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The names of unguents are due, some of them, to the original place of their composition, others, again, to the extracts which form their bases, others to the trees from which they are derived, and others to the peculiar circumstance under which they were first made: and it is as well, first of all, to know that in this respect the fashion has often changed, and that the high repute of peculiar kinds has been but transitory. In ancient times, the perfumes the most esteemed of all were those of the island of Delos,1 and at a later period those of Mendes.2 This degree of esteem is founded, not only on the mode of mixing them and the relative proportions, but according to the degree of favour or disfavour in which the various places which produce the ingredients are held, and the comparative excellence or degeneracy of the ingredients themselves. The perfume of iris,3 from Corinth, was long held in the highest esteem, till that of Cyzicus came into fashion. It was the same, too, with the perfume of roses,4 from Phaselis,5 the repute of which was afterwards eclipsed by those of Neapolis, Capua, and Præneste. Oil of saffron,6 from Soli in Cilicia, was for a long time held in repute beyond any other, and then that from Rhodes; after which perfume of œnanthe,7 from Cyprus, came into fashion, and then that of Egypt was preferred. At a later period that of Adramytteum came into vogue, and then was supplanted by unguent of marjoram,8 from Cos, which in its turn was superseded by quince blossom9 unguent from the same place. As to perfume of cyprus,10 that from the island of Cyprus was at first preferred, and then that of Egypt; when all on a sudden the unguents of Mendes and metopium11 rose into esteem. In later times Phœnicia eclipsed Egypt in the manufacture of these last two, but left to that country the repute of producing the best unguent of cyprus.

Athens has perseveringly maintained the repute of her panathenaicon.12 There was formerly a famous unguent, known as "pardalium,"13 and made at Tarsus; at the present day its very composition and the mode of mixing it are quite unknown there: they have left off, too, making unguent of narcissus14 from the flowers of that plant.

There are two elements which enter into the composition of unguents, the juices and the solid parts. The former generally consist of various kinds of oils, the latter of odoriferous substances. These last are known as hedysmata, while the oils are called stymmata.15 There is a third element, which occu- pies a place between the two, but has been much neglected, the colouring matter, namely. To produce a colour, however, cinnabar16 and alkanet17 are often employed. If salt18 is sprinkled in the oil, it will aid it in retaining its properties; but if alkanet has been employed, salt is never used. Resin and gum are added to fix the odour in the solid perfumes; indeed it is apt to die away and disappear with the greatest rapidity if these substances are not employed.

The unguent which is the most readily prepared of all, and indeed, in all probability, the very first that was ever made, is that composed of bryon19 and oil of balanus,20 substances of which we have made mention already. In later times the Mendesian unguent was invented, a more complicated mixture, as resin and myrrh were added to oil of balanus, and at the present day they even add metopion21 as well, an Egyptian oil extracted from bitter almonds; to which have been added omphacium,22 cardamum,23 sweet rush,24 honey,25 wine, myrrh, seed of balsamum,26 galbanum,27 and resin of terebinth,28 as so many ingredients. Among the most common unguents at the present day, and for that reason supposed to be the most ancient, is that composed of oil of myrtle,29 calamus, cypress,30 cyprus, mastich,31 and pomegranate-rind.32 I am of opinion, however, that the unguents which have been the most universally adopted, are those which are compounded of the rose, a flower that grows everywhere; and hence for a long time the composition of oil of roses was of the most simple nature, though more recently there have been added omphacium, rose blossoms, cinnabar, calamus, honey, sweet-rush, flour of salt or else alkanet,33 and wine. The same is the case, too, with oil of saffron, to which have been lately addedcinnabar, alkanet, and wine; and with oil of sampsuchum,34 with which omphacium and calamus have been compounded. The best comes from Cyprus and Mitylene, where sampsuchum abounds in large quantities.

The commoner kinds of oil, too, are mixed with those of myrrh and laurel, to which are added sampsuchum, lilies, fenugreek, myrrh, cassia,35 nard,36 sweet-rush, and cinnamon.37 There is an oil, too, made of the common quince and the sparrow quince, called melinum, as we shall have occasion to mention hereafter;38 it is used as an ingredient in unguents, mixed with omphacium, oil of cyprus, oil of sesamum,39 balsamum,40 sweet-rush, cassia, and abrotonum.41 Susinum42 is the most fluid of them all: it is made of lilies, oil of balanus, calamus, honey, cinnamon, saffron,43 and myrrh; while the unguent of cyprus44 is compounded of cyprus, omphacium and cardamum, calamus, aspalathus,45 and abrotonum. There are some persons who, when making unguent of cyprus, employ myrrh also, and panax:46 the best is that made at Sidon, and the next best that of Egypt: care must be taken not to add oil of sesamum: it will keep as long as four years, and its odour is strengthened by the addition of cinnamon. Telinum47 is made of fresh olive-oil, cypirus,48 calamus, melilote,49 fenugreek, honey, marum,50 and sweet marjoram. This last was the perfume most in vogue in the time of the Comic poet Menander: a considerable time after that known as "megalium" took its place, being so called as holding the very highest rank;51 it was composed of oil of balanus, balsamum, calamus, sweet-rush, xylobalsamum,52 cassia, and resin. One peculiar property of this unguent is, that it requires to be constantly stirred while boiling, until it has lost all smell: when it becomes cold, it recovers its odour.53

There are some single essences also which, individually, afford unguents of very high character: the first rank is due to malobathrum,54 and the next to the iris of Illyricum and the sweet marjoram of Cyzicus, both of them herbs. There are perfumers who sometimes add some few other ingredients to these: those who use the most, employ for the purpose honey, flour of salt, omphacium, leaves of agnus,55 and panax, all of them foreign ingredients.56 The price of unguent57 of cinnamon is quite enormous; to cinnamon there is added oil of balanus, xylobalsamum, calamus, sweet-rush, seeds of balsamum, myrrh, and perfumed honey: it is the thickest in consistency of all the unguents; the price at which it sells ranges from thirty-five to three hundred denarii per pound. Unguent of nard,58 or foliatum, is composed of omphacium or else oil of balanus, sweet-rush, costus,59 nard, amomum,60 myrrh, and balsamum.

While speaking on this subject, it will be as well to bear in mind that there are nine different kinds of plants of a similar kind, of which we have already made mention61 as being employed for the purpose of imitating Indian nard; so abundant are the materials that are afforded for adulteration. All these perfumes are rendered still more pungent by the addition of costus and amomum, which have a particularly powerful effect on the olfactory organs; while myrrh gives them greater consistency and additional sweetness, and saffron makes them better adapted for medicinal purposes. They are most pungent, however, when mixed with amomum alone, which will often produce head-ache even. There are some persons who content themselves with sprinkling the more precious ingredients upon the others after boiling them down, for the purpose of economy; but the strength of the unguent is not so great as when the ingredients have been boiled together. Myrrh used by itself, and without the mixture of oil, forms an unguent, but it is stacte62 only that must be used, for otherwise it will be productive of too great bitterness. Unguent of cyprus turns other unguents green, while lily unguent63 makes them more unctuous: the unguent of Mendes turns them black, rose unguent makes them white, and that of myrrh of a pallid hue.

Such are the particulars of the ancient inventions, and the various falsifications of the shops in later times; we will now pass on to make mention of what is the very height of refinement in these articles of luxury, indeed, I may say, the beau ideal64 of them all. 65

(2.) This is what is called the "regal" unguent, from the fact that it is composed in these proportions for the kings of the Parthians. It consists of myrobalanus,66 costus, amomum, cinnamon, comacum,67 cardamum, spikenard, marum, myrrh, cassia, storax,68 ladanum,69 opobalsamum, Syrian calamus70 and Syrian sweet-rush,71 œnanthe, malobathrum, serichatum,72 cyprus, aspralathus, panax, saffron, cypirus, sweet marjoram, lotus,73 honey, and wine. Not one of the ingredients in this compound is produced either in Italy, that conqueror of the world, or, indeed, in all Europe, with the exception of the iris, which grows in Illyricum, and the nard, which is to be found in Gaul: as to the wine, the rose, the leaves of myrtle, and the olive-oil, they are possessed by pretty nearly all countries in common.

1 The perfumes of Delos themselves had nothing in particular to recommend them; but as it was the centre of the worship of Apollo, it is not improbable that exquisite perfumes formed a large proportion of the offerings brought thither from all parts of the world.

2 In Egypt. See B. v. c. 11. The unguents of Mendes are again mentioned in the present Chapter.

3 Or flower-de-luce. This perfume was called Irinum. The Iris Florentina of the botanists, Fée says, has the smell of the violet. For the composition of this perfume, see Dioscorides, B. i.. c. 67.

4 Rhodinum.

5 See B. v. c. 26.

6 Crocinum; made from the Crocus sativus of naturalists.

7 See B. xii. c. 62. It was made from the flowers of the vine, mixed with omphacium.

8 Amaracinum. The amaracus is supposed to have been the Origanum majoranoides of the moderns. Dioscorides, B. i. c. 59, says that the best was made at Cyzicus.

9 Melinum. See B. xxiii. c. 54.

10 Cyprinum. See B. xii. c. 51. The cyprus was the modern Lawsonia inermis.

11 Made from the oil of bitter almonds. See B. xv. c. 7.

12 Or "all Athenian." We find in Athenæus, B. xv. c. 15, the composition of this unguent.

13 From what is said by Apollonius in the passage of Athenæus last quoted, it has been thought that this was the same as the unguent called nardinum. It is very doubtful, however.

14 Narcissinum. See B. xxi. c. 75. Dioscorides gives the composition of this unguent, B. i. c. 54.

15 Among the stymmata, Dioscorides ranges the sweet-rush, the sweet- scented calamus and xylo-balsamum; and among the hedysmata amomum, nard, myrrh, balsam, costus, and marjoram. The latter constituted the base of unguents, the former were only added occasionally.

16 Cinnabar is never used to colour cosmetics at the present day, from its tendency to excoriate the skin. See B. xxiii. c. 39.

17 This is still used for colouring cosmetics at the present day. See B. xxii, c. 23.

18 Fée remarks, that salt can be of no use; but by falling to the bottom without dissolving, would rather tend to spoil the unguent.

19 See B. xii. c. 60. The name "bryon" seems also to have been extended to the buds of various trees of the Conifera class and of the white poplar. It is probably to the buds of the last tree that Pliny here alludes.

20 Oil of ben. See B. xii. c. 48.

21 Or metopium. See Note 18 above.

22 Made from olives. See B. xii. c. 60.

23 See B. xii. c. 29.

24 The modern Andropogon schœnanthus. See B. xii. c. 48.

25 See B. xii. c. 48.

26 Carpobalsamum. See. B. xii, c. 54.

27 See B. xii. c. 56.

28 Fluid resin of coniferous trees of Europe.

29 See B. xv. c. 35.

30 Cupressus semper-virens. He does not say what part of the tree was employed.

31 See B. xii. c. 36.

32 See c. 34 of the present Book.

33 The alkanet and cinnabar were only used for colouring.

34 "Sampsuchinum." It is generally supposed that the sampsuchum, and the amaracus were the same, the sweet marjoram, or Origanum marjorana of Linnæus. Fée, however, is of a contrary opinion, See B. xxi. c. 35. In Dioscorides, B. i. c. 59, there is a difference made between sampsuchinum and amaracinum, though but a very slight one.

35 The bark of the Cassia lignea of the pharmacopœa, the Laurus cassia of botany. See B. xii. c. 43.

36 See B. xii. c. 26. The Andropogon nardus of Linnæus.

37 See B. xii. c. 41.

38 See B. xxiii. c. 64, also B. xv. c. 10. The Malun struthium, or "sparrow quince," was an oblong variety of the fruit.

39 Sesamum orientale of Linnæus. See B. xviii. c. 22, and B. xxii. c. 54.

40 Balm of Gilead. See B. xii. c. 54.

41 Southernwood. The Artemisia abrotonum of Linnæus.

42 Or lily unguent, made of the lily of Susa, which had probably a more powerful smell than that of Europe. Dioscorides gives its composition, B. i. c. 63.

43 The Crocus sativus of Linnæus.

44 Cyprinum. It has been previously mentioned in this Chapter.

45 See B. xii. c. 52.

46 The gum resin of the Pastinaca opopanax of Linnæus. See B. xii. c. 57.

47 Or unguent of fenugreek, from the Greek τῆλις, meaning that plant, the Trigonella fœnum Græcum of Linnæus. See B. xxiv. c. 120.

48 See B. ii. c. 26, and B. xxi. c. 68–70.

49 The Trifolium melilotus of Linnæus. See B. xxi. c. 30.

50 See B. xii. c. 53.

51 He would imply that it was so called from the Greek μεγὰς, "great;" but it was more generally said that it received its name from its inventor, Megalus.

52 See B. xii. c. 5.

53 Fée does not appear to credit this statement. By the use of the word "ventiletur" "fanned" may be possibly implied.

54 See B. xii. c. 59.

55 The Agnus castus of Linnæus. See B. xxiv. c. 38. The leaves are quite inodorous, though the fruit of this plant is slightly aromatic.

56 "Externa." The reading is doubtful, and it is difficult to say what is the exact meaning of the word.

57 Cinnamomino.

58 Or leaf unguent, so called from being made of leaves of nard. See B. xii. c. 27.

59 See B. xii. c. 25.

60 See B. xii. c. 28.

61 See B. xii. c. 26, 27, where the list is given.

62 See B. xii. c. 35.

63 Susinum. See p. 163.

64 Summa auctoritas rei.

65 Nardinum.

66 See B. xii. c. 46.

67 See B. xii. c. 53.

68 See B. xii. c. 55.

69 See B. xii. c. 37.

70 See B. xii. c. 48.

71 See B. xii. c. 48.

72 See B. xii. c. 45.

73 Fée suggests that this may be the Nymphæa cœrulea of Savigny, a plant that is common in the Nile, and the flowers of which exhale a sweet odour.

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