Plutarch: Romane Questions, Book I, Question 20. From The Philosophie commonlie called, The Morals. Translated out of Greeke into English, by Philemon Holland of Coventrie, Doctor in Physicke. London:1603. Pages 856-849 (thus numbered in the edition).


Why do women when they dresse up and adorne the chappell or shrine of their feminine goddesse, whom they call Bona, never bring home for that purpose any branches of Myrtle tree: and yet otherwise have a delight to employ all sorts of leaves and flowers?

MAY IT NOT BE, for that, as some fabulous writers tell the tale, there was one * Flavius a soothsaier had a wife, who used secretly to drinke wine, and when she was surprised and taken in the manner by her husband, she was well beaten by him with1 myrtle rods: and for that cause they bring thither no boughs of myrtle: marry they offer libations unto this goddesse of wine, but forsooth they call it Milke.

Or is it not for this cause, that those who are to celebrate the ceremonies of this divine service, ought to be pure and cleane from all pollutions, but especially from that of Venus or lechery? For not onely that put out of the roome where the service is performed unto the said goddesse Bona, all men, but also whatsoever is besides of masculine sex; which is the reason that they so detest the myrtle tree, as being consecrated unto Venus, insomuch as it should seeme they called in old time that Venus, Myrtea, which now goeth under the name, of Murcia.


* Or Phaulius.

1. 1603: "which".

James Eason