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CHAP. 60. (27.)—OMPHACIUM.

Omphacium1 is also a kind of oil, which is obtained from two trees, the olive and the vine, by two different methods. It is produced from the former by pressing the olive while it is still in the white state. That is of an inferior quality which is made from the druppa—such being the name that is given to the olive before it is ripe and fit for food, but already beginning to change its colour. The difference between them is, that the latter kind is green, the former white. The omphacium that is made from the vine is extracted from either the psythian2 or the Aminean grape, when the grapes are about the size of a chick-pea, just before the rising of the Dogstar. The grape is gathered when the first bloom is appearing upon it, and the verjuice is extracted, after which the residue3 is left to dry in the sun, due precautions being taken against the dews of the night. The verjuice, after being collected, is put into earthen vessels, and then, after that, stored in jars of Cyprian copper.4 The best kind is that which is of a reddish colour, acrid, and dry to the taste? The price at which it sells is six denarii per pound. Omphacium is also made another way—the unripe grape is pounded in a mortar, after which it is dried in the sun, and then divided into lozenges.

1 From the Greek ὀμφάκιον, being made of unripe grapes. As Fée remarks, that made from the olive is correctly described as a kind of oil, but that made from the grape must have been a rob, or pure verjuice. These two liquids must have had totally different qualities, and resembled each other in nothing but the name. That extracted from the olive is mentioned again in B. xxiii. c. 4, in reference to its medicinal properties.

2 These grapes are described in B. xiv. c. 4 and c. 11.

3 "Reliquum corpus." It is not clear what is the meaning of this. The passage is either in a corrupt state, or defective.

4 A singular metal, one would think, for keeping verjuice in.

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  • Cross-references to this page (1):
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), CYPRUS
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