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In former times, when they had fewer opportunities of selling it, they used to gather the frankincense only once a year; but at the present day, as there is a much greater demand for it, there is a second crop as well. The first, and what we may call the natural, vintage, takes place about the rising of the Dog-star, a period when the heat is most intense; on which occasion they cut the tree where the bark appears to be the fullest of juice, and extremely thin, from being distended to the greatest extent. The incision thus made is gradually extended, but nothing is removed; the consequence of which is, that an unctuous foam oozes forth, which gradually coagulates and thickens. When the nature of the locality requires it, this juice is received upon mats of palm-leaves, though in some places the space around the tree is made hard by being well rammed down for the purpose. The frankincense that is gathered after the former method, is in the purest state, though that which falls on the ground is the heaviest in weight: that which adheres to the tree is pared off with an iron instrument, which accounts for its being found mingled with pieces of bark.

The forest is allotted in certain portions, and such is the mutual probity of the owners, that it is quite safe from all depredation; indeed, there is no one left to watch the trees after the incisions are made, and yet no one is ever known to plunder his neighbour. But, by Hercules! at Alexandria, where the incense is dressed for sale, the workshops can never be guarded with sufficient care; a seal is even placed upon the workmen's aprons, and a mask put upon the head, or else a net with very close meshes, while the people are stripped naked before they are allowed to leave work. So true it is that punishments afford less security among us than is to be found by these Arabians amid their woods and forests! The incense which has accumulated during the summer is gathered in the autumn: it is the purest of all, and is of a white colour. The second gathering takes place in spring, incisions being made in the bark for that purpose during the winter: this, however, is of a red colour, and not to be compared with the other incense. The first, or superior kind of incense, is known as carfiathum,1 the latter is called dathiathum. It is thought, also, that the incense which is gathered from the tree while young is the whitest, though the produce of the old trees has the most powerful smell; some persons, too, have an impression that the best incense is found in the islands, but Juba asserts that no incense at all is grown there.

That incense which has hung suspended in globular drops is known to us as "male" frankincense, although it is mostly the case that we do not use the term "male" except in contradistinction to the word "female:" it has been attributed, however, to religious scruples, that the name of the other sex was not employed as a denomination for this substance. Some persons, again, are of opinion that the male frankincense has been so called from its resemblance2 to the testes of the male. The incense, however, that is the most esteemed of all is that which is mammose, or breast-shaped, and is produced when one drop has stopped short, and another, following close upon it, has adhered, and united with it. I find it stated that one of these lumps used to make quite a handful, at a time when men displayed less eagerness to gather it, and it was allowed more time to accumulate. The Greeks call such lumps as these by the name of stagonia3 and atomus,4 while the smaller pieces are called orobia.5 The fragments which are broken off by shaking the tree are known to us as manna.6 Even at the present day, however, there are drops found which weigh one-third of a mina, or, in other words, twenty-eight denarii. Alexander the Great, when a boy, was on one occasion loading the altars with frankincense with the greatest prodigality, upon which his tutor Leonides7 remarked to him that it would be time to worship the gods in such a lavish manner as that, when he had conquered the countries that produced the frankincense. After Alexandria had conquered Arabia, he despatched to Leonides a ship freighted with frankincense, and sent him word, requesting that he would now worship the gods without stint or limit.

The incense, after being collected, is carried on camels' backs to Sabota,8 at which place a single gate is left open for its admission. To deviate from the high road while conveying it, the laws have made a capital offence. At this place the priests take by measure, and not by weight, a tenth part in honour of their god, whom they call Sabis; indeed, it is not allowable to dispose of it before this has been done: out of this tenth the public expenses are defrayed, for the divinity generously entertains all those strangers who have made a certain number of days' journey in coming thither. The incense can only be exported through the country of the Gebanitæ, and for this reason it is that a certain tax is paid to their king as well. Thomna,9 which is their capital, is distant from Gaza, a city of Judæa, on the shores of our sea, 443610 11 miles, the distance being divided into sixty-five days' journey by camel. There are certain portions also of the frankincense which are given to the priests and the king's secretaries: and in addition to these, the keepers of it, as well as the soldiers who guard it, the gate-keepers, and various other employes, have their share as well. And then besides, all along the route, there is at one place water to pay for, at another fodder, lodging at the stations, and various taxes and imposts besides; the consequence of which is, that the expense for each camel before it arrives at the shores of our12 sea is six hundred aud eighty-eight denarii; after all this, too, there are certain payments still to be made to the farmers of the revenue of our empire. Hence it is that a pound of the best frankincense sells at six denarii, the second quality five, and the third three. Among us, it is adulterated with drops of white resin, a substance which bears a strong resemblance to it: but the fraud may be easily detected by the methods which have been already mentioned.13 It is tested by the following qualities; its whiteness, size, brittleness, and the readiness with which it takes fire when placed on heated coals; in addition to which, it should not give to the pressure of the teeth, but from its natural brittleness crumble all to pieces.

1 These words are said by some to be derived from the Greek, καρφὸς, "a hollow stalk," on account of its lightness, and δᾳδίον, "a torch," on account of its resinous and inflammable qualities. It is, however, much more probable that they were derived from the Arabic, and not from the Celto-Scythic, as Poinsinet conjectures.

2 Fée is probably right in his conjecture, that it was so called solely in consequence of its superior strength.

3 Meaning "drop" incense.

4 "Undivided" incense.

5 From their being the size of an ὄροβος, or "chick-pea."

6 There is some doubt as to the correctness of this reading. The "manna" here mentioned is quite a different substance to the manna of modern commerce, obtained from the Fraxinus ornus of naturalists.

7 He was a kinsman of Olympias, the mother of Alexander, and a man of very austere habits. Plutarch says, that on this occasion Alexander sent to Leonidas 600 talents' weight of incense and myrrh.

8 See B. vi. c. 32.

9 As to this place and the Gehanitæ, see B. vi. c. 32.

10 There must surely be some mistake in these numbers.

11 Probably the same as the deity, Assabinus, mentioned by Pliny in c. 42 of the present Book. Theophrastus mentions him as identical with the sun, others, again, with Jupiter. Theophrastus says that the god received not a tenth part, but a third.

12 The Mediterranean.

13 In c. 19 of the present Book.

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