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CHAP. 8. (8.)—AMURCA.

But it is upon the praises of amurca1 more particularly, that Cato2 has enlarged. He recommends that vats and casks3 for keeping oil should be first seasoned with it, to prevent them from soaking up the oil; and he tells us that threshing-floors should be well rubbed with it, to keep away ants,4 and to prevent any chinks or crannies from being left. The mortar, too, of walls, he says, ought to be seasoned with it, as well as the roofs and floors of granaries; and he recommends that wardrobes should be sprinkled with amurca as a preservative against wood-worms and other noxious insects. He says, too, that all grain of the cereals should be steeped in it, and speaks of it as efficacious for the cure of maladies in cattle as well as trees, and as useful even for ulcerations in the inside and upon the face of man. We learn from him, also, that thongs, all articles made of leather, sandals, and axletrees used to be anointed with boiled amurca; which was employed also to preserve copper vessels against verdigrease,5 and to give them a better colour; as also for the seasoning of all utensils made of wood, as well as the earthen jars in which dried figs were kept, or of sprigs of myrtle with the leaves and berries on, or any other articles of a similar nature: in addition to which, he asserts that wood which has been steeped in amurca will burn without producing a stifling smoke.6

According to M. Varro,7 an olive-tree which has been licked by the tongue of the she-goat, or upon which she has browsed when it was first budding,8 is sure to be barren. Thus much in reference to the olive and the oils.

1 It has quite lost its ancient repute: the only use it is now put to is the manufacture of an inferior soap. See B. xxiii. c. 37.

2 De Re Rust. cc. 130, 169.

3 Dolia and cadi. Fée observes, that this, if done with the modern vessels, would have a tendency to make the oil turn rancid.

4 On the contrary, Fée is inclined to think it would attract them, from its mucilaginous properties.

5 Olive oil, however, has a tendency to generate verdigrease in copper vessels.

6 This, as Fée remarks, is probably so absurd as not to be worth discussing.

7 Re Rust. B. i. c. 2.

8 If she happens to have destroyed the buds, but not otherwise.

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