to the heat of the sun, this becomes wrinkled, and changes its colour. Even these productions, however, are subject to their own peculiar infirmities, and are apt to become blasted by the inclemency of the weather; in which case the seeds are found to be rotten, and mere husks. These abortive seeds are known by the name of “bregma,” a word which in the Indian language signifies “dead.” Of all the various kinds of pepper, this is the most pungent, as well as the very lightest, and is remarkable for the extreme paleness of its colour. That which is black is of a more agreeable flavour; but the white pepper is of a milder quality than either.

The root of this tree is not, as many persons have imagined, the same as the substance known as zimpiberi, or, as some call it, zingiberi, or ginger, although it is very like it in taste. For ginger, in fact, grows in Arabia and in Troglodytica, in various cultivated spots, being a small plant466 with a white root. This plant is apt to decay very speedily, although it is of intense pungency; the price at which it sells is six denarii per pound. Long pepper is very easily adulterated with Alexandrian mustard; its price is fifteen denarii per pound, while that of white pepper is seven, and of black, four. It is quite surprising that the use of pepper has come so much into fashion, seeing that in other substances which we use, it is sometimes their sweetness, and sometimes their appearance that has attracted our notice; whereas, pepper has nothing in it that can plead as a recommendation to either fruit or berry, its only desirable quality being a certain pungency; and yet it is for this that we import it all the way from India! Who was the first to make trial of it as an article of food? and who, I wonder, was the man that was not content to prepare himself113 by hunger only for the satisfying of a greedy appetite? Both pepper and ginger grow wild in their respective countries, and yet here we buy them by weight—just as if they were so much gold or silver. Italy,467 too, now possesses a species of pepper-tree, somewhat larger than the myrtle, and not very unlike it. The bitterness of the grains is similar to that which we may reasonably suppose to exist in the Indian pepper when newly gathered; but it is wanting in that mature flavour which the Indian grain acquires by exposure in the sun, and, consequently, bears no resemblance to it, either in colour or the wrinkled appearance of the seeds. Pepper is adulterated with juniper berries, which have the property, to a marvellous degree, of assuming the pungency of pepper. In reference to its weight, there are also several methods of adulterating it.


There is, also, in India another grain which bears a considerable resemblance to pepper, but is longer and more brittle; it is known by the name of caryophyllon.468 It is said that this grain is produced in a sacred grove in India; with us it is imported for its aromatic perfume. The same country produces, also, a thorny shrub, with grains which bear a resemblance to pepper, and are of a remarkably bitter taste. The leaves of this shrub are small, like those of the cyprus;469 the branches are three cubits in length, the bark pallid, and the roots wide-spreading and woody, and of a colour resembling that of boxwood. By boiling this root with the seed in a copper vessel, the medicament is prepared which is known by the name of lycion.470 This thorny shrub grows, also, on 114Mount Pelion;471 this last kind is much used for the purpose of adulterating the medicament above mentioned. The root of the asphodel, ox-gall, wormwood, sumach, and the amurca of olive oil, are also employed for a similar purpose. The best lycion for medicinal purposes, is that which has a froth on its surface; the Indians send it to us in leather bottles, made of the skin of the camel or the rhinoceros. The shrub itself is known by some persons in Greece under the name of the Chironian pyxacanthus.472

CHAP. 16. (8.)—MACIR.

Macir,473 too, is a vegetable substance that is brought from India, being a red bark that grows upon a large root, and bears the name of the tree that produces it; what the nature of this tree is, I have not been able to ascertain. A decoction of this bark, mixed with honey, is greatly employed in medicine, as a specific for dysentery.


Arabia, too, produces sugar;474 but that of India is the most esteemed. This substance is a kind of honey, which collects 115in reeds, white, like gum, and brittle to the teeth. The larger pieces are about the size of a filbert; it is only employed, however, in medicine.


On the frontiers of India is a country called Ariana, which produces a thorny shrub,475 rendered precious by the tears which it distils. It bears some resemblance to myrrh, but is very difficult of access, by reason of the thorns with which it is armed. Here, too, a poisonous shrub is found, with a root like the radish,476 and leaves like those of the laurel. By its powerful odour it attracts horses, and was very nearly depriving Alexander of all his cavalry upon his first arrival there, an accident which also happened in Gedrosia. A thorny shrub477 has been also spoken of as a native of the same country, with leaves like those of the laurel, the juice of which, if sprinkled upon the eyes, is productive of blindness in all animals. Another plant is also mentioned, with a most remarkable odour, and full of diminutive serpents,478 the sting of which is sure to cause instant death. Onesicritus states, that in the vallies of Hyrcania, there is a tree resembling the fig, and known as the occhus,479 from which a honey distils for two hours every morning.



In the vicinity, too, of India, is Bactriana, in which region we find bdellium,480 that is so highly esteemed. This tree is of a black colour, and about the size of the olive; it has leaves like those of the robur, and bears a fruit similar to that of the wild fig, and in nature resembling a kind of gum. This fruit is by some persons called brochon, by others malacha, and by others, again, maldacon. When of a black colour, and rolled up in cakes, it bears the name of hadrobolon. This substance ought to be transparent and the colour of wax, odoriferous, unctuous when subjected to friction, and bitter to the taste, though without the slightest acidity. When used for sacred purposes, it is steeped in wine, upon which it emits a still more powerful odour. The tree is a native of both India and Arabia, as well as Media and Babylon; some persons give to the bdellium that is imported by way of Media, the name of peraticum.481 This last is remarkable for its brittleness, while, at the same time, it is harder and more bitter than the other kinds; that of India, on the other hand, is moister, and gummy. This last sort is adulterated by means of almonds, while the various other kinds are falsified with the bark of scordastum, that being the name of a tree482 the gum of which strongly resembles bdellium. These adulterations, however, are to be detected—and let it suffice to mention it here, in relation to all other perfumes as well—by the smell, the colour, the weight, the taste, and the action of fire. The bdellium of Bactriana is shining and dry, and covered with numerous white spots resembling the finger-nails; besides which, it should be of a certain weight, heavier or lighter than which it ought not to be. The price of bdellium, in its pure state, is three denarii per pound.



Adjoining the countries which we have previously mentioned is Persis, lying along the shores of the Red Sea, which, when describing483 it, we have mentioned as the Persian Sea, the tides of which penetrate far into the land. The trees in these regions are of a marvellous nature; for, corroded by the action of the salt, and bearing a considerable resemblance to vegetable substances that have been thrown up and abandoned by the tide, they are seen to embrace the arid sands of the sea-shore with their naked roots, just like so many polypi. When the tide rises, buffeted by the waves, there they stand, fixed and immoveable; nay, more, at high water they are completely covered; a fact which proves to conviction, that they derive their nutriment from the salt contained in the water. The size of these trees is quite marvellous; in appearance they strongly resemble the arbute; the fruit, which on the outside is very similar to the almond, has a spiral kernel within.484


In the same gulf, there is the island of Tylos,485 covered with a forest486 on the side which looks towards the East, where it is washed also by the sea at high tides. Each of the trees is in size as large as the fig; the blossoms are of an indescribable sweetness, and the fruit is similar in shape to a lupine, but so rough and prickly, that it is never touched by any animal. On a more elevated plateau of the same island, we find trees that bear wool, but of a different nature from those of the Seres;487 as in these trees the leaves produce nothing at all, and, indeed, might very readily be taken for those of the vine, 118were it not that they are of smaller size. They bear a kind of gourd, about the size of a quince;488 which, when arrived at maturity, bursts asunder and discloses a ball of down, from which a costly kind of linen cloth is made.

(11.) This tree is known by the name of gossypinus:489 the smaller island of Tylos, which is ten miles distant from the larger one, produces it in even greater abundance.


Juba states, that about a certain shrub there grows a woolly down, from which a fabric is manufactured, preferable even to those of India. He adds, too, that certain trees of Arabia, from which vestments are made, are called cynæ, and that they have a leaf similar to that of the palm. Thus do their very trees afford clothing for the people of India. In the islands of Tylos, there is also another tree, with a blossom like the white violet490 in appearance, though four times as large, but it is destitute of smell, a very remarkable fact in these climates.


There is also another tree similar to the preceding one, but with a thicker foliage, and a blossom like the rose. This flower shuts491 at night, and, beginning to open towards sun-rise, appears in full blow by mid-day; the natives are in the habit of saying that in this way it goes to sleep. The same island bears also the palm, the olive, the vine, and the fig, with various other kinds of fruit. None of the trees in this island lose their leaves;492 it is abundantly watered by cool streams, and receives the benefit of rain.



Arabia, which is in the vicinity of these islands, requires that we should make some distinction in its vegetable products, seeing that here the various parts of trees which are employed for useful purposes are the root, the branches, the bark, the juices, the gum, the wood, the shoots, the blossoms, the leaves, and the fruit.

CHAP. 25. (12.)—COSTUS.

A root and a leaf, however, are the productions which are held in the very highest estimation in India. The root is that of the costus;493 it has a burning taste in the mouth, and a most exquisite odour; in other respects, the branches are good for nothing. In the island of Patale,494 situate at the very mouth of the river Indus, there are two kinds of costus found, the black and the white; the last is considered the best. The price of it is five denarii per pound.


Of the leaf, which is that of the nard,495 it is only right to speak somewhat more at length, as it holds the principal place among our unguents. The nard is a shrub with a heavy, thick root, but short, black, brittle, and yet unctuous as well; 120it has a musty smell, too, very much like that of the cyperus, with a sharp, acrid taste, the leaves being small, and growing in tufts. The heads of the nard spread out into ears; hence it is that nard is so famous for its two-fold production, the spike or ear, and the leaf. There is another kind, again, that grows on the banks of the Ganges, but is altogether condemned, as being good for nothing; it bears the name of ozænitis,496 and emits a fetid odour. Nard is adulterated with a sort of plant called pseudo-nard,497 which is found growing everywhere, and is known by its thick, broad leaf, and its sickly colour, which inclines to white. It is sophisticated, also, by being mixed with the root of the genuine nard, which adds very considerably to its weight. Gum is also used for the same purpose, antimony, and cyperus; or, at least, the outer coat of the cyperus. Its genuineness is tested by its lightness, the redness of its colour, its sweet smell, and the taste more particularly, which parches the mouth, and leaves a pleasant flavour behind it; the price of spikenard is one hundred denarii per pound.

Leaf498 nard varies in price according to the size; for that which is known by the name of hadrosphærum, consisting of the larger leaves, sells at forty denarii per pound; when the leaves are smaller, it is called mesosphærum, and is sold at sixty. But that which is considered the most valuable of all, is known as microsphærum, and consists of the very smallest of the leaves; it sells at seventy-five denarii per pound. All these varieties of nard have an agreeable odour, but it is most powerful when fresh. If the nard is old when gathered, that which is of a black colour is considered the best.

In our part of the world, the Syrian499 nard is held in the 121next highest esteem next to this; then the Gallic;500 and in the third place, that of Crete,501 which by some persons is called “agrion,” and by others “phu.” This last has exactly the leaf of the olusatrum,502 with a stalk a cubit in length, knotted, of a whitish colour, inclining to purple, and a root that runs sideways; it is covered, too, with long hair, and strongly resembles the foot of a bird. Field nard is known by the name of baccar.503 We shall have further occasion to mention it when we come to speak of the flowers. All these kinds of nard, however, are to be reckoned as herbs, with the exception of Indian nard. Of these, the Gallic kind is pulled up along with the root, and washed in wine; after which it is dried in the shade, and wrapped up in paper, in small parcels. It is not very different from the Indian nard, but is lighter than that of Syria; the price at which it sells is three denarii per pound. The only way of testing the leaves of all these varieties of nard, is to see that they are not brittle and parched, instead of being dried naturally and gradually. Together with the nard that grows in Gaul, there always504 springs up a herb, which is known by the name of hirculus, or the “little goat,” on account of its offensive smell, it being very similar to that of the goat. This herb, too, is very much used in the adulteration of nard, though it differs from it in the fact that it has no stem, and its leaves are smaller; the root, too, is not bitter, and is entirely destitute of smell.


The herb asarum,505 too, has the properties of nard, and, indeed, by some persons is known as wild nard. It has a leaf, 122however, more like that of the ivy, only that it is rounder and softer. The flower is purple, the root very similar to that of the Gallic nard, and the seed is like a grape. It is of a warm and vinous flavour, and blossoms twice a year, growing upon hill sides that are densely shaded. The best kind is that found in Pontus, and the next best that of Phrygia; that of Illyricum being only of third-rate quality. The root is dug up when it is just beginning to put forth its leaves, and then dried in the sun. It very soon turns mouldy, and loses its properties. There has, also, been lately found a certain herb in some parts of Greece, the leaves of which do not differ in the slightest degree from those of the Indian nard.


The clustered amomum506 is very extensively used; it grows upon a kind of wild vine that is found in India, though some persons have been of opinion that it is borne by a shrub, resembling the myrtle in appearance, and about the same height as the palm. This plant, also, is plucked along with the root, and is carefully pressed together with the hands; for it very soon becomes brittle. That kind is held in the highest esteem, the leaves of which bear a strong resemblance to those of the pomegranate, being free from wrinkles, and of a red colour. The second quality is that which is of a pallid hue. That which has a green, grassy appearance, is not so good, and the white is the worst of all; it assumes this appearance when old. The price of clustered amomum is sixty denarii per pound, but in dust it sells at only forty-nine. Amomum is produced, also, in that part of Armenia which is known as Otene; as, also, in Media and Pontus. It is adulterated with the leaves of the pomegranate and a solution of gum, which is employed123 in order to make the leaves adhere and form clusters, like those of the grape.

There is another substance, also, which is known by the name of amomis;507 it is not so full of veins as amomum, harder, and not so odoriferous; from which it would appear, either that it is altogether a different plant, or else that it is amomum gathered in an unripe state.


Similar to these substances, both in name as well as the shrub which produces it, is the cardamomum,508 the seeds of which are of an oblong shape. It is gathered in the same manner both in India and Arabia. There are four different kinds of cardamomum. That which is of a very green colour, unctuous, with sharp angles, and very difficult to break, is the most highly esteemed of all. The next best is of a reddish white tint, while that of third-rate quality is shorter and blacker, the worst of all being mottled and friable, and emitting but little smell; which, in its genuine509 state ought to be very similar to costum. Cardamomum grows also in Media. The price of the best is three denarii per pound.


Next in affinity to cardamomum would have been cinnamomum,510 and this we should have now proceeded to speak of, were it not more convenient first to make mention of the treasures of Arabia, and the reasons for which that country has received the names of “Happy” and “Blest.” The chief productions of Arabia are frankincense and myrrh, which last it bears in 124common with the country of the Troglodytæ. (14.) There is no country in the world that produces frankincense except Arabia,511 and, indeed, not the whole of that. Almost in the very centre of that region, are the Atramitæ,512 a community of the Sabæi, the capital of whose kingdom is Sabota, a place situate on a lofty mountain. At a distance of eight stations from this is the incense-bearing region, known by the name of Saba. The Greeks say that the word signifies a “secret mystery.” This district looks towards the north-east, and is rendered inaccessible by rocks on every side, while it is bounded on the right by the sea, from which it is shut out by cliffs of tremendous height. The soil of this territory is said to be of a milky white, a little inclining to red. The forests extend twenty schœni in length, and half that distance in breadth. The length of the schœnus, according to the estimate of Eratosthenes, is forty stadia, or, in other words, five miles; some persons, however, have estimated the schœnus at no more than thirty-two stadia. In this district some lofty hills take their rise, and the trees, which spring up spontaneously, run downwards along the declivities to the plains. It is generally agreed that the soil is argillaceous, and that the springs which there take their rise are but few in number, and of a nitrous quality. Adjoining are the Minæi, the people of another community, through whose country is the sole transit for the frankincense, along a single narrow road. The 125Minæi were the first people who carried on any traffic in frankincense, which they still do to a greater extent than any other persons, and hence it is that it has received the appellation of “Minæan.” It is the Sabæi alone, and no other people among the Arabians, that behold the incense-tree; and, indeed, not all of them, for it is said that there are not more than three thousand families which have a right to claim that privilege, by virtue of hereditary succession; and that for this reason those persons are called sacred, and are not allowed, while pruning the trees or gathering the harvest, to receive any pollution, either by intercourse with women, or coming in contact with the dead; by these religious observances it is that the price of the commodity is so considerably enhanced. Some persons, however, say, that the right of gathering incense in the forests belongs to all these people in common, while others again state, that they take their turns year by year.


Nor is it by any means agreed what is the appearance of the incense-tree. We have sent several expeditions against Arabia, and the Roman arms have penetrated into the greater part of that country; indeed, Caius Cæsar,513 the son of Augustus, even earned considerable renown there; and yet this tree has been described by no Latin writer, at least that I know of. The descriptions given of it by the Greek writers vary very considerably: some of them say that it has exactly the leaf of the pear-tree, only somewhat smaller, and of a grass-green colour. Others, again, say, that it has a rather reddish leaf, like that of the mastich, and others, that it is a kind of terebinth,514 and that King Antigonus, to whom a branch of it was brought, was of that opinion. King Juba, in the work which he wrote and dedicated to Caius Cæsar, the son of Augustus, who was inflamed by the wide-spread renown of Arabia, states, that the tree has a spiral stem, and that the branches bear a considerable resemblance to those of the Pontic maple, while it secretes a sort of juice very similar to that of 126the almond-tree. Such, he says, is the appearance of the tree as seen in Carmania and Egypt, where it was introduced and planted under the auspices of the Ptolemies when reigning there. It is well known that it has a bark not unlike that of the laurel, and, indeed, some persons have asserted that their leaves are similar. At all events, such was the case with the tree as it grew at Sardes: for the kings of Asia also took considerable care to have it planted there. The ambassadors who in my time have come to Rome from Arabia, have made all these matters more uncertain, even, than they were before; a thing at which we may justly be surprised, seeing that some sprigs even of the incense-tree have been brought among us, from which we have some reason to conclude that the parent tree is round and tapering, and that it puts forth its shoots from a trunk that is entirely free from knots.


In former times, when they had fewer opportunities of selling it, they used to gather the frankincense only once a year; but at the present day, as there is a much greater demand for it, there is a second crop as well. The first, and what we may call the natural, vintage, takes place about the rising of the Dog-star, a period when the heat is most intense; on which occasion they cut the tree where the bark appears to be the fullest of juice, and extremely thin, from being distended to the greatest extent. The incision thus made is gradually extended, but nothing is removed; the consequence of which is, that an unctuous foam oozes forth, which gradually coagulates and thickens. When the nature of the locality requires it, this juice is received upon mats of palm-leaves, though in some places the space around the tree is made hard by being well rammed down for the purpose. The frankincense that is gathered after the former method, is in the purest state, though that which falls on the ground is the heaviest in weight: that which adheres to the tree is pared off with an iron instrument, which accounts for its being found mingled with pieces of bark.

The forest is allotted in certain portions, and such is the mutual probity of the owners, that it is quite safe from all depredation; indeed, there is no one left to watch the trees after the incisions are made, and yet no one is ever known to127 plunder his neighbour. But, by Hercules! at Alexandria, where the incense is dressed for sale, the workshops can never be guarded with sufficient care; a seal is even placed upon the workmen’s aprons, and a mask put upon the head, or else a net with very close meshes, while the people are stripped naked before they are allowed to leave work. So true it is that punishments afford less security among us than is to be found by these Arabians amid their woods and forests! The incense which has accumulated during the summer is gathered in the autumn: it is the purest of all, and is of a white colour. The second gathering takes place in spring, incisions being made in the bark for that purpose during the winter: this, however, is of a red colour, and not to be compared with the other incense. The first, or superior kind of incense, is known as carfiathum,515 the latter is called dathiathum. It is thought, also, that the incense which is gathered from the tree while young is the whitest, though the produce of the old trees has the most powerful smell; some persons, too, have an impression that the best incense is found in the islands, but Juba asserts that no incense at all is grown there.

That incense which has hung suspended in globular drops is known to us as “male” frankincense, although it is mostly the case that we do not use the term “male” except in contradistinction to the word “female:” it has been attributed, however, to religious scruples, that the name of the other sex was not employed as a denomination for this substance. Some persons, again, are of opinion that the male frankincense has been so called from its resemblance516 to the testes of the male. The incense, however, that is the most esteemed of all is that which is mammose, or breast-shaped, and is produced when one drop has stopped short, and another, following close upon it, has adhered, and united with it. I find it stated that one of these lumps used to make quite a handful, at a time when men displayed less eagerness to gather it, and it was allowed more time to accumulate. The Greeks call such lumps as 128these by the name of stagonia517 and atomus,518 while the smaller pieces are called orobia.519 The fragments which are broken off by shaking the tree are known to us as manna.520 Even at the present day, however, there are drops found which weigh one-third of a mina, or, in other words, twenty-eight denarii. Alexander the Great, when a boy, was on one occasion loading the altars with frankincense with the greatest prodigality, upon which his tutor Leonides521 remarked to him that it would be time to worship the gods in such a lavish manner as that, when he had conquered the countries that produced the frankincense. After Alexander had conquered Arabia, he despatched to Leonides a ship freighted with frankincense, and sent him word, requesting that he would now worship the gods without stint or limit.

The incense, after being collected, is carried on camels’ backs to Sabota,522 at which place a single gate is left open for its admission. To deviate from the high road while conveying it, the laws have made a capital offence. At this place the priests take by measure, and not by weight, a tenth part in honour of their god, whom they call Sabis;523 indeed, it is not allowable to dispose of it before this has been done: out of this tenth the public expenses are defrayed, for the divinity generously entertains all those strangers who have made a certain number of days’ journey in coming thither. The incense can only be exported through the country of the Gebanitæ, and for this reason it is that a certain tax is paid to their king as well. Thomna,524 which is their capital, is distant from Gaza, a city of Judæa, on the shores of our sea, 4436525 129miles, the distance being divided into sixty-five days’ journey by camel. There are certain portions also of the frankincense which are given to the priests and the king’s secretaries: and in addition to these, the keepers of it, as well as the soldiers who guard it, the gate-keepers, and various other employes, have their share as well. And then besides, all along the route, there is at one place water to pay for, at another fodder, lodging at the stations, and various taxes and imposts besides; the consequence of which is, that the expense for each camel before it arrives at the shores of our526 sea is six hundred and eighty-eight denarii; after all this, too, there are certain payments still to be made to the farmers of the revenue of our empire. Hence it is that a pound of the best frankincense sells at six denarii, the second quality five, and the third three. Among us, it is adulterated with drops of white resin, a substance which bears a strong resemblance to it: but the fraud may be easily detected by the methods which have been already mentioned.527 It is tested by the following qualities; its whiteness, size, brittleness, and the readiness with which it takes fire when placed on heated coals; in addition to which, it should not give to the pressure of the teeth, but from its natural brittleness crumble all to pieces.

CHAP. 33. (15.)—MYRRH.

According to some authors, myrrh528 is the produce of a tree that grows in the same forests as the incense-tree, though most say that they grow in different places: but the fact is that myrrh grows in many parts of Arabia, as will be seen when we come to speak of the several varieties of it. A sort that is highly esteemed is brought from the islands529 also, and the Sabæi even cross the sea to procure it in the country of the Troglodytæ. It is grown also by being transplanted, and when thus cultivated is greatly preferred to that which is grown in the forests. The plant is greatly improved by raking 130and baring the roots; indeed, the cooler the roots are kept, the better it is.


The tree grows to the height of five cubits, and has thorns upon it: the trunk is hard and spiral, and thicker than that of the incense-tree, and much more so at the root than at the upper part of the tree. Some authors have said that the bark is smooth like that of the arbute, others, that it is rough and covered with thorns: it has the leaf of the olive, but more wavy, with sharp points at the edges: Juba says, however, that it resembles the leaf of the olusatrum. Some again say that it resembles the juniper,530 only that it is rougher and bristling with thorns, and that the leaves are of a rounder shape, though they have exactly the taste of the juniper. There have been some writers who have incorrectly asserted that both myrrh and frankincense are the product of the same tree.


Incisions are made in the myrrh-tree also twice a year, and at the same season as in the incense-tree; but in the case of the myrrh-tree they are all made the way up from the root as far as the branches which are able to bear it. The tree spontaneously exudes, before the incision is made, a liquid which bears the name of stacte,531 and to which there is no myrrh that is superior. Second only in quality to this is the cultivated myrrh: of the wild or forest kind, the best is that which is gathered in summer. They give no tithes of myrrh to the god, because it is the produce of other countries as well; but the growers pay the fourth part of it to the king of the Gebanitæ. Myrrh is bought up indiscriminately by the common people, and then packed into bags; but our perfumers separate it without any difficulty, the principal tests of its goodness being its unctuousness and its aromatic smell. (16.) There are several532 kinds 131of myrrh; the first among the wild myrrhs is the Troglodytic; and the next are the Minæan, which includes the Atramitic, and that of Ausaritis, in the kingdom of the Gebanitæ. A third kind is the Dianitic,533 and a fourth is the mixed myrrh, or “all-sorts;”534 a fifth, again, is the Sambracenian, which is brought from a city in the kingdom of the Sabæi, near the sea; and a sixth is known by the name of Dusaritic. There is a white myrrh also, which is produced in only one spot, and is carried for sale to the city of Messalum. The Troglodytic myrrh is tested by its unctuousness, and its peculiarly dry appearance: it has also a dirty, rough look with it, but is more acrid than the other kinds. The Sambracenian myrrh has none of these faults, and is more sightly in appearance than any of them, though it is far from being so powerful. In general, however, the proof of its goodness consists in its being separated in little pieces of uneven shape, formed by the concretion of a whitish juice, which dries up little by little. When broken it ought to exhibit white marks like the finger-nails, and to be slightly bitter to the taste. That of second quality is of a mottled appearance within; while of worse quality is that which is of a black colour within; the very worst of all is that which is black on the outside as well.

The price of myrrh varies according to the number of purchasers. Stacte is sold at prices which vary from three denarii to forty per pound, while the very highest price of the cultivated myrrh is eleven denarii. Erythræan myrrh, the same, it is pretended, as Arabian myrrh, is sixteen denarii per pound, Troglodytic also, is sixteen denarii; and that known as odoraria, or odoriferous myrrh, sells at fourteen. Myrrh is adulterated with pieces of mastich, and other gums; it is also drugged with the juice of wild cucumber, in order to produce a certain bitterness, and with litharge for the purpose of increasing its weight. Other sophistications may be discovered on tasting it, and the gum will adhere to the teeth. But the 132cleverest mode of adulterating it is with Indian myrrh,535 a substance which is gathered from a certain prickly shrub which grows there. This is the only thing that India produces of worse quality than the corresponding produce of other countries: they may, however, be very easily distinguished, that of India being so very much inferior.

CHAP. 36. (17.)—MASTICH.

The transition, therefore,536 is very easy to mastich, which grows upon another prickly shrub of India and Arabia, known by the name of laina. Of mastich as well there are two different kinds; for in Asia and Greece there is also found a herb which puts forth leaves from the root, and bears a thistly head, resembling an apple, and full of seeds. Upon an incision being made in the upper part of this plant drops distil from it, which can hardly be distinguished from the genuine mastich. There is, again, a third sort,537 found in Pontus, but more like bitumen than anything else. The most esteemed, however, of all these, is the white mastich of Chios, the price of which is twenty denarii per pound, while the black mastich sells at twelve. It is said that the mastich of Chios exudes from the lentisk in the form of a sort of gum: like frankincense, it is adulterated with resin.


Arabia, too, still boasts of her ladanum.538 Many writers 133have stated that this substance is the fortuitous result of an accidental injury inflicted upon a certain odoriferous plant, under the following circumstances: the goat, they say, which is in general an animal that is extremely mischievous to foliage, is particularly fond of the shrubs that are odoriferous, as if, indeed, it were really sensible of the value that is set upon them. Hence it is that as the animal crops the sprouting shoots of the branches which are swollen with a liquid juice of remarkable sweetness, these juices drop and become mingled together, and are then wiped up by the shaggy hairs of its unlucky beard. Being there mingled with the dust, these juices form knots and tufts, and are then dried by the sun; and hence the circumstance is accounted for that in the ladanum which is imported by us we find goats’ hairs. This, however, we are told, occurs nowhere but among the Nabatæi,539 a people of Arabia, who border upon Syria. The more recent writers call this substance by the name of stobolon, and state that in the forests of Arabia the trees are broken by the goats while browzing, and that the juices in consequence adhere to their shaggy hair; but the genuine ladanum, they assure us, comes from the island of Cyprus. I make mention of this in order that every kind of odoriferous plant may be taken some notice of, even though incidentally and not in the order of their respective localities. They say also that this Cyprian ladanum is collected in the same manner as the other, and that it forms a kind of greasy substance or œsypum,540 which adheres to the beards and shaggy legs of the goats; but that it is produced from the flowers of the ground-ivy, which they have nibbled when in quest of their morning food, a time at which the whole island is covered with dew. After this, they say, when the fogs are dispersed by the sun, the dust adheres to their wet coats, and the ladanum is formed, which is afterwards taken off of them with a comb.

There are some authors who give to the plant of Cyprus, from which it is made, the name of leda; and hence it is that 134we find it also called ledanum. They say, also, that a viscous substance settles upon this plant, and, that, by the aid of strings wound around it, its leaves are rolled into balls, from which a kind of cake is made. Hence it is, that in Cyprus, as well as in Arabia, there are two kinds of ladanum; the one natural, and mingled with earth, and the other artificial: the former is friable, while the latter is of a viscous nature.

It is stated, also, that this substance is the produce of a shrub originally found in Carmania, and propagated by plants, by order of the Ptolemies, in the parts beyond Egypt; while other authorities are found, which say that it grows on the incense tree, and is gathered like gum, from incisions made in the bark, after which it is collected in bags of goat-skin. That of the most approved quality, sells at the rate of forty asses per pound. Ladanum is adulterated with myrtle berries, and filth taken from the fleeces of other animals besides the goat. If genuine, it ought to have a wild and acrid smell, in some measure redolent of the desert places where it is produced: it is dry and parched in appearance, but becomes soft the moment it is touched. When ignited, it gives a brilliant flame, and emits a powerful but pleasant odour; if mixed with myrtle berries, its spurious quality is immediately discovered by their crackling in the fire. In addition to this, the genuine ladanum has more grits, or stony particles, adhering to it, than dust.


In Arabia, too, the olive-tree distils a sort of tear, with which the Indians make a medicament, known by the Greeks as enhæmon;541 it is said to be of wonderful efficacy in contracting and healing wounds and sores. These trees,542 situate on the coasts there, are covered by the sea at high water, without the berries suffering the slightest injury, although it is a well-known fact, that the salt collects upon the leaves. 135 All these trees are peculiar to Arabia, but it has some few besides, in common with other countries, of which we shall make mention elsewhere, the kinds growing in Arabia being of inferior quality. The people of that country have a wonderful regard for the perfumes of foreign parts, and import them from places at a considerable distance; so soon are men sated with what they have of their own, and so covetous are they of what belongs to others.


Hence it is, that they import from the country of the Elymæi543 the wood of a tree called bratus,544 which is similar in appearance to a spreading cypress. Its branches are of a whitish colour, and the wood, while burning, emits a pleasant odour; it is highly spoken of by Claudius Cæsar, in his History,545 for its marvellous properties. He states that the Parthians sprinkle the leaves of it in their drink, that its smell closely resembles that of the cedar, and that the smoke of it is efficacious in counteracting the effects of smoke emitted by other wood. This tree grows in the countries that lie beyond the Pasitigris,546 in the territory of the city of Sittaca, upon Mount Zagrus.


The Arabians import from Carmania also the wood of a tree called stobrum,547 which they employ in fumigations, by steeping it in palm wine, and then setting fire to it. The odour first ascends to the ceiling, and then descends in volumes 136to the floor; it is very agreeable, but is apt to cause an oppression of the head, though unattended with pain; it is used for promoting sleep in persons when ill. For these branches of commerce, they have opened the city of Carræ,548 which serves as an entrepot, and from which place they were formerly in the habit of proceeding to Gabba, at a distance of twenty days’ journey, and thence to Palæstina, in Syria. But at a later period, as Juba informs us, they began to take the road, for the purposes of this traffic, to Charax549 and the kingdom of the Parthians. For my own part, it would appear to me that they were in the habit of importing these commodities among the Persians, even before they began to convey them to Syria or Egypt; at least Herodotus bears testimony to that effect, when he states that the Arabians paid a yearly tribute of one thousand talents, in frankincense, to the kings of Persia.

From Syria they bring back storax,550 which, burnt upon the hearth, by its powerful smell dispels that loathing of their own perfumes with which these people are affected. For in general there are no kinds of wood in use among them, except those which are odoriferous; indeed, the Sabæi are in the habit of cooking their food with incense wood, while others, again, employ that of the myrrh tree; and hence, the smoke and smells that pervade their cities and villages are no other than the very same which, with us, proceed from the altars. For the purpose of qualifying this powerful smell, they burn storax in goat-skins, and so fumigate their dwellings. So true it is, that there is no pleasure to be found, but what the continual enjoyment of it begets loathing. They also burn this substance to drive away the serpents, which are extremely numerous in the forests which bear the odoriferous trees.


Arabia produces neither cinnamon nor cassia; and this is the country styled “Happy” Arabia! False and ungrateful does she prove herself in the adoption of this surname, which she would imply to have been received from the gods above; whereas, in reality, she is indebted for it far more to the gods 137below.551 It is the luxury which is displayed by man, even in the paraphernalia of death, that has rendered Arabia thus “happy;” and which prompts him to burn with the dead what was originally understood to have been produced for the service of the gods. Those who are likely to be the best acquainted with the matter, assert that this country does not produce, in a whole year, so large a quantity of perfumes as was burnt by the Emperor Nero at the funeral obsequies of his wife Poppæa. And then let us only take into account the vast number of funerals that are celebrated throughout the whole world each year, and the heaps of odours that are piled up in honour of the bodies of the dead; the vast quantities, too, that are offered to the gods in single grains; and yet, when men were in the habit of offering up to them the salted cake, they did not show themselves any the less propitious; nay, rather, as the facts themselves prove, they were even more favourable to us than they are now. But it is the sea of Arabia that has even a still greater right to be called “happy,” for it is this that furnishes us with pearls. At the very lowest computation, India, the Seres, and the Arabian Peninsula, withdraw from our empire one hundred millions of sesterces every year—so dearly do we pay for our luxury and our women. How large a portion, too, I should like to know, of all these perfumes, really comes to the gods of heaven, and the deities of the shades below?


Fabulous antiquity, and Herodotus553 more particularly, have related that cinnamomum and cassia are found in the nests of certain birds, and principally that of the phœnix, in the districts where Father Liber was brought up; and that these substances either fall from the inaccessible rocks and trees in which the nests are built, in consequence of the weight of the pieces of flesh which the birds carry up, or else are brought down by the aid of arrows loaded with lead. It is said, also, 138that cassia grows around certain marshes, but is protected by a frightful kind of bat armed with claws, and by winged serpents as well. All these tales, however, have been evidently invented for the purpose of enhancing the prices of these commodities. Another story, too, bears them company, to the effect that under the rays of the noon-day sun, the entire peninsula exhales a certain indescribable perfume composed of its numerous odours; that the breezes, as they blow from it, are impregnated with these odours, and, indeed, were the first to announce the vicinity of Arabia to the fleets of Alexander the Great, while still far out at sea. All this, however, is false; for cinnamomum, or cinnamum, which is the same thing, grows in the country of the Æthiopians,554 who are united by intermarriages with the Troglodytæ. These last, after buying it of their neighbours, carry it over vast tracts of sea, upon rafts, which are neither steered by rudder, nor drawn or impelled by oars or sails. Nor yet are they aided by any of the resources of art, man alone, and his daring boldness, standing in place of all these; in addition to which, they choose the winter season, about the time of the equinox, for their voyage, for then a south easterly wind is blowing; these winds guide them in a straight course from gulf to gulf, and after they have doubled the promontory of Arabia, the north east wind carries them to a port of the Gebanitæ, known by the name of Ocilia.555 Hence it is that they steer for this port in preference; and they say that it is almost five years before the merchants are able to effect their return, while many perish on the voyage. In return for their wares, they bring back articles of glass and copper, cloths, buckles, bracelets, and necklaces; hence it is that this traffic depends more particularly upon the capricious tastes and inclinations of the female sex.

The cinnamon shrub556 is only two cubits in height, at the most, the lowest being no more than a palm in height. It is about four fingers in breadth, and hardly has it risen six fingers from the ground, before it begins to put forth shoots and 139suckers. It has then all the appearance of being dry and withered, and while it is green it has no odour at all. The leaf is like that of wild marjoram, and it thrives best in dry localities, being not so prolific in rainy weather; it requires, also, to be kept constantly clipped. Though it grows on level ground, it thrives best among tangled brakes and brambles, and hence it is extremely difficult to be gathered. It is never gathered unless with the permission of the god, by whom some suppose Jupiter to be meant; the Æthiopians, however, call him Assabinus.557 They offer the entrails of forty-four oxen, goats, and rams, when they implore his permission to do so, but after all, they are not allowed to work at it before sunrise or after sunset. A priest divides the branches with a spear, and sets aside one portion of them for the god; after which, the dealer stores away the rest in lumps. There is another account given, which states that a division is made between the gatherers and the sun, and that it is divided into three portions, after which lots are twice drawn, and the share which falls to the sun is left there, and forthwith ignites spontaneously.

The thinnest parts in the sticks, for about a palm in length, are looked upon as producing the finest cinnamon; the part that comes next, though not quite so long, is the next best, and so on downwards. The worst of all is that which is nearest the roots, from the circumstance that in that part there is the least bark, the portion that is the most esteemed: hence it is that the upper part of the tree is preferred, there being the greatest proportion of bark there. As for the wood, it is held in no esteem at all, on account of the acrid taste which it has, like that of wild marjoram; it is known as xylocinnamum.558 The price of cinnamomum is ten denarii per pound. Some writers make mention of two kinds of cinnamon, the white and the black: the white was the one that was formerly preferred, but now, on the contrary, the black is held in the highest estimation, and the mottled, even, is preferred to the white. The most certain test, however, of the goodness of cinnamon is its not being rough, and the fact that the pieces when rubbed together do not readily crumble to powder. That which is soft is more particularly rejected, which is the case, also, when the outer bark too readily falls off.


The right of regulating the sale of the cinnamon belongs solely to the king of the Gebanitæ, who opens the market for it by public proclamation. The price of it was formerly as much as a thousand denarii per pound; which was afterwards increased to half as much again, in consequence, it is said, of the forests having been set on fire by the barbarians, from motives of resentment; whether this took place through any injustice exercised by those in power, or only by accident, has not been hitherto exactly ascertained. Indeed, we find it stated by some authors, that the south winds that prevail in these parts are sometimes so hot as to set the forests on fire. The Emperor Vespasianus Augustus was the first to dedicate in the temples of the Capitol and the goddess Peace chaplets of cinnamon inserted in embossed559 gold. I, myself, once saw in the temple of the Palatium, which his wife Augusta560 dedicated to her husband the late emperor Augustus, a root of cinnamon of great weight, placed in a patera of gold: from it drops used to distil every year, which congealed in hard grains. It remained there until the temple was accidentally destroyed by fire.


Cassia561 is a shrub also, which grows not far from the plains where cinnamon is produced, but in the mountainous localities; the branches of it are, however, considerably thicker, than those of cinnamon. It is covered with a thin skin rather than a bark, and, contrary to what is the case with cinnamon, it is looked upon as the most valuable when the bark falls off and crumbles into small pieces. The shrub is three cubits in height, and the colours which it assumes are threefold: when it first shoots from the ground, for the length of a foot, it is white; after it has attained that height, it is red for half a foot, and beyond that it is black. This last is the part that is held in the highest esteem, and next to it the portion that comes next, the white part being the least valued of all. They cut the ends of the branches to the length of two fingers, and 141then sew them in the fresh skins of cattle that have been killed expressly for the purpose; the object being that the skins may putrefy, and the maggots generated thereby may eat away the woody parts, and so excavate562 the bark; which is so intensely bitter, that it is quite safe from their attacks. That which is the freshest is the most highly esteemed; it has a very delicate smell, and is so extremely hot to the taste, that it may be said to burn the tongue, rather than gradually warm the mouth. It is of a purple colour, and though of considerable volume, weighs but very little in comparison; the outer coat forms into short tubes which are by no means easily broken: this choice kind of cassia, the barbarians call by the name of lada. There is another sort, again, which is called balsamodes,563 because it has a smell like that of balsam, but it is bitter; for which reason it is more employed for medicinal purposes, just as the black cassia is used for unguents. There is no substance known that is subject to greater variations in price: the best qualities sell at fifty denarii per pound, others, again, at five.

(20.) To these varieties the dealers have added another, which they call daphnoides,564 and give it the surname of isocinnamon;565 the price at which it sells is three hundred denarii per pound. It is adulterated with storax, and, in consequence of the resemblance of the bark, with very small sprigs of laurel. Cassia is also planted in our566 part of the world, and, indeed, at the extreme verge of the Empire, on the banks of the river Rhenus, where it flourishes when planted in the vicinity of hives of bees. It has not, however, that scorched colour which is produced by the excessive heat of the sun; nor has it, for the same reason, a similar smell to that which comes from the south.


From the confines of the country which produces cinnamon 142and cassia, cancamum567 and tarum568 are imported; but these substances are brought by way of the Nabatæan Troglodytæ, a colony of the Nabatæi.


Thither, too, are carried serichatum569 and gabalium, aromatics which the Arabians rear for their own consumption, and which are only known by name in our part of the world, though they grow in the same country as cinnamon and cassia. Still, however, serichatum does reach us occasionally, and is employed by some persons in the manufacture of unguents. It is purchased at the rate of six denarii per pound.


In the country of the Troglodytæ, the Thebais, and the parts of Arabia which separate Judæa from Egypt, myrobalanum570 is commonly found; it is provided by Nature for unguents, as from its very name would appear. From its name, also, it is evident that it is the nut of a tree, with a leaf similar to that of the heliotropium, which we shall have to mention when speaking of the herbs. The fruit of this tree is about the size of a filbert. The kind that grows in Arabia is known as Syriaca, and is white, while, on the other hand, that which grows in the Thebais is black: the former is preferred for the quality of the oil extracted from it, though that which is produced 143in the Thebais yields it in larger quantities. Among these various kinds, that which is sent from the country of the Troglodytæ is the worst of all. There are some persons who prefer that of Æthiopia571 to all of these, the nut of which is black, and not oleaginous; it has only a very small kernel, but the liquid which is extracted from it is more odoriferous than that of the other kinds; it grows, too, in a champaign, open country. It is said that the Egyptian nut is even more oleaginous, being of a reddish colour with a thicker shell, and that the plant, although it grows in wet, marshy spots, is shorter and drier than the other kinds. The Arabian nut, again, is said to be of a green colour and of smaller size, but harder and more compact, from the circumstance that it grows in mountainous districts. The best of all, however, is that of Petra, which comes from a city mentioned572 on a previous occasion; it has a black shell, but the kernel is white. The perfumers, however, only extract the juices from the shells; but medical men pound the kernels, pouring warm water on them, little by little, as they do it.


The fruit of the palm in Egypt, which is known by the name of adipsos,573 is put to a similar use in unguents, and is held next in esteem after the myrobalanum. It is of a green colour, has exactly the smell of a quince, and has no stone or nut within. It is gathered a little before it begins to ripen. That which is left ungathered is known as phœnicobalanus;574 it turns black, and has a tendency to inebriate the person who eats of it. The price of myrobalanum is two denarii per pound. The shop-keepers give this name also to the dregs of the unguent that is made with it.



Scented calamus also, which grows in Arabia, is common to both India and Syria, that which grows in the last country being superior to all the rest. At a distance of one hundred and fifty stadia from the Mediterranean, between Mount Libanus and another mountain of no note (and not, as some have supposed, Antilibanus), there is a valley of moderate size, situate in the vicinity of a lake, the marshy swamps of which are dried up every summer. At a distance of thirty stadia from this lake grow the sweet-scented calamus and rush. We shall here make some further mention of this rush as well, although we have set apart another Book for plants of that description, seeing that it is our object here to describe all the different materials used for unguents. These plants differ in appearance in no respect from others of their kind; but the calamus, which has the more agreeable smell of the two, attracts by its odour at a considerable distance, and is softer to the touch than the other. The best is the kind which is not so brittle, but breaks into long flakes, and not short, like a radish. In the hollow stalk there is a substance like a cobweb, which is generally known by the name of the “flower:” those plants which contain the most of it are esteemed the best. The other tests of its goodness are its being of a black colour—those which are white not being esteemed; besides which, to be of the very best quality it should be short, thick, and pliant when broken. The price of the scented calamus is eleven, and of the rush fifteen denarii per pound. It is said that the sweet-scented rush is to be met with also in Campania.


We have now departed from the lands which look towards145 the ocean to enter upon those which have an aspect towards our seas. (23.) Africa, which lies below Æthiopia, distils a tear-like gum in its sands, called hammoniacum,576 the name of which has passed to the oracle of Hammon, situate near the tree which produces it. This substance, which is also called metopion,577 bears a strong resemblance to a resin or a gum. There are two kinds of ammoniacum; that to which the name is given of thrauston, and which bears a resemblance to male frankincense, being the kind that is the most esteemed, and that which is known as phyrama, being of an unctuous and resinous nature. This substance is adulterated by means of sand, which has all the appearance of having adhered to it during its growth: hence it is greatly preferred when the pieces are extremely small, and in the purest state possible. The price of hammoniacum of the best quality is forty asses per pound.


Below these countries, and in the province of Cyrenaica, the perfume called sphagnos578 is found in the highest state of perfection: there are some who call it by the name of bryon. The sphagnos of Cyprus holds the second rank, and that of Phœnicia the third. It is said that this plant is produced in Egypt also, and in Gaul as well, and I see no reason to doubt that such is the fact, for this name is given to certain white 146shaggy tufts upon trees, such as we often see upon the quercus: those, however, of which we are speaking, emit a most exquisite odour. The most esteemed of all are the whitest, and those situate at the greatest height upon the tree. Those of second quality are red, while those which are black are not of the slightest value. The sphagnos, too, that is produced on islands and among rocks,579 is held in no esteem, as well as all those varieties which have the odour of the palm-tree, and not that which is so peculiarly their own.


The cyprus580 is a tree of Egypt, with the leaves of the ziziphus,581 and seeds like coriander,582 white and odoriferous. These seeds are boiled in olive oil, and then subjected to pressure; the product is known to us as cypros. The price of it is five denarii per pound. The best is that produced on the banks of the Nile, near Canopus, that of second quality coming from Ascalon in Judæa, and the third in estimation for the sweetness of its odour, from the island of Cyprus. Some people will have it that this is the same as the tree which in Italy we call ligustrum.583


In the same country,584 too, grows aspalathos,585 a white, thorny shrub, the size of a moderate tree, and with flowers like the rose, the root of which is in great request for unguents. It is said that every shrub over which the rainbow is extended is possessed of the sweet odour that belongs to the aspalathos, but that if the aspalathos is one of them, its 147scent is something quite indescribable. Some persons call this plant erysisceptrum,586 and others, again, sceptrum. The proof of its genuineness is its red or fiery colour; it is also compact to the touch, and has the smell of castoreum:587 it is sold at the rate of five denarii per pound.


In Egypt, too, grows marum,588 though of inferior quality to that of Lydia, which last has larger leaves, covered with spots. Those of the other are shorter and smaller, and give out a powerful scent.


But to all other odours that of balsamum589 is considered preferable, a plant that has been only bestowed by Nature upon the land of Judæa. In former times it was cultivated in two gardens only, both of which belonged to the kings of that country: one of them was no more than twenty jugera in extent, and the other somewhat smaller. The emperors Vespasianus and Titus had this shrub exhibited at Rome; indeed, it is worthy of signal remark, that since the time of Pompeius Magnus, we have been in the habit of carrying trees even in our triumphal processions. At the present day this tree pays us homage and tribute along with its native land, but it has been found to be of altogether a different nature to that which 148our own as well as foreign writers had attributed to it: for, in fact, it bears a much stronger resemblance to the vine than to the myrtle. This recent acquisition by conquest has learned, like the vine, to be reproduced by mallet590-shoots, and it covers declivities just like the vine, which supports its own weight without the aid of stays. When it puts forth branches it is pruned in a similar manner, and it thrives by being well raked at the roots, growing with remarkable rapidity, and bearing fruit at the end of three years. The leaf bears a very considerable resemblance to that of rue, and it is an evergreen. The Jews vented their rage upon this shrub just as they were in the habit of doing against their own lives and persons, while, on the other hand, the Romans protected it; indeed, combats have taken place before now in defence of a shrub. At the present day the reproduction of it has become a duty of the fiscal authorities, and the plants were never known to be more numerous or of larger growth; they never exceed the height, however, of a couple of cubits.

There are three different kinds of balsamum. The first has a thin and hair-like foliage, and is known by the name of eutheriston.591 The second is of a rugged appearance, bending downwards, full of branches, and more odoriferous than the first; the name of this is trachy. The third kind is the eumeces, so called, because it is taller than the others; it has a smooth, even, bark. It is the second in quality, the eutheriston being inferior to the trachy. The seed of this plant has a flavour strongly resembling that of wine; it is of a reddish colour, and not without a certain amount of unctuousness; the grains of inferior quality are lighter in weight and of a greener hue: the branches of the shrub are thicker than those of the myrtle. Incisions are made in it either with glass, or else a sharp stone, or knives made of bone: it being highly injurious to touch the vital parts with iron, for in such case it will immediately wither away and die. On the other hand, it will allow of all the superfluous branches being pruned away with an instrument of iron even. The hand of the 149person who makes the incision is generally balanced by an artificial guide, in order that he may not accidentally inflict a wound in the wood beyond the bark.

A juice distils from the wound, which is known to us as opobalsamum; it is of extraordinary sweetness,592 but only exudes in tiny drops, which are then collected in wool, and deposited in small horns. When taken from out of these, the substance is placed in new earthen vessels; it bears a strong resemblance to a thick oil, and is of a white colour when fresh. It soon, however, turns red, and as it hardens loses its transparency. When Alexander the Great waged war in those parts, it was looked upon as a fair summer day’s work to fill a single concha593 with this liquid; the entire produce of the larger garden being six congii, and of the smaller one a single congius; the price, too, at which it was sold was double its weight in silver. At the present day the produce of a single tree, even, is larger; the incisions are made three times every summer, after which the tree is pruned.

The cuttings, too, form an article of merchandize: the fifth year after the conquest of Judæa, these cuttings, with the suckers, were sold for the price of eight hundred thousand sesterces. These cuttings are called xylobalsamum,594 and are boiled down for mixing with unguents, and in the manufactories have been substituted for the juices of the shrub. The bark is also in great request for medicinal purposes, but it is the tears that are so particularly valuable; the seed holding 150the second rank in estimation, the bark the third, and the wood being the least esteemed of all. Of the wood, that kind which resembles boxwood is considered the best: it has also the strongest smell. The best seed is that which is the largest in size and the heaviest in weight; it has a biting or rather burning taste in the mouth. Balsamum is adulterated with hypericon595 from Petra, but the fraud is easily detected, from the fact that the grains of the latter are larger, comparatively empty, and longer than those of balsamum; they are destitute also of any pungency of smell, and have a flavour like that of pepper.

As to the tears of balsamum, the test of their goodness is their being unctuous to the touch, small, of a somewhat reddish colour, and odoriferous when subjected to friction. That of second-rate quality is white; the green and coarse is inferior, and the black is the worst of all; for, like olive-oil, it is apt to turn rancid when old. Of all the incisions, the produce is considered the best of those from which the liquid has flowed before the formation of the seed. In addition to what has been already stated, it is often adulterated with the juice of the seed, and it is with considerable difficulty that the fraud is detected by a slight bitterness in the taste, which ought to be delicate and without the slightest mixture of acidity, the only pungency being that of the smell. It is adulterated also with oil of roses, of cyprus, of mastich, of balanus, of turpentine, and of myrtle, as also with resin, galbanum, and Cyprian wax, just as occasion may serve. But the very worst adulteration of all, is that which is effected with gum, a substance which is dry when emptied into the hand, and falls to the bottom when placed in water; both of which are characteristics of the genuine commodity. Balsamum, in a genuine state, should be quite hard, but when it is mixed with gum a brittle pellicle forms upon it. The fraud can also be detected by the taste, and when placed upon hot coals it may easily be seen if there has been any adulteration with wax and resin; the flame too, in this case, burns with a blacker smoke than when the balsamum is pure. When mixed with honey its qualities are immediately changed, for it will attract flies even in the hand. In addition to these various tests, a drop of pure balsamum, if placed in luke-warm water will settle to the bottom of the151 vessel, whereas, if it is adulterated, it will float upon the surface like oil, and if it has been drugged with metopion or hammoniacum, a white circle will form around it. But the best test of all is, that it will cause milk to curdle, and leave no stain upon cloth. In no commodity are there practised more palpable frauds than in this, for a sextarius of balsamum which is sold by the fiscal authorities at three hundred denarii, is sold again for a thousand, so vast is the profit to be derived from increasing this liquid by sophistication. The price of xylobalsamum is six denarii per pound.


That part of Syria joining up to Judæa, and lying above Phœnicia, produces storax, which is found in the vicinity of Gabala and Marathus,596 as also of Casius, a mountain of Seleucia. The tree597 bears the same name, and has a strong resemblance to, the quince. The tear has a harsh taste, with a pleasant smell; in the interior it has all the appearance of a reed, and is filled with a liquid juice. About the rising of the Dog-star, certain small winged worms hover about this substance and eat it away, for which reason it is often found in a rotten state, with worm-holes full of dust. The storax next in estimation after that already mentioned, comes from Pisidia, Sidon, Cyprus, and Cilicia; that of Crete being considered the very worst of all. That which comes from Mount Amanus, in Syria, is highly esteemed for medicinal purposes, and even more so by the perfumers. From whatever country it comes, that which is of a red colour is preferred, and it should be both unctuous as well as viscous to the touch; the worst kind is that which crumbles like bran, and is covered all over with a whitish mould. This substance is adulterated with the resin of cedar or with gum, and sometimes with honey or bitter almonds; 152all which sophistications may, however, be detected by the taste. The price of storax of the best quality is seventeen denarii per pound. It comes also from Pamphylia, but this last is more arid, and not so full of juice.


Syria produces galbanum too, which grows upon the same mountain of Amanus: it exudes from a kind of giant-fennel598 of the same name as the resin, though sometimes it is known as stagonitis. The kind that is the most esteemed is cartilaginous, clear like hammoniacum, and free from all ligneous substances. Still, however, it is sometimes adulterated with beans, or with sacopenium.599 If ignited in a pure state, it has the property of driving away serpents600 by its smoke. It is sold at five denarii per pound, and is only employed for medicinal purposes.

CHAP. 57. (26.)—PANAX.

Syria, too, furnishes panax,601 an ingredient used in unguents. This plant grows also at Psophis in Arcadia, about the sources of the Erymanthus, in Africa also, and in Macedonia. This is a peculiar kind of giant-fennel, which stands five cubits in height: it first throws out four leaves, and then six, which lie close to the ground, round, and of very considerable size; those, however, which grow towards the top resemble the leaves of the olive. It bears its seed in certain tufts, which hang down, just as in the fennel. The juice is obtained by incisions 153made in the stalk at harvest-time, and in the root in autumn. When in a coagulated state, it is esteemed according to its whiteness. The next in value is that of a pallid colour, while the black is held in no esteem. The price of that of the best quality is two denarii per pound.


The difference between this kind of giant-fennel and that known as spondylium,602 consists only in the leaf, which is smaller, and divided like that of the plane-tree. It grows in shady places only. The seed bears the same name as the plant, and has a strong resemblance to that of hart-wort: it is only employed in medicine.


Syria produces the malobathrum603 also, a tree which bears a folded leaf, with just the colour of a leaf when dried. From this plant an oil is extracted for unguents. Egypt produces it in still greater abundance; but that which is the most esteemed of all comes from India, where it is said to grow in the marshes like the lentil. It has a more powerful odour than saffron, and has a black, rough appearance, with a sort of brackish taste. The white is the least approved of all, and it very soon turns musty when old. In taste it ought to be similar to nard, when placed under the tongue. When made luke-warm in wine, the odour which it emits is superior to any other. The prices at which this drug ranges are something quite marvellous, being from one denarius to four hundred per pound; as for the leaf, it generally sells at sixty denarii per pound.

CHAP. 60. (27.)—OMPHACIUM.

Omphacium604 is also a kind of oil, which is obtained from 154two trees, the olive and the vine, by two different methods. It is produced from the former by pressing the olive while it is still in the white state. That is of an inferior quality which is made from the druppa—such being the name that is given to the olive before it is ripe and fit for food, but already beginning to change its colour. The difference between them is, that the latter kind is green, the former white. The omphacium that is made from the vine is extracted from either the psythian605 or the Aminean grape, when the grapes are about the size of a chick-pea, just before the rising of the Dog-star. The grape is gathered when the first bloom is appearing upon it, and the verjuice is extracted, after which the residue606 is left to dry in the sun, due precautions being taken against the dews of the night. The verjuice, after being collected, is put into earthen vessels, and then, after that, stored in jars of Cyprian copper.607 The best kind is that which is of a reddish colour, acrid, and dry to the taste. The price at which it sells is six denarii per pound. Omphacium is also made another way—the unripe grape is pounded in a mortar, after which it is dried in the sun, and then divided into lozenges.


Bryon608 also bears an affinity to these substances, being the clusters of berries produced by the white poplar. The best kinds grow in the vicinity of Cnidos, or in Caria, in spots that are destitute of water, or else in dry and rugged localities. A 155bryon of second-rate quality is produced from the cedar of Lycia.609 Œnanthe, too, bears an affinity to these substances, being the clusters of the wild vine: it is gathered when it is in flower, or, in other words, when it has the finest smell: after which it is dried in the shade upon a linen sheet spread beneath it, and then stored away in casks. The best sort is that which comes from Parapotamia;610 the next best kinds are those made at Antiochia and Laodicea in Syria; and that of third-rate quality, comes from the mountainous parts of Media; this last, however, is preferable for medicinal purposes. Some persons give the preference over all to that grown in the island of Cyprus. As to that which comes from Africa, it is solely used for medicinal purposes, being known by the name of massaris.611 Whatever country it may happen to be, the white wild vine produces an œnanthe of superior quality to the black.


There is another tree612 also, that contributes to the manufacture of unguents, by some persons known under the name of elate, but which we call abies; others again call it a palm, and others give it the name of spathe. That of Hammonium is the most esteemed, and that of Egypt next, after which comes the Syrian tree. It is only odoriferous, however, in places that are destitute of water. The tears of it are of an unctuous nature, and are employed as an ingredient in unguents, to modify the harshness of the oil.


In Syria, too, is produced that kind of cinnamon which is also known as comacum.613 This is a juice which is extracted from 156a nut, and very different from the extract of the real cinnamomum, though it somewhat resembles it in its agreeable smell. The price at which it sells is forty asses per pound.

Summary.—Remarkable facts, narratives, and observations, nine hundred and seventy-four.

Roman authors quoted.—M. Varro,614 Mucianus,615 Virgil,616 Fabianus,617 Sebosus,618 Pomponius Mela,619 Flavius,620 Procilius,621 Hyginus,622 Trogus,623 Claudius Cæsar,624 Cornelius Nepos,625 Sextus Niger626 who wrote a Greek treatise on Medicine, Cassius Hemina,627 L. Piso,628 Tuditanus,629 Antias.630

Foreign authors quoted.—Theophrastus,631 Herodotus,632 157 Callisthenes,633 Isigonus,634 Clitarchus,635 Anaximenes,636 Duris,637 Nearchus,638 Onesicritus,639 Polycritus,640 Olympiodorus,641 Diognetus,642 Nicobulus,643 Anticlides,644 Chares645 of Mitylene, Menæchmus,646 Dorotheus647 of Athens, Lycus,648 Antæus,649 Ephippus,650 Dion,651 Demodes,652 Ptolemy Lagus,653 Marsyas654 of Macedon, 158Zoilus655 of Macedon, Democritus,656 Amphilochus,657 Aristomachus,658 Alexander Polyhistor,659 Juba,660 Apollodorus661 who wrote on Perfumes, Heraclides662 the physician, Archidemus663 the physician, Dionysius664 the physician, Democlides665 the physician, Euphron666 the physician, Mnesides667 the physician, Diagoras668 the physician, Iollas669 the physician, Heraclides670 of Tarentum, Xenocrates671 of Ephesus, Eratosthenes.672





Thus far we have been speaking of the trees which are valuable for the odours they produce, and each of which is a subject for our wonder in itself. Luxury, however, has thought fit to mingle all of these, and to make a single odour of the whole; hence it is that unguents have been invented.673 Who was the first to make unguents is a fact not recorded. In the times of the Trojan war674 they did not exist, nor did they use incense when sacrificing to the gods; indeed, people knew of no other smell, or rather stench,675 I may say, than that of the cedar and the citrus,676 shrubs of their own growth, as it arose in volumes of smoke from the sacrifices; still, however, even then, the extract of roses was known, for we find it mentioned as conferring additional value on olive-oil.

We ought, by good rights, to ascribe the first use of unguents to the Persians, for they quite soak themselves in it, and so, by an adventitious recommendation, counteract the bad odours which are produced by dirt. The first instance of the use of unguents that I have been able to meet with is that of the chest677 of perfumes which fell into the hands of Alexander, with the rest of the property of King Darius, at the taking of his 160camp.678 Since those times this luxury has been adopted by our own countrymen as well, among the most prized and, indeed, the most elegant of all the enjoyments of life, and has begun even to be admitted in the list of honours paid to the dead; for which reason we shall have to enlarge further on that subject. Those perfumes which are not the produce of shrubs679 will only be mentioned for the present by name: the nature of them will, however, be stated in their appropriate places.


The names of unguents are due, some of them, to the original place of their composition, others, again, to the extracts which form their bases, others to the trees from which they are derived, and others to the peculiar circumstance under which they were first made: and it is as well, first of all, to know that in this respect the fashion has often changed, and that the high repute of peculiar kinds has been but transitory. In ancient times, the perfumes the most esteemed of all were those of the island of Delos,680 and at a later period those of Mendes.681 This degree of esteem is founded, not only on the mode of mixing them and the relative proportions, but according to the degree of favour or disfavour in which the various places which produce the ingredients are held, and the comparative excellence or degeneracy of the ingredients themselves. The perfume of iris,682 from Corinth, was long held in the highest esteem, till that of Cyzicus came into fashion. It was the same, too, with the perfume of roses,683 from Phaselis,684 the 161repute of which was afterwards eclipsed by those of Neapolis, Capua, and Præneste. Oil of saffron,685 from Soli in Cilicia, was for a long time held in repute beyond any other, and then that from Rhodes; after which perfume of œnanthe,686 from Cyprus, came into fashion, and then that of Egypt was preferred. At a later period that of Adramytteum came into vogue, and then was supplanted by unguent of marjoram,687 from Cos, which in its turn was superseded by quince blossom688 unguent from the same place. As to perfume of cyprus,689 that from the island of Cyprus was at first preferred, and then that of Egypt; when all on a sudden the unguents of Mendes and metopium690 rose into esteem. In later times Phœnicia eclipsed Egypt in the manufacture of these last two, but left to that country the repute of producing the best unguent of cyprus.

Athens has perseveringly maintained the repute of her panathenaicon.691 There was formerly a famous unguent, known as “pardalium,”692 and made at Tarsus; at the present day its very composition and the mode of mixing it are quite unknown there: they have left off, too, making unguent of narcissus693 from the flowers of that plant.

There are two elements which enter into the composition of unguents, the juices and the solid parts. The former generally consist of various kinds of oils, the latter of odoriferous substances. These last are known as hedysmata, while the oils are called stymmata.694 There is a third element, which occupies 162a place between the two, but has been much neglected, the colouring matter, namely. To produce a colour, however, cinnabar695 and alkanet696 are often employed. If salt697 is sprinkled in the oil, it will aid it in retaining its properties; but if alkanet has been employed, salt is never used. Resin and gum are added to fix the odour in the solid perfumes; indeed it is apt to die away and disappear with the greatest rapidity if these substances are not employed.

The unguent which is the most readily prepared of all, and indeed, in all probability, the very first that was ever made, is that composed of bryon698 and oil of balanus,699 substances of which we have made mention already. In later times the Mendesian unguent was invented, a more complicated mixture, as resin and myrrh were added to oil of balanus, and at the present day they even add metopion700 as well, an Egyptian oil extracted from bitter almonds; to which have been added omphacium,701 cardamum,702 sweet rush,703 honey,704 wine, myrrh, seed of balsamum,705 galbanum,706 and resin of terebinth,707 as so many ingredients. Among the most common unguents at the present day, and for that reason supposed to be the most ancient, is that composed of oil of myrtle,708 calamus, cypress,709 cyprus, mastich,710 and pomegranate-rind.711 I am 163of opinion, however, that the unguents which have been the most universally adopted, are those which are compounded of the rose, a flower that grows everywhere; and hence for a long time the composition of oil of roses was of the most simple nature, though more recently there have been added omphacium, rose blossoms, cinnabar, calamus, honey, sweet-rush, flour of salt or else alkanet,712 and wine. The same is the case, too, with oil of saffron, to which have been lately added cinnabar, alkanet, and wine; and with oil of sampsuchum,713 with which omphacium and calamus have been compounded. The best comes from Cyprus and Mitylene, where sampsuchum abounds in large quantities.

The commoner kinds of oil, too, are mixed with those of myrrh and laurel, to which are added sampsuchum, lilies, fenugreek, myrrh, cassia,714 nard,715 sweet-rush, and cinnamon.716 There is an oil, too, made of the common quince and the sparrow quince, called melinum, as we shall have occasion to mention hereafter;717 it is used as an ingredient in unguents, mixed with omphacium, oil of cyprus, oil of sesamum,718 balsamum,719 sweet-rush, cassia, and abrotonum.720 Susinum721 is the most fluid of them all: it is made of lilies, oil of balanus, calamus, honey, cinnamon, saffron,722 and myrrh; while the unguent of cyprus723 is compounded of cyprus, omphacium 164and cardamum, calamus, aspalathus,724 and abrotonum. There are some persons who, when making unguent of cyprus, employ myrrh also, and panax:725 the best is that made at Sidon, and the next best that of Egypt: care must be taken not to add oil of sesamum: it will keep as long as four years, and its odour is strengthened by the addition of cinnamon. Telinum726 is made of fresh olive-oil, cypirus,727 calamus, melilote,728 fenugreek, honey, marum,729 and sweet marjoram. This last was the perfume most in vogue in the time of the Comic poet Menander: a considerable time after that known as “megalium” took its place, being so called as holding the very highest rank;730 it was composed of oil of balanus, balsamum, calamus, sweet-rush, xylobalsamum,731 cassia, and resin. One peculiar property of this unguent is, that it requires to be constantly stirred while boiling, until it has lost all smell: when it becomes cold, it recovers its odour.732

There are some single essences also which, individually, afford unguents of very high character: the first rank is due to malobathrum,733 and the next to the iris of Illyricum and the sweet marjoram of Cyzicus, both of them herbs. There are perfumers who sometimes add some few other ingredients to these: those who use the most, employ for the purpose honey, flour of salt, omphacium, leaves of agnus,734 and panax, all of them foreign ingredients.735 The price of unguent736 of 165cinnamon is quite enormous; to cinnamon there is added oil of balanus, xylobalsamum, calamus, sweet-rush, seeds of balsamum, myrrh, and perfumed honey: it is the thickest in consistency of all the unguents; the price at which it sells ranges from thirty-five to three hundred denarii per pound. Unguent737 of nard,738 or foliatum, is composed of omphacium or else oil of balanus, sweet-rush, costus,739 nard, amomum,740 myrrh, and balsamum.

While speaking on this subject, it will be as well to bear in mind that there are nine different kinds of plants of a similar kind, of which we have already made mention741 as being employed for the purpose of imitating Indian nard; so abundant are the materials that are afforded for adulteration. All these perfumes are rendered still more pungent by the addition of costus and amomum, which have a particularly powerful effect on the olfactory organs; while myrrh gives them greater consistency and additional sweetness, and saffron makes them better adapted for medicinal purposes. They are most pungent, however, when mixed with amomum alone, which will often produce head-ache even. There are some persons who content themselves with sprinkling the more precious ingredients upon the others after boiling them down, for the purpose of economy; but the strength of the unguent is not so great as when the ingredients have been boiled together. Myrrh used by itself, and without the mixture of oil, forms an unguent, but it is stacte742 only that must be used, for otherwise it will be productive of too great bitterness. Unguent of cyprus turns other unguents green, while lily unguent743 makes them more unctuous: the unguent of Mendes turns them black, rose unguent makes them white, and that of myrrh of a pallid hue.

Such are the particulars of the ancient inventions, and the various falsifications of the shops in later times; we will now pass on to make mention of what is the very height of refinement in these articles of luxury, indeed, I may say, the beau ideal744 of them all.


(2.) This is what is called the “regal” unguent, from the fact that it is composed in these proportions for the kings of the Parthians. It consists of myrobalanus,745 costus, amomum, cinnamon, comacum,746 cardamum, spikenard, marum, myrrh, cassia, storax,747 ladanum,748 opobalsamum, Syrian calamus749 and Syrian sweet-rush,750 œnanthe, malobathrum, serichatum,751 cyprus, aspralathus, panax, saffron, cypirus, sweet marjoram, lotus,752 honey, and wine. Not one of the ingredients in this compound is produced either in Italy, that conqueror of the world, or, indeed, in all Europe, with the exception of the iris, which grows in Illyricum, and the nard, which is to be found in Gaul: as to the wine, the rose, the leaves of myrtle, and the olive-oil, they are possessed by pretty nearly all countries in common.


Those unguents which are known by the name of “diapasma,”753 are composed of dried perfumes. The lees754 of unguents are known by the name of “magma.755” In all these preparations the most powerful perfume is the one that is added the last of all. Unguents keep best in boxes of alabaster,756 and perfumes757 when mixed with oil, which conduces all the more to their durability the thicker it is, such as the oil of almonds, for instance. Unguents, too, improve with age; but the sun is apt to spoil them, for which reason they are usually stowed away in a shady place in vessels of lead. When their goodness is being tested, they are placed on the back of the hand, lest the heat of the palm, which is more fleshy, should have a bad effect upon them.



These perfumes form the objects of a luxury which may be looked upon as being the most superfluous of any, for pearls and jewels, after all, do pass to a man’s representative,758 and garments have some durability; but unguents lose their odour in an instant, and die away the very hour they are used. The very highest recommendation of them is, that when a female passes by, the odour which proceeds from her may possibly attract the attention of those even who till then are intent upon something else. In price they exceed so large a sum even as four hundred denarii per pound: so vast is the amount that is paid for a luxury made not for our own enjoyment, but for that of others; for the person who carries the perfume about him is not the one, after all, that smells it.

And yet, even here, there are some points of difference that deserve to be remarked. We read in the works of Cicero,759 that those unguents which smell of the earth are preferable to those which smell of saffron; being a proof, that even in a matter which most strikingly bespeaks our state of extreme corruptness, it is thought as well to temper the vice by a little show of austerity.760 There are some persons too who look more particularly for consistency761 in their unguents, to which they accordingly give the name of “spissum”;762 thus showing that they love not only to be sprinkled, but even to be plastered over, with unguents. We have known the very soles763 even of the feet to be sprinkled with perfumes; a refinement which was taught, it is said, by M. Otho764 to the Emperor Nero. How, 168I should like to know, could a perfume be at all perceptible, or, indeed, productive of any kind of pleasure, when placed on that part of the body? We have heard also of a private person giving orders for the walls of the bath-room to be sprinkled with unguents, while the Emperor Caius765 had the same thing done to his sitting-bath:766 that this, too, might not be looked upon as the peculiar privilege of a prince, it was afterwards done by one of the slaves that belonged to Nero.

But the most wonderful thing of all is, that this kind of luxurious gratification should have made its way into the camp even: at all events, the eagles and the standards, dusty as they are, and bristling with their sharpened points, are anointed on festive767 days. I only wish it could, by any possibility, be stated who it was that first taught us this practice. It was, no doubt, under the corrupting influence of such temptations as these, that our eagles achieved the conquest768 of the world: thus do we seek to obtain their patronage and sanction for our vices, and make them our precedent for using unguents even beneath the casque.769


I cannot exactly say at what period the use of unguents first found its way to Rome. It is a well-known fact, that when King Antiochus and Asia770 were subdued, an edict was published in the year of the City 565, in the censorship of P. Licinius Crassus and L. Julius Cæsar, forbidding any one to sell exotics;771 for by that name unguents were then called. But, in the name of Hercules! at the present day, there are some persons who even go so far as to put them in their drink, and the bitterness produced thereby is prized to a high degree, in order that by their lavishness on these odours they may thus gratify the senses of two parts772 of the body at the same moment.773 It is a well-known historical fact, that L. Plotius,774 169the brother of L. Plancus, who was twice consul and censor, after being proscribed by the Triumvirs, was betrayed in his place of concealment at Salernum by the smell of his unguents, a disgrace which more than outweighed all the guilt775 attending his proscription. For who is there that can be of opinion that such men as this do not richly deserve to come to a violent end?


In other respects, Egypt is the country that is the best suited of all for the production of unguents; and next to it, Campania,776 from its abundance of roses.

(4.) Judæa, too, is greatly renowned for its perfumes, and even still more so for its palm-trees,777 the nature of which I shall take this opportunity of enlarging upon. There are some found in Europe also. They are not uncommon in Italy, but are quite barren there.778 The palms on the coast of Spain bear fruit, but it is sour.779 The fruit of those of Africa is sweet, but quickly becomes vapid and loses its flavour; which, however is not the case with the fruit of those that grow in the East.780 From these trees a wine is made, and bread by some nations,781 and they afford an aliment for numerous quadrupeds. It will be with very fair reason then, that we shall confine our description to the palm-tree of foreign countries. There are 170none in Italy that grow spontaneously,782 nor, in fact, in any other part of the world, with the exception of the warm countries: indeed, it is only in the very hottest climates that this tree will bear fruit.


The palm-tree grows in a light and sandy soil, and for the most part of a nitrous quality. It loves the vicinity of flowing water; and as it is its nature to imbibe the whole of the year, there are some who are of opinion that in a year of drought it will receive injury from being manured even, if the manure is not first mixed with running water: this, at least, is the idea entertained by some of the Assyrians.

The varieties of the palm are numerous. First of all, there are those which do not exceed the size of a shrub; they are mostly barren, though sometimes they are known to produce fruit; the branches are short, and the tree is well covered with leaves all round. In many places this tree is used as a kind of rough-cast,783 as it were, to protect the walls of houses against damp. The palms of greater height form whole forests, the trunk of the tree being protected all round by pointed leaves, which are arranged in the form of a comb; these, it must be understood, are wild palms, though sometimes, by some wayward fancy or other, they are known to make their appearance among the cultivated varieties. The other kinds are tall, round, and tapering; and being furnished with dense and projecting knobs or circles in the bark, arranged in regular gradation, they are found easy of ascent by the people in the East; in order to do which, the climber fastens a loop of osier round his body and the trunk, and by this contrivance ascends the tree with astonishing784 rapidity. All the foliage is at the summit, and the fruit as well; this last being situate, not among the leaves, as is the case with other trees, but hanging in clusters from shoots of its own among the branches, and partaking of the nature both of the grape and the apple. The leaves terminate in a sharp edge, like that of a knife, while the sides are deeply indented—a peculiarity 171which first gave the idea of a troop of soldiers presenting face on two sides at once; at the present day they are split asunder785 to form ropes and wythes for fastening, as well as light umbrellas786 for covering the head.

The more diligent787 enquirers into the operations of Nature state that all trees, or rather all plants, and other productions of the earth, belong to either one sex or the other; a fact which it may be sufficient to notice on the present occasion, and one which manifests itself in no tree more than in the palm. The male tree blossoms at the shoots; the female buds without blossoming, the bud being very similar to an ear of corn. In both trees the flesh of the fruit shows first, and after that the woody part inside of it, or, in other words, the seed: and that this is really the case, is proved by the fact, that we often find small fruit on the same shoot without any seed in it at all. This seed is of an oblong shape, and not rounded like the olive-stone. It is also divided down the back by a deep indentation, and in most specimens of this fruit there is exactly in the middle a sort of navel, as it were, from which the root of the tree first takes its growth.788 In planting this seed it is laid on its anterior surface, two being placed side by side, while as many more are placed above; for when planted singly, the tree that springs up is but weak and sickly, whereas the four seeds all unite and form one strong tree. The seed is divided from the flesh of the fruit by several coats of a whitish colour, some of which are attached to the body of it; it lies but loosely in the inside of the fruit, adhering only to the summit by a single thread.789

The flesh of this fruit takes a year to ripen, though in some places, Cyprus790 for instance, even if it should not reach maturity, it is very agreeable, for the sweetness of its flavour: the leaf of the tree too, in that island, is broader than elsewhere, and the fruit rounder than usual: the body of the fruit 172however, is never eaten, but is always spit791 out again, after the juice has been extracted. In Arabia, the palm fruit is said to have a sickly sweet taste, although Juba says that he prefers the date found among the Arabian Scenitæ,792 and to which they give the name of “dablan,” before those of any other country for flavour. In addition to the above particulars, it is asserted that in a forest of natural growth the female793 trees will become barren if they are deprived of the males, and that many female trees may be seen surrounding a single male with downcast heads and a foliage that seems to be bowing caressingly towards it; while the male tree, on the other hand, with leaves all bristling and erect, by its exhalations, and even the very sight of it and the dust794 from off it, fecundates the others: if the male tree, too, should happen to be cut down, the female trees, thus reduced to a state of widowhood, will at once become barren and unproductive. So well, indeed, is this sexual union between them understood, that it has been imagined even that fecundation may be ensured through the agency of man, by means of the blossoms and the down795 gathered from off the male trees, and, indeed, sometimes by only sprinkling the dust from off them on the female trees.


Palm-trees are also propagated by planting;796 the trunk is first divided with certain fissures two cubits in length which communicate with the pith of the tree, and is then buried in the earth. A slip also torn away from the root will produce a sucker with vitality, and the same may be obtained from the more tender among the branches. In Assyria, the tree itself 173is sometimes laid level, and then covered over in a moist soil; upon which it will throw out roots all over, but it will grow only to be a number of shrubs, and never a tree: hence it is that they plant nurseries, and transplant the young trees when a year old, and again when two years old, as they thrive all the better for being transplanted; this is done in the spring season in other countries, but in Assyria about the rising of the Dog-star. In those parts they do not touch the young trees with the knife, but merely tie up the foliage that they may shoot upwards, and so attain considerable height. When they are strong they prune them, in order to increase their thickness, but in so doing leave the branches for about half a foot; indeed, if they were cut off at any other place, the operation would kill the parent tree. We have already797 mentioned that they thrive particularly well in a saltish soil; hence, when the soil is not of that nature, it is the custom to scatter salt, not exactly about the roots, but at a little distance off. There are palm-trees in Syria and in Egypt which divide into two trunks, and some in Crete into three and as many as five even.798 Some of these trees bear immediately at the end of three years, and in Cyprus, Syria, and Egypt, when they are four years old; others again at the end of five years: at which period the tree is about the height of a man. So long as the tree is quite young the fruit has no seed within, from which circumstance it has received the nickname of the “eunuch.”799


There are numerous varieties of the palm-tree. In Assyria, and throughout the whole of Persis, the barren kinds are made use of for carpenters’ work, and the various appliances of luxury. There are whole forests also of palm-trees adapted for cutting,800 and which, after they are cut, shoot again from 174the root; the pith of them towards the top, which is usually called the brain801 of the tree, is sweet to the taste, and the tree will live even after it has been extracted, which is the case with no other kind. The name of this tree is “chamæreps;”802 it has a broader and softer leaf than the others, which is extremely useful for various kinds of wickerwork;803 these trees are very numerous in Crete, and even more so in Sicily. The wood of the palm-tree, when ignited, burns both brightly and slowly.804 In some of those that bear fruit,805 the seed of the fruit is shorter than in others, while in some, again, it is longer; in some it is softer than in others, and in some harder; in some it is osseous and crescent-shaped; polished with a tooth, superstition employs the stone as an antidote against charms and fascination. This stone is enclosed in several coats, more or less in number; sometimes they are of a thick texture, and sometimes very thin.

Hence it is that we find nine and forty different kinds of palm-trees, if any one will be at the trouble of enumerating all their various barbarous names, and the different wines that are extracted from them. The most famous of all, are those which, for the sake of distinction, have received the name of “royal” palms, because they were preserved solely by the kings of Persia; these used to grow nowhere but at Babylon, and there only in the garden of Bagoüs,806 that being the Persian for an eunuch, several of whom have even reigned over that country! This garden was always carefully retained within807 the precincts of the royal court.

In the southern parts of the world, the dates known as175 “syagri,”808 hold the highest rank, and next after them those that are called “margarides.” These last are short, white, and round, and bear a stronger resemblance to grapes than to dates; for which reason it is that they have received their name, in consequence of their close resemblance to “margaritæ,” or pearls. It is said that there is only one tree that bears them, and that in the locality known as Chora.809 The same is the case also with the tree that bears the syagri. We have heard a wonderful story too, relative to this last tree, to the effect that it dies and comes to life again in a similar manner to the phœnix, which, it is generally thought, has borrowed its name from the palm-tree, in consequence of this peculiarity; at the moment that I am writing this, that tree is still bearing fruit. As for the fruit itself, it is large, hard, and of a rough appearance, and differing in taste from all other kinds, having a sort of wild flavour peculiar to itself, and not unlike that of the flesh of the wild boar; it is evidently this circumstance from which it has derived its name of “syagrus.”

In the fourth rank are the dates called “sandalides,” from their resemblance to a sandal in shape. It is stated, that on the confines of Æthiopia there are but five of these trees at the most, no less remarkable for the singular lusciousness of their fruit, than for their extreme rarity. Next to these, the dates known as “caryotæ”810 are the most esteemed, affording not only plenty of nutriment, but a great abundance of juice; it is from these that the principal wines811 are made in the East; these wines are apt to affect the head, a circumstance from which the fruit derives its name. But if these trees are remarkable for their abundance and fruitfulness, it is in Judæa that they enjoy the greatest repute; not, indeed, throughout the whole of that territory, but more particularly at Hiericus,812 although those that grow at Archelais, Phaselis, and Livias, vallies in the same territory, are highly esteemed. The more 176remarkable quality of these is a rich, unctuous juice; they are of a milky consistency, and have a sort of vinous flavour, with a remarkable sweetness, like that of honey. The Nicolaän813 dates are of a similar kind, but somewhat drier; they are of remarkable size, so much so, indeed, that four of them, placed end to end, will make a cubit in length. A less fine kind, but of sister quality to the caryotæ for flavour, are the “adelphides,”814 hence so called; these come next to them in sweetness, but still are by no means their equals. A third kind, again, are the patetæ, which abound in juice to excess, so much so, indeed, that the fruit bursts, in its excess of liquor, even upon the parent tree, and presents all the appearance of having been trodden815 under foot.

There are numerous kinds of dates also, of a drier nature, which are long and slender, and sometimes of a curved shape. Those of this sort which we consecrate to the worship of the gods are called “chydæi”816 by the Jews, a nation remarkable for the contempt which they manifest of the divinities. Those found all over Thebais and Arabia are dry and small, with a shrivelled body: being parched up and scorched by the constant heat, they are covered with what more nearly resembles a shell817 than a skin. In Æthiopia the date is quite brittle even, so great is the driness of the climate; hence the people are able to knead it into a kind of bread, just like so much 177flour.818 It grows upon a shrub, with branches a cubit in length: it has a broad leaf, and the fruit is round, and larger than an apple. The name of this date is “coïx.”819 It comes to maturity in three years, and there is always fruit to be found upon the shrub, in various stages of maturity. The date of Thebais is at once packed in casks, with all its natural heat and freshness; for without this precaution, it quickly becomes vapid; it is of a poor, sickly taste, too, if it is not exposed, before it is eaten, to the heat of an oven.

The other kinds of dates appear to be of an ordinary nature, and are generally known as “tragemata;”820 but in some parts of Phœnicia and Cilicia, they are commonly called “balani,” a name which has been also borrowed by us. There are numerous kinds of them, which differ from one another in being round or oblong; as also in colour, for some of them are black, and others red—indeed it is said that they present no fewer varieties of colour than the fig: the white ones, however, are the most esteemed. They differ also in size, according to the number which it requires to make a cubit in length; some, indeed, are no larger than a bean. Those are the best adapted for keeping which are produced in salt and sandy soils, Judæa, and Cyrenaïca in Africa, for instance: those, however, of Egypt, Cyprus, Syria, and Seleucia in Assyria, will not keep: hence it is that they are much used for fattening swine and other animals. It is a sign that the fruit is either spoilt or old, when the white protuberance disappears, by which it has adhered to the cluster. Some of the soldiers of Alexander’s army were choked by eating green dates;821 and a similar effect is produced in the country of the Gedrosi, by the natural quality of the fruit; while in other places, again, the same results arise from eating them to excess. Indeed, when in a fresh state, they are so remarkably luscious, that there would be no end to 178eating them, were it not for fear of the dangerous consequences that would be sure to ensue.


In addition to the palm, Syria has several trees that are peculiar to itself. Among the nut-trees there is the pistacia,822 well known among us. It is said that, taken either in food or drink, the kernel of this nut is a specific against the bite of serpents. Among figs, too, there are those known as “caricæ,”823 together with some smaller ones of a similar kind, the name of which is “cottana.” There is a plum, too, which grows upon Mount Damascus,824 as also that known as the “myxa;”825 these last two are, however, now naturalized in Italy. In Egypt, too, they make a kind of wine from the myxa.


Phœnicia, too, produces a small cedar, which bears a strong resemblance to the juniper.826 Of this tree there are two varieties; the one found in Lycia, the other in Phœnicia.827 The difference is in the leaf: the one in which it is hard, sharp, and prickly, being known as the oxycedros,828 a branchy tree and rugged with knots. The other kind is more esteemed for its powerful odour. The small cedar produces a fruit the size of a grain of myrrh, and of a sweetish taste. There are two kinds of the larger cedar829 also; the one that blossoms bears 179no fruit, while, on the other hand, the one that bears fruit has no blossom, and the fruit, as it falls, is being continually replaced by fresh. The seed of this tree is similar to that of the cypress. Some persons give this tree the name of “cedrelates.” The resin produced from it is very highly praised, and the wood of it lasts for ever, for which reason it is that they have long been in the habit of using it for making the statues of the gods. In a temple at Rome there is a statue of Apollo Sosianus830 in cedar, originally brought from Seleucia. There is a tree similar to the cedar, found also in Arcadia; and there is a shrub that grows in Phrygia, known as the “cedrus.”

CHAP. 12. (6.)—THE TEREBINTH.831

Syria, too, produces the terebinth, the male tree of which bears no fruit, and the female consists of two different varieties;832 one of these bears a red fruit, the size of a lentil, while the other is pale, and ripens at the same period as the grape. This fruit is not larger than a bean, is of a very agreeable smell, and sticky and resinous to the touch. About Ida in Troas, and in Macedonia, this tree is short and shrubby, but at Damascus, in Syria, it is found of very considerable size. Its wood is remarkably flexible, and continues sound to a very advanced age: it is black and shining. The blossoms appear in clusters, like those of the olive-tree, but are of a red colour; the leaves are dense, and closely packed. It produces follicules, too, from which issue certain insects like gnats, as also a kind of resinous liquid833 which oozes from the bark.


The male sumach-tree834 of Syria is productive, but the female is barren. The leaf resembles that of the elm, though it is a little longer, and has a downy surface. The footstalks of the leaves lie always alternately in opposite directions, and 180the branches are short and slender. This tree is used in the preparation of white skins.835 The seed, which strongly resembles a lentil in appearance, turns red with the grape; it is known by the name of “ros,” and forms a necessary ingredient in various medicaments.836


Egypt, too, has many trees which are not to be found elsewhere, and the kind of fig more particularly, which for this reason has been called the Egyptian fig.837 In leaf this tree resembles the mulberry-tree, as also in size and general appearance. It bears fruit, not upon branches, but upon the trunk itself: the fig is remarkable for its extreme sweetness, and has no seeds838 in it. This tree is also remarkable for its fruitfulness, which, however, can only be ensured by making incisions839 in the fruit with hooks of iron, for otherwise it will not come to maturity. But when this has been done, it may be gathered within four days, immediately upon which another shoots up in its place. Hence it is that in the year it produces seven abundant crops, and throughout all the summer there is an abundance of milky juice in the fruit. Even if the incisions are not made, the fruit will shoot afresh four times during the summer, the new fruit supplanting the old, and forcing it off before it has ripened. The wood, which is of a very peculiar nature, is reckoned among the most useful known. When cut down it is immediately plunged into standing water, such being the means employed for drying840 it. At first it sinks to the bottom, after which it begins to float, and in a certain length of time the additional moisture sucks it dry, which has the effect of penetrating and soaking all841 181other kinds of wood. It is a sign that it is fit for use842 when it begins to float.


The fig-tree that grows in Crete, and is known there as the Cyprian fig,843 bears some resemblance to the preceding one; for it bears fruit upon the trunk of the tree, and upon the branches as well, when they have attained a certain degree of thickness. This tree, however, sends forth buds without any leaves,844 but similar in appearance to a root. The trunk of the tree is similar to that of the poplar, and the leaves to those of the elm. It produces four crops in the year, and germinates the same number of times, but its green845 fruit will not ripen unless an incision is made in it to let out the milky juice. The sweetness of the fruit and the appearance of the inside are in all respects similar to those of the fig, and in size it is about as large as a sorb-apple.


Similar to this is the carob-tree, by the Ionians known as the “ceraunia,”846 which in a similar manner bears fruit from the trunk, this fruit being known by the name of “siliqua,” or “pod.” For this reason, committing a manifest error, some persons847 have called it the Egyptian fig; it being the fact that this tree does not grow in Egypt, but in Syria and Ionia, in the vicinity, too, of Cnidos, and in the island of Rhodes. It is always covered with leaves, and bears a white flower with a very powerful odour. It sends forth shoots at 182the lower part, and is consequently quite yellow on the surface, as the young suckers deprive the trunk of the requisite moisture. When the fruit of the preceding year is gathered, about the rising of the Dog-star, fresh fruit immediately makes its appearance; after which the tree blossoms while the constellation of Arcturus848 is above the horizon, and the winter imparts nourishment to the fruit.


Egypt, too, produces another tree of a peculiar description, the Persian849 tree, similar in appearance to the pear-tree, but retaining its leaves during the winter. This tree produces without intermission, for if the fruit is pulled to-day, fresh fruit will make its appearance to-morrow: the time for ripening is while the Etesian850 winds prevail. The fruit of this tree is more oblong than a pear, but is enclosed in a shell and a rind of a grassy colour, like the almond; but what is found within, instead of being a nut as in the almond, is a plum, differing from the almond851 in being shorter and quite soft. This fruit, although particularly inviting for its luscious sweetness, is productive of no injurious effects. The wood, for its goodness, solidity, and blackness, is in no respect inferior to that of the lotus: people have been in the habit of making statues of it. The wood of the tree which we have mentioned as the “balanus,”852 although very durable, is not so highly esteemed as this, as it is knotted and twisted in the greater part: hence it is only employed for the purposes of ship-building.



On the other hand, the wood of the cucus853 is held in very high esteem. It is similar in nature to the palm, as its leaves are similarly used for the purposes of texture: it differs from it, however, in spreading out its arms in large branches. The fruit, which is of a size large enough to fill the hand, is of a tawny colour, and recommends itself by its juice, which is a mixture of sweet and rough. The seed in the inside is large and of remarkable hardness, and turners use it for making curtain rings.854 The kernel is sweet, while fresh; but when dried it becomes hard to a most remarkable degree, so much so, that it can only be eaten after being soaked in water for several days. The wood is beautifully mottled with circling veins,855 for which reason it is particularly esteemed among the Persians.


No less esteemed, too, in the same country, is a certain kind of thorn,856 though only the black variety, its wood being imperishable, in water even, a quality which renders it particularly valuable for making the sides of ships: on the other hand, the white kinds will rot very rapidly. It has sharp, prickly thorns on the leaves even, and bears its seeds in pods; they are employed for the same purposes as galls in the preparation of leather. The flower, too, has a pretty effect when made into garlands, and is extremely useful in medicinal preparations. A gum, also, distils from this tree; but the principal merit that it possesses is, that when it is cut down, it will grow again within three years. It grows in the vicinity of Thebes, where we also find the quercus, the Persian tree, and the olive: the spot that produces it is a piece of woodland, distant three 184hundred stadia from the Nile, and watered by springs of its own.

(10.) Here we find, too, the Egyptian857 plum-tree, not much unlike the thorn last mentioned, with a fruit similar to the medlar, and which ripens in the winter. This tree never loses its leaves. The seed in the fruit is of considerable size, but the flesh of it, by reason of its quality, and the great abundance in which it grows, affords quite a harvest to the inhabitants of those parts; after cleaning it, they subject it to pressure, and then make it up into cakes for keeping. There was formerly858 a woodland district in the vicinity of Memphis, with trees of such enormous size, that three men could not span one with their arms: one of these trees is remarkable, not for its fruit, or any particular use that it is, but for the singular phænomenon that it presents. In appearance it strongly resembles a thorn,859 and it has leaves which have all the appearance of wings, and which fall immediately the branch is touched by any one, and then immediately shoot again.


It is universally agreed, that the best gum is that produced from the Egyptian thorn;860 it is of variegated appearance, of azure colour, clean, free from all admixture of bark, and adheres to the teeth; the price at which it sells is three denarii per pound. That produced from the bitter almond-tree 185and the cherry861 is of an inferior kind, and that which is gathered from the plum-tree is the worst of all. The vine, too, produces a gum,862 which is of the greatest utility in healing the sores of children; while that which is sometimes found on the olive-tree863 is used for the tooth-ache. Gum is also found on the elm864 upon Mount Corycus in Cilicia, and upon the juniper,865 but it is good for nothing; indeed, the gum of the elm found there is apt to breed gnats. From the sarcocolla866 also—such is the name of a certain tree—a gum exudes that is remarkably useful to painters867 and medical men; it is similar to incense dust in appearance, and for those purposes the white kind is preferable to the red. The price of it is the same as that mentioned above.868


We have not as yet taken any notice of the marsh plants, nor yet of the shrubs that grow upon the banks of rivers: before quitting Egypt, however, we must make some mention of the nature of the papyrus, seeing that all the usages of civilized life depend in such a remarkable degree upon the employment of paper—at all events, the remembrance of past events. M. Varro informs us that paper owes its discovery to 186the victorious869 career of Alexander the Great, at the time when Alexandria in Egypt was founded by him; before which period paper had not been used, the leaves of the palm having been employed for writing at an early period, and after that the bark of certain trees. In succeeding ages, public documents were inscribed on sheets of lead, while private memoranda were impressed upon linen cloths, or else engraved on tablets of wax; indeed, we find it stated in Homer,870 that tablets were employed for this purpose even before the time of the Trojan war. It is generally supposed, too, that the country which that poet speaks of as Egypt, was not the same that is at present understood by that name, for the Sebennytic and the Saitic871 Nomes, in which all the papyrus is produced, have been added since his time by the alluvion of the Nile; indeed, he himself has stated872 that the main-land was a day and a night’s sail from the island of Pharos873, which island at the present day is united by a bridge to the city of Alexandria. In later times, a rivalry having sprung up between King Ptolemy and King Eumenes,874 in reference to their respective libraries, Ptolemy prohibited the export of papyrus; upon which, as Varro relates, parchment was invented for a similar purpose at Pergamus. After this, the use of that commodity, by which immortality is ensured to man, became universally known.


Papyrus grows either in the marshes of Egypt, or in the sluggish waters of the river Nile, when they have overflowed and are lying stagnant, in pools that do not exceed a couple of cubits in depth. The root lies obliquely,875 and is about the 187thickness of one’s arm; the section of the stalk is triangular, and it tapers gracefully upwards towards the extremity, being not more than ten cubits at most in height. Very much like a thyrsus876 in shape, it has a head on the top, which has no seed877 in it, and, indeed, is of no use whatever, except as a flower employed to crown the statues of the gods. The natives use the roots by way of wood, not only for firing, but for various other domestic purposes as well. From the papyrus itself they construct boats878 also, and of the outer coat they make sails and mats, as well as cloths, besides coverlets and ropes; they chew it also, both raw and boiled, though they swallow the juice only.

The papyrus grows in Syria also, on the borders of the same lake around which grows the sweet-scented calamus;879 and King Antiochus used to employ the productions of that country solely as cordage for naval purposes; for the use of spartum880 had not then become commonly known. More recently it has been understood that a papyrus grows in the river Euphrates, in the vicinity of Babylon, from which a similar kind of paper may easily be produced: still, however, up to the present time the Parthians have preferred to impress881 their characters upon cloths.


Paper is made from the papyrus, by splitting it with a 188needle into very thin leaves, due care being taken that they should be as broad as possible. That of the first quality is taken from the centre of the plant, and so in regular succession, according to the order of division. “Hieratica”882 was the name that was anciently given to it, from the circumstance that it was entirely reserved for the religious books. In later times, through a spirit of adulation, it received the name of “Augusta,” just as that of second quality was called “Liviana,” from his wife, Livia; the consequence of which was, that the name “hieratica” came to designate that of only third-rate quality. The paper of the next quality was called “amphitheatrica,” from the locality883 of its manufacture. The skilful manufactory that was established by Fannius884 at Rome, was in the habit of receiving this last kind, and there, by a very careful process of insertion, it was rendered much finer; so much so, that from being a common sort, he made it a paper of first-rate quality, and gave his own885 name to it: while that which was not subjected to this additional process retained its original name of “amphitheatrica.” Next to this is the Saitic paper, so called from the city of that name,886 where it is manufactured in very large quantities, though of cuttings of inferior887 quality. The Tæniotic paper, so called from a place in the vicinity,888 is manufactured from the materials that lie nearer to the outside skin; it is sold, not according to its quality, but by weight only. As to the paper that is known 189as “emporetica,”889 it is quite useless for writing upon, and is only employed for wrapping up other paper, and as a covering for various articles of merchandize, whence its name, as being used by dealers. After this comes the bark of the papyrus, the outer skin of which bears a strong resemblance to the bulrush, and is solely used for making ropes, and then only for those which have to go into the water.890

All these various kinds of paper are made upon a table, moistened with Nile water; a liquid which, when in a muddy state, has the peculiar qualities of glue.891 This table being first inclined,892 the leaves of papyrus are laid upon it lengthwise, as long, indeed, as the papyrus will admit of, the jagged edges being cut off at either end; after which a cross layer is placed over it, the same way, in fact, that hurdles are made. When this is done, the leaves are pressed close together, and then dried in the sun; after which they are united to one another, the best sheets being always taken first, and the inferior ones added afterwards. There are never more than twenty of these sheets to a roll.893


There is a great difference in the breadth of the various kinds of paper. That of best quality894 is thirteen fingers wide, while the hieratica is two fingers less. The Fanniana is ten fingers wide, and that known as “amphitheatrica,” one less. The Saitic is of still smaller breadth, indeed it is not so wide as the mallet with which the paper is beaten; and the emporetica is particularly narrow, being not more than six fingers in breadth.

In addition to the above particulars, paper is esteemed according to its fineness, its stoutness, its whiteness, and its smoothness. Claudius Cæsar effected a change in that which 190till then had been looked upon as being of the first quality: for the Augustan paper had been found to be so remarkably fine, as to offer no resistance to the pressure of the pen; in addition to which, as it allowed the writing upon it to run through, it was continually causing apprehensions of its being blotted and blurred by the writing on the other side; the remarkable transparency, too, of the paper was very unsightly to the eye. To obviate these inconveniences, a groundwork of paper was made with leaves of the second quality, over which was laid a woof, as it were, formed of leaves of the first. He increased the width also of paper; the width [of the common sort] being made a foot, and that of the size known as “macrocollum,”895 a cubit; though one inconvenience was soon detected in it, for, upon a single leaf896 being torn in the press, more pages were apt to be spoilt than before.897 In consequence of the advantages above-mentioned, the Claudian has come to be preferred to all other kinds of paper, though the Augustan is still used for the purposes of epistolary correspondence. The Livian, which had nothing in common with that of first quality, but was entirely of a secondary rank, still holds its former place.


The roughness and inequalities in paper are smoothed down with a tooth898 or shell; but the writing in such places is very apt to fade. When it is thus polished the paper does not take the ink so readily, but is of a more lustrous and shining surface. The water of the Nile that has been originally employed in its manufacture, being sometimes used without due precaution, will unfit the paper for taking writing: this fault, however, may be detected by a blow with the mallet, or even by the smell,899 when the carelessness has been extreme. These 191spots, too, may be detected by the eye; but the streaks that run down the middle of the leaves where they have been pasted together, though they render the paper spongy and of a soaking nature, can hardly ever be detected before the ink runs, while the pen is forming the letters; so many are the openings for fraud to be put in practice. The consequence is, that another labour has been added to the due preparation of paper.


The common paper paste is made of the finest flour of wheat mixed with boiling water, and some small drops of vinegar sprinkled in it: for the ordinary workman’s paste, or gum, if employed for this purpose, will render the paper brittle. Those, however, who take the greatest pains, boil the crumb of leavened bread, and then strain off the water: by the adoption of this method the paper has the fewest seams caused by the paste that lies between, and is softer than the nap of linen even. All kinds of paste that are used for this purpose, ought not to be older or newer than one day. The paper is then thinned out with a mallet, after which a new layer of paste is placed upon it; then the creases which have formed are again pressed out, and it then undergoes the same process with the mallet as before. It is thus that we have memorials preserved in the ancient handwriting of Tiberius and Caius Gracchus, which I have seen in the possession of Pomponius Secundus,900 the poet, a very illustrious citizen, almost two hundred years since those characters were penned. As for the handwriting of Cicero, Augustus, and Virgil, we frequently see them at the present day.


There are some facts of considerable importance which make against the opinion expressed by M. Varro, relative to the invention of paper. Cassius Hemina, a writer of very great antiquity, has stated in the Fourth Book of his Annals, that Cneius Terentius, the scribe, while engaged in digging on his192 land in the Janiculum, came to a coffer, in which Numa had been buried, the former king of Rome, and that in this coffer were also found some books901 of his. This took place in the consulship of Publius Cornelius Cethegus, the son of Lucius, and of M. Bæbius Tamphilus, the son of Quintus, the interval between whose consulship and the reign of Numa was five hundred and thirty-five years. These books were made of paper, and, a thing that is more remarkable still, is the fact that they lasted so many years buried in the ground. In order, therefore, to establish a fact of such singular importance, I shall here quote the words of Hemina himself—“Some persons expressed wonder how these books could have possibly lasted so long a time—this was the explanation that Terentius gave: ‘In nearly the middle of the coffer there lay a square stone, bound on every side with cords enveloped in wax;902 upon this stone the books had been placed, and it was through this precaution, he thought, that they had not rotted. The books, too, were carefully covered with citrus leaves,903 and it was through this, in his belief, that they had been protected from the attacks of worms.’ In these books were written certain doctrines relative to the Pythagorean philosophy; they were burnt by Q. Petilius, the prætor, because they treated of philosophical subjects.”904

Piso, who had formerly been censor, relates the same facts in the First Book of his Commentaries, but he states in addition, that there were seven books on Pontifical Rights, and seven on the Pythagorean philosophy.905 Tuditanus, in his Fourteenth Book, says that they contained the decrees of Numa: Varro, in the Seventh Book of his “Antiquities of Mankind,”906 states that they were twelve in number; and Antias, in his Second Book, says that there were twelve written in Latin, on pontifical 193matters, and as many in Greek, containing philosophical precepts. The same author states also in his Third Book why it was thought proper to burn them.

It is a fact acknowledged by all writers, that the Sibyl907 brought three books to Tarquinius Superbus, of which two were burnt by herself, while the third perished by fire with the Capitol908 in the days of Sylla. In addition to these facts, Mucianus, who was three times consul, has stated that he had recently read, while governor of Lycia, a letter written upon paper, and preserved in a certain temple there, which had been written from Troy, by Sarpedon; a thing that surprises me the more, if it really was the fact that even in the time of Homer the country that we call Egypt was not in existence.909 And why too, if paper was then in use, was it the custom, as it is very well known it was, to write upon leaden tablets and linen cloths? Why, too, has Homer910 stated that in Lycia tablets911 were given to Bellerophon to carry, and not a paper letter?

Papyrus, for making paper, is apt to fail occasionally; such a thing happened in the time of the Emperor Tiberius, when there was so great a scarcity912 of paper that members of the senate were appointed to regulate the distribution of it: had not this been done, all the ordinary relations of life would have been completely disarranged.


Æthiopia, which borders upon Egypt, has in general no remarkable trees, with the exception of the wool-bearing913 ones, of which we have had occasion to speak914 in our description of the trees of India and Arabia. However, the produce 194of the tree of Æthiopia bears a much stronger resemblance to wool, and the follicule is much larger, being very similar in appearance to a pomegranate; as for the trees, they are otherwise similar in every respect. Besides this tree, there are some palms, of which we have spoken already.915 In describing the islands along the coast of Æthiopia, we have already made mention916 of their trees and their odoriferous forests.


Mount Atlas is said to possess a forest of trees of a peculiar character,917 of which we have already spoken.918 In the vicinity of this mountain is Mauretania, a country which abounds in the citrus,919 a tree which gave rise to the mania920 for fine tables, an extravagance with which the women reproach the men, when they complain of their vast outlay upon pearls. There is preserved to the present day a table which belonged to M. Cicero,921 and for which, notwithstanding his comparatively moderate means, and what is even more surprising still, at that day too, he gave no less than one922 million sesterces: we find mention made also of one belonging to Gallus Asinius, which cost one million one hundred thousand sesterces. Two tables were also sold by auction which had belonged to King Juba; the price fetched by one was one million two hundred thousand sesterces, and that of the other something less. There has been lately destroyed by fire, a table which came down from the family of the Cethegi, and which had been sold for the sum of one million four hundred thousand sesterces, the price of a considerable domain, if any one, indeed, could be found who would give so large a sum for an estate.


The largest table that has ever yet been known was one that belonged to Ptolemæus, king of Mauretania; it was made of two semicircumferences joined together down the middle, being four feet and a half in diameter, and a quarter of a foot in thickness: the most wonderful fact, however, connected with it, was the surprising skill with which the joining had been concealed,923 and which rendered it more valuable than if it had been by nature a single piece of wood. The largest table that is made of a single piece of wood, is the one that takes its name924 from Nomius, a freedman of Tiberius Cæsar. The diameter of it is four feet, short by three quarters of an inch, and it is half a foot in thickness, less the same fraction. While speaking upon this subject, I ought not to omit to mention that the Emperor Tiberius had a table that exceeded four feet in diameter by two inches and a quarter, and was an inch and a half in thickness: this, however, was only covered with a veneer of citrus-wood, while that which belonged to his freedman Nomius was so costly, the whole material of which it was composed being knotted925 wood.

These knots are properly a disease or excrescence of the root, and those used for this purpose are more particularly esteemed which have lain entirely concealed under ground; they are much more rare than those that grow above ground, and that are to be found on the branches also. Thus, to speak correctly, that which we buy at so vast a price is in reality a defect in the tree: of the size and root of it a notion may be easily formed from the circular sections of its trunk. The tree resembles the wild female cypress926 in its foliage, smell, and the appearance of the trunk. A spot called Mount Ancorarius, in Nearer Mauretania, used formerly to furnish the most esteemed citrus-wood, but at the present day the supply is quite exhausted.


The principal merit of these tables is to have veins927 arranged 196in waving lines, or else forming spirals like so many little whirlpools. In the former arrangement the lines run in an oblong direction, for which reason these are called “tiger”928 tables; while in the latter the marks are circling and spiral, and hence they are styled “panther”929 tables. There are some tables also with wavy, undulating marks, and which are more particularly esteemed if these resemble the eyes on a peacock’s tail. Next in esteem to these last, as well as those previously mentioned, is the veined wood,930 covered, as it were, with dense masses of grain, for which reason these tables have received the name of “apiatæ.”931 But the colour of the wood is the quality that is held in the highest esteem of all: that of wine mixed with honey932 being the most prized, the veins being peculiarly refulgent. Next to the colour, it is the size that is prized; at the present day whole trunks are greatly admired, and sometimes several are united in a single table.

The peculiar defects in these kinds of tables are woodiness,933 such being the name given to the table when the wood is dull, common-looking, indistinct, or else has mere simple marks upon it, resembling the leaves of the plane-tree; also, when it resembles the veins of the holm-oak or the colour of that tree; and, a fault to which it is peculiarly liable from the effect of heat or wind, when it has flaws in it or hair-like lines resembling flaws; when it has a black mark, too, running through it resembling a murena in appearance, various streaks that look like crow scratches, or knots like poppy heads, with a colour all over nearly approaching to black, or blotches of a sickly hue. The barbarous tribes bury this wood in the ground while green, first giving it a coating of wax. When it comes into the workmen’s hands, they put it for seven days beneath a heap of corn, and then take it out for as many 197more: it is quite surprising how greatly it loses in weight by this process. Shipwrecks have recently taught us also that this wood is dried by the action of sea-water, and that it thereby acquires a hardness934 and a degree of density which render it proof against corruption: no other method is equally sure to produce these results. These tables are kept best, and shine with the greatest lustre, when rubbed with the dry hand, more particularly just after bathing. As if this wood had been created for the behoof of wine, it receives no injury from it.

(16.) As this tree is one among the elements of more civilized life, I think that it is as well on the present occasion to dwell a little further upon it. It was known to Homer even, and in the Greek it is known by the name of “thyon,”935 or sometimes “thya.” He says that the wood of this tree was among the unguents that were burnt for their pleasant odour by Circe,936 whom he would represent as being a goddess; a circumstance which shows the great mistake committed by those who suppose that perfumes are meant under that name,937 seeing that in the very same line he says that cedar and larch were burnt along with this wood, a thing that clearly proves that it is only of different trees that he is speaking. Theophrastus, an author who wrote in the age succeeding that of Alexander the Great, and about the year of the City of Rome 440, has awarded a very high rank to this tree, stating that it is related that the raftering of the ancient temples used to be made of this wood, and that the timber, when employed in roofs, will last for ever, so to say, being proof against all decay,—quite incorruptible, in fact. He also says that there is nothing more full of wavy veins938 than the root of this tree, and that there is no workmanship in existence more precious than that made of this material. The finest kind of citrus grows, he says, in the vicinity of the Temple of Jupiter Hammon; he states also that it is produced in the lower part of Cyrenaica. He has made no mention, however, of the tables that are made of it; indeed, we have no more ancient accounts of 198them than those of the time of Cicero, from which it would appear that they are a comparatively recent invention.


There is another tree also which has the same name of “citrus,”939 and bears a fruit that is held by some persons in particular dislike for its smell and remarkable bitterness; while, on the other hand, there are some who esteem it very highly. This tree is used as an ornament to houses; it requires, however, no further description.

CHAP. 32. (17.)—THE LOTUS.

Africa, too, at least that part of it which looks towards our shores, produces a remarkable tree, the lotus,940 by some known as the “celtis,” which has also been naturalized in Italy,941 though it has been somewhat modified by the change of soil. The finest quality of lotus is that found in the vicinity of the Syrtes and among the Nasamones. It is the same size as the pear-tree, although Cornelius Nepos states to the effect that it is but short. The leaves have numerous incisions, just as with those of the holm-oak. There are many varieties of the lotus, which are characterized more particularly by the difference in their respective fruits. The fruit is of about the size of a bean, and its colour is that of saffron, though before it is ripe it is continually changing its tints, like the grape. It has branches thickly set with leaves, like the myrtle, and not, as with us in Italy, like the cherry. In the country to which this tree is indigenous, the fruit of it is so remarkably sweet and luscious, that it has even given its name to a whole territory, and to a nation942 who, by their singular hospitality, have even seduced strangers who have come among them, to lose all remembrance of their native country. It is said also, that those who eat this fruit are subject to no maladies of the stomach. The fruit which has no stone in the inside is the best: this stone in the other kind seems to be of an osseous nature. A wine is also extracted from this fruit very similar 199to honied wine; according to Nepos, however, it will not last above ten days; he states also that the berries are chopped up with alica,943 and then put away in casks for the table. Indeed, we read that armies have been fed upon this food when marching to and fro through the territory of Africa. The wood is of a black colour, and is held in high esteem for making flutes; from the root also they manufacture handles for knives, and various other small articles.

Such is the nature of the tree that is so called in Africa; the same name being also given to a certain944 herb, and to a stalk945 that grows in Egypt belonging to the marsh plants. This last plant springs up when the waters of the Nile have retired after its overflow: its stalk is similar to that of the bean, and its leaves are numerous and grow in thick clusters, but are shorter and more slender than those of the bean. The fruit grows on the head of the plant, and is similar in appearance to a poppy in its indentations946 and all its other characteristics; within there are small grains, similar to those of millet.947 The inhabitants lay these heads in large heaps, and there let them rot, after which they separate the grain from the residue by washing, and then dry it; when this is done they pound it, and then use it as flour for making a kind of bread. What is stated in addition to these particulars, is a very singular948 fact; it is said that when the sun sets, these poppy-heads shut and cover themselves in the leaves, and at sun-rise they open again; an alternation which continues until the fruit is perfectly ripe, and the flower, which is white, falls off.

(18.) Even more than this, of the lotus of the Euphrates,949 it is said that the head and flower of the plant, at nightfall, sink into the water, and there remain till midnight, so deep in the water, that on thrusting in one’s arm, the head cannot be reached: after midnight it commences to return upwards, and gradually becomes more and more erect till sunrise, when it 200emerges entirely from the water and opens its flower; after which it still continues to rise, until at last it is to be seen raised quite aloft, high above the level of the water. This lotus has a root about the size of a quince, enveloped in a black skin, similar to that with which the chesnut is covered. The substance that lies within this skin is white, and forms very pleasant food, but is better cooked, either in water or upon hot ashes, then in a raw state. Swine fatten upon nothing better than the peelings of this root.


The region of Cyrenaica places before the lotus its paliurus,950 which is more like a shrub in character, and bears a fruit of a redder colour. This fruit contains a nut, the kernel of which is eaten by itself, and is of a very agreeable flavour. The taste of it is improved by wine, and, in fact, the juices are thought to be an improvement to wine. The interior of Africa, as far as the Garamantes and the deserts, is covered with palms, remarkable for their extraordinary size and the lusciousness of their fruit. The most celebrated are those in the vicinity of the Temple of Jupiter Hammon.


But the vicinity of Carthage is claimed more particularly as its own by the fruit the name of which is the “Punic apple;”951 though by some it is called “granatum.”952 This fruit has been distinguished into a variety of kinds; the name of “apyrenum”953 being given to the one which has no954 woody seeds inside, but is naturally whiter than the others, the pips being of a more agreeable flavour, and the membranes by which they are separated not so bitter. Their conformation in 201other respects, which is very similar to the partitions of the cells in the honeycomb, is much the same in all. Of those that have a kernel there are five kinds, the sweet, the acrid, the mixed, the acid, and the vinous: those of Samos and Egypt are distinguished into those with red, and those with white foliage.955 The skin, while the fruit is yet sour, is held in high esteem for tanning leather. The flower of this tree is known by the name of “balaustium,” and is very useful for medicinal purposes;956 also for dyeing cloths a colour which from it has derived its name.957


In Asia and Greece are produced the following shrubs, the epipactis,958 by some known as “elleborine,” the leaves of which are of small size, and when taken in drink, are an antidote against poison; just in the same way that those of the erica959 are a specific against the sting of the serpent.

(21.) Here is also found another shrub, upon which grows the grain of Cnidos,960 by some known as “linum;” the name of the shrub itself being thymelæa,961 while others, again, call it “chamelæa”,962 others pyrosachne, others cnestron, and others cneorum; it bears a strong resemblance to the wild olive, but has a narrow leaf, which has a gummy taste in the mouth. The shrub is of about the size of the myrtle; its seed is of the same colour and appearance, but is solely used for medicinal purposes.


The island of Crete is the only place that produces the 202shrub called “tragion.”963 It is similar in appearance to the terebinth;964 a similarity which extends to the seed even, said to be remarkably efficacious for healing wounds made by arrows. The same island produces tragacanthe965 also, with a root which resembles that of the white thorn; it is very much preferred966 to that which is grown in Media or in Achaia; the price at which it sells is three denarii per pound.


Asia, too, produces the tragos967 or scorpio, a thorny shrub, destitute of leaves, with red clusters upon it that are employed in medicine. Italy produces the myrica, which some persons call the “tamarix;”968 and Achaia, the wild brya,969 remarkable for the circumstance that it is only the cultivated kind that bears a fruit, not unlike the gall-nut. In Syria and Egypt this plant is very abundant. It is to the trees of this last country that we give the name of “unhappy;”970 but yet those of Greece are more unhappy still, for that country produces the tree known as “ostrys,” or, as it is sometimes called, “ostrya,”971 a solitary tree that grows about rocks washed by the water, and very similar in the bark and branches to the ash. It resembles 203the pear-tree in its leaves, which, however, are a little longer and thicker, with wrinkled indentations running down the whole length of the leaf. The seed of this tree resembles barley in form and colour. The wood is hard and solid; it is said, that if it is introduced into a house, it is productive of painful deliveries and of shocking deaths.


There is no tree productive of a more auspicious presage than one which grows in the Isle of Lesbos, and is known by the name of euonymos.972 It bears some resemblance to the pomegranate tree, the leaf being in size between the leaf of that and the leaf of the laurel, while in shape and softness it resembles that of the pomegranate tree: it has a white blossom,973 by which it immediately gives us notice of its dangerous properties.974 It bears a pod975 very similar to that of sesame, within which there is a grain of quadrangular shape, of coarse make and poisonous to animals. The leaf, too, has the same noxious effects; sometimes, however, a speedy alvine discharge is found to give relief on such occasions.


Alexander Cornelius has called a tree by the name of “eon,”976 with the wood of which, he says, the ship Argo was built. This tree has on it a mistletoe similar to that of the oak, which is proof against all injury from either fire or water, 204in the same manner, in fact, as that of no other tree known. This tree, however, appears to have been known to no other author, that I am aware of.


Nearly all the Greek writers interpret the name of the tree called “andrachle,” as meaning the same as “purslain:”978 whereas purslain is, in reality, a herb, and, with the difference of a single letter, is called “andrachne.” The andrachle is a wild tree, which never grows in the plain country, and is similar to the arbute tree in appearance, only that its leaves are smaller, and never fall off. The bark, too, is not rough, but might be taken to be frozen all over, so truly wretched is its appearance.


Similar, too, in leaf to the preceding tree, is the coccygia,979 though not so large; it has this peculiarity, that it loses its fruit while still in the downy980 state—they then call it “pappus”—a thing that happens to no other tree. The apharce981 is another tree that is similar to the andrachle, and like it, bears twice in the year: just as the grape is beginning to flower the first fruit is ripening, while the second fruit ripens at the commencement of winter; of what nature this fruit is we do not find stated.


We ought to place the ferula982 also in the number of the exotics, and as making one of the trees. For, in fact, we distinguish the trees into several different kinds: it is the nature of some to have wood entirely in place of bark, or, in other 205words, on the outside; while, in the interior, in place of wood, there is a fungous kind of pith, like that of the elder; others, again, are hollow within, like the reed. The ferula grows in hot countries and in places beyond sea, the stalk being divided into knotted joints. There are two kinds of it; that which grows upwards to a great height the Greeks call by the name of “narthex,”983 while the other, which never rises far from the ground, is known as the “narthecya.”984 From the joints very large leaves shoot forth, the largest lying nearest to the ground: in other respects it has the same nature as the anise, which it resembles also in its fruit. The wood of no shrub is lighter than this; hence it is very easily carried, and the stalks of it make good walking-sticks985 for the aged.


The seed of the ferula has been by some persons called “thapsia;”986 deceived, no doubt, by what is really the fact, that the thapsia is a ferula, but of a peculiar kind, with leaves like those of fennel, and a hollow stalk not exceeding a walking-stick in length; the seed is like that of the ferula, and the root of the plant is white. When an incision is made in the thapsia, a milky juice oozes from it, and, when pounded, it produces a kind of juice; the bark even is never thrown987 away. All these parts of the shrub are poisonous, and, indeed, it is productive of injurious effects to those engaged in digging it up; for if the slightest wind should happen to be blowing towards them from the shrub, the body begins to swell, and erysipelas attacks the face: it is for this reason that, before beginning work, they anoint the face all over with a solution of wax. Still, however, the medical men say that, mixed with other ingredients, it is of considerable use in the 206treatment of some diseases. It is employed also for the cure of scald-head, and for the removal of black and blue spots upon the skin, as if, indeed, we were really at a loss for remedies in such cases, without having recourse to things of so deadly a nature. These plants, however, act their part in serving as a pretext for the introduction of noxious agents; and so great is the effrontery now displayed, that people would absolutely persuade one that poisons are a requisite adjunct to the practice of the medical art.

The thapsia of Africa988 is the most powerful of all. Some persons make an incision in the stalk at harvest-time, and bore holes in the root, too, to let the juice flow; after it has become quite dry, they take it away. Others, again, pound the leaves, stalk, and root in a mortar, and after drying the juice in the sun, divide it into lozenges.989 Nero Cæsar, at the beginning of his reign, conferred considerable celebrity on this plant. In his nocturnal skirmishes990 it so happened that he received several contusions on the face, upon which he anointed it with a mixture composed of thapsia, frankincense, and wax, and so contrived the next day effectually to give the lie to all rumours, by appearing with a whole skin.991 It is a well-known fact, that fire992 is kept alight remarkably well in the hollow stalk of the ferula, and that for this purpose those of Egypt are the best.


In Egypt, too, the capparis993 is found, a shrub with a wood 207of much greater solidity. The seed of it is a well-known article of food,994 and is mostly gathered together with the stalk. It is as well, however, to be on our guard against the foreign kinds;995 for that of Arabia has certain deleterious properties, that from Africa is injurious to the gums, and that from Marmarica is prejudicial to the womb and causes flatulence in all the organs. That of Apulia, too, is productive of vomiting, and causes derangement in the stomach and intestines. Some persons call this shrub “cynosbaton,”996 others, again, “ophiostaphyle.”997


The saripha,998 too, that grows on the banks of the Nile, is one of the shrub genus. It is generally about two cubits in height, and of the thickness of one’s thumb: it has the foliage of the papyrus, and is eaten in a similar manner. The root, in consequence of its extreme hardness, is used as a substitute for charcoal in forging iron.


We must take care, also, not to omit a peculiar shrub that is planted at Babylon, and only upon a thorny plant there, as it will not live anywhere else, just in the same manner as the mistletoe will live nowhere but upon trees. This shrub, however, will only grow upon a kind of thorn, which is known as the royal thorn.999 It is a wonderful fact, but it germinates the very same day that it has been planted. This is done 208at the rising of the Dog-star, after which it speedily takes possession of the whole tree. They use it in the preparation of wine, and it is for this purpose that it is planted. This thorn grows at Athens also, upon the Long Walls there.1000


The cytisus1001 is also a shrub, which, as a food for sheep, has been extolled with wonderful encomiums by Aristomachus the Athenian, and, in a dry state, for swine as well: the same author, too, pledges his word that a jugerum of very middling land, planted with the cytisus, will produce an income of two thousand sesterces per annum. It is quite as useful as the ervum,1002 but is apt to satiate more speedily: very little of it is necessary to fatten cattle; to such a degree, indeed, that beasts of burden, when fed upon it, will very soon take a dislike to barley. There is no fodder known, in fact, that is productive of a greater abundance of milk, and of better quality; in the medical treatment of cattle in particular, this shrub is found a most excellent specific for every kind of malady. Even more than this, the same author recommends it, when first dried and then boiled in water, to be given to nursing women, mixed with wine, in cases where the milk has failed them: and he says that, if this is done, the infant will be all the stronger and taller for it. In a green state, or, if dried, steeped in water, he recommends it for fowls. Both Democritus and Aristomachus promise us also that bees will never fail us so long as they can obtain the cytisus for food. There is no crop that we know of, of a similar nature, that costs a smaller price. It is sown at the same time as barley, or, at all events, in the spring, in seed like the leek, or else planted in the autumn, and before the winter solstice, in the stalk. When sown in grain, it ought to be steeped in water, and if 209there should happen to be no rain, it ought to be watered when sown: when the plants are about a cubit in height, they are replanted in trenches a foot in depth. It is transplanted at the equinoxes, while the shrub is yet tender, and in three years it will arrive at maturity. It is cut at the vernal equinox, when the flower is just going off; a child or an old woman is able to do this, and their labour may be had at a trifling rate. It is of a white appearance, and if one would wish to express briefly what it looks like, it is a trifoliated shrub,1003 with small, narrow leaves. It is always given to animals at intervals of a couple of days, and in winter, when it is dry, before being given to them, it is first moistened with water. Ten pounds of cytisus will suffice for a horse, and for smaller animals in proportion: if I may here mention it by the way, it is found very profitable to sow garlic and onions between the rows of cytisus.

This shrub has been found in the Isle of Cythnus, from whence it has been transplanted to all the Cyclades, and more recently to the cities of Greece, a fact which has greatly increased the supply of cheese: considering which, I am much surprised that it is so rarely used in Italy. This shrub is proof, too, against all injuries from heat, from cold, from hail, and from snow: and, as Hyginus adds, against the depredations of the enemy even, the wood1004 produced being of no value whatever.


Shrubs and trees grow in the sea1005 as well; those of our sea1006 are of inferior size, while, on the other hand, the Red Sea and all the Eastern Ocean are filled with dense forests. No other language has any name for the shrub which is known to the Greeks as the “phycos,”1007 since by the word “alga”1008 a 210mere herb is generally understood, while the “phycos” is a complete shrub. This plant has a broad leaf of a green colour, which is by some called “prason,”1009 and by others is known as “zoster.”1010 Another kind,1011 again, has a hairy sort of leaf, very similar to fennel, and grows upon rocks, while that previously mentioned grows in shoaly spots, not far from the shore. Both kinds shoot in the spring, and die in autumn.1012 The phycos1013 which grows on the rocks in the neighbourhood of Crete, is used also for dyeing purple; the best kind being that produced on the north side of the island, which is the case also with sponges of the very best quality. A third kind,1014 again, is similar in appearance to grass; the root of it is knotted, and so is the stalk, which resembles that of a reed.


There is another kind of marine shrub, known by the name of “bryon;”1015 it has the leaf of the lettuce, only that it is of a more wrinkled appearance; it grows nearer land, too, than the last. Far out at sea we find a fir-tree1016 and an oak,1017 each a cubit in height; shells are found adhering to their branches. It is said that this sea-oak is used for dyeing wool, and that some of them even bear acorns1018 in the sea, a fact which has been ascertained by shipwrecked persons and divers. There are other marine trees also of remarkable size, found in the vicinity of Sicyon; the sea-vine,1019 indeed, grows everywhere. The sea-fig1020 is destitute of leaves, and the bark is red. There 211is a palm-tree1021 also in the number of the sea-shrubs. Beyond the columns of Hercules there is a sea-shrub that grows with the leaf of the leek, and others with those of the carrot,1022 and of thyme. Both of these last, when thrown up by the tide, are transformed1023 into pumice.


In the East, it is a very remarkable thing, that immediately after leaving Coptos, as we pass through the deserts, we find nothing whatever growing, with the exception of the thorn that is known as the “thirsty”1024 thorn; and this but very rarely. In the Red Sea, however, there are whole forests found growing, among which more particularly there are plants that bear the laurel-berry and the olive;1025 when it rains also certain fungi make their appearance, which, as soon as they are touched by the rays of the sun, are turned into pumice.1026 The size of the shrubs is three cubits in height; and they are all filled with sea-dogs,1027 to such a degree, that it is hardly safe to look at them from the ship, for they will frequently seize hold of the very oars.


The officers1028 of Alexander who navigated the Indian seas, have left an account of a marine tree, the foliage of which is green while in the water; but the moment it is taken out, it 212dries and turns to salt. They have spoken also of bulrushes1029 of stone bearing a strong resemblance to real ones, which grew along the sea-shore, as also certain shrubs1030 in the main sea, the colour of an ox’s horn, branching out in various directions, and red at the tips. These, they say, were brittle, and broke like glass when touched, while, on the other hand, in the fire they would become red-hot like iron, and when cool resume their original colour.

In the same part of the earth also, the tide covers the forests that grow on the islands, although the trees there are more lofty1031 than the very tallest of our planes and poplars! The leaves of these trees resemble that of the laurel, while the blossom is similar to the violet, both in smell and colour: the berries resemble those of the olive, and they, too, have an agreeable smell: they appear in the autumn, and the leaves of the trees never fall off. The smaller ones are entirely covered by the waves, while the summits of those of larger size protrude from the water, and ships are made fast to them; when the tide falls the vessels are similarly moored to the roots. We find the same persons making mention of certain other trees which they saw out at sea, which always retained their leaves, and bore a fruit very similar to the lupine.


Juba relates, that about the islands of the Troglodytæ there is a certain shrub found out at sea, which is known as the “hair of Isis:”1032 he says that it bears a strong resemblance to coral, is destitute of leaves, and if cut will change its colour, becoming quite black and hard, and so brittle as to break if it falls. He speaks also of another marine plant, to which he gives the name of “Charito-blepharon,”1033 and which, 213he says, is particularly efficacious in love-charms.1034 Bracelets1035 and necklaces are made of it. He says also that it is sensible1036 when it is about to be taken, and that it turns as hard as horn, so hard, indeed, as to blunt the edge of iron. If, on the other hand, it is cut before it is sensible of the danger, it is immediately transformed to stone.

Summary.—Remarkable facts, narratives, and observations, four hundred and sixty-eight.

Roman authors quoted.—M. Varro,1037 Mucianus,1038 Virgil,1039 Fabianus,1040 Sebosus,1041 Pomponius Mela,1042 Fabius,1043 Procilius,1044 Hyginus,1045 Trogus,1046 Claudius Cæsar,1047 Cornelius Nepos,1048 Sextius Niger1049 who wrote in Greek on Medicine, Cassius Hemina,1050 L. Piso,1051 Tuditanus,1052 Antias.1053

Foreign authors quoted.—Theophrastus,1054 Herodotus,1055 Callisthenes,1056 Isigonus,1057 Clitarchus,1058 Anaximenes,1059 Duris,1060 Nearchus,1061 Onesicritus,1062 Polycritus,1063 Olympiodorus,1064 Diognetus,1065 Cleobulus,1066 Anticlides,1067 Chares1068 of Mitylene, Menæchmus,1069 Dorotheus1070 of Athens, Lycus,1071 Antæus,1072 214 Ephippus,1073 Dion,1074 Adimantus,1075 Ptolemy Lagus,1076 Marsyas1077 of Macedon, Zoilus1078 of Macedon, Democritus,1079 Amphilochus,1080 Alexander Polyhistor,1081 Aristomachus,1082 King Juba,1083 Apollodorus1084 who wrote on Perfumes, Heraclides1085 the physician, Botrys1086 the physician, Archidemus1087 the physician, Dionysius1088 the physician, Democlides1089 the physician, Euphron1090 the physician, Mnesides1091 the physician, Diagoras1092 the physician, Iollas1093 the physician, Heraclides1094 of Tarentum, Xenocrates1095 of Ephesus.





Those which have been hitherto mentioned, are, nearly all of them, exotic trees, which it is impossible to rear in any other than their native soil, and which are not to be naturalized in strange countries.1096 It is now for us to speak of the more ordinary kinds, of all of which Italy may be looked upon as more particularly the parent.1097 Those who are well acquainted with the subject, must only bear in mind that for the present we content ourselves with merely stating the different varieties of these trees, and not the mode of cultivating them, although there is no doubt that the characteristics of a tree depend very considerably upon its cultivation. At this fact I cannot sufficiently express my astonishment, that of some trees all memory has utterly perished, and that the very names of some, of which we find various authors making mention, have wholly disappeared.1098 And yet who does not readily admit that now, when intercommunications have been opened between all parts of the world, thanks to the majestic sway of the Roman empire, civilization and the arts of life have made a rapid progress, owing to the interchange of commodities and the common enjoyment by all of the blessings of peace, while at the same time a multitude of objects which 216formerly lay concealed, are now revealed for our indiscriminate use?

Still, by Hercules! at the present day there are none to be found who have any acquaintance with much that has been handed down to us by the ancient writers; so much more comprehensive was the diligent research of our forefathers, or else so much more happily employed was their industry. It is a thousand years ago since Hesiod,1099 at the very dawn, so to say, of literature, first gave precepts for the guidance of the agriculturist, an example which has since been followed by no small number of writers. Hence have originated considerable labours for ourselves, seeing that we have not only to enquire into the discoveries of modern times, but to ascertain as well what was known to the ancients, and this, too, in the very midst of that oblivion which the heedlessness of the present day has so greatly tended to generate. What causes then are we to assign for this lethargy, other than those feelings which we find actuating the public in general throughout all the world? New manners and usages, no doubt, have now come into vogue, and the minds of men are occupied with subjects of a totally different nature; the arts of avarice, in fact, are the only ones that are now cultivated.

In days gone by, the sway and the destinies of states were bounded by their own narrow limits, and consequently the genius of the people was similarly circumscribed as well, through a sort of niggardliness that was thus displayed by Fortune: hence it became with them a matter of absolute necessity to employ the advantages of the understanding: kings innumerable received the homage of the arts, and in making a display of the extent of their resources, gave the highest rank to those arts, entertaining the opinion that it was through them that they should ensure immortality. Hence it was that due rewards, and the various works of civilization, were displayed in such vast abundance in those times. For these later ages, the enlarged boundaries of the habitable world, and the vast extent of our empire, have been a positive injury. Since the Censor has been chosen for the extent of his property, since the judge has been selected according to the magnitude of his fortune, since it has become the fashion to consider that217 nothing reflects a higher merit upon the magistrate and the general than a large estate, since the being destitute of heirs1100 has begun to confer upon persons the very highest power and influence, since legacy-hunting1101 has become the most lucrative of all professions, and since it has been considered that the only real pleasures are those of possessing, all the true enjoyments of life have been utterly lost sight of, and all those arts which have derived the name of liberal, from liberty,1102 that greatest blessing of life, have come to deserve the contrary appellation, servility alone being the passport to profit.

This servility each one has his own peculiar way of making most agreeable, and of putting in practice in reference to others, the motives and the hopes of all tending to the one great object, the acquisition of wealth: indeed, we may everywhere behold men even of naturally excellent qualities preferring to foster the vicious inclinations of others rather than cultivate their own talents. We may therefore conclude, by Hercules! that pleasure has now begun to live, and that life, truly so called, has ceased to be.1103 As to ourselves, however, we shall continue our researches into matters now lost in oblivion, nor shall we be deterred from pursuing our task by the trivial nature1104 of some of our details, a consideration which has in no way influenced us in our description of the animal world. And yet we find that Virgil, that most admirable poet, has allowed this to influence him, in his omission to enlarge upon the beauties of the garden; for, happy and graceful poet as he is, he has only culled what we may call the flower of his subject: indeed, we find that he has only named1105 in all some fifteen varieties of the grape, three of the olive, the same number of the pear, and the citron of Assyria, and has passed over the rest in silence altogether.

(2). With what then ought we to begin in preference to the vine, the superiority in which has been so peculiarly conceded 218to Italy, that in this one blessing we may pronounce her to have surpassed those of all other nations of the earth, with the sole exception of those that bear the various perfumes? and even there, when the vine is in flower, there is not a perfume known which in exquisite sweetness can surpass it. The vine has been justly reckoned1106 by the ancients among the trees, on account of its remarkable size. In the city of Populonium, we see a statue of Jupiter formed of the trunk of a single vine, which has for ages remained proof against all decay; and at Massilia, there is a patera made of the same wood. At Metapontum, the temple of Juno has long stood supported by pillars formed of the like material; and even at the present day we ascend to the roof of the temple of Diana at Ephesus, by stairs constructed, it is said, of the trunk of a single vine, that was brought from Cyprus; the vines of that island often attaining a most remarkable size. There is not a wood in existence of a more lasting nature than this; I am strongly inclined, however, to be of opinion that the material of which these various articles were constructed was the wild vine.


The cultivated vine is kept down by pruning every year, and all the strength of the tree is drawn as much as possible into the shoots, or else thrown downwards to the sets;1107 indeed, it is only allowed to expand with the view of ensuring an abundant supply of juice, a result which is obtained in various modes according to the peculiarities of the climate and the nature of the soil. In Campania they attach1108 the vine to the poplar: embracing the tree to which it is thus wedded, the vine grasps the branches with its amorous arms, and as it climbs, holds on with its knotted trunk, till it has reached the very summit; the height being sometimes so stupendous that the vintager when hired is wont to stipulate for his funeral pile and a grave at the owner’s expense. The vine keeps 219continually on the increase, and it is quite impossible to separate the two, or rather, I may say, to tear them asunder. Valerianus Cornelius has regarded it as one of the most remarkable facts that could be transmitted to posterity, that single vines have been known to surround villas and country-houses with their shoots and creeping tendrils ever on the stretch. At Rome, in the porticoes of Livia, a single vine, with its leaf-clad trellises, protects with its shade the walks in the open air; the fruit of it yields twelve amphoræ of must.1109

Everywhere we find the vine overtopping the elm even, and we read that Cineas,1110 the ambassador of King Pyrrhus, when admiring the great height of the vines at Aricia, wittily making allusion to the peculiar rough taste of wine, remarked that it was with very good reason that they had hung the parent of it on so lofty a gibbet. There is a tree in that part of Italy which lies beyond the Padus,1111 known as the “rumpotinus,”1112 or sometimes by the name of “opulus,” the broad circular1113 storeys of which are covered with vines, whose branches wind upwards in a serpentine form to the part where the boughs finally divide,1114 and then, throwing out their tendrils, disperse them in every direction among the straight and finger-like twigs which project from the branches. There are vines also, about as tall as a man of moderate height, which are supported by props, and, as they throw out their bristling tendrils, form whole vineyards: while others, again, in their inordinate love for climbing, combined with skill on the part of the proprietor, will cover even the very centre1115 of the court-yard with their shoots and foliage. 220 So numerous are the varieties of the vine which even Italy alone presents.

In some of the provinces the vine is able to stand of itself without anything to support it, drawing in its bending branches, and making up in its thickness for its stunted size. In other places, again, the winds will not allow of this mode of culture, as in Africa, for instance, and various parts of the province of Gallia Narbonensis. These vines, being prevented from growing beyond the first branches, and hence always retaining a resemblance to those plants which stand in need of the hoe, trail along the ground just like them, and every here and there suck1116 up the juices from the earth to fill their grapes: it is in consequence of this, that in the interior of Africa the clusters1117 are known to exceed the body of an infant in size. The wine of no country is more acid than those of Africa, but there is nowhere to be found a grape that is more agreeable for its firmness, a circumstance which may very probably have given rise to its name of the “hard grape.”1118 As to the varieties of the grape, although they are rendered innumerable by the size, the colour, and the flavour of the berry, they are multiplied even still more by the wines that they produce. In one part they are lustrous with a rich purple colour, while in another, again, they glow with a rosy tint, or else are glossy with their verdant hue. The grapes that are merely white or black are the common sorts. The bumastus1119 swells out in form like a breast, while that known as the “dactylus,”1120 has a berry of remarkable length. Nature, too, displays such varieties in these productions of hers, that small grapes are often to be found adhering to the largest vines, but of surpassing sweetness; they are known by the name of “leptorragæ.”1121 Some, again, will keep throughout the winter, if care is taken to hang them to the ceiling1122 with a string; 221while others, again, will keep by virtue of their own natural freshness and vigour, if put into earthen jars, which are then enclosed in dolia,1123 and covered up with the fermenting husks of grapes. Some grapes receive from the smoke of the blacksmith’s forge that remarkable flavour which it is also known to impart to wines: it was the high name of the Emperor Tiberius that brought into such great repute the grapes that had been smoked in the smithies of Africa. Before his time the highest rank at table was assigned to the grapes of Rhætia,1124 and to those growing in the territory of Verona.

Raisins of the sun have the name of “passi,” from having been submitted1125 to the influence of the sun. It is not uncommon to preserve grapes in must, and so make them drunk with their own juices; while there are some that are all the sweeter for being placed in must after it has been boiled; others, again, are left to hang on the parent tree till a new crop has made its appearance, by which time they have become as clear and as transparent1126 as glass. Astringent pitch, if poured upon the footstalk of the grape, will impart to it all that body and that firmness which, when placed in dolia or amphoræ, it gives to wine. More recently, too, there has been discovered a vine which produces a fruit that imparts to its wine a strong flavour of pitch: it is the famous grape that confers such celebrity on the territory of Vienne,1127 and of which several varieties have recently enriched the territories of the Arverni, the Sequani, and the Helvii:1128 it was unknown in the time of the poet Virgil, who has now been dead these ninety years.1129

In addition to these particulars, need I make mention of the fact that the vine1130 has been introduced into the camp and 222placed in the centurion’s hand for the preservation of the supreme authority and command? that this is the high reward which summons the lagging ranks to the eagles raised aloft,1131 and that even in chastisement for faults it tends to reflect honour upon the punishment?1132 It was the vineyard, too, that first afforded a notion,1133 the practical utility of which has been experienced in many a siege. Among the medicinal preparations, too, the vine holds so high a place, that its very wines taken by themselves are efficacious as remedies for disease.1134


Democritus, who has declared that he was acquainted with every variety of the grape known in Greece, is the only person who has been of opinion that every kind could be enumerated; but, on the other hand, the rest of the authors have stated that they are quite innumerable1135 and of infinite extent, an assertion the truth of which will be more evident, if we only consider the vast number of wines. I shall not attempt, then, to speak of every kind of vine, but only of those that are the most remarkable, seeing that the varieties are very nearly as numberless as the districts in which they grow. It will suffice, then, to point out those which are the most remarkable among the vines, or else are peculiar for some wonderful property.

The very highest rank is given to the Aminean1136 grape, on 223account of the body and durability of its wine, which improves with old age. There are five varieties of the Aminean grape; of these, the smaller germana, or “sister” grape, has a smaller berry than the rest, and flowers more strongly, being able to bear up against rain and tempestuous weather; a thing that is not the case with the larger germana, though it is less exposed to danger when attached to a tree than when supported only by a trellis. Another kind, again, has obtained the name of the “gemella,” or “twin” grape, because the clusters always grow1137 in couples: the flavour of the wine is extremely rough, but it is remarkable for its strength. Of these several varieties the smaller one suffers from the south wind, but receives nutriment from all the others, upon Mount Vesuvius, for instance, and the hills of Surrentum: in the other parts of Italy it is never grown except attached to trees. The fifth kind is that known as the lanata, or “woolly” grape; so that we need not be surprised at the wool-bearing trees1138 of the Seres or the Indians, for this grape is covered with a woolly down of remarkable thickness. It is the first of the Aminean vines that ripens, but the grape decays with remarkable rapidity.

The second rank belongs to the vines of Nomentum,1139 the wood of which is red, from which circumstance the vines have received from some the name of “rubellæ.” The grapes of this vine produce less wine than usual, in consequence of the extraordinary quantity of husk and lees they throw off: but the vine is remarkably strong, is well able to stand the frost, and is apt to receive more detriment from drought than from rain, from heat than from cold; hence it is that those are looked upon as the best that are grown in cold and moist localities. That variety which has the smallest grape is considered 224the most fruitful: the one which has a jagged leaf is less productive.

The vine known as the “apiana,”1140 has received that name from the bee, an insect which is remarkably fond of it: there are two varieties of this vine. This grape, too, is covered in its young state with a kind of down; the main difference between the two varieties is, that the one ripens more rapidly than the other, though this last ripens with considerable quickness. A cold locality is not at all hurtful to them, although there is no grape that ripens sooner: these grapes, however, very soon rot in the rain. The wines produced by this grape are sweet at first, but contract a rough flavour in the course of years. This vine is cultivated more than any other in Etruria. Thus far we have made mention of the more celebrated vines among those which are peculiar and indigenous to Italy; the rest have been introduced from Chios or Thasos.

The small Greek1141 grape is not inferior to the Aminean for the excellence of its quality: the berry is remarkably thin-skinned, and the cluster so extremely small,1142 that it is not worth while cultivating it, except on a soil of remarkable richness. The eugenia,1143 so called from its high qualities, has been introduced into the Alban territory from the hills of Tauromenium:1144 it is found, however, to thrive only there, for if transplanted elsewhere it degenerates immediately: in fact, there is in some vines so strong an attachment to their native soil, that they leave behind them all their high repute, and are never transplanted in their full entirety. This is the case, too, with the Rhætian and the Allobrogian grapes, of which we have made mention above as the pitch-flavoured1145 grape; these are justly deemed excellent in their own country, 225while elsewhere they are held in no esteem at all. Still, however, in consequence of their remarkable fertility, they make up for quality by abundance: the eugenia thrives in spots which are scorching hot, the Rhætian vine in places of a more moderate temperature, and the Allobrogian in cold, exposed situations, the fruit being of a black colour, and ripened by the agency of frost.

The wines produced from the vines of which we have hitherto made mention, even though the grapes are black, become, all of them, when old, of a white1146 complexion. The other vines are of no note in particular, though sometimes, thanks to some peculiarity either in the climate or the soil, the wines produced from them attain a mature old age; such, for instance, as the Fecenian1147 vine, and the Biturigian,1148 which blossoms at the same time with it, but has not so many grapes. The blossoms of these last-mentioned vines are not liable to receive injury, both because they are naturally but transitory, and have the power of resisting the action of both wind and storm; still, however, those that grow in cold spots are considered superior to those produced in a warm site, and those found in moist places superior to those grown in dry, thirsty localities.

The vine known as the “visula”1149 * * * * more than abundance of fruit, being unable to endure the extreme variations of the atmosphere, though it is very well able to stand a continuation of either cold or heat. Of this last kind the smaller one is the best, but difficult to please in its choice; in a rich earth it is apt to rot, while in a thin soil it will come to nothing at all: in its fastidiousness it requires a soil of middling quality, and hence it is that it is so commonly found on the hills of the Sabine territory. Its grape is unsightly in appearance, but has a very pleasant flavour: if it is not gathered at the very moment that it is ripe, it will fall, even before it decays. The extreme size of the leaves, and its natural hardiness, 226are its great protection against the disastrous effects of hail.

The grapes known as “helvolæ”1150 are remarkable for the peculiarity of their colour, which is a sort of midway between purple and black, but varies so frequently that it has made some persons give them the name of “varianæ.” Of the two sorts of helvolæ, the black is the one generally preferred: they both of them produce every other year, but the wine is best when the vintage has been less abundant.

The vine that is known as the “precia”1151 is also divided into two varieties, distinguished by the size of the grape. These vines produce a vast quantity of wood, and the grape is very good for preserving in jars;1152 the leaves are similar in appearance to that of parsley.1153 The people of Dyrrhachium hold in high esteem the vine known as the “basilica,” the same which in Spain is called the “cocolobis.”1154 The grapes of this vine grow in thin clusters, and it can stand great heat, and the south winds. The wine produced from it is apt to fly to the head:1155 the produce of the vine is very large. The people in Spain distinguish two kinds of this vine, the one with the oblong, the other with the round grape; they gather this fruit the very last of all. The sweeter the cocolobis is, the more it is valued; but even if it has a rough taste, the wine will become sweet by keeping, while, on the other hand, that which was sweet at first, will acquire a certain roughness; it is in this last state that the wine is thought to rival that of Alba.1156 It is said that the juice of this grape is remarkably efficacious when drunk as a specific for diseases of the bladder.


The “albuelis”1157 produces most of its fruit at the top of the tree, the visula at the bottom; hence, when planted around the same tree, in consequence of these peculiarities in their nature, they bear between them a two-fold crop. One of the black grape vines has been called the “inerticula,”1158 though it might with more propriety have been styled the “sobria;”1159 the wine from it is remarkably good, and more particularly when old; but though strong, it is productive of no ill effects, and, indeed, is the only wine that will not cause intoxication.

The abundance of their produce again recommends other vines to us, and, in the first place, that known as the “helvennaca.”1160 Of this vine there are two kinds; the larger, which is by some called the “long” helvennaca, and the smaller kind, which is known as the “emarcum,”1161 not so prolific as the first, but producing a wine of more agreeable flavour; it is distinguished by its rounded leaf, but they are both of them of slender make. It is requisite to place forks beneath these vines for the support of their branches, as otherwise it would be quite impossible for them to support the weight of their produce: they receive nutriment from the breezes that blow from the sea, and foggy weather is injurious to them. There is not one among the vines that manifests a greater aversion to Italy, for there it becomes comparatively leafless and stunted, and soon decays, while the wine which it produces there will not keep beyond the summer: no vine, however, thrives better in a poor soil. Græcinus, who has copied from the works of Cornelius Celsus, gives it as his opinion that it is not that the nature of this vine is repugnant to the climate of Italy, but that it is the mode of cultivating it that is 228wrong, and the anxiety to force it to put forth its shoots; a mode of treatment, he thinks, which absorbs all its fertility, unless the soil in which it is planted happens to be remarkably rich, and by its support prevents it from being exhausted. It is said that this vine is never carbuncled,1162 a remarkable quality, if, indeed, it really is the fact that there is any vine in existence that is exempt from the natural influences of the climate.

The spionia, by some called the “spinea,”1163 is able to bear heat very well, and thrives in the autumn and rainy weather: indeed, it is the only one among all the vines that does well amid fogs, for which reason it is peculiar to the territory of Ravenna.1164 The venicula1165 is one of those that blossom the strongest, and its grapes are particularly well adapted for preserving in jars. The Campanians, however, prefer to give it the name of “scircula,” while others, again, call it “stacula.” Tarracina has a vine known as the “numisiana;” it has no qualities of its own, but has characteristics just according to the nature of the soil in which it is planted: the wine, however, if kept in the earthen casks1166 of Surrentum, is remarkable for its goodness, that is to say, as far south as Vesuvius. On arriving in that district, we find the Murgentina,1167 the very best among all those that come from Sicily. Some, indeed, call the vine “Pompeiana”1168 and it is more particularly fruitful when grown in Latium, just as the “horconia”1169 is productive nowhere but in Campania. Of a contrary nature is the vine known as the “argeica,” and by Virgil called “argitis:”1170 it makes the ground all the more1171 productive, and is remarkably 229stout in its resistance to rain and the effects of old age, though it will hardly produce wine every year; it is remarkable for the abundant crops which it bears, though the grapes are held but in small esteem for eating. The vine known as the “metica” lasts well for years, and offers a successful resistance to all changes of weather; the grape is black, and the wine assumes a tawny hue when old.

(3.) The varieties that have been mentioned thus far are those that are generally known; the others belong to peculiar countries or individual localities, or else are of a mixed nature, the produce of grafting. Thus the vine known as the “Tudernis,”1172 is peculiar to the districts of Etruria, and so too is the vine that bears the name of “Florentia.” At Arretium the talpona, the etesiaca, and the consemina, are particularly excellent.1173 The talpona,1174 which is a black grape, produces a pale, straw-coloured1175 must: the etesiaca1176 is apt to deceive; the more the wine it produces the better the quality, but it is a remarkable fact, that just as it has reached that point its fecundity ceases altogether. The consemina1177 bears a black grape, but its wine will not keep, though the grape itself is a most excellent keeper; it is gathered fifteen days later than any other kind of grape: this vine is very fruitful, but its grape is only good for eating. The leaves of this tree, like those of the wild vine, turn the colour of blood just before the fall: the same is the case also with some1178 other varieties, but it is a proof that they are of very inferior quality.

The irtiola1179 is a vine peculiar to Umbria and the territories 230of Mevania and Picenum, while the pumula1180 belongs to Amiternum. In the same districts we find the vine called bannanica,1181 which is very deceptive, though the people are remarkably fond of its fruit. The municipal town of Pompeii has given its name to the Pompeia,1182 although it is to be found in greater abundance in the territory of Clusium. The Tiburina, also, is so called from the municipal town of Tibûr1183, although it is in this district that they have lately discovered the grape known as the “oleaginea,” from its strong resemblance to an olive: this being the very last kind of grape that has been introduced. The Sabines and the Laurentes are the only people acquainted with the vinaciola.1184 As to the vines of Mount Gaurus,1185 I am aware that, as they have been transplanted from the Falernian territory, they bear the name of “Falernian;” but it is a fact that the Falernian vine, when transplanted, rapidly degenerates. Some persons, too, have made out a Tarentine variety, with a grape of remarkable sweetness: the grapes of the “capnios,”1186 the “bucconiatis,”1187 and the “tarrupia,” grow on the hills of Thurii, and are never gathered till after the frost commences. Pisæ enjoys the Parian vine, and Mutina the prusinian,1188 with a black grape, the wine of which turns pale within four years. It is a very remarkable thing, but there is a grape here that turns round with the sun, in its diurnal motion, a circumstance from which it has received the name of “streptos.”1189 In Italy, the 231Gallic vine is a great favourite, while beyond the Alps that of Picenum1190 is preferred. Virgil has made mention1191 of the Thasian vine, the Mareotis, the lagea, and several other foreign varieties, which are not to be found in Italy.

There are some vines, again, that are remarkable, not for their wine, but for their grapes, such, for instance, as the ambrosia,1192 one of the “duracinus,”1193 kind, a grape which requires no potting, but will keep perfectly well if left on the vine, so remarkable is the strength with which it is endowed for withstanding the effects of cold, heat, and stormy weather. The “orthampelos,”1194 too, is a vine that requires neither tree nor stay, as it is well able to sustain its own weight. This, however, is not the case with the “dactylis,”1195 the stem of which is no thicker than the finger. The “columbina”1196 is one of those with the finest clusters, and still more so is the purple “bimammia;” it does not bear in clusters,1197 but only secondary bunches. There is the tripedanea,1198 too, a name which it owes to the length of its clusters, and the scirpula,1199 with its shrivelled berry; the Rhætica,1200 too, so called in the Maritime Alps, though very different from the grape of that name which is so highly esteemed, and of which we have previously spoken; for in this variety the clusters are small, the grapes lie closely packed, 232and it produces but a poor wine. It has, however, the thinnest skin of all the grapes, and a single stone,1201 of very diminutive size, which is known as the “Chian;”1202 one or two of the grapes on the cluster are remarkably large. There is also the black Aminean, to which the name of Syriaca is given: the Spanish vine, too, the very best of all those of inferior quality.

The grapes that are known as escariæ,1203 are grown on trellises. Of the duracinus1204 kind, there are those known as the white and the black varieties; the bumastus, too, is similarly distinguished in colour. Among the vines too, that have not as yet been mentioned, there are the Ægian and the Rhodian1205 kinds, as also the uncialis, so called, it would seem, from its grape being an ounce in weight. There is the picina1206 too, the blackest1207 grape known, and the stephanitis,1208 the clusters of which Nature, in a sportive mood, has arranged in the form of a garland, the leaves being interspersed1209 among the grapes; there are the grapes, too, known as the “forenses,”1210 and which quickly come to maturity, recommend themselves to the buyer by their good looks, and are easily carried from place to place.

On the other hand, those known as the “cinerea”1211 are condemned by their very looks, and so are the rabuscula1212 and the asinusca;1213 the produce of the alopecis,1214 which resembles in colour a fox’s tail, is held in less disesteem. The Alexandrina1215 is the name of a vine that grows in the vicinity of Phalacra: 233it is of stunted growth, and has branches a cubit in length; the grape is black, about the size of a bean, with a berry that is soft, and remarkably small: the clusters hang in a slanting direction, and are remarkably sweet; the leaves are small and round, without any division.1216 Within the last seven years there has been introduced at Alba Helvia,1217 in the province of Gallia Narbonensis, a vine which blossoms but a single day, and is consequently proof against all accidents: the name given to it is “Narbonica,” and it is now planted throughout the whole of that province.


The elder Cato, who was rendered more particularly illustrious by his triumph1218 and the censorship, and even more so by his literary fame, and the precepts which he has given to the Roman people upon every subject of utility, and the proper methods of cultivation in particular; a man who, by the universal confession, was the first husbandman of his age and without a rival—has mentioned a few varieties only of the vine, the very names of some of which are by this utterly forgotten.1219 His statement on this subject deserves our separate consideration, and requires to be quoted at length, in order that we may make ourselves acquainted with the different varieties of this tree that were held in the highest esteem in the year of the City of Rome 600, about the time of the capture of Carthage and Corinth, the period of his death: it will show too, what great advances civilization has made in the last two hundred and thirty years. The following are the remarks which he has made on the subject of the vine and the grape.


“Where the site is considered to be most favourable to the growth of the vine, and exposed to the warmth of the sun, you will do well to plant the small1220 Aminean, as well as the two eugenia,1221 and the smaller helvia.1222 On the other hand, where the soil is of a denser nature or more exposed to fogs, the greater Aminean should be planted, or else the Murgentine,1223 or the Apician of Lucania. The other varieties of the grape are, for the most part, adapted to any kind of soil; they are best preserved in a lora.1224 The best for keeping by hanging, are the duracinus kind, the greater Aminean, and the Scantian;1225 these, too, will make excellent raisins for keeping if dried at the blacksmith’s forge.” There are no precepts in the Latin language on this subject more ancient than these, so near are we to the very commencement of all our practical knowledge! The Aminean grape, of which mention has been made above, is by Varro called the “Scantian.”

In our own times we have but few instances of any consummate skill that has been manifested in reference to this subject: the less excuse then should we have for omitting any particular which may tend to throw a light upon the profits that may be derived from the culture of the vine, a point which on all occasions is regarded as one of primary importance. Acilius Sthenelus, a man of plebeian rank, and the son of a freedman, acquired very considerable repute from the cultivation of a vineyard in the territory of Nomentum, not more than sixty jugera in extent, and which he finally sold for four hundred thousand sesterces. Vetulenus Ægialus too, a freedman as well, acquired very considerable note in the district of Liternum,1226 in Campania, and, indeed, received a more extensive share of the public favour, from the fact that he cultivated the spot 235which had been the place of exile of Scipio Africanus.1227 The greatest celebrity of all, however, was that which, by the agency of the same Sthenelus, was accorded to Rhemmius Palæmon, who was also equally famous as a learned grammarian. This person bought, some twenty years ago, an estate at the price of six hundred thousand sesterces in the same district of Nomentum, about ten miles distant from the City of Rome. The low price of property1228 in the suburbs, on every side of the City, is well known; but in that quarter in particular, it had declined to a most remarkable extent; for the estate which he purchased had become deteriorated by long-continued neglect, in addition to which it was situate in the very worst part of a by no means favourite locality.1229 Such was the nature of the property of which he thus undertook the cultivation, not, indeed, with any commendable views or intentions at first, but merely in that spirit of vanity for which he was notorious in so remarkable a degree. The vineyards were all duly dressed afresh, and hoed, under the superintendence of Sthenelus; the result of which was that Palæmon, while thus playing the husbandman, brought this estate to such an almost incredible pitch of perfection, that at the end of eight years the vintage, as it hung on the trees, was knocked down to a purchaser for the sum of four hundred thousand sesterces; while all the world was running to behold the heaps upon heaps of grapes to be seen in these vineyards. The neighbours, by way of finding some excuse for their own indolence, gave all the credit of this remarkable success to Palæmon’s profound erudition; and at last Annæus Seneca,1230 who both held the highest rank in the learned world, and an amount of power and influence which at last proved too much for him—this same Seneca, who was far from being an admirer of frivolity, was seized with such vast admiration of this estate, as not to feel ashamed at conceding this victory to a man who was otherwise the object of his hatred, and who would be sure to make the very most of it, by giving him four times the original cost 236for those very vineyards, and that within ten years from the time that he had taken them under his management. This was an example of good husbandry worthy to be put in practice upon the lands of Cæcuba and of Setia; for since then these same lands have many a time produced as much as seven culei to the jugerum, or in other words, one hundred and forty amphoræ of must. That no one, however, may entertain the belief that ancient times were surpassed on this occasion, I would remark that the same Cato has stated in his writings, that the proper return was seven culei to the jugerum: all of them so many instances only tending most convincingly to prove that the sea, which in our rashness we trespass upon, does not make a more bounteous return to the merchant, no, not even the merchandize that we seek on the shores of the Red and the Indian Seas, than does a well-tilled homestead to the agriculturist.


The wine of Maronea,1231 on the coast of Thrace, appears to have been the most celebrated in ancient times, as we learn from the writings of Homer. I dismiss, however, all the fabulous stories and various traditions which we find relative to its origin, except, indeed, the one which states that Aristæus,1232 a native of the same country, was the first person that mixed honey1233 with wine, natural productions, both of them, of the highest degree of excellence. Homer1234 has stated that the Maronean wine was mixed with water in the proportion of twenty measures of water to one of wine. The wine that is still produced in the same district retains all its former strength, and a degree of vigour that is quite insuperable.1235 Mucianus, who thrice held the consulship, and one of our most recent authors, when in that part of the world was witness himself to the fact, that with one sextarius of this wine it was the custom to mix no less than eighty sextarii of 237water: he states, also, that this wine is black,1236 has a strong bouquet, and is all the richer for being old.

The Pramnian wine, too, which Homer1237 has also similarly eulogized, still retains its ancient fame: it is grown in the territory of Smyrna, in the vicinity of the shrine of the Mother1238 of the Gods.

Among the other wines now known, we do not find any that enjoyed a high reputation in ancient times. In the year of the consulship of L. Opimius, when C. Gracchus,1239 the tribune of the people, engaging in sedition, was slain, the growth of every wine was of the very highest quality. In that year, the weather was remarkable for its sereneness, and the ripening of the grape, the “coctura,”1240 as they call it, was fully effected by the heat of the sun. This was in the year of the City 633. There are wines still preserved of this year’s growth, nearly two hundred years ago; they have assumed the consistency of honey, with a rough taste; for such, in fact, is the nature of wines, that, when extremely old, it is impossible to drink them in a pure state; and they require to be mixed with water, as long keeping renders them intolerably bitter.1241 A very small quantity of the Opimian wine, mixed with them, will suffice for the seasoning of other wines. Let us suppose, according to the estimated value of these wines in those days, that the original price of them was one hundred sesterces per amphora: if we add to this six per cent. per annum, a legal and moderate interest, we shall then be able to ascertain what was the exact price of the twelfth part of an amphora at the beginning of the reign of Caius Cæsar, the son of Germanicus, one hundred and sixty years after that consulship. In relation to this fact, we have a remarkable instance,1242 when we call to mind the life of Pomponius 238Secundus, the poet, and the banquet which he gave to that prince1243—so enormous is the capital that lies buried in our cellars of wine! Indeed, there is no one thing, the value of which more sensibly increases up to the twentieth year, or which decreases with greater rapidity after that period, supposing that the value of it is not by that time greatly enhanced.1244 Very rarely, indeed, up to the present day, has it been known for a single1245 piece of wine to cost a thousand sesterces, except, indeed, when such a sum may have been paid in a fit of extravagance and debauchery. The people of Vienne, it is said, are the only ones who have set a higher price than this upon their “picata,” wines, the various kinds of which we have already mentioned;1246 and this, it is thought, they only do, vying with each other, and influenced by a sort of national self-esteem. This wine, drunk in a cool state, is generally thought to be of a colder1247 temperature than any other.


It is the property of wine, when drunk, to cause a feeling of warmth in the interior of the viscera, and, when poured upon the exterior of the body, to be cool and refreshing. It will not be foreign to my purpose on the present occasion to state the advice which Androcydes, a man famous for his wisdom, wrote to Alexander the Great, with the view of putting a check on his intemperance: “When you are about to drink wine, O king!” said he, “remember that you are about to drink the blood of the earth: hemlock is a poison to man, wine a poison1248 to hemlock.” And if Alexander had only followed this advice, he certainly would not have had to answer 239for slaying his friends1249 in his drunken fits. In fact, we may feel ourselves quite justified in saying that there is nothing more useful than wine for strengthening the body, while, at the same time, there is nothing more pernicious as a luxury, if we are not on our guard against excess.


Who can entertain a doubt that some kinds of wine are more agreeable to the palate than others, or that even out of the very same vat1250 there are occasionally produced wines that are by no means of equal goodness, the one being much superior to the other, whether it is that it is owing to the cask,1251 or to some other fortuitous circumstance? Let each person, therefore, constitute himself his own judge as to which kind it is that occupies the pre-eminence. Livia1252 Augusta, who lived to her eighty-second year,1253 attributed her longevity to the wine of Pucinum,1254 as she never drank any other. This wine is grown near a bay of the Adriatic, not far from Mount Timavus, upon a piece of elevated rocky ground, where the sea-breeze ripens a few grapes, the produce of which supplies a few amphoræ: there is not a wine that is deemed superior to this for medicinal purposes. I am strongly of opinion that this is the same wine, the produce of the Adriatic Gulf, upon which the Greeks have bestowed such wonderful encomiums, under the name of Prætetianum.

The late Emperor Augustus preferred the Setinum to all others, and nearly all the emperors that have succeeded him have followed his example, having learnt from actual experience that there is no danger of indigestion and flatulence resulting from the use of this liquor: this wine is grown in the country1255 that lies just above Forum Appii.1256 In former times the Cæcubum enjoyed the reputation of being the most 240generous of all the wines; it was grown in some marshy swamps, planted with poplars, in the vicinity1257 of the Gulf of Amyclæ. This vineyard has, however, now disappeared, the result of the carelessness of the cultivator, combined with its own limited extent, and the works on the canal which Nero commenced, in order to provide a navigation from Lake Avernus to Ostia.

The second rank belonged to the wine of the Falernian territory, of which the Faustianum was the most choice variety; the result of the care and skill employed upon its cultivation. This, however, has also degenerated very considerably, in consequence of the growers being more solicitous about quantity1258 than quality. The Falernian1259 vineyards begin at the bridge of Campania, on the left-hand as you journey towards the Urbana Colonia of Sylla, which was lately a township of the city of Capua. As to the Faustian vineyards, they extend about four miles from a village near Cædiciæ,1260 the same village being six miles from Sinuessa. There is now no wine known that ranks higher than the Falernian; it is the only one, too, among all the wines that takes fire on the application of flame.1261 There are three varieties of it—the rough, the sweet, and the thin. Some persons make the following distinctions: the Caucinum, they say, grows on the summit of this range of hills, the Faustianum on the middle slopes, and the Falernum at the foot: the fact, too, should not be omitted, that none of the grapes that produce these more famous wines have by any means an agreeable flavour.

To the third1262 rank belonged the various wines of Alba, in the vicinity of the City, remarkable for their sweetness, and sometimes, 241though rarely, rough1263 as well: the Surrentine1264 wines, also, the growth of only stayed vines, which are especially recommended to invalids for their thinness and their wholesomeness. Tiberius Cæsar used to say that the physicians had conspired thus to dignify the Surrentinum, which was, in fact, only another name for generous vinegar; while Caius Cæsar, who succeeded him, gave it the name of “noble vappa.”1265 Vying in reputation with these are the Massic wines, from the spots which look from Mount Gaurus towards Puteoli and Baiæ.1266 As to the wines of Stata, in the vicinity of Falernum, there is no doubt that they formerly held the very highest rank, a fact which proves very clearly that every district has its own peculiar epochs, just as all other things have their rise and their decadence. The Calenian1267 wines, too, from the same neighbourhood, used to be preferred to those last mentioned, as also the Fundanian,1268 the produce of vines grown on stays, or else attached to shrubs. The wines, too, of Veliternum1269 and Priverna,1270 which were grown in the vicinity of the City, used to be highly esteemed. As to that produced at Signia,1271 it is by far too rough to be used as a wine, but is very useful as an astringent, and is consequently reckoned among the medicines for that purpose.

The fourth rank, at the public banquets, was given by the late Emperor Julius—he was the first, in fact, that brought 242them into favour, as we find stated in his Letters1272—to the Mamertine wines, the produce of the country in the vicinity of Messana,1273 in Sicily. The finest of these was the Potulanum,1274 so called from its original cultivator, and grown on the spots that lie nearest to the mainland of Italy. The Tauromenitanum also, a wine of Sicily, enjoys a high repute, and flaggons1275 of it are occasionally passed off for Mamertinum.

Among the other wines, we find mentioned upon the Upper Sea those of Prætutia and Ancona, as also those known as the “Palmensia,”1276 not improbably because the cluster springs from a single shoot.1277 In the interior we find the wines of Cæsena1278 and that known as the Mæcenatian,1279 while in the territory of Verona there are the Rhætian wines, only inferior, in the estimation of Virgil, to the Falernian.1280 Then, too, at the bottom of the Gulf1281 we find the wines of Adria.1282 On the shores of the Lower Sea there are the Latiniensian1283 wines, the Graviscan,1284 and the Statonian:1285 in Etruria, the wines of Luna bear away the palm, and those of Genua1286 in Liguria. Massilia, which lies between the Pyrenees and the Alps, produces two varieties of wine, one of which is richer and thicker than the other, and is used for seasoning other wines, being generally known as “succosum.”1287 The reputation 243of the wine of Beterræ1288 does not extend beyond the Gallic territories;1289 and as for the others that are produced in Gallia Narbonensis, nothing can be positively stated, for the growers of that country have absolutely established manufactories for the purposes of adulteration, where they give a dark hue to their wines by the agency of smoke; I only wish I could say, too, that they do not employ various herbs and noxious drugs for the same purpose;1290 indeed, these dealers are even known to use aloes for the purpose of heightening the flavour and improving the colour of their wines.

The regions of Italy that are at a greater distance from the Ausonian Sea, are not without their wines of note, such as those of Tarentum,1291 Servitia,1292 and Consentia,1293 and those, again, of Tempsa, Babia, and Lucania, among which the wines of Thurii hold the pre-eminence. But the most celebrated of all of them, owing to the fact that Messala1294 used to drink it, and was indebted to it for his excellent health, was the wine of Lagara,1295 which was grown not far from Grumentum.1296 In Campania, more recently, new growths under new names have gained considerable credit, either owing to careful cultivation, or else to some other fortuitous circumstances: thus, for instance, we find four miles from Neapolis the Trebellian,1297 near 244Capua the Cauline,1298 wine, and the wine of Trebula1299 grown in the territory so called, though but of a common sort: Campania boasts of all these, as well as of her Trifoline1300 wines. As to the wines of Pompeii,1301 they have arrived at their full perfection in ten years, after which they gain nothing by age: they are found also to be productive of headache, which often lasts so long as the sixth hour1302 of the next day.

These illustrations, if I am not greatly mistaken, will go far to prove that it is the land and the soil that is of primary importance, and not the grape, and that it is quite superfluous to attempt to enumerate all the varieties of every kind, seeing that the same vine, transplanted to several places, is productive of features and characteristics of quite opposite natures. The vineyards of Laletanum1303 in Spain1304 are remarkable for the abundance of wine they produce, while those of Tarraco1305 and of Lauron1306 are esteemed for the choice qualities of their wines: those, too, of the Balearic Isles1307 are often put in comparison with the very choicest growths of Italy.

I am by no means unaware that most of my readers will be of opinion that I have omitted a vast number of wines, seeing that every one has his own peculiar choice; so much so, that wherever we go, we hear the same story told, to the effect that one of the freedmen of the late Emperor Augustus, who was remarkable for his judgment and his refined taste in wines, while employed in tasting for his master’s table, made this observation to the master of the house where the emperor was staying, in reference to some wine the growth of that particular country: “The taste of this wine,” said he, “is 245new to me, and it is by no means of first-rate quality; the emperor, however, you will see, will drink of no other.”1308 Indeed I have no wish to deny that there may be other wines deserving of a very high reputation, but those which I have already enumerated are the varieties upon the excellence of which the world is at present agreed.


We will now, in a similar manner, give a description of the varieties found in the parts beyond sea. After the wines mentioned by Homer, and of which we have already spoken,1309 those held in the highest esteem were the wines of Thasos and Chios,1310 and of the latter more particularly the sort known as “Arvisium.”1311 By the side of these has been placed the wine of Lesbos,1312 upon the authority of Erasistratus, a famous physician, who flourished about the year of the City of Rome 450. At the present day, the most esteemed of all is the wine of Clazomenæ,1313 since they have learned to season it more sparingly with sea-water. The wine of Lesbos has naturally a taste of sea-water. That from Mount Tmolus1314 is not so much esteemed by itself1315 for its qualities as a wine, as for its peculiar sweetness. It is on account of this that it is mixed with other wines, for the purpose of modifying their harsh flavour, by imparting to them a portion of its own sweetness; while at the same time it gives them age, for immediately after the mixture they appear to be much older than they really are. Next in esteem after these are the wines of 246Sicyon,1316 Cyprus,1317 Telmessus,1318 Tripolis,1319 Berytus,1320 Tyre,1321 and Sebennys; this last is grown in Egypt, being the produce of three varieties of grape of the very highest quality, known as the Thasian,1322 the æthalus,1323 and the peuce.1324 Next in rank are the hippodamantian1325 wine, the Mystic,1326 the cantharite,1327 the protropum1328 of Cnidos, the wine of the catacecaumene,1329 the Petritan,1330 and the Myconian;1331 as to the Mesogitic,1332 it has been found to give head-ache, while that of Ephesus is far from wholesome, being seasoned with sea-water and defrutum.1333 It is said that the wine of Apamea1334 is remarkably well adapted for making mulsum,1335 like that of Prætutia in Italy: for this is a quality peculiar to only certain kinds of wine, the mixture of two sweet liquids being in 247general not attended with good results. The protagion1336 is quite gone out of date, a wine which the school of Asclepiades has reckoned as next in merit to those of Italy. The physician Apollodorus, in the work which he wrote recommending King Ptolemy what wines in particular to drink—for in his time the wines of Italy were not generally known—has spoken in high terms of that of Naspercene in Pontus, next to which he places the Oretic,1337 and then the Œneatian,1338 the Leucadian,1339 the Ambraciotic,1340 and the Peparethian,1341 to which last he gives the preference over all the rest, though he states that it enjoyed an inferior reputation, from the fact of its not being considered fit for drinking until it had been kept six years.


Thus far we have treated of wines, the goodness of which is due to the country of their growth. In Greece the wine that is known by the name of “bion,” and which is administered for its curative qualities in several maladies (as we shall have occasion to remark when we come to speak on the subject of Medicine1342), has been justly held in the very highest esteem. This wine is made in the following manner: the grapes are plucked before they are quite ripe, and then dried in a hot sun: for three days they are turned three times a day, and on the fourth day they are pressed, after which the juice is put in casks,1343 and left to acquire age in the heat of the sun.1344

The people of Cos mix sea-water in large quantities with their wines, an invention which they first learned from a slave, who adopted this method of supplying the deficiency that had been caused by his thievish propensities. When this is mixed with white must, the mixture receives the name of248 “leucocoum.”1345 In other countries again, they follow a similar plan in making a wine called “tethalassomenon.”1346 They make a wine also known as “thalassites,”1347 by placing vessels full of must in the sea, a method which quickly imparts to the wine all the qualities of old age.1348 In our own country too, Cato has shown the method of making Italian wine into Coan: in addition to the modes of preparation above stated, he tells us that it must be left exposed four years to the heat of the sun, in order to bring it to maturity. The Rhodian1349 wine is similar to that of Cos, and the Phorinean is of a still salter flavour. It is generally thought that all the wines from beyond sea arrive at their middle state of maturity in the course of six1350 or seven years.


All the luscious wines have but little1351 aroma: the thinner the wine the more aroma it has. The colours of wines are four, white,1352 brown,1353 blood-coloured,1354 and black.1355 Psythium1356 and melampsythium1357 are varieties of raisin-wine which have the peculiar flavour of the grape, and not that of wine. Scybelites1358 is a wine grown in Galatia, and Aluntium1359 is a wine of Sicily, both of which have the flavour of mulsum.1360 249 As to siræum, by some known as “hepsema,” and which in our language is called “sapa,”1361 it is a product of art and not of Nature, being prepared from must boiled down to one-third: when must is boiled down to one-half only, we give it the name of “defrutum.” All these mixtures have been devised for the adulteration of honey.1362 As to those varieties which we have previously mentioned, their merits depend upon the grape, and the soil in which it is grown. Next after the raisin-wine of Crete,1363 those of Cilicia and Africa are held in the highest esteem, both in Italy as well as the adjoining provinces. It is well known that it is made of a grape to which the Greeks have given the name of “stica,” and which by us is called “apiana:”1364 it is also made of the scirpula.1365 The grapes are left on the vine to dry in the sun, or else are boiled in the dolium.1366 Some persons make this wine of the sweet and early white1367 grape: they leave the grapes to dry in the sun, until they have lost pretty nearly half their weight, after which they crush them and subject them to a gentle pressure. They then draw off the juice, and add to the pulp that is left an equal quantity of well-water, the product of which is raisin-wine of second quality.1368 The more careful makers not only do this, but take care also after drying the grapes to remove the stalks, and then steep the raisins in wine of good quality until they swell, after which they press them. This kind of raisin-wine is preferred to all others: with the addition of water, they follow the same plan in making the wine of second quality.

The liquor to which the Greeks give the name of “aigleucos,”1369 is of middle quality, between the sirops and what is properly called wine; with us it is called “semper mustum.”1370 It is only made by using great precaution, and taking care that the must does not ferment;1371 such being the state of the 250must in its transformation into wine. To attain this object, the must is taken from the vat and put into casks, which are immediately plunged into water, and there left to remain until the winter solstice is past, and frosty weather has made its appearance. There is another kind, again, of natural aigleucos, which is known in the province of Narbonensis by the name of “dulce,”1372 and more particularly in the district of the Vocontii. In order to make it, they keep the grape hanging on the tree for a considerable time, taking care to twist the stalk. Some, again, make an incision in the bearing shoot, as deep as the pith, while others leave the grapes to dry on tiles. The only grape, however, that is used in these various processes is that of the vine known as the “helvennaca.”1373

Some persons add to the list of these sweet wines that known as “diachyton.”1374 It is made by drying grapes in the sun, and then placing them for seven days in a closed place upon hurdles, some seven feet from the ground, care being taken to protect them at night from the dews: on the eighth day they are trodden out: this method, it is said, produces a liquor of exquisite bouquet and flavour. The liquor known as melitites1375 is also one of the sweet wines: it differs from mulsum, in being made of must; to five congii of rough-flavoured must they put one congius of honey, and one cyathus of salt, and they are then brought to a gentle boil: this mixture is of a rough flavour. Among these varieties, I ought to place what is known as “protropum;”1376 such being the name given by some to the must that runs spontaneously from the grapes before they are trodden out. Directly it flows it is put into flaggons, and allowed to ferment; after which it is left to ripen for forty days in a summer sun, about the rising of the Dog-star.



Those cannot properly be termed wines, which by the Greeks are known under the name of “deuteria,”1377 and to which, in common with Cato, we in Italy give the name of “lora,”1378 being made from the husks of grapes steeped in water. Still, however, this beverage is reckoned as making one of the “labourers’”1379 wines. There are three varieties of it: the first1380 is made in the following manner:—After the must is drawn off, one-tenth of its amount in water is added to the husks, which are then left to soak a day and a night, and then are again subjected to pressure. A second kind, that which the Greeks are in the habit of making, is prepared by adding one-third in water of the quantity of must that has been drawn off, and after submitting the pulp to pressure, the result is reduced by boiling to one-third of its original quantity. A third kind, again, is pressed out from the wine-lees; Cato gives it the name of “fæcatum.”1381 None of these beverages, however, will keep for more than a single year.


While treating of these various details, it occurs to me to mention that of the eighty different kinds throughout the whole earth, which may with propriety be reckoned in the class of generous1382 wines, fully two-thirds1383 are the produce of Italy, which consequently in this respect far surpasses any other country: and on tracing this subject somewhat higher up, the fact suggests itself, that the wines of Italy have not been in any great favour from an early period, their high 252repute having only been acquired since the six hundredth year of the City.


Romulus made libations, not with wine but with milk; a fact which is fully established by the religious rites which owe their foundation to him, and are observed even to the present day. The Posthumian Law, promulgated by King Numa, has an injunction to the following effect:—“Sprinkle not the funeral pyre with wine;” a law to which he gave his sanction, no doubt, in consequence of the remarkable scarcity of that commodity in those days. By the same law, he also pronounced it illegal to make a libation to the gods of wine that was the produce of an unpruned vine, his object being to compel the husbandmen to prune their vines; a duty which they showed themselves reluctant to perform, in consequence of the danger which attended climbing the trees.1384 M. Varro informs us, that Mezentius, the king of Etruria, succoured the Rutuli against the Latini, upon condition that he should receive all the wine that was then in the territory of Latium.

(13.) At Rome it was not lawful for women to drink wine. Among the various anecdotes connected with this subject, we find that the wife of Egnatius Mecenius1385 was slain by her husband with a stick, because she had drunk some wine from the vat, and that he was absolved from the murder by Romulus. Fabius Pictor, in his Book of Annals, has stated that a certain lady, for having opened a purse in which the keys of the wine-cellar were kept, was starved to death by her family: and Cato tells us, that it was the usage for the male relatives to give the females a kiss, in order to ascertain whether they smelt of “temetum;” for it was by that name that wine was then known, whence our word “temulentia,” signifying drunkenness. Cn. Domitius, the judge, once gave it as his opinion, that a certain woman appeared to him to have drunk more wine than was requisite for her health, and without the knowledge of her husband, for which reason he condemned her to lose her dower. For a very long time there was the greatest 253economy manifested at Rome in the use of this article. L. Papirius,1386 the general, who, on one occasion, commanded against the Samnites, when about to engage, vowed an offering to Jupiter of a small cupfull of wine, if he should gain the victory. In fact, among the gifts presented to the gods, we find mention made of offerings of sextarii of milk, but never of wine.

The same Cato, while on his voyage to Spain, from which he afterwards returned triumphant,1387 would drink of no other wine but that which was served out to the rowers—very different, indeed, to the conduct of those who are in the habit of giving to their guests even inferior wine1388 to that which they drink themselves, or else contrive to substitute inferior in the course of the repast.1389


The wines that were the most esteemed among the ancient Romans were those perfumed with myrrh,1390 as mentioned in the play of Plautus, entitled the “Persian,”1391 though we find it there stated that calamus1392 ought to be added to it. Hence it is, that some persons are of opinion that they were particularly fond of aromatites:1393 but Fabius Dossennus quite decides the question, in the following line:—“I sent them good wine, myrrh-wine;”1394 and in his play called “Acharistio,” we find these words—“Bread and pearled barley, myrrh-wine too.” I find, too, that Scævola and L. Ælius, and Ateius Capito, were of the same opinion; and then we read in the play known as the “Pseudolus:”1395—“But if it is requisite for him to draw forth what is sweet from the place, has he aught of that?” to which Charinus makes answer, “Do you ask 254the question? He has myrrh wine, raisin wine, defrutum,1396 and honey;” from which it would appear that myrrh wine was not only reckoned among the wines, but among the sweet wines too.


The fact of the existence of the Opimian wine gives undoubted proof that there were wine-lofts,1397 and that wine was racked off in the year of Rome 633, Italy being already alive to the blessings she enjoyed. Still, however, the several varieties that are now so celebrated were not so in those days; and hence it is that all the wines that were grown at that period have only the one general name of “Opimian” wines, from the then consul Opimius. So, too, for a long time afterwards, and, indeed, so late as the times of our grandfathers, the wines from beyond sea were held in the highest esteem, even though Falernian was already known, a fact which we learn from the line of the Comic writer,1398 “I shall draw five cups of Thasian and two of Falernian.”

P. Licinius Crassus, and L. Julius Cæsar, who were Censors in the year from the Building of the City 665, issued an edict forbidding the sale of either Greek or Aminean wine at a higher price than eight asses the quadrantal1399—for such, in fact, are the exact words of the edict. Indeed, the Greek wines were so highly valued, that not more than a single cup was served to a guest during the repast.


M. Varro gives us the following statement as to the wines that were held in the highest esteem at table in his day: “L. Lucullus, when a boy, never saw an entertainment at his father’s house, however sumptuous it might be, at which Greek 255wine was handed round more than once during the repast: whereas he himself, when he returned from Asia, distributed as a largess among the people more than a hundred thousand congiaria1400 of the same wine. C. Sentius, whom we have seen Prætor, used to say that Chian wine never entered his house until his physician prescribed it to him for the cardiac1401 disease. On the other hand, Hortensius left ten thousand casks of it to his heir.” Such is the statement made by Varro.

(15.) And besides, is it not a well-known fact that Cæsar, when Dictator, at the banquet given on the occasion of his triumph, allotted to each table an amphora of Falernian and a cadus of Chian? On the occasion, too, of his triumph for his victories in Spain, he put before the guests both Chian as well as Falernian; and again, at the banquet given on his third consulship,1402 he gave Falernian, Chian, Lesbian, and Mamertine; indeed, it is generally agreed that this was the first occasion on which four different kinds of wine were served at table. It was after this, then, that all the other sorts came into such very high repute, somewhere about the year of the City 700.


I am not surprised, then, that for these many ages there have been invented almost innumerable varieties of artificial wines, of which I shall now make some mention; they are all of them employed for medicinal purposes. We have already stated in a former Book how omphacium,1403 which is used for unguents, is made. The liquor known as “œnanthinum” is made from the wild vine,1404 two pounds of the flowers of which are steeped in a cadus of must, and are then changed at the end of thirty days. In addition to this, the root and the 256husks of the grapes are employed in dressing leather. The grapes, too, a little after the blossom has gone off, are singularly efficacious as a specific for cooling the feverish heat of the body in certain maladies, being, it is said, of a nature remarkable for extreme coldness. A portion of these grapes wither away, in consequence of the heat, before the rest, which are thence called solstitial1405 grapes; indeed, the whole of them never attain maturity; if one of these grapes, in an unripe state, is given to a barn-door fowl to eat, it is productive of a dislike to grapes for the future.1406


The first of the artificial wines has wine for its basis; it is called “adynamon,”1407 and is made in the following manner. Twenty sextarii of white must are boiled down with half that quantity of water, until the amount of the water is lost by evaporation. Some persons mix with the must ten sextarii of sea-water and an equal quantity of rain-water, and leave the whole to evaporate in the sun for forty days. This beverage is given to invalids to whom it is apprehended that wine may prove injurious.

The next kind of artificial wine is that made of the ripe grain of millet;1408 a pound and a quarter of it with the straw is steeped in two congii of must, and the mixture is poured off at the end of six months. We have already stated1409 how various kinds of wine are made from the tree, the shrub, and the herb, respectively known as the lotus.

From fruit, too, the following wines are made, to the list of which we shall only add some necessary explanations:—First of all, we find the fruit of the palm1410 employed for this purpose 257by the Parthians as well as the Indians, and, indeed, throughout all the countries of the East. A modius of the kind of ripe date called “chydææ”1411 is added to three congii of water, and after being steeped for some time, they are subjected to pressure. Sycites1412 is a preparation similarly made from figs: some persons call it “palmiprimum,”1413 others, again, “catorchites:” if sweetness is not the maker’s object, instead of water there is added the same quantity of husk juice1414 of grapes. Of the Cyprian fig1415 a very excellent vinegar, too, is made, and of that of Alexandria1416 a still superior.

A wine is made, too, of the pods of the Syrian carob,1417 of pears, and of all kinds of apples. That known as “rhoites”1418 is made from pomegranates, and other varieties are prepared from cornels, medlars, sorb apples, dried mulberries, and pine-nuts1419 these last are left to steep in must, and are then pressed; the others produce a sweet liquor of themselves. We shall have occasion before long to show how Cato1420 has pointed out the method of making myrtites:1421 the Greeks, however, adopt a different method in making it. They first boil tender sprigs of myrtle with the leaves on in white must, and after pounding them, boil down one pound of the mixture in three congii of must, until it is reduced to a couple of congii. The beverage that is prepared in this manner with the berries of wild myrtle is known as “myrtidanum;”1422 it will stain the hands.

Among the garden plants we find wines made of the following kinds: the radish, asparagus, cunila, origanum, parsley-seed, 258abrotonum,1423 wild mint, rue,1424 catmint,1425 wild thyme,1426 and horehound.1427 A couple of handfuls of these ingredients are put into a cadus of must, as also one sextarius of sapa,1428 and half a sextarius of sea-water. A wine is made of the naphew1429 turnip by adding two drachms of naphew to two sextarii of must. A wine is made also from the roots of squills.1430 Among the flowers, that of the rose furnishes a wine: the leaves are put in a linen cloth and then pounded, after which they are thrown into must with a small weight attached to make them sink to the bottom, the proportion being forty drachms of leaves to twenty sextarii of must; the vessel in which it is kept must not be opened before the end of three months. A wine, too, is made of Gallic nard,1431 and another kind of the wild1432 variety of that plant.

I find, also, that various kinds of aromatites1433 are prepared, differing but very little in their mode of composition from that of the unguents, being made in the first instance, as I have already stated,1434 of myrrh, and then at a later period of Celtic nard,1435 calamus, and aspalathus,1436 of which cakes are made, and are then thrown into either must or sweet wine. Others, again, make these wines of calamus, scented rush,1437 costus,1438 Syrian nard,1439 amomum,1440 cassia,1441 cinnamon, saffron,1442 palm-dates, and foal-foot,1443 all of which are made up into cakes in a similar manner. Other persons, again, put half a pound of nard and malobathrum1444 to two congii of must; and it is in this manner that at the present day, with the addition of 259pepper and honey, the wines are made by some known as confection wines,1445 and by others as peppered1446 wines. We find mention made of nectarites also, a beverage extracted from a herb known to some as “helenion,”1447 to others as “Medica,”1448 and to others, again, as symphyton,1449 Idæa, Orestion, or nectaria, the root of which is added in the proportion of forty drachms to six sextarii of must, being first similarly placed in a linen cloth.

As to other kinds of herbs, we find wormwood wine,1450 made of Pontic wormwood in the proportion of one pound to forty sextarii of must, which is then boiled down until it is reduced to one third, or else of slips of wormwood put in wine. In a similar manner, hyssop wine1451 is made of Cilician hyssop,1452 by adding three ounces of it to two congii of must, or else by pounding three ounces of hyssop, and adding them to one congius of must. Both of these wines may be made also in another method, by sowing these plants around the roots of vines. It is in this manner, too, that Cato tells us how to make hellebore1453 wine from black hellebore; and a similar method is used for making scammony1454 wine. The vine has a remarkable propensity1455 of contracting the flavour of any plant that may happen to be growing near it; and hence it is that in the marshy lands of Patavium, the grape has the peculiar flavour of the willow. So, in like manner, we find at Thasos hellebore planted among the vines, or else wild cucumber, or scammony; the wine that is produced from these vines is known by the name of “phthorium,” it being productive of abortion.


Wines are made, too, of other herbs, the nature of which will be mentioned in their respective places, the stœchas1456 for instance, the root of gentian,1457 tragoriganum,1458 dittany,1459 foal-foot,1460 daucus,1461 elelisphacus,1462 panax,1463 acorus,1464 conyza,1465 thyme,1466 mandragore,1467 and sweet rush.1468 We find the names mentioned, also, of scyzinum,1469 itæomelis, and lectisphagites, compounds of which the receipt is now lost.

The wines that are made from the shrubs are mostly extracted from the two kinds of cedar,1470 the cypress,1471 the laurel,1472 the juniper,1473 the terebinth,1474 and in Gaul the lentisk.1475 To make these wines, they boil either the berries or the new wood of the shrub in must. They employ, also, the wood of the dwarf olive,1476 the ground-pine,1477 and the germander1478 for a similar purpose, adding at the same time ten drachms of the flower to a congius of must.



There is a wine also made solely of honey and water.1479 For this purpose it is recommended that rain-water1480 should be kept for a period of five years. Those who shew greater skill, content themselves with taking the water just after it has fallen, and boiling it down to one third, to which they then add one third in quantity of old honey, and keep the mixture exposed to the rays of a hot sun1481 for forty days after the rising of the Dog-star; others, however, rack it off in the course of ten days, and tightly cork the vessels in which it is kept. This beverage is known as “hydromeli,” and with age acquires the flavour of wine. It is nowhere more highly esteemed than in Phrygia.1482


Vinegar1483 even has been mixed with honey; nothing, in fact, has been left untried by man. To this mixture the name of oxymeli has been given; it is compounded of ten pounds of honey, five semi-sextarii of old vinegar, one pound of sea-salt, and five sextarii of rain-water. This is boiled gently till the mixture has bubbled in the pot some ten times,1484 after which it is drawn off, and kept till it is old;1485 all these wines, however, are condemned1486 by Themison, an author of high authority. And really, by Hercules! the use of them does appear to be somewhat forced,1487 unless, indeed, we are ready to maintain that these aromatic wines are so many compounds taught us by Nature, as well as those that are manufactured of perfumes, or that shrubs and plants have been generated only for the purpose of being swallowed in drink. However, all these particulars, when known, are curious and interesting, and show how successfully the human intellect has pried into every secret.


None of these wines, however, will keep beyond a year,1488 with the sole exception of those which we have spoken of as requiring age; many of these, indeed, there can be no doubt, do not improve after being kept so little as thirty days.


There are some miraculous properties, too, in certain wines. It is said that in Arcadia there is a wine grown which is productive of fruitfulness1489 in women, and of madness in men; while in Achaia, and more especially in the vicinity of Carynia, there is a wine which causes abortion; an effect which is equally produced if a woman in a state of pregnancy happens only to eat a grape of the vine from which it is grown, although in taste it is in no way different from ordinary grapes: again, it is confidently asserted that those who drink the wine of Trœzen never bear children. Thasos, it is said, produces two varieties of wine with quite opposite properties. By one kind sleep is produced,1490 by the other it is prevented. There is also in the same island a vine known as the “theriaca,”1491 the wine and grapes of which are a cure for the bites of serpents. The libanian vine1492 also produces a wine with the smell of frankincense, with which they make libations to the gods, while, on the other hand, the produce of that known as “aspendios,”1493 is banished from all the altars: it is said, too, that this last vine is never touched by any bird.

The Egyptians call by the name of “Thasian,”1494 a certain grape of that country, remarkable for its sweetness and its 263laxative qualities. On the other hand, there is in Lycia a certain grape which proves astringent to the stomach when relaxed. Egypt has a wine, too, known as “ecbolas,”1495 which is productive of abortion. There are some wines, which at the rising of the Dog-star change their nature in the wine-lofts1496 where they are kept, and afterwards recover1497 their original quality. The same is the case, too, with wines when carried across the seas: those that are able to withstand the motion of the waves, appear afterwards to be twice as old1498 as they really are.


As religion is the great basis of the ordinary usages of life, I shall here remark that it is considered improper to offer libations to the gods with any wines which are the produce of an unpruned vine, or of one that has been struck by lightning, or near to which a dead man has been hung, or of grapes that have been trodden out by sore feet, or made of must from husks that have been cut,1499 or from grapes that have been polluted by the fall of any unclean thing upon them. The Greek wines are excluded also from the sacred ministrations, because they contain a portion of water.

The vine itself is sometimes eaten; the tops of the shoots1500 are taken off and boiled, and are then pickled in vinegar1501 and brine.


It will be as well now to make some mention of the methods 264used in preparing wines; indeed, several of the Greeks have written separate treatises on this subject, and have made a complete art of it, such, for instance, as Euphronius, Aristomachus, Commiades, and Hicesius. The people of Africa are in the habit of neutralizing such acidity1502 as may be found with gypsum, and in some parts with lime. The people of Greece, on the other hand, impart briskness to their wines when too flat, with potters’ earth, pounded marble, salt, or sea-water; while in Italy, again, brown pitch is used for that purpose in some parts, and it is the universal practice both there as well as in the adjoining provinces to season their new wines with resin: sometimes, too, they season them with old wine-lees or vinegar.1503 They make various medicaments, also, for this purpose with the must itself. They boil it down till it becomes quite sweet, and has lost a considerable portion of its strength; though thus prepared, they say it will never last beyond a single year. In some places they boil down the must till it becomes sapa,1504 and then mix it with their wines for the purpose of modifying their harshness. Both for these kinds of wines, as, indeed, all others, they always employ vessels which have themselves received an inner coat of pitch; the method of preparing them will be set forth in a succeeding Book.1505


Of the trees from which pitch and resin distil, there are some which grow in the East, and others in Europe: the province of Asia,1506 which lies between the two, has also some of both kinds. In the East, the very best commodity of this kind, and of the finest quality, is that produced by the terebinth,1507 and, next to it, that from the lentisk,1508 which is also known as the mastich. The next in quality to these is the juice of the cypress,1509 being of a more acrid flavour than any other. 265 All the above juices are liquid and of a resinous nature only, but that of the cedar1510 is comparatively thick, and of a proper consistency for making pitch. The Arabian resin1511 is of a pale colour, has an acrid smell, and its fumes are stifling to those employed in boiling it. That of Judæa is of a harder nature, and has a stronger smell than that from the terebinth1512 even. The Syrian1513 resin has all the appearance of Attic honey, but that of Cyprus is superior to any other; it is the colour of honey, and is of a soft, fleshy nature. The resin of Colophon1514 is yellower than the other varieties, but when pounded it turns white; it has a stifling smell, for which reason the perfumers do not employ it. That prepared in Asia from the produce of the pitch-tree is very white, and is known by the name of “spagas.”

All the resins are soluble in oil;1515 some persons are of opinion also that potters’ chalk may be so dissolved:1516 I feel ashamed1517 to avow that the principal esteem in which the resins are held among us is as depilatories for taking the hair off men’s bodies.

The method used for seasoning wines is to sprinkle pitch in the must during the first fermentation, which never lasts beyond nine days at the most, so that a bouquet is imparted to the wine,1518 with, in some degree, its own peculiar piquancy of flavour. It is generally considered, that this is done most effectually by the use of raw flower1519 of resin, which imparts a considerable degree of briskness to wine: while, on the other hand, it is thought that crapula1520 itself, if mixed, tends 266to mitigate the harshness of the wine and subdue its asperity, and when the wine is thin and flat, to give it additional strength and body. It is in Liguria more particularly, and the districts in the vicinity of the Padus, that the utility is recognized of mixing crapula with the must, in doing which the following rule is adopted: with wines of a strong and generous nature they mix a larger quantity, while with those that are poor and thin they use it more sparingly. There are some who would have the wine seasoned with both crapula and flower of resin at the same time.1521 Pitch too, when used for this purpose, has much the same properties as must when so employed.

In some places, the must is subject to a spontaneous fermentation a second time: when this unfortunately happens it loses all its flavour, and then receives the name of “vappa,”1522 a word which is applied as an opprobrious appellation even to worthless men of degenerate spirit: in vinegar, on the other hand, notwithstanding its tart and acrid taste, there are very considerable virtues, and without it we should miss many of the comforts1523 of civilized life.

In addition to what we have already stated, the treatment and preparation of wines are the object of such remarkable attention, that we find some persons employing ashes, and others gypsum and other substances of which we have already1524 spoken, for the purpose of improving its condition: the ashes,1525 however, of the shoots of vines or of the wood of the quercus, are in general preferred for this purpose. It is recommended also, 267to take sea-water far out at sea, and to keep it in reserve,1526 to be employed for this purpose: at all events, it ought to be taken up in the night and during the summer solstice, while the north-east wind is blowing; but if taken at the time of the vintage, it should be boiled before being used.

The pitch most highly esteemed in Italy for preparing vessels for storing wine, is that which comes from Bruttium. It is made from the resin that distils from the pitch-tree; that which is used in Spain is held in but little esteem, being the produce of the wild pine; it is bitter, dry, and of a disagreeable smell. While speaking of the wild trees in a succeeding Book,1527 we shall make mention of the different varieties of pitch, and the methods used in preparing it. The defects in resin, besides those which1528 we have already mentioned, are a certain degree of acridity, or a peculiar smoky flavour, while the great fault in pitch is the being over-burnt. The ordinary test of its goodness is a certain luminous appearance when broken to pieces; it ought to stick, too, to the teeth, with a pleasant, tart flavour.

In Asia, the pitch which is most esteemed is that of Mount Ida, in Greece of Pieria; but Virgil1529 gives the preference to the Narycian1530 pitch. The more careful makers mix with the wine black mastich, which comes from Pontus,1531 and resembles bitumen in appearance, as also iris1532-root and oil. As to coating the vessels with wax, it has been found that the wine is apt to turn acid:1533 it is a better plan to put wine in vessels that have held vinegar, than in those which have previously contained sweet wine or mulsum. Cato1534 recommends that wines should be got up—concinnari is his word—by putting of lie-ashes boiled down with defrutum, one-fortieth part to the culeus, or else a pound and a half of salt, with pounded marble as well: he makes mention of sulphur also, but only gives the very last place to resin. When the fermentation of the wine is coming to an end, he recommends the addition of the must 268to which he gives the name of “tortivum,”1535 meaning that which is pressed out the very last of all. For the purpose of colouring wine we also add certain substances as a sort of pigment, and these have a tendency to give it a body as well. By such poisonous sophistications is this beverage compelled to suit our tastes, and then we are surprised that it is injurious in its effects!

It is a proof that wine is beginning to turn bad, if a plate of lead, on being put in it, changes its colour.1536


It is a peculiarity of wine, among the liquids, to become mouldy, or else to turn to vinegar. There are whole volumes which treat of the various methods of preventing this.

The lees of wine when dried will take fire and burn without the addition of fuel: the ashes so produced have very much the nature of nitre,1537 and similar virtues; the more so, indeed, the more unctuous they are to the touch.


The various methods of keeping and storing wines in the cellar are very different. In the vicinity of the Alps, they put their wines in wooden vessels hooped around;1538 during their cold winters, they even keep lighted fires, to protect the wines from the effects of the cold. It is a singular thing to mention, but still it has been occasionally seen, that these vessels have burst asunder, and there has stood the wine in frozen masses; a miracle almost, as it is not ordinarily the nature of wine to freeze, cold having only the effect of benumbing it. In more temperate climates, they place their wines in dolia,1539 which they bury in the earth, either covering them entirely or in part, according to the temperature. Sometimes, again, they expose their wines in the open air, while at others they are placed beneath sheds for protection from the atmosphere.


The following are among the rules given for the proper management of wines:—One side of the wine-cellar, or, at all events, the windows, ought to face the north-east, or at least due east. All dunghills and roots of trees, and everything of a repulsive smell, ought to be kept at as great a distance as possible, wine being very apt to contract an odour. Fig-trees too, either wild or cultivated, ought not to be planted in the vicinity. Intervals should also be left between the vessels, in order to prevent infection, in case of any of them turning bad, wine being remarkably apt to become tainted. The shape, too, of the vessels is of considerable importance: those that are broad and bellying1540 are not so good.1541 We find it recommended too, to pitch them immediately after the rising of the Dog-star, and then to wash them either with sea or salt water, after which they should be sprinkled with the ashes of tree-shoots or else with potters’ earth; they ought then to be cleaned out, and perfumed with myrrh, a thing which ought to be frequently done to the wine-cellars as well. Weak, thin wines should be kept1542 in dolia sunk in the ground, while those in which the stronger ones are kept should be more exposed to the air. The vessels ought on no account to be entirely filled, room being left for seasoning, by mixing either raisin wine or else defrutum flavoured with saffron; old pitch and sapa are sometimes used for the same purpose. The lids, too, of the dolia ought to be seasoned in a similar manner, with the addition of mastich and Bruttian pitch.

It is strongly recommended never to open the vessels, except in fine weather; nor yet while a south wind is blowing, or at a full moon.

The flower1543 of wine when white is looked upon as a good sign; but when it is red, it is bad, unless that should happen to be the colour of the wine. The vessels, too, should not be hot to the touch, nor should the covers throw out a sort of sweat. When wine very soon flowers on the surface and emits an odour, it is a sign that it will not keep.

As to defrutum and sapa, it is recommended to commence boiling them when there is no moon to be seen, or, in other 270words, at the conjunction of that planet, and at no other time. Leaden1544 vessels should be used for this purpose, and not copper1545 ones, and walnuts are generally thrown into them, from a notion that they absorb1546 the smoke. In Campania they expose the very finest wines in casks in the open air, it being the opinion that it tends to improve the wine if it is exposed to the action of the sun and moon, the rain and the winds.


If any one will take the trouble duly to consider the matter, he will find that upon no one subject is the industry of man kept more constantly on the alert than upon the making of wine; as if Nature had not given us water as a beverage, the one, in fact, of which all other animals make use. We, on the other hand, even go so far as to make our very beasts of burden drink1547 wine: so vast are our efforts, so vast our labours, and so boundless the cost which we thus lavish upon a liquid which deprives man of his reason and drives him to frenzy and to the commission of a thousand crimes! So great, however, are its attractions, that a great part of mankind are of opinion that there is nothing else in life worth living for. Nay, what is even more than this, that we may be enabled to swallow all the more, we have adopted the plan of diminishing its strength by pressing it through1548 filters of cloth, and have devised numerous inventions whereby to create an artificial thirst. To promote drinking, we find that even poisonous mixtures have been invented, and some men are known to take a dose of hemlock before they begin to drink, that they may have the fear of death before them to make them take their wine:1549 others, again, take powdered pumice1550 for the 271same purpose, and various other mixtures, which I should feel quite ashamed any further to enlarge upon.

We see the more prudent among those who are given to this habit have themselves parboiled in hot-baths, from whence they are carried away half dead. Others there are, again, who cannot wait till they have got to the banqueting couch,1551 no, not so much as till they have got their shirt on,1552 but all naked and panting as they are, the instant they leave the bath they seize hold of large vessels filled with wine, to show off, as it were, their mighty powers, and so gulp down the whole of the contents only to vomit them up again the very next moment. This they will repeat, too, a second and even a third time, just as though they had only been begotten for the purpose of wasting wine, and as if that liquor could not be thrown away without having first passed through the human body. It is to encourage habits such as these that we have introduced the athletic exercises1553 of other countries, such as rolling in the mud, for instance, and throwing the arms back to show off a brawny neck and chest. Of all these exercises, thirst, it is said, is the chief and primary object.

And then, too, what vessels are employed for holding wine! carved all over with the representations of adulterous intrigues, as if, in fact, drunkenness itself was not sufficiently capable of teaching us lessons of lustfulness. Thus we see wines quaffed out of impurities, and inebriety invited even by the hope of a reward,—invited, did I say?—may the gods forgive me for saying so, purchased outright. We find one person induced to drink upon the condition that he shall have as much to eat as he has previously drunk, while another has to quaff as many cups as he has thrown points on the dice. Then it is that the roving, insatiate eyes are setting a price upon the matron’s chastity; and yet, heavy as they are with wine, they do not fail to betray their designs to her husband. Then it is that all the secrets of the mind are revealed; one man is heard to disclose the provisions of his will, another lets fall some expression of fatal import, and so fails to keep to himself words which will be sure to come home to him with a cut 272throat. And how many a man has met his death in this fashion! Indeed, it has become quite a common proverb, that “in wine1554 there is truth.”

Should he, however, fortunately escape all these dangers, the drunkard never beholds the rising sun, by which his life of drinking is made all the shorter. From wine, too, comes that pallid hue,1555 those drooping eyelids, those sore eyes, those tremulous hands, unable to hold with steadiness the overflowing vessel, condign punishment in the shape of sleep agitated by Furies during the restless night, and, the supreme reward of inebriety, those dreams of monstrous lustfulness and of forbidden delights. Then on the next day there is the breath reeking of the wine-cask, and a nearly total obliviousness of everything, from the annihilation of the powers of the memory. And this, too, is what they call “seizing the moments of life!”1556 whereas, in reality, while other men lose the day that has gone before, the drinker has already lost the one that is to come.

They first began, in the reign of Tiberius Claudius, some forty years ago, to drink fasting, and to take whets of wine before meals; an outlandish1557 fashion, however, and only patronized by physicians who wished to recommend themselves by the introduction of some novelty or other.

It is in the exercise of their drinking powers that the Parthians look for their share of fame, and it was in this that Alcibiades among the Greeks earned his great repute. Among ourselves, too, Novellius Torquatus of Mediolanum, a man who held all the honours of the state from the prefecture to the pro-consulate, could drink off three congii1558 at a single draught, a feat from which he obtained the surname of “Tricongius:” this he did before the eyes of the Emperor Tiberius, and to his extreme surprise and astonishment, a man who in his old age was very morose,1559 and indeed very cruel in general; though in his younger days he himself had been too much addicted to wine. Indeed it was owing to that recommendation that it was generally thought that L. Piso was 273selected by him to have the charge and custody1560 of the City of Rome; he having kept up a drinking-bout at the residence of Tiberius, just after he had become emperor, two days and two nights without intermission. In no point, too, was it generally said that Drusus Cæsar took after his father Tiberius more than this.1561 Torquatus had the rather uncommon glory—for this science, too, is regulated by peculiar laws of its own—of never being known to stammer in his speech, or to relieve the stomach by vomiting or urine, while engaged in drinking. He was always on duty at the morning guard, was able to empty the largest vessel at a single draught, and yet to take more ordinary cups in addition than any one else; he was always to be implicitly depended upon, too, for being able to drink without taking breath and without ever spitting, or so much as leaving enough at the bottom of the cup to make a plash upon the pavement;1562 thus showing himself an exact observer of the regulations which have been made to prevent all shirking on the part of drinkers.

Tergilla reproaches Cicero, the son of Marcus Cicero, with being in the habit of taking off a couple of congii at a single draught, and with having thrown a cup, when in a state of drunkenness, at M. Agrippa;1563 such, in fact, being the ordinary results of intoxication. But it is not to be wondered at that Cicero was desirous in this respect to eclipse the fame of M. Antonius, the murderer of his father; a man who had, before the time of the younger Cicero, shown himself so extremely anxious to maintain the superiority in this kind of qualification, that he had even gone so far as to publish a book upon the subject of his own drunkenness.1564 Daring in this work to speak in his own defence, he has proved very satisfactorily, to my thinking, how many were the evils he had inflicted upon the world through this same vice of drunkenness. It was but a short time before the battle of Actium that he vomited forth 274this book of his, from which we have no great difficulty in coming to the conclusion, that drunk as he already was with the blood of his fellow-citizens, the only result was that he thirsted for it all the more. For, in fact, such is the infallible characteristic of drunkenness, the more a person is in the habit of drinking, the more eager he is for drink; and the remark of the Scythian ambassador is as true as it is well known—the more the Parthians drank, the thirstier they were for it.


The people of the Western world have also their intoxicating drinks, made from corn steeped in water.1565 These beverages are prepared in different ways throughout Gaul and the provinces of Spain; under different names, too, though in their results they are the same. The Spanish provinces have even taught us the fact that these liquors are capable of being kept till they have attained a considerable age. Egypt,1566 too, has invented for its use a very similar beverage made from corn; indeed, in no part of the world is drunkenness ever at a loss. And then, besides, they take these drinks unmixed, and do not dilute them with water, the way that wine is modified; and yet, by Hercules! one really might have supposed that there the earth produced nothing but corn for the people’s use. Alas! what wondrous skill, and yet how misplaced! means have absolutely been discovered for getting drunk upon water even.

There are two liquids that are peculiarly grateful to the human body, wine within and oil without; both of them the produce of trees, and most excellent in their respective kinds. Oil, indeed, we may pronounce an absolute necessary, nor has mankind been slow to employ all the arts of invention in the manufacture of it. How much more ingenious, however, man has shown himself in devising various kinds of drink will be evident from the fact, that there are no less 275than one hundred and ninety-five different kinds of it; indeed, if all the varieties are reckoned, they will amount to nearly double that number. The various kinds of oil are much less numerous—we shall proceed to give an account of them in the following Book.

Summary.—Remarkable facts, narratives, and observations, five hundred and ten.

Roman authors quoted.—Cornelius Valerianus,1567 Virgil,1568 Celsus,1569 Cato the Censor,1570 Saserna,1571 father and son, Scrofa,1572 M. Varro,1573 D. Silanus,1574 Fabius Pictor,1575 Trogus,1576 Hyginus,1577 Flaccus Verrius,1578 Græcinus,1579 Julius Atticus,1580 Columella,1581 Massurius Sabinus,1582 Fenestella,1583 Tergilla,1584 Maccius Plautus,1585 Flavius,1586 Dossennus,1587 Scævola,1588 Ælius,1589 Ateius Capito,1590 276 Cotta Messalinus,1591 L. Piso,1592 Pompeius Lenæus,1593 Fabianus,1594 Sextius Niger,1595 Vibius Rufus.1596

Foreign authors quoted.—Hesiod,1597 Theophrastus,1598 Aristotle,1599 Democritus,1600 King Hiero,1601 King Attalus Philometor,1602 Archytas,1603 Xenophon,1604 Amphilochus1605 of Athens, Anaxipolis1606 of Thasos, Apollodorus1607 of Lemnos, Aristophanes1608 of Miletus, Antigonus1609 of Cymæ, Agathocles1610 of Chios, Apollonius1611 of Pergamus, Aristander1612 of Athens, Botrys1613 of Athens, Bacchius1614 of Miletus, Bion1615 of Soli, Chærea1616 of Athens, Chæristus1617 of Athens, Diodorus1618 of Priene, Dion1619 of Colophon, Epigenes1620 of Rhodes, Euagon1621 of Thasos, Euphronius1622 of Athens, Androtion1623 who wrote on agriculture, Æschrion1624 who wrote on agriculture, Lysimachus1625 who wrote on agriculture, Dionysius1626 who translated Mago, Diophanes1627 who made an Epitome of the work of Dionysius, Asclepiades1628 the Physician, Onesicritus,1629 King Juba.1630





Theophrastus,1631 one of the most famous among the Greek writers, who flourished about the year 440 of the City of Rome, has asserted that the olive1632 does not grow at a distance of more than forty1633 miles from the sea. Fenestella tells us that in the year of Rome 173, being the reign of Tarquinius Priscus, it did not exist in Italy, Spain, or Africa;1634 whereas at the present day it has crossed the Alps even, and has been introduced into the two provinces of Gaul and the middle of Spain. In the year of Rome 505, Appius Claudius, grandson of Appius Claudius Cæcus, and L. Junius being consuls, twelve pounds of oil sold for an as; and at a later period, in the year 680, M. Seius, son of Lucius, the curule ædile, regulated the price of olive oil at Rome, at the rate of ten pounds for the as, for the whole year. A person will be the less surprised at this, when he learns that twenty-two years after, in the third consulship of Cn. Pompeius, Italy was able to export olive oil to the provinces.

Hesiod,1635 who looked upon an acquaintance with agriculture 278as conducive in the very highest degree to the comforts of life, has declared that there was no one who had ever gathered fruit from the olive-tree that had been sown by his own hands, so slow was it in reaching maturity in those times; whereas, now at the present day, it is sown in nurseries even, and if transplanted will bear fruit the following year.


Fabianus maintains that the olive will grow1636 neither in very cold climates, nor yet in very hot ones. Virgil1637 has mentioned three varieties of the olive, the orchites,1638 the radius,1639 and the posia;1640 and says that they require no raking or pruning, nor, in fact, any attention whatever. There is no doubt that in the case of these plants, soil and climate are the things of primary importance; but still, it is usual to prune them at the same time as the vine, and they are improved by lopping between them every here and there. The gathering of the olive follows that of the grape, and there is even a greater degree of skill required in preparing1641 oil than in making wine; for the very same olives will frequently give quite different results. The first oil of all, produced from the raw1642 olive before it has begun to ripen, is considered preferable to all the others in flavour; in this kind, too, the first1643 droppings of the press are the most esteemed, diminishing gradually in goodness and value; and this, whether the wicker-work1644 basket is used in making it, or whether, following the more 279recent plan, the pulp is put in a stick strainer, with narrow spikes and interstices.1645 The riper the berry, the more unctuous the juice, and the less agreeable the taste.1646 To obtain a result both abundant and of excellent flavour, the best time to gather it is when the berry is just on the point of turning black. In this state it is called “druppa” by us, by the Greeks, “drypetis.”

In addition to these distinctions, it is of importance to observe whether the berry ripens in the press or while on the branch; whether the tree has been watered, or whether the fruit has been nurtured solely by its own juices, and has imbibed nothing else but the dews of heaven.


It is not with olive oil as it is with wine, for by age it acquires a bad flavour,1647 and at the end of a year it is already old. This, if rightly understood, is a wise provision on the part of Nature: wine, which is only produced for the drunkard, she has seen no necessity for us to use when new; indeed, by the fine flavour which it acquires with age, she rather invites us to keep it; but, on the other hand, she has not willed that we should be thus sparing of oil, and so has rendered its use common and universal by the very necessity there is of using it while fresh.

In the production of this blessing as well,1648 Italy holds the highest rank among all countries,1649 and more particularly the territory of Venafrum,1650 that part of it in especial which produces the Licinian oil; the qualities of which have conferred upon the Licinian olive the very highest renown. It is our 280unguents which have brought this oil into such great esteem, the peculiar odour of it adapting itself so well to the full development of their qualities; at the same time its delicate flavour equally enlists the palate in its behalf. In addition to this, birds will never touch the berry of the Licinian olive.

Next to Italy, the contest is maintained, and on very equal terms, between the territories of Istria and of Bætica. The next rank for excellence is claimed by the other provinces of our Empire, with the exception of Africa,1651 the soil of which is better adapted for grain. That country Nature has given exclusively to the cereals; of oil and wine she has all but deprived it, securing it a sufficient share of renown by its abundant harvests. As to the remaining particulars connected with the olive, they are replete with erroneous notions, and I shall have occasion to show that there is no part of our agricultural economy upon which people have been more generally mistaken.

(3.) The olive is composed of a stone, oil, flesh, and amurca:1652 the last being a bitter liquid, principally composed of water; hence it is that in seasons of drought it is less plentiful, and more abundant when rains1653 have prevailed. The oil is a juice peculiar to the olive, a fact more particularly stated in reference to its unripe state, as we have already mentioned when speaking of omphacium.1654 This oil continues on the increase up to the rising of Arcturus,1655 or in other words, the sixteenth day before the calends of October;1656 after which the increase is in the stone and the flesh. When drought has been followed by abundant rains, the oil is spoilt, and turns to amurca. It is the colour of this amurca that makes the olive turn black; hence, when the berry is just beginning to turn that colour, there is but little amurca in it, and before that period none at all. It is an error then, on the part of persons, to suppose that that is the commencement of maturity, 281which is in reality only the near approach of corruption. A second error, too, is the supposition that the oil increases proportionally to the flesh of the berry, it being the fact that the oil is all the time undergoing a change into flesh, and the stone is growing larger and larger within. It is for this reason more particularly, that care is taken to water the tree at this period; the real result of all this care and attention, as well as of the fall of copious rains, being, that the oil in reality is absorbed as the berry increases in size, unless fine dry weather should happen to set in, which naturally tends to contract the volume of the fruit. According to Theophrastus,1657 heat is the sole primary cause of the oleaginous principle; for which reason it is, that in the presses,1658 and in the cellars even, great fires are lighted to improve the quality of the oil.

A third error arises from misplaced economy: to spare the expense of gathering, people are in the habit of waiting till the berry falls from the tree. Others, again, who wish to follow a middle course in this respect, beat the fruit off with poles, and so inflict injury on the tree and ensure loss in the succeeding year; indeed, there was a very ancient regulation in existence relative to the gathering of the olive—“Neither pull nor beat the olive-tree.”1659 Those who would observe a still greater degree of precaution, strike the branches lightly with a reed on one side of them; but even then the tree is reduced to bearing fruit but once in two years,1660 in consequence of the injury done to the buds. Not less injurious, however, are the results of waiting till the berries fall from the tree; for, by remaining on it beyond the proper time, they deprive the crop that is coming on of its due share of nutriment, by occupying its place: a clear proof of which is, that if they are not gathered before the west winds prevail, they are found to have acquired renewed strength, and are all the later before they fall.


The first olive that is gathered after the autumn is that 282known as the “posia,”1661 the berry of which, owing to a vicious method of cultivation, and not any fault on the part of Nature, has the most flesh upon it. Next to this is the orchites, which contains the greatest quantity of oil, and then, after that, the radius. As these are of a peculiarly delicate nature, the heat very rapidly takes effect upon them, and the amurca they contain causes them to fall. On the other hand, the gathering of the tough, hard-skinned olive is put off so late as the month of March, it being well able to resist the effects of moisture, and, consequently, very small. Those varieties known as the Licinian, the Cominian, the Contian, and the Sergian, by the Sabines called the “royal”1662 olive, do not turn black before the west winds prevail, or, in other words, before the sixth day before1663 the ides of February. At this period it is generally thought that they begin to ripen, and as a most excellent oil is extracted from them, experience would seem to give its support to a theory which, in reality, is altogether wrong. The growers say that in the same degree that cold diminishes the oil, the ripeness of the berry augments it; whereas, in reality, the goodness of the oil is owing, not to the period at which the olives are gathered, but to the natural properties of this peculiar variety, in which the oil is remarkably slow in turning to amurca.

A similar error, too, is committed by those who keep the olives, when gathered, upon a layer of boards, and do not press the fruit till it has thrown out a sweat; it being the fact that every hour lost tends to diminish the oil and increase the amurca: the consequence is, that, according to the ordinary computation, a modius of olives yields no more than six pounds of oil. No one, however, ever takes account of the quantity of amurca to ascertain, in reference to the same kind of berry, to what extent it increases daily in amount. Then, again, it is a very general error1664 among practical persons to suppose that the oil increases proportionably to the increased size of the berry; and more particularly so when it is so clearly proved that such is not the case, with reference to 283the variety known as the royal olive, by some called majorina, and by others phaulia;1665 this berry being of the very largest size, and yet yielding a minimum of juice. In Egypt,1666 too, the berries, which are remarkably meaty, are found to produce but very little oil; while those of Decapolis, in Syria, are so extremely small, that they are no bigger than a caper; and yet they are highly esteemed for their flesh.1667 It is for this reason that the olives from the parts beyond sea are preferred for table to those of Italy, though, at the same time, they are very inferior to them for making oil.

In Italy, those of Picenum and of Sidicina1668 are considered the best for table. These are kept apart from the others and steeped in salt, after which, like other olives, they are put in amurca, or else boiled wine; indeed, some of them are left to float solely in their own oil,1669 without any adventitious mode of preparation, and are then known as colymbades: sometimes the berry is crushed, and then seasoned with green herbs to flavour it. Even in an unripe state the olive is rendered fit for eating by being sprinkled with boiling water; it is quite surprising, too, how readily it will imbibe sweet juices, and retain an adventitious flavour from foreign substances. With this fruit, as with the grape, there are purple1670 varieties, and the posia is of a complexion approaching to black. Besides those already mentioned, there are the superba1671 and a remarkably luscious kind, which dries of itself, and is even sweeter than the raisin: this last variety is extremely rare, and is to 284be found in Africa and in the vicinity of Emerita1672 in Lusitania.

The oil of the olive is prevented from getting1673 thick and rancid by the admixture of salt. By making an incision in the bark of the tree, an aromatic odour may be imparted1674 to the oil. Any other mode of seasoning, such, for instance, as those used with reference to wine, is not at all gratifying to the palate; nor do we find so many varieties in oil as there are in the produce of the grape, there being, in general, but three different degrees of goodness. In fine oil the odour is more penetrating, but even in the very best it is but short-lived.


It is one of the properties of oil to impart warmth to the body, and to protect it against the action of cold; while at the same time it promotes coolness in the head when heated. The Greeks, those parents of all vices, have abused it by making it minister to luxury, and employing it commonly in the gymnasium: indeed, it is a well-known fact that the governors of those establishments have sold the scrapings1675 of the oil used there for a sum of eighty thousand sesterces. The majesty of the Roman sway has conferred high honour upon the olive: crowned with it, the troops of the Equestrian order are wont to defile upon the ides of July;1676 it is used, too, by the victor in the minor triumphs of the ovation.1677 At Athens, 285also, they are in the habit of crowning the conqueror with olive; and at Olympia, the Greeks employ the wild olive1678 for a similar purpose.


We will now proceed to mention the precepts given by Cato1679 in relation to this subject. Upon a warm, rich1680 soil, he recommends us to sow the greater radius, the Salentina, the orchites, the posia, the Sergian, the Cominian, and the albicera;1681 but with a remarkable degree of prudence he adds, that those varieties ought to be planted in preference which are considered to thrive best in the neighbouring localities. In a cold1682 and meagre soil he says that the Licinian olive should be planted; and he informs us that a rich or hot soil has the effect, in this last variety, of spoiling the oil, while the tree becomes exhausted by its own fertility, and is liable to be attacked by a sort of red moss.1683 He states it as his opinion that the olive grounds ought to have a western aspect, and, indeed, he approves of no other.

(6.) According to him, the best method of preserving olives is to put the orchites and the posia, while green, in a strong brine, or else to bruise them first, and preserve them in mastich oil.1684 The more bitter the olive, he says, the better the oil; but they should be gathered from the ground the very moment they fall, and washed if they are dirty. He says that three days will be quite sufficient for drying them, and that if it is frosty weather, they should be pressed on the fourth, care being taken to sprinkle them with salt. Olives, he informs us,1685 lose oil by being kept in a boarded store-room, and deteriorate in quality; the same being the case, too, if the oil is 286left with the amurca and the pulp,1686 or, in other words, the flesh of the olive that forms the residue and becomes the dregs. For this reason, he recommends that the oil should be poured off several times in the day, and then put into vessels or cauldrons1687 of lead, for copper vessels will spoil it, he says. All these operations, however, should be carried on with presses heated and tightly closed,1688 and exposed to the air as little as possible—for which reason he recommends that wood should never be cut there, the most convenient fuel for the fires being the stones of the berries. From the cauldron the oil should be poured into vats,1689 in order that the pulp and the amurca may be disengaged in a solidified form: to effect which object the vessels should be changed as often as convenient, while at the same time the osier baskets should be carefully cleaned with a sponge, that the oil may run out in as clean and pure a state as possible.

In later times, the plan has been adopted of invariably crushing the olives in boiling water, and at once putting them whole in the press—a method of effectually extracting the amurca—and then, after crushing them in the oil-press, subjecting them to pressure once more. It is recommended, that not more than one hundred modii should be pressed at one time: the name given to this quantity is “factus,”1690 while the oil that flows out at the first pressure is called the “flos.”1691 Four men, working at two presses day and night, ought to be able to press out three factuses of olives.


In those times artificial oils had not been introduced, and 287hence it is, I suppose, that we find no mention made of them by Cato; at the present day the varieties are very numerous. We will first speak of those1692 which are produced from trees, and among them more particularly the wild olive.1693 This olive is small, and much more bitter than the cultivated one, and hence its oil is only used in medicinal preparations: the oil that bears the closest resemblance to it is that extracted from the chamelæa,1694 a shrub which grows among the rocks, and not more than a palm in height; the leaves and berries being similar to those of the wild olive. A third oil is that made of the fruit of the cicus,1695 a tree which grows in Egypt in great abundance; by some it is known as croton, by others as sili, and by others, again, as wild sesamum: it is not so very long since this tree was first introduced here. In Spain, too, it shoots up with great rapidity to the size of the olive-tree, having a stem like that of the ferula, the leaf of the vine, and a seed that bears a resemblance to a small pale grape. Our people are in the habit of calling it “ricinus,”1696 from the resemblance of the seed to that insect. It is boiled in water,1697 and the oil that swims on the surface is then skimmed off: but in Egypt, where it grows in a greater abundance, the oil is extracted without employing either fire or water for the purpose, the seed being first sprinkled with salt, and then subjected to pressure: eaten with food this oil is repulsive, but it is very useful for burning in lamps.

Amygdalinum, by some persons known as “metopium,”1698 288is made of bitter almonds dried and beaten into a cake, after which they are steeped in water, and then beaten again. An oil is extracted from the laurel also, with the aid of olive oil. Some persons use the berries only for this purpose, while others, again, employ the leaves1699 and the outer skin of the berries: some add storax also, and other odoriferous substances. The best kind for this purpose is the broad-leaved or wild laurel,1700 with a black berry. The oil, too, of the black myrtle is of a similar nature; that with the broad leaf1701 is reckoned also the best. The berries are first sprinkled with warm water, and then beaten, after which they are boiled: some persons take the more tender leaves, and boil them in olive oil, and then subject them to pressure, while others, again, steep them in oil, and leave the mixture to ripen in the sun. The same method is also adopted with the cultivated myrtle, but the wild variety with small berries is generally preferred; by some it is known as the oxymyrsine, by others as the chamæmyrsine, and by others, again, as the acoron,1702 from its strong resemblance to that plant, it being short and branching.

An oil is made, too, from the citrus,1703 and from the cypress; also, from the walnut,1704 and known by the name of “caryinon,”1705 and from the fruit of the cedar, being generally known as “pisselæon.”1706 Oil is extracted from the grain of Cnidos,1707 the seed being first thoroughly cleaned, and then 289pounded; and from mastich1708 also. As to the oil called “cyprinum,”1709 and that extracted from the Egyptian1710 berry, we have already mentioned the mode in which they are prepared as perfumes. The Indians, too, are said to extract oils from the chesnut,1711 sesamum, and rice,1712 and the Ichthyophagi1713 from fish. Scarcity of oil for the supply of lamps sometimes compels us to make it from the berries1714 of the plane-tree, which are first steeped in salt and water.

Œnanthinum,1715 again, is made from the œnanthe, as we have already stated when speaking of perfumes. In making gleucinum,1716 must is boiled with olive-oil at a slow heat; some persons, however, do not employ fire in making it, but leave a vessel, filled with oil and must, surrounded with grape husks, for two and twenty days, taking care to stir it twice a day: by the end of that period the whole of the must is imbibed by the oil. Some persons mix with this not only sampsuchum, but perfumes of still greater price: that, too, which is used in the gymnasia is scented with perfumes as well, but those of the very lowest quality. Oils are made, too, from aspalathus,1717 from calamus,1718 balsamum,1719 cardamum,1720 melilot, Gallic nard, panax,1721 sampsuchum,1722 helenium, and root of cinnamomum,1723 the plants being first left to steep in oil, and then pressed. In a similar manner, too, rhodinum1724 is made from roses, and juncinum from the sweet rush, bearing a remarkable1725 resemblance to rose-oil: other oils, again, are extracted 290from henbane,1726 lupines,1727 and narcissus. Great quantities of oil are made in Egypt, too, of radish1728 seed, or else of a common grass known there as chortinon.1729 Sesamum1730 also yields an oil, and so does the nettle,1731 its oil being known as “cnidinum.”1732 In other countries, too, an oil is extracted from lilies1733 left to steep in the open air, and subjected to the influence of the sun, moon, and frosts. On the borders of Cappadocia and Galatia, they make an oil from the herbs of the country, known as “Selgicum,”1734 remarkably useful for strengthening the tendons, similar, in fact, to that of Iguvium1735 in Italy. From pitch an oil1736 is extracted, that is known as “pissinum” it is made by boiling the pitch, and spreading fleeces over the vessels to catch the steam, and then wringing them out: the most approved kind is that which comes from Bruttium, the pitch of that country being remarkably rich and resinous: the colour of this oil is yellow.

There is an oil that grows spontaneously in the maritime parts of Syria, known to us as “elæomeli;”1737 it is an unctuous substance which distils from certain trees, of a thicker consistency than honey, but somewhat thinner than resin; it has a sweet flavour, and is employed for medicinal purposes. Old olive oil1738 is of use for some kinds of maladies; it is thought to 291be particularly useful, too, in the preservation of ivory from decay:1739 at all events, the statue of Saturn, at Rome, is filled with oil in the interior.

CHAP. 8. (8.)—AMURCA.

But it is upon the praises of amurca1740 more particularly, that Cato1741 has enlarged. He recommends that vats and casks1742 for keeping oil should be first seasoned with it, to prevent them from soaking up the oil; and he tells us that threshing-floors should be well rubbed with it, to keep away ants,1743 and to prevent any chinks or crannies from being left. The mortar, too, of walls, he says, ought to be seasoned with it, as well as the roofs and floors of granaries; and he recommends that wardrobes should be sprinkled with amurca as a preservative against wood-worms and other noxious insects. He says, too, that all grain of the cereals should be steeped in it, and speaks of it as efficacious for the cure of maladies in cattle as well as trees, and as useful even for ulcerations in the inside and upon the face of man. We learn from him, also, that thongs, all articles made of leather, sandals, and axle-trees used to be anointed with boiled amurca; which was employed also to preserve copper vessels against verdigrease,1744 and to give them a better colour; as also for the seasoning of all utensils made of wood, as well as the earthen jars in which dried figs were kept, or of sprigs of myrtle with the leaves and berries on, or any other articles of a similar nature: in addition to which, he asserts that wood which has been steeped in amurca will burn without producing a stifling smoke.1745

According to M. Varro,1746 an olive-tree which has been licked by the tongue of the she-goat, or upon which she has 292browsed when it was first budding,1747 is sure to be barren. Thus much in reference to the olive and the oils.


The other fruits found on trees can hardly be enumerated, from their diversity in shape and figure, without reference to their different flavours and juices, which have again been modified by repeated combinations and graftings.

(10.) The largest fruit, and, indeed, the one that hangs at the greatest height, is the pine-nut. It contains within a number of small kernels, enclosed in arched beds, and covered with a coat of their own of rusty iron-colour; Nature thus manifesting a marvellous degree of care in providing its seeds with a soft receptacle. Another variety of this nut is the terentina,1748 the shell of which may be broken with the fingers; and hence it becomes a prey to the birds while still on the tree. A third, again, is known as the “sappinia,1749” being the produce of the cultivated pitch-tree: the kernels are enclosed in a skin more than a shell, which is so remarkably soft that it is eaten together with the fruit. A fourth variety is that known as the “pityis;” it is the produce of the pinaster,1750 and is remarkable as a good specific for coughs. The kernels are sometimes boiled in honey1751 among the Taurini, who then call them “aquiceli.” The conquerors at the Isthmian games are crowned with a wreath of pine-leaves.


Next in size after these are the fruit called by us “cotonea,”1752 by the Greeks “Cydonia,”1753 and first introduced 293from the island of Crete. These fruit bend the branches with their weight, and so tend to impede the growth of the parent tree. The varieties are numerous. The chrysomelum1754 is marked with indentations down it, and has a colour inclining to gold; the one that is known as the “Italian” quince, is of a paler complexion, and has a most exquisite smell: the quinces of Neapolis, too, are held in high esteem. The smaller varieties of the quince which are known as the “struthea,”1755 have a more pungent smell, but ripen later than the others; that called the “musteum,”1756 ripens the soonest of all. The cotoneum engrafted1757 on the strutheum, has produced a peculiar variety, known as the “Mulvianum,” the only one of them all that is eaten raw.1758 At the present day all these varieties are kept shut up in the antechambers of great men,1759 where they receive the visits of their courtiers; they are hung, too, upon the statues1760 that pass the night with us in our chambers.

There is a small wild1761 quince also, the smell of which, next to that of the strutheum, is the most powerful; it grows in the hedges.


Under the head of apples,1762 we include a variety of fruits, although of an entirely different nature, such as the Persian1763 apple, for instance, and the pomegranate, of which, when speaking of the tree, we have already enumerated1764 nine varieties. The pomegranate has a seed within, enclosed in a 294skin; the peach has a stone inside. Some among the pears, also, known as “libralia,”1765 show, by their name, what a remarkable weight they attain.

(12.) Among the peaches the palm must be awarded to the duracinus:1766 the Gallic and the Asiatic peach are distinguished respectively by the names of the countries of their origin. They ripen at the end of autumn, though some of the early1767 kinds are ripe in the summer. It is only within the last thirty years that these last have been introduced; originally they were sold at the price of a denarius a piece. Those known as the “supernatia”1768 come from the country of the Sabines, but the “popularia” grow everywhere. This is a very harmless fruit, and a particular favourite with invalids: some, in fact, have sold before this as high as thirty sesterces apiece, a price that has never been exceeded by any other fruit. This, too, is the more to be wondered at, as there is none that is a worse keeper: for, when it is once plucked, the longest time that it will keep is a couple of days; and so sold it must be, fetch what it may.


Next comes a vast number of varieties of the plum, the parti-coloured, the black,1769 the white,1770 the barley1771 plum—so called, because it is ripe at barley-harvest—and another of the same colour as the last, but which ripens later, and is of a larger size, generally known as the “asinina,”1772 from the little esteem in which it is held. There are the onychina, too, the 295cerina,1773—more esteemed, and the purple1774 plum: the Armenian,1775 also an exotic from foreign parts, the only one among the plums that recommends itself by its smell. The plum-tree grafted on the nut exhibits what we may call a piece of impudence quite its own, for it produces a fruit that has all the appearance of the parent stock, together with the juice of the adopted fruit: in consequence of its being thus compounded of both, it is known by the name of “nuci-pruna.”1776 Nut-prunes, as well as the peach, the wild plum,1777 and the cerina, are often put in casks, and so kept till the crop comes of the following year. All the other varieties ripen with the greatest rapidity, and pass off just as quickly. More recently, in Bætica, they have begun to introduce what they call “malina,” or the fruit of the plum engrafted on the apple-tree,1778 and “amygdalina,” the fruit of the plum engrafted on the almond-tree,1779 the kernel found in the stone of these last being that of the almond;1780 indeed, there is no specimen in which two fruits have been more ingeniously combined in one.

Among the foreign trees we have already spoken1781 of the Damascene1782 plum, so called from Damascus, in Syria, but introduced long since into Italy; though the stone of this plum is larger than usual, and the flesh smaller in quantity. This plum will never dry so far as to wrinkle; to effect that, it needs the sun of its own native country. The myxa,1783 too, 296may be mentioned, as being the fellow-countryman of the Damascene: it has of late been introduced into Rome, and has been grown engrafted upon the sorb.


The name of “Persica,” or “Persian apple,” given to this fruit, fully proves that it is an exotic in both Greece as well as Asia,1784 and that it was first introduced from Persis. As to the wild plum, it is a well-known fact that it will grow anywhere; and I am, therefore, the more surprised that no mention has been made of it by Cato, more particularly as he has pointed out the method of preserving several of the wild fruits as well. As to the peach-tree, it has been only introduced of late years, and with considerable difficulty; so much so, that it is perfectly barren in the Isle of Rhodes, the first resting-place1785 that it found after leaving Egypt.

It is quite untrue that the peach which grows in Persia is poisonous, and produces dreadful tortures, or that the kings of that country, from motives of revenge, had it transplanted in Egypt, where, through the nature of the soil, it lost all its evil properties—for we find that it is of the “persea”1786 that the more careful writers have stated all this,1787 a totally different tree, the fruit of which resembles the red myxa, and, indeed, cannot be successfully cultivated anywhere but in the East. The learned have also maintained that it was not introduced from Persis into Egypt with the view of inflicting punishment, but say that it was planted at Memphis by Perseus; for which reason it was that Alexander gave orders that the victors should be crowned with it in the games which he instituted there in honour of his1788 ancestor: indeed, this tree has always leaves and fruit upon it, growing immediately upon the others. It must be quite evident to every one that all our plums have been introduced since the time of Cato.1789



There are numerous varieties of pomes. Of the citron1790 we have already made mention when describing its tree; the Greeks gave it the name of “Medica,”1791 from its native country. The jujube1792-tree and the tuber1793 are equally exotics; indeed, they have, both of them, been introduced only of late years into Italy; the latter from Africa, the former from Syria. Sextus Papinius, whom we have seen consul,1794 introduced them both in the latter years of the reign of Augustus, produced from slips which he had grown within his camp. The fruit of the jujube more nearly resembles a berry than an apple: the tree sets off a terrace1795 remarkably well, and it is not uncommon to see whole woods of it climbing up to the very roofs of the houses.

Of the tuber there are two varieties; the white, and the one called “syricum,”1796 from its colour. Those fruits, too, may be almost pronounced exotic which grow nowhere in Italy but in the territory of Verona, and are known as the wool-fruit.1797 They are covered with a woolly down; this is found, it is true, to a very considerable extent, on both the strutheum variety of quince and the peach, but still it has given its name to this particular fruit, which is recommended to us by no other remarkable quality.


Why should I hesitate to make some mention, too, of other 298varieties by name, seeing that they have conferred everlasting remembrance on those who were the first to introduce them, as having rendered some service to their fellow-men? Unless I am very much mistaken, an enumeration of them will tend to throw some light upon the ingenuity that is displayed in the art of grafting, and it will be the more easily understood that there is nothing so trifling in itself from which a certain amount of celebrity cannot be ensured. Hence it is that we have fruits which derive their names from Matius,1798 Cestius, Mallius, and Scandius.1799 Appius, too, a member of the Claudian family, grafted the quince on the Scandian fruit, in consequence of which the produce is known as the Appian. This fruit has the smell of the quince, and is of the same size as the Scandian apple, and of a ruddy colour. Let no one, however, imagine that this name was merely given in a spirit of flattery to an illustrious family, for there is an apple known as the Sceptian,1800 which owes its name to the son of a freedman, who was the first to introduce it: it is remarkable for the roundness of its shape. To those already mentioned, Cato1801 adds the Quirinian and the Scantian varieties, which last, he says, keep remarkably well in large vessels.1802 The latest kind of all, however, that has been introduced is the small apple known as the Petisian,1803 remarkable for its delightful flavour: the Amerinian1804 apple, too, and the little Greek1805 have conferred renown on their respective countries.

The remaining varieties have received their name from various circumstances—the apples known as the “gemella”1806 are always found hanging in pairs upon one stalk, like twins, 299and never growing singly. That known as the “syricum”1807 is so called from its colour, while the “melapium”1808 has its name from its strong resemblance to the pear. The “musteum”1809 was so called from the rapidity with which it ripens; it is the melimelum of the present day, which derives its appellation from its flavour, being like that of honey. The “orbiculatum,”1810 again, is so called from its shape, which is exactly spherical—the circumstance of the Greeks having called it the “epiroticum” proves that it came originally from Epirus. The orthomastium1811 has that peculiar appellation from its resemblance to a teat; and the “spadonium”1812 of the Belgæ is so nicknamed from the total absence of pips. The melofolium1813 has one leaf, and occasionally two, shooting from the middle of the fruit. That known as the “pannuceum”1814 shrivels with the greatest rapidity; while the “pulmoneum”1815 has a lumpish, swollen appearance.

Some apples are just the colour of blood, owing to an original graft of the mulberry; but they are all of them red on the side which is turned towards the sun. There are some small wild1816 apples also, remarkable for their fine flavour and the peculiar pungency of their smell. Some, again, are so remarkably1817 sour, that they are held in disesteem; indeed their acidity is so extreme, that it will even take the edge from off a knife. The worst apples of all are those which from their mealiness have received the name of “farinacea;”1818 they are 300the first, however, to ripen, and ought to be gathered as soon as possible.


A similar degree of precocity has caused the appellation of “superbum”1819 to be given to one species of the pear: it is a small fruit, but ripens with remarkable rapidity. All the world are extremely partial to the Crustumian1820 pear; and next to it comes the Falernian,1821 so called from the drink1822 which it affords, so abundant is its juice. This juice is known by the name of “milk” in the variety which, of a black colour, is by some called the pear of Syria.1823 The denominations given to the others vary according to the respective localities of their growth. Among the pears, the names of which have been adopted in our city, the Decimian pear, and the Pseudo-Decimian—an offshoot from it—have conferred considerable renown upon the name of those who introduced them. The same is the case, too, with the variety known as the “Dolabellian,”1824 remarkable for the length of its stalk, the Pomponian,1825 surnamed the mammosum,1826 the Licerian, the Sevian, the Turranian, a variety of the Sevian, but distinguished from it by the greater length of the stalk, the Favonian,1827 a red pear, rather larger than the superbum, together with the Laterian1828 and the Anician, which come at the end of autumn, and are pleasant for the acidity of their flavour. 301 One variety is known as the “Tiberian,”1829 from its having been a particular favourite with the Emperor Tiberius; it is more coloured by the sun, and grows to a larger size, otherwise it would be identical with the Licerian variety.

The following kinds receive their respective names from their native countries: the Amerinian,1830 the latest pear of all, the Picentine, the Numantine, the Alexandrian, the Numidian, the Greek, a variety of which is the Tarentine, and the Signine,1831 by some called “testaceum,” from its colour, like earthenware; a reason which has also given their respective names to the “onychine”1832 and the “purple” kinds. Then, again, we have the “myrapium,”1833 the “laureum,” and the “nardinum,”1834 so called from the odour they emit; the “hordearium,”1835 from the season at which it comes1836 in; and the “ampullaceum,”1837 so called from its long narrow neck. Those, again, that are known as the “Coriolanian”1838 and the “Bruttian,” owe their names to the places of their origin; added to which we have the cucurbitinum,1839 and the “acidulum,” so named from the acidity of its juice. It is quite uncertain for what reason their respective names were given to the varieties known as the “barbaricum” and the “Venerium,”1840 which last is known also as the “coloratum;”1841 the royal pear1842 too, which 302has a remarkably short stalk, and will stand on its end, as also the patricium, and the voconium,1843 a green oblong kind. In addition to these, Virgil1844 has made mention of a pear called the “volema,”1845 a name which he has borrowed from Cato,1846 who makes mention also of kinds known as the “sementivum”1847 and the “musteum.”1848


This branch of civilized life has long since been brought to the very highest pitch of perfection, for man has left nothing untried here. Hence it is that we find Virgil1849 speaking of grafting the nut-tree on the arbutus, the apple on the plane, and the cherry on the elm. Indeed, there is nothing further in this department that can possibly be devised, and it is a long time since any new variety of fruit has been discovered. Religious scruples, too, will not allow of indiscriminate grafting; thus, for instance, it is not permitted to graft upon the thorn, for it is not easy, by any mode of expiation, to avoid the disastrous effects of lightning; and we are told1850 that as many as are the kinds of trees that have been engrafted on the thorn, so many are the thunderbolts that will be hurled against that spot in a single flash.

The form of the pear is turbinated; the later kinds remain on the parent tree till winter, when they ripen with the frost; such, for instance, as the Greek variety, the ampullaceum, and the laureum; the same, too, with apples of the Amerinian and the Scandian kinds. Apples and pears are prepared for 303keeping just like grapes, and in as many different ways; but, with the exception of plums, they are the only fruit that are stored in casks.1851 Apples and pears have certain vinous1852 properties, and like wine these drinks are forbidden to invalids by the physicians. These fruits are sometimes boiled up with wine and water, and so make a preserve1853 that is eaten with bread; a preparation which is never made of any other fruit, with the exception of the quinces, known as the “cotoneum” and the “strutheum.”


For the better preserving of fruits it is universally recommended that the storeroom should be situate in a cool, dry spot, with a well-boarded floor, and windows looking towards the north; which in fine weather ought to be kept open. Care should also be taken to keep out the south wind by window panes,1854 while at the same time it should be borne in mind that a north-east wind will shrivel fruit and make it unsightly. Apples are gathered after the autumnal equinox; but the gathering should never begin before the sixteenth day of the moon, or before the first hour of the day. Windfalls should always be kept separate, and there ought to be a layer of straw, or else mats or chaff, placed beneath. They should, also, be placed apart from each other, in rows, so that the air may circulate freely between them, and they may equally gain the benefit of it. The Amerinian apple is the best keeper, the melimelum the very worst of all.

(17.) Quinces ought to be stored in a place kept perfectly closed, so as to exclude all draughts; or else they should be boiled in honey1855 or soaked in it. Pomegranates are made 304hard and firm by being first put in boiling1856 sea-water, and then left to dry for three days in the sun, care being taken that the dews of the night do not touch them; after which they are hung up, and when wanted for use, washed with fresh water. M. Varro1857 recommends that they should be kept in large vessels filled with sand: if they are not ripe, he says that they should be put in pots with the bottom broken out, and then buried1858 in the earth, all access to the air being carefully shut, and care being first taken to cover the stalk with pitch. By this mode of treatment, he assures us, they will attain a larger size than they would if left to ripen on the tree. As for the other kinds of pomes, he says that they should be wrapped up separately in fig-leaves, the windfalls being carefully excluded, and then stored in baskets of osier, or else covered over with potters’ earth.

Pears are kept in earthen vessels pitched inside; when filled, the vessels are reversed and then buried in pits. The Tarentine pear, Varro says, is gathered very late, while the Anician keeps very well in raisin wine. Sorb apples, too, are similarly kept in holes in the ground, the vessel being turned upside down, and a layer of plaster placed on the lid: it should be buried two feet deep, in a sunny spot; sorbs1859 are also hung, like grapes, in the inside of large vessels, together with the branches.

Some of the more recent authors are found to pay a more scrupulous degree of attention to these various particulars, and recommend that the gathering of grapes or pomes, which are intended for keeping, should take place while the moon is on the wane,1860 after the third hour of the day, and while the weather is clear, or dry winds prevail. In a similar manner, the selection, they say, ought to be made from a dry spot, and the fruit should be plucked before it is fully ripe, a moment being chosen while the moon is below the horizon. Grapes, they say, should be selected that have a strong, hard mallet-stalk, and after the decayed berries have been carefully removed with a pair of scissors, they should be hung up inside of 305a large vessel which has just been pitched, care being taken to close all access to the south wind, by covering the lid with a coat of plaster. The same method, they say, should be adopted for keeping sorb apples and pears, the stalks being carefully covered with pitch; care should be taken, too, that the vessels are kept at a distance from water.

There are some persons who adopt the following method for preserving grapes. They take them off together with the branch, and place them, while still upon it, in a layer of plaster,1861 taking care to fasten either end of the branch in a bulb of squill.1862 Others, again, go so far as to place them within vessels containing wine, taking care, however, that the grapes, as they hang, do not touch it. Some persons put apples in plates of earth, and then leave them to float in wine, a method by which it is thought that a vinous flavour is imparted to them: while some think it a better plan to preserve all these kinds of fruit in millet. Most people, however, content themselves with first digging a hole in the ground, a couple of feet in depth; a layer of sand is then placed at the bottom, and the fruit is arranged upon it, and covered with an earthen lid, over which the earth is thrown. Some persons again even go so far as to give their grapes a coating of potters’ chalk, and then hang them up when dried in the sun; when required for use, the chalk is removed with water.1863 Apples are also preserved in a similar manner; but with them wine is employed for getting off the chalk. Indeed, we find a very similar plan pursued with apples of the finest quality; they have a coating laid upon them of either plaster or wax; but they are apt, if not quite ripe when this was done, by the increase in their size to break their casing.1864 When apples are thus prepared, they are always laid with the stalk downwards.1865 Some persons pluck the apple together with the branch, the ends of which they thrust into the pith of elder,1866 and then bury it in 306the way already pointed out.1867 There are some who assign to each apple or pear its separate vessel of clay, and after carefully pitching the cover, enclose it again in a larger vessel: occasionally, too, the fruit is placed on a layer of flocks of wool, or else in baskets,1868 with a lining of chaff and clay. Other persons follow a similar plan, but use earthen plates for the purpose; while others, again, employ the same method, but dig a hole in the earth, and after placing a layer of sand, lay the fruit on top of it, and then cover the whole with dry earth. Persons, too, are sometimes known to give quinces a coating of Pontic1869 wax, and then plunge them in honey.

Columella1870 informs us, that fruit is kept by being carefully put in earthen vessels, which then receive a coating of pitch, and are placed in wells or cisterns to sink to the bottom. The people of maritime Liguria, in the vicinity of the Alps, first dry their grapes in the sun,1871 and wrap them up in bundles of rushes, which are then covered with plaster. The Greeks follow a similar plan, but substitute for rushes the leaves of the plane-tree, or of the vine itself, or else of the fig, which they dry for a single day in the shade, and then place in a cask in alternate layers with husks1872 of grapes. It is by this method that they preserve the grapes of Cos and Berytus, which are inferior to none in sweetness. Some persons, when thus preparing them, plunge the grapes into lie-ashes the moment they take them from the vine, and then dry them in the sun; they then steep them in warm water, after which they put them to dry again in the sun: and last of all, as already mentioned, wrap them up in bundles formed of layers of leaves and grape husks. There are some who prefer keeping their grapes in sawdust,1873 or else in shavings of the fir-tree, poplar, and ash: while others think it the best plan to hang them up in the granary, at a careful distance from the apples, directly after the gathering, being under the impression that the very best covering for them as they hang is the dust1874 that naturally arises 307from the floor. Grapes are effectually protected against the attacks of wasps by being sprinkled with oil1875 spirted from the mouth. Of palm-dates we have already spoken.1876


Of all the remaining fruits that are included under the name of “pomes,” the fig1877 is the largest: some, indeed, equal the pear, even, in size. We have already mentioned, while treating of the exotic fruits, the miraculous productions of Egypt and Cyprus1878 in the way of figs. The fig of Mount Ida1879 is red, and the size of an olive, rounder however, and like a medlar in flavour; they give it the name of Alexandrian in those parts. The stem is a cubit in thickness; it is branchy, has a tough, pliant wood, is entirely destitute of all milky juice,1880 and has a green bark, and leaves like those of the linden tree, but soft to the touch. Onesicritus states that in Hyrcania the figs are much sweeter than with us, and that the trees are more prolific, seeing that a single tree will bear as much as two hundred and seventy modii1881 of fruit. The fig has been introduced into Italy from other countries, Chalcis and Chios, for instance, the varieties being very numerous: there are those from Lydia also, which are of a purple colour, and the kind known as the “mamillana,”1882 which is very similar to the Lydian. The callistruthiæ are very little superior to the last in flavour; they are the coldest by nature of all the figs. As to the African fig, by many people preferred to any other, it has been made the subject of very considerable discussion, as it is a kind that has been introduced very recently into Africa, though it bears the name of that country. 308 As to the fig of Alexandria,1883 it is a black variety, with the cleft inclining to white; it has had the name given to it of the “delicate”1884 fig: the Rhodian fig, too, and the Tiburtine,1885 one of the early kinds, are black. Some of them, again, bear the name of the persons who were the first to introduce them, such, for instance, as the Livian1886 and the Pompeian1887 figs: this last variety is the best for drying in the sun and keeping for use, from year to year; the same is the case, too, with the marisca,1888 and the kind which has a leaf spotted all over like the reed.1889 There is also the Herculanean fig, the albicerata,1890 and the white aratia, a very large variety, with an extremely diminutive stalk.

The earliest of them all is the porphyritis,1891 which has a stalk of remarkable length: it is closely followed by the popularis,1892 one of the very smallest of the figs, and so called from the low esteem in which it is held: on the other hand, the chelidonia1893 is a kind that ripens the last of all, and towards the beginning of winter. In addition to these, there are figs that are at the same time both late and early, as they bear two crops in the year, one white and the other black,1894 ripening at harvest-time and vintage respectively. There is another late fig also, that has received its name from the singular hardness of its skin; one of the Chalcidian varieties bears as many as three times in the year. It is at Tarentum only that the remarkably sweet fig is grown which is known by the name of “ona.”

Speaking of figs, Cato has the following remarks: “Plant the fig called the ‘marisca’ on a chalky or open site, but for the African variety, the Herculanean, the Saguntine,1895 the 309winter fig and the black Telanian1896 with a long stalk, you must select a richer soil, or else a ground well manured.” Since his day there have so many names and kinds come up, that even on taking this subject into consideration, it must be apparent to every one how great are the changes which have taken place in civilized life.

There are winter figs, too, in some of the provinces, the Mœsian, for instance; but they are made so by artificial means, such not being in reality their nature. Being a small variety of the fig-tree, they cover it up with manure at the end of autumn, by which means the fruit on it is overtaken by winter while still in a green state: then when the weather becomes milder the fruit is uncovered along with the tree, and so restored to light. Just as though it had come into birth afresh, the fruit imbibes the heat of the new sun with the greatest avidity—a different sun, in fact, to that1897 which originally gave it life—and so ripens along with the blossom of the coming crop; thus attaining maturity in a year not its own, and this in a country,1898 too, where the greatest cold prevails.


1899 The mention by Cato of the variety which bears the name of the African fig, strongly recalls to my mind a remarkable fact connected with it and the country from which it takes its name.

Burning with a mortal hatred to Carthage, anxious, too, for the safety of his posterity, and exclaiming at every sitting of the senate that Carthage must be destroyed, Cato one day brought with him into the Senate-house a ripe fig, the produce of that country. Exhibiting it to the assembled senators, “I ask you,” said he, “when, do you suppose, this fruit was plucked from the tree?” All being of opinion that it had been but lately gathered,—“Know then,” was his reply, “that this fig was plucked at Carthage but the day before yesterday1900—so near is the enemy 310to our walls.” It was immediately after this occurrence that the third Punic war commenced, in which Carthage was destroyed; though Cato had breathed his last, the year after this event. In this trait which are we the most to admire? was it ingenuity1901 and foresight on his part, or was it an accident that was thus aptly turned to advantage? which, too, is the most surprising, the extraordinary quickness of the passage which must have been made, or the bold daring of the man? The thing, however, that is the most astonishing of all—indeed, I can conceive nothing more truly marvellous—is the fact that a city thus mighty, the rival of Rome for the sovereignty of the world during a period of one hundred and twenty years, owed its fall at last to an illustration drawn from a single fig!

Thus did this fig effect that which neither Trebia nor Thrasimenus, not Cannæ itself, graced with the entombment of the Roman renown, not the Punic camp entrenched within three miles of the city, not even the disgrace of seeing Hannibal riding up to the Colline Gate, could suggest the means of accomplishing. It was left for a fig, in the hand of Cato, to show how near was Carthage to the gates of Rome!

In the Forum even, and in the very midst of the Comitium1902 of Rome, a fig-tree is carefully cultivated, in memory of the consecration which took place on the occasion of a thunderbolt1903 which once fell on that spot; and still more, as a memorial of the fig-tree which in former days overshadowed Romulus and Remus, the founders of our empire, in the Lupercal Cave. This tree received the name of “ruminalis,” from the circumstance that under it the wolf was found giving the breast—rumis it was called in those days—to the two infants. A group in bronze was afterwards erected to consecrate the remembrance of this miraculous event, as, through the agency of Attus Navius the augur, the tree itself had 311passed spontaneously from its original locality1904 to the Comitium in the Forum. And not without some direful presage is it that that tree has withered away, though, thanks to the care of the priesthood, it has been since replaced.1905

There was another fig-tree also, before the temple of Saturn,1906 which was removed on the occasion of a sacrifice made by the Vestal Virgins, it being found that its roots were gradually undermining the statue of the god Silvanus. Another one, accidentally planted there, flourished in the middle of the Forum,1907 upon the very spot, too, in which, when from a direful presage it had been foreboded that the growing empire was about to sink to its very foundations, Curtius, at the price of an inestimable treasure—in other words, by the sacrifice of such unbounded virtue and piety—redeemed his country by a glorious death. By a like accident, too, a vine and an olive-tree have sprung up in the same spot,1908 which have ever since been carefully tended by the populace for the agreeable shade which they afford. The altar that once stood there was afterwards removed by order of the deified Julius Cæsar, upon the occasion of the last spectacle of gladiatorial combats1909 which he gave in the Forum.


The fig, the only one among all the pomes, hastens to maturity by the aid of a remarkable provision of Nature. (19.) The wild-fig,1910 known by the name of “caprificus,” never ripens itself, though it is able to impart to the others the principle of which it is thus destitute; for we occasionally find Nature making a transfer of what are primary causes, and being generated from decay. To effect this purpose the wild fig-tree 312produces a kind of gnat.1911 These insects, deprived of all sustenance from their parent tree, at the moment that it is hastening to rottenness and decay, wing their flight to others of kindred though cultivated kind. There feeding with avidity upon the fig, they penetrate it in numerous places, and by thus making their way to the inside, open the pores of the fruit.1912 The moment they effect their entrance, the heat of the sun finds admission too, and through the inlets thus made the fecundating air is introduced. These insects speedily consume the milky juice that constitutes the chief support of the fruit in its infant1913 state, a result which would otherwise be spontaneously effected by absorption: and hence it is that in the plantations of figs a wild fig is usually allowed to grow, being placed to the windward of the other trees in order that the breezes may bear from it upon them. Improving upon this discovery, branches of the wild fig are sometimes brought from a distance, and bundles tied together are placed upon the cultivated tree. This method, however, is not necessary when the trees are growing on a thin soil, or on a site exposed to the north-east wind; for in these cases the figs will dry spontaneously, and the clefts which are made in the fruit effect the same ripening process which in other instances is brought about by the agency of these insects. Nor is it requisite to adopt this plan on spots which are liable to dust, such, for instance, as is generally the case with fig-trees planted by the side of much-frequented roads: the dust having the property of drying up1914 the juices of the fig, and so absorbing the milky humours. There is this superiority, however, in an advantageous site over the methods of ripening by the agency of dust or by caprification, that the fruit is not so apt to fall; for the secretion of the juices being thus prevented, the fig is not so heavy as it would otherwise be, and the branches are less brittle.

All figs are soft to the touch, and when ripe contain grains1915 313in the interior. The juice, when the fruit is ripening, has the taste of milk, and when dead ripe, that of honey. If left on the tree they will grow old; and when in that state, they distil a liquid that flows in tears1916 like gum. Those that are more highly esteemed are kept for drying, and the most approved kinds are put away for keeping in baskets.1917 The figs of the island of Ebusus1918 are the best as well as the largest, and next to them are those of Marrucinum.1919 Where figs are in great abundance, as in Asia, for instance, huge jars1920 are filled with them, and at Ruspina, a city of Africa, we find casks1921 used for a similar purpose: here, in a dry state, they are extensively used instead of bread,1922 and indeed as a general article of provision.1923 Cato,1924 when laying down certain definite regulations for the support of labourers employed in agriculture, recommends that their supply of food should be lessened just at the time1925 when the fig is ripening: it has been a plan adopted in more recent times, to find a substitute for salt with cheese, by eating fresh figs. To this class of fruit belong, as we have already mentioned,1926 the cottana and the carica, together with the cavnea,1927 which was productive of so bad an omen to M. Crassus at the moment when he was embarking1928 for his expedition against the Parthians, a dealer happening to be crying them just at that very moment. L. Vitellius, who was more recently appointed to the censorship,1929 introduced all these varieties from Syria at his country-seat at Alba,1930 having acted as legatus in that province in the latter years of the reign of Tiberius Cæsar.



The medlar and the sorb1931 ought in propriety to be ranked under the head of the apple and the pear. Of the medlar1932 there are three varieties, the anthedon,1933 the setania,1934 and a third of inferior quality, which bears a stronger resemblance to the anthedon, and is known as the Gallic1935 kind. The setania is the largest fruit, and the palest in colour; the woody seed in the inside of it is softer, too, than in the others, which are of smaller size than the setania, but superior to it in the fragrance of their smell, and in being better keepers. The tree itself is one of very ample1936 dimensions: the leaves turn red before they fall: the roots are numerous, and penetrate remarkably deep, which renders it almost impossible to grub it up. This tree1937 did not exist in Italy in Cato’s time.


There are four varieties of the sorb: there being some that have all the roundness1938 of the apple, while others are conical like the pear,1939 and a third sort are of an oval1940 shape, like some of the apples: these last, however, are apt to be remarkably acid. The round kind is the best for fragrance and sweetness, the others having a vinous flavour; the finest, however, are those which have the stalk surrounded with tender leaves. A fourth kind is known by the name of “torminalis:”1941 it is only employed, however, for remedial purposes.


The tree is a good bearer, but does not resemble the other kinds, the leaf being nearly that of the plane-tree; the fruit, too, is particularly small. Cato1942 speaks of sorbs being preserved in boiled wine.


The walnut,1943 which would almost claim precedence of the sorb in size, yields the palm to it in reference to the esteem1944 in which they are respectively held; and this, although it is so favourite an accompaniment of the Fescennine1945 songs at nuptials. This nut, taken as a whole, is very considerably smaller than the pine nut, but the kernel is larger in proportion. Nature, too, has conferred upon it a peculiar honour, in protecting it with a two-fold covering, the first of which forms a hollowed cushion for it to rest upon, and the second is a woody shell. It is for this reason that this fruit has been looked upon as a symbol consecrated to marriage,1946 its offspring being thus protected in such manifold ways: an explanation which bears a much greater air of probability than that which would derive it from the rattling which it makes when it bounds from the floor.1947 The Greek names that have been given to this fruit fully prove that it, like many others, has been originally introduced from Persis; the best kinds being known in that language by the names of “Persicum,”1948 and “basilicon;”1949 these, in fact, being the names by which they 316were first known to us. It is generally agreed, too, that one peculiar variety has derived its name of “caryon,”1950 from the headache which it is apt to produce by the pungency1951 of its smell.

The green shell of the walnut is used for dyeing1952 wool, and the nuts, while still small and just developing themselves, are employed for giving a red hue to the hair:1953 a discovery owing to the stains which they leave upon the hands. When old, the nut becomes more oleaginous. The only difference in the several varieties consists in the relative hardness or brittleness of the shell, it being thin or thick, full of compartments or smooth and uniform. This is the only fruit that Nature has enclosed in a covering formed of pieces soldered together; the shell, in fact, forming a couple of boats, while the kernel is divided into four separate compartments1954 by the intervention of a ligneous membrane.

In all the other kinds, the fruit and the shell respectively are of one solid piece, as we find the case with the hazel-nut,1955 and another variety of the nut formerly known as “Abellina,”1956 from the name1957 of the district in which it was first produced: it was first introduced into Asia and Greece from Pontus, whence the name that is sometimes given to it—the “Pontic nut.” This nut, too, is protected by a soft beard,1958 but both the shell and the kernel are round, and formed of a single piece: these nuts are sometimes roasted.1959 In the middle of the kernel we find a germen or navel.

A third class of nuts is the almond,1960 which has an outer 317covering, similar to that of the walnut, but thinner, with a second coat in the shape of a shell. The kernel, however, is unlike that of the walnut, in respect of its broad, flat shape, its firmness, and the superior tastiness of its flavour. It is a matter of doubt whether this tree was in existence in Italy in the time of Cato; we find him speaking of Greek nuts,1961 but there are some persons who think that these belong to the walnut class. He makes mention, also, of the hazel-nut, the calva,1962 and the Prænestine1963 nut, which last he praises beyond all others, and says1964 that, put in pots, they may be kept fresh and green by burying them in the earth.

At the present day, the almonds of Thasos and those of Alba are held in the highest esteem, as also two kinds that are grown at Tarentum, one with a thin,1965 brittle shell, and the other with a harder1966 one: these last are remarkably large, and of an oblong shape. There is the almond known as the “mollusca,”1967 also, which breaks the shell of itself. There are some who would concede a highly honourable interpretation to the name given to the walnut, and say that “juglans” means the “glans,” or “acorn of Jove.” It is only very lately that I heard a man of consular rank declare, that he then had in his possession walnut-trees that bore two1968 crops in the year.

Of the pistachio, which belongs also to the nut class, we have already spoken1969 in its appropriate place: Vitellius introduced this tree into Italy at the same time as the others that 318we mentioned;1970 and Flaccus Pompeius, a Roman of Equestrian rank, who served with him, introduced it at the same period into Spain.


We give the name of nut, too, to the chesnut,1971 although it would seem more properly to belong to the acorn tribe. The chesnut has its armour of defence in a shell bristling with prickles like the hedge-hog, an envelope which in the acorn is only partially developed. It is really surprising, however, that Nature should have taken such pains thus to conceal an object of so little value. We sometimes find as many as three nuts beneath a single outer shell. The skin1972 of the nut is limp and flexible: there is a membrane, too, which lies next to the body of the fruit, and which, both in this and in the walnut, spoils the flavour if not taken off. Chesnuts are the most pleasant eating when roasted:1973 they are sometimes ground also, and are eaten by women when fasting for religious scruples,1974 as bearing some resemblance to bread. It is from Sardes1975 that the chesnut was first introduced, and hence it is that the Greeks have given it the name of the “Sardian acorn;” for the name “Dios balanon”1976 was given at a later period, after it had been considerably improved by cultivation.

At the present day there are numerous varieties of the chesnut. Those of Tarentum are a light food, and by no means difficult of digestion; they are of a flat shape. There is a rounder variety, known as the “balanitis;”1977 it is very easily peeled, and springs clean out of the shell, so to say, of 319its own accord. The Salarian1978 chesnut has a smooth outer shell, while that of Tarentum is not so easily handled.1979 The Corellian is more highly esteemed, as is the Etereian, which is an offshoot from it produced by a method upon which we shall have to enlarge when we come to speak of grafting.1980 This last has a red skin,1981 which causes it to be preferred to the three-cornered chesnut and our black common sorts, which are known as “coctivæ.”1982 Tarentum and Neapolis in Campania are the most esteemed localities for the chesnut: other kinds, again, are grown to feed pigs upon,1983 the skin of which is rough and folded inwards, so as to penetrate to the heart of the kernel.

CHAP. 26. (24.)—THE CAROB.

The carob,1984 a fruit of remarkable sweetness, does not appear to be so very dissimilar to the chesnut, except that the skin1985 is eaten as well as the inside. It is just the length of a finger, and about the thickness of the thumb, being sometimes of a curved shape, like a sickle. The acorn cannot be reckoned in the number of the fruits; we shall, therefore, speak of it along with the trees of that class.1986


The other fruits belong to the fleshy kind, and differ both in the shape and the flesh. The flesh of the various berries,1987 of the mulberry, and of the arbute, are quite different from one another—and then what a difference, too, between the grape, which is only skin and juice,1988 the myxa plum, and the flesh of some berries,1989 such as the olive, for 320instance! In the flesh of the mulberry there is a juice of a vinous flavour, and the fruit assumes three different colours, being at first white, then red, and ripe when black. The mulberry blossoms one of the very last,1990 and yet is among the first to ripen: the juice of the fruit, when ripe, will stain the hands, but that of the unripe fruit will remove the marks. It is in this tree that human ingenuity has effected the least improvement1991 of all; there are no varieties here, no modifications effected by grafting, nor, in fact, any other improvement except that the size of the fruit, by careful management, has been increased. At Rome, there is a distinction made between the mulberries of Ostia and those of Tusculum. A variety grows also on brambles, but the flesh of the fruit is of a very different nature.1992


The flesh of the ground-strawberry1993 is very different to that of the arbute-tree,1994 which is of a kindred kind: indeed, this is the only instance in which we find a similar fruit growing upon a tree and on the ground. The tree is tufted and bushy; the fruit takes a year to ripen, the blossoms of the young fruit flowering while that of the preceding year is arriving at maturity. Whether it is the male tree or the female that is unproductive, authors are not generally agreed.

This is a fruit held in no esteem, in proof of which it has 321gained its name of “unedo,”1995 people being generally content with eating but one. The Greeks, however, have found for it two names—“comaron” and “memecylon,” from which it would appear1996 that there are two varieties. It has also with us another name besides that of “unedo,” being known also as the “arbutus.” Juba states that in Arabia this tree attains the height of fifty cubits.


There is a great difference also among the various acinus fruits. First of all, among the grapes, we find considerable difference in respect to their firmness, the thinness or thickness of the skin, and the stone inside the fruit, which in some varieties is remarkably small, and in others even double in number: these last producing but very little juice. Very different, again, are the berries of the ivy1997 and the elder;1998 as also those in the pomegranate,1999 these being the only ones that are of an angular shape. These last, also, have not a membrane for each individual grain, but one to cover them all in common, and of a pale colour. All these fruits consist, too, of juice and flesh, and those more particularly which have but small seeds inside.

There are great varieties, too, among the berry2000 fruits; the berry of the olive being quite different from that of the laurel, the berry of the lotus2001 from that of the cornel, and that of the myrtle from the berry of the lentisk. The berry, however, of the aquifolium2002 and the thorn2003 is quite destitute of juice.

The cherry2004 occupies a middle place between the berry and the acinus fruit: it is white at first, which is the case also 322with nearly all the berries. From white, some of the berries pass to green, the olive and the laurel, for instance; while in the mulberry, the cherry, and the cornel, the change is to red; and then in some to black, as with the mulberry, the cherry, and the olive, for instance.


The cherry did not exist in Italy before the period of the victory gained over Mithridates by L. Lucullus, in the year of the City 680. He was the first to introduce this tree from Pontus, and now, in the course of one hundred and twenty years, it has travelled beyond the Ocean, and arrived in Britannia even. The cherry, as we have already stated,2005 in spite of every care, it has been found impossible to rear in Egypt. Of this fruit, that known as the “Apronian”2006 is the reddest variety, the Lutatian2007 being the blackest, and the Cæcilian2008 perfectly round. The Junian2009 cherry has an agreeable flavour, but only, so to say, when eaten beneath the tree, as they are so remarkably delicate that they will not bear carrying. The highest rank, however, has been awarded to the duracinus2010 variety, known in Campania as the “Plinian”2011 cherry, and in Belgica to the Lusitanian2012 cherry, as also to one that grows on the banks of the Rhenus. This last kind has a third colour, being a mixture2013 of black, red, and green, and has always the appearance of being just on the turn to ripening. It is less than five years since the kind known as the “laurel-cherry” was introduced, of a bitter but not unpleasant flavour, 323the produce of a graft2014 upon the laurel. The Macedonian cherry grows on a tree that is very small,2015 and rarely exceeds three cubits in height; while the chamæcerasus2016 is still smaller, being but a mere shrub. The cherry is one of the first trees to recompense the cultivator with its yearly growth; it loves cold localities and a site exposed to the north.2017 The fruit are sometimes dried in the sun, and preserved, like olives, in casks.


The same degree of care is expended also on the cultivation of the cornel2018 and the lentisk;2019 that it may not be thought, forsooth, that there is anything that was not made for the craving appetite of man! Various flavours are blended together, and one is compelled to please our palates by the aid of another—hence it is that the produce of different lands and various climates are so often mingled with one another. For one kind of food it is India that we summon to our aid, and then for another we lay Egypt under contribution, or else Crete, or Cyrene, every country, in fact: no, nor does man stick at poisons2020 even, if he can only gratify his longing to devour everything: a thing that will be still more evident when we come to treat of the nature of herbs.


While upon this subject, it may be as well to state that there are no less than thirteen different flavours2021 belonging 324in common to the fruits and the various juices: the sweet, the luscious, the unctuous, the bitter, the rough, the acrid,2022 the pungent, the sharp, the sour, and the salt; in addition to which, there are three other kinds of flavours of a nature that is truly singular. The first of these last kinds is that flavour in which several other flavours are united, as in wine, for instance; for in it we are sensible of the rough, the pungent,2023 and the luscious, all at the same moment, and all of them flavours that belong to other substances. The second of these flavours is that in which we are sensible at the same instant of a flavour that belongs to another substance, and yet of one that is peculiar to the individual object of which we are tasting, such as that of milk, for instance: indeed, in milk we cannot correctly say that there is any pronounced flavour that is either sweet, or unctuous, or luscious, a sort of smooth taste2024 in the mouth being predominant, which holds the place of a more decided flavour. The third instance is that of water, which has no flavour whatever, nor, indeed, any flavouring principle;2025 but still, this very absence of flavour is considered as constituting one of them, and forming a peculiar class2026 of itself; so much so, indeed, that if in water any taste or flavouring principle is detected, it is looked upon as impure.

In the perception of all these various flavours the smell plays a very considerable2027 part, there being a very great affinity between them. Water, however, is properly quite inodorous: and if the least smell is to be perceived, it is not pure water. It is a singular thing that three of the principal elements2028 of Nature—water, air, and fire—should have neither taste nor smell, nor, indeed, any flavouring principle whatever.



Among the juices, those of a vinous2029 flavour belong to the pear, the mulberry, and the myrtle, and not to the grape, a very singular fact. An unctuous taste is detected in the olive,2030 the laurel, the walnut, and the almond; sweetness exists in the grape, the fig, and the date; while in the plum class we find a watery2031 juice. There is a considerable difference, too, in the colours assumed by the various juices. That of the mulberry, the cherry, the cornel, and the black grape resembles the colour of blood, while in the white grape the juice is white. The humour found in the summit of the fig2032 is of a milky nature, but not so with the juice found in the body of the fruit. In the apple it is the colour of foam,2033 while in the peach it is perfectly colourless, and this is the case, too, with the duracinus,2034 which abounds in juice; for who can say that he has ever detected any colour in it?

Smell, too, presents its own peculiar marvels; in the apple it is pungent,2035 and it is weak in the peach, while in the sweet2036 fruits we perceive none at all: so, too, the sweet wines are inodorous, while the thinner ones have more aroma, and are much sooner fit for use than those of a thicker nature.2037 The odoriferous fruits are not pleasing to the palate in the same degree, seeing that the flavour2038 of them does not come up to their smell: hence it is that in the citron we find the smell 326so extremely penetrating,2039 and the taste sour in the highest degree. Sometimes the smell is of a more delicate2040 nature, as in the quince, for instance; while the fig has no odour whatever.


Thus much, then, for the various classes and kinds of fruit: it will be as well now to classify their various natures within a more limited scope. Some fruits grow in a pod which is sweet itself, and contains a bitter seed: whereas in most kinds of fruit the seed is agreeable to the palate, those which grow in a pod are condemned. Other fruits are berries, with the stone within and the flesh without, as in the olive and the cherry: others, again, have the berry within and the stone without, the case, as we have already stated, with the berries that grow in Egypt.2041

Those fruits, known as “pomes” have the same characteristics as the berry fruits; in some of them we find the body of the fruit within and the shell without, as in the nut, for example; others, again, have the meat of the fruit without and the shell within, the peach and the plum, for instance: the refuse part being thus surrounded with the flesh, while in other fruits the flesh is surrounded by the refuse part.2042 Nuts are enclosed in a shell, chesnuts in a skin; in chesnuts the skin is taken off, but in medlars it is eaten with the rest. Acorns are covered with a crust, grapes with a husk, and pomegranates with a skin and an inner membrane. The mulberry is composed of flesh and juice, while the cherry consists of juice and skin. In some fruits the flesh separates easily from the woody part, the walnut and the date, for instance; in others it adheres, as in the case of the olive and the laurel berry: some kinds, again, partake of both natures, the peach, for example; for in the duracinus2043 kind the flesh adheres to the stone, and cannot be torn away from it, while in the other 327sorts they are easily separated. In some fruits there is no stone or shell2044 either within or without, one variety of the date,2045 for instance. In some kinds, again, the shell is eaten, just the same as the fruit; this we have already mentioned as being the case with a variety of the almond found in Egypt.2046 Some fruits have on the outside a twofold refuse covering, the chesnut, the almond, and the walnut, for example. Some, again, are composed of three separate parts—the body of the fruit, then a woody shell, and inside of that a kernel, as in the peach.

Some fruits grow closely packed together, such as grapes and sorbs: these last, just like so many grapes in a cluster, cling round the branch and bend it downwards with their weight. On the other hand, some fruits grow separately, at a distance from one another; this is the case with the peach. Some fruits are enclosed in a sort of matrix, as with the grains of the pomegranate: some hang down from a stalk, such as the pear, for instance: others hang in clusters, grapes and dates, for example. Others, again, grow upon stalks and bunches united: this we find the case with the berries of the ivy and the elder. Some adhere close to the branches, like the laurel berry, while other varieties lie close to the branch or hang from it, as the case may be: thus we find in the olive some fruit with short stalks, and others with long. Some fruits grow with a little calyx at the top, the pomegranate, for example, the medlar, and the lotus2047 of Egypt and the Euphrates.

Then, too, as to the various parts of fruit, they are held in different degrees of esteem according to their respective recommendations. In the date it is the flesh that is usually liked, in those of Thebais it is the crust;2048 the grape and the caryota date are esteemed for their juice, the pear and the apple for their firmness, the melimelum2049 for its soft meat, 328the mulberry for its cartilaginous consistency, and nuts for their kernels. Some fruits in Egypt are esteemed for their skin; the carica,2050 for instance. This skin, which in the green fig is thrown away as so much refuse peeling, when the fig is dried is very highly esteemed. In the papyrus,2051 the ferula,2052 and the white thorn2053 the stalk itself constitutes the fruit, and the shoots of the fig-tree2054 are similarly employed.

Among the shrubs, the fruit of the caper2055 is eaten along with the stalk; and in the carob,2056 what is the part that is eaten but so much wood? Nor ought we to omit one peculiarity that exists in the seed of this fruit—it can be called neither flesh, wood, nor cartilage, and yet no other name has been found for it.

CHAP. 35. (29).—THE MYRTLE.

The nature of the juices that are found in the myrtle are particularly remarkable, for it is the only one2057 of all the trees, the berries of which produce two kinds of oil2058 as well as of wine, besides myrtidanum,2059 of which we have already spoken. The berry of this was also put to another use in ancient times, for before pepper2060 was known it was employed in place of it as a seasoning; so much so, indeed, that a name has been derived from it for the highly-seasoned dish which to this day is known by the name of “myrtatum.”2061 It is by the aid of these berries, too, that the flavour of the flesh of the wild boar is improved, and they generally form one of the ingredients in the flavouring of our sauces.


This tree was seen for the first time in the regions of 329 Europe, which commence on this side of the Ceraunian mountains,2062 growing at Circeii,2063 near the tomb of Elpenor there:2064 it still retains its Greek2065 name, which clearly proves it to be an exotic. There were myrtles growing on the site now occupied by Rome, at the time of its foundation; for a tradition exists to the effect that the Romans and the Sabines, after they had intended fighting, on account of the virgins who had been ravished by the former, purified themselves, first laying down their arms, with sprigs of myrtle, on the very same spot which is now occupied by the statues of Venus Cluacina; for in the ancient language “cluere” means to purify.

This tree is employed, too, for a species of fumigation;2066 being selected for that purpose, because Venus, who presides over all unions, is the tutelary divinity of the tree.2067 I am not quite sure, too, whether this tree was not the very first that was planted in the public places of Rome, the result of some ominous presage by the augurs of wondrous import. For at the Temple of Quirinus, or, in other words, of Romulus himself, one of the most ancient in Rome, there were formerly two myrtle-trees, which grew for a long period just in front of the temple; one of these was called the Patrician tree, the other the Plebeian. The Patrician myrtle was for many years the superior tree, full of sap and vigour; indeed, so long as the Senate maintained its superiority, so did the tree, being of large growth, while the Plebeian tree presented a meagre, shrivelled appearance. In later times, however, the latter tree gained the superiority, and the Patrician myrtle began to fail just at the period of the2068 Marsic War,2069 when the power of the Senate was so greatly weakened: and little by little did this once majestic tree sink into a state of utter exhaustion and sterility. There was an ancient altar2070 also, consecrated 330to Venus Myrtea, known at the present day by the name of Murcia.


Cato2071 makes mention of three varieties of the myrtle, the black, white, and the conjugula, perhaps so called from its reference to conjugal unions, and belonging to the same species as that which grew where Cluacina’s statues now stand: at the present day the varieties are differently distinguished into the cultivated and the wild2072 myrtle, each of which includes a kind with a large leaf. The kind known as “oxymyrsine,”2073 belongs only to the wild variety: ornamental gardeners classify several varieties of the cultivated kind; the “Tarentine,”2074 they speak of as a myrtle with a small leaf, the myrtle of this country2075 as having a broad leaf, and the hexasticha2076 as being very thickly covered with leaves, growing in rows of six: it is not, however, made any use of. There are two other kinds, that are branchy and well covered. In my opinion, the conjugula is the same that is now called the Roman myrtle. It is in Egypt that the myrtle is most odoriferous.

Cato2077 has taught us how to make a wine from the black myrtle, by drying it thoroughly in the shade, and then putting it in must: he says, also, that if the berries are not quite dry, it will produce an oil. Since his time a method has been discovered of making a pale wine from the white variety; two sextarii of pounded myrtle are steeped in three semi-sextarii of wine, and the mixture is then subjected to pressure.

The leaves2078 also are dried by themselves till they are capable of being reduced to a powder, which is used for the treatment of sores on the human body: this powder is of a slightly corrosive nature, and is employed also for the purpose of checking the perspiration. A thing that is still more remarkable, 331this oil is possessed of a certain vinous flavour, being, at the same time, of an unctuous nature, and remarkably efficacious for improving2079 wines. When this is done, the wine strainer2080 is dipped in the oil before it is used, the result of which is that it retains the lees of the wine, and allows nothing but the pure liquor to escape, while at the same time it accompanies the wine and causes a marked improvement in its flavour.

Sprigs of myrtle, if carried by a person when travelling on foot, are found to be very refreshing2081 on a long journey. Rings, too, made of myrtle which has never been touched by iron, are an excellent specific for swellings in the groin.2082


The myrtle has played2083 its part, also, in the successes of war. Posthumius Tubertus, who gained a victory over the Sabines in his consulship,2084 was the first person who entered the City enjoying the honour of an ovation,2085 for having achieved this success with ease and without bloodshed: upon which occasion he made his entry crowned with the myrtle of Venus Victrix, and thereby rendered her tree an object of regard2086 to our enemies even. Ever since this occasion, the wreath of those who have enjoyed an ovation has been made of myrtle, with the exception of M. Crassus,2087 who, on his victory over the fugitive slaves and Spartacus, made his entry crowned with laurels. Massurius informs us, also, that some generals, on the occasion of a triumph even, have worn a wreath of myrtle in the triumphal car. L. Piso states that 332Papirius Maso, who was the first to enjoy a triumph for a victory over the Marsi—it was on the Alban Mount2088—was in the habit of attending at the games of the Circus, wearing a wreath of myrtle: he was the maternal grandfather of the second Scipio Africanus. Marcus Valerius2089 wore two wreaths, one of laurel, the other of myrtle; it was in consequence of a vow which he had made to that effect.


The laurel is especially consecrated to triumphs, is remarkably ornamental to houses, and guards the portals of our emperors2090 and our pontiffs: there suspended alone, it graces the palace, and is ever on guard before the threshold. Cato2091 speaks of two varieties of this tree, the Delphic2092 and the Cyprian. Pompeius Lenæus has added another, to which he has given the name of “mustax,” from the circumstance of its being used for putting under the cake known by the name of “mustaceum”.2093 He says that this variety has a very large leaf, flaccid, and of a whitish hue; that the Delphic laurel is of one uniform colour, greener than the other, with berries of very large size, and of a red tint approaching to green. He says, too, that it is with this laurel that the victors at Delphi2094 are crowned, and warriors who enjoy the honours of a triumph at Rome. The Cyprian laurel, he says, has a short leaf, is of a blackish colour, with an imbricated2095 edge, and crisped.


Since his time, however, the varieties have considerably augmented. There is the tinus2096 for instance, by some considered as a species of wild laurel, while others, again, regard it as a tree of a separate class; indeed, it does differ from the laurel as to the colour, the berry being of an azure blue. The royal2097 laurel, too, has since been added, which has of late begun to be known as the “Augustan:” both the tree, as well as the leaf, are of remarkable size, and the berries have not the usual rough taste. Some say, however, that the royal laurel and the Augustan are not the same tree, and make out the former to be a peculiar kind, with a leaf both longer and broader than that of the Augustan. The same authors, also, make a peculiar species of the bacalia the commonest laurel of all, and the one that bears the greatest number of berries. With them, too, the barren laurel2098 is the laurel of the triumphs, and they say that this is the one that is used by warriors when enjoying a triumph—a thing that surprises me very much; unless, indeed, the use of it was first introduced by the late Emperor Augustus, and it is to be considered as the progeny of that laurel, which, as we shall just now have occasion to mention, was sent to him from heaven; it being the smallest of them all, with a crisped2099 short leaf, and very rarely to be met with.

In ornamental gardening we also find the taxa2100 employed, with a small leaf sprouting from the middle of the leaf, and forming a fringe, as it were, hanging from it; the spadonia,2101 too, without this fringe, a tree that thrives remarkably well in the shade: indeed, however dense the shade may be, it will soon cover the spot with its shoots. There is the chamædaphne,2102 also, a shrub that grows wild; the Alexandrian2103 334laurel, by some known as the Idean, by others as the “hypoglottion,”2104 by others as the “carpophyllon,”2105 and by others, again, as the “hypelates.”2106 From the root it throws out branches three quarters of a foot in length; it is much used in ornamental gardening, and for making wreaths, and it has a more pointed leaf than that of the myrtle, and superior to it in softness, whiteness, and size: the seed, which lies between the leaves, is red. This last kind grows in great abundance on Mount Ida and in the vicinity of Heraclea in Pontus: it is only found, however, in mountainous districts.

The laurel, too, known as the daphnoides,2107 is a variety that has received many different names: by some it is called the Pelasgian laurel, by others the euthalon, and by others the stephanon Alexandri.2108 This is also a branchy shrub, with a thicker and softer leaf than that of the ordinary laurel: if tasted, it leaves a burning sensation in the mouth and throat: the berries are red, inclining to black. The ancient writers have remarked, that in their time there was no species of laurel in the island of Corsica. Since then, however, it has been planted there, and has thrived well.


This tree is emblematical of peace:2109 when a branch of it is extended, it is to denote a truce between enemies in arms. For the Romans more particularly it is the messenger of joyful tidings, and of victory: it accompanies the despatches2110 of the general, and it decorates the lances and javelins of the soldiers and the fasces which precede their chief. It is of this tree that branches are deposited on the lap of Jupiter All-good and All-great,2111 so often as some new victory has imparted universal 335gladness. This is done, not because it is always green, nor yet because it is an emblem of peace—for in both of those respects the olive would take the precedence of it—but because it is the most beauteous tree on Mount Parnassus, and was pleasing for its gracefulness to Apollo even; a deity to whom the kings of Rome sent offerings at an early period, as we learn from the case of L. Brutus.2112 Perhaps, too, honour is more particularly paid to this tree because it was there that Brutus2113 earned the glory of asserting his country’s liberties, when, by the direction of the oracle, he kissed that laurel-bearing soil. Another reason, too, may be the fact, that of all the shrubs that are planted and received in our houses, this is the only one that is never struck by lightning.2114 It is for these reasons, in my opinion, that the post of honour has been awarded to the laurel more particularly in triumphs, and not, as Massurius says, because it was used for the purposes of fumigation and purification from the blood of the enemy.

In addition to the above particulars, it is not permitted to defile the laurel and the olive by applying them to profane uses; so much so, indeed, that, not even for the propitiation of the divinities, should a fire be lighted with them at either altar or shrine.2115 Indeed, it is very evident that the laurel protests against such usage by crackling2116 as it does in the fire, thus, in a manner, giving expression to its abhorrence of such treatment. The wood of this tree when eaten is good as a specific for internal maladies and affections of the sinews.2117

It is said that when it thundered, the Emperor Tiberius was 336in the habit of putting on a wreath of laurel to allay his apprehensions of disastrous effects from the lightning.2118 There are also some remarkable facts connected with the laurel in the history of the late Emperor Augustus: once while Livia Drusilla, who afterwards on her marriage with the Emperor assumed the name of Augusta, at the time that she was affianced to him, was seated, there fell into her lap a hen of remarkable whiteness, which an eagle let fall from aloft without its receiving the slightest injury: on Livia viewing it without any symptoms of alarm, it was discovered that miracle was added to miracle, and that it held in its beak a branch of laurel covered with berries. The aruspices gave orders that the hen and her progeny should be carefully preserved, and the branch planted and tended with religious care. This was accordingly done at the country-house belonging to the Cæsars, on the Flaminian Way, near the banks of the Tiber, eight miles from the City; from which circumstance that road has since received the title “Ad gallinas.”2119 From the branch there has now arisen, wondrous to relate, quite a grove: and Augustus Cæsar afterwards, when celebrating a triumph, held a branch of it in his hand and wore a wreath of this laurel on his head; since which time all the succeeding emperors have followed his example. Hence, too, has originated the custom of planting the branches which they have held on these occasions, and we thus see groves of laurel still existing which owe their respective names to this circumstance. It was on the above occasion, too, that not improbably a change was effected in the usual laurel of the triumph.2120 The laurel is the only one among the trees that in the Latin language has given an appellation to a man,2121 and it is the only one the leaf of which has a distinct name of its own,—it being known by the name of “laurea.” The name of this tree is still retained by one place in the city of Rome, for we find a spot on the Aventine 337Mount still known by the name of “Loretum,”2122 where formerly a laurel-grove existed. The laurel is employed in purifications, and we may here mention, incidentally, that it will grow from slips2123—though Democritus and Theophrastus have expressed their doubts as to that fact.

We shall now proceed to speak of the forest trees.

Summary.—Remarkable facts, narratives, and observations, one hundred and twenty.

Roman authors quoted.—Fenestella,2124 Fabianus,2125 Virgil,2126 Corn. Valerianus,2127 Celsus,2128 Cato the Censor,2129 Saserna2130 father and son, Scrofa,2131 M. Varro,2132 D. Silanus,2133 Fabius Pictor,2134 Trogus,2135 Hyginus,2136 Flaccus Verrius,2137 Græcinus,2138 Atticus Julius,2139 Columella,2140 Massurius Sabinus,2141 Tergilla,2142 Cotta Messalinus,2143 L. Piso,2144 Pompeius Lenæus,2145 Maccius Plautus,2146 Flavius,2147 Dossenus,2148 Scævola,2149 Ælius,2150 Ateius Capito,2151 Sextius Niger,2152 Vibius Rufus.2153

Foreign authors quoted.—Aristotle,2154 Democritus,2155 King Hiero,2156 King Attalus Philometor,2157 Archytas,2158 Xenophon,2159 Amphilochus2160 of Athens, Anaxipolis2161 of Thasos, Apollodorus2162 of Lemnos, Aristophanes2163 of Miletus, Antigonus2164 of Cymæ, 338Agathocles2165 of Chios, Apollonius2166 of Pergamus, Aristander2167 of Athens, Bacchius2168 of Miletus, Bion2169 of Soli, Chæreas2170 of Athens, Chæristus2171 of Athens, Diodorus2172 of Priene, Dion2173 of Colophon, Epigenes2174 of Rhodes, Euagon2175 of Thasos, Euphronius2176 of Athens, Androtion2177 who wrote on Agriculture, Æschrion2178 who wrote on Agriculture, Lysimachus2179 who wrote on Agriculture, Dionysius2180 who translated Mago,2181 Diophanes2182 who made an Epitome of the work of Dionysius, Asclepiades2183 the Physician, Erasistratus2184 the Physician, Commiades2185 who wrote on the preparation of Wines, Aristomachus2186 who wrote on the same subject, Hicesius2187 who wrote on the same subject, Themiso2188 the Physician, Onesicritus,2189 King Juba.2190





We have given the precedence in this account to the fruit-trees and others which, by their delicious juices, first taught man to give a relish to his food and the various aliments requisite for his sustenance, whether it is that they spontaneously produce these delightful flavours, or whether we have imparted them by the methods of adoption and intermarriage,2191 thus bestowing a favour, as it were, upon the very beasts and birds. The next thing, then, would be to speak of the glandiferous trees, the trees which proffered the earliest nutriment to the appetite of man, and proved themselves his foster-mothers in his forlorn and savage state—did I not feel myself constrained on this occasion to make some mention of the surprise which I have felt on finding by actual experience what is the life of mortals when they inhabit a country that is without either tree or shrub.

(1.) I have already stated2192 that in the East many nations that dwell on the shores of the ocean are placed in this necessitous state; and I myself have personally witnessed the condition of the Chauci,2193 both the Greater and the Lesser, situate in the regions of the far North. In those climates a vast tract of land, invaded twice each day and night by the overflowing waves of the ocean, opens a question that is eternally proposed to us by Nature, whether these regions are to be looked upon as belonging to the land, or whether as forming a portion of the sea?

Here a wretched race is found, inhabiting either the more elevated spots of land, or else eminences artificially constructed, and of a height to which they know by experience that the highest tides will never reach. Here they pitch their cabins; 340and when the waves cover the surrounding country far and wide, like so many mariners on board ship are they: when, again, the tide recedes, their condition is that of so many shipwrecked men, and around their cottages they pursue the fishes as they make their escape with the receding tide. It is not their lot, like the adjoining nations, to keep any flocks for sustenance by their milk, nor even to maintain a warfare with wild beasts, every shrub, even, being banished afar. With the sedge2194 and the rushes of the marsh they make cords, and with these they weave the nets employed in the capture of the fish; they fashion the mud,2195 too, with their hands, and drying it by the help of the winds more than of the sun, cook their food by its aid, and so warm their entrails, frozen as they are by the northern blasts; their only2196 drink, too, is rain-water, which they collect in holes dug at the entrance of their abode: and yet these nations, if this very day they were vanquished by the Roman people, would exclaim against being reduced2197 to slavery! Be it so, then—Fortune is most kind to many, just when she means to punish them.2198


Another marvel, too, connected with the forests! They cover all the rest of Germany, and by their shade augment the cold. But the highest of them all are those not far distant from the Chauci already mentioned, and more particularly in the vicinity of the two lakes2199 there. The very shores are lined with oaks,2200 which manifest an extraordinary eagerness to 341attain their growth: undermined by the waves or uprooted by the blasts, with their entwining roots they carry vast forests along with them, and, thus balanced, stand upright as they float along, while they spread afar their huge branches like the rigging of so many ships. Many is the time that these trees have struck our fleets with alarm, when the waves have driven them, almost purposely it would seem, against their prows as they stood at anchor in the night; and the men, destitute of all remedy and resource, have had to engage in a naval combat with a forest of trees!

(2.) In the same northern regions, too, is the Hercynian2201 Forest, whose gigantic oaks,2202 uninjured by the lapse of ages, and contemporary with the creation of the world, by their near approach to immortality surpass all other marvels known. Not to speak of other matters that would surpass all belief, it is a well-known fact that their roots,2203 as they meet together, upheave vast hills; or, if the earth happens not to accumulate with them, rise aloft to the very branches even, and, as they contend for the mastery, form arcades, like so many portals thrown open, and large enough to admit of the passage of a squadron of horse.

(3.) All these trees, in general, belong to the glandiferous class,2204 and have ever been held in the highest honour by the Roman people.


It is with the leaves of this class of trees that our civic crown is made, the most glorious reward that can be bestowed on military valour, and, for this long time past, the emblem of the imperial2205 clemency; since the time, in fact, when, after342 the impiety of civil war, it was first deemed a meritorious action not to shed the blood of a fellow-citizen. Far inferior to this in rank are the mural2206 crown, the vallar,2207 and the golden2208 one, superior though they may be in the value of the material: inferior, too, in merit, is the rostrate2209 crown, though ennobled, in recent times more particularly, by two great names, those of M. Varro,2210 who was presented with it by Pompeius Magnus, for his great achievements in the Piratic War, and of M. Agrippa, on whom it was bestowed by Cæsar, at the end of the Sicilian War, which was also a war against pirates.

In former days the beaks2211 of vessels, fastened in front of the tribunal, graced the Forum, and seemed, as it were, a crown placed upon the head of the Roman people itself. In later times, however, they began to be polluted and trodden under foot amid the seditious movements of the tribunes, the public interest was sacrificed to private advantage, each citizen sought solely his own advancement, and everything looked upon as holy was abandoned to profanation—still, from amid all this, the Rostra2212 emerged once again, and passed from beneath the feet of the citizens to their heads. Augustus presented to Agrippa the rostrate crown, while he himself received the civic crown2213 at the hands of all mankind.


In ancient times crowns2214 were presented to none but a 343divinity, hence it is that Homer2215 awards them only to the gods of heaven and to the entire army; but never to an individual, however great his achievements in battle may have been. It is said, too, that Father Liber was the first of all who placed a crown on his head, and that it was made of ivy.2216 In succeeding times, those engaged in sacrifices in honour of the gods began to wear them, the victims being decked with wreaths as well. More recently, again, they were employed in the sacred games;2217 and at the present day they are bestowed on such occasions, not upon the victor, indeed, but upon his country, which receives, it is proclaimed, this crown at his hands.2218 Hence arose the usage of conferring wreaths upon warriors when about to enjoy a triumph, for them to consecrate in the temples: after which it became the custom to present them at our games. It would be a lengthy matter, and, indeed, foreign to the purpose of this work, to enter upon a discussion who was the first Roman that received each kind of crown; in fact, they were acquainted with none but such as were given as the reward of military prowess. It is a well-known fact, however, that this people has more varieties of crowns than those of all other nations put together.


Romulus presented Hostus Hostilius2219 with a crown of leaves, for being the first to enter Fidenæ. This Hostus was the grandfather of King Tullus Hostilius. P. Decius the elder, the military tribune, was presented with a crown of leaves by the army which had been saved by his valour, under the command of Cornelius Cossus,2220 the consul, in the war with the Samnites. This crown was made at first of the leaves of the holm oak, but afterwards those of the æsculus2221 were preferred, as being a tree sacred to Jupiter: this, however, was soon employed indifferently with the quercus, according as 344each might happen to present itself, the honourable distinction given to the acorn being the only thing observed. Rigorous laws were, however, enacted, to maintain the lofty glories of this wreath, by which it was placed upon an equality even with the supreme honours of the wreath that is given by Greece in presence of Jove2222 himself, and to receive which the exulting city of the victor is wont to break2223 a passage through its very walls. These laws are to the effect that the life of a fellow-citizen must be preserved, and an enemy slain; that the spot where this takes place must have been held by the enemy that same day; that the person saved shall admit the fact, other witnesses being of no use at all; and that the person saved shall have been a Roman citizen.

To preserve an ally merely, even though it should be the life of a king that is so saved, confers no right to this high reward, nor is the honour at all increased, even if it is the Roman general that has been thus preserved, it being the intention of the framers of the law that it should be the status of the citizen that is everything. When a man has received this wreath, it is his privilege to wear it for the rest of his life. When he makes his appearance at the celebration of the games,2224 it is customary for the Senate even to rise from their seats, and he has the right of taking his seat next to the senators. Exemption, too, from all civic duties is conferred upon him as well as his father and his father’s father. Siccius Dentatus, as we have already mentioned2225 on an appropriate occasion, received fourteen civic crowns, and Manlius Capitolinus2226 six,2227 one, among the rest, for having saved the life of his general, Servilius. Scipio Africanus declined to accept the civic crown for having saved the life of his father at the battle of Trebia. Times these, right worthy of our everlasting admiration, which accorded honour alone as the reward of exploits so mighty, and which, while other crowns were recommended by being made of gold, disdained to set a price upon the safety of a citizen, and loudly proclaimed thereby that it is unrighteous to save the life of a man for motives of lucre.



It is a well-known fact that acorns2228 at this very day constitute the wealth of many nations, and that, too, even amid these times of peace. Sometimes, also, when there is a scarcity of corn they are dried and ground, the meal being employed for making a kind of bread. Even to this very day, in the provinces of Spain,2229 we find the acorn introduced at table in the second course: it is thought to be sweeter when roasted in the ashes. By the law of the Twelve Tables, there is a provision made that it shall be lawful for a man to gather his acorns when they have fallen upon the land of another.

The varieties of the glandiferous trees are numerous, and they are found to differ in fruit, locality, sex, and taste; the acorn of the beech having one shape, that of the quercus another, and that, again, of the holm-oak another. The various species also, among themselves, offer a considerable number of varieties. In addition to this, some of these trees are of a wild nature, while the fruits of others are of a less acrid flavour, owing to a more careful cultivation. Then, too, there is a difference between the varieties which grow on the mountains and those of the plains; the males differ from the females, and there are considerable modifications in the flavour of their fruit. That of the beech2230 is the sweetest of all; so much so, that, according to Cornelius Alexander, the people of the city of Chios, when besieged, supported themselves wholly on mast. The different varieties cannot possibly be distinguished by their respective names, which vary according to 346their several localities. The quercus2231 and the robur2232 we see growing everywhere, but not so with the æsculus;2233 while a fourth kind, known as the cerrus,2234 is not so much as known throughout the greater part of Italy. We shall distinguish them, therefore, by their characteristic features, and when circumstances render it necessary, shall give their Greek names as well.

CHAP. 7. (6.)—THE BEECH.

The acorn of the beech2235 is similar in appearance to a kernel, enclosed in a shell of triangular shape. The leaf is thin and one of the very lightest, is similar in appearance to that of the poplar, and turns yellow with remarkable rapidity. From the middle of the leaf, and upon the upper side of it, there mostly shoots a little green berry, with a pointed top.2236 The beech is particularly agreeable to rats and mice; and hence it is, that where this tree abounds, those creatures are sure to be plentiful also. The leaves are also very fattening for dormice, and good for thrushes too. Almost all trees bear an average crop but once in two years; this is the case with the beech more particularly.


The other trees that bear acorns, properly so called, are the 347robur, the æsculus, the cerrus, the holm-oak,2237 and the cork-tree:2238 it is contained in a rivelled calyx, which embraces more or less of it, according to the several varieties. The leaves of these trees, those of the holm-oak excepted, are weighty, pulpy, long, and jagged at the edges, and they do not turn yellow before they fall, as with the beech: they are also longer or shorter, as the case may be.

There are two kinds2239 of holm-oak: one of them, which belongs to Italy, has a leaf not very unlike that of the olive; some of the Greeks give it the name of “milax,”2240 and in our provinces it is known as the aquifolia. The acorn of these two kinds is shorter and more slender than in the others: Homer2241 calls it “acylos,” and by that name distinguishes it from the ordinary acorn: it is generally said that the male tree of the holm-oak bears no fruit.

The best acorn, and the very largest, is that which grows upon the quercus, and the next to it is the fruit of the æsculus: that of the robur, again, is diminutive, and the fruit of the cerrus has a meagre, wretched look, being enclosed in a calyx covered with prickles, like the outer coat of the chesnut. With reference to the acorn of the quercus, that which grows upon the female tree2242 is sweeter and more tender, while that of the male is more solid and compact. The acorn, however, of the latifolia2243 is the most esteemed, an oak so 348called from the remarkable broadness of its leaves. The acorns differ also among themselves in size, and the comparative fineness of the outer shell; as also in the circumstance that some have beneath the shell a rough coat of a rusty colour, while in others a white flesh immediately presents itself. Those, too, are more particularly esteemed, the two extremities of the nut of which, taken lengthwise, are as hard as a stone: and it is considered preferable that this peculiarity should present itself rather in the shell than in the flesh: in either case, however, it only exists in the fruit of the male tree. In some kinds, again, the acorn is oval, in others round; while in others it is of a more pointed form. The colour, too, varies considerably, according as it is blacker or whiter; this last being held in the highest esteem. The extremities of the acorn are bitter, but the flesh in the middle of it is sweet;2244 another difference, too, consists in the comparative length or shortness of the stalk.

As for the trees themselves, the one that bears the acorn of largest size is known as the “hemeris;”2245 a small tree with a thick bushy foliage all around it, and often hollowed at the place where the branch is joined to the trunk. The quercus has a stronger wood, and less susceptible of decay: this also is a very branchy tree, but is much taller than the last, while the trunk is considerably thicker. The ægilops,2246 however, is the highest of them all, and is much attached to wild, uncultivated spots. Next to this in height is the latifolia, but its wood is far from being so useful either for building purposes or for charcoal. When rough-hewn it is very apt to spoil, hence it is that it is generally used in an unhewn state. As charcoal, it is considered only economical in smelting copper; for the moment the workman ceases to blow, the fire dies out, and hence it requires to be repeatedly rekindled; while at the same time it gives out great quantities of sparks. The best 349charcoal is that obtained from the wood of young trees.2247 Square billets of wood, newly cut, are piled compactly together with clay, and built up in the form of a chimney; the pile is then set fire to, and incisions are made in the coat of clay as it gradually hardens, by the aid of long poles, for the purpose of letting the moisture of the wood evaporate.

The worst kind of all, however, both for timber and for making charcoal, is the oak known as the “haliphlœos,”2248 the bark of which is remarkably thick, and the trunk of considerable size, but mostly hollow and spongy: it is the only one of this species that rots while the tree is still alive. In addition to this, it is very frequently struck by lightning, although it is not so remarkably lofty in height: for this reason it is not considered lawful to employ its wood for the purposes of sacrifice. It is but rarely that it bears any acorns, and when it does they are bitter: no animal will touch them, with the sole exception of swine, and not even they, if they can get any other food. An additional reason also for its exclusion from all religious ceremonials, is the circumstance that the fire is very apt to go out in the middle of the sacrifice when the wood of it is used for fuel.

The acorn of the beech, when given to swine,2249 makes them brisk and lively, and renders the flesh tender for cooking, and light and easy of digestion; while, on the other hand, that of the holm oak has the effect of making them thin, pallid, meagre, and lumpish. The acorn of the quercus is of a broad shape, and is the heaviest as well as the sweetest of them all. According to Nigidius, the acorn of the cerrus occupies the next rank to this, and, indeed, there is no acorn that renders the flesh of swine more firm, though at the same time it is apt to impart a certain degree of hardness. The same author assures us also, that the acorn of the holm oak is a trying diet for swine, unless it is given in very small quantities 350at a time. He says, too, that this acorn is the last to fall, and that the flesh of swine, if fed upon the acorns of the æsculus, the robur, or the cork-tree, will be of a spongy nature.


All2250 the glandiferous trees produce the gall-nut as well: they only bear acorns, however, in alternate years. The gall-nut of the hemeris2251 is considered the choicest of all, and the best adapted for the preparation of leather: that of the latifolia closely resembles it, but is somewhat lighter, and not by any means so highly approved. This last tree produces the black gall-nut also—for there are two varieties of it—this last being deemed preferable for dyeing wool.

(7.) The gall-nut begins to grow just as the sun is leaving the sign of Gemini,2252 and always bursts forth in its entirety in a single night.2253 The white variety grows, too, in a single day, but if the heat happens to overtake it, it shrinks immediately, and never arrives at its proper size, which is about that of a bean. The black gall-nut will remain green for a longer period, and sometimes attains the size of an apple2254 even. The best kind is that which comes from Commagene,2255 and the most inferior are those produced by the robur: it may easily be tested by means of certain holes in it which admit of the passage of the light.2256


The robur, in addition to its fruit, has a great number of other productions: it bears2257 the two varieties of the gall-nut, 351and a production which closely resembles the mulberry,2258 except that it differs from it in being dry and hard: for the most part it bears a resemblance to a bull’s head, and in the inside there is a fruit very similar to the stone of the olive. Little balls2259 also are found growing on the robur, not unlike nuts in appearance, and containing within them a kind of soft wool, which is used for burning in lamps; for it will keep burning without oil, which is the case also with the black gall-nut. It bears another kind, too, of little ball, covered with hair,2260 but used for no purpose: in spring, however, this contains a juice like honey. In the hollows formed by the union of the trunk and branches of this tree there are found also small round balls,2261 which adhere bodily to the bark, and not by means of a stalk: at the point of junction they are white, but the rest of the body is spotted all over with black: inside they are of a scarlet colour, but on opening them they are found to be empty, and are of a bitter taste.

Sometimes, too, the robur bears a kind of pumice,2262 as well as little balls, which are formed of the leaves rolled up; upon the veins of the leaves, too, there are watery pustules, of a whitish hue, and transparent while they are soft; in these a kind of gnat2263 is produced, and they come to maturity just in the same way that the ordinary gall-nut does.

CHAP. 11. (8.)—CACHRYS.

The robur bears cachrys,2264 too; such being the name given 352to a small round ball that is employed in medicine for its caustic properties. It grows on the fir likewise, the larch, the pitch-tree, the linden, the nut-tree, and the plane, and remains on the tree throughout the winter, after the leaves have fallen. It contains a kernel very similar to that of the pine-nut, and increases in size during the winter. In spring the ball opens throughout, and it finally drops when the leaves are beginning to grow.

Such is the multiplicity of the products borne by the robur in addition to its acorns; and not only these, but mushrooms2265 as well, of better or worse quality, the most recent stimulants that have been discovered for the appetite; these last are found growing about its roots. Those of the quercus are the most highly esteemed, while those of the robur, the cypress, and the pine are injurious.2266 The robur produces mistletoe2267 also, and, if we may believe Hesiod,2268 honey as well: indeed, it is a well-known fact, that a honey-like2269 dew falling from heaven, as we have already mentioned,2270 deposits itself upon the leaves of this tree in preference to those of any other. It is also well known that the wood of this tree, when burnt, produces a nitrous2271 ash.



The holm oak, however, by its scarlet berry2272 alone challenges competition with all these manifold productions. This grain appears at first sight to be a roughness on the surface of the tree, as it were, a small kind of the aquifolia2273 variety of holm oak, known as the cusculium.2274 To the poor in Spain it furnishes2275 the means of paying one half of their tribute. We have already, when speaking2276 of the purple of the murex, mentioned the best methods adopted for using it. It is produced also in Galatia, Africa, Pisidia, and Cilicia: the most inferior kind is that of Sardinia.


It is in the Gallic provinces more particularly that the glandiferous trees produce agaric;2277 such being the name given to a white fungus which has a strong odour, and is very useful as an antidote. It grows upon the top of the tree, and gives out a brilliant light2278 at night: this, indeed, is the sign by which its presence is known, and by the aid of this light it may be gathered during the night. The ægilops is the only one among the glandiferous trees that bears a kind of dry cloth,2279 covered with a white mossy shag, and this, not only attached to the bark, but hanging down from the branches as well, a cubit even in length: this substance has a strong 354odour, as we have already2280 stated, when speaking of the perfumes.

The cork is but a very small tree, and its acorn is of the very worst2281 quality, and rarely to be found as well: the bark2282 is its only useful product, being remarkably thick, and if removed it will grow again. When straitened out, it has been known to form planks as much as ten feet square. This substance is employed more particularly attached as a buoy to the ropes2283 of ships’ anchors and the drag-nets of fishermen. It is employed also for the bungs of casks and as a material for the winter shoes2284 of females; for which reason the Greeks not inappropriately call them2285 “the bark of a tree.”

There are some writers who speak of it as the female of the holm oak; and in the countries where the holm does not grow, they substitute for it the wood of the cork-tree, more particularly in cartwrights’ work, in the vicinity of Elis and Lacedæmon for instance. The cork-tree does not grow throughout the whole of Italy, and in no2286 part whatever of Gaul.


The bark also of the beech, the lime, the fir, and the pitch-tree is extensively used by the peasantry. Panniers and baskets are made of it, as also the large flat hampers which are employed for the carriage of corn and grapes: roofs of 355cottages,2287 too, are made of this material. When a spy has been sent out he often leaves information for his general, written upon fresh bark, by cutting letters in the parts of it that are the most juicy. The bark of the beech is also employed for religious purposes in certain sacred rites.2288 This tree, however, when deprived of its bark, will not survive.

CHAP. 15. (10.)—SHINGLES.

The best shingles are those made of the wood of the robur; the next best being those furnished by the other glandiferous trees and the beech. Those most easily made are cut from the wood of the resinous trees, but they do not last,2289 with the exception of those made of pine. Cornelius Nepos informs us, that Rome was roofed solely with shingles down to the time of the war with Pyrrhus, a period of four hundred and seventy years. It is well known that it was remarkable for the fine forests in its vicinity. Even at the present day, the name of Jupiter Fagutalus points out in what locality there stood a grove of beeches;2290 the Querquetulan Gate shows where the quercus once stood, and the Viminal Hill is the spot where the “vimen”2291 was sought in ancient times. In many other parts, too, there were groves to be found, and sometimes as many as two. Q. Hortensius, the Dictator, on the secession of the plebeians to the Janiculum, passed a law in the Æsculetum,2292 that what the plebeians had enacted should be binding upon every Roman citizen.2293


In those days they regarded as exotics, because they did not exist in the vicinity2294 of the City, the pine and the fir, as well as all the other varieties that produce pitch; of which we shall now proceed to speak, in order that the method of seasoning 356wine, from the very first, may be fully known. Whereas there are several among the trees already mentioned in Asia or the East, that produce pitch, in Europe there are but six varieties of kindred trees that supply it. In this number there are the pine2295 and the pinaster,2296 which have long thin leaves like hair, and pointed at the end. The pine yields the least resin of them all: in the pine nut, indeed, of which we have previously spoken,2297 it is sometimes to be found, but hardly in sufficient quantities to warrant us in reckoning the pine among the resinous trees.


The pinaster is nothing else but a wild pine: it rises to a surprising height, and throws out branches from the middle, just as the pine does from the top. This tree yields a more copious supply of resin than the pine: the mode in which this is done we shall set forth2298 on a future occasion. It grows also in flat countries. Many people think that this is the same tree that grows along the shores of Italy, and is known as the “tibulus;”2299 but this last is slender, and more compact than the pine; it is likewise free from knots, and hence is used in the construction of light gallies;2300 they are both almost entirely destitute of resin.


The pitch-tree2301 loves the mountain heights and cold localities. This is a funereal tree, and, as an emblem of death, is placed before the door of the deceased, and is left to grow in the vicinity of the funeral pile. Still, however, it is now some time since it was admitted into our gardens, in consequence of the facility with which it is clipped into various shapes. It gives out considerable quantities of resin,2302 which 357is intermingled with white granulations like pearls, and so similar in appearance to frankincense, that when mixed, it is impossible to distinguish them; hence the adulterations we find practised in the Seplasia.2303 All this class of trees have a short bristly leaf, thick and hard, like that of the cypress. The branches of the pitch-tree are of moderate size, and extend from almost the very root of the tree, adhering to the sides like so many arms: the same is the case with the fir,2304 the wood of which is held in great esteem for ship-building.

This tree grows upon the summits of lofty mountains, as though, in fact, it had an antipathy to the sea, and it does not at all differ from the pitch-tree in appearance: the wood is also very highly esteemed for the construction of rafters, and many other appliances of life. A flow of resin, which in the pitch-tree constitutes its great merit, is looked upon as a defect in the fir,2305 though it will generally exude in some small quantity on exposure of the wood, to the action of the sun. On the other hand, the wood which in the fir-tree is remarkably fine, in the pitch-tree is only used for making shingles, vats, and a few other articles of joiners’ work.


The fifth kind of resinous tree has the same localities, and is very similar in appearance; it is known as the larch.2306 The wood of this tree is far more valuable, being unimpaired by time, and proof against all decay; it is of a reddish colour, and of an acrid smell. Resin2307 flows from this wood in still greater quantities; it is of the colour of honey, more viscous than the other varieties, and never turns hard.


A sixth variety is the torch-tree,2308 properly so called, which gives out more resin than any of the others, with the exception of the pitch-tree; but its resin is more liquid than that of this last. The wood, too, of this tree is more particularly employed for kindling fires and giving torch-light in religious ceremonials. Of this tree it is the male only that bears what is known to the Greeks by the name of “syce,”2309 remarkable for its extremely powerful odour. When the larch2310 is changed into the torch-tree, it is a proof that it is in a diseased state.

The wood of all these trees, when set fire to, gives out immoderate volumes of sooty smoke,2311 and sputters every now and then with a sudden crackling noise, while it sends out red-hot charcoal to a considerable distance—with the sole exception of that of the larch, which will neither burn2312 nor char, nor, in fact, suffer any more from the action of fire than a stone. All these trees are evergreens, and are not easily2313 distinguished by the foliage, even by those who are best acquainted with them, so nearly related are they to one another. The pitch-tree, however, is not so high as the larch; which, again, is stouter, and has a smoother bark, with a more velvety leaf, more unctuous to the touch, thicker, and more soft and flexible.2314 The pitch-tree, again, has a leaf more sparsely scattered and drier; it is thinner also, and of a colder nature, rougher all over in appearance, and covered with a resinous deposit: the wood of this tree is most like that of the fir. The larch, when 359the roots are once burnt, will not throw out fresh shoots, which the pitch-tree will do, as was found to be the case in the island of Lesbos, after the Pyrrhæan grove had been burnt there.

In the same species too, the variety of sex2315 is found to constitute a considerable difference: the male is the shorter tree, and has a harder wood; while the female is taller, and bears a leaf more unctuous to the feel, smooth and free from all rigidity. The wood of the male tree is hard and awry, and consequently not so well suited for carpenters’ work; while that of the female is softer, as may be very easily perceived on the application of the axe, a test, in fact, which, in every variety, immediately shows us which trees are males; the axe in such case meeting with a greater resistance, falling with a louder noise, and being withdrawn from the wood with considerably greater difficulty: the wood of the male tree is more parched too, and the root is of a blacker hue. In the vicinity of Mount Ida, in Troas, the circumstance whether the tree grows in the mountain districts or on the sea-shore, makes another considerable difference. In Macedonia and Arcadia, and in the neighbourhood of Elis, the names of the several varieties have been totally altered, and it has not been agreed by authors which name ought to be given to each: we have, therefore, contented ourselves with employing the Roman denominations solely.

The fir is the largest of them all, the female being the taller of the two; the wood, too, is softer and more easily worked. This tree is of a rounder form than the others, and its leaves are closely packed and feathered, so as not to admit of the passage of rain; the appearance, too, of the tree is altogether more cheerful. From the branches of these different varieties, with the sole exception of the larch,2316 there hang numbers of scaly nuts of compact shape, like so many catkins. The nuts found upon the male fir have a kernel in the fore-part, which is 360not the case with those on the female tree. In the pitch-tree, again, these kernels, which are very small and black, occupy the whole of the catkin, which is smaller and more slender than in the other varieties; hence it is that the Greeks call this tree by the name of phthirophoron.2317 In this tree, too, the nuts on the male are more compressed, and less moist with resin.


Not to omit any one of them, the yew2318 is similar to these other trees in general appearance. It is of a colour, however, but slightly approaching to green, and of a slender form; of sombre and ominous aspect, and quite destitute of juice: it is the only one, too, among them all, that bears a berry. In the male tree the fruit is injurious; indeed, in Spain more particularly, the berries contain a deadly poison.2319 It is an ascertained fact that travellers’ vessels,2320 made in Gaul of this wood, for the purpose of holding wine, have caused the death of those who used them. Sextius says, that in Greece this tree is known by the name of “smilax,” and that in Arcadia it is possessed of so active a poison, that those who sleep beneath it, or even take food2321 there, are sure to meet their death from it. There are authors, also, who assert that the poisons which we call at the present day “toxica,” and in which arrows are dipped, were formerly called taxica,2322 from this tree. It has been discovered, also, that these poisonous qualities are quite neutralized by driving a copper nail into the wood of the tree.



In Europe, tar is extracted from the torch-tree2323 by the agency of fire; it is employed for coating ships and for many other useful purposes.2324 The wood of the tree is chopped2325 into small billets, and then put into a furnace, which is heated by fires lighted on every side. The first steam that exudes flows in the form of water into a reservoir made for its reception: in Syria this substance is known as “cedrium;”2326 and it possesses such remarkable strength, that in Egypt the bodies of the dead, after being steeped in it, are preserved from all corruption.2327


The liquid that follows is of a thicker consistency, and constitutes pitch, properly so called. This liquid, thrown again into a brazen cauldron, and mixed with vinegar, becomes still2328 thicker, and when left to coagulate, receives the name of “Bruttian”2329 pitch. It is used, however, only for pitching the insides of dolia2330 and other vessels, it differing from the other kinds in being more viscous, of a redder colour, and more unctuous than is usually the case. All these varieties of pitch are prepared from the pitch-tree, by putting red-hot stones, with the resinous wood, in troughs made of strong oak; or if these troughs are not attainable, by piling up billets of the 362wood in the method employed for the manufacture of charcoal.2331 It is this pitch that is used for seasoning wine, being first pounded and reduced to a fine powder: it is of a blacker colour, too, than the other sort. The same resin, if boiled gently with water, and then strained off, becomes viscous, and assumes a red colour; it is then known as “distilled2332 pitch:” for making this, the refuse portions of the resin and the bark of the tree are generally selected.

Another method is adopted for the manufacture of that used as crapula.2333 Raw flower of resin is taken, direct from the tree, with a plentiful sprinkling of small, thin chips of the wood. These are then pounded2334 down and passed through a sieve, after which they are steeped in water, which is heated till it comes to a boil. The unctuous portion that is extracted from this is the best resin: it is but rarely to be met with, and then only in a few places in Italy, in the vicinity of the Alps: it is in considerable request for medicinal purposes. For this, they generally boil a congius of white resin to two congii of rain-water:2335 some persons, however, think it better2336 to boil it without water for one whole day by a slow fire, taking care to use a vessel of white copper.2337 Some, again, are in the habit of boiling the resin of the terebinth2338 in a flat pan2339 placed upon hot ashes, and prefer it to any other kind. The resin of the mastich2340 is held in the next degree of estimation.2341



We must not omit, too, that the Greeks call by the name of zopissa2342 the pitch mixed with wax which has been scraped from off the bottoms of sea-going ships;2343 for there is nothing, in fact, that has been left untried by mankind. This composition is found much more efficient for all those purposes in which pitch and resin are employed, in consequence of the superior hardness which has been imparted to it by the sea-salt.

The pitch-tree is opened2344 on the side that faces the sun, not by means of an incision, but of a wound made by the removal of the bark: this opening being generally two feet in width and one cubit from the ground, at the very least. The body of the tree, too, is not spared in this instance, as in others, for even the very chips from off it are considered as having their use; those, however, from the lower part of the tree are looked upon as the best, the wood of the higher parts giving the resin a bitter2345 taste. In a short time all the resinous juices of the entire tree come to a point of confluence in the wound so inflicted: the same process is adopted also with the torch-tree. When the liquid ceases to flow, the tree is opened in a similar manner in some other part, and then, again, elsewhere: after which the whole tree is cut down, and the pith2346 of it is used for burning.2347

So, too, in Syria they take the bark from off the terebinth; and, indeed, in those parts they do not spare even the root or branches, although in general the resin obtained from those parts is held in disesteem. In Macedonia they subject the whole of the male larch to the action of fire, but of the female2348 364only the roots. Theopompus has stated in his writings that in the territory of the Apolloniates there is found a kind of mineral pitch,2349 not inferior to that of Macedonia. The best pitch2350 everywhere is that obtained from trees planted on sunny spots with a north-east aspect; while that which is produced from more shaded localities has a disagreeable look and a repulsive odour. Pitch, too, that is produced amid the cold of winter is of inferior quality, being in smaller quantity, too, and comparatively colourless. Some persons are of opinion that in mountainous localities this liquid is produced in the greatest abundance, and that it is of superior colour and of a sweeter taste and has a finer smell so long as it remains in a state of resin; but that when, on the other hand, it is subjected to boiling, it yields a smaller quantity of pitch, because so much of it goes2351 off in a serous shape. They say that the resinous trees, too, that grow on mountains are thinner than those that are found on plains, but that they are apt, both of them, to be unproductive in clear, dry weather.

Some trees, too, afford a flow of resinous juice the year after the incision is made, some, again, in the second year, and others in the third. The wound so made is filled with resin, but not with bark, or by the cicatrization of the outer coat; for the bark in this tree never unites. Among these varieties some authors have made the sappium2352 to constitute a peculiar kind, because it is produced from the seed of a kindred variety, as we have already stated when speaking of the nuts2353 of trees; and they have given the name of tæda2354 to the lower parts of the tree; although in reality this tree is nothing else but a pitch-tree, which by careful cultivation has lost some small portion of its wild character. The name “sappinus” is also given to the timber of these trees when cut, as we shall have occasion to mention2355 hereafter.



It is for the sake of their timber that Nature has created the other trees, and more particularly the ash,2356 which yields it in greater abundance. This is a tall, tapering tree, with a feather-like leaf: it has been greatly ennobled by the encomiums of Homer, and the fact that it formed the spear of Achilles:2357 the wood of it is employed for numerous purposes. The ash which grows upon Mount Ida, in Troas, is so extremely like the cedar,2358 that, when the bark is removed, it will deceive a purchaser.

The Greeks have distinguished two varieties of this tree, the one long and without knots, the other short, with a harder wood, of a darker colour, and a leaf like that of the laurel. In Macedonia they give the name of “bumelia”2359 to an ash of remarkably large size, with a wood of extreme flexibility. Some authors have divided this tree into several varieties, according to the localities which it inhabits, and say that the ash of the plains has a spotted wood, while that of the mountain ash is more compact. Some Greek writers have stated that the leaf of the ash is poisonous2360 to beasts of burden, but harmless to all the animals that ruminate.2361 The leaves of this tree in Italy, however, are not injurious to beasts of burden even; so far from it, in fact, that nothing has been found to act as so good a specific for the bites of serpents2362 as to drink the juice extracted from the leaves, and to apply them to the wounds. So great, too, are the virtues of this tree, that no serpent will ever lie in the shadow thrown by it, either in the 366morning or the evening, be it ever so long; indeed, they will always keep at the greatest possible distance from it. We state the fact from ocular demonstration,2363 that if a serpent and a lighted fire are placed within a circle formed of the leaves of the ash, the reptile will rather throw itself into the fire than encounter the leaves of the tree. By a wonderful provision of Nature, the ash has been made to blossom before the serpents leave their holes, and the fall of its leaf does not take place till after they have retired for the winter.


In the linden-tree the male2364 and the female are totally different. In the male the wood is hard and knotty, of a redder hue, and with a stronger smell; the bark, too, is thicker, and, when taken off, has no flexibility. The male bears neither seed nor blossom as the female does, the trunk of which is thicker, and the wood white and of excellent quality. It is a singular2365 thing, but no animal will touch the fruit of this tree, although the juice of the leaves and the bark is sweet. Between the bark and the wood there are a number of thin coats, formed by the union of numerous fine membranes; of these they make those bands2366 which are known to us as “tiliæ.” The finer membranes are called “philyræ,” and are rendered famous by the honourable mention that the ancients have made of them as ribbons for wreaths2367 and garlands. The 367wood of this tree is proof against the attacks of worms:2368 it is of moderate height2369 only, but of very considerable utility.


The maple, which is pretty nearly of the same2370 size as the lime, is inferior to the citrus2371 only for the beauty of its wood when employed for cabinet work, and the exquisite finish it admits of. There are numerous varieties2372 of this tree; the light maple, remarkable for the extreme whiteness of its wood, is known as the “Gallic”2373 maple in Italy beyond the Padus, being a native of the countries beyond the Alps. Another kind is covered with wavy spots running in all directions. In consequence of its superior beauty it has received its name,2374 from its strong resemblance to the marks which are seen in the tail of the peacock; the finest kinds are those which grow in Istria and Rhætia. An inferior sort of maple is known as “crassivenium.”2375

The Greeks distinguish the varieties according to their respective localities. The maple of the plains,2376 they say, is white, and not wavy; they give it the name of “glinon.” On the other hand, the mountain maple,2377 they say, is of a more variegated appearance, and harder, the wood of the male tree being more particularly so, and the best adapted for specimens 368of elegant workmanship. A third kind, again, according to the Greeks, is the zygia,2378 with a red wood, which is easily split, and a pale, rough bark. Other authors, however, prefer to make of this last a peculiar species, and give it in Latin the name of “carpinus.”


But the most beautiful feature of all in the maple is what is known as bruscum, and, even more particularly so, the molluscum. These are both of them tuberosities of this tree, the bruscum presenting veins more violently contorted, while those of the molluscum are disposed in a more simple and uniform manner: indeed, if this last were of sufficiently large size to admit of tables being made of it, there is no doubt that it would be preferred to the wood of the citrus even. At the present day, however, we find it but little used except for the leaves of tablets, or as a veneer for couches.2379 Tuberosities are also found on the alder,2380 but as much inferior to those already mentioned, as the alder itself is to the maple. In the maple the male tree2381 is the first to blossom. The trees that frequent dry spots are preferred to those that grow in watery localities, which is the case also with the ash.

There is found in the countries beyond the Alps a tree, the wood of which is very similar to that of the white maple, and which is known as the staphylodendron.2382 This tree bears a pod2383 in which there is found a kernel, which has the flavour of the hazel-nut.


One of the most highly esteemed of all the woods is the 369box,2384 but it is seldom veined, and then only the wood of the root. In other respects, it is a wood, so to say, of quiet and unpretending appearance, but highly esteemed for a certain degree of hardness and its pallid hue: the tree, too, is very extensively employed in ornamental gardening.2385 There are three2386 varieties of it: the Gallic2387 box, which is trained to shoot upwards in a pyramidal form, and attains a very considerable height; the oleaster,2388 which is condemned as being utterly worthless, and emits a disagreeable odour; and a third, known as the “Italian” box,2389 a wild variety, in my opinion, which has been improved by cultivation. This last spreads more than the others, and forms a thick hedge: it is an evergreen, and is easily clipped.

The box-tree abounds on the Pyrenean2390 range, the mountains of Cytorus, and the country about Berecynthus.2391 The trunk grows to the largest size in the island of Corsica,2392 and its blossom is by no means despicable; it is this that causes the honey there to be bitter.2393 The seed of the box is held in aversion by all animals. That which grows upon Mount Olympus in Macedonia is not more slender than the other kinds, but the tree is of a more stunted growth. It loves spots exposed to the cold winds and the sun: in fire, too, it manifests all the hardness of iron; it gives out no flame, and is of no use whatever for the manufacture of charcoal.2394



Midway between the preceding ones and the fruit-trees stands the elm, partaking of the nature of the former in its wood, and being akin to the latter in the friendship which it manifests for the vine.2395 The Greeks distinguish two varieties of this tree: the mountain2396 elm, which is the larger of the two, and that of the plains, which is more shrubby. Italy gives the name of “Atinia”2397 to the more lofty kinds, and gives the preference to those which are of a dry nature and will not grow in damp localities. Another variety is the Gallic elm,2398 and a third, the Italian,2399 with leaves lying closer together, and springing in greater numbers from a single stalk. A fourth kind is the wild elm. The Atinia does not produce any samara,2400 that being the name given to the seed of the elm. All the elms will grow from slips or cuttings, and all of them, with the exception of the Atinia, may be propagated from seed.


Having now made mention of the more remarkable trees, it remains for me to state some general facts connected with them all. The cedar, the larch, the torch-tree, and the other resinous trees prefer mountainous localities:2401 the same is the case also with the aquifolia, the box, the holm-oak, the juniper, the terebinth, the poplar, the wild mountain-ash, and 371the yoke-elm.2402 On the Apennines there is also found a shrub known as the “cotinus,”2403 famous for imparting to cloth a purple colour like that of the murex. The fir, the robur, the chesnut, the lime, the holm-oak, and the cornel will grow equally well on mountain or in valley; while the maple,2404 the ash, the service, the linden, and the cherry, more particularly prefer a watery spot on the slope of a hilly declivity. It is not often that we see the plum, the pomegranate, the olive, the walnut, the mulberry, or the elder, growing on an elevated site: the cornel, too, the hazel, the quercus, the wild ash, the maple, the ash, the beech, and the yoke-elm, descend to the plains; while the elm, the apple, the pear, the laurel, the myrtle, the blood-red2405 shrub, the holm-oak, and the brooms2406 that are employed in dyeing cloths, all of them aspire to a more elevated locality.

The sorb,2407 and even still more the birch,2408 are fond of a cold site; this last is a native of Gaul, of singular whiteness and slender shape, and rendered terrible as forming the fasces of the magistracy. From its flexibility it is employed also in making circlets and the ribs of panniers. In Gaul,2409 too, they extract a bitumen from it by boiling. To a cold site, also, belongs the thorn, which affords the most auspicious torches2410 372of all for the nuptial ceremony; from the circumstance, as Massurius assures us, that the shepherds, on the occasion of the rape of the Sabine women, made their torches of the wood of this tree: at the present day, however, the woods of the yoke-elm and the hazel are more generally employed for this purpose.


The cypress, the walnut, the chesnut, and the laburnum,2411 are averse to water. This last tree is also a native of the Alps, and far from generally known: the wood is hard and white,2412 and the flowers, which are a cubit2413 in length, no bee will ever touch. The shrub, too, known as Jupiter’s beard,2414 manifests an equal dislike to water: it is often clipped, and is employed in ornamental gardening, being of a round, bushy form, with a silvery leaf. The willow, the alder, the poplar,2415 the siler,2416 and the privet,2417 so extensively employed for making tallies,2418 will only grow in damp, watery places; which is the 373case also with the vaccinium,2419 grown in Italy for drugging our slaves,2420 and in Gaul for the purpose of dyeing the garments of slaves a purple colour. All those trees2421 which are common to the mountains and the plains, grow to a larger size, and are of more comely appearance when grown on the plains, while those found on the mountains have a better wood and more finely veined, with the exception of the apple and the pear.


In addition to these particulars, some of the trees lose their leaves, while others, again, are evergreens. Before, however, we treat of this distinction, it will be necessary first to touch upon another. There are some trees that are altogether of a wild nature, while there are others, again, that are more civilized, such being the names2422 by which man has thought fit to distinguish the trees. Indeed, these last, which by their fruits or some other beneficial property, or else by the shade which they afford, show themselves the benefactors of man, are not inappropriately called “civilized”2423 trees.


Belonging to this last class, there are the following trees which do not lose their leaves: the olive, the laurel, the palm, the myrtle, the cypress, the pine, the ivy, the rhododendron,2424 and, although it may be rather called a herb than a tree, the savin.2425 The rhododendron, as its name indicates, comes from Greece. By some it is known as the nerium,2426 and by others as the rhododaphne. It is an evergreen, bearing 374a strong resemblance to the rose-tree, and throwing out numerous branches from the stem; to beasts of burden, goats, and sheep it is poisonous, but for man it is an antidote2427 against the venom of serpents.

(21.) The following among the forest-trees do not lose their leaves: the fir, the larch, the pinaster, the juniper, the cedar, the terebinth, the box, the holm-oak, the aquifolia, the cork, the yew, and the tamarisk.2428 A middle place between the evergreens and those which are not so, is occupied by the andrachle2429 in Greece, and by the arbutus2430 in all parts of the world; as they lose all their leaves with the exception of those on the top of the tree. Among certain of the shrubs, too, the bramble and the calamus, the leaves do not fall. In the territory of Thurii, where Sybaris formerly stood, from the city there was a single oak2431 to be seen that never lost its leaves, and never used to bud before midsummer: it is a singular thing that this fact, which has been so often alluded to by the Greek writers, should have been passed over in silence by our own.2432 Indeed, so remarkable are the virtues that we find belonging to some localities, that about Memphis in Egypt, and at Elephantina in Thebais, the leaves2433 fall from none of the trees, not the vine even.


All the trees, with the exception of those already mentioned—a 375list which it would be tedious to enumerate—lose their leaves, and it has been observed that the leaf does not dry up and wither unless it is thin, broad, and soft; while, on the other hand, the leaves that do not fall are those which are fleshy, thick, and narrow.2434 It is an erroneous theory that the leaf does not fall in those trees the juices of which are more unctuous than the rest; for who could make out that such is the case with the holm-oak, for instance? Timæus, the mathematician, is of opinion that the leaves fall while the sun is passing through the sign of Scorpio, being acted upon by the influences of that luminary, and a certain venom which exists in the atmosphere: but then we have a right to wonder how it is that, the same reasons existing, the same influence is not exercised equally on all.

The leaves of most trees fall in autumn, but in some at a later period, remaining on the tree till the approach of winter, it making no difference whether they have germinated at an earlier period or a later, seeing that some that are the very first to bud are among the last to lose their leaves—the almond, the ash, and the elder, for instance: the mulberry, on the other hand, buds the last of all, and loses its leaves among the very first. The soil, too, exercises a very considerable influence in this respect: the leaves falling sooner where it is dry and thin, and more particularly when the tree is old: indeed, there are many trees that lose them before the fruit is ripe, as in the case of the late fig, for instance, and the winter pear: on the pomegranate, too, the fruit, when ripe, beholds nothing but the trunk of the parent tree. And not even upon those trees which always retain their foliage do the same leaves always remain, for as others shoot up beneath them, the old leaves gradually wither away: this takes place about the solstices more particularly.


The leaves continue the same upon every species of tree,376 with the exception of the poplar, the ivy, and the croton, which we have already mentioned as being called the “cicus.”2435

(23.) There are three kinds of poplar; the white,2436 the black,2437 and the one known as the Libyan2438 poplar, with a very diminutive leaf, and extremely black; much esteemed also for the fungi which grow from it. The white poplar has a parti-coloured leaf, white on the upper side and green beneath. This poplar, as also the black variety, and the croton, have a rounded leaf when young, as though it had been described with a pair of compasses, but when it becomes older the leaf throws out angular projections. On the other hand, the leaf of the ivy,2439 which is angular at first, becomes rounder, the older the tree. From the leaves of the poplar there falls a very thick down;2440 upon the white poplar, which, it is said, has a greater quantity of leaves than the others, this down is quite white, resembling locks of wool. The leaves of the pomegranate and the almond are red.


We find a most remarkable and, indeed, a marvellous peculiarity2441 existing in the elm, the lime, the olive, the white poplar, and the willow; for immediately after the summer solstice the leaves of these trees turn completely round; indeed, we have no sign which indicates with greater certainty that that period has past.

(24.) These trees also present in their leaves the same difference that is to be observed in those of all the rest: the underside, which looks towards the ground, is of a green, 377grassy colour, and has a smooth surface;2442 while the veins, the callous skin, and the articulations, lie upon the upper face, the veins making incisions in the parts beneath, like those to be seen upon the human hand. The leaf of the olive is whiter above, and not so smooth; the same is the case, too, with that of the ivy. The leaves of all trees turn2443 every day towards the sun, the object being that the under side may be warmed by its heat. The upper surface of them all has a down upon it, in however small quantity it may be; in some countries this down is used as a kind of wool.2444


We have already said2445 that in the East strong ropes are made of the leaves of the palm, and that they are improved by lying in the water. Among ourselves, too, the leaves of the palm are generally plucked immediately after harvest, the best being those that have no divisions in them. These leaves are left to dry under cover for four days, after which they are spread out in the sun, and left out in the open air all night, till they have become quite white and dry: after this they are split before they are put to any use.


The broadest leaves are those of the fig, the vine, and the plane; while those of the myrtle, the pomegranate, and the olive are narrow. The leaf of the pine and the cedar is fine and resembles hair, while that of the holly and one variety of the holm oak2446 is prickly—indeed, in the juniper, we find a 378thorn in place of a leaf. The leaf of the cypress and the tamarisk2447 is fleshy, and that of the alder is remarkable for its thickness.2448 In the reed, the willow, and the palm,2449 the leaf is long, and in the latter tree it is double as well: that of the pear is rounded, and it is pointed in the apple.2450 In the ivy the leaf is angular, and in the plane divided.2451 In the pitch-tree2452 and the fir the leaf is indented like the teeth of a comb; while in the robur it is sinuous on the whole of the outer margin: in the bramble it has a spiny surface. In some plants the leaf has the property of stinging, the nettle for instance; while in the pine,2453 the pitch-tree, the fir, the larch, the cedar, and the holly, it is prickly. In the olive and the holm-oak it has a short stalk, in the vine a long one: in the poplar the stalk of the leaf is always quivering,2454 and the leaves of this tree are the only ones that make a crackling noise2455 when coming in contact with another.

In one variety of the apple-tree2456 we find a small leaf protruding from the very middle of the fruit, sometimes, indeed, a couple of them. Then, again, in some trees the leaves are arranged all round the branches, and in others at the extremities of them, while in the robur they are found upon the trunk itself. They are sometimes thick and close, and at others thinly scattered, which is more particularly the case where the leaf is large and broad. In the myrtle2457 they are symmetrically 379arranged, in the box, concave, and, upon the apple, scattered without any order or regularity. In the apple and the pear we find several leaves issuing from the same stalk, and in the elm and the cytisus2458 they are covered with ramified veins. To the above particulars Cato2459 adds that the leaves of the poplar and the quercus should not be given to cattle after they have fallen and become withered, and he recommends the leaves of the fig,2460 the holm-oak, and the ivy for oxen: the leaves, too, of the reed and the laurel are sometimes given them to eat. The leaves of the service-tree fall all at once, but in the others only by degrees. Thus much in reference to the leaves.


The following is the order in which the operations of Nature take place throughout the year. The first is fecundation, which takes place when the west wind begins to prevail, generally about the sixth day before the ides of February.2461 By the agency of this wind all the productions of the earth are impregnated; to such an extent, indeed, that the mares even in Spain are impregnated by it, as we have already stated.2462 This is the generating principle of the universe, and it receives its name of Favonius, as some think, from our word “fovere,” which means “to warm and cherish:” it blows from due west at the opening of the spring. The peasantry call this period of the year the “time of heat,”2463 because Nature is then longing to receive the seeds of her various productions, and is imparting life to everything that is planted. The vegetables conceive2464 on various days, each according to 380its respective nature: some immediately, as with animals, others, again, more slowly, carrying with them for a longer period the produce of their conception, a state which has from that circumstance obtained the name of “germination.” When the plant flowers, it may be said to bring forth, and the flower makes its appearance by bursting its little capsule, which has acted to it as an uterus. The period of training and education is the growth of the fruit. This, as well as that of germination, is a laborious process.


The appearance of the blossom bespeaks the arrival of the spring and the birth anew of the year; this blossom is the very pride and delight of the trees. Then it is that they show themselves quite renewed, and altogether different from what they really are; then it is that they quite revel in the contest with each other which shall excel in the various hues and tints which they display. This merit has, however, been denied to many of them; for they do not all blossom, and there are certain sombre trees which do not participate in this joyous season of the year. The holm-oak, the pitch-tree, the larch, and the pine are never bedecked with blossoms, and with them there is no particular forerunner sent forth to announce the yearly birth of their respective fruits. The same is the case, too, with the cultivated and the wild fig,2465 which immediately present their fruit in place of any blossom. Upon the fig, too, it is remarkable that there are abortive fruit to be seen which never ripen.

The juniper, also, is destitute2466 of blossom; some writers, however, distinguish two varieties of it, one of which blossoms but bears no fruit,2467 while the other has no blossom, but presents the berries immediately, which remain on the tree for so long a period as two years: this assertion, however, is 381utterly fallacious, and all the junipers always present the same sombre appearance. So, too, in life, the fortunes of many men are ever without their time of blossoming.


All trees germinate, however,2468 even those which do not blossom. In this respect there is a very considerable difference in relation to the various localities; for in the same species we find that the tree, when planted in a marshy spot, will germinate earlier than elsewhere; next to that, the trees that grow on the plains, and last of all those that are found in the woods: the wild pear, too, is naturally later in budding than the other pears. At the first breath of the west wind2469 the cornel buds, and close upon it the laurel; then, a little before the equinox, we find the lime and the maple germinating. Among the earlier trees, too, are the poplar, the elm, the willow, the alder, and the nut-trees. The plane buds, too, at an early period.

Others, again, germinate at the beginning of spring, the holly, for instance, the terebinth, the paliurus,2470 the chesnut, and the glandiferous trees. On the other hand, the apple is late in budding, and the cork-tree the very last of all. Some trees germinate twice, whether it is that this arises from some exuberant fertility of the soil, or from the inviting temperature of the atmosphere; this takes place more particularly in the several varieties of the cereals. Excessive germination, however, has a tendency to weaken and exhaust the tree.

Besides the spring budding, some trees have naturally another budding, which depends upon the influence of their own respective constellations,2471 a theory which we shall find an 382opportunity of more conveniently discussing in the next Book but one.2472 The winter budding takes place at the rising of the Eagle, the summer at that of the Dog-star, and a third budding2473 again at that of Arcturus. Some persons think that these two buddings are common to all trees, but that they are to be remarked more particularly in the fig, the vine, and the pomegranate; seeing that, when this is the case, the crop of figs, in Thessaly and Macedonia more particularly, is remarkably abundant: but it is in Egypt more especially that illustrations of this vast abundance are to be met with. All the trees in general, when they have once begun to germinate, proceed continuously with it; the robur, however, the fir-tree, and the larch germinate intermittently, ceasing thrice, and as many times2474 beginning to bud again, and hence it is that they shed the scales of their bark2475 three several times; a thing that takes place with all trees during the period of germination, the outer coat of the tree bursting while it is budding.

With these last trees the first budding takes place2476 at the beginning of spring, and lasts about fifteen days; and they germinate a second time when the sun is passing through the sign of Gemini: hence it is that we see the points of the first buds pushed upwards by those beneath, a joint marking the place where they unite.2477 The third germination of these trees takes place at the summer solstice, and lasts no more than seven days: at this period we may very distinctly detect the articulations by which the buds are joined to one another as they grow. The vine is the only tree that buds twice; the first time when it first puts forth the grape, and the second time when the grape comes to maturity. In the trees which do not blossom there is only the budding, and then the gradual ripening 383of the fruit. Some trees blossom while they are budding, and pass rapidly through that period; but the fruit is slow in coming to maturity, as in the vine, for instance. Other trees, again, blossom and bud but late, while the fruit comes to maturity with great rapidity, the mulberry,2478 for example, which is the very last to bud of all the cultivated trees, and then only when the cold weather is gone: for this reason it has been pronounced the wisest among the trees. But in this, the germination, when it has once begun, bursts forth all over the tree at the very same moment; so much so, indeed, that it is accomplished in a single night, and even with a noise that may be audibly heard.2479


Of the trees which, as we have already stated,2480 bud in winter at the rising of the Eagle, the almond blossoms the first of all, in the month of January2481 namely, while by March the fruit is well developed. Next to it in blossoming is the plum2482 of Armenia, and then the tuber and the early peach,2483 the first two being exotics, and the latter forced by the agency of cultivation. Among the forest trees, the first that blossoms in the course of nature is the elder,2484 which has the most pith of any, and the male cornel, which has none2485 at all. Among the cultivated trees we next have the apple, and immediately after—so much so, indeed, that it would almost appear that they blossom simultaneously—the pear, the cherry, and the plum. Next to these is the laurel, and then the cypress, and after that the pomegranate and the fig: the vine, too, and the olive are budding when these last trees are in flower, the period of their conception2486 being the rising of the Vergiliæ,2487 that being 384their constellation.2488 As for the vine, it blossoms at the summer solstice, and the olive begins to do so a little later. All blossoms remain on the trees seven days, and never fall sooner; some, indeed, fall later, but none remain on more than twice seven days. The blossoms are always off before the eighth day2489 of the ides of July, the period of the prevalence of the Etesian2490 winds.


Upon some trees the fruit does not follow immediately upon the fall of the blossom. The cornel2491 about the summer solstice puts forth a fruit that is white at first, and after that the colour of blood. The female2492 of this tree, after autumn, bears a sour berry, which no animal will touch; its wood, too, is spongy and quite useless, while, on the other hand, that of the male tree is one of the very strongest and hardest2493 woods known: so great a difference do we find in trees belonging to the same species. The terebinth, the maple, and the ash produce their seed at harvest-time, while the nut-trees, the apple, and the pear, with the exception of the winter or the more early kinds, bear fruit in autumn. The glandiferous trees bear at a still later period, the setting of the Vergiliæ,2494 with the exception of the æsculus,2495 which bears in the autumn only; while some kinds of the apple and the pear, and the cork-tree, bear fruit at the beginning of winter.

The fir puts forth blossoms of a saffron colour about the summer solstice, and the seed is ripe just after the setting of the Vergiliæ. The pine and the pitch-tree germinate about fifteen days before the fir, but their seed is not ripe till after the setting of the Vergiliæ.



The citron-tree,2496 the juniper, and the holm-oak are looked upon as having fruit on them the whole year through, and upon these trees we see the new fruit hanging along with that of the preceding year. The pine, however, is the most remarkable of them all; for it has upon it at the same moment the fruit that is hastening to maturity, the fruit that is to come to maturity in the ensuing year, and the fruit that is to ripen the next year but one.2497 Indeed, there is no tree that is more eager to develope its resources; for in the same month in which a nut is plucked from it, another will ripen in the same place; the arrangement being such, that there is no month in which the nuts of this tree are not ripening. Those nuts which split while still upon the tree, are known by the name of azaniæ;2498 they are productive of injury to the others, if not removed.


The only ones among all the trees that bear nothing whatever, not so much as any seed even, are the tamarisk,2499 which is used only for making brooms, the poplar,2500 the alder, the Atinian elm,2501 and the alaternus,2502 which has a leaf between that of the holm-oak and the olive. Those trees are regarded as sinister,2503 and are considered inauspicious, which are never propagated from seed, and bear no fruit. Cremutius informs us, that this tree, being the one upon which Phyllis2504 hanged 386herself, is never green. Those trees which produce a gum open of themselves after germination: the gum never thickens until after the fruit has been removed.


Young trees are unproductive2505 so long as they are growing. The fruits which fall most readily before they come to maturity are the date, the fig, the almond, the apple, the pear, and the pomegranate, which last tree is also very apt to lose its blossom through excessive dews and hoar frosts. For this reason it is, too, that the growers bend the branches of the pomegranate, lest, from being straight, they may receive and retain the moisture that is so injurious to them. The pear and the almond,2506 even if it should not rain, but a south wind happen to blow or the weather become cloudy, are apt to lose their blossoms, and their first fruit as well, if, after the blossom has fallen, there is a continuance of such weather. But it is the willow that loses its seed the most speedily of all, long, indeed, before it is ripe; hence it is that Homer has given it the epithet of “fruit-losing.”2507 Succeeding ages, however, have given to this term an interpretation conformable to their own wicked practices, it being a well-known fact that the seed of the willow has the effect of producing barrenness in females.

In this respect, however, Nature has employed her usual foresight, bestowing but little care upon the seed of a tree which is produced so easily, and propagated by slips. There is, however, it is said, one variety of willow,2508 the seed of which arrives at maturity: it is found in the Isle of Crete, at the descent from the grotto of Jupiter: the seed is unsightly and ligneous, and in size about as large as a chick-pea.



Certain trees also become unproductive, owing to some fault in the locality, such, for instance, as a coppice-wood in the island of Paros, which produces nothing at all: in the Isle of Rhodes, too, the peach-trees2509 never do anything more than blossom. This distinction may arise also from the sex; and when such is the case, it is the male2510 tree that never produces. Some authors, however, making a transposition, assert that it is the male trees only that are prolific. Barrenness may also arise from a tree being too thickly covered with leaves.


Some among the fruit-trees2511 bear on both the sides of the branches and the summit, the pear, for instance, the fig-tree, and the myrtle. In other respects the trees are pretty nearly of a similar nature to the cereals, for in them we find the ear growing from the summit, while in the leguminous varieties the pod grows from the sides. The palm, as we have already2512 stated, is the only one that has fruit hanging down in bunches enclosed in capsules.


The other trees, again, bear their fruit beneath the leaves, for the purpose of protection, with the exception of the fig, the leaf of which is very large, and gives a great abundance of shade; hence it is that we find the fruit placed above it; in addition to which, the leaf makes its appearance after the fruit. There is said to be a remarkable peculiarity connected with one species of fig that is found in Cilicia, Cyprus, and Hellas; the fruit grows beneath the leaves, while at the same time the green abortive fruit, that never reaches maturity, is seen growing on the top of them. There is also a tree that produces an 388early fig, known to the Athenians by the name of “prodromos.”2513 In the Laconian varieties of this fruit more particularly, we find trees that bear two crops2514 in the year.


In the island of Cea there are wild figs that bear three times in one year. By the first crop the one that succeeds is summoned forth, and by that the third. It is by the agency of this last crop that caprification2515 is performed. In the wild fig, too, the fruit grows on the opposite side of the leaves. There are some pears and apples, too, that bear two crops in the year, while there are some early varieties also. The wild apple bears twice2516 in the year, its second crop coming on after the rising of Arcturus,2517 in sunny localities more particularly. There are vines, too, that will even bear three times in the year, a circumstance that has procured for them the name of “frantic”2518 vines. On these we see grapes just ripening, others beginning to swell, and others, again, in blossom, all at the same moment.

M. Varro2519 informs us, that there was formerly at Smyrna, near2520 the Temple of the Mother of the Gods, a vine that bore two crops in the year, as also an apple-tree of a similar nature in the territory of Consentia. This, however, is constantly to be witnessed in the territory of Tacapa,2521 in Africa, of which we shall have to speak more fully on another occasion,2522 so remarkable is the fertility of the soil. The cypress also bears three times in the year, for its berries are gathered in the 389months of January, May, and September, being all three of different size.

There are also certain peculiarities observed in the different modes in which the trees bear their fruit, the arbutus and the quercus being most fruitful in the upper part, the walnut and the marisca2523 fig in the lower. All trees, the older they grow, the more early they bear, and this more particularly in sunny spots