Natural History (Rackham, Jones, & Eichholz)/Book 21
I. CATO bade us include among our garden plants chaplet flowers, especially because of the indescribable delicacy of their blossoms, for nobody can find it easier to tell of them than Nature does to give them colours, as here she is in her most sportive mood, playful in her great joy at her varied fertility. To all other things in fact she gave birth because of their usefulness, and to serve as food, and so has assigned them their ages and years; but blossoms and their perfumes she brings forth only for a dayan obvious warning to men that the bloom that pleases the eye most is the soonest to fade. Not even the painter's art, however, suffices to copy their colours and the variety of their combinations, whether two kinds are woven together alternately, and also more than two, or whether with separate festoons of the different kinds chaplets are run through chaplets to form a circle, or crosswise, or sometimes forming a coil.
II. Such ornaments were more meagre as used by the ancients, who called them stroppi, from which is derived our strophiolum. Moreover, a general word was itself slow in coming into use, as corona was confined to the ornaments used at sacrifices or as military honours. When however garlands came to be made of flowers, they were called serta, from serere or series. The Greeks too adopted this custom not so long ago.
III. For at first it was customary to make from branches of trees the chaplets used at sacred contests as prizes. Later on the custom arose of varying the colour by mixing flowers of different hues, in order to heighten the effect of perfumes and colours in turn. It began at Sicyon through the skill of Pausias the painter and of the garland-maker Glycera, a lady with whom he was very much in love; when he copied her works in his paintings, she to egg him on varied her designs, and there was a duel between Art and Nature. Pictures of this kind painted by that famous artist are still extant, in particular the one called Stephaneploeos, in which he painted the lady herself. This took place later than the hundredth Olympiad. Floral chaplets being now fashionable, it was not long before there appeared what are called Egyptian chaplets, and then winter ones, made from dyed flakes of horn at the season when earth refuses flowers. At Rome too gradually there crept in the name corollae, given at the first to chaplets because of their delicacy, and presently that of corollaria, after the chaplets presented as prizes began to be made of thin plates, bronze, gilt or silvered.
IV. Crassus the Rich was the first to make artificial leaves of silver or gold, giving chaplets of them as prizes at his games, to which were also added ribbons. For these to be attached increased the honour of the bare chaplet; this fashion was due to the Etruscan chaplets, to which properly only golden ribbons were fastened. For a long time these ribbons were plain. The custom of engraving them originated with P. Claudius Pulcher, who also added gold-leaf to the inner bark of the lime tree.
V. Chaplets, however, even those won in sport, were always regarded as a dignity, for citizens would go down to the Circus in person to compete in the games, besides entering for events their own slaves and horses. This custom explains that law of the Twelve Tables, 'Whoso wins a chaplet in person or by his chattel, let it be given him on the ground of his worth.' No one has doubted that by the 'chaplet won by his chattel' the law means that earned by slaves or by horses. What then was the honour? It lay in the indefeasible right, on the death of the victor or of his parents, to have the chaplet laid on the body during the lying in state at home and when it was being carried out to burial. At other times not even chaplets won at the games were worn indiscriminately,
VI. and on this matter extremely severe rules were enforced. In the second Punic War Fulvius, a banker, who was said to have looked out into the Forum from his veranda wearing in the daytime a chaplet of roses, was on the authority of the senate led away to prison, not being released before the end of the war. P. Munatius took a chaplet of flowers from a statue of Marsyas and placed it on his own head. Ordered by the Triumyin to be put in chains for this offence he appealed to the tribunes of the people, who refused to intervene. Very different was the custom at Athens, where young revellers a in the forenoon would resort even to the schools of the philosophers. Among us no other instance of this outrageous conduct has taken place except that of Julia, daughter of the late Augustus, who in her night frolics placed a chaplet on the statue of Marsyas, as a letter of that god deplores.
VII. Flowers as a distinction have been given by the Roman people only to a Scipio. He was surnamed Serapio because of his likeness to a pig-dealer of that name. He died in his tribunate, being high in the esteem of the common people and worthy of the family of the Africani, but not leaving enough. estate to pay for his funeral. So the people contracted for his funeral, contributing their pence, and scattered flowers from every point of vantage along all the route.
VIII. Already by that time chaplets were used to honour the gods, the lares public and private, tombs and spirits of the dead; the highest distinction was the plaited chaplet, such as we find always used in ceremonies of the Saffi. Then they changed over to rose wreaths, and to such a height did luxuriousness rise that no chaplet was fashionable except those stitched together with genuine petals only, presently only those fetched from India or even beyond. In fact the chaplet deemed the smartest prize is made of nard leaves, or of multicoloured silk steeped in perfumes. Such is the latest form taken by the luxury of our women.
IX. Among the Greeks indeed there have been written monographs on chaplets by Mnesitheus and Callimachus, physicians who specify what flowers are injurious to the head; for health is to a certain extent concerned even in this matter, because it is especially amid the gaiety of drinking parties that strong scents steal unawares to the head, witness the wicked cunning of Cleopatra. For in the preparation for the war that culminated at Actium, Antonius, fearing even the attentiveness of the queen herself, would not take food that had not been foretasted. She is said to have played on his terror by poisoning the tips of the flowers in his chaplet, and then to have laid it on his head. Presently, as the revelry grew wilder, she proposed as a challenge that they 'should drink their chaplets.' Who in such circumstances would suspect treachery? So having gathered the fragments of his chaplet into his cup he was beginning to drink, when she laid on him an arresting hand, with these words: 'Look, I am the woman, Marcus Antonius, against whom, with your new craze for foretasters, you are carefully on your guard. Such my lack of opportunity or means to act if I can live without you!' Then a prisoner was brought in and ordered by her to drink, who died on the spot. About flowers, besides the authors already mentioned, an account has been written by Theophrastus among the Greeks, and some of our own writers have composed books of Anthologica. Nobody has, however, followed up the subject of flowers fully, so far as I can discover. Nor shall I now, of course, put chaplets togetherfor that would be mere triflingbut I shall include everything about flowers that will seem worthy of record.
X. Our countrymen know among garden plants very few kinds of chaplet flowers, practically violets only and roses. The rose grows on what is not so much a shrub as a thorn, appearing also on a bramble; there too it has a pleasant though faint perfume. Every bud appears at first enclosed in a shell full of grains, which presently swells and, after sloping itself into a green cone like a perfume box, gradually reddens, splitting and spreading out into a cup, which encloses the yellow points that stand out of its center. To make chaplets is about the least of the uses of the rose. It is steeped in oil, a process known even at the time of the Trojan war, as Homer bears witness. Furthermore, it has made its way, as we have said, into ointments. By itself it possesses medicinal properties. It is an ingredient of plasters and of eye-salves by reason of its subtle pungency, even being used as a coating for the delicacies of our tables, being quite harmless. The most famous kinds of roses recognized by our countrymen are those of Praeneste and those of Campania. Some have added the Milesian rose, because of its brilliant fiery colour, though it never has more than twelve petals. Next after it is esteemed the Trachinian, of a less brilliant red, and then the Alabandian, less highly prized, with whitish petals; the least prized, having very many, but very small petals, is called the prickly rose. For roses differ in the number of their petals, in the smooth or rough nature of the stem, in colour and in perfume. Those with the fewest petals have five, but in other roses they are more numerous, since there is one kind called the hundred-petalled rose. In Italy this grows in Campania, but in Greece around Philippi, which however is not its native soil. Mount Pangaeus in the neighbourhood grows a rose with many but small petals. The natives transplant it, improving the variety by mere change of place. This kind, however, has not a very strong perfume, nor has any rose whose petal is very broad or large; in brief, an indie tion of the degree of perfume is the roughness of the bark. Caepio, who lived when Tiberius Caesar was Emperor, said that the hundred-petalled variety is never put into chaplets, except at the ends where these are as it were hinged together, since neither in perfume nor in appearance is it attractive. There is also the kind called the Grecian rose by our countrymen, and by the Greeks the lychnis (lamp rose), which appears only in moist localities? It never has more than five petals, is of the size of the violet, and has no perfume. Another kind is called Graecula (little Greek rose), the petals of which are rolled together into a bunch. It never opens unless forced by the hand, and is always like a bud; the petals are very broad. Another kind springs from a stem like that of the mallow, with leaves like olive leaves, called mucetum. Between these in size is an autumn rose, named coroniola (little chaplet); all of these are without perfume except coroniola and the rose growing on a bramble. In so many ways is spuriousness possible! In other districts too the genuine rose also depends to a very great extent upon the soil for its main characteristics. The rose of Cyrene has the finest perfume, for which reason the choicest ointment is to be obtained there. At Carthage in Spain there is an early rose that blossoms throughout the winter. Weather too makes a difference; for in certain years the rose grows with less perfume, and furthermore all roses have more perfume on dry soils than on moist. It likes to be grown on soils that are neither rich nor clayey nor irrigated, being content with a rubbly soil, and fond in particular of ground on which rubble has been spread. The Campanian rose is early, the Milesian late, but the one that continues to flower the latest is the Praenestine. The ground is dug deeper for roses than for crops, but shallower than for vines. They are very slow in growing from the seed, which is in the shell itself, right under the flower, and covered with down. For this reason it is preferred to graft shoots into an incision in the stem. And into the eyelets of the root, as with the reed, there is grafted one kind of rose that is pale, prickly, with very long twigs and five petals, the second among the Greek roses. Every rose however improves with pruning and burning; by transplanting also, as with vines, there is the best and quickest success if slips of the length of four fingers or more are planted after the setting of the Pleiades and then transplanted at intervals of one foot while the west wind is blowing, the earth being frequently turned over around them. Those who try to get their roses early, dig a trench a foot deep about the root, pouring in warm water as the cup is beginning to bud.
XI. The lily [Devil's Garter] comes nearest to the rose in fame, and there is a certain relationship shown in the ointment and oil, which they call lilinum (oil of lilies). When blended with roses, also, the lily gives a grand combination, making its first appearance when the rose is in mid-season. No flower grows taller; sometimes it reaches three cubits, its neck always drooping under the weight of a head too heavy for it. The flower is of an exceeding whiteness, fluted on the outside, narrow at the bottom and gradually expanding in width after the fashion of a basket. The lips curve outwards and upwards all round; the slender pistil and stamens, the colour of saffron, standing upright in the centre, So the perfume of the lily, as well as its colour, is twofold, there being one for the corolla, and another for the stamens, the difference being slight. In fact when it is nsed to make ointment or oil the petals too are not despised. There is a flower not unlike the lily growing on the plant called the convolvulus, that springs up among shrubs. Without perfume and without the yellow anthers in the centre, it resembles the lily only in colour, being as it were a first attempt by Nature when she was learning to produce lilies. White lilies are propagated by all the means that roses are; more than this, by a peculiar tear-like gum of its own, as is also horse-parsley. No plant is more prolific, a single root often sending out fifty bulbs. There is also a red lily that the Greeks call crinon, some calling its blossom the dog-rose. The most esteemed kind grows at Antioch and at Laodicea in Syria, next to them comes that of Phaselis. The fourth place is held by the kind growing in Italy.
XII. There is also a bright-red lily, having sometimes a double stem, and differing from other lilies only in having a fleshier root and a larger bulb, and that undivided. It is called the narcissus. Another variety of it has a white flower and a reddish bud. There is this further difference between the ordinary lily and the narcissus, that the leaves of the latter grow straight out of the root. The most popular sort is found on the mountains of Lycia. A third kind has all its characteristics the same as those of the other kinds, except that the cup is light green. All the narcissi blossom late, for the flower comes after the rising of Arcturus and during the autumnal equinox.
XIII. In lily-culture a strange means of dyeing the blooms has been invented by the wit of man. For in the month of July drying stems of the lily are tied together and hung in the smoke. Then, as the little knots bare themselves, these stems in March are steeped in the lees of dark wine or Greek wine, so that they take on the colour. In this state they are planted in little trenches, with a hemina of lees poured round each. In this way bright-red lilies are produced, and it is wonderful that a plant can be so dyed as to grow a bloom that is also dyed.
XLV. Next in esteem comes the violet, of which there are several kinds, the purple, the yellow, the white, all of them planted as are vegetables, from cuttings. Of these kinds however the purple, which comes up wild in sunny, poor soils, springs up with a broader, fleshy leaf, coming straight from the root. It is the only one to be distinguished from the others by a Greek name, being called ion, from which ianthine cloth gets its name. Of the cultivated violets, the most highly esteemed is the yellow variety. The kinds called Tusculan and marine have a slightly broader but less perfumed petals. The Calatian variety however is entirely without perfume and has a very small petal; it is a gift of autumn, but all other kinds bloom in spring.
XV. Nearest to it comes the caltha, both in cawia. colour and in size. In the number of the petals it exceeds the marine violet, which never has over five. The same plant is surpassed in scent, that of the caltha being strong! No less strong is the scent of the plant which they call royal broom, though it is not the flowers that smell, but the leaves.
XVI. Baccar (valerian?) too, called by some field nard, has scent in the root only. That unguents used to be made by the ancients from this root we have a witness in Aristophanes, a poet of the Old Comedy. Whence some used to commit the error of calling it by a Greek name, baccaris. The scent is very like that of cinnamon. It grows on a thin dry soil. Very like it is the plant called combretum, taller than the baccar, and with leaves so thin that they are mere threads. These are only used as unguents. But the mistake of those also must be corrected who have called baccar field nard. For there is another plant with this surname, which the Greeks call asaron, whose shape and appearance we have described among the varieties of nard. Moreover, I find that the plant is styled asaron, because it is not used in the making of chaplets.
XVII. Wild saffron is better than any other. To grow it in Italy is most unprofitable, as a whole bed of saffron yields only a scruple of the essence. It is propagated from a bulb of the root. The cultivated saffron is broader, larger and more handsome, but much less potent; it is degenerating everywhere, and is not prolific even at Cyrene, where grows a saffron whose flowers have always been very famous. But the prime favourite is that of Cilicia, and in particular of Mount Corycus, then that of Mount Olympus in Lycia, and then that of Centuripa in Sicily. Some have given second place to the saffron of Thera. Nothing is adulterated as much as saffron. A test of purity is whether under the pressure of the hand it crackles as though brittle; for moist saffron, as saffron is when adulterated, makes no noise. Another test is whether it stings slightly the face and eyes if after the above test you bring the hand back to the face. There is a kind of cultivated saffron which is for its own sake very attractive to the general public, though it really is of moderate value, called dialeucon. That of Cyrene, on the other hand, has the defect of being darker than any other kind, and loses its quality very rapidly. The best everywhere is that having a very rich nature, and a short pistil; the very worst has an odour of decay. Mucianus is our authority for stating that in Lycia after six or seven years it is transplanted to a well-dug bed; in this way it recovers from its degeneration. It is nowhere used for chaplets, the plant having a leaf that is but little broader than the fibre. But with wine, especially with sweet wine, powdered saffron makes a wonderful mixture to spray the theatre. The saffron plant flowers for only a few days at the setting of the Pleiades and pushes off the flower with its leaves. It is green at the winter solstice, when it is gathered. It is dried in the shade; if in winter, so much the better. The root also is fleshy and longer-lived than that of any other plant. Saffron likes to be trodden on and trampled under foot; destroying it makes it grow better. For this reason it is most luxuriant near footpaths and fountains. Already at the time of the Trojan war it was held in high esteem. Homer, at any rate, praises three flowerslotus, saffron and hyacinth?
XVIII. All spices and also the plants from which they come have different colours, perfumes and juices. It is rare for a thing that smells not to have a bitter taste; on the contrary sweet substances rarely have any smell; and so wines have more smell than must, and all wild plants than the cultivated. The smell of some plants is sweeter at a distance, becoming fainter as the distance is lessened; for instance, that of the violet. A freshly gathered rose smells at a distance, but a faded rose when nearer. All perfume however is stronger in spring, and in the morning; as the day draws near to noon it grows weaker. Young plants also have less perfume than old ones; the strongest perfume however of all plants is given out in middle age. The rose and the saffron have a stronger perfume when they are gathered in fine weather, as have all flowers in warm climates than those in cold. In Egypt however the flowers have very little perfume, the atmosphere being misty and full of dew owing to the wide expanse of river. The scent of some plants is sweet but oppressive. Some, while green, have no smell because of too much moisture, the buceras, for example, which is the same as fenugreek. Watery flowers have perfume not altogether independent of the essential juice, the violet for instance, the rose and the saffron; moreover, watery flowers without this juice always have an oppressive perfume, for example, both kinds of lily. Southernwood and sweet marjoram have pungent scents. Of some plants the flowers only are pleasant, the other parts being scentless, for example, those of the violet and of the rose. Of garden plants the strongest-scented are those that are dry, like rue, mint and parsley, and such as grow on dry soils. Some products have more scent when old, for example the quince, and these same have more when gathered than when growing in the ground. Some have scent only when broken or after being crushed, others only when the skin or bark has been stripped off, others indeed only when burnt, for example, frankincense and myrrh. Crushed flowers are all more bitter than when unbroken. A few, such as the melilot, keep their scent longer when dried. Some impart a scent to the place itself, as does the iris, which also affects the whole of any tree, the roots of which it happens to touch. The hesperis has a stronger scent at night, from which fact it gets its name. No animal has a smell, unless we believe what has been said about the panther.
XIX. This distinction too must not be forgotten, that many flowers, in spite of their perfume, are of no use for chaplets, for example, the iris and Celtic nard, although both have an exquisite perfume. But the iris is valued only for its root, being grown for unguents and for medicine. The most highly esteemed is found in Illyria, and even there not in the coastal districts, but in the woody parts near the Drinon and around Narona. Next after it comes the Macedonian iris, which is white, thin and very long. Third in estimation comes the African iris, which is the largest of all and the bitterest to the taste. The Illyrian moreover is of two kinds: raphanitis, so called from its likeness to the radish, which is the better kind, and rhizotomos. The best, which is reddish, causes sneezing if handled, and has an upright stem a cubit high. The flower is multicoloured, like the rainbow; hence the name 'iris'.
The Pisidian variety, too, is by no means despised. Those who are going to dig it up pour hydromel around it three months previously. This is as it were a libation to please the earth. Then they draw three circles round it with the point of a sword, gather it and at once raise it heavenwards. It is hot by nature, and when handled raises blisters like those of a burn. It is especially enjoined that those who gather it should be chaste. Not only when dried, but also when in the ground, it is very easily subject to worms. Previously the best iris oil used to be brought from Leucas and Elisfor it has been planted there a long timenow the best comes from Pamphylia, but the Cilician too is highly praised, as is also that coming from the northern parts.
XX. Celtic nard has leaves that are rather short, and cannot be plaited. It is held together by its many roots, being really a grass rather than a flower, matted as though squeezed by hand; in short, it is a unique kind of turf. Pannonia grows it, and the sunny regions of Norieum and of the Alps, and, of the cities, Eporedia; such is its sweetness that it has begun to be 'a gold mine.' Very pleasant is it for this nard to be sprinkled between clothes,
XXI. as the Greeks do with hulwort, a plant extolled in the praises of Musaeus and Hesiod, who proclaim it to be useful for all things, and especially for winning reputation and honours, in fact as truly marvellous, if only it be true, as they assert, that its leaves are white to the eye in the morning, bright-red at midday, and sea-blue at sunset. There are two kinds of it: field hulwort, which is the larger, and wild hulwort, which is smaller. Some call the plant teutrion. The leaves are like the white hairs of a man, spring up straight from the root, and are never taller than a palm in height.
XXII. Enough has been said about scented flowers. In this sphere luxury, glad to have conquered nature with its unguents, has with its dyed fabrics gone on to challenge those flowers that are commended for their colour. I note that the principal colours are the three following: (1) red, as of the kermes-insect, which, from the loveliness of the dark rose, shades, if you look up at it in a bright light, into Tyrian purple, double-dyed purple and Laconian purple; (2) amethyst, which from violet itself passes into purple, and which I have called ianthine. I am discussing general types of colour, which shade off into many kinds. (3) The third belongs properly to the purple of the murex, but includes many kindred shades. One is the colour of the heliotrope, sometimes of a light, though usually of a deeper, tint; another is that of the mallow, shading into a purple; yet a third, seen in the late violet, is the most vivid of the murex tints. At the present day Nature and luxury are matched together and are fighting out a duel. I read that yellow was the earliest colour to be highly esteemed, but was granted as an exclusive privilege to women for their bridal veils, and that for this reason perhaps it is not included among the principal colours, that is, those common to men and women, since it is joint use that has given the principal colours their dignity.
XXIII. Without a doubt no effort of ours can compete with the amaranth. Yet it is more truly a purple ear than a flower, and is itself without scent. A wonderful thing about it is that it likes to be plucked, growing again more luxuriant than ever. It comes out in August, and lasts into the autumn. The prize goes to the amaranth grown at Alexandria, which is gathered for keeping; in a wonderful way, after all flowers are over, the amaranth, if moistened with water, revives and makes winter chaplets. Its special characteristic is implied in its name, given to it because it will not wither.
XXIV. The cyanus also declares its colour by its name, and so does the holochrysus. All these flowers however were not in use at the time of Alexander the Great, for writers immediately after his death were silent about them. This silence is clear proof that it was subsequently that they became popular. However, who could doubt that they were discovered by the Greeks, when Italy uses exclusively the Greek names in referring to them?
XXV. Butby heaven!Italy herself has given the petellium its name, an autumn flower growing near brambles and esteemed only for its colour, which is that of the wild rose. It has five small petals. A wonderful thing about this flower is that the head bends over, and from the joints grow curved petals inclosing yellow seed forming a small corolla of several colours. The bellio too is yellow, with fifty-five lozenge-shaped little beards. These meadow flowers are used for chaplets, but most of such flowers are of no use and therefore without names. Nay, these very flowers are differently named by different people.
XXVI. The chrysocome (golden rod) or chrysitis has no Latin name. It is a palm in height, flowering in clusters of shining gold, with a harsh, tending-to-sweet root, which is dark, and it grows in rocky, shady places.
XXVII. Having now nearly exhausted the subject also of the most popular colours, I ought to pass on to those chaplets that please only because of the variety in their make-up. They are of two kinds: some are made of flowers, others of leaves. Among the flowers I would include greenweedfor the yellow blossom of this too is gatheredalso the oleander, and the jujubes of the kind called Cappadocian, having a scent like that of olive flowers. Among brambles grows the cyclamen, about which I shall say more elsewhere. Its flower, Colossae purple in colour, is used to make up chaplets.
XXVIII. As foliage for chaplets smilax, ivy and their clusters provide the favourite material; about these I have spoken at length in my chapters on shrubs. There are other kinds also that can be indicated only by their Greek names, because our countrymen for the most part have paid no attention to this nomenclature. Though most of them grow in foreign lands, yet I must discuss them, because my subject is not Italy but Nature.
XXIX. So among the leaves used to make chaplets are found those of melotrum, spiraea, wild marjoram, cneorum, that Hyginus calls cassia, conyza, which he calls cunilago, melissophyllum, known to us as apiastrum, and melilot, which we call Campanian garland. For in Italy the favourite kind grows in Campania, in Greece at Sunium, next in repute the melilot of Chalcidice and Crete, being found however everywhere only in wild, woody districts. That chaplets were in antiquity often made from the melilot is shown by the name sertula (garland), which it has adopted as its own. The scent is near to that of saffron, and so is the flower itself. The Campanian is very popular indeed, having very short and very fleshy leaves.
XXX. The leaves of trefoil also are used for chaplets. There are three kinds of it: the first is called by some Greeks minyanthes, by others asphaltion, having a larger leaf than the other kinds, which the garland makers use. The second kind, oxytriphyllon, has a pointed leaf. The third is the smallest of them all. Among these some have a sinewy stem, such as marathum, hippomarathum, myophonnm. They use also fennel-giant, the clusters of the ivy and a red flower classified in another kind of the ivies and resembles the wild rose. But in these too it is only the colour that pleases, as they have no perfume. There are also two kinds of cneorum, a dark and a white. The latter has perfume, and both are branchy. They blossom after the autumnal equinox. There are also two kinds of wild marjoram used for chaplets, one having no seed, and the other, which has perfume, being called Cretan.
XXXI. There are two sorts of thyme, the pale and the darkish. Thyme blossoms about the solstices when too the bees sip from it, and a forecast can be made about the honey harvest. For the beekeepers hope for a bumper one if there be an abundance of blossom. Showers damage it and make the blossom fall off. The seed of thyme is imperceptible to sight, and yet that of wild marjoram, although very tiny, does not escape our eye. But what does it matter that Nature has hidden it? Reason tells us that the seed is in the flower itself, and if that be sown a plant grows from it. What have men left untried? Attic honey is thought more highly of than any in the whole world. Thyme therefore has been imported from Attica, and grown with difficulty, we are told, from the blossom. But a further hindrance arose through another peculiar characteristic of Attic thyme, which will not survive in the absence of sea breezes. The same view indeed was held of old about all kinds of thyme, and people believed that it was for this reason that it did not grow in Arcadia, while the olive too, they thought, is only found within three hundred stades from the sea. Yet thyme we know today covers even the stony plains of the province of Gallia Narbonensis, being almost the only source of revenue, thousands of sheep being brought there from distant regions to browse upon the thyme.
XXXII. Of conyza also two kinds are used in chaplets, male and female. They differ in their leaves. That of the female is thinner, more compressed and narrower; the male, which is more branched, has a pantile-shaped leaf. Its blossom too is of a brighter colour; both blossom late, after Arcturus. The scent of the male is heavier, of the female, sharper; for which reason the female is more suited to counteract the bites of beasts. The leaves of the female have the smell of honey; the root of the male is called by some libanotis, about which I have already spoken.
XXXIII. Chaplets are also made from the leaves of the flower of Jupiter, sweet marjoram, day-lily, southernwood, Helenium, water-mint, wild thyme, all with woody stalks like those of the rose. The flower of Jupiter is pleasing only for its colour, as it has no scent; it is the same with the flower called in Greek phlox. Both the stalks however and the leaves of the plants just mentioned are fragrant, except those of wild thyme. Helenium is said to have sprung up from the tears of Helen, and therefore is very popular in the island of Helene. It is a shrub spreading over the ground with its nine-inch sprigs, the leaf being like wild thyme.
XXXIV. Southernwood, which blossoms in summer has a flower of a pleasant but heavy scent and of a golden colour. Left alone it grows of its own accord, reproducing itself by layers from the head. It is however grown from seed better than from the root or from slips; from seed too not without trouble. The seedlings are transplantedas is the adoniumboth in summer. For they are very chilly plants, yet liable to be injured by too much sun. But when they have grown strong, they sprout after the manner of rue. Like southernwood in scent is leucanthemum, with a white flower and abundant leaves.
XXXV. Diocles the physician and the people of Sicily have called sweet marjoram the plant known in Egypt as sampsucum. It is reproduced by the two methods, from seed and from branch-cuttings, being longer-lived than the plants mentioned above and of a milder scent. Sweet marjoram produces as copious a quantity of seed as does southernwood, but the latter has one root penetrating deep into the earth, while the roots of the others cling lightly to the surface of the ground. The planting of the rest takes place generally in the beginning of autumn, and also, in some places, in spring, and they delight in shade, water and dung.
XXXVI. Nyctegreton was one of a few plants chosen for special admiration by Democritus; it is of a dark-red colour, with a leaf like a thorn, and not rising high from the ground; a special kind grows in Gedrosia. He reports that it is pulled up by the roots after the spring equinox and dried in the moonlight for thirty days; that after this it glows at night, and that the Magi and the kings of Parthia use the plant to make their vows. It is also called, he says, chenamyche, because geese are panic-stricken at the first sight of it, and by others nyctalops, because it gleams a long distance by night.
XXXVII. Melilot grows everywhere, the most popular kind, however, in Attica; everywhere moreover the freshly gathered is preferred, and not the white variety but that most resembling saffron, and that though in Italy the white is the more fragrant.
XXXVIII. The first flower to herald the approach of spring is the white violet, which moreover in the warmer spots peeps out even in winter. Afterwards comes the violet which is called ion, and the mauve one, followed closely by the flame-coloured flower called phlox, but only the wild variety. The cyclamen blossoms twice in the year, in spring and in autumn; it shuns summer and Winter. A little later than those mentioned above come, overseas, the narcissus and the lily, which in Italy, as we have said, is after the rose. But in Greece comes later still the anemone. This however is a flower of the wild bulbs, and different from the plant to be spoken of among the medicinal herbs. It is followed by the oenanthe the melanium and the wild heliochrysus, then the other kind of anemone, which is called the meadow anemone, after which comes the gladiolus, together with the hyacinth. The last to bloom is the rose, which is also the first to fade, except the cultivated kind. Of the others, the hyacinth lasts longest in flower with the white violet and the oenanthe, but the last only if by repeated plucking it is prevented from running to seed. It grows in warm districts, and has the same scent as forming grapes: hence the name. The hyacinth is associated with two forms of a legend; one that it displays the mourning for that youth whom Apollo had loved, and the other that it sprang from the shed blood of Ajax, the veins of the flower being so arranged that on it is to be read Al inscribed in the form of Greek letters. Heliochrysus has a flower like gold, a slight leaf and also a slender but hard stem. The Magi think that to wear a chaplet of this plant, if unguents too be taken from a box of the gold called apyron, leads also to popularity and glory in life. These then are the flowers of spring.
XXXIX. After them come the summer flowers, lychnis, Jupiter's flower, a second kind of lily, the iphyon also and the amaracus surnamed Phrygian. But the most beautiful to the eye is the pothos. There are two kinds of it: one having the flower of the hyacinth, the other being white and commonly grown for graves, because it lasts well without fading. The iris also blooms in summer. But these too wither and pass away, to be followed again by others in autumna third kind of lily, the saffron crocus and the two kinds of orsinus, one without and one with perfume, all of them peeping out at the first showers. Garland-makers actually use the blossom even of the thorn, while the young stalks of the white thorn are preserved to be a delicacy of the table. This is the succession of flowers overseas. In Italy violets are followed by the rose, which is still in blossom when the lily appears. The rose is succeeded by the cyanus, the cyanus by the amaranth. But the vicapervica is an evergreen, surrounded by leaves at the joints after the manner of the scarecrow cord, a plant for the fancy garden, but at times filling the gap when other flowers fail. This plant is called chamaedaphne by the Greeks.
XL. At the most the life of the white violet is three years. After that time it degenerates. The rose lasts even for five years if it is neither pruned down nor burned; for by these means it renews its youth. We have also said that the soil makes a great difference. For in Egypt all these flowers are without perfume, and the myrtle only has a remarkable one. In some places the buds of all form as much as two months before they do so elsewhere. Rose beds ought to be dug over immediately after the west wind begins and again at the solstice, and great care should be taken that in the interval the ground be kept clean and sweet.
XLI. But gardens and chaplet flowers are closely associated with apiaries and bees, bee-culture being a source of very great profit at slight expense, when circumstances are favourable. Therefore, for the sake of the bees you ought to plant thyme, apiastrum, roses, violets, lilies, tree-medick, beans, bitter vetches, cunila, poppies, conyza, casia, melilot, melissophyllum, cerintha. The last has a white leaf curving inwards, and is a cubit high, with a hollow head containing the honey juice. Of the blossom of these plants bees are very fond, as they are also of mustard, a strange thing to those familiar with the well-known fact that the blossom of the olive is not touched by them. For this reason it is better to keep olive trees away from them, while some trees it would be wise to plant as near the hives as possible, both to attract the swarms as they fly out, and to prevent their straying to too great a distance.
XLII. You must beware also of the cornel tree. If bees taste its blossom they die of diarrhoea. A remedy is to administer crushed sorb apples in honey to those affected, or human urine or that of oxen, or pomegranate seeds sprinkled with Aminean wine. But what they like most is to have greenweed planted round their hives.
XLIII. Wonderful and worthy of record is what I have discovered about their food. Hostilia is a village on the bank of the Padus. When bee-fodder fails in the neighbourhood the natives place the hives on boats and carry them five miles upstream by night. At dawn the bees come out and feed, returning every day to the boats, which change their position until, when they have sunk low in the water under the mere weight, it is understood that the hives are full, and then they are taken back and the honey is extracted. In Spain too for a like reason they carry the hives about on mules.
XLIV. The food of bees is of so much importance that even their honey may become poisonous. At Heraclia in Pontus the honey turns out in certain years very deadly, and that from the same bees. As the authorities have not said from what flowers this honey is extracted, I will myself put on record what I have ascertained. There is a plant which, from its deadly effect even on cattle, more particularly upon goats, is called aegolethron. From the blossom of this, when it withers in a rainy spring, bees take in a noxious poison. Thus it happens that it is not in all years that the danger is encountered. The signs of poisonous honey are that it does not thicken at all, its colour inclines to red, its smell is strange and at once causes sneezing, and it is heavier than harmless honey. Cattle which have eaten it throw themselves on the ground, seeking to cool themselves, for they actually drip with sweat.
Remedies are many, and I will give them in their proper place. But some should be given at once, as the danger is so insidious: there is old honey wine, made from the finest honey, with rue, and also salted fish, these to be repeated several times should the stomach reject them. It is an established fact that this poison, through the excreta, affects even dogs, which suffer similar torture. It is a fact, however, that honey wine made with poisonous honey is, after maturing, quite harmless, and that there is nothing better than this honey, mixed with costum, for improving the skin of women, or, mixed with aloes, for the treatment of bruises.
XLV. There is another kind of honey, found in the same district of Pontus among the people called Sanni, which from the madness it produces is called maenomenon. This poison is supposed to be extracted from the flowers of the oleanders which abound in the woods. Though these people supply the Romans with wax by way of tribute, the honey, because of its deadly nature, they do not sell. In Persis, too, and in Gaetulia of Mauretania Caesariensis, bordering on the Massaesyli, are found poisoned honeycombs, sometimes only in part such, a more deceptive limitation than anything else could be, were it not that the livid colour makes detection easy. What are we to think that Nature meant by these traps; that they should not occur every year, and not in the whole of the comb, and yet be due to the same bees? Was it not enough to have produced a substance in which it was very easy to administer poison? Did Nature also administer it herself in the honey to so many living creatures? What did she mean, except to make man more careful and less greedy? For had she not already bestowed upon the bees themselves a spear, and that a poisoned one, so that a cure for this poison must be given most assuredly without delay? Accordingly, it is healing to apply to the sting the juice of the mallow or of ivy leaves, or for the stung persons to take these in drink. Yet it is wonderful that the bees, carrying poison in their mouths and working it, do not themselves die, unless it be that the great Mistress of all things has given bees this immunity, as she has given immunity against snakebite to the Psylli and to the Marsi among men.
XLVI. In Crete is found another wonderful honey. There Mount Carina has a circumference of nine miles, within which no flies are found, and nowhere do flies touch the honey coming from that place. By this test is selected a honey specially suited for medicines.
XLVII. It is well for the apiaries to look due east, and to avoid the north wind as well as the west wind. The best hive is made of bark; the next best material is fennel-giant, and the third is osier. Many too have made hives of transparent stone, so that they might look on the bees working inside. It is very useful for the hives to be daubed all over with cow dung, and for a movable cover to be made at the back, that it may be brought forward if the hive be large or the working unproductive, lest the bees lose hope and cease to care; this cover should be gradually slid back so that they do not see how their work has grown. In winter cover the hives with straw, and fumigate them repeatedly, especially with cow dung. This being akin to the bees kills the insects that breed in the hivespiders, moths and wood worms, besides stimulating the bees themselves. To exterminate the spiders indeed is fairly easy. The moths, a greater plague, are destroyed in the spring by lamps, which are lighted before the hives when the mallow begins to ripen, on a night of the new moon when the sky is clear. Into the flame of these the moths fling themselves.
XLVIII. If it is felt that the bees are in need of food, it would be well to place at the door raisins or crushed dried figs, as well as carded wool soaked in raisin wine, boiled-down must or hydromel, as well as the hare flesh of poultry. In some summers also, when continued drought has deprived the bees of their food from flowers, the same kinds of food must be supplied to them. When the honey is taken out, the exit of the hive should be smeared with crushed melissophyllum or greenweed, or the middle should be lined with white vine, to prevent the bees from flying away. Honey pots and combs are recommended to be washed with water; this when boiled down is said to make a very wholesome vinegar.
XLIX. Wax is made after the honey has been extracted from the combs, but these must be first cleaned with water and dried for three days in the dark; then on the fourth day they are melted in a new earthen vessel on the fire, with just enough water to cover them, and then strained in a wicker basket. The wax is boiled again with the same this to be cold, contained in vessels smeared all water in the same pot, and poured into other water, round inside with honey. The best is that called Punic wax; the next best is very yellow indeed, with the smell of honey, pure, but produced in Pontus, the region of the poisonous honies, which makes me surprised at its established reputation; next is Cretan wax, consisting in very great part of bee-glue, about which we have spoken in treating of the nature of bees. After these comes Corsican wax, which as it is made from honey got by bees from box, is supposed to have a certain medicinal quality. Punic wax is prepared in the following way. Yellow wax is exposed to the wind several times in the open, then it is heated in water taken from the open sea, to which soda has been added. Then they collect with spoons the 'flower,' that is, all the whitest parts, and pour into a vessel containing a little cold water. Then it is boiled again by itself a in seawater, after which they cool the vessel itself with water. When they have done this three times, they dry the wax in the open, by sunlight and by moonlight, on a mat of rushes. For the moon makes it white while the sun dries it; to prevent the sun from melting it, they cover it with a piece of thin linen cloth. The greatest whiteness, however, is obtained if after the exposure to the sun the wax is once more boiled again. Punic wax is the most useful for medicines. Wax becomes dark with the addition of paper ash, and red with an admixture of alkanet; by paints it is made to assume various colours for forming likenesses, for the innumerable uses of men, and even for the protection of walls and of weapons. The other details about honey and about bees have been described in my treatment of the nature of the bee. Of gardens indeed practically the whole account has been given.
L. There follow the plants that grow wild. Most peoples use these for food, especially the people of Egypt, a land very fruitful in crops, yet about the only one that could manage without them, so great an abundance of food does it get from plants. In Italy however we know few such, strawberries, wild vine, butcher's broom, samphire, and garden fennel, which some call Gallic asparagus; besides these there are meadow parsnip and willow wolf, though these are delicacies rather than foods.
LI. In Egypt the most famous plant of this kind is the colocasia, called by some cyamos; they gather it out of the Nile. The stalk of the stem when boiled and chewed breaks up into spidery threads, but the stem itself is handsome, jutting out from leaves which, even when compared with those of trees, are very broad, similar to the leaves called personata which are found in Italian rivers. So much do the people of the Nile appreciate the bounty of their river that they plait colocasia leaves into vessels of various shapes, which they consider make attractive goblets. The colocasia is now grown in Italy.
LII. In Egypt next in esteem after colocasia comes chicory, which I have spoken of as wild endive. It appears after the Pleiades and its parts bloom in succession. It has a tough root, so that it is even used to make binding ropes. Farther from the river grows anthalium, of the size and roundness use of a medlar, without kernel or peel, and with the leaf of the cyperus. They roast it at a fire and eat it. They eat too oetum, which has few and very small leaves, but a large root. Arachidne indeed and aracos, though they have manifold, branchy roots, have neither leaf nor any green, nor anything else at all above ground. The rest of the plants commonly included by the Egyptians among their foods are thus named:chondrylla, hypochoeris, caucalis, enthryscum, scandix, called by some tragopogon, which has leaves very like those of saffron, parthenium, trychnum, corchorus, aphace and achynops, the last two appearing just after the equinox. There is a plant called epipetron which never blossoms. But on the other hand aphace, as its flowers fade, puts forth continually others all the winter and all the spring, right on into summer.
LIII. The Egyptians have besides many plants of no repute, but they hold in the highest esteem one called cnecos; it is unknown in Italy and the Egyptians value it, not as a food, but for its oil, which they extract from the seed. The chief varieties are the wild and the cultivated. Of the wild there are two species. One is similar to the cultivated, but has a stiff a stem. This is why the women of old used the stem of this species as a distaff, for which reason it is called by some atractylis. Its seed is white, large and bitter. The other is rather prickly, with a more fleshy stem, which almost trails on the ground, the seed being very small. This belongs to the class of spinous plants, for I must classify also the various kinds of them.
LIV. Some plants then are prickly, while others are without prickles. Of prickly plants the species are many. Of nothing but prickle are asparagus and scorpio, for they have no leaves at all. Some prickly plants, however, have leaves, for instance thistle, erynge, glycyrrhiza and nettle. For all these have a sharp sting in their leaves. Some have foliage also along the prickly spine, as caltrop and rest-harrow. Some again have prickles not on the leaves but on the stem, as pheos, that some have called stoebe. Hippopheos has prickly joints. A peculiar characteristic of the caltrop is that it has also a prickly fruit.
LV. Of all these kinds the best known is the nettle, often taller than two cubits, the cups of which in blossom pour out a purple down. There are several different kinds. There is the wild, also called female, and the cultivated. One of the wild varieties, called dog nettle, has a sharper sting, even the stem pricking, and fringed leaves. Another, which also gives out a smell, is called the Herculanean nettle. All nettles have a copious, black seed. It is a strange thing that, without any prickly points, the mere down is poisonous, and that only a light touch at once causes to arise itching and blisters like those from burns. The well-known remedy for nettle sting is olive oil. The stinging quality however does not come at once with the plant itself, but only when this has grown strong through the sun. When young indeed in the spring nettles make a not unpleasant food, which many eat in the further devout belief that it will keep diseases away throughout the whole year. The root too of the wild varieties makes more tender all meat with which it is boiled. The harmless nettle, which does not sting, is called lamium. About scorpio I shall speak when I come to deal with medicinal plants.
LVI. The thistle has both leaf and stem covered by a prickly down, and so have acorna, leucacanthos, chalceos, cnecos, polyacanthos, onopyxos, helxine, scolymos. The chamaeleon has no prickles on its leaves. There is however this difference also, that some of these plants have many stems and branches, the thistle for instance, while the cnecos has one stem and no branches. Some are prickly only at the head, the erynge for instance; some, like tetralix and helxine, blossom in summer. Scolymos too blossoms late and long. The acorna is distinguished (from cnecos) only by its reddish colour and richer juice. Atractylis too would be just the same, were it not whiter and did it not shed a blood-like juice that has caused some to call it phonos; it also has a bad smell, and its seed ripens latein fact not before autumn, though this can be said of all prickly plants. All of these however can be reproduced either from seed or from the root. Scolymus, one of the thistle group, differs from these in that its root is edible when boiled. It is a strange thing that in this group, without intermission throughout the whole summer, part blossoms, part buds, and part produces seed. As the leaves dry the prickles cease to sting. Helxine is not often seen, and not in all countries; it shoots out leaves from its root, out of the middle of which swells up as it were an apple, covered with foliage of its own. The top of its head contains a gum of pleasant flavour, called thorn mastich.
LVII. And cactos also grows only in Sicily; it too has peculiar properties of its own. Its stems, shooting out from the root, trail on the ground; the leaves are broad and prickly. The stems are called cacti, which make, even when preserved, a palatable food. One kind, however, has an upright stem called pternix, of the same pleasant flavour, but it will not keep. The seed is downy, the down being called pappus. When the seeds have been taken away and the rind, there remains something as tender as the brain of the palm. It is called ascalia.
LVIII. Tribulus is found only in marshy places. A hard substance elsewhere, near the rivers Nile and Strymon it is used as food. It bends towards the water, has a leaf like that of the elm, and the stalk is long. But in other parts of the world there are two kinds; the one with leaves like those of the chickling-pea, the other with prickly leaves. The latter blossoms later, and tends to be common in the enclosures round country houses. Its seed is rounder, black, and in a pod; that of the other is like sand. Of prickly plants there is yet another kindrest-harrow. For it has prickles on the branches, to which are attached leaves like those of rue, the whole stem being covered with leaves so that it looks like a chaplet. It springs up on newly ploughed lands, is harmful to the crops and extremely long-lived.
LIX. The stems of some prickly plants trail along the ground, those for example of the plant called coronopus. On the other hand anchusa (alkanet), the root of which is used for dyeing wood and wax, stands upright, as do, of the cultivated kinds, anthemis, phyllanthes, anemone and aphace. Crepis and lotus have a foliated stem.
LX. The leaves of these plants differ as do the leaves of trees: in shortness or length of stalk, in the narrowness of the leaf itself, in its size, and further in the corners, and indentations; smell and blossom differ also. The blossom lasts longer on some of them, which flower one part at a time, on ocimum for example, and on heliotropium, aphace and onochilis. Many of these plants, like certain trees, have leaves that never die, the chief being heliotropium, adiantum, hulwort.
LXI. Eared plants are yet another kind, to which belong achynops, alopecuros, stelephurosby some called ortyx, by others plantago, about which I shall speak more fully in the section on medicinal plantsand thryallis. Of these alopeeurus has a soft ear and thick down, not unlike the tail of a fox; hence too its name. Stelephuros is very like it, except that it blossoms bit by bit. Chicory and the plants like it have leaves near the ground, budding from the root after the Pleiades.
LXII. Perdicium is eaten by other peoples besides the Egyptians. The name is derived from the partridge, a bird very fond of pecking it out of the ground. It has very many thick roots. There is likewise ornithogala, with a tender white stem half a foot long, soft and with three or four offshoots and a bulbous root. It is boiled in pottage.
LXIII. It is strange that the plant lotos and the aegilops do not germiuate from their own seed until a year has passed. Strange too is the nature of anthemis, because it begins to blossom from the top, while all other plants that blossom bit by bit begin to do so from their bottom part.
LXIV. A remarkable thing about the burdock, which sticks to one's clothes, is that within it there grows a flower that does not show, but is inside and hidden; it produces seed within itself, as do the animals that bring to birth inside their own bodies. Around Opus is to be found a plant which is also pleasant for a man to eat, and remarkable in that from its leaf there grows a root whereby it reproduces itself.
LXV. Bindweed has only one petal, but folded in such a way that it seems more than one. Chondrylla is bitter, and in the root is an acrid juice. Aphace too is bitter, and so is the plant called picris, which also blossoms throughout the year. It is this bitterness which has given the plant its name.
LXVI. It is a remarkable characteristic too of and the squill and of the crocus that, whereas all other plants put forth leaves first and only afterwards round into a stem, in these plants the stem is seen first, and after the stem the leaves. In the crocus however the blossom is pushed up by the stem; in the squill on the other hand the stem makes its appearance first, and then the blossom sprouts out of it. The plant blossoms, as I have said, three times a year, pointing to the three seasons for ploughing.
LXVII. Some include among the class of bulbs the root of the cypiros, that is, of the gladiolus. It and makes a pleasant food, one which, when boiled, also renders bread more palatable, and also when kneaded with it more weighty. Not unlike it is the plant which is called thesium, and is acrid to the taste.
LXVIII. The other plants of the same kind differ in the leaf: asphodel has an oblong, narrow leaf; the squill one broad and flexible; the gladiolus one that its name suggests. Asphodel is used as food. Both the seed and the bulb are roasted, but the second in hot ashes; salt and oil are added. It is also pounded with figs, which Hesiod I thinks is a special delicacy. There is a tradition that if asphodel be planted before the gate of a country house it keeps away the evil influences of sorcery. Homer also mentioned asphodel. Its root is like a navew of moderate size, and no plant has more bulbs, eighty being often grouped together. Theophrastus and the Greeks generally, beginning with Pythagoras, have given the name of anthericus to its stem, a cubit and often two cubits long, with leaves like those of wild leek; it is the root, that is to say the bulbs, that they call asphodel. We of Italy call this plant albucus, and anthericus 'royal spear', the stem of which bears berries, and we distinguish two kinds. Albueus has a stalk a cubit long, large, without leaves and smooth, which Mago recommends should be cut at the end of March or the beginning of April, when the blossoming has ceased but before its seed has begun to swell; he adds that the stalks should be split, and brought out into the sun on the fourth day, and that of the material so dried bundles should be made. The same authority adds that the Greeks call oistos, the plant which we include among sedge and call arrow. lie recommends that from the fifteenth of May to the end of October it should be stripped of its skin and dried in mild sunshine, and also that the second kind of gladiolus, called cypiros, which too is a marsh plant, should be cut down to the root through out July, and on the third day dried in the sun until it turns white. Every day however before sunset it should be put back under cover, since night dews are harmful to marsh plants after they have been cut down.
LXIX. Mago gives like instructions about the rush also that they call mariscus; for weaving mats he recommends that it too be gathered in June and up to the middle of July, giving the same instructions for drying it which I have mentioned in their proper place when dealing with sedge. He distinguishes another kind of rush, which I find is called the marine rush and by the Greeks oxyschoenos. There are three kinds of it: the pointed, barren rush, which the Greeks call the male, or oxys, while the other two are female, and bear a black seed. One of these, called by the Greeks melancranis, is thicker and more bushy than the first; the third, called holoschoenus, being even more so. Of these melancranis is found apart from other kinds of rush, but oxys and holoschoenus grow on the same turf. The most useful for wickerwork is holoschoenus, because it is pliant and fleshy; it bears a fruit like eggs sticking to one another. The rush we have called male is self-reproduced, the head being bent down into the earth, but melancranis is reproduced from its seed. Except for this, the roots of every kind of rush die every year. Rushes are used for fish-baskets, for the finer sort of wickerwork, and for the wicks of lamps, the pith being especially useful; and they grow to such a size near the maritime Alps that when the hollow is cut open they measure almost an inch across, while in Egypt some are as narrow as the holes in a sieve, and of a length not more useful than others. Some botanists also distinguish as a separate class a triangular rush, which they call cyperos, though many do not recognize a distinction because of the resemblance of the name to cypiros. I however shall keep each distinct. Cypiros is, as I have said, the same as gladiolus, and has a bulbous root. The most esteemed grows in the island of Crete, the next in Naxos and then comes that of Phoenicia. The Cretan is white, with a smell like that of nard; the Naxian has a more pungent smell, the Phoenician a faint one, and the Egyptian (for it grows there also) none at all. Cypiros dispels hard formations of the body, for we must now speak of remedies, as there is a wide use in medicine of flowers and perfumes generally. As for cypiros, I shall follow Apollodorus who said that it should never be taken in drink; yet he maintained its great efficacy for stones in the bladder, which by this means he tries to remove. He has no doubt that it causes miscarriage in women, and records the following strange account of it. Some foreign people, he says, take into the mouth smoke from this plant and thereby reduce the spleen, asserting that they do not leave their homes without inhaling this smoke, as the habit produces, even from day to day, increased briskness and greater strength. He adds that to apply cypiros as a liniment with oil is a certain cure for chafings, offensive armpits and abrasions.
LXX. Cyperos is a rush such as I have already described, with three corners, white next the ground, dark and fleshy at the head. The bottom leaves are more slender than those of leeks, the top ones being very small, with the seed between them. The root resembles that of the dark olive, which when it is oblong is called cyperis, being widely used in medicine. The most valued cyperos comes from the region round the temple of Hammon, the second in esteem from Rhodes, the third from Thera, the last from Egypt; as the cypiros also grows there, some confusion of thought results. But cypiros has a very hard root and scarcely any smell; the species of true cyperos have a smell that closely resembles that of nard. There is also a separate Indian plant called cypira, in shape resembling ginger, which when chewed tastes like saffron. The use of eyperos in medicine is to act as a depilatory. It makes an ointment for hang-nails, sores of the genitals and all sores that are in moisture, such as those in the mouth. Its root affords an effective remedy for the bites of snakes and stings of scorpions. The root taken in drink opens the passage of the uterus, but if taken in too strong doses its potency is great enough to cause prolapsus. It promotes urine and the passing of stone, and therefore is most useful to sufferers from dropsy. It is applied to spreading sores, but especially to those of the gullet, either in wine or in vinegar.
LXXI. The root of the rush in three heminae of water, boiled down to one third, is a cure for coughs. The seed roasted and taken in water checks diarrhoea and excessive menstruation. The rush, however, called holoschoenus brings on headaches. The nearest parts to the root are chewed as a remedy for the bites of spiders. I find that there is also one other kind of rush, called euripice. Its seed is said to induce sleep, but the dose must be kept small, or coma will result.
LXXII. Incidentally I will also mention medicines obtained from the scented rush, for one place where such a rush grows is in Coelesyria, as I have related in the appropriate place. The most esteemed, however, comes from Nabataea, known also as teuchitis; the next best is the Babylonian, and the worst comes from Africa, being without any scent. It is round, affecting the tongue with the stinging taste of sour wine. The genuine kind, on being rubbed, gives out a smell of roses, and the broken bits are red. Dispersing flatulence, it is good for the stomach, and for those who vomit bile. It allays hiccoughs, promotes belching, is diuretic, and a remedy for bladder troubles. For female complaints a decoction is made. With dry resin it is applied to sufferers from opisthotonic tetanus because of its warming properties.
LXXIII. The rose is both astringent and cooling. There are separate uses for its petals, flowers and heads. The parts of the petals which are white are called nails. In the flower, seed and filament are distinct, as are shell and calyx in the head. The petals are dried, or the juice is extracted from them by one of three methods. They may be treated by themselves, when the nails, in which there is most moisture, are not removed; or when what is left after removing the nails is steeped with oil or wine in glass vessels in the sunshine. Some add salt also, and a few alkanet or aspalathus or fragrant rush, because so prepared the essence is very beneficial for complaints of the uterus and for dysentery. With the nails removed the petals may also have their juice extracted by being pounded, and then strained through a thick linen cloth into a bronze vessel; the juice is then heated on a slow fire until it becomes as thick as honey. For this process only the most fragrant petals must be selected. How wine is made from roses I have described in my treatment of the various kinds of wine. Rose juice is used for the ears, sores in the month, the gums, as a gargle for the tonsils, for the stomach, uterus, rectal trouble, headachewhen due to fever either by itself or with vinegarto induce sleep or to dispel nausea. The petals are burned to make an ingredient of cosmetics for the eyebrows, and dried rose leaves are sprinkled on (chafed) thighs. Fluxes of the eyes also are soothed by the dried leaves. The flower induces sleep, checks menstrual, particularly white, discharges if taken in vinegar and water, as well as the spitting of blood; a cyathus of it in three cyathi of wine relieves stomach-ache. As to the seed, the finest is of a saffron colour, not more than a year old, and should be dried in the shade; the dark seed is harmful. It is used as a liniment for toothache, is diuretic, and may be applied to the stomach or in eases of erysipelas that is not of long standing. Inhaled by the nostrils it clears the head. Rose heads taken in drink cheek diarrhoea and haemorrhage. The nails of rose petals are healing for fluxes of the eyes, for eyesores discharge if the whole rose is applied, unless it is at the beginning of the flux, and then the rose must be dry and mixed with bread. The petals indeed taken internally are very good for gnawings of the stomach and for complaints of the belly or of the intestines, good also for the hypochondria, and they may be applied externally. They are also preserved for food, in the same way as sorrel. Care must be taken with rose petals, as mould quickly settles on them. Some use can be made of dried petals, or those from which the juice has been extracted. Powders, for example, are made from Them to cheek perspiration. These are sprinkled on the body after a bath and left to dry, being afterwards washed off with cold water. The little balls on the wild rose mixed with bears' grease are a remedy for mange.
LXXIV. Its roots bring great fame to the lily in many ways, being taken in wine for the bites of snakes and for poisoning by fungi. For corns on the foot they are boiled down in wine, and the plaster is not removed for three days. Boiled down with grease or oil they also make hair to grow again on bums. Taken in honey wine they carry off by stool extravasated blood; they are good for the spleen, for ruptures, spasms and the menstrual discharge; while if boiled down in wine and applied with honey they heal cuts of the sinews. They are healing for lichens and leprous sores, cure scurf on the face, and remove wrinkles from the skin. The petals, pickled in vinegar, are applied to wounds; if these are in the testes, it is better to add henbane and wheat flour. The seed is used as an application for erysipelas, flowers and leaves for chronic sores, and the juice extracted from the flower, called honey by some and syrium by others, as an emollient of the uterus, for inducing perspiration and for bringing boils to a head.
LXXV. Of the narcissus there are two kinds used by physicians: one with a bright flower and the other with grass-green leaves. The latter is injurious to the stomach, so that it acts as an emetic and as a purge; it is bad for the sinews and causes a dull headache, its name being derived from the word naree, torpor, and not from the youth in the myth. The root of each variety has the taste of honey wine. In a little honey it is good for burns, and the same is beneficial for wounds and sprains. while for superficial abscesses honey should be added to darnel meal. This preparation also extracts bodies that have pierced the flesh. Beaten up in pearl barley and oil it heals bruises, and wounds caused by stones. Mixed with meal it cleans wounds and removes black psoriasis. From its flower is made narcissus oil, which is very useful for softening callosities, for warming parts of the body that have been chilled, and for the ears, but it also produces headache.
LXXVI. There are both wild and cultivated violets. The mauve ones are cooling and are applied to the stomach for inflammations, to the forehead also when the head bums, to the eyes especially for fluxes, for prolapsus of the anus and of the womb, and to abscesses. Placed on the head in chaplets, or even smelt, they disperse the after-effects of drinking and its headaches, as well as quinsies when taken in water. The mauve variety, taken in water, is a cure for epilepsy, especially in children. The seed of the violet neutralizes the stings of scorpions. On the other hand the flower of the white violet opens abscesses, and even disperses them. Both the white violet, however, and the yellow reduce the menstrual discharge and are diuretic. Freshly gathered they have less potency, for which reason they should be dried and not used until they are at least a year old. Half a cyathus of the yellow violet taken in three of water promotes menstruation. Its roots used with vinegar as a liniment soothe the spleen, and likewise gout, but for inflammations of the eyes myrrh and saffron should be added to them. The leaves with honey cleanse sores on the head. With wax ointment they heal cracks in the anus and such as are in moist parts of the body. Used with vinegar, however, they heal abscesses.
LXXVII. The Celtic valerian used in medicine is called 'perpressa' by some Roman authorities. It relieves serpent bites, aching and feverish heads, and likewise fluxes from the eyes. It is applied to breasts swollen after childbirth, to incipient fistulas of the eye and to erysipelas. The smell induces sleep. It is beneficial for a decoction of the root to be taken by sufferers from cramp, Violent falls, convulsions, asthma and also chronic cough. Three or four sprays of it are boiled down to one third. A draught of this is cleansing for women after miscarriage, and removes stitch in the side or stone in the bladder. It is pounded with lily petals to make dusting powders, and for the sake of the perfume is laid among clothes. Combretum, which I have said is similar to Celtic valerian, beaten up with axle-grease is a wonderful cure for wounds.
LXXVIII. Hazelwort is said to be beneficial for liver complaints, an ounce being taken in a hemina of diluted honey wine. It purges the bowels after the manner of hellebore, and is good for dropsy, the hypochondria, the uterus and for jaundice. When added to must it makes a diuretic wine. It is dug up when the leaves are forming; it is dried and then stored up. In the shade it very quickly goes mouldy.
LXXIX. Since certain authorities, as I have said, have given to the root of Celtic valerian the name of rustic nard, I will now add the medicinal uses of Gallic nard also, which I mentioned when dealing with foreign trees, postponing fuller treatment to the present occasion. So for serpent bites it is useful in doses of two drachmae taken in wine, for flatulence of the colon in either water or wine, for troubles of the liver and kidneys, excessive bile, and dropsy, either by itself or with wormwood. It checks excessive attacks of menstruation.
LXXX. The root of the plant that in the same place I have called phu is given, either in drink pounded, or else boiled, for suffocation of the womb, and for pains also of the chest or side. It is an emmenogogue and is taken with wine.
LXXXI. Saffron does not blend well with honey or with anything sweet, but it does so very easily with wine or water. It is very useful in medicine, and is kept in a horn box. It disperses all inflammations, but especially those of the eyes, taken internally a with egg; suffocation of the womb as well, and ulcerations of the throat, chest, kidneys, liver, lungs and bladder, being very useful indeed for inflammation in particular of these organs, as also for cough and for pleurisy. It removes itching also, and promotes urination. Those who take saffron first will not feel after-effects of wine and will become intoxicated with difficulty. Chaplets too made of it alleviate intoxication. It induces sleep, has a gentle action on the head, and is an aphrodisiac. Its blossom, with Cimolian chalk, is used as an application for erysipelas. The plant itself is used as an ingredient in numerous medicines, and there is one eye-salve to which it has actually given its name.
LXXXII. The lees too of the saffron extracted from saffron juice, which is called crocomagma, have their own uses for cataract and strangury. It is more warming than saffron itself. The best kind is that which, when put in the mouth, stains with the truest saffron colour the saliva and the teeth.
LXXXIII. The red iris is better than the white one. It conduces to the health of babies to have this tied on them, especially when they are teething or suffering from cough, and to inject it into those troubled with tapeworms. Its other properties are not much different from those of honey. It cleanses sores on the head, especially abscesses of long standing. Taken in doses of two drachmae with honey it relaxes the bowels; taken in drink it relieves cough, griping and flatulence, in vinegar, complaints of the spleen. In vinegar and water it is an antidote against the bites of snakes and of spiders; against stings of scorpions two drachmae by weight are taken in bread or water; for dog-bites and abrasions it is applied in oil. So prepared it is also applied to aching sinews, but for lumbago and sciatica resin is added. Its nature is warming. Snuffed up through the nostrils it promotes sneezing and clears the head. For headache it is applied with quinces or with sparrow-apples. It dispels also the after-effects of wine and orthopnoea. Taken in doses of two oboli it acts as an emetic. Applied with honey it draws out splinters of broken bone. For whitlows its meal is used, wine being added for corns and warts, the plaster not being removed for three days. Chewed it sweetens foul breath and offensive armpits. Its juice softens all indurations. It induces sleep, but dries up the semen. It heals cracks in the anus and condylomata, and all excrescences on the body. Some authorities call the wild variety xyris. This disperses scrofulous sores, superficial abscesses and swellings in the groin. It is recommended that for these purposes it should be pulled up with the left hand, and the gatherers should utter the name of the patient and of the complaint for whose sake they are pulling it. While speaking of this plant also I will make known the dishonesty of herbalists. They keep back a part of it and of certain other plants, such as the plantain. If they think their pay insufficient and look for further employment, they bury in the same place the part they kept back, I suppose to make the complaints they have cured break out again. The root of Celtic valerian boiled down in wine checks vomiting and strengthens the stomach.
LXXXIV. Musaeus and Hesiod bid those who are ambitious for honour and glory to rub themselves over with hulwort, and for hulwort to be handled, cultivated, carded on the person to neutralize poisons, to be placed under bedclothes to keep away snakes, to be burnt, to be boiled down, fresh or dry, in wine, and to be used as liniment or taken by the mouth. Physicians prescribe hulwort for splenic complaints in vinegar, for jaundice in wine, for incipient dropsy boiled down in wine, and so prepared also as a liniment for wounds. It brings away the afterbirth and the dead foetus; it relieves pains of the body and empties the bladder; it is applied as ointment for fluxes from the eyes. No other herb makes a more suitable ingredient for the antidote called alexipharmaeon. It is, however, injurious in my opinion to the stomach, and makes the head stuffy, besides causing miscarriage. Some deny this, and go on to add the superstition that, when found, it should for cataract at once be tied round the neck, care being taken not to let it touch the ground. The same state that its leaves resemble those of thyme, except that they are softer and of a more downy whiteness. If too it be pounded with wild rue in rain water it is said to lessen the danger of asp bites; and as well as the blue cornflower it binds and closes wounds, preventing them from spreading.
LXXXV. Holochrysos taken in wine cures strangury, and applied as liniment fluxes from the eyes; with burnt lees of wine and pearl barley it removes lichens. The root of chrysocome is warming and astringent. It is given in drink for complaints of liver and lungs, while a decoction in hydromel is prescribed for pains in the womb. It promotes menstruation, and if given raw reduces the water of dropsy.
LXXXVI. If the hives are rubbed over with melissophyllum (balm), sometimes called melittaena, the bees will not fly away, for no flower gives them greater pleasure. With besoms made of this plant swarms are controlled with the greatest ease. It is also a most effective remedy for the stings of bees, wasps and similar insects, such as spiders and also scorpions; also with the addition of soda for suffocation of the womb, and in wine for griping of the bowels. Its leaves are applied to scrofulous sores, and with salt for affections of the anus. The juice of the boiled plant promotes menstruation, removes inflammations and heals sores. It alleviates diseases of the joints and the bites of dogs. It is beneficial to sufferers from chronic dysentery and to coeliac patients, asthmatics, and patients with splenic troubles or ulcers on the chest. It is thought excellent treatment to anoint weak eyes with its juice mixed with honey.
LXXXVII. Melilot too is healing to the eyes when mixed with egg-yolk or linseed. With rose oil it also relieves pain in the jaws or head, and with raisin wine earache and swellings or eruptions on the hands; boiled down in wine or pounded and raw it is good for pains in the stomach. It has the same action on the womb; for the testes, however, prolapsus of the anus and other complaints of those parts it should be freshly gathered and boiled down in water or in raisin wine. With the addition of rose oil it makes an ointment for carcinoma. It is thoroughly boiled down in sweet wine, and is particularly effective in the treatment of the tumours called melicerides.
LXXXVIII. I know it is believed that trefoil is an antidote for the bite of snakes and scorpions, twenty grains of the seed being taken in a drink of wine or of vinegar and water, or leaves with the whole plant are boiled down to make a decoction; that snakes too arc never seen in trefoil; I know too that it is reported by famous authorities that twenty-five grains of the kind of trefoil I have called minyanthes serve as an antidote for all poisons, and that many other virtues besides are attributed to it as a remedy. But I am led to oppose their views by the authority of a very reliable man; for the poet Sophocles asserts that it is a poisonous, as does Simos also among the physicians, saying that the juice of the decocted or pounded plant, when poured upon the body, produces the same sensations of burning as those felt by persons bitten by a serpent, when this plant is applied to the wound. Wherefore I should be of opinion that it should not be used otherwise than as a counter-poison. For perhaps this is one of the many cases where one poison is poisonous to other poisons. I have likewise noted that the seed of that trefoil the leaves of which are very small is useful, when applied as face-ointment, for preserving the loveliness of women's skin.
LXXXIX. Thyme ought to be gathered while it is in blossom, and to be dried in the shade. There are two kinds of thyme:one white, with a wood-like root, growing on hills and also the more highly valued; the other kind is darker and with a dark flower. Both kinds are supposed to be very beneficial for brightening the vision, whether taken as food or used in medicines, also for a chronic cough, to ease expectoration when used as an electuary with vinegar and salt, to prevent the blood from congealing when taken with honey, to relieve, applied externally with mustard, chronic catarrh of the throat, and also complaints of the stomach and bowels. They should be used, however, in moderation, since they are heating, and because of this property they are astringent to the bowels; should these become ulcerated, a denarius of thyme should be added to a sextarius of vinegar and honey, and the same for pain in the side, or between the shoulder-blades, or in the chest. They cure troubles of the hypochondria, taken in vinegar and honey, which draught is also given in cases of aberration of mind or of melancholy. Thyme is also administered to epileptics, who when attacked by a fit are revived by its smell. It is said too that epileptics should sleep on soft thyme. It is good also for asthma, difficult breathing, and delayed menstruation; or if the embryo in the womb be dead, thyme boiled down in water to one third proves useful, as thyme moreover does to men also, if taken with honey and vinegar, for flatulence, for swellings of the belly or testes, or for maddening pain in the bladder. An application in wine removes tumours and inflammations, and in vinegar callosities and warts. It is applied with wine for sciatica; pounded and sprinkled in oil on wool it is used for affections of the joints and for sprains, with lard it is applied to burns. It is also administered as a draught in the early stages of affections of the joints, three oboli of thyme in three cyathi of vinegar and honey; pounded, with the addition of salt, it is used for loss of appetite.
XC. Hemerocalles has a soft leaf of a pale green, and a scented bulbous root, which applied with honey to the belly drives out watery humours and also harmful to blood. The leaves are applied for fluxes of the eyes and for pains in the breasts after childbirth.
XCI. Helenium, which had its origin, as I have said, in the tears of Helen, is believed to preserve physical charm, and to keep unimpaired the fresh complexion of our women, whether of the face or of the rest of the body. Moreover, it is supposed that by its use they gain a kind of attractiveness and sex-appeal. To this plant when taken in wine is attributed the power of stimulating gaiety, the power possessed by the famous nepenthes extolled by Homer of banishing all sorrow. It also has a very sweet juice. The root of it, taken in water fasting, is good for asthma; inside it is white and sweet. It is also taken in wine for snake bites. Pounded it is said further to kill mice.
XCII. Of southernwood authorities mention two kinds: the field and the mountain. The latter, they would have us understand, is female, the former male; both are as bitter as wormwood. The Sicilian is the most highly praised, next comes that of Galatia. While some use is made of the leaves, the seed is more useful for warming, for which reason it is good for sinews, cough, asthma, convulsions, ruptures, lumbago and strangury. Some handfuls are boiled down to one third, and given to drink in doses of four cyathi. The pounded seed also is given in water, a drachma at a time. It is also beneficial to the uterus. With barley meal it brings to a head superficial abscesses, and it is applied as a liniment for inflammation of the eyes, a quince being boiled with it. It keeps snakes away, and for their bites is either taken or applied with wine, being very effective against those creatures whose venom causes shivering and chills, scorpions for instance and poisonous spiders; taken in drink it is good for other poisons, taken in any way it is good for chill fits, and for withdrawing substances embedded in the flesh. It also forces out noxious things from the intestines. They say that a spray of it, laid under the pillow, acts as an aphrodisiac, and that the plant is a most effective countercheck of all magic potions given to produce sexual impotence.
XCIII. Leucanthemum mixed with twice the quantity of vinegar is beneficial to asthmatics. Sampsuchum (otherwise amaraeum, sweet marjoram) of which the most valued, and the most fragrant, comes from Cyprus, counteracts the stings of scorpions, if applied in vinegar and salt. An application is also very beneficial for irregular menstruation. This plant has less efficacy when taken in drink. With pearl barley it also checks fluxes from the eyes. The juice of the boiled plant relieves gripings. The plant is useful for strangury and dropsy, and in a dry state excites sneezing. There is also made from it an oil, called sampsuchinum or amaraeinum, used for warming and softening the sinews, which also warms the uterus. The leaves too are good with honey for bruises and with wax for sprains.
XCIV. Up to the present I have spoken only of the anemone used for chaplets; I shall now describe the kinds used in medicine. There are some who use the name phrenion. There are two kinds of it: one is wild, and the other grows on cultivated ground, though both prefer a sandy soil. Of the cultivated anemone there are several species; for it has either a scarlet flowerthis is also the most plentifulor a purple one, or one the colour of milk. The leaves of all these are like the leaves of parsley, and rarely does the plant exceed half a foot in height, the head resembling that of asparagus. The flower never opens except when the wind is blowing, a fact to which it owes its name. The wild anemone is the larger, and its leaves are broader, the flower being scarlet. Many have been misled into identifying the wild anemone with the argemone, others again with the poppy that I have called rhoeas. But there is a great difference between them, because these two blossom after the anemone, which does not yield a juice like theirs, has not their calyx, and there is no likeness except the head like asparagus. Anemones are good for headache and inflammations, for uterine complaints and for lacteal troubles. They also promote menstruation when taken with barley water or used on a wool pessary. The root chewed brings away phlegm, is healing to the teeth and when boiled down to fluxes of the I eyes and to scars. The Magi have attributed to the anemones a kind of mystic potency, recommending that the plant which is first seen should be taken up in that year with the utterance that it is being gathered as a remedy for tertian and quartan agues; after this the blossoms must be wrapped up in a red rag and kept in the shade, and so be used, should occasion arise, as an amulet. If the crushed root of the anemone bearing a scarlet flower be applied to the skin of any living creature, it produces a sore by reason of its astringent qualities, and for this reason it is employed for cleansing ulcerous sores.
XCV. The plant oenanthe grows on rocks, and has a leaf like that of parsnip and a large root, with several heads. Its stem and leaves taken with honey and dark wine make childbirth easy and bring away the afterbirth; taken in honey they are a cure for coughs, and also diuretic. The root also cures complaints of the bladder.
XCVI. Heliochrysus is called by some chrysanthemon. It has sprigs of a shining white, and leaves of a dull whitish colour, like those of southernwood, with as it were clusters hanging down all round it, which glisten like gold when reflecting the light of the sun, and never fade. For this reason they make chaplets of it for the gods, a custom which Ptolemy king of Egypt very faithfully observed. It grows in shrubberies. Taken in wine it is diuretic and promotes menstruation. It disperses indurations and inflammations; for burns it is applied with honey. For snake bites and lumbago it is taken in drink. With honey wine it removes congealed blood in the belly or bladder. Three oboli by weight of its leaves, pounded and taken in white wine, check excessive menstruation. It protects clothes by its smell, which however is not unpleasant.
XCVII. The hyacinth grows chiefly in Gaul. There they use it to impart a shade to the dye hysginum. The root is bulbous, and well known to slave-dealers, for applied in sweet wine it checks the signs of puberty, and does not let them develop. It relieves colic and counteracts the bites of spiders. It is diuretic. For snake bites, scorpion stings and jaundice its seed is given mixed with southernwood.
XCVIIL The seed of lychnis too, that flame-coloured flower, is crushed and taken in wine for snake bites and for the stings of scorpions, hornets and the like. The wild variety of this plant is injurious to the stomach. It loosens the bowels, in doses of two drachmae, bringing away bile most effectively, and is so hurtful to scorpions that the mere sight of it sends them into complete stupor. Its root is called bolites by the people of Asia; tied over the eye it is said to remove white film on the pupil.
XCIX. The vicapervica, otherwise chamaedaphne, dried and crushed is given in water for dropsy in doses of a small spoonful, under which treatment the patient very quickly loses the water. A decoction of it in ash and sprinkled with wine dries tumours. Its juice cures complaints of the ears. An application to the belly is said to be very beneficial indeed for diarrhoea.
C. A decoction of the root of butcher's broom is given every other day for stone in the bladder, for painful urination, or for blood in the urine. The root ought to be dug up on one day and the decoction made on the morning of the next, a sextarius of it being mixed with two cyathi of wine. There are some also who take in water the pounded root raw, and it is considered that nothing is more wholly beneficial to the male genitals than its small stalks pound and used in vinegar.
CI. Batis (sea-fennel) too relaxes the bowels. Crushed up it is used raw as a liniment for gout. The Egyptians sow acinos both for chaplets and for food; it would be just the same as ocimum were it not for its rougher branches and leaves, and for its very strong smell. It is both an emmenagogue and diuretic.
CII. Colocasia, according to Glaucias, mellows the acrid humours of the body, and is beneficial to the stomach.
CIII. Anthalium is a food of the Egyptians, but I have been able to find no other use of it. There is however a plant called anthyllium by some and by others anthyllum, of which there are two kinds. One in leaves and branches is like the lentil, a palm in height, growing on sandy soils with plenty of sun, and slightly salt to the taste. The other kind is like the chamaepitys, but smaller and rougher, with a purple flower and a strong smell, and growing in rocky places. The former kind is very useful for uterine affections and for wounds, being applied with rose oil and milk. It is taken in drink for strangury and gravel of the kidneys in doses of three drachmae. The other kind is taken by the month with honey and vinegar in doses of four drachmae for indurations of the womb, gripings of the bowels, and epilepsy.
CIV. Parthenium is called leucanthes by some, and amaracum by others. Celsus, among the Latin writers calls it perdicium and muralis. It grows in the hedges of gardens, and has a white flower, the smell of an apple and a bitter taste. A decoction of this plant is used to make a sitsbath for induration and inflammation of the womb, and the dried plant is applied with honey and vinegar to bring away black bile. For this reason it is good for dizziness and stone in the bladder. It is used as an application for erysipelas, and also with old axle-grease for scrofulous sores. For tertian agues the Magi recommend us to gather it with the left hand without looking back, while saying for whose sake it is being gathered; then a leaf of it should be placed under the tongue of the patient to be swallowed presently in a cyathus of water.
CV. Trychnos, spelt by some strychnos, I wish the Egyptian florists did not use for their chaplets; they are tempted to do so by the resemblance of the leaves of both kinds to those of ivy. One of these kinds, bearing in a seed-bag scarlet berries with a stone in them, is called halieacabos, by others eallion, and by our countrymen bladder-wort, because of its usefulness in cases of stone and other complaints of the bladder. It is a woody shrub rather than a plant, with large, broad, conical seed-bags, with a large stone inside, which ripens in November. A third kind has the leaves of basil, and should receive the briefest of descriptions from one who is dealing with remedies, not poisons, for a very small amount of the juice causes madness. Yet the Greek writers have actually made a jest of this property. For they have said that a dose of one drachma plays tricks with the sense of shame, speaking of hallucinations and realistic visions; that a double dose causes downright insanity; any addition moreover to the dose bringing instant death. This is the poison which in their innocence very unsophisticated writers have called dorycnion because spears before battle had their points dipped in it, as it grows everywhere. Those who censured it less severely gave it the name manicon; those who from evil motives tried to keep its nature secret called it erythron, or neuras, or (as a few did) perisson, but there is no need to go into more details even for the sake of giving a warning. There is besides another kind, with the name of halicacabos, which is soporific, and kills quicker even than opium, by some called morion and by others moly, yet praised by Diocles and Evenor, by Timaristus indeed even in verse, with a strange forgetfulness of harmless remedies, actually because it is, they say, a quick remedy for strengthening loose teeth to rinse them in wine and halicacabos. They added a proviso, that the rinsing must not go on too long, for delirium is caused thereby. Remedies should not be described the use of which involves the danger of a yet more serious evil. Accordingly, although a third kind of this plant is in favour as a food, and although its flavour is preferred to that of other garden produce, and although Xenocrates prescribes trychnos as being beneficial for every bodily ill, yet the genus is not so helpful that I consider it right on this account to give any more details, especially when the supply is so abundant of harmless remedies. The root of halicacabos is taken in drink by those who, to confirm superstitious notions, wish to play the inspired prophet, and to be publicly seen raving in unpretended madness. The remedy for it, which I am happier to mention, is a copious draught of hot hydromel. Nor will I pass over this: that balicacabos is so antipathetic to the nature of asps that if its root be brought near it stupefies that very power of theirs to kill by stupefaction. Therefore pounded and in oil it is a help to those who have been bitten.
CVI. Corchorum is a plant eaten at Alexandria. It has rolled up leaves, like those of the mulberry, and is beneficial, they say, to the hypochondria, for mange and for freckles. I find also that scab in cattle is very quickly healed by it, and that according to Nicander the bites of snakes also, if gathered before it blossoms.
CVII. Nor would it be right to describe fully the cnecos, otherwise atractylis, an Egyptian plant, were it not for the great help it affords against venomous creatures as well as against poisonous fungi. It is a well-known fact that so long as they hold this plant, those stung by scorpions feel no sharp pain.
CVIII. The Egyptians plant pesoluta too in their gardens, using it for chaplets. There are two kinds, female and male; both, it is said, placed under the genitals, are antaphrodisiac, especially for men.
CIX. Since I have frequently to use Greek names when giving weights and measures, I will add at this place their equivalents, once and for all. The Attic drachma, for it is generally the Attic standard that physicians adopt, has the weight of a silver denarius, and the same makes six oboli, the obolus being ten chalci. The cyathus as a measure weighs ten drachmae; when the measure of an acetabulum is spoken of, it means the quarter of a hemina, that is fifteen drachmae. The mna, that our countrymen call the mina, weighs one hundred Attic drachmae.