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The first olive that is gathered after the autumn is that known as the "posia,"1 the berry of which, owing to a vicious method of cultivation, and not any fault on the part of Nature, has the most flesh upon it. Next to this is the orchites, which contains the greatest quantity of oil, and then, after that, the radius. As these are of a peculiarly delicate nature, the heat very rapidly takes effect upon them, and the amurca they contain causes them to fall. On the other hand, the gathering of the tough, hard-skinned olive is put off so late as the month of March, it being well able to resist the effects of moisture, and, consequently, very small. Those varieties known as the Licinian, the Cominian, the Contian, and the Sergian, by the Sabines called the "royal"2 olive, do not turn black before the west winds prevail, or, in other words, before the sixth day before3 the ides of February. At this period it is generally thought that they begin to ripen, and as a most excellent oil is extracted from them, experience would seem to give its support to a theory which, in reality, is altogether wrong. The growers say that in the same degree that cold diminishes the oil, the ripeness of the berry augments it; whereas, in reality, the goodness of the oil is owing, not to the period at which the olives are gathered, but to the natural properties of this peculiarvariety, in which the oil is remarkably slow in turning to amurca.

A similar error, too, is committed by those who keep the olives, when gathered, upon a layer of boards, and do not press the fruit till it has thrown out a sweat; it being the fact that every hour lost tends to diminish the oil and increase the amurca: the consequence is, that, according to the ordinary computation, a modius of olives yields no more than six pounds of oil. No one, however, ever takes account of the quantity of amurca to ascertain, in reference to the same kind of berry, to what extent it increases daily in amount. Then, again, it is a very general error4 among practical persons to suppose that the oil increases proportionably to the increased size of the berry; and more particularly so when it is so clearly proved that such is not the case, with reference to the variety known as the royal olive, by some called majorina, and by others phaulia;5 this berry being of the very largest size, and yet yielding a minimum of juice. In Egypt,6 too, the berries, which are remarkably meaty, are found to produce but very little oil; while those of Decapolis, in Syria, are so extremely small, that they are no bigger than a caper; and yet they are highly esteemed for their flesh.7 It is for this reason that the olives from the parts beyond sea are preferred for table to those of Italy, though, at the same time, they are very inferior to them for making oil.

In Italy, those of Picenum and of Sidicina8 are considered the best for table. These are kept apart from the others and steeped in salt, after which, like other olives, they are put in amurca, or else boiled wine; indeed, some of them are left to float solely in their own oil,9 without any adventitious mode of preparation, and are then known as colymbades: sometimes the berry is crushed, and then seasoned with green herbs to flavour it. Even in an unripe state the olive is rendered fit for eating by being sprinkled with boiling water; it is quite surprising, too, how readily it will imbibe sweet juices, and retain an adventitious flavour from foreign substances. With this fruit, as with the grape, there are purple10 varieties, and the posia is of a complexion approaching to black. Besides those already mentioned, there are the superba11 and a remarkably luscious kind, which dries of itself, and is even sweeter than the raisin: this last variety is extremely rare, and is to be found in Africa and in the vicinity of Emerita12 in Lusi- tania. The oil of the olive is prevented from getting13 thick and rancid by the admixture of salt. By making an incision in the bark of the tree, an aromatic odour may be imparted14 to the oil. Any other mode of seasoning, such, for instance, as those used with reference to wine, is not at all gratifying to the palate; nor do we find so many varieties in oil as there are in the produce of the grape, there being, in general, but three different degrees of goodness. In fine oil the odour is more penetrating, but even in the very best it is but short- lived.

1 More commonly spelt "pausia."

2 "Regia." It is impossible to identify these varieties.

3 8th of February.

4 This assertion of Pliny is not generally true. The large olives of Spain yield oil very plentifully.

5 Probably a member of the variety known to naturalists as the Olea fructu majori, carne crassâ, of Tournefort, the royal olive or "triparde" of the French. The name is thought to be from the Greek φᾶυλος, the fruit being considered valueless from its paucity of oil.

6 There are but few olive-trees in either Egypt or Decapolis at the present day, and no attempts are made to extract oil from them.

7 "Carnis." He gives this name to the solid part, or pericarp.

8 See B. iii. c. 9.

9 These methods are not now adopted for preserving the olive. The fruit are first washed in an alkaline solution, and then placed in salt and water. The colymbas was so called from κολυμβάω, "to swim," in its own oil, namely. Dioscorides descants on the medicinal properties of the colymbades. B. i. c. 140.

10 There are several varieties known of this colour, and more particularly the fruit of the Olea atro-rubens of Gouan.

11 The Spanish olive, Hardouin says. Fée thinks that the name "superba," "haughty," is given figuratively, as meaning rough and austere.

12 The olives of the present Merida, in Spain, are of a rough, disagree- able flavour.

13 This seems to be the meaning of "pinguis;" but, as Fée observes, salt would have no such effect as here stated, but would impart a disagree. able flavour to the oil.

14 Fée regards this assertion as quite fabulous.

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