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Arabia, too, still boasts of her ladanum.1 Many writers have stated that this substance is the fortuitous result of an accidental injury inflicted upon a certain odoriferous plant, under the following circumstances: the goat, they say, which is in general an animal that is extremely mischievous to foliage, is particularly fond of the shrubs that are odoriferous, as if, indeed, it were really sensible of the value that is set upon them. Hence it is that as the animal crops the sprouting shoots of the branches which are swollen with a liquid juice of remarkable sweetness, these juices drop and become mingled together, and are then wiped up by the shaggy hairs of its unlucky beard. Being there mingled with the dust, these juices form knots and tufts, and are then dried by the sun; and hence the circumstance is accounted for that in the ladanum which is imported by us we find goats' hairs. This, however, we are told, occurs nowhere but among the Nabatæi,2 a people of Arabia, who border upon Syria. The more recent writers call this substance by the name of stobolon, and state that in the forests of Arabia the trees are broken by the goats while browzing, and that the juices in consequence adhere to their shaggy hair; but the genuine ladanum, they assure us, comes from the island of Cyprus. I make mention of this in order that every kind of odoriferous plant may be taken some notice of, even though incidentally and not in the order of their respetive localities. They say also that this Cyprian ladanum is collected in the same manner as the other, and that it forms a kind of greasy substance or œsypum,3 which adheres to the beards and shaggy legs of the goats; but that it is produced from the flowers of the ground-ivy, which they have nibbled when in quest of their morning food, a time at which the whole island is covered with dew. After this, they say, when the fogs are dispersed by the sun, the dust adheres to their wet coats, and the ladanum is formed, which is afterwards taken off of them with a comb.

There are some authors who give to the plant of Cyprus, from which it is made, the name of leda; and hence it is that we find it also called ledanum. They say, also, that a viscous substance settles upon this plant, and, that, by the aid of strings wound around it, its leaves are rolled into balls, from which a kind of cake is made. Hence it is, that in Cyprus, as well as in Arabia, there are two kinds of ladanum; the one natural, and mingled with earth, and the other artificial: the former is friable, while the latter is of a viscous nature.

It is stated, also, that this substance is the produce of a shrub originally found in Carmania, and propagated by plants, by order of the Ptolemies, in the parts beyond Egypt; while other authorities are found, which say that it grows on the incense tree, and is gathered like gum, from incisions made in the bark, after which it is collected in bags of goat-skin. That of the most approved quality, sells at the rate of forty asses per pound. Ladanum is adulterated with myrtle berries, and filth taken from the fleeces of other animals besides the goat. If genuine, it ought to have a wild and acrid smell, in some measure redolent of the desert places where it is produced: it is dry and parched in appearance, but becomes soft the moment it is touched. When ignited, it gives a brilliant flame, and emits a powerful but pleasant odour; if mixed with myrtle berries, its spurious quality is immediately discovered by their crackling in the fire. In addition to this, the genuine ladanum has more grits, or stony particles, adhering to it, than dust.

1 This substance is still gathered from the Cistus creticus of Linnæus, which is supposed to be the same as the plant leda, mentioned by Pliny. It is also most probably the same as the Cisthon, mentioned by Pliny in B. xxiv. c. 48. It is very commonly found in Spain. The substance is gathered from off the leaves, not by the aid of goats, but with whips furnished with several thongs, with which the shrubs are beaten. There are two sorts of ladanum known in commerce; the one friable, and mixed with earthy substances, and known as "ladanum in tortis;" the other black, and soft to the fingers, the only adventitious substances in which are a little sand and a few hairs.

2 See B. vi. c. 32.

3 For some further account of this substance, see B. xxix. c. 10. Filthy as it was, the œsypum, or sweat and grease of sheep, was used by the Roman ladies as one of their most choice cosmetics. Ovid, in his "Art of Love," more than once inveighs against the use of it.

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    • W. W. How, J. Wells, A Commentary on Herodotus, 3.112
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