By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: The Natural History of Pliny, Volume 4 (of 6)
Author: Pliny, the Elder
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Natural History of Pliny, Volume 4 (of 6)" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

Transcriber’s notes:

Italic text is denoted _thus_.

See further note at the end of this volume.



  VOL. IV.










  H. T. RILEY, ESQ., B.A.,


  VOL. IV.






  CHAP.                                                         Page

  1. Taste of the ancients for agriculture                         1

  2. When the first wreaths of corn were used at Rome              3

  3. The jugerum of land                                           4

  4. How often and on what occasions corn has sold at a remarkably
       low price                                                   7

  5. Illustrious men who have written upon agriculture             9

  6. Points to be observed in buying land                         11

  7. The proper arrangements for a farm-house                     13

  8. Maxims of the ancients on agriculture                        16

  9. The different kinds of grain                                 19

  10. The history of the various kinds of grain                _ib._

  11. Spelt                                                       24

  12. Wheat                                                       25

  13. Barley: rice                                                27

  14. Polenta                                                     28

  15. Ptisan                                                      29

  16. Tragum                                                   _ib._

  17. Amylum                                                   _ib._

  18. The nature of barley                                        30

  19. Arinca, and other kinds of grain that are grown in the
        East                                                      31

  20. Winter wheat. Similago, or fine flour                       32

  21. The fruitfulness of Africa in wheat                         35

  22. Sesame. Erysimum or irio. Horminum                          36

  23. The mode of grinding corn                                _ib._

  24. Millet                                                      38

  25. Panic                                                    _ib._

  26. The various kinds of leaven                              _ib._

  27. The method of making bread: origin of the art               39

  28. When bakers were first introduced at Rome                   40

  29. Alica                                                       41

  30. The leguminous plants: the bean                             43

  31. Lentils. Pease                                              46

  32. The several kinds of chick-pease                         _ib._

  33. The kidney-bean                                             47

  34. The rape                                                 _ib._

  35. The turnip                                                  48

  36. The lupine                                                  49

  37. The vetch                                                   51

  38. The fitch                                                _ib._

  39. Silicia                                                  _ib._

  40. Secale or asia                                              52

  41. Farrago: the cracca                                      _ib._

  42. Ocinum: ervilia                                          _ib._

  43. Lucerne                                                     53

  44. The diseases of grain: the oat                              54

  45. The best remedies for the diseases of grain                 57

  46. The crops that should be sown in the different soils        59

  47. The different systems of cultivation employed by various
        nations                                                   60

  48. The various kinds of ploughs                                62

  49. The mode of ploughing                                    _ib._

  50. The methods of harrowing, stubbing, and hoeing, employed
        for each description of grain. The use of the harrow      66

  51. Extreme fertility of soil                                   67

  52. The method of sowing more than once in the year             68

  53. The manuring of land                                     _ib._

  54. How to ascertain the quality of seed                        69

  55. What quantity of each kind of grain is requisite for
        sowing a jugerum                                          71

  56. The proper times for sowing                                 72

  57. Arrangement of the stars according to the terrestrial days
        and nights                                                74

  58. The rising and setting of the stars                         77

  59. The epochs of the seasons                                   78

  60. The proper time for winter sowing                           79

  61. When to sow the leguminous plants and the poppy             81

  62. Work to be done in the country in each month
        respectively                                           _ib._

  63. Work to be done at the winter solstice                      82

  64. Work to be done between the winter solstice and the
        prevalence of the west winds                              83

  65. Work to be done between the prevalence of the west winds
        and the vernal equinox                                    84

  66. Work to be done after the vernal equinox                    86

  67. Work to be done after the rising of the Vergiliæ:
        hay-making                                                88

  68. The summer solstice                                         92

  69. Causes of sterility                                         97

  70. Remedies against these noxious influences                  101

  71. Work to be done after the summer solstice                  102

  72. The harvest                                                103

  73. The methods of storing corn                                104

  74. The vintage, and the works of autumn                       107

  75. The revolutions of the moon                                111

  76. The theory of the winds                                    113

  77. The laying out of lands according to the points of the
        wind                                                     114

  78. Prognostics derived from the sun                           117

  79. Prognostics derived from the moon                          119

  80. Prognostics derived from the stars                         120

  81. Prognostics derived from thunder                           121

  82. Prognostics derived from clouds                          _ib._

  83. Prognostics derived from mists                             122

  84. Prognostics derived from fire kindled by man             _ib._

  85. Prognostics derived from water                           _ib._

  86. Prognostics derived from tempests                          123

  87. Prognostics derived from aquatic animals and birds       _ib._

  88. Prognostics derived from quadrupeds                        124

  89. Prognostics derived from plants                            125

  90. Prognostics derived from food                            _ib._



  1. The nature of flax—marvellous facts relative thereto        129

  2. How flax is sown: twenty-seven principal varieties of it    131

  3. The mode of preparing flax                                  135

  4. Linen made of asbestos                                      136

  5. At what period linen was first dyed                         138

  6. At what period coloured awnings were first employed in the
       theatres                                                _ib._

  7. The nature of spartum                                       139

  8. The mode of preparing spartum                               140

  9. At what period spartum was first employed                   141

  10. The bulb eriophorus                                      _ib._

  11. Plants which spring up and grow without a root—plants
        which grow, but cannot be reproduced from seed           142

  12. Misy; iton; and geranion                                   143

  13. Particulars connected with the truffle                     144

  14. The pezica                                               _ib._

  15. Laserpitium, laser, and maspetum                         _ib._

  16. Magydaris                                                  147

  17. Madder                                                     148

  18. The radicula                                             _ib._

  19. The pleasures of the garden                                149

  20. The laying out of garden ground                            154

  21. Plants other than grain and shrubs                         155

  22. The natural history of twenty different kinds of plants
        grown in gardens—the proper methods to be followed in
        sowing them respectively                               _ib._

  23. Vegetables of a cartilaginous nature—cucumbers. Pepones    156

  24. Gourds                                                     158

  25. Rape. Turnips                                              161

  26. Radishes                                                   162

  27. Parsnips                                                   165

  28. The skirret                                                166

  29. Elecampane                                                 167

  30. Bulbs, squills, and arum                                   168

  31. The roots, flowers, and leaves of all these plants.
        Garden plants which lose their leaves                    170

  32. Varieties of the onion                                     171

  33. The leek                                                   173

  34. Garlic                                                     174

  35. The number of days required for the respective plants to
        make their appearance above ground                       177

  36. The nature of the various seeds                            178

  37. Plants of which there is but a single kind. Plants of
        which there are several kinds                            179

  38. The nature and varieties of twenty-three garden plants.
        The lettuce;  its different varieties                    180

  39. Endive                                                     182

  40. Beet: four varieties of it                                 183

  41. Cabbages; the several varieties of them                    185

  42. Wild and cultivated asparagus                              188

  43. Thistles                                                   190

  44. Other plants that are sown in the garden: ocimum; rocket;
        and nasturtium                                           191

  45. Rue                                                      _ib._

  46. Parsley                                                    192

  47. Mint                                                     _ib._

  48. Olusatrum                                                  193

  49. The caraway                                                194

  50. Lovage                                                   _ib._

  51. Dittander                                                  195

  52. Gith                                                     _ib._

  53. The poppy                                                  196

  54. Other plants which require to be sown at the autumnal
        equinox                                                  197

  55. Wild thyme; sisymbrium                                   _ib._

  56. Four kinds of ferulaceous plants. Hemp                     198

  57. The maladies of garden plants                              199

  58. The proper remedies for these maladies. How ants are best
        destroyed. The best remedies against caterpillars and
        flies                                                    200

  59. What plants are benefitted by salt water                   201

  60. The proper method of watering gardens                    _ib._

  61. The juices and flavours of garden herbs                    202

  62. Piperitis, libanotis, and smyrnium                         203



  1. Introduction                                                206

  2. The wild cucumber: twenty-six remedies                      207

  3. Elaterium: twenty-seven remedies                            208

  4. The anguine or erratic cucumber: five remedies              209

  5. The cultivated cucumber: nine remedies                      210

  6. Pepones: eleven remedies                                    211

  7. The gourd: seventeen remedies. The somphus: one remedy      212

  8. The colocynthis: ten remedies                             _ib._

  9. Rape: nine remedies                                         213

  10. Wild rape: one remedy                                      214

  11. Turnips; those known as bunion and bunias: five
        remedies                                               _ib._

  12. The wild radish, or armoracia: one remedy                  215

  13. The cultivated radish: forty-three remedies              _ib._

  14. The parsnip: five remedies. The hibiscum, wild mallow, or
        plistolochia: eleven remedies                            218

  15. The staphylinos, or wild parsnip: twenty-two remedies    _ib._

  16. Gingidion: one remedy                                      219

  17. The skirret: eleven remedies                               220

  18. Sile, or hartwort: twelve remedies                         221

  19. Elecampane: eleven remedies                                222

  20. Onions: twenty-seven remedies                            _ib._

  21. Cutleek: thirty-two remedies                               223

  22. Bulbed leek: thirty-nine remedies                          225

  23. Garlic: sixty-one remedies                               _ib._

  24. The lettuce: forty-two remedies. The goat-lettuce:
        four remedies                                            228

  25. Cæsapon: one remedy. Isatis: one remedy. The wild lettuce:
        seven remedies                                         _ib._

  26. Hawk-weed: seventeen remedies                              229

  27. Beet: twenty-four remedies                                 232

  28. Limonion, or neuroides: three remedies                     233

  29. Endive: three remedies                                   _ib._

  30. Cichorium or chreston, otherwise called pancration or
        ambula: twelve remedies                                  234

  31. Hedypnoïs: four remedies                                 _ib._

  32. Seris, three varieties of it: seven remedies borrowed
        from it                                                  235

  33. The cabbage: eighty-seven remedies. Recipes mentioned
        by Cato                                                _ib._

  34. Opinions of the Greeks relative thereto                    237

  35. Cabbage-sprouts                                            239

  36. The wild cabbage: thirty-seven remedies                    240

  37. The lapsana: one remedy                                    241

  38. The sea-cabbage: one remedy                              _ib._

  39. The squill: twenty-three remedies                        _ib._

  40. Bulbs: thirty remedies                                     243

  41. Bulbine: one remedy. Bulb emetic                           244

  42. Garden asparagus; with the next, twenty-four remedies      245

  43. Corruda, libycura, or orminum                            _ib._

  44. Parsley: seventeen remedies                                246

  45. Apiastrum, or melissophyllum                               247

  46. Olusatrum or Hipposelinon: eleven remedies. Oreoselinon:
        two remedies. Helioselinon: one remedy                   248

  47. Petroselinon: one remedy. Buselinon: one remedy          _ib._

  48. Ocimum: thirty-five remedies                               249

  49. Rocket: twelve remedies                                    250

  50. Nasturtium: forty-two remedies                             251

  51. Rue: eighty-four remedies                                  252

  52. Wild mint: twenty remedies                                 256

  53. Mint: forty-one remedies                                   257

  54. Pennyroyal: twenty-five remedies                           259

  55. Wild pennyroyal: seventeen remedies                        260

  56. Nep: nine remedies                                         261

  57. Cummin: forty-eight remedies. Wild cummin: twenty-six
        remedies                                                 262

  58. Ammi: ten remedies                                         263

  59. The capparis or caper: eighteen remedies                   264

  60. Ligusticum, or lovage: four remedies                       265

  61. Cunila bubula: five remedies                             _ib._

  62. Cunila gallinacea, or origanum: five remedies              266

  63. Cunilago: eight remedies                                 _ib._

  64. Soft cunila: three remedies. Libanotis: three remedies   _ib._

  65. Cultivated cunila: three remedies. Mountain cunila: seven
        remedies                                                 267

  66. Piperitis, or siliquastrum: five remedies                _ib._

  67. Origanum, onitis, or prasion: six remedies                 268

  68. Tragoriganum: nine remedies                              _ib._

  69. Three varieties of Heracleotic origanum: thirty remedies _ib._

  70. Dittander: three remedies                                  270

  71. Gith, or melanthion: twenty-three remedies               _ib._

  72. Anise: sixty-one remedies                                  271

  73. Where the best anise is found: various remedies derived
        from this plant                                          272

  74. Dill: nine remedies                                        274

  75. Sacopenium, or sagapenon: thirteen remedies              _ib._

  76. The white poppy: three remedies. The black poppy: eight
        remedies. Remarks on sleep. Opium. Remarks in disfavour
        of the potions known as “anodynes, febrifuges,
        digestives, and cœliacs.” In what way the juices of
        these plants are to be collected                         275

  77. The poppy called rhœas: two remedies                       278

  78. The wild poppy called ceratitis, glaucium, or paralium:
        six remedies                                           _ib._

  79. The wild poppy called heraclium, or aphron: four remedies.
        Diacodion                                              _ib._

  80. The poppy called tithymalon, or paralion: three remedies   279

  81. Porcillaca or purslain, otherwise called peplis:
        twenty-five remedies                                     280

  82. Coriander: twenty-one remedies                             282

  83. Orage: fourteen remedies                                 _ib._

  84. The mallow called malope: thirteen remedies. The mallow
        called malache: one remedy. The mallow called althæa or
        plistolochia: fifty-nine remedies                        283

  85. Wild lapathum or oxalis, otherwise called lapathum
        cantherinum, or rumex: one remedy. Hydrolapathum: two
        remedies. Hippolapathum: six remedies. Oxylapathum:
        four remedies                                            287

  86. Cultivated lapathum: twenty-one remedies. Bulapathum: one
        remedy                                                   288

  87. Mustard, the three kinds of it: forty-four remedies      _ib._

  88. Adarca: forty-eight remedies                               290

  89. Marrubium or prasion, otherwise linostrophon, philopais,
        or philochares: twenty-nine remedies                   _ib._

  90. Wild thyme: eighteen remedies                              292

  91. Sisymbrium or thymbræum: twenty-three remedies             293

  92. Linseed: thirty remedies                                   294

  93. Blite: six remedies                                        295

  94. Meum, and meum athamanticum: seven remedies              _ib._

  95. Fennel: twenty-two remedies                                296

  96. Hippomarathron, or myrsineum: five remedies              _ib._

  97. Hemp: nine remedies                                        297

  98. Fennel-giant: eight remedies                               298

  99. The thistle or scolymos: six remedies                      299

  100. The composition of theriaca                             _ib._



  1. The nature of flowers and gardens                           304

  2. Garlands and chaplets                                     _ib._

  3. Who invented the art of making garlands: when they first
       received the name of “corollæ,” and for what reason       305

  4. Who was the first to give chaplets with leaves of silver
       and gold. Lemnisci: who was the first to emboss them      306

  5. The great honour in which chaplets were held by the
       ancients                                                _ib._

  6. The severity of the ancients in reference to chaplets       307

  7. A citizen decked with flowers by the Roman people           308

  8. Plaited chaplets. Needle-work chaplets. Nard-leaf chaplets.
       Silken chaplets                                         _ib._

  9. Authors who have written on flowers. An anecdote relative
       to Queen Cleopatra and chaplets                           309

  10. The rose: twelve varieties of it                           310

  11. The lily: four varieties of it                             314

  12. The narcissus: three varieties of it                       316

  13. How seed is stained to produce tinted flowers              317

  14. How the several varieties of the violet are respectively
        produced, grown, and cultivated. The three different
        colours of the violet. The five varieties of the yellow
        violet                                                 _ib._

  15. The caltha. The scopa regia                                318

  16. The bacchar. The combretum. Asarum                       _ib._

  17. Saffron: in what places it grows best. What flowers were
        known at the time of the Trojan war                      319

  18. The nature of odours                                       321

  19. The iris                                                   324

  20. The saliunca                                               325

  21. The polium or teuthrion                                  _ib._

  22. Fabrics which rival the colour of flowers                  326

  23. The amaranth                                               327

  24. The cyanos: the holochrysos                                328

  25. The petilium: the bellio                                 _ib._

  26. The chrysocome, or chrysitis                               329

  27. Shrubs, the blossoms of which are used for chaplets      _ib._

  28. Shrubs, the leaves of which are used for chaplets        _ib._

  29. The melothron, spiræa, and origanum. The oneorum or
        cassia; two varieties of it. The melissophyllum or
        melittæna. The melilote, otherwise known as Campanian
        garland                                                  330

  30. Three varieties of trefoil: the myophonum                _ib._

  31. Two varieties of thyme. Plants produced from blossoms and
        not from seed                                            331

  32. Conyza                                                     332

  33. The flower of Jove. The hemerocalles. The helenium. The
        phlox. Plants in which the branches and roots are
        odoriferous                                              333

  34. The abrotonum. The adonium: two varieties of it. Plants
        which reproduce themselves. The leucanthemum             334

  35. Two varieties of the amaracus                            _ib._

  36. The nyctegreton, or chenamyche, or nyctalops               335

  37. Where the melilote is found                              _ib._

  38. The succession in which flowers blossom: the spring
        flowers. The violet. The chaplet anemone or phrenion.
        The herb œnanthe. The melanthium. The helichrysos.
        The gladiolus. The hyacinth                              336

  39. The summer flowers—the lychnis: the tiphyon. Two varieties
        of the pothos. Two varieties of the orsinum. The
        vincapervinca or chamædaphne—a plant which is an
        ever-green                                               337

  40. The duration of life in the various kinds of flowers       339

  41. Plants which should be sown among flowers for bees. The
        cerintha                                               _ib._

  42. The maladies of bees, and the remedies for them            340

  43. The food of bees                                         _ib._

  44. Poisoned honey, and the remedies to be employed by those
        who have eaten it                                        341

  45. Maddening honey                                            342

  46. Honey that flies will not touch                            343

  47. Beehives, and the attention which should be paid to them   344

  48. That bees are sensible of hunger                           345

  49. The method of preparing wax. The best kinds of wax. Punic
        wax                                                    _ib._

  50. Plants which grow spontaneously: the use made of them by
        various nations, their nature, and remarkable facts
        connected with them. The strawberry, the tamnus, and
        the butcher’s broom. The batis, two varieties of it.
        The meadow parsnip. The hop                              347

  51. The colocasia                                            _ib._

  52. The cichorium. The anthalium or anticellium, or anthyllum.
        The œtum. The arachidna. The aracos. The candryala. The
        hypochœris. The caucalis. The anthriscum. The scandix.
        The tragopogon. The parthenium or leucanthes, amaracus,
        perdicium, or muralis. The trychnum or strychnum,
        halicacabum, callias, dorycnion, manicon, peritton,
        neuras, morio, or moly. The corchorus. The aphace. The
        acynopos. The epipetron. Plants which never flower.
        Plants which are always in flower                        348

  53. Four varieties of the cnecos                               350

  54. Plants of a prickly nature: the erynge, the glycyrrhiza,
        the tribulus, the anonis, the pheos or stœbe, and the
        hippophaes                                             _ib._

  55. Four varieties of the nettle. The lamium and the scorpio   351

  56. The carduus, the acorna, the phonos, the leucanthos, the
        chalceos, the cnecos, the polyacanthos, the onopyxos,
        the helxine, the scolymos, the chamæleon, the tetralix,
        and acanthice mastiche                                   353

  57. The cactos: the pternix, pappos, and ascalias              354

  58. The tribulus: the anonis                                   355

  59. Plants classified according to their stems: the coronopus,
        the anchusa, the anthemis, the phyllanthes, the crepis,
        and the lotus                                          _ib._

  60. Plants classified according to their leaves. Plants which
        never lose their leaves: plants which blossom a little
        at a time: the heliotropium and the adiantum, the
        remedies derived from which will be mentioned in the
        following Book                                           356

  61. The various kinds of eared plants: the stanyops; the
        alopecuros; the stelephurus, ortyx, or plantago; the
        thryallis                                                357

  62. The perdicium. The ornithogale                           _ib._

  63. Plants which only make their appearance at the end of a
        year. Plants which begin to blossom at the top. Plants
        which begin to blossom at the lower part                 358

  64. The lappa, a plant which produces within itself. The
        opuntia, which throws out a root from the leaf         _ib._

  65. The iasione. The chondrylla. The picris, which remains in
        flower the whole year through                          _ib._

  66. Plants in which the blossom makes its appearance before
        the stem. Plants in which the stem appears before the
        blossom. Plants which blossom three times in the year    359

  67. The cypiros. The thesion                                 _ib._

  68. The asphodel, or royal spear. The anthericus or albucus  _ib._

  69. Six varieties of the rush: four remedies derived from the
        cypiros                                                  361

  70. The cyperos: fourteen remedies. The cyperis. The cypira    363

  71. The holoschœnus                                            364

  72. Ten remedies derived from the sweet-scented rush, or
        teuchites                                              _ib._

  73. Remedies derived from the flowers before mentioned:
        thirty-two remedies derived from the rose              _ib._

  74. Twenty-one remedies derived from the lily                  366

  75. Sixteen remedies derived from the narcissus                367

  76. Seventeen remedies derived from the violet                 368

  77. Seventeen remedies derived from the bacchar. One remedy
        derived from the combretum                             _ib._

  78. Eight remedies derived from asarum                         369

  79. Eight remedies derived from gallic nard                  _ib._

  80. Four remedies derived from the plant called “phu”          370

  81. Twenty remedies derived from saffron                     _ib._

  82. Syrian crocomagna: two remedies                          _ib._

  83. Forty-one remedies derived from the iris: two remedies
        derived from the saliunca                                371

  84. Eighteen remedies derived from the polium                  372

  85. Three remedies derived from the holochrysos. Six remedies
        derived from the chrysocome                              373

  86. Twenty-one remedies derived from the melissophyllum      _ib._

  87. Thirteen remedies derived from the melilote                374

  88. Four remedies derived from the trefoil                   _ib._

  89. Twenty-eight remedies derived from thyme                   375

  90. Four remedies derived from the hemerocalles                376

  91. Five remedies derived from the helenium                  _ib._

  92. Twenty-two remedies derived from the abrotonum             377

  93. One remedy derived from the leucanthemum. Nine remedies
        derived from the amaracus                                378

  94. Ten remedies derived from the anemone or phrenion          379

  95. Six remedies derived from the œnanthe                      380

  96. Eleven remedies derived from the helichrysos             _ib._

  97. Eight remedies derived from the hyacinth                   381

  98. Seven remedies derived from the lychnis                  _ib._

  99. Four remedies derived from the vincapervinca               382

  100. Three remedies derived from butcher’s broom             _ib._

  101. Two remedies derived from the batis                     _ib._

  102. Two remedies derived from the colocasia                 _ib._

  103. Six remedies derived from the anthyllium or anthyllum     383

  104. Eight remedies derived from the parthenium, leucanthes,
         or amaracus                                           _ib._

  105. Eight remedies derived from the trychnum or strychnum,
         halicacabum, callias, dorycnion, manicon, neuras,
         morio, or moly                                          384

  106. Six remedies derived from the corchorus                   386

  107. Three remedies derived from the cnecos                  _ib._

  108. One remedy derived from the pesoluta                    _ib._

  109. An explanation of Greek terms relative to weights and
         measures                                              _ib._



  1. The properties of plants                                    389

  2. Plants used by nations for the adornment of the person    _ib._

  3. Employment of plants for dyeing. Explanation of the terms
       sagmen, verbena, and clarigatio                           390

  4. The grass crown: how rarely it has been awarded             392

  5. The only persons that have been presented with this crown   393

  6. The only centurion that has been thus honoured              394

  7. Remedies derived from other chaplet plants                  395

  8. The erynge or eryngium                                      396

  9. The eryngium, called centum capita: thirty remedies         397

  10. The acanos: one remedy                                     398

  11. The glycyrrhiza or adipsos: fifteen remedies               399

  12. Two varieties of the tribulus: twelve remedies             400

  13. The stœbe or pheos                                         401

  14. Two varieties of the hippophaes: two remedies            _ib._

  15. The nettle: sixty-one remedies                             402

  16. The lamium: seven remedies                                 404

  17. The scorpio, two kinds of it: one remedy                   405

  18. The leucacantha, phyllos, ischias, or polygonatos: four
        remedies                                               _ib._

  19. The helxine: twelve remedies                               406

  20. The perdicium, parthenium, urceolaris, or astercum: eleven
        remedies                                                 407

  21. The chamæleon, ixias, ulophonon, or cynozolon; two
        varieties of it: twelve remedies                       _ib._

  22. The coronopus                                              409

  23. The anchusa: fourteen remedies                           _ib._

  24. The pseudoanchusa, echis, or doris: three remedies         410

  25. The onochilon, archebion, onochelis, rhexia, or enchrysa:
        thirty remedies                                        _ib._

  26. The anthemis, leucanthemis, leucanthemum, chamæmelum, or
        melanthium; three varieties of it: eleven remedies       411

  27. The lotus plant: four remedies                             412

  28. The lotometra: two remedies                              _ib._

  29. The heliotropium, helioscopium, or verrucaria: twelve
        remedies. The heliotropium, tricoccum, or scorpiuron:
        fourteen remedies                                        413

  30. The adiantum, callitrichos, trichomanes, polytrichos, or
        saxifragum; two varieties of it: twenty-eight remedies   415

  31. The picris: one remedy. The thesion: one remedy            417

  32. The asphodel: fifty-one remedies                         _ib._

  33. The halimon: fourteen remedies                             419

  34. The acanthus, pæderos, or melamphyllos: five remedies      421

  35. The bupleuron: five remedies                             _ib._

  36. The buprestis: one remedy                                  422

  37. The elaphoboscon: nine remedies                          _ib._

  38. The scandix: nine remedies. The anthriscum: two remedies   423

  39. The iasione: four remedies                               _ib._

  40. The caucalis: twelve remedies                              424

  41. The sium: eleven remedies                                _ib._

  42. The sillybum                                               425

  43. The scolymos or limonia: five remedies                   _ib._

  44. The sonchos: two varieties: fifteen remedies               426

  45. The condrion or chondrylla: six remedies                   427

  46. Mushrooms; peculiarities of their growth                   428

  47. Fungi; signs by which the venomous kinds may be
        recognized: nine remedies                                429

  48. Silphium: seven remedies                                   431

  49. Laser: thirty-nine remedies                                432

  50. Propolis: five remedies                                    434

  51. The various influences of different aliments upon the
        disposition                                              435

  52. Hydromel: eighteen remedies                                436

  53. Honied wine: six remedies                                  437

  54. Melitites: three remedies                                  438

  55. Wax: eight remedies                                      _ib._

  56. Remarks in disparagement of medicinal compositions         439

  57. Remedies derived from grain. Siligo: one remedy. Wheat:
        one remedy. Chaff: two remedies. Spelt: one remedy.
        Bran: one remedy. Olyra or arinca: two remedies          440

  58. The various kinds of meal: twenty-eight remedies           441

  59. Polenta: eight remedies                                    442

  60. Fine flour: five remedies. Puls: one remedy. Meal used
        for pasting papyrus, one remedy                        _ib._

  61. Alica: six remedies                                        443

  62. Millet: six remedies                                       444

  63. Panic: four remedies                                     _ib._

  64. Sesame: seven remedies. Sesamoides: three remedies.
        Anticyricum: three remedies                            _ib._

  65. Barley: nine remedies. Mouse-barley, by the Greeks called
        phœnice: one remedy                                      445

  66. Ptisan: four remedies                                      446

  67. Amylum: eight remedies. Oats: one remedy                 _ib._

  68. Bread: twenty-one remedies                                 447

  69. Beans: sixteen remedies                                  _ib._

  70. Lentils: seventeen remedies                                448

  71. The elelisphacos, sphacos, or salvia: thirteen remedies    449

  72. The chickpea and the chicheling vetch: twenty-three
        remedies                                                 450

  73. The fitch: twenty remedies                                 451

  74. Lupines: thirty-five remedies                              452

  75. Irio or erysimum, by the Gauls called vela: fifteen
        remedies                                                 453

  76. Horminum: six remedies                                     454

  77. Darnel: five remedies                                    _ib._

  78. The plant miliaria: one remedy                             455

  79. Bromos: one remedy                                       _ib._

  80. Orobanche or cynomorion: one remedy                      _ib._

  81. Remedies for injuries inflicted by insects which breed
        among leguminous plants                                _ib._

  82. The use made of the yeast of zythum                        456



  1. Introduction                                                457

  2. The vine                                                  _ib._

  3. The leaves and shoots of the vine: seven remedies           458

  4. Omphacium extracted from the vine: fourteen remedies        459

  5. Œnanthe: twenty-one remedies                                460

  6. Grapes, fresh gathered                                      461

  7. Various kinds of preserved grapes: eleven remedies        _ib._

  8. Cuttings of the vine: one remedy                            462

  9. Grape-stones: six remedies                                _ib._

  10. Grape-husks: eight remedies                                463

  11. The grapes of the theriaca: four remedies                _ib._

  12. Raisins, or astaphis: fourteen remedies                  _ib._

  13. The astaphis agria, otherwise called staphis or taminia:
        twelve remedies                                          464

  14. The labrusca, or wild vine: twelve remedies                465

  15. The salicastrum: twelve remedies                         _ib._

  16. The white vine, otherwise called ampeloleuce, staphyle,
        melothron, psilotrum, archezostis, cedrostis, or madon:
        thirty-one remedies                                      466

  17. The black vine, otherwise called bryonia, chironia,
        gynæcanthe, or apronia: thirty-five remedies             468

  18. Must: fifteen remedies                                   _ib._

  19. Particulars relative to wine                               469

  20. The Surrentine wines: three remedies. The Alban wines:
        two remedies. The Falernian wines: six remedies          470

  21. The Setine wines; one observation upon them. The Statan
        wines; one observation upon them. The Signian wines:
        one remedy                                               471

  22. Other wines: sixty-four remedies                         _ib._

  23. Sixty-one observations relative to wine                    473

  24. In what maladies wine should be administered; how it
        should be administered, and at what times                474

  25. Ninety-one observations with reference to wine             477

  26. Artificial wines                                         _ib._

  27. Vinegar: twenty-eight remedies                             478

  28. Squill vinegar: seventeen remedies                         480

  29. Oxymeli: seven remedies                                    481

  30. Sapa: seven remedies                                     _ib._

  31. Lees of wine: twelve remedies                              482

  32. Lees of vinegar: seventeen remedies                        483

  33. Lees of sapa: four remedies                                484

  34. The leaves of the olive-tree: twenty-three remedies      _ib._

  35. The blossom of the olive: four remedies                  _ib._

  36. White olives: four remedies. Black olives: three remedies  485

  37. Amurca of olives: twenty-one remedies                      486

  38. The leaves of the wild olive: sixteen remedies             487

  39. Omphacium: three remedies                                  488

  40. Oil of œnanthe: twenty-eight remedies                    _ib._

  41. Castor oil: sixteen remedies                               489

  42. Oil of almonds: sixteen remedies                           490

  43. Oil of laurel: nine remedies                             _ib._

  44. Oil of myrtle: twenty remedies                           _ib._

  45. Oil of chamæmyrsine, or oxymyrsine; oil of cypros; oil of
        citrus; oil of walnuts; oil of cnidium; oil of mastich;
        oil of balanus; various remedies                         491

  46. The cyprus, and the oil extracted from it; sixteen
        remedies. Gleucinum: one remedy                          492

  47. Oil of balsamum: fifteen remedies                        _ib._

  48. Malobathrum: five remedies                                 493

  49. Oil of henbane: two remedies. Oil of lupines: one remedy.
        Oil of narcissus: one remedy. Oil of radishes: five
        remedies. Oil of sesame: three remedies. Oil of lilies:
        three remedies. Oil of Selga: one remedy. Oil of
        Iguvium: one remedy                                    _ib._

  50. Elæomeli: two remedies. Oil of pitch: two remedies         494

  51. The palm: nine remedies                                  _ib._

  52. The palm which produces the myrobalanum: three remedies    495

  53. The palm called elate: sixteen remedies                  _ib._

  54. Remedies derived from the blossoms, leaves, fruit,
        branches, bark, juices, roots, wood, and ashes of
        various kinds of trees. Six observations upon apples.
        Twenty-two observations upon quinces. One observation
        upon struthea                                            496

  55. The sweet apples called melimela: six observations upon
        them. Sour apples: four observations upon them           497

  56. Citrons: five observations upon them                       498

  57. Punic apples, or pomegranates: twenty-six remedies       _ib._

  58. The composition called stomatice: fourteen remedies        499

  59. Cytinus: eight remedies                                    500

  60. Balaustium: twelve remedies                              _ib._

  61. The wild pomegranate                                       501

  62. Pears: twelve observations upon them                       502

  63. Figs: one hundred and eleven observations upon them      _ib._

  64. The wild fig: forty-two observations upon it               505

  65. The herb crineon: three remedies                           507

  66. Plums: four observations upon them                       _ib._

  67. Peaches: two remedies                                      508

  68. Wild plums; two remedies                                 _ib._

  69. The lichen on plum-trees; two remedies                   _ib._

  70. Mulberries; thirty-nine remedies                         _ib._

  71. The medicament called stomatice, arteriace, or
        panchrestos; four remedies                               509

  72. Cherries: five observations upon them                      511

  73. Medlars: two remedies. Sorbs: two remedies                 512

  74. Pine-nuts: thirteen remedies                             _ib._

  75. Almonds: twenty-nine remedies                            _ib._

  76. Greek nuts: one remedy                                     513

  77. Walnuts: twenty-four remedies. The Mithridatic antidote    514

  78. Hazel-nuts: three observations upon them. Pistachio-nuts:
        eight observations upon them. Chesnuts: five
        observations upon them                                   515

  79. Carobs: five observations upon them. The cornel: one
        remedy. The fruit of the arbutus                         516

  80. The laurel: sixty-nine observations upon it              _ib._

  81. Myrtle: sixty observations upon it                         519

  82. Myrtidanum: thirteen remedies                              521

  83. The wild myrtle, otherwise called oxymyrsine, or
        chamæmyrsine, and the ruscus: six remedies             _ib._





We now pass on to the Natural History of the various grains, of the
garden plants and flowers, and indeed of all the other productions,
with the exception of the trees and shrubs, which the Earth, in her
bounteousness, affords us—a boundless field for contemplation, if
even we regard the herbs alone, when we take into consideration the
varieties of them, their numbers, the flowers they produce, their
odours, their colours, their juices, and the numerous properties they
possess—all of which have been engendered by her with a view to either
the preservation or the gratification of the human race.

On entering, however, upon this branch of my subject, it is my wish
in the first place to plead the cause of the Earth, and to act as
the advocate of her who is the common parent of all, although in the
earlier[1] part of this work I have already had occasion to speak in
her defence. For my subject matter, as I proceed in the fulfilment
of my task, will now lead me to consider her in the light of being
the producer of various noxious substances as well; in consequence of
which it is that we are in the habit of charging her with our crimes,
and imputing to her a guilt that is our own. She has produced poisons,
it is true; but who is it but man that has found them out? For the
birds of the air and the beasts of the field, it is sufficient to be
on their guard against them, and to keep at a distance from them. The
elephant, we find, and the urus, know how to sharpen[2] and renovate
their teeth against the trunks of trees, and the rhinoceros against
rocks; wild boars, again, point their tusks like so many poniards by
the aid of both rocks and trees; and all animals, in fact, are aware
how to prepare themselves for the infliction of injury upon others; but
still, which is there among them all, with the exception of man, that
dips his weapons in poison? As for ourselves, we envenom the point of
the arrow,[3] and we contrive to add to the destructive powers of iron
itself; by the aid of poisons we taint the waters of the stream, and we
infect the various elements of Nature; indeed, the very air even, which
is the main support of life, we turn into a medium for the destruction
of life.

And it is not that we are to suppose that animals are ignorant of these
means of defence, for we have already had occasion to point out[4] the
preparations which they make against the attacks of the serpent, and
the methods they devise for effecting a cure when wounded by it; and
yet, among them all, there is not one that fights by the aid of the
poison that belongs to another, with the sole exception of man. Let us
then candidly confess our guilt, we who are not contented even with the
poisons as Nature has produced them; for by far the greater portion of
them, in fact, are artificially prepared by the human hand!

And then besides, is it not the fact, that there are many men, the
very existence of whom is a baneful poison, as it were? Like that of
the serpent, they dart their livid tongue, and the venom of their
disposition corrodes every object upon which it concentrates itself.
Ever vilifying and maligning, like the ill-omened birds of the night,
they disturb the repose of that darkness which is so peculiarly their
own, and break in upon the quiet of the night even, by their moans and
wailings, the only sounds they are ever heard to emit. Like animals
of inauspicious presage, they only cross our path to prevent us from
employing our energies or becoming useful to our fellow-men; and the
only enjoyment that is sought by their abominable aspirations is
centred in their universal hatred of mankind.

Still, however, even in this respect Nature has asserted her majestic
sway; for how much more numerous[5] are the good and estimable
characters which she has produced! just in the same proportion that we
find her giving birth to productions which are at once both salutary
and nutritious to man. It is in our high esteem for men such as these,
and the commendations they bestow, that we shall be content to leave
the others, like so many brakes and brambles, to the devouring flames
of their own bad passions, and to persist in promoting the welfare of
the human race; and this, with all the more energy and perseverance,
from the circumstance that it has been our object throughout, rather
to produce a work of lasting utility than to ensure ourselves a
widely-spread renown. We have only to speak, it is true, of the
fields and of rustic operations; but still, it is upon these that
the enjoyment of life so materially depends, and that the ancients
conferred the very highest rank in their honours and commendations.


Romulus was the first who established the Arval[6] priesthood at
Rome. This order consisted of the eleven sons of Acca Larentia, his
nurse,[7] together with Romulus himself, who assumed the appellation
of the twelfth of the brotherhood. Upon this priesthood he bestowed,
as being the most august distinction that he could confer upon it, a
wreath of ears of corn, tied together with a white fillet; and this, in
fact, was the first chaplet that was ever used at Rome. This dignity
is only ended with life itself, and whether in exile or in captivity,
it always attends its owner. In those early days, two jugera of land
were considered enough for a citizen of Rome, and to none was a larger
portion than this allotted. And yet, at the present day, men who but
lately were the slaves of the Emperor Nero have been hardly content
with pleasure-gardens that occupied the same space as this; while they
must have fishponds, forsooth, of still greater extent, and in some
instances I might add, perhaps, kitchens even as well.

Numa first established the custom of offering corn to the gods, and
of propitiating them with the salted[8] cake; he was the first, too,
as we learn from Hemina, to parch spelt, from the fact that, when
in this state, it is more wholesome as an aliment.[9] This method,
however, he could only establish one way: by making an enactment, to
the effect that spelt is not in a pure state for offering, except when
parched. He it was, too, who instituted the Fornacalia,[10] festivals
appropriated for the parching of corn, and others,[11] observed with
equal solemnity, for the erection and preservation of the “termini,”
or boundaries of the fields: for these termini, in those days, they
particularly regarded as gods; while to other divinities they gave the
names of Seia,[12] from “sero,” “to sow,” and of Segesta, from the
“segetes,” or “crops of standing corn,” the statues of which goddesses
we still see erected in the Circus. A third divinity it is forbidden by
the rules of our religion to name even[13] beneath a roof. In former
days, too, they would not so much as taste the corn when newly cut, nor
yet wine when just made, before the priests had made a libation of the


That portion of land used to be known as a “jugerum,” which was
capable of being ploughed by a single “jugum,” or yoke of oxen, in
one day; an “actus”[14] being as much as the oxen could plough at a
single spell, fairly estimated, without stopping. This last was one
hundred and twenty feet in length; and two in length made a jugerum.
The most considerable recompense that could be bestowed upon generals
and valiant citizens, was the utmost extent of land around which a
person could trace a furrow with the plough in a single day. The whole
population, too, used to contribute a quarter[15] of a sextarius of
spelt, or else half a one, per head.

From agriculture the earliest surnames were derived. Thus, for
instance, the name of Pilumnus was given to him who invented the
“pilum,” or pestle of the bake-house, for pounding corn; that of
Piso was derived from “piso,” to grind corn; and those of Fabius,
Lentulus, and Cicero, from the several varieties[16] of leguminous
plants in the cultivation of which respectively these individuals
excelled. One individual of the family of the Junii received the name
of “Bubulcus,”[17] from the skill he displayed in breeding oxen. Among
the sacred ceremonials, too, there was nothing that was held more holy
than the marriage by confarreation,[18] and the woman just married used
to present a cake made of spelt.[19] Careless cultivation of the land
was in those times an offence that came under the cognizance of the
censors; and, as we learn from Cato,[20] when it was said that such
and such a man was a good agriculturist or a good husbandman, it was
looked upon as the very highest compliment that could be paid him. A
man came to be called “locuples,” or “rich,” from being “loci plenus,”
or “full of earth.” Money, too, received its name of “pecunia,”[21]
from “pecus,” “cattle.” At the present day, even, in the registers of
the censors, we find set down under the head of “pascua,” or “pasture
lands,” everything from which the public revenues are derived, from the
fact that for a long period of time pasture lands were the only sources
of the public revenue. Fines, too, were only imposed in the shape of
paying so many sheep or so many oxen; and the benevolent spirit of the
ancient laws deserves remark, which most considerately enjoined that
the magistrate, when he indicted a penalty, should never impose a fine
of an ox before having first condemned the same party to the payment of
a sheep.

Those who celebrated the public games in honour of the ox received the
name of Bubetii.[22] King Servius was the first who impressed upon our
copper coin[23] the figures of sheep and oxen. To depasture cattle
secretly by night upon the unripe crops on plough lands, or to cut them
in that state, was made by the Twelve Tables[24] a capital offence in
the case of an adult; and it was enacted that the person guilty of it
should be hanged, in order to make due reparation to the goddess Ceres,
a punishment more severe, even, than that inflicted for murder. If, on
the other hand, the offender was not an adult, he was beaten at the
discretion of the prætor; a penalty double the amount of the damage was
also exacted.

The various ranks, too, and distinctions in the state had no other
origin than the pursuits of agriculture. The rural tribes held the
foremost rank, and were composed of those who possessed lands; while
those of the city, a place to which it was looked upon as ignominious
to be transferred, had the discredit thrown upon them of being an
indolent race. Hence it was that these last were only four in number,
and received their names from the several parts of the City which they
respectively inhabited; being the Suburran, the Palatine, Colline, and
Exquiline tribes. Every ninth day[25] the rural tribes used to visit
the city for the purpose of marketing, and it was for this reason that
it was made illegal to hold the comitia upon the Nundinæ; the object
being that the country people might not be called away thereby from
the transaction of their business. In those days repose and sleep were
enjoyed upon straw. Even to glory itself, in compliment to corn, the
name was given of “adorea.”[26]

For my own part, I greatly admire[27] the modes of expression
employed in our ancient language: thus, for instance, we read in the
Commentaries of the Priesthood to the following effect:—“For deriving
an augury from the sacrifice of a bitch,[28] a day should be set apart
before the ear of corn appears from out of the sheath,[29] and then
again before it enters the sheath.”


The consequence was, that when the Roman manners were such as these,
the corn that Italy produced was sufficient for its wants, and it had
to be indebted to no province for its food; and not only this, but
the price of provisions was incredibly cheap. Manius Marcius, the
ædile[30] of the people, was the first who gave corn to the people at
the price of one as for the modius. L. Minutius Augurinus,[31] the
same who detected, when eleventh tribune of the people, the projects
of Spurius Mælius, reduced the price of corn on three market days,[32]
to one as per modius; for which reason a statue was erected in honour
of him, by public subscription, without the Trigeminian Gate.[33]
T. Seius distributed corn to the people, in his ædileship,[34] at
one as per modius, in remembrance of which statues were erected in
honour of him also in the Capitol and the Palatium: on the day of his
funeral he was borne to the pile on the shoulders of the Roman people.
In the year,[35] too, in which the Mother of the Gods was brought
to Rome, the harvest of that summer, it is said, was more abundant
than it had been for ten years before. M. Varro informs us, that in
the year[36] in which L. Metellus exhibited so many elephants in his
triumphal procession, a modius of spelt was sold for one as, which was
the standard price also of a congius of wine, thirty pounds’ weight
of dried figs, ten pounds of olive oil, and twelve pounds of flesh
meat. Nor did this cheapness originate in the wide-spread domains of
individuals encroaching continually upon their neighbours, for by a
law proposed by Licinius Stolo, the landed property of each individual
was limited to five hundred jugera; and he himself was convicted under
his own law of being the owner of more than that amount, having as a
disguise prevailed upon his son to lend him his name. Such were the
prices of commodities at a time when the fortunes of the republic were
rapidly on the increase. The words, too, that were uttered by Manius
Curius[37] after his triumphs and the addition of an immense extent of
territory to the Roman sway, are well known: “The man must be looked
upon,” said he, “as a dangerous citizen, for whom seven jugera of land
are not enough;” such being the amount of land that had been allotted
to the people after the expulsion of the kings.

What, then, was the cause of a fertility so remarkable as this? The
fact, we have every reason to believe, that in those days the lands
were tilled by the hands of generals even, the soil exulting beneath
a plough-share crowned with wreaths of laurel, and guided by a
husbandman graced with triumphs: whether it is that they tended the
seed with the same care that they had displayed in the conduct of
wars, and manifested the same diligent attention in the management of
their fields that they had done in the arrangement of the camp, or
whether it is that under the hands of honest men everything prospers
all the better, from being attended to with a scrupulous exactness.
The honours awarded to Serranus[38] found him engaged in sowing his
fields, a circumstance to which he owes his surname.[39] Cincinnatus
was ploughing his four jugera of land upon the Vaticanian Hill—the
same that are still known as the “Quintian Meadows,”[40] when the
messenger brought him the dictatorship—finding him, the tradition says,
stripped to the work, and his very face begrimed with dust. “Put on
your clothes,” said he, “that I may deliver to you the mandates of the
senate and people of Rome.” In those days these messengers bore the
name of “viator,” or “wayfarer,” from the circumstance that their usual
employment was to fetch the senators and generals from their fields.

But at the present day these same lands are tilled by slaves whose
legs are in chains, by the hands of malefactors and men with a branded
face! And yet the Earth is not deaf to our adjurations, when we address
her by the name of “parent,” and say that she receives our homage[41]
in being tilled by hands such as these; as though, forsooth, we ought
not to believe that she is reluctant and indignant at being tended in
such a manner as this! Indeed, ought we to feel any surprise were the
recompense she gives us when worked by chastised slaves,[42] not the
same that she used to bestow upon the labours of warriors?


Hence it was that to give precepts upon agriculture became one of
the principal occupations among men of the highest rank, and that
in foreign nations even. For among those who have written on this
subject we find the names of kings even, Hiero, for instance, Attalus
Philometor, and Archelaüs, as well as of generals, Xenophon, for
example, and Mago the Carthaginian. Indeed, to this last writer did
the Roman senate award such high honours, that, after the capture of
Carthage, when it bestowed the libraries of that city upon the petty
kings of Africa, it gave orders, in his case only, that his thirty-two
Books should be translated into the Latin language, and this, although
M. Cato had already compiled his Book of Precepts; it took every care
also to entrust the execution of this task to men who were well versed
in the Carthaginian tongue, among whom was pre-eminent D. Silanus, a
member of one of the most illustrious families of Rome. I have already
indicated,[43] at the commencement of this work, the numerous learned
authors and writers in verse, together with other illustrious men,
whose authority it is my intention to follow; but among the number I
may here more particularly distinguish M. Varro, who, at the advanced
age of eighty-eight years, thought it his duty to publish a treatise
upon this subject.

(4.) Among the Romans the cultivation of the vine was introduced at a
comparatively recent period, and at first, as indeed they were obliged
to do, they paid their sole attention to the culture of the fields. The
various methods of cultivating the land will now be our subject; and
they shall be treated of by us in no ordinary or superficial manner,
but in the same spirit in which we have hitherto written; enquiry shall
be made with every care first into the usages of ancient days, and then
into the discoveries of more recent times, our attention being devoted
alike to the primary causes of these operations, and the reasons upon
which they are respectively based. We shall make mention,[44] too,
of the various constellations, and of the several indications which,
beyond all doubt, they afford to the earth; and the more so, from the
fact that those writers who have hitherto treated of them with any
degree of exactness, seem to have written their works for the use of
any class of men but the agriculturist.


First of all, then, I shall proceed in a great measure according to
the dicta of the oracles of agriculture; for there is no branch of
practical life in which we find them more numerous or more unerring.
And why should we not view in the light of oracles those precepts which
have been tested by the infallibility of time and the truthfulness of

(5.) To make a beginning, then, with Cato[45]—“The agricultural
population,” says he, “produces the bravest men, the most valiant
soldiers,[46] and a class of citizens the least given of all to evil
designs.—Do not be too eager in buying a farm.—In rural operations
never be sparing of your trouble, and, above all, when you are
purchasing land.—A bad bargain is always a ground for repentance.—Those
who are about to purchase land, should always have an eye more
particularly to the water there, the roads, and the neighbourhood.”
Each of these points is susceptible of a very extended explanation, and
replete with undoubted truths. Cato[47] recommends, too, that an eye
should be given to the people in the neighbourhood, to see how they
look: “For where the land is good,” says he, “the people will look
well-conditioned and healthy.”

Atilius Regulus, the same who was twice consul in the Punic War, used
to say[48] that a person should neither buy an unhealthy piece of
land in the most fertile locality, nor yet the very healthiest spot
if in a barren country. The salubrity of land, however, is not always
to be judged of from the looks of the inhabitants, for those who are
well-seasoned are able to withstand the effects of living in pestilent
localities even. And then, besides, there are some localities that are
healthy during certain periods of the year only; though, in reality,
there is no soil that can be looked upon as really valuable that is not
healthy all the year through. “That[49] is sure to be bad land against
which its owner has a continual struggle.” Cato recommends us before
everything, to see that the land which we are about to purchase not
only excels in the advantages of locality, as already stated, but is
really good of itself. We should see, too, he says, that there is an
abundance of manual labour in the neighbourhood, as well as a thriving
town; that there are either rivers or roads, to facilitate the carriage
of the produce; that the buildings upon the land are substantially
erected, and that the land itself bears every mark of having been
carefully tilled—a point upon which I find that many persons are
greatly mistaken, as they are apt to imagine that the negligence of
the previous owner is greatly to the purchaser’s advantage; while the
fact is, that there is nothing more expensive than the cultivation of a
neglected soil.

For this reason it is that Cato[50] says that it is best to buy land
of a careful proprietor, and that the methods adopted by others ought
not to be hastily rejected—that it is the same with land as with
mankind—however great the proceeds, if at the same time it is lavish
and extravagant, there will be no great profits left. Cato looks upon
a vineyard as the most[51] profitable investment; and he is far from
wrong in that opinion, seeing that he takes such particular care to
retrench all superfluous expenses. In the second rank he places gardens
that have a good supply of water, and with good reason, too, supposing
always that they are near a town. The ancients gave to meadow lands the
name of “parata,” or lands “always ready.”[52]

Cato being asked, on one occasion, what was the most certain source
of profit, “Good pasture land,” was his answer; upon which, enquiry
was made what was the next best. “Pretty good[53] pasture lands,”
said he—the amount of all which is, that he looked upon that as the
most certain source of income which stands in need of the smallest
outlay. This, however, will naturally vary in degree, according to the
nature of the respective localities; and the same is the case with the
maxim[54] to which he gives utterance, that a good agriculturist must
be fond of selling. The same, too, with his remark, that in his youth
a landowner should begin to plant without delay, but that he ought
not to build until the land is fully brought into cultivation, and
then only a little at a time: and that the best plan is, as the common
proverb has it, “To profit by the folly of others;”[55] taking due
care, however, that the keeping up of a farm-house does not entail too
much expense. Still, however, those persons are guilty of no falsehood
who are in the habit of saying that a proprietor who is well housed
comes all the oftener to his fields, and that “the master’s forehead is
of more use than his back.”[56]


The proper plan to be pursued is this:[57] the farm-house must not
be unsuitable for the farm, nor the farm for the house; and we must
be on our guard against following the examples of L. Lucullus and Q.
Scævola, who, though living in the same age, fell into the two opposite
extremes; for whereas the farm-house of Scævola was not large enough
for the produce of his farm, the farm of Lucullus was not sufficiently
large for the house he built upon it; an error which gave occasion to
the reproof of the censors, that on his farm there was less of ground
for ploughing than of floor for sweeping. The proper arrangements for
a farm-house are not to be made without a certain degree of skill. C.
Marius, who was seven times consul, was the last person who had one
built at Misenum;[58] but he erected it with such a degree of that
artistic skill which he had displayed in castrametation, that Sylla
Felix[59] even made the remark, that in comparison with Marius, all the
others had been no better than blind.[60]

It is generally agreed, that a farm-house ought neither to be built
near a marsh, nor with a river in front of it; for, as Homer[61] has
remarked, with the greatest correctness, unwholesome vapours are always
exhaled from rivers before the rising of the sun. In hot localities,
a farm-house should have a northern aspect, but where it is cold, it
should look towards the south; where, on the other hand, the site is
temperate, the house should look due east. Although, when speaking[62]
of the best kinds of soil, I may seem to have sufficiently discussed
the characteristics by which it may be known, I shall take the present
opportunity of adding a few more indications, employing the words of
Cato[63] more particularly for the purpose. “The dwarf-elder,” says
he, “the wild plum,[64] the bramble the small bulb,[65] trefoil,
meadow grass,[66] the quercus, and the wild pear and wild apple, are
all of them indicative of a corn land. The same is the case, too,
where the land is black, or of an ashy colour. All chalky soils are
scorching, unless they are very thin; the same, too, with sand, unless
it is remarkably fine. These remarks, however, are more applicable to
champaign localities than declivities.”

The ancients were of opinion, that before everything, moderation should
be observed in the extent of a farm; for it was a favourite maxim of
theirs, that we ought to sow the less, and plough the more: such too, I
find, was the opinion entertained by Virgil,[67] and indeed, if we must
confess the truth, it is the wide-spread domains that have been the
ruin[68] of Italy, and soon will be that of the provinces as well. Six
proprietors were in possession of one half of Africa,[69] at the period
when the Emperor Nero had them put to death. With that greatness of
mind which was so peculiarly his own, and of which he ought not to
lose the credit, Cneius Pompeius would never purchase the lands that
belonged to a neighbour. Mago has stated it as his opinion, that a
person, on buying a farm, ought at once to sell his town house;[70] an
opinion, however, which savours of too great rigidity, and is by no
means conformable to the public good. It is with these words, indeed,
that he begins his precepts; a good proof, at all events, that he looks
upon the personal inspection of the owner as of primary importance.

The next point which requires our care is to employ a farm-steward[71]
of experience, and upon this, too, Cato[72] has given many useful
precepts. Still, however, it must suffice for me to say that the
steward ought to be a man nearly as clever as his master, though
without appearing to know it. It is the very worst plan of all, to have
land tilled by slaves let loose from the houses of correction, as,
indeed, is the case with all work entrusted to men who live without
hope. I may possibly appear guilty of some degree of rashness in making
mention of a maxim of the ancients, which will very probably be looked
upon as quite incredible—“That nothing is so disadvantageous as to
cultivate land in the highest style of perfection.” L. Tarius Rufus, a
man who, born in the very lowest ranks of life, by his military talents
finally attained the consulship,[73] and who in other respects adhered
to the old-fashioned notions of thriftiness, made away with about one
hundred millions of sesterces, which, by the liberality of the late
Emperor Augustus, he had contrived to amass, in buying up lands in
Picenum, and cultivating them in the highest style, his object being
to gain a name thereby; the consequence of which was, that his heir
renounced[74] the inheritance. Are we of opinion, then, that ruin and
starvation must be the necessary consequence of such a course as this?
Yes, by Hercules! and the very best plan of all is to let moderation
guide our judgment in all things. To cultivate land well is absolutely
necessary, but to cultivate it in the very highest style is mere
extravagance, unless, indeed, the work is done by the hands of a man’s
own family, his tenants, or those whom he is obliged to keep at any
rate. But besides this, even when the owner tills the land itself,
there are some crops which it is really not worth the while to gather,
if we only take into account the manual labour expended upon them. The
olive, too, should never be too highly[75] cultivated, nor must certain
soils, it is said, be too carefully tilled, those of Sicily,[76] for
instance; hence it is, that new comers there so often find themselves


In what way, then, can land be most profitably cultivated? Why, in
the words of our agricultural oracles, “by making good out of bad.”
But here it is only right that we should say a word in justification
of our forefathers, who in their precepts on this subject had nothing
else in view but the benefit of mankind: for when they use the term
“bad” here, they only mean to say that which costs the smallest amount
of money. The principal object with them was in all cases to cut down
expenses to the lowest possible sum; and it was in this spirit that
they made the enactments which pronounced it criminal for a person who
had enjoyed a triumph, to be in possession, among his other furniture,
of ten pounds’ weight of silver plate: which permitted a man, upon the
death of his farm-steward, to abandon all his victories, and return to
the cultivation of his lands—such being the men the culture of whose
farms the state used to take upon itself; and thus, while they led our
armies, did the senate act as their steward.

It was in the same spirit, too, that those oracles of ours have given
utterance to these other precepts, to the effect that he is a bad
agriculturist who has to buy what his farm might have supplied him
with; that the man is a bad manager who does in the day-time what he
might have done in the night, except, indeed, when the state of the
weather does not allow it; that he is a worse manager still, who does
on a work-day what he might have done on a feast-day;[78] but that
he is the very worst of all, who works under cover in fine weather,
instead of labouring in the fields.

I cannot refrain from taking the present opportunity of quoting one
illustration afforded us by ancient times, from which it will be found
that it was the usage in those days to bring before the people even
questions connected with the various methods employed in agriculture,
and will be seen in what way men were accustomed to speak out in their
own defence. C. Furius Chresimus, a freedman, having found himself
able, from a very small piece of land, to raise far more abundant
harvests than his neighbours could from the largest farms, became the
object of very considerable jealousy among them, and was accordingly
accused of enticing away the crops of others by the practice of
sorcery. Upon this, a day was named by Spurius Calvinus, the curule
ædile, for his appearance. Apprehensive of being condemned, when the
question came to be put to the vote among the tribes, he had all his
implements of husbandry brought into the Forum, together with his
farm servants, robust, well-conditioned, and well-clad people, Piso
says. The iron tools were of first-rate quality, the mattocks were
stout and strong, the plough-shares ponderous and substantial, and
the oxen sleek and in prime condition. When all this had been done,
“Here, Roman citizens,” said he, “are my implements of magic; but it is
impossible for me to exhibit to your view, or to bring into this Forum,
those midnight toils of mine, those early watchings, those sweats,
and those fatigues.” Upon this, by the unanimous voice of the people,
he was immediately acquitted. Agriculture, in fact, depends upon the
expenditure of labour and exertion; and hence it is that the ancients
were in the habit of saying, that it is the eye of the master that does
more towards fertilizing a field than anything else.

We shall give the rest of these precepts in their appropriate places,
according as we find them adapted to each variety of cultivation; but
in the meantime we must not omit some of a general nature, which here
recur to our recollection, and more particularly that maxim of Cato,
as profitable as it is humane: “Always act in such a way as to secure
the love of your neighbours.” He then proceeds to state his reasons
for giving this advice, but it appears to me that no one surely can
entertain the slightest doubt upon the subject. One of the very first
recommendations that he gives is to take every care that the farm
servants are kept in good condition.[79] It is a maxim universally
agreed upon in agriculture, that nothing must be done too late; and
again, that everything must be done at its proper season; while there
is a third precept, which reminds us that opportunities lost can never
be regained. The malediction uttered by Cato against rotten ground
has been treated of at some length already;[80] but there is another
precept which he is never tired of repeating, “Whatever can be done by
the help of the ass, will cost the least money.”

Fern will be sure to die at the end of a couple of years, if you
prevent it from putting forth leaves; the most efficient method of
ensuring this is to beat the branches with a stick while they are in
bud; for then the juices that drop from it will kill the roots.[81] It
is said, too, that fern will not spring up again if it is pulled up by
the roots about the turn of the summer solstice, or if the stalks are
cut with the edge of a reed, or if it is turned up with a plough-share
with a reed placed[82] upon it. In the same way, too, we are told
that reeds may be effectually ploughed up, if care is taken to place
a stalk of fern upon the share. A field infested with rushes should
be turned up with the spade, or, if the locality is stony, with a
two-pronged mattock: overgrown shrubs are best removed by fire. Where
ground is too moist, it is an advantageous plan to cut trenches in it
and so drain it; where the soil is cretaceous, these trenches should he
left open; and where it is loose, they should be strengthened with a
hedge to prevent them from falling in. When these drains are made on a
declivity, they should have a layer of gutter tiles at the bottom, or
else house tiles with the face upwards: in some cases, too, they should
be covered[83] with earth, and made to run into others of a larger
size and wider; the bottom, also, should, if possible, have a coating
of stones or of gravel. The openings, too, should be strengthened
with two stones placed on either side, and another laid upon the top.
Democritus has described a method of rooting up a forest, by first
macerating the flower of the lupine[84] for one day in the juice of
hemlock, and then watering the roots of the trees with it.


As the field is now prepared, we shall proceed to speak of the nature
of the various kinds of grain; we must premise, however, that there
are two principal classes of grain, the cereals,[85] comprising wheat
and barley, and the legumina, such as the bean and the chick-pea, for
instance. The difference between these two classes is too well known to
require any further description.


The cereals are divided again into the same number of varieties,
according to the time of the year at which they are sown. The winter
grains are those which are put in the ground about the setting of
the Vergiliæ,[86] and there receive their nutriment throughout the
winter, for instance, wheat,[87] spelt,[88] and barley.[89] The summer
grains are those which are sown in summer, before the rising of the
Vergiliæ,[90] such as millet,[91] panic,[92] sesame,[93] horminum,[94]
and irio,[95] in accordance, however, with the usage of Italy only;
for in Greece and Asia all the grains are sown just after the setting
of the Vergiliæ. There are some, again, that are sown at either season
in Italy, and others at a third period, or, in other words, in the
spring. Some authors give the name of spring-grain to millet, panic,
lentils,[96] chick-peas,[97] and alica,[98] while they call wheat,
barley, beans, turnips, and rape, sementive or early sowing seeds.
Certain species of wheat are only sown to make fodder for cattle, and
are known by the name of “farrago,”[99] or mixed grain; the same, too,
with the leguminous plants, the vetch, for instance. The lupine,[100]
however, is grown in common as food for both cattle and men.

All the leguminous[101] plants, with the exception of the bean,
have a single root, hard and tough, like wood, and destitute of
numerous ramifications; the chick-pea has the deepest root of all.
Corn has numerous fibrous roots, but no ramifications. Barley makes
its appearance[102] above ground the seventh day after sowing; the
leguminous plants on the fourth, or at the very latest, the seventh;
the bean from the fifteenth day to the twentieth: though in Egypt the
leguminous plants appear as early as the third day after they are sown.
In barley, one extremity of the grain throws out the root, and the
other the blade; this last flowers, too, before the other grain. In
the cereals in general it is the thicker end of the seed that throws
out the root, the thinner end the blossom; while in the other seeds
both root and blossom issue from the same part.

During the winter, corn is in the blade; but in the spring winter
corn throws out a tall stem. As for millet and panic, they grow with
a jointed and grooved[103] stalk, while sesame has a stem resembling
that of fennel-giant. The fruit of all these seeds is either contained
in an ear, as in wheat and barley, for instance, and protected from
the attacks of birds and small animals by a prickly beard bristling
like so many palisades; or else it is enclosed in pods, as in the
leguminous plants, or in capsules, as in sesame and the poppy. Millet
and panic can only be said to belong to the grower and the small
birds in common, as they have nothing but a thin membrane to cover
them, without the slightest protection. Panic receives that name from
the panicule[104] or down that is to be seen upon it; the head of it
droops languidly, and the stalk tapers gradually in thickness, being
of almost the toughness and consistency of wood: the head is loaded
with grain closely packed, there being a tuft upon the top, nearly
a foot in length. In millet the husks which embrace the grain bend
downward with a wavy tuft upon the edge. There are several varieties
of panic, the mammose, for instance, the ears of which are in clusters
with small edgings of down, the head of the plant being double; it is
distinguished also according to the colour, the white, for instance,
the black, the red, and the purple even. Several kinds of bread are
made from millet, but very little from panic: there is no grain known
that weighs heavier than millet, and which swells more in baking. A
modius of millet will yield sixty pounds’ weight of bread; and three
sextarii steeped in water will make one modius of fermenty.[105] A kind
of millet[106] has been introduced from India into Italy within the
last ten years, of a swarthy colour, large grain, and a stalk like
that of the reed. This stalk springs up to the height of seven feet,
and has tufts of a remarkable size, known by the name of “phobæ.”[107]
This is the most prolific of all the cereals, for from a single grain
no less than three sextarii[108] are produced: it requires, however, to
be sown in a humid soil.

Some kinds of corn begin to form the ear at the third joint, and others
at the fourth, though at its first formation the ear remains still
concealed. Wheat, however, has four[109] articulations, spelt[110] six,
and barley eight. In the case of these last, the ear does not begin
to form before the number of joints, as above mentioned, is complete.
Within four or five days, at the very latest, after the ear has given
signs of forming, the plant begins to flower, and in the course of as
many days or a little more, sheds its blossom: barley blossoms at the
end of seven days at the very latest. Varro says that the grains are
perfectly formed at the end of four times[111] nine days from their
flowering, and are ready for cutting at the ninth month.

The bean, again, first appears in leaf, and then throws out a stalk,
which has no articulations[112] upon it. The other leguminous plants
have a tough, ligneous stalk, and some of them throw out branches,
the chick-pea, the fitch, and the lentil, for instance. In some of
the leguminous plants, the pea, for example, the stem creeps along
the ground, if care is not taken to support it by sticks: if this
precaution is omitted, the quality is deteriorated. The bean and the
lupine are the only ones among the leguminous plants that have a
single stem: in all the others the stem throws out branches, being of
a ligneous nature, very thin, and in all cases hollow. Some of these
plants throw out the leaves from the root, others at the top.[113]
Wheat, barley, and the vetch, all the plants, in fact, which produce
straw, have a single leaf only at the summit: in barley, however, this
leaf is rough, while in the others it is smooth. * * * In the bean,
again, the chick-pea, and the pea, the leaves are numerous and divided.
In corn the leaf is similar to that of the reed, while in the bean it
is round, as also in a great proportion of the leguminous plants. In
the ervilia[114] and the pea the leaf is long,[115] in the kidney-bean
veined, and in sesame[116] and irio the colour of blood. The lupine and
the poppy are the only ones among these plants that lose[117] their

The leguminous plants remain a longer time in flower, the fitch and the
chick-pea more particularly; but the bean is in blossom the longest of
them all, for the flower remains on it forty days; not, indeed, that
each stalk retains its blossom for all that length of time, but, as the
flower goes off in one, it comes on in another. In the bean, too, the
crop is not ripe all at once, as is the case with corn; for the pods
make their appearance at different times, at the lowest parts first,
the blossom mounting upwards by degrees.

When the blossom is off in corn, the stalk gradually thickens, and it
ripens within forty days at the most. The same is the case, too, with
the bean, but the chick-pea takes a much shorter time to ripen; indeed,
it is fit for gathering within forty days from the time that it is
sown. Millet, panic, sesame, and all the summer grains are ripe within
forty days after blossoming, with considerable variations, of course,
in reference to soil and weather. Thus, in Egypt, we find barley cut
at the end of six months, and wheat at the end of seven, from the time
of sowing. In Hellas, again, barley is cut in the seventh month, and
in Peloponnesus in the eighth; the wheat being got in at a still later

Those grains which grow on a stalk of straw are enclosed in an
envelope protected by a prickly beard; while in the bean and the
leguminous plants in general they are enclosed in pods upon branches
which shoot alternately from either side. The cereals are the best
able to withstand the winter, but the leguminous plants afford the
most substantial food. In wheat, the grain has several coats, but in
barley,[118] more particularly, it is naked and exposed; the same,
too, with arinca,[119] but most of all, the oat. The stem is taller in
wheat than it is in barley, but the ear is more bearded[120] in the
last. Wheat, barley, and winter-wheat[121] are threshed out; they are
cleaned, too, for sowing just as they are prepared for the mill, there
being no necessity for parching[122] them. Spelt, on the other hand,
millet, and panic, cannot be cleaned without parching them; hence it is
that they are always sown raw and with the chaff on. Spelt is preserved
in the husk, too, for sowing, and, of course, is not in such case
parched by the action of fire.


Of all these grains barley is the lightest,[123] its weight rarely
exceeding fifteen pounds to the modius, while that of the bean is
twenty-two. Spelt is much heavier than barley, and wheat heavier than
spelt. In Egypt they make a meal[124] of olyra,[125] a third variety
of corn that grows there. The Gauls have also a kind of spelt peculiar
to that country: they give it the name of “brace,”[126] while to us it
is known as “sandala:” it has a grain of remarkable whiteness. Another
difference, again, is the fact that it yields nearly four pounds more
of bread to the modius than any other kind of spelt. Verrius states
that for three hundred years the Romans made use of no other meal than
that of corn.


There are numerous kinds of wheat which have received their names from
the countries where they were first produced. For my part, however,
I can compare no kind of wheat to that of Italy either for whiteness
or weight, qualities for which it is more particularly distinguished:
indeed it is only with the produce of the more mountainous parts of
Italy that the foreign wheats can be put in comparison. Among these
the wheat of Bœotia[127] occupies the first rank, that of Sicily the
second, and that of Africa the third. The wheats of Thrace, Syria,
and, more recently, of Egypt, used to hold the third rank for weight,
these facts having been ascertained through the medium of the athletes;
whose powers of consumption, equal to those of beasts of burden, have
established the gradations in weight, as already stated. Greece, too,
held the Pontic[128] wheat in high esteem; but this has not reached
Italy as yet. Of all the varieties of grain, however, the Greeks
gave the preference to the kinds called dracontion, strangia, and
Selinusium, the chief characteristic of which is a stem of remarkable
thickness: it was this, in the opinion of the Greeks, that marked
them as the peculiar growth of a rich soil. On the other hand, they
recommended for sowing in humid soils an extremely light and diminutive
species of grain, with a remarkably thin stalk, known to them as
speudias, and standing in need of an abundance of nutriment. Such, at
all events, were the opinions generally entertained in the reign of
Alexander the Great, at a time when Greece was at the height of her
glory, and the most powerful country in the world. Still, however,
nearly one hundred and forty-four years before the death of that prince
we find the poet Sophocles, in his Tragedy of “Triptolemus,” praising
the corn of Italy before all others. The passage, translated word for
word, is to the following effect:—

  “And favour’d Italy grows white with hoary wheat.”

And it is this whiteness that is still one of the peculiar merits of
the Italian wheat; a circumstance which makes me the more surprised to
find that none of the Greek writers of a later period have made any
reference to it.

Of the various kinds of wheat which are imported at the present day
into Rome, the lightest in weight are those which come from Gaul and
Chersonnesus; for, upon weighing them, it will be found that they do
not yield more than twenty pounds to the modius. The grain of Sardinia
weighs half a pound more, and that of Alexandria one-third of a pound
more than that of Sardinia; the Sicilian wheat is the same in weight as
the Alexandrian. The Bœotian wheat, again, weighs a whole pound more
than these last, and that of Africa a pound and three quarters. In
Italy beyond the Padus, the spelt, to my knowledge, weighs twenty-five
pounds to the modius, and, in the vicinity of Clusium, six-and-twenty.
We find it a rule, universally established by Nature, that in every
kind of commissariat bread[129] that is made, the bread exceeds the
weight of the grain by one-third; and in the same way it is generally
considered that that is the best kind of wheat, which, in kneading,
will absorb one congius of water.[130] There are some kinds of wheat
which give, when used by themselves, an additional weight equal to
this: the Balearic wheat, for instance, which to a modius of grain
yields thirty-five pounds weight of bread. Others, again, will only
give this additional weight by being mixed with other kinds, the
Cyprian wheat and the Alexandrian, for example; which, if used by
themselves, will yield no more than twenty pounds to the modius. The
wheat of Cyprus is swarthy, and produces a dark bread; for which reason
it is generally mixed with the white wheat of Alexandria; the mixture
yielding twenty-five pounds of bread to the modius of grain. The wheat
of Thebais, in Egypt, when made into bread, yields twenty-six pounds
to the modius. To knead the meal with sea-water, as is mostly done
in the maritime districts, for the purpose of saving the salt, is
extremely pernicious; there is nothing, in fact, that will more readily
predispose the human body to disease. In Gaul and Spain, where they
make a drink[131] by steeping corn in the way that has been already
described—they employ the foam[132] which thickens upon the surface as
a leaven: hence it is that the bread in those countries is lighter than
that made elsewhere.

There are some differences, also, in the stem of wheat; for the better
the kind the thicker it is. In Thrace, the stem of the wheat is covered
with several coats,[133] which are rendered absolutely necessary by the
excessive cold of those regions. It is the cold, also, that led to the
discovery there of the three-month[134] wheat, the ground being covered
with snow most of the year. At the end mostly of three months after
it has been sown, this wheat is ready for cutting, both in Thrace and
in other parts of the world as well. This variety is well known, too,
throughout all the Alpine range, and in the northern provinces there
is no kind of wheat that is more prolific; it has a single stem only,
is by no means of large size in any part of it, and is never sown but
in a thin, light soil. There is a two-month[135] wheat also found in
the vicinity of Ænos, in Thrace, which ripens the fortieth day after
sowing; and yet it is a surprising fact, that there is no kind of wheat
that weighs heavier than this, while at the same time it produces no
bran. Both Sicily and Achaia grow it, in the mountainous districts
of those countries; as also Eubœa, in the vicinity of Carystus. So
greatly, then, is Columella in error,[136] in supposing that there is
no distinct variety of three-month wheat even; the fact being that
these varieties have been known from the very earliest times. The
Greeks give to these wheats the name of “setanion.” It is said that in
Bactria the grains of wheat are of such an enormous size, that a single
one is as large as our ears of corn.[137]


Of all the cereals the first that is sown is barley. We shall state
the appropriate time for sowing each kind when we come to treat of the
nature of each individually. In India, there is both a cultivated
and a wild[138] barley, from which they make excellent bread, as well
as alica.[139] But the most favourite food of all there is rice,[140]
from which they prepare a ptisan[141] similar to that made from barley
in other parts of the world. The leaves of rice are fleshy,[142] very
like those of the leek, but broader; the stem is a cubit in height, the
blossom purple, and the root globular, like a pearl in shape.[143]


Barley is one of the most ancient aliments of man, a fact that is
proved by a custom of the Athenians, mentioned by Menander,[144]
as also by the name of “hordearii,”[145] that used to be given to
gladiators. The Greeks, too, prefer barley to anything else for making
polenta.[146] This food is made in various ways: in Greece, the barley
is first steeped in water, and then left a night to dry. The next day
they parch it, and then grind it in the mill. Some persons parch it
more highly, and then sprinkle it again with a little water; after
which they dry it for grinding. Others shake the grain from out of the
ear while green, and, after cleaning and soaking it in water, pound it
in a mortar. They then wash the paste in baskets, and leave it to dry
in the sun; after which they pound it again, clean it, and grind it in
the mill. But whatever the mode of preparation adopted, the proportions
are always twenty pounds of barley to three pounds of linseed,[147]
half a pound of coriander, and fifteen drachmæ[148] of salt: the
ingredients are first parched, and then ground in the mill.

Those who want it for keeping, store it in new earthen vessels, with
fine flour and bran. In Italy, the barley is parched without being
steeped in water, and then ground to a fine meal, with the addition
of the ingredients already mentioned, and some millet as well. Barley
bread, which was extensively used by the ancients, has now fallen into
universal disrepute, and is mostly used as a food for cattle only.


With barley, too, the food called ptisan[149] is made, a most
substantial and salutary aliment, and one that is held in very high
esteem. Hippocrates, one of the most famous writers on medical science,
has devoted a whole volume to the praises of this aliment. The ptisan
of the highest quality is that which is made at Utica; that of Egypt
is prepared from a kind of barley, the grain of which grows with two
points.[150] In Bætica and Africa, the kind of barley from which this
food is made is that which Turranius calls the “smooth”[151] barley:
the same author expresses an opinion, too, that olyra[152] and rice are
the same. The method of preparing ptisan is universally known.


In a similar manner, too, tragum is prepared from seed[153] wheat, but
only in Campania and Egypt.


Amylum is prepared from every kind of wheat, and from winter-wheat[154]
as well; but the best of all is that made from three-month wheat.
The invention of it we owe to the island of Chios, and still, at the
present day, the most esteemed kind comes from there; it derives its
name from its being made without the help of the mill.[155] Next to the
amylum made with three-month wheat, is that which is prepared from the
lighter kinds of wheat. In making it, the grain is soaked in fresh
water, placed in wooden vessels; care being taken to keep it covered
with the liquid, which is changed no less than five times in the course
of the day. If it can be changed at night as well, it is all the better
for it, the object being to let it imbibe the water gradually and
equally. When it is quite soft, but before it turns sour, it is passed
through linen cloth, or else wicker-work, after which it is poured out
upon a tile covered with leaven, and left to harden in the sun. Next to
the amylum of Chios, that of Crete is the most esteemed, and next to
that the Ægyptian. The tests of its goodness are its being light and
smooth: it should be used, too, while it is fresh. Cato,[156] among our
writers, has made mention of it.


Barley-meal, too, is employed for medicinal purposes; and it is a
curious fact, that for beasts of burden they make a paste of it, which
is first hardened by the action of fire, and then ground. It is then
made up into balls, which are introduced with the hand into the paunch,
the result of which is, that the vigour and muscular strength of the
animal is considerably increased. In some kinds of barley, the ears
have two rows of grains,[157] and in others more; in some cases, as
many as six.[158] The grain itself, too, presents certain differences,
being long and thin, or else short or round, white, black,[159] or,
in some instances, of a purple colour. This last kind is employed for
making polenta: the white is ill adapted for standing the severity
of the weather. Barley is the softest of all the grains: it can only
be sown in a dry, loose soil,[160] but fertile withal. The chaff of
barley ranks among the very best; indeed, for litter there is none that
can be compared with it. Of all grain, barley is the least exposed to
accidents, as it is gathered before the time that mildew begins to
attack wheat; for which reason it is that the provident agriculturist
sows only as much wheat as may be required for food. The saying is,
that “barley is sown in a money-bag,” because it so soon returns a
profit. The most prolific kind of all is that which is got in at
Carthage,[161] in Spain, in the month of April. It is in the same month
that it is sown in Celtiberia, and yet it yields two harvests in the
same year. All kinds of barley are cut sooner than other grain, and
immediately after they are ripe; for the straw is extremely brittle,
and the grain is enclosed in a husk of remarkable thinness. It is said,
too, that a better polenta[162] is made from it, if it is gathered
before it is perfectly ripe.


The several kinds of corn are not everywhere the same; and even where
they are the same, they do not always bear a similar name. The kinds
most universally grown are spelt, by the ancients known as “adorea,”
winter wheat,[163] and wheat;[164] all these being common to many
countries. Arinca was originally peculiar to Gaul, though now it
is widely diffused over Italy as well. Egypt, too, Syria, Cilicia,
Asia, and Greece, have their own peculiar kinds, known by the names
of zea,[165] olyra, and tiphe.[166] In Egypt, they make a fine flour
from wheat of their own growth, but it is by no means equal to that of
Italy. Those countries which employ zea, have no spelt. Zea, however,
is to be found in Italy, and in Campania more particularly, where
it is known by the name of “seed.”[167] The grain that bears this
name enjoys a very considerable celebrity, as we shall have occasion
to state[168] on another occasion; and it is in honour of this that
Homer[169] uses the expression, ζείδωρος ἄρουρα, and not, as
some suppose, from the fact of the earth giving life.[170] Amylum is
made, too, from this grain, but of a coarser[171] quality than the
kind already mentioned;[172] this, however, is the only difference that
is perceptible.

The most hardy kind, however, of all the grains is spelt, and the best
to stand the severity of the weather; it will grow in the very coldest
places, as also in localities that are but half tilled, or soils that
are extremely hot, and destitute of water. This was the earliest food
of the ancient inhabitants of Latium; a strong proof of which is the
distributions of adorea that were made in those times, as already
stated.[173] It is evident, too, that the Romans subsisted for a long
time upon pottage,[174] and not bread; for we find that from its name
of “puls,” certain kinds of food are known, even at the present day,
as “pulmentaria.”[175] Ennius, too, the most ancient of our poets,
in describing the famine in a siege, relates how that the parents
snatched away the messes of pottage[176] from their weeping children.
At the present day, even, the sacrifices in conformity with the ancient
rites, as well as those offered upon birthdays, are made with parched
pottage.[177] This food appears to have been as much unknown in those
days in Greece as polenta was in Italy.


There is no grain that displays a greater avidity than wheat, and
none that absorbs a greater quantity of nutriment. With all propriety
I may justly call winter wheat[178] the very choicest of all the
varieties of wheat. It is white, destitute of all flavour,[179] and not
oppressive[180] to the stomach. It suits moist localities particularly
well, such as we find in Italy and Gallia Comata; but beyond the
Alps it is found to maintain its character only in the territory of
the Allobroges and that of the Memini; for in the other parts of
those countries it degenerates at the end of two years into common
wheat.[181] The only method of preventing this is to take care and sow
the heaviest grains only.

(9.) Winter wheat furnishes bread of the very finest quality and the
most esteemed delicacies of the bakers. The best bread that is known
in Italy is made from a mixture of Campanian winter wheat with that
of Pisæ. The Campanian kind is of a redder colour, while the latter
is white; when mixed with chalk,[182] it is increased in weight. The
proper proportion for the yield of Campanian wheat to the modius of
grain is four sextarii of what is known as bolted flour;[183] but when
it is used in the rough and has not been bolted, then the yield should
be five sextarii of flour. In addition to this, in either case there
should be half a modius of white meal, with four sextarii of coarse
meal, known as “seconds,” and the same quantity of bran.[184] The Pisan
wheat produces five sextarii of fine flour to the modius; in other
respects it yields the same as that of Campania. The wheat of Clusium
and Arretium gives another sextarius of fine flour, but the yield is
similar to that of the kinds already mentioned in all other respects.
If, however, as much of it as possible is converted into fine wheat
meal, the modius will yield sixteen pounds weight of white bread,
and three of seconds, with half a modius of bran. These differences,
however, depend very materially upon the grinding; for when the grain
is ground quite dry it produces more meal, but when sprinkled with salt
water[185] a whiter flour, though at the same time a greater quantity
of bran. It is very evident that “farina,” the name we give to meal, is
derived from “far.” A modius of meal made from Gallic winter wheat,
yields twenty-two pounds of bread; while that of Italy, if made into
bread baked in tins,[186] will yield two or three pounds more. When the
bread is baked in the oven,[187] two pounds must be added in weight in
either case.

(10.) Wheat yields a fine flour[188] of the very highest quality. In
African wheat the modius ought to yield half a modius of fine flour and
five sextarii of pollen, that being the name given to fine wheat meal,
in the same way that that of winter wheat is generally known as “flos,”
or the “flower.” This fine meal is extensively used in copper works
and paper manufactories. In addition to the above, the modius should
yield four sextarii of coarse meal, and the same quantity of bran.
The finest wheaten flour will yield one hundred[189] and twenty-two
pounds of bread, and the fine meal of winter wheat one hundred[189]
and seventeen, to the modius of grain. When the prices of grain are
moderate, meal sells at forty asses the modius, bolted wheaten flour at
eight asses more, and bolted flour of winter wheat, at sixteen asses
more. There is another distinction again in fine wheaten flour, which
originated formerly in the days of L. Paulus. There were three classes
of wheat; the first of which would appear to have yielded seventeen
pounds of bread, the second eighteen, and the third nineteen pounds and
a third: to these were added two pounds and a half of seconds,[190] and
the same quantity of brown[190] bread, with six sextarii of bran.[191]

Winter wheat never ripens all at once, and yet there is none of the
cereals that can so ill brook any delay; it being of so delicate a
nature, that the ears directly they are ripe will begin to shed their
grain. So long, however, as it is in stalk, it is exposed to fewer
risks than other kinds of wheat, from the fact of its always having
the ear upright, and not retaining the dew, which is a prolific cause
of mildew.

From arinca[192] a bread of remarkable sweetness is made. The grains
in this variety lie closer than they do in spelt; the ear, too, is
larger and more weighty. It is rarely the case that a modius of this
grain does not weigh full sixteen pounds. In Greece they find great
difficulty in threshing it; and hence it is that we find Homer[193]
saying that it is given to beasts of burden, this being the same as
the grain that he calls “olyra.” In Egypt it is threshed without
any difficulty, and is remarkably prolific. Spelt has no beard, and
the same is the case with winter wheat, except[194] that known as
the Laconian variety. To the kinds already mentioned we have to add
bromos,[195] the winter wheat just excepted, and tragos,[196] all
of them exotics introduced from the East, and very similar to rice.
Tiphe[197] also belongs to the same class, from which in our part
of the world a cleaned grain resembling rice is prepared. Among the
Greeks, too, there is the grain known as zea; and it is said that
this, as well as tiphe, when cleaned from the husk and sown, will
degenerate[198] and assume the form of wheat; not immediately, but in
the course of three years.


There is no grain more prolific than wheat, Nature having bestowed
upon it this quality, as being the substance which she destined for
the principal nutriment of man. A modius of wheat, if the soil is
favourable, as at Byzacium,[199] a champaign district of Africa,
will yield as much as one hundred and fifty[200] modii of grain. The
procurator of the late Emperor Augustus sent him from that place—a fact
almost beyond belief—little short of four hundred shoots all springing
from a single grain; and we have still in existence his letters on the
subject. In a similar manner, too, the procurator of Nero sent him
three hundred and sixty stalks all issuing from a single grain.[201]
The plains of Leontium in Sicily, and other places in that island,
as well as the whole of Bætica, and Egypt more particularly, yield
produce a hundred-fold. The most prolific kinds of wheat are the ramose
wheat,[202] and that known as the “hundred-grain”[203] wheat. Before
now, as many as one hundred beans, too, have been found on a single


We have spoken[204] of sesame, millet, and panic as belonging to the
summer grains. Sesame[205] comes from India, where they extract an
oil from it; the colour of its grain is white. Similar in appearance
to this is the erysimum of Asia and Greece, and indeed it would be
identical with it were it not that the grain is better filled.[206]
It is the same grain that is known among us as “irio;” and strictly
speaking, ought rather to be classed among the medicaments than the
cereals. Of the same nature, too, is the plant called “horminum”[207]
by the Greeks, though resembling cummin[208] in appearance; it is sown
at the same time as sesame: no animal will eat either this or irio
while green.


All the grains are not easily broken. In Etruria they first parch the
spelt in the ear, and then pound it with a pestle shod with iron at
the end. In this instrument the iron is notched[209] at the bottom,
sharp ridges running out like the edge of a knife, and concentrating
in the form of a star; so that if care is not taken to hold the pestle
perpendicularly while pounding, the grains will only be splintered and
the iron teeth broken. Throughout the greater part of Italy, however,
they employ a pestle that is only rough[210] at the end, and wheels
turned by water, by means of which the corn is gradually ground. I
shall here set forth the opinions given by Mago as to the best method
of pounding corn. He says that the wheat should be steeped first of
all in water, and then cleaned from the husk; after which it should be
dried in the sun, and then pounded with the pestle; the same plan, he
says, should be adopted in the preparation of barley. In the latter
case, however, twenty sextarii of grain require only two sextarii of
water. When lentils are used, they should be first parched, and then
lightly pounded with the bran; or else, adopting another method, a
piece of unbaked brick and half a modius of sand[211] should be added
to every twenty sextarii of lentils.

Ervilia should be treated in the same way as lentils. Sesame should
be first steeped in warm water, and then laid out to dry, after which
it should be rubbed out briskly, and then thrown into cold water, so
that the chaff may be disengaged by floating to the surface. After
this is done, the grain should again be spread out in the sun, upon
linen cloths, to dry. Care, however, should be taken to lose no time
in doing this, as it is apt to turn musty, and assume a dull, livid
colour. The grains, too, which are just cleaned from the husk, require
various methods of pounding. When the beard is ground by itself,
without the grain, the result is known as “acus,”[212] but it is only
used by goldsmiths.[213] If, on the other hand, it is beaten out on
the threshing-floor, together with the straw, the chaff has the name of
“palea,” * * * * and in most parts of the world is employed as fodder
for beasts of burden. The residue of millet, panic, and sesame, is
known to us as “apluda;” but in other countries it is called by various
other names.


Campania is particularly prolific in millet, and a fine white porridge
is made from it: it makes a bread, too, of remarkable sweetness. The
nations of Sarmatia[214] live principally on this porridge, and even
the raw meal, with the sole addition of mares’ milk, or else blood[215]
extracted from the thigh of the horse. The Æthiopians know of no other
grain but millet and barley.


The people of Gaul, and of Aquitania[216] more particularly, make use
of panic; the same is the case, too, in Italy beyond the Padus, with
the addition, however, of the bean, without which they prepare none
of their food. There is no aliment held in higher esteem than panic
by the nations of Pontus. The other summer grains thrive better in
well-watered soils than in rainy localities; but water is by no means
beneficial to millet or panic when they are coming into blade. It
is recommended not to sow them among vines or fruit-trees, as it is
generally thought that these crops impoverish the soil.


Millet is more particularly employed for making leaven; and if kneaded
with must,[217] it will keep a whole year. The same is done, too, with
the fine wheat-bran of the best quality; it is kneaded with white must
three days old, and then dried in the sun, after which it is made
into small cakes. When required for making bread, these cakes are
first soaked in water, and then boiled with the finest spelt flour,
after which the whole is mixed up with the meal; and it is generally
thought that this is the best method of making bread. The Greeks have
established a rule that for a modius of meal eight ounces of leaven is

These kinds of leaven, however, can only be made at the time of
vintage, but there is another leaven which may be prepared with barley
and water, at any time it may happen to be required. It is first made
up into cakes of two pounds in weight, and these are then baked upon
a hot hearth, or else in an earthen dish upon hot ashes and charcoal,
being left till they turn of a reddish brown. When this is done, the
cakes are shut close in vessels, until they turn quite sour: when
wanted for leaven, they are steeped in water first. When barley bread
used to be made, it was leavened with the meal of the fitch,[218] or
else the chicheling vetch,[219] the proportion being, two pounds of
leaven to two modii and a half of barley meal. At the present day,
however, the leaven is prepared from the meal that is used for making
the bread. For this purpose, some of the meal is kneaded before adding
the salt, and is then boiled to the consistency of porridge, and left
till it begins to turn sour. In most cases, however, they do not warm
it at all, but only make use of a little of the dough that has been
kept from the day before. It is very evident that the principle which
causes the dough to rise is of an acid nature, and it is equally
evident that those persons who are dieted upon fermented bread are
stronger[220] in body. Among the ancients, too, it was generally
thought that the heavier wheat is, the more wholesome it is.


It seems to me quite unnecessary to enter into an account of
the various kinds of bread that are made. Some kinds, we find,
receive their names from the dishes with which they are eaten, the
oyster-bread,[221] for instance: others, again, from their peculiar
delicacy, the artolaganus,[222] or cake-bread, for example; and
others from the expedition with which they are prepared, such as the
“speusticus,”[223] or “hurry-bread.” Other varieties receive their
names from the peculiar method of baking them, such as oven-bread,[224]
tin-bread,[225] and mould-bread.[226] It is not so very long since that
we had a bread introduced from Parthia, known as water-bread,[227] from
a method in kneading it, of drawing out the dough by the aid of water,
a process which renders it remarkably light, and full of holes, like
a sponge: some call this Parthian bread. The excellence of the finest
kinds of bread depends principally on the goodness of the wheat, and
the fineness of the bolter. Some persons knead the dough with eggs or
milk, and butter even has been employed for the purpose by nations
that have had leisure to cultivate the arts of peace, and to give
their attention to the art of making pastry. Picenum still maintains
its ancient reputation for making the bread which it was the first to
invent, alica[228] being the grain employed. The flour is kept in soak
for nine days, and is kneaded on the tenth with raisin juice, in the
shape of long rolls; after which it is baked in an oven in earthen
pots, till they break. This bread, however, is never eaten till it has
been well[229] soaked, which is mostly done in milk mixed with honey.


There were no bakers at Rome until[230] the war with King Perseus, more
than five hundred and eighty years after the building of the City. The
ancient Romans used to make their own bread, it being an occupation
which belonged to the women, as we see the case in many nations even
at the present day. Plautus speaks of the artopta, or bread-tin, in
his Comedy of the Aulularia,[231] though there has been considerable
discussion for that very reason among the learned, whether or not that
line really belongs to him. We have the fact, too, well ascertained, in
the opinion of Ateius Capito, that the cooks in those days were in the
habit of making the bread for persons of affluence, while the name of
“pistor”[232] was only given to the person who pounded, or “pisebat,”
the spelt. In those times, they had no cooks in the number of their
slaves, but used to hire them for the occasion from the market. The
Gauls were the first to employ the bolter that is made of horse-hair;
while the people of Spain make their sieves and meal-dressers of
flax,[233] and the Egyptians of papyrus and rushes.


But among the very first things of all, we ought to speak of the
method employed in preparing alica,[234] a most delightful and most
wholesome food, and which incontestably confers upon Italy the highest
rank among the countries that produce the cereals. This delicacy is
prepared, no doubt, in Egypt as well, but of a very inferior quality,
and not worth our notice. In Italy, however, it is prepared in numerous
places, the territories of Verona and Pisæ, for example; but that of
Campania is the most highly esteemed. There, at the foot of mountains
capped with clouds, runs a plain, not less in all than forty miles
in extent. The land here—to give a description first of the nature
of the soil—is dusty on the surface, but spongy below, and as porous
as pumice. The inconveniences that generally arise from the close
vicinity of mountains are here converted into so many advantages: for
the soil, acting on it as a sort of filter, absorbs the water of the
abundant rains that fall; the consequence of which is, that the water
not being left to soak or form mud on the surface, the cultivation is
greatly facilitated thereby. This land does not return, by the aid of
any springs, the moisture it has thus absorbed, but thoroughly digests
it, by warming it in its bosom, in a heated oven as it were. The ground
is kept cropped the whole year through, once with panic, and twice
with spelt; and yet in the spring, when the soil is allowed to have a
moment’s repose, it will produce roses more odoriferous by far than
the cultivated rose: for the earth here is never tired of producing,
a circumstance in which originated the common saying, that Campania
produces more unguents[235] than other countries do oil.

In the same degree, however, that the Campanian soil excels that of
all other countries, so does that part of it which is known to us as
Laboriæ,[236] and to the Greeks as Phlegræum, surpass all the rest.
This district is bounded on two sides by the consular high road, which
leads from Puteoli to Capua on the one side, and from Cumæ on the other.

Alica is prepared from the grain called zea, which we have already
mentioned[237] as being known to us as “seed” wheat. The grain is
cleansed in a wooden mortar, for fear lest stone, from its hardness,
should have the effect of grating it. The motive power for raising the
pestle, as is generally known, is supplied by slaves working in chains,
the end of it being enclosed in a case of iron. After the husks have
been removed by this process, the pure grain is broken to pieces, the
same implements being employed. In this way, there are three different
kinds of alica made, the finest, the seconds, and the coarse, which
last is known as “aphærema.”[238] Still, however, these various
kinds have none of them that whiteness as yet for which they are so
distinguished, though even now they are preferable to the Alexandrian
alica. With this view—a most singular fact—chalk[239] is mixed with
the meal, which, upon becoming well incorporated with it, adds very
materially to both the whiteness and the shortness[240] of the mixture.
This chalk is found between Puteoli and Neapolis, upon a hill called
Leucogæum;[241] and there is still in existence a decree of the late
Emperor Augustus, (who established a colony at Capua), which orders a
sum of twenty thousand sesterces to be paid annually from his exchequer
to the people of Neapolis, for the lease of this hill. His motive for
paying this rent, he stated, was the fact that the people of Campania
had alleged that it was impossible to make their alica without the
help of this mineral. In the same hill, sulphur is found as well, and
the springs of Araxus issue from its declivities, the waters of which
are particularly efficacious for strengthening the sight, healing
wounds, and preventing the teeth from becoming loose.

A spurious kind of alica is made, more particularly of a degenerate
kind of zea grown in Africa; the ears of it are larger and blacker
than those of the genuine kind, and the straw is short. This grain is
pounded with sand, and even then it is with the greatest difficulty
that the outer coats are removed; when stripped, the grain fills one
half only of the original measure. Gypsum, in the proportion of one
fourth, is then sprinkled[242] over it, and after the mixture has been
well incorporated, it is bolted through a meal-sieve. The portion that
remains behind, after this is done, is known as “excepticia,”[243] and
consists of the coarser parts; while that which has passed through is
submitted to a second process, with a finer sieve; and that which then
refuses to pass has the name of “secundaria.”[244] That, again, which,
in a similar manner, is submitted to a third sifting, with a sieve of
the greatest fineness, which will only admit of sand passing through
it, is known as “cribraria,”[245] when it remains on the top of the

There is another method, again, that is employed every where for
adulterating it. They pick out the whitest and largest grains of wheat,
and parboil them in earthen pots; these are then dried in the sun till
they have regained their original size, after which they are lightly
sprinkled with water, and then ground in a mill. A better granæum[246]
is made from zea than from wheat, although it is nothing else, in fact,
but a spurious alica: it is whitened by the addition of boiled milk, in
place of chalk.


We now come to the history of the leguminous plants, among which
the place of honour must be awarded to the bean;[247] indeed, some
attempts have even been made to use it for bread. Bean meal is known
as “lomentum;” and, as is the case with the meal of all leguminous
plants, it adds considerably, when mixed with flour, to the weight of
the bread. Beans are on sale at the present day for numerous purposes,
and are employed for feeding cattle, and man more particularly. They
are mixed, also, among most nations, with wheat,[248] and panic
more particularly, either whole or lightly broken. In our ancient
ceremonials, too, bean pottage[249] occupies its place in the religious
services of the gods. Beans are mostly eaten together with other food,
but it is generally thought that they dull the senses, and cause
sleepless nights attended with dreams. Hence it is that the bean has
been condemned[250] by Pythagoras; though, according to some, the
reason for this denunciation was the belief which he entertained
that the souls of the dead are enclosed in the bean: it is for this
reason, too, that beans are used in the funereal banquets of the
Parentalia.[251] According to Varro, it is for a similar cause that the
Flamen abstains from eating beans: in addition to which, on the blossom
of the bean, there are certain letters of ill omen to be found.

There are some peculiar religious usages connected with the bean. It
is the custom to bring home from the harvest a bean by way of auspice,
which, from that circumstance, has the name of “referiva.”[252] In
sales by public auction, too, it is thought lucky to include a bean
in the lot for sale. It is a fact, too, that the bean is the only one
among all the grains that fills out at the increase of the moon,[253]
however much it may have been eaten away: it can never be thoroughly
boiled in sea-water, or indeed any other water that is salt.

The bean is the first leguminous plant that is sown; that being done
before the setting of the Vergiliæ, in order that it may pass the
winter in the ground. Virgil[254] recommends that it should be sown in
spring, according to the usage of the parts of Italy near the Padus:
but most people prefer the bean that has been sown early to that of
only three months’ growth; for, in the former case, the pods as well as
the stalk afford a most agreeable fodder for cattle. When in blossom
more particularly, the bean requires water; but after the blossom has
passed off, it stands in need of but very little. It fertilizes[255]
the ground in which it has been sown as well as any manure; hence it
is that in the neighbourhood of Thessaly and Macedonia, as soon as it
begins to blossom, they turn up[256] the ground.

The bean, too, grows wild in most countries, as in those islands of the
Northern Ocean, for instance, which for that reason have been called by
us the “Fabariæ.”[257] In Mauritania, also, it is found in a wild state
in various parts, but so remarkably hard that it will never become soft
by boiling.

In Egypt there is a kind of bean[258] which grows upon a thorny stalk;
for which reason the crocodiles avoid it, being apprehensive of danger
to their eyes. This stalk is four cubits in length, and its thickness,
at the very most, that of the finger: were it not for the absence of
articulations in it, it would resemble a soft reed in appearance. The
head is similar to that of the poppy, being of a rose colour: the beans
enclosed in this head are not above thirty in number; the leaves are
large, and the fruit is bitter and odoriferous. The root, however, is
highly esteemed by the natives as a food, whether eaten raw or well
boiled; it bears a strong resemblance to that of the reed. This plant
grows also in Syria and Cilicia, and upon the banks of Lake Torone in


Among the leguminous plants the lentil is sown in the month of
November, and the pea,[259] among the Greeks. The lentil thrives best
in a soil that is rather thin than rich, and mostly stands in need of
dry weather. There are two kinds of lentil grown in Egypt; one of which
is rounder and blacker than the other, which has a peculiar shape of
its own. The name of this plant has been applied to various uses, and
among others has given origin to our word “lenticula.”[260] I find it
stated in some authors that a lentil diet is productive of evenness of
temper. The pea requires to be sown in a warm, sunny spot, and is ill
able to endure cold; hence in Italy and the more rigorous climates, it
is sown in the spring only, a light, loose soil being chosen for the


The chick-pea[261] is naturally salt,[262] for which reason it is
apt to scorch the ground, and should only be sown after it has been
steeped a day in water. This plant presents considerable differences in
reference to size, colour,[263] form, and taste. One variety resembles
in shape a ram’s head, from which circumstance it has received the name
of “arietinum;” there are both the white and the black arietinum. There
is also the columbine chick-pea, by some known as the “pea of Venus;”
it is white, round, and smooth, being smaller than the arietinum, and
is employed in the observances of the night festivals or vigils. The
chicheling vetch,[264] too, is a diminutive kind of chick-pea, unequal
and angular, like[265] the pea. The chick-pea that is the sweetest in
flavour is the one that bears the closest resemblance to the fitch; the
pod in the black and the red kinds is more firmly closed than in the
white ones.


The pod of the chick-pea is rounded, while in other leguminous plants
it is long and broad, like the seed which it contains; in the pea,
again, it is of a cylindrical form. In the case of the kidney-bean[266]
it is usual to eat the pod together with the seed. This last may
be sown in all kinds of soils indifferently, between the ides of
October[267] and the calends of November.[268] As soon as ever the
leguminous plants begin to ripen, they ought to be plucked, for the
pods will very soon open and the seed fall out, in which case it is
very difficult to find: the same is the case, too, with the lupine.
But before we pass on to the lupine, it will be as well to make some
mention of the rape.[269]

CHAP. 34. (13.)—THE RAPE.

The Latin writers have only treated of this plant in a cursory manner,
while those of Greece have considered it a little more attentively;
though even they have ranked it among the garden plants. If, however, a
methodical arrangement is to be strictly observed, it should be spoken
of immediately after corn, or the bean, at all events; for next to
these two productions, there is no plant that is of more extensive use.
For, in the first place, all animals will feed upon it as it grows;
and it is far from being the least nutritious plant in the fields for
various kinds of birds, when boiled in water more particularly. Cattle,
too, are remarkably fond of the leaves of rape; and the stalks and
leaves, when in season, are no less esteemed as a food for man than
the sprouts of the cabbage;[269] these, too, when turned yellow and
left to die in the barn, are even more highly esteemed than[270] when
green. As to the rape itself, it will keep all the better if left in
its mould, after which it should be dried in the open air till the
next crop is nearly ripe, as a resource in case of scarcity. Next to
those of the grape and corn, this is the most profitable harvest of
all for the countries that lie beyond the Padus. The rape is by no
means difficult to please in soil, for it will grow almost anywhere,
indeed where nothing else can be sown. It readily derives nutriment
from fogs and hoar-frosts, and grows to a marvelous size; I have seen
them weighing upwards of forty pounds.[271] It is prepared for table
among us in several ways, and is made to keep till the next crop, its
fermentation[272] being prevented by preserving it in mustard. It is
also tinted with no less than six colours in addition to its own, and
with purple even; indeed, that which is used by us as food ought to be
of no other colour.[273]

The Greeks have distinguished two principal species of rape, the male
and the female,[274] and have discovered a method of obtaining them
both from the same seed; for when it is sown thick, or in a hard,
cloggy soil, the produce will be male. The smaller the seed the better
it is in quality. There are three kinds of rape in all; the first is
broad and flat, the second of a spherical shape, and the third, to
which the name of “wild” rape[275] has been given, throws out a long
root, similar in appearance to a radish, with an angular, rough leaf,
and an acrid juice, which, if extracted about harvest, and mixed with
a woman’s milk, is good for cleansing the eyes and improving defective
sight. The colder the weather the sweeter they are, and the larger, it
is generally thought; heat makes them run to leaf. The finest rape of
all is that grown in the district of Nursia: it is valued at as much as
one sesterce[276] per pound, and, in times of scarcity, two even. That
of the next best quality is produced on Mount Algidus.


The turnip[277] of Amiternum, which is pretty nearly of the same
nature as the rape, thrives equally well in a cold soil. It is sown
just before the calends of March,[278] four sextarii of seed to the
jugerum. The more careful growers recommend that the ground should be
turned up five times before putting in the turnip, and four for rape,
care being taken, in both cases, to manure it well. Rape, they say,
will thrive all the better, if it is sown together with some chaff.
They will have it, too, that the sower ought to be stripped, and that
he should offer up a prayer while sowing, and say: “I sow this for
myself and for my neighbours.” The proper time for sowing both kinds
is the period that intervenes between the festivals[279] of the two
divinities, Neptune and Vulcan. It is said, too—and it is the result
of very careful observation—that these plants will thrive wonderfully
well, if they are sown as many days after the festival of Neptune as
the moon was old when the first snow fell the previous winter. They are
sown in spring as well, in warm and humid localities.

CHAP. 36. (14.)—THE LUPINE.

The lupine is the next among the leguminous plants that is in
extensive use, as it serves for food for man in common with the hoofed
quadrupeds. To prevent it from springing out of the pod[280] while
being gathered, and so lost, the best plan is to gather it immediately
after a shower. Of all the seeds that are sown, there is not one of a
more marvellous nature than this, or more favoured by the earth. First
of all, it turns every day with the sun,[281] and shows the hour to
the husbandman, even though the weather should happen to be cloudy and
overcast. It blossoms, too, no less than three times, and so attached
is it to the earth, that it does not require to be covered with the
soil; indeed, this is the only seed that does not require the earth to
be turned up for sowing it. It thrives more particularly on a sandy,
dry, and even gravelly soil; and requires no further care to be taken
in its cultivation. To such a degree is it attached to the earth, that
even though left upon a soil thickly covered with brambles, it will
throw out a root amid the leaves and brakes, and so contrive to reach
the ground. We have already stated[282] that the soil of a field or
vineyard is enriched by the growth of a crop of lupines; indeed, so
far is it from standing in need of manure, that the lupines will act
upon it as well as the very best. It is the only seed that requires no
outlay at all, so much so, in fact, that there is no necessity to carry
it even to the spot where it is sown; for it may be sown the moment it
is brought from the threshing-floor:[283] and from the fact that it
falls from the pod of its own accord, it stands in need of no one to
scatter it.

This is[284] the very first grain sown and the last that is gathered,
both operations generally taking place in the month of September;
indeed, if this is not done before winter sets in, it is liable to
receive injury from the cold. And then, besides, it may even be left
with impunity to lie upon the ground, in case showers should not
immediately ensue and cover it in, it being quite safe from the attacks
of all animals, on account of its bitter taste: still, however, it is
mostly covered up in a slight furrow. Among the thicker soils, it is
attached to a red earth more particularly. In order to enrich[285]
this earth, it should be turned up just after the third blossom; but
where the soil is sandy, after the second. Chalky and slimy soils are
the only ones that it has an aversion to; indeed, it will never come
to anything when sown in them. Soaked in warm water, it is used as a
food, too, for man. One modius is a sufficient meal for an ox, and it
is found to impart considerable vigour to cattle; placed, too, upon the
abdomen[286] of children, it acts as a remedy in certain cases. It is
an excellent plan to season the lupine by smoking it; for when it is
kept in a moist state, maggots are apt to attack the germ, and render
it useless for reproduction. If cattle have eaten it off while in leaf,
as a matter of necessity it should be ploughed in as soon as possible.

CHAP. 37. (15.)—THE VETCH.

The vetch,[287] too, enriches the soil, and its cultivation entails no
labour on the agriculturist. It is sown after the ground has been but
once turned up, and requires neither hoeing nor manuring; nothing at
all, indeed, except harrowing. There are three periods for sowing it;
the first is about the setting of Arcturus, when it is intended for
feeding cattle in the month of December, while in the blade; this crop,
too, is the best of all for seed, for, although grazed upon, it will
bear just as well. The second crop is sown in the month of January,
and the last in March; this last being the best crop for fodder. Of
all the seeds this is the one that thrives best in a dry soil; still,
however, it manifests no repugnance to a shaded locality. This grain,
if gathered when quite ripe, produces a chaff superior to that of any
other. If sown near vines supported by trees, the vetch will draw away
the juices from the vines, and make them languid.


The cultivation of the fitch,[288] too, is attended with no difficulty.
It requires weeding, however, more than the vetch. Like it, the fitch
has certain medicinal[289] properties; for we find the fact still kept
in remembrance by some letters of his, that the late Emperor Augustus
was cured by its agency. Five modii will sow as much ground as a yoke
of oxen can plough in a day. If sown in the month of March,[290] it
is injurious, they say, to oxen: and when sown in autumn, it is apt
to produce head-ache. If, however, it is put in the ground at the
beginning of spring, it will be productive of no bad results.

CHAP. 39. (16.)—SILICIA.

Silicia,[291] or, in other words, fenugreek, is sown after a light
ploughing[292] merely, the furrows being no more than some four
fingers in depth; the less the pains that are bestowed upon it the
better it will thrive—a singular fact that there should be anything
that profits from neglect. The kinds, however, that are known as
“secale” and “farrago” require harrowing only.


The people of Taurinum, at the foot of the Alps, give to secale[293]
the name of “asia;” it is a very inferior[294] grain, and is only
employed to avert positive famine. It is prolific, but has a straw
of remarkable thinness; it is also black and sombre-looking, but
weighs extremely heavy. Spelt is mixed with this grain to modify its
bitterness,[295] and even then it is very disagreeable to the stomach.
It will grow upon any soil, and yields a hundred-fold; it is employed
also as a manure for enriching the land.


Farrago, a mixture made of the refuse of “far,” or spelt, is sown very
thick, the vetch being sometimes mingled with it; in Africa, this
mixture is sometimes made with barley. All these mixtures, however,
are only intended for cattle, and the same is the case with the
cracca,[296] a degenerate kind of leguminous plant. Pigeons, it is
said, are so remarkably fond of this grain, that they will never leave
the place where it has been given to them.


Among the ancients there was a sort of fodder, to which Cato[297] gives
the name of “ocinum;” it was employed by them to stop scouring in oxen.
This was a mixture of various kinds of fodder, cut green before the
frosts came on. Mamilius Sura, however, explains the term differently,
and says that ten modii of beans, two of vetches, and the same quantity
of ervilia,[298] were mixed and sown in autumn on a jugerum of land.
He states, also, that it is a still better plan to mix some Greek
oats[299] with it, the grain of which never falls to the ground; this
mixture, according to him, was ocinum, and was usually sown as a food
for oxen. Varro[300] informs us that it received its name on account of
the celerity with which it springs up, from the Greek ὠκέως, “quickly.”


Lucerne[301] is by nature an exotic to Greece even, it having been
first introduced into that country from Media,[302] at the time of
the Persian wars with King Darius; still it deserves to be mentioned
among the very first of these productions. So superior are its
qualities, that a single sowing will last more than thirty[303]
years. It resembles trefoil in appearance, but the stalk and leaves
are articulated. The longer it grows in the stalk, the narrower is
the leaf. Amphilochus has devoted a whole book to this subject and
the cytisus.[304] The ground in which it is sown, being first cleaned
and cleared of stones, is turned up in the autumn, after which it is
ploughed and harrowed. It is then harrowed a second and a third time,
at intervals of five days; after which manure is laid upon it. This
seed requires either a soil that is dry, but full of nutriment, or
else a well-watered one. After the ground has been thus prepared, the
seed is put in in the month of May;[305] for if sown earlier, it is in
danger from the frosts. It is necessary to sow the seed very thick,
so that all the ground may be occupied, and no room left for weeds to
shoot up in the intervals; a result which may be secured by sowing
twenty modii to the jugerum. The seed must be stirred at once with the
rake, to prevent the sun from scorching it, and it should be covered
over with earth as speedily as possible. If the soil is naturally damp
or weedy, the lucerne will be overpowered, and the spot degenerate
into an ordinary pasture; it is necessary, therefore, directly the
crop is an inch in height, to disengage it from all weeds, by hand, in
preference to the weeding-hook.

It is cut when it is just beginning to flower, and this is repeated
as often as it throws out new blossoms; which happens mostly six[306]
times in the year, and four at the very least. Care should be taken to
prevent it from running to seed, as it is much more valuable as fodder,
up to the third year. It should be hoed in the spring, and cleared of
all other plants; and in the third year the surface should be well
worked with the weeding-hook. By adopting this method, the weeds will
be effectually destroyed, though without detriment to the lucerne, in
consequence of the depth of its roots. If the weeds should happen to
get ahead of it, the only remedy is to turn it up repeatedly with the
plough, until the roots of the weeds are thoroughly destroyed. This
fodder should never be given to cattle to satiety, otherwise it may be
necessary to let blood; it is best, too, when used while green. When
dry, it becomes tough and ligneous, and falls away at last into a thin,
useless dust. As to the cytisus, which also occupies the very foremost
rank among the fodders, we have already spoken[307] of it at sufficient
length when describing the shrubs. It remains for us now to complete
our account of all the cereals, and we shall here devote a portion of
it to the diseases to which they are subject.


The foremost feature of disease in wheat is the oat.[308] Barley,
too, will degenerate into the oat; so much so, in fact, that the oat
has become an equivalent for corn; for the people of Germany are in
the habit of sowing it, and make their porridge of nothing else. This
degeneracy is owing more particularly to humidity of soil and climate;
and a second cause is a weakness in the seed, the result of its being
retained too long in the ground before it makes its appearance above
it. The same, too, will be the consequence, if the seed is decayed
when put in the ground. This may be known, however, the moment it
makes its appearance, from which it is quite evident that the defect
lies in the root. There is another form of disease, too, which closely
resembles the oat, and which supervenes when the grain, already
developed to its full size, but not ripe, is struck by a noxious blast,
before it has acquired its proper body and strength; in this case, the
seed pines away in the ear, by a kind of abortion, as it were, and
totally disappears.

The wind is injurious to wheat and barley, at three[309] periods of
the year in particular: when they are in blossom, directly the blossom
has passed off, and just as the seed is beginning to ripen. In this
last case, the grain wastes away, while in the two former ones it is
prevented from being developed. Gleams of sunshine, every now and
then, from the midst of clouds, are injurious to corn. Maggots, too,
breed[310] in the roots, when the rains that follow the seed-time are
succeeded by a sudden heat, which encloses the humidity in the ground.
Maggots make their appearance,[311] also, in the grain, when the ear
ferments through heat succeeding a fall of rain. There is a small
beetle, too, known by the name of “cantharis,”[312] which eats away
the blade. All these insects die, however, as soon as their nutriment
fails them. Oil,[313] pitch, and grease are prejudicial to grain, and
care should be taken not to let them come in contact with the seed
that is sown. Rain is only beneficial to grain while in the blade; it
is injurious to wheat and barley while they are in blossom, but is
not detrimental to the leguminous plants, with the exception of the
chick-pea. When grain is beginning to ripen, rain is injurious, and
to barley in particular. There is a white grass[314] that grows in
the fields, very similar to panic in appearance, but fatal to cattle.
As to darnel,[315] the tribulus,[316] the thistle,[317] and the
burdock,[318] I can consider them, no more than the bramble, among
the maladies that attack the cereals, but rather as so many pests
inflicted on the earth. Mildew,[319] a malady resulting from the
inclemency of the weather, and equally attacking the vine[320] and
corn, is in no degree less injurious. It attacks corn most frequently
in localities which are exposed to dews, and in vallies which have
not a thorough draught for the wind; windy and elevated spots, on the
other hand, are totally exempt from it. Another evil, again, in corn,
is over-luxuriance, when it falls to the ground beneath the weight[321]
of the grain. One evil, however, to which all crops in common, the
chick-pea even, are exposed, is the attacks of the caterpillar, when
the rain, by washing away the natural saltness of the vegetation, makes
it[322] all the more tempting for its sweetness.

There is a certain plant,[323] too, which kills the chick-pea and
the fitch, by twining around them; the name of it is “orobanche.” In
a similar manner, also, wheat is attacked by darnel,[324] barley by
a long-stalked plant, called “ægilops,”[325] and the lentil by an
axe-leafed grass, to which, from the resemblance[326] of the leaf, the
Greeks have given the name of “pelecinon.” All these plants, too, kill
the others by entwining around them. In the neighbourhood of Philippi,
there is a plant known as ateramon,[327] which grows in a rich soil,
and kills the bean, after it has been exposed, while wet, to the
blasts of a certain wind: when it grows in a thin, light soil, this
plant is called “teramon.” The seed of darnel is extremely minute,
and is enclosed in a prickly husk. If introduced into bread, it will
speedily produce vertigo; and it is said that in Asia and Greece, the
bath-keepers, when they want to disperse a crowd of people, throw this
seed upon burning coals. The phalangium, a diminutive insect of the
spider genus,[328] breeds in the fitch, if the winter happens to be
wet. Slugs, too, breed in the vetch, and sometimes a tiny snail makes
its way out of the ground, and eats it away in a most singular manner.

These are pretty nearly all the maladies to which grain is subject.


The best remedy for these maladies, so long as grain is in the blade,
is the weeding-hook, and, at the moment of sowing, ashes.[329] As to
those diseases which develope themselves in the seed and about the
root, with due care precautions may be effectually employed against
them. It is generally supposed that if seed has been first steeped in
wine,[330] it will be less exposed to disease. Virgil[331] recommends
that beans should be drenched with nitre and amurca of olives; and he
says that if this is done, they will be all the larger. Some persons,
again, are of opinion, that they will grow of increased size, if the
seed is steeped for three days before it is sown in a solution of
urine and water. If the ground, too, is hoed three times, a modius
of beans in the pod, they say, will yield not less than a modius of
shelled[332] beans. Other seeds, again, it is said, will be exempt
from the attacks of maggots, if bruised cypress[333] leaves are mixed
with them, or if they are sown just at the moon’s conjunction. Many
persons, for the more effectual protection of millet, recommend that
a bramble-frog should be carried at night round the field before the
hoeing is done, and then buried in an earthen vessel in the middle of
it. If this is done, they say, neither sparrows nor worms will attack
the crop. The frog, however, must be disinterred before the millet
is cut; for if this is neglected, the produce will be bitter. It is
pretended, too, that all seeds which have been touched by the shoulders
of a mole are remarkably productive.

Democritus recommends that all seeds before they are sown should be
steeped in the juice of the herb known as “aizoüm,”[334] which grows on
tiles or shingles, and is known to us by the Latin name of “sedum” or
“digitellum.”[335] If blight prevails, or if worms are found adhering
to the roots, it is a very common remedy to sprinkle the plants with
pure amurca of olives without salt, and then to hoe the ground. If,
however, the crop should be beginning to joint, it should be stubbed
at once, for fear lest the weeds should gain the upper hand. I know
for certain[336] that flights of starlings and sparrows, those pests
to millet and panic, are effectually driven away by means of a certain
herb, the name of which is unknown to me, being buried at the four
corners of the field: it is a wonderful thing to relate, but in such
case not a single bird will enter it. Mice are kept away by the ashes
of a weasel or a cat being steeped in water and then thrown upon the
seed, or else by using the water in which the body of a weasel or a
cat has been boiled. The odour, however, of these animals makes itself
perceived in the bread even; for which reason it is generally thought
a better plan to steep the seed in ox-gall.[337] As for mildew, that
greatest curse of all to corn, if branches of laurel are fixed in the
ground, it will pass away from the field into the leaves of the laurel.
Over-luxuriance in corn is repressed by the teeth of cattle,[338] but
only while it is in the blade; in which case, if depastured upon ever
so often, no injury to it when in the ear will be the result. If the
ear, too, is once cut off, the grain, it is well known, will assume a
larger[339] form, but will be hollow within and worthless, and if sown,
will come to nothing.

At Babylon, however, they cut the blade twice, and then let the cattle
pasture on it a third time, for otherwise it would run to nothing
but leaf. Even then, however, so fertile is the soil, that it yields
fifty, and, indeed, with care, as much as a hundred, fold. Nor is the
cultivation of it attended with any difficulty, the only object being
to let the ground be under water as long as possible, in order that
the extreme richness and exuberance of the soil may be modified. The
Euphrates, however, and the Tigris do not deposit a slime, in the same
way that the Nilus does in Egypt, nor does the soil produce vegetation
spontaneously; but still, so great is the fertility, that, although the
seed is only trodden in with the foot, a crop springs up spontaneously
the following year. So great a difference in soils as this, reminds me
that I ought to take this opportunity of specifying those which are the
best adapted for the various kinds of grain.


This, then, is the opinion expressed by Cato[340] on the subject: “In
a dense and fertile soil wheat should be sown: but if the locality is
subject to fogs, rape, radishes, millet, and panic. Where the land[341]
is cold and moist, sowing should be commenced earlier; but where it is
hot, at a later period. In a red, black, or gravelly soil, provided
it is not watery, lupines should be sown; but in chalk, red earth, or
a watery soil, spelt.[342] Where a locality is dry, free from weeds,
and not overshadowed, wheat should be put in; and where the soil is
strong and powerful, beans. Vetches should be grown in a soil as free
from water and weeds as possible; while wheat and winter wheat are best
adapted to an open, elevated locality, fully exposed to the warmth of
the sun. The lentil thrives best in a meagre, red earth, free from
weeds. Barley is equally suited for fallow land and for a soil that is
not intended to be fallow, and three-month wheat, for a soil upon which
a crop of ordinary wheat would never ripen, but strong enough to bear.”

The following, too, is sound advice:[343] Those plants should be sown
in a thin soil which do not stand in need of much nutriment, the
cytisus, for instance, and such of the leguminous plants, with the
exception of the chick-pea, as are taken up by the roots and not cut.
From this mode of gathering them—“legere”—the legumina derive their
name. Where it is a rich earth, those plants should be grown which
require a greater proportion of nutriment, coleworts for instance,
wheat, winter-wheat, and flax. The result, then, will be, that a light
soil will be given to barley—the root of that grain standing in need
of less nutriment—while a more dense, though easily-worked soil, will
be assigned to wheat. In humid localities spelt should be sown in
preference to wheat; but where the soil is of moderate temperature,
either wheat or barley may be grown. Declivities produce a stronger
growth of wheat, but in smaller quantities. Spelt and winter-wheat
adopt a moist, cretaceous soil in preference to any other.

(18.) The only occasion on which there ever was a prodigy connected
with grain, at least that I am aware of, was in the consulship of
P. Ælius and Cneius Cornelius, the year[344] in which Hannibal was
vanquished: on that occasion, we find it stated, corn was seen growing
upon trees.[345]


As we have now spoken at sufficient length of the several varieties
of grain and soil, we shall proceed to treat of the methods adopted
in tilling the ground, taking care, in the very first place, to make
mention of the peculiar facilities enjoyed by Egypt in this respect.
In that country, performing the duties of the husbandman, the Nile
begins to overflow, as already stated,[346] immediately after the
summer solstice or the new moon, gradually at first, but afterwards
with increased impetuosity, as long as the sun remains in the sign
of Leo. When the sun has passed into Virgo, the impetuosity of the
overflow begins to slacken, and when he has entered Libra the river
subsides. Should it not have exceeded twelve cubits in its overflow,
famine is the sure result; and this is equally the case if it should
chance to exceed sixteen; for the higher it has risen, the more slowly
it subsides, and, of course, the seed-time is impeded in proportion. It
was formerly a very general belief that immediately upon the subsiding
of the waters the Egyptians were in the habit of driving herds of
swine over the ground, for the purpose of treading the seed into the
moist soil—and it is my own impression that this was done in ancient
times. At the present day even, the operation is not attended with much
greater labour. It is well known, however, that the seed is first laid
upon the slime that has been left by the river on its subsidence, and
then ploughed in; this being done at the beginning of November. After
this is done, a few persons are employed in stubbing, an operation
known there as “botanismos.” The rest of the labourers, however, have
no occasion to visit the land again till a little before the calends
of April,[347] and then it is with the reaping-hook. The harvest is
completed in the month of May. The stem is never so much as a cubit in
length, as there is a stratum of sand beneath the slime, from which
last alone the grain receives its support. The best wheat of all is
that of the region of Thebais, Egypt[348] being of a marshy character.

The method adopted at Seleucia in Babylonia is very similar to this,
but the fertility there is still greater, owing to the overflow of the
Euphrates and Tigris,[349] the degree of irrigation being artificially
modified in those parts. In Syria, too, the furrows are made extremely
light, while in many parts of Italy, again, it takes as many as
eight oxen to pant and blow at a single plough. All the operations
of agriculture, but this in particular, should be regulated by the
oracular precept—“Remember that every locality has its own tendencies.”


Ploughs are of various kinds. The coulter[350] is the iron part that
cuts up the dense earth before it is broken into pieces, and traces
beforehand by its incisions the future furrows, which the share,
reversed,[351] is to open out with its teeth. Another kind—the common
plough-share—is nothing more than a lever, furnished with a pointed
beak; while another variety, which is only used in light, easy soils,
does not present an edge projecting from the share-beam throughout,
but only a small point at the extremity. In a fourth kind again, this
point is larger and formed with a cutting edge; by the agency of which
implement, it both cleaves the ground, and, with the sharp edges at the
sides, cuts up the weeds by the roots. There has been invented, at a
comparatively recent period, in that part of Gaul[352] known as Rhætia,
a plough with the addition of two small wheels, and known by the name
of “plaumorati.”[353] The extremity of the share in this has the form
of a spade: it is only used, however, for sowing in cultivated lands,
and upon soils which are nearly fallow. The broader the plough-share,
the better it is for turning up the clods of earth. Immediately after
ploughing, the seed is put into the ground, and then harrows[354]
with long teeth are drawn over it. Lands which have been sown in this
way require no hoeing, but two or three pairs of oxen are employed in
ploughing. It is a fair estimate to consider that a single yoke of oxen
can work forty jugera of land in the year, where the soil is light, and
thirty where it is stubborn.


In ploughing, the most rigid attention should be paid to the oracular
precepts given by Cato[355] on the subject. “What is the essence of
good tillage? Good ploughing. What is the second point? Ploughing
again. What is the third point? Manuring. Take care not to make crooked
furrows. Be careful to plough at the proper time.” In warm localities
it is necessary to open the ground immediately after the winter
solstice, but where it is cold, directly after the vernal equinox:
this, too, should be done sooner in dry districts than in wet ones, in
a dense soil than a loose one, in a rich land than a meagre one. In
countries where the summers are hot and oppressive, the soil cretaceous
or thin, it is the best plan to plough between the summer solstice and
the autumnal equinox. Where, on the other hand, the heat is moderate,
with frequent falls of rain, and the soil rich and full of vegetation,
the ploughing should be done during the prevalence of the heat. A deep,
heavy soil, again, should be ploughed in winter; but one that is very
thin and dry, only just before putting in the seed.

Tillage, too, has its own particular rules[356]—Never touch the ground
while it is wet and cloggy; plough with all your might; loosen the
ground before you begin to plough. This method has its advantages, for
by turning up the clods the roots of the weeds are killed. Some persons
recommend that in every case the ground should be turned up immediately
after the vernal equinox. Land that has been ploughed once in spring,
from that circumstance has the name of “vervactum.”[357] This, too,
is equally necessary in the case of fallow land, by which term is
meant land that is sown only in alternate years. The oxen employed in
ploughing should be harnessed as tightly as possible, to make them
plough with their heads up; attention paid to this point will prevent
them from galling the neck. If it is among trees and vines that you are
ploughing, the oxen should be muzzled, to prevent them from eating off
the tender buds. There should be a small bill-hook, too, projecting
from the plough-tail, for the purpose of cutting up the roots; this
plan being preferable to that of turning them up with the share, and so
straining the oxen. When ploughing, finish the furrow at one spell, and
never stop to take breath in the middle.

It is a fair day’s work to plough one jugerum, for the first time, nine
inches in depth; and the second time, one jugerum and a half—that is to
say, if it is an easy soil. If this, however, is not the case, it will
take a day to turn up half a jugerum for the first time, and a whole
jugerum the second; for Nature has set limits to the powers of animals
even. The furrows should be made, in every case, first in a straight
line, and then others should be drawn, crossing them obliquely.[358]
Upon a hill-side the furrows are drawn transversely[359] only, the
point of the share inclining upwards at one moment and downwards[360]
at another. Man, too, is so well fitted for labour, that he is able to
supply the place of the ox even; at all events, it is without the aid
of that animal that the mountain tribes plough, having only the hoe to
help them.[361]

The ploughman, unless he stoops to his work, is sure to
prevaricate,[362] a word which has been transferred to the Forum, as a
censure upon those who transgress—at any rate, let those be on their
guard against it, where it was first employed. The share should be
cleaned every now and then with a stick pointed with a scraper. The
ridges that are left between every two furrows, should not be left in a
rough state, nor should large clods be left protruding from the ground.
A field is badly ploughed that stands in need of harrowing after the
seed is in; but the work has been properly done, when it is impossible
to say in which direction the share has gone. It is a good plan, too,
to leave a channel every now and then, if the nature of the spot
requires it, by making furrows of a larger size, to draw off the water
into the drains.

(20.) After the furrows have been gone over again transversely, the
clods are broken, where there is a necessity for it, with either the
harrow or the rake;[363] and this operation is repeated after the
seed has been put in. This last harrowing is done, where the usage of
the locality will allow of it, with either a toothed harrow, or else a
plank attached to the plough. This operation of covering in the seed
is called “lirare,” from which is derived the word “deliratio.”[364]
Virgil,[365] it is generally thought, intends to recommend sowing after
_four_ ploughings, in the passage where he says that land will bear the
best crop, which has twice felt the sun and twice the cold. Where the
soil is dense, as in most parts of Italy, it is a still better plan to
go over the ground five times before sowing; in Etruria, they give the
land as many as nine ploughings first. The bean, however, and the vetch
may be sown with no risk, without turning up the land at all; which, of
course, is so much labour saved.

We must not here omit to mention still one other method of ploughing,
which the devastations of warfare have suggested in Italy that lies
beyond the Padus. The Salassi,[366] when ravaging the territories which
lay at the foot of the Alps, made an attempt to lay waste the crops of
panic and millet that were just appearing above the ground. Finding,
however, that Nature resisted all their endeavours, they passed the
plough over the ground, the result of which was that the crops were
more abundant than ever; and this it was that first taught us the
method of ploughing in, expressed by the word “artrare,” otherwise
“aratrare,” in my opinion the original form. This is done either just
as the stem begins to develope itself, or else when it has put forth
as many as two or three leaves. Nor must we withhold from the reader
a more recent method, which was discovered the year but one before
this,[367] in the territory of the Treviri. The crops having been
nipped by the extreme severity of the winter, the people sowed the land
over again in the month of March, and had a most abundant harvest.

We shall now proceed to a description of the peculiar methods employed
in cultivating each description of grain.


For winter wheat, spelt, wheat, zea,[368] and barley, harrow, hoe and
stub upon the days which will be mentioned[369] in the sequel. A single
hand per jugerum will be quite enough for any one of these kinds of
grain. The operation of hoeing loosens the ground in spring when it has
been hardened and saddened by the rigours of the winter, and admits
the early sun to the interior. In hoeing, every care must be taken not
to go beneath the roots of the corn; in the case of wheat, zea, and
barley, it is best to give a couple of hoeings. Stubbing,[370] when
the crop is just beginning to joint, cleanses it of all noxious weeds,
disengages the roots of the corn, and liberates the growing blade from
the clods. Among the leguminous plants, the chick-pea requires the same
treatment that spelt does. The bean requires no stubbing, being quite
able of itself to overpower all weeds; the lupine, too, is harrowed
only. Millet and panic are both harrowed and hoed; but this operation
is never repeated, and they do not require stubbing. Fenugreek and the
kidney-bean require harrowing only.

There are some kinds of ground, the extreme fertility of which obliges
the grower to comb down the crops while in the blade—this is done with
a sort of harrow[371] armed with pointed iron teeth—and even then he
is obliged to depasture cattle upon them. When, however, the blade has
been thus eaten down, it stands in need of hoeing to restore it to its
former vigour.

But in Bactria, and at Cyrenæ in Africa, all this trouble has been
rendered quite unnecessary by the indulgent benignity of the climate,
and after the seed is in, the owner has no occasion to return to the
field till the time has come for getting in the harvest. In those parts
the natural dryness of the soil prevents noxious weeds from springing
up, and, aided by the night dews alone, the soil supplies its nutriment
to the grain. Virgil[372] recommends that the ground should be left to
enjoy repose every other year; and this, no doubt, if the extent of
the farm will admit of it, is the most advantageous plan. If, however,
circumstances will not allow of it, spelt should be sown upon the
ground that has been first cropped with lupines, vetches, or beans;
for all these have a tendency to make the soil more fertile. We ought
to remark here more particularly, that here and there certain plants
are sown for the benefit of others, although, as already stated in the
preceding Book,[373] not to repeat the same thing over again, they are
of little value themselves. But it is the nature of each soil that is
of the greatest importance.


There is a city of Africa, situate in the midst of the sands as you
journey towards the Syrtes and Great Leptis, Tacape[374] by name. The
soil there, which is always well-watered, enjoys a degree of fertility
quite marvellous. Through this spot, which extends about three miles
each way, a spring of water flows—in great abundance it is true—but
still, it is only at certain hours that its waters are distributed
among the inhabitants. Here, beneath a palm of enormous size, grows
the olive, beneath the olive the fig, beneath the fig, again, the
pomegranate, beneath the pomegranate the vine, and beneath the vine
we find sown, first wheat, then the leguminous plants, and after them
garden herbs—all in the same year, and all growing beneath another’s
shade. Four cubits square of this same ground—the cubit[375] being
measured with the fingers contracted and not extended—sell at the rate
of four denarii.[376] But what is more surprising than all, is the fact
that here the vine bears twice, and that there are two vintages in the
year. Indeed, if the fertility of the soil were not distributed in this
way among a multitude of productions, each crop would perish from its
own exuberance: as it is, there is no part of the year that there is
not some crop or other being gathered in; and yet, it is a well-known
fact, that the people do nothing at all to promote this fruitfulness.

There are very considerable differences, too, in the nature of water,
as employed for the purposes of irrigation. In the province of Gallia
Narbonensis there is a famous fountain, Orge by name; within it there
grow plants which are sought for with such eagerness by the cattle,
that they will plunge over head into the water to get at them; it is a
well ascertained[377] fact, however, that these plants, though growing
in the water, receive their nutriment only from the rains that fall.
It is as well then that every one should be fully acquainted with the
nature, not only of the soil, but of the water too.


If the soil is of that nature which we have already[378] spoken of as
“tender,”[379] after a crop of barley has been grown upon it, millet
may be sown, and after the millet has been got in, rape. In succession
to these, again, barley may be put in, or else wheat, as in Campania;
and it will be quite enough, in such case, to plough the ground when
the seed is sown. There is another rotation again—when the ground has
been cropped with spelt,[380] it should lie fallow the four winter
months; after which, spring beans should be put in, to keep it occupied
till the time comes for cropping it with winter beans. Where the soil
is too rich, it may lie fallow one year, care being taken after sowing
it with corn to crop it with the leguminous plants the third year.[381]
Where, on the other hand, it is too thin, the land should lie fallow up
to the third year even. Some persons recommend that corn should never
be sown except in land which has lain fallow the year before.


The proper method of manuring is here a very important subject for
consideration—we have already treated of it at some length in the
preceding Book.[382] The only point that is universally agreed upon
is, that we must never sow without first manuring the ground; although
in this respect even there are certain rules to be observed. Millet,
panic, rape, and turnips should never be sown in any but a manured
soil. If, on the other hand, the land is not manured, sow wheat there
in preference to barley. The same, too, with fallow lands; though in
these it is generally recommended that beans should be sown. It should
be remembered, however, that wherever beans are sown, the land should
have been manured at as recent a period as possible. If it is intended
to crop ground in autumn, care must be taken to plough in manure in
the month of September, just after rain has fallen. In the same way,
too, if it is intended to sow in spring, the manure should be spread
in the winter. It is the rule to give eighteen cart-loads of manure to
each jugerum, and to spread it well before ploughing it in,[383] or
sowing the seed.[384] If this manuring, however, is omitted, it will
be requisite to spread the land with aviary dust just before hoeing
is commenced. To clear up any doubts with reference to this point, I
would here observe that the fair price for a cart-load of manure is one
denarius; where, too, sheep furnish one cart-load, the larger cattle
should furnish ten:[385] unless this result is obtained, it is a clear
proof that the husbandman has littered his cattle badly.

There are some persons who are of opinion that the best method of
manuring land is to pen sheep there, with nets erected to prevent them
from straying. If land is not manured, it will get chilled; but if, on
the other hand, it is over-manured, it becomes burnt up: it is a much
better plan, too, to manure little and often than in excess. The warmer
the soil is by nature, the less manure it requires.


The best seed of all is that which is of the last year’s growth. That
which is two years old is inferior, and three the worst of all—beyond
that, it is unproductive.[386] The same definite rule which applies
to one kind of seed is applicable to them all: the seed which falls
to the bottom[387] on the threshing-floor, should be reserved for
sowing, for being the most weighty it is the best in quality: there is
no better method, in fact, of ascertaining its quality. The grains of
those ears which have intervals between the seed should be rejected.
The best grain is that which has a reddish hue,[388] and which, when
broken between the teeth, presents the same[389] colour; that which
has more white within is of inferior quality. It is a well-known fact
that some lands require more seed than others, from which circumstance
first arose a superstition that exists among the peasantry; it is their
belief that when the ground demands the seed with greater avidity
than usual, it is famished, and devours the grain. It is consistent
with reason to put in the seed where the soil is humid sooner than
elsewhere, to prevent the grain from rotting in the rain: on dry spots
it should be sown later, and just before the fall of a shower, so that
it may not have to lie long without germinating and so come to nothing.
When the seed is put in early it should be sown thick, as it is a
considerable time before it germinates; but when it is put in later, it
should be sown thinly, to prevent it from being suffocated. There is a
certain degree of skill, too, required in scattering the seed evenly;
to ensure this, the hand must keep time[390] with the step, moving
always with the right foot. There are certain persons, also, who have
a secret method[391] of their own, having been born[392] with a happy
hand which imparts fruitfulness to the grain. Care should be taken not
to sow seed in a warm locality which has been grown in a cold one, nor
should the produce of an early soil be sown in a late one. Those who
give advice to the contrary have quite misapplied their pains.


[393] In a soil of middling quality, the proper proportion of seed is
five modii of wheat or winter-wheat to the jugerum, ten of spelt or of
seed-wheat—that being the name which we have mentioned[394] as being
given to one kind of wheat—six of barley, one-fifth more of beans than
of wheat, twelve of vetches, three of chick-pease, chicheling vetches,
and pease, ten of lupines, three of lentils—(these last, however, it is
said, must be sown with dry manure)—six of fitches, six of fenugreek,
four of kidney-beans, twenty of hay grass,[395] and four sextarii
of millet and panic. Where the soil is rich, the proportion must be
greater, where it is thin, less.[396]

There is another distinction, too, to be made; where the soil is
dense, cretaceous, or moist, there should be six modii of wheat or
winter-wheat to the jugerum, but where the land is loose, dry, and
prolific, four will be enough. A meagre soil, too, if the crop is not
very thinly sown, will produce a diminutive, empty ear. Rich lands give
a number of stalks to each grain, and yield a thick crop from only a
light sowing. The result, then, is, that from four to six modii must be
sown, according to the nature of the soil; though there are some who
make it a rule that five modii is the proper proportion for sowing,
neither more nor less, whether it is a densely-planted locality, a
declivity, or a thin, meagre soil. To this subject bears reference an
oracular precept which never can be too carefully observed[397]—“Don’t
rob the harvest.”[398] Attius, in his Praxidicus,[399] has added that
the proper time for sowing is, when the moon is in Aries, Gemini, Leo,
Libra, and Aquarius. Zoroaster says it should be done when the sun has
passed twelve degrees of Scorpio, and the moon is in Taurus.


We now come to a subject which has been hitherto deferred by us, and
which requires our most careful attention—the proper times for sowing.
This is a question that depends in a very great degree upon the stars;
and I shall therefore make it my first care to set forth all the
opinions that have been written in reference to the subject. Hesiod,
the first writer who has given any precepts upon agriculture, speaks
of one period only for sowing—the setting of the Vergiliæ: but then
he wrote in Bœotia, a country of Hellas, where, as we have already
stated,[400] they are still in the habit of sowing at that period.

It is generally agreed by the most correct writers, that with the
earth, as with the birds and quadrupeds, there are certain impulses
for reproduction; and the epoch for this is fixed by the Greeks at
the time when the earth is warm and moist. Virgil[401] says that
wheat and spelt should be sown at the setting of the Vergiliæ, barley
between the autumnal equinox and the winter solstice, and vetches,[402]
kidney-beans, and lentils at the setting of Boötes:[403] it is of great
importance, therefore, to ascertain the exact days of the rising and
setting of these constellations, as well as of the others. There are
some, again, who recommend the sowing to be done before the setting
of the Vergiliæ, but only in a dry soil, and in those provinces where
the weather is hot; for the seed, they say,[404] if put in the ground
will keep, there being no moisture to spoil it, and within a single day
after the next fall of rain, will make its appearance above ground.
Others, again, are of opinion that sowing should begin about seven days
after the setting of the Vergiliæ, a period which is mostly followed by
rain. Some think that cold soils should be sown immediately after the
autumnal equinox, and a warm soil later, so that the blade may not put
forth too luxuriantly before winter.

It is universally agreed, however, that the sowing should not be done
about the period of the winter solstice; for this very good reason—the
winter seeds, if put in before the winter solstice, will make their
appearance above ground on the seventh day, whereas, if they are sown
just after it, they will hardly appear by the fortieth. There are some,
however, who begin very early, and have a saying to justify their
doing so, to the effect that if seed sown too early often disappoints,
seed put in too late always does so. On the other hand, again, there
are some who maintain that it is better to sow in spring than in a
bad autumn; and they say that if they find themselves obliged to sow
in spring, they would choose the period that intervenes between the
prevalence of the west winds[405] and the vernal equinox. Some persons,
however, take no notice of the celestial phenomena, and only regulate
their movements by the months. In spring they put in flax, the oat, and
the poppy, up to the feast of the Quinquatria,[406] as we find done at
the present day by the people of Italy beyond the Padus. There, too,
they sow beans and winter-wheat in the month of November, and spelt at
the end of September, up to the ides of October:[407] others, however,
sow this last after the ides of October, as late as the calends of

The persons who do this take no notice, consequently, of the phenomena
of Nature, while others, again, lay too much stress upon them, and
hence, by these refined subtleties and distinctions, only add to their
blindness; for here are ignorant rustics, not only dealing with a
branch of learning, but that branch astronomy! It must still, however,
be admitted that the observation of the heavens plays a very important
part in the operations of agriculture; and Virgil,[409] we find,
gives it as his advice, that before any thing else, we should learn
the theory of the winds, and the revolutions of the stars; for, as he
says, the agriculturist, no less than the mariner, should regulate his
movements thereby. It is an arduous attempt, and almost beyond all hope
of success, to make an endeavour to introduce the divine science of the
heavens to the uninformed mind of the rustic; still, however, with a
view to such vast practical results as must be derived from this kind
of knowledge, I shall make the attempt. There are some astronomical
difficulties, however, which have been experienced by the learned even,
that ought to be first submitted for consideration, in order that
the mind may feel some encouragement on abandoning the study of the
heavens, and may be acquainted with facts at least, even though it is
still unable to see into futurity.


In the first place, it is almost an utter impossibility to calculate
with a fair degree of accuracy the days of the year and the movements
of the sun. To the three hundred and sixty-five days there are still to
be added the intercalary days, the result of the additional quarters of
a day and night: hence it is, that it is found impossible to ascertain
with exactness the proper periods for the appearance of the stars. To
this we must add, too, a certain degree of uncertainty connected with
these matters, that is universally admitted; thus, for instance, bad
and wintry weather will often precede, by several days, the proper
period for the advent of that season, a state of things known to the
Greeks as προχειμάζειν;[410] while at another time, it will last longer
than usual, a state of circumstances known as ἐπιχειμάζειν.[411] The
effects, too, of the changes that take place in the seasons will
sometimes be felt later, and at other times earlier, upon their
reaching the face of the earth; and we not unfrequently hear the remark
made, upon the return of fine weather, that the action of such and such
a constellation is now completed.[412] And then, again, as all these
phænomena depend upon certain stars, arranged and regulated in the
vault of heaven, we find intervening, in accordance with the movements;
of certain stars, hailstorms and showers, themselves productive of no
slight results, as we have already observed,[413] and apt to interfere
with the anticipated regular recurrence of the seasons. Nor are we to
suppose that these disappointments fall upon the human race only, for
other animated beings, as well as ourselves, are deceived in regard
to them, although endowed with even a greater degree of sagacity
upon these points than we are, from the fact of their very existence
depending so materially upon them. Hence it is, that we sometimes
see the summer birds killed by too late or too early cold, and the
winter birds by heat coming out of the usual season. It is for this
reason, that Virgil[414] has recommended us to study the courses of the
planets, and has particularly warned us to watch the passage of the
cold star Saturn.

There are some who look upon the appearance of the butterfly as the
surest sign of spring, because of the extreme delicacy of that insect.
In this present year,[415] however, in which I am penning these lines,
it has been remarked that the flights of butterflies have been killed
three several times, by as many returns of the cold; while the foreign
birds, which brought us by the sixth of the calends of February[416]
every indication of an early spring, after that had to struggle against
a winter of the greatest severity. In treating of these matters, we
have to meet a twofold difficulty: first of all, we have to ascertain
whether or not the celestial phænomena are regulated by certain laws,
and then we have to seek how to reconcile those laws with apparent
facts. We must, however, be more particularly careful to take into
account the convexity of the earth, and the differences of situation
in the localities upon the face of the globe; for hence it is, that
the same constellation shows itself to different nations at different
times, the result being, that its influence is by no means perceptible
everywhere at the same moment. This difficulty has been considerably
enhanced, too, by various authors, who, after making their observations
in different localities, and indeed, in some instances, in the same
locality, have yet given us varying or contradictory results.

There have been three great schools of astronomy, the Chaldæan, the
Ægyptian, and the Grecian. To these has been added a fourth school,
which was established by the Dictator Cæsar among ourselves, and to
which was entrusted the duty of regulating the year in conformity
with the sun’s revolution,[417] under the auspices of Sosigenes,
an astronomer of considerable learning and skill. His theory, too,
upon the discovery of certain errors, has since been corrected, no
intercalations having been made for twelve[418] successive years,
upon its being found that the year which before had anticipated the
constellations, was now beginning to fall behind them. Even Sosigenes
himself, too, though more correct than his predecessors, has not
hesitated to show, by his continual corrections in the three several
treatises which he composed, that he still entertained great doubts
on the subject. The writers, too, whose names are inserted at the
beginning of this work,[419] have sufficiently revealed the fact of
these discrepancies, the opinions of one being rarely found to agree
with those of another. This, however, is less surprising in the case
of those whose plea is the difference of the localities in which they
wrote. But with reference to those who, though living in the same
country, have still arrived at different results, we shall here mention
one remarkable instance of discrepancy. Hesiod—for under his name,
also, we have a treatise extant on the Science of the Stars[420]—has
stated that the morning setting of the Vergiliæ takes place at the
moment of the autumnal equinox; whereas Thales, we find, makes it the
twenty-fifth day after the equinox, Anaximander the twenty-ninth, and
Euctemon the forty-eighth.

As for ourselves, we shall follow the calculations made by Julius
Cæsar,[421] which bear reference more particularly to Italy; though at
the same time, we shall set forth the dicta of various other writers,
bearing in mind that we are treating not of an individual country,
but of Nature considered in her totality. In doing this, however, we
shall name, not the writers themselves, for that would be too lengthy
a task, but the countries in reference to which they speak. The reader
must bear in mind, then, that for the sake of saving space, under the
head of Attica, we include the islands of the Cyclades as well; under
that of Macedonia, Magnesia and Thracia; under that of Egypt, Phœnice,
Cyprus, and Cilicia; under that of Bœotia, Locris, Phocis, and the
adjoining countries; under that of Hellespont, Chersonesus, and the
contiguous parts as far as Mount Athos; under that of Ionia, Asia[422]
and the islands of Asia; under that of Peloponnesus, Achaia, and the
regions lying to the west of it. Chaldæa, when mentioned, will signify
Assyria and Babylonia, as well.

My silence as to Africa,[423] Spain, and the provinces of Gaul, will
occasion no surprise, from the fact that no one has published any
observations made upon the stars in those countries. Still, however,
there will be no difficulty in calculating them, even for these regions
as well, on reference being made to the parallels which have been set
forth in the Sixth Book.[424] By adopting this course, an accurate
acquaintance may be made with the astronomical relations, not only of
individual nations, but of cities even as well. By taking the circular
parallels which we have there appended to the several portions of the
earth respectively, and applying them to the countries in question,
that are similarly situate, it will be found that the rising of the
heavenly bodies will be the same for all parts within those parallels,
where the shadows projected are of equal length. It is also deserving
of remark, that the seasons have their periodical recurrences, without
any marked difference, every four years, in consequence of the
influence[425] of the sun, and that the characteristics of the seasons
are developed in excess every eighth year, at the revolution of every
hundredth moon.


The whole of this system is based upon the observation of three
branches of the heavenly phænomena, the rising of the constellations,
their setting, and the regular recurrence of the seasons. These risings
and settings may be observed in two different ways:—The stars are
either concealed, and cease to be seen at the rising of the sun, or
else present themselves to our view at his setting—this last being more
generally known by the name of “emersion” than of “rising,” while their
disappearance is rather an “occultation” than a “setting.”—Considered,
again, in another point of view, when upon certain days they begin to
appear or disappear, at the setting or the rising of the sun, as the
case may be, these are called their morning or their evening settings
or risings, according as each of these phænomena takes place at
day-break or twilight. It requires an interval of three quarters of an
hour at least before the rising of the sun or after his setting, for
the stars to be visible to us. In addition to this, there are certain
stars which rise and set twice.[426] All that we here state bears
reference, it must be remembered, to the fixed stars only.


The year is divided into four periods or seasons, the recurrence of
which is indicated by the increase or diminution of the daylight.
Immediately after the winter solstice the days begin to increase,
and by the time of the vernal equinox, or in other words, in ninety
days and three hours, the day is equal in length to the night. After
this, for ninety-four days and twelve hours, the days continue
to increase, and the nights to diminish in proportion, up to the
summer solstice; and from that point the days, though gradually
decreasing, are still in excess of the nights for ninety-two days,
twelve hours, until the autumnal equinox. At this period the days
are of equal length with the nights, and after it they continue to
decrease inversely to the nights until the winter solstice, a period
of eighty-eight days and three hours. In all these calculations, it
must be remembered, equinoctial[427] hours are spoken of, and not
those measured arbitrarily in reference to the length of any one day
in particular. All these seasons, too, commence at the eighth degree
of the signs of the Zodiac. The winter solstice begins at the eighth
degree of Capricorn, the eighth[428] day before the calends of January,
in general;[429] the vernal equinox at the eighth degree of Aries;
the summer solstice, at the eighth degree of Cancer; and the autumnal
equinox at the eighth degree of Libra: and it is rarely that these
days do not respectively give some indication of a change in the

These four seasons again, are subdivided, each of them, into two
equal parts. Thus, for instance, between the summer solstice and the
autumnal equinox, the setting of the Lyre,[430] on the forty-sixth
day, indicates the beginning of autumn; between the autumnal equinox
and the winter solstice, the morning setting of the Vergiliæ, on the
forty-fourth day, denotes the beginning of winter; between the winter
solstice and the vernal equinox, the prevalence of the west winds on
the forty-fifth day, denotes the commencement of spring; and between
the vernal equinox and the summer solstice, the morning rising of
the Vergiliæ, on the forty-eighth day, announces the commencement
of summer. We shall here make seed-time, or in other words, the
morning setting of the Vergiliæ, our starting-point;[431] and shall
not interrupt the thread of our explanation by making any mention of
the minor constellations, as such a course would only augment the
difficulties that already exist. It is much about this period that the
stormy constellation of Orion departs, after traversing a large portion
of the heavens.[432]


Most persons anticipate the proper time for sowing, and begin to put in
the corn immediately after the eleventh day of the autumnal equinox,
at the rising of the Crown, when we may reckon, almost to a certainty,
upon several days of rainy weather in succession. Xenophon[433] is of
opinion, that sowing should not be commenced until the Deity has given
us the signal for it, a term by which Cicero understands the rains
that prevail in November. The true method to be adopted, however, is
not to sow until the leaves begin to fall. Some persons are of opinion
that this takes place at the setting of the Vergiliæ, or the third
day before the ides of November, as already stated,[434] and they
carefully observe it, for it is a constellation very easily remarked
in the heavens, and warns us to resume our winter clothes.[435] Hence
it is, that immediately on its setting, the approach of winter is
expected, and care is taken by those who are on their guard against
the exorbitant charges of the shop-keepers, to provide themselves with
an appropriate dress. If the Vergiliæ set with cloudy weather, it
forebodes a rainy winter, and the prices of cloaks[436] immediately
rise; but if, on the other hand, the weather is clear at that period, a
sharp winter is to be expected, and then the price of garments of other
descriptions is sure to go up. But as to the husbandman, unacquainted
as he is with the phænomena of the heavens, his brambles are to him
in place of constellations, and if he looks at the ground he sees it
covered with their leaves. This fall of the leaves, earlier in one
place and later in another, is a sure criterion of the temperature
of the weather; for there is a great affinity between the effects
produced by the weather in this respect, and the nature of the soil
and climate. There is this peculiar advantage, too, in the careful
observation of these effects, that they are sure to be perceptible
throughout the whole earth, while at the same time they have certain
features which are peculiar to each individual locality.—A person may
perhaps be surprised at this, who does not bear in mind that the herb
pennyroyal,[437] which is hung up in our larders, always blossoms on
the day of the winter solstice; so firmly resolved is Nature that
nothing shall remain concealed from us, and in that spirit has given us
the fall of the leaf as the signal for sowing.

Such is the true method of interpreting all these phænomena, granted
to us by Nature as a manifestation of her will. It is in this way that
she warns us to prepare the ground, makes us a promise of a manure, as
it were, in the fall of the leaves, announces to us that the earth and
the productions thereof are thus protected by her against the cold, and
warns us to hasten the operations of agriculture.


Varro[438] has given no other sign but this[439] for our guidance in
sowing the bean. Some persons are of opinion that it should be sown at
full moon, the lentil between the twenty-fifth and thirtieth day of
the moon, and the vetch on the same days of the moon; and they assure
us that if this is done they will be exempt from the attacks of slugs.
Some say, however, that if wanted for fodder, they may be sown at
these periods, but if for seed, in the spring. There is another sign,
more evident still, supplied us by the marvellous foresight of Nature,
with reference to which we will give the words employed by Cicero[440]

  “The lentisk, ever green and ever bent
  Beneath its fruits, affords a threefold crop:
  Thrice teeming, thrice it warns us when to plough.”

One of the periods here alluded to, is the same that is now under
consideration, being the appropriate time also for sowing flax and
the poppy.[441] With reference to this last, Cato gives the following
advice: “Burn, upon land where corn has been grown, the twigs and
branches which are of no use to you, and when that is done, sow the
poppy there.” The wild poppy, which is of an utility that is quite
marvellous, is boiled in honey as a remedy for diseases in the
throat,[442] while the cultivated kind is a powerful narcotic. Thus
much in reference to winter sowing.


And now, in order to complete what we may call in some measure an
abridgment of the operations of agriculture, it is as well to add
that it will be a good plan at the same period to manure the roots of
trees, and to mould up the vines—a single hand being sufficient for
one jugerum. Where, too, the nature of the locality will allow it, the
vines, and the trees upon which they are trained, should be lopped, and
the soil turned up with the mattock for seed plots; trenches, too,
should be opened out, and the water drained from off the fields, and
the presses[443] should be well washed and put away. Never put eggs
beneath the hen between the calends of November[444] and the winter
solstice:[445] during all the summer and up to the calends of November,
you may put thirteen under the hen; but the number must be smaller in
winter, not less than nine, however. Democritus is of opinion, that
the winter will turn out of the same character[446] as the weather
on the day of the winter solstice and the three succeeding days; the
same too with the summer and the weather at the summer solstice.
About the winter solstice, for about twice seven days mostly, while
the halcyon[447] is sitting, the winds are lulled, and the weather
serene;[448] but in this case, as in all others, the influence of the
stars must only be judged of by the result, and we must not expect the
changes of the weather, as if out upon their recognizances,[449] to
make their appearance exactly on certain predetermined days.


Be careful never to touch the vine at the winter solstice. Hyginus
recommends us to strain and even rack-off wine at the seventh day after
the winter solstice, provided the moon is seven days old. About this
period, also, the cherry-tree, he says, should be planted. Acorns,
too, should now be put in soak for the oxen, a modius for each pair.
If given in larger quantities, this food will prove injurious to their
health; and whenever it is given, if they are fed with it for less than
thirty days in succession, an attack of scab in the spring, it is said,
will be sure to make you repent.

This, too, is the period that we have already assigned[450] for
cutting timber—other kinds of work, again, may be found for the hours
of the night, which are then so greatly prolonged. There are baskets,
hurdles, and panniers to be woven, and wood to be cut for torches:
squared stays[451] for the vine may be prepared, too, thirty in the day
time, and if rounded,[452] as many as sixty. In the long hours of the
evening, too, some five squared stays, or ten rounded ones may be got
ready, and the same number while the day is breaking.


Between the winter solstice and the period when the west winds begin
to prevail, the following, according to Cæsar, are the more important
signs afforded by the constellations: the Dog sets in the morning, upon
the third[453] day before the calends of January; a day on the evening
of which the Eagle sets to the people of Attica and the adjoining
countries. On the day before[454] the nones of January, according to
Cæsar’s computation, the Dolphin rises in the morning, and on the
next day, the Lyre, upon the evening of which the Arrow sets to the
people of Egypt. Upon the sixth[455] day before the ides of January,
the Dolphin sets in the evening, and Italy has many days of continuous
cold; the same is the case also when the sun enters Aquarius, about the
sixteenth[456] day before the calends of February. On the eighth[457]
before the calends of February, the star which Tubero calls the Royal
Star[458] sets in the morning in the breast of Leo, and in the evening
of the day before[459] the nones of February, the Lyre sets.

During the latter days of this period, whenever the nature of the
weather will allow of it, the ground should be turned up with a double
mattock, for planting the rose and the vine—sixty men to a jugerum.
Ditches, too, should be cleaned out, or new ones made; and the time of
day-break may be usefully employed in sharpening iron tools, fitting on
handles, repairing such dolia[460] as may have been broken, and rubbing
up and cleaning their staves.


Between the prevalence of the west winds and the vernal equinox,
the fourteenth day before[461] the calends of March, according to
Cæsar, announces three days of changeable weather; the same is the
case, too, with the eighth[462] before the calends of March, at the
first appearance of the swallow, Arcturus rising on the evening of
the next day. Cæsar has observed, that the same takes place on the
third[463] before the nones of March, at the rising of Cancer; and
most authorities say the same with reference to the emersion of the
Vintager.[464] On the eighth[465] before the ides of March, the
northern limb of Pisces[466] rises, and on the next day Orion, at which
period also, in Attica, the Kite is first seen. Cæsar has noted, too,
the setting of Scorpio on the ides of March,[467] a day that was so
fatal to him; and on the fifteenth[468] before the calends of April,
the Kite appears in Italy. On the twelfth[469] before the calends of
April, the Horse sets in the morning.

This interval of time is a period of extreme activity for the
agriculturist, and affords him a great number of occupations, in
reference to which, however, he is extremely liable to be deceived. He
is summoned to the commencement of these labours, not upon the day on
which the west winds ought to begin, but upon the day on which they
really do begin, to blow. This moment then must be looked for with
the most careful attention, as it is a signal which the Deity has
vouchsafed us in this month, attended with no doubts or equivocations,
if only looked for with scrupulous care. We have already stated in the
Second Book,[470] the quarter in which this wind blows, and the exact
point from which it comes, and before long we shall have occasion to
speak of it again still more in detail.

In the mean time, however, setting out from the day, whatever it may
happen to be, on which the west winds begin to prevail (for it is not
always on the seventh before the ides of February[471] that they do
begin), whether, in fact, they begin to blow before the usual time, as
is the case with an early spring, or whether after, which generally
happens when the winter is prolonged—there are subjects innumerable to
engage the attention of the agriculturist, and those, of course, should
be the first attended to, which will admit of no delay. Three month
wheat must now be sown, the vine pruned in the way we have already[472]
described, the olive carefully attended to, fruit-trees put in and
grafted, vineyards cleaned and hoed, seedlings laid out, and replaced
in the nursery by others, the reed, the willow, and the broom planted
and lopped, and the elm, the poplar, and the plane planted in manner
already mentioned. At this period, also, the crops of corn ought to
be weeded,[473] and the winter kinds, spelt more particularly, well
hoed. In doing this, there is a certain rule to be observed, the proper
moment being when four blades have made their appearance, and with the
bean this should never be done until three leaves have appeared above
ground; even then, however, it is a better plan to clean them only with
a slight hoeing, in preference to digging up the ground—but in no case
should they ever be touched the first fifteen days of their blossom.
Barley must never be hoed except when it is quite dry: take care, too,
to have all the pruning done by the vernal equinox. Four men will be
sufficient for pruning a jugerum of vineyard, and each hand will be
able to train fifteen vines to their trees.[474]

At this period, too, attention should be paid to the gardens and
rose-beds, subjects which will be separately treated of in succeeding
Books; due care should be given to ornamental gardening as well. It is
now, too, the very best time for making ditches. The ground should now
be opened for future purposes, as we find recommended by Virgil[475]
in particular, in order that the sun may thoroughly warm the clods. It
is a piece of even more sound advice, which recommends us to plough no
lands in the middle of spring but those of middling quality; for if
this is done with a rich soil, weeds will be sure to spring up in the
furrows immediately; and if, on the other hand, it is a thin, meagre
land, as soon as the heat comes on, it will be dried up, and so lose
all the moisture which should be reserved to nourish the seed when
sown. It is a much better plan, beyond a doubt, to plough such soils as
these in autumn.

Cato[476] lays down the following rules for the operations of spring.
“Ditches,” he says, “should be dug in the seed-plots, vines should be
grafted, and the elm, the fig, the olive, and other fruit-trees planted
in dense and humid soils. Such meadows[477] as are not irrigated,
must be manured in a dry moon, protected from the western blasts, and
carefully cleaned: noxious weeds must be rooted up, fig-trees cleared,
new seed-plots made, and the old ones dressed: all this should be done
before you begin to hoe the vineyard. When the pear is in blossom, too,
you should begin to plough, where it is a meagre gravelly soil. When
you have done all this, you may plough the more heavy, watery soils,
doing this the last of all.”

The proper time for ploughing, then,[478] is denoted by these two
signs, the earliest fruit of the lentisk[479] making its appearance,
and the blossoming of the pear. There is a third sign however, as
well, the flowering of the squill among the bulbous,[480] and of the
narcissus among the garland, plants. For both the squill and the
narcissus, as well as the lentisk, flower three times, denoting by
their first flowering the first period for ploughing, by the second
flowering the second, and by the third flowering the last; in this
way it is that one thing affords hints for another. There is one
precaution, too, that is by no means the least important among them
all, not to let ivy touch the bean while in blossom; for at this
period the ivy is noxious[481] to it, and most baneful in its effects.
Some plants, again afford certain signs which bear reference more
particularly to themselves, the fig for instance; when a few leaves
only are found shooting from the summit, like a cup in shape, then it
is more particularly that the fig-tree should be planted.


The vernal equinox appears to end on the eighth[482] day before the
calends of April. Between the equinox and the morning rising of the
Vergiliæ, the calends[483] of April announce, according to Cæsar,
[stormy weather].[484] Upon the third[485] before the nones of April,
the Vergiliæ set in the evening in Attica, and the day after in
Bœotia, but according to Cæsar and the Chaldæans, upon the nones.[486]
In Egypt, at this time, Orion and his Sword begin to set. According
to Cæsar, the setting of Libra on the sixth before[487] the ides of
April announces rain. On the fourteenth before[488] the calends of
May, the Suculæ set to the people of Egypt in the evening, a stormy
constellation, and significant of tempests both by land and sea.
This constellation sets on the sixteenth[489] in Attica, and on the
fifteenth, according to Cæsar, announcing four days of bad weather in
succession: in Assyria it sets upon the twelfth[490] before the calends
of May. This constellation has ordinarily the name of Parilicium,
from the circumstance that the eleventh[491] before the calends of
May is observed as the natal day of the City of Rome; upon this day,
too, fine weather generally returns, and gives us a clear sky for our
observations. The Greeks call the Suculæ by the name of “Hyades,”[492]
in consequence of the rain and clouds which they bring with them;
while our people, misled by the resemblance of the Greek name to
another word[493] of theirs, meaning a “pig,” have imagined that the
constellation receives its name from that word, and have consequently
given it, in their ignorance, the name of “Suculæ,” or the “Little

In the calculations made by Cæsar, the eighth[494] before the calends
of May is a day remarked, and on the seventh[495] before the calends,
the constellation of the Kids rises in Egypt. On the sixth before[496]
the calends, the Dog sets in the evening in Bœotia and Attica, and the
Lyre rises in the morning. On the fifth[497] before the calends of May,
Orion has wholly set to the people of Assyria, and on the fourth[498]
before the calends the Dog. On the sixth before[499] the nones of May,
the Suculæ rise in the morning, according to the calculation of Cæsar,
and on the eighth before[500] the ides, the She-goat, which announces
rain. In Egypt the Dog sets in the evening of the same day. Such are
pretty nearly the movements of the constellations up to the sixth
before[501] the ides of May, the period of the rising of the Vergiliæ.

In this interval of time, during the first fifteen days, the
agriculturist must make haste and do all the work for which he has not
been able to find time before the vernal equinox; and he should bear
in mind that those who are late in pruning their vines are exposed
to jibes and taunts, in imitation of the note of the bird of passage
known to us as the cuckoo.[502] For it is looked upon as a disgrace,
and one that subjects him to well-merited censure, for that bird, upon
its arrival, to find him only then pruning his vines. Hence it is,
too, that we find those cutting jokes,[503] of which our peasantry are
the object, at the beginning of spring. Still, however, all such jokes
are to be looked upon as most abominable, from the ill omens[504] they

In this way, then, we see that, in agricultural operations, the most
trifling things are construed as so many hints supplied us by Nature.
The latter part of this period is the proper time for sowing panic
and millet; the precise moment, however, is just after the barley has
ripened. In the case of the very same land, too, there is one sign that
points in common both to the ripening of the barley and the sowing of
panic and millet—the appearance of the glow-worm, shining in the fields
at night. “Cicindelæ”[505] is the name given by the country people to
these flying stars, while the Greeks call them “lampyrides,”—another
manifestation of the incredible bounteousness of Nature.


Nature had already formed the Vergiliæ, a noble group of stars, in the
heavens; but not content with these, she has made others as well for
the face of the earth, crying aloud, as it were:[506] “Why contemplate
the heavens, husbandman? Why, rustic, look up at the stars? Do not the
nights already afford you a sleep too brief for your fatigues? Behold
now! I scatter stars amid the grass for your service, and I reveal them
to you in the evening, as you return from your work; and that you may
not disregard them, I call your attention to this marvel. Do you not
see how the wings of this insect cover a body bright and shining like
fire, and how that body gives out light in the hours of the night even?
I have given you plants to point out to you the hours, and, that you
may not have to turn your eyes from the earth, even to view the sun,
the heliotropium and the lupine have been made by me to move with his
movements. Why then still look upwards, and scan the face of heaven?
Behold, here before your very feet are your Vergiliæ; upon a certain
day do they make their appearance, and for a certain time do they stay.
Equally certain, too, it is that of that constellation they are the
offspring. Whoever, then, shall put in his summer seeds before they
have made their appearance, will infallibly find himself in the wrong.”

It is in this interval, too, that the little bee comes forth, and
announces that the bean is about to blossom; for it is the bean
in flower that summons it forth. We will here give another sign,
which tells us when the cold is gone; as soon as ever you see the
mulberry[507] in bud, you have no occasion to fear any injury from the
rigour of the weather.

It is the time, now, to put in cuttings of the olive, to clear away
between the olive-trees, and, in the earlier days of the equinox, to
irrigate the meadows. As soon, however, as the grass puts forth a
stem, you must shut off the water from the fields.[508] You must now
lop the leafy branches of the vine, it being the rule that this should
be done as soon as the branches have attained four fingers in length;
one labourer will be sufficient for a jugerum. The crops of corn, too,
should be hoed over again, an operation which lasts twenty days. It is
generally thought, however, that it is injurious to both vine and corn
to begin hoeing directly after the equinox. This is the proper time,
too, for washing sheep.

After the rising of the Vergiliæ the more remarkable signs are,
according to Cæsar, the morning rising of Arcturus, which takes
place on the following day;[509] and the rising of the Lyre on the
third[510] before the ides of May. The She-goat sets in the evening of
the twelfth before[511] the calends of June, and in Attica the Dog.
On the eleventh[512] before the calends of June, according to Cæsar,
Orion’s Sword begins to appear; and, according to the same writer,
on the fourth[513] before the nones of June the Eagle rises in the
evening, and in Assyria as well. On the seventh[514] before the ides
of June Arcturus sets in the morning to the people of Italy, and on
the fourth[515] before the ides the Dolphin rises in the evening. On
the seventeenth[516] before the calends of July Orion’s Sword rises in
Italy, and, four days later, in Egypt. On the eleventh[517] before the
calends of July, according to Cæsar’s reckoning, Orion’s Sword begins
to set; and the eighth[518] before the calends of July, the longest day
in the year, with the shortest night, brings us to the summer solstice.

In this interval of time the vine should be cleared of its superfluous
branches, and care taken to give an old vine one turning up at the
roots, a young tree two. Sheep, too, are sheared at this period,
lupines turned up for manuring the land, the ground dug, vetches cut
for fodder, and beans gathered in and threshed.

(28.) About the calends of June[519] the meadows are mown; the
cultivation of which, the one which is the easiest of all, and
requires the smallest outlay, leads me to enter into some further
details relative to it. Meadow lands should be selected in a rich,
or else a moist or well-watered, soil, and care should be taken to
drain the rain-water upon them from the high-road. The best method
of ensuring a good crop of grass, is first to plough the land, and
then to harrow it: but, before passing the harrow over it, the ground
should be sprinkled with such seed as may have fallen from the hay in
the hay-lofts and mangers. The land should not be watered, however,
the first year,[520] nor should cattle be put to graze upon it before
the second hay-harvest, for fear lest the blade should be torn up by
the roots, or be trodden down and stunted in its growth. Meadow land
will grow old in time, and it requires to be renovated every now and
then, by sowing upon it a crop of beans, or else rape or millet, after
which it should be sown the next year with corn, and then left for hay
the third. Care, too, should be taken, every time the grass is cut, to
pass the sickle over the ground, and so cut the aftermath which the
mowers have left behind; for it is a very bad plan to leave any of the
grass and let it shed its seed there. The best crop for meadow land is
trefoil,[521] and the next best is grass;[522] nummulus[523] is the
very worst of all, as it bears a pod which is particularly injurious;
equisætis,[524] too, which derives its name from its resemblance to
horse-hair, is of a noxious character. The proper time for mowing grass
is when the ear begins to shed its blossom and to grow strong: care
must be taken to cut it before it becomes dry and parched. “Don’t mow
your hay too late,” says Cato;[525] “but cut it before the seed is
ripe.” Some persons turn the water upon it the day before mowing, where
it is practicable to do so. It is the best plan to cut hay in the night
while the dews are falling.[526] In some parts of Italy the mowing is
not done till after harvest.

This operation, too, was a very expensive one in ancient times. In
those days the only whetstones[527] known were those of Crete and other
places beyond sea, and they only used oil to sharpen the scythe with.
For this purpose the mower moved along, with a horn, to hold the oil,
fastened to his thigh. Italy has since furnished us with whetstones
which are used with water, and give an edge to the iron quite equal
to that imparted by the file; these water-whetstones, however, turn
green very quickly. Of the scythe[528] there are two varieties; the
Italian,[529] which is considerably shorter than the other, and can
be handled among underwood even; and the Gallic, which makes quicker
work[530] of it, when employed on extensive domains, for there they
cut the grass in the middle only, and pass over the shorter blades.
The Italian mowers cut with one hand only. It is a fair day’s work
for one man to cut a jugerum of grass, and for another to bind twelve
hundred sheaves of four pounds each. When the grass is cut it should
be turned towards the sun, and must never be stacked until it is quite
dry. If this last precaution is not carefully taken, a kind of vapour
will be seen arising from the rick in the morning, and as soon as the
sun is up it will ignite to a certainty, and so be consumed. When
the grass has been cut, the meadow must be irrigated again, for the
purpose of ensuring a crop in the autumn, known to us as the “cordum,”
or aftermath. At Interamna in Umbria the grass is cut four times[531]
a-year, and this although the meadows there are not irrigated,—in most
places, three. After all this has been done, too, the pasturage of the
land is found no less lucrative than the hay it has produced. This,
however, is a matter of consideration for those more particularly who
rear large herds of cattle, and every one whose occupation it is to
breed beasts of burden, will have his own opinions upon the subject: it
is found, however, the most lucrative of all by those whose business it
is to train chariot-horses.


We have already stated[532] that the summer solstice arrives at the
eighth degree of Cancer, and upon the eighth day before[533] the
calends of July: this is an important crisis in the year, and of great
interest to the whole earth. Up to this period from the time of the
winter solstice the days have gone on increasing, and the sun has
continued for six months making his ascension towards the north; having
now surmounted the heights of the heavens, at this point he reaches the
goal, and after doing so, commences his return towards the south; the
consequence of which is, that for the next six months he increases the
nights and subtracts from the length of the days. From this period,
then, it is the proper time to gather in and store away the various
crops in succession, and so make all due preparations for the rigour
and severity of the winter.

It was only to be expected that Nature should point out to us the
moment of this change by certain signs of an indubitable character;
and she has accordingly placed them beneath the very hands of the
agriculturist, bidding the leaves turn round[534] upon that day, and
so denote that the luminary has now run its course. And it is not the
leaves of trees only that are wild and far remote that do this, nor
have those persons who are on the look-out for these signs to go into
devious forests and mountain tracts to seek them. Nor yet, on the other
hand, are they to be seen in the leaves of trees only that are grown
in the vicinity of cities or reared by the hand of the ornamental
gardener, although in them they are to be seen as well. Nature upon
this occasion turns the leaf of the olive which meets us at every
step; she turns the leaf of the linden, sought by us, as it is, for a
thousand purposes; she turns the leaf of the white poplar, too, wedded
to the vine that grows upon its trunk. And still, for her, all this
is not enough. “You have the elm,” she says, “reared for the support
of the vine, and the leaf of that I will make to turn as well. The
leaves of this tree you have to gather for fodder, the leaves of the
vine you prune away. Only look upon them, and there you behold the
solstice;[535] they are now pointing towards a quarter of the heavens
the reverse of that towards which they looked the day before. The
twigs of the withy, that most lowly of trees, you employ for tying
things without number. You are a head taller than it—I will make its
leaves to turn round as well. Why complain, then, that you are but a
rustic peasant? It shall be no fault of mine if you do not understand
the heavens and become acquainted with the movements of the celestial
bodies. I will give another sign, too, that shall address itself to
your ear—only listen for the cooing of the ring-doves; and beware
of supposing that the summer solstice is past, until you see the
wood-pigeon sitting on her eggs.”

Between the summer solstice and the setting of the Lyre, on the sixth
day before the calends of July,[536] according to Cæsar’s reckoning,
Orion rises, and upon the fourth[537] before the nones of July, his
Belt rises to the people of Assyria. Upon the morning of the same
day, also, the scorching constellation of Procyon rises. This last
constellation has no name with the Romans, unless, indeed, we would
consider it as identical with Canicula,[538] or Lesser Dog, which we
find depicted among the stars; this last is productive of excessive
heat, as we shall shortly have further occasion to state. On the
fourth[539] before the nones of July, the Crown sets in the morning to
the people of Chaldæa, and in Attica, the whole of Orion has risen by
that day. On the day before[540] the ides of July, the rising of Orion
ends to the Egyptians also; on the sixteenth[541] before the calends
of August, Procyon rises to the people of Assyria, and, the day but
one after, of nearly all other countries as well, indicating a crisis
that is universally known among all nations, and which by us is called
the rising of the Dog-star; the sun at this period entering the first
degree of Leo. The Dog-star rises on the twenty-third day after the
summer solstice; the influence of it is felt by both ocean, and earth,
and even by many of the animals as well, as stated by us elsewhere on
the appropriate occasions.[542] No less veneration, in fact, is paid
to this star, than to those that are consecrated to certain gods; it
kindles the flames of the sun, and is one great source of the heats of

On the thirteenth[543] day before the calends of August, the Eagle
sets in the morning to the people of Egypt, and the breezes that are
the precursors of the Etesian winds, begin to blow; these, according
to Cæsar, are first perceived in Italy, on the tenth before[544] the
calends of August. The Eagle sets in the morning of that day to the
people of Attica, and on the third before[545] the calends of August,
the Royal Star in the breast of Leo rises in the morning, according
to Cæsar. On the eighth before[546] the ides of August, one half of
Arcturus has ceased to be visible, and on the third before[547] the
ides the Lyre, by its setting, opens the autumn,—according to Cæsar at
least; though a more exact calculation has since shown, that this takes
place on the sixth day before[548] the ides of that month.

The time that intervenes between these periods is one that is of
primary importance in the cultivation of the vine; as the constellation
of which we have spoken, under the name of Canicula, has now to decide
upon the fate of the grape. It is at this period that the grapes are
said to be charred,[549] a blight falling upon them which burns them
away, as though red-hot coals had been applied to them. There is no
hail that can be compared with this destructive malady, nor yet any
of those tempests, which have been productive of such scarcity and
dearth. For the evil effects of these, at the very utmost, are only
felt in isolated districts, while the coal blight,[550] on the other
hand, extends over whole countries, far and wide. Still, however,
the remedy would not be very difficult, were it not that men would
much rather calumniate Nature, than help themselves. It is said that
Democritus,[551] who was the first to comprehend and demonstrate that
close affinity which exists between the heavens and the earth, finding
his laborious researches upon that subject slighted by the more opulent
of his fellow-citizens, and presaging the high price of oil, which was
about to result upon the rising of the Vergiliæ, (as we have already
mentioned,[552] and shall have to explain more fully hereafter), bought
up all the oil in the country, which was then at a very low figure,
from the universal expectation of a fine crop of olives; a proceeding
which greatly surprised all who knew that a life of poverty and
learned repose was so entirely the object of his aspirations. When,
however, his motives had been fully justified by the result, and vast
riches had flowed in upon him apace, he returned all his profits to
the disappointed proprietors, whose avarice had now taught them to
repent, thinking it quite sufficient to have thus proved how easy it
was for him to acquire riches whenever he pleased. At a more recent
period, again, Sextius,[553] a Roman philosopher residing at Athens,
made a similar application of his knowledge. Such, then, is the utility
of science, the instruction provided by which it shall be my aim, as
clearly and as perspicuously as possible, to apply to the various
occupations of a country life.

Most writers have said that it is the dew, scorched by a burning
sun, that is the cause of mildew[554] in corn, and of coal blight in
the vine; this, however, seems to me in a great measure incorrect,
and it is my opinion that all blights result entirely from cold, and
that the sun is productive of no injurious effects whatever. This, in
fact, will be quite evident, if only a little attention is paid to the
subject; for we find that the blight makes its appearance at first in
the night time only, and before the sun has shone with any vigour. The
natural inference is, that it depends entirely upon the moon, and more
particularly as such a calamity as this is never known to happen except
at the moon’s conjunction, or else at the full moon, periods at which
the influence of that heavenly body is at its greatest height. For at
both of these periods, as already[555] stated by us more than once,
the moon is in reality at the full; though during her conjunction she
throws back to the heavens all the light which she has received from
the sun. The difference in the effects produced by the moon at these
two periods is very great, though at the same time equally apparent;
for at the conjunction, that body is extremely hot in summer, but cold
in winter; while, on the other hand, at the full moon, the nights
are cold in summer, but warm in winter. The reason of this, although
Fabianus and the Greek writers adopt another method of explaining it,
is quite evident. During the moon’s conjunction in summer, she must
of necessity move along with the sun in an orbit nearer to the earth,
and so become warmed by the heat which she receives by reason of
her closer vicinity to the sun. In winter, again, at the time of the
conjunction, she is farther off from us, the sun being also removed to
a greater distance. On the other hand, again, when the moon is at the
full in summer, she is more remote from the earth, and in opposition
with the sun; while, in winter, she approaches nearer to us at that
period, by adopting the same orbit as at her conjunction in summer.
Naturally humid herself, as often as from her position she is cold, she
congeals to an unlimited extent the dews which fall at that period of
the year.


But we ought always to bear in mind, more particularly, that there
are two varieties of evils that are inflicted upon the earth by the
heavens. The first of these, known by us under the name of “tempests,”
comprehends hail-storms, hurricanes and other calamities of a similar
nature; when these take place at the full moon, they come upon us with
additional intensity. These tempests take their rise in certain noxious
constellations, as already stated by us on several occasions, Arcturus,
for instance, Orion, and the Kids.

The other evils that are thus inflicted upon us, supervene with a
bright, clear sky, and amid the silence of the night, no one being
sensible of them until we have perceived their effects. These
dispensations are universal and of a totally different character from
those previously mentioned, and have various names given to them,
sometimes mildew, sometimes blast, and sometimes coal blight; but in
all cases sterility is the infallible result. It is of these last that
we have now to speak, entering into details which have not hitherto
been treated of by any writer; and first of all we will explain the
causes of them.

(29.) Independently of the moon, there are two principal causes of
these calamities, which emanate more particularly from two quarters
of the heavens of but limited extent. On the one hand, the Vergiliæ
exercise an especial influence on our harvests, as it is with their
rising that the summer begins, and with their setting, the winter;
thus embracing, in the space of six months, the harvest, the vintage,
and the ripening of all the vegetable productions. In addition to
this, there is a circular tract in the heavens, quite visible to the
human eye even, known as the Milky Way. It is the emanations from
this, flowing as it were from the breast, that supply their milky[556]
nutriment to all branches of the vegetable world. Two constellations
more particularly mark this circular tract, the Eagle in the north, and
Canicula in the south; of this last, we have already made mention[557]
in its appropriate place. This circle traverses also Sagittarius and
Gemini, and passing through the centre of the sun, cuts the equinoctial
line below, the constellation of the Eagle making its appearance at
the point of intersection on the one side, and Canicula on the other.
Hence it is that the influences of both these constellations develope
themselves upon all cultivated lands; it being at these points only
that the centre of the sun is brought to correspond with that of the
earth. If, then, at the moments of the rising and the setting of these
constellations, the air, soft and pure, transmits these genial and
milky emanations to the earth, the crops will thrive and ripen apace;
but if, on the other hand, the moon, as already[558] mentioned, sheds
her chilling dews, the bitterness thereof infuses itself into these
milky secretions, and so kills the vegetation in its birth. The measure
of the injury so inflicted on the earth depends, in each climate, upon
the combination of the one or other of these causes; and hence it is
that it is not felt in equal intensity throughout the whole earth, nor
even precisely at the same moment of time. We have already[559] said
that the Eagle rises in Italy on the thirteenth day[560] before the
calends of January, and the ordinary course of Nature does not permit
us before that period to reckon with any degree of certainty upon the
fruits of the earth; for if the moon should happen to be in conjunction
at that time, it will be a necessary consequence, that all the winter
fruits, as well as the early ones, will receive injury more or less.

The life led by the ancients was rude and illiterate; still, as will
be readily seen, the observations they made were not less remarkable
for ingenuity than are the theories of the present day. With them there
were three set periods for gathering in the produce of the earth, and
it was in honour of these periods that they instituted the festive
days, known as the Robigalia,[561] the Floralia, and the Vinalia. The
Robigalia were established by Numa in the fortieth year of his reign,
and are still celebrated on the seventh day before the calends of
May, as it is at this period that mildew[562] mostly makes its first
attacks upon the growing corn. Varro fixes this crisis at the moment
at which the sun enters the tenth degree of Taurus, in accordance
with the notions that prevailed in his day: but the real cause is the
fact, that thirty-one[563] days after the vernal equinox, according
to the observations of various nations, the Dog-star sets between
the seventh and fourth before the calends of May, a constellation
baneful in itself, and to appease which a young dog should first be
sacrificed.[564] The same people also, in the year of the City 513,
instituted the Floralia, a festival held upon the fourth before[565]
the calends of May, in accordance with the oracular injunctions of the
Sibyl, to secure a favourable season for the blossoms and flowers.
Varro fixes this day as the time at which the sun enters the fourteenth
degree of Taurus. If there should happen to be a full moon during
the four days at this period, injury to the corn and all the plants
that are in blossom, will be the necessary result. The First Vinalia,
which in ancient times were established on the ninth before[566] the
calends of May, for the purpose of tasting[567] the wines, have no
signification whatever in reference to the fruits of the earth, any
more than the festivals already mentioned have in reference to the
vine and the olive; the germination of these last not commencing, in
fact, till the rising of the Vergiliæ, on the Sixth day before[568] the
ides of May, as already mentioned on previous occasions.[569] This,
again, is another period of four days, which should never be blemished
by dews, as the chilling constellation of Arcturus, which sets on the
following day, will be sure to nip the vegetation; still less ought
there to be a full moon at this period.

On the fourth before[570] the nones of June, the Eagle rises again in
the evening, a critical day for the olives and vines in blossom, if
there should happen to be a full moon. For my part, I am of opinion
that the eighth[571] before the calends of July, the day of the
summer solstice, must be a critical day, for a similar reason; and
that the rising of the Dog-star, twenty-three days after the summer
solstice, must be so too, in case the moon is then in conjunction; for
the excessive heat is productive of injurious effects, and the grape
becomes prematurely ripened, shrivelled, and tough. Again, if there is
a full moon on the fourth before[572] the nones of July, when Canicula
rises to the people of Egypt, or at least on the sixteenth before[573]
the calends of August, when it rises in Italy, it is productive of
injurious results. The same is the case, too, from the thirteenth day
before[574] the calends of August, when the Eagle sets, to the tenth
before[575] the calends of that month. The Second Vinalia, which are
celebrated on the fourteenth[576] before the calends of September, bear
no reference to these influences. Varro fixes them at the period at
which the Lyre begins its morning setting, and says that this indicates
the beginning of autumn, the day having been set apart for the purpose
of propitiating the weather: at the present day, however, it is
observed that the Lyre sets on the sixth before[577] the ides of August.

Within these periods there are exerted the sterilizing influences of
the heavens, though I am far from denying that they may be considerably
modified by the nature of the locality, according as it is cold or
hot. Still, however, it is sufficient for me to have demonstrated
the theory; the modifications of its results depending, in a great
degree, upon attentive observation. It is beyond all question too,
that either one of these two causes will be always productive of
its own peculiar effects, the full moon, I mean, or else the moon’s
conjunction. And here it suggests itself how greatly we ought to admire
the bounteous provisions made for us by Nature; for, in the first
place, these calamitous results cannot by any possibility befall us
every year, in consequence of the fixed revolutions of the stars; nor
indeed, when they do happen, beyond a few nights in the year, and it
may be easily known beforehand which nights those are likely to be.
In order, too, that we might not have to apprehend these injuries to
vegetation in all the months, Nature has so ordained that the times
of the moon’s conjunction in summer, and of the full moon in winter,
with the exception of two days only at those respective periods, are
well ascertained, and that there is no danger to be apprehended on any
but the nights of summer, and those nights the shortest of all; in
the day-time, on the other hand, there is nothing to fear. And then,
besides, these phænomena may be so easily understood, that the ant
even, that most diminutive of insects, takes its rest during the moon’s
conjunction, but toils on, and that during the night as well, when the
moon is at the full; the bird, too, called the “parra”[578] disappears
upon the day on which Sirius rises, and never reappears until that
star has set; while the witwall,[579] on the other hand, makes its
appearance on the day of the summer solstice. The moon, however, is
productive of no noxious effects at either of these periods, except
when the nights are clear, and every movement of the air is lulled; for
so long as clouds prevail, or the wind is blowing, the night dews never
fall. And then, besides, there are certain remedies to counteract these
noxious influences.


When you have reason to fear these influences, make bonfires in the
fields and vineyards of cuttings or heaps of chaff, or else of the
weeds that have been rooted up; the smoke[580] will act as a good
preservative. The smoke, too, of burning chaff will be an effectual
protection against the effects of fogs, when likely to be injurious.
Some persons recommend that three crabs should be burnt[581] alive
among the trees on which the vines are trained, to prevent these from
being attacked by coal blight; while others say that the flesh of the
silurus[582] should be burnt in a slow fire, in such a way that the
smoke may be dispersed by the wind throughout the vineyard.

Varro informs us, that if at the setting of the Lyre, which is the
beginning of autumn, a painted grape[583] is consecrated in the midst
of the vineyard, the bad weather will not be productive of such
disastrous results as it otherwise would. Archibius[584] has stated, in
a letter to Antiochus, king of Syria, that if a bramble-frog[585] is
buried in a new earthen vessel, in the middle of a corn-field, there
will be no storms to cause injury.


The following are the rural occupations for this interval of time—the
ground must have another turning up, and the trees must be cleared
about the roots and moulded up, where the heat of the locality requires
it. Those plants, however, which are in bud must not be spaded at the
roots, except where the soil is particularly rich. The seed-plots, too,
must be well cleared with the hoe, the barley-harvest got in, and the
threshing-floor prepared for the harvest with chalk, as Cato[586] tells
us, slackened with amurca of olives; Virgil[587] makes mention of a
method still more laborious even. In general, however, it is considered
sufficient to make it perfectly level, and then to cover it with a
solution of cow-dung[588] and water; this being thought sufficient to
prevent the dust from rising.

CHAP. 72. (30.)—THE HARVEST.

The mode of getting in the harvest varies considerably. In the vast
domains of the provinces of Gaul a large hollow frame,[589] armed with
teeth and supported on two wheels, is driven through the standing corn,
the beasts being yoked[590] behind it; the result being, that the ears
are torn off and fall within the frame. In other countries the stalks
are cut with the sickle in the middle, and the ears are separated by
the aid of paddle-forks.[591] In some places, again, the corn is torn
up by the roots; and it is asserted by those who adopt this plan,
that it is as good as a light turning up for the ground, whereas, in
reality, they deprive it of its juices.[592] There are differences in
other respects also: in places where they thatch their houses with
straw, they keep the longest haulms for that purpose; and where hay is
scarce, they employ the straw for litter. The straw of panic is never
used for thatching, and that of millet is mostly burnt; barley-straw,
however, is always preserved, as being the most agreeable of all as a
food for oxen. In the Gallic provinces panic and millet are gathered,
ear by ear, with the aid of a comb carried in the hand.

In some places the corn is beaten out by machines[593] upon the
threshing-floor, in others by the feet of mares, and in others with
flails. The later wheat is cut, the more prolific[594] it is; but if
it is got in early, the grain is finer and stronger. The best rule
is to cut it before the grain hardens, and just as it is changing
colour:[595] though the oracles on husbandry say that it is better to
begin the harvest two days too soon than two days too late. Winter
and other wheat must be treated exactly the same way both on the
threshing-floor and in the granary. Spelt, as it is difficult to be
threshed, should be stored with the chaff on, being only disengaged of
the straw and the beard.

Many countries make use of chaff[596] for hay; the smoother and
thinner it is, and the more nearly resembling dust, the better; hence
it is that the chaff[597] of millet is considered the best, that
of barley being the next best, and that of wheat the worst of all,
except for beasts that are hard worked. In stony places they break the
haulms, when dry, with staves, for the cattle to lie upon: if there
is a deficiency of chaff, the straw as well is ground for food. The
following is the method employed in preparing it: it is cut early and
sprinkled with bay salt,[598] after which it is dried and rolled up in
trusses, and given to the oxen as wanted, instead of hay. Some persons
set fire to the stubble in the fields, a plan that has been greatly
extolled by Virgil:[599] the chief merit of it is that the seed of the
weeds is effectually destroyed. The diversity of the methods employed
in harvesting mainly depends upon the extent of the crops and the price
of labour.


Connected with this branch of our subject is the method of storing
corn. Some persons recommend that granaries should be built for the
purpose at considerable expense, the walls being made of brick, and
not less than three[600] feet thick; the corn, they say, should be
let in from above, the air being carefully excluded, and no windows
allowed. Others, again, say that the granary should have an aspect in
no direction but the north-east or north, and that the walls should be
built without lime, that substance being extremely injurious[601] to
corn; as to what we find recommended in reference to amurca of olives,
we have already mentioned it on a former[602] occasion. In some places
they build their granaries of wood, and upon pillars,[603] thinking it
the best plan to leave access for the air on every side, and from below
even. Some persons think, however, that the grain diminishes in bulk if
laid on a floor above the level of the ground, and that it is liable
to ferment beneath a roof of tiles. Many persons say, too, that the
grain should never be stirred up to air[604] it, as the weevil is never
known to penetrate beyond four fingers in depth; consequently, beyond
that depth there is no danger. According to Columella,[605] the west
wind is beneficial to grain, a thing that surprises me, as that wind is
generally a very parching[606] one. Some persons recommend that, before
housing the corn, a bramble-frog should be hung up by one of the hind
legs at the threshold of the granary. To me it appears that the most
important precaution of all is to house the grain at the proper time;
for if it is unripe when cut, and not sufficiently firm, or if it is
got in in a heated state, it follows of necessity that noxious insects
will breed in it.

There are several causes which contribute to the preservation of grain;
the outer[607] coats in some kinds are more numerous, as in millet, for
instance; the juices are of an oleaginous nature,[608] and so supply
ample moisture, as in sesame, for example; while in other kinds, again,
they are naturally bitter,[609] as in the lupine and the chicheling
vetch. It is in wheat more particularly that insects breed, as it is
apt to heat from the density of its juices, and the grain is covered
with a thick bran. In barley the chaff is thinner, and the same is the
case with all the leguminous seeds: it is for this reason that they do
not ordinarily breed insects. The bean, however, is covered with a coat
of a thicker substance; and hence it is that it ferments. Some persons
sprinkle wheat, in order to make it keep the longer, with amurca[610]
of olives, a quadrantal to a thousand modii: others, again, with
powdered Chalcidian or Carian chalk, or with worm-wood.[611] There is
a certain earth found at Olynthus, and at Cerinthus, in Eubœa, which
prevents grain from spoiling. If garnered in the ear, grain is hardly
ever found to suffer any injury.

The best plan, however, of preserving grain, is to lay it up in
trenches, called “siri,” as they do in Cappadocia, Thracia, Spain, and
at * * * in Africa. Particular care is taken to dig these trenches in a
dry soil, and a layer of chaff is then placed at the bottom; the grain,
too, is always stored in the ear. In this case, if no air is allowed
to penetrate to the corn, we may rest assured that no noxious insects
will ever breed in it. Varro[612] says, that wheat, if thus stored,
will keep as long as fifty years, and millet a hundred; and he assures
us that beans and other leguminous grain, if put away in oil jars with
a covering of ashes, will keep for a great length of time. He makes
a statement, also, to the effect that some beans were preserved in a
cavern in Ambracia from the time of King Pyrrhus until the Piratical
War of Pompeius Magnus, a period of about two hundred and twenty years.

The chick-pea is the only grain in which no insect will breed while in
the granary. Some persons place upon the heaps of the leguminous grains
pitchers full of vinegar and coated with pitch, a stratum of ashes
being laid beneath; and they fancy that if this is done, no injury
will happen. Some, again, store them in vessels which have held salted
provisions, with a coating of plaster on the top, while other persons
are in the habit of sprinkling lentils with vinegar scented with
laser,[613] and, when dry, giving them a covering of oil. But the most
effectual method of all is to get in everything that you would preserve
from injury at the time of the moon’s conjunction; and hence it is of
the greatest importance to know, when getting in the harvest, whether
it is for garnering or whether for immediate sale. If cut during the
increase of the moon, grain will increase in size.


In accordance with the ordinary divisions of the year, we now come to
autumn, a period which extends from the setting of the Lyre to the
autumnal equinox, and from that to the setting of the Vergiliæ and the
beginning of winter. In these intervals, the more important periods
are marked by the rising of the Horse to the people of Attica, in the
evening of the day before[614] the ides of August; upon which day also
the Dolphin sets in Egypt, and, according to Cæsar, in Italy. On the
eleventh[615] before the calends of September, the star called the
Vintager begins to rise in the morning, according to Cæsar’s reckoning,
and to the people of Assyria: it announces the ripening of the vintage,
a sure sign of which is the change of colour in the grape. On the
fifth[616] before the calends of September, the Arrow sets in Assyria,
and the Etesian winds cease to blow: on the nones[617] of September,
the Vintager rises in Egypt, and in the morning of that day, Arcturus
rises to the people of Attica: on the same morning, too, the Arrow
sets. In the fifth before[618] the ides of September, according to
Cæsar, the She-Goat rises in the evening; and one half of Arcturus
becomes visible on the day before[619] the ides of September, being
portentous[620] of boisterous weather for five days, both by land and

The theory relative to the effects produced by Arcturus, is stated in
the following terms: if showers prevail, it is said, at the setting of
the Dolphin, they will not cease so long as Arcturus is visible. The
departure of the swallows may be looked upon as the sign of the rising
of Arcturus; for if overtaken by it, they are sure to perish.

On the sixteenth day before[621] the calends of October, the Ear of
Corn, which Virgo holds, rises to the people of Egypt in the morning,
and by this day the Etesian winds have quite ceased to blow. According
to Cæsar, this constellation rises on the fourteenth[622] before
the calends, and it affords its prognostics to the Assyrians on the
thirteenth. On the eleventh before[623] the calends of October, the
point of junction[624] in Pisces disappears, and upon the eighth[625]
is the autumnal equinox. It is a remarkable fact, and rarely the
case, that Philippus, Callippus, Dositheus, Parmeniscus, Conon,[626]
Criton, Democritus, and Eudoxus, all agree that the She-Goat rises in
the morning of the fourth before[627] the calends of October, and on
the third[628] the Kids. On the sixth day before[629] the nones of
October, the Crown rises in the morning to the people of Attica, and
upon the morning of the fifth,[630] the Charioteer sets. On the fourth
before[631] the nones of October, the Crown, according to Cæsar’s
reckoning, begins to rise, and on the evening of the day after is the
setting of the constellation of the Kids. On the eighth before[632]
the ides of October, according to Cæsar, the bright star rises that
shines in the Crown, and on the evening of the sixth before[633] the
ides the Vergiliæ, rise. Upon the ides[634] of October, the Crown has
wholly risen. On the seventeenth before[635] the calends of November,
the Suculæ rise in the evening, and on the day before the calends,
according to Cæsar’s reckoning, Arcturus sets, and the Suculæ[636] rise
with the sun. In the evening of the fourth day before[637] the nones of
November, Arcturus sets. On the fifth before[638] the ides of November,
Orion’s Sword begins to set; and on the third[639] before the ides the
Vergiliæ set.

In this interval of time, the rural operations consist in sowing rape
and turnips, upon the days which have been mentioned on a previous
occasion.[640] The people in the country are of opinion, that it is not
a good plan to sow rape after the departure of the stork; but for my
own part, I am of opinion that it should be sown after the Vulcanalia,
and the early kind at the same time as panic. After the setting of
the Lyre, vetches should be sown, kidney-beans and hay-grass: it is
generally recommended that this should be done while the moon is in
conjunction. This, too, is the proper time for gathering in the leaves:
it is fair work for one woodman, to fill four baskets[641] in the day.
If the leaves are gathered while the moon is on the wane, they will not
decay; they ought not to be dry, however, when gathered.

The ancients were of opinion, that the vintage is never ripe before
the equinox; but at the present day I find that it is gathered in
before that period; it will be as well, therefore, to give the signs
and indications by which the proper moment may be exactly ascertained.
The rules for getting in the vintage are to the following effect:
Never gather the grape in a heated state,[642] or in other words, when
the weather is dry, and before the rains have fallen; nor ought it to
be gathered when covered with dew,—or in other words, when dews have
fallen during the night,—nor yet before the dews have been dispelled by
the sun. Commence the vintage when the bearing-shoots begin to recline
upon the stem, or when, after a grape is removed from the bunch, the
space left empty is not filled up; this being a sure proof that the
berry has ceased to increase in size. It is of the greatest consequence
to the grape, that it should be gathered while the moon is on the
increase. Each pressing should fill twenty culei,[643] that being the
fair proportion. To fill twenty culei and vats[644] from twenty jugera
of vineyard, a single press will be enough. In pressing the grape,
some persons use a single press-board, but it is a better plan to
employ two, however large the single ones may be. It is the length of
them that is of the greatest consequence, and not the thickness: if
wide, however, they press the fruit all the better. The ancients used
to screw down the press-boards with ropes and leather thongs, worked
by levers. Within the last hundred years the Greek press has been
invented, with thick spiral grooves running down the[645] stem. To
this stem there are spokes attached, which project like the rays of a
star, and by means of which the stem is made to lift a box filled with
stones—a method that is very highly approved of. It is only within the
last two-and-twenty years, that a plan has been discovered of employing
smaller press-boards, and a less unwieldy press: to effect this, the
height has been reduced, and the stem of the screw placed in the
middle, the whole pressure being concentrated upon broad planks[646]
placed over the grapes, which are covered also with heavy weights above.

This is the proper time for gathering fruit; the best moment for doing
so is when it has begun to fall through ripeness, and not from the
effects of the weather. This is the season, too, for extracting the
lees of wine, and for boiling defrutum:[647] this last must be done
on a night when there is no moon, or if it is a full moon, in the
day-time. At other times of the year, it must be done either before
the moon has risen, or after it has set. The grapes employed for this
purpose should never be gathered from a young vine, nor yet from a tree
that is grown in a marshy spot, nor should any grapes be used but those
that are perfectly ripe: the liquor, too, should never be skimmed with
anything but a leaf,[648] for if the vessel should happen to be touched
with wood, the liquor, it is generally thought, will have a burnt and
smoky flavour.

The proper time for the vintage is between the equinox and the setting
of the Vergiliæ, a period of forty-four days. It is a saying among the
growers, that to pitch wine-vessels after that day, in consequence of
the coldness of the weather, is only so much time lost. Still, however,
I have seen, before now persons getting in the vintage on the calends
of January[649] even, in consequence of the want of wine-vessels, and
putting the must into receivers,[650] or else pouring the old wine out
of its vessels, to make room for new liquor of a very doubtful quality.
This, however, happens not so often in consequence of an over-abundant
crop, as through carelessness, or else the avarice which leads people
to wait for a rise in prices. The method that is adopted by the most
economical managers, is to use the produce supplied by each year,[651]
and this, too, is found in the end the most lucrative mode of
proceeding. As for the other details relative to wines, they have been
discussed at sufficient length already;[652] and it has been stated on
a previous occasion,[653] that as soon as the vintage is got in, the
olives should at once be gathered, with other particulars relative to
the olive after the setting of the Vergiliæ.


I shall now proceed to add some necessary information relative to the
moon, the winds, and certain signs and prognostics, in order that I
may complete the observations I have to make with reference to the
sidereal system. Virgil[654] has even gone so far, in imitation of
Democritus, as to assign certain operations to certain days[655] of the
moon; but my sole object shall be, as, indeed, it has been throughout
this work, to consult that utility which is based upon a knowledge and
appreciation of general principles.

All vegetable productions are cut, gathered, and housed to more
advantage while the moon is on the wane than while it is on the
increase. Manure must never be touched except when the moon is on the
wane; and land must be manured more particularly while the moon is
in conjunction, or else at the first quarter. Take care to geld your
boars, bulls, rams, and kids, while the moon is on the wane. Put eggs
under the hen at a new moon. Make your ditches in the night-time, when
the moon is at full. Cover up the roots of trees, while the moon is at
full. Where the soil is humid, put in seed at the moon’s conjunction,
and during the four days about that period. It is generally
recommended, too, to give an airing to corn and the leguminous grains,
and to garner them, towards the end of the moon; to make seed-plots
when the moon is above the horizon; and to tread out the grape, to fell
timber, and to do many other things that have been mentioned in their
respective places, when the moon is below it.

The observation of the moon, in general, as already observed in the
Second Book,[656] is not so very easy, but what I am about here to
state even rustics will be able to comprehend: so long as the moon is
seen in the west, and during the earlier hours of the night, she will
be on the increase, and one half of her disk will be perceived; but
when the moon is seen to rise at sunset and opposite to the sun, so
that they are both perceptible at the same moment, she will be at full.
Again, as often as the moon rises in the east, and does not give her
light in the earlier hours of the night, but shows herself during a
portion of the day, she will be on the wane, and one half of her only
will again be perceptible: when the moon has ceased to be visible,
she is in conjunction, a period known to us as “interlunium.”[657]
During the conjunction, the moon will be above the horizon the same
time as the sun, for the whole of the first day; on the second, she
will advance upon the night ten-twelfths of an hour and one-fourth of
a twelfth;[658] on the third day, the same as on the second, and * *
* so on in succession up to the fifteenth day, the same proportional
parts of an hour being added each day. On the fifteenth day she will be
above the horizon all night, and below it all day. On the sixteenth,
she will remain below the horizon ten-twelfths of an hour, and
one-fourth of a twelfth, at the first hour of the night, and so on in
the same proportion day after day, up to the period of her conjunction;
and thus, the same time which, by remaining under the horizon, she
withdraws from the first part of the night, she will add to the end
of the night by remaining above the horizon. Her revolutions, too,
will occupy thirty days one month, and twenty-nine the next, and so on
alternately. Such is the theory of the revolutions of the moon.


The theory of the winds[659] is of a somewhat more intricate nature.
After observing the quarter in which the sun rises on any given day, at
the sixth[660] hour of the day take your position in such a manner as
to have the point of the sun’s rising on your left; you will then have
the south directly facing you, and the north at your back: a line drawn
through a field in this direction[661] is called the “cardinal”[662]
line. The observer must then turn round, so as to look upon his shadow,
for it will be behind him. Having thus changed his position, so as to
bring the point of the sun’s rising on that day to the right, and that
of his setting to the left, it will be the sixth hour of the day, at
the moment when the shadow straight before him is the shortest. Through
the middle of this shadow, taken lengthwise, a furrow must be traced
in the ground with a hoe, or else a line drawn with ashes, some twenty
feet in length, say; in the middle of this line, or, in other words,
at the tenth foot in it, a small circle must then be described: to
this circle we may give the name of the “umbilicus,” or “navel.” That
point in the line which lies on the side of the head of the shadow will
be the point from which the north wind blows. You who are engaged in
pruning trees, be it your care that the incisions made in the wood do
not face this point; nor should the vine-trees[663] or the vines have
this aspect, except in the climates of Africa,[664] Cyrenæ, or Egypt.
When the wind blows, too, from this point, you must never plough, nor,
in fact, attempt any other of the operations of which we shall have to
make mention.[665]

That part of the line which lies between the umbilicus and the feet of
the shadow will look towards the south, and indicate the point from
which the south wind[666] blows, to which, as already mentioned,[667]
the Greeks have given the name of Notus. When the wind comes from this
quarter, you, husbandman, must never fell wood or touch the vine.
In Italy this wind is either humid or else of a burning heat, and
in Africa it is accompanied with intense heat[668] and fine clear
weather. In Italy the bearing branches should be trained to face this
quarter, but the incisions made in the trees or vines when pruned must
never face it. Let those be on their guard against this wind upon
the four[669] days at the rising of the Vergiliæ, who are engaged in
planting the olive, as well as those who are employed in the operations
of grafting or inoculating.

It will be as well, too, here to give some advice, in reference to the
climate of Italy, as to certain precautions to be observed at certain
hours of the day. You, woodman, must never lop the branches in the
middle of the day; and you, shepherd, when you see midday approaching
in summer, and the shadow gradually decreasing, drive your flocks from
out of the sun into some well-shaded spot. When you lead the flocks to
pasture in summer, let them face the west before midday,[670] and after
that time, the east: if this precaution is not adopted, calamitous
results will ensue; the same, too, if the flocks are led in winter or
spring to pastures covered with dew. Nor must you let them feed with
their faces to the north, as already mentioned;[671] for the wind will
either close their eyes or else make them bleared, and they will die of
looseness. If you wish to have females,[672] you should let the dams
have their faces towards the north while being covered.


We have already stated[673] that the umbilicus should be described in
the middle of the line. Let another line be drawn transversely through
the middle of it, and it will be found to run from due east to due
west; a trench cut through the land in accordance with this line is
known by the name of “decumanus.” Two other lines must then be traced
obliquely across them in the form of the letter X, in such a way as to
run exactly from right and left of the northern point to left and right
of the southern one. All these lines must pass through the centre of
the umbilicus, and all must be of corresponding length, and at equal
distances. This method should always be adopted in laying out land; or
if it should be found necessary to employ it frequently, a plan[674]
of it may be made in wood, sticks of equal length being fixed upon the
surface of a small tambour,[675] but perfectly round. In the method
which I am here explaining, it is necessary to point out one precaution
that must always be observed by those who are unacquainted with the
subject. The point that must be verified first of all is the south,
as that is always the same; but the sun, it must be remembered, rises
every day at a point in the heavens different to that of his rising on
the day before, so that the east must never be taken as the basis for
tracing the lines.

Having now ascertained the various points of the heavens, the extremity
of the line that is nearest to the north, but lying to the east of it,
will indicate the solstitial rising, or, in other words, the rising
of the sun on the longest day, as also the point from which the wind
Aquilo[676] blows, known to the Greeks by the name of Boreas. You
should plant all trees and vines facing this point, but take care
never to plough, or sow corn, or plant in seed plots, while this wind
is blowing, for it has the effect of drying up and blasting the roots
of the trees while being transplanted. Be taught in time—one thing is
good for grown trees, another for them while they are but young. Nor
have I forgotten the fact, that it is at this point of the heavens
that the Greeks place the wind, to which they give the name of Cæcias;
Aristotle, a man of most extensive learning, who has assigned to Cæcias
this position, explains that it is in consequence of the convexity
of the earth, that Aquilo blows in an opposite direction to the wind
called Africus.

The agriculturist, however, has nothing to fear from Aquilo, in respect
to the operations before mentioned, all the year through; for this wind
is softened by the sun in the middle of the summer, and, changing
its name, is known by that of Etesias.[677] When you feel the cold,
then, be on your guard; for, whatever the noxious effects that are
attributed to Aquilo, the more sensibly will they be felt when the wind
blows from due north. In Asia, Greece, Spain, the coasts of Italy,
Campania, and Apulia, the trees that support the vines, as well as the
vines themselves, should have an aspect towards the north-east. If you
wish to have male produce, let the flock feed in such a way, that this
wind may have the opportunity of fecundating the male, whose office
it is to fecundate the females. The wind Africus, known to the Greeks
by the name of Libs, blows from the south-west, the opposite point to
Aquilo; when animals, after coupling, turn their heads towards this
quarter,[678] you may be sure that female produce has been conceived.

The third[679] line from the north, which we have drawn transversely
through the shadow, and called by the name of “decumanus,” will
point due east, and from this quarter the wind Subsolanus blows, by
the Greeks called Apeliotes. It is to this point that, in healthy
localities, farm-houses and vineyards are made to look. This wind is
accompanied with soft, gentle showers; Favonius, however, the wind
that blows from due west, the opposite quarter to it, is of a drier
nature; by the Greeks it is known as Zephyrus. Cato has recommended
that olive-yards should look due west. It is this wind that begins the
spring, and opens the earth; it is moderately cool, but healthy. As
soon as it begins to prevail, it indicates that the time has arrived
for pruning the vine, weeding the corn, planting trees, grafting
fruit-trees, and trimming the olive; for its breezes are productive of
the most nutritious effects.

The fourth[680] line from the north, and the one that lies nearest
the south on the eastern side, will indicate the point of the sun’s
rising at the winter solstice, and the wind Volturnus, known by the
name of Eurus to the Greeks. This wind is warm and dry, and beehives
and vineyards, in the climates of Italy and the Gallic provinces,
should face this quarter. Directly opposite to Volturnus, the wind
Corus blows; it indicates the point of the sun’s setting at the summer
solstice, and lies on the western side next to the north. By the
Greeks it is called Argestes, and is one of the very coldest of the
winds, which, in fact, is the case with all the winds that blow from
the north; this wind, too, brings hailstorms with it, for which reason
it is necessary to be on our guard against it no less than the north.
If Volturnus begins to blow from a clear quarter of the heavens, it
will not last till night; but if it is Subsolanus, it will prevail for
the greater part of the night. Whatever the wind that may happen to
be blowing, if it is accompanied by heat, it will be sure to last for
several days. The earth announces the approach of Aquilo, by drying on
a sudden, while on the approach of Auster, the surface becomes moist
without any apparent cause.


Having now explained the theory of the winds, it seems to me the
best plan, in order to avoid any repetition, to pass on to the other
signs and prognostics that are indicative of a change of weather. I
find, too, that this is a kind of knowledge that greatly interested
Virgil,[681] for he mentions the fact, that during the harvest even, he
has often seen the winds engage in a combat that was absolutely ruinous
to the improvident agriculturist. There is a tradition, too, to the
effect that Democritus, already mentioned, when his brother Damasus was
getting in his harvest in extremely hot weather, entreated him to leave
the rest of the crop, and house with all haste that which had been
cut; and it was only within a very few hours that his prediction was
verified by a most violent storm. On the other hand, it is particularly
recommended never to plant reeds except when rain is impending, and
only to sow corn just before a shower; we shall therefore briefly
touch upon the prognostics of this description, making enquiry more
particularly into those among them that have been found the most useful.

In the first place, then, we will consider those prognostics of the
weather which are derived from the sun.[682] If the sun is bright at
its rising, and not burning hot, it is indicative of fine weather,
but if pale, it announces wintry weather accompanied with hail. If the
sun is bright and clear when it sets, and if it rises with a similar
appearance, the more assured of fine weather may we feel ourselves. If
it is hidden in clouds at its rising, it is indicative of rain, and of
wind, when the clouds are of a reddish colour just before sunrise; if
black clouds are intermingled with the red ones, they betoken rain as
well. When the sun’s rays at its rising or setting appear to unite,
rainy weather may be looked for. When the clouds are red at sunset,
they give promise[683] of a fine day on the morrow; but if, at the
sun’s rising, the clouds are dispersed in various quarters, some to
the south, and some to the north-east, even though the heavens in the
vicinity of the sun may be bright, they are significant of rain and
wind. If at the sun’s rising or setting, its rays appear contracted,
they announce the approach of a shower. If it rains at sunset, or if
the sun’s rays attract the clouds towards them, it is portentous of
stormy weather on the following day. When the sun, at its rising,
does not emit vivid rays, although there are no clouds surrounding
it, rain may be expected. If before sunrise the clouds collect into
dense masses, they are portentous of a violent storm; but if they
are repelled from the east and travel westward, they indicate fine
weather. When clouds are seen surrounding the face of the sun, the less
the light they leave, the more violent the tempest will be: but if
they form a double circle round the sun, the storm will be a dreadful
one. If this takes place at sunrise or sunset, and the clouds assume
a red hue, the approach of a most violent storm is announced: and if
the clouds hang over the face of the sun without surrounding it, they
presage wind from the quarter from which they are drifting, and rain as
well, if they come from the south.

If, at its rising, the sun is surrounded with a circle, wind may
be looked for in the quarter in which the circle breaks; but if it
disappears equally throughout, it is indicative of fine weather. If the
sun at its rising throws out its rays afar through the clouds, and the
middle of its disk is clear, there will be rain; and if its rays are
seen before it rises, both rain and wind as well. If a white circle
is seen round the sun at its setting, there will be a slight storm in
the night; but if there is a mist around it, the storm will be more
violent. If the sun is pale at sunset, there will be wind, and if there
is a dark circle round it, high winds will arise in the quarter in
which the circle breaks.


The prognostics derived from the moon, assert their right to occupy
our notice in the second place. In Egypt, attention is paid, more
particularly, to the fourth day of the moon. If, when the moon rises,
she shines with a pure bright light, it is generally supposed that
we shall have fine weather; but if she is red, there will be wind,
and if of a swarthy[684] hue, rain. If upon the fifth day of the moon
her horns are obtuse, they are always indicative of rain, but if
sharp and erect, of wind, and this on the fourth day of the moon more
particularly. If her northern horn is pointed and erect, it portends
wind; and if it is the lower horn that presents this appearance, the
wind will be from the south; if both of them are erect, there will be
high winds in the night. If upon the fourth day of the moon she is
surrounded by a red circle, it is portentous of wind and rain.

In Varro we find it stated to the following effect:—“If, at the fourth
day of the moon, her horns are erect, there will be great storms at
sea, unless, indeed, she has a circlet[685] around her, and that
circlet unblemished; for by that sign we are informed that there will
be no stormy weather before full moon. If, at the full moon, one half
of her disk is clear, it is indicative of fine weather, but if it is
red, of wind, and if black, of rain. If a darkness comes over the face
of the moon, covered with clouds, in whatever quarter it breaks, from
that quarter wind may be expected. If a twofold circle surrounds the
moon, the storm will be more violent, and even more so still, if there
are three circles, or if they are black, broken, and disjointed. If
the new moon at her rising has the upper horn obscured, there will be
a prevalence of rainy weather, when she is on the wane; but if it is
the lower horn that is obscured, there will be rain before full moon;
if, again, the moon is darkened in the middle of her disk, there will
be rain when she is at full. If the moon, when full, has a circle
round her, it indicates wind from the quarter in the circle which is
the brightest; but if at her rising the horns are obtuse, they are
portentous of a frightful tempest. If, when the west wind prevails,
the moon does not make her appearance before her fourth day, there
will be a prevalence of stormy weather throughout the month. If on
the sixteenth day the moon has a bright, flaming appearance, it is a
presage of violent tempests.”

There are eight different epochs of the moon, or periods at which
she makes certain angles of incidence with the sun, and most persons
only notice the prognostics derived from the moon, according to the
places which they occupy between these angles. The periods of these
angles are the third day, the seventh, the eleventh, the fifteenth,
the nineteenth, the twenty-third, the twenty-seventh, and that of the


In the third rank must be placed the prognostics derived from the
stars. These bodies are sometimes to be seen shooting to and fro;[686]
when this happens, winds immediately ensue, in that part of the heavens
in which the presage has been afforded. When the heavens are equally
bright throughout their whole expanse, at the periods previously
mentioned,[687] the ensuing autumn will be fine and cool. If the spring
and summer have passed not without some rain, the autumn will be fine
and settled,[688] and there will be but little wind: when the autumn
is fine, it makes a windy winter. When the brightness of the stars is
suddenly obscured, though without[689] clouds or fog, violent tempests
may be expected. If numerous stars are seen to shoot,[690] leaving a
white track behind them, they presage wind from that quarter.[691] If
they follow in quick succession from the same quarter, the wind will
blow steadily, but if from various quarters of the heavens, the wind
will shift in sudden gusts and squalls. If circles are seen to surround
any of the planets, there will be rain.[692] In the constellation of
Cancer, there are two small stars to be seen, known as the Aselli,[693]
the small space that lies between them being occupied by a cloudy
appearance, which is known as the Manger;[694] when this cloud is
not visible in a clear sky, it is a presage of a violent storm. If a
fog conceals from our view the one of these stars which lies to the
north-east, there will be high winds from the south; but if it is
the star which lies to the south that is so obscured, then the wind
will be from the north-east. The rainbow, when double, indicates the
approach[695] of rain; but if seen after rain, it gives promise, though
by no means a certain one, of fine weather. Circular clouds around some
of the stars are indicative of rain.


When, in summer, there is more thunder than lightning, wind may be
expected from that quarter; but if, on the other hand, there is not
so much thunder as lightning, there will be a fall of rain. When it
lightens in a clear sky, there will be rain, and if there is thunder as
well, stormy weather; but if it lightens from all four quarters of the
heavens, there will be a dreadful tempest. When it lightens from the
north-east only, it portends rain on the following day; but when from
the north, wind may be expected from that quarter. When it lightens on
a clear night from the south, the west, or the north-west, there will
be wind and rain from those quarters. Thunder[696] in the morning is
indicative of wind, and at midday of rain.


When clouds are seen moving in a clear sky, wind may be expected in the
quarter from which they proceed; but if they accumulate in one spot, as
they approach the sun they will disperse. If the clouds are dispersed
by a north-east wind, it is a presage of high winds, but if by a wind
from the south, of rain. If at sunset the clouds cover the heavens
on either side of the sun, they are indicative of tempest; if they
are black and lowering in the east, they threaten rain in the night,
but if in the west, on the following day. If the clouds spread in
large numbers from the east, like fleeces of wool in appearance, they
indicate a continuance of rain for the next three days. When the clouds
settle on the summits of the mountains,[697] there will be stormy
weather; but if the clouds clear away, it will be fine. When the clouds
are white and lowering, a hailstorm, generally known as a “white”[698]
tempest, is close at hand. An isolated cloud, however small,[699]
though seen in a clear sky, announces wind and storm.


Mists descending from the summits of mountains, or from the heavens, or
settling in the vallies,[700] give promise of fine weather.


Next to these are the prognostics that are derived from fire kindled
upon the earth.[701] If the flames are pallid, and emit a murmuring
noise, they are considered to presage stormy weather; and fungi upon
the burning wick of the lamp are a sign of rain.[702] If the flame is
spiral and flickering, it is an indication of wind, and the same is the
case when the lamp goes out of itself, or is lighted with difficulty.
So, too, if the snuff hangs down, and sparks gather upon it, or if the
burning coals adhere[703] to vessels taken from off the fire, or if the
fire, when covered up, sends out hot embers or emits sparks, or if the
cinders gather into a mass upon the hearth, or the coals burn bright
and glowing.


There are certain prognostics, too, that may be derived from water.
If, when the sea is calm, the water ripples in the harbour, with a
hollow, murmuring noise, it is a sign of wind, and if in winter, of
rain as well. If the coasts and shores re-echo while the sea is calm,
a violent tempest may be expected; and the same when the sea, though
calm, is heard to roar, or throws up foam and bubbling spray. If
sea pulmones[704] are to be seen floating on the surface, they are
portentous of stormy weather for many days to come. Very frequently,
too, the sea is seen to swell in silence, and more so than when ruffled
by an ordinary breeze; this is an indication that the winds are at work
within its bosom already.


The reverberations, too, of the mountains, and the roaring of the
forests, are indicative of certain phænomena; and the same is the case
when the leaves are seen to quiver,[705] without a breath of wind,
the downy filaments of the poplar or thorn to float in the air, and
feathers to skim along the surface of the water.[706] In champaign
countries, the storm gives notice of its approach by that peculiar
muttering[707] which precedes it; while the murmuring that is heard in
the heavens affords us no doubtful presage of what is to come.


The animals, too, afford us certain presages; dolphins, for instance,
sporting in a calm sea, announce wind in the quarter from which they
make their appearance.[708] When they throw up the water in a billowy
sea, they announce the approach of a calm. The loligo,[709] springing
out of the water, shell-fish adhering to various objects, sea-urchins
fastening by their stickles upon the sand, or else burrowing in it,
are so many indications of stormy weather: the same, too, when
frogs[710] croak more than usual, or coots[711] make a chattering in
the morning. Divers, too, and ducks, when they clean their feathers
with the bill, announce high winds; which is the case also when the
aquatic birds unite in flocks, cranes make for the interior, and
divers[712] and sea-mews forsake the sea or the creeks. Cranes when
they fly aloft in silence announce fine weather, and so does the
owlet,[713] when it screeches during a shower; but if it is heard in
fine weather, it presages a storm. Ravens, too, when they croak with a
sort of gurgling noise and shake their feathers, give warning of the
approach of wind, if their note is continuous: but if, on the other
hand, it is smothered, and only heard at broken intervals, we may
expect rain, accompanied with high winds. Jackdaws, when they return
late from feeding, give notice of stormy weather, and the same with
the white birds,[714] when they unite in flocks, and the land birds,
when they descend with cries to the water and besprinkle themselves,
the crow more particularly. The swallow,[715] too, when it skims along
the surface of the water so near as to ripple it every now and then
with its wings, and the birds that dwell in the trees, when they hide
themselves in their nests, afford similar indications; geese, too, when
they set up a continuous gabbling,[716] at an unusual time, and the
heron,[717] when it stands moping in the middle of the sands.


Nor, indeed, is it surprising that the aquatic birds, or any birds,
in fact, should have a perception of the impending changes of the
atmosphere. Sheep, however, when they skip and frisk with their clumsy
gambols,[718] afford us similar prognostics; oxen, when they snuff
upwards towards the sky, and lick[719] themselves against the hair;
unclean swine, when they tear to pieces the trusses of hay that are put
for other animals;[720] bees, when, contrary to their natural habits
of industry, they keep close within the hive; ants, when they hurry to
and fro, or are seen carrying forth their eggs; and earthworms,[721]
emerging from their holes—all these indicate approaching changes in the


It is a well-known fact, that trefoil bristles up, and its leaves stand
erect, upon the approach of a tempest.


At our repasts, too, and upon our tables, when we see the vessels
sweat in which the viands are served, and leave marks upon the
side-board,[722] it is an indication that a dreadful storm is impending.

SUMMARY.—Remarkable facts, narratives, and observations, two thousand
and sixty.

ROMAN AUTHORS QUOTED.—Massurius Sabinus,[723] Cassius Hemina,[724]
Verrius Flaccus,[725] L. Piso,[726] Cornelius Celsus,[727] Turranius
Gracilis,[728] D. Silanus,[729] M. Varro,[730] Cato the Censor,[731]
Scrofa,[732] the Sasernæ,[733] father and son, Domitius Calvinus,[734]
Hyginus,[735] Virgil,[736] Trogus,[737] Ovid,[738] Græcinus,[739]
Columella,[740] Tubero,[741] L. Tarutius,[742] who wrote in Greek
on the Stars, Cæsar[743] the Dictator, who wrote upon the Stars,
Sergius Paulus,[744] Sabinus Fabianus,[745] M. Cicero,[746] Calpurnius
Bassus,[747] Ateius Capito,[748] Mamilius Sura,[749] Attius,[750] who
wrote the Praxidica.

FOREIGN AUTHORS QUOTED.—Hesiod,[751] Theophrastus,[752] Aristotle,[753]
Democritus,[754] King Hiero,[755] King Attalus Philometor,[756] King
Archelaüs,[757] Archytas,[758] Xenophon,[759] Amphilochus[760] of
Athens, Anaxipolis[761] of Thasos, Aristophanes[762] of Miletus,
Apollodorus[763] of Lemnos, Antigonus[764] of Cymæ, Agathocles[765]
of Chios, Apollonius[766] of Pergamus, Aristander[767] of Athens,
Bacchius[768] of Miletus, Bion[769] of Soli, Chæreas[770] of Athens,
Chæristus[771] of Athens, Diodorus[772] of Priene, Dion[773]
of Colophon, Epigenes[774] of Rhodes, Euagon[775] of Thasos,
Euphronius[776] of Athens, Androtiou[777] who wrote on Agriculture,
Æschrion[778] who wrote on Agriculture, Lysimachus[779] who wrote
on Agriculture, Dionysius[780] who translated Mago, Diophanes[781]
who made an Epitome from Dionysius, Thales,[782] Eudoxus,[783]
Philippus,[784] Calippus,[785] Dositheus,[786] Parmeniscus,[787]
Meton,[788] Criton,[789] Œnopides,[790] Zenon,[791] Euctemon,[792]
Harpalus,[793] Hecatæus,[794] Anaximander,[795] Sosigenes,[796]
Hipparchus,[797] Aratus,[798] Zoroaster,[799] Archibius.[800]




We have now imparted a knowledge[801] of the constellations and of the
seasons, in a method unattended with difficulty for the most ignorant
even, and free from every doubt; indeed, to those who understand these
matters aright, the face of the earth contributes in no less a degree
to a due appreciation of the celestial phænomena, than does the science
of astronomy to our improvement in the arts of agriculture.

Many writers have made it their next care to treat of horticulture;
but, for my own part, it does not appear to me altogether advisable
to pass on immediately to that subject, and, indeed, I am rather
surprised to find that some among the learned, who have either sought
the pleasures of knowledge in these pursuits, or have grounded their
celebrity upon them, have omitted so many particulars in reference
thereto; for no mention do we find in their writings of numerous
vegetable productions, both wild as well as cultivated, many of which
are found, in ordinary life, to be of higher value and of more extended
use to man than the cereals even.

To commence, then, with a production which is of an utility that is
universally recognized, and is employed not only upon dry land but upon
the seas as well, we will turn our attention to flax,[802] a plant
which is reproduced from seed, but which can neither be classed among
the cereals nor yet among the garden plants. What department is there
to be found of active life in which flax is not employed? and in what
production of the earth are there greater marvels[803] revealed to
us than in this? To think that here is a plant which brings Egypt in
close proximity to Italy!—so much so, in fact, that Galerius[804] and
Balbillus,[805] both of them prefects of Egypt, made the passage to
Alexandria from the Straits of Sicily, the one in six days, the other
in five! It was only this very last summer, that Valerius Marianus, a
senator of prætorian rank, reached Alexandria from Puteoli in eight
days, and that, too, with a very moderate breeze all the time! To think
that here is a plant which brings Gades, situate near the Pillars of
Hercules, within six days of Ostia, Nearer Spain within three, the
province of Gallia Narbonensis within two, and Africa within one!—this
last passage having been made by C. Flavius, when legatus of Vibius
Crispus, the proconsul, and that, too, with but little or no wind to
favour his passage!

What audacity in man! What criminal perverseness! thus to sow a thing
in the ground for the purpose of catching the winds and the tempests,
it being not enough for him, forsooth, to be borne upon the waves
alone! Nay, still more than this, sails even that are bigger than the
very ships themselves will not suffice for him, and although it takes
a whole tree to make a mast to carry the cross-yards, above those
cross-yards sails upon sails must still be added, with others swelling
at the prow and at the stern as well—so many devices, in fact, to
challenge death! Only to think, in fine, that that which moves to and
fro, as it were, the various countries of the earth, should spring from
a seed so minute, and make its appearance in a stem so fine, so little
elevated above the surface of the earth! And then, besides, it is not
in all its native strength that it is employed for the purposes of a
tissue; no, it must first be rent asunder, and then tawed and beaten,
till it is reduced to the softness of wool; indeed, it is only by such
violence done to its nature, and prompted by the extreme audacity of
man, and[806] * * * that it is rendered subservient to his purposes.
The inventor of this art has been already mentioned by us on a more
appropriate occasion;[807] not satisfied that his fellow-men should
perish upon land, but anxious that they should meet their end with no
sepulchral rites to await them, there are no execrations[808] to be
found that can equal his demerits!

It is only in the preceding Book[809] that I was warning the
agriculturist, as he values the grain that is to form our daily
sustenance, to be on his guard against the storm and the tempest;
and yet, here we have man sowing with his own hand, man racking his
invention how best to gather, an object the only aspirations of which
upon the deep are the winds of heaven! And then, too, as if to let us
understand all the better how highly favoured is this instrument of our
punishment, there is no vegetable production that grows with greater
facility;[810] and, to prove to us that it is in despite of Nature
herself that it exists, it has the property of scorching[811] the
ground where it is grown, and of deteriorating the quality of the very
soil itself.


Flax is mostly sown in sandy[812] soils, and after a single ploughing
only. There is no plant that grows more rapidly[813] than this; sown
in spring,[814] it is pulled up in summer, and is, for this reason as
well, productive of considerable injury to the soil.[815] There may
be some, however, who would forgive Egypt for growing it, as it is by
its aid that she imports the merchandize of Arabia and India; but why
should the Gallic provinces base any of their reputation upon this
product?[816] Is it not enough, forsooth, for them to be separated by
mountains from the sea, and to have, upon the side on which they are
bounded by the Ocean, that void and empty space, as it is called?[817]
The Cadurci,[818] the Caleti, the Ruteni,[819] the Bituriges,[820] and
the Morini,[821] those remotest of all mankind, as it is supposed, the
whole of the Gallic provinces, in fact, are in the habit of weaving
sail-cloth; and at the present day our enemies even, who dwell beyond
the Rhenus, have learned to do the same; indeed, there is no tissue
that is more beautiful in the eyes of their females than linen. I am
here reminded of the fact, that we find it stated by M. Varro, that it
is a custom peculiar to the family of the Serrani[822] for the women
never to wear garments of linen. In Germany it is in caves[823] deep
under-ground that the linen-weavers ply their work; and the same is
the case, too, in the Alian territory, in Italy, between the rivers
Padus and Ticinus, the linen of which holds the third rank among
the kinds manufactured in Europe, that of Sætabis[824] claiming the
first, and those of Retovium[825] and of Faventia, in the vicinity
of Alia, on the Æmilian Way, the second, place in general estimation.
The linens of Faventia are preferred for whiteness to those of Alia,
which are always un-bleached: those of Retovium are remarkable for
their extreme fineness, combined with substance, and are quite equal in
whiteness to the linens of Faventia; but they have none of that fine
downy nap[826] upon them, which is so highly esteemed by some persons,
though equally disliked by others. A thread is made, too, from their
flax, of considerable strength, smoother and more even, almost, than
the spider’s web; when tested with the teeth, it emits a sharp, clear
twang; hence it is, that it sells at double the price of the other

But it is the province of Nearer Spain that produces a linen of the
greatest lustre, an advantage which it owes to the waters of a stream
which washes the city of Tarraco[827] there. The fineness, too, of this
linen is quite marvellous, and here it is that the first manufactories
of cambric[828] were established. From the same province, too, of
Spain, the flax of Zoëla[829] has of late years been introduced into
Italy, and has been found extremely serviceable for the manufacture
of hunting-nets. Zoëla is a city of Callæcia, in the vicinity of the
Ocean. The flax, too, of Cumæ, in Campania, has its own peculiar merits
in the manufacture of nets for fishing and fowling; it is employed,
also, for making hunting-nets. For it is from flax, in fact, that we
prepare various textures, destined to be no less insidious to the brute
creation than they are to ourselves. It is with toils made from the
flax of Cumæ that wild boars are taken, the meshes being proof against
their bristles,[830] equally with the edge of the knife: before now,
too, we have seen some of these toils of a fineness so remarkable[831]
as to allow of being passed through a man’s ring, running ropes
and all, a single individual being able to carry an amount of nets
sufficient to environ a whole forest—a thing which we know to have been
done not long ago by Julius Lupus, who died prefect of Egypt. This,
however, is nothing very surprising, but it really is quite wonderful
that each of the cords was composed of no less than one hundred and
fifty threads. Those, no doubt, will be astonished at this, who are
not aware that there is preserved in the Temple of Minerva, at Lindus,
in the Isle of Rhodes, the cuirass of a former king of Egypt, Amasis
by name, each thread employed in the texture of which is composed of
three hundred and sixty-five other threads. Mucianus, who was three
times consul, informs us that he saw this curiosity very recently,
though there was but little then remaining of it, in consequence of the
injury it had experienced at the hands of various persons who had tried
to verify the fact. Italy, too, holds the flax of the Peligni in high
esteem, though it is only employed by fullers; there is no kind known
that is whiter than this, or which bears a closer resemblance to wool.
That grown by the Cadurci[832] is held in high estimation for making
mattresses;[833] which, as well as flock,[834] are an invention for
which we are indebted to the Gauls: the ancient usage of Italy is still
kept in remembrance in the word “stramentum,”[835] the name given by us
to beds stuffed with straw.

The flax of Egypt, though the least strong[836] of all as a tissue,
is that from which the greatest profits are derived. There are four
varieties of it, the Tanitic, the Pelusiac, the Butic, and the
Tentyritic—so called from the various districts in which they are
respectively grown. The upper part of Egypt, in the vicinity of
Arabia, produces a shrub, known by some as “gossypium,”[837] but by
most persons as “xylon;” hence the name of “xylina,” given to the
tissues that are manufactured from it. The shrub is small, and bears a
fruit, similar in appearance to a nut with a beard, and containing in
the inside a silky substance, the down of which is spun into threads.
There is no tissue known, that is superior to those made from this
thread, either for whiteness, softness, or dressing: the most esteemed
vestments worn by the priests of Egypt are made of it. There is a
fourth kind of tissue, known by the name of “othoninum,” which is made
from a kind of marsh-reed,[838] the panicule only being employed for
the purpose. In Asia, again, there is a thread made from broom,[839]
which is employed in the construction of fishing-nets, being found to
be remarkably durable; for the purpose of preparing it, the shrub is
steeped in water for ten days. The Æthiopians, also, and the people of
India, prepare a kind of thread from a fruit which resembles our apple,
and the Arabians, as already[840] mentioned, from gourds that grow upon


In our part of the world the ripeness of flax is usually ascertained by
two signs, the swelling of the seed, and its assuming a yellowish tint.
It is then pulled up by the roots, made up into small sheaves that will
just fill the hand, and hung to dry in the sun. It is suspended with
the roots upwards the first day, and then for the five following days
the heads of the sheaves are placed, reclining one against the other,
in such a way that the seed which drops out may fall into the middle.
Linseed is employed for various medicinal[841] purposes, and it is
used by the country-people of Italy beyond the Padus in a certain kind
of food, which is remarkable for its sweetness: for this long time
past, however, it has only been in general use for sacrifices offered
to the divinities. After the wheat harvest is over, the stalks of flax
are plunged in water that has been warmed in the sun, and are then
submitted to pressure with a weight; for there is nothing known that
is more light and buoyant than this. When the outer coat is loosened,
it is a sign that the stalks have been sufficiently steeped; after
which[842] they are again turned with the heads downwards, and left to
dry as before in the sun: when thoroughly dried, they are beaten with a
tow-mallet on a stone.

The part that lies nearest to the outer coat is known by the name of
“stuppa;” it is a flax of inferior quality, and is mostly employed for
making the wicks of lamps. This, however, requires to be combed out
with iron hatchels, until the whole of the outer skin is removed. The
inner part presents numerous varieties of flax, esteemed respectively
in proportion to their whiteness and their softness. Spinning flax is
held to be an honourable[843] employment for men even: the husks, or
outer coats, are employed for heating furnaces and ovens. There is a
certain amount of skill required in hatchelling flax and dressing it:
it is a fair proportion for fifty pounds in the sheaf to yield fifteen
pounds of flax combed out. When spun into thread, it is rendered
additionally supple by being soaked in water and then beaten out upon
a stone; and after it is woven into a tissue, it is again beaten with
heavy maces: indeed, the more roughly it is treated the better it is.


There has been invented also a kind of linen which is incombustible by
flame. It is generally known as “live”[844] linen, and I have seen,
before now, napkins[845] that were made of it thrown into a blazing
fire, in the room where the guests were at table, and after the stains
were burnt out, come forth from the flames whiter and cleaner than
they could possibly have been rendered by the aid of water. It is from
this material that the corpse-cloths of monarchs are made, to ensure
the separation of the ashes of the body from those of the pile. This
substance grows[846] in the deserts of India,[847] scorched by the
burning rays of the sun: here, where no rain is ever known to fall, and
amid multitudes of deadly serpents, it becomes habituated to resist
the action of fire. Rarely to be found, it presents considerable
difficulties in weaving it into a tissue, in consequence of its
shortness; its colour is naturally red, and it only becomes white
through the agency of fire. By those who find it, it is sold at prices
equal to those given for the finest pearls; by the Greeks it is called
“asbestinon,”[848] a name which indicates its peculiar properties.
Anaxilaüs[849] makes a statement to the effect that if a tree is
surrounded with linen made of this substance, the noise of the blows
given by the axe will be deadened thereby, and that the tree may be cut
down without their being heard. For these qualities it is that this
linen occupies the very highest rank among all the kinds that are known.

The next rank is accorded to the tissue known as “byssus,”[850] an
article which is held in the very highest estimation by females, and
is produced in the vicinity of Elis, in Achaia.[851] I find it stated
by some writers that a scruple of this sold formerly at four denarii,
the same rate, in fact, as gold. The downy nap of linen, and more
particularly that taken from the sails of sea-going ships, is very
extensively employed for medicinal purposes, and the ashes of it have
the same virtues as spodium.[852] Among the poppies, too,[853] there
is a variety which imparts a remarkable degree of whiteness to fabrics
made of linen.


Attempts, too, have even been made to dye linen, and to make it assume
the frivolous colours[854] of our cloths. This was first done in the
fleet of Alexander the Great, while sailing upon the river Indus; for,
upon one occasion, during a battle that was being fought, his generals
and captains distinguished their vessels by the various tints of their
sails, and astounded the people on the shores by giving their many
colours to the breeze, as it impelled them on. It was with sails of
purple, too, that Cleopatra accompanied M. Antonius to the battle of
Actium, and it was by their aid that she took to flight: such being the
distinguishing mark of the royal ship.


In more recent[855] times linens alone have been employed for the
purpose of affording shade in our theatres; Q. Catulus having been the
first who applied them to this use, on the occasion of the dedication
by him of the Capitol. At a later period, Lentulus Spinther, it is
said, was the first to spread awnings of fine linen[856] over the
theatre, at the celebration of the Games in honour of Apollo. After
this, Cæsar, when Dictator, covered with a linen awning the whole of
the Roman Forum, as well as the Sacred Way, from his own house as far
as the ascent to the Capitol, a sight, it is said, more wonderful even
than the show of gladiators which he then exhibited. At a still later
period, and upon the occasion of no public games, Marcellus, the son of
Octavia, sister of Augustus, during his ædileship, and in the eleventh
consulship of his uncle, on the * * * day before the calends of August,
covered in the Forum with awnings, his object being to consult the
health of those assembled there for the purposes of litigation—a vast
change, indeed, from the manners prevalent in the days of Cato the
Censor, who expressed a wish that the Forum was paved with nothing else
but sharp pointed stones.

Awnings have been lately extended, too, by the aid of ropes, over the
amphitheatres of the Emperor Nero, dyed azure, like the heavens, and
bespangled all over with stars. Those which are employed by us to
cover the inner court[857] of our houses are generally red: one reason
for employing them is to protect the moss that grows there from the
rays[858] of the sun. In other respects, white fabrics of linen have
always held the ascendancy in public estimation. Linen, too, was highly
valued as early as the Trojan war; for why else should it not have
figured as much in battles as it did in shipwrecks? Thus Homer,[859] we
find, bears witness that there were but few among the warriors of those
days who fought with cuirasses[860] on made of linen; while, as for
the rigging of the ships, of which that writer speaks, it is generally
supposed by the more learned among the commentators, that it was made
of this material; for the word “sparta,”[861] which he employs, means
nothing more than the produce of a seed.


For the fact is that spartum[862] did not begin to be employed till
many ages after the time of Homer; indeed, not before the first war
that the Carthaginians waged in Spain. This, too, is a plant that grows
spontaneously,[863] and is incapable of being reproduced by sowing,
it being a species of rush, peculiar to a dry, arid soil, a morbid
production confined to a single country only; for in reality it is a
curse to the soil, as there is nothing whatever that can be sown or
grown in its vicinity. There is a kind of spartum grown in Africa,[864]
of a stunted nature, and quite useless for all practical purposes. It
is found in one portion of the province of Carthage[865] in Nearer
Spain, though not in every part of that; but wherever it is produced,
the mountains, even, are covered all over with it.

This material is employed by the country-people there for making[866]
their beds; with it they kindle their fires also, and prepare their
torches; shoes[867] also, and garments for the shepherds, are made of
it. As a food for animals, it is highly injurious,[868] with the sole
exception of the tender tops of the shoots. When wanted for other uses,
it is pulled up by the roots, with considerable labour; the legs of
the persons so employed being protected by boots, and their hands with
gloves, the plant being twisted round levers of bone or holm-oak, to
get it up with the greater facility. At the present day it is gathered
in the winter, even; but this work is done with the least difficulty
between the ides of May[869] and those of June, that being the period
at which it is perfectly ripe.


When taken up it is made into sheaves, and laid in heaps for a couple
of days, while it retains its life and freshness; on the third day
the sheaves are opened out and spread in the sun to dry, after which
it is again made up into sheaves, and placed under cover. It is then
put to soak in sea-water, this being the best of all for the purpose,
though fresh water will do in case sea-water cannot be procured: this
done, it is again dried in the sun, and then moistened afresh. If it is
wanted for immediate use, it is put in a tub and steeped in warm water,
after which it is placed in an upright position to dry: this being
universally admitted to be the most expeditious method of preparing
it. To make it ready for use, it requires to be beaten out. Articles
made of it are proof, more particularly, against the action of fresh
or sea-water; but on dry land, ropes of hemp are generally preferred.
Indeed, we find that spartum receives nutriment even from being under
water, by way of compensation, as it were, for the thirst it has had to
endure upon its native soil.

By nature it is peculiarly well adapted for repairing, and however old
the material may be, it unites very well with new. The person, indeed,
who is desirous duly to appreciate this marvellous plant, has only to
consider the numerous uses to which, in all parts of the world, it is
applied: from it are made, the rigging of ships, various appliances
of mechanism employed in building, and numerous other articles which
supply the wants of daily life. To suffice for all these requirements,
we find it growing solely on a tract of ground which lies upon the
sea-line of the province of New Carthage, somewhat less than thirty
miles in breadth by one hundred in length. The expense precludes its
being transported to any very considerable distance.


The Greeks used formerly to employ the rush for making ropes; so, at
least, we are led to believe, from the name[870] given by them to that
plant; and at a later period they made them, it is very clear, from the
leaves of the palm, and the inner bark of the linden-tree. It seems to
me very probable, too, that it was from them that the Carthaginians
borrowed the first hint for applying spartum to a similar purpose.


Theophrastus[871] informs us, that there is a kind of bulb, which
grows on the banks of rivers, and which encloses between the outer coat
and the portion that is eaten a sort of woolly substance, of which felt
socks, and other articles of dress, are made; but, in the copies, those
at least which have fallen in my way, there is no mention made of the
country in which it grows, or of any details in connection with it,
beyond the fact that the name given to it is “eriophoron.”[872] As to
spartum, he makes no[873] mention of it whatever, although he has given
the history, with the greatest exactness, of all the known plants,
three hundred and ninety years before our time—a fact to which I have
already[874] alluded on other occasions: from this it would appear that
spartum has come into use since his day.


As we have here made a beginning of treating of the marvels of
Nature, we shall proceed to examine them in detail; and among them
the very greatest of all, beyond a doubt, is the fact that any plant
should spring up and grow without a root. Such, for instance, is the
vegetable production known as the truffle;[875] surrounded on every
side by earth, it is connected with it by no fibres, not so much as a
single thread even, while the spot in which it grows, presents neither
protuberance nor cleft to the view. It is found, in fact, in no way
adhering to the earth, but enclosed within an outer coat; so much so,
indeed, that though we cannot exactly pronounce it to be composed of
earth, we must conclude that it is nothing else but a callous[876]
concretion of the earth.

Truffles generally grow in dry, sandy soils, and spots that are thickly
covered with shrubs; in size they are often larger than a quince, and
are found to weigh as much[877] as a pound. There are two kinds of
them, the one full of sand, and consequently injurious to the teeth,
the other free from sand and all impurities. They are distinguished
also by their colour, which is red or black, and white within; those of
Africa[878] are the most esteemed. Whether the truffle grows gradually,
or whether this blemish of the earth—for it can be looked upon as
nothing else—at once assumes the globular form and magnitude which it
presents when found; whether, too, it is possessed of vitality or not,
are all of them questions, which, in my opinion, are not easy to be
solved. It decays and rots in a manner precisely similar to wood.

It is known to me as a fact, that the following circumstance happened
to Lartius Licinius, a person of prætorian rank, while minister of
justice,[879] a few years ago, at Carthage in Spain; upon biting a
truffle, he found a denarius inside, which all but broke his fore
teeth—an evident proof that the truffle is nothing else but an
agglomeration of elementary earth. At all events, it is quite certain
that the truffle belongs to those vegetable productions which spring up
spontaneously, and are incapable of being reproduced from seed.[880]


Of a similar nature, too, is the vegetable production known in the
province of Cyrenaica by the name of “misy,”[881] remarkable for the
sweetness of its smell and taste, but more fleshy than the truffle: the
same, too, as to the iton[882] of the Thracians, and the geranion of
the Greeks.


The following peculiarities we find mentioned with reference to
the truffle. When there have been showers in autumn, and frequent
thunder-storms, truffles are produced, thunder[883] contributing more
particularly to their developement; they do not, however, last beyond
a year, and are considered the most delicate eating when gathered in
spring. In some places the formation of them is attributed to water;
as at Mytilene,[884] for instance, where they are never to be found,
it is said, unless the rivers overflow, and bring down the seed from
Tiara, that being the name of a place at which they are produced in the
greatest abundance. The finest truffles of Asia are those found in the
neighbourhood of Lampsacus and Alopeconnesus; the best in Greece are
those of the vicinity of Elis.


Belonging to the mushroom genus, also, there is a species, known to the
Greeks by the name of “pezica,”[885] which grows without either root or


Next to these, laserpitium[886] claims our notice, a very remarkable
plant, known to the Greeks by the name of “silphion,” and originally a
native of the province of Cyrenaica. The juice of this plant is called
“laser,” and it is greatly in vogue for medicinal as well as other
purposes, being sold at the same rate as silver. For these many years
past, however, it has not been found in Cyrenaica,[887] as the farmers
of the revenue who hold the lands there on lease, have a notion that
it is more profitable to depasture flocks of sheep upon them. Within
the memory of the present generation, a single stalk[888] is all that
has ever been found there, and that was sent as a curiosity to the
Emperor Nero. If it so happen that one of the flock, while grazing,
meets with a growing shoot[889] of it, the fact is easily ascertained
by the following signs; the sheep, after eating of it, immediately
falls asleep, while the goat is seized with a fit of sneezing.[890]
For this long time past, there has been no other laser imported into
this country, but that produced in either Persis, Media, or Armenia,
where it grows in considerable abundance, though much inferior[891]
to that of Cyrenaica; and even then it is extensively adulterated
with gum, sacopenium,[892] or pounded beans. I ought the less then
to omit the facts, that in the consulship[893] of C. Valerius and
M. Herennius, there was brought to Rome, from Cyrenæ, for the public
service, thirty pounds’ weight of laserpitium, and that the Dictator
Cæsar, at the beginning of the Civil War, took from out of the public
treasury, besides gold and silver, no less than fifteen hundred pounds
of laserpitium.

We find it stated by the most trustworthy among the Greek writers,[894]
that this plant first made its appearance in the vicinity of the
gardens of the Hesperides and the Greater Syrtis, immediately after the
earth had been soaked on a sudden by a shower as black as pitch. This
took place seven years before the foundation of the city of Cyrenæ, and
in the year of Rome 143. The virtues of this remarkable fall of rain
extended, it is said, over no less than four thousand stadia of the
African territory; and upon this soil laserpitium began universally
to grow, a plant that is in general wild and stubborn, and which, if
attempted to be cultivated, will leave the spot where it has been sown
quite desolate and barren. The roots of it are numerous and thick, the
stalk being like that of fennel-giant, and of similar thickness. The
leaves of this plant were known as “maspetum,” and bore a considerable
resemblance to parsley; the seeds of it were foliaceous, and the plant
shed its leaves every year. They used to feed the cattle there upon it;
at first it purged them, but afterwards they would grow fat, the flesh
being improved in flavour in a most surprising degree. After the fall
of the leaf, the people themselves were in the habit of eating[895] the
stalk, either roasted or boiled: from the drastic effects of this diet
the body was purged for the first forty days, all vicious humours being
effectually removed.[896]

The juices of this plant were collected two different ways, either from
the root or from the stalk; in consequence of which these two varieties
of the juice were known by the distinguishing names of “rhizias” and
“caulias,”[897] the last being of inferior quality to the other, and
very apt to turn putrid. Upon the root there was a black bark, which
was extensively employed for the purposes of adulteration. The juice
of the plant was received in vessels, and mixed there with a layer of
bran; after which, from time to time it was shaken, till it had reached
a proper state of maturity; indeed, if this precaution was neglected,
it was apt to turn putrid. The signs that it had come to maturity were
its colour, its dryness, and the absorption of all humidity.

There are some authors, however, who state that the root of laserpitium
was more than a cubit in length, and that it presented a tuberosity
above the surface of the earth. An incision, they say, was made in this
tuberosity, from which a juice would flow, like milk in appearance;
above the tuberosity grew a stalk, to which they give the name of
“magydaris;”[898] the leaves that grew upon this stalk were of the
colour of gold, and, falling at the rising of the Dog-star, when the
south winds begin to prevail, they acted as seed for the purposes
of reproduction. It was from these leaves, too, they say, that
laserpitium[899] was produced, the root and the stalk attaining their
full growth in the space of one year. The same writers also state, that
it was the practice to turn up the ground about the plant, and that it
had no such effect as purging the cattle that were fed upon it; though
one result of using it as food was, that such cattle as were ailing
were either cured of their distempers, or else died immediately upon
eating of it, a thing, however, that but rarely happened. The first
description, however, is found to agree more nearly with the silphium
that comes from Persis.


There is another[900] variety of this plant, known as “magydaris,”[901]
of a more delicate nature, less active in its effects, and destitute
of juice. It grows in the countries adjacent to Syria,[902] but is not
to be found in the regions of Cyrenaica. There grows also upon Mount
Parnassus,[903] in great abundance, a plant to which some persons
give the name of “laserpitium:” by means of all these varieties,
adulterations are effected of a production that is held in the
highest esteem for its salutary qualities and its general usefulness.
The chief proofs of its genuineness consist in its colour, which
ought to be slightly red without, and when broken quite white and
transparent within; the drops of it, too, should melt very rapidly on
the application of spittle. It is extensively employed for medicinal


There are two other plants also, which are but little known to any but
the herd of the sordid and avaricious, and this because of the large
profits that are derived from them. The first of these is madder,[905]
the employment of which is necessary in dyeing wool and leather. The
madder of Italy is the most esteemed, and that more particularly
which is grown in the suburbs of the City; nearly all our provinces,
too, produce it in great abundance.[906] It grows spontaneously, but
is capable of reproduction by sowing, much after the same manner as
the fitch. The stem,[907] however, is prickly, and articulated, with
five leaves arranged round each joint: the seed is red. Its medicinal
properties we shall have occasion to mention in the appropriate


The plant known to us by the name of “radicula,”[909] is the second of
these productions. It furnishes a juice that is extensively employed
in washing wool, and it is quite wonderful how greatly it contributes
to the whiteness and softness of wool. It may be produced anywhere by
cultivation, but that which grows spontaneously in Asia and Syria,[910]
upon rugged, rocky sites, is more highly esteemed. That, however, which
is found beyond the Euphrates has the highest repute of all. The stalk
of it is ferulaceous[911] and thin, and is sought by the inhabitants
of those countries as an article of food. It is employed also for
making unguents, being boiled up with the other ingredients, whatever
they may happen to be. In leaf it strongly resembles the olive. The
Greeks have given it the name of “struthion.” It blossoms in summer,
and is agreeable to the sight, but entirely destitute of smell. It is
somewhat thorny, and has a stalk covered with down. It has an extremely
diminutive seed, and a large root, which is cut up and employed for the
purposes already mentioned.


Having made mention of these productions, it now remains for us to
return to the cultivation of the garden,[912] a subject recommended
by its own intrinsic merits to our notice: for we find that in remote
antiquity, even, there was nothing looked upon with a greater degree
of admiration than the gardens of the Hesperides,[913] those of the
kings Adonis[914] and Alcinoüs,[915] and the Hanging Gardens, whether
they were the work of Semiramis, or whether of Cyrus, king of Assyria,
a subject of which we shall have to speak in another work.[916] The
kings of Rome cultivated their gardens with their own hands; indeed, it
was from his garden that Tarquinius Superbus[917] sent to his son that
cruel and sanguinary message of his. In our laws of the Twelve Tables,
we find the word “villa,” or “farm,” nowhere mentioned; it is the word
“hortus” that is always used with that signification, while the term
“heredium” we find employed for “garden.”

There are certain religious impressions, too, that have been attached
to this species of property,[918] and we find that it is in the
garden and the Forum only that statues of satyrs are consecrated, as
a protection against the evil effects[919] of spells and sorcery;
although in Plautus, we find the gardens spoken of as being under
the tutelage of Venus. At the present day, under the general name of
gardens,[920] we have pleasure-grounds situate in the very heart of the
City, as well as extensive fields and villas.

Epicurus, that connoisseur[921] in the enjoyments of a life of ease,
was the first to lay out a garden at Athens;[922] up to his time it
had never been thought of, to dwell in the country in the middle of
the town. At Rome, on the other hand, the garden[923] constituted of
itself the poor man’s field, and it was from the garden that the lower
classes procured their daily food—an aliment how guiltlessly obtained!
But still, it is a great deal better, no doubt,[924] to dive into the
abysses of the deep, and to seek each kind of oyster at the risk
and peril of shipwreck, to go searching for birds beyond the river
Phasis[925] even, which, protected as they are by the terrors invented
by fable,[926] are only rendered all the more precious thereby—to go
searching for others, again, in Numidia,[927] and the very sepulchres
of Æthiopia,[928] or else to be battling with wild beasts, and to get
eaten one’s self while trying to take a prey which another person is to
eat! And yet, by Hercules! how little do the productions of the garden
cost us in comparison with these! How more than sufficient for every
wish and for every want!—were it not, indeed, that here, as in every
thing else, turn which way we will, we find the same grounds for our
wrath and indignation. We really might be content to allow of fruits
being grown of the most exquisite quality, remarkable, some of them for
their flavour, some for their size, some, again, for the monstrosities
of their growth, morsels all of them forbidden to the poor![929] We
might allow of wines being kept till they are mellowed with age, or
enfeebled by being passed through[930] cloth strainers, of men, too,
however prolonged their lives, never drinking any but a wine that is
still older than themselves! We might allow of luxury devising how
best to extract the very aroma, as it were, and marrow[931] only from
grain; of people, too, living upon nothing but the choicest productions
of the confectioner, and upon pastes fashioned in fantastic shapes:
of one kind of bread being prepared for the rich, and another for the
multitude; of the yearly produce of the field being classified in a
descending scale, till it reaches the humble means of the very lowest
classes—but do we not find that these refined distinctions have been
extended to the very herbs even, and that riches have contrived to
establish points of dissimilarity in articles of food which ordinarily
sell for a single copper coin?[932]

In this department even, humble as it is, we are still destined to
find certain productions that are denied to the community at large, and
the very cabbages pampered to such an enormous extent that the poor
man’s table is not large enough to hold them. Asparagus, by Nature,
was intended to grow wild,[933] so that each might gather it where
he pleased—but, lo and behold! we find it in the highest state of
cultivation, and Ravenna produces heads that weigh as much as three
pounds[934] even! Alas for the monstrous excess of gluttony! It would
be surprising indeed, for the beasts of the field to be forbidden the
thistle for food, and yet it is a thing forbidden[935] to the lower
classes of the community! These refined distinctions, too, are extended
to the very water even, and, thanks to the mighty influence of money,
there are lines of demarcation drawn in the very elements themselves.
Some persons are for drinking ice, others for quaffing snow, and thus
is the curse of the mountain steep turned into an appetizing stimulus
for the palate![936] Cold is carefully treasured up for the summer
heats, and man’s invention is racked how best to keep snow freezing
in months that are not its own. Some again there are who first boil
the water,[937] and then bring it to the temperature of winter—indeed,
there is nothing that pleases man in the fashion in which Nature
originally made it.

And is it the fact, then, that any herb of the garden is reared only
for the rich man’s table? It is so—but still let no one of the angered
populace think of a fresh secession to Mount Sacer or Mount Aventine;
for to a certainty, in the long run, all-powerful money will bring them
back to just the same position as they were in when it wrought the
severance. For, by Hercules![938] there was not an impost levied at
Rome more grievous than the market-dues, an impost that aroused the
indignation of the populace, who repeatedly appealed with loud clamours
to all the chief men of the state to be relieved from it. At last they
were relieved from this heavy tax upon their wares; and then it was
found that there was no tax more lucrative, more readily collected,
or less obnoxious to the caprices of chance, than the impost that was
levied in exchange for it, in the shape of a property-tax, extended to
the poorest classes: for now the very soil itself is their surety that
paid the tax will be, their means are patent to the light of day, and
the superficial extent of their possessions, whatever the weather may
chance to be, always remains the same.

Cato,[939] we find, speaks in high praise of garden cabbages:—indeed,
it was according to their respective methods of garden cultivation
that the agriculturists of early times were appreciated, and it was
immediately concluded that it was a sign of a woman being a bad and
careless manager of her family, when the kitchen-garden—for this was
looked upon as the woman’s department more particularly—was negligently
cultivated; as in such case her only resource was, of course, the
shambles or the herb-market. But cabbages were not held in such high
esteem in those days as now: indeed, all dishes were held in disrepute
which required something else to help them down, the great object being
to economize oil as much as possible; and as to the flesh-market, so
much as a wish even to taste its wares was visited with censure and
reproach. The chief thing that made them so fond of the garden was
the fact that its produce needs no fire and ensures economy in fuel,
and that it offers resources which are always ready and at hand.
These articles of food, which from their peculiar nature we call
“vinegar-diets,”[940] were found to be easy of digestion, by no means
apt to blunt and overload the senses, and to create but little craving
for bread as an accompaniment. A portion of them which is still used by
us for seasonings, attests that our forefathers used only to look at
home for their resources, and that no Indian peppers were in request
with them, or any of those other condiments which we are in the habit
of seeking beyond the seas. In former times the lower classes of Rome,
with their mimic gardens in their windows, day after day presented
the reflex of the country to the eye, when as yet the multitudes of
atrocious burglaries, almost innumerable, had not compelled us to shut
out all such sights with bars to the passers by.

Let the garden, then, have its due meed of honour, and let not
things, because they are common, enjoy for that the less share of our
consideration—and the more so, as we find that from it men of the very
highest rank have been content to borrow their surnames even; thus
in the Valerian family, for instance, the Lactucini have not thought
themselves disgraced by taking their name from the lettuce. Perhaps,
too, our labours and research may contribute some slight recommendation
to this our subject; although, with Virgil,[941] we are ready to admit
how difficult it is, by language however elevated, to ennoble a subject
that is so humble in itself.


There is no doubt that the proper plan is, to have the gardens
adjoining the country-house; and they should be watered, more
particularly, by a river running in front of it, if possible; or else
with water drawn from a well by the aid of a wheel or of pumps, or by
swipes.[942] The ground should be opened just as the west winds are
beginning to prevail; fourteen days after which it should be got ready
for autumn, and then before the winter solstice it should have another
turning up. It will require eight men to dig a jugerum, manure being
mixed with the earth to a depth of three feet: the ground, too, should
be divided into plots or beds with raised and rounded edges, each of
which should have a path dug round it, by means of which access may be
afforded to the gardener and a channel formed for the water needed for


Among the garden plants there are some that recommend themselves by
their bulbs, others by the head, others by the stalk, others by the
leaf, others by both: some, again, are valued for their seed, others
for the outer coat, others for their membranous tissues, others for
their cartilaginous substance, others for the firmness of their flesh,
and others for the fleshy tunics in which they are enveloped.


Of some plants the fruits[943] are in the earth, of others both in
the earth and out of it, and of others, again, out of the earth
solely. Some of them increase as they lie upon the ground, gourds
and cucumbers, for instance; the same products will grow also in a
hanging position, but they are much heavier even then than any of the
fruits that grow upon trees. The cucumber, however, is composed of
cartilage and a fleshy substance, while the gourd consists of rind and
cartilage: this last is the only vegetable production the outer coat
of which becomes of a ligneous nature, when ripe. Radishes, turnips,
and rape are hidden in the earth, and so, too, are elecampane,[944]
skirrets,[945] and parsnips,[946] though in a different manner.
There are some plants, again, to which we shall give the name of
“ferulaceous,” anise[947] and mallows, for instance; indeed, we find
it stated by some writers that in Arabia[948] the mallow becomes
arborescent at the sixth month, so much so, in fact, as to admit of
its being used for walking-sticks. We have another instance, again, in
the mallow-tree of Mauretania, which is found at Lixus, a city built
upon an æstuary there; and at which spot, it is said, were formerly the
gardens of the Hesperides, at a distance of two hundred paces from the
Ocean, near the shrine of Hercules, more ancient, tradition says, than
the temple at Gades. This mallow-tree[949] is twenty feet in height,
and of such a thickness that there is not a person in existence who is
able with his arms to span its girth.

In the class of ferulaceous plants we must include hemp[950] also.
There are some plants, again, to which we must give the appellation of
“fleshy;”[951] such as those spongy[952] productions which are found
growing in damp meadows. As to the fungus, with a hard, tough flesh, we
have already[953] made mention of it when speaking of wood and trees;
and of truffles, which form another variety, we have but very recently
given a description.[954]


The cucumber[955] belongs to the cartilaginous class of plants, and
grows above the ground. It was a wonderful favourite with the Emperor
Tiberius, and, indeed, he was never without it; for he had raised
beds made in frames upon wheels, by means of which the cucumbers were
moved and exposed to the full heat of the sun; while, in winter, they
were withdrawn, and placed under the protection of frames glazed with
mirror-stone.[956] We find it stated, also, by the ancient Greek
writers, that the cucumber ought to be propagated from seed that has
been steeped[957] a couple of days in milk and honey, this method
having the effect of rendering them all the sweeter to the taste. The
cucumber, while growing, may be trained to take any form that may be
wished: in Italy the cucumbers are green[958] and very small, while
those grown in some of the provinces are remarkably large, and of a
wax colour or black.[959] Those of Africa, which are also remarkably
prolific, are held in high esteem; the same, too, with the cucumbers of
Mœsia, which are by far the largest of all. When the cucumber acquires
a very considerable volume, it is known to us as the “pepo.”[960]
Cucumbers when eaten remain on the stomach till the following day,
and are very difficult[961] of digestion; still, for all that, in
general they are not considered very unwholesome. By nature they have
a wonderful hatred to oil, and no less affection for water, and this
after they have been cut from the stem even.[962] If water is within a
moderate distance of them, they will creep towards it, while from oil,
on the other hand, they will shrink away; if any obstacle, too, should
happen to arrest their progress, or if they are left to hang, they
will grow curved and crooked. Of these facts we may be satisfactorily
convinced in a single night even, for if a vessel filled with water is
placed at four fingers’ distance from a cucumber, it will be found to
have descended to it by the following morning; but if the same is done
with oil, it will have assumed the curved form of a hook by the next
day. If hung in a tube while in blossom, the cucumber will grow to a
most surprising length.[963] It is only of late, too, that a cucumber
of entirely new shape has been produced in Campania, it having just the
form of a quince.[964] It was quite by accident, I am told, that the
first one acquired this shape in growing, and it was from the seed of
this that all the others have been reproduced. The name given to this
variety is “melopepo.” These last do not grow hanging, but assume their
round shape as they lie on the ground. A thing that is very remarkable
in them, in addition to their shape, colour, and smell, is the fact
that, when ripe, although they do not hang from the stem, they separate
from it at the stalk.

Columella[965] has given us a plan of his, by which we may have
cucumbers the whole year round: the largest bramble-bush that can be
procured is transplanted to a warm, sunny spot, and then cut down,
about the time of the vernal equinox, to within a couple of fingers
of the ground; a cucumber-seed is then inserted in the pith of the
bramble, and the roots are well moulded up with fine earth and manure,
to withstand the cold. According to the Greeks, there are three kinds
of cucumbers, the Laconian, the Scytalic, and the Bœotian,[966] the
Laconian being the only one among them that is fond[967] of the water.

There are some persons who recommend steeping the seed of the cucumber
in the juice of the herb known as the “culix;”[968] the produce, they
say, will be sure to grow without seeds.


Gourds resemble the cucumber in nature, at least in their manner of
growing; they manifest an equal aversion to the winter, too, while
they require constant watering and manure. Both cucumbers and gourds
are sown in holes a foot and a half[969] deep, between the vernal
equinox and the summer solstice, at the time of the Parilia[970] more
particularly. Some persons, however, think it better to sow gourds
after the calends of March,[971] and cucumbers after the nones,[972]
and at the time of the Quinquatria.[973] The cucumber and the gourd
climb upwards in a precisely similar manner, their shoots creeping
along the rough surface of the walls, even to the very roof, so
great is their fondness for elevated spots. They have not sufficient
strength, however, to support themselves without the aid of stays.
Shooting upwards with the greatest rapidity, they soon cover with their
light shade the arched roofs of the houses and the trellises on which
they are trained. From this circumstance it is that we find the gourd
classified into two primary kinds, the roof-gourd,[974] and the common
gourd, which creeps upon the ground. In the first kind, from a stalk
of remarkable thinness is suspended a fruit of considerable weight and
volume, and quite immoveable by the action of the wind. The gourd, too,
as well as the cucumber, admits of being lengthened to any extent, by
the aid of osier tubes more particularly. Just after the blossom has
fallen off, the plant is introduced into these tubes, and as it grows
it can be made to assume any form that may be wished, that of a serpent
coiled up being the one that is mostly preferred; if left at liberty
to grow as it hangs, it has been known before now to attain to no less
than[975] nine feet in length.

The cucumber flowers gradually, blossom succeeding blossom; and it
adapts itself perfectly well to a dry soil. It is covered with a white
down, which increases in quantity as the plant gains in size.

The gourd admits of being applied to more numerous uses than the
cucumber even: the stem is used as an article of food[976] when young,
but at a later period it changes its nature, and its qualities become
totally different: of late, gourds have come to be used in baths for
jugs and pitchers, but for this long time past they have been employed
as casks[977] for keeping wine. The rind is tender while the fruit is
green, but still it is always scraped off when the gourd is used for
food. It admits of being eaten several ways, and forms a light and
wholesome aliment, and this although it is one of those fruits that
are difficult of digestion by the human stomach, and are apt to swell
out those who eat of them. The seeds which lie nearest to the neck of
the gourd produce fruit of remarkable[978] length, and so do those
which lie at the lower extremities, though not at all comparable with
the others. Those, on the other hand, which lie in the middle, produce
gourds of a round shape, and those on the sides fruit that are thick
and short. The seeds are dried by being placed in the shade, and when
wanted for sowing, are steeped in water first. The longer and thinner
the gourd is, the more agreeable it is to the palate, and hence it is
that those which have been left to grow hanging are reckoned the most
wholesome: these, too, have fewer seeds than the others, the hardness
of which is apt to render the fruit less agreeable for eating.

Those which are intended for keeping seed, are usually not cut
before the winter sets in; they are then dried in the smoke, and are
extensively employed for preserving[979] garden seeds, and for making
other articles for domestic use. There has been a method discovered,
also, of preserving the gourd for table, and the cucumber as well,
till nearly the time when the next year’s crop is ripe; this is done
by putting them in brine. We are assured, too, that if put in a hole
dug in a place well shaded from the sun, with a layer of sand beneath,
and dry hay and earth on the top of them, they may be kept green for
a very long time. We also find wild[980] cucumbers and gourds; and,
indeed, the same is the case with pretty nearly all the garden plants.
These wild varieties, however, are only possessed of certain medicinal
properties, and for this reason we shall defer any further mention of
them till we come to the Books appropriated to that subject.


The other plants that are of a cartilaginous nature are concealed,
all of them, in the earth. In the number of these is the rape, a
subject upon which it would almost appear that we have treated[981]
at sufficient length already, were it not that we think it as well
to observe, that medical men call those which are round “male,”[982]
while those which are larger and more elongated, are known to them as
“female” rape: these last are superior in sweetness, and better for
keeping, but by successive sowings they are changed into male rape.[983]

The same authors, too, have distinguished five different varieties of
the turnip:[984] the Corinthian, the Cleonæan, the Liothasian, the
Bœotian, and the one which they have characterized as peculiarly the
“green,” turnip. The Corinthian turnip[985] grows to a very large
size, and the root is all but out of the ground; indeed, this is the
only kind that, in growing, shoots upwards, and not as the others do,
downwards into the ground. The Liothasian is known by some persons
as the Thracian turnip;[986] it is the one that stands extreme cold
the best of all. Next to it, the Bœotian kind is the sweetest; it is
remarkable, also, for the roundness of its shape and its shortness;
while the Cleonæan turnip,[987] on the other hand, is of an elongated
form. Those, in general, which have a thin, smooth leaf, are the
sweetest; while those, again, the leaf of which is rough, angular, and
prickly, have a pungent taste. There is a kind of wild turnip,[988]
also, the leaves of which resemble those of rocket.[989] At Rome, the
highest rank is given to the turnips of Amiternum,[990] and those of
Nursia; after them, those grown in the neighbourhood of the City[991]
are held in the next degree of esteem. The other particulars connected
with the sowing of the turnip have been already mentioned[992] by us
when speaking of the rape.


Radishes are composed of an outer coat and a cartilaginous substance,
and in many instances the rind is found to be thicker than the bark of
some trees. This plant is remarkable for its pungency, which increases
in proportion to the thickness of the rind: in some cases, too, the
surface of it assumes a ligneous nature. Radishes are flatulent[993]
to a remarkable degree, and are productive of eructations; hence it
is that they are looked upon as an aliment only fit for low-bred
people,[994] and this more particularly if coleworts are eaten directly
after them. If, on the other hand, they are eaten with green olives,
the eructations produced are not so frequent, and less offensive.
In Egypt the radish is held in very high esteem, on account of the
abundance of oil[995] that is extracted from the seed. Indeed, the
people of that country sow this plant in preference to any other,
whenever they can get the opportunity, the profits derived from it
being larger than those obtained from the cultivation of corn, and the
imposts levied upon it considerably less: there is no grain known that
yields a larger quantity of oil.

The Greeks have distinguished the radish[996] into three different
kinds, according to the characteristic features of the leaves, there
being the crisped leaf, the smooth leaf, and the wild radish, the leaf
of which is smooth, but shorter than that of the others; it is round
also, grows in great abundance, and spreads like a shrub. The taste
of this last variety is acrid, and it acts medicinally as a strong
purgative. In the first kind, again, there are certain differences,
determined by the seed, for in some varieties the seed is of an
inferior quality, and in others remarkably small: these defects,
however, are only found to exist in the kind that has the crisped leaf.

Our own people, again, have found other varieties of the radish: there
is the Algidan[997] radish, long and transparent, so called from the
place of its growth: another, similar to the rape in form, is known as
the Syrian radish; it is pretty nearly the mildest and the most tender
of them all, and is well able to bear the winter. The very best of all,
however, is the one that has been brought from Syria, very recently
it would seem, as we do not find it mentioned by any of our writers:
it lasts the whole of the winter through. In addition to these kinds,
there is another, a wild variety, known by the Greeks as “agrion,”[998]
and to the people of Pontus as “armon,” while others, again, call it
“leuce,”[999] and our people “armoracia;”[1000] it has more leaves,
however, than root.

In testing the quality of the radish, it is the stem more
particularly, that is looked at; in those which are acrid to the
taste, for instance, it is rounder and thicker than in the others, and
grooved with long channels, while the leaves are more unsightly to the
eye, being angular and covered with prickles.

The radish requires to be sown in a loose, humid soil, has a great
aversion to manure, and is content with a dressing solely of chaff: so
fond is it of the cold, that in Germany it is known to grow as large as
an infant in size.[1001] For the spring crop, it is sown immediately
after the ides of February;[1002] and then again about the time of the
Vulcanalia,[1003] this last crop being looked upon as the best: many
persons, however, sow radishes in March, April, and September. When the
plant begins to grow to any size, it is considered a good plan to cover
up the leaves successively, and to earth up the root as well; for the
part of it which appears above ground is apt to become hard and pithy.
Aristomachus recommends the leaves to be taken off in winter, and the
roots to be well moulded up, to prevent the water from accumulating
about them; and he says, that by using these precautions, they will be
all the finer in summer. Some authors have mentioned a plan of making
a hole with a dibble, and covering it at the bottom with a layer of
chaff, six fingers in depth; upon this layer the seed is put, and then
covered over with manure and earth; the result of which is, according
to their statement, that radishes are obtained full as large as the
hole so made. It is salt, however, that conduces more particularly
to their nutriment, and hence it is that they are often watered with
brine; in Egypt, too, the growers sprinkle nitre[1004] over them, the
roots being remarkable for their mildness. The salt, too, has the
similar effect of removing all their pungency, and when thus treated,
they become very similar in their qualities to radishes that have been
boiled: for when boiled they become sweet and mild, and eat, in fact,
just like turnips.

Medical men recommend raw radishes to be eaten fasting, with salt, for
the purpose[1005] of collecting the crude humours of the viscera; and
in this way they prepare them for the action of emetics. It is said,
too, that the juices of this plant are absolutely necessary for the
cure of certain diseases of the diaphragm; for it has been found by
experiment, in Egypt, that the phthiriasis[1006] which attaches itself
to the internal parts of the heart, cannot possibly be eradicated by
any other remedy, the kings of that country having ordered the bodies
of the dead to be opened and examined, for the purpose of enquiring
into certain diseases.

Such, too, is the frivolity of the Greeks, that, in the temple of
Apollo at Delphi, it is said, the radish is so greatly preferred to
all other articles of diet, as to be represented there in gold, the
beet in silver, and the rape in lead.—You might be very sure that
Manius Curius was not a native of that country, the general whom, as we
find stated in our Annals, the ambassadors of the Samnites found busy
roasting rape at the fire, when they came to offer him the gold which
he so indignantly refused. Moschion, too, a Greek author, has written
a volume on the subject of the radish. These vegetables are considered
a very useful article of food during the winter, but they are at all
times very injurious to the teeth, as they are apt to wear them away;
at all events, they give a polish to ivory. There is a great antipathy
between the radish[1007] and the vine; which last will shrink from the
radish, if sown in its vicinity.


The other kinds which have been classified by us among the
cartilaginous plants, are of a more ligneous nature; and it is a
singular thing, that they have, all of them, a strong flavour. Among
these, there is one kind of wild parsnip which grows spontaneously; by
the Greeks it is known as “staphylinos.”[1008] Another kind[1009] of
parsnip is grown either from the root transplanted, or else from seed,
at the beginning of spring or in the autumn; Hyginus says that this may
be done in February, August, September, and October, the ground being
dug to a very considerable depth for the purpose. The parsnip begins
to be fit for eating at the end of a year, but it is still better
at the end of two: it is reckoned more agreeable eating in autumn,
and more particularly if cooked in the saucepan; even then, however,
it preserves its strong pungent flavour, which it is found quite
impossible to get rid of.

The hibiscum[1010] differs from the parsnip in being more slender:
it is rejected as a food, but is found useful for its medicinal
properties. There is a fourth kind,[1011] also, which bears a similar
degree of resemblance to the parsnip; by our people it is called the
“gallica,” while the Greeks, who have distinguished four varieties of
it, give it the name of “daucus.” We shall have further occasion[1012]
to mention it among the medicinal plants.


The skirret,[1013] too, has had its reputation established by the
Emperor Tiberius, who demanded a supply of it every year from Germany.
It is at Gelduba,[1014] a fortress situate on the banks of the Rhenus,
that the finest are grown; from which it would appear that they thrive
best in a cold climate. There is a string running through the whole
length of the skirret, and which is drawn out after it is boiled; but
still, for all this, a considerable proportion of its natural pungency
is retained; indeed, when modified by the addition of honied wine,
this is even thought to impart to dishes an additional relish. The
larger parsnip has also a similar sting inside, but only when it is a
year old. The proper time for sowing the skirret is in the months of
February, March, April, August, September, and October.


Elecampane[1015] is not so elongated as the preceding roots, but more
substantial and more pungent; eaten by itself it is very injurious to
the stomach, but when mixed with other condiments of a sweet nature,
it is extremely wholesome. There are several methods employed for
modifying[1016] its natural acridity and rendering it agreeable to the
palate: thus, for instance, when dried it is reduced to a fine flour,
and then mixed with some sweet liquid or other, or else it is boiled in
vinegar and water, or kept in soak in it; it is also steeped in various
other ways, and then mixed with boiled[1017] grape-juice, or else
incorporated with honey or raisins, or dates with plenty of meat on
them. Other persons, again, have a method of preparing it with quinces,
or else sorbs or plums, while sometimes the flavour is varied by the
addition of pepper or thyme.

This plant is particularly good for weakness of the stomach, and it
has acquired a high reputation from the circumstance that Julia[1018]
Augusta used to eat it daily. The seed of it is quite useless, as
the plant is reproduced, like the reed, from eyes extracted from the
root. This vegetable, as well as the skirret and the parsnip, is sown
both in spring and autumn, a considerable distance being left between
the plants; indeed, for elecampane, a space of no less than three
feet is required, as it throws out its shoots to a very considerable
distance.[1019] Skirrets, however, are best transplanted.


Next in affinity to these plants are the bulbs,[1020] which Cato,
speaking in high terms of those of Megara,[1021] recommends most
particularly for cultivation. Among these bulbs, the squill,[1022]
we find, occupies the very highest rank, although by nature it is
medicinal, and is employed for imparting an additional sharpness to
vinegar:[1023] indeed, there is no bulb known that grows to a larger
size than this, or is possessed of a greater degree of pungency.
There are two varieties of it employed in medicine, the male squill,
which has white leaves, and the female squill, with black[1024] ones.
There is a third kind also, which is good to eat, and is known as
the Epimenidian[1025] squill; the leaf is narrower than in the other
kinds, and not so rough. All the squills have numerous seeds, but they
come up much more quickly if propagated from the offsets that grow on
the sides. To make them attain a still greater size, the large leaves
that grow around them are turned down and covered over with earth; by
which method all the juices are carried to the heads. Squills grow
spontaneously and in vast numbers in the Baleares and the island of
Ebusus, and in the Spanish provinces.[1026] The philosopher Pythagoras
has written a whole volume on the merits of this plant, setting forth
its various medicinal properties; of which we shall have occasion to
speak more at length in the succeeding Book.[1027]

The other species of bulbs are distinguished by their colour, size,
and sweetness; indeed, there are some that are eaten raw even—those
found in the Tauric Chersonesus, for instance. Next to these, the
bulbs of Africa are held in the highest esteem, and after them those
of Apulia. The Greeks have distinguished the following varieties: the
bulbine,[1028] the setanion,[1029] the opition,[1030] the cyix,[1031]
the leucoion,[1032] the ægilips,[1033] and the sisyrinchion[1034]—in
the last there is this remarkable feature, that the extremities of
the roots increase in winter, but during the spring, when the violet
appears, they diminish in size and gradually contract, and then it is
that the bulb begins to increase in magnitude.

Among the varieties of the bulb, too, there is the plant known in Egypt
by the name of “aron.”[1035] In size it is very nearly as large as
the squill, with a leaf like that of lapathum, and a straight stalk a
couple of cubits in length, and the thickness of a walking-stick: the
root of it is of a milder nature, so much so, indeed, as to admit of
being eaten raw.

Bulbs are taken up before the spring, for if not, they are apt to spoil
very quickly. It is a sign that they are ripe when the leaves become
dry at the lower extremities. When too old they are held in disesteem;
the same, too, with the long and the smaller ones; those, on the other
hand, which are red and round are greatly preferred, as also those of
the largest size. In most of them there is a certain degree of pungency
in the upper part, but the middle is sweet. The ancients have stated
that bulbs are reproduced from seed only, but in the champaign country
of Præneste they grow spontaneously, and they grow to an unlimited
extent in the territory of the Remi.[1036]


Nearly all[1037] the garden plants have a single[1038] root only,
radishes, beet, parsley, and mallows, for example; it is lapathum,
however, that has the longest root of them all, it attaining the length
of three cubits even. The root of the wild kind is smaller and of a
humid nature, and when up it will keep alive for a considerable period.
In some of these plants, however, the roots are fibrous, as we find the
case in parsley and mallows, for instance; in others, again, they are
of a ligneous nature, as in ocimum, for example; and in others they
are fleshy, as in beet, and in saffron even more so. In some, again,
the root is composed of rind and flesh, as in the radish and the rape;
while in others it is jointed, as in hay grass.[1039] Those plants
which have not a straight root throw out immediately a great number of
hairy fibres, orage[1040] and blite,[1041] for instance: squills again,
bulbs, onions, and garlic never have any but a vertical root. Among the
plants that grow spontaneously, there are some which have more numerous
roots than leaves, spalax,[1042] for example, pellitory,[1043] and

Wild thyme, southernwood, turnips, radishes, mint, and rue blossom
all[1045] at once; while others, again, shed their blossom directly
they have begun to flower. Ocimum[1046] blossoms gradually, beginning
at the lower parts, and hence it is that it is so very long in blossom:
the same is the case, too, with the plant known as heliotropium.[1047]
In some plants the flower is white, in others yellow, and in
others purple. The leaves fall first[1048] from the upper part in
wild-marjoram and elecampane, and in rue[1049] sometimes, when it has
been injured accidentally. In some plants the leaves are hollow, the
onion and the scallion,[1050] more particularly.


Garlic and onions[1051] are invoked by the Egyptians,[1052] when
taking an oath, in the number of their deities. The Greeks have many
varieties[1053] of the onion, the Sardian onion, the Samothracian,
the Alsidenian, the setanian, the schistan, and the Ascalonian,[1054]
so called from Ascalon,[1055] a city of Judæa. They have, all of
them, a pungent smell, which[1056] draws tears from the eyes, those
of Cyprus more particularly, and those of Cnidos the least of all. In
all of them the body is composed of a cartilage of an unctuous[1057]
nature. The variety known as the setanian is the smallest of them all,
with the exception of the Tusculan[1058] onion, but it is sweet to
the taste. The schistan[1059] and the Ascalonian kinds are used for
storing. The schistan onion is left during the winter with the leaves
on; in the spring it is stripped of them, upon which offsets make
their appearance at the same divisions as the leaves; it is to this
circumstance that this variety owes its name. Taking the hint from this
fact, it is recommended to strip the other kinds of their leaves, to
make them bulb all the better, instead of running to seed.

The Ascalonian onion is of a peculiar nature, being barren in some
measure in the root; hence it is that the Greeks have recommended it
to be reproduced from seed, and not from roots: the transplanting,
too, they say, should be done later in the spring, at the time the
plant germinates, the result being that it bulbs with all the greater
rapidity, and hastens, as it were, to make up for lost time; great
dispatch, however, is requisite in taking it up, for when ripe it rots
with the greatest rapidity. If propagated from roots, it throws out a
long stalk, runs rapidly to seed, and dies.

There are considerable differences, too, in the colour of the onion;
the whitest of all are those grown at Issus and Sardes. The onions,
too, of Crete are held in high esteem, but there is some doubt whether
they are not the same as the Ascalonian variety; for when grown from
seed they produce a fine bulb, but when planted they throw out a long
stalk and run to seed; in fact, they differ from the Ascalonian kind
only in the sweetness of their flavour.

Among us there are two principal varieties known of the onion; the
scallion, employed for seasonings, is one, known to the Greeks by the
name of “gethyon,” and by us as the “pallacana;” it is sown in March,
April, and May. The other kind is the bulbed or headed[1060] onion;
it is sown just after the autumnal equinox, or else after the west
winds have begun to prevail. The varieties of this last kind, ranged
according to their relative degrees of pungency, are the African onion,
the Gallic, the Tusculan, the Ascalonian, and the Amiternian: the
roundest in shape are the best. The red onion, too, is more pungent
than the white, the stored than the fresh, the raw than the cooked,
and the dried than the preserved. The onion of Amiternum is cultivated
in cold, humid localities, and is the only one that is reproduced from
heads,[1061] like garlic, the other kinds being grown from seed. This
last kind yields no seed in the ensuing summer, but a bulb only, which
dries and keeps; but in the summer after, the contrary is the case,
for seed is produced, while the bulb very quickly spoils. Hence it is
that every year there are two separate sowings, one of seed for the
reproduction of bulbs, and one of bulbs for the growth of seed; these
onions keep best in chaff. The scallion has hardly any bulb at all, but
a long neck only—hence it is nothing but leaf, and is often cut down,
like the leek; for this reason, too, like the leek, it is grown from
seed, and not from plants.

In addition to these particulars, it is recommended that the ground
intended for sowing onions should be turned up three times, care being
taken to remove all roots and weeds; ten pounds of seed is the proper
proportion for a jugerum. Savory too, they say, should be mixed with
them, the onions being all the finer for it; the ground, too, should
be stubbed and hoed four times at least, if not oftener. In Italy, the
Ascalonian onion is sown in the month of February. The seed of the
onion is gathered when it begins to turn black, and before it becomes
dry and shrivelled.


While upon this subject, it will be as well, too, to speak of the
leek,[1062] on account of the affinity which it bears to the plants
just mentioned, and more particularly because cut-leek has recently
acquired considerable celebrity from the use made of it by the Emperor
Nero. That prince, to improve his voice,[1063] used to eat leeks and
oil every month, upon stated days, abstaining from every other kind
of food, and not touching so much as a morsel of bread even. Leeks
are reproduced from seed, sown just after the autumnal equinox; if
they are intended for cutting,[1064] the seed is sown thicker than
otherwise. The leeks in the same bed are cut repeatedly, till it is
quite exhausted, and they are always kept well manured. If they are
wanted to bulb before being cut, when they have grown to some size they
are transplanted to another bed, the extremities of the leaves being
snipped off without touching the white part, and the heads stripped of
the outer coats. The ancients were in the habit of placing a stone or
potsherd upon the leek, to make the head grow all the larger, and the
same with the bulbs as well; but at the present day it is the usual
practice to move the fibrous roots gently with the weeding-hook, so
that by being bent they may nourish the plant, and not withdraw the
juices from it.

It is a remarkable fact, that, though the leek stands in need of
manure and a rich soil, it has a particular aversion to water; and
yet its nature depends very much upon the natural properties of the
soil. The most esteemed leeks are those grown in Egypt, and next to
them those of Ostia and Aricia.[1065] Of the leek for cutting, there
are two varieties: that with grass-green[1066] leaves and incisions
distinctly traced on them, and the leek with paler and rounder leaves,
the incisions being more lightly marked. There is a story told,
that Mela,[1067] a member of the Equestrian order, being accused of
mal-administration by order of the Emperor Tiberius, swallowed in his
despair leek-juice to the amount of three denarii in weight of silver,
and expired upon the spot without the slightest symptom of pain. It
is said, however, that a larger dose than this is productive of no
injurious effects whatever.[1068]


Garlic[1069] is generally supposed, in the country more particularly,
to be a good specific[1070] for numerous maladies. The external coat
consists of membranes of remarkable fineness, which are universally
discarded when the vegetable is used; the inner part being formed by
the union of several cloves, each of which has also a separate coat of
its own. The flavour of it is pungent, and the more numerous the cloves
the more pungent it is. Like the onion, it imparts an offensive smell
to the breath; but this is not the case when it is cooked. The various
species of garlic are distinguished by the periods at which they ripen:
the early kind becomes fit for use in sixty days. Another distinction,
too, is formed by the relative size of the heads. Ulpicum,[1071] also,
generally known to the Greeks as “Cyprian garlic,” belongs to this
class; by some persons it is called “antiscorodon,” and in Africa
more particularly it holds a high rank among the dishes of the rural
population; it is of a larger size than ordinary garlic. When beaten
up with oil and vinegar, it is quite surprising what a quantity of
creaming foam is produced.

There are some persons who recommend that neither ulpicum nor garlic
should be sown on level ground, but say that they should be planted in
little mounds trenched up, at a distance of three feet apart. Between
each clove, they say, there should be a distance of four fingers left,
and as soon as ever three leaves are visible, the heads should be hoed;
the oftener they are hoed, the larger the size they will attain. When
they begin to ripen, the stalks are bent downwards, and covered over
with earth, a precaution which effectually prevents them from running
to leaf. In cold soils, it is considered better to plant them in spring
than in autumn.

For the purpose of depriving all these plants of their strong smell,
it is recommended to set them when the moon is below the horizon, and
to take them up when she is in conjunction. Independently of these
precautions, we find Menander, one of the Greek writers, recommending
those who have been eating garlic to eat immediately afterwards a
root of beet roasted on hot coals; if this is done, he says, the
strong smell of the garlic will be effectually neutralized. Some
persons are of opinion, that the proper period for planting garlic and
ulpicum is between the festival of the Compitalia[1072] and that of
the Saturnalia.[1073] Garlic, too, can be grown from seed, but it is
very slow, in such case, in coming to maturity; for in the first year,
the head attains the size only of that of a leek, in the second, it
separates into cloves, and only in the third it arrives at maturity;
there are some, however, who think that garlic grown this way is the
best. Garlic should never be allowed to run to seed, but the stalk
should be twisted, to promote its growth, and to make the head attain a
larger size.

If garlic or onions are wanted to keep some time, the heads should
be dipped in salt water, made luke-warm; by doing this, they will be
all the better for keeping, though quite worthless for reproduction.
Some persons content themselves with hanging them over burning coals,
and are of opinion that this is quite sufficient to prevent them from
sprouting: for it is a well-known fact, that both garlic and onions
sprout when out of the ground, and that after throwing out their thin
shoots they shrivel away to nothing. Some persons are of opinion, too,
that the best way of keeping garlic is by storing it in chaff. There is
a kind[1074] of garlic that grows spontaneously in the fields, and is
known by the name of “alum.” To preserve the seeds that are sown there
from the remorseless ravages of the birds, this plant is scattered over
the ground, being first boiled, to prevent it from shooting. As soon
as ever they have eaten of it, the birds become so stupefied as to be
taken with the hand even,[1075] and if they remain but a few moments
only on the spot, they fall fast asleep. There is a wild garlic, too,
generally known as “bear’s” garlic;[1076] it has exactly the smell of
millet, with a very small head and large leaves.


Among the garden[1077] plants which make their appearance most speedily
above ground, are ocimum, blite, the turnip, and rocket; for they
appear above the surface the third day after they are sown. Anise,
again, comes up on the fourth day, the lettuce on the fifth, the radish
on the sixth, the cucumber and the gourd on the seventh—the cucumber
rather the first of the two—cresses and mustard on the fifth, beet on
the sixth day in summer and the tenth in winter, orage on the eighth,
onions on the nineteenth or twentieth, and scallions on the tenth or
twelfth. Coriander, again, is more stubborn in its growth, cunila and
wild marjoram do not appear till after the thirtieth day, and parsley
comes up with the greatest difficulty of all, for at the very earliest
it is forty days before it shows itself, and in most instances as much
as fifty.

The age,[1078] too, of the seed is of some importance in this respect;
for fresh seed comes up more rapidly in the case of the leek, the
scallion, the cucumber, and the gourd, while in that of parsley, beet,
cardamum, cunila, wild marjoram, and coriander, seed that has been kept
for some time is the best.

There is one remarkable circumstance[1079] in connection with the
seed of beet; it does not all germinate in the first year, but some
of it in the second, and some in the third even; hence it is that a
considerable quantity of seed produces only a very moderate crop. Some
plants produce only in the year in which they are set, and some, again,
for successive years, parsley, leeks, and scallions[1080] for instance;
indeed, these plants, when once sown, retain their fertility, and
produce for many years.


In most plants the seed is round, in some oblong; it is broad and
foliaceous in some, orage for instance, while in others it is narrow
and grooved, as in cummin. There are differences, also, in the colour
of seeds, which is either black or white; while some seeds are woody
and hard, in radishes, mustard, and rape, the seeds are enclosed in
pods. In parsley, coriander, anise, fennel, and cummin, the seed has
no covering at all, while in blite, beet, orage, and ocimum, it has
an outer coat, and in the lettuce it is covered with a fine down.
There is no seed more prolific than that of ocimum;[1081] it is
generally recommended[1082] to sow it with the utterance of curses and
imprecations, the result being that it grows all the better for it;
the earth, too, is rammed down when it is sown, and prayers offered
that the seed may never come up. The seeds which are enveloped in an
outer coat, are dried with considerable difficulty, that of ocimum more
particularly; hence it is that all these seeds are dried artificially,
their fruitfulness being greatly promoted thereby.

Plants in general come up better when the seed is sown in heaps than
when it is scattered broad-cast: leeks, in fact, and parsley are
generally grown by sowing the seed in little bags;[1083] in the case
of parsley, too, a hole is made with the dibble, and a layer of manure

All garden plants grow either from seed or from slips, and some from
both seed and suckers, such as rue, wild marjoram, and ocimum,[1084]
for example—this last being usually cut when it is a palm in height.
Some kinds, again, are reproduced from both seed and root, as in the
case of onions, garlic, and bulbs, and those other plants of which,
though annuals themselves, the roots retain their vitality. In those
plants which grow from the root, it lives for a considerable time,
and throws out offsets, as in bulbs, scallions, and squills for
example.—Others, again, throw out offsets, though not from a bulbous
root, such as parsley and beet, for instance. When the stalk is cut,
with the exception[1085] of those which have not a rough stem, nearly
all these plants put forth fresh shoots, a thing that may be seen in
ocimum,[1086] the radish,[1087] and the lettuce,[1088] which are in
daily use among us; indeed, it is generally thought that the lettuce
which is grown from a fresh sprouting, is the sweetest. The radish,
too, is more pleasant eating when the leaves have been removed before
it has begun to run to stalk. The same is the case, too, with rape;
for when the leaves are taken off, and the roots well covered up with
earth, it grows all the larger for it, and keeps in good preservation
till the ensuing summer.


Of ocimum, lapathum, blite, cresses, rocket, orage, coriander, and
anise respectively, there is but a single kind, these plants being
the same everywhere, and no better in one place than in another. It
is the general belief that stolen[1089] rue grows the best, while, on
the other hand, bees[1090] that have been stolen will never thrive.
Wild mint, cat-mint, endive, and pennyroyal, will grow even without
any cultivation. With reference to the plants of which we have already
spoken, or shall have occasion to speak, there are numerous varieties
of many of them, parsley more particularly.

(8.) As to the kind of parsley[1091] which grows spontaneously in moist
localities, it is known by the name of “helioselinum;”[1092] it has a
single leaf[1093] only, and is not rough at the edges. In dry places,
we find growing the kind known as “hipposelinum,”[1094] consisting
of numerous leaves, similar to helioselinum. A third variety is the
oreoselinum,[1095] with leaves like those of hemlock, and a thin, fine,
root, the seed being similar to that of anise, only somewhat smaller.

The differences, again, that are found to exist in cultivated
parsley,[1096] consist in the comparative density of the leaves, the
crispness or smoothness of their edges, and the thinness or thickness
of the stem, as the case may be: in some kinds, again, the stem is
white, in others purple, and in others mottled.


The Greeks have distinguished three varieties of the lettuce;[1097] the
first with a stalk so large, that small garden gates,[1098] it is said,
have been made of it: the leaf of this lettuce is somewhat larger than
that of the herbaceous, or green lettuce, but extremely narrow, the
nutriment seeming to be expended on the other parts of the plant. The
second kind is that with a rounded[1099] stalk; and the third is the
low, squat lettuce,[1100] generally known as the Laconian lettuce.

Some persons[1101] have made distinctions in reference to their
respective colours, and the times for sowing them: the black lettuce
is sown in the month of January, the white in March, and the red in
April; and they are fit for transplanting, all of them, at the end of
a couple of months. Those, again, who have pursued these enquiries
even further than this, have distinguished a still greater number of
varieties of them—the purple, the crisped, the Cappadocian,[1102] and
the Greek lettuce, this last having a longer leaf than the rest, and
a broad stalk: in addition to which, there is one with a long, narrow
leaf, very similar to endive in appearance. The most inferior kind,
however, of all, is the one to which the Greeks, censuring it for its
bitterness, have given the name of “picris.”[1103] There is still
another variety, a kind of white lettuce, called “meconis,”[1104]
a name which it derives from the abundance of milk, of a narcotic
quality, which it produces; though, in fact, it is generally thought
that they are all of them of a soporific tendency. In former
times, this last was the only kind of lettuce that was held in any
esteem[1105] in Italy, the name “lactuca” having been given it on
account of the milk[1106] which it contains.

The purple kind, with a very large root, is generally known as the
Cæcilian[1107] lettuce; while the round one, with an extremely
diminutive root and broad leaves, is known to some persons as the
“astytis,”[1108] and to others as the “eunychion,” it having the
effect, in a remarkable degree, of quenching the amorous propensities.
Indeed, they are, all of them, possessed of cooling and refreshing
properties, for which reason it is, that they are so highly esteemed
in summer; they have the effect, also, of removing from the stomach
distaste for food, and of promoting the appetite. At all events, we
find it stated, that the late Emperor Augustus, when ill, was saved on
one occasion,[1109] thanks to the skill of his physician, Musa,[1110]
by eating lettuces, a food which the excessive scruples of his former
physician, C. Æmilius, had forbidden him. At the present day, however,
lettuces have risen into such high estimation, that a method has been
discovered even of preserving them during the months in which they
are out of season, by keeping them in oxymel.[1111] It is generally
supposed, also, that lettuces have the effect of making blood.

In addition to the above varieties, there is another kind of lettuce
known as the “goats’ lettuce,”[1112] of which we shall have occasion
to make further mention when we come to the medicinal plants: at the
moment, too, that I am writing this, a new species of cultivated
lettuce has been introduced, known as the Cilician lettuce, and held
in very considerable esteem; the leaf of it is similar to that of the
Cappadocian lettuce, except that it is crisped, and somewhat larger.


Endive, though it cannot exactly be said to be of the same genus as
the lettuce, still cannot be pronounced to belong to any other.[1113]
It is a plant better able to endure the rigours of the winter than
the lettuce,[1114] and possessed of a more acrid taste, though the
flavour of the stalk[1115] is equally agreeable. Endive is sown at
the beginning of spring, and transplanted at the end of that season.
There is also a kind of spreading[1116] endive, known in Egypt as
“cichorium,”[1117] of which we shall have occasion[1118] to speak
elsewhere more at length.

A method has been discovered of preserving all the thyrsi or leaves
of the lettuce in pots, the object being to have them fresh when
wanted for boiling. Lettuces may be sown all the year[1119] through
in a good soil, well-watered and carefully manured;[1120] two months
being allowed to intervene between sowing and transplanting, and two
more between transplanting and gathering them when ripe. The rule is,
however, to sow them just after the winter solstice, and to transplant
when the west winds begin to prevail, or else to sow at this latter
period, and to plant out at the vernal equinox. The white lettuce is
the best adapted for standing the rigours of the winter.

All the garden plants are fond of moisture; lettuces thrive, more
particularly, when well manured, and endive even more so. Indeed, it
is found an excellent plan to plant them out with the roots covered
up in manure, and to keep up the supply, the earth being cleared away
for that purpose. Some, again, have another method of increasing their
size; they cut them[1121] down when they have reached half a foot in
height, and cover them with fresh swine’s dung. It is the general
opinion that those lettuces only will admit of being blanched which are
produced from white seed; and even then, as soon as they begin to grow,
sand from the sea-shore should be spread over them, care being taken to
tie the leaves as soon as ever they begin to come to any size.


Beet[1122] is the smoothest of all the garden plants. The Greeks
distinguish two kinds of beet, according to the colour, the black and
the white. The last, which is the kind generally preferred, has but
very little seed, and is generally known as the Sicilian[1123] beet;
just as it is the white lettuce that is held in the highest degree of
esteem. Our people, also, distinguish two varieties of beet, the spring
and the autumn kinds, so called from the periods of sowing; although
sometimes we find beet sown in June even. This is a plant, too, that
is sometimes transplanted; and it thrives all the better, like the
lettuce, if the roots are well covered with manure, in a moist soil.
Beet is mostly eaten[1124] with lentils and beans; it is prepared
also in the same way as cabbage, with mustard more particularly, the
pungency of which relieves its insipidity. Medical men are of opinion
that beet is a more unwholesome[1125] vegetable than cabbage; hence it
is that I never remember seeing it served at table. Indeed, there are
some persons who scruple to taste it even, from a conviction that it is
a food suitable only for persons of a robust constitution.

Beet is a vegetable with twofold characteristics, partaking of the
nature of the cabbage in its leaves and resembling a bulb in the
root; that which grows to the greatest breadth being the most highly
esteemed. This plant, like the lettuce, is made to grow to head by
putting a light weight upon it the moment it begins to assume its
proper colour. Indeed, there is no garden plant that grows to a larger
head than this, as it sometimes spreads to a couple of feet in breadth,
the nature of the soil contributing in a very considerable degree to
its size: those found in the territory of Circeii attain the largest
size. Some persons[1126] think that the best time for sowing beet is
when the pomegranate is in flower, and are of opinion that it ought
to be transplanted as soon as it has thrown out five leaves. There
is a singular difference—if indeed it really exists—between the two
varieties of beet, the white kind being remarkable for its purgative
qualities, and the black being equally astringent. When wine in the vat
has been deteriorated by assuming a flavour like[1127] that of cabbage,
its original flavour is restored, it is said, by plunging beet leaves
into it.


Cabbage and coleworts, which at the present day are the most highly
esteemed of all the garden vegetables, were held in little repute, I
find, among the Greeks; but Cato,[1128] on the other hand, sings the
wondrous praises of the cabbage, the medicinal properties of which we
shall duly enlarge[1129] upon when we come to treat of that subject.
Cato distinguishes three varieties of the cabbage; the first, a plant
with leaves wide open, and a large stalk; a second, with crisped
leaves, to which he gives the name of “apiaca;”[1130] and a third,
with a thin stalk, and a smooth, tender leaf, which with him ranks the
lowest of all. Cabbages may be sown the whole year through, as we find
that they are cut at all periods of the year; the best time, however,
for sowing them is at the autumnal equinox, and they are usually
transplanted as soon as five leaves are visible. In the ensuing spring
after the first cutting, the plant yields sprouts, known to us as
“cymæ.”[1131] These sprouts, in fact, are small shoots thrown out from
the main stem, of a more delicate and tender quality than the cabbage
itself. The exquisite palate, however, of Apicius[1132] rejected these
sprouts for the table, and his example was followed by the fastidious
Drusus Cæsar; who did not escape, however, the censures of his father,
Tiberius, for being so over-nice. After the cymæ have made their
appearance the cabbage throws out its summer and autumn shoots, and
then its winter ones; after which, a new crop of cymæ is produced,
there being no plant so productive as this, until, at last, it is quite
exhausted by its extreme fertility. A second time for sowing cabbages
is immediately after the vernal equinox, the plants of this growth
being transplanted at the end of spring, that they may not run up into
sprouts before coming to a top: and a third sowing takes place about
the summer solstice, the transplanting being done in summer if the soil
is moist, but, if too dry, in autumn. When moisture and manure are
supplied in small quantities, the flavour of the cabbage is all the
more agreeable, but when they are supplied in greater abundance, the
plants attain a larger size. Asses’ dung is the best adapted for its

The cabbage, too, is one of those articles so highly esteemed by
epicures; for which reason it will not be amiss if we speak of it at
somewhat greater length. To obtain plants equally remarkable for their
size and flavour, care must be taken first of all to sow the seed in
ground that has had a couple of turnings up, and then to follow up the
shoots as they appear above ground by moulding them up, care being
taken to throw up the earth over them as they increase in luxuriance,
and to let nothing but the summit appear above the surface. This kind
is known as the Tritian[1133] cabbage: in money and labour it costs
twice as much as any of the others.

The other varieties of the cabbage[1134] are numerous—there is the
Cumanian cabbage, with leaves that lie close to the ground, and a wide,
open head; the Aricinian[1135] cabbage, too, of no greater height, but
with more numerous leaves and thinner—this last is looked upon as the
most useful of them all, for beneath nearly all of the leaves there are
small shoots thrown out, peculiar to this variety. The cabbage, again,
of Pompeii[1136] is considerably taller, the stalk, which is thin at
the root, increasing in thickness as it rises among the leaves, which
are fewer in number and narrower; the great merit of this cabbage is
its remarkable tenderness, although it is not able to stand the cold.
The cabbage of Bruttium,[1137] on the other hand, thrives all the
better for cold; the leaves of it are remarkably large, the stalk thin,
and the flavour pungent. The leaves, again, of the Sabine[1138] cabbage
are crisped to such a degree as to excite our surprise, and their
thickness is such as to quite exhaust the stem; in sweetness, however,
it is said to surpass all the others.

There have lately come into fashion the cabbages known as the
“Lacuturres;”[1139] they are grown in the valley of Aricia, where
there was formerly a lake, now no longer in existence, and a tower
which is still standing. The head of this cabbage is very large, and
the leaves are almost without number, some of them being round and
smooth, and others long and sinewy; indeed, there is no cabbage that
runs to a larger head than this, with the sole exception of the Tritian
variety, which has a head sometimes as much as a foot in thickness, and
throws out its cymæ the latest of all.

In all kinds of cabbages, hoar-frost contributes very materially to
their sweetness; but it is apt to be productive of considerable injury,
if care is not taken to protect the pith by cutting them aslant. Those
plants which are intended for seed are never cut.

There is another kind, again, that is held in peculiar esteem, and
which never exceeds the height of an herbaceous plant; it is known by
the name of “halmyridia,”[1140] from the circumstance of its growing
on the sea-shore[1141] only. It will keep green and fresh during a
long voyage even, if care is taken not to let it touch the ground
from the moment that it is cut, but to put it into oil-vessels lately
dried, and then to bung them so as to effectually exclude all air.
There are some[1142] who are of opinion, that the plant will come to
maturity all the sooner if some sea-weed is laid at the root when it
is transplanted, or else as much pounded nitre as can be taken up with
three fingers; and others, again, sprinkle the leaves with trefoil seed
and nitre pounded together.[1143] Nitre, too, preserves the greenness
of cabbage when cooked, a result which is equally ensured by the
Apician mode of boiling, or in other words, by steeping the plants in
oil and salt before they are cooked.

There is a method of grafting vegetables by cutting the shoots and
the stalk, and then inserting in the pith the seed of another plant;
a plan which has been adopted with the wild cucumber even. There is
another kind of wild cabbage, also, the lapsana,[1144] which has become
famous since the triumphs of the late Emperor Julius, in consequence
of the songs and jokes of his soldiers more particularly; for in the
alternate lines sung by them, they used to reproach him for having made
them live on lapsana at the siege of Dyrrhachium, and to rally him upon
the parsimonious scale on which he was in the habit of recompensing
their services. The lapsana is nothing more than a wild cyma.[1145]


Of all the garden plants, asparagus is the one that requires the most
delicate attention in its cultivation. We have already[1146] spoken
at considerable length of its origin, when treating of the wild
plants, and have mentioned that Cato[1147] recommends it to be grown
in reed-beds. There is another kind, again, of a more uncultivated
nature than the garden asparagus, but less pungent than corruda;[1148]
it grows upon the mountains in different countries, and the plains of
Upper Germany are quite full of it, so much so, indeed, that it was a
not unhappy remark of Tiberius Cæsar, that a weed grows there which
bears a remarkably strong resemblance to asparagus. That which grows
spontaneously upon the island of Nesis, off the coast of Campania, is
looked upon as being by far the best of all.

Garden asparagus is reproduced from roots,[1149] the fibres of which
are exceedingly numerous, and penetrate to a considerable depth. When
it first puts forth its shoots, it is green; these in time lengthen out
into stalks, which afterwards throw out streaked branches from the
head: asparagus admits, also, of being grown from seed.

Cato[1150] has treated of no subject with greater care than this,
the last Chapter of his work being devoted to it, from which we may
conclude that it was quite new to him, and a subject which had only
very recently occupied his attention. He recommends that the ground
prepared for it should be a moist or dense soil, the seed being set at
intervals of half a foot every way, to avoid treading upon the heads;
the seed, he says, should be put two or three into each hole, these
being made with the dibble as the line runs—for in his day, it should
be remembered, asparagus was only grown from seed—this being done about
the vernal equinox. It requires, he adds, to be abundantly manured,
and to be kept well hoed, due care being taken not to pull up the
young plants along with the weeds. The first year, he says, the plants
must be protected from the severity of the winter with a covering of
straw, care being taken to uncover them in the spring, and to hoe and
stub up the ground about them. In the spring of the third year, the
plants must be set fire to, and the earlier the period at which the
fire is applied, the better they will thrive. Hence it is, that as
reed-beds[1151] grow all the more rapidly after being fired, asparagus
is found to be a crop remarkably well suited for growing with them.
The same author recommends, however, that asparagus should not be hoed
before the plants have made their appearance above-ground, for fear of
disturbing the roots; and he says that in gathering the heads, they
should be cut close to the root, and not broken off at the surface, a
method which is sure to make them run to stalk and die. They should
be cut, he says, until they are left to run to seed, and after the
seed is ripe, in spring they must be fired, care being taken, as soon
as they appear again, to hoe and manure them as before. After eight
or nine years, he says, when the plants have become old, they must
be renewed, after digging and manuring the ground, by replanting the
roots at intervals of a foot, care being taken to employ sheep’s dung
more particularly for the purpose, other kinds of manure being apt to
produce weeds.

No method of cultivating this plant that has since been tried has been
found more eligible than this, with the sole exception that the seed
is now sown about the ides of February, by laying it in heaps in
small trenches, after steeping it a considerable time in manure; the
result of which is that the roots become matted, and form into spongy
tufts, which are planted out at intervals of a foot after the autumnal
equinox, the plants continuing to be productive so long as ten years
even. There is no soil more favourable to the growth of asparagus, than
that of the gardens of Ravenna.[1152]

We have already[1153] spoken of the corruda, by which term I mean
the wild asparagus, by the Greeks called “orminos,” or “myacanthos,”
as well as by other names. I find it stated, that if rams’ horns are
pounded, and then buried in the ground, asparagus will come up.[1154]


It really might have been thought that I had now given an account of
all the vegetable productions that are held in any degree of esteem,
did there not still remain one plant, the cultivation of which is
extremely profitable, and of which I am unable to speak without a
certain degree of shame. For it is a well-known fact, that some small
plots of land, planted with thistles,[1155] in the vicinity of Great
Carthage and of Corduba more particularly, produce a yearly income of
six thousand sesterces;[1156] this being the way in which we make the
monstrous productions even of the earth subservient to our gluttonous
appetites, and that, too, when the very four-footed brutes[1157]
instinctively refuse to touch them.

Thistles are grown two different ways, from plants set in autumn, and
from seed sown before the nones of March;[1158] in which latter case
they are transplanted before the ides of November,[1159] or, where
the site is a cold one, about the time that the west winds prevail.
They are sometimes manured even, and if[1160] such is the will of
heaven, grow all the better for it. They are preserved, too, in a
mixture of honey and vinegar,[1161] with the addition of root of laser
and cummin—so that a day may not pass without our having thistles at


For the remaining plants a brief description will suffice. The best
time for sowing ocimum,[1163] it is said, is at the festival of the
Parilia;[1164] though some say that it may be done in autumn as well,
and recommend, when it is sown in winter, to drench the seed thoroughly
with vinegar. Rocket,[1165] too, and nasturtium[1166] may be grown
with the greatest facility either in summer or winter. Rocket, more
particularly, is able to stand the cold, and its properties are quite
different from those of the lettuce, as it is a great provocative of
lust. Hence it is that we are in the habit of mixing these two plants
in our dishes, the excess of cold in the one being compensated by
the equal degree of heat in the other. Nasturtium has received that
name from[1167] the smarting sensation which its pungency causes to
the nostrils, and hence it is that a certain notion of smartness has
attached itself to the word, it having become quite a proverbial
saying, that a sluggish man should eat nasturtium, to arouse him from
his torpidity. In Arabia, it is said, this plant attains a size that is
quite marvellous.

CHAP. 45.—RUE.

Rue,[1168] too, is generally sown while the west winds prevail, as
well as just after the autumnal equinox. This plant has an extreme
aversion to cold, moisture, and dung; it loves dry, sunny localities,
and a soil more particularly that is rich in brick clay; it requires
to be nourished, too, with ashes, which should be mixed with the
seed as well, as a preservative against the attacks of caterpillars.
The ancients held rue in peculiar esteem; for I find that honied
wine flavoured with rue was distributed to the people, in his
consulship,[1169] by Cornelius Cethegus, the colleague of Quintus
Flamininus, after the closing of the Comitia. This plant has a great
liking[1170] for the fig-tree, and for that tree only; indeed, it never
thrives better than when grown beneath that tree. It is generally grown
from slips, the lower end of which is inserted in a perforated[1171]
bean, which holds it fast, and so nurtures the young plant with its
juices. It also reproduces itself;[1172] for the ends of the branches
bending downwards, the moment they reach the ground, they take root
again. Ocimum[1173] is of a very similar nature to rue, except that
it dries with greater difficulty. When rue has once gained strength,
there is considerable difficulty in stubbing it, as it causes itching
ulcerations on the hands, if they are not covered or previously
protected by being rubbed with oil. Its leaves, too, are preserved,
being packed in bundles for keeping.


Parsley is sown immediately after the vernal equinox, the seed being
lightly beaten[1174] first in a mortar. It is thought that, by doing
this, the parsley will be all the more crisped, or else by taking
care to beat it down when sown with a roller or the feet. It is a
peculiarity of this plant, that it changes colour: it has the honour,
in Achaia, of forming the wreath of the victors in the sacred contests
of the Nemean Games.


It is at the same season, too, that mint[1175] is transplanted; or, if
it has not yet germinated, the matted tufts of the old roots are used
for the purpose. This plant, too, is no less fond of a humid soil than
parsley; it is green in summer and turns yellow in winter. There is a
wild kind of mint, known to us as “mentastrum:”[1176] it is reproduced
by layers, like the vine, or else by planting the branches upside down.
It was the sweetness of its smell that caused this plant to change
its name among the Greeks, its former name with them being “mintha,”
from which the ancient Romans derived their name[1177] for it; whereas
now, of late, it has been called by them ἡδύοσμον.[1178] The mint that
is used in the dishes at rustic entertainments pervades the tables
far and wide with its agreeable odour. When once planted, it lasts
a considerable length of time; it bears, too, a strong resemblance
to pennyroyal, a property of which is, as mentioned by us more than
once,[1179] to flower when kept in our larders.

These other herbs, mint, I mean, and catmint, as well as pennyroyal,
are all kept for use in a similar manner; but it is cummin[1180] that
is the best suited of all the seasoning herbs to squeamish and delicate
stomachs. This plant grows on the surface of the soil, seeming hardly
to adhere to it, and raising itself aloft from the ground: it ought
to be sown in the middle of the summer, in a crumbly, warm soil, more
particularly. There is another wild kind[1181] of cummin, known by some
persons as “rustic,” by others as “Thebaic” cummin: bruised and drunk
in water, it is good for pains in the stomach. The cummin most esteemed
in our part of the world is that of Carpetania,[1182] though elsewhere
that of Africa and Æthiopia is more highly esteemed; with some, indeed,
this last is preferred to that of Egypt.


But it is olusatrum,[1183] more particularly, that is of so singular
a nature, a plant which by the Greeks is called “hipposelinum,”[1184]
and by others “smyrnium.” This plant is reproduced from a tear-like
gum[1185] which exudes from the stem; it is also grown from the
roots as well. Those whose business it is to collect the juice of
it, say that it has just the flavour of myrrh; and, according to
Theophrastus,[1186] it is obtained by planting myrrh. The ancients
recommended that hipposelinum should be grown in uncultivated spots
covered with stones, and in the vicinity of garden walls; but at the
present day it is sown in ground that has been twice turned up, between
the prevalence of the west winds and the autumnal equinox.

The caper,[1187] too, should be sown in dry localities more
particularly, the plot being hollowed out and surrounded with an
embankment of stones erected around it: if this precaution is not
taken, it will spread all over the adjoining land, and entail sterility
upon the soil. The caper blossoms in summer, and retains its verdure
till the setting of the Vergiliæ; it thrives the best of all in a sandy
soil. As to the bad qualities of the caper which grows in the parts
beyond the sea, we have already[1188] enlarged upon them when speaking
of the exotic shrubs.


The caraway[1189] is an exotic plant also, which derives its name,
“careum,” from the country[1190] in which it was first grown; it is
principally employed for culinary purposes. This plant will grow in
any kind of soil, and requires to be cultivated just the same way as
olusatrum; the most esteemed, however, is that which comes from Caria,
and the next best is that of Phrygia.


Lovage[1191] grows wild in the mountains of Liguria, its native
country, but at the present day it is grown everywhere. The cultivated
kind is the sweetest of the two, but is far from powerful; by some
persons it is known as “panax.” Crateuas, a Greek writer, gives this
name, however, to the plant known to us as “cunila bubula;”[1192] and
others, again, call the conyza[1193] or cunilago, cunila, while they
call cunila,[1194] properly so called, by the name of “thymbra.” With
us cunila has another appellation, being generally known as “satureia,”
and reckoned among the seasoning plants. It is usually sown in the
month of February, and for utility rivals wild marjoram. These two
plants are never used together, their properties being so extremely
similar; but it is only the wild marjoram of Egypt that is considered
superior to cunila.


Dittander,[1195] too, was originally an exotic plant: it is usually
sown after the west winds have begun to prevail. As soon as it begins
to shoot, it is cut down close to the ground, after which it is hoed
and manured, a process which is repeated the succeeding year. After
this, the shoots are fit for use, if the rigour of the winter has
not injured them; for it is a plant quite unable to withstand any
inclemency[1196] of the weather. It grows to the height of a cubit, and
has a leaf like that of the laurel,[1197] but softer; it is never used
except in combination with milk.


Gith[1198] is employed by bakers, dill and anise by cooks and medical
men. Sacopenium,[1199] so extensively used for adulterating laser, is
also a garden plant, but is only employed for medicinal purposes.


There are certain plants which are grown in company[1200] with others,
the poppy, for instance, sown with cabbages and purslain, and rocket
with lettuce. Of the cultivated poppy[1201] there are three kinds, the
first being the white[1202] poppy, the seed of which, parched, and
mixed with honey, used to be served up in the second course at the
tables of the ancients; at the present day, too, the country people
sprinkle it on the upper crust of their bread, making it adhere by
means of the yolk of eggs, the under crust being seasoned with parsley
and gith to heighten the flavour of the flour. The second kind is the
black[1203] poppy, from which, upon an incision being made in the
stalk, a milky juice distils; and the third is that known to the Greeks
by the name of “rhœas;”[1204] and by us as the wild poppy. This last
grows spontaneously, but in fields, more particularly, which have been
sown with barley: it bears a strong resemblance to rocket, grows to the
height of a cubit, and bears a red flower, which quickly fades; it is
to this flower that it is indebted for its Greek name.[1205]

As to the other kinds of poppies which spring up spontaneously, we
shall have occasion to speak of them when treating of the medicinal
plants.[1206] That the poppy has always been held in esteem among
the Romans, we have a proof in the story related of Tarquinius[1207]
Superbus, who, by striking down the tallest poppies in his garden,
surreptitiously conveyed, unknown to them, his sanguinary message
through the envoys who had been sent by his son.


There are some other plants, again, which require to be sown together
at the time of the autumnal equinox; coriander, for instance,
anise, orage, mallows, lapathum, chervil, known to the Greeks as
“pæderos,”[1208] and mustard,[1209] which has so pungent a flavour,
that it burns like fire, though at the same time it is remarkably
wholesome for the body. This last, though it will grow without
cultivation, is considerably improved by being transplanted; though, on
the other hand, it is extremely difficult to rid the soil of it when
once sown there, the seed when it falls germinating immediately. This
seed, when cooked in the saucepan,[1210] is employed even for making
ragouts, its pungency being rendered imperceptible by boiling; the
leaves, too, are boiled just the same way as those of other vegetables.

There are three different kinds of mustard,[1211] the first of a
thin, slender form, the second, with a leaf like that of the rape,
and the third, with that of rocket: the best seed comes from Egypt.
The Athenians have given mustard the name of “napy,”[1212] others,
“thapsi,”[1213] and others, again, “saurion.”[1214]


Most mountains abound with wild thyme and sisymbrium, those of Thrace,
for example, where[1215] branches of these wild plants are torn up and
brought away for planting. So, too, the people of Sicyon seek for wild
thyme on their mountains, and the Athenians on the slopes of Hymettus.
Sisymbrium, too, is planted in a similar manner; it grows to the
greatest perfection upon the walls of wells, and around fish preserves
and ponds.[1216]


The other garden plants are of the ferulaceous kind, such as fennel,
for instance, very grateful to serpents, as already stated,[1217]
and used for numerous seasonings when dried; thapsia, too, which
bears a close resemblance to fennel, and already mentioned by us when
speaking[1218] of the exotic shrubs. Then, too, there is hemp,[1219] a
plant remarkably useful for making ropes, and usually sown after the
west winds have begun to prevail: the more thickly it is sown, the
thinner are the stalks. The seed is gathered when ripe, just after the
autumnal equinox, and is dried by the agency of the sun, the wind, or
smoke.[1220] The hemp itself is plucked just after vintage-time, and is
peeled and cleaned by the labourers at night.

The best hemp is that of Alabanda,[1221] which is used more
particularly for making hunting-nets, and of which there are three
varieties. The hemp which lies nearest the bark or the pith is the
least valuable, while that which lies in the middle, and hence has the
name of “mesa,” is the most esteemed. The hemp of Mylasa[1222] occupies
the second rank. With reference to the size to which it grows, that of
Rosea,[1223] in the Sabine territory, equals the trees in height.[1224]

We have already mentioned two kinds of fennel-giant when speaking[1225]
of the exotic shrubs: the seed of it is used in Italy for food; the
plant, too, admits of being preserved, and, if stored in earthen pots,
will keep for a whole year. There are two parts of it that are used
for this purpose, the upper stalks and the umbels of the plant. This
kind of fennel is sometimes known by the name of “corymbia,” and the
parts preserved are called “corymbi.”


The garden plants, too, like the rest of the vegetable productions,
are subject to certain maladies. Thus, for[1226] instance, ocimum,
when old, degenerates into wild thyme, and sisymbrium[1227] into mint,
while the seed of an old cabbage produces rape, and vice versâ. Cummin,
too, if not kept well hoed, is killed by hæmodorum,[1228], a plant
with a single stalk, a root similar to a bulb in appearance, and never
found except in a thin, meagre soil. Besides this, cummin is liable
to a peculiar disease of its own, the scab:[1229] ocimum, too, turns
pale at the rising of the Dog-star. All plants, indeed, will turn of
a yellow complexion on the approach of a woman who has the menstrual
discharge[1230] upon her.

There are various kinds of insects,[1231] too, that breed upon the
garden plants—fleas, for instance, upon turnips, and caterpillars and
maggots upon radishes, as well as lettuces and cabbages; besides which,
the last two are exposed to the attacks of slugs and snails. The leek,
too, is infested with peculiar insects of its own; which may very
easily be taken, however, by laying dung upon the plants, the insects
being in the habit of burrowing in it. Sabinus Tiro says, in his book
entitled “Cepurica,”[1232] which he dedicated to Mæcenas, that it is
not advisable to touch rue, cunila, mint, or ocimum with any implement
of iron.


The same author recommends as a remedy against ants, which are by no
means the slightest plague in a garden that is not kept well watered,
to stop up the mouths of their holes with sea-slime or ashes. But
the most efficient way of destroying them is with the aid of the
plant heliotropium;[1233] some persons, too, are of opinion that
water in which an unburnt brick has been soaked is injurious to them.
The best protection for turnips is to sow a few fitches with them,
and for cabbages chickpeas, these having the effect of keeping away
caterpillars. If, however, this precaution should have been omitted,
and the caterpillars have already made their appearance, the best
remedy is to throw upon the vegetables a decoction of wormwood,[1234]
or else of house-leek,[1235] known to some as “aïzoüm,” a kind of herb
already mentioned by us. If cabbage-seed, before it is sown, is steeped
in the juice of house-leek, the cabbages, it is said, are sure not be
attacked by any insect.

It is said, too, that all caterpillars may be effectually exterminated,
if the skull[1236] of a beast of burden is set up upon a stake in the
garden, care being taken to employ that of a female only. There is a
story related, too, that a river crab, hung up in the middle of the
garden, is a preservative against the attacks of caterpillars. Again,
there are some persons who are in the habit of touching with slips
of blood-red cornel[1237] such plants as they wish to preserve from
caterpillars. Flies,[1238] too, infest well-watered gardens, and more
particularly so, if there happen to he any shrubs there; they may be
got rid of, however, by burning galbanum.[1239]

(11.) With reference to the deterioration to which seed is
subject,[1240] there are some seeds which keep better than others,
such, for instance, as that of coriander, beet, leeks, cresses,
mustard, rocket, cunila, nearly all the pungent plants in fact. The
seed, on the other hand, of orage, ocimum, gourds, and cucumbers, is
not so good for keeping. All the summer seeds, too, last longer than
the winter ones; but scallion seed is the very worst for keeping of
them all. But of those, even, which keep the very longest, there is
none that will keep beyond four years—for sowing[1241] purposes, at
least; for culinary purposes, they are fit for use beyond that period.


A peculiar remedy for the maladies to which radishes, beet, rue, and
cunila are subject, is salt water, which has also the additional merit
of conducing very materially to their sweetness and fertility. Other
plants, again, are equally benefitted by being watered with fresh
water, the most desirable for the purpose being that which is the
coldest and the sweetest to drink: pond and drain-water, on the other
hand, are not so good, as they are apt to carry the seeds of weeds
along with them. It is rain,[1242] however, that forms the principal
aliment of plants; in addition to which, it kills the insects as they
develope themselves upon them.


The proper times[1243] for watering are the morning and the evening,
to prevent the water from being heated[1244] by the sun; with the sole
exception, however, of ocimum, which requires to be watered at midday;
indeed, this plant, it is generally thought, will grow with additional
rapidity, if it is watered with boiling water when sown. All plants,
when transplanted, grow all the better and larger for it, leeks and
turnips more particularly. Transplanting, too, is attended with certain
remedial effects, and acts as a preservative to certain plants, such
as scallions, for instance, leeks, radishes, parsley, lettuces, rape,
and cucumbers. All the wild plants[1245] are generally smaller in the
leaf and stalk than the cultivated ones, and have more acrid juices,
cunila, wild marjoram, and rue, for example. Indeed, it is only the
lapathum[1246] that is better in a wild state than cultivated: in
its cultivated state it is the same plant that is known to us as the
“rumix,” being the most vigorous[1247] by far of all the plants that
are grown; so much so, indeed, that it is said that when it has once
taken root, it will last for ever, and can never be extirpated from
the soil, more particularly if water happens to be near at hand. Its
juices, which are employed only in ptisans,[1248] as an article of
food, have the effect of imparting to them a softer and more exquisite
flavour. The wild variety[1249] is employed for many medicinal purposes.

So true it is, that the careful research of man has omitted nothing,
that I have even met with a poem,[1250] in which I find it stated, that
if pellets of goats’ dung, the size of a bean, are hollowed out, and
the seed of leeks, rocket, lettuces, parsley, endive, and cresses is
inserted in them, and then sown, the plants will thrive in a marvellous
degree. Plants[1251] in a wild state, it is generally thought, are more
dry and acrid than when cultivated.


This, too, reminds me that I ought to make some mention of the
difference between the juices and flavours of the garden herbs,
a difference which is more perceptible here than in the fruits
even.[1252] In cunila, for instance, wild marjoram, cresses, and
mustard, the flavour is acrid; in wormwood[1253] and centaury,[1254]
bitter; in cucumbers, gourds, and lettuces, watery; and in parsley,
anise, and fennel, pungent and odoriferous. The salt flavour is the
only one that is not to be found[1255] in plants, with the sole
exception, indeed, of the chicheling[1256] vetch, though even then it
is to be found on the exterior surface only of the plant, in the form
of a kind of dust which settles there.


To come to a full understanding, too, both here as elsewhere, how
unfounded are the notions which are generally entertained, I shall
take this opportunity of remarking that panax[1257] has the flavour
of pepper, and siliquastrum even more so, a circumstance to which it
owes its name of piperitis:[1258] libanotis,[1259] again, has just the
odour of frankincense, and smyrnium[1260] of myrrh. As to panax, we
have spoken of it at sufficient length already.[1261] Libanotis grows
in a thin, crumbly soil, and is generally sown in spots exposed to the
falling dews; the root, which is just like that of olusatrum,[1262]
has a smell in no way differing from that of frankincense; when a year
old, it is extremely wholesome for the stomach; some persons give it
the name of rosmarinum.[1263] Smyrnium is a garden herb that grows in
similar soils, and has a root which smells like myrrh: siliquastrum
too, is grown in a similar manner.

Other plants, again, differ from the preceding ones, both in smell and
taste, anise[1264] for example; indeed, so great is the difference
in this respect, and in their relative virtues, that not only are
the properties of each modified by the other, but quite neutralized
even. It is in this way that our cooks correct the flavour of vinegar
in their dishes with parsley, and our butlers employ the same plant,
enclosed in sachets, for removing a bad odour in wine.

[1265]Thus far, then, we have treated of the garden plants, viewed as
articles of food only; it remains for us now (for up to the present we
have only spoken of their various methods of cultivation, with some
succinct details relative thereto), to enlarge upon the more elaborate
operations of Nature in this respect; it being quite impossible to
come to a full understanding as to the true characteristics of each
individual plant, without a knowledge of its medicinal effects, a
sublime and truly mysterious manifestation of the wisdom of the Deity,
than which nothing can possibly be found of a nature more elevated. It
is upon principle that we have thought proper not to enlarge upon the
medicinal properties of each plant when treating of it; for it is a
quite different class of persons that is interested in knowing their
curative properties, and there is no doubt that both classes of readers
would have been inconvenienced in a very material degree, if these two
points of view had engaged our attention at the same moment. As it
is, each class will have its own portion to refer to, while those who
desire to do so, will experience no difficulty in uniting them, with
reference to any subject of which we may happen to treat.

SUMMARY.—Remarkable facts, narratives, and observations, one thousand
one hundred and forty-four.

ROMAN AUTHORS QUOTED.—Maccius Plautus,[1266] M. Varro,[1267] D.
Silanus,[1268] Cato the Censor,[1269] Hyginus,[1270] Virgil,[1271]
Mucianus,[1272] Celsus,[1273] Columella,[1274] Calpurnius Bassus,[1275]
Mamilius Sura,[1276] Sabinus Tiro,[1277] Licinius Macer,[1278] Quintus
Hirtius,[1279] Vibius Rufus,[1280] Cæsennius[1281] who wrote the
Cepurica, Castritius[1282] who wrote on the same subject, Firmus[1283]
who wrote on the same subject, Petrichus[1284] who wrote on the same

FOREIGN AUTHORS QUOTED.—Herodotus,[1285] Theophrastus,[1286]
Democritus,[1287] Aristomachus,[1288] Menander[1289] who wrote the
Biochresta, Anaxiläus.[1290]




We are now about to enter upon an examination of the greatest of
all the operations of Nature—we are about to discourse to man upon
his aliments,[1291] and to compel him to admit that he is ignorant
by what means he exists. And let no one, misled by the apparent
triviality of the names which we shall have to employ, regard this
subject as one that is frivolous or contemptible: for we shall here
have to set forth the state of peace or of war which exists between
the various departments of Nature, the hatreds or friendships which
are maintained by objects dumb and destitute of sense, and all, too,
created—a wonderful subject for our contemplation!—for the sake of
man alone. To these states, known to the Greeks by the respective
appellations “sympathia” and “antipathia,” we are indebted for the
first principles[1292] of all things; for hence it is that water has
the property of extinguishing fire, that the sun absorbs water, that
the moon produces it, and that each of those heavenly bodies is from
time to time eclipsed by the other.

Hence it is, too, descending from the contemplation of a loftier
sphere, that the loadstone[1293] possesses the property of attracting
iron, and another stone,[1294] again, that of repelling it; and that
the diamond, that pride of luxury and opulence, though infrangible
by every other object, and presenting a resistance that cannot be
overcome, is broken asunder by a he-goat’s blood[1295]—in addition
to numerous other marvels of which we shall have to speak on more
appropriate occasions, equal to this or still more wonderful even.
My only request is that pardon may be accorded me for beginning with
objects of a more humble nature, though still so greatly conducive to
our health—I mean the garden plants, of which I shall now proceed to


We have already stated[1296] that there is a wild cucumber,
considerably smaller than the cultivated one. From this cucumber the
medicament known as “elaterium” is prepared, being the juice extracted
from the seed.[1297] To obtain this juice the fruit is cut before it is
ripe—indeed, if this precaution is not taken at an early period, the
seed is apt to spirt[1298] out and be productive of danger to the eyes.
After it is gathered, the fruit is kept whole for a night, and on the
following day an incision is made in it with a reed. The seed, too, is
generally sprinkled with ashes, with the view of retaining in it as
large a quantity of the juice as possible. When the juice is extracted,
it is received in rain water, where it falls to the bottom; after which
it is thickened in the sun, and then divided into lozenges, which are
of singular utility to mankind for healing dimness[1299] of sight,
diseases of the eyes, and ulcerations of the eyelids. It is said that
if the roots of a vine are touched with this juice, the grapes of it
will be sure never to be attacked by birds.

The root,[1300] too, of the wild cucumber, boiled in vinegar, is
employed in fomentations for the gout, and the juice of it is used as a
remedy for tooth-ache. Dried and mixed with resin, the root is a cure
for impetigo[1301] and the skin diseases known as “psora”[1302] and
“lichen:”[1303] it is good, too, for imposthumes of the parotid glands
and inflammatory tumours,[1304] and restores the natural colour to the
skin when a cicatrix has formed.—The juice of the leaves, mixed with
vinegar, is used as an injection for the ears, in cases of deafness.


The proper season for making elaterium is the autumn; and there is no
medicament known that will keep longer than this.[1305] It begins to
be fit for use when three years old; but if it is found desirable to
make use of it at an earlier period than this, the acridity of the
lozenges may be modified by putting them with vinegar upon a slow fire,
in a new earthen pot. The older it is the better, and before now, as
we learn from Theophrastus, it has been known to keep[1305] so long as
two hundred years. Even after it has been kept so long as fifty[1306]
years, it retains its property of extinguishing a light; indeed, it
is the proper way of testing the genuineness of the drug to hold it
to the flame and make it scintillate above and below, before finally
extinguishing it. The elaterium which is pale, smooth, and slightly
bitter, is superior[1307] to that which has a grass-green appearance
and is rough to the touch.

It is generally thought that the seed of this plant will facilitate
conception if a woman carries it attached to her person, before it has
touched the ground; and that it has the effect of aiding parturition,
if it is first wrapped in ram’s wool, and then tied round the woman’s
loins, without her knowing it, care being taken to carry it out of the
house the instant she is delivered.

Those persons who magnify the praises of the wild cucumber say that
the very best is that of Arabia, the next being that of Arcadia, and
then that of Cyrenæ: it bears a resemblance to the heliotropium,[1308]
they say, and the fruit, about the size of a walnut, grows between
the leaves and branches. The seed, it is said, is very similar in
appearance to the tail of a scorpion thrown back, but is of a whitish
hue. Indeed, there are some persons who give to this cucumber the name
of “scorpionium,” and say that its seed, as well as the elaterium, is
remarkably efficacious as a cure for the sting of the scorpion. As
a purgative, the proper dose of either is from half an obolus to an
obolus, according to the strength of the patient, a larger dose than
this being fatal.[1309] It is in the same proportions, too, that it is
taken in drink for phthiriasis[1310] and dropsy; applied externally
with honey or old olive oil, it is used for the cure of quinsy and
affections of the trachea.


Many authors are of opinion that the wild cucumber is identical with
the plant known among us as the “anguine,” and by some persons as
the “erratic”[1311] cucumber. Objects sprinkled with a decoction of
this plant will never be touched by mice. The same authors[1312] say,
too, that a decoction of it in vinegar, externally applied, gives
instantaneous relief in cases of gout and diseases of the joints. As
a remedy, too, for lumbago, the seed of it is dried in the sun and
pounded, being given in doses of twenty denarii to half a sextarius of
water. Mixed with woman’s milk and applied as a liniment, it is a cure
for tumours which have suddenly formed.

Elaterium promotes the menstrual discharge; but if taken by females
when pregnant, it is productive of abortion. It is good, also, for
asthma, and, injected into the nostrils, for the jaundice.[1313] Rubbed
upon the face in the sun, it removes freckles[1314] and spots upon the


Many persons attribute all these properties to the cultivated
cucumber[1315] as well, a plant which even without them would be of
very considerable importance, in a medicinal point of view. A pinch of
the seed, for instance, in three fingers, beaten up with cummin and
taken in wine, is extremely beneficial for a cough: for phrenitis,
also, doses of it are administered in woman’s milk, and doses of one
acetabulum for dysentery. As a remedy for purulent expectorations,
it is taken with an equal quantity of cummin;[1316] and it is used
with hydromel for diseases of the liver. Taken in sweet wine, it is
a diuretic; and, in combination with cummin,[1316] it is used as an
injection for affections of the kidneys.


The fruit known as pepones[1317] are a cool and refreshing diet, and
are slightly relaxing to the stomach. Applications are used of the
pulpy flesh in defluxions or pains of the eyes. The root, too, of
this plant cures the hard ulcers known to us as “ceria,” from their
resemblance to a honeycomb, and it acts as an emetic.[1318] Dried and
reduced to a powder, it is given in doses of four oboli in hydromel,
the patient, immediately after taking it, being made to walk half a
mile. This powder is employed also in cosmetics[1319] for smoothing
the skin. The rind, too, has the effect[1320] of promoting vomiting,
and, when applied to the face, of clearing the skin; a result which is
equally produced by an external application of the leaves of all the
cultivated cucumbers. These leaves, mixed with honey, are employed for
the cure of the pustules known as “epinyctis;”[1321] steeped in wine,
they are good, too, for the bites of dogs and of multipedes,[1322]
insects known to the Greeks by the name of “seps,”[1323] of an
elongated form, with hairy legs, and noxious to cattle more
particularly; the sting being followed by swelling, and the wound
rapidly putrifying.

The smell of the cucumber itself is a restorative[1324] in fainting
fits. It is a well-known fact, that if cucumbers are peeled and then
boiled in oil, vinegar, and honey, they are all the more pleasant
eating[1325] for it.


There is found also a wild gourd, called “somphos” by the Greeks, empty
within (to which circumstance it owes its name),[1326] and long and
thick in shape, like the finger: it grows nowhere except upon stony
spots. The juice of this gourd, when chewed, is very beneficial to the


There is another variety of the wild gourd, known as the
“colocynthis:”[1328] this kind is full of seeds, but not so large as
the cultivated one. The pale colocynthis is better than those of a
grass-green colour. Employed by itself when dried, it acts as a very
powerful[1329] purgative; used as an injection, it is a remedy for all
diseases of the intestines, the kidneys, and the loins, as well as for
paralysis. The seed being first removed, it is boiled down in hydromel
to one half; after which it is used as an injection, with perfect
safety, in doses of four oboli. It is good, too, for the stomach, taken
in pills composed of the dried powder and boiled honey. In jaundice
seven seeds of it may be taken with beneficial effects, with a draught
of hydromel immediately after.

The pulp of this fruit, taken with wormwood and salt, is a remedy for
toothache, and the juice of it, warmed with vinegar, has the effect
of strengthening loose teeth. Rubbed in with oil, it removes pains of
the spine, loins, and hips: in addition to which, really a marvellous
thing to speak of! the seeds of it, in even numbers, attached to the
body in a linen cloth, will cure, it is said, the fevers to which the
Greeks have given the name of “periodic.”[1330] The juice, too, of
the cultivated gourd[1331] shred in pieces, applied warm, is good
for ear-ache, and the flesh of the inside, used without the seed,
for corns on the feet and the suppurations known to the Greeks as
“apostemata.”[1332] When the pulp and seeds are boiled together, the
decoction is good for strengthening loose teeth, and for preventing
toothache; wine, too, boiled with this plant, is curative of defluxions
of the eyes. The leaves of it, bruised with fresh cypress-leaves,
or the leaves alone, boiled in a vessel of potters’ clay and beaten
up with goose-grease, and then applied to the part affected, are an
excellent cure for wounds. Fresh shavings of the rind are used as a
cooling application for gout, and burning pains in the head, in infants
more particularly; they are good, too, for erysipelas,[1333] whether
it is the shavings of the rind or the seeds of the plant that are
applied to the part affected. The juice of the scrapings, employed
as a liniment with rose-oil and vinegar, moderates the burning heats
of fevers; and the ashes of the dried fruit applied to burns are
efficacious in a most remarkable degree.

Chrysippus, the physician, condemned the use of the gourd as a food: it
is generally agreed, however, that it is extremely good[1334] for the
stomach, and for ulcerations of the intestines and of the bladder.


Rape, too, has its medicinal properties. Warmed, it is used as an
application for the cure of chilblains,[1335] in addition to which, it
has the effect of protecting the feet from cold. A hot decoction of
rape is employed for the cure of cold gout; and raw rape, beaten up
with salt, is good for all maladies of the feet. Rape-seed, used as a
liniment, and taken in drink, with wine, is said to have a salutary
effect[1336] against the stings of serpents, and various narcotic
poisons; and there are many persons who attribute to it the properties
of an antidote, when taken with wine and oil.

Democritus has entirely repudiated the use of rape as an article of
food, in consequence of the flatulence[1337] which it produces; while
Diocles, on the other hand, has greatly extolled it, and has even gone
so far as to say that it acts as an aphrodisiac.[1338] Dionysius,
too, says the same of rape, and more particularly if it is seasoned
with rocket;[1339] he adds, also, that roasted, and then applied with
grease, it is excellent for pains in the joints.


Wild rape[1340] is mostly found growing in the fields; it has a tufted
top, with a white[1341] seed, twice as large as that of the poppy. This
plant is often employed for smoothing the skin of the face and the body
generally, meal of fitches,[1342] barley, wheat, and lupines, being
mixed with it in equal proportions.

The root of the wild rape is applied to no useful purpose whatever.


The Greeks distinguish two kinds of turnips,[1343] also, as employed
in medicine. The turnip with angular stalks and a flower like that of
anise, and known by them as “bunion,”[1344] is good for promoting
the menstrual discharge in females and for affections[1345] of the
bladder; it acts, also, as a diuretic. For these purposes, a decoction
of it is taken with hydromel, or else one drachma of the juice of the
plant.[1346] The seed, parched, and then beaten up, and taken in warm
water, in doses of four cyathi, is a good remedy for dysentery; it will
stop the passage of the urine, however, if linseed is not taken with it.

The other kind of turnip is known by the name of “bunias,”[1347] and
bears a considerable resemblance to the radish and the rape united, the
seed of it enjoying the reputation of being a remedy for poisons; hence
it is that we find it employed in antidotes.


We have already said,[1348] that there is also a wild radish.[1349] The
most esteemed is that of Arcadia, though it is also found growing in
other countries as well. It is only efficacious as a diuretic, being in
other respects of a heating nature. In Italy, it is known also by the
name of “armoracia.”


The cultivated radish, too, in addition to what we have already
said[1350] of it, purges the stomach, attenuates the phlegm, acts as a
diuretic, and detaches the bilious secretions. A decoction of the rind
of radishes in wine, taken in the morning in doses of three cyathi,
has the effect of breaking and expelling calculi of the bladder. A
decoction, too, of this rind in vinegar and water, is employed as a
liniment for the stings of serpents. Taken fasting in the morning
with honey, radishes are good[1351] for a cough. Parched radish-seed,
as well as radishes themselves, chewed, is useful for pains in the
sides.[1352] A decoction of the leaves, taken in drink, or else the
juice of the plant taken in doses of two cyathi, is an excellent remedy
for phthiriasis. Pounded radishes, too, are employed as a liniment for
inflammations[1353] under the skin, and the rind, mixed with honey, for
bruises of recent date. Lethargic persons[1354] are recommended to eat
them as hot as possible, and the seed, parched and then pounded with
honey, will give relief to asthmatic patients.

Radishes, too, are useful as a remedy for poisons, and are employed
to counteract the effects of the sting of the cerastes[1355] and the
scorpion: indeed, after having rubbed the hands with radishes or
radish-seed, we may handle[1356] those reptiles with impunity. If a
radish is placed upon a scorpion, it will cause its death. Radishes
are useful, too, in cases of poisoning by fungi[1357] or henbane; and
according to Nicander,[1358] they are salutary against the effects of
bullock’s blood,[1359] when drunk. The two physicians of the name of
Apollodorus, prescribe radishes to be given in cases of poisoning by
mistletoe; but whereas Apollodorus of Citium recommends radish-seed
pounded in water, Apollodorus of Tarentum speaks of the juice. Radishes
diminish the volume of the spleen, and are beneficial for maladies of
the liver and pains in the loins: taken, too, with vinegar or mustard,
they are good for dropsy and lethargy, as well as epilepsy[1360] and
melancholy.[1361] Praxagoras recommends that radishes should be given
for the iliac passion, and Plistonicus for the cœliac[1362] disease.

Radishes are good, too, for curing ulcerations of the intestines and
suppurations of the thoracic organs,[1363] if eaten with honey. Some
persons say, however, that for this purpose they should be boiled in
earth and water; a decoction which, according to them, promotes the
menstrual discharge. Taken with vinegar or honey, radishes expel worms
from the intestines; and a decoction of them boiled down to one-third,
taken in wine, is good for intestinal hernia.[1364] Employed in this
way, too, they have the effect of drawing off the superfluous blood.
Medius recommends them to be given boiled to persons troubled with
spitting of blood, and to women who are suckling, for the purpose of
increasing the milk. Hippocrates[1365] recommends females whose hair
falls off, to rub the head with radishes, and he says that for pains of
the uterus, they should be applied to the navel.

Radishes have the effect, too, of restoring the skin, when scarred,
to its proper colour; and the seed, steeped in water, and applied
topically, arrests the progress of ulcers known as phagedænic.[1366]
Democritus regards them, taken with the food, as an aphrodisiac; and it
is for this reason, perhaps, that some persons have spoken of them as
being injurious to the voice. The leaves, but only those of the long
radish, are said to have the effect of improving the eye-sight.

When radishes, employed as a remedy, act too powerfully, it is
recommended that hyssop should be given immediately; there being an
antipathy[1367] between these two plants. For dulness of hearing,
too, radish-juice is injected into the ear. To promote vomiting, it is
extremely beneficial to eat radishes fasting.


The hibiscum, by some persons known as the wild mallow,[1368] and
by others as the “plistolochia,” bears a strong resemblance to the
parsnip;[1369] it is good for ulcerations of the cartilages, and is
employed for the cure of fractured bones. The leaves of it, taken in
water, relax the stomach; they have the effect, also, of keeping away
serpents, and, employed as a liniment, are a cure for the stings of
bees, wasps, and hornets. The root, pulled up before sunrise, and
wrapped in wool of the colour known as “native,”[1370] taken from a
sheep which has just dropped a ewe lamb, is employed as a bandage for
scrofulous swellings, even after they have suppurated. Some persons are
of opinion, that for this purpose the root should be dug up with an
implement of gold, and that care should be taken not to let it touch
the ground.

Celsus,[1371] too, recommends this root to be boiled in wine, and
applied in cases of gout unattended with swelling.


The staphylinos, or, as some persons call it, “erratic[1372] parsnip,”
is another kind. The seed[1373] of this plant, pounded and taken in
wine, reduces swelling of the abdomen, and alleviates hysterical
suffocations and pains, to such a degree as to restore the uterus to
its natural condition. Used as a liniment, also, with raisin wine, it
is good for pains of the bowels in females; for men, too, beaten up
with an equal proportion of bread, and taken in wine, it may be found
beneficial for similar pains. It is a diuretic also, and it will
arrest the progress of phagedænic ulcers, if applied fresh with honey,
or else dried and sprinkled on them with meal.

Dieuches recommends the root of it to be given, with hydromel, for
affections of the liver and spleen, as also the sides, loins, and
kidneys; and Cleophantus prescribes it for dysentery of long standing.
Philistio says that it should be boiled in milk, and for strangury he
prescribes four ounces of the root. Taken in water, he recommends it
for dropsy, as well as in cases of opisthotony,[1374] pleurisy, and
epilepsy. Persons, it is said, who carry this plant about them, will
never be stung by serpents, and those who have just eaten of it will
receive no hurt from them. Mixed with axle-grease,[1375] it is applied
to parts of the body stung by reptiles; and the leaves of it are eaten
as a remedy for indigestion.

Orpheus has stated that the staphylinos acts as a philtre,[1376]
most probably because, a very-well-established fact, when employed
as a food, it is an aphrodisiac; a circumstance which has led some
persons to state that it promotes conception. In other respects the
cultivated parsnip has similar properties; though the wild kind is
more powerful in its operation, and that which grows in stony soils
more particularly. The seed, too, of the cultivated parsnip, taken in
wine, or vinegar and water,[1377] is salutary for stings inflicted by
scorpions. By rubbing the teeth with the root of this plant, tooth-ache
is removed.


The Syrians devote themselves particularly to the cultivation of the
garden, a circumstance to which we owe the Greek proverb, “There is
plenty of vegetables in Syria.”[1378]

Among other vegetables, that country produces one very similar to the
staphylinos, and known to some persons as “gingidion,”[1379] only that
it is smaller than the staphylinos and more bitter, though it has just
the same properties. Eaten either raw or boiled, it is very beneficial
to the stomach, as it entirely absorbs all humours with which it may
happen to be surcharged.


The wild[1380] skirret, too, is very similar to the cultivated
kind,[1381] and is productive of similar effects. It sharpens[1382]
the stomach, and, taken with vinegar flavoured with silphium, or with
pepper and hydromel, or else with garum, it promotes the appetite.
According to Opion, it is a diuretic, and acts as an aphrodisiac.[1383]
Diocles is also of the same opinion; in addition to which, he says
that it possesses cordial virtues for convalescents, and is extremely
beneficial after frequent vomitings.

Heraclides has prescribed it against the effects of mercury,[1384]
and for occasional impotence, as also generally for patients when
convalescent. Hicesius says that skirrets would appear to be
prejudicial[1385] to the stomach, because no one is able to eat three
of them following; still, however, he looks upon them as beneficial
to patients who are just resuming the use of wine. The juice of the
cultivated skirret, taken in goats’-milk, arrests looseness of the


As the similitude which exists between their Greek names[1386] has
caused most persons to mistake the one for the other, we have thought
it as well to give some account here of sile or hartwort,[1387] though
it is a plant which is very generally known. The best hartwort is that
of Massilia,[1388] the seed of it being broad and yellow; and the
next best is that of Æthiopia, the seed of which is of a darker hue.
The Cretan hartwort is the most odoriferous of the several kinds. The
root of this plant has a pleasant smell; the seed of it is eaten by
vultures, it is said.[1389] Hartwort is useful to man for inveterate
coughs, ruptures, and convulsions, being usually taken in white wine;
it is employed also in cases of opisthotony, and for diseases of the
liver, as well as for griping pains in the bowels and for strangury, in
doses of two or three spoonfuls at a time.

The leaves of this plant are useful also, and have the effect of
aiding parturition—in animals even: indeed, it is generally said that
roes,[1390] when about to bring forth, are in the habit of eating these
leaves in particular. They are topically applied, also, in erysipelas;
and either the leaves or the seed, taken fasting in the morning, are
very beneficial to the digestion. Hartwort has the effect, too, of
arresting looseness in cattle, either bruised and put into their drink,
or else eaten by them after it has been chewed with salt. When oxen are
in a diseased state, it is beaten up and poured into their food.


Elecampane,[1391] too, chewed fasting, has the effect of strengthening
the teeth, if, from the moment that it is plucked, it is not allowed to
touch the ground: a confection of it is a cure for cough. The juice of
the root boiled is an expellent of intestinal tapeworm; and dried in
the shade and reduced to powder, the root[1392] is curative in cases of
cough, convulsions, flatulency, and affections of the trachea. It is
useful too, for the bites of venomous animals; and the leaves steeped
in wine are applied topically for pains in the loins.


There are no such things in existence as wild onions. The cultivated
onion is employed for the cure of dimness[1393] of sight, the
patient being made to smell at it till tears come into the eyes: it
is still better even if the eyes are rubbed with the juice. It is
said, too, that onions are soporific,[1394] and that they are a cure
for ulcerations of the mouth, if chewed with bread. Fresh onions in
vinegar, applied topically, or dried onions with wine and honey, are
good for the bites of dogs, care being taken not to remove the bandage
till the end of a couple of days. Applied, too, in the same way, they
are good for healing excoriations. Roasted in hot ashes, many persons
have applied them topically, with barley meal, for defluxions of the
eyes and ulcerations of the genitals. The juice, too, is employed as an
ointment for sores of the eyes, albugo,[1395] and argema.[1396] Mixed
with honey, it is used as a liniment for the stings[1397] of serpents
and all kinds of ulcerous sores. In combination with woman’s milk, it
is employed for affections of the ears; and in cases of singing in
the ears and hardness of hearing, it is injected into those organs
with goose-grease or honey. In cases where persons have been suddenly
struck dumb, it has been administered to them to drink, mixed with
water. In cases, too, of toothache, it is sometimes introduced into the
mouth as a gargle for the teeth; it is an excellent remedy also for all
kinds of wounds made by animals, scorpions more particularly.

In cases of alopecy[1398] and itch-scab, bruised onions are rubbed on
the parts affected: they are also given boiled to persons afflicted
with dysentery or lumbago. Onion peelings, burnt to ashes and mixed
with vinegar, are employed topically for stings of serpents and

In other respects, there are remarkable differences of opinion among
medical men. The more modern writers have stated that onions are good
for the thoracic organs and the digestion, but that they are productive
of flatulency and thirst. The school of Asclepiades maintains that,
used as an aliment, onions impart a florid[1400] colour to the
complexion, and that, taken fasting every day, they are promoters of
robustness and health; that as a diet, too, they are good for the
stomach by acting upon the spirits, and have the effect of relaxing the
bowels. He says, too, that, employed as a suppository, onions disperse
piles, and that the juice of them, taken in combination with juice of
fennel, is wonderfully beneficial in cases of incipient dropsy. It
is said, too, that the juice, taken with rue and honey, is good for
quinsy, and has the effect of dispelling lethargy.[1401] Varro assures
us that onions, pounded with salt and vinegar and then dried, will
never be attacked by worms.[1402]


Cutleek[1403] has the effect of stanching bleeding at the nose, the
nostrils being plugged with the plant, pounded, or else mixed with
nut-galls or mint. The juice of it, taken with woman’s milk, arrests
floodings after a miscarriage; and it is remedial in cases even of
inveterate cough, and of affections of the chest[1404] and lungs. The
leaves, applied topically, are employed for the cure of pimples, burns,
and epinyctis[1405]—this last being the name given to an ulcer, known
also as “syce,”[1406] situate in the corner of the eye, from which
there is a continual running: some persons, however, give this name
to livid pustules, which cause great restlessness in the night. Other
kinds of ulcers, too, are treated with leeks beaten up with honey: used
with vinegar, they are extensively employed also for the bites of wild
beasts, as well as of serpents and other venomous creatures. Mixed
with goats’ gall, or else honied wine in equal proportions, they are
used for affections of the ears, and, combined with woman’s milk, for
singing in the ears. In cases of head-ache, the juice is injected into
the nostrils, or else into the ear at bed-time, two spoonfuls of juice
to one of honey.

This juice is taken too with pure wine,[1407] for the stings of
serpents and scorpions, and, mixed with a semi-sextarius of wine,
for lumbago. The juice, or the leek itself, eaten as a food, is very
beneficial to persons troubled with spitting of blood, phthisis,
or inveterate catarrhs; in cases also of jaundice or dropsy, and
for nephretic pains, it is taken in barley-water, in doses of one
acetabulum of juice. The same dose, too, mixed with honey, effectually
purges the uterus. Leeks are eaten, too, in cases of poisoning by
fungi,[1408] and are applied topically to wounds: they act also as an
aphrodisiac,[1409] allay thirst, and dispel the effects of drunkenness;
but they have the effect of weakening the sight and causing flatulency,
it is said, though, at the same time, they are not injurious to the
stomach, and act as an aperient. Leeks impart a remarkable clearness to
the voice.[1410]


Bulbed leek[1411] produces the same effects as cut-leek,[1412] but in a
more powerful degree. To persons troubled with spitting of blood, the
juice of it is given, with powdered nut-galls[1413] or frankincense,
or else gum acacia.[1414] Hippocrates,[1415] however, prescribes it
without being mixed with anything else, and expressed himself of
opinion that it has the property of opening the uterus when contracted,
and that taken as an aliment by females, it is a great promoter of
fecundity. Beaten up and mixed with honey, it cleanses ulcerous sores.
It is good for the cure of coughs, catarrhs, and all affections of the
lungs and of the trachea, whether given in the form of a ptisan, or
eaten raw, the head excepted: it must be taken, however, without bread,
and upon alternate days, and this even if there should be purulent

Taken in this form, it greatly improves the voice, and acts as an
aphrodisiac, and as a promoter of sleep. The heads, boiled in a couple
of waters, arrest looseness of the bowels, and fluxes of long standing;
and a decoction of the outer coat acts as a dye upon grey hair.[1416]


Garlic[1417] has very powerful[1418] properties, and is of great
utility to persons on changes of water or locality. The very smell of
it drives away serpents and scorpions, and, according to what some
persons say, it is a cure for wounds made by every kind of wild beast,
whether taken with the drink or food, or applied topically. Taken
in wine, it is a remedy for the sting of the hæmorrhoïs[1419] more
particularly, acting as an emetic. We shall not be surprised too, that
it acts as a powerful remedy for the bite of the shrew-mouse, when we
find that it has the property of neutralizing aconite, otherwise known
as “pardalianches.”[1420] It neutralizes henbane, also, and cures the
bites of dogs, when applied with honey to the wound. It is taken in
drink also for the stings of serpents; and of its leaves, mixed with
oil, a most valuable liniment is made for bruises on the body, even
when they have swelled and formed blisters.

Hippocrates[1421] is of opinion also, that fumigations made with garlic
have the effect of bringing away the after-birth; and he used to employ
the ashes of garlic, mixed with oil, for the cure of running ulcers
of the head. Some persons have prescribed boiled garlic for asthmatic
patients; while others, again, have given it raw. Diocles prescribes
it, in combination with centaury, for dropsy, and to be taken in a
split fig, to promote the alvine evacuations: taken fresh, however, in
unmixed wine, with coriander, it is still more efficacious for that
purpose. Some persons have given it, beaten up in milk, for asthma.
Praxagoras used to prescribe garlic, mixed with wine, for jaundice, and
with oil and pottage for the iliac passion: he employed it also in a
similar form, as a liniment for scrofulous swellings of the neck.

The ancients used to give raw garlic in cases of madness, and Diocles
administered it boiled for phrenitis. Beaten up, and taken in vinegar
and water, it is very useful as a gargle for quinsy. Three heads of
garlic, beaten up in vinegar, give relief in toothache: and a similar
result is obtained by rinsing the mouth with a decoction of garlic,
and inserting pieces of it in the hollow teeth. Juice of garlic is
sometimes injected into the ears with goose-grease,[1422] and, taken
in drink, or similarly injected, in combination with vinegar and
nitre, it arrests phthiriasis[1423] and porrigo.[1424] Boiled with
milk, or else beaten up and mixed with soft cheese, it is a cure for
catarrhs. Employed in a similar manner, and taken with pease or beans,
it is good for hoarseness, but in general it is found to be more
serviceable cooked than raw, and boiled than roasted: in this last
state, however, it is more beneficial to the voice. Boiled in oxymel,
it has the effect of expelling tape-worm and other intestinal worms;
and a pottage made of it is a cure for tenesmus. A decoction of garlic
is applied topically for pains in the temples; and first boiled and
then beaten up with honey, it is good for blisters. A decoction of
it, with stale grease, or milk, is excellent for a cough; and where
persons are troubled with spitting of blood or purulent matter, it may
be roasted in hot ashes, and taken with honey in equal proportions.
For convulsions and ruptures it is administered in combination with
salt and oil; and, mixed with grease, it is employed for the cure of
suspected tumours.

Mixed with sulphur and resin, garlic draws out the humours from
fistulous sores, and employed with pitch, it will extract an arrow
even[1425] from the wound. In cases of leprosy, lichen, and eruptions
of the skin, it acts as a detergent, and effects a cure, in combination
with wild marjoram, or else reduced to ashes, and applied as a liniment
with oil and garum.[1426] It is employed in a similar manner, too, for
erysipelas; and, reduced to ashes, and mixed with honey, it restores
contused or livid spots on the skin to their proper colour. It is
generally believed, too, that taken in the food and drink, garlic is a
cure for epilepsy, and that a clove of it, taken in astringent wine,
with an obolus’ weight of silphium,[1427] will have the effect of
dispelling quartan fever. Garlic cures coughs also, and suppurations
of the chest, however violent they may be; to obtain which result,
another method is followed, it being boiled with broken beans, and
employed as a diet till the cure is fully effected. It is a soporific
also, and in general imparts to the body an additional ruddiness of

Garlic acts as an aphrodisiac, beaten up with fresh coriander, and
taken in pure wine. The inconveniences which result from the use of
it, are dimness of the sight and flatulency; and if taken in too large
quantities, it does injury to the stomach, and creates thirst. In
addition to these particulars, mixed with spelt flour, and given to
poultry in their food, it preserves them from attacks of the pip.[1428]
Beasts of burden, it is said, will void their urine all the more
easily, and without any pain, if the genitals are rubbed with garlic.


The first kind of lettuce which grows spontaneously, is the one that
is generally known as “goat[1429]-lettuce;” thrown into the sea, this
vegetable has the property of instantaneously killing all the fish that
come into its vicinity. The milky juice of this lettuce,[1430] left to
thicken and then put into vinegar, is given in doses of two oboli, with
the addition of one cyathus of water, to patients for dropsy. The stalk
and leaves, bruised and sprinkled with salt, are used for the cure of
wounds of the sinews. Pounded with vinegar, and employed as a gargle in
the morning twice a month, they act as a preventive of tooth-ache.


There is a second kind of wild lettuce, known by the Greeks is
“cæsapon.”[1431] The leaves of this lettuce, applied as a liniment with
polenta,[1432] are used for the cure of ulcerous sores. This plant is
found growing in the fields. A third kind, again, grows in the woods;
the name given to it is “isatis.”[1433] The leaves of this last, beaten
up and applied with polenta, are very useful for the cure of wounds. A
fourth kind is used by dyers of wool; in the leaves it would resemble
wild lapathum, were it not that they are more numerous and darker.
This lettuce has the property of stanching blood, and of healing
phagedænic sores and putrid spreading ulcers, as well as tumours
before suppuration. Both the root as well as the leaves are good, too,
for erysipelas; and a decoction of it is drunk for affections of the
spleen. Such are the properties peculiar to each of these varieties.


The properties which are common to all the wild varieties[1434] are
whiteness, a stem sometimes as much as a cubit in length, and a
roughness upon the stalk and leaves. Among these plants there is one
with round, short leaves, known to some persons as “hieracion;”[1435]
from the circumstance that the hawk tears it open and sprinkles[1436]
its eyes with the juice, and so dispels any dimness of sight of which
it is apprehensive. The juice of all these plants is white, and in
its properties resembles that of the poppy.[1437] It is collected
at harvest-time, by making incisions in the stalk, and is kept
in new earthen vessels, being renowned as a remedy for numerous
maladies.[1438] Mixed with woman’s milk, it is a cure for all diseases
of the eyes, such as argema for instance, films on the eyes, scars
and inflammations[1439] of all kinds, and dimness of the sight more
particularly. It is applied to the eyes, too, in wool, as a remedy for
defluxions of those organs.

This juice also purges the bowels, taken in doses of two oboli in
vinegar and water. Drunk in wine it is a cure for the stings of
serpents, and the leaves and stalk of the plant are pounded and taken
in vinegar. They are employed also as a liniment for wounds, the sting
of the scorpion more particularly; combined, too, with oil and vinegar,
they are similarly applied for the bite of the phalangium.[1440]
They have the effect, also, of neutralizing other poisons, with the
exception of those which kill by suffocation or by attacking the
bladder, as also with the exception of white lead. Steeped in oxymel,
they are applied to the abdomen for the purpose of drawing out vicious
humours of the intestines. The juice is found good, also, in cases of
retention of the urine. Crateuas prescribes it to be given to dropsical
patients, in doses of two oboli, with vinegar and one cyathus of wine.

Some persons collect the juice of the cultivated lettuce as well,
but it is not so efficacious[1441] as the other. We have already
made mention,[1442] to some extent, of the peculiar properties
of the cultivated lettuce, such as promoting sleep, allaying the
sexual passions, cooling the body when heated, purging[1443] the
stomach, and making blood. In addition to these, it possesses no few
properties besides; for it has the effect of removing flatulency, and
of dispelling eructations, while at the same time it promotes the
digestion, without ever being indigestible itself. Indeed, there is no
article of diet known that is a greater stimulant to the appetite, or
which tends in a greater degree to modify it; it being the extent,
either way, to which it is eaten that promotes these opposite results.
In the same way, too, lettuces eaten in too large quantities are
laxative, but taken in moderation they are binding. They have the
effect, also, of attenuating the tough, viscous, phlegm, and, according
to what some persons say, of sharpening the senses. They are extremely
serviceable, too, to debilitated stomachs; for which purpose * *[1444]
oboli of sour sauce[1445] is added to them, the sharpness of which
is modified by the application of sweet wine, to make it of the same
strength as vinegar-sauce.[1446] If, again, the phlegm with which the
patient is troubled is extremely tough and viscous, wine of squills or
of wormwood is employed; and if there is any cough perceptible, hyssop
wine is mixed as well.

Lettuces are given with wild endive for cœliac affections, and
for obstructions of the thoracic organs. White lettuces, too, are
prescribed in large quantities for melancholy and affections of the
bladder. Praxagoras recommends them for dysentery. Lettuces are good,
also, for recent burns, before blisters have made their appearance: in
such cases they are applied with salt. They arrest spreading ulcers,
being applied at first with saltpetre, and afterwards with wine.
Beaten up, they are applied topically for erysipelas; and the stalks,
beaten up with polenta, and applied with cold water, are soothing for
luxations of the limbs and spasmodic contractions; used, too, with
wine and polenta, they are good for pimples and eruptions. For cholera
lettuces have been given, cooked in the saucepan, in which case it is
those with the largest stalk and bitter that are the best: some persons
administer them, also, as an injection, in milk. These stalks boiled,
are remarkably good, it is said, for the stomach: the summer lettuce,
too, more particularly, and the bitter, milky lettuce, of which we have
already[1447] made mention as the “meconis,” have a soporific effect.
This juice, in combination with woman’s milk, is said to be extremely
beneficial to the eyesight, if applied to the head in good time; it is
a remedy, too, for such maladies of the eyes as result from the action
of cold.

I find other marvellous praises lavished upon the lettuce, such, for
instance, as that, mixed with Attic honey, it is no less beneficial
for affections of the chest than abrotonum;[1448] that the menstrual
discharge is promoted in females by using it as a diet; that the seed,
too, Of the cultivated lettuce is administered as a remedy for the
stings of scorpions, and that pounded, and taken in wine, it arrests
all libidinous dreams and imaginations during sleep; that water, too,
which affects[1449] the brain will have no injurious effects upon those
who eat lettuce. Some persons have stated, however, that if lettuces
are eaten too frequently they will prove injurious to the eyesight.


Nor are the two varieties of the beet without their remedial
properties.[1450] The root of either white or black beet, if hung
by a string, fresh-gathered, and softened with water, is said to be
efficacious for the stings of serpents. White beet, boiled and eaten
with raw garlic, is taken for tapeworm; the root, too, of the black
kind, similarly boiled in water, removes porrigo; indeed, it is
generally stated, that the black beet is the more efficacious[1451] of
the two. The juice of black beet is good for inveterate head-aches and
vertigo, and injected into the ears, it stops singing in those organs.
It is a diuretic, also, and employed in injections is a cure for
dysentery and jaundice.

This juice, used as a liniment, allays tooth-ache, and is good for the
stings of serpents; but due care must be taken that it is extracted
from this root only. A decoction, too, of beet-root is a remedy for

A liniment of white beet-root applied to the forehead, arrests
defluxions of the eyes, and mixed with a little alum it is an excellent
remedy for erysipelas. Beaten up, and applied without oil, it is a
cure for excoriations. In the same way, too, it is good for pimples
and eruptions. Boiled, it is applied topically to spreading ulcers,
and in a raw state it is employed in cases of alopecy, and running
ulcers of the head. The juice, injected with honey into the nostrils,
has the effect of clearing the head. Beet-root is boiled with lentils
and vinegar, for the purpose of relaxing the bowels; if it is boiled,
however, some time longer, it will have the effect of arresting fluxes
of the stomach and bowels.


There is a wild beet, too, known by some persons as “limonion,”[1452]
and by others as “neuroides;” it has leaves much smaller and thinner
than the cultivated kind, and lying closer together. These leaves
amount often to eleven[1453] in number, the stalk resembling that of
the lily.[1454] The leaves of this plant are very useful for burns,
and have an astringent taste in the mouth: the seed, taken in doses of
one acetabulum, is good for dysentery. It is said that a decoction of
beet with the root has the property of taking stains out of cloths and


Endive,[1455] too, is not without its medicinal uses. The juice of
it, employed with rose oil and vinegar, has the effect of allaying
headache; and taken with wine, it is good for pains in the liver and
bladder: it is used, also, topically, for defluxions of the eyes. The
spreading endive has received from some persons among us the name of
“ambula.” In Egypt, the wild endive is known as “cichorium,”[1456] the
cultivated kind being called “seris.” This last is smaller than the
other, and the leaves of it more full of veins.


Wild endive or cichorium has certain refreshing qualities,[1457] used
as an aliment. Applied by way of liniment, it disperses abscesses,
and a decoction of it loosens the bowels. It is also very beneficial
to the liver, kidneys, and stomach. A decoction of it in vinegar has
the effect of dispelling the pains of strangury; and, taken in honied
wine, it is a cure for the jaundice, if unattended with fever. It
is beneficial, also, to the bladder, and a decoction of it in water
promotes the menstrual discharge to such an extent as to bring away the
dead fœtus even.

In addition to these qualities, the magicians[1458] state that persons
who rub themselves with the juice of the entire plant, mixed with
oil, are sure to find more favour with others, and to obtain with
greater facility anything they may desire. This plant, in consequence
of its numerous salutary virtues, has been called by some persons
“chreston,”[1459] and “pancration”[1460] by others.


There is a sort of wild endive, too, with a broader leaf, known to some
persons as “hedypnoïs.”[1461] Boiled, it acts as an astringent upon a
relaxed stomach, and eaten raw, it is productive of constipation. It is
good, too, for dysentery, when eaten with lentils more particularly.
This variety, as well as the preceding one, is useful for ruptures and
spasmodic contractions, and relieves persons who are suffering from


The vegetable, too, called “seris,”[1462] which bears a considerable
resemblance to the lettuce, consists of two kinds. The wild, which is
of a swarthy colour, and grows in summer, is the best of the two; the
winter kind, which is whiter than the other, being inferior. They are
both of them bitter, but are extremely beneficial to the stomach, when
distressed by humours more particularly. Used as food with vinegar,
they are cooling, and, employed as a liniment, they dispel other
humours besides those of the stomach. The roots of the wild variety
are eaten with polenta for the stomach: and in cardiac diseases they
are applied topically above the left breast. Boiled in vinegar, all
these vegetables are good for the gout, and for patients troubled
with spitting of blood or spermatorrhœa; the decoction being taken on
alternate days.

Petronius Diodotus, who has written a medical Anthology,[1463] utterly
condemns seris, and employs a multitude of arguments to support his
views: this opinion of his is opposed, however, to that of all other
writers on the subject.


It would be too lengthy a task to enumerate all the praises of the
cabbage, more particularly as the physician Chrysippus has devoted a
whole volume to the subject, in which its virtues are described in
reference to each individual part of the human body. Dieuches has done
the same, and Pythagoras too, in particular. Cato, too, has not been
more sparing in its praises than the others; and it will be only right
to examine the opinions which he expresses in relation to it, if for no
other purpose than to learn what medicines the Roman people made use of
for six hundred years.

The most ancient Greek writers have distinguished three[1464] varieties
of the cabbage: the curly[1465] cabbage, to which they have given the
name of “selinoïdes,”[1466] from the resemblance of its leaf to that
of parsley, beneficial to the stomach, and moderately relaxing to the
bowels; the “helia,” with broad leaves running out from the stalk—a
circumstance, owing to which some persons have given it the name of
“caulodes”—of no use whatever in a medicinal point of view; and a
third, the name of which is properly “crambe,” with thinner leaves,
of simple form, and closely packed, more bitter than the others, but
extremely efficacious in medicine.[1467]

Cato[1468] esteems the curly cabbage the most highly of all, and next
to it, the smooth cabbage with large leaves and a thick stalk. He
says that it is a good thing for headache, dimness of the sight, and
dazzling[1469] of the eyes, the spleen, stomach, and thoracic organs,
taken raw in the morning, in doses of two acetabula, with oxymel,
coriander, rue, mint, and root of silphium.[1470] He says, too, that
the virtue of it is so great that the very person even who beats up
this mixture feels himself all the stronger for it; for which reason
he recommends it to be taken mixed with these condiments, or, at all
events, dressed with a sauce compounded of them. For the gout, too,
and diseases of the joints, a liniment of it should be used, he says,
with a little rue and coriander, a sprinkling of salt, and some barley
meal: the very water even in which it has been boiled is wonderfully
efficacious, according to him, for the sinews and joints. For wounds,
either recent or of long standing, as also for carcinoma,[1471] which
is incurable by any other mode of treatment, he recommends fomentations
to be made with warm water, and, after that, an application of cabbage,
beaten up, to the parts affected, twice a-day. He says, also, that
fistulas and sprains should be treated in a similar way, as well
as all humours which it may be desirable to bring to a head and
disperse; and he states that this vegetable, boiled and eaten fasting,
in considerable quantities, with oil and salt, has the effect of
preventing dreams and wakefulness; also, that if, after one boiling,
it is boiled a second time, with the addition of oil, salt, cummin,
and polenta, it will relieve gripings[1472] in the stomach; and that,
if eaten in this way without bread, it is more beneficial still. Among
various other particulars, he says, that if taken in drink with black
wine, it has the effect of carrying off the bilious secretions; and he
recommends the urine of a person who has been living on a cabbage diet
to be preserved, as, when warmed, it is a good remedy for diseases of
the sinews. I will, however, here give the identical words in which
Cato expresses himself upon this point: “If you wash little children
with this urine,” says he, “they will never be weak and puny.”

He recommends, also, the warm juice of cabbage to be injected into the
ears, in combination with wine, and assures us that it is a capital
remedy for deafness: and he says that the cabbage is a cure for
impetigo[1473] without the formation of ulcers.


As we have already given those of Cato, it will be as well to set forth
the opinions entertained by the Greek writers on this subject, only in
relation, however, to those points upon which he has omitted to touch.
They are of opinion that cabbage, not thoroughly boiled, carries off
the bile, and has the effect of loosening the bowels; while, on the
other hand, if it is boiled twice over, it will act as an astringent.
They say, too, that as there is a natural[1474] enmity between it
and the vine, it combats the effects of wine; that, if eaten before
drinking, it is sure to prevent[1475] drunkenness, being equally a
dispellent of crapulence[1476] if taken after drinking: that cabbage
is a food very beneficial to the eyesight, and that the juice of it
raw is even more so, if the corners of the eyes are only touched with
a mixture of it with Attic honey. Cabbage, too, according to the same
testimony, is extremely easy of digestion,[1477] and, as an aliment,
greatly tends to clear the senses.

The school of Erasistratus proclaims that there is nothing more
beneficial to the stomach and the sinews than cabbage; for which
reason, he says, it ought to be given to the paralytic and nervous,
as well as to persons affected with spitting of blood. Hippocrates
prescribes it, twice boiled, and eaten with salt, for dysentery and
cœliac affections, as also for tenesmus and diseases of the kidneys; he
is of opinion, too, that, as an aliment, it increases the quantity of
the milk in women who are nursing, and that it promotes the menstrual
discharge.[1478] The stalk, too, eaten raw, is efficacious in expelling
the dead fœtus. Apollodorus prescribes the seed or else the juice of
the cabbage to be taken in cases of poisoning by fungi; and Philistion
recommends the juice for persons affected with opisthotony, in
goats’-milk, with salt and honey.

I find, too, that persons have been cured of the gout by eating cabbage
and drinking a decoction of that plant. This decoction has been given,
also, to persons afflicted with the cardiac disease and epilepsy, with
the addition of salt; and it has been administered in white wine, for
affections of the spleen, for a period of forty days.

According to Philistion, the juice of the raw root should be given as
a gargle to persons afflicted with icterus[1479] or phrenitis, and
for hiccup he prescribes a mixture of it, in vinegar, with coriander,
anise, honey, and pepper. Used as a liniment, cabbage, he says, is
beneficial for inflations of the stomach; and the very water, even, in
which it has been boiled, mixed with barley-meal, is a remedy for the
stings of serpents[1480] and foul ulcers of long standing; a result
which is equally effected by a mixture of cabbage-juice with vinegar
or fenugreek. It is in this manner, too, that some persons employ
it topically, for affections of the joints and for gout. Applied
topically, cabbage is a cure for epinyctis, and all kinds of spreading
eruptions on the body, as also for sudden[1481] attacks of dimness;
indeed, if eaten with vinegar, it has the effect of curing the last.
Applied by itself, it heals contusions and other livid spots; and mixed
with a ball of alum in vinegar, it is good as a liniment for leprosy
and itch-scabs: used in this way, too, it prevents the hair from
falling off.

Epicharmus assures us that, applied topically, cabbage is extremely
beneficial for diseases of the testes and genitals, and even better
still when employed with bruised beans; he says, too, that it is a
cure for convulsions; that, in combination with rue, it is good for
the burning heats of fever and maladies of the stomach; and that, with
rue-seed, it brings away the after-birth. It is of use, also, for the
bite of the shrew-mouse. Dried cabbage-leaves, reduced to a powder, are
a cathartic both by vomit and by stool.


In all varieties of the cabbage, the part most agreeable to the taste
is the cyma,[1482] although no use is made of it in medicine, as it
is difficult to digest, and by no means beneficial to the kidneys. At
the same time, too, it should not be omitted, that the water in which
it has been boiled,[1483] and which is so highly praised for many
purposes, gives out a very bad smell when poured upon the ground. The
ashes of dried cabbage-stalks are generally reckoned among the caustic
substances: mixed with stale grease, they are employed for sciatica,
and, used as a liniment, in the form of a depilatory, together with
silphium[1484] and vinegar, they prevent hair that has been once
removed from growing again. These ashes, too, are taken lukewarm in
oil, or else by themselves, for convulsions, internal ruptures, and the
effects of falls with violence.

And are we to say then that the cabbage is possessed of no evil
qualities whatever? Certainly not, for the same authors tell us, that
it is apt to make the breath smell, and that it is injurious to the
teeth and gums. In Egypt, too, it is never eaten, on account of its
extreme bitterness.[1485]


Cato[1486] extols infinitely more highly the properties of wild or
erratic cabbage;[1487] so much so, indeed, as to affirm that the very
powder of it, dried and collected in a scent-box, has the property, on
merely smelling at it, of removing maladies of the nostrils and the
bad smells resulting therefrom. Some persons call this wild cabbage
“petræa:”[1488] it has an extreme antipathy to wine, so much so,
indeed, that the vine invariably[1489] avoids it, and if it cannot make
its escape, will be sure to die. This vegetable has leaves of uniform
shape, small, rounded, and smooth: bearing a strong resemblance to the
cultivated cabbage, it is whiter, and has a more downy[1490] leaf.

According to Chrysippus, this plant is a remedy for flatulency,
melancholy, and recent wounds, if applied with honey, and not taken off
before the end of six days: beaten up in water, it is good also for
scrofula and fistula. Other writers, again, say that it is an effectual
cure for spreading sores on the body, known as “nomæ;” that it has the
property, also, of removing excrescences, and of reducing the scars
of wounds and sores; that if chewed raw with honey, it is a cure for
ulcers of the mouth and tonsils; and that a decoction of it used as a
gargle with honey, is productive of the same effect. They say, too,
that, mixed in strong vinegar with alum, in the proportion of three
parts to two of alum, and then applied as a liniment, it is a cure
for itch scabs and leprous sores of long standing. Epicharmus informs
us, that for the bite of a mad dog, it is quite sufficient to apply
it topically to the part affected, but that if used with silphium and
strong vinegar, it is better still: he says, too, that it will kill a
dog, if given to it with flesh to eat.

The seed of this plant, parched, is remedial in cases of poisoning, by
the stings of serpents, eating fungi, and drinking bulls’ blood. The
leaves of it, either boiled and taken in the food or else eaten raw, or
applied with a liniment of sulphur and nitre, are good for affections
of the spleen, as well as hard tumours of the mamillæ. In swelling of
the uvula, if the parts affected are only touched with the ashes of the
root, a cure will be the result; and applied topically with honey, they
are equally beneficial for reducing swellings of the parotid glands,
and curing the stings of serpents. We will add only one more proof of
the virtues of the cabbage, and that a truly marvellous one—in all
vessels in which water is boiled, the incrustations which adhere with
such tenacity that it is otherwise impossible to detach them, will fall
off immediately if a cabbage is boiled therein.


Among the wild cabbages, we find also the lapsana,[1491] a plant which
grows a foot in height, has a hairy leaf, and strongly resembles
mustard, were it not that the blossom is whiter. It is eaten cooked,
and has the property of soothing and gently relaxing the bowels.


Sea-cabbage[1492] is the most strongly purgative of all these plants.
It is cooked, in consequence of its extreme pungency, with fat meat,
and is extremely detrimental to the stomach.


In medicine, we give the name of white squill to the male plant, and
of black[1493] to the female: the whiter the squill, the better it is
for medicinal[1494] purposes. The dry coats being first taken off of
it, the remaining part, or so much of it as retains life, is cut into
pieces, which are then strung and suspended on a string, at short
distances from each other. After these pieces are thoroughly dried,
they are thrown into a jar of the very strongest vinegar, suspended in
such a way, however, as not to touch any portion of the vessel. This is
done forty-eight days before the summer solstice. The mouth of the jar
is then tightly sealed with plaster; after which it is placed beneath
some tiles which receive the rays of the sun the whole day through.
At the end of forty-eight days the vessel is removed, the squills are
taken out of it, and the vinegar poured into another jar.

This vinegar has the effect of sharpening the eyesight, and, taken
every other day, is good for pains in the stomach and sides: the
strength of it, however, is so great, that if taken in too large a
quantity, it will for some moments produce all the appearance of death.
Squills, too, if chewed by themselves even, are good for the gums and
teeth; and taken in vinegar and honey they expel tapeworm and other
intestinal worms. Put fresh beneath the tongue, they prevent persons
afflicted with dropsy from experiencing thirst.

Squills are cooked in various ways; either in a pot with a lining of
clay or grease, which is put into an oven or furnace, or else cut into
pieces and stewed in a saucepan. They are dried also in a raw state,
and then cut into pieces and boiled with vinegar; in which case, they
are employed as a liniment for the stings of serpents. Sometimes,
again, they are roasted and then cleaned; after which, the middle of
the bulb is boiled again in water.

When thus boiled, they are used for dropsy, as a diuretic, being
taken in doses of three oboli, with oxymel: they are employed also in
a similar manner for affections of the spleen, and of the stomach,
when it is too weak to digest the food, provided no ulcerations have
made their appearance; also for gripings of the bowels, jaundice,
and inveterate cough, accompanied with asthma. A cataplasm of squill
leaves, taken off at the end of four days, has the effect of dispersing
scrofulous swellings of the neck; and a decoction of squills in oil,
applied as a liniment, is a cure for dandriff and running ulcers of the

Squills are boiled with honey also for the table, with the view of
aiding the digestion more particularly; used in this way, too, they
act upon the inside as a purgative. Boiled with oil, and then mixed
with resin, they are a cure for chaps on the feet; and the seed, mixed
with honey, is applied topically, for the cure of lumbago. Pythagoras
says that a squill, suspended at the threshold of the door, effectually
shuts all access to evil spells and incantations.[1495]


Bulbs,[1496] steeped in vinegar and sulphur, are good for the cure of
wounds in the face;[1497] beaten up and used alone, they are beneficial
for contractions of the sinews, mixed with wine, for porrigo, and
used with honey, for the bites of dogs; in this last case, however,
Erasistratus says that they ought to be mixed with pitch. The same
author states that, applied topically with honey, they stanch the
flowing of blood; other writers say, however, that in cases of bleeding
at the nose, coriander and meal should be employed in combination with
them. Theodorus prescribes bulbs in vinegar for the cure of lichens,
and for eruptions in the head he recommends bulbs mixed with astringent
wine, or an egg beaten up; he treats defluxions of the eyes also with
bulbs, applied topically, and uses a similar method for the cure of
ophthalmia. The red bulbs more particularly, will cause spots in the
face to disappear, if rubbed upon them with honey and nitre in the sun;
and applied with wine or boiled cucumber they will remove freckles.
Used either by themselves, or as Damion recommends, in combination with
honied wine, they are remarkably efficacious for the cure of wounds,
care being taken, however, not to remove the application till the end
of four days. The same author prescribes them, too, for the cure of
fractured ears, and collections of crude humours in the testes.[1498]

For pains in the joints, bulbs are used with meal; boiled in wine, and
applied to the abdomen, they reduce hard swellings of the viscera.
In dysentery, they are given in wine mixed with rain water; and for
convulsions of the intestines they are employed, in combination with
silphium, in pills the size of a bean: bruised, they are employed
externally, for the purpose of checking perspirations. Bulbs are good,
too, for the sinews, for which reason it is that they are given to
paralytic patients. The red bulb, mixed with honey and salt, heals
sprains of the feet with great rapidity. The bulbs of Megara[1499] act
as a strong aphrodisiac, and garden bulbs, taken with boiled must or
raisin wine, aid delivery.

Wild bulbs, made up into pills with silphium, effect the cure of
wounds and other affections of the intestines. The seed, too, of
the cultivated kinds is taken in wine as a cure for the bite of the
phalangium,[1500] and the bulbs themselves are applied in vinegar
for the cure of the stings of serpents. The ancients used to give
bulb-seed to persons afflicted with madness, in drink. The blossom,
beaten up, removes spots upon the legs, as well as scorches produced
by fire. Diocles is of opinion that the sight is impaired by the use
of bulbs; he adds, too, that when boiled they are not so wholesome as
roasted, and that, of whatever nature they may be, they are difficult
of digestion.


The Greeks give the name bulbine[1501] to a plant with leaves
resembling those of the leek, and a red bulbous root. This plant, it is
said, is marvellously good for wounds, but only when they are of recent
date. The bulbous plant known as the “emetic” bulb,[1502] from the
effects which it produces, has dark leaves,[1503] and longer than those
of the other kinds.


Asparagus[1504] is said to be extremely wholesome as an aliment to
the stomach. With the addition of cummin, it dispels flatulency of
the stomach and colon; it sharpens the eyesight also, acts as a mild
aperient upon the stomach, and, boiled with wine, is good for pains
in the chest and spine, and diseases of the intestines. For pains in
the loins and kidneys asparagus-seed[1505] is administered in doses of
three oboli, taken with an equal proportion of cummin-seed. It acts as
an aphrodisiac, and is an extremely useful diuretic, except that it has
a tendency to ulcerate the bladder.[1506]

The root, also, pounded and taken in white wine, is highly extolled
by some writers, as having the effect of disengaging calculi, and
of soothing pains in the loins and kidneys; there are some persons,
too, who administer this root with sweet wine for pains in the
uterus. Boiled in vinegar the root is very beneficial in cases of
elephantiasis. It is said that if a person is rubbed with asparagus
beaten up in oil, he will never be stung by bees.


Wild asparagus is by some persons called “corruda,” by others
“libycum,” and by the people of Attica “orminus.”[1507] For all the
affections above enumerated it is more efficacious even than the
cultivated kind, that which is white[1508] more particularly. This
vegetable has the effect of dispelling the jaundice, and a decoction of
it, in doses of one hemina, is recommended as an aphrodisiac; a similar
effect is produced also by a mixture of asparagus seed and dill in
doses of three oboli respectively. A decoction of asparagus juice is
given also for the stings of serpents; and the root of it, mixed with
that of marathrum,[1509] is reckoned in the number of the most valuable
remedies we are acquainted with.

In cases of hæmaturia, Chrysippus recommends a mixture of asparagus,
parsley, and cummin seed, to be given to the patient every five days,
in doses of three oboli, mixed with two cyathi of wine. He says,
however, that though employed this way, it is a good diuretic, it is
bad for dropsy, and acts as an antaphrodisiac; and that it is injurious
to the bladder, unless it is boiled first.[1510] He states also, that
if the water in which it is boiled is given to dogs, it will kill
them;[1511] and that the juice of the root boiled in wine, kept in the
mouth, is an effectual cure for tooth-ache.


Parsley[1512] is held in universal esteem; for we find sprigs of it
swimming in the draughts of milk given us to drink in country-places;
and we know that as a seasoning for sauces, it is looked upon with
peculiar favour. Applied to the eyes with honey, which must also be
fomented from time to time with a warm decoction of it, it has a most
marvellous efficacy in cases of defluxion of those organs or of other
parts of the body; as also when beaten up and applied by itself, or in
combination with bread or with polenta. Fish, too, when found to be
in an ailing state in the preserves, are greatly refreshed by giving
them green parsley. As to the opinions entertained upon it among the
learned, there is not a single production dug out of the earth in
reference to which a greater diversity exists.

Parsley is distinguished as male and female:[1513] according to
Chrysippus, the female plant has a hard leaf and more curled than the
other, a thick stem, and an acrid, hot taste. Dionysius says, that the
female is darker than the other kind, has a shorter root, and engenders
small worms.[1514] Both of these writers, however, agree in saying
that neither kind of parsley should be admitted into the number of our
aliments; indeed, they look upon it as nothing less than sacrilege
to do so, seeing that parsley is consecrated to the funereal feasts
in honour of the dead. They say, too, that it is injurious to the
eyesight, that the stalk of the female plant engenders small worms,
for which reason it is that those who eat of it become barren—males as
well as females; and that children suckled by females who live on a
parsley diet, are sure to be epileptic. They agree, however, in stating
that the male plant is not so injurious in its effects as the female,
and that it is for this reason that it is not absolutely condemned and
classed among the forbidden plants. The leaves of it, employed as a
cataplasm, are used for dispersing hard tumours[1515] in the mamillæ;
and when boiled in water, it makes it more agreeable to drink. The
juice of the root more particularly, mixed with wine, allays the pains
of lumbago, and, injected into the ears, it diminishes hardness of
hearing. The seed of it acts as a diuretic, promotes the menstrual
discharge, and brings away the after-birth.

Bruises and livid spots, if fomented with a decoction of parsley-seed,
will resume their natural colour. Applied topically, with the white of
egg, or boiled in water, and then drunk, it is remedial for affections
of the kidneys; and beaten up in cold water it is a cure for ulcers of
the mouth. The seed, mixed with wine, or the root, taken with old wine,
has the effect of breaking calculi in the bladder. The seed, too, is
given in white wine, to persons afflicted with the jaundice.


Hyginus gave the name of “apiastrum” to melissophyllum:[1516] but that
which grows in Sardinia is poisonous, and universally condemned. I
speak here of this plant, because I feel it my duty to place before the
reader every object which has been classified, among the Greeks, under
the same name.


Olusatrum,[1517] usually known as hipposelinon,[1518] is particularly
repulsive to scorpions. The seed of it, taken in drink, is a cure for
gripings in the stomach and intestinal complaints, and a decoction of
the seed, drunk in honied wine, is curative in cases of dysuria.[1519]
The root of the plant, boiled in wine, expels calculi of the bladder,
and is a cure for lumbago and pains in the sides. Taken in drink and
applied topically, it is a cure for the bite of a mad dog, and the
juice of it, when drunk, is warming for persons benumbed with cold.

Some persons make out oreoselinon[1520] to be a fourth species of
parsley: it is a shrub about a palm in height, with an elongated seed,
bearing a strong resemblance to that of cummin, and efficacious for the
urine and the catamenia. Helioselinon[1521] is possessed of peculiar
virtues against the bites of spiders: and oreoselinon is used with wine
for promoting the menstrual discharge.


Another kind again, which grows in rocky places, is known by some
persons as “petroselinon:”[1522] it is particularly good for abscesses,
taken in doses of two spoonfuls of the juice to one cyathus of juice
of horehound, mixed with three cyathi of warm water. Some writers
have added buselinon[1523] to the list, which differs only from the
cultivated kind in the shortness of the stalk and the red colour of the
root, the medicinal properties being just the same. Taken in drink or
applied topically, it is an excellent remedy for the stings of serpents.


Chrysippus has exclaimed as strongly, too, against ocimum[1524] as he
has against parsley, declaring that it is prejudicial to the stomach
and the free discharge of the urine, and is injurious to the sight;
that it produces insanity, too, and lethargy, as well as diseases of
the liver; and that it is for this reason that goats refuse to touch
it. Hence he comes to the conclusion, that the use of it ought to be
avoided by man. Some persons go so far as to say, that if beaten up,
and then placed beneath a stone, a scorpion will breed there;[1525]
and that if chewed, and then placed in the sun, worms will breed in
it. The people of Africa maintain, too, that if a person is stung by
a scorpion the same day on which he has eaten ocimum, his life cannot
possibly be saved. Even more than this, there are some who assert, that
if a handful of ocimum is beaten up with ten sea or river crabs, all
the scorpions in the vicinity will be attracted to it. Diodotus, too,
in his Book of Recipes,[1526] says, that ocimum, used as an article of
food, breeds lice.

Succeeding ages, again, have warmly defended this plant; it has been
maintained, for instance, that goats do eat it, that the mind of no
one who has eaten of it is at all affected, and, that mixed with wine,
with the addition of a little vinegar, it is a cure for the stings of
land scorpions, and the venom of those found in the sea. Experience
has proved, too, that the smell of this plant in vinegar is good for
fainting fits and lethargy, as well as inflammations; that employed as
a cooling liniment, with rose oil, myrtle oil, or vinegar, it is good
for head-ache; and that applied topically with wine, it is beneficial
for defluxions of the eyes. It has been found also, that it is good for
the stomach; that taken with vinegar, it dispels flatulent eructations;
that applications of it arrest fluxes of the bowels; that it acts as a
diuretic, and that in this way it is good for jaundice and dropsy, as
well as cholera and looseness of the bowels.

Hence it is that Philistio has prescribed it even for cœliac
affections, and boiled, for dysentery. Some persons, too, though
contrary to the opinion of Plistonicus, have given it in wine for
tenesmus and spitting of blood, as also for obstructions of the
viscera. It is employed, too, as a liniment for the mamillæ, and has
the effect of arresting the secretion of the milk. It is very good
also for the ears of infants, when applied with goose-grease more
particularly. The seed of it, beaten up, and inhaled into the nostrils,
is provocative of sneezing, and applied as a liniment to the head,
of running at the nostrils: taken in the food, too, with vinegar, it
purges the uterus. Mixed with copperas[1527] it removes warts. It acts,
also, as an aphrodisiac, for which reason it is given to horses and
asses at the season for covering.

(13.) Wild ocimum has exactly the same properties in every respect,
though in a more active degree. It is particularly good, too, for the
various affections produced by excessive vomiting, and for abscesses of
the womb. The root, mixed with wine, is extremely efficacious for bites
inflicted by wild beasts.


The seed of rocket[1528] is remedial for the venom of the scorpion and
the shrew-mouse: it repels, too, all parasitical insects which breed
on the human body, and applied to the face, as a liniment, with honey,
removes[1529] spots upon the skin. Used with vinegar, too, it is a cure
for freckles; and mixed with ox-gall it restores the livid marks left
by wounds to their natural colour. It is said that if this plant is
taken in wine by persons who are about to undergo a flogging, it will
impart a certain degree of insensibility to the body. So agreeable
is its flavour as a savouring for food, that the Greeks have given
it the name of “euzomon.”[1530] It is generally thought that rocket,
lightly bruised, and employed as a fomentation for the eyes, will
restore the sight to its original goodness, and that it allays coughs
in young infants. The root of it, boiled in water, has the property of
extracting the splinters of broken bones.

As to the properties of rocket as an aphrodisiac, we have mentioned
them already.[1531] Three leaves of wild rocket plucked with the left
hand, beaten up in hydromel, and then taken in drink, are productive of
a similar effect.


Nasturtium,[1532] on the other hand, is an antiaphrodisiac;[1533] it
has the effect also of sharpening the senses, as already stated.[1534]
There are two[1535] varieties of this plant: one of them is purgative,
and, taken in doses of one denarius to seven of water, carries off
the bilious secretions. Applied as a liniment to scrofulous sores,
with bean-meal, and then covered with a cabbage-leaf, it is a most
excellent remedy. The other kind, which is darker than the first, has
the effect of carrying off vicious humours of the head, and sharpening
the sight: taken in vinegar it calms the troubled spirits, and, drunk
with wine or taken in a fig, it is good for affections of the spleen;
taken in honey, too, fasting daily, it is good for a cough. The seed
of it, taken in wine, expels all kinds of intestinal worms, and with
the addition of wild mint, it acts more efficaciously still. It is
good, too, for asthma and cough, in combination with wild marjoram and
sweet wine; and a decoction of it in goats’ milk is used for pains in
the chest. Mixed with pitch it disperses tumours, and extracts thorns
from the body; and, employed as a liniment, with vinegar, it removes
spots upon the body. When used for the cure of carcinoma, white of eggs
is added to it. With vinegar it is employed also as a liniment for
affections of the spleen, and with honey it is found to be very useful
for the complaints of infants.

Sextius adds, that the smell of burnt nasturtium drives away serpents,
neutralizes the venom of scorpions, and gives relief in head-ache;
with the addition too, of mustard, he says, it is a cure for alopecy,
and applied to the ears with a fig, it is a remedy for hardness of
hearing. The juice of it, he says, if injected into the ears, will
effect the cure of tooth-ache, and employed with goose-grease it is
a remedy for porrigo and ulcerous sores of the head. Applied with
leaven it brings boils[1536] to a head, and makes carbuncles suppurate
and break: used with honey, too, it is good for cleansing phagedænic
ulcers. Topical applications are made of it, combined with vinegar and
polenta, in cases of sciatica and lumbago: it is similarly employed,
too, for lichens and malformed[1537] nails, its qualities being
naturally caustic. The best nasturtium of all is that of Babylonia; the
wild[1538] variety possesses the same qualities as the cultivated in
every respect, but in a more powerful degree.


One of the most active, however, of all the medicinal plants, is
rue.[1539] The cultivated kind has broader leaves and more numerous
branches than the other. Wild rue is more violent in its effects, and
more active in every respect. The juice of it is extracted by beating
it up, and moistening it moderately with water; after which it is kept
for use in boxes of Cyprian copper. Given in large doses, this juice
has all the baneful effects of poison,[1540] and that of Macedonia more
particularly, which grows on the banks of the river Aliacmon.[1541] It
is a truly wonderful thing, but the juice of hemlock has the property
of neutralizing its effects. Thus do we find one thing acting as the
poison of another poison, for the juice of hemlock is very beneficial,
rubbed upon the hands and [face][1542] of persons employed in gathering

In other respects, rue is one of the principal ingredients employed
in antidotes, that of Galatia more particularly. Every species of
rue, employed by itself, has the effect also of an antidote, if the
leaves are bruised and taken in wine. It is good more particularly
in cases of poisoning by wolf’sbane[1543] and mistletoe, as well as
by fungi, whether administered in the drink or the food. Employed
in a similar manner, it is good for the stings of serpents; so much
so, in fact, that weasels,[1544] when about to attack them, take the
precaution first of protecting themselves by eating rue. Rue is good,
too, for the injuries by scorpions and spiders, the stings of bees,
hornets, and wasps, the noxious effects produced by cantharides and
salamanders,[1545] and the bites of mad dogs. The juice is taken in
doses of one acetabulum, in wine; and the leaves, beaten up or else
chewed, are applied topically, with honey and salt, or boiled with
vinegar and pitch. It is said that people rubbed with the juice of rue,
or even having it on their person, are never attacked by these noxious
creatures, and that serpents are driven away by the stench of burning
rue. The most efficacious, however, of all, is the root of wild rue,
taken with wine; this too, it is said, is more beneficial still, if
drunk in the open air.

Pythagoras has distinguished this plant also into male and female,
the former having smaller leaves than the other, and of a grass-green
colour; the female plant, he says, has leaves of a larger size and
a more vivid hue. The same author, too, has considered rue to be
injurious to the eyes; but this is an error, for engravers and painters
are in the habit of eating it with bread, or else nasturtium, for the
benefit of the sight; wild goats, too, eat it for the sight, they say.
Many persons have dispersed films on the eyes by rubbing them with a
mixture of the juice of rue with Attic honey, or the milk of a woman
just delivered of a male child: the same result has been produced also
by touching the corners of the eyes with the pure juice of the plant.
Applied topically, with polenta, rue carries off defluxions of the
eyes; and, taken with wine, or applied topically with vinegar and rose
oil, it is a cure for head-ache. If, however, the pain attacks the
whole of the head,[1546] the rue should be applied with barley-meal
and vinegar. This plant has the effect also of dispelling crudities,
flatulency, and inveterate pains of the stomach; it opens the uterus,
too, and restores it when displaced; for which purpose it is applied as
a liniment, with honey, to the whole of the abdomen and chest. Mixed
with figs, and boiled down to one half, it is administered in wine for
dropsy; and it is taken in a similar manner for pains of the chest,
sides, and loins, as well as for coughs, asthma, and affections of the
lungs, liver, and kidneys, and for shivering fits. Persons about to
indulge in wine, take a decoction of the leaves, to prevent head-ache
and surfeit. Taken in food, too, it is wholesome, whether eaten raw or
boiled, or used as a confection; boiled with hyssop, and taken with
wine, it is good for gripings of the stomach. Employed in the same way,
it arrests internal hæmorrhage, and, applied to the nostrils, bleeding
at the nose: it is beneficial also to the teeth if rinsed with it. In
cases of ear-ache, this juice is injected into the ears, care being
taken to moderate the dose, as already stated, if wild rue is employed.
For hardness of hearing, too, and singing in the ears, it is similarly
employed in combination with oil of roses, or oil of laurel, or else
cummin and honey.

Juice of rue pounded in vinegar, is applied also to the temples and the
region of the brain in persons affected with phrenitis; some persons,
however, have added to this mixture wild thyme and laurel leaves,
rubbing the head and neck as well with the liniment. It has been given
in vinegar to lethargic patients to smell at, and a decoction of it is
administered for epilepsy, in doses of four cyathi, as also just before
the attacks in fever of intolerable chills. It is likewise given raw to
persons for shivering fits. Rue is a provocative[1547] of the urine to
bleeding even: it promotes the menstrual discharge, also, and brings
away the after-birth, as well as the dead fœtus even, according to
Hippocrates,[1548] if taken in sweet red wine. The same author, also,
recommends applications of it, as well as fumigations, for affections
of the uterus.

For cardiac diseases, Diocles prescribes applications of rue, in
combination with vinegar, honey, and barley-meal: and for the iliac
passion, he says that it should be mixed with meal, boiled in oil, and
spread upon the wool of a sheep’s fleece. Many persons recommend, for
purulent expectorations, two drachmæ of dried rue to one and a half of
sulphur; and, for spitting of blood, a decoction of three sprigs in
wine. It is given also in dysentery, with cheese, the rue being first
beaten up in wine; and it has been prescribed, pounded with bitumen, as
a potion for habitual shortness of breath. For persons suffering from
violent falls, three ounces of the seed is recommended. A pound of oil,
in which rue leaves have been boiled, added to one sextarius of wine,
forms a liniment for parts of the body which are frost-bitten. If rue
really is a diuretic, as Hippocrates[1549] thinks, it is a singular
thing that some persons should give it, as being an anti-diuretic, for
the suppression of incontinence of urine.

Applied topically, with honey and alum, it cures itch-scabs, and
leprous sores; and, in combination with nightshade and hogs’-lard, or
beef-suet, it is good for morphew, warts, scrofula, and maladies of a
similar nature. Used with vinegar and oil, or else white lead, it is
good for erysipelas; and, applied with vinegar, for carbuncles. Some
persons prescribe silphium also as an ingredient in the liniment;
but it is not employed by them for the cure of the pustules known
as epinyctis. Boiled rue is recommended, also, as a cataplasm for
swellings of the mamillæ, and, combined with wax, for eruptions of
pituitous matter.[1550] It is applied with tender sprigs of laurel,
in cases of defluxion of the testes; and it exercises so peculiar an
effect upon those organs, that old rue, it is said, employed in a
liniment, with axle-grease, is a cure for hernia. The seed pounded, and
applied with wax, is remedial also for broken limbs. The root of this
plant, applied topically, is a cure for effusion of blood in the eyes,
and, employed as a liniment, it removes scars or spots on all parts of
the body.

Among the other properties which are attributed to rue, it is a
singular fact, that, though it is universally agreed that it is hot
by nature, a bunch of it, boiled in rose-oil, with the addition of an
ounce of aloes, has the effect of checking the perspiration in those
who rub themselves with it; and that, used as an aliment, it impedes
the generative functions. Hence it is, that it is so often given in
cases of spermatorrhœa, and where persons are subject to lascivious
dreams. Every precaution should be taken by pregnant women to abstain
from rue as an article of diet, for I find it stated that it is
productive of fatal results to the fœtus.[1551]

Of all the plants that are grown, rue is the one that is most generally
employed for the maladies of cattle, whether arising from difficulty
of respiration, or from the stings of noxious creatures—in which cases
it is injected with wine into the nostrils—or whether they may happen
to have swallowed a horse-leech, under which circumstances it is
administered in vinegar. In all other maladies of cattle, the rue is
prepared just as for man in a similar case.


Mentastrum, or wild mint,[1552] differs from the other kind in the
appearance of the leaves, which have the form of those of ocimum and
the colour of pennyroyal; for which reason, some persons, in fact,
give it the name of wild pennyroyal.[1553] The leaves of this plant,
chewed and applied topically, are a cure for elephantiasis; a discovery
which was accidentally made in the time of Pompeius Magnus, by a
person affected with this malady covering his face with the leaves for
the purpose of neutralizing the bad smell that arose therefrom. These
leaves are employed also as a liniment, and in drink, with a mixture
of salt, oil, and vinegar, for the stings of scorpions; and, in doses
of two drachmæ to two cyathi of wine, for those of scolopendræ and
serpents. A decoction, too, of the juice is given for the sting of the
scolopendra.[1554] Leaves of wild mint are kept, dried and reduced to
a fine powder, as a remedy for poisons of every description. Spread
on the ground or burnt, this plant has the effect of driving away

Taken in drink, wild mint carries off the lochia in females after
parturition; but, if taken before, it is fatal to the fœtus, It is
extremely efficacious in cases of rupture and convulsions, and, though
in a somewhat less degree, for orthopnœa,[1555] gripings of the bowels,
and cholera: it is good, too, as a topical application for lumbago and
gout. The juice of it is injected into the ears for worms breeding
there; it is taken also for jaundice, and is employed in liniments
for scrofulous sores. It prevents[1556] the recurrence of lascivious
dreams; and taken in vinegar, it expels tape-worm.[1557] For the cure
of porrigo, it is put in vinegar, and the head is washed with the
mixture in the sun.


The very smell of mint[1558] reanimates the spirits, and its flavour
gives a remarkable zest to food: hence it is that it is so generally
an ingredient in our sauces. It has the effect of preventing milk
from turning sour, or curdling and thickening; hence it is that it
is so generally put into milk used for drinking, to prevent any
danger of persons being choked[1559] by it in a curdled state. It
is administered also for this purpose in water or honied wine. It is
generally thought, too, that it is in consequence of this property
that it impedes generation, by preventing the seminal fluids from
obtaining the requisite consistency. In males as well as females
it arrests bleeding, and it has the property, with the latter, of
suspending the menstrual discharge. Taken in water, with amylum,[1560]
it prevents looseness in cœliac complaints. Syriation employed this
plant for the cure of abscesses of the uterus, and, in doses of three
oboli, with honied wine, for diseases of the liver: he prescribed it
also, in pottage, for spitting of blood. It is an admirable remedy
for ulcerations of the head in children, and has the effect equally
of drying the trachea when too moist, and of bracing it when too dry.
Taken in honied wine and water, it carries off purulent phlegm.

The juice of mint is good for the voice when a person is about to
engage in a contest of eloquence, but only when taken just before. It
is employed also with milk as a gargle for swelling of the uvula, with
the addition of rue and coriander. With alum, too, it is good for the
tonsils of the throat, and, mixed with honey, for roughness of the
tongue. Employed by itself, it is a remedy for internal convulsions and
affections of the lungs. Taken with pomegranate juice, as Democrites
tells us, it arrests hiccup and vomiting. The juice of mint fresh
gathered, inhaled, is a remedy for affections of the nostrils. Beaten
up and taken in vinegar, mint is a cure for cholera, and for internal
fluxes of blood: applied externally, with polenta, it is remedial for
the iliac passion and tension of the mamillæ. It is applied, too, as a
liniment to the temples for head-ache; and it is taken internally, as
an antidote for the stings of scolopendræ, sea-scorpions, and serpents.
As a liniment it is applied also for defluxions of the eyes, and all
eruptions of the head, as well as maladies of the rectum.

Mint is an effectual preventive, too, of chafing of the skin, even if
held in the hand only. In combination with honied wine, it is employed
as an injection for the ears. It is said, too, that this plant will
cure affections of the spleen, if tasted in the garden nine days
consecutively, without plucking it, the person who bites it saying
at the same moment that he does so for the benefit of the spleen:
and that, if dried, and reduced to powder, a pinch of it with three
fingers taken in water, will cure stomach-ache.[1561] Sprinkled in this
form in drink, it is said to have the effect of expelling intestinal


Pennyroyal[1562] partakes with mint, in a very considerable degree, the
property[1563] of restoring consciousness in fainting fits; slips of
both plants being kept for the purpose in glass bottles[1564] filled
with vinegar. It is for this reason that Varro has declared that a
wreath of pennyroyal is more worthy to grace our chambers[1565] than
a chaplet of roses: indeed, it is said that, placed upon the head, it
materially alleviates head-ache.[1566] It is generally stated, too,
that the smell of it alone will protect the head against the injurious
effects of cold or heat, and that it acts as a preventive of thirst;
also, that persons exposed to the sun, if they carry a couple of sprigs
of pennyroyal behind the ears, will never be incommoded by the heat.
For various pains, too, it is employed topically, mixed with polenta
and vinegar.

The female[1567] plant is the more efficacious of the two; it has
a purple flower, that of the male being white. Taken in cold water
with salt and polenta it arrests nausea, as well as pains of the
chest and abdomen. Taken, too, in water, it prevents gnawing pains
of the stomach, and, with vinegar and polenta, it arrests vomiting.
In combination with salt and vinegar, and polenta, it loosens the
bowels. Taken with boiled honey and nitre, it is a cure for intestinal
complaints. Employed with wine it is a diuretic, and if the wine is
the produce of the Aminean[1568] grape, it has the additional effect
of dispersing calculi of the bladder and removing all internal pains.
Taken in conjunction with honey and vinegar, it modifies the menstrual
discharge, and brings away the after-birth, restores the uterus, when
displaced, to its natural position, and expels the dead[1569] fœtus.
The seed is given to persons to smell at, who have been suddenly struck
dumb, and is prescribed for epileptic patients in doses of one cyathus,
taken in vinegar. If water is found unwholesome for drinking, bruised
pennyroyal should be sprinkled in it; taken with wine it modifies
acridities[1570] of the body.

Mixed with salt, it is employed as a friction for the sinews, and
with honey and vinegar, in cases of opisthotony. Decoctions of it are
prescribed as a drink for persons stung by serpents; and, beaten up in
wine, it is employed for the stings of scorpions, that which grows in a
dry soil in particular. This plant is looked upon as efficacious also
for ulcerations of the mouth, and for coughs. The blossom of it, fresh
gathered, and burnt, kills fleas[1571] by its smell. Xenocrates, among
the other remedies which he mentions, says that in tertian fevers, a
sprig of pennyroyal, wrapped in wool, should be given to the patient to
smell at, just before the fit comes on, or else it should be put under
the bed-clothes and laid by the patient’s side.


For all the purposes already mentioned, wild pennyroyal[1572] has
exactly the same properties, but in a still higher degree. It bears a
strong resemblance to wild marjoram,[1573] and has a smaller leaf than
the cultivated kind: by some persons it is known as “dictamnos.”[1574]
When browsed upon by sheep and goats, it makes them bleat, for which
reason, some of the Greeks, changing a single letter in its name, have
called it “blechon,”[1575] [instead of “glechon.”]

This plant is naturally so heating as to blister the parts of the body
to which it is applied. For a cough which results from a chill, it is
a good plan for the patient to rub himself with it before taking the
bath; it is similarly employed, too, in shivering fits, just before the
attacks come on, and for convulsions and gripings of the stomach. It is
also remarkably good for the gout.

To persons afflicted with spasms, this plant is administered in drink,
in combination with honey and salt; and it renders expectoration easy
in affections of the lungs.[1576] Taken with salt it is beneficial for
the spleen and bladder, and is curative of asthma and flatulency. A
decoction of it is equally as good as the juice: it restores the uterus
when displaced, and is prescribed for the sting of either the land or
the sea scolopendra, as well as the scorpion. It is particularly good,
too, for bites inflicted by a human being. The root of it, newly taken
up, is extremely efficacious for corroding ulcers, and in a dried state
tends to efface the deformities produced by scars.


Nep[1577] has also some affinity in its effects with pennyroyal. Boiled
down in water to one third, these plants dispel sudden chills: they
promote the menstrual discharge also in females, and allay excessive
heats in summer. Nep possesses certain virtues against the stings of
serpents; at the very smoke and smell of it they will instantly take
to flight, and persons who have to sleep in places where they are
apprehensive of them, will do well to place it beneath them. Bruised,
it is employed topically for lacrymal fistulas[1578] of the eye: fresh
gathered and mixed in vinegar with one third part of bread, it is
applied as a liniment for head-ache. The juice of it, injected into
the nostrils, with the head thrown back, arrests bleeding at the nose,
and the root has a similar effect. This last is employed also, with
myrtle-seed, in warm raisin wine, as a gargle for the cure of quinsy.


Wild cummin is a remarkably slender plant, consisting of four or five
leaves indented like a saw; like the cultivated[1579] kind, it is much
employed in medicine, among the stomachic remedies more particularly.
Bruised and taken with bread, or else drunk in wine and water, it
dispels phlegm and flatulency, as well as gripings of the bowels and
pains in the intestines. Both varieties have the effect, however,
of producing paleness[1580] in those who drink these mixtures; at
all events, it is generally stated that the disciples of Porcius
Latro,[1581] so celebrated among the professors of eloquence, used to
employ this drink for the purpose of imitating the paleness which had
been contracted by their master, through the intensity of his studies:
and that Julius Vindex,[1582] in more recent times, that assertor of
our liberties against Nero, adopted this method of playing upon[1583]
those who were looking out for a place in his will. Applied in the form
of lozenges, or fresh with vinegar, cummin has the effect of arresting
bleeding at the nose, and used by itself, it is good for defluxions
of the eyes. Combined with honey, it is used also for swellings of the
eyes. With children of tender age, it is sufficient to apply it to
the abdomen. In cases of jaundice, it is administered in white wine,
immediately after taking the bath.

(15.) The cummin of Æthiopia,[1584] more particularly, is given in
vinegar and water, or else as an electuary with honey. It is thought,
too, that the cummin of Africa has the peculiar property of arresting
incontinence of urine. The cultivated plant is given, parched and
beaten up in vinegar, for affections of the liver, as also for vertigo.
Beaten up in sweet wine, it is taken in cases, also, where the urine
is too acrid; and for affections of the uterus, it is administered in
wine, the leaves of it being employed topically as well, in layers of
wool. Parched and beaten up with honey, it is used as an application
for swellings of the testes, or else with rose oil and wax.

For all the purposes above-mentioned, wild cummin[1585] is more
efficacious than cultivated; as also, in combination with oil, for the
stings of serpents, scorpions, and scolopendræ. A pinch of it with
three fingers, taken in wine, has the effect of arresting vomiting
and nausea; it is used, too, both as a drink and a liniment for the
colic, or else it is applied hot, in dossils of lint,[1586] to the
part affected, bandages being employed to keep it in its place. Taken
in wine, it dispels hysterical affections, the proportions being three
drachmæ of cummin to three cyathi of wine. It is used as an injection,
too, for the ears, when affected with tingling and singing, being mixed
for the purpose with veal suet or honey. For contusions, it is applied
as a liniment, with honey, raisins, and vinegar, and for dark freckles
on the skin with vinegar.


There is another plant, which bears a very strong resemblance to
cummin, known to the Greeks as “ammi;”[1587] some persons are of
opinion, that it is the same as the Æthiopian cummin. Hippocrates gives
it[1588] the epithet of “royal;” no doubt, because he looks upon it
as possessed of greater virtues than Egyptian cummin. Many persons,
however, consider it to be of a totally different nature from cummin,
as it is so very much thinner, and of a much whiter colour. Still,
it is employed for just the same purposes as cummin, for we find it
used at Alexandria for putting under loaves of bread, and forming
an ingredient in various sauces. It has the effect of dispelling
flatulency and gripings of the bowels, and of promoting the secretion
of the urine and the menstrual discharge. It is employed, also, for
the cure of bruises, and to assuage defluxions of the eyes. Taken
in wine with linseed, in doses of two drachmæ, it is a cure for the
stings of scorpions; and, used with an equal proportion of myrrh, it is
particularly good for the bite of the cerastes.[1589]

Like cummin, too, it imparts paleness of complexion to those who drink
of it. Used as a fumigation, with raisins or with resin, it acts as a
purgative upon the uterus. It is said, too, that if women smell at this
plant during the sexual congress, the chances of conception will be
greatly promoted thereby.


We have already spoken[1590] of the caper at sufficient length when
treating of the exotic plants. The caper which comes[1591] from beyond
sea should never be used; that of Italy[1592] is not so dangerous. It
is said, that persons who eat this plant daily, are never attacked by
paralysis or pains in the spleen. The root of it, pounded, removes
white eruptions of the skin, if rubbed with it in the sun. The
bark[1593] of the root, taken in wine, in doses of two drachmæ, is good
for affections of the spleen; the patient, however, must forego the
use of the bath. It is said, too, that in the course of thirty-five
days the whole of the spleen may be discharged under this treatment, by
urine and by stool. The caper is also taken in drink for lumbago and
paralysis; and the seed of it boiled, and beaten up in vinegar, or the
root chewed, has a soothing effect in tooth-ache. A decoction of it in
oil is employed, also, as an injection for ear-ache.

The leaves and the root, fresh out of the ground, mixed with honey, are
a cure for the ulcers known as phagedænic. In the same way, too, the
root disperses scrofulous swellings; and a decoction of it in water
removes imposthumes of the parotid glands, and worms. Beaten up and
mixed with barley-meal, it is applied topically for pains in the liver;
it is a cure, also, for diseases of the bladder. In combination with
oxymel, it is prescribed for tapeworm, and a decoction of it in vinegar
removes ulcerations of the mouth. It is generally agreed among writers
that the caper is prejudicial to the stomach.


Ligusticum,[1594] by some persons known as “panax,” is good for the
stomach, and is curative of convulsions and flatulency. There are
persons who give this plant the name of “cunila bubula;” but, as we
have already[1595] stated, they are in error in so doing.


In addition to garden cunila,[1596] there are numerous other varieties
of it employed in medicine. That known to us as “cunila bubula,” has a
very similar seed to that of pennyroyal. This seed, chewed and applied
topically, is good for wounds: the plaster, however, must not be taken
off till the fifth day. For the stings of serpents, this plant is taken
in wine, and the leaves of it are bruised and applied to the wound;
which is also rubbed with them as a friction. The tortoise,[1597] when
about to engage in combat with the serpent, employs this plant as a
preservative against the effects of its sting; some persons, for this
reason, have given it the name of “panacea.”[1598] It has the effect
also of dispersing tumours and maladies of the male organs, the leaves
being dried for the purpose, or else beaten up fresh and applied to the
part affected. For every purpose for which it is employed it combines
remarkably well with wine.


There is another variety, again, known to our people as “cunila
gallinacea,”[1599] and to the Greeks as Heracleotic origanum.[1600]
Beaten up with salt, this plant is good for the eyes; and it is a
remedy for cough and affections of the liver. Mixed with meal, and
taken as a broth, with oil and vinegar, it is good for pains in the
side, and the stings of serpents in particular.


There is a third species, also, known to the Greeks as “male cunila,”
and to us as “cunilago.”[1601] This plant has a fœtid smell, a ligneous
root, and a rough leaf. Of all the varieties of cunila, this one, it
is said, is possessed of the most active properties. If a handful of
it is thrown anywhere, all the beetles in the house, they say, will be
attracted to it; and, taken in vinegar and water, it is good for the
stings of scorpions more particularly. It is stated, also, that if a
person is rubbed with three leaves of it, steeped in oil, it will have
the effect of keeping all serpents at a distance.


The variety, on the other hand, known as soft[1602] cunila, has a more
velvety leaf, and branches covered with thorns; when rubbed it has just
the smell of honey, and it adheres to the fingers when touched. There
is another kind, again, known to us as “libanotis,”[1603] a name which
it owes to the resemblance of its smell to that of frankincense. Both
of these plants, taken in wine or vinegar, are antidotes for the stings
of serpents. Beaten up in water, also, and sprinkled about a place,
they kill fleas.[1604]


Cultivated cunila[1605] has also its medicinal uses. The juice of
it, in combination with rose oil, is good for the ears; and the
plant itself is taken in drink, to counteract the effects of violent

A variety of this plant is the mountain cunila, similar to wild thyme
in appearance, and particularly efficacious for the stings of serpents.
This plant is diuretic, and promotes the lochial discharge: it aids
the digestion, too, in a marvellous degree. Both varieties have a
tendency to sharpen the appetite, even when persons are troubled
with indigestion, if taken fasting in drink: they are good, too, for
sprains, and, taken with barley-meal, and vinegar and water, they are
extremely useful for stings inflicted by wasps and insects of a similar

We shall have occasion to speak of other varieties of libanotis[1607]
in their appropriate places.


Piperitis,[1608] which we have already mentioned as being called
“siliquastrum,” is taken in drink for epilepsy. Castor[1609] used to
give a description of it to the following effect: “The stalk of it
is long and red, with the knots lying close together; the leaves are
similar to those of the laurel, and the seed is white and slender,
like pepper in taste.” He described it also as being beneficial to
the gums and teeth, imparting sweetness to the breath, and dispelling


Origanum,[1610] which, as we have already stated, rivals cunila in
flavour, includes many varieties employed in medicine. Onitis,[1611] or
prasion,[1612] is the name given to one of these, which is not unlike
hyssop in appearance: it is employed more particularly, with warm
water, for gnawing pains at the stomach, and for indigestion. Taken in
white wine it is good for the stings of spiders and scorpions; and,
applied with vinegar and oil, in wool, it is a cure for sprains and


Tragoriganum[1613] bears a strong resemblance to wild thyme. It
is diuretic, disperses tumours, and taken in drink is extremely
efficacious in cases of poisoning by mistletoe and stings by serpents.
It is very good for acid eructations from the stomach, and for the
thoracic organs. It is given also for a cough, with honey, as well as
for pleurisy and peripneumony.


Heraclium,[1614] again, comprehends three varieties; the first,[1615]
which is the darkest, has broader leaves than the others, and is of a
glutinous nature; the second,[1616] which has leaves of a more slender
form, and not unlike sampsuchum[1617] in appearance, is by some persons
called “prasion,” in preference: the third[1618] is of an intermediate
nature between the other two, but is less efficacious for medicinal
purposes than either. But the best kind of all is that of Crete, for it
has a particularly agreeable smell; the next best being that of Smyrna,
which has even a more powerful odour than the last. The Heracleotic
origanum, however, known by the name of “onitis,” is the one that is
the most esteemed for taking in drink.

Origanum, in general, is employed for repelling serpents; and it is
given boiled to persons suffering from wounds. Taken in drink, it is
diuretic; and mixed with root of panax, it is given for the cure of
ruptures and convulsions. In combination with figs or hyssop, it is
prescribed for dropsical patients in doses of one acetabulum, being
reduced by boiling to one sixth. It is good also for the itch,[1619]
prurigo, and leprosy, taken just before the bath. The juice of it is
injected into the ears with milk; it being a cure, also, for affections
of the tonsils and the uvula, and for ulcers of the head. A decoction
of it, taken with the ashes in wine, neutralizes poison by opium or
gypsum.[1620] Taken in doses of one acetabulum, it relaxes the bowels.
It is applied as a liniment for bruises and for tooth-ache; and mixed
with honey and nitre, it imparts whiteness to the teeth. It has the
effect, also, of stopping bleeding at the nose.

A decoction of this plant, with barley-meal, is employed for
imposthumes of the parotid glands; and, beaten up with nut-galls and
honey, it is used for roughness of the trachea: the leaves of it, with
honey and salt, are good, too, for the spleen. Boiled with vinegar
and salt, and taken in small doses, it attenuates the phlegm, when
very thick and black; and beaten up with oil, it is injected into the
nostrils for jaundice. When persons are affected with lassitude, the
body is well rubbed with it, care being taken not to touch the abdomen.
Used with pitch, it is a cure for epinyctis, and, applied with a
roasted fig, it brings boils to a head. Employed with oil and vinegar,
and barley-meal, it is good for scrofulous swellings; and applied
topically in a fig, it is a cure for pains in the sides. Beaten up, and
applied with vinegar, it is employed as a liniment for bloody fluxes of
the generative organs, and it accelerates the lochial discharge after


Dittander[1621] is generally considered to rank among the caustic
plants. It is owing to this property that it clears the skin of the
face, not, however, without excoriating it; though, at the same time,
the excoriations are easily healed by employing wax and rose oil.
It is owing to this property, too, that it always removes, without
difficulty, leprous sores and itch-scabs, as well as the scars left
by ulcers. It is said, that in cases of tooth-ache, if this plant is
attached to the arm on the suffering side, it will have the effect of
drawing the pain to it.


Gith[1622] is by some Greek writers called “melanthion,”[1623] and by
others “melaspermon.”[1624] That is looked upon as the best which has
the most pungent odour and is the darkest in appearance. It is employed
as a remedy for wounds made by serpents and scorpions: I find that
for this purpose it is applied topically with vinegar and honey, and
that by burning it serpents are kept at a distance.[1625] It is taken,
also, in doses of one drachma for the bites of spiders. Beaten up, and
smelt at in a piece of linen cloth, it is a cure for running at the
nostrils; and, applied as a liniment with vinegar and injected into
the nostrils, it dispels head-ache. With oil of iris it is good for
defluxions and tumours of the eyes, and a decoction of it with vinegar
is a cure for tooth-ache. Beaten up and applied topically, or else
chewed, it is used for ulcers of the mouth, and combined with vinegar,
it is good for leprous sores and freckles on the skin. Taken in drink,
with the addition of nitre, it is good for hardness of breathing, and,
employed as a liniment, for indurations, tumours of long standing, and
suppurations. Taken several days in succession, it augments the milk in
women who are nursing.

The juice of this plant is collected[1626] in the same manner as that
of henbane; and, like it, if taken in too large doses, it acts as a
poison, a surprising fact, seeing that the seed is held in esteem as a
most agreeable seasoning for bread.[1627] The seed cleanses the eyes
also, acts as a diuretic, and promotes the menstrual discharge; and
not only this, but I find it stated also, that if thirty grains only
are attached to the body, in a linen cloth, it will have the effect of
accelerating the after-birth. It is stated, also, that beaten up in
urine, it is a cure for corns on the feet; and that when burnt it kills
gnats and flies with the smell.


Anise,[1628] too, one of the comparatively small number of plants
that have been commended by Pythagoras, is taken in wine, either raw
or boiled, for the stings of scorpions. Both green and dried, it is
held in high repute, as an ingredient in all seasonings and sauces,
and we find it placed beneath the under-crust of bread.[1629] Put with
bitter-almonds into the cloth strainers[1630] for filtering wine, it
imparts an agreeable flavour to the wine: it has the effect, also, of
sweetening the breath, and removing all bad odours from the mouth, if
chewed in the morning with smyrnion[1631] and a little honey, the mouth
being then rinsed with wine.

This plant imparts a youthful look[1632] to the features; and if
suspended to the pillow, so as to be smelt by a person when asleep, it
will prevent all disagreeable dreams. It has the effect of promoting
the appetite, also—for this, too, has been made by luxury one of
the objects of art, ever since labour has ceased to stimulate it.
It is for these various reasons that it has received the name of
“anicetum,”[1633] given to it by some.


The most esteemed anise is that of Crete, and, next to it, that of
Egypt. This plant is employed in seasonings to supply the place of
lovage; and the perfume of it, when burnt and inhaled, alleviates
headache. Evenor prescribes an application of the root, pounded, for
defluxions of the eyes; and Iollas employs it in a similar manner, in
combination with saffron and wine, or else beaten up by itself and
mixed with polenta, for violent defluxions and the extraction of such
objects as have got into the eyes: applied, too, as a liniment in
water, it arrests cancer of the nose. Mixed with hyssop and oxymel, and
employed as a gargle, it is a cure for quinsy; and, in combination with
rose oil, it is used as an injection for the ears. Parched anise purges
off phlegm from the chest, and, if taken with honey, it is better still.

For a cough, beat up fifty bitter almonds, shelled, in honey, with one
acetabulum of anise. Another very easy remedy, too, is to mix three
drachmæ of anise with two of poppies and some honey, a piece the size
of a bean being taken three times a-day. Its main excellence, however,
is as a carminative; hence it is that it is so good for flatulency of
the stomach, griping pains of the intestines, and cœliac affections. A
decoction of it, smelt at and drunk, arrests hiccup, and a decoction
of the leaves removes indigestion. A decoction of it with parsley, if
applied to the nostrils, will arrest sneezing. Taken in drink, anise
promotes sleep, disperses calculi of the bladder, arrests vomiting
and swelling of the viscera, and acts as an excellent pectoral for
affections of the chest, and of the diaphragm, where the body is
tightly laced. It is beneficial, also, to pour a decoction of it, in
oil, upon the head for head-ache.

It is generally thought that there is nothing in existence more
beneficial to the abdomen and intestines than anise; for which reason
it is given, parched, for dysentery and tenesmus. Some persons add
opium to these ingredients, and prescribe three pills a-day, the size
of a bean, with one cyathus of wine. Dieuches has employed the juice
of this plant for lumbago, and prescribes the seed of it, pounded with
mint, for dropsy and cœliac affections: Evenor recommends the root,
also, for affections of the kidneys. Dalion, the herbalist, employed
it, with parsley, as a cataplasm for women in labour, as also for pains
of the uterus; and, for women in labour, he prescribes a decoction of
anise and dill to be taken in drink. It is used as a liniment also
in cases of phrenitis, or else applied fresh gathered and mixed with
polenta; in which form it is used also for infants attacked with
epilepsy[1634] or convulsions. Pythagoras, indeed, assures us that
persons, so long as they hold this plant in the hand, will never be
attacked with epilepsy, for which reason, as much of it as possible
should be planted near the house; he says, too, that women who inhale
the odour of it have a more easy delivery, it being his advice also,
that, immediately after they are delivered, it should be given them to
drink, with a sprinkling of polenta.

Sosimenes employed this plant, in combination with vinegar, for all
kinds of indurations, and for lassitude he prescribes a decoction of it
in oil, with the addition of nitre. The same writer pledges his word to
all wayfarers, that, if they take aniseed in their drink, they will be
comparatively exempt from fatigue[1635] on their journey. Heraclides
prescribes a pinch of aniseed with three fingers, for inflations of
the stomach, to be taken with two oboli of castoreum[1636] in honied
wine; and he recommends a similar preparation for inflations of the
abdomen and intestines. In cases of orthopnœa, he recommends a pinch
of aniseed with three fingers, and the same quantity of henbane, to be
mixed in asses’-milk. It is the advice of many to those who are liable
to vomit,[1637] to take, at dinner, one acetabulum of aniseed and ten
laurel-leaves, the whole to be beaten up and drunk in water.

Anise, chewed and applied warm, or else taken with castoreum in oxymel,
allays suffocations of the uterus. It also dispels vertigo after
child-birth, taken with a pinch of cucumber seed in three fingers
and the same quantity of linseed, in three cyathi of white wine.
Tlepolemus has employed a pinch of aniseed and fennel in three fingers,
mixed with vinegar and one cyathus of honey, for the cure of quartan
fever. Applied topically with bitter almonds, aniseed is beneficial
for maladies of the joints. There are some persons who look upon it
as, by nature, an antidote to the venom of the asp. It is a diuretic,
assuages thirst, and acts as an aphrodisiac. Taken in wine, it promotes
a gentle perspiration, and it has the property of protecting cloth from
the ravages of moths. The more recently it has been gathered, and the
darker its colour, the greater are its virtues: still, however, it is
injurious to the stomach, except when suffering from flatulency.


Dill[1638] acts also as a carminative, allays gripings of the stomach,
and arrests looseness of the bowels. The roots of this plant are
applied topically in water, or else in wine, for defluxions of the
eyes. The seed of it, if smelt at while boiling, will arrest hiccup;
and, taken in water, it dispels indigestion. The ashes of it are a
remedy for swellings of the uvula; but the plant itself weakens the
eyesight and the generative powers.


The sacopenium which grows in Italy is totally different from that
which comes from beyond sea. This last, in fact, is similar to gum
ammoniac, and is known as “sagapenon.”[1639]

[1640]Sacopenium is good for pains of the sides and chest, for
convulsions, coughs of long standing, expectorations, and swellings of
the thoracic organs: it is a cure also for vertigo, palsy, opisthotony,
affections of the spleen and loins, and for shivering fits. For
suffocations of the uterus, this plant is given in vinegar to smell
at; in addition to which, it is sometimes administered in drink, or
employed as a friction with oil. It is a good antidote, also, for
medicaments of a noxious nature.


We have already[1641] stated that there are three varieties of the
cultivated poppy, and, on the same occasion, we promised to describe
the wild kinds. With reference to the cultivated varieties, the
calyx[1642] of the white[1643] poppy is pounded, and is taken in wine
as a soporific; the seed of it is a cure, also, for elephantiasis.
The black[1644] poppy acts as a soporific, by the juice which exudes
from incisions[1645] made in the stalk—at the time when the plant is
beginning to flower, Diagoras says; but when the blossom has gone off,
according to Iollas. This is done at the third[1646] hour, in a clear,
still, day, or, in other words, when the dew has thoroughly dried
upon the poppy. It is recommended to make the incision just beneath
the head and calyx of the plant; this being the only kind, in fact,
into the head of which the incision is made. This juice, like that
of any other plant, is received in wool;[1647] or else, if it is in
very minute quantities, it is scraped off with the thumb nail just
as it is from the lettuce, and so again on the following day, with
the portion that has since dried there. If obtained from the poppy
in sufficiently large quantities, this juice thickens, after which
it is kneaded out into lozenges, and dried in the shade. This juice
is possessed not only of certain soporific qualities, but, if taken
in too large quantities, is productive of sleep unto death even: the
name given to it is “opium.”[1648] It was in this way, we learn, that
the father of P. Licinius Cæcina, a man of Prætorian rank, put an end
to his life at Bavilum[1649] in Spain, an incurable malady having
rendered existence quite intolerable to him. Many other persons,
too, have ended their lives in a similar way. It is for this reason
that opium has been so strongly exclaimed against by Diagoras and
Erasistratus; for they have altogether condemned it as a deadly poison,
forbidding it to be used for infusions even, as being injurious to
the sight. Andreas says, in addition to this, that the only reason
why it does not cause instantaneous blindness, is the fact that they
adulterate it at Alexandria. In later times, however, the use of it
has not been disapproved of—witness the celebrated preparation known
as “diacodion.”[1650] Lozenges are also made of ground poppy-seed,
which are taken in milk as a soporific.[1651] The seed is employed,
too, with rose-oil for head-ache; and, in combination with that oil,
is injected into the ears for ear-ache. Mixed with woman’s milk, this
seed is used as a liniment for gout: the leaves, too, are employed in a
similar manner. Taken in vinegar, the seed is prescribed as a cure for
erysipelas and wounds.

For my own part, however, I do not approve of opium entering into the
composition of eye-salves,[1652] and still less of the preparations
from it known as febrifuges,[1653] digestives, and cœliacs: the black
poppy, however, is very generally prescribed, in wine, for cœliac
affections. All the cultivated[1654] poppies are larger than the
others, and the form of the head is round. In the wild poppy the head
is elongated and small, but it is possessed of more active[1655]
properties than the others in every respect. This head is often boiled,
and the decoction of it taken to promote sleep, the face being fomented
also with the water. The best poppies are grown in dry localities, and
where it seldom rains.

When the heads and leaves of the poppy are boiled together, the name
given to the decoction is “meconium;”[1656] it is much less powerful,
however, in its effects than opium.

The principal test[1657] of the purity of opium is the smell, which,
when genuine, is so penetrating as to be quite insupportable. The next
best test is that obtained by lighting it at a lamp; upon which it
ought to burn with a clear, brilliant flame, and to give out a strong
odour when extinguished; a thing that never happens when opium has been
drugged, for, in such case, it lights with the greatest difficulty,
and the flame repeatedly goes out. There is another way of testing
its genuineness, by water; for, if it is pure, it will float like a
thin cloud upon the surface, but, if adulterated, it will unite in the
form of blisters on the water. But the most surprising thing of all is
the fact, that the sun’s heat in summer furnishes a test; for, if the
drug is pure, it will sweat and gradually melt, till it has all the
appearance of the juice when fresh gathered.

Mnesides is of opinion that the best way of preserving opium is to mix
henbane seed with it; others, again, recommend that it should be kept
with beans.


The poppy which we have[1658] spoken of under the names of “rhœas”
and the “erratic” poppy, forms an intermediate variety between the
cultivated and the wild poppy; for it grows in the fields, it is true,
but it is self-set nevertheless. Some persons eat[1659] it, calyx and
all, immediately after it is gathered. This plant is an extremely
powerful purgative: five heads of it, boiled in three semi-sextarii of
wine, and taken in drink, have the effect of producing sleep.


There is one variety of wild poppy known as “ceratitis.”[1660] It is
of a black colour, a cubit in height, and has a thick root covered
with bark, with a head resembling a small bud, bent and pointed at
the end like a horn. The leaves of this plant are smaller and thinner
than those of the other wild poppies, and the seed, which is very
diminutive, is ripe at harvest. Taken with honied wine, in doses of
half an acetabulum, the seed acts as a purgative. The leaves, beaten up
in oil, are a cure for the white[1661] specks which form on the eyes of
beasts of burden. The root, boiled down to one half, in doses of one
acetabulum to two sextarii of water, is prescribed for maladies of the
loins and liver, and the leaves, employed with honey, are a cure for

Some persons give this kind of poppy the name of “glaucion,” and
others of “paralium,”[1662] for it grows, in fact, in spots exposed to
exhalations from the sea, or else in soils of a nitrous nature.


There is another kind[1663] of wild poppy, known as “heraclion”
by some persons, and as “aphron” by others. The leaves of it, when
seen from a distance, have all the appearance of sparrows;[1664] the
root lies on the surface of the ground, and the seed has exactly the
colour of foam.[1665] This plant is used for the purpose of bleaching
linen[1666] cloths in summer. It is bruised in a mortar for epilepsy,
being given in white wine, in doses of one acetabulum, and acting as an

This plant is extremely useful, also, for the composition of the
medicament known as “diacodion,”[1667] and “arteriace.” This
preparation is made with one hundred and twenty heads[1668] of this or
any other kind of wild poppy, steeped for two days in three sextarii of
rain water, after which they are boiled in it. You must then dry the
heads; which done, boil them down with honey to one half, at a slow
heat. More recently, there have been added to the mixture, six drachmæ
of saffron, hypocisthis,[1669] frankincense, and gum acacia, with one
sextarius of raisin wine of Crete. All this, however, is only so much
ostentation; for the virtue of this simple and ancient preparation
depends solely upon the poppy and the honey.


There is a third kind, again, called “tithymalon;”[1670] some persons
give it the name of “mecon,” others of “paralion.” It has a white leaf,
resembling that of flax, and a head the size of a bean. It is gathered
when the vine is in blossom, and dried in the shade. The seed, taken in
drink, purges the bowels, the dose being half an acetabulum, in honied
wine. The head of every species of poppy, whether green or dry, used as
a fomentation, assuages defluxions[1671] of the eyes. Opium, if taken
in pure wine immediately after the sting of a scorpion, prevents any
dangerous results. Some persons, however, attribute this virtue to the
black poppy only, the head or leaves being beaten up for the purpose.


There is a wild purslain,[1672] too, called “peplis,” not much superior
in its virtues to the cultivated[1673] kind, of which such remarkable
properties are mentioned. It neutralizes the effects, it is said, of
poisoned arrows, and the venom of the serpents known as hæmorrhois
and prester;[1674] taken with the food and applied to the wound, it
extracts the poison. The juice, too, they say, taken in raisin wine,
is an antidote for henbane. When the plant itself cannot be procured,
the seed of it is found to be equally efficacious. It is a corrective,
also, of impurities in water; and beaten up in wine and applied
topically, it is a cure for head-ache and ulcers of the head. Chewed in
combination with honey, it is curative of other kinds of sores. It is
similarly applied to the region of the brain in infants, and in cases
of umbilical hernia; as also for defluxions of the eyes, in persons of
all ages, being applied to the forehead and temples with polenta. If
employed as a liniment for the eyes, milk and honey are added, and when
used for proptosis[1675] of the eyes, the leaves are beaten up with
bean-shells. In combination with, polenta, salt, and vinegar, it is
employed as a fomentation for blisters.

Chewed raw, purslain reduces ulcerations of the mouth and gum-boils,
and cures tooth-ache; a decoction of it is good, too, for ulcers
of the tonsils. Some persons have added a little myrrh to it, when
so employed. Chewed, it strengthens such teeth as may happen to be
loose, dispels crudities, imparts additional strength to the voice,
and allays thirst. Used with nut-galls, linseed, and honey, in equal
proportions, it assuages pains in the neck; and, combined with honey
or Cimolian[1676] chalk, it is good for diseases of the mamillæ. The
seed of it, taken with honey, is beneficial for asthma. Eaten in
salads,[1677] this plant is very strengthening to the stomach. In
burning fevers, applications of it are made with polenta; in addition
to which, if chewed, it will cool and refresh the intestines. It
arrests vomiting, also, and for dysentery and abscesses, it is eaten
with vinegar, or else taken with cummin in drink: boiled, it is good
for tenesmus. Taken either in the food or drink, it is good for
epilepsy; and, taken in doses of one acetabulum in boiled wine,[1678]
it promotes the menstrual discharge. Employed, also, as a liniment with
salt, it is used as a remedy for fits of hot gout and erysipelas.

The juice of this plant, taken in drink, strengthens the kidneys
and bladder, and expels intestinal worms. In conjunction with oil,
it is applied, with polenta, to assuage the pain of wounds, and it
softens indurations of the sinews. Metrodorus, who wrote an Abridgment
of Botany,[1679] says that it should be given after delivery, to
accelerate the lochial discharge. It is also an antaphrodisiac, and
prevents the recurrence of lascivious dreams. One of the principal
personages of Spain, whose son has been Prætor, is in the habit of
carrying the root of it, to my knowledge, suspended by a string
from his neck, except when he is taking the bath, for an incurable
affection of the uvula; a precaution by which he has been spared all

I have found it stated, too, in some authors, that if the head is
rubbed with a liniment of this plant, there will be no defluxions
perceptible the whole year through. It is generally thought, however,
that purslain weakens the sight.


There is no wild coriander[1680] to be found; the best, it is generally
agreed, is that of Egypt. Taken in drink and applied to the wound, it
is a remedy for the sting[1681] of one kind of serpent, known as the
amphisbæna:[1682] pounded, it is healing also for other wounds, as well
as for epinyctis and blisters. Employed in the same state with honey
or raisins, it disperses all tumours and gatherings, and, beaten up in
vinegar, it removes abscesses of an inflammatory nature. Some persons
recommend three grains of it to be taken for tertian fevers, just
before the fit comes on, or else in larger quantities, to be bruised
and applied to the forehead. There are others, again, who think that it
is attended with excellent results, to put coriander under the pillow
before sunrise.

While green, it is possessed of very cooling and refreshing properties.
Combined with honey or raisins, it is an excellent remedy for spreading
ulcers, as also for diseases of the testes, burns, carbuncles, and
maladies of the ears. Applied with woman’s milk, it is good for
defluxions of the eyes; and for fluxes of the belly and intestines,
the seed is taken with water in drink; it is also taken in drink for
cholera, with rue. Coriander seed, used as a potion with pomegranate
juice and oil, expels worms in the intestines.

Xenocrates states a very marvellous fact, if true; he says, that if a
woman takes one grain of this seed, the menstrual discharge will be
retarded one day, if two grains, two days, and so on, according to the
number of grains taken. Marcus Varro is of opinion, that if coriander
is lightly pounded, and sprinkled over it with cummin and vinegar, all
kinds of meat may be kept in summer without spoiling.


Orage,[1683] again, is found both wild and cultivated. Pythagoras has
accused this plant of producing dropsy, jaundice, and paleness of the
complexion, and he says that it is extremely difficult of digestion.
He asserts, also, to its disparagement, that every thing that grows
near it in the garden is sure to be drooping and languid. Diocles and
Dionysius have added a statement, that it gives birth to numerous
diseases, and that it should never be boiled without changing the water
repeatedly; they say, too, that it is prejudicial to the stomach, and
that it is productive of freckles and pimples on the skin.

I am at a loss to imagine why Solo of Smyrna has stated that this plant
is cultivated in Italy with the greatest difficulty. Hippocrates[1684]
prescribes it with beet, as a pessary for affections of the uterus;
and Lycus of Neapolis recommends it to be taken in drink, in cases
of poisoning by cantharides. He is of opinion, also, that either
raw or boiled, it may be advantageously employed as a liniment for
inflammatory swellings, incipient boils, and all kinds of indurations;
and that, mixed with oxymel and nitre, it is good for erysipelas and
gout. This plant, it is said, will bring away mal-formed nails, without
producing sores. There are some persons who give orage-seed with honey
for jaundice, and rub the throat and tonsils with it, nitre being added
as well. They employ it, also, to purge the bowels, and use the seed,
boiled, as an emetic,[1685] either taken by itself, or in conjunction
with mallows or lentils.

Wild orage is used for dyeing the hair, as well as the other purposes
above enumerated.


Both kinds of mallows,[1686] on the other hand, the cultivated and the
wild, are held in very general esteem. These kinds are subdivided,
each of them, into two varieties, according to the size of the leaf.
The cultivated mallow with large leaves is known to the Greeks by the
name of “malope,”[1687] the other being called “malache,”[1688]—from
the circumstance, it is generally thought, that it relaxes[1689] the
bowels. The wild[1690] mallow, again, with large leaves and white
roots, is called “althæa,” and by some persons, on account of its
salutary properties, “plistolochia.”[1691] Every soil in which mallows
are sown, is rendered all the richer thereby. This plant is possessed
of remarkable virtues,[1692] as a cure for all kinds of stings,[1693]
those of scorpions, wasps, and similar insects, as well as the bite of
the shrew-mouse, more particularly; nay, what is even more than this,
if a person has been rubbed with oil in which any one of the mallows
has been beaten up, or even if he carries them on his person, he will
never be stung. A leaf of mallow put upon a scorpion, will strike it
with torpor.

The mallow is an antidote, also, against the poisonous effects of
white[1694] lead; and applied raw with saltpetre, it extracts all kinds
of pointed bodies from the flesh. A decoction of it with the root,
taken in drink, neutralizes the poison of the sea-hare,[1695] provided,
as some say, it is brought off the stomach by vomiting.

Other marvels are also related in connection with the mallow, but the
most surprising thing of all is, that if a person takes half a cyathus
of the juice of any one of them daily, he will be exempt from all
diseases.[1696] Left to putrefy in wine, mallows are remedial for
running sores of the head, and, mixed with honey, for lichens and
ulcerations of the mouth; a decoction of the root, too, is a remedy for
dandriff[1697] of the head and looseness of the teeth. With the root of
the mallow which has a single stem,[1698] it is a good plan to prick
the parts about a tooth when it aches, until the pain has ceased. With
the addition of human saliva, the mallow cleanses scrofulous sores,
imposthumes of the parotid glands, and inflammatory tumours, without
producing a wound. The seed of it, taken in red wine, disperses phlegm
and relieves nausea; and the root, attached to the person with black
wool, is a remedy for affections of the mamillæ. Boiled in milk, and
taken as a pottage, it cures a cough within five days.

Sextius Niger says that mallows are prejudicial to the stomach,
and Olympias, the Theban authoress, asserts that, employed with
goose-grease, they are productive of abortion. Some persons are of
opinion, that a good handful of the leaves, taken in oil and wine,
promotes the menstrual discharge. At all events, it is a well-known
fact, that if the leaves are strewed beneath a woman in labour, the
delivery will be accelerated; but they must be taken away immediately
after the birth, or prolapsus of the uterus will be the consequence.
Mallow-juice, also, is given to women in labour, a decoction of it
being taken fasting in wine, in doses of one hemina.

Mallow seed is attached to the arms of patients suffering from
spermatorrhœa; and, so naturally adapted is this plant for the
promotion of lustfulness, that the seed of the kind with a single stem,
sprinkled upon the genitals, will increase the sexual desire in males
to an infinite degree, according to Xenocrates; who says, too, that if
three roots are attached to the person, in the vicinity of those parts,
they will be productive of a similar result. The same writer informs us
also, that injections of mallows are good for tenesmus and dysentery,
and for maladies of the rectum even, if used as a fomentation only. The
juice is given warm to patients afflicted with melancholy, in doses
of three cyathi, and to insane persons[1699] in doses of four. One
hemina of the decoction is prescribed, also, for epilepsy.[1700] A warm
decoction of the juice is employed, too, as a fomentation for calculus,
flatulency, gripings of the stomach, and opisthotony. The leaves are
boiled, and applied with oil, as a poultice for erysipelas and burns,
and raw, with bread, to arrest inflammation in wounds. A decoction of
mallows is beneficial for affections of the sinews and bladder, and
for gnawing pains of the intestines; taken, too, as an aliment, or an
injection, they are relaxing to the uterus, and the decoction, taken
with oil, facilitates the passage of the urine.[1701]

The root of the althæa[1702] is even more efficacious for all the
purposes above enumerated, and for convulsions and ruptures more
particularly. Boiled in water, it arrests looseness of the bowels; and
taken in white wine, it is a cure for scrofulous sores, imposthumes
of the parotid glands, and inflammations of the mamillæ. A decoction
of the leaves in wine, applied as a liniment, disperses inflammatory
tumours; and the leaves, first dried, and then boiled in milk, are a
speedy cure for a cough, however inveterate. Hippocrates prescribes a
decoction of the root to be drunk by persons wounded or thirsty from
loss of blood, and the plant itself as an application to wounds, with
honey and resin. He also recommends it to be employed in a similar
manner for contusions, sprains, and tumours of the muscles, sinews, and
joints, and prescribes it to be taken in wine for asthma and dysentery.
It is a singular thing, that water in which this root has been put,
thickens when exposed in the open air, and congeals[1703] like ice.
The more recently, however, it has been taken up, the greater are the
virtues of the root.[1704]


Lapathum, too, has pretty nearly the same properties. There is a
wild[1705] variety, known to some as “oxalis,” very similar in taste
to the cultivated kind, with pointed leaves, a colour like that of
white beet, and an extremely diminutive root: our people call it
“rumex,”[1706] while others, again, give it the name of “lapathum
cantherinum.”[1707] Mixed with axle-grease, this plant is very
efficacious for scrofulous sores. There is another kind, again, hardly
forming a distinct variety, known as “oxylapathon,”[1708] which
resembles the cultivated kind even more than the last, though the
leaves are more pointed and redder: it grows only in marshy spots.
Some authors are found who speak of a “hydrolapathon,”[1709] which
grows in the water, they say. There is also another variety, known as
“hippolapathon,”[1710] larger than the cultivated kind, whiter, and
more compact.

The wild varieties of the lapathum are a cure[1711] for the stings
of scorpions, and protect those who carry the plant on their person
from being stung. A decoction of the root in vinegar, employed as a
gargle, is beneficial to the[1712] teeth, and if drunk, is a cure
for jaundice. The seed is curative of the most obstinate maladies
of the stomach.[1713] The root of hippolapathum, in particular, has
the property of bringing off malformed nails; and the seed, taken in
wine, in doses of two drachmæ, is a cure for dysentery. The seed of
oxylapathum, washed in rain-water, with the addition of a piece of
gum acacia, about the size of a lentil, is good for patients troubled
with spitting of blood.[1714] Most excellent lozenges are made of the
leaves and root of this plant, with the addition of nitre and a little
incense. When wanted for use, they are first steeped in vinegar.


As to garden lapathum,[1715] it is good in liniments on the forehead
for defluxions of the eyes. The root of it cures lichens and leprous
sores, and a decoction of it in wine is remedial for scrofulous
swellings, imposthumes of the parotid glands, and calculus of the
bladder. Taken in wine it is a cure for affections of the spleen, and
employed as a fomentation, it is equally good for cœliac affections,
dysentery, and tenesmus. For all these purposes, the juice of lapathum
is found to be even still more efficacious. It acts as a carminative
and diuretic, and dispels films on the eyes: put into the bath, or
else rubbed upon the body, without oil, before taking the bath, it
effectually removes all itching sensations. The root of it, chewed,
strengthens the teeth, and a decoction of it in wine arrests[1716]
looseness of the stomach: the leaves, on the other hand, relax it.

Not to omit any particulars, Solo has added to the above varieties a
bulapathon,[1717] which differs only from the others in the length of
the root. This root, taken in wine, is very beneficial for dysentery.


Mustard, of which we have mentioned[1718] three different kinds, when
speaking of the garden herbs, is ranked by Pythagoras among the very
first of those plants the pungency of which mounts upwards; for there
is none to be found more penetrating to the brain and nostrils.

Pounded with vinegar, mustard is employed as a liniment for the stings
of serpents and scorpions, and it effectually neutralizes the poisonous
properties of fungi. To cure an immoderate secretion of phlegm it is
kept in the mouth till it melts, or else it is mixed with hydromel,
and employed as a gargle. Mustard is chewed for tooth-ache, and is
taken as a gargle with oxymel for affections of the uvula; it is very
beneficial, also, for all maladies of the stomach. Taken with the food,
it facilitates expectoration[1719] from the lungs: it is given, too,
for asthma and epileptic fits, in combination with cucumber seed. It
has the effect of quickening the senses, and effectually clears the
head by sneezing, relaxes the stomach, and promotes the menstrual
discharge and the urinary secretions: beaten up with figs and cummin,
in the proportion of one-third of each ingredient, it is used as an
external application for dropsy.

Mixed with vinegar, mustard resuscitates by its powerful odour
persons who have swooned in fits of epilepsy or lethargy, as well
as females suffering from hysterical suffocations. For the cure of
lethargy tordylon is added—that being the name given to the seed of
hartwort[1720]—and if the lethargic sleep should happen to be very
profound, an application of it, with figs and vinegar, is made to the
legs, or to the head[1721] even. Used as an external application,
mustard is a cure for inveterate pains of the chest, loins, hips,
shoulders, and, in general, for all deep-seated pains in any part
of the body, raising blisters[1722] by its caustic properties. In
cases of extreme indurations of the skin, the mustard is applied, to
the part without figs; and a cloth is employed doubled, where it is
apprehended that it may burn too powerfully. It is used also, combined
with red-earth,[1723] for alopecy, itch-scabs, leprosy, phthiriasis,
tetanus, and opisthotony. They employ it also as a liniment with honey
for styes[1724] on the eyelids and films on the eyes.

The juices of mustard are extracted in three different ways, in earthen
vessels in which it is left to dry gradually in the sun. From the thin
stem of the plant there exudes also a milky juice,[1725] which when
thus hardened is remedial for tooth-ache. The seed and root, after
they have been left to steep in must, are beaten up together in a
mortar; and a good handful of the mixture is taken to strengthen[1726]
the throat, stomach, eyes, head, and all the senses. This mixture is
extremely good, too, for fits of lassitude in females, being one of
the most wholesome medicines in existence. Taken in vinegar, mustard
disperses calculi in the bladder; and, in combination with honey and
goose-grease, or else Cyprian wax, it is employed as a liniment for
livid spots and bruises. From the seed, first steeped in olive-oil, and
then subjected to pressure, an oil is extracted, which is employed for
rigidity of the sinews, and chills and numbness in the loins and hips.


It is said that adarca, of which we have already made mention[1727]
when speaking of the forest-trees, has a similar nature[1728] to that
of mustard, and is productive of the same effects: it grows upon the
outer coat of reeds, below the head.


Most medical writers have spoken in high terms of marrubium, or
horehound, as a plant of the very greatest utility. Among the Greeks,
it is called “prasion”[1729] by some, by others “linostrophon,”[1730]
and by others, again, “philopais”[1731] or “philochares:”[1732] it is a
plant too well known to require any description.[1733] The leaves[1734]
and seed beaten up, together, are good for the stings of serpents,
pains of the chest and side, and inveterate coughs. The branches, too,
boiled in water with panic,[1735] so as to modify its acridity, are
remarkably useful for persons troubled with spitting[1736] of blood.
Horehound is applied also, with grease, to scrofulous swellings.
Some persons recommend for a cough, a pinch of the fresh seed with
two fingers, boiled with a handful of spelt[1737] and a little oil
and salt, the mixture to be taken fasting. Others, again, regard as
quite incomparable for a similar purpose an extract of the juices
of horehound and fennel. Taking three sextarii of the extract, they
boil it down to two, and then add one sextarius of honey; after which
they again boil it down to two, and administer one spoonful of the
preparation daily, in one cyathus of water.

Beaten up with honey, horehound is particularly beneficial for
affections of the male organs; employed with vinegar, it cleanses
lichens, and is very salutary for ruptures, convulsions, spasms, and
contractions of the sinews. Taken in drink with salt and vinegar, it
relaxes the bowels, promotes the menstrual discharge, and accelerates
the after-birth. Dried, powdered, and taken with honey, it is
extremely efficacious for a dry cough, as also for gangrenes and
hang-nails.[1738] The juice, too, taken with honey, is good for the
ears and nostrils: it is a remedy also for jaundice, and diminishes the
bilious secretions. Among the few antidotes[1739] for poisons, it is
one of the very best known.

The plant itself, taken with iris and honey, purges the stomach and
promotes expectorations: it acts, also, as a strong diuretic, though,
at the same time, care must be taken not to use it when the bladder is
ulcerated and the kidneys are affected. It is said, too, that the juice
of horehound improves the eyesight. Castor speaks of two varieties of
it, the black horehound and the white, which last he considers to be
the best. He puts the juice of it into an empty eggshell, and then
mixes the egg with it, together with honey, in equal proportions:
this preparation used warm, he says, will bring abscesses to a head,
and cleanse and heal them. Beaten up, too, with stale axle-grease and
applied topically, he says, horehound is a cure for the bite of a dog.


Wild thyme, it is said, borrows its name, “serpyllum,” from the
fact that it is a creeping[1740] plant, a property peculiar to the
wild kind, that which grows in rocky places more particularly. The
cultivated[1741] thyme is not a creeping plant, but grows upwards, as
much a palm in height. That which springs up spontaneously, grows the
most luxuriantly, its leaves and branches being whiter than those of
the other kinds. Thyme is efficacious as a remedy for the stings of
serpents, the cenchris[1742] more particularly; also for the sting
of the scolopendra, both sea and land, the leaves and branches being
boiled for the purpose in wine. Burnt, it puts to flight all venomous
creatures by its smell, and it is particularly beneficial as an
antidote to the venom of marine animals.

A decoction of it in vinegar is applied for head-ache, with rose oil,
to the temples and forehead, as also for phrenitis and lethargy: it
is given, too, in doses of four drachmæ, for gripings of the stomach,
strangury, quinsy, and fits of vomiting. It is taken in water, also,
for liver complaints. The leaves are given in doses of four oboli, in
vinegar, for diseases of the spleen. Beaten up in two cyathi of oxymel,
it is used for spitting of blood.


Wild[1743] sisymbrium, by some persons called “thymbræum,” does not
grow beyond a foot in height. The kind[1744] which grows in watery
places, is similar to nasturtium, and they[1745] are both of them
efficacious for the stings of certain insects, such as hornets and
the like. That which grows in dry localities is odoriferous, and is
employed[1746] for wreaths: the leaf of it is narrower than in the
other kind. They both of them alleviate head-ache, and defluxions
of the eyes, Philinus says. Some persons, however, employ bread in
addition; while others, again, use a decoction of the plant by itself
in wine. It is a cure, also, for epinyctis, and removes spots on the
face in females, by the end of four days; for which purpose, it is
applied at night and taken off in the day-time. It arrests vomiting,
hiccup, gripings, and fluxes of the stomach, whether taken with the
food, or the juice extracted and given in drink.

This plant, however, should never be eaten by pregnant women, except
in cases where the fœtus is dead, for the very application of it is
sufficient to produce abortion. Taken with wine, it is diuretic, and
the wild variety expels calculi even. For persons necessitated to sit
up awake, an infusion of it in vinegar is applied as a liniment to the


Linseed[1747] is not only used in combination with other substances,
but, employed by itself, it disperses spots on the face in women: its
juice, too, is very beneficial to the sight. Combined with incense and
water, or else with myrrh and wine, it is a cure for defluxions of the
eyes, and employed with honey, grease, or wax, for imposthumes of the
parotid glands. Prepared[1748] like polenta, it is good for fluxes of
the stomach; and a decoction of it in water and oil, applied topically
with anise, is prescribed for quinsy. It is sometimes used parched,
also, to arrest looseness of the bowels, and applications of it are
used, with vinegar, for cœliac affections and dysentery. It is eaten
with raisins, also, for pains in the liver, and excellent electuaries
are made of it for the treatment of phthisis.

Linseed-meal, with the addition of nitre, salt, or ashes, softens
rigidities of the muscles, sinews, joints, and vertebræ, as well as of
the membranous tissues of the brain. Employed with figs, linseed-meal
ripens abscesses and brings them to a head: mixed with the root of
wild cucumber, it extracts[1749] all foreign bodies from the flesh, as
well as splinters of broken bones. A decoction of linseed-meal in wine
prevents ulcers from spreading, and mixed with honey, it is remedial
for pituitous eruptions. Used with nasturtium, in equal quantities, it
rectifies[1750] malformed nails; mixed with resin and myrrh, it cures
affections of the testes and hernia,[1751] and with water, gangrenous
sores. A decoction of linseed-meal with fenugreek, in the proportion
of one sextarius of each, in hydromel, is recommended for pains in
the stomach; and employed as an injection, with oil or honey, it is
beneficial for dangerous affections of the chest and intestines.


Blite[1752] seems to be a plant of an inert nature, without flavour or
any pungency whatever; hence it is that, in Menander, we find husbands
giving this name to their wives, by way of[1753] reproach. It is[1754]
prejudicial to the stomach, and disturbs the bowels to such a degree,
as to cause cholera in some. It is stated, however, that, taken in
wine, it is good for the stings of scorpions; and that it is sometimes
used as a liniment for corns on the feet, and, with oil, for affections
of the spleen and pains in the temples. Hippocrates is of opinion, that
if taken with the food,[1755] it will arrest the menstrual discharge.


Meum[1756] is never cultivated in Italy except by medical men, and
by very few of those. There are two varieties of it, the finer kind
being known as “athamanticum,” because, according to some, it was
first discovered by Athamas; or else because, as others think, that
of the best quality is found upon Mount Athamas.[1757] The leaf of it
is similar to that of dill, and the stem is sometimes as much as two
cubits in length: the roots, which run obliquely, are numerous and
mostly black, though sometimes white: it is not of so red a hue as the
other kind.

The root of this plant, pounded or boiled, and taken in water, is
diuretic, and is marvellously efficacious for dispelling flatulency of
the stomach. It is good, too, for gripings of the bowels and affections
of the bladder: applied with honey to the region of the uterus, it
acts as a diuretic; and used as a liniment with parsley, upon the lower
regions of the abdomen in infants, it has a similar effect.


Fennel has been rendered famous by the serpent, which tastes it,
as already[1758] stated, when it casts its old skin, and sharpens
its sight with the juice of this plant: a fact which has led to the
conclusion that this juice must be beneficial, also, in a high degree
to the human sight. Fennel-juice is gathered when the stem is swelling
with the bud; after which it is dried in the sun and applied as an
ointment with honey. This plant is to be found in all parts of the
world. The most esteemed preparation from it, is that made in Iberia,
from the tear-like drops which exude[1759] from the stalk and the seed
fresh-gathered. The juice is extracted, also, from incisions made in
the root at the first germination of the plant.


There is, also, a wild[1760] variety of fennel, known by some persons
as “hippomarathron,” and by others as “myrsineum;” it has a larger
leaf and a more acrid taste than the other kind. It is taller, also,
about the thickness of a walking-stick, and has a white root: it grows
in warm, but stony localities. Diocles speaks, too, of another[1761]
variety of hippomarathron, with a long narrow leaf, and a seed like
that of coriander.

The seed of the cultivated fennel is medicinally employed in wine,
for the stings of scorpions and serpents, and the juice of it,
injected into the ears, has the effect of destroying small worms that
breed there. Fennel is employed as an ingredient in nearly all our
seasonings,[1762] vinegar[1763] sauces more particularly: it is placed
also beneath the undercrust of bread. The seed, in fevers even, acts
as an astringent upon a relaxed stomach, and beaten up with water, it
allays nausea: it is highly esteemed, also, for affections of the lungs
and liver. Taken in moderate quantities, it arrests looseness of the
bowels, and acts as a diuretic; a decoction of it is good for gripings
of the stomach, and taken in drink, it restores the milk. The root,
taken in a ptisan,[1764] purges the kidneys—an effect which is equally
produced by a decoction of the juice or of the seed; the root is good
too, boiled in wine, for dropsy and convulsions. The leaves are applied
to burning tumours, with vinegar, expel calculi of the bladder, and act
as an aphrodisiac.

In whatever way it is taken in drink, fennel has the property of
promoting the secretion of the seminal fluids; and it is extremely
beneficial to the generative organs, whether a decoction of the root
in wine is employed as a fomentation, or whether it is used beaten up
in oil. Many persons apply fennel with wax to tumours and bruises, and
employ the root, with the juice of the plant, or else with honey, for
the bites of dogs, and with wine for the stings of multipedes.

Hippomarathron is more efficacious, in every respect, than cultivated
fennel;[1765] it expels calculi more particularly, and, taken with
weak wine, is good for the bladder and irregularities of the menstrual

In this plant, the seed is more efficacious than the root; the dose of
either of them being a pinch with two fingers, beaten up, and mixed
with the usual drink. Petrichus, who wrote a work “On Serpents,”[1766]
and Micton, who wrote a treatise “On[1767] Botany,” are of opinion that
there is nothing in existence of greater efficacy against serpents than
hippomarathron: indeed, Nicander[1768] has ranked it by no means among
the lowest of antidotes.


Hemp originally grew in the forests,[1769] where it is found
with a blacker and rougher leaf than in the other[1770] kinds.
Hempseed,[1771] it is said, renders men impotent: the juice of this
seed will extract worms from the ears, or any insect which may have
entered them, though at the cost of producing head-ache. The virtues
of hemp, it is said, are so great, that an infusion of it in water
will cause it to coagulate:[1772] hence it is, that if taken in water,
it will arrest looseness in beasts of burden. A decoction of the root
in water, relaxes contractions of the joints, and cures gout and
similar maladies. It is applied raw to burns, but it must be frequently
changed, so as not to let it dry.


Fennel-giant[1773] has a seed similar to that of dill. That which has
a single stem, bifurcated[1774] at the top, is generally thought to be
the female plant. The stalks of it are eaten boiled;[1775] and, pickled
in brine and honey, they are recommended as particularly beneficial to
the stomach;[1776] if taken, however, in too large quantities, they
are apt to produce head-ache. The root of it in doses of one denarius
to two cyathi of wine, is used in drink for the stings of serpents,
and the root itself is applied topically for the same purpose, as also
for the cure of gripings of the stomach. Taken in oil and vinegar, it
is used as a check for excessive perspirations, in fevers even. The
inspissated juice of fennel-giant, taken in quantities the size of a
bean, acts as a purgative;[1777] and the pith[1778] of it is good for
the uterus, as well as all the maladies previously mentioned. To arrest
hæmorrhage, ten of the seeds are taken in drink, bruised in wine, or
else with the pith of the plant. There are some persons who think that
the seed should be administered for epilepsy, from the fourth to the
seventh day of the moon, in doses of one spoonful.

Fennel-giant is naturally so inimical to the muræna, that the very
touch of it even will kill that fish. Castor was of opinion that the
juice of the root is extremely beneficial to the sight.


We have already[1779] spoken, when treating of the garden plants, of
the cultivation of the thistle; we may as well, therefore, not delay
to mention its medicinal properties. Of wild thistles there are two
varieties; one[1780] of which throws out numerous stalks immediately
it leaves the ground, the other[1781] being thicker, and having but a
single stem. They have, both of them, a few leaves only, and covered
with prickles, the head of the plant being protected by thorny points:
the last mentioned, however, puts forth in the middle of these points a
purple blossom, which turns white with great rapidity, and is carried
off by the wind; the Greeks give it the name of “scolymos.”

This plant, gathered before it blossoms, and beaten up and subjected to
pressure, produces a juice, which, applied to the head, makes the hair
grow again when it has fallen off through alopecy. The root of either
kind, boiled in water, creates thirst, it is said, in those who drink
it. It strengthens the stomach also, and if we are to believe what is
said, has some influence upon the womb in promoting the conception of
male offspring: at all events, Glaucias, who seems to have paid the
most attention to the subject, has written to that effect. The thin
juice, like mastich, which exudes from these plants, imparts sweetness
to the breath.


But as we are now about to leave the garden plants, we will take
this opportunity of describing a very famous preparation extracted
from them as an antidote against the stings of all kinds of venomous
animals: it is inscribed in verse[1782] upon a stone in the Temple of
Æsculapius at Cos.

Take two denarii of wild thyme, and the same quantity of opopanax
and meum respectively; one denarius of trefoil seed; and of aniseed,
fennel-seed, ammi, and parsley, six denarii respectively, with twelve
denarii of meal of fitches. Heat up these ingredients together, and
pass them through a sieve; after which they must be kneaded with
the best wine that can be had, and then made into lozenges of one
victoriatus[1783] each: one of these is to be given to the patient,
steeped in three cyathi of wine. King Antiochus[1784] the Great, it
is said, employed this theriaca[1785] against all kinds of venomous
animals, the asp excepted.

SUMMARY.—Remarkable facts, narratives, and observations, one thousand,
five hundred, and six.

ROMAN AUTHORS QUOTED.—Cato[1786] the Censor, M. Varro,[1787] Pompeius
Lenæus,[1788] C. Valgius,[1789] Hyginus,[1790] Sextius Niger[1791] who
wrote in Greek, Julius Bassus[1792] who wrote in Greek, Celsus,[1793]
Antonius Castor.[1794]

FOREIGN AUTHORS QUOTED.—Democritus,[1795] Theophrastus,[1796]
Orpheus,[1797] Menander[1798] who wrote the “Biochresta,”
Pythagoras,[1799] Nicander.[1800]

MEDICAL AUTHORS QUOTED.—Chrysippus,[1801] Diocles,[1802]
Ophelion,[1803] Heraclides,[1804] Hicesius,[1805] Dionysius,[1806]
Apollodorus[1807] of Citium, Apollodorus[1808] of Tarentum,
Praxagoras,[1809], Plistonicus,[1810] Medius,[1811] Dieuches,[1812]
Cleophantus,[1813] Philistion,[1814] Asclepiades,[1815] Crateuas,[1816]
Petronius Diodotus,[1817] Iollas,[1818] Erasistratus,[1819]
Diagoras,[1820] Andreas,[1821] Mnesides,[1822] Epicharmus,[1823]
Damion,[1824] Dalion,[1825] Sosimenes,[1826] Tlepolemus,[1827],
Metrodorus,[1828] Solo,[1829] Lycus,[1830] Olympias[1831] of Thebes,
Philinus,[1832] Petrichus,[1833] Micton,[1834] Glaucias,[1835]




Cato has recommended that flowers for making chaplets should also be
cultivated in the garden; varieties remarkable for a delicacy which
it is quite impossible to express, inasmuch as no individual can find
such facilities for describing them as Nature does for bestowing on
them their numerous tints—Nature, who here in especial shows herself
in a sportive mood, and takes a delight in the prolific display of her
varied productions. The other[1837] plants she has produced for our use
and our nutriment, and to them accordingly she has granted years and
even ages of duration: but as for the flowers and their perfumes, she
has given them birth for but a day—a mighty lesson to man, we see, to
teach him that that which in its career is the most beauteous and the
most attractive to the eye, is the very first to fade and die.

Even the limner’s art itself possesses no resources for reproducing
the colours of the flowers in all their varied tints and combinations,
whether we view them in groups alternately blending their hues, or
whether arranged in festoons, each variety by[1838] itself, now
assuming a circular form, now running obliquely, and now disposed
in a spiral pattern; or whether, as we see sometimes, one wreath is
interwoven within another.


The ancients used chaplets of diminutive size, called “struppi;”[1839]
from which comes our name for a chaplet, “strophiolum.” Indeed, it was
only by very slow degrees that this last word[1840] became generalized,
as the chaplets that were used at sacrifices, or were granted as the
reward of military valour, asserted their exclusive right to the name
of “corona.” As for garlands, when they came to be made of flowers,
they received the name of “serta,” from the verb “sero,”[1841] or else
from our word “series.”[1842] The use[1843] of flowers for garlands is
not so very ancient, among the Greeks even.


For in early times it was the usage to crown the victors in the
sacred contests with branches of trees: and it was only at a later
period, that they began to vary their tints by the combination[1844]
of flowers, to heighten the effect in turn by their colour and their
smell—an invention due to the ingenuity of the painter Pausias, at
Sicyon,[1845] and the garland-maker Glycera, a female to whom he
was greatly attached, and whose handiwork was imitated by him in
colours. Challenging him to a trial of skill, she would repeatedly
vary her designs, and thus it was in reality a contest between art
and Nature; a fact which we find attested by pictures of that artist
even still in existence, more particularly the one known as the
“Stephaneplocos,”[1846] in which he has given a likeness of Glycera
herself. This invention, therefore, is only to be traced to later than
the Hundredth[1847] Olympiad.

Chaplets of flowers being now the fashion, it was not long before those
came into vogue which are known to us as Egyptian[1848] chaplets; and
then the winter chaplets, made for the time at which Earth refuses
her flowers, of thin laminæ of horn stained various colours. By slow
degrees, too, the name was introduced at Rome, these garlands being
known there at first as “corollæ,” a designation given them to express
the remarkable delicacy[1849] of their texture. In more recent times,
again, when the chaplets presented were made of thin plates[1850] of
copper, gilt or silvered, they assumed the name of “corollaria.”


Crassus Dives[1851] was the first who gave chaplets with artificial
leaves of silver and gold, at the games celebrated by him. To embellish
these chaplets, and to confer additional honour on them, lemnisci were
added, in imitation of the Etruscan chaplets, which ought properly to
have none but lemnisci[1852] made of gold. For a long period these
lemnisci were destitute of ornament:[1853] P. Claudius Pulcher[1854]
was the first who taught us to emboss[1855] them, and added leaves of
tinsel to the laminæ[1856] of which the lemniscus was formed.


Chaplets, however, were always held in a high degree of estimation,
those even which were acquired at the public games. For it was the
usage of the citizens to go down in person to take part in the
contests of the Circus, and to send their slaves and horses thither
as well. Hence it is that we find it thus written in the laws of the
Twelve Tables: “If any person has gained a chaplet himself, or by
his money,[1857] let the same be given to him as the reward of his
prowess.” There is no doubt that by the words “gained by his money,”
the laws meant a chaplet which had been gained by his slaves or
horses. Well then, what was the honour acquired thereby? It was the
right secured by the victor, for himself and for his parents, after
death, to be crowned without fail, while the body was laid out in the
house,[1858] and on its being carried[1859] to the tomb.

On other occasions, chaplets were not indiscriminately worn, not even
those which had been won in the games.


Indeed the rules upon this point were remarkably severe. L. Fulvius, a
banker,[1860] having been accused, at the time of the Second Punic War,
of looking down from the balcony[1861] of his house upon the Forum,
with a chaplet of roses upon his head, was imprisoned by order of the
Senate, and was not liberated before the war was brought to a close. P.
Munatius, having placed upon his head a chaplet of flowers taken from
the statue of Marsyas,[1862] was condemned by the Triumviri to be put
in chains. Upon his making appeal to the tribunes of the people, they
refused to intercede in his behalf—a very different state of things to
that at Athens, where the young men,[1863] in their drunken revelry,
were in the habit, before midday, of making their way into the very
schools of the philosophers even. Among ourselves, no such instance of
a similar licentiousness is to be found, unless, indeed, in the case of
the daughter[1864] of the late Emperor Augustus, who, in her nocturnal
debaucheries, placed a chaplet on the statue[1865] of Marsyas, conduct
deeply deplored in the letters of that god.[1866]


Scipio is the only person that ever received from the Roman people
the honour of being decked with flowers. This Scipio received the
surname of Serapio,[1867] from his remarkable resemblance to a certain
person of that name who dealt in pigs. He died in his tribuneship,
greatly beloved by the people, and in every way worthy of the family
of the Africani. The property he left was not sufficient to pay the
expenses of his burial; upon which the people made a subscription and
contracted[1868] for his funeral, flowers being scattered upon the body
from every possible quarter[1869] as it was borne along.


In those days, too, chaplets were employed in honour of the gods,
the Lares, public as well as domestic, the sepulchres,[1870] and the
Manes. The highest place, however, in public estimation, was held by
the plaited chaplet; such as we find used by the Salii in their sacred
rites, and at the solemnization of their yearly[1871] banquets. In
later times, the rose chaplet has been adopted, and luxury arose at
last to such a pitch that a chaplet was held in no esteem at all if it
did not consist entirely of leaves sown together with the needle. More
recently, again, they have been imported from India, or from nations
beyond the countries of India.

But it is looked upon as the most refined of all, to present chaplets
made of nard leaves, or else of silk of many colours steeped in
unguents. Such is the pitch to which the luxuriousness of our women has
at last arrived!


Among the Greeks, the physicians Mnesitheus and Callimachus have
written separate treatises on the subject of chaplets, making mention
of such flowers as are injurious to the head.[1872] For, in fact,
the health is here concerned to some extent, as it is at the moments
of carousal and gaiety in particular that penetrating odours steal
insidiously upon the brain—witness an instance in the wicked cunning
displayed upon one occasion by Cleopatra.

At the time when preparations were making for the battle that was
eventually fought at Actium, Antonius held the queen in such extreme
distrust as to be in dread of her very attentions even, and would
not so much as touch his food, unless another person had tasted it
first. Upon this, the queen, it is said, wishing to amuse herself with
his fears, had the extremities of the flowers in a chaplet dipped
in poison, and then placed it upon her head.[1873] After a time, as
the hilarity increased apace, she challenged Antonius to swallow the
chaplets, mixed up with their drink. Who, under such circumstances
as these, could have apprehended treachery? Accordingly, the leaves
were stripped from off the chaplet, and thrown into the cup. Just as
Antonius was on the very point of drinking, she arrested his arm with
her hand.—“Behold, Marcus Antonius,” said she, “the woman against whom
you are so careful to take these new precautions of yours in employing
your tasters! And would then, if I could exist without you, either
means or opportunity of effecting my purpose be wanting to me?” Saying
this, she ordered a man to be brought from prison, and made him drink
off the potion; he did so, and fell dead[1874] upon the spot.

Besides the two authors above-mentioned, Theophrastus,[1875] among the
Greeks, has written on the subject of flowers. Some of our own writers
also have given the title of “Anthologica” to their works, but no one,
to my knowledge at least, has treated expressly[1876] of flowers. In
fact, we ourselves have no intention here of discussing the mode of
wearing chaplets, for that would be frivolous[1877] indeed; but shall
proceed to state such particulars in relation to flowers as shall
appear to us deserving of remark.


The people of our country were acquainted with but very few garland
flowers among the garden plants, and those few hardly any but the
violet and the rose. The plant which bears the rose is, properly
speaking, more of a thorn than a shrub—indeed, we sometimes find it
growing on a bramble[1878] even; the flower having, even then, a
pleasant smell, though by no means penetrating. The flower in all roses
is originally enclosed in a bud,[1879] with a grained surface within,
which gradually swells, and assumes the form of a green pointed cone,
similar to our alabaster[1880] unguent boxes in shape. Gradually
acquiring a ruddy tint, this bud opens little by little, until at
last it comes into full blow, developing the calyx, and embracing the
yellow-pointed filaments which stand erect in the centre of it.

The employment of the rose in chaplets is, so to say, the least[1881]
use that is made of it. The flower is steeped in oil, a practice which
has prevailed from the times of the Trojan war, as Homer[1882] bears
witness; in addition to which, it now forms an ingredient in our
unguents, as mentioned on a previous occasion.[1883] It is employed
also by itself for certain medicinal purposes, and is used in plasters
and eye-salves[1884] for its penetrating qualities: it is used, also,
to perfume the delicacies of our banquets, and is never attended with
any noxious results.

The most esteemed kinds of rose among us are those of Præneste[1885]
and Campania.[1886] Some persons have added to these varieties the rose
of Miletus,[1887] the flower of which is an extremely brilliant red,
and has never more than a dozen petals. The next to it is the rose of
Trachyn,[1888] not so red as the last, and then that of Alabanda,[1889]
with whitish petals, but not so highly esteemed. The least esteemed
of all, however, is the thorn rose,[1890] the petals of which are
numerous, but extremely small. The essential points of difference
in the rose are the number[1891] of the petals, the comparative
number[1892] of thorns on the stem, the colour, and the smell. The
number of the petals, which is never less than five, goes on increasing
in amount, till we find one variety with as many as a hundred, and
thence known as the “centifolia:”[1893] in Italy, it is to be found in
Campania, and in Greece, in the vicinity of Philippi, though this last
is not the place of its natural[1894] growth. Mount Pangæeus,[1895] in
the same vicinity, produces a rose with numerous petals of diminutive
size: the people of those parts are in the habit of transplanting it, a
method which greatly tends to improve its growth. This kind, however,
is not remarkable for its smell, nor yet is the rose which has a
very large or very broad petal: indeed, we may state in a few words,
that the best proof of the perfume of the flower is the comparative
roughness of the calyx.[1896]

Cæpio, who lived in the reign of the Emperor Tiberius, asserts
that the centifolia is never employed for chaplets, except at the
extreme[1897] points of union as it were, being remarkable neither for
its smell[1898] nor its beauty. There is another variety of rose,
too, called the “Grecian” rose by our people, and “lychnis”[1899] by
the Greeks: it grows nowhere except in humid soils, and has never
more than five petals: it does not exceed the violet in size, and is
destitute of smell. There is another kind, again, known to us as the
“Græcula”[1900] the petals of which are tightly rolled together, and
which never open except when pressed in the hand, it having always the
appearance, in fact, of being in bud: the petals of it are remarkably
large. Another kind, again, springs from a stem like that of the
mallow, the leaves being similar to those of the olive—the name given
to it is “macetum.”[1901] There is the rose of autumn, too, known to
us as the “coroniola,”[1902] which is of a middle size, between the
varieties just mentioned. All these kinds, however, are destitute of
smell, with the exception of the coroniola, and the one which grows
on the bramble:[1903] so extended is the scope for fictitious[1904]

And, indeed, the genuine rose, for the most part, is indebted for its
qualities to the nature of the soil. That of Cyrenæ[1905] is the most
odoriferous of all, and hence it is that the unguents of that place are
so remarkably fine: at Carthage, again, in Spain, there are early[1906]
roses throughout all the winter. The temperature, too, of the climate
is not without its influence: for in some years we find the roses much
less odoriferous than in others; in addition to which, their smell
is always more powerful when grown in dry soils[1907] than in humid
ones. The rose does not admit of being planted in either a rich or an
argillaceous soil, nor yet on irrigated land; being contented with a
thin, light earth, and more particularly attached to ground on which
old building rubbish has been laid.

The rose of Campania is early, that of Miletus late, but it is the rose
of Præneste that goes off the very latest of all. For the rose, the
ground is generally dug to a greater depth than it is for corn, but not
so deep as for the vine. It grows but very slowly[1908] from the seed,
which is found in the calyx beneath the petals of the flower, covered
with a sort of down; hence it is that the method of grafting is usually
the one preferred, or else propagation from the eyes of the root, as in
the reed.[1909] One kind is grafted, which bears a pale flower, with
thorny branches of a remarkable length; it belongs to the quinquefolia
variety, being one of the Greek roses.[1910] All roses are improved by
being pruned and cauterized; transplanting, too, makes them grow, like
the vine, all the better, and with the greatest rapidity. The slips are
cut some four fingers in length or more, and are planted immediately
after the setting of the Vergiliæ; then, while the west winds are
prevalent, they are transplanted at intervals of a foot, the earth
being frequently turned up about them.

Persons whose object it is to grow early roses, make a hole a foot in
width about the root, and pour warm water into it, at the period when
the buds are beginning to put forth.[1911]


The lily holds the next highest rank after the rose, and has a certain
affinity[1912] with it in respect of its unguent and the oil extracted
from it, which is known to us as “lirinon.”[1913] Blended, too, with
roses, the lily[1914] produces a remarkably fine effect; for it begins
to make its appearance, in fact, just as the rose is in the very middle
of its season. There is no flower that grows to a greater height than
the lily, sometimes, indeed, as much as three cubits; the head of it
being always drooping, as though the neck of the flower were unable
to support its weight. The whiteness of the lily is quite remarkable,
the petals being striated on the exterior; the flower is narrow at the
base, and gradually expanding in shape like a tapering[1915] cup with
the edges curving outwards, the fine pistils of the flower, and the
stamens with their antheræ of a saffron colour, standing erect in the
middle.[1916] Hence the perfume of the lily, as well as its colour, is
two-fold, there being one for the petals and another for the stamens.
The difference, however, between them is but very small, and when the
flower is employed for making lily unguents and oils, the petals are
never rejected.

There is a flower, not unlike the lily, produced by the plant known
to us as the “convolvulus.”[1917] It grows among shrubs, is totally
destitute of smell, and has not the yellow antheræ of the lily within:
only vying with it in its whiteness, it would almost appear to be the
rough sketch[1918] made by Nature when she was learning how to make
the lily. The white lily is propagated in all the various ways which
are employed for the cultivation of the rose,[1919] as also by means
of a certain tearlike gum[1920] which belongs to it, similarly to
hipposelinum[1921] in fact: indeed, there is no plant that is more
prolific than this, a single root often giving birth to as many as
fifty bulbs.[1922] There is, also, a red lily, known by the name
of “crinon”[1923] to the Greeks, though there are some authors who
call the flower of it “cynorrodon.”[1924] The most esteemed are
those of Antiochia and Laodicea in Syria, and next to them that of
Phaselis.[1925] To the fourth rank belongs the flower that grows in


There is a purple[1926] lily, too, which sometimes has a double stem;
it differs only from the other lilies in having a more fleshy root and
a bulb of larger size, but undivided:[1927] the name given to it is
“narcissus.”[1928] A second variety of this lily has a white flower,
with a purple corolla. There is also this difference between the
ordinary lily and the narcissus, that in the latter the leaves spring
from the root of the plant. The finest are those which grow on the
mountains of Lycia. A third variety is similar to the others in every
respect, except that the corolla of the plant is green. They are all of
them late[1929] flowers: indeed, they only bloom after the setting of
Arcturus,[1930] and at the time of the autumnal equinox.


There has been invented[1931] also a method of tinting the lily,
thanks to the taste of mankind for monstrous productions. The dried
stalks[1932] of the lily are tied together in the month of July, and
hung up in the smoke: then, in the following March, when the small
knots[1933] are beginning to disclose themselves, the stalks are left
to steep in the lees of black or Greek wine, in order that they may
contract its colour, and are then planted out in small trenches, some
semi-sextarii of wine-lees being poured around them. By this method
purple lilies are obtained, it being a very remarkable thing that we
should be able to dye a plant to such a degree as to make it produce a
coloured flower.


Next after the roses and the lilies, the violet is held in the highest
esteem: of this there are several varieties, the purple,[1934] the
yellow, and the white, all of them reproduced from plants, like the
cabbage. The purple violet, which springs up spontaneously in sunny
spots, with a thin, meagre soil, has larger petals than the others,
springing immediately from the root, which is of a fleshy substance.
This violet has a name, too, distinct from the other wild kinds, being
called “ion,”[1935] and from it the ianthine[1936] cloth takes its name.

Among the cultivated kinds, the yellow[1937] violet is held in
the greatest esteem. The Tusculan violet, and that known as the
“marine”[1938] violet, have petals somewhat broader than the others,
but not so odoriferous; the Calatian[1939] violet, too, which has a
smaller leaf, is entirely destitute of smell. This last is a present to
us from the autumn, the others from the spring.


Next to it comes the caltha, the flowers of which are of similar colour
and size;[1940] in the number of its petals, however, it surpasses the
marine violet, the petals of which are never more than five in number.
The marine violet is surpassed, too, by the other in smell; that of the
caltha being very powerful. The smell, too, is no less powerful in the
plant known as the “scopa regia;”[1941] but there it is the leaves of
the plant, and not the flowers, that are odoriferous.


The bacchar,[1942] too, by some persons known as “field nard,” is
odoriferous in the root only. In former times, it was the practice to
make unguents of this root, as we learn from the poet Aristophanes, a
writer of the Ancient Comedy; from which circumstance some persons have
erroneously given the name of “exotic”[1943] to the plant. The smell of
it strongly resembles that of cinnamomum; and the plant grows in thin
soils, which are free from all humidity.

The name of “combretum”[1944] is given to a plant that bears a very
strong resemblance to it, the leaves of which taper to the fineness of
threads; in height, however, it is taller than the bacchar. These are
the only[1945] * * * * The error, however, ought to be corrected, on
the part of those who have bestowed upon the bacchar the name of “field
nard;” for that in reality is the surname given to another plant, known
to the Greeks as “asaron,” the description and features of which we
have already[1946] mentioned, when speaking of the different varieties
of nard. I find, too, that the name of “asaron” has been given to this
plant, from the circumstance of its never[1947] being employed in the
composition of chaplets.


The wild saffron[1948] is the best; indeed, in Italy it is of no use
whatever to attempt to propagate it, the produce of a whole bed of
saffron being boiled down to a single scruple; it is reproduced by
offsets from the bulb. The cultivated saffron is larger, finer, and
better looking than the other kinds, but has much less efficacy. This
plant is everywhere degenerating,[1949] and is far from prolific at
Cyrenæ even, a place where the flowers are always of the very finest
quality. The most esteemed saffron, however, is that of Cilicia, and
there of Mount Corycus in particular; next comes the saffron of Mount
Olympus, in Lycia, and then of Centuripa, in Sicily; some persons,
however, have given the second rank to the Phlegræan[1950] saffron.

There is nothing so much adulterated[1951] as saffron: the best proof
of its goodness is when it snaps under pressure by the fingers, as
though it were friable;[1952] for when it is moist, a state which it
owes to being adulterated, it is limp, and will not snap asunder.
Another way of testing it, again, is to apply it with the hand to
the face, upon which, if good, it will be found to be slightly
caustic to the face and eyes. There is a peculiar kind, too, of
cultivated saffron, which is in general extremely mild, being only of
middling[1953] quality; the name given to it is “dialeucon.”[1954] The
saffron of Cyrenaica, again, is faulty in the opposite extreme; for it
is darker than any other kind, and is apt to spoil very quickly. The
best saffron everywhere is that which is of the most unctuous quality,
and the filaments of which are the shortest; the worst being that which
emits a musty smell.

Mucianus informs us that in Lycia, at the end of seven or eight years,
the saffron is transplanted into a piece of ground which has been
prepared for the purpose, and that in this way it is prevented from
degenerating. It is never[1955] used for chaplets, being a plant with
an extremely narrow leaf, as fine almost as a hair; but it combines
remarkably well with wine, sweet wine in particular. Reduced to a
powder, it is used to perfume[1956] the theatres.

Saffron blossoms about the setting of the Vergiliæ, for a few
days[1957] only, the leaf expelling the flower. It is verdant[1958] at
the time of the winter solstice, and then it is that they gather it;
it is usually dried in the shade, and if in winter, all the better.
The root of this plant is fleshy, and more long-lived[1959] than that
of the other bulbous plants. It loves to be beaten and trodden[1960]
under foot, and in fact, the worse it is treated the better it thrives:
hence it is, that it grows so vigorously by the side of foot-paths and
fountains. (7.) Saffron was already held in high esteem in the time of
the Trojan War; at all events, Homer,[1961] we find, makes mention of
these three flowers, the lotus,[1962] the saffron, and the hyacinth.


All the odoriferous[1963] substances, and consequently the plants,
differ from one another in their colour, smell, and juices. It is but
rarely[1964] that the taste of an odoriferous substance is not bitter;
while sweet substances, on the other hand, are but rarely odoriferous.
Thus it is, too, that wine is more odoriferous than must, and all the
wild plants more so than the cultivated ones.[1965] Some flowers have
a sweet smell at a distance, the edge of which is taken off when they
come nearer; such is the case with the violet, for instance. The rose,
when fresh gathered, has a more powerful smell at a distance, and
dried,[1966] when brought nearer. All plants have a more penetrating
odour, also, in spring[1967] and in the morning; as the hour of midday
approaches, the scent becomes gradually weakened.[1968] The flowers,
too, of young plants are less odoriferous than those of old ones; but
it is at mid-age[1969] that the odour is most penetrating in them all.

The rose and the crocus[1970] have a more powerful smell when gathered
in fine weather, and all plants are more powerfully scented in hot
climates than in cold ones. In Egypt, however, the flowers are far
from odoriferous, owing to the dews and exhalations with which the air
is charged, in consequence of the extended surface of the river. Some
plants have an agreeable, though at the same time extremely powerful
smell; some, again, while green, have no[1971] smell at all, owing to
the excess of moisture, the buceros for example, which is the same as
fenugreek.[1972] Not all flowers which have a penetrating odour are
destitute of juices, the violet, the rose, and the crocus, for example;
those, on the other hand, which have a penetrating odour, but are
destitute of juices, have all of them a very powerful smell, as we find
the case with the two varieties[1973] of the lily. The abrotonum[1974]
and the amaracus[1975] have a pungent smell. In some plants, it is the
flower only that is sweet, the other parts being inodorous, the violet
and the rose, for example.

Among the garden plants, the most odoriferous are the dry ones, such
as rue, mint, and parsley, as also those which grow on dry soils. Some
fruits become more odoriferous the older they are, the quince, for
example, which has also a stronger smell when gathered than while upon
the tree. Some plants, again, have no smell but when broken asunder,
or when bruised, and others only when they are stripped of their bark.
Certain vegetable substances, too, only give out a smell when subjected
to the action of fire, such as frankincense and myrrh, for example.
All flowers are more bitter to the taste when bruised than when left
untouched.[1976] Some plants preserve their smell a longer time when
dried, the melilote, for example; others, again, make the place itself
more odoriferous where they grow, the iris[1977] for instance, which
will even render the whole of a tree odoriferous, the roots of which
it may happen to have touched. The hesperis[1978] has a more powerful
odour at night, a property to which it owes its name.

Among the animals, we find none that are odoriferous, unless,
indeed, we are inclined to put faith in what has been said about the


There is still another distinction, which ought not to be omitted,—the
fact, that many of the odoriferous plants never[1980] enter into the
composition of garlands, the iris[1981] and the saliunca, for example,
although, both of them, of a most exquisite odour. In the iris, it
is the root[1982] only that is held in esteem, it being extensively
employed in perfumery and medicine. The iris of the finest quality is
that found in Illyricum,[1983] and in that country, even, not in the
maritime parts of it, but in the forests on the banks of the river
Drilon[1984] and near Narona. The next best is that of Macedonia,[1985]
the plant being extremely elongated, white, and thin. The iris of
Africa[1986] occupies the third rank, being the largest of them all,
and of an extremely bitter taste.

The iris of Illyricum comprehends two varieties—one of which is the
raphanitis, so called from its resemblance to the radish,[1987] of
a somewhat red colour, and superior[1988] in quality to the other,
which is known as the “rhizotomus.” The best kind of iris is that
which produces sneezing[1989] when handled. The stem of this plant is
a cubit in length, and erect, the flower being of various colours,
like the rainbow, to which circumstance it is indebted for its name.
The iris, too, of Pisidia[1990] is far from being held in disesteem.
Persons[1991] who intend taking up the iris, drench the ground
about it some three months before with hydromel, as though a sort of
atonement offered to appease the earth; with the point of a sword, too,
they trace three circles round it, and the moment they gather it, they
lift it up towards the heavens.

The iris is a plant of a caustic nature, and when handled, it causes
blisters like burns to rise. It is a point particularly recommended,
that those who gather it should be in a state of chastity. The root,
not only when dried,[1992] but while still in the ground, is very
quickly attacked by worms. In former times, it was Leucas and Elis that
supplied us with the best oil[1993] of iris, for there it has long been
cultivated; at the present day, however, the best comes from Pamphylia,
though that of Cilicia and the northern climates is held in high esteem.


The saliunca[1994] has a rather short leaf, which does not admit of its
being plaited for garlands, and numerous roots, by which it is held
together; being more of a herb than a flower, and so closely matted
and tangled that it would almost appear to have been pressed together
with the hand—in short, it is a turf[1995] of a peculiar nature. This
plant grows in Pannonia and the sunny regions of Noricum and the Alps,
as also the vicinity of the city of Eporedia;[1996] the smell being
so remarkably sweet that the crops of it have been of late quite as
profitable as the working of a mine. This plant is particularly valued
for the pleasant smell it imparts to clothes among which it is kept.


It is the same, too, with the polium,[1997] a herb employed for a
similar purpose among the Greeks, and highly extolled by Musæus and
Hesiod, who assert that it is useful for every purpose, and more
particularly for the acquisition of fame and honour;[1998] indeed, it
is a truly marvellous production, if it is the fact, as they state,
that its leaves are white in the morning, a purple at midday, and
azure[1999] at sunset. There are two varieties of it, the field polium,
which is larger, and the wild,[2000] which is more diminutive. Some
persons give it the name of “teuthrion.”[2001] The leaves resemble the
white hairs of a human being; they take their rise immediately from the
root, and never exceed a palm in height.


We have now said enough on the subject of the odoriferous flowers;
in relation to which, luxury not only glories in having vanquished
Nature in the composition of unguents, but has even gone so far
as to challenge, in her fabrics, those flowers which are more
particularly recommended by the beauty of their tints. I remark that
the following are the three principal[2002] colours; the red, that of
the kermes[2003] for instance, which, beginning in the tints of the
rose, reflects, when viewed[2004] sideways and held up to the light,
the shades that are found in the Tyrian purple,[2005] and the colours
of the dibapha[2006] and Laconian cloths: the amethystine colour, which
is borrowed from the violet, and to which, bordering as it does on the
purple, we have given the name of “ianthinum”[2007]—it must, however,
be remembered, that we here give a general name to a colour which is
subdivided into numerous tints[2008]—and a third, properly known as
the “conchyliated” colour, but which comprehends a variety of shades,
such, for instance, as the tints of the heliotropium, and others of a
deeper colour, the hues of the mallow, inclining to a full purple, and
the colours of the late[2009] violet; this last being the most vivid,
in fact, of all the conchyliated tints. The rival colours being now set
side by side, Nature and luxury may enter the lists, to vie for the

I find it stated that, in the most ancient times, yellow was held
in the highest esteem, but was reserved exclusively for the nuptial
veils[2010] of females; for which reason it is perhaps that we do not
find it included among the principal colours, those being used in
common by males and females: indeed, it is the circumstance of their
being used by both sexes in common that gives them their rank as
principal colours.


There is no doubt that all the efforts of art are surpassed by
the amaranth,[2011] which is, to speak correctly, rather a purple
ear[2012] than a flower, and, at the same time, quite inodorous. It is
a marvellous feature in this plant, that it takes a delight in being
gathered; indeed, the more it is plucked, the better it grows. It comes
into flower in the month of August, and lasts throughout the autumn.
The finest of all is the amaranth of Alexandria, which is generally
gathered for keeping; for it is a really marvellous[2013] fact, that
when all the other flowers have gone out, the amaranth, upon being
dipped in water, comes to life again: it is used also for making
winter chaplets. The peculiar quality of the amaranth is sufficiently
indicated by its name, it having been so called from the circumstance
that it never fades.[2014]


The name,[2015] too, of the cyanos[2016] indicates its colour, and
so does that of the holochrysos.[2017] None of these flowers were in
use in the time of Alexander the Great, for the authors, we find, who
flourished at a period immediately after his decease, have made not the
slightest mention of them; from which circumstance it is very clear
that they only came into fashion at a later period. Still, however,
who can entertain any doubt that they were first introduced by the
Greeks, from the fact that Italy has only their Greek names by which to
designate them?


But, by Hercules! it is Italy herself that has given its name to the
petilium,[2018] an autumnal flower, which springs up in the vicinity
of thorny brakes, and recommends itself solely by its colour, which is
that of the wild rose. The petals of it are small, and five in number;
and it is a remarkable circumstance in this plant, that the head of it
droops at first, and it is only after it becomes erect that the petals
make their appearance, forming a small corolla of various colours,
enclosing a yellow seed.

The bellio,[2019] too, is a yellow flower, formed of[2020] fifty-five
filaments circularly arranged, in the shape of a chaplet. These are,
both of them, meadow flowers, which are mostly of no use whatever, and
consequently without names: even the flowers just mentioned are known
sometimes by one name, and sometimes by another.


The chrysocome,[2021] or chrysitis, has no Latin appellation: it is a
palm in height, the flowers forming clusters of a golden colour. The
root of it is black, and it has a taste both rough and sweet: it is
found growing in stony and umbrageous spots.


Having thus passed in review nearly all the best-known colours, we must
now give our attention to the chaplets which are pleasing merely on
account of the variety of their materials. Of such chaplets there are
two kinds, one composed of flowers, the other of leaves. The flowers
so employed, I may say, are those of broom[2022]—the yellow blossom
gathered from it—the rhododendron,[2023] and the jujube,[2024] also
known as the tree of Cappadocia, which bears an odoriferous flower
similar to that of the olive. Among the brambles, too, we find the
cyclaminum growing, of which we shall have to speak more at length on
a future occasion:[2025] its flower, which reflects the hues of the
purple of Colossæ,[2026] is used as an ingredient in chaplets.


The leaves, also, of smilax and ivy are employed in chaplets; indeed,
the clusters of these plants are held in the very highest esteem for
this purpose: we have already[2027] spoken of them at sufficient length
when treating of the shrubs. There are also other kinds of shrubs,
which can only be indicated by their Greek names, little attention
having been paid by the framers of our language to this branch of
nomenclature. Most of them grow in foreign countries, it is true; but
still, it is our duty to make some mention of them, as it is of Nature
in general that we are speaking, and not of Italy in particular.


Thus it is, that we find employed for chaplets, the leaves of the
melothron,[2028] spiræa,[2029] origanum,[2030] cneorum,[2031] by
Hyginus called “cassia,” conyza or cunilago,[2032] melissophyllon
or apiastrum,[2033] and melilote, known to us by the name of
“Campanian[2034] garland,” the best kind of melilote[2035] in Italy
being that of Campania, in Greece that of Cape Sunium, and next to
that the produce of Chalcidice and Crete: but wherever this plant
grows it is only to be found in rugged and wild localities. The name
“sertula” or “garland,” which it bears, sufficiently proves that this
plant was formerly much used in the composition of chaplets. The smell,
as well as the flower, closely resembles that of saffron, though the
stem itself is white; the shorter and more fleshy the leaves, the more
highly it is esteemed.


The leaves of trefoil also are employed for making chaplets. There
are three varieties: the first being called by the Greeks sometimes
“minyanthes,”[2036] and sometimes “asphaltion;” the leaves of it,
which the garland-makers employ, are larger than those of the other
kinds. The second variety, known as the “oxytriphyllon,”[2037] has
a pointed leaf; and the third has the smallest leaf of them all.
Among these plants there are some which have a tough, sinewy stem,
such as marathron,[2038] for instance, hippomarathron,[2039] and the
myophonum.[2040] The umbels, too, of fennel-giant and the purple
flowers[2041] of the ivy are employed for this purpose; as also another
kind of ivy very similar to the wild rose,[2042] the colour only of
which is attractive, the flower being quite inodorous. There are also
two[2043] varieties used of the cneorum, the black and the white, this
last being odoriferous: they are both of them provided with branches,
and they blossom after the autumnal equinox.[2044]

(10.) There are the same number of varieties, also, of origanum
employed in making chaplets, one of which is destitute of seed, the
other, which is also odoriferous, being known as the Cretan[2045]


There are also as many varieties of thyme[2046] employed, the one
white, the other dark:[2047] it flowers about the summer solstice, when
the bees cull from it. From this plant a sort of augury is derived,
as to how the honey is likely to turn out: for the bee-keepers have
reason to look for a large crop when the thyme blossoms in considerable
abundance. Thyme receives great injury from showers of rain, and is
very apt to shed its blossom. The seed of thyme is so minute[2048] as
to be imperceptible, and yet that of origanum, which is also extremely
minute, does not escape the sight. But what matters it that Nature has
thus concealed it from our view? For we have reason to conclude that
it exists in the flower itself; which, when sown in the ground, gives
birth to the plant—what is there, in fact, that the industry of man has
left untried?

The honey of Attica is generally looked upon as the best in all the
world; for which reason it is that the thyme of that country has been
transplanted, being reproduced, as already stated, with the greatest
difficulty, from the blossom. But there is also another peculiarity
in the nature of the thyme of Attica, which has greatly tended to
frustrate these attempts—it will never live except in the vicinity
of breezes from the sea. In former times, it was the general belief
that this is the case with all kinds of thyme, and that this is the
reason why it does not grow in Arcadia:[2049] at a period when it was
universally supposed, too, that the olive never grows beyond three
hundred stadia[2050] from the sea. But, at the present day, we know
for certain that in the province of Gallia Narbonensis the Stony
Plains[2051] are quite overgrown with thyme; this being, in fact, the
only source of revenue to those parts, thousands of sheep[2052] being
brought thither from distant countries to browse upon the plant.


There are two varieties of conyza, also, employed in making chaplets,
the male[2053] plant and the female. The difference consists in the
leaves, those of the female plant being thinner, more tapering, and
narrower, and those of the male being of an imbricated shape, the plant
having a greater number of branches. The blossom, too, of the male
plant is more vivid than that of the female: in both kinds it is late
in making its appearance, not till after the rising of Arcturus.

The smell of the male conyza is more powerful than that of the female
plant: the latter, however, is of a more penetrating nature, for which
reason it is that the female plant is held in higher esteem for the
treatment of the bites of animals. The leaves of the female plant have
exactly the smell of honey; and the root of the male has received the
name of “libanotis” from some: we have already made mention[2054] of it
on a previous occasion.


Of the following plants, too, it is only the leaves that are
employed for chaplets—the flower of Jove,[2055] the amaracus,
the hemerocalles,[2056] the abrotonum, the helenium,[2057]
sisymbrium,[2058] and wild thyme, all of them ligneous plants, growing
in a manner similar to the rose. The flower of Jove is pleasing only
for its colours, being quite inodorous; which is the case also with the
plant known by the Greek name of “phlox.”[2059] All the plants, too,
which we have just mentioned are odoriferous, both in the branches and
the leaves, with the sole exception of wild thyme.[2060] The helenium
is said to have had its origin in the tears of Helen, and hence it
is that the kind grown in the island of Helena[2061] is so highly
esteemed. It is a shrub which throws out its tiny branches along the
ground, some nine inches in length, with a leaf very similar to that of
wild thyme.


The flower of the abrotonum,[2062] which makes its appearance in
summer, has a powerful but agreeable smell; it is of a bright golden
colour. Left to range at large, it reproduces itself by layers from the
tops of the branches: but when it is propagated by the hand of man,
it is better to grow it from the seed than from the roots or slips,
though even from the seed it is not grown without considerable trouble.
The young plants are transplanted in summer, which is the case also
with the adonium.[2063] They are both of them plants of a very chilly
nature, though, at the same time, they are apt to receive injury if too
much exposed to the sun: when, however, they have gained sufficient
strength, they throw out branches like those of rue.

The leucanthemum[2064] has a similar smell to that of the abrotonum: it
is a foliated plant, with a white flower.


Diocles, the physician, and the people of Sicily have given the name of
“amaracus” to the plant known in Egypt and Syria as sampsuchum.[2065]
It is reproduced two ways, from seed and from cuttings, being more
long-lived than the preceding plants, and possessed of a more agreeable
smell. The amaracus, like the abrotonum, has a great abundance of seed,
but while the abrotonum has a single root, which penetrates deep into
the ground, those of the other plant adhere but lightly to the surface
of the earth. Those of the other plants which love the shade, water,
and manure, are generally set at the beginning of autumn, and even, in
some localities, in spring.


Democritus has regarded the nyctegreton[2066] as one of the most
singular of plants. According to that author, it is of a dark red
colour, has leaves like those of a thorn, and creeps upon the ground.
He says that it grows in Gedrosia[2067] more particularly, and that
it is taken up by the roots immediately after the vernal equinox,
and dried in the moonlight for thirty days; after which preparation
it emits light by night. He states also, that the Magi and the kings
of Parthia employ this plant in their ceremonies when they make a
vow to perform an undertaking; that another name given to it is
“chenomyche,”[2068] from the circumstance that, at the very sight of
it, geese will manifest the greatest alarm; and that by some persons,
again, it is known as the “nyctalops,”[2069] from the light which it
emits at a considerable distance by night.


The melilote[2070] is found growing everywhere, though that of Attica
is held in the highest esteem. In all countries, however, it is
preferred when fresh gathered; that too, the colour of which is not
white, but approaches as nearly as possible to the colour of saffron.
In Italy, however, it is the white kind that is the most odoriferous.


The first of the flowers that announce the approach of spring is the
white[2071] violet; indeed, in warm localities, it is seen peeping out
in the winter even. Next to it comes the violet known as the ion, and
the purple violet; then the flame-coloured flower, the name of which is
phlox,[2072] but only the wild one. The cyclaminum[2073] blossoms twice
a year, in spring and autumn, standing equally in awe as it does of
summer and of winter. The narcissus and the lily, in the parts beyond
sea, are a little later than the preceding plants: but in Italy, as
we have already[2074] stated, they are in blossom with the rose. In
Greece, too, the anemone[2075] blooms even later; it is the flower of
a wild bulb, and is altogether different from the one[2076] which we
shall have occasion to mention among the medicinal plants.

Next, after these, come the œnanthe,[2077] the melanion,[2078]
and, among the wild plants, the helichrysos;[2079] then, another
kind of anemone, known as the “limonia,”[2080] and after that the
gladiolus,[2081] accompanied by the hyacinth. Last of all, among the
spring flowers, is the rose, which, with the exception indeed of the
cultivated kinds, is also the first to fade. Among the others, the
flowers which last the longest, are the hyacinth, the white violet,
and the œnanthe; but to make this last keep any time in flower, it is
necessary to gather it repeatedly, to prevent it from running to seed.
The œnanthe grows in warm localities, and has exactly the smell of the
vine when in blossom, to which circumstance it is indebted for its name.

There are two fabulous stories attached to the hyacinth;[2082]
according to one of them, it bears the impress of the grief[2083] which
Apollo felt for the youth[2084] whom he had so tenderly loved; and we
learn from the other, that it derives its name from the blood[2085] of
Ajax, the veins being so arranged in the flower as to form the Greek
letters ΑΙ inscribed upon it.

The helichrysos has a flower resembling gold in appearance, a small
leaf, and a fine, slender, but hard, stem. According to the Magi, the
person who crowns himself with a chaplet composed of this flower, and
takes his unguents from a box of gold, of the kind generally known
as “apyron,”[2086] will be sure to secure esteem and glory among his
fellowmen. Such are the flowers of spring.


The summer flowers come next, the lychnis[2087] the flower of Jove,
and another kind of lily,[2088] as also the tiphyon[2089] and the
amaracus, surnamed that of Phrygia. Put the most remarkable flower of
all is the pothos,[2090] of which there are two varieties, one with the
flower of the hyacinth,[2091] and another with a white flower, which is
generally found growing about graves, and is better able to stand bad
weather. The iris,[2092] also, blossoms in summer. All these flowers
pass away, however, and fade; upon which others assume their places
in autumn, a third kind of lily,[2093] for instance, saffron, and two
varieties of the orsinum[2094]—one of them inodorous and the other
scented—making their appearance, all of them, as soon as the first
autumnal showers fall.

The garland-makers employ the flowers of the thorn[2095] even for
making chaplets; the tender shoots, too, of the white thorn are
sometimes preserved as a choice morsel[2096] to tempt the palate.

Such is the succession of the summer flowers in the parts beyond sea:
in Italy, the violet is succeeded by the rose, the lily comes on while
the rose is still in flower, the cyanus[2097] succeeds the rose, and
the amaranth the cyanus. As to the vincapervinca,[2098] it is an
evergreen, the branches from which run out like so many strings, the
leaves surrounding the stem at each of the knots: though more generally
used for the purposes of ornamental gardening, it is sometimes employed
in chaplets when there is a deficiency of other flowers. From the
Greeks this plant has received the name of “chamædaphne.”


At the very utmost, the white[2099] violet never lasts longer than
three years: should it exceed that period, it is sure to degenerate.
The rose-tree will last so long as five years without being pruned or
cauterized,[2100] methods by which it is made to grow young again.
We have already stated[2101] that the nature of the soil is of the
very greatest importance; for in Egypt, we find, all these plants are
perfectly inodorous, and it is only the myrtle that has any particular
smell. In some countries, too, the germination of all the plants
precedes that in other parts of the world by so long a period as two
months even. The rose-beds should be well spaded immediately after
the west winds begin to prevail, and, a second time, at the summer
solstice: every care, however, should be paid, between these two
periods, to keeping the ground well raked and cleaned.


Bees and beehives, too, are a subject extremely well suited to a
description of gardens and garland plants, while, at the same time,
where they are successfully managed, they are a source, without
any great outlay, of very considerable profit. For bees, then, the
following plants should be grown—thyme, apiastrum, the rose, the
various violets, the lily, the cytisus, the bean, the fitch, cunila,
the poppy, conyza,[2102] cassia, the melilote, melissophyllum,[2103]
and the cerintha.[2104] This last is a plant with a white leaf, bent
inwards, the stem of it being a cubit in height, with a flower at
the top presenting a concavity full of a juice like honey. Bees are
remarkably fond of the flowers of these plants, as also the blossoms
of mustard, a thing that is somewhat surprising, seeing that it is a
well-known fact that they will not so much as touch the blossoms of
the olive: for which reason, it will be as well to keep that tree at a
distance from them.[2105]

There are other trees, again, which should be planted as near the hives
as possible, as they attract the swarm when it first wings its flight,
and so prevent the bees from wandering to any considerable distance.


The greatest care, too, should be taken to keep the cornel[2106] at
a distance from the hives; for if the bees once taste the blossoms
of it, they will speedily die of flux and looseness. The best remedy
in such case is to give them sorb apples beaten up with honey, or
else human urine or that of oxen, or pomegranate seeds moistened with
Aminean[2107] wine. It is a very good plan, too, to plant broom about
the hives, the bees being extremely fond of the blossoms.


In relation to the food of bees, I have ascertained a very singular
fact, and one that well deserves to be mentioned. There is a village,
called Hostilia, on the banks of the river Padus: the inhabitants of
it, when food[2108] fails the bees in their vicinity, place the hives
in boats and convey them some five miles up the river in the night. In
the morning the bees go forth to feed, and then return to the boats;
their locality being changed from day to day, until at last, as the
boats sink deeper and deeper in the water, it is ascertained that
the hives are full, upon which they are taken home, and the honey is

(13.) In Spain, too, for the same purpose, they have the hives carried
from place to place on the backs of mules.


Indeed, the food of bees is of the very greatest importance, as
it is owing to this that we meet with poisonous[2109] honey even.
At Heraclia[2110] in Pontus, the honey is extremely pernicious in
certain years, though it is the same bees that make it at other times.
Authors, however, have not informed us from what flowers this honey is
extracted; we shall, therefore, take this opportunity of stating what
we have ascertained upon the subject.

There is a certain plant which, from the circumstance that it proves
fatal to beasts of burden, and to goats in particular, has obtained
the name of “ægolethron,”[2111] and the blossoms of which, steeped
in the rains of a wet spring, contract most noxious properties. Hence
it is that it is not every year that these dangerous results are
experienced. The following are the signs of the honey being[2112]
poisonous: it never thickens, the colour is redder than usual, and it
emits a peculiar smell which immediately produces sneezing; while,
at the same time, it is more weighty than a similar quantity of good
honey. Persons, when they have eaten of it, throw themselves on the
ground to cool the body, which is bathed with a profuse perspiration.
There are numerous remedies, of which we shall have occasion to speak
in a more appropriate place;[2113] but as it will be as well to mention
some of them on the present occasion, by way of being provided for such
insidious accidents, I will here state that old honied wine is good,
mixed with the finest honey and rue; salt meats, also, taken repeatedly
in small quantities, and as often brought up again.

It is a well-known fact that dogs, after tasting the excretions of
persons suffering from these attacks, have been attacked with similar
symptoms, and have experienced the same kind of pains.

Still, however, it is equally well ascertained, that honied wine
prepared from this honey, when old, is altogether innoxious; and that
there is nothing better than this honey, mixed with costus,[2114]
for softening the skin of females, or, combined with aloes, for the
treatment of bruises.


In the country of the Sanni, in the same part of Pontus, there is
another kind of honey, which, from the madness it produces, has
received the name of “mænomenon.”[2115] This evil effect is generally
attributed to the flowers of the rhododendron,[2116] with which the
woods there abound; and that people, though it pays a tribute to
the Romans in wax, derives no profit whatever from its honey, in
consequence of these dangerous properties. In Persis, too, and in
Gætulia, a district of Mauritania Cæsariensis, bordering on the
country of the Massæsyli, there are poisonous honeycombs found; and
some, too, only partly so,[2117] one of the most insidious things that
possibly could happen, were it not that the livid colour of the honey
gives timely notice of its noxious qualities. What can we suppose to
have possibly been the intention of Nature in thus laying these traps
in our way, giving us honey that is poisonous in some years and good
in others, poisonous in some parts of the combs and not in others, and
that, too, the produce in all cases of the self-same bees? It was not
enough, forsooth, to have produced a substance in which poison might
be administered without the slightest difficulty, but must she herself
administer it as well in the honey, to fall in the way of so many
animated beings? What, in fact, can have been her motive, except to
render mankind a little more cautious and somewhat less greedy?

And has she not provided the very bees, too, with pointed weapons,
and those weapons poisoned to boot? So it is, and I shall, therefore,
without delay, set forth the remedies to counteract the effects of
their stings. It will be found a very excellent plan to foment the part
stung with the juice of mallows[2118] or of ivy leaves, or else for the
person who has been stung to take these juices in drink. It is a very
astonishing thing, however, that the insects which thus carry these
poisons in their mouths and secrete them, should never die themselves
in consequence; unless it is that Nature, that mistress of all things,
has given to bees the same immunity from the effects of poison which
she has granted against the attacks of serpents to the Psylli[2119] and
the Marsi among men.


Another marvellous fact, again, connected with honey in Crete. Upon
Mount Carina in that island, which is nine miles in circuit, there
is not a fly to be found, and the honey that is made there no fly
will touch.[2120] It is by this circumstance that honey said to have
come from that district is usually tested, it being highly prized for
medicinal preparations.


The hives ought to have an aspect due east,[2121] but never looking
towards the north-east or the west. The best hives are those made of
bark, the next best those of fennel-giant, and the next of osier: many
persons, too, have them made of mirror-stone,[2122] for the purpose of
watching[2123] the bees at work within. It is the best plan to anoint
the hives all over with cow-dung. The lid of the hive should be made
to slide from behind, so as to admit of being shut to within, in case
the hive should prove too large or their labours unproductive; for, if
this is not done, the bees are apt to become discouraged and abandon
their work. The slide may then be gradually withdrawn, the increase
of space being imperceptible to the bees as the work progresses. In
winter, too, the hives should be covered with straw, and subjected
to repeated fumigations, with burnt cow-dung more particularly. As
this is of kindred[2124] origin with the bees, the smoke produced
by it is particularly beneficial in killing all such insects as may
happen to breed there, such as spiders, for instance, moths,[2125]
and wood-worms;[2126] while, at the same time, it stimulates the bees
themselves to increased activity. In fact, there is little difficulty
in getting rid of the spiders, but to destroy the moths, which are a
much greater plague, a night must be chosen in spring, just when the
mallow is ripening, there being no moon, but a clear sky: flambeaux
are then lighted before the hives, upon which the moths precipitate
themselves in swarms into the flame.


If it is found that the bees are in want of aliment, it will be a good
plan to place at the entrance of the hive raisins or dried figs beaten
up,[2127] as also carded wool soaked in raisin wine, boiled[2128] must,
or hydromel, and sometimes even the raw[2129] flesh of poultry. In
certain summers, too, when long-continued drought has deprived them of
the nutriment which they usually derive from flowers, similar food must
be provided for them.

When the honey is taken, the outlets of the hive should be well rubbed
with melissophyllum or broom,[2130] beaten up, or else the middle of it
should be encircled with bands of white vine, to prevent the bees from
taking to flight. It is recommended, too, that the honey-pots and combs
should be washed with water: this water, boiled, it is said, will make
an extremely wholesome vinegar.[2131]


Wax is made[2132] from the honeycombs after the honey has been
extracted. For this purpose, they are first cleaned with water, and
then dried three days in the shade: on the fourth day they are melted
on the fire in a new earthen vessel, with sufficient water to cover
them, after which the liquor is strained off in a wicker basket.[2133]
The wax is then boiled again with the same water and in the same pot,
and poured into vessels of cold water, the interior of which has been
well rubbed with honey. The best wax is that known as Punic[2134] wax,
the next best being that of a remarkably yellow colour, with the smell
of honey. This last comes from Pontus, and, to my surprise, it is in
no way affected by the poisonous honey which it has contained.[2135]
The next in quality is the Cretan wax, which contains the largest
proportion of propolis,[2136] a substance of which we have previously
made mention when treating of bees. Next to these varieties comes the
Corsican wax, which, being the produce of the box-tree, is generally
thought to be possessed of certain medicinal properties.

The Punic wax is prepared in the following manner: yellow wax is first
blanched in the open air, after which it is boiled in water from the
open sea, with the addition of some nitre.[2137] The flower of the wax,
or, in other words, the whitest part of it, is then skimmed off with
spoons, and poured into a vessel containing a little cold water. After
this, it is again boiled in sea-water by itself, which done, the vessel
is left to cool. When this operation has been three times repeated, the
wax is left in the open air upon a mat of rushes, to dry in the light
of the sun and moon; for while the latter adds to its whiteness, the
sun helps to dry[2138] it. In order, however, that it may not melt,
it is the practice to cover it with a linen cloth: if, when it has
been thus refined, it is boiled once more, the result is a wax of the
greatest possible whiteness.

Punic wax is considered the best for all medicinal preparations. Wax
is made black by the addition of ashes of papyrus, and a red colour is
given to it by the admixture of alkanet; indeed, by the employment of
various pigments, it is made to assume various tints, in which state it
is used for making models,[2139] and for other purposes without number,
among which we may mention varnishing walls[2140] and armour, to
protect them from the air. We have given the other particulars relative
to bees and honey, when speaking[2141] of the nature of those insects.
We have now stated pretty nearly all that we have to say on the subject
of the pleasure garden.


We now come to the plants which grow spontaneously, and which are
employed as an aliment by most nations, the people of Egypt in
particular, where they abound in such vast quantities, that, extremely
prolific as that country is in corn, it is perhaps the only one that
could subsist without it: so abundant are its resources in the various
kinds of food to be obtained from plants.

In Italy, however, we are acquainted with but very few of them; those
few being the strawberry,[2142] the tamnus,[2143] the butcher’s
broom,[2144] the sea[2145] batis, and the garden batis,[2146] known by
some persons as Gallic asparagus; in addition to which we may mention
the meadow parsnip[2147] and the hop,[2148] which may be rather termed
amusements for the botanist than articles of food.


But the plant of this nature that is the most famous in Egypt is the
colocasia,[2149] known as the “cyamos”[2150] to some. It is gathered
in the river Nilus, and the stalk of it, boiled, separates[2151]
into fine filaments when chewed, like those of the spider’s web. The
head,[2152] protruding from among the leaves, is very remarkable; and
the leaves, which are extremely large, even when compared with those
of trees, are very similar to those of the plant found in our rivers,
and known by the name of “personata.”[2153] So much do the people of
that country take advantage of the bounteousness displayed by their
river, that they are in the habit of plaiting[2154] the leaves of the
colocasia with such skill as to make vessels of various shapes, which
they are extremely fond of using for drinking vessels. At the present
day, however, this plant is cultivated in Italy.[2155]


In Egypt, next to the colocasia, it is the cichorium that is held in
the highest esteem, a plant which we have already spoken[2156] of
under the name of wild endive.[2157] It springs up after the rising of
the Vergiliæ, and the various portions of it blossom in succession:
the root is supple, and hence is used for making withes even. The
anthalium[2158] grows at a greater distance[2159] from the river;
the fruit of it is round,[2160] and about the size of a medlar, but
without either kernel or rind; the leaves of the plant are similar
to those of the cyperus. The people there eat the fruit of it cooked
upon the fire, as also of the œtum,[2161] a plant which has a few
leaves only, and those extremely diminutive, though the root is large
in proportion.[2162] The arachidna,[2163] again, and the aracos have
numerous branchy roots, but neither leaves nor any herbaceous parts,
nor, indeed, anything that makes its appearance above ground.

The other plants that are commonly eaten in Egypt are the
chondrylla,[2164] the hypochœris,[2165] the caucalis,[2166] the
anthriscum,[2167] the scandix, the come, by some persons known as the
tragopogon,[2168] with leaves very similar to those of saffron, the
parthenium,[2169] the trychnum,[2170] and the corchorus;[2171] with
the aphace[2172] and acynopos,[2173] which make their appearance at
the equinox. There is a plant also, called the epipetron,[2174] which
never blossoms;[2175] while the aphace, on the other hand, as its
flowers die, from time to time puts forth fresh ones, and remains[2176]
in blossom throughout the winter and the spring, until the following


The Egyptians have many other plants also, of little note; but they
speak in the highest terms of the cnecos;[2177] a plant unknown to
Italy, and which the Egyptians hold in esteem, not as an article of
food, but for the oil it produces, and which is extracted from the
seed. The principal varieties are the wild and the cultivated kinds;
of the wild variety, again, there are two sorts, one of which is less
prickly[2178] than the other, but with a similar stem, only more
upright: hence it is that in former times females used it for distaffs,
from which circumstance it has received the name of “atractylis”[2179]
from some; the seed of it is white, large, and bitter. The other
variety[2180] is more prickly, and has a more sinewy stem, which may
be said almost to creep upon the ground; the seed is small. The cnecos
belongs to the thorny plants: indeed, it will be as well to make some
classification of them.


For some plants, in fact, are thorny, while others, again, are
destitute of prickles: the species of thorny plants are very numerous.
The asparagus[2181] and the scorpio[2182] are essentially thorny
plants, having no leaves at all upon them. Some plants, again, that
are prickly have leaves as well, such as the thistle, for instance, the
erynge,[2183] the glycyrriza,[2184] and the nettle;[2185] all these
plants being provided with leaves that prick or sting.

Some plants have thorns at the base of their leaves, the tribulus[2186]
and the anonis[2187] for instance; others, again, have thorns, not
on the leaves but on the stem, the pheos[2188] for example, known as
the stœbe to some. The hippophaës[2189] has thorns at the joints; the
tribulus presents the peculiarity of bearing a fruit that is thorny.


But of all these plants, it is the nettle that is the best known
to us, the calyces[2190] of the blossoms of which produce a purple
down: it frequently exceeds two cubits even in height.[2191] There
are numerous varieties of this plant; the wild nettle, known also as
the female nettle, does not inflict so bad a sting as the others.
Among the several varieties of the wild nettle, the one known as the
dog[2192]-nettle, stings the worst, the stem of it even possessing
that property; the leaves of the nettle are indented at the edge. There
is one kind also, which emits a smell, known as the Herculanean[2193]
nettle. The seed of all the nettles is copious, and black. It is
a singular fact that, though possessed of no spinous points, the
down[2194] of the nettle is of a noxious nature, and that, though ever
so lightly touched, it will immediately produce an itching sensation,
and raise a blister on the flesh similar in appearance to a burn: the
well-known remedy for it is olive oil.

The stinging property of the nettle does not belong to the plant at
the earliest period of its growth, but only developes itself under the
influence of the sun. The plant first begins to grow in the spring, at
which period it is by no means a disagreeable food;[2195] indeed, it
has become quite a religious observance to employ it as such, under
the impression that it is a preventive from diseases the whole year
through. The root, too, of the wild nettle, has the effect of rendering
all meat more tender that is boiled with it.[2196] The kind that is
innoxious and destitute of all stinging properties, is known as the
“lamium.”[2197] Of the scorpio[2198] we shall have occasion to speak
when treating of the medicinal plants.


The carduus[2199] has leaves and a stem covered with a prickly
down; the same is the case, too, with the acorna,[2200] the
leucacanthos,[2201] the chalceos,[2202] the cnecos,[2203] the
polyacanthos,[2204] the onopyxos,[2205] the helxine,[2206] and the
scolymos;[2207] the chamæleon,[2208] however, has no prickles upon the
leaves. There is, however, this difference among these plants, that
some of them have numerous stems and branches, such as the carduus, for
instance; while others, again, have a single stem and no branches, the
cnecos, for example. Some, again, such as the erynge,[2209] are prickly
at the head only; and some blossom in the summer, the tetralix and
the helxine, for instance. The scolymos blossoms late, and remains a
considerable period in flower: the acorna being distinguished only for
its red colour and its unctuous juice. The atractylis would be similar
in every respect to the last, were it not that it is somewhat whiter,
and produces a juice the colour of blood, a circumstance to which it
owes the name of “phonos,”[2210] given to it by some. The smell of
this plant is powerful, and the seed only ripens at a late period, and
never before autumn, although the same may be said of all the prickly
plants, in fact. All of them are capable, however, of being reproduced
from either seed or root.

The scolymos, which belongs to the thistle[2211] genus, differs from
the rest of them in the circumstance that the root of it is boiled
and eaten. It is a singular fact that this genus of plants bears
blossoms, buds, and fruit the whole of the summer through, without any
interruption: when the leaf is dried, the prickles lose their pungency.
The helxine is a plant but rarely seen, and in some countries only.
It throws out leaves at the root, from the middle of which there is a
protuberance in the shape of an apple, covered with leaves of its own:
the head of it contains a thick juice of a sweet flavour, the name
given to which is “acanthice mastiche.”[2212]


The cactos,[2213] too, is a plant that grows only in Sicily, having
peculiar characteristics of its own: the root throws out stalks which
creep along the ground, the leaves being broad and thorny. The name
given to these stalks is “cactos,” and they are not disliked as an
article of food,[2214] even when old. The plant, however, has one stem
which grows upright, and is known by the name of “pternix;” it has the
same sweet flavour as the other parts, though it will not keep. The
seed of it is covered with a kind of down, known as “pappus:”[2215]
when this is removed, as well as the rind[2216] of the fruit, it
is tender, and like the pith of the palm: the name given to it is


The tribulus[2217] grows nowhere except in marshy places: though held
in abomination elsewhere,[2218] it is employed on the banks of the
Nilus and Strymon as an article of food. It always bends towards the
water, and has a leaf like that of the elm, with a long stalk. In other
parts of the world there are two varieties of this plant; the one[2219]
with leaves like those of the chicheling vetch, the other with leaves
protected by prickles. This last variety blossoms also at a later
period than the other, and is mostly found in the hedge-rows about
farm-houses. The seed of it is black, rounder than that of the other,
and enclosed in pods: that of the other variety bears a resemblance to

Among the prickly plants there is also another kind, known as the
“anonis:”[2220] indeed, it has thorns upon the branches, to which
leaves are attached similar to those of rue, the stem being entirely
covered also with leaves, in form resembling a garland. It comes up
in land that has been newly ploughed, being highly prejudicial to the
corn, and long-lived in the extreme.


Some, again, among the prickly plants have a stem which creeps along
the ground, that, for instance, known as the “coronopus.”[2221] On the
other hand, the anchusa,[2222] the root of which is employed for dyeing
wood and wax, has an upright stem; which is the case also with some of
the plants that are prickly in a less degree, the anthemis,[2223] for
example, the phyllanthes,[2224] the anemone, and the aphace:[2225] the
crepis,[2226] again, and the lotus,[2227] have a foliated stem.


The leaves of plants, as well as those of trees, differ from one
another in the length of the footstalk, and in the breadth or
narrowness of the leaf, and the angles and indentations perceptible on
its edge. Other differences are also constituted in respect of their
smell and blossom. The blossom remains on longer in some of those
plants which flower only a little at a time, such as the ocimum,[2228]
the heliotropium,[2229] the aphace, and the onochilis,[2230] for

(17.) Many of these plants, the same as certain among the trees, never
lose their leaves, the heliotropium,[2231] the adiantum[2232] and the
polium,[2233] for instance.


The eared[2234] plants form another variety: among them we find the
cynops,[2235] the alopecuros,[2236] the stelephuros,[2237] also known
to some persons as the ortyx,[2238] and to others as the plantago, of
which last we shall have occasion[2239] to speak more at length among
the medicinal plants, and the thryallis.[2240] The alopecuros, among
these, has a soft ear and a thick down, not unlike a fox’s tail in
fact, to which resemblance it owes its name. The plant most like[2241]
it is the stelephuros, were it not that it blossoms only a little at
a time. In the cichorium and similar plants, the leaves are near the
ground, the buds springing from the root just after the rising of the


It is not in Egypt only that the perdicium[2243] is eaten; it owes its
name to the partridge,[2244] which bird is extremely fond of digging
it up. The roots of it are thick and very numerous: and so, too, with
the ornithogale,[2245] which has a tender white stalk, and a root
half a foot in thickness, bulbous, soft, and provided with three or
four other offsets attached to it. It is generally used boiled in


It is a remarkable thing that the herb lotus[2247] and the
ægilops[2248] never make their appearance above ground till the end of
a year after the seed has been sown. The anthemis,[2249] too, offers
the singular peculiarity that it begins to blossom at the top, while in
all the other plants which flower gradually, it is at the lower part
that the blossom first makes its appearance.


In the lappa,[2250] too, which clings so tenaciously, there is this
remarkable peculiarity, that within it there grows a flower, which does
not make its appearance, but remains concealed and there produces the
seed, like those among the animals which produce within themselves. In
the vicinity of Opus there grows a plant[2251] which is very pleasant
eating to man, and the leaf of which, a most singular thing, gives
birth to a root by means of which it reproduces itself.


The iasione[2252] has a single leaf only, but that so folded and
involved, as to have all the appearance of being several in number.
The chondrylla[2253] is bitter, and the juice of the root is of an
acrid taste. The aphace, too, is bitter, and so is the plant called
“picris,”[2254] which also remains in flower the whole year through: it
is to this bitterness that it is indebted for its name.[2255]


The peculiarities also of the squill and saffron deserve remark; for
while all other plants put forth their leaves first, and then a round
stem, these show the stem before the leaf makes its appearance: in the
saffron, however, the blossom is protruded by the stem, but in the
squill it is the stem that first makes its appearance, and then the
flower emerges from it. This plant blossoms three times in the year,
indicating thereby, as previously stated,[2256] the three seasons for


Some authors reckon among the bulbs the root of the cypiros, or
gladiolus;[2257] it is a pleasant food, and when boiled and kneaded up
with bread, makes it more agreeable to the taste, and at the same time
more weighty. Not unlike it in appearance is the plant known to us as
the “thesion,”[2258] but it is of an acrid flavour.


Other plants of the bulbous kind differ in the leaf: that of the
asphodel[2259] is long and narrow, that of the squill broad and supple,
and the form of that of the gladiolus is bespoken by its name.[2260]
The asphodel is used as an article of food, the seed of it being
parched, and the bulb roasted;[2261] this last, however, should be
cooked in hot ashes, and then eaten with salt and oil. It is beaten
up also with figs, and forms, as Hesiod assures us, a very delicate
dish. It is said, too, that the asphodel, planted before the doors of a
farm-house, will act as a preservative against the effects of noxious

Homer,[2262] too, makes mention of the asphodel. The bulbs of it are
like moderately-sized turnips, and there is no plant the root of which
has more of them, as many as eighty bulbs being often grouped together.
Theophrastus, and nearly all the Greek writers, with Pythagoras at
the head of them, have given the name of “anthericos” to its stem,
which is one cubit, and often two, in length, the leaves being very
similar to those of the wild leek; it is to the root, or in other
words, the bulbs, that they have given the name of asphodel. The people
of our country call this plant[2263] “albucus,” and they give the
name of “royal[2264] spear” to the asphodel the stem of which bears
berries,[2265] thus distinguishing two[2266] varieties of it. The
albucus has a stalk a cubit in length, large, naked, and smooth, in
reference to which, Mago recommends that it should be cut at the end
of March and the beginning of April, the period at which it blossoms,
and before the seed has begun to swell; he says, too, that the stalks
should be split, and exposed on the fourth day in the sun, after which,
when dry, they should be made up into bundles.

The same author states, also, that the Greeks give the name of
“pistana” to the aquatic plant known to us as the “sagitta;”[2267] and
he recommends that it should be stripped of its bark, and dried in a
mild sun, between the ides of May[2268] and the end of October. He
says, too, that it is usual to cut down to the root, throughout all the
month of July, the variety of the gladiolus called “cypiros,” which is
a marsh-plant also, and at the end of three days to dry it in the sun,
until it turns white; but that care must be taken every day to carry it
under cover before sunset, the night dews being very injurious to marsh
plants when cut.


Mago has likewise given similar recommendations as to the rush known to
us as the “mariscus,”[2269] and which is so extensively employed for
weaving mats. He says that it should be gathered in the month of June,
up to the middle of July, and for drying it he gives the same precepts
that have been already[2270] mentioned, in the appropriate place, when
speaking of sedge. He describes a second kind, also, which I find is
generally called the “marine” rush, and is known to the Greeks as the

Generally speaking, there are three varieties of this last rush:
the pointed rush, which is barren, and by the Greeks is called the
male rush and the “oxys:”[2272] the female rush,[2273] which bears
a black seed, and is called the “melancranis,”[2274] thicker and
more bushy than the preceding one: and a third kind, called the
“holoschœnus,”[2275] which is larger still. Of these varieties, the
melancranis grows separately from the others, but the oxys and the
holoschœnus will grow upon the self-same clod. The holoschœnus is the
most useful for all kinds of basket-work, being of a particularly
supple and fleshy nature; it bears a fruit, which resembles eggs
attached to one another. The rush, again, which we have spoken of as
the male rush,[2276] is reproduced from itself, the summit of it being
bent down into the earth; the melancranis, however, is propagated from
seed. Beyond this, the roots of all the varieties of the rush die every

The rush is in general use for making kipes[2277] for sea-fishing, the
more light and elegant kinds of basket-work, and the wicks of lamps,
for which last purpose the pith is more particularly employed.[2278]
In the vicinity of the maritime Alps, the rushes grow to such a vast
size, that when split they measure nearly an inch in diameter; while in
Egypt, on the other hand, they are so extremely fine, that the people
there make sieves of them, for which, indeed, there can be nothing

Some authors, again, distinguish another kind of rush, of a triangular
shape, to which they give the name of cyperos,[2279] though many
persons make no distinction between it and the “cypiros,” in
consequence of the resemblance of the names; for our own part, however,
we shall observe the distinction. The cypiros, as we have already[2280]
stated, is identical with the gladiolus, a plant with a bulbous root,
the most esteemed being those grown in the Isle of Crete, the next best
those of Naxos, and the next those of Phœnicia. The cypiros of Crete is
white, with an odour strongly resembling that of nard; the produce of
Naxos has a more pungent smell, that of Phœnicia but little odour of
any kind, and that of Ægypt none at all; for it grows in that country
as well.

This plant disperses hard tumours of the body—for we shall here
begin to speak of the remedies derived from the various flowers and
odoriferous plants, they being, all of them, of very considerable
utility in medicine. As to the cypiros, then, I shall follow
Apollodorus, who forbids it to be taken in drink, though at the same
time he admits that it is extremely useful for calculi of the bladder,
and recommends it in fomentations for the face. He entertains no doubt,
however, that it is productive of abortion, and he mentions, as a
remarkable fact, that the barbarians,[2281] by inhaling the fumes of
this plant at the mouth, thereby diminish the volume of the spleen.
They never go out of the house, he says, till they have inhaled these
fumes, through the agency of which they daily become stronger and
stronger, and more robust. He states, also, that the cypiros, employed
as a liniment with oil, is an undoubted remedy for chafing of the skin,
and offensive odours of the arm-pits.


The cyperos, as we have just stated, is a rush of angular shape, white
near the ground, and black and solid at the top. The lower leaves are
more slender than those of the leek, and those at the top are small,
with the seed of the plant lying between them. The root resembles a
black olive,[2282] and when it is of an oblong shape, the plant is
known as the “cyperis,”[2283] being employed in medicine to a great
extent. The cyperos most highly esteemed is that of the vicinity of
the Temple of Jupiter Hammon, the next best being that of Rhodes, the
next that of Theræ, and the worst of all that of Egypt, a circumstance
which tends greatly to add to the misunderstanding on the subject, as
that country produces the cypiros as well: but the cypiros which grows
there is extremely hard, and has hardly any smell at all, while all the
other[2284] varieties of it have an odour strongly resembling that of

There is also an Indian plant, called the “cypira,”[2285] of a totally
different character, and similar to ginger in appearance; when chewed,
it has exactly the flavour of saffron.

The cyperos, employed medicinally, is possessed of certain depilatory
properties. It is used in liniments for hang-nails and ulcerous sores
of the genitals and of all parts of the body which are of a humid
nature, ulcers of the mouth, for instance. The root of it is a very
efficacious remedy for the stings of serpents and scorpions. Taken in
drink, it removes obstructions of the uterus, but if employed in too
large doses, it is liable to cause prolapsus of that organ. It acts
also as a diuretic, and expels calculi of the bladder; properties which
render it extremely useful in dropsy. It is employed topically, also,
for serpiginous ulcers, those of the throat more particularly, being
usually applied with wine or vinegar.


The root of the rush, boiled down to one third in three heminæ of
water, is a cure for cough; the seed of it, parched and taken in water,
arrests looseness of the bowels and the menstrual discharge, though
at the same time it causes headache. The name given to this rush is
holoschœnus; the parts of it nearest the root are chewed, as a cure for
the bites of spiders.

I find mention made, also, of one other kind of rush, the name of which
is “euripice;”[2286] the seed, they say, is narcotic, but the greatest
care is necessary, not to throw the patient into a lethargy.


We will also take this opportunity of mentioning the medicinal
properties of the sweet-scented rush, which is found in Cœle-Syria, as
already stated by us in the appropriate place.[2287] The most esteemed
kind, however, is that which grows in the country of the Nabatæi, and
is known as the “teuchites;”[2288] the next best being the produce
of Babylonia, and the very worst that of Africa, which is entirely
destitute of smell. This rush is round, and when applied to the tongue,
has a pungent, vinous flavour. The genuine kind, when rubbed, gives
out an odour like that of the rose, and when broken asunder it is
red within. It dispels flatulency, and hence it is very good for the
stomach, and for persons when vomiting the bile or blood. It arrests
hiccup also, promotes eructations, acts as a diuretic, and is curative
of affections of the bladder. A decoction of it is used for female
complaints; and in cases of opisthotony, it is applied in plasters with
dry resin, these being highly valued for their warming properties.


The rose is of an astringent and refreshing nature. For medicinal
purposes the petals, the flowers, and the heads are used. Those
portions of the petals which are quite white are known as the
unglets.[2289] In the flower there is the seed, as distinguished from
the filaments, and in the head there is the bud,[2290] as well as the
calyx. The petals are dried, or else the juice is extracted from them,
by one of the three following methods: Either the leaves are employed
whole for the purpose, the unglets not being removed—for these are the
parts, in fact, that contain the most juice—or else the unglets are
first taken off and the residue is then macerated with oil or wine,
in glass vessels placed in the sun. Some persons add salt as well,
and others alkanet,[2291] or else aspalathus or sweet-scented rush;
as it is, when thus prepared, a very valuable remedy for diseases of
the uterus and for dysentery. According to the third process, the
unglets are removed from the petals, and pounded, after which they are
subjected to pressure in a coarse linen cloth, the juice being received
in a copper vessel; it is then boiled on a slow fire, until it has
acquired the consistence of honey; for this purpose, however, the most
odoriferous of the petals should be selected.

(19.) We have already stated,[2292] when speaking of the various kinds
of wines, how rose wine is made. Rose juice is much used in injections
for the ears, and as a gargle for ulcerations of the mouth, and for the
gums and tonsils; it is employed also for the stomach, maladies of the
uterus, diseases of the rectum, and for head-ache. In fevers, it is
used, either by itself or in combination with vinegar, as a remedy for
sleeplessness and nausea. The petals, charred, are used as a cosmetic
for the eyebrows;[2293] and the thighs, when chafed, are rubbed with
them dried; reduced to powder, too, they are soothing for defluxions of
the eyes. The flower of the rose is soporific, and taken in oxycrate it
arrests fluxes in females, the white flux in particular; also spitting
of blood, and pains in the stomach, if taken in three cyathi of wine,
in sufficient quantity to flavour it.

As to the seed of the rose, the best is that which is of a saffron
colour, and not more than a year old; it should be dried, too, in the
shade. The black seed is worthless. In cases of tooth-ache, the seed
is employed in the form of a liniment; it acts also as a diuretic, and
is used as a topical application for the stomach, as also in cases of
erysipelas which are not inveterate: inhaled at the nostrils, it has
the effect of clearing the brain. The heads of roses, taken in drink,
arrest looseness of the bowels and hæmorrhage. The unglets of the rose
are wholesome in cases of defluxion of the eyes; but the rose is very
apt to taint all ulcerous sores of the eyes, if it is not applied at
the very beginning of the defluxion, dried, and in combination with
bread. The petals, too, taken internally, are extremely wholesome
for gnawing pains of the stomach, and for maladies of the abdomen or
intestines; as also for the thoracic organs, if applied externally
even: they are preserved, too, for eating, in a similar manner to
lapathum. Great care must be taken in drying rose-leaves, as they are
apt to turn mouldy very quickly.

The petals, too, from which the juice has been extracted, may be put
to some use when dried: powders,[2294] for instance, may be made from
them, for the purpose of checking the perspiration. These powders are
sprinkled on the body, upon leaving the bath, and are left to dry
on it, after which they are washed off with cold water. The little
excrescences[2295] of the wild rose, mixed with bears’-grease,[2296]
are a good remedy for alopecy.


The roots of the lily[2297] ennoble that flower in manifold ways by
their utility in a medicinal point of view. Taken in wine, they are
good for the stings of serpents, and in cases of poisoning by fungi.
For corns on the feet, they are applied boiled in wine, not being
taken off before the end of three days. A decoction of them with grease
or oil, has the effect of making the hair grow again upon burns. Taken
with honied wine, they carry off corrupt blood by stool; they are good,
also, for the spleen and for hernia, and act as an emmenagogue. Boiled
in wine and applied with honey, they are curative of wounds of the
sinews. They are good, too, for lichens, leprous sores, and scurf upon
the face, and they efface wrinkles of the body.

The petals of the lily are boiled in vinegar, and applied, in
combination with polium,[2298] to wounds; if it should happen, however,
to be a wound of the testes, it is the best plan to apply the other
ingredients with henbane and wheat-meal. Lily-seed is applied in cases
of erysipelas, and the flowers and leaves are used as a cataplasm
for inveterate ulcers. The juice which is extracted from the flower
is called “honey”[2299] by some persons, and “syrium” by others; it
is employed as an emollient for the uterus, and is also used for the
purpose of promoting perspirations, and for bringing suppurations to a


Two varieties of the narcissus are employed in medicine, the one
with a purple[2300] flower, and the herbaceous narcissus.[2301] This
last is injurious to the stomach, and hence it is that it acts both
as an emetic and as a purgative: it is prejudicial, also, to the
sinews, and produces dull, heavy pains in the head: hence it is that
it has received its name, from “narce,”[2302] and not from the youth
Narcissus, mentioned in fable. The roots of both kinds of narcissus
have a flavour resembling that of wine mixed with honey. This plant is
very useful, applied to burns with a little honey, as also to other
kinds of wounds, and sprains. Applied topically, too, with honey and
oatmeal, it is good for tumours, and it is similarly employed for the
extraction of foreign substances from the body.

Beaten up in polenta and oil it effects the cure of contusions and
blows inflicted by stones; and, mixed with meal, it effectually
cleanses wounds, and speedily removes black morphews from the skin. Of
this flower oil of narcissus is made, good for softening indurations
of the skin, and for warming parts of the body that have been
frost-bitten. It is very beneficial, also, for the ears, but is very
apt to produce head-ache.


There are both wild and cultivated violets.[2303] The purple violet is
of a cooling nature: for inflammations they are applied to the stomach
in the burning heats, and for pains in the head they are applied to
the forehead. Violets, in particular, are used for defluxions of the
eyes, prolapsus of the fundament and uterus, and suppurations. Worn in
chaplets upon the head, or even smelt at, they dispel the fumes of wine
and head-ache; and, taken in water, they are a cure for quinsy. The
purple violet, taken in water, is a remedy for epilepsy, in children
more particularly: violet seed is good for the stings of scorpions.

On the other hand, the flower of the white violet opens suppurations,
and the plant itself disperses them. Both the white and the yellow
violet check the menstrual discharge, and act as diuretics. When fresh
gathered, they have less virtue, and hence it is that they are mostly
used dry, after being kept a year. The yellow violet, taken in doses
of half a cyathus to three cyathi of water, promotes the catamenia;
and the roots of it, applied with vinegar, assuage affections of the
spleen, as also the gout. Mixed with myrrh and saffron, they are good
for inflammation of the eyes. The leaves, applied with honey, cleanse
ulcerous sores of the head, and, combined with cerate,[2304] they are
good for chaps of the fundament and other moist parts of the body.
Employed with vinegar, they effect the cure of abscesses.


The bacchar that is used in medicine is by some of our writers called
the “perpressa.” It is very useful for the stings of serpents,
head-ache and burning heats in the head, and for defluxions of the
eyes. It is applied topically for swellings of the mamillæ after
delivery, as also incipient fistulas[2305] of the eyes, and erysipelas;
the smell of it induces sleep. It is found very beneficial to
administer a decoction of the root for spasms, falls with violence,
convulsions, and asthma. For an inveterate cough, three or four roots
of this plant are boiled down to one-third; this decoction acting also
as a purgative for women after miscarriage, and removing stitch in the
side, and calculi of the bladder. Drying powders[2306] for perspiration
are prepared also from this plant; and it is laid among garments
for the smell.[2307] The combretum which we have spoken[2308] of as
resembling the bacchar, beaten up with axle-grease, is a marvellous
cure for wounds.


It is generally stated that asarum[2309] is good for affections of the
liver, taken in doses of one ounce to a semisextarius of honied wine
mixed with water. It purges the bowels like hellebore, and is good for
dropsy and affections of the thoracic organs and uterus, as also for
jaundice. When mixed with must, it makes a wine with strongly diuretic
qualities. It is taken up as soon as it begins to put forth its leaves,
and is dried in the shade. It is apt however to turn mouldy very


Some authors, as we have already[2310] stated, having given the name
of “field nard” to the root of the bacchar, we will here mention the
medicinal properties of Gallic nard, of which we have[2311] already
spoken, when treating of the foreign trees, deferring further notice
of it till the present occasion. In doses of two drachmæ, taken in
wine, it is good for the stings of serpents; and taken in water or
in wine it is employed for inflations of the colon, maladies of the
liver or kidneys, and suffusions of the gall. Employed by itself or in
combination with wormwood it is good for dropsy. It has the property,
also, of arresting excessive discharges of the catamenia.


The root of the plant which we have mentioned in the same place under
the name of “phu,”[2312] is given in drink, either bruised or boiled,
in cases of hysterical suffocation, and for pains of the chest or
sides. It acts as an emmenagogue, and is generally taken in wine.


Saffron does not blend well with honey, or, indeed, with any sweet
substance, though very readily with wine or water: it is extremely
useful in medicine, and is generally kept in horn boxes. Applied
with egg it disperses all kinds of inflammation, those of the eyes
in particular: it is employed also for hysterical suffocations, and
for ulcerations of the stomach, chest, kidneys, liver, lungs, and
bladder. It is particularly useful also in cases of inflammation
of those parts, and for cough and pleurisy. It likewise removes
itching[2313] sensations, and acts as a diuretic. Persons who have used
the precaution of first taking saffron in drink will never experience
surfeit or head-ache, and will be proof against inebriation. Chaplets
too, made of saffron, and worn on the head, tend to dispel the fumes of
wine. The flower of it is employed topically with Cimolian[2314] chalk
for erysipelas. It is used also in the composition of numerous other


There is also an eye-salve[2315] which is indebted to this plant for
its name. The lees[2316] of the extract of saffron, employed in the
saffron unguent known as “crocomagma,” have their own peculiar utility
in cases of cataract and strangury. These lees are of a more warming
nature than saffron itself; the best kind is that which, when put into
the mouth, stains the teeth and saliva the colour of saffron.


The red iris is better than the white one. It is very beneficial to
attach this plant to the bodies of infants more particularly when they
are cutting their teeth, or are suffering from cough; it is equally
good, too, to inject a few drops of it when children are suffering
from tape-worm. The other properties of it differ but very little from
those of honey. It cleanses ulcerous sores of the head, and inveterate
abscesses more particularly. Taken in doses of two drachmæ with honey,
it relaxes the bowels; and an infusion of it is good for cough,
gripings of the stomach, and flatulency: taken with vinegar, too, it
cures affections of the spleen. Mixed with oxycrate it is good for the
bites of serpents and spiders, and, in doses of two drachmæ with bread
or water, it is employed for the cure of the stings of scorpions. It
is applied also topically with oil to the bites of dogs, and to parts
that are excoriated: employed in a similar manner, too, it is good
for pains in the sinews, and in combination with resin it is used as
a liniment for lumbago and sciatica. The properties of this plant are
of a warming nature. Inhaled at the nostrils, it produces sneezing and
cleanses the brain, and in cases of head-ache it is applied topically
in combination with the quince or the strutheum.[2317] It dispels the
fumes of wine also, and difficulties of breathing[2318] and taken in
doses of two oboli it acts as an emetic: applied as a plaster with
honey, it extracts splinters of broken bones. Powdered iris is employed
also for whitlows, and, mixed with wine, for corns and warts, in which
case it is left for three days on the part affected.

Chewed, it is a corrective of bad breath and offensive exhalations of
the arm-pits, and the juice of it softens all kinds of indurations of
the body. This plant acts as a soporific, but it wastes the seminal
fluids: it is used also for the treatment of chaps of the fundament and
condylomata, and it heals all sorts of excrescences on the body.

Some persons give the name of “xyris”[2319] to the wild iris. This
plant disperses scrofulous sores, as well as tumours and inguinal
swellings; but it is generally recommended that when wanted for these
purposes it should be pulled up with the left hand, the party gathering
it mentioning the name of the patient and of the disease for which it
is intended to be employed. While speaking of this subject, I will
take the opportunity of disclosing the criminal practices of some
herbalists—they keep back a portion of the iris, and of some other
plants as well, the plantago for instance, and, if they think that they
have not been sufficiently well paid and wish to be employed a second
time, bury the part they have kept back in the same place; their object
being, I suppose,[2320] to revive the malady which has just been cured.

The root of the saliunca[2321] boiled in wine, arrests vomiting and
strengthens the stomach.


Those persons, according to Musæus and Hesiod, who are desirous
of gaining honour and glory, should rub the body all over with
polium,[2322] and handle and cultivate it as much as possible. They
say, too, that it should be kept about the person as an antidote to
poison, and that to keep serpents away it should be strewed beneath
the bed, burnt, or else carried on the person; decoctions of it in
wine, either fresh-gathered or dried, should be used too as a liniment
for the body. Medical men prescribe it in vinegar for affections of
the spleen, and in wine for the jaundice; a decoction of it in wine
is recommended also for incipient dropsy; and in this way too, it
is employed as a liniment for wounds. This plant has the effect of
bringing away the after-birth and the dead fœtus, and of dispelling
pains in various parts of the body: it empties the bladder also, and
is employed in liniments for defluxions of the eyes. Indeed, there
is no plant known that better deserves to form an ingredient in the
medicament known to us as the “alexipharmacon:”[2323] though there are
some who say that it is injurious to the stomach and is apt to stuff
the head, and that it produces abortion—assertions which[2324] others,
again, totally deny.

There is a superstitious observance also, to the effect that, for
cataract, it ought to be attached to the neck the moment it is found,
every precaution being taken not to let it touch the ground. The same
persons state too that the leaves of it are similar to those of thyme,
except that they are softer and more white and downy. Beaten up with
wild rue in rain water, it is said to assuage the pain of the sting
of the asp; it is quite as astringent too as the flower[2325] of the
pomegranate, and as efficacious for closing wounds and preventing them
from spreading.


The holochrysos,[2326] taken in wine, is a cure for strangury, and it
is employed in liniments for defluxions of the eyes. Mixed with burnt
lees of wine and polenta, it is curative of lichens.

The root of the chrysocome[2327] is warming and astringent; it is taken
in drink for affections of the liver and lungs, and a decoction of it
in hydromel is good for pains of the uterus. It acts as an emmenagogue
also, and, administered raw, draws off the water in dropsy.


If the bee-hives are rubbed all over with melissophyllum[2328] or
melittæna, the bees will never desert them; for there is no flower
in which they take greater delight. If branches[2329] of this plant
are used, the bees may be kept within bounds without any difficulty.
It is an excellent remedy, also, for the stings of bees, wasps, and
similar insects, as also for wounds made by spiders and scorpions;
it is used, too, for hysterical suffocations, in combination with
nitre, and for gripings of the bowels, with wine. The leaves of it
are employed topically for scrofulous sores, and, in combination with
salt, for maladies of the fundament. A decoction of the juice promotes
the menstrual discharge, dispels inflammations, and heals ulcerous
sores: it is good, too, for diseases of the joints and the bites of
dogs, and is beneficial in cases of inveterate dysentery, and for
cœliac affections, hardness of breathing, diseases of the spleen,
and ulcerations of the thoracic organs. For films on the eyes, it is
considered a most excellent plan to anoint them with the juice of this
plant mixed with honey.


The melilote,[2330] again, applied with the yolk of an egg, or else
linseed, effects the cure of diseases of the eyes. It assuages pains,
too, in the jaws and head, applied with rose oil; and, employed with
raisin wine, it is good for pains in the ears, and all kinds of
swellings or eruptions on the hands. A decoction of it in wine, or else
the plant itself beaten up raw, is good for pains in the stomach. It is
equally beneficial, too, for maladies of the uterus; and for diseases
of the testes, prolapsus of the fundament, and all other diseases of
those parts, a decoction is made of it, fresh-gathered, in water or in
raisin wine. With the addition of rose oil, it is used as a liniment
for carcinoma. Boiled in sweet wine, it is particularly useful for the
treatment of the ulcers known as “melicerides.”[2331]


The trefoil,[2332] I know, is generally looked upon as being
particularly good for the stings of serpents and scorpions, the seed
being taken in doses of twenty grains, with either wine or oxycrate;
or else the leaves and the plant itself are boiled together, and
a decoction made of them; indeed, it is stated, that a serpent is
never to be seen among trefoil. Celebrated authors, too, I find, have
asserted that twenty-five grains of the seed of the kind of trefoil
which we have[2333] spoken of as the “minyanthes,” are a sufficient
antidote for all kinds of poisons: in addition to which, there are
numerous other remedial virtues ascribed to it.

But these notions, in my opinion, are counterbalanced by the authority
of a writer of the very highest repute: for we find the poet Sophocles
asserting that the trefoil is a venomous plant. Simus, too, the
physician, maintains that a decoction of it, or the juice, poured upon
the human body, is productive of burning sensations similar to those
experienced by persons when they have been stung by a serpent and have
trefoil applied to the wound. It is my opinion, then, that trefoil
should never be used in any other capacity than as a counter-poison;
for it is not improbable that the venom of this plant has a natural
antipathy to all other kinds of poisons, a phænomenon which has been
observed in many other cases as well. I find it stated, also, that
the seed of the trefoil with an extremely diminutive leaf, applied
in washes to the face, is extremely beneficial for preserving the
freshness of the skin in females.


Thyme[2334] should be gathered while it is in flower, and dried in the
shade. There are two kinds of thyme: the white thyme with a ligneous
root, which grows upon declivities, and is the most esteemed of the
two, and another variety, which is of a darker colour, and bears a
swarthy flower. They are, both of them, considered to be extremely
beneficial to the sight, whether used as an article of food or as a
medicament, and to be good for inveterate coughs. Used as an electuary,
with vinegar and salt, they facilitate expectoration, and taken with
honey, they prevent the blood from coagulating. Applied externally
with mustard, they dispel chronic fluxes of the fauces, as well as
various affections of the stomach and bowels. Still, however, these
plants must be used in moderation, as they are of a heating nature, for
which reason it is that they act so astringently upon the bowels. In
cases of ulceration of the intestines, the dose should be one denarius
of thyme to one sextarius of oxymel; the same proportions, too, should
be taken for pains in the sides, between the shoulder-blades, or in the
thoracic organs. Taken with oxymel, these plants are used for the cure
of intestinal diseases, and a similar draught is administered in cases
of alienation of the senses and melancholy.

Thyme is given also for epilepsy, when the fits come on, the smell of
it reviving the patient; it is said, too, that epileptic persons should
sleep upon soft thyme. It is good, also, for hardness of breathing,
and for asthma and obstructions of the catamenia. A decoction of thyme
in water, boiled down to one-third, brings away the dead fœtus, and
it is given to males with oxymel, as a remedy for flatulency, and in
cases of swelling of the abdomen or testes and of pains in the bladder.
Applied with wine, it removes tumours and fluxes, and, in combination
with vinegar, callosities and warts. Mixed with wine, it is used as
an external application for sciatica; and, beaten up with oil and
sprinkled upon wool, it is employed for diseases of the joints, and
for sprains. It is applied, also, to burns, mixed with hogs’ lard.
For maladies of the joints of recent date, thyme is administered in
drink, in doses of three oboli to three cyathi of oxymel. For loss of
appetite, it is given, beaten up with salt.


The hemerocalles[2335] has a soft, pale green leaf, with an
odoriferous, bulbous root. This root, applied with honey to the
abdomen, draws off the aqueous humours and all corrupt blood. The
leaves of it are applied for defluxions of the eyes, and for pains in
the mamillæ, after childbirth.


The helenium, which springs, as we have already[2336] stated, from
the tears of Helena, is generally thought to have been produced for
improving the appearance, and to maintain unimpaired the freshness of
the skin in females, both of the face and of other parts of the body.
Besides this, it is generally supposed that the use of it confers
additional graces on the person, and ensures universal attraction.
They say, too, that, taken with wine, it promotes gaiety of spirit,
having, in fact, a similar effect to the nepenthes, which has been so
much vaunted by Homer,[2337] as producing forgetfulness of all sorrow.
The juice of this plant is remarkably sweet, and the root of it, taken
fasting in water, is good for hardness of breathing; it is white
within, and sweet. An infusion of it is taken in wine for the stings of
serpents; and the plant, bruised, it is said, will kill mice.


We find two varieties of abrotonum[2338] mentioned, the field, and
the mountain kind; this last, it is generally understood, is the
female plant, the other the male. They are both of them bitter, like
wormwood. That of Sicily is the most esteemed, and next to it, that of
Galatia. The leaves of it are sometimes employed, but it is the seed
that possesses the most warming properties; hence it is, that it is
so beneficial for maladies of the sinews,[2339] for cough, hardness
of breathing, convulsions, ruptures, lumbago, and strangury. Several
handfuls of this plant are boiled down to one-third, and the decoction
of it, in doses of four cyathi, is administered in drink. The seed is
given, pounded, in water, in doses of one drachma; it is very good for
affections of the uterus.

Mixed with barley-meal, this plant brings tumours to a head, and boiled
with quinces, it is employed as a liniment for inflammations of the
eyes. It keeps away serpents, and for their stings it is either taken
in wine, or else employed in combination with it as a liniment. It is
extremely efficacious, also, for the stings of those noxious insects
by which shivering fits and chills are produced, such as the scorpion
and the spider called “phalangium,”[2340] for example; taken in a
potion, it is good for other kinds of poison, as also for shivering
fits, however produced, and for the extraction of foreign substances
adhering to the flesh; it has the effect, also, of expelling intestinal
worms. It is stated that a sprig of this plant, if put beneath the
pillow, will act as an aphrodisiac, and that it is of the very greatest
efficacy against all those charms and spells by which impotence is


The leucanthemum,[2341] mixed with two-thirds of vinegar, is curative
of asthma. The sampsuchum or amaracus,[2342]—that of Cyprus being
the most highly esteemed, and possessed of the finest smell—is a
remedy for the stings of scorpions, applied to the wound with vinegar
and salt. Used as a pessary, too, it is very beneficial in cases of
menstrual derangement; but when taken in drink, its properties are
not so powerfully developed. Used with polenta, it heals defluxions
of the eyes; and the juice of it, boiled, dispels gripings of the
stomach. It is useful, too, for strangury and dropsy; and in a dry
state, it promotes sneezing. There is an oil extracted from it, known
as “sampsuchinum,” or “amaracinum,” which is very good for warming and
softening the sinews; it has a warming effect, also, upon the uterus.
The leaves are good for bruises, beaten up with honey, and, mixed with
wax, for sprains.


We have as yet spoken[2343] only of the anemone used for making
chaplets; we will now proceed to describe those kinds which are
employed for medicinal purposes. Some persons give the name of
“phrenion” to this plant: there are two species of it; one of which
is wild,[2344] and the other grows on cultivated[2345] spots; though
they are, both of them, attached to a sandy soil. Of the cultivated
anemone there are numerous varieties; some, and these are the most
abundant, have a scarlet flower, while others, again, have a flower
that is purple or else milk-white. The leaves of all these three kinds
bear a strong resemblance to parsley, and it is not often that they
exceed half a foot in height, the head being very similar to that of
asparagus. The flower never opens, except while the wind is blowing,
a circumstance to which it owes its name.[2346] The wild anemone is
larger than the cultivated one, and has broader leaves, with a scarlet

Some persons erroneously take the wild anemone to be the same as the
argemone,[2347] while others, again, identify it with the poppy which
we have mentioned[2348] under the name of “rhœas:” there is, however, a
great difference between them, as these two other plants blossom later
than the anemone, nor does the anemone possess a juice or a calyx like
theirs; besides which, it terminates in a head like that of asparagus.

The various kinds of anemone are good for pains and inflammations of
the head, diseases of the uterus, and stoppage of the milk in females;
taken, too, in a ptisan, or applied as a pessary in wool, they promote
the menstrual discharge. The root, chewed, has a tendency to bring away
the phlegm, and is a cure for tooth-ache: a decoction of it is good,
too, for defluxions of the eyes,[2349] and effaces the scars left by
wounds. The Magi have attributed many very wonderful properties to
these plants: they recommend it to be gathered at the earliest moment
in the year that it is seen, and certain words to be repeated, to the
effect that it is being gathered as a remedy for tertian and quartan
fevers; after which the flower must be wrapped up in red cloth and kept
in the shade, in order to be attached to the person when wanted. The
root of the anemone with a scarlet flower, beaten up and applied to the
body of any animated being,[2350] produces an ulcer there by the agency
of its acrid qualities; hence it is that it is so much employed as a
detergent for ulcerous sores.


The œnanthe[2351] is a plant which is found growing upon rocks, has
the leaf of the parsnip, and a large root with numerous fibres. The
stalk of it and the leaves, taken with honey and black wine, facilitate
delivery and bring away the after-birth: taken with honey, also, they
are a cure for cough, and act as a powerful diuretic. The root of this
plant is curative of diseases of the bladder.


The helichrysos is by some persons called the “chrysanthemon.”[2352]
It has small, white branches, with leaves of a whitish colour, similar
to those of the abrotonum. The clusters, disposed around it, and
glistening like gold in the rays of the sun, are never known to fade;
hence it is that they make chaplets of it for the gods, a custom which
was most faithfully observed by Ptolemæus, the king of Egypt. This
plant grows in shrubberies: taken in wine, it acts as a diuretic and
emmenagogue, and, in combination with honey, it is employed topically
for burns. It is taken also in potions for the stings of serpents, and
for pains in the loins; and, with honied wine, it removes coagulated
blood in the abdominal regions and the bladder. The leaves of it,
beaten up and taken in doses of three oboli, in white wine, arrest the
menstrual discharge when in excess.

The smell of this plant is far from disagreeable, and hence it is kept
with clothes, to protect them from the attacks of vermin.


The hyacinth[2353] grows in Gaul more particularly, where it is
employed for the dye called “hysginum.”[2354] The root of it is
bulbous, and is well known among the dealers in slaves: applied to
the body, with sweet wine, it retards the signs of puberty,[2355] and
prevents them from developing themselves. It is curative, also, of
gripings of the stomach, and of the bites of spiders, and it acts as a
diuretic. The seed is administered, with abrotonum, for the stings of
serpents and scorpions, and for jaundice.


The seed of the lychnis,[2356] too, which is just the colour of fire,
is beaten up and taken in drink for the stings of serpents, scorpions,
hornets, and other insects of similar nature: the wild variety,
however, is prejudicial to the stomach. It acts as a laxative to the
bowels; and, taken in doses of two drachmæ, is remarkably efficacious
for carrying off the bile. So extremely baneful is it to scorpions,
that if they so much as see it, they are struck with torpor. The people
of Asia call the root of it “bolites,” and they say that if it is
attached to the body it will effectually disperse albugo.[2357]


The vincapervinca,[2358] too, or chamædaphne,[2359] is dried and
pounded, and given to dropsical patients in water, in doses of one
spoonful; a method of treatment which speedily draws off the water. A
decoction of it, in ashes, with a sprinkling of wine, has the effect of
drying tumours: the juice, too, is employed as a remedy for diseases of
the ears. Applied to the regions of the stomach, this plant is said to
be remarkably good for diarrhœa.


A decoction of the root of butcher’s broom[2360] is recommended to
be taken every other day for calculus in the bladder, strangury, and
bloody urine. The root, however, should be taken up one day, and boiled
the next, the proportion of it being one sextarius to two cyathi of
wine. Some persons beat up the root raw, and take it in water: it is
generally considered, too, that there is nothing in existence more
beneficial to the male organs than the young stalks of the plant,
beaten up and used with vinegar.


The batis,[2361] too, relaxes the bowels, and, beaten up raw, it is
employed topically for the gout. The people of Egypt cultivate the
acinos,[2362] too, both as an article of food and for making chaplets.
This plant would be the same thing as ocimum, were it not that the
leaves and branches of it are rougher, and that it has a powerful
smell. It promotes the catamenia, and acts as a diuretic.


The colocasia,[2363] according to Glaucias, softens the acridity of
humours of the body, and is beneficial to the stomach.


The people of Egypt eat the anthalium,[2364] but I cannot find that
they make any other use of it; but there is another plant called the
“anthyllium,”[2365] or, by some persons, the “anthyllum,” of which
there are two kinds: one, similar in its leaves and branches to the
lentil, a palm in height, growing in sandy soils exposed to the
sun, and of a somewhat saltish taste; the other, bearing a strong
resemblance to the chamæpitys,[2366] but smaller and more downy, with a
purple flower, a strong smell, and growing in stony spots.

The first kind, mixed with rose-oil and applied with milk, is extremely
good for affections of the uterus and all kinds of sores: it is taken
as a potion for strangury and gravel in the kidneys, in doses of three
drachmæ. The other kind is taken in drink, with oxymel, in doses of
four drachmæ, for indurations of the uterus, gripings of the bowels,
and epilepsy.


The parthenium[2367] is by some persons called the “leucanthes,” and
by others the “amaracus.” Celsus, among the Latin writers, gives
it the names of “perdicium”[2368] and “muralis.” It grows in the
hedge-rows of gardens, and has the smell of an apple, with a bitter
taste. With the decoction of it, fomentations are made for maladies of
the fundament, and for inflammations and indurations of the uterus:
dried and applied with honey and vinegar, it carries off black bile,
for which reason it is considered good for vertigo and calculus in the
bladder. It is employed as a liniment, also, for erysipelas, and, mixed
with stale axle-grease, for scrofulous sores. For tertian fevers the
Magi recommend that it should be taken up with the left hand, it being
mentioned at the time for whom it is gathered, care being also taken
not to look back while doing so: a leaf of it should be laid beneath
the patient’s tongue, after which it must be eaten in a cyathus of


The trychnon[2369] is by some called “strychnon;” I only wish that the
garland-makers of Egypt would never use this plant in making their
chaplets, being deceived as they are by the resemblance in the leaves
of both kinds to those of ivy. One of these kinds, bearing scarlet
berries with a stone, enclosed in follicules, is by some persons called
the “halicacabum,”[2370] by others the “callion,” and by the people of
our country, the “vesicaria,” from the circumstance of its being highly
beneficial to the bladder[2371] and in cases of calculus.

The trychnon is more of a woody shrub than a herb, with large
follicules, broad and turbinated, and a large berry within, which
ripens in the month of November. A third[2372] kind, again, has a
leaf resembling that of ocimum—but it is not my intention to give an
exact description of it, as I am here speaking of remedies, and not of
poisons; for a few drops of the juice, in fact, are quite sufficient
to produce insanity. The Greek writers, however, have even turned this
property into matter for jesting; for, according to them, taken in
doses of one drachma, this plant is productive of delusive and prurient
fancies, and of vain, fantastic visions, which vividly present all the
appearance of reality: they say, too, that if the dose is doubled, it
will produce downright madness, and that any further addition to it,
will result in instant death.

This is the same plant which the more well-meaning writers have
called in their innocence “dorycnion,”[2373] from the circumstance
that weapons used in battle are poisoned with it—for it grows
everywhere—while others, again, who have treated of it more
at length,[2374] have given it the surname of “manicon.”[2375]
Those, on the other hand, who have iniquitously concealed its real
qualities, give it the name of “erythron” or “neuras,” and others
“perisson”—details, however, which need not be entered into more fully,
except for the purpose of putting persons upon their guard.

There is another kind, again, also called “halicacabum,” which
possesses narcotic qualities, and is productive of death even more
speedily than opium: by some persons it is called “morio,” and by
others “moly.”[2376] It has, however, been highly extolled by Diocles
and Evenor, and, indeed, Timaristus has gone so far as to sing its
praises in verse. With a wonderful obliviousness of remedies really
harmless, they tell us, forsooth, that it is an instantaneous remedy
for loose teeth to rinse them with halicacabum steeped in wine: but at
the same time they add the qualification that it must not be kept in
the mouth too long, or else delirium will be the result. This, however,
is pointing out remedies with a vengeance, the employment of which will
be attended with worse results than the malady itself.

There is a third kind[2377] of halicacabum, that is esteemed as an
article of food; but even though the flavour of it may be preferred
to garden plants, and although Xenocrates assures us that there is no
bodily malady for which the trychnos is not highly beneficial, they are
none of them so valuable as to make me think it proper to speak more at
length upon the subject, more particularly as there are so many other
remedies, which are unattended with danger. Persons who wish to pass
themselves off for true prophets, and who know too well how to impose
upon the superstitions of others, take the root of the halicacabum
in drink. The remedy against this poison—and it is with much greater
pleasure that I state it—is to drink large quantities of honied wine
made hot. I must not omit the fact, too, that this plant is naturally
so baneful to the asp, that when the root is placed near that reptile,
the very animal which kills others by striking them with torpor, is
struck with torpor itself; hence it is, that, beaten up with oil, it
is used as a cure for the sting of the asp.


The corchorus[2378] is a plant which is used at Alexandria as an
article of food: the leaves of it are rolled up, one upon the other,
like those of the mulberry, and it is wholesome, it is said, for the
viscera, and in cases of alopecy, being good also for the removal of
freckles. I find it stated also, that it cures the scab in cattle very
rapidly: and, according to Nicander,[2379] it is a remedy for the
stings of serpents, if gathered before it blossoms.


There would be no necessity to speak at any length of the cnecos or
atractylis,[2380] an Egyptian plant, were it not for the fact that it
offers a most efficacious remedy for the stings of venomous animals,
as also in cases of poisoning by fungi. It is a well-known fact, that
persons, when stung by the scorpion, are not sensible of any painful
effects so long as they hold this plant in their hand.


The Egyptians also cultivate the pesoluta[2381] in their gardens, for
chaplets. There are two kinds of this plant, the male and the female:
either of them, it is said, placed beneath the person, when in bed,
acts as an antaphrodisiac, upon the male sex more particularly.


As we have occasion to make use of Greek names very frequently when
speaking of weights and measures,[2382] I shall here subjoin, once for
all, some explanation of them.

The Attic drachma—for it is generally the Attic reckoning that medical
men employ—is much the same in weight as the silver denarius, and is
equivalent to six oboli, the obolus being ten chalci; the cyathus is
equal in weight to ten drachmæ. When the measure of an acetabulum is
spoken of, it is the same as one fourth part of a hemina, or fifteen
drachmæ in weight. The Greek mna, or, as we more generally call it,
“mina,” equals one hundred Attic drachmæ in weight.

SUMMARY.—Remedies, narratives, and observations, seven hundred and

ROMAN AUTHORS QUOTED.—Cato the Censor,[2383] M. Varro,[2384]
Antias,[2385] Cæpio,[2386] Vestinus,[2387] Vibius Rufus,[2388]
Hyginus,[2389] Pomponius Mela,[2390] Pompeius Lenæus,[2391]
Cornelius Celsus,[2392] Calpurnius Bassus,[2393] C. Valgius,[2394]
Licinius Macer,[2395] Sextius Niger[2396] who wrote in Greek, Julius
Bassus[2397] who wrote in Greek, Antonius Castor.[2398]

FOREIGN AUTHORS QUOTED.—Theophrastus,[2399] Democritus,[2400]
Orpheus,[2401] Pythagoras,[2402] Mago,[2403] Menander[2404] who wrote
the Biochresta, Nicander,[2405] Homer, Hesiod,[2406] Musæus,[2407]
Sophocles,[2408] Anaxilaüs.[2409]

MEDICAL AUTHORS QUOTED.—Mnesitheus[2410] who wrote on Chaplets,
Callimachus[2411] who wrote on Chaplets, Phanias[2412] the physician,
Simus,[2413] Timaristus,[2414] Hippocrates,[2415] Chrysippus,[2416]
Diocles,[2417] Ophelion,[2418] Heraclides,[2419] Hicesius,[2420]
Dionysius,[2421] Apollodorus[2422] of Citium, Apollodorus[2423]
of Tarentum, Praxagoras,[2424] Plistonicus,[2425] Medius,[2426]
Dieuches,[2427] Cleophantus,[2428] Philistio,[2429] Asclepiades,[2430]
Crateuas,[2431] Petronius Diodotus,[2432] Iollas,[2433]
Erasistratus,[2434] Diagoras,[2435] Andreas,[2436] Mnesides,[2437]

Epicharmus,[2438] Damion,[2439] Dalion,[2440] Sosimenes,[2441]
Tlepolemus,[2442] Metrodorus,[2443] Solo,[2444] Lycus,[2445]
Olympias[2446] of Thebes, Philinus,[2447] Petrichus,[2448]
Micton,[2449] Glaucias,[2450] Xenocrates.[2451]




Nature and the earth might have well filled the measure of our
admiration, if we had nothing else to do but to consider the properties
enumerated in the preceding Book, and the numerous varieties of plants
that we find created for the wants or the enjoyment of mankind. And
yet, how much is there still left for us to describe, and how many
discoveries of a still more astonishing nature! The greater part, in
fact, of the plants there mentioned recommend themselves to us by
their taste, their fragrance, or their beauty, and so invite us to
make repeated trials of their virtues: but, on the other hand, the
properties of those which remain to be described, furnish us with
abundant proof that nothing has been created by Nature without some
purpose to fulfil, unrevealed to us though it may be.


I remark, in the first place, that there are some foreign nations
which, in obedience to long-established usage, employ certain plants
for the embellishment of the person. That, among some barbarous
peoples, the females[2452] stain the face by means of various plants,
there can be little doubt, and among the Daci and the Sarmatæ we find
the men even marking[2453] their bodies. There is a plant in Gaul,
similar to the plantago in appearance, and known there by the name of
“glastum:”[2454] with it both matrons and girls[2455] among the people
of Britain are in the habit of staining the body all over, when taking
part in the performance of certain sacred rites; rivalling hereby the
swarthy hue of the Æthiopians, they go in a state of nature.


We know, too, that from plants are extracted admirable colours for
dyeing; and, not to mention the berries[2456] of Galatia,[2457] Africa,
and Lusitania, which furnish the coccus, a dye reserved for the
military costume[2458] of our generals, the people of Gaul beyond the
Alps produce the Tyrian colours, the conchyliated,[2459] and all the
other hues, by the agency of plants[2460] alone. They have not there
to seek the murex at the bottom of the sea, or to expose themselves to
be the prey of the monsters of the deep, while tearing it from their
jaws, nor have they to go searching in depths to which no anchor has
penetrated—and all this for the purpose of finding the means whereby
some mother of a family may appear more charming in the eyes of her
paramour, or the seducer may make himself more captivating to the wife
of another man. Standing on dry land, the people there gather in their
dyes just as we do our crops of corn—though one great fault in them
is, that they wash[2461] out; were it not for which, luxury would have
the means of bedecking itself with far greater magnificence, or, at all
events, at the price of far less danger.

It is not my purpose, however, here to enter further into these
details, nor shall I make the attempt, by substituting resources
attended with fewer risks, to circumscribe luxury within the limits of
frugality; though, at the same time, I shall have to speak on another
occasion how that vegetable productions are employed for staining stone
and imparting their colours to walls.[2462] Still, however, I should
not have omitted to enlarge upon the art of dyeing, had I found that
it had ever been looked upon as forming one of our liberal[2463] arts.
Meantime, I shall be actuated by higher considerations, and shall
proceed to show in what esteem we are bound to hold the mute[2464]
plants even, or in other words, the plants of little note. For, indeed,
the authors and founders of the Roman sway have derived from these very
plants even almost boundless results; as it was these same plants,
and no others, that afforded them the “sagmen,”[2465] employed in
seasons of public calamity, and the “verbena” of our sacred rites and
embassies. These two names, no doubt, originally signified the same
thing,—a green turf torn up from the citadel with the earth attached to
it; and hence, when envoys were dispatched to the enemy for the purpose
of clarigation, or, in other words, with the object of _clearly_[2466]
demanding restitution of property that had been carried off, one of
these officers was always known as the “verbenarius.”[2467]


Of all the crowns with which, in the days of its majesty, the
all-sovereign people, the ruler of the earth, recompensed the valour
of its citizens, there was none attended with higher glory than the
crown of grass.[2468] The crowns[2469] bedecked with gems of gold, the
vallar, mural, rostrate, civic, and triumphal crowns, were, all of
them, inferior to this: great, indeed, was the difference between them,
and far in the background were they thrown by it. As to all the rest,
a single individual could confer them, a general or commander on his
soldiers for instance, or, as on some occasions, on his colleague: the
senate, too, exempt from the cares and anxieties of war, and the people
in the enjoyment of repose, could award them, together with the honours
of a triumph.

(4.) But as for the crown of grass, it was never conferred except at a
crisis of extreme desperation, never voted except by the acclamation
of the whole army, and never to any one but to him who had been its
preserver. Other crowns were awarded by the generals to the soldiers,
this alone by the soldiers, and to the general. This crown is known
also as the “obsidional” crown, from the circumstance of a beleaguered
army being delivered, and so preserved from fearful disaster. If we
are to regard as a glorious and a hallowed reward the civic crown,
presented for preserving the life of a single citizen, and him,
perhaps, of the very humblest rank, what, pray, ought to be thought
of a whole army being saved, and indebted for its preservation to the
valour of a single individual?

The crown thus presented was made of green grass,[2470] gathered on the
spot where the troops so rescued had been beleaguered. Indeed, in early
times, it was the usual token of victory for the vanquished to present
to the conqueror a handful of grass; signifying thereby that they
surrendered[2471] their native soil, the land that had nurtured them,
and the very right even there to be interred—a usage which, to my own
knowledge, still exists among the nations of Germany.[2472]


L. Siccius Dentatus[2473] was presented with this crown but once,
though he gained as many as fourteen civic crowns, and fought one
hundred and twenty battles, in all of which he was victorious—so rarely
is it that an army has to thank a single individual only for its
preservation! Some generals, however, have been presented with more
than one of these crowns, P. Decius Mus,[2474] the military tribune,
for example, who received one from his own army, and another from the
troops which he had rescued[2475] when surrounded. He testified by an
act of devoutness in what high esteem he held such an honour as this,
for, adorned with these insignia, he sacrificed a white ox to Mars,
together with one hundred red oxen, which had been presented to him by
the beleaguered troops as the recompense of his valour: it was this
same Decius, who afterwards, when consul, with Imperiosus[2476] for his
colleague, devoted his life to secure victory to his fellow-citizens.

This crown was presented also by the senate and people of Rome—a
distinction than which I know of nothing in existence more glorious—to
that same Fabius[2477] who restored the fortunes of Rome by avoiding
a battle; not, however, on the occasion when he preserved the master
of the horse[2478] and his army; for then it was deemed preferable
by those who were indebted to him for their preservation to present
him with a crown under a new title, that of “father.” The crown of
grass was, however, awarded to him, with that unanimity which I have
mentioned, after Hannibal had been expelled from Italy; being the
only crown, in fact, that has hitherto been placed upon the head of
a citizen by the hands of the state itself, and, another remarkable
distinction, the only one that has ever been conferred by the whole of
Italy united.


In addition to the persons already mentioned, the honour of this
crown has been awarded to M. Calpurnius Flamma,[2479] then a military
tribune in Sicily; but up to the present time it has been given to a
single centurion only, Cneius Petreius Atinas, during the war with the
Cimbri. This soldier, while acting as primipilus[2480] under Catulus,
on finding all retreat for his legion cut off by the enemy, harangued
the troops, and after slaying his tribune who hesitated to cut a way
through the encampment of the enemy, brought away the legion in safety.
I find it stated also by some authors, that, in addition to this
honour, this same Petreius, clad in the prætexta, offered sacrifice
at the altar, to the sound of the pipe,[2481] in presence of the then
consuls,[2482] Marius and Catulus.

The Dictator Sylla has also stated in his memoirs, that when legatus
in the Marsic War he was presented with this crown by the army, at
Nola; an event which he caused to be commemorated in a painting at his
Tusculan villa, which afterwards became the property of Cicero. If
there is any truth in this statement, I can only say that it renders
his memory all the more execrable, and that, by his proscriptions,
with his own hand he tore this crown from his brow, for few indeed
were the citizens whom he thus preserved, in comparison with those
he slaughtered at a later period. And let him even add to this high
honour his proud surname of “Felix,”[2483] if he will; all the glories
of this crown he surrendered to Sertorius, from the moment that he put
his proscribed fellow-citizens in a stage of siege throughout the whole

Varro, too, relates that Scipio Æmilianus was awarded the obsidional
crown in Africa, under the consul Manilius,[2484] for the preservation
of three cohorts, by bringing as many to their rescue; an event
commemorated by an inscription upon the base of the statue erected in
honour of him by the now deified Emperor Augustus, in the Forum which
bears his name. Augustus himself was also presented by the senate
with the obsidional crown, upon the ides[2485] of September, in the
consulship[2486] of M. Cicero the Younger, the civic crown being looked
upon as not commensurate with his deserts. Beyond these, I do not find
any one mentioned as having been rewarded with this honour.


No plant[2487] in particular was employed in the composition of this
crown, such only being used as were found growing on the spot so
imperilled; and thus did they become the means, however humble and
unnoted themselves, of conferring high honour and renown. All this,
however, is but little known among us at the present day; a fact which
I am the less surprised at, when I reflect that those plants even
are treated with the same indifference, the purpose of which it is
to preserve our health, to allay our bodily pains, and to repel the
advances of death! And who is there that would not visit with censure,
and justly visit, the manners of the present day? Luxury and effeminacy
have augmented the price at which we live, and never was life more
hankered after, or worse cared[2488] for, than it is at present. This,
however, we look upon as the business of others, forsooth; other
persons must see to it, without our troubling ourselves to request
them, and the physicians must exercise the necessary providence in our
behalves.[2489] As for ourselves, we go on enjoying our pleasures, and
are content to live—a thing that in my opinion reflects the highest
possible disgrace—by putting faith in others.[2490]

Nay, even more than this, we ourselves are held in derision by many,
for undertaking these researches, and are charged with busying
ourselves with mere frivolities! It is some solace, however, in
the prosecution of these our boundless labours, to have Nature as
our sharer in this contempt: Nature who, as we will prove beyond a
doubt, has never failed in coming to the assistance of man, and has
implanted[2491] remedies for our use in the most despised even of the
vegetable productions, medicaments in plants which repel us with their

It is of these, in fact, that it remains for us now to speak, as next
in succession to those which we have mentioned in the preceding Book;
and here we cannot sufficiently admire, and, indeed, adore,[2492]
the wondrous providence displayed by Nature. She had given us, as
already[2493] shewn, plants soft to the touch, and agreeable to the
palate; in the flowers she had painted the remedies for our diseases
with her varied tints, and, while commingling the useful with the
delicious, had attracted our attention by means of the pleasures of the
eye. Here, however, she has devised another class of plants, bristling
and repulsive to the sight, and dangerous to the touch; so much so,
indeed, that we fancy we all but hear the voice of her who made them as
she reveals to us her motives for so doing. It is her wish, she says,
that no ravening cattle may browse upon them, that no wanton hand may
tear them up, that no heedless footstep may tread them down, that no
bird, perching there, may break them: and in thus fortifying them with
thorns, and arming them with weapons, it has been her grand object to
save and protect the remedies which they afford to man. Thus we see,
the very qualities even which we hold in such aversion, have been
devised by Nature for the benefit and advantage of mankind.


In the first rank of the plants armed with prickles, the erynge[2494]
or eryngion stands pre-eminent, a vegetable production held in high
esteem as an antidote formed for the poison of serpents and all
venomous substances. For stings and bites of this nature, the root is
taken in wine in doses of one drachma, or if, as generally is the case,
the wound is attended with fever, in water. It is employed also, in
the form of a liniment, for wounds, and is found to be particularly
efficacious for those inflicted by water-snakes or frogs. The physician
Heraclides states it as his opinion that, boiled in goose-broth, it
is a more valuable remedy than any other known, for aconite[2495]
and other poisons.[2496] Apollodorus recommends that, in cases of
poisoning, it should be boiled with a frog, and other authorities,
in water only. It is a hardy plant, having much the appearance of a
shrub, with prickly leaves and a jointed stem; it grows a cubit or more
in height. Sometimes it is found of a whitish colour, and sometimes
black,[2497] the root of it being odoriferous. It is cultivated in
gardens, but it is frequently to be found growing[2498] spontaneously
in rugged and craggy localities. It grows, too, on the sea-shore, in
which case it is tougher and darker than usual, the leaf resembling
that of parsley.[2499]


The white variety of the eryngium is known in our language as the
“centum capita.”[2500] It has all the properties above-mentioned,
and the Greeks employ both the stalk and the root as an article of
food,[2501] either boiled or raw. There are some marvellous facts
related in connexion with this plant; the root[2502] of it, it is
said, bears a strong resemblance to the organs of either sex; it is but
rarely found, but if a root resembling the male organs should happen
to fall in the way of a man, it will ensure him woman’s love; hence it
is that Phaon the Lesbian was so passionately beloved[2503] by Sappho.
Upon this subject, too, there have been numerous other reveries, not
only on the part of the Magi, but of Pythagorean philosophers even as

So far as its medicinal properties are concerned, in addition to
those already mentioned, this plant, taken in hydromel, is good for
flatulency, gripings of the bowels, diseases of the heart, stomach,
liver, and thoracic organs, and, taken in oxycrate, for affections of
the spleen. Mixed with hydromel, it is recommended also for diseases of
the kidneys, strangury, opisthotony, spasms, lumbago, dropsy, epilepsy,
suppression or excess of the catamenia, and all maladies of the uterus.
Applied with honey, it extracts foreign substances from the body, and,
with salted axle-grease and cerate, it disperses scrofulous sores,
imposthumes of the parotid glands, inflamed tumours, denudations of the
bones, and fractures. Taken before drinking, it prevents the fumes of
wine from rising to the head, and it arrests looseness of the bowels.
Some of our authors have recommended that this plant should be gathered
at the period of the summer solstice, and that it should be applied,
in combination with rain water, for all kinds of maladies of the neck.
They say too, that, attached as an amulet to the person, it is a cure
for albugo.[2504]


There are some authors, too, who make the acanos[2505] to be a
species of eryngium. It is a thorny plant, stunted, and spreading,
with prickles of a considerable size. Applied topically, they say, it
arrests hæmorrhage in a most remarkable degree.


Other authors, again, have erroneously taken the glycyrrhiza[2506] to
be a kind of eryngium: it will, therefore, be as well to take this
opportunity of making some further mention of it. There can be no
doubt, however, that this is one of the thorny plants, the leaves of it
being covered with prickles,[2507] substantial, and viscous and gummy
to the touch: it has much the appearance of a shrub, is a couple of
cubits in height, and bears a flower like that of the hyacinth, and a
fruit the size of the little round balls[2508] of the plane. The best
kind is that grown in Cilicia, and the next best that of Pontus; the
root of it is sweet, and this is the only part that is used. It is
gathered at the setting of the Vergiliæ,[2509] the root of it being
long, like that of the vine.[2510] That which is yellow, the colour
of boxwood in fact, is superior to the darker kind, and the flexible
is better than the brittle. Boiled down to one-third, it is employed
for pessaries; but, for general purposes, a decoction is made of it of
the consistency of honey. Sometimes, also, it is used pounded, and it
is in this form that it is applied as a liniment for wounds and all
affections of the throat. The juice[2511] of it is also very good for
the voice, for which purpose it is thickened and then placed beneath
the tongue: it is good, too, for the chest and liver.

We have already stated[2512] that this plant has the effect of
allaying hunger and thirst: hence it is that some authors have given
it the name of “adipsos,”[2513] and have prescribed it for dropsical
patients, to allay thirst. It is for this reason, too, that it is
chewed as a stomatic,[2514] and that the powder of it is often
sprinkled on ulcerous sores of the mouth and films[2515] on the eyes:
it heals, too, excrescences[2516] of the bladder, pains in the kidneys,
condylomata,[2517] and ulcerous sores of the genitals. Some persons
have given it in potions for quartan fevers, the doses being two
drachmæ, mixed with pepper in one hemina of water. Chewed, and applied
to wounds, it arrests hæmorrhage:[2518] some authors have asserted,
also, that it expels calculi of the bladder.


Of the two[2519] kinds of tribulus, the one is a garden plant, the
other grows in rivers only. There is a juice extracted from them which
is employed for diseases of the eyes, it being of a cool and refreshing
nature, and, consequently, useful for inflammations and abscesses. Used
with honey, this juice is curative of spontaneous ulcerations, those of
the mouth in particular; it is good also for affections of the tonsils.
Taken in a potion, it breaks calculi of the bladder.

The Thracians who dwell on the banks of the river Strymon feed their
horses[2520] on the leaves of the tribulus, and employ the kernels
as an article of food, making of them a very agreeable kind of
bread, which acts astringently[2521] upon the bowels. The root, if
gathered by persons in a state of chastity and purity,[2522] disperses
scrofulous sores: and the seed, used as an amulet, allays the pains
attendant upon varicose veins: pounded and mixed with water, it
destroys fleas.


The stœbe,[2523] by some persons known as the “pheos,” boiled in wine,
is particularly good for the cure of suppurations of the ears, and for
extravasations of blood in the eyes from the effects of a blow. It is
employed also in injections for hæmorrhage and dysentery.


The hippophaes[2524] grows in sandy soils, and on the sea-shore. It
is a plant with white thorns, and covered with clusters, like the
ivy, the berries being white, and partly red. The root of it is full
of a juice which is either used by itself, or else is made up into
lozenges with meal of fitches: taken in doses of one obolus, it carries
off bile, and it is extremely beneficial if used with honied wine.
There is another[2525] hippophaes, without either stalk or flowers,
and consisting only of diminutive leaves: the juice of this also is
wonderfully useful for dropsy.

These plants would appear, too, to be remarkably well adapted to the
constitution of the horse, as it can be for no other reason than this
that they have received their name.[2526] For, in fact, there are
certain plants which have been created as remedies for the diseases
of animals, the Divinity being bounteously lavish of his succours and
resources; so much so, indeed, that we cannot sufficiently admire the
wisdom with which he has arranged them according to the classes of
animated beings which they are to serve, the causes which give rise to
their various maladies, and the times at which they are likely to be in
requisition: hence it is that there is no class of beings, no season,
and, so to speak, no day, that is without its remedy.


What plant can there possibly be that is more an object of our aversion
than the nettle?[2527] And yet, in addition to the oil which we have
already mentioned[2528] as being extracted from it in Egypt, it abounds
in medicinal properties. The seed of it, according to Nicander,
is an antidote to the poison of hemlock,[2529] of fungi, and of
quicksilver.[2530] Apollodorus prescribes it, too, taken in the broth
of a boiled tortoise,[2531] for the bite of the salamander,[2532] and
as an antidote for the poison of henbane, serpents, and scorpions.
The stinging pungency even of the nettle has its uses; for, by its
contact, it braces the uvula, and effects the cure of prolapsus of the
uterus, and of procidence of the anus in infants. By touching the legs
of persons in a lethargy, and the forehead more particularly, with
nettles, they are awakened.[2533] Applied with salt, the nettle is
used to heal the bites of dogs, and beaten up and applied topically,
it arrests bleeding[2534] at the nostrils, the root in particular.
Mixed with salt, also, it is employed for the cure of cancers and foul
ulcers; and, applied in a similar manner, it cures sprains and inflamed
tumours, as well as imposthumes of the parotid glands and denudations
of the bones. The seed of it, taken with boiled must, dispels
hysterical suffocations, and, applied topically, it arrests mucous
discharges of the nostrils. Taken with hydromel, after dinner, in doses
of two oboli, the seed produces a gentle vomit;[2535] and a dose of
one obolus, taken in wine, has the effect of dispelling lassitude.
The seed is prescribed also, parched, and in doses of one acetabulum,
for affections of the uterus; and, taken in boiled[2536] must, it is
a remedy for flatulency of the stomach. Taken in an electuary, with
honey, it gives relief in hardness of breathing, and clears the chest
by expectoration: applied with linseed, it is a cure for pains in
the side, with the addition of some hyssop and a little pepper. The
seed is employed also in the form of a liniment for affections of the
spleen, and, parched and taken with the food, it acts as a laxative in
constipation of the bowels. Hippocrates[2537] says that the seed, taken
in drink, acts as a purgative upon the uterus; and that taken, parched,
with sweet wine, in doses of one acetabulum, or applied externally with
juice of mallows, it alleviates pains in that organ. He states also
that, used with hydromel and salt, it expels intestinal worms, and
that a liniment made of the seed will restore the hair when falling
off. Many persons, too, employ the seed topically, with old oil, for
diseases of the joints, and for gout, or else the leaves beaten up with
bears’-grease: the root, too, pounded in vinegar, is no less useful for
the same purposes, as also for affections of the spleen. Boiled in
wine, and applied with stale axle-grease and salt, the root disperses
inflamed tumours, and, dried, it is used as a depilatory.

Phanias, the physician, has enlarged upon the praises of the nettle,
and he assures us that, taken with the food, either boiled or
preserved, it is extremely beneficial for affections of the trachea,
cough, fluxes of the bowels, stomachic complaints, inflamed tumours,
imposthumes of the parotid glands, and chilblains; that, taken with
oil, it acts as a sudorific; and that, boiled with shell-fish, it
relaxes the bowels. He says, too, that taken with a ptisan,[2538] it
facilitates expectoration and acts as an emmenagogue, and that, applied
with salt, it prevents ulcers from spreading. The juice of the nettle
is also used: applied to the forehead, it arrests bleeding at the nose,
taken in drink it acts as a diuretic and breaks calculi in the bladder,
and, used as a gargle, it braces the uvula when relaxed.

Nettle-seed should be gathered at harvest-time: that of Alexandria
is the most highly esteemed. For all these different purposes the
milder and more tender plants are the best, the wild nettle[2539] in
particular: this last, taken in wine, has the additional property of
removing leprous spots on the face. When animals refuse to couple, it
is recommended to rub the sexual organs with nettles.[2540]


The variety of nettle, too, which we have already[2541] spoken of under
the name of “lamium,”[2542] the most innoxious of them all, the leaves
not having the property of stinging, is used for the cure of bruises
and contusions, with a sprinkling[2543] of salt, as also for burns and
scrofulous sores, tumours, gout, and wounds. The middle of the leaf
is white, and is used for the cure of erysipelas. Some of our authors
have distinguished the various species of this plant according to their
respective seasons; thus, for instance, the root of the autumn nettle,
they say, carried on the person as an amulet, is a cure for tertian
fevers, if due care is taken, when pulling up the root, to mention the
patient’s name, and to state who he is and who are his parents. They
say, too, that this plant is productive of similar results in quartan
fever: and they pretend that the root of the nettle, with the addition
of salt, will extract foreign substances from the body; and that the
leaves, mixed with stale axle-grease, will disperse scrofulous sores,
or if they suppurate, cauterize them and cause them to fill up with new


The scorpio[2544] has received its appellation from the animal of that
name, in consequence of the resemblance of its seeds to a scorpion’s
tail. The leaves of it are few in number, and it is efficacious for
the sting[2545] of the animal from which it derives its name. There
is also another plant[2546] known by the same name, and possessed of
similar properties; it is destitute of leaves, has a stem like that of
asparagus,[2547] and a sharp point at the top, to which it owes its


The leucacantha,[2548] known also as the phyllos, ischias, or
polygonatos,[2549] has a root like that of the cypirus, which, when
chewed, has the effect of curing[2550] tooth-ache; as also pains in the
sides and loins, according to Hicesius, the seed or juice being taken
in drink, in doses of eight drachmæ.—This plant is employed also for
the cure of ruptures and convulsions.


The helxine[2551] is called by some, “perdicium,” from the circumstance
of its forming the principal food of partridges.[2552] Other persons,
however, give it the name of “sideritis,” and to some it is known as
“parthenium.” It has leaves, the shape of which is a mixture of those
of the plantago and the marrubium;[2553] the stalks are slight and
closely packed, and are of a light red colour. The seeds, enclosed in
heads resembling those of the lappa,[2554] adhere to the clothes, a
circumstance, it is said, to which it owes its name[2555] of “helxine.”
We have already stated in the preceding Book[2556] what are the
characteristics of the plant properly so called.

The one of which we are now speaking is used for dyeing[2557] wool,
and is employed for the cure of erysipelas, tumours, all kinds of
abscesses, and burns. The juice of it, taken in doses of one cyathus
with white lead, is a cure for inflamed tumours, incipient swellings
of the throat, and inveterate coughs.[2558] It is good, too, for all
maladies of the humid parts of the body, the tonsillary glands, for
instance; and, in combination with rose oil, it is useful for varicose
veins. It is employed topically for the gout, with goat suet and
Cyprian wax.


The perdicium or parthenium[2559]—for[2560] the sideritis is, in
reality, a different plant—is known to the people of our country as
the herb urceolaris,[2561] and to some persons as the “astercum.” The
leaf of it is similar to that of ocimum, but darker, and it is found
growing on tiled roofs and walls. Beaten up with a sprinkling of
salt, it has all the medicinal properties of the lamium,[2562] and is
used in a similar manner. The juice of it, taken warm, is good, too,
for suppurated abscesses; but for the cure of convulsions, ruptures,
bruises, and the effects of falls from a height, or of the overturning
of vehicles, it is possessed of singular virtues.

A slave, who was held in high esteem by Pericles,[2563] the ruler of
the Athenians, being engaged upon the buildings of a temple in the
citadel, while creeping along the top of the roof, happened to fall;
from the effects of which he was relieved, it is said, by this plant,
the virtues whereof had been disclosed to Pericles by Minerva in a
dream. Hence it is that it was first called “parthenium,”[2564] and was
consecrated to that goddess. It is this slave of whom there is a famous
statue in molten bronze, well known as the Splanchnoptes.[2565]


The chamæleon[2566] is spoken of as the “ixias,” by some authors. There
are two species of this plant; the white kind has a rougher leaf than
the other, and creeps along the ground, erecting its prickles like the
quills of a hedgehog; the root of it is sweet, and the odour very
powerful. In some places it secretes, just as they say incense[2567] is
produced, a white viscous substance beneath the axils of the leaves,
about the rising of the Dog-star more particularly. To this viscous
nature it owes its name of “ixias;”[2568] females[2569] make use of it
as a substitute for mastich. As to its name of “chamæleon,”[2570] that
is given to it from the varying tints of the leaves; for it changes its
colours, in fact, just according to the soil, being black in one place,
green in another, blue in a third, yellow elsewhere, and of various
other colours as well.

A decoction of the root of the white chamæleon is employed for the
cure[2571] of dropsy, being taken in doses of one drachma in raisin
wine. This decoction, taken in doses of one acetabulum, in astringent
wine, with some sprigs of origanum in it, has the effect of expelling
intestinal worms: it is good, too, as a diuretic. Mixed with polenta,
the juice of it will kill dogs and swine; with the addition of water
and oil, it will attract mice to it and destroy[2572] them, unless
they immediately drink water to counteract its effects. Some persons
recommend the root of it to be kept, cut in small pieces, and suspended
from the ceiling; when wanted, it must be boiled and taken with the
food, for the cure of those fluxes to which the Greeks have given the
name of “rheumatismi.”[2573]

In reference to the dark kind, some writers say that the one which
bears a purple flower is the male, and that with a violet flower, the
female. They grow together, upon a stem, a cubit in length, and a
finger in thickness. The root of these plants, boiled with sulphur and
bitumen, is employed for the cure of lichens; and they are chewed, or
a decoction of them made in vinegar, to fasten loose teeth. The juice
of them is employed for the cure of scab in animals, and it has the
property of killing ticks upon dogs. Upon steers it takes effect like
a sort of quinsy; from which circumstance it has received the name of
“ulophonon”[2574] from some, as also that of cynozolon[2575] from its
offensive smell. These plants produce also a viscus, which is a most
excellent remedy for ulcers. The roots of all the different kinds are
an antidote to the sting of the scorpion.


The coronopus[2576] is an elongated plant, with fissures in the leaves.
It is sometimes cultivated, as the root, roasted in hot ashes, is found
to be an excellent remedy for cœliac complaints.


The root of the anchusa,[2577] too, is made use of, a plant a finger in
thickness. It is split into leaves like the papyrus, and when touched
it stains the hands the colour of blood; it is used for imparting rich
colours to wool. Applied with cerate it heals ulcerous sores, those of
aged people in particular: it is employed also for the cure of burns.
It is insoluble in water, but dissolves in oil, this being, in fact,
the test of its genuineness. It is administered also, in doses of one
drachma, in wine, for nephretic pains, or else, if there is fever, in a
decoction of balanus;[2578] it is employed in a similar manner, also,
for affections of the liver and spleen, and for enlarged secretions of
the bile. Applied with vinegar, it is used for the cure of leprosy and
the removal of freckles. The leaves, beaten up with honey and meal, are
applied topically for sprains; and taken in honied wine, in doses of
two drachmæ, they arrest looseness of the bowels.[2579] A decoction of
the root in water, it is said, kills fleas.


There is another plant, similar to the preceding one, and hence
known as the “pseudoanchusa,”[2580] though by some it is called
“echis,”[2581] or “doris,” as well as by many other names. It is more
downy than the other plant, however, and not so substantial; the
leaves, too, are thinner, and more drooping. The root of it, treated
with oil, does not give out any red juice, a sign by which it is
distinguished from the genuine anchusa. The leaves of this plant, or
the seed, taken in drink, are extremely efficacious for the stings of
serpents; the leaves, too, are applied topically to the wound; and the
powerful smell of them will keep serpents at a distance. A preparation
of this plant is taken, also, as a potion, for affections of the
vertebræ. The Magi recommend that the leaves of it should be plucked
with the left hand, it being mentioned at the same time for whom they
are being gathered: after which, they are to be worn as an amulet,
attached to the person, for the cure of tertian fevers.[2582]


There is another plant, too, the proper name of which is
“onochilon,”[2583] but which some people call “anchusa,” others
“archebion,” and others, again, “onochelis,” or “rhexia,” and, more
universally, “enchrysa.” This plant has a diminutive stem, a purple
flower, rough leaves and branches, and a root the colour of blood
at harvest-time, though dark and swarthy at other times. It grows
in sandy soils, and is extremely efficacious for the stings of
serpents, vipers in particular, the roots or leaves of it being taken
indifferently with the food, or in the drink. It developes its virtues
at harvest-time, more especially: the leaves of it, when bruised, have
just the smell of a cucumber. This plant is prescribed, in doses of
three cyathi, for prolapsus of the uterus, and, taken with hyssop, it
expels tape-worms. For pains in the liver or kidneys, it is taken in
hydromel, if the patient shows symptoms of fever, but if not, in wine.
With the root of it a liniment is made, for the removal of freckles
and leprous sores; and it is asserted that persons who carry this root
about them will never be attacked by serpents.

There is another[2584] plant, again, very similar to this, with a red
flower, and somewhat smaller. It is applied to the same uses as the
other; it is asserted, too, that if it is chewed, and then spit out
upon a serpent, it will cause its instantaneous death.


The anthemis has been highly extolled by Asclepiades. Some persons
call it “leucanthemis,”[2585] some leucanthemum, others, again,
“eranthemis,”[2586] from its flowering in spring, and others
“chamæmelon,”[2587] because it has a smell like that of an apple:
sometimes, too, it is called “melanthion.”[2588] There are three
varieties of this plant, which only differ from one another in the
flower; they do not exceed a palm in height, and they bear small
blossoms like those of rue, white, yellow,[2589] or purple.

This plant is mostly found in thin, poor soils, or growing near
foot-paths. It is usually gathered in spring, and put by for the
purpose of making chaplets. At the same season, too, medical men
pound the leaves, and make them up into lozenges, the same being done
with the flowers also, and the root. All the parts of this plant are
administered together, in doses of one drachma, for the stings of
serpents of all kinds. Taken in drink, too, they bring away the dead
fœtus, act as an emmenagogue and diuretic, and disperse calculi of the
bladder. The anthemis is employed, also, for the cure of flatulency,
affections of the liver, excessive secretions of the bile, and fistulas
of the eye; chewed, it heals running sores. Of all the different
varieties, the one that is most efficacious for the treatment of
calculi is that with the purple flower,[2590] the leaves and stem[2591]
of which are somewhat larger than those of the other kinds. Some
persons, and with strict propriety, give to this last the name of


Those who think that the lotus is nothing but a tree only, can easily
be refuted, if upon the authority of Homer[2592] only; for that poet
names the lotus first of all among the herbs which grow to administer
to the pleasures of the gods. The leaves of this plant,[2593] mixed
with honey, disperse the marks of sores, argema,[2594] and films upon
the eyes.


The lotometra[2595] is a cultivated lotus; with the seed of it, which
resembles millet, the shepherds in Egypt make a coarse bread, which
they mostly knead with water or milk. It is said, however, that there
is nothing lighter or more wholesome than this bread, so long as it
is eaten warm; but that when it gets cold, it becomes heavy and more
difficult of digestion. It is a well-known fact, that persons who use
it as a diet are never attacked by dysentery, tenesmus, or other
affections of the bowels; hence it is, that this plant is reckoned
among the remedies for that class of diseases.


We have spoken more than once[2596] of the marvels of the heliotropium,
which turns[2597] with the sun, in cloudy weather even, so great is its
sympathy with that luminary. At night, as though in regret, it closes
its blue flower.

There are two species of heliotropium, the tricoccum[2598] and the
helioscopium,[2599] the latter being the taller of the two, though they
neither of them exceed half[2600] a foot in height. The helioscopium
throws out branches from the root, and the seed of it, enclosed in
follicules,[2601] is gathered at harvest-time. It grows nowhere
but in a rich soil, a highly-cultivated one more particularly; the
tricoccum, on the other hand, is to be found growing everywhere.
I find it stated, that the helioscopium, boiled, is considered an
agreeable food, and that taken in milk, it is gently laxative[2602] to
the bowels; while, again, a decoction of it, taken as a potion, acts
as a most effectual purgative. The juice of this plant is collected
in summer, at the sixth[2603] hour of the day; it is usually mixed
with wine, which makes[2604] it keep all the better. Combined with
rose-oil, it alleviates head-ache. The juice extracted from the leaves,
combined with salt, removes warts; from which circumstance our people
have given this plant the name of “verrucaria,”[2605] although, from
its various properties, it fully merits a better name. For, taken
in wine or hydromel, it is an antidote to the venom of serpents and
scorpions,[2606] as Apollophanes and Apollodorus state. The leaves,
too, employed topically, are a cure for the cerebral affections of
infants, known as “siriasis,”[2607] as also for convulsions, even when
they are epileptic. It is very wholesome, too, to gargle the mouth
with a decoction of this plant. Taken in drink, it expels tapeworm and
gravel, and, with the addition of cummin, it will disperse calculi. A
decoction of the plant with the root, mixed with the leaves and some
suet of a he-goat, is applied topically for the cure of gout.

The other kind, which we have spoken[2608] of as being called the
“tricoccum,” and which also bears the name of “scorpiuron,”[2609]
has leaves that are not only smaller than those of the other kind,
but droop downwards towards the ground: the seed of it resembles a
scorpion’s tail, to which, in fact, it owes its latter appellation. It
is of great efficacy for injuries received from all kinds of venomous
insects and the spider known as the “phalangium,” but more particularly
for the stings of scorpions, if applied topically.[2610] Those who
carry it about their person are never stung by a scorpion, and it is
said that if a circle is traced on the ground around a scorpion with
a sprig of this plant, the animal will never move out of it, and that
if a scorpion is covered with it, or even sprinkled with the water
in which it has been steeped, it will die that instant. Four grains
of the seed, taken in drink, are said to be a cure for the quartan
fever, and three for the tertian; a similar effect being produced by
carrying the plant three times round the patient, and then laying it
under his head. The seed, too, acts as an aphrodisiac, and, applied
with honey, it disperses inflamed tumours. This kind of heliotropium,
as well as the other, extracts warts radically,[2611] and excrescences
of the anus. Applied topically, the seed draws off corrupt blood from
the vertebræ and loins; and a similar effect is produced by taking
a decoction of it in chicken broth, or with beet and lentils. The
husks[2612] of the seed restore the natural colour to lividities of the
skin. According to the Magi, the patient himself should make four knots
in the heliotropium for a quartan, and three for a tertian fever, at
the same time offering a prayer that he may recover to untie them, the
plant being left in the ground meanwhile.


Equally marvellous, too, in other respects, is the adiantum;[2613] it
is green in summer, never dies in the winter, manifests an aversion
to water, and, when sprinkled with water or dipped in it, has all the
appearance of having been dried, so great is its antipathy to moisture;
a circumstance to which it owes the name of “adiantum,”[2614] given
to it by the Greeks. In other respects, it is a shrub which might be
well employed in ornamental gardening.[2615] Some persons give it the
name of “callitrichos,”[2616] and others of “polytrichos,” both of
them bearing reference to its property of imparting colour to the hair.
For this purpose, a decoction of it is made in wine with parsley-seed,
large quantities of oil being added, if it is desired to make the hair
thick and curly as well: it has also the property of preventing the
hair from coming off.

There are two kinds of this plant, one being whiter than the other,
which last is swarthy and more stunted. It is the larger kind that is
known as the “polytrichos,” or, as some call it, the “trichomanes.”
Both plants have tiny branches of a bright black colour, and leaves
like those of fern, the lower ones being rough and tawny, and all
of them lying close together and attached to footstalks arranged on
either side of the stem: of root, so to say, there is nothing.[2617]
This plant frequents umbrageous rocks, walls sprinkled with the spray
of running water, grottoes of fountains more particularly, and crags
surrounded with streamlets, a fact that is all the more remarkable in a
plant which derives no benefit from water.

The adiantum is of singular efficacy in expelling and breaking calculi
of the bladder, the dark kind in particular; and it is for this reason,
in my opinion, rather than because it grows upon stones, that it has
received from the people of our country its name of “saxifragum.”[2618]
It is taken in wine, the usual dose being a pinch of it in three
fingers. Both these plants are diuretics, and act as an antidote to
the venom of serpents and spiders: a decoction of them in wine arrests
looseness of the bowels. A wreath of them, worn on the head, alleviates
head-ache. For the bite of the scolopendra they are applied topically,
but they must be removed every now and then, to prevent them from
cauterizing the flesh:[2619] they are employed in a similar manner also
for alopecy.[2620] They disperse scrofulous sores, scurf on the face,
and running ulcers of the head. A decoction of them is useful also for
asthma, affections of the liver and spleen, enlarged secretions of the
gall, and dropsy. In combination with wormwood, they form a liniment
for strangury and affections of the kidneys; they have the effect also
of bringing away the after-birth, and act as an emmenagogue. Taken
with vinegar or juice of bramble-berries, they arrest hæmorrhage.
Combined with rose-oil they are employed as a liniment for excoriations
on infants, the parts affected being first fomented with wine. The
leaves, steeped in the urine of a youth who has not arrived at puberty,
and beaten up with saltpetre, compose a liniment which, it is said,
prevents wrinkles from forming on the abdomen in females. It is a
general belief that partridges and cocks are rendered more pugnacious
if this plant is mixed with their food; and it is looked upon as
particularly beneficial for cattle.


The picris[2621] derives its name from its intense bitterness, as we
have previously stated. The leaf of it is round; it is remarkably
efficacious for the removal of warts.

The thesium,[2622] too, has a bitterness not unlike it: it is a
powerful purgative, for which purpose it is employed bruised in water.


The asphodel[2623] is one of the most celebrated of all the plants,
so much so, indeed, that by some persons it has been called
“heroum.”[2624] Hesiod has mentioned the fact of its growing in
rivers, and Dionysius distinguishes it into male and female.[2625]
It has been observed that the bulbs of it, boiled with a ptisan,
are remarkably good for consumption and phthisis,[2626] and that
bread in which they have been kneaded up with the meal, is extremely
wholesome. Nicander[2627] recommends also, for the stings of serpents
and scorpions, either the stalk, which we have already[2628] spoken
of under the name of “anthericus,” or else the seed or bulbs, to be
taken in wine, in doses of three drachmæ; and he says that these
should be strewed beneath the bed, if there is any apprehension of
their presence. The asphodel is prescribed also for wounds inflicted
by marine animals of a venomous nature, and the bite of the land
scolopendra. It is quite wonderful how the snails, in Campania, seek
the stalk of this plant, and dry it by extracting the inside. The
leaves, too, are applied with wine to wounds made by venomous animals,
and the bulbs are beaten up with polenta and similarly used for
affections of the sinews and joints. It is also a very good plan to rub
lichens with them chopped up and mixed with vinegar, and to apply them
in water to putrid sores, as also to inflammations of the testes or
mamillæ. Boiled in lees of wine, and applied in a linen pledget, they
are used for the cure of defluxions of the eyes.

Whatever the malady may happen to be, it is generally in a boiled[2629]
state that the bulbs are employed; but for foul ulcers of the legs
and for chaps upon any part of the body, they are dried and reduced
to powder. The bulbs are usually gathered in autumn,[2630] a period
when their medicinal properties are most fully developed. The juice
extracted from them pounded, or else a decoction of them, is good,
mixed with honey, for pains in the body: it is employed also with
dried iris and a little salt by those who wish to impart an agreeable
odour to the person. The leaves are used for the cure of the various
maladies above mentioned, as also, boiled in wine, for scrofulous
sores, inflamed tumours, and ulcers of the face. The ashes of the root
are a remedy for alopecy and chaps on the feet; and an extract of the
root, boiled in oil, is good for burns and chilblains. It is injected
also into the ears for deafness, and, for tooth-ache, it is poured into
the ear opposite to the part affected. A moderate dose of the root,
taken in drink, acts as a diuretic and emmenagogue; it is good also
for pains in the sides, ruptures, convulsions, and coughs, in doses of
one drachma, taken in wine. Chewed, the root promotes vomiting, but the
seed, taken internally, disorders the bowels.

Chrysermus used to employ a decoction of the root, in wine, for
imposthumes of the parotid glands; and he has prescribed it, in
combination with cachrys,[2631] in wine, for the cure of scrofulous
sores. Some persons say that if, after applying the root to the sores,
a part of it is hung up in the smoke to dry, and not taken down till
the end of four days, the sores will gradually dry up with this portion
of the root. Sophocles[2632] used to employ it both ways, boiled and
raw, for the cure of gout; and he prescribes it, boiled in oil, for
chilblains, and, in vinegar, for jaundice and dropsy. It has been
stated, also, that, used as a friction with wine and honey, or taken
in drink, it acts as an aphrodisiac. Xenocrates assures us, too, that
a decoction of the root in vinegar removes lichens, itch-scabs, and
leprous sores; and that a decoction of it, with henbane and tar, has a
similar effect, and is good also for the removal of bad odours[2633]
of the armpits and thighs: he states, also, that if the head is well
rubbed with the root, being first shaved, the hair will curl all the
better for it. Simus prescribes a decoction of it, in wine, to be
taken for calculi in the kidneys; and Hippocrates recommends the seed
for obstructions of the spleen. The root, or else a decoction of it,
applied topically, restores the hair in beasts of burden, where it has
been lost by ulcerations or scab. It has the effect, too, of driving
away rats and mice, and of exterminating them, if placed before their


Some authors have thought that it is the asphodel that is called
“halimon” by Hesiod, an opinion which appears to me ill-founded;
halimon[2634] being the name of a distinct plant, which has been the
occasion of no few mistakes committed by writers. According to some,
it is a tufted shrub, white, destitute of thorns, and with leaves
like those of the olive, only softer; which eaten boiled, are an
agreeable food. The root, they say, taken in doses of one drachma in
hydromel, allays gripings of the bowels, and is a cure for ruptures
and convulsions. Others, again, pronounce it to be a vegetable growing
near the sea-shore,[2635] of a salt taste—to which, in fact, it owes
its name—with leaves somewhat round but elongated, and much esteemed as
an article of food. They say, too, that there are two species of it,
the wild and the cultivated,[2636] and that, mixed with bread, they
are good, both of them, for dysentery, even if ulceration should have
supervened, and are useful for stomachic affections, in combination
with vinegar. They state, also, that this plant is applied raw to
ulcers of long standing, and that it modifies the inflammation of
recent wounds, and the pain attendant upon sprains of the feet and
affections of the bladder. The wild halimon, they tell us, has thinner
leaves than the other, but is more effectual as a medicament in all the
above cases, as also for the cure of itch, whether in man or beast.
The root, too, according to them, employed as a friction, renders the
skin more clear, and the teeth whiter; and they assert that if the seed
of it is put beneath the tongue, no thirst will be experienced. They
state, also, that this kind is eaten as well as the other, and that
they are, both of them, preserved.

Crateuas has spoken of a third[2637] kind also, with longer leaves than
the others, and more hairy: it has the smell of the cypress, he says,
and grows beneath the ivy more particularly. He states that this plant
is extremely good for opisthotony and contractions of the sinews, taken
in doses of three oboli to one sextarius of water.


The acanthus[2638] is a plant that grows in cities, and is used in
ornamental gardening. It has a broad, long leaf, and is used as
a covering for the margins of ornamental waters and of parterres
in gardens.[2639] There are two varieties of it; the one that is
thorny[2640] and crisped is the shorter of the two; the other, which
is smooth,[2641] is by some persons called “pæderos,”[2642] and by
others “melamphyllos.”[2643] The root of this last is remarkably
good for burns and sprains; and, boiled with the food, a ptisan more
particularly, it is equally good for ruptures, spasms, and patients who
are in apprehension of phthisis. The root is also beaten up and applied
warm for hot gout.


The bupleuron[2644] is reckoned by the Greeks in the number of the
leguminous plants which grow spontaneously. The stem of it is a cubit
in height, the leaves are long and numerous, and the head resembles
that of dill. It has been extolled as an aliment by Hippocrates, and
for its medicinal properties by Glaucon and Nicander. The seed of
it is good for the stings of serpents; and the leaves, or else the
juice, applied as a liniment with wine, bring away the after-birth.
The leaves, also, in combination with salt and wine, are applied to
scrofulous sores. The root is prescribed in wine for the stings of
serpents, and as a diuretic.


With a remarkable degree of inconsistency, the Greek writers, while
praising the buprestis[2645] as an aliment, point out certain
antidotes[2646] to it, as though it were a poison. The very name,
however, proves to a certainty that it is poisonous to cattle, and it
is generally admitted that, on tasting it, they burst[2647] asunder: we
shall, therefore, say no more about it. Is there any reason, in fact,
why, when we are speaking of the materials employed in making our grass
crowns, we should describe a poison? or really ought we to enlarge upon
it only to please the libidinous fancies of those who imagine that
there is not a more powerful aphrodisiac in existence than this, when
taken in drink?


The elaphoboscon[2648] is a ferulaceous plant, articulated, and about
a finger in thickness. The seed of it is like that of dill, hanging in
umbels resembling those of hart-wort in appearance, but not bitter.
The leaves are very like those of olusatrum.[2649] This plant, too, is
highly spoken of as an article of food; in addition to which, it is
preserved and kept as a diuretic[2650] and for the purpose of assuaging
pains in the sides, curing ruptures and convulsions, and dispelling
flatulency and colic. It is used, too, for the cure of wounds
inflicted by serpents and all kinds of animals that sting; so much
so, indeed, that, as the story goes, stags, by eating of it, fortify
themselves against the attacks of serpents. The root, too, applied
topically, with the addition of nitre, is a cure for fistula, but, when
wanted for this purpose, it must be dried first, so as to retain none
of the juice; though, on the other hand, this juice does not at all
impair its efficacy as an antidote to the poison of serpents.


The scandix,[2651] too, is reckoned by the Greeks in the number of the
wild vegetables, as we learn from Opion and Erasistratus. Boiled, it
arrests[2652] looseness of the bowels; and the seed of it, administered
with vinegar, immediately stops hiccup. It is employed topically for
burns, and acts as a diuretic; a decoction of it is good, too, for
affections of the stomach, liver, kidneys, and bladder. It is this
plant that furnished Aristophanes with his joke[2653] against the poet
Euripides, that his mother used to sell not real vegetables, but only

The anthriscum[2654] would be exactly the same plant as the scandix, if
its leaves were somewhat thinner and more odoriferous. Its principal
virtue is that it reinvigorates the body when exhausted by sexual
excesses, and acts as a stimulant upon the enfeebled powers of old age.
It arrests leucorrhœa in females.


The iasione,[2655] which is also looked upon as a wild vegetable, is a
creeping plant, full of a milky juice: it bears a white flower, the
name given to which is “concilium.” The chief recommendation of this
plant, too, is that it acts as an aphrodisiac. Eaten with the food,
raw, in vinegar, it promotes the secretion of the milk in nursing
women. It is salutary also for patients who are apprehensive of
phthisis; and, applied to the head of infants, it makes the hair grow,
and renders the scalp more firm.


The caucalis,[2656] too, is an edible plant. It resembles fennel in
appearance, and has a short stem with a white flower;[2657] it is
usually considered a good cordial.[2658] The juice, too, of this plant
is taken as a potion, being particularly recommended as a stomachic,
a diuretic, an expellent of calculi and gravel, and for the cure of
irritations of the bladder. It has the effect, also, of attenuating
morbid secretions[2659] of the spleen, liver, and kidneys. The seed of
it acts as an emmenagogue, and dispels the bilious secretions after
child-birth: it is prescribed also, for males, in cases of seminal
weakness. Chrysippus is of opinion that this plant promotes conception;
for which purpose it is taken by women in wine, fasting. It is employed
in the form of a liniment, for wounds inflicted by marine animals of
a venomous nature, at least we find it so stated by Petrichus in his


Among these plants there is reckoned also the sium:[2661] it grows in
the water, has a leaf broader than that of parsley, thicker, and of a
more swarthy colour, bears a considerable quantity of seed, and has the
taste of nasturtium. It is an active diuretic, is very good for the
kidneys and spleen, and acts as an emmenagogue, either eaten by itself
as an aliment,[2662] or taken in the form of a decoction; the seed of
it is taken in wine, in doses of two drachmæ. It disperses calculi in
the bladder, and neutralizes the action of water which tends to their
formation. Used in the form of an injection, it is good for dysentery,
and applied topically, for the removal of freckles. It is applied by
females, at night, for the removal of spots on the face, a result which
it produces almost instantaneously. It has the effect also of assuaging
hernia, and is good for the scab in horses.


The sillybum[2663] resembles the white chamæleon, and is a plant quite
as prickly. In Cilicia, Syria, and Phœnicia, the countries where it
grows, it is not thought worth while to boil it, the cooking of it
being so extremely troublesome, it is said. It is of no use whatever in


The scolymos,[2664] too, is used as an aliment[2665] in the East, where
it has also the name of “limonia.”[2666] This is a shrub-like plant,
which never exceeds a cubit in height, with tufted leaves and a black
root, but sweet. Eratosthenes speaks highly of it as a diet used by
the poor. It is said to possess diuretic properties in a very high
degree, and to heal lichens and leprous sores, applied with vinegar.
Taken in wine it acts as an aphrodisiac, according to the testimony
of Hesiod[2667] and Alcæus; who have stated in their writings, that
while it is in blossom, the song of the grasshopper is louder than at
other times, women more inflamed with desire, and men less inclined
to amorous intercourse; and that it is by a kind of foresight on the
part of Nature that this powerful stimulant is then in its greatest
perfection. The root, too, used without the pith, corrects the noisome
odour of the armpits, in doses of one ounce to two heminæ of Falernian
wine; the mixture being boiled down to one third, and taken fasting
after the bath, as also after meals, a cyathus at a time. It is a
remarkable thing, but Xenocrates assures us that he has ascertained it
experimentally, that these bad odours are carried off by the urine.


The sonchos,[2668] too, is edible—at least, it was this that, according
to Callimachus, Hecale[2669] set before Theseus. There are two kinds,
the white[2670] and the black:[2671] they are, both of them, similar
to the lettuce, except that they are prickly, with a stem a cubit in
height, angular, and hollow within; when broken, the stem gives out
an abundance of milky juice. The white kind, which derives its colour
from the milk it contains, is good for hardness of breathing, if eaten
dressed with seasoning like the lettuce. Erasistratus says that it
carries off calculi by the urine, and that, chewed, it is a corrective
of bad breath. The juice of it, taken warm in doses of three cyathi,
with white wine and oil, facilitates delivery, but the patient must be
careful to walk about immediately after drinking it: it is also given
in broth.

A decoction of the stalk renders the milk more abundant in nursing
women, and improves the complexion of the infants suckled by them; it
is also remarkably beneficial for females when the milk coagulates. The
juice of it is used as an injection for the ears, and is taken warm in
doses of one cyathus, for strangury, as also for gnawing pains of the
stomach, with cucumber seed and pine nuts. It is employed topically
for abscesses of the rectum, and is taken in drink for the stings of
serpents and scorpions, the root also being applied to the wounds. The
root, boiled in oil, with the rind of a pomegranate, is a remedy for
diseases of the ears—all these remedies, however, be it remembered, are
derived from the white kind.

As to the black sonchos, Cleemporus forbids it to be eaten, as being
productive of diseases, but at the same time he approves of the use
of the white. Agathocles, however, goes so far as to assert that the
juice of the black kind is an antidote for poisoning by bulls’ blood;
and, indeed, it is generally agreed that the black sonchos has certain
refreshing properties; for which reason cataplasms of it may be
advantageously applied with polenta. Zeno recommends the root of the
white kind for strangury.


The condrion,[2672] or chondrylla, has leaves, eaten away, as it were,
at the edges, and similar to those of endive, a stalk less than a foot
in length and full of a bitter juice, and a root resembling that of the
bean, and occasionally very ramified. It produces, near the surface
of the earth, a sort of mastich,[2673] in a tubercular form, the size
of a bean; this mastich, it is said, employed as a pessary, promotes
the menstrual discharge. This plant, pounded whole with the roots, is
divided into lozenges, which are employed for the stings of serpents,
and probably with good effect; for field mice, it is said, when injured
by those reptiles, are in the habit of eating this plant. A decoction
of it in wine arrests looseness of the bowels, and makes a most
excellent substitute for gum, as a bandoline for the eye-lashes,[2674]
even when the hairs are most stubborn. Dorotheus says, in his poems,
that it is extremely good for the stomach and the digestive organs.
Some persons, however, have been of opinion that it is unwholesome for
females, bad for the eyesight, and productive of impotence in the male


Among those vegetable productions which are eaten with risk, I shall,
with good reason, include mushrooms;[2675] a very dainty food, it
is true, but deservedly held in disesteem since the notorious crime
committed by Agrippina, who, through their agency, poisoned her
husband, the Emperor Claudius, and at the same moment, in the person of
his son Nero, inflicted another poisonous curse upon the whole world,
herself[2676] in particular.

Some of the poisonous mushrooms are easily known, being of a rank,
unwholesome look, light red without and livid within, with the
clefts[2677] considerably enlarged, and a pale, sickly margin to the
head.[2678] These characteristics, however, are not presented by others
of the poisonous kinds; but being dry to all appearance and strongly
resembling the genuine ones, they present white spots upon the head,
on the surface of the outer coat. The earth, in fact, first produces
the uterus[2679] or receptacle for the mushroom, and then the mushroom
within, like the yolk in the egg. Nor is this envelope less conducive
to the nutrition of the young mushroom [than is the albumen of the
egg to that of the chicken.] Bursting forth from the envelope at the
moment of its first appearance, as it gradually increases it becomes
transformed into a substantial stalk; it is but very rarely, too, that
we find two growing from a single foot-stalk. The generative[2680]
principle of the mushroom is in the slime and the fermenting juices
of the damp earth, or of the roots of most of the glandiferous trees.
It appears at first in the shape of a sort of viscous foam, and then
assumes a more substantial but membranous form, after which, as already
stated, the young mushroom appears.

In general, these plants are of a pernicious nature, and the use
of them should be altogether rejected; for if by chance they should
happen to grow near a hob-nail,[2681] a piece of rusty iron, or a
bit of rotten cloth, they will immediately imbibe all these foreign
emanations and flavours, and transform them into poison. Who, in fact,
is able to distinguish them, except those who dwell in the country, or
the persons[2682] that are in the habit of gathering them? There are
other circumstances, too, which render them noxious; if they grow near
the hole of a serpent,[2683] for instance, or if they should happen to
have been breathed upon by one when just beginning to open; being all
the more disposed to imbibe the venom from their natural affinity to
poisonous substances.

It will therefore be as well to be on our guard during the season at
which the serpents have not as yet retired to their holes for the
winter. The best sign to know this by is a multitude of herbs, of
trees, and of shrubs, which remain green from the time that these
reptiles leave their holes till their return; indeed, the ash alone
will be quite sufficient for the purpose, the leaves of it never coming
out after the serpents have made their appearance, or beginning to
fall before they have retired to their holes. The entire existence of
the mushroom, from its birth to its death, is never more than seven


Fungi are of a more humid nature than the last, and are divided into
numerous kinds, all of which are derived solely from the pituitous
humours[2685] of trees. The safest are those, the flesh of which is
red,[2686] the colour being more pronounced than that of the mushroom.
The next best are the white[2687] ones, the stems of which have a head
very similar to the apex[2688] worn by the Flamens; and a third kind
are the suilli,[2689] very conveniently adapted for poisoning. Indeed,
it is but very recently that they have carried off whole families, and
all the guests at a banquet; Annæus Serenus,[2690] for instance, the
prefect of Nero’s guard, together with all the tribunes and centurions.
What great pleasure, then, can there be in partaking of a dish of so
doubtful[2691] a character as this? Some persons have classified these
fungi according to the trees to which they are indebted for their
formation, the fig, for instance, the fennel-giant, and the gummiferous
trees; those belonging to the beech, the robur, and the cypress, not
being edible, as already mentioned.[2692] But who is there to give us a
guarantee when they come to market, that these distinctions have been

All the poisonous fungi are of a livid colour; and the degree of
similarity borne by the sap of the tree itself to that of the fig will
afford an additional indication whether they are venomous or not. We
have already mentioned[2693] various remedies for the poison of fungi,
and shall have occasion to make mention of others; but in the mean
time, it will be as well to observe that they themselves also have some
medicinal[2694] uses. Glaucias is of opinion that mushrooms are good
for the stomach. The suilli are dried and strung upon a rush, as we see
done with those brought from Bithynia. They are employed as a remedy
for the fluxes known as “rheumatismi,”[2695] and for excrescences of
the fundament, which they diminish and gradually consume. They are
used, also, for freckles and spots on women’s faces. A wash, too, is
made of them, as is done with lead,[2696] for maladies of the eyes.
Steeped in water, they are applied topically to foul ulcers, eruptions
of the head, and bites inflicted by dogs.

I would here also give some general directions for the cooking of
mushrooms, as this is the only article of food that the voluptuaries
of the present day are in the habit of dressing with their own
hands, and so feeding upon it in anticipation, being provided with
amber-handled[2697] knives and silver plates and dishes for the
purpose. Those fungi may be looked upon as bad which become hard in
cooking; while those, on the other hand, are comparatively innoxious,
which admit of being thoroughly boiled, with the addition of some
nitre. They will be all the safer if they are boiled with some meat or
the stalks of pears: it is a very good plan, too, to eat pears directly
after them. Vinegar, too, being of a nature diametrically opposed to
them, neutralizes[2698] their dangerous qualities.


All these productions owe their origin to rain,[2699] and by rain is
silphium produced. It originally came from Cyrenæ, as already[2700]
stated: at the present day, it is mostly imported from Syria, the
produce of which country, though better than that of Media, is inferior
to the Parthian kind. As already observed,[2701] the silphium of Cyrenæ
no longer exists. It is of considerable use in medicine, the leaves
of it being employed to purge the uterus, and as an expellent of the
dead fœtus; for which purposes a decoction of them is made in white
aromatic wine, and taken in doses of one acetabulum, immediately after
the bath. The root of it is good for irritations of the trachea, and
is employed topically for extravasated blood; but, used as an aliment,
it is difficult of digestion, being productive of flatulency and
eructations: it is injurious, also, to the urinary secretions. Combined
with wine and oil, it is extremely good for bruises, and, with wax, for
the cure of scrofulous sores. Repeated fumigations with the root cause
excrescences of the anus to subside.


Laser, a juice which distils from silphium, as we have already[2702]
stated, and reckoned among the most precious gifts presented to us by
Nature, is made use of in numerous medicinal preparations. Employed by
itself, it warms and revives persons benumbed with cold, and, taken
in drink, it alleviates affections of the sinews. It is given to
females in wine, and is used with soft wool as a pessary to promote
the menstrual discharge. Mixed with wax, it extracts corns on the
feet, after they have been first loosened with the knife: a piece of
it, the size of a chick-pea, melted in water, acts as a diuretic.
Andreas assures us that, taken in considerable doses even, it is never
productive of flatulency, and that it greatly promotes the digestion,
both in aged people and females; he says, too, that it is better used
in winter than in summer, and that even then, it is best suited for
those whose beverage is water: but due care must be taken that there is
no internal ulceration. Taken with the food, it is very refreshing for
patients just recovering from an illness; indeed, if it is used at the
proper time, it has all the virtues of a desiccatory,[2703] though it
is more wholesome for persons who are in the habit of using it than for
those who do not ordinarily employ it.

As to external maladies, the undoubted virtues of this medicament are
universally acknowledged: taken in drink, it has the effect, also,
of neutralizing the venom of serpents and of poisoned weapons, and,
applied with water, it is in general use for the cure of wounds. In
combination with oil, it is only used as a liniment for the stings
of scorpions, and with barley-meal or dried figs, for the cure of
ulcers that have not come to a head. It is applied topically, also, to
carbuncles, with rue or honey, or else by itself, with some viscous
substance to make it adhere; for the bites of dogs, also, it is
similarly employed. A decoction of it in vinegar, with pomegranate
rind, is used for excrescences[2704] of the fundament, and, mixed with
nitre, for the corns commonly known as “morticini.”[2705] In cases of
alopecy which have been first treated with nitre, it makes the hair
grow again, applied with wine and saffron, or else pepper or mouse-dung
and vinegar. For chilblains, fomentations are made of it with wine,
or liniments with oil; as also for callosities and indurations. For
corns on the feet, if pared first, it is particularly useful, as also
as a preservative against the effects of bad water, and of unhealthy
climates or weather. It is prescribed for cough, too, affections of
the uvula, jaundice of long standing, dropsy, and hoarseness, having
the effect of instantly clearing the throat and restoring the voice.
Diluted in oxycrate, and applied with a sponge, it assuages the pains
in gout.

It is given also in broth[2706] to patients suffering from pleurisy,
when about to take wine; and it is prescribed for convulsions and
opisthotony, in pills about as large as a chick-pea, coated with wax.
For quinsy, it is used as a gargle, and to patients troubled with
asthma or inveterate cough, it is given with leeks in vinegar; it is
prescribed, also, with vinegar, after drinking butter-milk.[2707] It
is recommended with wine for consumptive affections of the viscera
and epilepsy, and with hydromel for paralysis of the tongue; with a
decoction of honey, it forms a liniment for sciatica and lumbago.

For my own part, I should not recommend,[2708] what some authors
advise, to insert a pill of laser, covered with wax, in a hollow tooth,
for tooth-ache; being warned to the contrary by a remarkable case of
a man, who, after doing so, threw himself headlong from the top of a
house. Besides, it is a well-known fact, that if it is rubbed on the
muzzle of a bull, it irritates him to an extraordinary degree; and
that if it is mixed with wine, it will cause serpents to burst—those
reptiles being extremely fond of wine. In addition to this, I should
not advise any one to rub the gums with Attic honey, although that
practice is recommended by some.

It would be an endless task to enumerate all the uses to which laser is
put, in combination with other substances; and the more so, as it is
only our object to treat of simple remedies, it being these in which
Nature displays her resources. In the compound remedies, too, we often
find our judgment deceived, and quite at fault, from our comparative
inattention to the sympathy or antipathy which naturally exists between
the ingredients employed—on this subject, however, we shall have to
enlarge on a future occasion.[2709]


Honey would be held in no less esteem than laser, were it not for
the fact that nearly every country produces it.[2710] Laser is the
production of Nature herself; but, for the formation of honey, she
has created an insect, as already described.[2711] The uses to which
honey is put are quite innumerable, if we only consider the vast number
of compositions in which it forms an ingredient. First of all, there
is the propolis,[2712] which we find in the hives, as already[2713]
mentioned. This substance has the property of extracting stings and
all foreign bodies from the flesh, dispersing tumours, ripening
indurations, allaying pains of the sinews, and cicatrizing ulcers of
the most obstinate nature.

As to honey itself, it is of so peculiar a nature, that it prevents
putrefaction[2714] from supervening, by reason of its sweetness
solely, and not any inherent acridity, its natural properties being
altogether different from those of salt. It is employed with the
greatest success for affections[2715] of the throat and tonsils, for
quinsy and all ailments of the mouth, as also in fever, when the
tongue is parched. Decoctions of it are used also for peripneumony
and pleurisy, for wounds inflicted by serpents, and for the poison of
fungi. For paralysis, it is prescribed in honied wine, though that
liquor also has its own peculiar virtues. Honey is used with rose-oil,
as an injection for the ears; it has the effect also of exterminating
nits and foul vermin of the head. It is the best plan always to skim it
before using it.

Still, however, honey has a tendency to inflate[2716] the stomach; it
increases the bilious secretions also, produces qualmishness, and,
according to some, if employed by itself, is injurious[2717] to the
sight: though, on the other hand, there are persons who recommend
ulcerations at the corners of the eyes to be touched with honey.

As to the elementary principles of honey, the different varieties of
it, the countries where it is found, and its characteristic features,
we have enlarged upon them on previous occasions: first,[2718] when
treating of the nature of bees, and secondly, when speaking[2719]
of that of flowers; the plan of this work compelling us to separate
subjects which ought properly to be united, if we would arrive at a
thorough knowledge of the operations of Nature.


While speaking of the uses of honey, we ought also to treat of the
properties of hydromel.[2720] There are two kinds of hydromel, one
of which is prepared at the moment, and taken while fresh,[2721] the
other being kept to ripen. The first, which is made of skimmed honey,
is an extremely wholesome beverage for invalids who take nothing but
a light diet, such as strained alica for instance: it reinvigorates
the body, is soothing to the mouth and stomach, and by its refreshing
properties allays feverish heats. I find it stated,[2722] too, by some
authors, that to relax the bowels it should be taken cold, and that it
is particularly well-suited for persons of a chilly temperament, or of
a weak and pusillanimous[2723] constitution, such as the Greeks, for
instance, call “micropsychi.”

For there is a theory,[2724] remarkable for its extreme ingenuity,
first established by Plato, according to which the primary atoms of
bodies, as they happen to be smooth or rough, angular or round, are
more or less adapted to the various temperaments of individuals: and
hence it is, that the same substances are not universally sweet or
bitter to all. So, when affected with lassitude or thirst, we are more
prone to anger than at other times.[2725] These asperities, however, of
the disposition, or rather I should say of the mind,[2726] are capable
of being modified by the sweeter beverages; as they tend to lubricate
the passages for the respiration, and to mollify the channels, the work
of inhalation and exhalation being thereby unimpeded by any rigidities.
Every person must be sensible of this experimentally, in his own
case: there is no one in whom anger, affliction, sadness, and all the
emotions of the mind may not, in some degree, be modified by diet.
It will therefore be worth our while to observe what aliments they
are which exercise a physical effect, not only upon the body, but the
disposition as well.


Hydromel is recommended, too, as very good for a cough: taken warm,
it promotes vomiting. With the addition of oil it counteracts the
poison of white lead;[2727] of henbane, also, and of the halicacabum,
as already stated,[2728] if taken in milk, asses’ milk in particular.
It is used as an injection for diseases of the ears, and in cases of
fistula of the generative organs. With crumb of bread it is applied as
a poultice to the uterus, as also to tumours suddenly formed, sprains,
and all affections which require soothing applications. The more recent
writers have condemned the use of fermented hydromel, as being not so
harmless as water, and less strengthening than wine. After it has been
kept a considerable time, it becomes transformed into a wine,[2729]
which, it is universally agreed, is extremely prejudicial to the
stomach, and injurious to the nerves.[2730]


As to honied[2731] wine, that is always the best which has been made
with old wine: honey, too, incorporates with it very readily, which is
never the case with sweet[2732] wine. When made with astringent wine,
it does not clog the stomach, nor has it that effect when the honey
has been boiled: in this last case, too, it causes less flatulency,
an inconvenience generally incidental to this beverage. It acts as
a stimulant also upon a failing appetite; taken cold it relaxes the
bowels, but used warm it acts astringently, in most cases, at least.
It has a tendency also to make flesh. Many persons have attained an
extreme old age, by taking bread soaked in honied wine, and no other
diet—the famous instance of Pollio Romilius, for example. This man was
more than one hundred years old when the late Emperor Augustus, who
was then his host,[2733] asked him by what means in particular he had
retained such remarkable vigour of mind and body.—“Honied wine within,
oil without,”[2734] was his answer. According to Varro, the jaundice
has the name of “royal disease”[2735] given to it, because its cure is
effected with honied wine.[2736]


We have already described how melitites[2737] is prepared, of must and
honey, when speaking on the subject of wines. It is, I think, some
ages, however, since this kind of beverage was made, so extremely
productive as it was found to be of flatulency. It used, however, to
be given in fever, to relieve inveterate costiveness of the bowels, as
also for gout and affections of the sinews. It was prescribed also for
females who were not in the habit of taking wine.


To an account of honey, that of wax is naturally appended, of the
origin, qualities, and different kinds of which, we have previously
made mention[2738] on the appropriate occasions. Every kind of wax is
emollient and warming, and tends to the formation of new flesh; fresh
wax is, however, the best. It is given in broth to persons troubled
with dysentery, and the combs themselves are sometimes used in a
pottage made of parched alica. Wax counteracts the bad effects[2739] of
milk; and ten pills of wax, the size of a grain of millet, will prevent
milk from coagulating in the stomach. For swellings in the groin, it is
found beneficial to apply a plaster of white wax to the pubes.


As to the different uses to which wax is applied, in combination with
other substances in medicine, we could no more make an enumeration of
them than we could of all the other ingredients which form part of our
medicinal compositions. These preparations, as we have already[2740]
observed, are the results of human invention. Cerates, poultices,[2741]
plasters, eye-salves, antidotes,—none of these have been formed by
Nature, that parent and divine framer of the universe; they are merely
the inventions of the laboratory, or rather, to say the truth, of human
avarice.[2742] The works of Nature are brought into existence complete
and perfect in every respect, her ingredients being but few in number,
selected as they are from a due appreciation of cause and effect,
and not from mere guesswork; thus, for instance, if a dry substance
is wanted to assume a liquefied form, a liquid, of course, must be
employed as a vehicle, while liquids, on the other hand, must be united
with a dry substance to render them consistent. But as for man, when he
pretends, with balance in[2743] hand, to unite and combine the various
elementary substances, he employs himself not merely upon guesswork,
but proves himself guilty of downright impudence.

It is not my intention to touch upon the medicaments afforded by
the drugs of India, or Arabia and other foreign climates: I have no
liking for drugs that come from so great a distance;[2744] they are
not produced for us, no, nor yet for the natives of those countries,
or else they would not be so ready to sell them to us. Let people
buy them if they please, as ingredients in perfumes, unguents, and
other appliances of luxury; let them buy them as adjuncts to their
superstitions even, if incense and costus we must have to propitiate
the gods; but as to health, we can enjoy that blessing without their
assistance, as we can easily prove—the greater reason then has luxury
to blush at its excesses.


Having now described the remedies derived from flowers, both those
which enter into the composition of garlands, and the ordinary garden
ones, as well as from the vegetable productions, how could we possibly
omit those which are derived from the cereals?

(25.) It will be only proper then, to make some mention of these as
well. In the first place, however, let us remark that it is a fact
universally acknowledged, that it is the most intelligent of the
animated beings that derive their subsistence from grain. The grain of
siligo[2745] highly roasted and pounded in Aminean[2746] wine, applied
to the eyes, heals defluxions of those organs;[2747] and the grain
of wheat, parched on a plate of iron, is an instantaneous remedy for
frost-bite in various parts of the body. Wheat-meal, boiled in vinegar,
is good for contractions of the sinews, and bran,[2748] mixed with
rose-oil, dried figs, and myxa[2749] plums boiled down together, forms
an excellent gargle[2750] for the tonsillary glands and throat.

Sextus Pomponius, who had a son prætor, and who was himself the first
citizen of Nearer Spain, was on one occasion attacked with gout,
while superintending the winnowing in his granaries; upon which, he
immediately thrust his legs, to above the knees, in a heap of wheat.
He found himself relieved, the swelling in the legs subsided in a
most surprising degree, and from that time he always employed this
remedy: indeed, the action of grain in masses is so extremely powerful
as to cause the entire evaporation of the liquor in a cask. Men of
experience in these matters recommend warm chaff of wheat or barley,
as an application for hernia, and fomentations with the water in
which it has been boiled. In the grain known[2751] as spelt, there is
a small worm found, similar in appearance to the teredo:[2752] if this
is put with wax into the hollow of carious teeth, they will come out,
it is said, or, indeed, if the teeth are only rubbed with it. Another
name given to olyra, as already[2753] mentioned, is “arinca:” with a
decoction of it a medicament is made, known in Egypt as “athera,” and
extremely good for infants. For adult persons it is employed in the
form of a liniment.


Barley[2754]-meal, raw or boiled, disperses, softens, or ripens
gatherings and inflammatory tumours; and for other purposes a decoction
of it is made in hydromel, or with dried figs. If required for pains
in the liver, it must be boiled with oxycrate in wine. When it is a
matter of doubt whether an abscess should be made to suppurate or be
dispersed, it is a better plan to boil the meal in vinegar, or lees of
vinegar, or else with a decoction of quinces or pears. For the bite
of the millepede,[2755] it is employed with honey, and for the stings
of serpents, and to prevent suppurations, with vinegar. To promote
suppuration, it should be used with oxycrate, with the addition of
Gallic resin. For gatherings, also, that have come to a head, and
ulcers of long standing, it must be employed in combination with resin,
and for indurations, with pigeons’ dung, dried figs, or ashes. For
inflammation of the tendons, or of the intestines and sides, or for
pains in the male organs and denudations of the bones, it is used with
poppies, or melilote; and for scrofulous sores, it is used with pitch
and oil, mixed with the urine of a youth who has not reached the years
of puberty. It is employed also with fenugreek for tumours of the
thoracic organs, and in fevers, with honey, or stale grease.

For suppurations, however, wheat-meal is much more soothing;[2756] it
is applied topically also for affections of the sinews, mixed with the
juice of henbane, and for the cure of freckles, with vinegar and honey.
The meal of zea,[2757] from which, as already[2758] stated, an alica
is made, appears to be more efficacious than that of barley even; but
that of the three month[2759] kind is the most emollient. It is applied
warm, in red wine, to the stings of scorpions, as also for affections
of the trachea, and spitting of blood: for coughs, it is employed in
combination with goat suet or butter.

The meal of fenugreek,[2760] however, is the most soothing of them
all: boiled with wine and nitre, it heals running ulcers, eruptions on
the body, and diseases of the feet and mamillæ. The meal of æra[2761]
is more detergent than the other kinds, for inveterate ulcers and
gangrenes: in combination with radishes, salt, and vinegar, it heals
lichens, and with virgin sulphur, leprosy: for head-ache, it is applied
to the forehead with goose-grease. Boiled in wine, with pigeons’ dung
and linseed, it ripens inflamed tumours and scrofulous sores.


Of the various kinds of polenta we have already treated
sufficiently[2762] at length, when speaking of the places where it is
made. It differs from barley meal, in being parched, a process which
renders it more wholesome for the stomach. It arrests looseness of
the bowels, and heals inflammatory eruptions; and it is employed as
a liniment for the eyes, and for head-ache, combined with mint or
some other refreshing herb. It is used in a similar manner also for
chilblains and wounds inflicted by serpents; and with wine, for burns.
It has the effect also of checking pustular eruptions.


The flour[2763] of bolted meal, kneaded into a paste, has the property
of drawing[2764] out the humours of the body: hence it is applied to
bruises gorged with blood, to extract the corrupt matter, even to
soaking the bandages[2765] employed: used with boiled must, it is still
more efficacious. It is used as an application also for callosities
of the feet and corns; boiled with old oil and pitch, and applied as
hot as possible, it cures condylomata and all other maladies of the
fundament in a most surprising manner. Puls[2766] is a very feeding
diet. The meal[2767] used for pasting the sheets of papyrus is given
warm to patients for spitting of blood, and is found to be an effectual


Alica is quite a Roman invention, and not a very ancient one: for
otherwise[2768] the Greeks would never have written in such high terms
of the praises of ptisan in preference. I do not think that it was
yet in use in the days of Pompeius Magnus, a circumstance which will
explain why hardly any mention has been made of it in the works of the
school of Asclepiades. That it is a most excellent preparation no one
can have a doubt, whether it is used strained in hydromel, or whether
it is boiled and taken in the form of broth or puls. To arrest flux
of the bowels, it is first parched and then boiled with honeycomb, as
already mentioned:[2769] but it is more particularly useful when there
is a tendency to phthisis after a long illness, the proper proportions
being three cyathi of it to one sextarius of water. This mixture is
boiled till all the water has gone off by evaporation, after which one
sextarius of sheep’ or goats’ milk is added: it is then taken by the
patient daily, and after a time some honey is added. By this kind of
nutriment a deep decline may be cured.


Millet[2770] arrests looseness of the bowels and dispels gripings of
the stomach, for which purposes it is first parched. For pains in the
sinews, and of various other descriptions, it is applied hot, in a bag,
to the part affected. Indeed, there is no better topical application
known, as it is extremely light and emollient, and retains heat for
a very long time: hence it is that it is so much employed in all
those cases in which the application of heat is necessary. The meal
of it, mixed with tar, is applied to wounds inflicted by serpents and


Diocles, the physician, has given to panic[2771] the name of “honey of
corn.”[2772] It has the same properties as millet, and, taken in wine,
it is good for dysentery. In a similar manner, too, it is applied to
such parts of the body as require to be treated with heat. Boiled in
goats’-milk, and taken twice a-day, it arrests looseness of the bowels;
and, used in a similar manner, it is very good for gripings of the


Sesame,[2773] pounded and taken in wine, arrests vomiting: it is
applied also topically to inflammations of the ears, and burns. It
has a similar effect even while in the blade; and in that state, a
decoction of it in wine is used as a liniment for the eyes. As an
aliment it is injurious to the stomach, and imparts a bad odour to the
breath. It is an antidote to the bite of the spotted lizard, and heals
the cancerous sore known as “cacoethes.”[2774] The oil made from it, as
already[2775] mentioned, is good for the ears.

Sesamoïdes[2776] owes its name to its resemblance to sesame; the
grain[2777] of it, however, is bitter, and the leaf more diminutive:
it is found growing in sandy soils. Taken in water, it carries off
bile, and, with the seed, a liniment is made for erysipelas: it
disperses inflamed swellings also. Besides this, there is another[2778]
sesamoïdes, which grows at Anticyra, and, for that reason, is known by
some as “anticyricon.” In other respects, it is similar to the plant
erigeron, of which we shall have to speak[2779] on a future occasion;
but the seed of it is like that of sesame. It is given in sweet wine
as an evacuant, in doses of a pinch in three fingers, mixed with an
obolus and a half of white hellebore; this preparation being employed
principally as a purgative, in cases of insanity, melancholy, epilepsy,
and gout. Taken alone, in doses of one drachma, it purges by stool.


The whitest barley is the best. Boiled[2780] in rain-water, the pulp
of it is divided into lozenges, which are used in injections for
ulcerations of the intestines and the uterus. The ashes of barley are
applied to burns, to bones denuded of the flesh, to purulent eruptions,
and to the bite of the shrew-mouse: sprinkled with salt and honey they
impart whiteness to the teeth, and sweetness to the breath. It is
alleged that persons who are in the habit of eating barley-bread are
never troubled with gout in the feet: they say, too, that if a person
takes nine grains of barley, and traces three times round a boil, with
each of them in the left hand, and then throws them all into the fire,
he will experience an immediate cure. There is another plant, too,
known as “phœnice” by the Greeks, and as “mouse-barley”[2781] by us:
pounded and taken in wine, it acts remarkably well as an emmenagogue.


To ptisan,[2782] which is a preparation of barley, Hippocrates[2783]
has devoted a whole treatise; praises, however, which at the present
day are all transferred to “alica,” being, as it is, a much more
wholesome preparation. Hippocrates, however, recommends it as a
pottage, for the comparative ease with which, from its lubricous
nature, it is swallowed; as also, because it allays thirst, never
swells in the stomach, passes easily through the intestines, and is
the only food that admits of being given twice a-day in fever, at
least to patients who are in the habit of taking two meals—so opposed
is his method to that of those physicians who are for famishing their
patients. He forbids it to be given, however, without being first
strained; for no part, he says, of the ptisan, except the water,[2784]
should be used. He says, too, that it must never be taken while the
feet are cold, and, indeed, that no drink of any kind should be taken
then. With wheat a more viscous kind of ptisan is made, which is found
to be still more efficacious for ulcerations of the trachea.


Amylum[2785] weakens the eyesight,[2786] and is bad for the throat,
whatever opinions may be held to the contrary. It has the effect
also of arresting looseness of the bowels, and curing defluxions and
ulcerations of the eyes, as also pustules and congestions of the
blood. It mollifies indurations of the eyelids, and is given with
egg to persons when they vomit blood. For pains of the bladder, half
an ounce of it is prescribed with an egg, and as much raisin wine as
three egg-shells will hold, the mixture to be made lukewarm and taken
immediately after the bath. Oatmeal, boiled in vinegar, removes moles.


Bread,[2787] too, which forms our ordinary nutriment, possesses
medicinal properties, almost without number. Applied with water and
oil, or else rose-oil, it softens abscesses; and, with hydromel, it
is remarkably soothing for indurations. It is prescribed with wine
to produce delitescence, or when a defluxion requires to be checked;
or, if additional activity is required, with vinegar. It is employed
also for the morbid defluxions of rheum, known to the Greeks as
“rheumatismi,” and for bruises and sprains. For all these purposes,
however, bread made with leaven, and known as “autopyrus,”[2788] is the

It is applied also to whitlows, in vinegar, and to callosities of the
feet. Stale bread, or sailors’-bread,[2789] beaten up and baked again,
arrests looseness of the bowels. For persons who wish to improve the
voice, dry bread is very good, taken fasting; it is useful also as
a preservative against catarrhs. The bread called “sitanius,” and
which is made of three-month[2790] wheat, applied with honey, is a
very efficient cure for contusions of the face and scaly eruptions.
White bread, steeped in hot or cold water, furnishes a very light
and wholesome aliment for patients. Soaked in wine, it is applied as
a poultice for swellings of the eyes, and used in a similar manner,
or with the addition of dried myrtle, it is good for pustules on the
head. Persons troubled with palsy are recommended to take bread soaked
in water, fasting, immediately after the bath. Burnt bread modifies
the close smell of bedrooms, and, used in the strainers,[2791] it
neutralizes bad odours in wine.


Beans,[2792] too, furnish us with some remedies. Parched whole, and
thrown hot into strong vinegar, they are a cure for gripings of the
bowels. Bruised, and boiled with garlic, they are taken with the daily
food for inveterate coughs, and for suppurations of the chest. Chewed
by a person fasting, they are applied topically to ripen boils, or to
disperse them; and, boiled in wine, they are employed for swellings of
the testes and diseases of the genitals. Bean-meal, boiled in vinegar,
ripens tumours and breaks them, and heals contusions and burns. M.
Varro assures us that beans are very good for the voice. The ashes of
bean stalks and shells, with stale hogs’-lard, are good for sciatica
and inveterate pains of the sinews. The husks, too, boiled down, by
themselves, to one-third, arrest looseness of the bowels.


Those lentils[2793] are the best which boil the most easily, and
those in particular which absorb the most water. They injure the
eye-sight,[2794] no doubt, and inflate the stomach; but taken with the
food, they act astringently upon the bowels, more particularly if they
are thoroughly boiled in rain-water: if, on the other hand, they are
lightly boiled, they are laxative.[2795] They break purulent ulcers,
and they cleanse and cicatrize ulcerations of the mouth. Applied
topically, they allay all kinds of abscesses, when ulcerated and
chapped more particularly; with melilote or quinces they are applied to
defluxions of the eyes, and with polenta they are employed topically
for suppurations. A decoction of them is used for ulcerations of the
mouth and genitals, and, with rose-oil or quinces, for diseases of the
fundament. For affections which demand a more active remedy, they are
used with pomegranate rind, and the addition of a little honey; to
prevent the composition from drying too quickly, beet leaves are added.
They are applied topically, also, to scrofulous sores, and to tumours,
whether ripe or only coming to a head, being thoroughly boiled first in
vinegar. Mixed with hydromel they are employed for the cure of chaps,
and with pomegranate rind for gangrenes. With polenta they are used for
gout, for diseases of the uterus and kidneys, for chilblains, and for
ulcerations which cicatrize with difficulty. For a disordered stomach,
thirty grains should be eaten.

For cholera,[2796] however, and dysentery, it is the best plan to
boil the lentils in three waters, in which case they should always
be parched first, and then pounded as fine as possible, either by
themselves, or else with quinces, pears, myrtle, wild endive, black
beet, or plantago. Lentils are bad for the lungs, head-ache, all
nervous affections, and bile, and are very apt to cause restlessness
at night. They are useful, however, for pustules, erysipelas, and
affections of the mamillæ, boiled in sea-water; and, applied with
vinegar, they disperse indurations and scrofulous sores. As a
stomachic, they are mixed, like polenta, with the drink given to
patients. Parboiled in water, and then pounded and bolted through
a sieve to disengage the bran, they are good for burns, care being
taken to add a little honey as they heal: they are boiled, also, with
oxycrate for diseases of the throat.[2797]

There is a marsh-lentil[2798] also, which grows spontaneously in
stagnant waters. It is of a cooling nature, for which reason it is
employed topically for abscesses, and for gout in particular, either
by itself or with polenta. Its glutinous properties render it a good
medicine for intestinal hernia.


The plant called by the Greeks “elelisphacos,”[2799] or “sphacos,” is
a species of wild lentil, lighter than the cultivated one, and with a
leaf, smaller, drier, and more odoriferous. There is also another[2800]
kind of it, of a wilder nature, and possessed of a powerful smell,
the other one being milder. It[2801] has leaves the shape of a quince,
but white and smaller: they are generally boiled with the branches.
This plant acts as an emmenagogue and a diuretic: and it affords a
remedy for wounds inflicted by the sting-ray,[2802] having the property
of benumbing the part affected. It is taken in drink with wormwood
for dysentery: employed with wine it accelerates the catamenia when
retarded, a decoction of it having the effect of arresting them when in
excess: the plant, applied by itself, stanches the blood of wounds. It
is a cure, too, for the stings of serpents, and a decoction of it in
wine allays prurigo of the testes.

Our herbalists of the present day take for the “elelisphacos” of the
Greeks the “salvia”[2803] of the Latins, a plant similar in appearance
to mint, white and aromatic. Applied externally, it expels the dead
fœtus, as also worms which breed in ulcers and in the ears.


There is a wild chickpea also, which resembles in its leaf the
cultivated kind,[2804] and has a powerful smell. Taken in considerable
quantities, it relaxes the bowels, and produces griping pains and
flatulency; parched, however, it is looked upon as more wholesome.
The chicheling vetch,[2805] again, acts more beneficially upon the
bowels. The meal of both kinds heals running sores of the head—that of
the wild sort being the more efficacious of the two—as also epilepsy,
swellings of the liver, and stings inflicted by serpents. It acts as
an emmenagogue and a diuretic, used in the grain more particularly,
and it is a cure for lichens, inflammations of the testes, jaundice,
and dropsy. All these kinds, however, exercise an injurious effect
upon ulcerations of the bladder and kidneys: but in combination with
honey they are very good for gangrenous sores, and the cancer known as
“cacoethes.” The following is a method adopted for the cure of all
kinds of warts: on the first day of the moon, each wart must be touched
with a single chickpea, after which, the party must tie up the pease in
a linen cloth, and throw it behind him; by adopting this plan, it is
thought, the warts will be made to disappear.

Our authors recommend the plant known as the “arietinum”[2806] to
be boiled in water with salt, and two cyathi of the decoction to be
taken for strangury. Employed in a similar manner, it expels calculi,
and cures jaundice. The water in which the leaves and stalks of this
plant have been boiled, applied as a fomentation as hot as possible,
allays gout in the feet, an effect equally produced by the plant
itself, beaten up and applied warm. A decoction of the columbine[2807]
chickpea, it is thought, moderates the shivering fits in tertian or
quartan fevers; and the black kind, beaten up with half a nut-gall, and
applied with raisin wine, is a cure for ulcers of the eyes.


In speaking of the fitch,[2808] we have mentioned certain properties
belonging to it; and, indeed, the ancients have attributed to it
no fewer virtues than they have to the cabbage. For the stings of
serpents, it is employed with vinegar; as also for bites inflicted by
crocodiles and human beings. If a person eats of it, fasting, every
day, according to authors of the very highest authority, the spleen
will gradually diminish. The meal of it removes spots on the face and
other parts of the body. It prevents ulcers from spreading also, and is
extremely efficacious for affections of the mamillæ: mixed with wine,
it makes carbuncles break. Parched, and taken with a piece of honey the
size of a hazel nut, it cures dysuria, flatulency, affections of the
liver, tenesmus, and that state of the body in which no nourishment
is derived from the food, generally known as “atrophy.” For cutaneous
eruptions, plasters are made of it boiled with honey, being left to
remain four days on the part affected. Applied with honey, it prevents
inflamed tumours from suppurating. A decoction of it, employed as a
fomentation, cures chilblains and prurigo; and it is thought by some,
that if it is taken daily, fasting, it will improve the complexion of
all parts of the body.

Used as an aliment, this pulse is far from wholesome,[2809] being
apt to produce vomiting, disorder the bowels, and stuff the head and
stomach. It weakens the knees also; but the effects of it may be
modified by keeping it in soak for several days, in which case it is
remarkably beneficial for oxen and beasts of burden. The pods of it,
beaten up green with the stalks and leaves, before they harden, stain
the hair black.


There are wild lupines,[2810] also, inferior in every respect to the
cultivated kinds, except in their bitterness. Of all the alimentary
substances, there are none which are less heavy or more useful[2811]
than dried lupines. Their bitterness is considerably modified by
cooking them on hot ashes, or steeping them in hot water. Employed
frequently as an article of food, they impart freshness to the colour;
the bitter lupine, too, is good for the sting of the asp. Dried
lupines, stripped of the husk and pounded, are applied in a linen cloth
to black ulcers, in which they make new flesh: boiled in vinegar,
they disperse scrofulous sores and imposthumes of the parotid glands.
A decoction of them, with rue and pepper, is given in fever even,
as an expellent of intestinal worms,[2812] to patients under thirty
years of age. For children, also, they are applied to the stomach as
a vermifuge, the patient fasting in the meantime: and, according to
another mode of treatment, they are parched and taken in boiled must or
in honey.

Lupines have the effect of stimulating the appetite, and of dispelling
nausea. The meal of them, kneaded up with vinegar, and applied in
the bath, removes pimples and prurigo; employed alone, it dries up
ulcerous sores. It cures bruises also, and, used with polenta, allays
inflammations. The wild lupine is found to be the most efficacious
for debility of the hips and loins. A decoction of them, used as a
fomentation, removes freckles and improves the skin; and lupines,
either wild or cultivated, boiled down to the consistency of honey, are
a cure for black eruptions and leprosy. An application of cultivated
lupines causes carbuncles to break, and reduces inflamed tumours and
scrofulous sores, or else brings them to a head: boiled in vinegar,
they restore the flesh when cicatrized to its proper colour. Thoroughly
boiled in rain-water, the decoction of them furnishes a detersive
medicine, of which fomentations are made for gangrenes, purulent
eruptions, and running ulcers. This decoction is very good, taken in
drink, for affections of the spleen, and with honey, for retardations
of the catamenia. Beaten up raw, with dried figs, lupines are applied
externally to the spleen. A decoction of the root acts as a diuretic.

The herb chamæleon,[2813] also, is boiled with lupines, and the water
of it strained off, to be used as a potion for cattle. Lupines boiled
in amurca,[2814] or a decoction of them mixed with amurca, heals the
itch in beasts. The smoke of lupines kills[2815] gnats.


When treating of the cereals, we have already stated[2816] that the
irio, which strongly resembles sesame, is also called “erysimon” by the
Greeks: the Gauls give it the name of “vela.” It is a branchy plant,
with leaves like those of rocket, but a little narrower, and a seed
similar to that of nasturtium. With honey, it is extremely good for
cough and purulent expectorations: it is given, also, for jaundice and
affections of the loins, pleurisy, gripings of the bowels, and cœliac
affections, and is used in liniments for imposthumes of the parotid
glands and carcinomatous affections. Employed with water, or with
honey, it is useful for inflammations of the testes, and is extremely
beneficial for the diseases of infants. Mixed with honey and figs, it
is good for affections of the fundament and diseases of the joints;
and taken in drink, it is an excellent antidote to poisons. It is used,
also, for asthma,[2817] and with stale axle-grease for fistulas; but it
must not be allowed to touch the interior of them.


Horminum resembles cummin, as already stated,[2818] in its seed; but in
other respects, it is like the leek.[2819] It grows to some nine inches
in height, and there are two varieties of it. In one of these the seed
is oblong, and darker than that of the other, and the plant itself is
in request as an aphrodisiac, and for the cure of argema and albugo in
the eyes: of the other kind the seed is whiter, and of a rounder form.
Both kinds, pounded and applied with water, are used for the extraction
of thorns from the body. The leaves, steeped in vinegar, disperse
tumours, either used by themselves, or in combination with honey; they
are employed, also, to disperse boils, before they have come to a head,
and other collections of acrid humours.


Even more than this—the very plants which are the bane of the
corn-field are not without their medicinal uses. Darnel[2820] has
received from Virgil[2821] the epithet of “unhappy;” and yet, ground
and boiled with vinegar, it is used as an application for the cure
of impetigo, which is the more speedily effected the oftener the
application is renewed. It is employed, also, with oxymel, for the
cure of gout and other painful diseases. The following is the mode
of treatment: for one sextarius of vinegar, two ounces of honey is
the right proportion; three sextarii having been thus prepared, two
sextarii of darnel meal are boiled down in it to a proper consistency,
the mixture being applied warm to the part affected. This meal, too, is
used for the extraction of splinters of broken bones.


“Miliaria”[2822] is the name given to a plant which kills millet: this
plant, it is said, is a cure for gout in beasts of burden, beaten up
and administered in wine, with the aid of a horn.


Bromos[2823] is the seed also of a plant which bears an ear. It is
a kind of oat which grows among corn, to which it is injurious; the
leaves and stalk of it resemble those of wheat, and at the extremity
it bears seeds, hanging down, something like small locusts[2824] in
appearance. The seed of this plant is useful for plasters, like barley
and other grain of a similar nature. A decoction of it is good for


We have mentioned[2825] orobanche as the name of a plant which kills
the fitch and other leguminous plants. Some persons have called it
“cynomorion,” from the resemblance which it bears to the genitals of
a dog. The stem of it is leafless, thick, and red. It is eaten either
raw, or boiled in the saucepan, while young and tender.


There are some venomous insects also, of the solipuga[2826] kind,
which breed upon leguminous plants, and which, by stinging the hands,
endanger life. For these stings all those remedies are efficacious
which have been mentioned for the bite of the spider and the
phalangium.[2827] Such, then, are the medicinal properties for which
the cereals are employed.


Different beverages, too, are made from the cereals, zythum in Egypt,
cælia and cerea in Spain, cervesia[2828] and numerous liquors in Gaul
and other provinces. The yeast[2829] of all of these is used by women
as a cosmetic for the face.—But as we are now speaking of beverages,
it will be the best plan to pass on to the various uses of wine, and
to make a beginning with the vine of our account of the medicinal
properties of the trees.

SUMMARY.—Remedies, narratives, and observations, nine hundred and six.

AUTHORS QUOTED.—All those mentioned in the preceding Book; and,
in addition to them, Chrysermus,[2830] Eratosthenes,[2831] and




We have now set forth the various properties, medicinal or otherwise,
as well of the cereals as of the other productions which lie upon[2833]
the surface of the earth, for the purpose either of serving us for
food, or for the gratification of our senses with their flowers or
perfumes. In the trees, however, Pomona has entered the lists with
them, and has imparted certain medicinal properties to the fruits as
they hang. Not content with protecting and nourishing, under the shadow
of the trees, the various plants which we have[2834] already described,
she would even appear to be indignant, as it were, at the thought that
we should derive more succour from those productions which are further
removed from the canopy of heaven, and which have only come into use in
times comparatively recent. For she bids man bear in mind that it was
the fruits of the trees which formed his first nourishment, and that it
was these which first led him to look upwards towards the heavens: and
not only this, but she reminds him, too, that even still it is quite
possible for him to derive his aliment from the trees, without being
indebted to grain for his subsistence.


But, by Hercules! it is the vine more particularly to which she has
accorded these medicinal properties, as though she were not contented
with her generosity in providing it with such delicious flavours,
and perfumes, and essences, in its omphacium, its œnanthe, and its
massaris, preparations upon which we have already[2835] enlarged.
“It is to me,” she says, “that man is indebted for the greater part
of his enjoyments, it is I that produce for him the flowing wine
and the trickling oil, it is I that ripen the date and other fruits
in numbers so varied; and all this, not insisting, like the earth,
on their purchase at the cost of fatigues and labours. No necessity
do I create for ploughing with the aid of oxen, for beating out upon
the threshing-floor, or for bruising under the millstone, and all in
order that man may earn his food at some indefinite time by this vast
expenditure of toil. As for me, all my gifts are presented to him
ready prepared: for no anxieties or fatigues do they call, but, on the
contrary, they offer themselves spontaneously, and even fall to the
ground, if man should be too indolent to reach them as they hang.”
Vying even with herself, Pomona has done still more for our practical
advantage than for the mere gratification of our pleasures and caprices.


[2836] The leaves and shoots of the vine, employed with polenta, allay
head-ache and reduce inflammations:[2837] the leaves, too, applied by
themselves with cold water, are good for burning pains in the stomach;
and, used with barley-meal, are excellent applications for diseases
of the joints. The shoots, beaten up and applied, have the property
of drying up all kinds of running tumours, and the juice extracted
from them is used as an injection for the cure of dysentery. The
tears of the vine, which would appear to be a sort of gum, will heal
leprous sores, lichens, and itch-scabs, if treated first with nitre:
used with oil, and applied frequently to superfluous hairs, they act
as a depilatory, those more particularly which exude from the vine
when burnt in a green state: this last liquid has the effect, too, of
removing warts. An infusion of the shoots in water, taken in drink, is
good for persons troubled with spitting of blood, and for the fainting
fits which sometimes ensue upon conception.

The bark of the vine and the dried leaves arrest the flowing of blood
from wounds, and make the sores cicatrize more rapidly. The juice
of the white vine,[2838] extracted from it while green, effectually
removes cutaneous[2839] eruptions. The ashes[2840] of the cuttings
of vines, and of the husks of the grapes, applied with vinegar, are
curative of condylomata and diseases of the fundament; as also of
sprains, burns, and swellings of the spleen, applied with rose-oil,
rue, and vinegar. Used with wine, but without oil, they make a
fomentation for erysipelas and parts of the body which are chafed; they
act as a depilatory also.[2841] For affections of the spleen the ashes
of vine-cuttings, moistened with vinegar, are administered in drink,
being taken in doses of two cyathi in warm water; after which the
patient must take due care to lie upon the side in which the spleen is

The tendrils, too, which the vine throws out as it climbs, beaten up
in water and drunk, have the effect of arresting habitual vomiting.
The ashes of the vine, used with stale axle-grease, are good for
tumours, act as a detergent upon fistulas, and speedily effect a
radical cure; the same, too, with pains and contractions of the sinews,
occasioned by cold. Applied with oil, they are useful for contusions,
and with vinegar and nitre, for fleshy excrescences upon the bones:
in combination with oil, they are good, too, for wounds inflicted by
scorpions and dogs. The ashes of the bark, employed by themselves,
restore the hair to such parts of the body as have suffered from the
action of fire.


We have already[2842] mentioned, when speaking of the composition
of unguents, how omphacium is made from the grape, when it is just
beginning to form: we shall now proceed to speak of its medicinal
properties. Omphacium heals ulcerations of the humid parts of the
body, such as the mouth, tonsillary glands, and generative organs,
for example; it is very good, too, for the sight, for rough spots upon
the eyelids, ulcers at the corners of the eyes, films upon the eyes,
running sores on all parts of the body, cicatrizations[2843] slow in
forming, and purulent discharges from the ears. The powerful action of
omphacium is modified by the admixture of honey or raisin wine. It is
very useful, too, for dysentery, spitting of blood, and quinsy.


Next to omphacium comes œnanthe, a product of the wild vine, described
by us already[2844] when treating of the unguents. The most esteemed
kind is that of Syria, the produce of the white vine[2845] in the
vicinity of the mountains of Antiochia and Laodicea in particular.
Being of a cooling, astringent nature, it is used for sprinkling upon
sores, and is employed as a topical application for diseases of the
stomach. It acts also as a diuretic, and is good for maladies of the
liver, head-ache, dysentery, cœliac affections, and attacks of cholera:
for nausea, it is taken in doses of one obolus in vinegar. It acts as
a desiccative upon running eruptions of the head, and is extremely
efficacious for maladies of the humid parts of the body; hence it
is that it is employed, with honey and saffron, for ulcers of the
mouth, and for diseases of the generative organs and the fundament. It
arrests looseness of the bowels, and heals eruptions of the eyelids and
runnings at the eyes: taken with wine, it cures derangements of the
stomach, and with cold water, spitting of blood.

The ashes of œnanthe are highly esteemed as an ingredient
in eye-salves, and as a detergent for ulcers, whitlows, and
hang-nails;[2846] to obtain these ashes, it is put into an oven, and
left there till the bread is thoroughly baked.

As to massaris,[2847] it is used as a perfume only. The renown attached
to all these preparations is due solely to the innate greediness of
mankind, which has racked its invention to gather the productions of
the earth before they have arrived at maturity.


As to grapes when allowed to gain maturity, the black ones have more
marked properties[2848] than the others; and hence it is, that the wine
made from them is not so agreeable. The white grapes, on the other
hand, are sweeter, for, being transparent, the air penetrates them with
greater facility.

Grapes fresh gathered are productive of flatulency, and disturb the
stomach and bowels; hence it is that they are avoided in fevers, in
large quantities more particularly. Indeed, they are very apt to
produce oppression of the head, and to bring on the malady known as
lethargy.[2849] Grapes which have been gathered, and left to hang for
some time, are much less[2850] injurious, the exposure to the air
rendering them beneficial even to the stomach, and refreshing to the
patient, as they are slightly cooling, and tend to remove nausea and


Grapes which have been preserved in wine or in must are trying to the
head. Next to the grapes which have been left to hang in the air, are
those which have been kept in chaff; but as to those which have been
preserved among grape husks, they are injurious[2851] to the head,
the bladder, and the stomach, though at the same time they arrest
looseness of the bowels, and are extremely good for patients troubled
with spitting of blood. When preserved in must, they are worse even
in their effects than when kept among husks; boiled[2852] must, too,
renders them injurious to the stomach. It is the opinion of medical
writers, that grapes kept[2853] in rain-water are the most wholesome of
all, even though they are by no means agreeable eating; for the benefit
of them is particularly experienced in burning pains of the stomach,
biliousness arising from a disordered liver, vomiting of bile, and
attacks of cholera, as also dropsy and burning fevers.

Grapes kept in earthen pots sharpen the taste, the stomach, and the
appetite; it is thought, however, that they are rendered a little
heavy[2854] by the exhalations from the husks with which they are
covered.[2855] If vine-blossoms are given to poultry, mixed with their
food, they will never touch the grapes.[2856]


Such cuttings of the vine as have borne grapes, have an astringent
effect, when they are preserved in earthen[2857] pots, more


Grape-stones, also, have a similar[2858] property; it is through them
that wine is so apt to produce head-ache. Parched and then pounded,
they are beneficial for the stomach; and this powder is sprinkled, like
polenta, in the beverage of patients suffering from dysentery, cœliac
affections, and derangements of the stomach. A decoction of them is
useful, also, as a fomentation for itch-scabs and prurigo.


Grape-husks, used by themselves, are less injurious to the head and
bladder than grape-stones are: beaten up with salt, they form an
excellent liniment for inflammations of the mamillæ. A decoction
of them, taken in drink, or employed as a fomentation, is good for
inveterate dysentery, and cœliac affections.


The grape of the theriaca, of which we have already made mention[2859]
on the appropriate occasion, is eaten by way of antidote to the stings
of serpents. It is recommended, too, to eat the young shoots of this
tree, and to apply them topically. The wine and vinegar made from these
grapes are productive of a similar salutary effect.[2860]


Raisins, the name given to which is “astaphis,” would be injurious
to the stomach, abdomen, and intestines, were it not for the stones
within them, which act as a corrective.[2861] When the stones are
removed, raisins, it is thought, are beneficial to the bladder, and
good for cough:[2862] in the last case, the raisin of the white grape
is considered the best. Raisins are good also for the trachea and
the kidneys, and the wine made from them is particularly efficacious
for the sting of the serpent called hæmorrhoïs.[2863] In combination
with meal of cummin or coriander, they are employed topically for
inflammations of the testes. For carbuncles and diseases of the joints,
the stones are removed, and the raisins are pounded with rue; if used
for ulcers, the sores must be first fomented with wine.

Used with the stones, raisins are a cure for epinyctis, honeycomb
ulcers,[2864] and dysentery; and for gangrenes they are applied
topically with radish rind and honey, being first boiled in oil. They
are used with panax,[2865] for gout and loose nails; and they are
sometimes eaten by themselves, in combination with pepper, for the
purpose of cleansing the mouth and clearing the brain.


The wild astaphis, otherwise called staphis,[2866] is by some persons
erroneously called “uva taminia;”[2867] for it is altogether a distinct
plant from the other. It has a black, upright stem, with leaves
resembling those of the labrusca,[2868] and bears what we may call
a pod,[2869] rather than a grape, green, similar to a chick-pea in
appearance, and enclosing a kernel of triangular form. The fruit of
it ripens with the vintage and turns black, while the berries of the
taminia,[2870] as is well known, are red; this last, too, as we are
aware, grows only in shaded spots, while the wild astaphis, on the
other hand, loves a site that is exposed to the sun.

I would not recommend any one to use the kernels[2871] of the wild
astaphis as a purgative, as it is very doubtful whether they might
not choke the patient; nor would I advise them to be employed for the
purpose of attenuating the phlegm, as they are extremely irritating
to the throat. Beaten up, however, and applied topically, they
kill vermin[2872] in the head and other parts of the body, more
particularly if they are used with sandarach; they are very useful,
too, for itch-scabs and prurigo. A decoction of the kernels is made
with vinegar, for the cure of tooth-ache, diseases of the ears,
cicatrices[2873] that are slow in healing, and running sores.

The blossoms of the plant are beaten up and taken in wine for
stings[2874] inflicted by serpents; but, as to the seed, I would
strongly recommend its rejection, on account of its extremely
pungent properties. Some persons give to this plant the name of
“pituitaria,”[2875] and use it as a common application for stings
inflicted by serpents.


The labrusca, too, produces an œnanthe, which has been described at
sufficient length already:[2876] by the Greeks the labrusca is known
as the wild vine.[2877] The leaves of it are thick and of a whitish
colour, the stem is jointed, and the bark full of fissures: it bears
grapes of a scarlet[2878] hue, like the coccus, which are made use of
by females for the purpose of improving the complexion, and removing
spots upon the face. Pounded with the leaves and the juice extracted
from the tree, these grapes are usefully employed for the treatment of
lumbago and sciatica. A decoction of the root[2879] in water, taken
in two cyathi of Coan wine, promotes an alvine evacuation of aqueous
secretions; for which reason it is prescribed for dropsy.

I am inclined to think that this is the plant that is commonly known
as the “uva taminia;”[2880] it is in great request as an amulet, and
is employed, though as a gargle only, in cases of spitting blood; for
which purpose, salt, thyme, and oxymel are added to it, care being
taken not to swallow any of the mixture. It is generally looked upon as
unsafe to employ it as a purgative.


There is another plant,[2881] similar to the labrusca, but found
growing in willow-beds; for which reason it is known by a distinct
name, though the uses to which it is applied are just the same. The
name given to it is “salicastrum;” beaten up with oxymel, it displays
marvellous efficacy in the removal of itch-scab and prurigo in men and


The white vine[2882] is known to the Greeks by the various names of
ampeloleuce, staphyle, melothron, psilotrum, archezostis, cedrostis,
and madon. The twigs of this tree are jointed, thin, and climbing,
with considerable interstices between the knots.[2883] The leaves,
attached to the numerous shoots, and about the size of an ivy leaf,
are jagged at the edges, like that of the vine. The root of it is
large and white, and very like a radish[2884] at first; from it issue
several stems, similar to asparagus in appearance. These stems, eaten
boiled, are both purgative and diuretic. The leaves, too, as well as
the stems, are possessed of caustic[2885] properties; for which reason
they are employed topically with salt, for phagedænic sores, gangrenes,
and putrid ulcers of the legs. The fruit of the tree is in the form
of grapes thinly scattered, the juice of which is red at first, and
afterwards of a saffron colour. This fruit[2886] is well known to
curriers, who are in the habit of using it in preparing leather. It
is employed also in the form of a liniment for itch-scabs and leprous
spots; and a decoction of it with wheat, taken in drink, increases the
milk in women when nursing. The root of this tree, so renowned for
the numerous medicinal purposes to which it is applied, is pounded
and taken in wine, in doses of two drachmæ, for the cure of stings
inflicted by serpents:[2887] it has the effect, also, of removing
spots upon the face, moles and freckles, as well as scars and bruises:
a decoction of it in oil is productive of a similar effect. A decoction
of it is given to drink for epilepsy,[2888] and to persons troubled
with a disordered mind or suffering from vertigo, the dose being one
drachma daily, for a whole year: taken in larger quantities, it is apt
sometimes to disorder[2889] the senses. It is possessed, also, of one
very remarkable property, applied with water in the same manner as
bryonia, of extracting splintered bones, for which reason it is known
to some persons by the name of white bryonia: the other kind, however,
which is black, is found to answer the purpose better, in combination
with honey and frankincense.

The white vine disperses incipient suppurations, ripens them when
they are inveterate, and acts as a detergent: it operates also as an
emmenagogue and diuretic. An electuary is prepared from it for asthma
and pains in the sides, as also for convulsions and ruptures. Taken
in drink for thirty days together, in doses of three oboli, it has
the effect of reducing the spleen; and it is used, in combination
with figs, for the cure of hangnails[2890] on the fingers. Applied
with wine, it brings away the after-birth, and, taken in hydromel, in
doses of one drachma, it carries off phlegm. The juice of the root
should be extracted before the fruit ripens; applied either by itself
or with meal of fitches, it imparts an improved complexion and a
certain degree of suppleness to the skin: it has the effect also of
repelling serpents. The root itself, too, beaten up with a pulpy fig,
will remove wrinkles on the body, if the person using it takes care to
walk a couple of stadia immediately after the application; otherwise
it would leave marks upon the skin, unless, indeed, it were washed off
immediately with cold water. The black vine, too, is better for this
purpose than the white one, as the latter is very apt to be productive
of itching.


For there is also a black vine, properly known as the “bryonia,”[2891]
though by some persons it is called the “chironia,” and by others the
“gynæcanthe,” or “apronia.” It differs only from the one previously
mentioned in its colour, which, as already stated,[2892] is black.
The shoots of this tree, which resemble asparagus in appearance,
are preferred by Diocles for eating to real asparagus,[2893] as a
diuretic and for its property of reducing the spleen. It is found
growing in shrubberies or reed-beds more particularly. The root of
it, which is black outside, and of the colour of box within, is even
more efficacious for the extraction of splintered bones than the plant
last mentioned; in addition to which, it has the property of being
a specific for excoriations of the neck in cattle. It is said, too,
that if a person plants it around a farm, it will be sure to keep
hawks away, and to preserve the poultry-yard[2894] in perfect safety.
Attached to the ankles, it tends to disperse the blood, congested or
otherwise, which may have settled in those parts of the body, whether
in human beings or in beasts of burden.

Thus much with reference to the various species of vines.


The various kinds of must[2895] have different properties; some of them
being black, some white, and others of intermediate shades of colour.
There is a difference, too, between the kinds of must from which wine
is made, and those from which raisin wine is prepared. The various
degrees of care and attention on the part of the maker, render the
differences that already exist, quite innumerable; we shall therefore
content ourselves with taking a general view only of their medicinal

Every kind of must is unwholesome to the stomach, but of a soothing
nature to the venous system. Taken off at a draught, immediately
after the bath, must is fatal[2896] in its effects. It acts as an
antidote[2897] to cantharides and stings inflicted by serpents,
those of the hæmorrhois and the salamandra[2898] in particular. It
is productive of head-ache, and is prejudicial to the throat, but it
is good for the kidneys, liver, and inner coat of the bladder, by
reason of its lubricating properties. It is particularly effectual
also in cases of injuries inflicted by the insect known as the

Taken with oil as a vomit, it neutralizes the bad effects of
opium,[2900] milk that has curdled upon the stomach, hemlock,
dorycnium,[2901] and other poisons.[2902] For all these purposes,
however, white must is not so efficacious, while must prepared from
raisins of the sun has a more pleasant flavour, and is productive of a
less degree of oppression to the head.


We have already[2903] described the various kinds of wine, the
numerous differences which exist between them, and most of the
properties which each kind possesses. There is no subject that presents
greater difficulties than this, or, indeed, a more varied field for
discussion, it being extremely difficult to pronounce whether wine is
more generally injurious in its effects, or beneficial. And then, in
addition to this, how very uncertain is it, whether, the moment we have
drunk it, it will be productive of salutary results, or turn out no
better than so much poison! However, it is only with reference to its
medicinal properties, that we are now about to speak of it.

Asclepiades has composed a whole treatise (which has thence received
its name[2904]) on the proper methods of administering wine; and
the number of commentators who have since written on this treatise,
is almost innumerable. For my own part, with all that gravity which
becomes a Roman, and one zealous for the furtherance of liberal
pursuits, I shall enter into a careful examination of this subject,
not, indeed, in the character of a physician, but as a careful
investigator of the effects which wine is likely to produce upon the
health of mankind. To treat, however, of the medicinal properties
of each individual kind, would be a labour without end, and quite
inexhaustible; the more so, as the opinions of medical men are so
entirely at variance upon the subject.


Our ancestors set the highest value upon the wines of Surrentum;[2905]
but at a later period the preference was given to the Alban, or the
Falernian wines. More recently, again, other varieties of wine have
come into fashion, quite in accordance with that most unreasonable
mode of proceeding, according to which, each person, as he finds a
wine most to his taste, extols it as superior to all others. Suppose,
now, that all persons were quite agreed as to the superiority of some
particular kind of wine, how small a proportion of mankind would be
enabled to make use of it! As it is, even the rich never drink it in an
unsophisticated state; the morals of the age being such, that it is the
name only of a vintage that is sold, the wines being adulterated the
very moment they enter the vat. Hence it is, by Hercules!—a thing truly
astounding—that, in reality, a wine is more innoxious in its effects,
in proportion as it enjoys a less extended renown. The three kinds,
however, of which we have made mention, appear to have maintained, with
the least diminution, their ancient repute.

The Falernian wine, if a person should be desirous to know the marked
characteristics of wines according to age, is injurious to the health,
either too new or too old; at fifteen years it begins to be of medium
age. Falernian wine of this age, taken cold, is good for the stomach,
but not when taken warm. For an inveterate cough and for quartan
fevers, it is a good plan to drink it neat, fasting. There is no wine
that quickens the action of the venous system so much as this; it acts
astringently upon the bowels, and is feeding to the body. It has been
thought, however, that this wine is productive of injury to the sight,
and that it is far from beneficial to the nerves[2906] and the bladder.

The Alban wines are more salutary to the nervous system, but the sweet
kinds are not so beneficial to the stomach. The rough wines of Alba
are even better than those of Falernum, but they do not promote the
digestion so well, and have a slight tendency to overload the stomach.

As to the Surrentine wines, they have no such effect upon the stomach,
nor are they at all trying to the head; they have the property also of
arresting defluxions of the stomach and intestines. The Cæcuban wines
are no longer grown.


Among the wines, however, which still exist, those of Setia[2907]
promote the digestion, having more strength than the Surrentine wines,
and more roughness than those of Alba. The wines of Falernum are not
so powerful. Those of Stata are but very little inferior in quality to
the wines already mentioned. It is universally agreed that the wines of
Signia are extremely beneficial in cases of derangement of the bowels.


As to the other wines, they may be spoken of in general terms. By the
use of wine, the human vigour, blood, and complexion are improved. It
is wine that makes up for all the difference between the middle or
temperate zone, and those which lie on either side of it, the juice of
the vine conferring as much vigour and robustness upon the inhabitants
of our part of the earth as the rigorousness[2908] of the climate does
upon the people there. Milk, used as a beverage, strengthens, the
bones, liquids extracted from the cereals nourish the sinews, and water
imparts nutriment to the flesh: hence it is that persons who confine
themselves to these several liquids as a beverage, are of a less ruddy
complexion than the wine-drinker, less robust, and less able to endure
fatigue. By the use of wine in moderation the sinews are strengthened,
but taken in excess it proves injurious to them; the same, too, with
the eyes. Wine refreshes the stomach, sharpens the appetite, takes
off the keen edge of sorrows and anxieties, warms the body, acts
beneficially as a diuretic, and invites sleep. In addition to these
properties, it arrests vomiting, and we find that pledgets of wool,
soaked in wine, and applied to abscesses, are extremely beneficial.
According to Asclepiades, the virtues possessed by wine are hardly
equalled by the majestic attributes of the gods themselves.

Old wine bears admixture with a larger quantity of water, and acts more
powerfully as a diuretic, though at the same time it is less effectual
for quenching thirst. Sweet wine, again, is less inebriating, but stays
longer on the stomach, while rough wine is more easy of digestion. The
wine that becomes mellow with the greatest rapidity is the lightest,
and that which becomes sweeter the older it is, is not so injurious to
the nerves. Wines that are rich and black,[2909] are not so beneficial
to the stomach; but, at the same time, they are more feeding to
the body. Thin-bodied rough wines are not so feeding, but are more
wholesome to the stomach, and pass off more speedily by urine, though
they are all the more liable to fly to the head; a remark which will
apply, once for all, to liquids of every kind.

Wine that has been mellowed by the agency of smoke is extremely
unwholesome—a fraudulent method of preparation that has been invented
in the wine-lofts[2910] of the retail dealers. At the present day,
however, this plan is adopted in private families even, when it is
wished to give the appearance of maturity to wines that have become
carious.[2911] Indeed, this term carious has been used very appositely
by the ancients with reference to wines; for we find that in the case
of wood even, smoke exercises a caustic effect upon the carious parts,
and eats them away; and yet we, on the other hand, persuade ourselves
that an adventitious age may be imparted to wines by the bitter twang
derived from smoke![2912]

Those wines which are extremely pale, become more wholesome the older
they are. The more generous[2913] a wine is, the thicker it becomes
with age; while, at the same time, it contracts a bitter flavour,
which is far from exercising a beneficial effect upon the health. To
season another wine, that is not so old, with this, is nothing less
than to make an unwholesome preparation. The more of its own natural
flavour[2914] a wine possesses, the more wholesome it is; and the best
age for a wine is that which naturally belongs to it, a medium age
being the one that is the most generally esteemed.


Persons whose wish it is to make flesh, or to keep the bowels relaxed,
will do well to drink while taking their food. Those, on the other
hand, who wish to reduce themselves, or prevent the bowels from being
relaxed, should abstain from drinking while taking their meals, and
drink but a very little only when they have done eating. To drink
wine fasting is a fashion of recent introduction[2915] only, and an
extremely bad one for persons engaged in matters of importance, and
requiring a continued application of the mental faculties. Wine,
no doubt, was taken fasting in ancient times, but then it was as a
preparative for sleep and repose from worldly cares; and it is for this
reason that, in Homer,[2916] we find Helen presenting it to the guests
before the repast. It is upon this fact, too, that the common proverb
is founded, which says that “wisdom is obscured by wine.”[2917] It is
to wine that we men are indebted for being the only animated beings
that drink without being thirsty. When drinking wine, it is a very good
plan to take a draught of water every now and then; and to take one
long draught of it at the last, cold water taken internally having the
effect of instantaneously dispelling inebriation.

It is strongly recommended by Hesiod[2918] to drink undiluted
wine[2919] for twenty days before the rising of the Dog-star, and
as many after. Pure wine, too, acts as an antidote to hemlock,
coriander,[2920] henbane, mistletoe, opium, mercury, as also to stings
inflicted by bees, wasps, hornets, the phalangium, serpents, and
scorpions; all kinds of poison, in fact, which are of a cold nature,
the venom of the hæmorrhois and the prester,[2921] in particular, and
the noxious effects of fungi. Undiluted wine is good, too, in cases of
flatulency, gnawing pains in the thoracic organs, excessive vomitings
at the stomach, fluxes of the bowels and intestines, dysentery,
excessive perspirations after prolonged fits of coughing, and
defluxions of various kinds. In the cardiac[2922] disease, it is a good
plan to apply a sponge soaked in neat wine to the left breast: in all
these cases, however, old white wine is the best. A fomentation of hot
wine applied to the genitals of beasts of burden is found to be very
beneficial; and, introduced into the mouth, with the aid of a horn,
it has the effect of removing all sensations of fatigue.[2923] It is
asserted that in apes, and other quadrupeds with toes, the growth will
be impeded if they are accustomed to drink undiluted wine.[2924]


We shall now proceed to speak of wine in relation to its medicinal
uses. The wines of Campania[2925] which have the least body, are the
most wholesome beverage for persons of rank and station; and for the
lower classes[2926] the best kind of wine is that which is the most
pleasant to the person who drinks it, provided he is in robust health.
For persons of all ranks, however, the most serviceable wine is that
the strength of which has been reduced by the strainer;[2927] for we
must bear in mind that wine is nothing else but juice of grapes which
has acquired strength by the process of fermentation. A mixture of
numerous kinds of wine is universally bad, and the most wholesome wine
of all is that to which no ingredient has been added when in a state
of must; indeed, it is still better if the vessels even in which it is
kept have never been pitched.[2928] As to wines which have been treated
with marble, gypsum, or lime,[2929] where is the man, however robust he
may be, that has not stood in dread of them?

Wines which have been prepared with sea-water[2930] are particularly
injurious to the stomach, nerves, and bladder. Those which have been
seasoned with resin are generally looked upon as beneficial to a cold
stomach, but are considered unsuitable where there is a tendency
to vomit: the same, too, with must, boiled grape-juice,[2931] and
raisin wine. New wines seasoned with resin are good for no one, being
productive of vertigo and head-ache: hence it is that the name of
“crapula”[2932] has been given equally to new resined wines, and to the
surfeit and head-ache which they produce.

The wines above mentioned[2933] by name, are good for cough and
catarrh, as also for cœliac affections, dysentery, and the catamenia.
Those wines of this sort which are red[2934] or black,[2935] are
more astringent and more heating than the others. Wines which have
been seasoned with pitch only, are not so injurious; but at the same
time we must bear in mind that pitch is neither more nor less than
resin liquefied[2936] by the action of fire. These pitched wines are
of a heating nature, promote the digestion, and act as a purgative;
they are good, also, for the chest and the bowels, for pains in
the uterus, if there are no signs of fever, for inveterate fluxes,
ulcerations, ruptures, spasms, suppurated abscesses, debility of the
sinews, flatulency, cough, asthma, and sprains, in which last case
they are applied in uncleansed wool. For all these purposes the wine
is preferred which has naturally the flavour of pitch,[2937] and is
thence known as “picatum:” it is generally agreed, however, that the
produce of the vine called “helvennaca,”[2938] if taken in too large a
quantity, is trying to the head.

In reference to the treatment of fever, it is well known that wine
should never be given, unless the patient is an aged person, or the
symptoms are beginning to abate. In cases of acute fever, wine must
never be given, under any circumstance, except when there is an evident
remission of the attack, and more particularly if this takes place
in the night, for then the danger is diminished by one half, there
being the probability of the patient sleeping off the effects of the
wine. It is equally forbidden, also, to females just after delivery
or a miscarriage, and to patients suffering from over-indulgence of
the sexual passions; nor should it be given in cases of head-ache,
of maladies in which the attacks are attended with chills at the
extremities, of fever accompanied with cough, of tremulousness[2939] in
the sinews, of pains in the fauces, or where the disease is found to
concentrate itself in the iliac regions. Wine is strictly forbidden,
too, in cases of induration of the thoracic organs, violent throbbings
of the veins, opisthotony, tetanus, asthma, and hardness of breathing
attended with fever.

Wine is far from beneficial for a patient, when the eyes are fixed
and rigid, and when the eyelids are immoveable, or else relaxed and
heavy; in cases, too, where, with an incessant nictation, the eyes are
more than usually brilliant, or where the eyelids refuse to close—the
same, too, if that symptom should occur in sleep—or where the eyes are
suffused with blood, or congealed matter makes its appearance in the
corners of those organs. The same rule should be observed, also, when
the tongue is heavy and swollen, or when there is an impediment from
time to time in the speech, when the urine is passed with difficulty,
or when a person has been seized with a sudden fright, with spasms,
or recurrent fits of torpor, or experiences seminal discharges during


It is a well-ascertained fact, that in the cardiac[2940] disease the
only resource is wine. According to some authorities, however, wine
should only be given when the attacks come on, while others, again, are
of opinion, that it must only be administered between the attacks; it
being the object with the former to arrest the profuse perspirations,
while the latter base their practice on an impression that it may be
given with more safety at a moment when the malady has diminished in
intensity; and this I find is the opinion entertained by most people.
In all cases, wine must only be administered just after taking food,
never after sleep, and under no circumstances after any other kind of
drink, or in other words, only when the patient is thirsty; in no case
whatever should it be given, except at the very last extremity. Wine is
better suited to males than to females, to aged people than to youths,
to youths than to children, and to persons who are used to it than to
those who are not in the habit of taking it; winter, too, is a better
time for using it than summer. As to the quantity to be prescribed, and
the proportion of water to be mixed with it, that depends entirely upon
the strength of the wine; it is generally thought, however, that the
best proportions are one cyathus of wine and two of water. If, however,
there is a derangement of the stomach, and if the food does not pass
downward, the wine must be given in a larger proportion.


Among the artificial wines, the preparation of which we have[2941]
described, [there are some which],[2942] I think, are no longer made;
in addition to which, it would be a mere loss of time to enlarge
upon their medicinal effects, having expatiated elsewhere upon the
properties of the various elements of which they are composed. And
then, besides, the conceits of the medical men in relation to these
wines have really passed all bounds; they pretend, for instance, that a
wine extracted from turnips[2943] is good for recruiting the exhausted
strength, after exercises in arms or on horseback; and, not to speak
of other preparations, they attribute a similar effect to wine of
juniper.[2944] Who is there, too, that would think of looking, upon
wormwood wine[2945] as superior in its effects to wormwood itself?

I shall pass in silence the rest of these preparations, and among them
palm wine,[2946] which is injurious to the head, and is beneficial only
as a laxative to the bowels, and as a cure for spitting of blood. We
cannot, however, look upon the liquor which we have spoken of[2947]
under the name of “bion,” as being an artificial wine; for the whole
art of making it consists merely in the employment of grapes before
they have arrived at maturity. This preparation is extremely good for
a deranged stomach or an imperfect digestion, as also for pregnancy,
fainting fits, paralysis, fits of trembling, vertigo, gripings of the
bowels, and sciatica. It is said, too, that in times of pestilence,
and for persons on a long journey, this liquid forms a beverage of
remarkable efficacy.


Wine, even when it has lost its vinous properties, still retains some
medicinal virtues. Vinegar possesses cooling properties in the very
highest degree, and is no less efficacious as a resolvent; it has the
property, too, of effervescing,[2948] when poured upon the ground. We
have frequently had occasion, and shall again have occasion, to mention
the various medicinal compositions in which it forms an ingredient.
Taken by itself, it dispels nausea and arrests hiccup, and if smelt at,
it will prevent sneezing: retained in the mouth, it prevents a person
from being inconvenienced by the heat[2949] of the bath. It is used
as a beverage also, in combination with water,[2950] and employed as
a gargle, it is found by many to be very wholesome to the stomach,
particularly convalescents and persons suffering from sun-stroke; used
as a fomentation, too, this mixture is extremely beneficial to the
eyes. Vinegar is used remedially when a leech has been swallowed;[2951]
and it has the property of healing leprous sores,[2952] scorbutic
eruptions, running ulcers, wounds inflicted by dogs, scorpions, and
scolopendræ, and the bite of the shrew-mouse. It is good, too, as a
preventive of the itching sensations produced by the venom of all
stinging animals, and as an antidote to the bite of the millepede.

Applied warm in a sponge, in the proportion of three sextarii to
two ounces of sulphur or a bunch of hyssop, vinegar is a remedy for
maladies of the fundament. To arrest the hæmorrhage which ensues upon
the operation[2953] of lithotomy, and, indeed, all other operations
of a similar nature, it is usual to apply vinegar in a sponge, and at
the same time to administer it internally in doses of two cyathi, the
very strongest possible being employed. Vinegar has the effect also of
dissolving coagulated blood; for the cure of lichens, it is used both
internally and externally. Used as an injection, it arrests looseness
of the bowels and fluxes of the intestines; it is similarly employed,
too, for procidence of the rectum and uterus.

Vinegar acts as a cure for inveterate coughs, defluxions of the
throat, hardness of breathing, and looseness of the teeth: but it acts
injuriously upon the bladder and the sinews, when relaxed. Medical men
were for a long time in ignorance how beneficial vinegar is for the
sting of the asp; for it was only recently that a man, while carrying
a bladder[2954] of vinegar, happening to be stung by an asp upon which
he trod, found to his surprise that whenever he put down the bladder he
felt the sting, but that when he took it up again, he seemed as though
he had never been hurt; a circumstance which at once suggested to him
the remedial properties of the vinegar, upon drinking some of which
he experienced a cure. It is with vinegar, too, and nothing else,
that persons rinse the mouth after sucking the poison from a wound.
This liquid, in fact, exercises a predominance not only upon various
articles of food, but upon many other substances as well. Poured upon
rocks in considerable quantities, it has the effect of splitting[2955]
them, when the action of fire alone has been unable to produce any
effect thereon. As a seasoning, too, there is no kind that is more
agreeable than vinegar, or that has a greater tendency to heighten the
flavour of food. When it is employed for this purpose, its extreme
tartness is modified with burnt bread or wine, or else it is heightened
by the addition of pepper, and of laser;[2956] in all cases, too, salt
modifies its strength.

While speaking of vinegar, we must not omit to mention a very
remarkable case in connexion with it: in the latter years of his
life, M. Agrippa was dreadfully afflicted with gout, so much so, in
fact, that he was quite unable to endure the torments to which he
was subjected. Upon this, guided by the ominous advice of one of his
medical attendants, though unknown to Augustus, at the moment of an
extremely severe attack he plunged his legs into hot vinegar, content
to purchase exemption from such cruel torments as he suffered, if even
at the price of all use and sensation in those limbs, * * * * *.[2957]


Squill vinegar is the more esteemed, the older it is. In addition to
the properties which we have already[2958] mentioned, it is useful
in cases where the food turns sour upon the stomach, a mere taste of
it being sufficient to act as a corrective. It is good, too, when
persons are seized with vomiting, while fasting, having the effect of
indurating the passages of the throat and stomach. It is a corrective,
also, of bad breath, strengthens the teeth and gums, and improves the

Used as a gargle, squill vinegar remedies hardness of hearing, and
opens the passages of the ears, while at the same time it tends to
improve the sight. It is very good, too, for epilepsy, melancholy,
vertigo, hysterical suffocations, blows, falls with violence, and
extravasations of blood in consequence, as also for debility of the
sinews, and diseases of the kidneys. In cases of internal ulceration,
however, the use of it must be avoided.


The following, as we learn from Dieuches, was the manner in which
oxymeli[2959] was prepared by the ancients. In a cauldron they used
to put ten minæ of honey, five heminæ of old vinegar, a pound and a
quarter of sea-salt, and five sextarii of rain-water; the mixture
was then boiled together till it had simmered some ten times, after
which it was poured off, and put by for keeping. Asclepiades, however,
condemned this preparation, and put an end to the use of it, though
before his time it used to be given in fevers even. Still, however,
it is generally admitted that it was useful for the cure of stings
inflicted by the serpent known as the “seps”[2960] and that it acted
as an antidote to opium[2961] and mistletoe. It was usefully employed
also, warm, as a gargle for quinsy and maladies of the ears, and for
affections of the mouth and throat; for all these purposes, however,
at the present day, oxalme is employed, the best kind of which is made
with salt and fresh vinegar.


Sapa[2962] has a close affinity with wine, being nothing else but
must boiled down to one third: that which is prepared from white must
is the best. It is used medicinally in cases of injuries inflicted
by cantharides, the buprestis,[2963] the pine caterpillars known as
pityocampæ,[2964] salamanders, and all venomous bites and stings. Taken
with onions it has the effect of bringing away the dead fœtus and the
after-birth. According to Fabianus, it acts as a poison, if taken by a
person fasting, immediately after the bath.[2965]


Next in the natural order come the lees of these several liquids.
The lees of[2966] wine are so extremely powerful as to prove fatal
to persons on descending into the vats.[2967] The proper precaution
for preventing this, is to let down a light first, which so long
as it refuses to burn, is significant of danger. Wine-lees, in
an unrinsed[2968] state, form an ingredient in several medicinal
preparations: with an equal proportion of iris,[2969] a liniment
is prepared from them for purulent eruptions; and, either moist or
dried, they are used for stings inflicted by the phalangium, and for
inflammations[2970] of the testes, mamillæ, or other parts of the
body. A decoction of wine-lees is prepared, too, with barley-meal
and powdered frankincense; after which it is first parched and then
dried. The test of its being properly boiled, is its imparting, when
cold, a burning sensation to the tongue. When left exposed to the air,
wine-lees very rapidly lose their virtues; which, on the other hand,
are greatly heightened by the action of fire.

Wine-lees are very useful, too, boiled with figs, for the cure of
lichens and cutaneous eruptions; they are applied also in a similar
manner to leprous sores and running ulcers. Taken in drink, they act
as an antidote to the poison of fungi, and more particularly if they
are undiluted; boiled and then rinsed, they are used in preparations
for the eyes. They are employed also topically for diseases of the
testes and generative organs, and are taken in wine for strangury. When
wine-lees have lost their strength, they are still useful for cleansing
the body and scouring clothes, in which case they act as a substitute
for gum acacia.[2971]


The lees of vinegar,[2972] as a matter of course, considering the
material from which they are derived, are much more acrid than those
of wine, and more caustic in their effects. This substance prevents
the increase of suppuration, and, employed topically, is good for
the stomach, intestines, and regions of the abdomen. It has the
property also of arresting fluxes of those parts, and the catamenia
when in excess; it disperses inflamed tumours which have not come to
a head, and is a cure for quinsy. Applied with wax, it is curative
of erysipelas. It reduces swellings of the mamillæ when gorged with
milk, and removes malformed nails. Employed with polenta, it is very
efficacious for the cure of stings inflicted by the serpent called
cerastes;[2973] and in combination with melanthium,[2974] it heals
bites inflicted by crocodiles and dogs.

Vinegar lees, too, by being subjected to the action of fire, acquire
additional strength.[2975] Mixed in this state with oil of mastich, and
applied to the hair, they turn[2976] it red in a single night. Applied
with water in linen, as a pessary, they act as a detergent upon the


The lees[2977] of sapa are used for the cure of burns, it being the
best plan to employ with them the down that grows on the reed; a
decoction too, of these lees, is good for the cure of an inveterate
cough. They are boiled also in a saucepan with salt and grease as an
ointment for tumours of the jaws and neck.


The next rank, after the vine, clearly belongs to the olive. The
leaves of the olive-tree are astringent,[2978] detergent, and binding
in the highest degree. Chewed and applied to sores, they are of a
healing nature; and applied topically with oil, they are good for
head-ache. A decoction of them with honey makes a good liniment for
such parts of the body as have been subjected to cauterization, as
also for inflammations of the gums, whitlows, and foul and putrid
ulcers: combined with honey, they arrest discharges of blood from
the nervous[2979] parts of the a body. The juice of olive leaves is
efficacious for carbuncular ulcers and pustules about the eyes, and for
procidence of the pupil; hence it is much employed in the composition
of eye-salves, having the additional property of healing inveterate
runnings of the eyes, and ulcerations of the eyelids.

This juice is extracted by pouring wine and rain-water upon the leaves,
and then pounding them; after which the pulp is dried and divided
into lozenges. Used with wool, as a pessary, this preparation arrests
menstruation when in excess, and is very useful for the treatment
of purulent sores, condylomata, erysipelas, spreading ulcers, and


The blossom,[2980] too, of the olive-tree possesses similar
properties. The young branches are burnt when just beginning to
blossom, and of the ashes a substitute for spodium[2981] is made, upon
which wine is poured, and it is then burnt afresh. To suppurations and
inflamed tumours these ashes are applied, or else the leaves, beaten up
with honey; for the eyes, they are used with polenta. The juice which
exudes[2982] from the wood, when burnt in a green state, heals lichens,
scaly eruptions, and running ulcers.

As to the juice[2983] which exudes naturally from the olive-tree, and
more particularly that of Æthiopia, we cannot be sufficiently surprised
that authors should have been found to recommend it as an application
for tooth-ache, and to tell us at the same time that it is a poison,
and even that we must have recourse to the wild olive for it. The bark
of the roots of the olive, as young and tender a tree as possible
being selected, scraped and taken every now and then in honey, is
good[2984] for patients suffering from spitting of blood and purulent
expectorations. The ashes of the tree itself, mixed with axle-grease,
are useful for the cure of tumours, and heal fistulas by the extraction
of the vicious humours which they contain.


White olives are wholesome for the upper regions of the stomach, but
not so good for the bowels. Eaten by themselves, habitually as a
diet, quite fresh and before they are preserved, they are remarkably
serviceable, having the effect of curing gravel,[2985] and of
strengthening the teeth when worn or loosened by the use of meat.

Black olives, on the other hand, are not so wholesome for the upper
regions of the stomach, but are better for the bowels; they are not
good, however, for the head or for the eyes. Both kinds, pounded and
applied topically, are good for the cure of burns, but the black olive
is sometimes chewed first, and instantly applied to the sore, for the
purpose of preventing blisters from forming. Colymbades[2986] act as a
detergent for foul ulcers, but they are bad for persons suffering from


As to the amurca of olives, we might appear to have said enough on the
subject already,[2987] taking Cato as our guide; it remains, however,
to speak of the medicinal uses of this substance. It is extremely
serviceable as a strengthener of the gums,[2988] and for the cure of
ulcers of the mouth; it has the effect, also, of strengthening loose
teeth in the sockets, and an application of it is good for erysipelas
and spreading ulcers. For chilblains, the amurca of the black olive is
the best, as also as a fomentation for infants; that of the white olive
is used, with wool, as a pessary for affections of the uterus. Of both
kinds, however, the amurca is much more serviceable when boiled; this
being done in a vessel of Cyprian copper, to the consistency of honey.
Thus prepared, it is used, according to the necessities of the case,
with either vinegar, old wine, or honied wine, for the treatment of
maladies of the mouth, teeth, and ears, and for running ulcers,[2989]
diseases of the generative organs, and chaps on various parts of the
body. It is employed topically, for the cure of wounds, in a linen
pledget, and for sprains, in wool: as a medicament, it is of great
utility, more particularly when old, as in such case it effects the
cure of fistula.[2990]

It is used as an injection for ulcerations of the fundament, the
generative organs, and the uterus, and is employed topically for
incipient gout and diseases of the joints. Boiled down again, with
omphacium,[2991] to the consistency of honey, it extracts decayed
teeth; and, in combination with a decoction of lupines and the plant
chamæleon,[2992] it is a marvellous cure for itch in beasts of
burden.[2993] Fomentations of amurca in a raw state[2994] are extremely
good for gout.


The leaves of the wild olive are possessed of similar properties.
The spodium[2995] that is made by burning the young branches is of
remarkable efficacy for arresting fluxes; it allays inflammations of
the eyes also, acts as a detergent upon ulcerous sores, makes the
flesh grow on wounds from which it has been removed, and acts gently
as a caustic upon fleshy excrescences, drying them up and making them
cicatrize. The rest of its properties are similar to those of the
cultivated olive. There is, however, one peculiarity in it; the leaves,
boiled with honey, are given in doses of a spoonful for spitting
of blood.[2996] The oil, too, of the wild olive is more acrid, and
possesses greater energy than that of the cultivated olive; hence it
is that it is usual to rinse the mouth with it for the purpose of
strengthening the teeth.[2997]

The leaves, too, are applied topically, with wine, to whitlows,
carbuncles, and all kinds of gatherings; and, with honey, to sores
which require a detergent. Both a decoction of the leaves and the
natural juices of the wild olive form ingredients in medicaments for
the eyes; and the latter are found useful as an injection for the
ears, in the case of purulent discharges even. From the blossom of the
wild olive a liniment is prepared for condylomata and epinyctis: it
is applied also to the abdomen, with barley-meal, for fluxes, and to
the head, with oil, for head-ache. In cases where the scalp becomes
detached from the cranium, the young branches, boiled and applied
with honey, have a healing effect. These branches, too, when arrived
at maturity, taken with the food, arrest diarrhœa: parched and beaten
up with honey, they act as a detergent upon corroding sores, and bring
carbuncles to a head and dispers them.


As to olive oil, we have abundantly treated of its nature and elements
already.[2998] It now remains to speak of the medicinal properties of
the various kinds of oil. The most useful of all is omphacium,[2999]
and next to that, green oil;[3000] in addition to which, we may remark
that oil ought to be as fresh as possible, except in cases where old
oil is absolutely required. For medicinal purposes, too, oil should be
extremely fluid, have an agreeable smell, and be free from[3001] all
taste, just the converse, in fact, of the property which we look for in
food. Omphacium is good for the gums, and if kept from time to time in
the mouth, there is nothing better as a preservative of the whiteness
of the teeth. It checks profuse perspirations.


Oil of œnanthe[3002] has just the same properties as oil of roses.
Like oil in general, it makes the body supple, and imparts to it
strength and vigour; it is injurious to the stomach, promotes the
increase of ulcers, irritates the fauces, and deadens the effect of all
poisons, white-lead and gypsum in particular, if taken in hydromel or
a decoction of dried figs. Taken with water, it is good as an antidote
to the effects of opium, and to injuries inflicted by cantharides,
the buprestis, the salamandra, and the pine caterpillar.[3003] Taken
pure as an emetic, it is highly esteemed as an antidote in all the
before-mentioned cases. It is also a refreshing remedy for extreme
lassitude, and for fits of shivering from cold. Taken warm, in doses
of six cyathi, and more particularly when boiled with rue,[3004] it
relieves gripings of the stomach and expels intestinal worms, Taken
in doses of one hemina with wine and warm water, or else with barley
water,[3005] it acts as a purgative upon the bowels. It is useful,
also, in the composition of plasters for wounds, and it cleanses the
complexion of the face. Injected into the nostrils of oxen, till it
produces eructation, it cures attacks of flatulency.

When old it is of a more warming nature than when new, and acts more
energetically as a sudorific, and as a resolvent for indurations. It
is very efficacious[3006] in cases of lethargy, and more particularly
in the decline of the disease. Mixed with an equal proportion of honey
which has not been smoked,[3007] it contributes in some degree to the
improvement of the sight. It is a remedy, also for head-ache; and, in
combination with water, for the burning attacks in fevers. If old oil
should happen not to be at hand, the new oil is boiled to act as a
substitute for it.


Castor[3008] oil, taken with an equal quantity of warm water, acts
as a purgative[3009] upon the bowels. It is said, too, that as a
purgative this oil acts more particularly upon the regions of the
diaphragm.[3010] It is very useful for diseases of the joints, all
kinds of indurations, affections of the uterus and ears, and for burns:
employed with the ashes of the murex,[3011] it heals itch-scabs and
inflammations of the fundament. It improves the complexion also, and by
its fertilizing tendencies promotes the growth of the hair. The cicus,
or seed from which this oil is made, no animal will touch; and from
these grape-like seeds[3012] wicks are made,[3013] which burn with a
peculiar brilliancy; the light, however, that is produced by the oil
is very dim, in consequence of its extreme thickness. The leaves are
applied topically with vinegar for erysipelas, and fresh-gathered, they
are used by themselves for diseases of the mamillæ and defluxions;
a decoction of them in wine, with polenta and saffron, is good for
inflammations of various kinds. Boiled by themselves, and applied to
the face for three successive days, they improve the complexion.


Oil of almonds is of a purgative and emollient nature; it effaces
wrinkles on the skin, improves the complexion, and, in combination with
honey, removes spots on the face. A decoction of it with oil of roses,
honey, and pomegranate rind, is good for the ears, and exterminates the
small worms that breed there; it has the effect also, of dispelling
hardness of hearing, recurrent tinglings and singing in the ears, and
is curative of head-ache and pains in the eyes. Used with wax, it cures
boils, and scorches by exposure to the sun;[3014] in combination with
wine it heals running ulcers and scaly eruptions, and with melilote,
condylomatous swellings. Applied by itself to the head, it invites


As to oil of laurel,[3016] the fresher and greener it is, the more
valuable are its properties. It is of a heating nature, and is
consequently applied, warm, in a pomegranate rind, for paralysis,
spasms, sciatica, bruises, head-ache, catarrhs of long standing, and
diseases of the ears.


Oil of myrtle has similar properties.[3017] It is of an astringent and
indurative nature; mixed with the scoria of copper, and wax, it cures
diseases of the gums, tooth-ache, dysentery, ulcerations of the uterus,
affections of the bladder, inveterate or running ulcers, eruptions,
and burns. It exercises a healing effect also, upon excoriations,
scaly eruptions, chaps, condylomata, and sprains, and it neutralizes
offensive odours of the body. This oil is an antidote[3018] to
cantharides, the buprestis, and other dangerous poisons of a corrosive


Oil of chamæmyrsine, or oxymyrsine,[3019] possesses similar properties.
Oil of cypress[3020] also, produces the same effects as oil of myrtle,
and the same as to oil of citrus.[3021] Oil of walnuts, which we
have previously mentioned[3022] as being called “caryinon,” is good
for alopecy, and is injected into the ears for the cure of hardness
of hearing. Used as a liniment, it relieves head-ache; but in other
respects it is of an inert nature and disagreeable taste; indeed, if
part only of one of the kernels should happen to be decayed, the whole
making is spoilt. The oil extracted from the grain of Cnidos[3023]
has similar properties to castor[3024] oil. Oil of mastich[3025] is
very useful as an ingredient in the medicinal preparation known as
“acopum;”[3026] indeed it would be fully as efficacious as oil of
roses, were it not found to be somewhat too styptic in its effects. It
is employed in cases of too profuse perspiration, and for the cure of
pimples produced thereby. It is extremely efficacious also for itch
in beasts of burden. Oil of balanus[3027] removes spots on the skin,
boils, freckles, and maladies of the gums.[3028]


We have already enlarged[3029] upon the nature of the cyprus, and the
method of preparing oil of cyprus. This oil is naturally warming, and
relaxes the sinews. The leaves of the tree are used as an application
to the stomach,[3030] and the juice of them is applied in a pessary
for irritations of the uterus. Fresh gathered and chewed, the leaves
are applied to running ulcers of the head, ulcerations of the mouth,
gatherings, and condylomatous sores. A decoction of the leaves is very
useful also for burns and sprains. Beaten up and applied with the juice
of the strutheum,[3031] they turn the hair red. The blossoms, applied
to the head with vinegar, relieve head-ache, and the ashes of them,
burnt in a pot of raw earth, are curative of corrosive sores and putrid
ulcers, either employed by themselves, or in combination with honey.
The odour[3032] exhaled by these blossoms induces sleep.

The oil called “gleucinum”[3033] has certain astringent and refreshing
properties similar to those of oil of œnanthe.


The oil of balsamum is by far the most valuable of them all, as already
stated[3034] by us, when treating of the unguents. It is extremely
efficacious for the venom of all kinds of serpents, is very beneficial
to the eyesight, disperses films upon the eyes, assuages hardness
of breathing, and acts emolliently upon all kinds of gatherings and
indurations. It has the effect, also, of preventing the blood from
coagulating, acts as a detergent upon ulcers, and is remarkably
beneficial for diseases of the ears, head-ache, trembling,[3035]
spasms, and ruptures. Taken in milk, it is an antidote to the poison
of aconite, and used as a liniment upon the access of the shivering
fits in fevers, it modifies their violence. Still, however, it should
be used but sparingly, as it is of a very caustic nature, and, if not
employed in moderation, is apt to augment the malady.


We have already[3036] spoken, also, of the nature of malobathrum,
and the various kinds of it. It acts as a diuretic, and, sprinkled
in wine upon the eyes, it is used very advantageously for defluxions
of those organs. It is applied also to the forehead, for the purpose
of promoting sleep; but it acts with still greater efficacy, if the
nostrils are rubbed with it, or if it is taken in water. The leaves,
placed beneath the tongue, impart a sweetness to the mouth and breath,
and put among clothes, they produce a similar effect.


Oil of henbane[3037] is of an emollient nature, but it is bad for
the nerves; taken in drink, it disturbs the brain. Therminum,[3038]
or oil of lupines, is emollient, and very similar to oil of roses in
its effects. As to oil of narcissus, we have already[3039] spoken
of it when describing that flower. Oil of radishes,[3040] cures
phthiriasis[3041] contracted in a long illness, and removes roughness
of the skin upon the face. Oil of sesame is curative of pains in the
ears, spreading ulcers, and the cancer[3042] known as “cacoethes.” Oil
of lilies, which we have previously[3043] mentioned as being called oil
of Phaselis and oil of Syria, is extremely good for the kidneys and for
promoting perspiration, as also as an emollient for the uterus, and as
tending to bring internal tumours to a head. As to oil of Selga, we
have already[3044] spoken of it as being strengthening to the tendons;
which is the case, also, with the herbaceous[3045] oil which the people
of Iguvium[3046] sell, on the Flaminian Way.


Elæomeli, which, as we have already[3047] stated, exudes from the
olive-trees of Syria, has a flavour like that of honey, but not without
a certain nauseous taste. It relaxes the bowels, and carries off the
bilious secretions more particularly, if taken in doses of two cyathi,
in a semisextarius of water. After drinking it, the patient falls into
a torpor, and requires to be aroused every now and then. Persons, when
about to drink for a wager, are in the habit of taking[3048] a cyathus
of it, by way of prelude. Oil of pitch[3049] is employed for the cure
of cough, and of itch in cattle.


Next in rank after the vine and the olive comes the palm. Dates
fresh-gathered have an inebriating[3050] effect, and are productive
of head-ache; when dried, they are not so injurious. It would appear,
too, that they are not wholesome to the stomach; they have an
irritating[3051] effect on coughs, but are very nourishing to the
body. The ancients used to give a decoction of them to patients, as a
substitute for hydromel, with the view of recruiting the strength and
allaying thirst, the Thebaïc date being held in preference for the
purpose. Dates are very useful, too, for persons troubled with spitting
of blood, when taken in the food more particularly. The dates called
caryotæ,[3052] in combination with quinces, wax, and saffron, are
applied topically for affections of the stomach, bladder, abdomen, and
intestines: they are good for bruises also. Date-stones,[3053] burnt in
a new earthen vessel, produce an ash which, when rinsed, is employed
as a substitute for spodium,[3054] and is used as an ingredient
in eye-salves, and, with the addition of nard, in washes for the


Of the palm which produces myrobalanum,[3056] the most esteemed kind
is that grown in Egypt;[3057] the dates of which, unlike those of
the other kinds, are without stones. Used with astringent wine, they
arrest[3058] diarrhœa and the catamenia, and promote the cicatrization
of wounds.


The palm called “elate,”[3059] or “spathe,” furnishes its buds, leaves,
and bark for medicinal purposes. The leaves are applied to the thoracic
regions, stomach, and liver, and to spreading ulcers, but they are
adverse to cicatrization. The bark[3060] of the tree, while tender,
mixed with wax and resin, heals itch-scab in the course of twenty days:
a decoction, also, is made of it for diseases of the testes. Used as
a fumigation, it turns the hair black, and brings away the fœtus. It
is given in drink, also, for diseases of the kidneys, bladder, and
thoracic organs; but it acts injuriously upon the head and nerves. The
decoction of this bark has the effect, also, of arresting fluxes of the
uterus and the bowels: the ashes of it are used with white wine for
griping pains in the stomach, and form a very efficacious remedy for
affections of the uterus.


We next come to the medicinal properties of the various kinds
of apples. The spring fruits, of this nature are sour and
unwholesome[3061] to the stomach, disturb the bowels, contract the
bladder, and act injuriously upon the nerves; when cooked, however,
they are of a more harmless nature. Quinces are more pleasant eating
when cooked; still however, eaten raw, provided they are ripe, they are
very useful[3062] for spitting of blood, dysentery, cholera, and cœliac
affections; indeed, they are not of the same efficacy when cooked, as
they then lose the astringent properties which belong to their juice.
They are applied also to the breast in the burning attacks of fever,
and, in spite of what has been stated above, they are occasionally
boiled in rain-water for the various purposes before-mentioned. For
pains in the stomach they are applied[3063] like a cerate, either raw
or boiled. The down upon them heals[3064] carbuncles.

Boiled in wine, and applied with wax, they restore the hair, when it
has been lost by alopecy. A conserve of raw quinces in honey relaxes
the bowels: and they add very materially to the sweetness of the
honey, and render it more wholesome to the stomach. Boiled quinces
preserved in honey are beaten up with a decoction of rose-leaves, and
are taken as food by some for the cure of affections of the stomach.
The juice of raw quinces is very good, also, for the spleen, hardness
of breathing, dropsy, affections of the mamillæ, condylomata, and
varicose veins. The blossoms, either fresh or dried, are useful for
inflammations of the eyes, spitting of blood, and irregularities of
the catamenia. By beating them up with sweet wine, a soothing sirop is
prepared, which is very beneficial for cœliac affections and diseases
of the liver: with a decoction of them a fomentation is made for
procidence of the uterus and intestines.

From quinces an oil is also extracted, which we have spoken of under
the name of “melinum:”[3065] in order to make it, the fruit must not
have been grown in a damp soil; hence it is that the quinces which come
from Sicily are so highly esteemed for the purpose; while, on the other
hand, the strutheum,[3066] though of a kindred kind, is not so good.

A circle[3067] is traced round the root of this tree, and the root
itself is then pulled up with the left hand, care being taken by the
person who does so to state at the same moment the object for which it
is so pulled up, and for whom. Worn as an amulet, this root is a cure
for scrofula.


The apples known as “melimela,”[3068] and the other sweet apples, relax
the stomach and bowels, but are productive of heat and thirst,[3069]
though they do not act injuriously upon the nervous system. The
orbiculata[3070] arrest diarrhœa and vomiting, and act as a diuretic.
Wild apples resemble the sour apples of spring, and act astringently
upon the bowels: indeed, for this purpose they should always be used
before they are ripe.


Citrons,[3071] either the pulp of them or the pips, are taken in
wine as an antidote to poisons. A decoction of citrons, or the juice
extracted from them, is used as a gargle to impart sweetness to the
breath.[3072] The pips of this fruit are recommended for pregnant women
to chew when affected with qualmishness. Citrons are good, also, for a
weak stomach, but it is not easy to eat them except with vinegar.[3073]


It would be a mere loss of time to recapitulate the nine[3074]
different varieties of the pomegranate. The sweet pomegranates, or, in
other words, those known by the name of “apyrena,”[3075] are generally
considered to be injurious to the stomach; they are productive, also,
of flatulency, and are bad for the teeth and gums. The kind which
closely resembles the last in flavour, and which we have spoken of as
the “vinous” pomegranate, has very diminutive pips, and is thought to
be somewhat more wholesome than the others. They have an astringent
effect upon the stomach and bowels, provided they are taken in
moderation, and not to satiety; but even these, or, indeed, any other
kind, should never be given in fevers, as neither the substance nor
the juice of the fruit acts otherwise than injuriously under those
circumstances. They should, also, be equally[3076] abstained from in
cases of vomiting and bilious evacuations.

In this fruit Nature has revealed to us a grape, and, so to say, not
must, but a wine ready made, both grape and wine being enclosed in
a tougher skin.[3077] The rind of the sour pomegranate is employed
for many purposes. It is in very common use with curriers for
tanning[3078] leather, from which circumstance it has received the name
of “malicorium.”[3079] Medical men assure us that the rind is diuretic,
and that, boiled with nut-galls in vinegar, it strengthens loose
teeth in the sockets. It is prescribed also for pregnant women when
suffering from qualmishness, the flavour of it quickening the fœtus. A
pomegranate is cut, and left to soak in rain-water for some three days;
after which the infusion is given cold to persons suffering from cœliac
affections and spitting of blood.


With the sour pomegranate a medicament is made, which is known as
“stomatice,” and is extremely good for affections of the mouth,
nostrils, and ears, dimness of sight, films upon the eyes,[3080]
diseases of the generative organs, corrosive sores called “nomæ,” and
fleshy excrescences in ulcers; it is useful, also, as an antidote
to the venom of the sea-hare.[3081] The following is the method of
making it: the rind is taken off the fruit, and the pips are pounded,
after which the juice is boiled down to one-third, and then mixed with
saffron, split alum,[3082] myrrh, and Attic honey, the proportions
being half a pound of each.

Some persons have another way of making it: a number of sour
pomegranates are pounded, after which the juice is boiled down in a
new cauldron to the consistency of honey. This composition is used for
various affections of the generative organs and fundament, and, indeed,
all those diseases which are treated with lycium.[3083] It is employed,
also, for the cure of purulent discharges from the ears, incipient
defluxions of the eyes, and red spots upon the hands. Branches of the
pomegranate have the effect of repelling the attacks of serpents.[3084]
Pomegranate rind, boiled in wine and applied, is a cure for chilblains.
A pomegranate, boiled down to one-third in three heminæ of wine, is
a cure for griping pains in the bowels and for tape-worm.[3085] A
pomegranate, put in a new earthen pot tightly covered and burnt in a
furnace, and then pounded and taken in wine, arrests looseness of the
bowels, and dispels griping pains in the stomach.


The Greeks have given the name of cytinus[3086] to the first germs
of this tree when it is just beginning to blossom. These germs have
a singular property, which has been remarked by many. If a person,
after taking off everything that is fastened upon the body, his
girdle, for instance, shoes, and even his ring, plucks one of them
with two fingers of the left hand, the thumb, namely, and the fourth
finger, and, after rubbing it gently round his eyes, puts it into
his mouth and swallows[3087] it without letting it touch his teeth,
he will experience, it is said, no malady of the eyes throughout all
the year. These germs, dried and pounded, check the growth of fleshy
excrescences; they are good also for the gums and teeth; and if the
teeth are loose a decoction of the germs will strengthen them.

The young pomegranates[3088] themselves are beaten up and applied
as a liniment to spreading or putrid sores; they are used also for
inflammations of the eyes and intestines, and nearly all the purposes
for which pomegranate-rind is used. They are remedial also for the
stings of scorpions.


We cannot sufficiently admire the care and diligence displayed by the
ancients, who, in their enquiries into every subject, have left nothing
untried. Within the cytinus, before the pomegranate itself makes its
appearance, there are diminutive flowers, the name given to which, as
already[3089] stated, is “balaustium.”[3090] These blossoms, even,
have not escaped their enquiries; it having been ascertained by them
that they are an excellent remedy for stings inflicted by the scorpion.
Taken in drink, they arrest the catamenia, and are curative of ulcers
of the mouth, tonsillary glands, and uvula, as also of spitting
of blood, derangement of the stomach and bowels, diseases of the
generative organs, and running sores in all parts of the body.

The ancients also dried these blossoms, to try their efficacy in that
state, and made the discovery that, pulverized, they cure patients
suffering from dysentery when at the very point of death even, and that
they arrest looseness of the bowels. They have not disdained, too, to
make trial of the pips of the pomegranate: parched and then pounded,
these pips are good for the stomach, sprinkled in the food or drink.
To arrest looseness of the bowels, they are taken in rain-water. A
decoction of the juices of the root, in doses of one victoriatus,[3091]
exterminates tape-worm;[3092] and the root itself, boiled down in
water to a thick consistency, is employed for the same purposes as


There is a tree, also, which is called the wild pomegranate,[3094]
on account of its strong resemblance to the cultivated pomegranate.
The roots of it have a red bark, which taken in wine in doses of one
denarius, promotes sleep. The seed of it taken in drink is curative of
dropsy. Gnats are kept at a distance by the smoke of burnt pomegranate


All kinds of pears, as an aliment, are indigestible,[3095] to persons
in robust health, even; but to invalids they are forbidden as rigidly
as wine. Boiled, however, they are remarkably agreeable and wholesome,
those of Crustumium[3096] in particular. All kinds of pears, too,
boiled with honey, are wholesome to the stomach. Cataplasms of a
resolvent nature are made with pears, and a decoction of them is used
to disperse indurations. They are efficacious, also, in cases of
poisoning[3097] by mushrooms and fungi, as much by reason of their
heaviness, as by the neutralizing effects of their juice.

The wild pear ripens but very slowly. Cut in slices and hung in the air
to dry, it arrests looseness of the bowels, an effect which is equally
produced by a decoction of it taken in drink; in which case the leaves
also are boiled up together with the fruit. The ashes of pear-tree wood
are even more efficacious[3098] as an antidote to the poison of fungi.

A load of apples or pears, however small, is singularly fatiguing[3099]
to beasts of burden; the best plan to counteract this, they say, is to
give the animals some to eat, or at least to shew them the fruit before


The milky juice of the fig-tree possesses kindred properties with
vinegar;[3100] hence it is, that, like rennet, it curdles milk. This
juice is collected before the fruit ripens, and dried in the shade;
being used with yolk of egg as a liniment, or else in drink, with
amylum,[3101] to bring ulcers to a head and break them, and for the
purposes of an emmenagogue. With meal of fenugreek and vinegar, it is
applied topically for gout; it acts also as a depilatory,[3102] heals
eruptions of the eyelids, lichens and itch-scabs, and relaxes the
bowels. The milk of the fig-tree is naturally curative of the stings
of hornets, wasps, and similar insects, and is remarkably useful for
wounds inflicted by scorpions. Mixed with axle-grease it removes
warts. With the leaves and figs still green an application is made for
scrofulous[3103] and other sores of a nature which requires emollients
or resolvents. The leaves, too, used by themselves, are productive of
a similar effect. In addition to this, they are employed for other
purposes, as a friction for lichens, for example, for alopecy, and
other diseases which require caustic applications. The young shoots of
the branches are used as an application to the skin in cases of bites
inflicted by dogs. With honey they are applied to the ulcers known as
honeycomb ulcers;[3104] mixed with the leaves of wild poppies they
extract[3105] splinters of bones; and the leaves beaten up in vinegar
are a cure for bites inflicted by dogs. The young white shoots of the
black[3106] fig are applied topically, with wax, to boils, and bites
inflicted by the shrew-mouse: and the ashes of their leaves are used
for the cure of gangrenes and the reduction of fleshy excrescences.

Ripe figs are diuretic and laxative; they promote the perspiration, and
bring out pimples; hence it is that they are unwholesome in autumn, the
perspirations which they excite being always attended with shivering.
They are injurious also to the stomach, though for a short time only;
and it is generally thought that they spoil the voice. The figs which
are the last to ripen are more wholesome than the first, but those
which are drugged[3107] for the purpose of ripening them are never
wholesome. This fruit invigorates the young, and improves the health of
the aged and retards the formation of wrinkles; it allays thirst, and
is of a cooling nature, for which reason it should never be declined
in those fevers of an astringent tendency which are known as “stegnæ.”

Dried figs are injurious to the stomach,[3108] but are beneficial in
a marvellous degree to the throat and fauces. They are of a warming
nature, are productive of thirst, and relax the bowels, but are
unwholesome in stomachic complaints and fluxes of the bowels. In all
cases they are beneficial for the bladder, hardness of breathing, and
asthma, as also for diseases of the liver, kidneys, and spleen. They
are nourishing and invigorating, for which reason, the athletes in
former times used them as food: Pythagoras, the gymnast, being the
first who introduced among them a flesh diet.[3109] Figs are extremely
useful for patients recovering from a long illness, and for persons
suffering from epilepsy or dropsy. They are applied topically also in
all cases where sores require to be brought to a head, or dispersed;
and they are still more efficacious when mixed with lime or nitre.
Boiled with hyssop they act as a purgative on the pectoral organs,
carry off the phlegm, and cure inveterate coughs: boiled with wine they
heal maladies of the fundament, and tumours of the jaws. A decoction
of them is applied also to boils, inflamed tumours, and imposthumes
of the parotid glands. This decoction, too, is found very useful as a
fomentation for disorders incident to females.

Boiled with fenugreek,[3110] figs are very useful in cases of pleurisy
and peripneumony. A decoction of them with rue is good for griping
pains in the bowels; in combination with verdigris,[3111] they are
used for ulcers of the legs and imposthumes of the parotid glands;
with pomegranates, for hang-nails;[3112] and with wax, for burns and
chilblains. Boiled in wine, with wormwood and barley-meal, they are
employed for dropsy. Eaten with nitre, they relax the bowels; and
beaten up with salt they are applied to stings inflicted by scorpions.
Boiled in wine, and applied topically, they bring carbuncles to a head.
In cases of carcinoma, unattended with ulceration, it is a singularly
good plan to apply to the part the pulpiest fig that can be procured;
the same, too, with phagedænic sores.

As to the ashes of the fig, those of no tree known are of a more
acrid character,[3113] being of a detergent and astringent nature,
and tending to make new flesh and to promote the cicatrization of
wounds. They are also taken in drink, for the purpose of dissolving
coagulated blood, as also for bruises, falls with violence, ruptures,
convulsions * * * * in one cyathus respectively of water and oil. They
are administered also for tetanus and spasms, and are used either in
a potion, or as an injection for cœliac affections and dysentery.
Employed as a liniment with oil, they have a warming effect; and
kneaded into a paste with wax and rose-oil, they heal burns, leaving
the slightest scar only. Applied in oil, as a liniment, they are a cure
for weakness of sight, and are used as a dentifrice in diseases of the

It is said, too, that if a patient draws downward a branch of a
fig-tree, and turns up his head and bites off some knot or other of
it, without being seen by any one, and then wears it in a leather
bag suspended by a string from his neck, it is a certain cure for
scrofulous sores and imposthumes of the parotid glands. The bark of
this tree, beaten up with oil, cures ulcerations of the abdomen. Green
figs, applied raw, with the addition of nitre and meal, remove warts
and wens.[3114]

The ashes of the suckers which spring from the roots are used as a
substitute for spodium.[3115] Burnt over a second time and incorporated
with white lead, they are divided into cakes which are used for the
cure of ulcerations of the eyes and eruptions.


The wild fig, again, is even more efficacious in its properties than
the cultivated one. It has not so large a proportion of milky juice as
the other: a slip of it put into milk has the effect of curdling it and
turning it into cheese. This juice, collected and indurated by being
subjected to pressure, imparts a fine flavor[3116] to meat, being
steeped in vinegar for the purpose, and then rubbed upon it. It is used
also as an ingredient in blisters, and taken internally it relaxes the
bowels. Used with amylum,[3117] it opens the passages of the uterus,
and combined with the yolk of an egg it acts as an emmenagogue. Mixed
with meal of fenugreek it is applied topically for gout, and is used
for the dispersion of leprous sores, itch-scabs, lichens, and freckles:
it is an antidote also to the stings of venomous animals, and to the
bites of dogs. Applied to the teeth in wool, or introduced into the
cavity of a carious tooth, this juice cures tooth-ache.[3118] The young
shoots and the leaves, mixed with meal of fitches, act as an antidote
to the poison of marine animals, wine being added to the preparation.
In boiling beef a great saving of fire-wood may be effected, by putting
some of these shoots in the pot.[3119]

The figs in a green state, applied topically, soften and disperse
scrofulous sores and all kinds of gatherings, and the leaves, to a
certain extent, have a similar effect. The softer leaves are applied
with vinegar for the cure of running ulcers, epinyctis, and scaly
eruptions. With the leaves, mixed with honey, honeycomb ulcers[3120]
are treated, and wounds inflicted by dogs; the leaves are applied,
too, fresh, with wine, to phagedænic sores. In combination with
poppy-leaves, they extract splintered bones. Wild figs, in a green
state, employed as a fumigation, dispel flatulency; and an infusion of
them, used as a potion, combats the deleterious effects of bullocks’
blood, white-lead, and coagulated milk, taken internally. Boiled in
water, and employed as a cataplasm, they cure imposthumes of the
parotid glands. The shoots, or the green figs, gathered as young as
possible, are taken in wine for stings inflicted by scorpions. The
milky juice is also poured into the wound, and the leaves are applied
to it: the bite of the shrew-mouse is treated in a similar manner. The
ashes of the young branches are curative of relaxations of the uvula;
and the ashes of the tree itself, mixed with honey, have the effect of
healing chaps. A decoction of the root, boiled in wine, is good for
tooth-ache. The winter wild fig, boiled in vinegar and pounded, is a
cure for impetigo: the branches are first barked for the purpose and
then scraped; these scrapings, which are as fine as sawdust, being
applied topically to the parts affected.

There is also one medicinal property of a marvellous nature attributed
to the wild fig: if a youth who has not arrived at puberty breaks off
a branch, and then with his teeth tears off the bark swelling with the
sap, the pith of this branch, we are assured, attached as an amulet to
the person before sunrise, will prevent the formation of scrofulous
sores. A branch of this tree, attached to the neck of a bull, however
furious, exercises such a marvellous effect upon him as to restrain his
ferocity,[3121] and render him quite immoveable.


It will be as well to speak here, in consequence of the similarity of
name,[3122] of the herb which is known to the Greeks as the “erineon.”
This plant[3123] is a palm in height, and has mostly five small stems:
in appearance it resembles ocimum, and bears a white flower, with
a small, black, seed. Beaten up with Attic honey, it is a cure for
defluxions of the eyes. In whatever way it is gathered, it yields a
considerable abundance of sweet, milky, juice. With the addition of a
little nitre, this plant is extremely useful for pains in the ears. The
leaves of it have the property of neutralizing poisons.


The leaves[3124] of the plum, boiled in wine, are useful for the
tonsillary glands, the gums, and the uvula, the mouth being rinsed
with the decoction every now and then. As for the fruit itself, it is
relaxing[3125] to the bowels; but it is not very wholesome to the
stomach, though its bad effects are little more than momentary.


Peaches, again, are more wholesome than plums; and the same is the case
with the juice of the fruit, extracted, and taken in either wine or
vinegar. Indeed, what known fruit is there that is more wholesome as
an aliment than this? There is none, in fact, that has a less powerful
smell,[3126] or a greater abundance of juice, though it has a tendency
to create thirst.[3127] The leaves of it, beaten up and applied
topically, arrest hæmorrhage: the kernels, mixed with oil and vinegar,
are used as a liniment for head-ache.[3128]


The fruit of the wild plum, or the bark of the root,[3129] boiled down
to one-third in one hemina of astringent wine, arrests looseness of
the bowels and griping pains in the stomach: the proper dose of the
decoction is one cyathus.


Upon the bark of the wild and cultivated plums we find an
excrescence[3130] growing, known to the Greeks by the name of “lichen:”
it is remarkably good for chaps and condylomatous swellings.


In Egypt and in the Isle of Cyprus there are, as already stated,[3131]
mulberry-trees of a peculiar kind, being of a nature that is truly
marvellous; for, if the outer bark is peeled off, they emit a great
abundance of juice; but if a deeper incision is made, they are found to
be quite dry.[3132] This juice is an antidote to the venom of serpents,
is good for dysentery, disperses inflamed tumours and all kinds of
gatherings, heals wounds, and allays both head-ache and ear-ache: it is
taken in drink for affections of the spleen, and is used as a liniment
for the same purpose, as also for fits of shivering. This juice,
however, very soon breeds worms.

Among ourselves, too, the juice which exudes from the mulberry-tree is
employed for an equal number of purposes: taken in wine, it neutralizes
the noxious effects of aconite[3133] and the venom of spiders, relaxes
the bowels, and expels tapeworm and other animals which breed in the
intestines;[3134] the bark of the tree, pounded, has also a similar
effect. The leaves, boiled in rain-water with the bark of the black fig
and the vine, are used for dyeing the hair.

The juice of the fruit has a laxative effect immediately upon the
bowels, though the fruit itself, for the moment, acts beneficially upon
the stomach, being of a refreshing nature, but productive of thirst. If
no other food is taken upon them, mulberries[3135] are of a swelling
tendency. The juice of unripe mulberries acts astringently upon the
bowels. The marvels which are presented by this tree, and of which we
have made some mention[3136] when describing it, would almost appear to
belong to a creature gifted with animation.


From the fruit of the mulberry a medicament is prepared, called
“panchrestos,”[3137] “stomatice,” or “arteriace:” the following is the
method employed. Three sextarii of the juice are reduced, at a slow
heat, to the consistency of honey; two denarii of dried omphacium[3138]
or one of myrrh, with one denarius of saffron, are then added, the
whole being beaten up together and mixed with the decoction. There is
no medicament known that is more soothing than this, for affections
of the mouth, the trachea, the uvula, and the stomach. There is also
another mode of preparing it: two sextarii of mulberry juice and one of
Attic honey are boiled down in the manner above stated.

There are some other marvellous properties, also, which are mentioned
in reference to this tree. When the tree is in bud, and before the
appearance of the leaves, the germs of the fruit must be gathered with
the left hand—the Greeks give them the name of “ricini.”[3139] These
germs, worn as an amulet before they have touched the ground, have the
effect of arresting hæmorrhage, whether proceeding from a wound, from
the mouth, from the nostrils, or from piles; for which purposes they
are, accordingly, put away and kept. Similar virtues are attributed to
a branch just beginning to bear, broken off at full moon, provided also
it has not touched the ground: this branch, it is said, attached to the
arm, is peculiarly efficacious for the suppression of the catamenia
when in excess. The same effect is produced, it is said, when the woman
herself pulls it off, whatever time it may happen to be, care being
taken not to let it touch the ground, and to wear it attached to the
body. The leaves of the mulberry-tree beaten up fresh, or a decoction
of them dried, are applied topically for stings inflicted by serpents:
an infusion of them, taken in drink, is equally efficacious for that
purpose. The juice extracted from the bark of the root, taken in wine
or oxycrate, counteracts the venom of the scorpion.

We must also give some account of the method of preparing this
medicament employed by the ancients: extracting the juice from the
fruit, both ripe and unripe, they mixed it together, and then boiled it
down in a copper vessel to the consistency of honey. Some persons were
in the habit of adding myrrh and cypress, and then left it to harden
in the sun, mixing it with a spatula three times a-day. Such was their
receipt for the stomatice, which was also employed by them to promote
the cicatrization of wounds. There was another method, also, of dealing
with the juice of this fruit: extracting the juice, they used the dried
fruit with various articles of food,[3140] as tending to heighten the
flavour; and they were in the habit of employing it medicinally[3141]
for corroding ulcers, pituitous expectorations, and all cases in which
astringents were required for the viscera. They used it also for the
purpose of cleaning[3142] the teeth. A third mode of employing the
juices of this tree is to boil down the leaves and root, the decoction
being used, with oil,[3143] as a liniment for the cure of burns. The
leaves are also applied by themselves for the same purpose.

An incision made in the root at harvest-time, supplies a juice that is
extremely useful for tooth-ache, gatherings, and suppurations; it acts,
also, as a purgative upon the bowels. Mulberry-leaves, macerated in
urine, remove the hair from hides.


Cherries are relaxing to the bowels and unwholesome[3144] to
the stomach; in a dried state, however, they are astringent and
diuretic.[3145] I find it stated by some authors, that if cherries are
taken early in the morning covered with dew, the kernels being eaten
with them, the bowels will be so strongly acted upon as to effect a
cure for gout in the feet.


Medlars, the setania[3146] excepted, which has pretty nearly the
same properties as the apple, act astringently upon the stomach and
arrest looseness of the bowels. The same is the case, too, with dried
sorbs;[3147] but when eaten fresh, they are beneficial to the stomach,
and are good for fluxes of the bowels.


Pine-nuts,[3148] with the resin in them, are slightly bruised, and then
boiled down in water to one-half, the proportion of water being one
sextarius to each nut. This decoction, taken in doses of two cyathi, is
used for the cure of spitting of blood. The bark of the tree, boiled
in wine, is given for griping pains in the bowels. The kernels of the
pine-nut allay thirst, and assuage acridities and gnawing pains in the
stomach; they tend also to neutralize vicious humours in that region,
recruit the strength, and are salutary to the kidneys and the bladder.
They would seem, however, to exercise an irritating effect[3149] upon
the fauces, and to increase cough. Taken in water, wine, raisin wine,
or a decoction of dates, they carry off bile. For gnawing pains in the
stomach of extreme violence, they are mixed with cucumber-seed and
juice of purslain; they are employed, too, in a similar manner for
ulcerations of the bladder and kidneys,[3150] having a diuretic effect.


A decoction of the root of the bitter almond[3151] clears the
complexion, and gives the face a brighter colour.[3152] Bitter almonds
are provocative of sleep,[3153] and sharpen the appetite; they act,
also, as a diuretic and as an emmenagogue. They are used topically
for head-ache, when there is fever more particularly. Should the
head-ache proceed from inebriation,[3154] they are applied with
vinegar, rose-oil, and one sextarius of water. Used in combination with
amylum[3155] and mint, they arrest hæmorrhage. They are useful, also,
for lethargy and epilepsy, and the head is anointed with them for the
cure of epinyctis. In combination with wine, they heal putrid ulcers of
an inveterate nature, and, with honey, bites inflicted by dogs.[3156]
They are employed, also, for the cure of scaly eruptions of the face,
the parts affected being fomented first.

Taken in water, or, as is often done, in an electuary, with resin
of terebinth,[3157] they remove pains in the liver and kidneys;
used with raisin wine, they are good for calculus and strangury.
Bruised in hydromel, they are useful for cleansing the skin; and
taken in an electuary with the addition of a small proportion of
elelisphacus,[3158] they are good for diseases of the liver, cough,
and colic, a piece about the size of a hazel-nut being taken in honey.
It is said that if five bitter almonds are taken by a person before
sitting down to drink, he will be proof against inebriation;[3159]
and that foxes, if they eat bitter almonds,[3160] will be sure to die
immediately, if they cannot find water to lap.

As to sweet almonds, their remedial properties are not[3161] so
extensive; still, however, they are of a purgative nature, and are
diuretic. Eaten fresh, they are difficult[3162] of digestion.


Greek nuts,[3163] taken in vinegar with wormwood seed, are said to be
a cure for jaundice. Used alone, they are employed topically for the
treatment of diseases of the fundament, and condylomata in particular,
as also cough and spitting of blood.


Walnuts[3164] have received their name in Greek from being
oppressive[3165] to the head; for, in fact, the emanations[3166] from
the tree itself and the leaves penetrate to the brain. The kernels,
also, have a similar effect when eaten, though not in so marked a
degree. When fresh gathered, they are most agreeable eating; for when
dry, they are more oleaginous, unwholesome to the stomach, difficult
of digestion, productive of head-ache, and bad for cough,[3167] or
for a person when about to take an emetic fasting: they are good in
cases of tenesmus only, as they carry off the pituitous humours of
the body. Eaten beforehand, they deaden the effects of poison, and,
employed with rue and oil, they are a cure for quinsy. They act as a
corrective, also, to onions, and modify their flavour. They are applied
to inflammations of the ears, with a little honey, and with rue they
are used for affections of the mamillæ, and for sprains. With onions,
salt, and honey, they are applied to bites inflicted by dogs or human
beings. Walnut-shells are used for cauterizing[3168] carious teeth; and
with these shells, burnt and then beaten up in oil or wine, the heads
of infants are anointed, they having a tendency to make the hair grow;
hence they are used in a similar manner for alopecy also. These nuts,
eaten in considerable numbers, act as an expellent upon tapeworm.[3169]
Walnuts, when very old, are[3170] curative of gangrenous sores and
carbuncles, of bruises also. Green walnut-shells[3171] are employed
for the cure of lichens and dysentery, and the leaves are beaten up
with vinegar as an application for ear-ache.[3172]

After the defeat of that mighty monarch, Mithridates, Cneius Pompeius
found in his private cabinet a recipe for an antidote in his own
hand-writing; it was to the following effect:[3173]—Take two dried
walnuts, two figs, and twenty leaves of rue; pound them all together,
with the addition of a grain of salt; if a person takes this mixture
fasting, he will be proof against all poisons for that day.[3174]
Walnut kernels, chewed by a man fasting, and applied to the wound,
effect an instantaneous cure, it is said, of bites inflicted by a mad


Hazel-nuts[3175] are productive of head-ache, and flatulency of the
stomach; they contribute, however, to the increase of flesh more than
would be imagined. Parched, they are remedial for catarrhs, and beaten
up and taken with hydromel,[3176] they are good for an inveterate
cough. Some persons add grains of pepper,[3177] and others take them in
raisin wine.

Pistachio-nuts[3178] have the same properties, and are productive of
the same effects, as pine-nuts; in addition to which, they are used as
an antidote to the venom[3179] of serpents, eaten or taken in drink.

Chesnuts[3180] have a powerful effect in arresting fluxes of the
stomach and intestines, are relaxing to the bowels, are beneficial in
cases of spitting of blood, and have a tendency to make flesh.[3181]


Fresh carobs[3182] are unwholesome to the stomach, and relaxing to
the bowels;[3183] in a dried state, however, they are astringent, and
are much more beneficial to the stomach; they are diuretic also. For
pains in the stomach, persons boil three Syrian carobs[3184] with one
sextarius of water, down to one-half, and drink the decoction.

The juices which exude from the branches of the cornel[3185] are
received on a plate of red-hot iron[3186] without it touching the wood;
the rust of which is applied for the cure of incipient lichens. The
arbutus or unedo[3187] bears a fruit that is difficult of digestion,
and injurious to the stomach.


All parts of the laurel, both the leaves, bark, and berries, are
of a warming[3188] nature; and a decoction of them, the leaves
in particular, is very useful for affections of the bladder and
uterus.[3189] The leaves, applied topically, neutralize the poison of
wasps, bees, and hornets, as also that of serpents, the seps,[3190]
dipsas,[3191] and viper, in particular. Boiled in oil, they
promote the catamenia; and the more tender of the leaves beaten up
with polenta, are used for inflammations of the eyes, with rue for
inflammations of the testes, and with rose-oil, or oil of iris,[3192]
for head-ache. Three leaves, chewed and swallowed for three days in
succession, are a cure for cough, and beaten up with honey, for asthma.
The bark of the root is dangerous to pregnant women; the root itself
disperses calculi, and taken in doses of three oboli in aromatic wine,
it acts beneficially on the liver. The leaves, taken in drink, act as
an emetic;[3193] and the berries, pounded and applied as a pessary,
or else taken in drink, promote menstruation. Two of the berries with
the skin removed, taken in wine, are a cure for inveterate cough and
hardness of breathing; if, however, this is accompanied with fever,
they are given in water, or else in an electuary with raisin wine, or
boiled in hydromel. Employed in a similar manner, they are good for
phthisis, and for all defluxions of the chest, as they have the effect
of detaching the phlegm and bringing it off.

For stings inflicted by scorpions, four laurel-berries are taken in
wine. Applied with oil, they are a cure for epinyctis, freckles,
running sores, ulcers of the mouth, and scaly eruptions. The juice of
the berries is curative of porrigo and phthiriasis; and for pains in
the ears, or hardness of hearing, it is injected into those organs with
old wine and oil of roses. All venomous creatures fly at the approach
of persons who have been anointed with this juice: taken in drink, the
juice of the small-leaved[3194] laurel in particular, it is good for
stings inflicted by them. The berries,[3195] used with wine, neutralize
the venom of serpents, scorpions, and spiders; they are applied
also, topically, with oil and vinegar, in diseases of the spleen and
liver, and with honey to gangrenous sores. In cases of lassitude and
shivering fits, it is a very good plan to rub the body with juice of
laurel-berries mixed with nitre. Some persons are of opinion that
delivery is accelerated by taking laurel-root to the amount of one
acetabulum, in water, and that, used fresh, it is better than dried.
It is recommended by some authorities, to take ten of the berries in
drink, for the sting of the scorpion; and in cases of relaxation of the
uvula, to boil a quarter of a pound of the berries, or leaves, in three
sextarii of water, down to one third, the decoction being used warm, as
a gargle. For head-ache, also, it is recommended to bruise an uneven
number of the berries in oil, the mixture being warmed for use.

The leaves of the Delphic laurel[3196] bruised and applied to the
nostrils from time to time, are a preservative[3197] against contagion
in pestilence, and more particularly if they are burnt. The oil of
the[3198] Delphic laurel is employed in the preparation of cerates and
the medicinal composition known as “acopum,”[3199] and is used for fits
of shivering occasioned by cold, for the relaxation of the sinews, and
for the cure of pains in the side and the cold attacks in fevers.[3200]
Warmed in the rind of a pomegranate, it is applied topically for the
cure of ear-ache. A decoction of the leaves boiled down in water to one
third, used as a gargle, braces the uvula, and taken in drink allays
pains in the bowels and intestines. The more tender leaves, bruised in
wine and applied at night, are a cure for pimples and prurigo.

The other varieties of the laurel possess properties which are nearly
analogous. The root of the laurel of Alexandria,[3201] or of Mount
Ida,[3202] accelerates delivery, being administered in doses of three
denarii to three cyathi of sweet wine; it acts also as an emmenagogue,
and brings away the after-birth. Taken in drink in a similar manner,
the wild laurel, known as “daphnoides” and by the other names which
we have mentioned,[3203] is productive of beneficial effects. The
leaves of it, either fresh or dried, taken in doses of three drachmæ,
in hydromel with salt, act as a purgative[3204] upon the bowels. The
wood, chewed, brings off phlegm, and the leaves act as an “emetic;”
they are unwholesome, however, to the stomach. The berries, too, are
sometimes taken, fifteen in number, as a purgative.


The white[3205] cultivated myrtle is employed for fewer medicinal
purposes than the black one.[3206] The berries[3207] of it are good
for spitting of blood, and taken in wine, they neutralize the poison
of fungi. They impart an agreeable smell[3208] to the breath, even
when eaten the day before; thus, for instance, in Menander we find the
Synaristosæ[3209] eating them. They are taken also for dysentery,[3210]
in doses of one denarius, in wine: and they are employed lukewarm, in
wine, for the cure of obstinate ulcers on the extremities. Mixed with
polenta, they are employed topically in ophthalmia, and for the cardiac
disease[3211] they are applied to the left breast. For stings inflicted
by scorpions, diseases of the bladder, head-ache, and fistulas of the
eye before suppuration, they are similarly employed; and for tumours
and pituitous eruptions, the kernels are first removed and the berries
are then pounded in old wine. The juice of the berries[3212] acts
astringently upon the bowels, and is diuretic: mixed with cerate it
is applied topically to blisters, pituitous eruptions, and wounds
inflicted by the phalangium; it imparts a black tint,[3213] also, to
the hair.

The oil of this myrtle is of a more soothing nature than the juice,
and the wine[3214] which is extracted from it, and which possesses the
property of never inebriating, is even more so. This wine, used when
old, acts astringently upon the stomach and bowels, cures griping pains
in those regions, and dispels nausea.

The dried leaves, powdered and sprinkled upon the body, check
profuse perspirations, in fever even; they are good, too, used as a
fomentation, for cœliac affections, procidence of the uterus, diseases
of the fundament, running ulcers, erysipelas, loss of the hair, scaly
and other eruptions, and burns. This powder is used as an ingredient,
also, in the plasters known as “liparæ;”[3215] and for the same reason
the oil of the leaves is used for a similar purpose, being extremely
efficacious as an application to the humid parts of the body, the mouth
and the uterus, for example.

The leaves themselves, beaten up with wine, neutralize[3216] the bad
effects of fungi; and they are employed, in combination with wax, for
diseases of the joints, and gatherings. A decoction of them, in wine,
is taken for dysentery and dropsy. Dried and reduced to powder, they
are sprinkled upon ulcers and hæmorrhages. They are useful, also,
for the removal of freckles, and for the cure of hang-nails,[3217]
whitlows, condylomata, affections of the testes, and sordid ulcers. In
combination with cerate, they are used for burns.

For purulent discharges from the ears, the ashes of the leaves are
employed, as well as the juice and the decoction: the ashes are also
used in the composition of antidotes. For a similar purpose the
blossoms are stripped from off the young branches, which are burnt in
a furnace, and then pounded in wine. The ashes of the leaves, too,
are used for the cure of burns. To prevent ulcerations from causing
swellings in the inguinal glands, it will suffice for the patient to
carry[3218] a sprig of myrtle about him which has never touched the
ground or any implement of iron.


We have already described the manner in which myrtidanum[3219] is made.
Applied in a pessary, or as a fomentation or liniment, it is good for
affections of the uterus, being much more efficacious than the bark of
the tree, or the leaves and seed. There is a juice also extracted from
the more tender leaves, which are pounded in a mortar for the purpose,
astringent wine, or, according to one method, rain-water, being poured
upon them a little at a time. This extract is used for the cure of
ulcers of the mouth, the fundament, the uterus, and the abdomen. It
is employed, also, for dyeing the hair black, the suppression of
exudations at the arm-pits,[3220] the removal of freckles, and other
purposes in which astringents are required.


The wild myrtle, oxymyrsine,[3221] or chamæmyrsine, differs from the
cultivated myrtle in the redness of its berries and its diminutive
height. The root of it is held in high esteem; a decoction of it,
in wine, is taken for pains in the kidneys and strangury, more
particularly when the urine is thick and fetid. Pounded in wine, it
is employed for the cure of jaundice, and as a purgative for the
uterus. The same method is adopted, also, with the young shoots, which
are sometimes roasted in hot ashes and eaten as a substitute for

The berries, taken with wine, or oil and vinegar, break calculi[3223]
of the bladder: beaten up with rose-oil and vinegar, they allay
head-ache. Taken in drink, they are curative of jaundice. Castor calls
the wild myrtle with prickly leaves, or oxymyrsine, from which brooms
are made, by the name of “ruscus”[3224]—the medicinal properties of it
are just the same.

Thus much, then, with reference to the medicinal properties of the
cultivated trees; let us now pass on to the wild ones.

SUMMARY.—Remedies, narratives, and observations, nine hundred and

ROMAN AUTHORS QUOTED.—C. Valgius,[3225] Pompeius Lenæus,[3226] Sextius
Niger[3227] who wrote in Greek, Julius Bassus[3228] who wrote in
Greek, Antonius Castor,[3229] M. Varro,[3230] Cornelius Celsus,[3231]

FOREIGN AUTHORS QUOTED.—Theophrastus,[3233] Democritus,[3234]
Orpheus,[3235] Pythagoras,[3236] Mago,[3237] Menander[3238] who wrote
the “Biochresta,” Nicander,[3239] Homer, Hesiod,[3240] Musæus,[3241]
Sophocles,[3242] Anaxilaüs.[3243]

MEDICAL AUTHORS QUOTED.—Mnesitheus,[3244] Callimachus,[3245]
Phanias[3246] the physician, Timaristus,[3247] Simus,[3248]
Hippocrates,[3249] Chrysippus,[3250] Diocles,[3251] Ophelion,[3252]
Heraclides,[3253] Hicesius,[3254] Dionysius,[3255] Apollodorus[3256]
of Citium, Apollodorus[3257] of Tarentum, Plistonicus,[3258]
Medius,[3259] Dieuches,[3260] Cleophantus,[3261] Philistion,[3262]
Asclepiades,[3263] Crateuas,[3264] Petronius Diodotus,[3265]
Iollas,[3266] Erasistratus,[3267] Diagoras,[3268] Andreas,[3269]
Mnesides,[3270] Epicharmus,[3271] Damion,[3272] Dalion,[3273]
Sosimenes,[3274] Tlepolemus,[3275] Metrodorus,[3276] Solo,[3277]
Lycus,[3278] Olympias[3279] of Thebes, Philinus,[3280] Petrichus,[3281]
Micton,[3282] Glaucias,[3283] Xenocrates.[3284]


[1] In B. ii. c. 63.

[2] Of course this is only mere declamation; it is not probable that
the animals have any notion at all of _sharpening_ the weapons that
nature has given; in addition to which, this mode of sharpening them
against hard substances would only wear away the enamel, and ultimately
destroy them. The acts of animals in a moment of rage or frenzy have
evidently been mistaken here for the dictates of instinct, or even a
superior intelligence.

[3] See B. xxv. c. 25, and B. xxvii. c. 76.

[4] In B. viii. c. 36. 41, 42. The works of the ancients, Fée remarks,
are full of these puerilities.

[5] This sentiment is not at all akin to the melancholy view which our
author takes of mankind at the beginning of B. vii. and in other parts
of this work. It is not improbable that his censures here are levelled
against some who had endeavoured to impede him in the progress of his

[6] “Arvorum sacerdotes,” the priests of the fields.

[7] Or foster-mother. It has been suggested that the Rogations of
the Roman church may have possibly originated in the Ambarvalia, or
ceremonial presided over by the Arval priesthood.

[8] Made of salt and the meal or flour of spelt. Salt was the emblem of
wisdom, friendship, and other virtues.

[9] This, Fée observes, is not the case with any kind of wheat; with
manioc, which has an acrid principle, the process may be necessary, in
order to make it fit for food.

[10] Or Feast of the Furnace or Oven. See Ovid’s Fasti, B. ii. l. 5-25.

[11] Called the Terminalia. See Ovid’s Fasti, B. ii. l. 641, _et seq._

[12] Tertullian, De Spect. i. 16, calls this goddess by the name of

[13] Cœlius Rhodiginus, Turnebus, and Vossius, conjecture that the name
of this goddess, who might only be named in the field, was Tutelina.
Hardouin thinks that it was Segesta, here mentioned.

[14] Four Roman feet in width, and 120 in length.

[15] Quartarius.

[16] “Faba,” a bean; “Lens,” a lentil; and “Cicer,” a chick-pea.

[17] A “bubus,” from “oxen.” Caius Junius Bubulcus was twice Consul,
and once Master of the Horse.

[18] “Farreum” was a form of marriage, in which certain words were
used, in presence of ten witnesses, and were accompanied by a certain
religious ceremony, in which “panis farreus” was employed; hence this
form of marriage was called “confarreatio.”

[19] Farreum.

[20] De Re Rust. Preface.

[21] See B. xxxiii. c. 13.

[22] St. Augustin, De Civ. Dei., mentions a goddess, Bubona, the
tutelar divinity of oxen. Nothing seems to be known of these games.

[23] See B. xxxiii. c. 13. Macrobius says that it was Janus.

[24] Table vii. s. 2.

[25] On the “Nundinæ,” or ninth-day holiday: similar to our
market-days. According to _our_ mode of reckoning, it was every
_eighth_ day.

[26] From “ador,” the old name for “spelt:” because corn was the chief
reward given to the conqueror, and his temples were graced with a
wreath of corn.

[27] In the first place, it is difficult to see what there is in this
passage to admire, or “wonder at,” if that is the meaning of “admiror;”
and then, besides, it has no connection with the context. The text is
probably in a defective state.

[28] See c. 69 of this Book.

[29] “Vagina.” The meaning of this word here has not been exactly
ascertained. It has been suggested that the first period alludes to the
appearance of the stalk from its sheath of leaves, and the second to
the formation of the ear.

[30] A.U.C. 298.

[31] See B. xxxiv. c. 11. A.U.C. 317.

[32] Nundinis.

[33] On the road to Ostia. It was said to have received its name from
the Horatii and Curiatii.

[34] A.U.C. 345.

[35] A.U.C. 550. He alludes to the introduction of Cybele, from
Pessinus in Galatia, in the Second Punic war.

[36] A.U.C. 604. See B. viii. c. 6.

[37] Manius Curius Dentatus, Consul A.U.C. 464.

[38] A.U.C. 497.

[39] From “sero,” to sow. See the Æneid, B. vi. l. 844, where this
circumstance is alluded to.

[40] “Prata Quintia.” Hardouin says that in his time this spot was
still called _I Prati_: it lay beyond the Tiber, between the vineyard
of the Medici and the castle of Sant Angelo.

[41] He alludes to the twofold meaning of the word “coli,” “to be
tilled,” or “to receive homage from.”

[42] “Ergastulorum.” The “Ergastula” were places of punishment
attached to the country houses of the wealthy, for the chastisement of
refractory slaves, who were usually made to work in chains.

[43] In the First Book, as originally written. This list of writers is
appended in the present Translation to each respective Book.

[44] This is probably written in humble imitation of the splendid
exordium of the Georgics of Virgil.

[45] De Re Rust. Preface.

[46] Fée remarks, that we still recruit our armies mostly from the
agricultural class.

[47] De Re Rust. c. 1.

[48] Quoted by Columella, De Re Rust. B. i. 4. The sad fate of Regulus
is known to all readers of Roman history.

[49] From Columella, B. i. c. 3.

[50] De Re Rust. c. 1.

[51] It is still thought so in France, Fée says, and nothing has tended
more than this notion to the depreciation of the prices of wine.

[52] Hence the usual Latin name, “prata.”

[53] “Si sat bene.” Cicero, De Officiis, B. ii. n. 88, gives this
anecdote somewhat more at length.

[54] De Re Rust. c. 2.

[55] “Alienâ insaniâ frui.” We have a saying to a similar effect:
“Fools build houses, and wise men buy them.”

[56] “Frons domini plus prodest quam occipitium.” See Cato, De Re Rust.
c. 4; also Phædrus, B. iv. Fab. 19.

[57] Cato, c. 3. Varro and Columella give the same advice.

[58] See B. iii. c. 9.

[59] Sylla the Fortunate, the implacable enemy of Marius.

[60] Because, though the last comer, he had obtained the best site in
the locality.

[61] Od. v. 469. If the river has a bed of sand and high banks, it is
really advantageous than otherwise.

[62] In B. xvii. c. 3.

[63] Not to be found in his works which have come down to us.

[64] Prunus spinosa of Linnæus.

[65] See B. xix. c. 30; probably one of the genus Allium sphærocephalum
of Linnæus.

[66] “Herba pratensis.” It is not known with certainty to what plant
he alludes. Fée suggests that it may be the Poa pratensis, or else a
phleum, alopecurus, or dactylis. All the plants here mentioned by Pliny
will thrive in a calcareous soil, and their presence, as Fée remarks,
is of bad augury.

[67] He alludes to the famous maxim in the Georgics, B. ii. l. 412:—

——Laudato ingentia rura, Exiguum colito——

“Praise a large farm, cultivate a small one.”

[68] By introducing slovenly cultivation.

[69] That small part of it known to the Romans. Hardouin says that the
province of Zeugitana is alluded to, mentioned in B. v. c. 3.

[70] And reside on the farm.

[71] Villicus.

[72] De Re Rust. c. 5.

[73] A.U.C. 737.

[74] Probably because it entailed too great an expense. It may have
been deeply mortgaged: otherwise it is not clear why the heir refused
to take it, as he might have sold a part.

[75] He means to say that it is so much labour lost, as it will take
care of itself; but this is hardly in accordance with his numerous
directions given in B. xv. Virgil, Geor. B. ii. 421, _et seq._, speaks
of the olive as requiring no attention when it has once taken root.

[76] See B. xvii. c. 3.

[77] In throwing away money and labour upon land that does not require

[78] Virgil, Georg. I. 268, _et seq._, speaks of the work that might
be done on feast days—making hedges, for instance, irrigating land,
catching birds, washing sheep, and burning weeds.

[79] “Ne familiæ male sit.”

[80] In B. xvii. c. 3.

[81] The Pteris aquilina, or female fern. No such juices drop from it
as here mentioned by Pliny, Fée says.

[82] A superstition quite unworthy of our author; and the same with
respect to that mentioned in the next line.

[83] Sub-soil drainage is now universally employed, with the agency of
draining-tiles, made for the purpose.

[84] The flower of the lupine could not possibly produce any such
effect; and the juice of cicuta, or hemlock, in only a very trifling

[85] This word answers to the Latin “frumenta,” which indicates all
those kinds of corn from which bread was prepared by the ancients.

[86] See c. 59 of this Book.

[87] Triticum hibernum of Linnæus, similar to the “siligo” mentioned in
the sequel. Winter wheat was greatly cultivated in Apulia.

[88] “Far.” This name is often used in the classics, to signify corn in
general; but in the more restricted sense in which it is here employed,
it is “Triticum dicoccum,” the “Zea” of the Greeks. It consists of two
varieties, the single grained, the Triticum monococcum of Linnæus, and
the double-grained, the Triticum spelta of Linnæus, which is still
called “farra” in Friuli.

[89] Hordeum sativum of Linnæus.

[90] See c. 66 of this Book.

[91] Panicum Italicum of Linnæus.

[92] Panicum miliaceum of Linnæus. This was probably one of the first
grains from which bread was made.

[93] The Sesamum orientale of Linnæus. It is no longer cultivated in
Europe, though formerly it was much used in Greece.

[94] It is very doubtful if this is the same as clary, the Salvia
horminum of Linnæus, as that is one of the Labiatæ, whereas here, most
probably, a leguminous plant is spoken of.

[95] It has been asserted that this is identical with the Sisymbrium
polyceratium of Linnæus, rock-gentle, rock-gallant, or winter-cress.
Fée, however, is strongly of opinion that it can only be looked for in
the Sisymbrium irio of Linnæus.

[96] Ervum lens of Linnæus.

[97] The Cicer arietinum of naturalists, the Garbanzo of the Spaniards.
It abounds in the south of Europe and in India.

[98] A variety of spelt was called by this name; but it was more
generally applied to a kind of flummery, pottage or gruel.

[99] Hence our word “forage.”

[100] Lupinus hirsutus and pilosus of Linnæus.

[101] From Theophrastus, Hist. Plant. B. viii. c. 2.

[102] All this, of course, depends upon numerous circumstances.

[103] This is certainly the fact, as Fée says, but it is the same with
all the graminea.

[104] A characteristic of the Panicum miliaceum in particular.

[105] Or porridge; “puls.”

[106] It has been suggested that this was maize, but that is indigenous
to South America. Fée has little doubt that it is the Holcus sorgho of
Linnæus, the “Indian millet,” that is meant.

[107] From the Greek φόβη. The stalk and husk of the sorgho is covered
with a fine down. The reading “cornis” has been adopted.

[108] This is considered by Fée to be very improbable.

[109] In reality these vary, according to the rapidity of the growth.

[110] Strictly speaking, spelt has seven.

[111]This depends upon the time when it is sown, and numerous other

[112] Strictly speaking, he is right; but still there is a swelling in
the stalk, to be perceived at the points where the leaves take their

[113] This is incorrect; they all of them throw out leaves from the

[114] The same as the “Ervum” probably, the fitch, orobus, or bitter

[115] Not so with the pea, as known to us.

[116] This is only true at the end of the season, and when the plant is

[117] These annuals lose their leaves only that have articulations on
the stem; otherwise they die outright at the fall of the leaf.

[118] If by “tunica” he means the husk of chaff, which surrounds the
grain, the assertion is contrary to the fact, in relation to barley and
the oat.

[119] Only another name, Fée thinks, for the Triticum hibernum, or
winter-wheat. Spelt or zea has been suggested, as also the white barley
of the south of Europe; see c. 20.

[120] Egyptian wheat, or rather what is called mummy-wheat, is bearded
equally to barley.

[121] Siligo.

[122] Before grinding.

[123] Oats and rye excepted.

[124] Here the word “far” means “a meal,” or “flour,” a substitute for
that of “far,” or “spelt.”

[125] Triticum monococcum, according to some. Fée identifies it with
the Triticum spelta of Linnæus.

[126] A variety, probably, of the Triticum hibernum of Linnæus, with
white grains; the white-wheat of the French, from which the ancient
Gauls made their malt; hence the French word “brasser,” to “brew.”

[127] From Theophrastus, De Causis, B. iv.

[128] That of the Ukraine and its vicinity, which is still held in high

[129] Panis militaris.

[130] To the modius of wheat.

[131] He alludes to beer, or sweet-wort. See B. xiv. c. 29.

[132] He alludes to yeast. See B. xxii, c. 82.

[133] This assertion, from Theophrastus, Hist. Plant. B. viii. c. 4,
is not based on truth. It is possible that he may allude in reality to
some other gramineous plant.

[134] Trimestre.

[135] Bimestre.

[136] Columella (B. ii. c. 6) does _not_ state to this effect; on the
contrary, he speaks of the existence of a three months’ wheat; but he
asserts, and with justice, that wheat sown in the autumn is better than
that sown in March.

[137] If he alludes here to what Theophrastus says, his assertion is
simply that, in Bactria, the grains are as large as an olive-stone.

[138] There is no wild barley in India at the present day.

[139] Porridge, or fermenty.

[140] Oryza sativa of Linnæus.

[141] Like our rice-milk, probably. See B. xxii. c. 26.

[142] They are not carnose or fleshy, but thin, and similar to those of
the reed.

[143] On the contrary, it is tough and fibrous.

[144] The barley was, originally, the prize given to the victor in the
Eleusinian games.

[145] Or “barley-fed.”

[146] The ἀλφίτον of the Greeks.

[147] This, as Fée observes, would tend to give it a very disagreeable

[148] “Acetabulum.”

[149] Similar to our pearl barley, probably.

[150] “Anguli.” Dalechamps interprets this as two rows of grain;
but Fée thinks that it signifies angles, and points. The Polygonum
fagopyrum of Linnæus, he says, buck-wheat, or black-wheat, has an
angular grain, but he doubts whether that can possibly be the grain
here alluded to.

[151] There is no barley without a beard; it is clearly a variety of
wheat that is alluded to.

[152] Triticum spelta of Linnæus.

[153] “Semen,” the same as zea, or spelt.

[154] Siligo.

[155] Ἄμυλον.

[156] De Re Rust. c. 87. This “amylum” seems somewhat to resemble our

[157] The Hordeum distichum of Linnæus.

[158] Hordeum hexastichum of Linnæus. The Hordeum vulgare, or common
barley, has but four rows.

[159] These varieties are not known at the present day, and Fée
questions if they ever existed. There is a black barley found in
Germany, the Hordeum nigrum of Willdenow.

[160] A calcareous soil is the best adapted for barley.

[161] Nova Carthago, or New Carthage.

[162] This fallacious opinion is shared with Galen, De Facult. Anim. B.
vi. c. 11.

[163] Siligo.

[164] Triticum.

[165] The Triticum dicoccum, or spelt.

[166] Probably rye. See the next Chapter.

[167] Semen.

[168] In c. 20, also in c. 29. This grain, which was in reality a
kind of spelt, received its name probably from having been the first

[169] Il. ii. c. 548: “the land that produces zea.”

[170] Not ἀπὸ τοῦ ζῆν, from “living.”

[171] Merely, as Fée says, from the faulty method employed in its
preparation, as starch has, in all cases, the same physical appearance.

[172] In c. 17 of this Book.

[173] In c. 3 of this Book.

[174] “Puls,” like our porridge.

[175] Any food that was originally eaten with “puls,” and afterwards
with bread, was so called, such as meat, vegetables, &c.

[176] “Offam.” This word, which in the later writers signifies a
“cake,” originally meant a hardened lump of porridge.

[177] Pulte fritillâ.

[178] “Siligo.” There are numerous contradictions in Pliny with
reference to this plant, but it is now pretty generally agreed that it
is the Triticum hibernum of Linnæus: the “froment tousselle” of the
French. It was formerly the more general opinion that it was identical
with spelt; but that cannot be the case, as spelt is red, and siligo is
described as white.

[179] “Sine virtute.” It is doubtful what is the meaning of this.

[180] Sine pondere.

[181] In other places he says, most unaccountably, that wheat
“degenerates into siligo.”

[182] As to this practice, see c. 29.

[183] “Quam vocant castratam.”

[184] From this account, it would appear that there were twenty-four
sextarii to the modius; but the account in general is very

[185] Salt water is rarely used for this purpose in modern times. See
this passage discussed in Beckmann on Inventions, _Bohn’s Ed._ vol. i.
p. 164.

[186] “Artopticio.” See c. 27 of this Book.

[187] Without tin, probably; or the tin bread may have been baked
before the fire, similar to the method adopted at the present day with
the American ovens.

[188] “Similago.” Founders still use meal occasionally for making
moulds; it is also employed in making paper.

[189] The mention of “hundreds” here is evidently faulty, unless the
other part of the passage is corrupt. Fée suggests twenty-two and

[190] But above we find him stating that “secundarius,” “seconds”
flour, and “cibarius,” or “coarse,” meal, are the same thing. His
contradictions cannot apparently be reconciled.

[191] The whole of this passage, as Brotier remarks, is evidently

[192] Fée has no doubt that this was siligo, or winter-wheat, in a very
high state of cultivation.

[193] Il. v. l. 195.

[194] There are still some varieties both of winter-wheat and spelt
that have the beard.

[195] It is generally thought that this is the oat, the Avena sativa of
Linnæus, while some have suggested rice. Fée thinks that by the name,
some exotic gramineous plant is meant.

[196] Probably a variety of spelt, as Sprengel conjectures, from Galen
and other writers. See c. 16 of this Book.

[197] Fée thinks that it is the grain of the Festuca fluitans of
Linnæus that is here alluded to, and identifies it with the “ulva
palustris” of Virgil, Geor. iii. 174.

[198] The Latin word “degener” cannot here mean “degenerate,” in our
sense of the word, but must merely imply a change of nature in the

[199] See B. xvii. c. 3.

[200] We know of no such fruitfulness as this in the wheat of Europe.
Fifteen-fold, as Fée remarks, is the utmost amount of produce that can
be anticipated.

[201] Fée mentions instances of 150, 92, and 63 stalks arising from
a single grain; but all these fall far short of the marvels here
mentioned by Pliny.

[202] The Triticum compositum of Linnæus; supposed to have originally
come from Egypt or Barbary.

[203] “Centigranium.” Probably the same as the last.

[204] In c. 10 of this Book.

[205] See c. 10.

[206] Pinguius.

[207] Already mentioned in c. 10.

[208] See B. xix. c. 47; and B. xx. c. 57.

[209] This would rather _grate_ the grain than _pound_ it, as Beckmann
observes. See his Hist. Inv., vol. i. pp. 147 and 164, _Bohn’s Ed._,
where the meaning of this passage has been commented upon. Gesner,
also, in his Lexicon Rusticum, has endeavoured to explain it.

[210] Ruido.

[211] It is surprising to find the Romans, not only kneading their
bread with sea-water, but putting in it pounded bricks, chalk, and sand!

[212] Beard chaff; so called, probably, from the sharpness of the
points, like needles (acus).

[213] See B. xxxiii. c. 3; where he says, that a fire lighted with this
chaff, fuses gold more speedily than one made with maple wood.

[214] The Tartars still employ millet as one of their principal
articles of food. They also extract a kind of wine from it.

[215] Virgil alludes to this, Georg. iii. 463.

[216] Panic is still employed more than any other grain in the south of

[217] Or grape-juice. This must have tended to affect the taste of the

[218] Ervum.

[219] “Cicercula.” See B. xxii. c. 72.

[220] This remark is founded upon just notions.

[221] Ostrearius.

[222] From ἄρτος, and λάγανον, bread and cake.

[223] From σπεύδω, to hasten. A sort of crumpet, probably.

[224] Furnaceus.

[225] Artopticeus.

[226] “Clibanis.” The clibanus was a portable oven or mould, broader at
the bottom than the top.

[227] Aquaticus.

[228] See cc. 10 and 29 of this Book.

[229] It would appear to be somewhat similar to our rusks.

[230] Which ended A.U.C. 586.

[231] A. ii. s. 9, l. 4. “Ego hinc artoptam ex proxumo utendam peto.”
It is thought by some commentators, that the word used by Pliny here
was, in reality, “Artoptasia,” a female baker; and that he alludes to a
passage in the Aulularia, which has now perished.

[232] Which in Pliny’s time signified “baker.”

[233] The Stipa tenacissima of Linnæus, Fée says; or else the Lygeum
spartum of Linnæus.

[234] As to the cereal so called, see c. 10 of this Book.

[235] Or perfumed oils.

[236] See B. iii. c. 9. A volcanic district.

[237] In c. 20 of this Book.

[238] Grain from which the husk is removed.

[239] A sub-carbonate of lime; it is still known in those parts of
Campania, and is called “lumera.”

[240] Teneritatem.

[241] From the Greek, meaning “white earth.”

[242] Fée enquires, and with good reason, how the African mixture
accommodated itself to the stomachs of those who ate it.

[243] Residue.

[244] Seconds.

[245] Sieve flour.

[246] A porridge or pap, made of ground grain. It is mentioned by Cato,
c. 86.

[247] The Faba vulgaris of the modern naturalists. It is supposed to
have originally come from Persia.

[248] It is said that this mixture is still employed in the Valais and
in Savoy.

[249] Fabata.

[250] Beans were used in ancient times, in place of balls or pebbles,
in voting by ballot. Hence it has been suggested that Pythagoras, in
recommending his disciples to abstain from beans, meant to advise them
to have nothing to do with politics.

[251] The sacrifices offered to the Manes or spirits of deceased
relations. See Ovid’s Fasti, B. ii. l. 565.

[252] “Brought home.” The bean was offered up, to ensure good luck.

[253] Didymus, in the Geoponica, B. ii. c. 33, repeats this absurdity.

[254] Georg. i. 215.

[255] This notion still prevails, and the bean, while in blossom, is
dug into the ground to manure it, both in England and France.

[256] It does not appear, however, that this was done with the view of
digging in the beans.

[257] Or Bean Islands. See B. iv. c. 27.

[258] The Nymphæa nelumbo of Linnæus is alluded to, but it is no
longer to be found in Egypt. Pliny is supposed to derive this from
Theophrastus, Hist. Plant. B. iv. c. 10, but his translation is not
exactly correct.

[259] Pisum sativum of Linnæus.

[260] Meaning a wart or pimple on the face.

[261] Cicer arietinum of the botanists.

[262] “Gigni cum salsilagine.” It abounds in India, and while
blossoming, it distils a corrosive acid, which corrodes the shoes of
those who tread upon it.

[263] There are still the red and the white kinds, the large and the

[264] Cicercula: the Lathyrus sativus of Linnæus. It is difficult to
cook and hard of digestion. See c. 26.

[265] This must be said in reference to some of the pease when in a
dried state.

[266] A variety of the Phaseolus vulgaris of Linnæus: the “haricot”
of the French. The French bean and the scarlet-runner are cooked in a
similar manner among us.

[267] 15th of October.

[268] 1st of November.

[269] The Napo-brassica of Linnæus. The turnip cabbage, or

[270] This taste, it is most probable, is nowhere in existence at the
present day.

[271] This is not by any means an exaggeration.

[272] Acrimonia.

[273] These coloured varieties, Fée says, belong rather to the Brassica
oleracea, than to the Brassica rapa. It is not improbable, from the
structure of this passage, that Pliny means to say that the colours are
artificially produced.

[274] In reality, belonging to the Crucifera, the rape is

[275] Wild horse-radish, which is divided into two varieties, the
Raphanus raphanistrum of Linnæus, and the Cochlearia Armoracia, may
possibly be meant, but their roots bear no resemblance to the radish.

[276] An enormous price, apparently.

[277] The Brassica napus of Linnæus.

[278] 1st of March.

[279] The Neptunalia and the Vulcanalia; 23rd of July and 23rd of

[280] In consequence of the brittleness of the pod.

[281] This is an exaggeration of certain phænomena observed in the
leaves of all leguminous plants.

[282] In B. xvii. c. 6.

[283] “Ex areâ.” This reading is favoured by the text of Columella. B.
ii. c. 10, who says the same. But “ex arvo,” from the field, _i. e._
the “moment it is gathered”—seems preferable, as being more consistent
with the context,

[284] From Theophrastus, Hist. Plant. B. viii. c. 1. 11, &c.

[285] It is still thought that the lupine enriches the soil in which it

[286] Marcellus Empiricus says, that boiled lupine meal, spread as a
plaster, and laid on the abdomen, will destroy intestinal worms.

[287] Vicia sativa of Linnæus.

[288] Or orobus, the Ervum ervilia of Linnæus.

[289] It is thought by many that the ervum is unwholesome, being
productive of muscular weakness. The blade of it is said to act as a
poison on pigs. However, we find the farina, or meal, extolled by some
persons for its medicinal qualities; and if we are to trust to the
advertisements in the newspapers, it is rising rapidly in esteem. See
B. xxii. c. 73.

[290] From Columella, B. ii. c. 11.

[291] Trigonella fœnum Græcum of Linnæus.

[292] “Scarificatio.”

[293] Probably the Secale cereale of Linnæus, cultivated rye.

[294] It is now held in high esteem in many parts of Europe.

[295] Rye has no bitterness, and this assertion has led some to doubt
if it is identical with the “secale” of Pliny.

[296] Perhaps identical with the Vicia cracca of Linnæus.

[297] In c. 54 and 60, and elsewhere. See B. xvii. c. 35.

[298] Probably, fitches.

[299] Fée suggests that this may be the Avena sterilis, or else the
Avena fatua of Linnæus.

[300] De Re Rust. B. i. c. 31.

[301] “Medica,” in Latin, a kind of clover, the Medicago sativa of

[302] Fée is inclined to doubt this.

[303] Pliny exaggerates here: Columella, B. ii. c. 11, says, only
“ten:” a field, however, sown with it will last, with a fresh sowing,
as long as twenty years.

[304] See B. xiii. c. 47.

[305] Columella, B. ii. c. 11, says April.

[306] By the aid of careful watering, as many as eight to fourteen
cuttings are obtained in the year, in Italy and Spain. In the north of
Europe there is but one crop.

[307] In B. xiii. c. 47.

[308] He borrows this notion of the oat being wheat in a diseased
state, from Theophrastus. Singularly enough, it was adopted by the
learned Buffon.

[309] From Theophrastus, Hist. Plant. B. viii. c. 10.

[310] This but rarely happens in our climates, as Fée remarks.

[311] The grains are sometimes, though rarely, found devoured on the
stalk, by a kind of larvæ.

[312] Some coleopterous insect, probably, now unknown, and not the
Cantharis vesicatoria, or “Spanish fly,” as some have imagined.
Dioscorides and Athenæus state to the same effect as Pliny.

[313] The proper influence of the humidity of the earth would naturally
be impeded by a coating of these substances.

[314] This plant has not been identified; but none of the gramineous
plants are noxious to cattle, with the exception of the seed of darnel.

[315] Lolium temulentum of Linnæus.

[316] See B. xxi. c. 58.

[317] “Carduus.” A general term, probably including the genera
Centaurea (the prickly kinds), Serratula, Carduus, and Cnicus. The
Centaurea solstitialis is the thistle most commonly found in the south
of Europe.

[318] Gallium Aparine of Linnæus.

[319] Barley, wheat, oats, and millet have, each its own “rubigo” or
mildew, known to modern botany as uredo.

[320] The Erineum vitis of botanists.

[321] This rarely happens except through the violence of wind or rain.

[322] See c. 32 of this Book.

[323] The Cuscuta Europæa, probably, of Linnæus; one of the Convolvuli.

[324] “Æra.” It is generally considered to be the same with darnel,
though Pliny probably looked upon them as different.

[325] The Ægilops ovata, probably, of Linnæus. Dalechamps and Hardouin
identify it with the barren oat, the Avena sterilis of Linnæus.

[326] To the Greek πελέκυς, or battle-axe. It is probably the Biserrula
pelecina of Linnæus, though the Astragalus hamosus and the Coronilla
securidaca of Linnæus have been suggested.

[327] Pliny has here committed a singular error in translating from
Theophrastus, de Causis, B. iv. c. 14, who only says that a cold wind
in the vicinity of Philippi makes the beans difficult to cook or boil,
ἀτεράμονες. From this word he has coined two imaginary plants, the
“ateramon,” and the “teramon.” Hardouin defends Pliny, by suggesting
that he has borrowed the passage from another source, while Fée doubts
if he really understood the Greek language.

[328] More probably one of the Coleoptera. He borrows from
Theophrastus, Hist. Anim. B. viii. c. 10.

[329] This will only prevent the young plants from becoming a prey to
snails and slugs.

[330] This plan is attended with no good results.

[331] Georg. i. 193. It is generally said that if seed is steeped in
a solution of nitre, and more particularly hydrochloric acid, it will
germinate with accelerated rapidity; the produce, however, is no finer
than at other times.

[332] “Fractæ.” Perhaps, more properly “crushed”

[333] The odour of cypress, or savin, Fée thinks, might possibly keep
away noxious insects.

[334] The “always living,” or perennial plant, our “house-leek,” the
Sedum acre of Linnæus. See B. xxv. c. 102.

[335] “Little finger,” from the shape of the leaves.

[336] He must have allowed himself to be imposed upon in this case.

[337] Fée thinks that this may possibly be efficacious against the
attacks of rats, as the author of the Geoponica, B. x., states.

[338] Virgil, Georg, i. 111, recommends the same plan, and it is still
followed by agriculturists. It is not without its inconveniences,

[339] This is not consistent with truth, for no fresh ear will assume
its place.

[340] De Re Rust. c. 6.

[341] De Re Rust. c. 34.

[342] “Ador.” See c. 10 of this Book.

[343] From Varro; De Re Rust. i. 23.

[344] A.U.C. 553.

[345] There is nothing wonderful in a few grains of corn germinating in
the cleft of a tree.

[346] In B. v. c. 10.

[347] First of April.

[348] _I. e._ Egypt Proper, the Delta, or Lower Egypt, Thebais being in
Upper Egypt.

[349] The overflow of these rivers is by no means to be compared with
that of the Nile.

[350] Fée remarks, that the plough here described differs but little
from that used in some provinces of France.

[351] Resupinus.

[352] Gallia Togata. Rhætia is the modern country of the Grisons.

[353] According to Goropius Becanus, from _plograt_, the ancient Gallic
for a plough-wheel. Hardouin thinks that it is from the Latin “plaustra
rati;” and Poinsinet derives it from the Belgic _ploum_, a plough, and
_rat_, or _radt_, a wheel.

[354] “Crates;” probably made of hurdles; see Virgil, Georg. i. 95.

[355] De Re Rust. c. 61.

[356] These rules are borrowed mostly from Varro, B. i. c. 19, and
Columella, B. ii. c. 4.

[357] “Vere actum” “worked in spring.”

[358] Virgil says the same, Georg. i. 9.

[359] Crosswise, or horizontally.

[360] Zig-zag, apparently.

[361] A rude foreshadowing of the spade husbandry so highly spoken of
at the present day.

[362] “Prevaricare,” “to make a balk,” as we call it, to make a
tortuous furrow, diverging from the straight line.

[363] He probably means the heavy “rastrum,” or rake, mentioned by
Virgil, Georg. i. 164. It is impossible to say what was the shape of
this heavy rake, or how it was used. Light, or hand rakes were in
common use as well.

[364] “A gong crooked;” hence its meaning of, folly, dotage, or madness.

[365] Georg. i. 47. Servius seems to understand it that the furrow
should be untouched for two days and two nights before it is gone over

[366] Fée declines to give credit to this story.

[367] A.U.C. 830.

[368] “Semen,” “seed-wheat,” a variety only of spelt.

[369] In c. 65 of this Book.

[370] Runcatio.

[371] Crates.

[372] Georg. i. 71.

[373] In B. xvii. c. 7.

[374] See B. v. c. 3, and B. xvi. c. 50. It is also mentioned by
Ptolemy and Procopius. It was situate evidently in an oasis.

[375] Or arm’s length from the elbow.

[376] He surely does not mention this as an extravagant price, more
especially when he has so recently spoken (in c. 34) of rape selling at
a sesterce per pound.

[377] How was this ascertained? Fée seems to think that it is the
Festuca fluitans of Linnæus that is alluded to, it being eagerly sought
by cattle.

[378] In B. xvii. c. 3.

[379] Tenerum.

[380] Adoreum.

[381] “Tertio” may possibly mean the “third time,” _i. e._ for every
third crop.

[382] In B. xvii. c. 6.

[383] “Ares” seems to be a preferable reading to “arescat,” “before it

[384] Schneider, upon Columella, B. ii. c. 15, would reject these
words, and they certainly appear out of place.

[385] Poinsinet would supply here “tricenis diebus,” “in thirty days,”
from Columella, B. ii. c. 15.

[386] “Sterile.” This is not necessarily the case, as we know with
reference to what is called mummy wheat, the seed of which has been
recovered at different times from the Egyptian tombs.

[387] The threshing floor was made with an elevation in the middle,
and the sides on an incline, to the bottom of which the largest grains
would be the most likely to fall.

[388] “Far” or spelt is of a red hue in the exterior.

[389] This appearance is no longer to be observed, if, indeed, Pliny is
correct: all kinds of corn are white in the interior of the grain.

[390] Hand-sowing is called by the French, “semer à la volée.”

[391] This occult or mysterious method of which Pliny speaks, consists
solely of what we should call a “happy knack,” which some men have of
sowing more evenly than others.

[392] Sors genialis atque fecunda est.

[393] This Chapter is mostly from Columella, B. ii. c. 9.

[394] In c. 19 of this Book.

[395] Probably the mixture called “farrago” in c. 10 and c. 41.

[396] Upon this point the modern agriculturists are by no means agreed.

[397] From Cato, De Re Rust. c. 5.

[398] “Segetem ne defrudes.” The former editions mostly read
“defruges,” in which case the meaning would be, “don’t exhaust the

[399] This passage of Attius is lost, but Hermann supposes his words to
have run thus:—

    ——serere, cum est
  Luna in Ariete, Geminis, Leone, Libra, Aquario.

[400] In c. 8 of this Book.

[401] Georg. i. 208.

[402] Georg. i. 227.

[403] See c. 74 of this Book.

[404] Columella, B. ii. c. 8.

[405] Favonius. See B. ii. c. 47.

[406] The five days’ festival in honour of Minerva. It begins on the
fourteenth before the calends of April, or on the nineteenth of March.
Virgil, Georg. i. 208, says that flax and the poppy should be sown in

[407] Fifteenth of October.

[408] First of November.

[409] Georg. i. 204.

[410] “To be an early winter.”

[411] “To be a long winter.”

[412] Confectum sidus.

[413] In B. xvii. c. 2.

[414] Georg. i. 335.

[415] A.U.C. 830.

[416] Twenty-seventh of January.

[417] Ad solis cursum.

[418] Soon after the corrections made by order of Julius Cæsar, the
Pontifices mistook the proper method of intercalation, by making it
every third year instead of the fourth; the consequence of which was,
that Augustus was obliged to correct the results of their error by
omitting the intercalary day for twelve years.

[419] He most probably refers to the list of writers originally
appended to the First Book; but which in the present Translation is
distributed at the end of each Book. For the list of astronomical
writers here referred to, see the end of the present Book.

[420] Or Ἀστρικὴ βίβλος. It is now lost.

[421] In his work mentioned at the end of this Book. It is now lost.

[422] _I. e._ Asia Minor.

[423] _I. e._ the north-west parts of Africa.

[424] See c. 39 of that Book.

[425] “Ratione solis.” This theory of the succession of changes every
four years, was promulgated by Eudoxus. See B. ii. c. 48.

[426] See c. 69, as to Arcturus and Aquila.

[427] He speaks of Equinoctial hours, these being in all cases of the
same length, in contradistinction to the Temporal, or Unequal hours,
which with the Romans were a twelfth part of the Natural day, from
sunrise to sunset, and of course were continually varying.

[428] Twenty-fifth of December.

[429] Fere.

[430] In this Translation, the names of the Constellations are given
in English, except in the case of the signs of the Zodiac, which are
universally known by their Latin appellations.

[431] He begins in c. 64, at the winter solstice, and omits the period
between the eleventh of November and the winter solstice altogether, so
far as the mention of individual days.

[432] “Cum sidus vehemens Orionis iisdem diebus longo decedat spatio.”
This passage is apparently unintelligible, if considered, as Sillig
reads it, as dependent on the preceding one.

[433] In his Œconomica.

[434] In B. ii. c. 47.

[435] “Vestis institor est.” This passage is probably imperfect.

[436] “Lacernarum.”

[437] “Puleium.” See B. ii. c. 41.

[438] De Re Rust. i. 34.

[439] The setting of the Vergiliæ.

[440] De Divinat. B. i. c. 15. They are a translation from Aratus.

[441] De Re Rust. c. 38. Pliny has said above, that flax and the poppy
should be sown in the spring.

[442] The Papaver Rhœas of Linnæus is still used for affections of the

[443] For the grape and the olive.

[444] First of November.

[445] In the more n