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Among the maladies which affect the various trees, we may find room for portentous prodigies also. For we find some trees that have never had a leaf upon them; a vine and a pome- granate bearing1 fruit adhering to the trunk, and not upon the shoots or branches; a vine, too, that bore grapes but had no leaves; and olives that have lost their leaves while the fruit remained upon the tree. There are some marvels also connected with trees that are owing to accident; an olive that was completely burnt, has been known to revive, and in Bœotia, some fig-trees that had been quite eaten away by locusts budded afresh.2 Trees, too, sometimes change their colour, and turn from black to white; this, however, must not always be looked upon as portentous, and more particularly in the case of those which are grown from seed; the white poplar, too, often becomes black. Some persons are of opinion also that the service-tree, if transplanted to a warmer locality, will become barren. But it is a prodigy, no doubt, when sweet fruits become sour, or sour fruits sweet; and when the wild fig becomes changed into the cultivated one, or vice versa. It is sadly portentous,3 too, when the tree becomes deteriorated by the change, the cultivated olive changing into the wild, and the white grape or fig becoming black: such was the case, also, when upon the arrival of Xerxes there, a plane-tree at Laodicea was trans- formed into an olive. In such narratives as these, the book written in Greek by Aristander abounds, not to enter any further on so extended a subject; and we have in Latin the Commentaries of C. Epidius, in which we find it stated that trees have even been known to speak. In the territory of Cumæ, a tree, and a very ominous presage it was, sank into the earth shortly before the civil wars of Pompeius Magnus began, leaving only a few of the branches protruding from the ground. The Sibylline Books were accordingly consulted, and it was found that a war of extermination was impending, which would be attended with greater carnage the nearer it should approach the city of Rome.

Another kind of prodigy, too, is the springing up of a tree in some extraordinary and unusual place, the head of a statue, for instance, or an altar, or upon another tree even.4 A fig-tree shot forth from a laurel at Cyzicus, just before the siege of that city; and so in like manner, at Tralles, a palm issued from the pedestal of the statue of the Dictator Cæsar, at the period of his civil wars. So, too, at Rome, in the Capitol there, in the time of the wars against Perseus, a palm-tree grew from the head of the statue of Jupiter, a presage of impending victory and triumphs. This palm, however, having been destroyed by a tempest, a fig-tree sprang up in the very same place, at the period of the lustration made by the censors M. Messala and C. Cassius,5 a time at which, according to Piso, an author of high authority, all sense of shame had been utterly banished. Above all the prodigies, however, that have ever been heard of, we ought to place the one that was seen in our own time, at the period of the fall of the Emperor Nero, in the territory of Marrucinum; a plantation of olives, belonging to Vectius Marcellus, one of the principal members of the Equestrian order, bodily crossed the public highway, while the fields that lay on the opposite side of the road passed over to supply the place which had been thus vacated by the olive-yard.6

1 This, as Fée remarks, is not by any means impossible, nor, indeed, are any other of the cases mentioned in this paragraph, owing to some accidental circumstance.

2 See B. xxix. c. 29.

3 These stories can, of course, be only regarded as fabulous.

4 This may easily be accounted for, by the seed accidentally lodging in a crevice of the tree.

5 A.U.C. 600.

6 An exaggerated account merely of a land-slip.

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