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The first plane-trees that were spoken of in terms of high admiration were those which adorned the walks of the Academy1 at Athens-[in one of which], the roots extended a distance of thirty-three cubits, and spread far beyond its branches. At the present day, there is a very famous plane in Lycia, situate in close proximity to a fountain of the most refreshing coolness; standing near the road, with the cavity in its interior, it forms a species of house eighty-one feet in width. Its summit, too, presents the foliage of a grove, while it shields itself with huge branches, each of which would equal an ordinary tree in size, as it throws its lengthened shade across the fields. In addition to this, that nothing may be wanting to its exact resemblance to a grotto, there is a circle of seats within, formed of stone, intermingled with pumice overgrown with moss. This tree was looked upon as so worthy of remark, that Licinius Mucianus, who was three times consul, and recently the legatus of that province, thought it a circumstance deserving of transmission even to posterity, that he, together with eighteen persons of his retinue, had sat down to a banquet in the interior of it. Its leaves afforded material for their couches in the greatest abundance, while he himself, sheltered from every gust of wind, and trying in vain to hear the pattering of the rain on the leaves, took his meal there, and enjoyed himself more than he would have done amid the resplendence of marble, a multiplicity of paintings, and beneath a cieling refulgent with gold.

Another curious instance, again, was that afforded in the reign of the Emperor Caius.2 That prince was so struck with admiration on seeing a plane in the territory of Veliternum, which presented floor after floor, like those of the several stories of a house, by means of broad benches loosely laid from branch to branch, that he held a banquet in it-himself adding3 very materially to the shade it threw-the triclinium being formed for the reception of fifteen guests and the necessary attendants: to this singular dining-room he gave the name of his "nest."

At Gortyna, in the Isle of Crete, there is, in the vicinity of a fountain there, a single plane-tree, which has been long celebrated in the records of both the Greek and the Latin language: it never loses4 its leaves, and from an early period one of the fabulous legends of Greece has been attached to it, to the effect that it was beneath this tree that Jupiter lay with Europa; just as if there had not been another tree of a similar nature in the island of Cyprus. Slips of the tree at Gortyna—so fond is man by nature of novelty—were at an early period planted at different places in Crete, and reproduced the natural imperfections of the tree;5 though, indeed, there is no higher recommendation in the plane than the fact that in summer it protects us from the rays of the sun, while in winter it admits them. In later times, during the reign of the Emperor Claudius, a Thessalian eunuch, the freedman of Marcellus Æserninus,6 who, however, from motives of ambition had enrolled himself in the number of the freedmen of the emperor, and had acquired very considerable wealth, introduced this plane into Italy, in order to beautify his country-seat: so that he may not inappropriately be styled a second Dionysius. These monstrosities of other lands are still to be seen in Italy, independently of those which that country has herself devised.

1 Situate near the sea-shore. It was here that Plato taught. See B. xxxi. c. 3.

2 Caligula.

3 It is supposed that he here alludes sarcastically to the extreme corpulence of Caligula.

4 M. Fée, the learned editor of the botanical books in Ajasson's translation, remarks, that this cannot have been the Platanus of the botanists, and that there is no tree of Europe, which does not lose its leaves, that at all resembles it.

5 The tendency, namely, to lose their leaves.

6 Grandson of Asinius Pollio. Tacitus tells us, that he was one of those whom Piso requested to undertake his defence, when charged with having poisoned Germanicus; but he declined the office.

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