Philemon Holland, translator (1601): C. Plinius Secundus The Historie of the World. Book XII. (Pages 356-379). Excurses from C. Plin. Sec. Historiae Naturalis Lib. XXXVII, Vol. Quint., ed. L. Desfontaines (Paris: 1829).
THE TWELFTH BOOKE OF
THE HISTORIE OF NATVRE,
WRITTEN BY C. PLINIVS
HUS you see by that which hath been written before, what are the natures as well in generall, as particularly in parts, of all living and sensitive creatures within the compasse of our knowledge. It remaineth now to discourse of those which the earth yeeldeth: and even they likewise are not without a soule in their kind (for nothing liveth which wanteth it:) that from thence we may passe to those things that lie hidden within the earth, and are to bee digged out of it: to the end, that no worke and benefite of Nature might overpasse our hands, and be omitted. And in truth, these treasures of hers lay long covered under the ground, insomuch as men were persuaded, that Woods and Trees were the last and onely goods left unto us and bestowed upon us by Nature. For of the fruit of trees had wee our first food: their leaves and branches served to make us soft pallets and couches within the caves: and with their rinds and barke we clad and covered our nakednesse. And even at this day, some nations there be that live still in that sort, and no otherwise. A wonderfull thing therefore it is, that from so small and base beginning we should grow to that passe in pride, that we must needs cut through great mountaines for to meet with marble: send out as farre as to the Seres for silke stuff to apparell us: dive downe into the bottom of the red sea for pearles: and last of all, sinke deepe pits even to the bottom of the earth, for the precious Hemerauld. For this pride and vanitie of ours, we have devised means to pierce and wound our eares: because, forsooth. It would not serve our turnes to weare costly pearles and rich stones in carkanets about our necke, borders upon the haire of our head, bracelets about our armes, and rings on our fingers; unlesse they were engraven also and cut into the very flesh of our bodies. Well then, to follow the course of Nature, and the order of our life (as meet it is we should) wee will treat in the first place of Trees, and lay before mens faces the life of the old world, and what was their behaviour and demeanure at the first, in their manner of living.
The honour done in old time to Trees. When the Plane-trees were first knowne in Italie, and of their nature.
IN old time, Trees were the very temples of gods: and according to that auncient manner, the plaine and simple peasants of the countrey, savouring still of antiquitie, doe at this day consecrate to one god or other, the goodliest & fairest Trees that they can meet withall. And verily, we our selves adore not with more reverence and devotion the stately images of the gods within our temples, (made though they be of glittering gold, and beautifull yvorie) than the very groves and tufts of trees, wherein we worship the same gods in all religious silence. First and formost, the auncient ceremonie of dedicating this and that kind of Tree to severall gods, as proper and peculiar unto them, was alwaies observed, and continueth yet to this day. For the mightie great Oke named Æsculus, is consecrated to Iupiter; the Lawrell to Apollo; the Olive tree to Minerva; the Myrtle to Venus; and the Poplar to Hercules. That the Sylvanes and Faunes, yea, and certaine godesses,1 are appropriate and assigned to woods and forests; yea, there is attributed unto those places a certaine divine power and godhead, there to inhabite: as well unto heaven the proper seat for other gods and goddesses. Afterwards, in processe of time men began to tast also the fruit of Trees, & found therin a juice (without all comparison) more lenitive & pleasant to the contentment of their nature, than that which came of corne and graine: for thereof made they Oile, a singular liquor to refresh and comfort the outward members and parts of the bodie: out of it they pressed Wine, the onely drinke that giveth strength within, and fortifieth the vitall powers. From thence gather we so many fruits, yearely growing and comming of themselves without the labour and industrie of man. And albeit, to serve our bellie and please our tooth, we sticke not to maintain fight and deale in combat with wild beasts in the forests; although we hazard our selves in the sea, to meet with monstrous fishes which are fed with the dead bodies of men cast away by shipwracke; and all to furnish and set out the table; yet is not the cheare thought good ynough, unless fruits also be sent up at the latter end, that they may have the honour in all feasts of the second service, and the banket. Besides all this, Trees serve our turnes for a thousand necessarie uses, without which our life could not be well maintained. With Trees we saile over seas into straunge lands, and by transporting commodities and marchandise too and fro, we make lands meet together: of Trees we build our houses wherein we dwell. Trees were the matter in times past, whereof were made the images of the gods. For as yet no man thought of the costly Anatomie of the Elephant, neither was their tooth in any account: whereas now adaies wee make the tressels, frames, and feet of our tables, even of the same yvorie that we see the faces of gods are portraied of; as if we had our warrant from them to begin and maintaine our roiot and superfluitie in this behalfe. We find in old Chronicles, That the Frenchmen, or Gaules tooke occasion first to come downe into Italie, and to overspread the whole countrey (notwithstanding they were beforetime debarred from thence by the impregnable fort, as it were, and the unpassable bulwarke of the Alpes between:) because one Elico, a Swisser or Helvetian, who had made long abode at Rome (where he was entertained for his skill in Smiths worke and Carpentrie) at his return home again into his countrie, brought over with him drie Figs and Raisons: the first fruits also as it were of Oile and Wine for a tast, to set their teeth a watering. And therefore the French had good reason, and might well be borne withall and pardoned, for seeking to conquer even by force of armes those countries where such fruits grew. But who would not marvell rather at this, That our people here should go into farre countries, and fetch a Tree from thence, even out of another world, only for the shade that it giveth? For surely, of fruitfull trees Italie hath store ynough. And what tree should that be but the very Plane? brought first over the Ionian sea into the Isle of Diomedea, for to beautifie the tomb of Diomedes. From thence translated into Sicilie, and so bestowed at length upon Italie, & then planted, as a most singular, rare, and speciall tree. But now is it carried as far as Terwin and Tournay in Fraunce; where it is counted an appertenance to the very soile that paieth tribute: insomuch, as people that will but walke and refresh themselves under the shadow of it, must pay a custome therefore unto the people of Rome. Dionysius king of Sicilie, and the first of that name, caused them to be brought from Rhegium in Calabria to his roiall cittie, where his pallace was; onely of a singularitie, because they should be seen to give a shade before his house, where afterwards was made the Colledge or place of publick exercise. But these trees did not greatly like the soile, for they never grew big, nor prospered to any purpose. Howbeit, I find in writers, that there were other besides in Italie, and namely about Adria, as also in Spaine. And all this happened about the time that Rome was sacked by the Gaules.2 But afterwards they came to be so highly esteemed, that for to make them grow the better, men would be at the cost to water them with wine: for this was found by experience, that nothing was so good for them as to poure wine to their roots.3 Thus have wee taught even our trees also to drinke wine, and be drunke. The Plane trees of any great name at first, were those that grew in the walking place of the Academia in Athens, where the root of one outwent the boughs, 36 cubits in length.4 Now in this age there groweth a famous one in Lycia, neare unto the high way where men passe too & fro, & it hath a pleasant cold fountain adjoining to it: the same is hollow within like to an house, & yeeldeth a cave of 81 foot in compasse: but it carieth such an head withall like a grove, so large, so broad, & so branched, that every arm resembleth one entire tree: insomuch, as the shade therof taketh up & spreadeth a great way into the fields. And because in every respect, it might resemble a very cabbin and cave indeed, there are stonie bankes & seats within, in forme of an arbor round about, made as it were of pumish stone overgrown with mosse. And in truth, this tree and the situation thereof, is so admirable, that Licinius Mutianus thrice Consull, and lately Lieutenant generall and governour of that province, thought this one thing worthie to be recorded as a memoriall to posteritie, That he and eighteen more persons of his companie, used to dine and sup within the hollownesse of that tree: where the very leaves yeelded of the own sufficient bed and bench-roume to rest and repose themselves: where they might sit secured from daunger of wind to blow upon them: where whiles he sat at meat, he wished nothing more than the pleasure to heare the showers of raine to pat drop by drop, and rattle over his head upon the leaves: & finally, that he tooke much more delight to lie within the same cabbin, than in a stately chamber built of fine marble, all glorious within with hanging of tapistrie and needleworke, of sundrie colours, and the same seeled over head with an embowed roofe laid with beaten gold. Moreover, Caligula the Emperor had such another Plane tree growing in the countrey above Velitræ, most artificially: wherein he used to take great pleasure, with admiration of the sundrie lofts and plankes one over another, the large settles also and spacious branches that the boughs yeelded, where hee was wont to sit at repast, making one of the fifteene guests. For the roume was of that capacitie, that it would receive not only so many to sit with ease at the table, but also the gentlemen & servitors that waited and ministered unto them: and he tearmed this supping place by the name of, His nest: because it seemed like a birds nest in a tree. There is to be seene at Gortyna, within the Island Candie, one Plane-tree near unto a faire fountain: recorded it is as well by Greeks as Latines in their writings, and by the testimonie of them both, never sheddeth the leaves, but remaineth alwaies greene, as well in Winter as Summer: by occasion whereof arose the tale (so much given is Greece to devise fables by and by of every small matter) That Iupiter under that tree defloured the young ladie Europa: as if (forsooth) there were no other Tree but it of the same kind and nature, in Cyprus. But (as the nature of man is evermore curious, and seeking after novelties) the Candiotes, desirous to have of the same race within Creet, set many slips thereof in sundrie places, as if they longed to have more such vicious fruit (as is beforenamed:) for in the very deed that Tree is in no one thing more commendable, than for excluding the heat of the Sunne in Summer, and admitting it in Winter. In the time of Claudius Cæsar, late Emperour, there was an enfranchised slave belonging to Marcellus Eserninus, a daintie guelded Eunuch of Thessalie, and exceeding rich, who caused certaine Plane trees to be brought out of Candie into Italie, for to plant them at a manor which hee had in the territorie neare to Rome. This freed Eunuch for to grow into more power and favor with Cæsar, had engraffed himselfe, as adopted among his freed men: and surely for his wealth might well be called Dionysius, who was the first that transplanted these kind of trees. Thus you see that over and above those monstruosities which Italie hath devised of it selfe, wee have remaining and reigning among us those also of straunge and forraine nations abroad in the world.
Of the low or dwarfe Plane-tree. And who first devised to clip and shred Arbours.
AS big as these Plane treesare, yet there be those of a forced smalnes to the other, called Chamæplatani: whereby a man may perceive, that we have invented the meanes to have abortive trees also; even to hinder their growth, that they cannot come to their full perfection. And therefore even in trees as well as in other living creatures, there is a certaine infelicite, which may well be tearmed, A dwarfish untowardnesse. This smalnesse in trees may come by the planting them, as well by cutting and keeping them downe. The first man that devised to shred and cut arbours, was one Cn. Martius, a gentleman of Rome,5 and a favourit of the Emperour Augustus: and this invention hath not been knowne above 80 yeeres.
Of trees that be straungers in Italie: and namely, of the Citron or Limon tree.
CHERRIE-trees, Peach-trees, and generally all that either have Greeke names or any other but Latine, are held for aliens in Italie. Howbeit some of them now are enfranchised and taken for free denizens among us: so familiar they be made unto us, and they like the ground so well. But of them, we will speake in the ranke of those trees that beare fruit. For this present, we are to treat of those trees that be meere forrainers: and for good lucke sake, begin wee with that, which of all others is most holesome, to wit, the Citron tree, called the Assyrian tree; and by some, the Median Apple-tree: the fruit whereof, is a counterpoison and singular Antidote against all venome. The tree itselfe, beareth a leafe like unto an Arbut-tree, mary it hath certaine pricks among. The Pomecitron is not so good to be chewed, and eaten of it selfe: howbeit very odoriferous it is: as be the leaves also thereof, which are used to be laid in wardrobes among apparell; for the smell thereof will passe into the clothes, and preserve them from the moth, spider, and such like vermine. This tree beareth fruit at all times of the yeere: for when some fall for ripenesse, others wane mellow and some againe, begin then but to shew their blossome. Many forrainers have assaied to transplant them, and set them in their own countries, in regard of their excellent vertue to resist poison. And for this purpose they have carried yong quicksets, or plants of them, in earthen pots made for the purpose, and enclosed them well with earth: howbeit the roots had libertie given them to breath (as it were) at certaine holes for the nones, because they should not be clunged and pent in prison. Which I rather note, because I would have it knowne once for all, and well remembered, That all plants which are to be removed and carried farre off, must be set very close, and used in the same order most precisely. But for all the care and paines taken about it, for to make it grow in other countries, yet would it not forget Media and Persia, nor like in any other soile, but soon die. This is that fruit, the kernels wherof (as I said before) the lords and great men of Parthia use to seeth with their meat, for to correct their soure and stinking breaths. And verily there is not a tree in all Media, of better respect than is the Citron tree. As for those trees in the region of the Seres (which beare the silk wool or cotton) we have spoken thereof in our Cosmographie, when we made mention of that nation.
Of Indian Trees: and when the Ebene was first knowne at Rome.
IN like manner, discoursed we have of the talnesse and greatnesse of Indian trees. Of all those trees which be appropriate to India, Virgill hath highly commended the Ebene above the rest: 6 and hee affirmeth, That it will not growe elsewhere. But Herodotus assigneth it rather to Æthiopia;7 and saith, That every three yeares the Æthiopians were wont to pay by way of tribute unto the kings of Persia, * 100 billets of the timber of that tree, togither with gold and yvorie. Moreover, I must not forget (since that mine author hath so expressely set it downe) that the Æthiopians in the same regard were bound to pay in like manner, twentie great and massie Elephants teeth. In such estimation was Ivorie then, namely in the 310 yeere after the foundation of Rome; at what time as Herodotus put forth that Historie at Thurij in Italy. The more mervaile it is, that we give so much credit to that writer, saying as hee doth, How that in his time and before, there was no man knowne in Asia or Greece, nor yet to himselfe, who had not so much as seene the river Po.8 The Card or Map of Æthiopia, which lately was presented and shewed to the Emperor Nero (as we have before said) doth sufficiently testifie, That from Syene (which confineth and boundeth the lands of our Empire and dominion) as farre as to the Iland Meroe, for the space of 996 miles, there is little Ebene found: and that in all those parts betweene, there be few other trees to be found, but Date trees. Which peradventure may be a cause, That Ebene was counted a rich tribute, and deserved the third place, after Gold and Ivorie. Certes, Pompey the Great, in that solemnitie of triumph, for the victorie and conquest of Mithridates, shewed one Ebene tree. Fabianus is of opinion, that it will not burne: howbeit, experience sheweth the contrarie, for take fire it will, yea and cast a pleasant and sweet perfume. Two kinds there be of Ebene: the one, which as it is the better, so likewise it is rare and geason; it carrieth a trunke like another tree, without knot; the wood thereof is blacke and shining; and at the very first sight, faire and pleasant to the eye, without any art or polishing at all. The other, is more like a shrub, and putteth foorth twigs as the Tretrifolie. A plant this is, commonly to be seene in all parts of India.
Of certaine Thornes and Fig-trees of India.
THERE groweth also among the Indians, a Thorne resembling the latter kind of Ebene, and found to serve for the use of candles: for no sooner commeth it neare unto the fire, but it catcheth a flame, and the fire leapeth presently unto it. Now it remaineth to speak of those trees, which set Alexander the Great into a wonder at what time as upon his victorie hee made a voiage for to discover that part of the world. First and formost, there is a Fig-tree there, which beareth very small and slender figges. The propertie of this Tree, is to plant and set it selfe without mans helpe. For it spreadeth out with mightie armes, and the lowest water-boughs underneath, doe bend so downeward to the very earth, that they touch it againe, and lie upon it: whereby, within one yeares space they will take fast root in the ground, and put foorth a new Spring round about the Mother-tree: so as these braunches thus growing, seeme like a traile or border of arbours most curiously and artificially made. Within these bowers the sheepheards use to repose and take up their harbour in Summertime: for shadie and coole it is, and besides well fenced all about with a set of young trees in manner of a pallaisado. A most pleasant and delectable sight, whether a man either come neare, and looke into it, or stand a farre off: so faire and pleasant an arbour it is, all greene and framed arch-wise in just compasse. Now the upper boughes thereof stand up on high, and beare a goodly tuft and head aloft, like a little thicke wood or forest. And the bodie or trunke of the Mother is so great, that many of them make up in compasse threescore paces: and as for the foresaid shaddow, it covereth in ground a quarter of a mile. The leaves of this Tree are very broad, made in form of an Amazonian or Turkish Targuet: which is the reason, that the figges thereof are but small; considering that the leafe covereth it, and suffereth it not to grow unto the full. Neither doe they hang thicke upon the tree, but here and there very thin, and none of them bigger than a beane. Howbeit, so well and throughly ripened they bee with the heat of the Sunne, notwithstanding the leaves are betweene, that they yeeld a most pleasant and sweet rellice in tast, and are a fruit for a king, answerable to the mightie, huge, and prodigious tree that beareth it. These fig-trees grow abundantly about the river Acesine.
Of the tree named Pala: of other Indian trees, whereof the names be unknowne. Also of those that beare Wooll or Cotton.
ANOTHER tree there is India, greater yet than the former, bearing a fruit much fairer, bigger, and sweeter than the figs aforesaid; and wherof the Indian Sages and Philosophers do ordinarily live. The leafe resembleth birds wings, carrying three cubits in length, and two in breadth. The fruit it putteth forth at the bark, having within it a wonderfull pleasant juice: insomuch as one of them is sufficient to give four men a competent & full refection. The trees name is Pala, and the fruit thereof is called Ariena. Great plentie of them is in the country of the Sydraci, the utmost limit of Alexander the Great his expeditions and voiages. And yet is there another tree much like to this, and beareth a fruit more delectable than this Ariena, howbeit the guts in a mans belly it wringeth, and breeds the bloudie flux. Whereupon Alexander made open proclamation and streightly forbad, That no man should tast thereof. As for the Macedonian souldiers, they talked much of many other trees, but they described them in general tearmes only, and to the most of them they gave no names at all. For one tree there is besides, in other respects resembling the Terebinth, and it carrieth a fruit much like to Almonds; only it is lesse, but of a most sweet and toothsome tast. In Bactriana verily, some take it to be a speciall kind of the Terebinth indeed, rather than a tree like unto it. But that tree which carrieth a fine flaxe, whereof they make their daintie linnen and lawne, it hath leaves like to those of a mulberrie tree, and beareth a red berrie like to the hips of an Eglantine.They plant and set these in their fields and plaines: and surely, standing as they doe in such order, there are no rowes of any trees that yeeld a fairer sight and prospect. The Olive tree of India is but barren, save that it bringeth a fruit much like the wild Olive.
Of Pepper trees: of the Clove tree, and many other.
THE trees that beare Pepper every where in those parts, be like unto our Iuniper trees. And yet some have written, That they grow onely upon the front of the hill Caucasus on that side which lieth full upon the Sunne. The cornes or graines that hang thereupon, differ from Iuniper berries: and those lie in certaine little huskes or cods like to the pulse called Fafels or Kidney beanes. If that be plucked from the tree before they gape and open of themselves, they make that spice which is called Long pepper: but if as they do ripen, they cleave & chawne by little and little, they shew within, the white pepper: which afterwards beeing parched in the Sunne, chaungeth colour and waxeth blacke, and therewith riveled also. Peppers be subject to the injurie of the weather as well as other fruits: for if the season be unkindly and untemperate, they will catch a blast, and then the seeds will be deafe, void, light, and naught. This fault is called among the Indians, Brechmasis, which in their language signifieth, an abortive or untimely colour withall. The blacke is more kindly and pleasant: and the white is more mild in the mouth than both the other. Many have taken Ginger (which some call Zimbiperi, & others Zingiberi) for the root of that tree: but it is not so, although in tast it somewhat resembleth pepper. For Ginger groweth in Arabia and Troglodytica in medows about the villages: and it is a white root of a certaine little hearb. And howsoever it be very bitter and biting, yet it quickly meeteth with a worme, and rotteth. A pound of Ginger is commonly sold at Rome for six deniers. Long pepper is soone sophisticated, with the Senvie or mustard-seed of Alexandria: and a pound of it is worth fifteen Romane deniers. The white costeth seven deniers a pound, and the blacke is sold after foure deniers by the pound. As for pepper, I wonder greatly that it should be so much in request as it is: For whereas some fruits are sweet and pleasant in tast, and therefore desired; others beautifull to the eye, and in that regard draw chapmen: pepper hath neither the one nor the other. A fruit or berrie it is (call it whether you will) neither acceptable to the tongue nor delectable to the eye: and yet for the biting bitternes it hath, we are pleased therewith, and we must have it set foorth from as farre as India. What was he, gladly would I know, that ventured first to bite of pepper and use it in his meats? Who might he be, that to provoke his appetite and find himselfe a good stomacke, could not make a shift with fasting and hunger onely? Surely Ginger and Pepper both, grow wild in those countries where they doe like and yet wee must buy them by weight, as we doe gold and silver. Of late daies here in Italie, wee have made meanes to have the Pepper tree grow among us: and verily a little scrubbie plant it is, or shrub rather; bigger somewhat than the Mittle, and not farre unlike. The graine that ours beareth, carieth the very same bitternes that the greene pepper of India is thought to have before it be full ripe. For here it wanteth the due parching and ripening against the sunne: and by that meanes commeth short of the rivels and blacknesse that the outlandish pepper hath. Sophisticated it is, by entermingling with it the graines or berries of Iuniper: for surely, they doe marveilous soone take the tast and strength of Pepper. And as for the weight, there be divers wayes to deceive the chapman therein.
Over and besides, there is another fruit that commeth out of India, like unto pepper cornes, and it is called Cloves, but bigger somewhat and more brittle. And they say, that it groweth in a certaine grove consecrated to their gods in India. Transported over it is unto us for the sweet smell that it casteth.9
Moreover, the Indians have a thornie and prickie plant, which beareth a fruit like to pepper, and passing bitter. The leaves bee small and grow thicke after the manner of Privet: it putteth forth braunches three cubits long: the barke is pale, the root broad and of a woodie substance, resembling the colour of boxe. Of the infusion of this root in faire water, togither with the seed, in a brasen vessell, is made that medicine or composition which is called Lycium. A bush there groweth likewise upon mount Pelion [like Pyxiacantha, i. the Berberrie bush] where is made a counterfeit Lycium. In like manner, the root of the Asphodell, with an Oxe gall, Wormwood, Frankincense, and the mother or lees of Oile, will doe the same. But the best Lycium and most medicinable, is that which doth yeeld a great froth or scum. The Indian merchants doe send it over in bags made of the skins either of Camels or Rhinocerotes. In some parts of Greece they name the very bush whereof this Lycium is made, Pyxacanthum Chironium.
Of Macir, Sugar, and the trees of the region Ariana.
THE Macir likewise is brought out of India.10 A reddish barke or rind it is, of a great root; and beareth the name of the tree it selfe: but the forme of that tree I know not how to describe. This rind sodden in honey, & so condit as a Succade, is a singular medicine for those that be troubled with the Dysenterie or bloudie flux. As for Sugar, there is of it in Arabia; but the best commeth out of India. ** A kind of honey it is, gathered and candied in certaine canes: white this is like gum [Arabicke] and brittle betweene a mans teeth. The graines hereof when they are at the biggest, exceed not a filberd nut, and serve only for Physik. In the realme of Ariana (which confineth and boundeth upon the Indians) there is a certaine thornie plant, so full of sharpe pricks, that it is comberous to them who come about it; which yeeldeth a pretious liquor issuing out thereof, like unto Myrrhe. In the same province there groweth a pestilent venomous shrub called Rhapanus,11 bearing leaves like the Bay tree, which with their fragrant smell traine horses thither to eat thereof; but they are so good for them, that they left no Alexander the Great scarse one horse of all his Cavallerie, they dyed so fast of that food at his first entrance into the countrey. The like accident befell unto him also among the Gedrosians. In like manner, there is another thornie plant (by report) in that region, leaved like the Laurell: the juice and liquor whereof, if it be sprinkled or dashed in the eyes of any living creature whatsoever, putteth them quite out and makes them blind. Moreover, they have an herb there, of a singular pleasant savor, but covered all over it is with litle venomous serpents: their sting is present death. Onesicritus reporteth, That in the vales of Hircania there be trees like figtrees, which the Hircanians call Occhi, out of which there distilleth or droppeth hony every morning for the space of two hours.12
Of Bdellium: and the trees growing by the Persian gulfe.
NEARE to these parts lyeth Bactriana, wherein is the most excellent Bdellium.13 The tree that beareth it is blacke, of the bignes of an Olive, with leaves like an Oke; and the fruit resembleth wild figs, and is of the same nature. The gum thereof, some call Brochos; others, Malachra: and there be againe that name it Maldacon. Howbeit, when it is blacke, and brought into roles or lumpes, they give it another name, and call it Hadrobolon. But indeed the right Bdellium when it is in the kind, should be cleare, as yellow as waxe, pleasant to smell unto, in the rubbing and handling fattie, in tast bitter and nothing soure. Being washed and drenched with wine (as they use it in sacrifices) it is more odoriferous. There is fond of it in Arabia, India, Media, and Babylon. As for that which is brought out of Media, they call it Peraticum: this is more tractable and gentle in hand, more crustie and bitter than the rest. But the Indian Bdellium is the moister and more gummie: this is sophisticated with Almonds, whereas the other kinds be made counterfeit with the barke of Scordastus, a tree that yeeldeth the like gum. But this trumperie and deceit is found by the smell, colour, weight, tast and fire. And let this one word for all, serve as a generall rule to proove all such drugs and spices by. The Bactrian Bdellium when it is in the fire, yeeldeth a drie and smokie fume, and hath many white markes in it resembling the nailes of ones fingers: besides, it hath his just poise and weight that it ought to have, neither more nor lesse; for as it should not be over weightie, so it may be too light. Commonly the price goeth after this rate, to wit, three deniers a pound.
Upon these regions above-named, confineth Persis, whereas the red sea (which we named in our Geographie, the Persian gulfe14) floweth at certaine tides far into the land, and in these sands and downes are to be seene divers trees of straunge natures: for when the tide is past, you shall see at a low water some trees with their roots bare, as if they were eaten with the salt water; and a man cannot tell whether they were brought thither with the tide, or left in the ebbe: but surely the naked roots seeme to claspe and take hold of the barren sands, as if they were Polype fishes should cling to anything. And yet the same, when the sea floweth againe, notwithstanding they be beaten upon with the waves, stand fast and stirre not. Againe, at some high water and spring-tide, they be covered all over with water: and by good arguments it is evident to the eye, That nourished they be with the roughnesse of the surging sea-water. Their heights is wonderfull: and fashioned they be in forme of an Arbut tree:15 the fruit without-forth like to almonds, but the kernels within be writhed.
The trees of the Iland Tylos within the Persian sea. Moreover, of those trees that beare Woll or Cotton.
WITHIN the same gulfe of Persia, there lyeth an Iland full of woods to the East side, even upon that coast which is overflowed with the tide. Every tree within, is equal in bignes to the figtree: the blossomes that they carrie, are so sweet, as it is wonderfull and unspeakeable: the fruit like a Lupine, yet so rough and prickly, as no beast will gladly touch it. In the highest part and knap of the same Iland, there be trees bearing Wooll, but not in such sort as those of the Seres: for whereas the leaves of those doe carrie a downe or cotton, these are altogether without and barren thereof: and but that they be somewhat lesse, they might seeme to be vine leaves. Howbeit they beare a fruit at the last, like Gourds in fashion, and as big as Quinces; which when they be full ripe, doe open and shew certaine balls within of downe: whereof they make most fine and costly linnen clothes.
Of the Gossampine trees: as also of other Cotton or Bombase trees, whereof clothes be made. In what manner divers trees do yeeld their fruit.
THERE is a lesser Iland named Tylos, ten miles from the other, where be trees called Gossampines, which yeeld more cotton than those in the greater. King Iuba saith, that this Cotton groweth about the braunches of the said trees, and that the linnens made thereof be farre better than those of the Indians. As for those trees in Arabia whereof they make their linnen cloth, he affirmeth that they be called Cynæ, and have leaves like the Date tree. Thus you see, how the Indians be clad with trees of their own. In those Ilands called Tyli, there is another tree which beareth a blossome much like the flower of a white Violet, or Stock-gillofree,16 but foure times as big, which may seeme straunge in that tract.17 And yet there is another Tree not unlike to it, howbeit fuller of leaves, and bearing a blossome like to a damaske or incarnate rose. This flower shutteth close in the night, beginneth to open in the morning at the Sun-rising, and by noone sheweth out at the full. The inhabitants have a by-word and saying among them, That it sleepes all night, and wakes in the morning. The same Island bringeth foorth Date trees, Olive trees, Vines, and among other fruits, Figges also. No trees there, doe shed their leaves: for the Island is well watered with cold and quicke springs: and besides it hath the benefite of raine. As touching Arabia, which lyeth neere and bordereth upon these Islands, the spices and odoriferous fruits that be therein, are to be treated of with distinction: for their merchandise doth consist of roots, braunches, barke, juice or liquor, gums and rosins, wood, twigs, flowers, leaves, and apple.
Of Costus, Spike-nard, and the divers kinds of Nard.
BUT the root and leafe be of greatest price in India. And first and foremost the root of Costus, biteth and burneth in the mouth; and is of a most excellent and soveraign smell: for otherwise the braunches or bodie of the shrub is good for little or nothing. In the Iland Patale (which lyeth at the verie first fosse and mouth where the river Indus falleth into the sea) there be found two kinds thereof: namely, the black; and the white, which is counted the better. A pound of Costus is held at sixteene Romane deniers.
As touching the leafe of Nardus,18 it were good that wee discoursed thereof at large, seeing that it is one of the principall ingredients aromaticall that goe to the making of most costly and precious ointments. The plant it selfe Nardus hath a massie, heavie, and thicke root; but short, blacke, and brittle, notwithstanding that it be fattie and oleous. Soone it vinoweth and catcheth a kind of mustines; and like unto the 3 Cypresse it hath a sharpe taste, rough and small leaves, but comming thicke. The head of Nardus spreadeth into certaine spikes or eares, whereby it hath a twofold use, both of spike and also of leafe; in which regard it is so famous. A second sort there is of it growing along the river Ganges, condemned altogither as good for nothing, for it hath a strong and stinking savour; whereupon it is called Ozænitis.19 There is an herb growing every where called Pseudonardus, or bastard Nard, which is obtruded unto us and sold for the true Spikenard. A thicker leafe it hath and a broader than the other: the colour is more pallat and weake, inclining to white. Also the very root of the right Nard, for to make the better weight, is mingled with gums, with Litharge of silver, Antimonie, or the rind of Cyperus. But the good, syncere, and true Nard is known by the lightnes, red colour, sweet smell, and the tast especially: for it drieth the tongue and leaveth a pleasant rellish behind it. The Spike carrieth the price of an hundred Romane deniers a pound. As touching the leaves, the diversitie thereof maketh difference also in the price: for that which hath the larger leaves, and thereupon is called Hadrosphærum, is worth thirtie deniers a pound. A second sort there is with a smaller leafe, and of a middle size, named therefore Mesosphærum; and that is bought after sixtie deniers the pound. But the best of all is that with least leaves, and carrieth the name of Microsphærum: and that the merchant selleth for 75 deniers the pound. What kind soever it be, the greener and newer it is, the better it is reputed, and more odoriferous, than that which hath been long kept. Yet say it be old gathered, if the colour hold and keepe well, men preferre it before the blacker, though it be new. With us in Italie, and in this part of the world, the leafe of nardus comming from Syria, is esteemed best: next unto it the Celticke, out of Fraunce; and in the third place that of Candie, which some name Agrion, [i. the wild] others Phu: and this hath a leafe resembling Loveach or Alesanders;20 a stalke a cubit long, full of joynts and knots, of a weake whitish & light purple colour; the root groweth crooked, full of strings and haires hanging to it, and is much like to birds clawes or feet. As for Baccharis, it is called likewise Rustick-nard: but of it will wee speake among other flowers.21 All these kinds of Nardus are to be reckoned hearbs, save that only of the Indians: of which, the Celticke or French Nard, is plucked and gathered togither with the root: and for the better preparing thereof, it ought to be well washed and soked in wine, and so dried in the shade out of the sunne. Then is it made up into certaine bundels of an handfull apeece, bound up in papers, & differeth not much in goodnes from the Indian Spikenard: howbeit, lighter it is than that of Syria. A pound of it is worth at Rome thirteene deniers. The onely proofe and triall of all their leaves is this, That they bee not brittle, and rather ripe drie, than sere or rotten-drie, That they breake not and fall in peeces. With the Celticke or French Nard there groweth another hearbe, called Hirculus, and it taketh that name of a strong and Goatish smell which it yeeldeth: besides, so like it is unto the other, that it is foisted in amongst the good, and so sold with it. Yet herein is the difference; for that this hath no stemme or stalke at all; the leaves thereof also are lesse: and last of all, the root is neither bitter in tast, nor sweet in smell.
Of Asara-Bacca, Amomum, Amomis, and Cardamomum.
ASARUM or Fole-foot, called otherwise, Asara-Bacca, hath the verie properties and vertues of Nard: and therefore some have called it Wild Nard. An hearbe it is, carrying leaves like to yvie, save that they bee more round and softer: it putteth foorth a purple flower, and hath a root like unto the French Nard. The flower is full within of seeds like grape kernels, of an hote tast, and resembling wine. In shadowie mountaines it floureth twice a yeare. The best groweth in Pontus, the next to it for goodnesse is found in Phrygia: that of Illyricum is of a third ranke. The roote is digged up when it beginneth to put forth leaves. They use to drie it in the Sunne: soone it will vennow and be mouldie; quickly also it waxeth old, and looseth the strength. Of late daies there was an hearbe found in Thracia, the leaves whereof differ in nothing from the India nard.
As for the grape of Amomum,22 which is now in use and much occupied, some say it groweth upon a wild vine in India. Others have thought, that it commeth from a shrub like a Myrtle and carieth not above a hand breadth, or foure inches in height. Plucked it is together with the root: and gently must it be laid and couched in bunches by handfuls, for if great heed bee not taken, it will soone burst and breake. The best Amomum and most commendable, is that which carrieth leaves like to those of the Pomgranate, without rivels and wrinckles, and besides, of a red colour. The next in goodnesse is that which is pale. The greene or grasse coloured is not all out so good, but the worst of all is white: and that colour commeth by age, and long keeping. A pound of these grapes entire and whole in the cluster, is worth three-score Romane deniers. But if they bee crumbled and broken, it will cost but eight and fortie. This Amomum groweth likewise in a part of Armenia named Otene: also, in the kingdomes of Media and Pontus. It is sophisticated with the leaves of the Pomegranate, and with some other liquid gum besides, that it may hang united together, and roll round into the forme of grapes.
Now as touching that which is called Amomis, it is lesse full veines, and nothing so sweet smelling: but harder than Amomum: wherby it appeareth, that it is either a divers plant from it, or els if it be the same, it is gathered before it be full ripe.
Cardamomum is like to these above rehearsed, both in name, and also in making and forme: but it beareth a longer graine for seed. The manner also of gathering and cutting it downe, in Arabia, is the same. Foure kinds there be of it. The first is most greene and fattie with all: having foure sharpe corners, and if a man rub it betweene his fingers, he shall find it very tough & stubborne: and this is most esteemed of all the other. The next to it is somewhat reddish, but enclining to a whitish colour. A third sort is shorter, lesser, and blacker than the rest. Howbeit, the worst is that which hath sundrie colours, is pliable and gentle in the rubbing, and smelleth but a little. The true Cardamomum ought to come near in resemblance to Costus. And it groweth in Media. A pound of the best will cost twelve deniers.
The great affinitie or kinred rather in name, that Cinnamon hath with these spices before rehearsed, might induce me to write thereof in one suit, even in this place: but that more meet it is to shew first the riches of Arabia, and to set downe the causes why that countrie should be surnamed Happie and Blessed. We will begin therefore with the cheefe commodities therof, namely, Frankincense and Myrrhe: and yet Myrrhe is found as well in the Troglodites countrey, as in Arabia.
Of Happie Arabia, that yeeldeth plentie of Frankincense.
THERE is no region in the whole world that bringeth forth Frankincense, but Arabia: and yet is it not to be found in all parts thereof: but in that quarter onely of the Atramites. Now these Atramites inhabite the very heart of Arabia, and are a countie of the Sabæi. The capitall citie of the whole kingdome is called Sabota, seated upon an high mountain: from whence unto Saba, the only countrey that yeeldeth such plentie of the said incense, it is about eight daies journey. As for Saba, (which in the Greeke tongue signifieth, a secret mysterie) it regardeth the Sunne rising in the Summer, or the Northeast; enclosed on every side with rockes inaccessible: and on the right hand it is defended with high cliffes and crags that beare into the sea. The soile of this territorie (by report) is reddish and inclining to white. The forrests that carrie these Incense trees, lie in length twentie Schænes,23 and beare in breadth halfe as much. Now that which we call Schænus, according to the calculation of Eratosthenes, containeth fortie stadia, that is to say, five miles: howsoever some have allowed but two and thirtie stadia to every Schænus. The quarter wherein these trees doe grow, is full of high hils: howbeit, goe downe into the plaines and vallie beneath, yee shall have plentie of the same trees, which come up of their owne accord, and were never planted. The earth is fat, and standeth much upon a strong clay, as all writers do agree. Few Springs are there to be found, and those that be, are full of Nitre. There is another tract by it selfe confronting this countrey, wherein the Minæans doe inhabite: and through them there is a narrow passage, by which the frankincense is transported into other parts. These were their first neighbours that did trafficke with them for their incense, and found a vent for it: and even so they doe still at this day, whereupon the Frankincense it selfe is called of their name, Minæum. Setting this people of the Sabeans aside, there be no Arabians that see an Incense Tree from one end of the yeare to another: neither are all these permitted to have a sight of those Trees. For the common voice is, that there bee not above three thousand families which can claime and challenge by right of succession that priviledge, to gather Incense. And therefore all the race of them is called Sacred and Holy: for look when they goe about either cutting and slitting the trees, or gathering the Incense, they must not that day come near a woman to know her carnally; nay they must not be at any funerals, or approach a dead corps, for being polluted. By which religion, and ceremonious observation, the price is raised, and the Incense is the dearer. Some say, that these people have equall libertie in commune, to goe into these woods for their commodities when they will: but others affirme, that they be divided into companies, and take their turns by yeares. As concerning the very Tree, I could never know yet the perfect description of it. We have maintained wars in Arabia, and the Romane armie hath entred a great way into that countrey. C. Cæsar, the adopted sonne of Augustus, wan great honour and glorie from thence: and yet verily, to my knowledge, there was never any Latine Author, that hath put downe in writing the forme and fashion of that Tree which carieth Incense. As for the Greeke writers, their bookes doe varie and differ in that point. Some give out, that it hath leaves like to a Peare-tree, only they be somewhat lesse: and when they come forth, they be of a grasse-greene colour. Others say that they resemble the Lentiske Tree, and are somewhat reddish. There bee againe who write, that it is the very Terebints, and none else, that giveth the Frankincense: of which opinion king Antigonus was, who had one of these shrubs brought unto him. King Iuba in those bookes which hee wrate and sent unto C. Cæsar, sonne to the Emperour Augustus (who was enflamed with an ardent desire to make a voiage into Arabia, for the great name which went thereof) saith, That the Tree which beareth Frankincense, hath a trunke or bodie writhen about, and putteth forth boughs and branches, like for all the world to the Maple of Pontus. Item, that it yeeldeth a juice or liquor, as doth the Almond tree: and such are seen commonly in Carmania: as also those in Ægypt which were planted by the carefull industrie of Ptolomees, kings there. How ever it be, this is received for certaine, that it hath the very barke of a Bay tree: Some also have said, that the leaves be as like. And verily, such kind of Trees were they which were seene at Sardis: for the kings of Asia likewise were at the cost and labour to transplant them, & desirous to have them grow in Lydia. The Embassadours who in my time came out of Arabia to Rome, have made all that was delivered as touching these Trees, more doubtfull and uncertaine than before. A straunge matter and wonderfull indeed, considering that twigs and braunches of the Incense tree have passed betweene: by the veiw of which impes, we may judge what the Mother is: namely, even and round in the bodie, without knot or knar, and from thence she putteth out shoots.
They used in old time to gather the Incense but once a yeare, as having little vent, and small returne, and lesse occasion to sell than now adaies; but now, since every man calleth for it, they feeling the sweetnesse of the gaine, make a double vintage (as it were) of it in one yeare. The first, and indeed the kindly season, falleth about the hottest daies of the Summer, at what time as the Dog daies begin: for then they cut the Tree where they see the barke to be fullest of liquor, and whereas they perceive it to be thinnest and strut out most. They make a gash or slit onely to give more libertie: but nothing doe they pare or cut cleane away. The wound or incision is no sooner made, but out there gusheth a fat fome or froth: this soon congealeth and groweth to be hard: and where the place will give them leave, they receive it in a quilt or mat made of Date-tree twigs, plaited and wound one within another wicker-wise. For els where, the floore all about is paved smooth, and rammed downe hard. The former way is the better to gather the purer and clearer Frankincense: but that which falleth upon the bare ground, and proveth the weightier. That which remaineth behind, and sticketh to the Tree, is pared and scraped off with knives, or such like yron tooles; and therefore no marvell if it be full of shavings of the barke. The whole wood or forrest is devided into certaine portions: and every man knoweth his owne part: nay, there is not one of them will offer wrong unto another, and encroch upon his neighbours. They need not to set any keepers for to looke unto those Trees that be cut, for no man will rob from his fellow if he might, so just and true they be in Arabia. But beleeve me, at Alexandria where Frankincense is tried, refined, and made for sale, men cannot looke surely ynough to their shops and work-houses, but they will be robbed. The workman that is emploied about it, is all naked, save that hee hath a paire of trouses or breeches to cover his shame, and those are sowed up and sealed too, for feare of thrusting any into them. Hood-winked he is sure ynough for seeing the way too & fro, and hath a thicke coife or maske about his head, for doubt that hee should bestow any in mouth or eares. And when these workmen bee let foorth againe, they be stripped starke naked, as ever they were borne, and sent away. Whereby we may see, that the rigour of justice cannot strike so greate feare into our theeves here, and make us so secure to keepe our owne, as among the Sabæans, the bare reverence and religion of those woods. But to returne againe to our former cuts. The Incense which was let out in Summer, they leave there under the Tree untill the Autumne, and then they come and gather it. And this is most pure, cleane, and white.
A second Vintage or gathering, there is in the Spring: against which time, they cut the bark before the Winter and suffer it to run out untill the Spring. This commeth forth red, and is nothing comparable to the former. The better is called Carpheotum, the worse, Dathiathum.24 Moreover, some say, that the gum which issueth out of young trees is the whiter: but that which commeth from the old, is more odoriferous. There be others also of opinion, That the better Incense is in the Islands. But king Iuba doth avouch constantly, that there is none at all in the Islands. That which is round like unto a drop, and so hangeth, we call the male Incense; whereas in other things lightly wee name no male, but where there is a female. But folke have a religious ceremonie in it, not to use so much as the tearme of the other sexe, in giving denomination to Frankincense. Howbeit, some say, that it was called the Male, for a resemblance that it hath to cullions or stones. In very truth, that is held for the cheefe and best simply, which is fashioned like to the nipples or teats that give milke, standing thicke one by another: to wit, when the former drop that destilled, hath another presently followeth after, and so consequently more unto them, and they all seeme to hang together like bigs. I read, that every one of these were wont to make a good handfull, namely, when men were not so hastie and eager to carie it away, but would give it time and leasure to drop softly. When it is gathered in this sort, the Greekes use to call it Stagonias and Atomus: but the lesser gobbets they name Orobias. As for the small crums or fragments which fall off by shaking, we called Manna, [i. Thuris.] And yet there be found at this day drops of Incense that weigh the third part of a pound, that is to say, about 39 Romane deniers. It happened on a time, that king Alexander the Great being then but a very child, made no spare of Incense, but cast still upon the altar without all measure when hee offered sacrifice. Whereupon, Leonidas his tutor and schoolemaister, by way of a light reproofe, said unto him thus, Sir you should in that maner burne Incense when you have once conquered those nations where there groweth Incense. Which rebuke and checke of his tooke so deepe a print in Alexanders heart, and so well he carried it in memorie, that after he had indeed made conquest of Arabia, he sent unto the said Leonides his Tutor, a ship full of fraught and charged with Incense, willing him not to spare, but literally to bestow upon the gods when he sacrificed.25 To returne again unto our historie. When the Incense is gathered (as is beforesaid), conveighed it is to Sabota, upon Cammels backes, and at one gate (set open for that purpose) it is brought into the citie. For by law forbidden it is upon paine of death, to take any other way. Which done, the Priests there of the god whom they call Sabis, take the disme or tenth part of the Incense, by measure, and not by weight, and set it apart for that god. Neither is it lawfull for any man to buy or sell, before that dutie be paied: which serveth afterwards to support certain publicke expenses of the cittie. For all strangers and travellers within the compasse of certaine daies journey, if they come to the citie, are courteously received, and liberally entertained at the cost and charges of the said god Sabis. Caried forth of the countrey it cannot be, but through the Gebanites: and therefore there is a custome paid unto their king. The head citie of that kingdome, Thomna, is from Gaza (the next port-towne in Iudæa toward our coast) seven and twentie miles fourescore times told: and this way is devided into threescore and two daies journies by Cammels. Moreover, besides the tyth beforesaid, there be certaine measures bestowed upon the Priests to their owne use: & others likewise to the kings Secretaries and Scribes. And not onely these have a share, but also the Keepers, Sextons, and Wardens of the temple, the Squires of the bodie, the Guard and Pensioners, the kings officers, the Porters, Groomes, and other servitours pill and poll, and every one hath a snatch. Moreover, all the way as they travell: in one place they pay for their water, in another for fodder and provender, or els for their lodging and stable-roume, and every where for one thing or other they pay toll: so as the charge of every Camell from thence to the sea upon our coast, commeth to 688 deniers: and yet we are not come to an end of paiments. For our Publicans and customers also belonging unto our Empire, just have a fleece for their parts. And therfore a pound of the best Incense will cost 16 deniers: of the second 15: and the third 14. With us it is mingled and sophisticated with parcels of a white kind of Rosin which is very like unto it: but the fraud is soone found, by the meanes above specified. The best Incense is tried and knowne by these markes, viz. If it be white, large, brittle, and easie to take a flame when it comes neare a coale of fire; last of all, if it will not abide the dent of the tooth, but flie in peeces and crumble sooner than suffer the teeth to enter into it.
Of Myrrhe, and the Trees that yeeld it.
SOME have written, That the Trees which beare the Myrrhe, doe grow confusedly here and there in the same woods, among the Incense Trees: but more there are who affirme, That they grow apart by themselves. And in truth, found they are in many quarters of Arabia, as shall be said when we treat of the severall species of Myrrhe. There is very good Myrrhe brought out of the Islands: and the Sabæans passe the seas, and travell as far as to the Troglodites countrey for it. There is a kind of Myrrhe tree planted by mans hand in Hort-yards, and much preferred it is before the wild that groweth in the woods. These Trees loved to bee raked, bared, and cleansed about the rootes: they delight (I say) to have the superfluous spurnes rid away from the root: and the more that the root is cooled, the better thriveth the Tree. The plant groweth ordinarily five cubites high, but not all that length is it smooth and without prickes: the bodie and trunke is hard and wrthyen, thicke than the Incense trees: it is greatest toward the root, and so ariseth smaller and smaller, taperwise. Some say, that the barke is smooth and even, like unto that of the Arbute Tree: others againe affirme, that it is prickly and full of thornes. It hath a leafe like to the Olive, but more crisped and curled, and withall it is in the end sharpe-pointed like a needle. But king Iuba writeth, that it beareth the leafe of Loveach or Alisanders. There be who write, that it resembleth the Iuniper,26 save onely that it is more rough and beset with sharp pricks. And some let not to dreame and talke, that both Myrrhe and also Incense came from one and the same Tree. Indeed, the Myrrhe trees are twice cut and launced in one yeare, and at the same seasons, as well as the Incense trees: but the slit reacheth from the very root up to the boughes, if they may beare and abide it. Howbeit, before that incision be made, they sweat out of themselves a certaine liquor called Stacte, which is very good Myrrhe, and none better. As well of this franke & garden Myrrhe tree, as of the wild in the woods, the Myrrhe is better that is gathered or runneth in Summer time. There is no allowance of Myrrhe offered and given to the god Sabis, as there was of Incense, because it is found in other countries. Howbeit, the king of the Gebanites hath paied unto him for toll and custome, a fourth part of all that passeth through his kingdome. To conclude, whatsoever is bought in any market or place abroad, they put and thrust it hard together in leather bags one with another: but the Druggists and Apothecaries can soone separate the better from the worse, and be very cunning and readie to digest them according to the markes that they goe by, as well of smell as fattinesse.
Diverse kinds of Myrrhe. The nature, vertue, and price thereof.
MANY sorts there be of Myrrhe. Of all the wild kinds, the first is that which groweth in the Troglodites countrey. Next to it is Minæa, in which ranke you may place Atramittica and Ausaritis, which both come out of the realme of the Gebanites. In a third place reckon that which they call Dianitis. A fourth sort is gotten here and there in all parts, and hudled together. In the fift raunge is Sembracena, so called of a citie within the kingdome of the Sabæans, and is next unto the sea. The sixt they name Dusaritis. Besides all these, a white Myrrhe there is, found but in one place, which ordinarily is brought to the citie Messalum, & there sold. The Trogloditike Myrrhe they chuse by the fattinesse thereof, and for that it seemeth to the eie greener: it sheweth also foule, rude, and illsavoured: but sharper it is, and more biting in mouth than the rest. The Sembracene hath none of these faults, but is pleasant and chearefull to see to: howbeit, of small operation & strength. But to speake in a word, & one for all, the best Myrrhe is knowne by little peeces which are not round: and when they grow together, they yeeld a certaine whitish liquor which issueth and resolveth from them, and if a man breake them into morsels, it hath white veines resembling mens nailes, and in tast is somewhat bitter. A second degree there is in goodnesse, when it sheweth sundrie colours within. And the worst of all is that which within-forth is black; and the same is worse yet, if it be as blacke without. As touching the price of Myrrhe, it altereth as it is more or lesse in request, and according as it meeteth with many or few chapmen. For yee shall have Stacte sold sometimes for sixe deniers a pound, and otherwhiles for fiftie. The greatest price of the garden frank-Myrrhe, or that which is set by mans hand, is two and twentie deniers. The red called Erythrea, is never above sixteene:27 and this is taken to bee the true Myrrhe of Arabia. The kernell within of the Trogloditike Myrrhe, will cost thirteen deniers the pound. But that which they call Odoraria, is sold for foureteen. All kinds of Myrrhe be mingled and sophisticated with peeces of Masticke comming from the Lentiske, and with other gums: Item, with Elaterium, [i. the juice of the wild Cowcumber] to make it more bitter: as also (that it might seem weightier) with the fome of lead, or litharge of silver. And surely setting aside these two corruptions, all the rest are found by the very tast of the gum, which also will sticke unto the teeth in the chewing. But the craftiest & finest devise to counterfeit it, is with Indian Myrrhe, which is gathered there from a certaine thornie plant that groweth among them. This is the only thing that India bringeth forth worse than other countries. And verily so bad it is, that soone it may bee knowne from other Myrrhes.
Of Masticke, Ladanum, and Bruta of Enhamus, Strobus, and Styrax.
FROM the foresaid Myrrhe therefore last named, let us for the affinitie passe to Mastick: which commeth also of another thornie tree in India, and likewise in Arabia, which they call Lama.28 Howbeit, of Masticke there bee two sorts: for both in Asia, and also in Greece, there is found an hearb, which directly from the root putteth forth leaves:29 and it beareth a bur or thistle-head like an apple, full of seeds. Cut the top of this hearbe, and there will issue forth a certain liquor, so like unto the right & true Masticke, that hardly a man shall know the one from the other. Over and besides, there is a third sort of Masticke in Pontus, more like to Bitumen.30 Howbeit, the very best Masticke is brought out of the Island Chios, and the same is white, and a pound of it is worth at Rome twentie deniers: but the blacke yee shall buy for twelve. As for the Chian Masticke, it issueth forth as a gum out of the Lentiske tree.31 Mingled this is also, like as Frankincense, with Rosin.
Moreover, Arabia doth glorie even yet in their Ladanum.32 And many have reported, that this commeth by fortune or chaunce, and by occasion of violence and wrong done to an odoriferous plant that yeeldeth in this manner following. The Goats they say (harmefull creatures as they be to all plants, but more desirous to be brousing of sweet and aromaticall shrubs, as if they knew how precious they were) use to crop the sprouts and twigs of this plant which beareth Masticke; which being so full of this odoriferous and sweet liquor, that they swell againe, doe drop and distill the said moisture, which the shrewd & unhappie beast catcheth among the shag long hairs of his beard. Now by reason of dust getting among it, it baltereth and cluttereth into knots and bals, and so is concocted into a certaine consistence, in the Sunne. And hereupon it is, that in Ladanum are found Goats haires. But this happeneth by their saying, in no other place but among the Nabatæans in the frontiers of Arabia toward Syria. The later moderne writers call the plant which yeeldeth Ladanum, Strobos:33 and they affirme, That in the forrests of Arabia where these doe grow, the boughes are much broken by the brousing of these Goats, and so the juice and liquor sticketh to their lockes and beards. But the true Ladanum (say they) is peculiar to the Island Cyprus (for, give me leave I pray you, to speake by the way of every kind of spice and aromaticall drugs, and not strictly to keepe and observe the order and consequence of places where they be found.) And, by report, after the same manner as this Ladanum in Arabia, there hangeth and cleaveth to the beards and shag-haired legs and flankes of the Goats there also, a certaine grease and fattinesse called Oesypus: but, according to them, it must bee gotten, when they crop off the floures and leaves of the hearbe Cistus, in a morning for their breakfast, at what time as the Island Cyprus standeth all with a dew. Now when the morning mist is dispatched by the heat of the Sunne, there fathered dust among these moist and wet haires of theirs, and sticketh too: and then the Islanders come and comb from their beards and flankes, that which they call Ladanum. Some call that plant in Cyprus whereof it is made, Ledon: and in truth thereof it taketh the name of Ledanum, among them:34 For by their report this hearbe hath a fattie substance settling upon it, and the peasants of the countrey roll the hearbes together into bals or rundles with small cords, and so make up those little lumpes which ye see. Whereby we may perceive, that as well in Arabia as Cyprus, there bee two kinds of Ladanum: the one mixed with earth, and naturall of it selfe: the other brought into bals and artificiall. The earthie is brittle and will crumble: the Artificiall is tough, clammie, and will cleave to ones fingers. Moreover, it is said that there be certaine shrubs in Carmania that beare Ladanum, as also about Ægypt, by occasion of plants thither brought by the Ptolomaes, kings of Ægypt: or, as some say, it is the Incense tree that bringeth it forth: and is gathered after the manner of a gum, issuing out of the tree by incision made in the barke, and is received in Goat skins. The best Ladanum is worth fortie Asses a pound. Sophisticated it is with Myrtle berries, and with other filth of beasts. The good Ladanum indeed, which is of it selfe without other mixture, ought to have a wild and savage smell with it, as if it came out of a wildernesse. Greenish it is, and drie to see to: but handle it never so little, and presently it doth relent and waxe soft: set it on fire, and it burneth bright and cleare, and then it casteth a sweet and pleasant odour. But all that is counterfeit and mixed with Myrtle berries may soone be known, for they will crackle in the fire. Besides, the true Ladanum hath rather stonie grit comming from the rockes mingled with it, than dust.
In Arabia, the Olive tree also hath a kind of liquor which issueth out of it: and thereof is compounded a certaine soveraigne salve, named of the Greekes Enhæmon,35 which is singular good to draw up wounds, and to heale them cleane. In the maritime parts and sea-coasts, the said Olive trees at some tides are overflowed with the waves. Yet receive the Olive berries no hurt thereby: notwithstanding it bee certaine, that the sea doth leave salt upon the leaves. Thus you see what bee the peculiar commodities as touching trees, proper unto Arabia. True it is, that it hath others besides: but because they bee found elsewhere, and knowne to bee better in other places than in Arabia, I will treat of them in their course and ranke, when it commeth. And yet Arabia it selfe, as fruitfull and happie as it is in this behalfe, is wonderous eager to seeke after forraine spices, and send for them into straunge countries. So soone are men glutted, and have their fill of their owne: and so greedie and desirous be they of other countries commodities.
They send therefore as far as the Helymæans,36 for a tree named Bruta,37 like to a spreading Cypresse , having boughes covered with a whitish barke, casting a pleasant smelling perfume when it burneth, and highly commended in the chronicles and historie of Claudius Cæsar for straunge vertues and wonderfull properties. For he writeth, That the Parthians use to put the leaves thereof in their drinke, for to give it a good tast and odoriferous smell. The odour thereof resembleth the Cædar very much: and the perfume is a singular remedie against the stinking and noisome fumes of other wood. It groweth beyond the great channell of the river Tigris, called Pasitigris, upon the mount Zagrus neare unto the citie Citaca.
They send moreover to the Carmanians for another tree called Strobos,38 and all to make sweet perfumes: but first they infuse the wood thereof in Date-wine, and then burne it. This is an excellent perfume: for it will fill the whole house, rising up to the chambers aloft to the arched seelings of the roufe, and returning downe againe to the very floore and ground beneath, most pleasantly. But it stuffeth a mans head, howbeit without any paine or ach at all. With this perfume they procure sleep to sick persons. And for the traffick of this commoditie, the merchants meet at the citie Carras,39 where they keepe an ordinarie faire or mart; and from thence they went customably to Gabba, twentie daies journey off, where they were wont to have a vent for their merchandise, and to make returne: and so forward into Palestine of Syria. But afterwards, (as K. Iuba saith) they began to goe to Charace, and to the kingdome of the Parthians, for the same purpose. For mine owne part, I thinke rather with Herodotus, That the Arabians transported these odours and spices to the Persians first, before that they went therewith either into Syria or Ægypt: and I ground upon the testimony of Herodotus, who affirmeth, That the Arabians paid every yeare unto the KK. of Persia the weight of a talent in Frankincense, for tribute.40
Out of Syria they bring backe Storax, with the acrimonie & hot smell whereof, being burnt upon their herths, they put by and drive away the loathsomenesse of their owne odors, wherwith they are cloyed: for the Arabians use no other fuell at all for their fires, but sweet wood. As for the Sabæans, they seeth their meats in the kitchin, some with the wood of the Incense tree, and others with that of Myrrhe: insomuch as both in citie and countrey their houses bee full of the smoke and smell therof, as if it came from the sacrifice upon the altars. For to qualifie therefore this ordinarie sent of Myrrhe and Frankincense wherewith they are stuffed, they perfume their houses with Storax, which they burne in Goats skins. Loe, how there is no pleasure whatsoever, but breedeth lothsomnesse, if a man continue long to it. The same Storax they use to burne for the chasing away of Serpents, which in those forrests of sweet trees, are most rife and common.
Of the felicitie of Arabia.
NEITHER Cinamon nor Casia doe grow in Arabia, and yet it is named Happie: unworthie countrey as it is, for that surname, in that it taketh it selfe beholden to the gods above therefore, whereas indeed they have greater cause to thanke the infernall spirits beneath. For what hath made Arabia blessed, rich, and happie, but the superfluous expense that men be at, in funerals? employing those sweet odors to burne the bodies of the dead, which they knew by good right were due unto the gods. And verily it is constantly affirmed by them who are acquainted well with the world, and know what belongeth to these matters, That there commeth not so much Incense of one whole yeeres encrease in Saba, as the Emperour Nero spent in one day, when he burnt the corps of his wife Poppea. Cast then, how many funerals every yeere after were made throughout the world: what heapes of odours have been bestowed in the honour of dead bodies: whereas we offer unto the gods by crums and graines onely. And yet when as men made supplication unto them with the oblation of a little cake made of salt and meale, and no more, they were no lesse propitious and mercifull, nay they were more gratious and favourable a great deale, as may appeare by histories.41 But to returne againe to Arabia, the Sea enricheth it more than the land, by occasion of the orient pearles that it yeeldeth and sendeth unto us. And surely our pleasures, our delights, and our women togither, are so costly unto us, that there is not a yeare goeth over our heads, but what in pearles, perfumes, and silkes; India, the Seres, and that demy-Iland of Arabia, standeth us at the least in an hundred millions of Sesterces, and so much fetch they from us in good money, within the compasse of our Empire. But of all this masse of Spice and Odors, how much (I pray you) commeth to the service of the clestiall gods, in comparison of that which is burnt at funerals, to the spirits infernall?
Of Cinamon, and the wood thereof called Xylocinnamomum. Also of Canell or Casia.
FABULOUS antiquitie, and the prince of lyers Herodotus, have reported,42 That in that tract where Bacchus was nourished, Cinamon and Canell either fell from the nests nests of certaine foules, and principally of the Phoenix, through the weight of the venison and flesh which they had preyed upon and brought thither where as they builded in high rockes and trees; or els was driven and beaten downe, by arrowes headed with lead. Also that Canell or Casia was gotten from about certaine marishes, guarded and kept with a kind of cruell Bats, armed with terrible and dreadfull tallons, and with certaine flying Pen-dragons. And all these devises were invented onely to enhaunce the price of these drugs. And this tale is told another way, namely, That in those parts where Canell and Cinamon grow (which is a country in manner of a demy-Iland, much environed with the sea, by the reflection of the beames of the Noon-sun, a world of odoriferous smels is cast from thence, in such sort, that a man may feele the sent at one time of all the aromaticall drugs as it were met togither, and sending a most fragrant and pleasant savour farre and neare: and that Alexander the Great sailing with his fleet, by the very smell alone discovered Arabia a great way into the maine sea. Lies all, both the one and the other: for Cinamome, or Cinamon, call it whether you will, groweth in Æthiopia, a countrey neare unto the Troglodites, who by mutuall marriages are linked togither in great affinitie. And in very truth, the Æthiopians buy up all the Cinamon they can of their neighbours, and transport it into other straunge countries over the vast Ocean, in small punts or boats, neither ruled with helme and rudder, nor directed too and fro with ores, ne yet caried with sailes or any such means of navigation: one man alone shall you see there in a boat, armed and furnished with boldnes onely in stead of all, to hazard himselfe and his goods in the surging sea. These fellowes, of all times of the yeere, take the dead of the winter, and then (to chuse) they will venter to crosse the seas for their voyage, when the Southeast winds are aloft and blow lustily. These winds set them forward in a streight and direct course through the gulfes; and after they have doubled the point of Argeste, and coasted along, bring them into the famous port or haven-towne of the Gebanites, called Ocila.43 And albeit this voiage be long and dangerous (for the merchants hardly can return in five yeeres, and many of them miscarrie by the way) yet by report, they are nothing dismaied and daunted therewith, but willingly adventure still. And beeing at Ocila, what thinke you doe they exchaunge for, and wherewith fraight they their vessels backe againe homeward? even with glasses, vessels of copper and brasse, fine cloth, buckles, claspes, and pincers, bracelets and carcanets, with pendant jewels: so as a man would verily thinke, that this traffick were maintained and the voiages enterprised under the credit and for the pleasure of womankind especially. Now as touching the plant that beareth Cinnamon, the tallest is not above two cubits high above-ground, nor the lowest under one hand-breadth or foure inches: in compasse about foure fingers thicke: immediatly from the earth it putteth forth twigs, and is full of braunches of sixe fingers length, but it looketh as if it were drie and withered: whiles it is greene it yeeldeth no smell at all: and the leafe resembleth Origan: it loveth drought, for in rainie weather it is lesse fruitfull; and yet it is of this nature, To be cut as a coppis.44 It wil grow verily in plaines, but gladly it would lodge among the thickest rough of bushes, greeves, and bryers that are to be fond: so as men have much adoe to come by it and to gather it: but never is it cut or cropped without especiall permission of a certain god, which they take to be Iupiter; and this patron of the Cinamon tree, they call Assabinus. To obtaine leave and license so to do, they are glad to sacrifice the inwards of 44 Kine or Oxen, Goats also and Rams: and when they have all done, yet permitted they be not to goe about this businesse either before the Sunrising, or after his setting. Now when these twigs & branches be cut, the Sacrificer or Priest divideth & parteth them with a javelin, and setteth by one portion for the god abovesaid: the rest doth the merchant put up & bestow in paniers45 for the purpose. This manner of division is otherwise reported; namely, That the whole heap is cast into three parts, whereof the Sunne hath one for his share: but they draw lots first for every one of these three severall bundles or parcels of Cinamon stickes; and that which falleth to the Sun, is let alone and left behind: but of the owne accord it catcheth a light fire and burneth. The best Cinamon is thought to be that which groweth about the slenderest sticks, for the length of an handbredth from the upper end. The second sort in goodnes, is that which is next it and somwhat lower, but it beareth not full so much as an hand-breadth, and so consequently in order by degrees downward: for the worst and of least price is that which is neerest to the root, because there is least barke, the principall and chiefe thing required in Cinamon: which is the cause that the twigs in the tree top are preferred before the rest, for that in them there is most barke. As for the very wood it selfe, which is called Xylocinamomum, there is no reckoning made of it, because of the acrimonie and sharpnesse which it hath, resembling Origan. A pound thereof is worth 20 deniers. Of Cinamom, there be (according to some) two kinds: to wit, the whiter and the blacker. In times past, the white was in more request; but now adaies the black is most set by: yea and that of divers colours, is better esteemed than the white. But the truest marke indeed to chuse the best, is to see that it be not rough, and that it crumble not quickly if one peece be rubbed against another. That which is tender and soft, and hath besides a white barke,46 is not regarded at all, but condemned for the worst. Moreover, this is to be noted, that the King only of the Gebanites, setteth the price and sale of Cinamon: he it is that selleth it in open market according as it is by him taxed. In old time, a pound of it was sold for 1000 deniers ;and this price afterward rose by one half, by reason that the forrests of Cinamon were (as men say) burnt by the barbarous Troglodites their neighbours, in their furious wrath. Now why it should be so deere, no man certainly knoweth; whether it were through the great rich merchants, who ingrossed all into their hands by way of monopoly, or by some such casualtie and chaunce of fire aforesaid. But true it is and well knowne by that we find in divers writers, That there be such hot Southerne winds blowing in those parts, that in summer many times they set the woods on fire. Vespasian Augustus the Emperor, was the first that dedicated in the temples of the Capitoll and goddesse Peace, guirlands and chaplets of Cinamon, enclosed within fine polished gold. In that temple which the Empresse Augusta caused to be built in the pallace upon mount Palatine, for the honour of Augustus Cæsar late Emperour her husband, I have my selfe seene a Cinamon root of great weight, set in a cup of gold, which yearely did put forth certaine drops that congealed into hard graines. That monument remained there to be seene, untill the temple and all was consumed by fire.
As concerning Casia or Canell, a plant it is, which groweth neare to the plains from whence the Cinamon commeth; but it loveth to live upon mountaines, and beareth a bigger and rounder wood in the braunches than the Cinamon; and hath a thin rind or skin, more truly than a barke: and the slenderer that the same is and lighter, the more reckoning is made of it; cleane contrarie to the Cinamon. This shrub that beareth Casia, groweth to the height of three cubits: & three colors it carrieth: for when it commeth up first, for a foot from the root, it is white: then, as it shooteth halfe a foot higher, it waxeth red: but as it riseth farther, it is blackish: and this part is held for the best: and so the next to it, in a degree lower: but the white is of no regard at all: and therefore they never cut the twigs and braunches neare the root, nor above two cubits in length. And when they have cut them in this manner, they presently sow them up in greene skins of fourfooted beasts, killed new and fresh for that purpose, that of their corruption and putrefaction there might breed certaine worms, to eat out the wood within the barke, & so make it hollow; for the barke is so bitter, that the worme will not touch it. The newest and freshest Canell, is reputed best, and that which hath a most delicate smell; very hot in the mouth, and burning the tongue, rather than gently warming it without any great biting. Such Canell is of a purple colour, and very light in hand; which seeming much to the eye, yet weighteth little: besides, the pipes be but short and the outward rind or coat is not brittle and easie to fall in peeces. This elect and choise Canell, the barbarous people call Lacta. Another sort there is, named Balsamodes, because it hath a smell resembling Balme: bitter it is in the mouth, and therefore of more use in Physicke; like as the blacke is most employed in sweet perfumes and oyntments. There is no druggs that varieth more in price than the Canell: for whereas the best will cost fiftie deniers Romane a pound; all the rest a man may buy for five.
Of Isocinnamon, Cancamum, and Tarum.
The Hucksters and regraters that buy & sell again, have another kinde, which they call Daphnoides, & they surname it Iso-cinnamon: and surely they hold it at 300 deniers the pound. Mingled it is and made counterfeit with Storax: with the smallest and tenderest braunches also of Lawrell, for the likenes that it hath to the barke thereof. Moreover, it is set and planted in our part of the world here in Italie: also in the utmost marches and confines of our Empire, along where the river Rhene runneth, it liveth, being set neare unto Bee-hives. Howbeit, because it wanteth the parching heat of the Sunne, it is nothing so deepe coloured: and thereupon also it commeth short of the smell that the other hath. Out of the regions which bound upon those parts where Casia and Cinamon doth grow, there are brought over unto us two other Spices, called Cancamum and Tarum;47 but by the way of the Troglodyte Nabathæans: who onely of the auncient Nabathæans, there setled and remained.
Of Serichatum, Gabalium, or Myrobalanum [i. Ben.]
IN the same countrey, the Arabians come charged also with Serichatum and Gabalium: but they make an hand with it among themselves, and spend it quite: in such sort, as their druggs are knowne only in name to us in this part of the world, albeit they grow togither with Cinnamon and Casia. And yet otherwhiles there is Serichatum brought unto us, which some perfumers use to put into the composition of ointments. And a pound of it is commonly exchanged for six deniers.
As for Myrobalanon, [i. Behen] it groweth ordinarily in the regions of the Troglodytes, about Thebais, and that part of Arabia which divideth Iurie from Ægypt: a drugge that Nature hath brought forth onely for ointment, as the very name giveth it.48 Whereby it appeareth also, that it is a very nut of a certaine tree, which beareth leaves like to Heliotropium: whereof we will speake among other hearbs. The fruit that this plant beareth, is about the bignes of a filberd nut. That which groweth in Arabia, and yet called Syriaca, is white: but contrariwise that about Thebais, is blacke. The former of these two, is commended for the goodnes of the oile which is pressed out of it: but the Thebaicke Ben is in greater request for the plentie that it yeeldeth. As for the Troglodyticke, it is the worst of all, and the cheapest. And yet some there be, who prefer the Æthiopian Ben before all other. The Nut or fruit thereof, is blacke and fat, with a small and slender kernell within: howbeit the liquor pressed forth of it, is more odoriferous: and it groweth in champion countries and plains. It is affirmed moreover, that the Ægyptian Ben is more oleous and fat, having a thicker shell, and the same red. And albeit that it grow in marish grounds, yet it is a shorter plant and more drie than the others. But contrariwise they say, that the Arabicke is greene of colour, and thinner in substance: and for that it groweth upon the mountaines, it is more massie and weightie. But the best simply by many degrees, is that Ben which is called Petræa; comming from about the towne abovesaid; with a blackish rind, and white kernell. Now the Perfumers and Apothecaries, doe presse onely the huskes and shells; but the Physicians extract an oile out of the verie kernels, which as they stampe, they poure hot water ever and anon unto it, by little and little.
Of Phoenicobalanus, Calamus odoratus, and Squinanth.
THE DATE in Ægypt, called Adipsos, hath the like use in ointments, and is next in request for such odoriferous compositions, as the Myrabalanus or Ben aforenamed. Greene it is in colour, it smelleth like unto a Quince, and hath no woodie stone within. But to serve for those purposes above recited, it must be gathered somewhat before that it beginneth to ripen. That which is left behind ungathered, is called Phoenicobalanus: this waxeth black, and maketh them drunke that eat thereof. As for Myrobalanus, or Ben, it is worth two Romane deniers a pound. The occupiers and shopkeepers call the very setling and grounds of their ointment and compositions, by the name of Myrobalanon.
Moreover, within Arabia there groweth also the sweet Calamus, which is common to the Indians and Syrians likewise. That of Syria passeth all the rest, and commeth up in a tract of that countrey, distant from the coast of our Sea fiftie Stadia. Betweene mount Libanon, and another mountaine of no account [for it is not Antilibanon as some have thought] in a little vale beneath neare unto a lake, the marshes and flats whereof are drie in Summer for the space of thirtie Stadia, there grow both sweet Calamus, and also Squinanth or Iuncus Odoratus [i. the Sweet-rush.] For let us speak also in this place of the said Scænanth;49 & although it be but a rush, and another booke is appointed for the treatise and historie of such Hearbes, yet because wee handle the Species that goe to the composition of sweet Perfumes, Pomanders, and Ointments, I cannot passe it over. Well then, neither the one nor the other of the twaine, differ in sight from the rest of that kind. But Calamus is the better of the twaine, and hath a more pleasant smell; for a man may wind the sent of it presently a great way off: besides, it is softer in hand: and better is that which is less brittle, and breaketh in long spils and shivers, rather than knappeth off like a Radish root. Within the pipe of this reed, there lieth a certain matter like unto a Spiders web, which the Apothecaries call the flower of it:50 and that Calamus is counted the better, which hath more in it of these flowers. There is another marke also of good Calamus, namely if it be blacke: and yet in some place, they make no reckoning of the blacke Calamus. But in a word, the shorter and thicker that the reed is, the better is the Calamus: and the same is more supple and pliable when a man would breake it. As for Calamus, it is worth eleven deniers the pound: but Squinanth is sold for fifteene. Moreover, some say that there is a sweet rush or Squinanth found in Campania.51 And now are wee gone from those lands that coast upon the deepe Ocean, and come to those that confront and lie upon our Mediterranean seas.
Of Hammoniacum, and Spagnum.
TO begin withall, in the sans of those parts of Affricke which lie under Æthiopia, there is a liquor distilleth, called in Greeke Hammoniacum, of Hammon, which signifieth Sand, and the Oracle of Iupiter Hammon: for neare unto the temple where the said Oracle returneth Answers, there grow certaine trees within the sands, which they call Metopia, from which, Hammoniacum droppeth in manner of a rosin or gum: and of it there be two kinds: the one is named Thrauston, like unto the male or better Frankincense, and is most esteemed: the other is fat and full of rosin, and they call it Phyrama. The manner to sophisticate Hammoniacum, is with sand, to make men beleeve that it grew among the sands, & gathered it in the growing and comming up: and therefore the good Ammoniacum is knowne when it is in least morcels, and those very cleare. The price of the best is after fortie asses the pound.
Beneath these quarters, and within the province Cyrenaica, there is found a passing sweet Mosse, called Sphagnos; and of some Bryon [aromaticum.] Of all such Mosses, this is thought to be the best. Next unto it, is that of Cyprus: and in a third ranke, the Mosse which groweth in Phoenicia. There is such Mosse (by report) in Ægypt, and likewise in Fraunce: whereof, for my part, I make no doubt : for they be nothing else but the grey and whitish haires that we see hang to trees, and about the oke especially, called commonly Mosse; but only that these be sweet and odoriferous. The chiefe praise is of the whitest and lightest: a second commendation belongeth to that which is red: but the black is worth nothing: neither is there any reckoning made of that which groweth in Ilands and rocks, and (to conclude) all those that smell not as Mosse should, but rather like to Dates, or the plants whereof they come.
Of Cyprus, Aspalathus, and Marum.
THERE is a tree in Ægypt called Cypros, bearing leaves like to Ziziphus or the Iujube tree, and a graine resembling Coriander seed, with a white flower very pleasant and sweet.52 These flowers be steeped and sodden in common oile: out of which is afterwards pressed medicinable oile called Cyprus, or Cyprinum.53 A pound of it will cost five Romane deniers. The best commeth from that tree which groweth upon the bankes of that river Nilus about Canopus, which is the first mouth where it dischargeth itselfe into the sea.54 The second in goodnes groweth about Ascalon a citie of Iudæa. The third in worth for smell and sweetnes is had from the Iland Cyprus. Some take this Cyprus to be the plant, which in Italy is called Ligustrum, [i. Privet.]55
In the same tract groweth Aspalathus: a white thornie shrub it is, of the bignesse of a small tree, and beareth a flower resembling a rose. The root of it is in request for the making of sweet perfumes and ointments. There goeth a common speech, That every plant over which the rainbow is seene bent, will cast the same sent that Aspalathus doth: but if it chaunce that the rainbow settle over Aspalathus, then it will yeeld a sweet savour incomparable, and such as cannot be expressed. Some call it Erysisceptrum, others Sceptrum, simply. The good Aspalathus is red, or rather of a fiery colour, massie and heavie in hand, with a smell of Castoreum. It is sold for fifteene deniers the pound.56
In Ægypt likewise there groweth Marum, but it is not so good as that of Lydia; for it hath greater leaves, and those spotted with sundrie colours; whereas the other hath little short leaves, but they smell passing sweet.
Of Baulme, as well the liquor thereof called Opobalsamum, as the wood named Xylobalsamum. Also of Storax [Calamita] and Galbanum.
BUT the Baulme is that sweet and odoriferous liquor that goeth beyond all others. The tree that yeeldeth it, Nature hath bestowed onely upon the land of Iurie.57 In old time it was not to be found but in two parkes or hortyards, belonging both to the kings of Iurie: whereof the one contained not above twentie jugera or acres, the other not so much. The Emperours Vespasians, both father and son, brought one of those little Balme trees to Rome, and shewed it openly to the whole citie. Pompey the great likewise made proud boast and vaunted much, when hee said, That trees also by him were borne in triumph.58 Now this Baulme tree serveth and doth homage, yea is tributarie with the whole nation where it groweth: but it is of a nature far different from that which both our Latin writers, and those also of forrein countries, have described: for more like it is to a vine than a Myrtle. It is planted by slips and branches, as the vine: and of late dayes bound and tyed also like a young vine. It spreadeth and filleth the hills where it is set, after the manner of those vines in vineyards, which without any helpe of props, support and beare up themselves. Cut likewise it is, pruned, and cleansed, from those superfluous shoots that it putteth out. It loveth to bee well husbanded, digged about, raked, and trimmed; and with this ordering groweth apace, so as within three years it is fruitfull. It beareth a leafe much like to Rue,59 and continueth with a greene head all the yeare long. At the sacking and destruction of Ierusalem, the Iewes in a furious rage both against their owne persons & their goods, would needs have wreaked their anger and been revenged upon the poore Baulme trees, and have spoiled them for ever: but the Romans on the other side stood in their defence, so as about this very plant, there was a cruell battaile fought. But now these trees are united unto the domaine of our Empire: and by order from the state, are set and maintained: so as never at any time before, were they more in number, or taller of growth: howbeit the highest exceedeth not two cubits. And three sorts there be of them. The first hath slender braunches and small, like haires, whereupon it is called Eutheristos, [i. easie to be cut or lopt.] The second, rough and rugged to see to, bowing and bending forward, full of twigs and braunches, sweeter also than the other to smell unto, and this they name Trachy in Greeke, which is as much to say as Rough. The third they call Eumeces, because it is higher than the rest, and it hath besides a smooth barke: this in goodness is the second; and the first, named Eutheristos, is the worst. The fruit or seed that the Baulme tree beareth, resembleth wine in tast, of colour red, and is not without a certaine veine of fat. The worst part of the graine or fruit, is the lighter in weight, and the greener. It is clad with boughes and leaves thicker than the Myrtle. Now, for to draw the precious liquor out of it called Balme, incision ought to be made in the barke, with glasse knives, with sharpe flint stones, or lancets of bones. For it may not abide, that any instrument of yron or steele should come neare unto the quicke; it dieth presently if you touch the heart of it therewith: and yet the same will suffer all superfluous boughes and branches to be cut off and pruned. But hee that launceth and maketh incision, must guide and gage his hand very artificially in the cutting, that he go not too deepe, nor peirce a jot farther than the barke. This feat being wrought, there issueth out of the wound a juice or liquor, which they call Opobalsamum, of an excellent and surpassing sweet smell: but it commeth forth by small drops: and as it thus weepeth, the teares ought to be received in wooll, and then afterwards it is gathered and laid up in small hornes. Out of which it is poured into new earthen pots that never were occupied. This Baulme when it is fresh and new, may be likened to Oile, in thickenesse and consistence, but in colour it is white; in time it groweth reddish, and hard withall, howbeit, cleare & transparent, that a man may see through it. During the wars that Alexander the Great waged in Iurie, it was ordinarie in a summers day to gather one spoonefull of this liquor, & that was all that might be done. And when the season served best for this purpose, and that it was counted a plentifull yeare, the greater hort-yard or parke of the kings abovesaid, never yeelded in all above six gallons, and the lesser but one: sold it was commonly for the double weight in silver. But at this day, every tree that may beare it, and hath a larger veine to abide incision, is launced thrice in a summer time: and after that, it is lopt and shread. And those cuttings are good chaffer, and sold very well to the merchant. For being thus lopped once in five yeares at the furthest, they yeeld in braunches for wood onely, eight hundred deniers. This is called Xylobalsamum, & goeth into odoriferous compositions: for in default of the right Baulme liquor, the Apothecaries make a shift to serve their turne with the wood alone, called Xylobalsamum. As for the very barke, it entreth also into many medicinable confections: no marvell therefore if it carie some price. But it is the liquor onely that is so precious; the liquor it is which yeeldeth that most fragrant smell; then followeth the grain or fruit in a second degree, the barke in a third, and the wood as it is last, so it hath least grace and credite. Of the wood, the best is that which in colour resembleth Box, and giveth sweetest sent. But of the fruit, the greatest graines and the weightiest, be most esteemed; such bite at the tongues end, and bee hote in the mouth. Howbeit, this is adulterated with the seed of Hypericum, that commeth from the cittie Petra. But the deceit is soone detected and found, for that seed is not so big, so massie and full, nor so long as the true graine of Baulme: besides, it hath but a dull savour or none at all, and in tast resembleth pepper. The liquor is known to be right or good, if it be oleous and fat, thin, & sheere, somewhat enclining to red; and, if in rubbing betweene your fingers, it rendereth a pleasant savour. The white Baulme may bee raunged in a second place of goodnesse: the greene and the thicke is not so good as it is: but the blacke is worst. For Baulme as well as Oile, will be stale & worse for the age, if it be kept too long. This is moreover observed, that in every incision, that which flowed forth before the seed is ripe, is most precious. Over and besides, this Baulme may bee sophisticated with the owne seed: and hardly can this cousenage bee found out, but that it hath a bitterer tast than than which is naturall. For the good Baulme should be pleasant and delicate in the mouth, not soure nor tart at all: onely in smell it should have an harsh verdeur. Corrupted it may be otherwise, with Oile of Roses, of Cyperus, of Lentiske or Masticke, of Ben, of Terebinth, and Myrtles; also with Rosin, Galbanum, and Cyprian wax, as occasion serveth, and according as men like to sophisticate it. But the greatest knaverie of all, is to mingle gum among it: for being so handled, it will sticke and cleave to the palme or inside of a mans hand; nay, it will sinke in water to the bottome, which are two principall properties of the right Baulme. For the very pure and perfect Baulme ought to cleave too: but when it hath gum mingled among, stick it will likewise, but it will gather soone a brittle roufe or crust upon it, which quickly cracketh and breaketh. Also this sophistication is found out by the tast. But in case there bee any trumperie of Wax or Rosin, the fire will soone bewray it; for when it burneth, it will yeeld a more muddie and blacke flame. As for the sophistication made with honie, it may soone bee knowne: for presently the flies will take it, and gather thick about it. Over & besides, put a drop of pure Baulme into warme water, it will settle to the bottome of the vessell, and congeale: but contrariwise, the counterfeit Baulme, will flote and swim above like oile. Againe, if it have Galbanum in it, yee shall see a white streake or circle round about it. To conclude, would you know in a word the right Baulme indeed? It will turne milke, and cruddle it: and it will not staine a cloth. In summe, there is no marchandise and commoditie in the world, wherein there is practised more fraud and deceit,60 than in the trafficke of Baulme. For a Sextare or wine quart of Baulme will cost a thousand Roman deniers by retaile, which was bought for three hundred & no more at the hands of the factors under the Emperour, who sold it first. Whereby a man may see how gainfull it is to increase this liquor by sophistications. As for the Baulme wood Xylobalsamum, the price of it is six deniers a pound.
Now it remaineth to speake of Storax [Calamita] comming out of that part of Syria, which above Phoenice, confronteth and bordereth next to Iurie: and namely, about Gabala, Marathus, and the mount Casius in Seleucia. The tree that yeeldeth this gum or liquor, is also named Styrax, like unto a Quince tree. It hath at first a rawish austere tast, which afterwards turneth to bee more sweet and pleasant. There is found within a resemblance of canes and reeds, full of this iuice. Howbeit, about the rising of the Dog star there be certain winged wormes settle upon the said reeds, creepe in and eat away the marrow (as it were) which lay within: so as a man shall find nought left behind but a mouldie dust or rotten powder, good for nothing. Next to this Storax of Syria, great account is made of that which commeth out of Pisidia, from Sidon, Cypres, and Cilicia: but least reckoning is made of that which Candie sendeth us. That which is brought from the mount Amanus in Syria, is good for the Physicians, but better for the perfumers and confectioners. From what nation soever that it commeth, the best Storax is that which is red, somewhat glutinous besides by reason of the fattines. The worst is that which hath no consistence and tenacitie, but crumbleth like bran, and is so mouldie that it is overgrowne with a white hoarie mosse. The pedlers and such like petie marchants can skill how to sophisticate this drug also, with the rosin of cedar and gum: otherwhiles also with honie, or bitter almonds. But all these deceits are known by the tast. The price of the best is 19 deniers a pound.61 There is a Storax besides which Pamphylia doth yeeld, but drier it is, and nothing so full of moisture.
Moreover, we have from Syria out of the same mountaine Amanus, another kind of gum called Galbanum, issuing out of an hearbe like Fennell-geant, which some call by the name of the said Rosin, others, Stagonitis. The best Galbanum, and which is most set by, is gristly and cleare withall, resembling Hammoniacum, without any spils of wood in it. For in that wise the hucksters use to deceive their chapmen by mingling beanes with it, or the gum Sagapenum. The right Galbanum, if you burne it, chaseth away Serpents with the strong perfume or smoke thereof. It is sold for five deniers the pound: and is used only in Physicke for medicines.
Of Panaces, Spondylium, and Malobathrum.
The same perfumers seeke also into the same Syria for Panaces62 growing there, and yet it is to be found likewise about Psophis, a citie in Arcadia; and the fountaines from whence floweth the river Erymanthus; yea, and in Affricke besides, and Macedonie. This Panax is an hearbe with a tall stalke and round tuft in the head like Fennell, and yet it is a plant by it selfe, growing to the height of five cubits. At the first it putteth out foure leaves, and afterwards six. They be very large and round withall, lying upon the ground: but toward the top they resemble the leaves of an Olive: it beareth seed in the head hanging within certaine round tufts, as doth the Ferula. Out of the stalke of this hearbe there is drawne a liquor by way of incision, made in harvest time: and likewise out of the root in Autumne, or the fall of the leafe. And this is called Opopanax. The best looketh white when it is gathered and congealed. The next in worth and weight, is that which is yellow. As for the blacke, it is of no account. The better Opopanax costeth not above two Asses a pound.
Another hearbe there is of this Fennell kind, named Spondylium,63 somewhat different from the former, but in leaves only; because they be lesse than those of Panax, and devided after the manner of the Plane leaves. This Spondylium groweth no where but in cold and shadowie places. It carieth a fruit or graine called also Spondylium, which resembleth the forme of Sil or Siler Montanum,64 and serveth for no use but Physicke.
We are beholden moreover to Syria for Malobathrum.65 This is a tree that beareth leaves roled up round together, and seeming to the eie withered. Out of which there is drawne and pressed an Oile for perfumers to use. Ægypt is more fruitfull of this hearbe than Syria. And yet there commeth a better kind thereof from India than both those countries. It is said, that it groweth there in meeres and standing waters swimming aloft, after the manner of Fen-lentils or Duckes-meat, more odoriferous than Saffron: enclining to a black colour: rough in handling, and in tast salt or brackish. The white is not so well esteemed. It will soone be mouldie when it is stale. The relish thereof ought to resemble Nardus at the tongues end. The perfume or smell that ¶ Malobathrum or the leafe yeeldeth when it is boiled in wine, passeth all others. It is strange and monstrous, which is observed in the price: for it hath risen from one denier to three hundred a pound, whereas the Oile it selfe doth cost threescore.
Of Oile Olive, made of greene Olives, likewise of Grape Verjuice.
FOR the mixture and composition of ointments, the Oile of unripe Olives and Verjuice is very good. And verily, made it is in two kinds, and after two sorts, to wit, of the Olive and the Vine.66 Of the Olives, if yee would have good, they ought to be pressed whiles they bee yet white. For if they turne colour once and be blackish, the worse is the Oile or Verjuice that commeth thereof. And such kind of Olives bee called Drupæ, namely, before they be fully ripe and good to eat, and yet have lost their colour. And herein is the difference, for that the Oile of this latter sort is greene, the other is white. Now as touching grape Verjuice, it should be made of the vine Psythia or Amminea, and before the canicular daies, whenas the grapes be but new knit, and no bigge than cich-peas. The grapes (I say) must be gathered for this purpose, at the beginning before they chaunge colour, and the juice thereof ought then to be taken. Then should the Verjuice that commeth from it, be sunned: and heed must be taken in any case, that no dewes by night doe catch it, and therefore it would stand in couvert. Now when this juice or Verjuice is gathered, it is put up in earthen pots: and otherwhiles kept also in vessels of copper. the best grape Verjuice, is red, sharpe, and soure in tast, drie withall and scypticke. A pound or a pint of such Verjuice is worth sixe deniers. It may bee made in an other sort: namely, by punning and stamping unripe grapes in morters: drying it afterwards in the Sunne, and so made up into certaine rolls or trochisks.
Of Bryon and Oenanthe: of the tree Elate, and Cinnamon Cariopus.
THE MOSSE of the white Poplar or Aspe, which is reputed as the grape therof, is used likewise in these odoriferous and sweet compositions.67 The best groweth about Cnidos or Caria, in thirstie, drie, and rough places. A second sort is that which is found upon the Cedar of Lycia. To this pertaineth Oenanthe, which is no more but the grapes of wild vine called Labrusca. Gathered it is when it floureth, that is to say, when it smelleth best. It is dried in the shade upon a linnen sheet lying under it, and then put up into little barrels. The cheefe commeth from Parapotamia: the second from Antiochia and Laodicea in Syria: and a third sort from the mountaines of Media: and this is best for medicine. Some preferre before all these, that which groweth in the Island Cypros. As for that which is made in Affricke, it is meet for Physicians onely, and is called Massaris. Now, the better ever is that which they gather from the white wild vine, than from the blacke. Moreover, there is another Tree which serveth for perfumes: some call it Elate, and we Abies,68 [i. the Firre] others Palma or the Date, and some again Spathen. That which groweth about the sands of Affricke, where Iupiter Hammons temple standeth, is highly commended above the rest: and after it, that in Ægypt. Next thereto is the Syrian. This tree is odoriferous when it groweth in drie places onely: it hath in it a certaine fat liquor or Rosin, and entreth into compositions of sweet ointments, for to correct and mitigate the other oile. In Syria there is a drug which they call Cinnamum Caryopon.69 A juice or oile this is, pressed out of a certaine nut. This Cinamon differeth much in forme from the stickes of true Cinnamon, indeed above specified: although in smell it commeth neere unto it. A pound thereof is worth to be bought and sold 40 Asses, [i. 2 shil. 6 d.]
The running title is "The twelfth Booke of // Plinies Naturall Historie. "
1. Certain goddesses: Pliny probably refers to hamaedryads and their ilk, which or whom Ovid calls semideas.
2. The time that Rome was sacked by the Gaules: captae urbis aetatem, U.C. 364.
3. Poure wine to their roots: on this odd horticultural technique, cf. Macrobius, SaturnaliaIII.13.3; Martial IX.62 (or 61, as it is numbered here), 15-16.
4. 36 cubits: read 33 cubits. Here is where I shall place the traditional first warning about numbers in Pliny in general, and in Holland in particular. In this case, the variant reading XXXVI is eliminated by the authority of other texts, particularly Theophrastus (Hist. Plant. I) and Varro I, 37, citing Theophrastus, both with 33.
5. Cn. Martius: probably should read C. Martius (an emendation of Hardouin, universally accepted), perhaps the one who wrote there books, says ColumelaRustica XII.xlvi.
6. Virgil: Georgics II:116-117 (Holland's translation of Pliny is a bit odd; it's more the peculiarity of the tree to India than the tree itself that Virgil "celebrates").
7. Herodotus assigneth it to Æthiopia: Herodotus III.97; but the Romans often considered the east coast of Africa as "India", so there is no necessary contradiction. See also Excursus III on Book XII.
* 200. [Holland's note; as in other books, I've marked his notes with glyphs, mine with numbers. Pliny writes 100; Herodotus loc. cit., 200.]
8. Herodotus: an extremely tendentious (and errant) reading of III.115 (made more so by Holland's translation); Pliny's dating of Herodotus is also a matter of great dispute.
9. Cloves: Pliny's caryophyllon, probably not cloves, but cubeb, the fruit of Piper cubeba (alias Cubeba officinalis); cf. Scalig. Exercit. in Cardan. 146(1) & 148(2).
10. Macir: possibly nutmeg. See Excursus VI on Book XII.
** White sugar candie. [Holland's note. This passage has engendered much speculation, both erudite and otherwise, and there we shall leave it. Note Holland's accurate translation in canes, not from canes or out of canes.]
11. Named Raphanus: "radish", but this is probably an inaccurate translation; rather, similar in size to the radish? So conjecture some editors. Although very different plants can be and are called by the same name.
12. Occhi: probably Hedysarum alhagi, variously said to come from Syria, from Iran, or from "the otherwise dreary plains of central Afghanistan"; camel-thorn. It isn't partcularly like a fig tree.
13. Bdellium: almost certainly not the bdellium of the English Bible, which uses the word to translate a similar Hebrew word; but that word is of unclear signification, and almost certainly was not a plant or plant product. Bdellium is the palm Borassus flabelliformis, and its gum.
14. Persian gulfe: Book VI.
15. Arbut tree: Arbutus unedo.
16. Stock-gillofree: all editions have Scock-gillofree, which is clearly incorrect.
17. Straunge in that tract: Holland, or his compositors, has omitted a phrase here: the flowers are four times as big, but without odor, which is strange in that tract, "in quo sunt fere omnia, quæ ibi gignuntur, odorata", notes Hardouin.
18. Nardus: see Excursus VII on nard and malabathrum.
*** or, Cyperus. [That is, the rush cyperus rather than the tree, or wood of the tree, cypress. Of the variant readings of this passage in Pliny, the majority reading is cyperus. The translation here is odd and somewhat tendentious in any case, although, to be fair, it is easier to be vague in this kind of list in Latin than in English.]
19. Ozænitis: Pliny's ozaenitidis, perhaps from the Greek ὄζαινα "a fetid polypus of the nose" (Liddell and Scott), unless as some conjecture the word is a scribal error for Gangitidis, from the plant's habitat on the Ganges.
20. Loveach or Alesanders: Pliny's olusatrum.
21. We will speak of it among flowers: in Book XXI, cap. 16.
22. Grape of Amomum: something of a mystery, about which there is, or has been, much contention and strife.
23. Schaenes: read schoeni, on which see Book VI as well.
24. Carpheotum and Dathiathum: the manuscripts' carfiathum and dathiatum, felt by many editors to be barbarous and corrected after the Greek, to carpheotum and by some, following Solinus dadioton.
or rather, 33, and a scruple.
25. Thus Plutarch, Alexander .
26. Iuniper: Theophrastus, whose text Pliny is following pretty much word for word, says terebinth.
27. ...never above sixteene: all these numbers differ in nonsystematic ways from the various editions. Red called Erythrea: Pliny Erythreæ. There is a red Nard mentioned earlier, but we have not had specific mention of red stact or myrrhe.
or, Adorariam, i. θυμάτιον, which serveth for perfuming in temples. [Odorariam: ita MSS omnes, non adorariam.]
28. Lama: some read laina.
29. This, or possibly the other, is called helxinen, XXI.lvi.96. This is Atractylis gummifera L., which is poisonous. You may read of the case and autopsy of one its victims, in Greek: Archives of Hellenic Pathology, and see pictures of the plant in bloom: Atractylis gummifera.
30. Like bitumen: it's black, and mixed with wine, says Pliny, XIV.xxv.128, Book XIV.
31. Chian mastic: so called not because that's the only place it comes from, but because the best came from there. Pistacia lentiscus: see the herbal, with a handsome color illustration (you must click on it to see it full size): Liber Herbarum II: Pistacia lentiscus; see also Mastic Tree - Flora ProvenceBeyond, Pistacia lentiscus (Italy), Pistacia lentiscus (Arizona) for pictures and descriptions.
32. Ladanum: a mastic gathered from various species of Cistus, used in making plasters and in fumigation (says Webster), or in perfumery and fumigation (says Oxford). Sometimes labdanum.
33. Strobos: or strobolon, or storbus.
34. Ledon, Ledanum: Pliny's ledam, ledanum (the point being the first vowel); cf. Herodotus, who also tells the story about the goats, III.112: τὸ δὲ δὴ λἠδανον, τὸ καλέουσι Ἀράβιοι λάδανον etc.
35. Enhaemon: Theophrast. Hist. Plant. IV.7.2(1-6): Ἐν δὲ τῇ θαλάττηι φύεται, καλοῦσι δ᾽ αὐτὰ δάφνην καὶ ἐλάαν. ἔστι δὲ ἡ μὲν δάφνη ὁμοία τῇ ἀρίᾳ ἡ δὲ ἐλάα τῇ ἐλάᾳ τῷ φύλλῳ· καρπὸν δὲ ἔχει ἡ ἐλάα παραπλήσιον ταῖς ἐλάαις· ἀφίησι δὲ καὶ δάκρυον, ἐξ οὗ οἱ ἰατροὶ φάρμακον ἔναιμον συντιϑέσιν ὃ γίνεται σφόδρα ἀγαϑόν. Some suggest the word is related to (or is) the Persian elemi.
36. Helymæans: Elymæos.
37. Bruta: a mistake for bratum, (Dioscorides' βραϑὸν), possibly Juniperus sabina, say some commentator, for a picture of which see Juniperus sabina. Dalechamps: "Esse quidam volunt arborem Paradisi" (!).
38. Strobus: or Stobrus. Of this curious tree, the editor of the 1820s Paris edition notes: "Quæ sit strobus arbor, non facile dignoscas; quum notam præter patriæ, nullam, ut fere solet in exoticis, arboris nomini Plinius adjungat: nisi, quod ad suffitus faciendos petebatur, inde quoddam ad genus Coniferam eam pertinuisse conjicias. Cæterum ubi de plantis exoticis agitur, indicatione patriæ nihil apud Veteres incertius. Ne mireris tamen quod in arboribus herbisque describendis tam frequenter botanici Patres cespitaverint, quum nostris etiam diebus minime constet unde usitatissimæ res multæ, multi abhinc sæculis in Europam advebantur, e.c. kino, bdellium, myrrha, etc. ita, ut quibus ex arboribus proveniant, qua in regione crescant, viri rei herbariæ peritissimi certo vix indicio demonstrent. De strobo nihil apud Theophrastum, nihil apud Dioscoridem invenimus."
39. Carras: or Carrhas, Carra in Mesopotamia, of which see V.xxi(86), englished Book V.
40. Frankincense: Herodotus III.97.5.
41. Appeare by the histories: a breathtakingly un-literal translation of ut palam est.
42. Herodotus: III.111M on cinnamon; the previous section, on cassia. Pliny has misread Herodotus in several different ways — there are, for instance, no phoenices in Herodotus. As for Pliny's comments on Herodotus' veracity, we can only point out that what Herodotus was to Pliny, Pliny has become to the moderns. Pliny's story of the origins of cinnamon is in any case scarcely less fabulous than Herodotus's, and without the aiunt. (It's interesting that in the next section, 112, Herodotus reports "the strangest of all these fabulous tales", that of ladanum: and Pliny repeats that story without batting an eyelid.) See the Excursus (IX) De Cinnamomo et Casia (in Latin, mostly).
43. Ocila: or Ocilia or Occhilia or Occilia. Or perhaps, following Pliny himself ( VI.xxvi(104), Book V), Ocelis.
44. To be cut as a coppis: "caeduae naturae", says Pliny, "hoc est, quae caeditur. Sic silvam caeduam dicimus", adds Hardouin.
45. Paniers: reading nassas for the textual massas. A nassa is a kind of wickerwork contraption for catching fish. Some editions read naves, boats.
46. White cortex: reading with the old editions, aut cui albet cortex, "whose bark is whitening"; most editions, "codicum vestigia secuti", to aut cui labat cortex, "whose bark is peeling off" or loosening or sloughing off. A textual crux. With some trees, of course, sloughing bark does lead to a whitened appearance.
47. Cancanum and Tarum: see Excursus 10 (in Latin, mostly).
48. As the name giveth it: μύρον, unguent, βάλανος, acorn (or date, or something shaped like it). See Excursus 11 on myrobalanos.
49. Scaenanth: thus in all editions of Holland. Search me for why; read squinanth.
50. Spiders web ... flower of it: Pliny's Inest fistulae araneum, quod vocant florem; some, including Oribasius, have interpreted this (most improbably) as "they're full of spider webs". Dioscor. lib. I. cap. 17 γέμων ἀραχνίςν τὴν σύριγγα.
51. Iuncus in Campania: (and sometimes, say some, in Apulia as well): denied, in no uncertain terms, by Matthiolus in Dioscorid. I:17 (with a slap at Brasavolus, for good measure).
52. Hardouin: "Mira in hac arbore describenda Plinium inter ac Dioscoridem dissensio est. Illi cyprus est ziziphi foliis: isti oleæ: illi semen coriandri simile: isti, sambuci: illi semen candidum, et odoratum: isti, nigrum. Et arborem tamen esse, et in Canopo atque Ascalone nasci, inter utrumque convenit: plane ut licet natale solum ac nomen ipsum utrique arbori idem sit, genus omnino dispar esse constet." Lawsonia inermis and possibly related species as well (which might help to explain the discrepancies). Note that Holland makes the flower white (as it is, more or less, and extremely fragrant), a solution not well supported by the text but suggested by some editors as well. That makes the following text, which would seem in the Latin to refer to the seed, refer to the flowers, as Holland translates. The leaves yield henna.
53. Cyprus or Cyprinum: thus the tree is Cypros, and the oil is Cyprus. "Cyprinum" is Holland's interpolation.
54. First mouth dischargeth into the sea: Holland's explanation, not Pliny's. Around Aboukir.
55. Some take this to be privet: if so, it is presumably because of the resemblance of the flowers. At least one species of ligustrum, Ligustrum ovalifolium, actually resembles Lawsonia quite a lot; but Pliny probably did not know it, as it is a native of Japan. It is common in the South (of the United States), where it plays host to swarms of bees and other stinging critters and therefore holds a special and possibly not entirely well-regarded place in the memories of many children who grew up there.
56. Fifteene deniers: Holland has misread the denarius sign as an X: read five deniers, 𐆖V Aspalathus: Pliny's aspalathos, Galen's ἀσπάλοϑος. None of the various plants said to be aspalathos fits well with Pliny's description. The name was used in Greek of several quite different plants. "Rosewood", say Lewis and Short.
57. Baulme: Commiphora opobalsamum, "primum fuit in Judæa, deinde in Ægypto; nunc est in Arabia, et dicitur le baume de la Mecque." [Brot.] On Balm, see Mrs. Grieve.
58. Pompey bore trees in triumph: as above, Chap. IIII.
59. Rue: reading rutae. Some MSS and editions read tuburi (or tuberi). Franzius emends to rutæ fructus proximus tuburi.
i. S. Johns wort.
60. Precious, fraud: cf. Guerroult (1809) Morceaux extraits de Pline, t. I, p. 528 "La plantation de Beder-Houssein, l'ancienne Petra dans l'Arabie Pétré, est le seul endroit bien connu aujourd'hui qui fournisse le baume. Le grand-seigneur n'en reçoit par an que trois livres. On en donne une livre au Pacha du Caire, et une à l'Émir-hadji, ou conducteur de la caravane de la Mecque. Un flacon de ce baume est conservée au Jardin des Plantes comme un objet du plus grand prix. Le véritable baume qui découle de l'arbre par incision n'entre pas même dans le commerce. Ce qu'on vend sous ce nom n'est que de l'huile tirée par cuisson des graines, des nois (Amyridis fructus bacca drupacea, monosperma per abortum. Pers.) et des brances de l'arbre, le carpobalsamum et le xylobalsamum des Anciens."
61. 19 deniers a pound: The editions vary widely at this point: X*XVII, XXVII, XVIII, X*VIII, and XIX. Mayhoff: XVII.
62. Panaces: probably (here) Pastinaca opopanax, or opoponax as (for some reason) most moderns put it; on which see Mrs. Grieve. But cf. the notes by Hardouin, Sprengelius, and the Editor from the Paris edition of 1829: "Pharamacopolis, Panaces Heracleum dicitur: ipsique Dioscor. lib. III, cap. 55: Πάνακες Ἡράκλειον. Succus vero, Opopanax. Deo eo rursum XXV, 11" (Hardouin); "Tria panacis genera distinguit Dioscorides, lib. III, cap. 55 et 57: prima nempe species:
Πάνακες Ἡράκλειον, εξ οὗ ὁ ὀποπάναξ συλλέγεται ..... φύλλα δὲ ἔχει τραχέα, χαμαιπετῆ, χλωρὰ σφόδρα πρὸς τὰ τῆς ουκῆς, ἐν τῷ περιφερεῖ ἐπεσχισμένα πενταμενρῶς· καυλὸν δὲ ὤσπερ νάρϑηκος ὑψηλότατον, ἔχοντα χνοῦν λευκὸν, καὶ φὐλλα περὶ αὐτὸν μικρότερα, σκιάδιον δὲ ἐπ᾽ ἄκρου ὡς μακρόν. Adungit flore esse luteo, semine odorato urendique vi praedito; radicibus denique ab una origine compluribus, iisque candidis, graveolentibus, crasso et subamari gustus cortice vestitis. Nasci autem in Boeotia, Arcadia, Macedonia et Cyrene Libyæ. Secunda panacis species est Panaces Æsculapii: caulem e terra emittit tenuem, cubitalem, geniculatum, circa quem folia visiuntur foeniculi, majora tamen et hirsutiora, odorata; et in cacumine umbella, in qua flores emicant aurei, acres, et odorati; radix est parva, etc. Denique species tertia dicitur: Panaces Chironium, in Pelio monte potissimum proveniens; foliis ἀμαράκῳ similibus, floribus aureis; radice tenui, neque alta, gustu acri. Panaces Heracleum nobis est Pastinaca opopanax Linn. (Pentand. digyn. gen. 818, Pers. Umbellifer. Juss.) Habitat in Italia, Sicilia et Syria." (Editor); "Seriores addito ἠρακκλεὶῳ is genus distinxerunt, ab Ἀσκληπιοῦ panace (Laserpitio hirsuto, gen. 693, Pers.) et a Χειρωνίῳ (Laserpitio Chironio, ibid.); sed Las. Chironium Linn. valde dubius est. Gouanus enim, Illustr. pag. 20, contendit idem esse cum Pastinaca opopanace. Addit etiam se ex hac planta nullum principium elicere potuisse. Quod conceditur, quum clima monspeliacum a græco longe differat. Cf. Savigny in Encycl. IV, p. 719, 720." (Sprengelius).
63. Heracleum spondyleum, a cow parseley, with toxic properties and fragrant seeds; see this page.
64. Sil or Siler Montanum: Pliny's "silis", sesilis: "a plant, meadow saxifrage, hartwort, seseli", say Lewis & Short.
65. On malabathrum, see the (Latin) excursus 7. See also Hobson Johnson Encyclopedia (WARNING: Forced, nearly unescapable frames: "There can be very little doubt that this classical export from India was the dried leaf of various species of Cinnamomum, which leaf was known in Skt. as tamala-pattra", etc. Though "There can be very little doubt" is usually a sign that there is nothing but doubt, this seems a reasonable conjecture.
66. To wit, the Olive and the Vine: almost certainly not what Pliny means. Rather, "of these two sorts of oil, or liquid, each is made in two ways:" etc.
67. Bryon: on bryon, "reputed the grape of the Poplar or Aspe", see Excursus 12 (in French and Latin).
68. Abies: the tree does not seem to fit here. Because of this, and because the abies is not mentioned in the Indice of the book, some editors believe this phrase is spurious. In Book XXIX, Pliny links the ἐλάτης and the palm, but not the fir.
69. Caryopon: the MSS have camacum here, comacum in the index. Hermolaus substitutes caryopon from the corresponding passage of Theophrastus ("quem", remarks Mayhoff, "Plin. parum recte intellexit.")
This page is by James Eason.