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Of all the remaining fruits that are included under the name of "pomes," the fig1 is the largest: some, indeed, equal the pear, even, in size. We have already mentioned, while treating of the exotic fruits, the miraculous productions of Egypt and Cyprus2 in the way of figs. The fig of Mount Ida3 is red, and the size of an olive, rounder however, and like a medlar in flavour; they give it the name of Alexandrian in those parts. The stem is a cubit in thickness; it is branchy, has a tough, pliant wood, is entirely destitute of all milky juice,4 and has a green bark, and leaves like those of the linden tree, but soft to the touch. Onesicritus states that in Hyrcania the figs are much sweeter than with us, and that the trees are more prolific, seeing that a single tree will bear as much as two hundred and seventy modii5 of fruit. The fig has been introduced into Italy from other countries, Chalcis and Chios, for instance, the varieties being very numerous: there are those from Lydia also, which are of a purple colour, and the kind known as the "mamillana,"6 which is very similar to the Lydian. The callistruthiæ are very little superior to the last in flavour; they are the coldest by nature of all the figs. As to the African fig, by many people preferred to any other, it has been made the subject of very considerable discussion, as it is a kind that has been introduced very recently into Africa, though it bears the name of that country. As to the fig of Alexandria,7 it is a black variety, with the cleft inclining to white; it has had the name given to it of the "delicate"8 fig: the Rhodian fig, too, and the Tiburtine,9 one of the early kinds, are black. Some of them, again, bear the name of the persons who were the first to introduce them, such, for instance, as the Livian10 and the Pompeian11 figs: this last variety is the best for drying in the sun and keeping for use, from year to year; the same is the case, too, with the marisca,12 and the kind which has a leaf spotted all over like the reed.13 There is also the Herculanean fig, the albicerata,14 and the white aratia, a very large variety, with an extremely diminutive stalk.

The earliest of them all is the porphyritis,15 which has a stalk of remarkable length: it is closely followed by the popularis,16 one of the very smallest of the figs, and so called from the low esteem in which it is held: on the other hand, the chelidonia17 is a kind that ripens the last of all, and to- wards the beginning of winter. In addition to these, there are figs that are at the same time both late and early, as they bear two crops in the year, one white and the other black,18 ripening at harvest-time and vintage respectively. There is another late fig also, that has received its name from the singular hardness of its skin; one of the Chalcidian varieties bears as many as three times in the year. It is at Tarentum only that the remarkably sweet fig is grown which is known by the name of "ona."

Speaking of figs, Cato has the following remarks: "Plant the fig called the 'marisca' on a chalky or open site, but for the African variety, the Herculanean, the Saguntine,19 the winter fig and the black Telanian20 with a long stalk, you must select a richer soil, or else a ground well manured." Since his day there have so many names and kinds come up, that even on taking this subject into consideration, it must be apparent to every one how great are the changes which have taken place in civilized life.

There are winter figs, too, in some of the provinces, the Mœsian, for instance; but they are made so by artificial means, such not being in reality their nature. Being a small variety of the fig-tree, they cover it up with manure at the end of autumn, by which means the fruit on it is overtaken by winter while still in a green state: then when the weather, becomes milder the fruit is uncovered along with the tree, and so restored to light. Just as though it had come into birth afresh, the fruit imbibes the heat of the new sun with the greatest avidity—a different sun, in fact, to that21 which originally gave it life—and so ripens along with the blossom of the coming crop; thus attaining maturity in a year not its own, and this in a country,22 too, where the greatest cold prevails.

1 There are about forty varieties now known.

2 B. xiii. c. 14, 15. These are the Ficus sycomorus of Linnæus.

3 In Troas; called the Alexandrian fig, from the city of Alexandria there. Fée doubts if this was really a fig, and suggests that it might be the fruit of a variety of Diospyros.

4 No fig-tree now known is destitute of this.

5 Fée treats this as an exaggeration.

6 From "mamilla," a teat.

7 In Egypt. The Figue servantine, or cordeliere.

8 "Delicata." The "bon-bouche."

9 Fée suggests that this may have been the small early fig.

10 From Livia, the wife of Augustus.

11 From Pompeius Magnus.

12 Apparently meaning the "marsh" fig.

13 The Laconian reed, Theophrastus says, B. iv. c. 12.

14 The "white-wax" fig.

15 Fée queries whether it may not be the Grosse bourjasotte.

16 Or "people's" fig. The small early white fig.

17 Or "swallow"-fig.

18 Or it may mean "white and black," that being the colour of the fig. Such a variety is still known.

19 A Spanish variety; those of the south of Spain are very highly esteemed.

20 The modern "black" fig.

21 The sun of the former year.

22 In Mœsia—the present Servia and Bulgaria.

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