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But who is there that will not, with good reason, be surprised to learn that a tree has been introduced among us from a foreign clime for nothing but its shade? I mean the plane,1 which was first brought across the Ionian Sea to the Isle2 of Diomedes, there to be planted at his tomb, and was afterwards imported thence into Sicily, being one of the very first exotic trees that were introduced into Italy. At the present day, however, it has penetrated as far as the country of the Morini, and occupies even a tributary3 soil; in return for which those nations have to pay a tax for the enjoyment of its shade. Dionysius the Elder, one of the tyrants of Sicily, had plane-trees conveyed to the city of Rhegium, where they were looked upon as the great marvel of his palace, which was afterwards converted into a gymnasium. These trees did not, however, in that locality, attain any very great height. I find it also stated by some authors, that there were some other instances, in those days even, of plane-trees being found in Italy, and I find some mentioned by name as existing in Spain.4

1 The Platanus orientalis of Linnæus. It received its name from the Greek πλάτος, "breadth," by reason of its wide-spreading branches.

2 For further mention of this island, now Tremiti, see B. iii. c. 30.

3 He alludes, probably, to the "vectigal solarium," a sort of ground- rent which the tributary nations paid to the Roman treasury. Virgil and Homer speak of the shade of the plane-tree, as a pleasant resort for festive parties.

4 It is not improbable that Pliny, in copying from Theophrastus, has here committed an error. That author, B. ix. c. 7, says: ἐν μὲν γὰρ τῷ ᾿αδρία πλάτανον οὐ φασιν εἶναι, πλὴν περὶ τὸ διομήδους ἱερόν: σπανίαν δὲ καὶ ᾿ιταλὶᾳ πάσῃ."They say that in Adria there are no plane-trees, except about the temple of Diomedes: and that they are extremely rare in Italy." Pliny, probably, when his secretary was reading to him, mistook the word σπανίαν, "rare," for ᾿ισπανίᾳ, "in Spain."

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