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The principal merit of these tables is to have veins1 arranged in waving lines, or else forming spirals like so many little whirlpools. In the former arrangement the lines run in an oblong direction, for which reason these are called "tiger"2 tables; while in the latter the marks are circling and spiral, and hence they are styled "panther"3 tables. There are some tables also with wavy, undulating marks, and which are more particularly esteemed if these resemble the eyes on a peacock's tail. Next in esteem to these last, as well as those previously mentioned, is the veined wood,4 covered, as it were, with dense masses of grain, for which reason these tables have received the name of "apiatæ."5 But the colour of the wood is the quality that is held in the highest esteem of all: that of wine mixed with honey6 being the most prized, the veins being peculiarly refulgent. Next to the colour, it is the size that is prized; at the present day whole trunks are greatly admired, and sometimes several are united in a single table.

The peculiar defects in these kinds of tables are woodiness,7 such being the name given to the table when the wood is dull, common-looking, indistinct, or else has mere simple marks upon it, resembling the leaves of the plane-tree; also, when it resembles the veins of the holm-oak or the colour of that tree; and, a fault to which it is peculiarly liable from the effect of heat or wind, when it has flaws in it or hair-like lines resembling flaws; when it has a black mark, too, running through it resembling a murena in appearance, various streaks that look like crow scratches, or knots like poppy heads, with a colour all over nearly approaching to black, or blotches of a sickly hue. The barbarous tribes bury this wood in the ground while green, first giving it a coating of wax. When it comes into the workmen's hands, they put it for seven days beneath a heap of corn, and then take it out for as many more: it is quite surprising how greatly it loses in weight by this process. Shipwrecks have recently taught us also that this wood is dried by the action of sea-water, and that it thereby acquires a hardness8 and a degree of density which render it proof against corruption no other method is equally sure to produce these results. These tables are kept best, and shine with the greatest lustre, when rubbed with the dry hand, more particularly just after bathing. As if this wood had been created for the behoof of wine, it receives no injury from it.

(16.) As this tree is one among the elements of more civilized life, I think that it is as well on the present occasion to dwell a little further upon it. It was known to Homer even, and in the Greek it is known by the name of "thyon,"9 or sometimes "thya." He says that the wood of this tree was among the unguents that were burnt for their pleasant odour by Circe,10 whom he would represent as being a goddess; a circumstance which shows the great mistake committed by those who suppose that perfumes are meant under that name,11 seeing that in the very same line he says that cedar and larch were burnt along with this wood, a thing that clearly proves that it is only of different trees that he is speaking. Theophrastus, an author who wrote in the age succeeding that of Alexander the Great, and about the year of the City of Rome 440, has awarded a very high rank to this tree, stating that it is related that the raftering of the ancient temples used to be made of this wood, and that the timber, when employed in roofs, will last for ever, so to say, being proof against all decay,—quite incorruptible, in fact. He also says that there is nothing more full of wavy veins12 than the root of this tree, and that there is no workmanship in existence more precious than that made of this material. The finest kind of citrus grows, he says, in the vicinity of the Temple of Jupiter Hammon; he states also that it is produced in the lower part of Cyre- naica. He has made no mention, however, of the tables that are made of it; indeed, we have no more ancient accounts of them than those of the time of Cicero, from which it would appear that they are a comparatively recent invention.

1 These veins were nothing in reality but the lines of the layers or strata lignea, running perpendicularly in the trunk, and the number of which denotes the age of the tree.

2 "Tigrinæ."

3 "Pantherinæ." The former tables were probably made of small pieces from the trunk, the latter from the sections of the tubers or knots.

4 "Crispis."

5 Or "parsley-seed" tables. It has also been suggested that the word comes from "apis," a bee; the wood presenting the appearance of being covered with swarms of bees.

6 "Mulsum." This mixture will be found frequently mentioned in the next Book.

7 Lignum.

8 Fée remarks that this is incorrect, and that this statement betrays an entire ignorance of the vegetable physiology.

9 θύον, "wood of sacrifice."

10 Od. B. v. 1. 60. Pliny makes a mistake in saying "Circe;" it should be "Calypso.

11 θύον.

12 Crispius

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