previous next


Balsamum1 will grow nowhere but [in2 Judæa]: and the citron of Assyria refuses to bear fruit in any other country. The palm, too, will not grow everywhere, and even if it does grow in some places, it will not bear: sometimes, indeed, it may make a show and promise of bearing, but even then its fruit comes to nothing, it seeming to have borne them thus far in spite of itself. The cinnamon3 shrub has not sufficient strength to acclimatize itself in the countries that lie in the vicinity of Syria. Amomum,4 too, and nard,5 those most delicate of perfumes, will not endure the carriage from India to Arabia, nor yet conveyance by sea; indeed, King Seleucus did make the attempt, but in vain. But what is more particularly wonderful, is the fact that most of the trees by care may be prevailed upon to live when transplanted; for sometimes the soil may be so managed as to nourish the foreigner and give support to the stranger plant; climate, however, can never be changed. The pepper-tree6 will live in Italy, and cassia7 in the northern climates even, while the incense-tree8 has been known to live in Lydia: but how are we to impart to these productions the requisite warmth of the sun, in order to make all the crude juices go off by evaporation, and ripen the resins that distil from them?

Nearly as great a marvel, too, is the fact that the nature of the tree may be modified by circumstances, and yet the tree itself be none the less vigorous in its growth. Nature originally gave the cedar9 to localities of burning heat, and yet we find it growing in the mountains of Lycia and Phrygia. She made the laurel, too, averse to cold, and yet there is no tree that grows in greater abundance on Mount Olympus. At the city of Panticapæum, in the vicinity of the Cimmerian Bosporus, King Mithridates and the inhabitants of the place used every possible endeavour, with a view to certain religious ceremonies, to cultivate the myrtle10 and the laurel: they could not succeed, however, although trees abound there which require a hot climate, such as the pomegranate and the fig, as well as apples and pears of the most approved quality. In the same country, too, the trees that belong to the colder climates, such as the pine, the fir, and the pitch-tree, refuse to grow. But why go search for instances in Pontus? In the vicinity of Rome itself it is only with the greatest difficulty11 that the cherry and the chesnut will grow, and the peach-tree, too, at Tusculum: the Greek nut, too, is grown there from grafts only at a cost of considerable labour, while Tarracina abounds with whole woods of it.

1 Or balm of Gilead. See B. xii. c. 54. Bruce assures us that it is indigenous to Abyssinia; if so, it has been transplanted in Arabia. It is no more to be found in Judæa.

2 This is inserted, as it is evident that the text without it is imperfect. Fée says that even in Judæa it was transplanted from Arabia.

3 As to the identification of the cinnamomum of Pliny, see B. xii. cc. 41 and 42, and the Notes.

4 As to the question of the identity of the amomum, see B. xii. c. 28.

5 See B. xii. c. 26.

6 This cannot be the ordinary Piper nigrum, or black pepper, which does not deserve the title " arbor." It is, no doubt, the pepper of Italy, which he mentions in B. xii. c. 14.

7 The Cassia Italicta, probably, of B. xii. c. 43. The cassia of the East could not possibly survive in Italy. The fact is, no doubt, that the Romans gave the names of cassia, piper, and amomunm, to certain indigenous plants, and then persuaded themselves that they had the genuine plants of the East.

8 See B. xii. c. 30.

9 Under the name of Cedrus, no doubt, several of the junipers have been included. See B. xiii. c. 11.

10 Fée is inclined to doubt this statement. The myrtle has been known to stand the winters of Lower Brittany.

11 Owing, no doubt, as Fée says, solely to bad methods of cultivation. The same, too, with the grafted peach and the Greek nut or almond.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Latin (Karl Friedrich Theodor Mayhoff, 1906)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

hide References (2 total)
  • Cross-references in general dictionaries to this page (2):
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: