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We now come to the history of the leguminous plants, among which the place of honour must be awarded to the bean;1 indeed, some attempts have even been made to use it for bread. Bean meal is known as "lomentum;" and, as is the case with the meal of all leguminous plants, it adds considerably, when mixed with flour, to the weight of the bread. Beans are on sale at the present day for numerous purposes, and are employed for feeding cattle, and man more particu- larly. They are mixed, also, among most nations, with wheat,2 and panic more particularly, either whole or lightly broken. In our ancient ceremonials, too, bean pottage3 occupies its place in the religious services of the gods. Beans are mostly eaten together with other food, but it is generally thought that they dull the senses, and cause sleepless nights attended with dreams. Hence it is that the bean has been condemned4 by Pythagoras; though, according to some, the reason for this denunciation was the belief which he entertained that the souls of the dead are enclosed in the bean: it is for this reason, too, that beans are used in the funereal banquets of the Parentalia.5 According to Varro, it is for a similar cause that the Flamen abstains from eating beans: in addition to which, on the blossom of the bean, there are certain letters of ill omen to be found.

There are some peculiar religious usages connected with the bean. It is the custom to bring home from the harvest a bean by way of auspice, which, from that circumstance, has the name of "referiva."6 In sales by public auction, too, it is thought lucky to include a bean in the lot for sale. It is a fact, too, that the bean is the only one among all the grains that fills out at the increase of the moon,7 however much it may have been eaten away: it can never be thoroughly boiled in sea-water, or indeed any other water that is salt.

The bean is the first leguminous plant that is sown; that being done before the setting of the Vergiliæ, in order that it may pass the winter in the ground. Virgil8 recommends that it should be sown in spring, according to the usage of the parts of Italy near the Padus: but most people prefer the bean that has been sown early to that of only three months' growth; for, in the former case, the pods as well as the stalk afford a most agreeable fodder for cattle. When in blossom more particularly, the bean requires water; but after the blossom has passed off, it stands in need of but very little. It fertilizes9 the ground in which it has been sown as well as any manure hence it is that in the neighbourhood of Thessaly and Macedonia, as soon as it begins to blossom, they turn up10 the ground.

The bean, too, grows wild in most countries, as in those islands of the Northern Ocean, for instance, which for that reason have been called by us the "Fabariæ."11 In Mauritania, also, it is found in a wild state in various parts, but so remarkably hard that it will never become soft by boiling.

In Egypt there is a kind of bean12 which grows upon a thorny stalk; for which reason the crocodiles avoid it, being apprehensive of danger to their eyes. This stalk is four cubits in length, and its thickness, at the very most, that of the finger: were it not for the absence of articulations in it, it would resemble a soft reed in appearance. The head is similar to that of the poppy, being of a rose colour: the beans enclosed in this head are not above thirty in number; the leaves are large, and the fruit is bitter and odoriferous. The root, however, is highly esteemed by the natives as a food, whether eaten raw or well boiled; it bears a strong resemblance to that of the reed. This plant grows also in Syria and Cilicia, and upon the banks of Lake Torone in Chalcidice.

1 The Faba vullaris of the modern naturalists. It is supposed to have originally come from Persia.

2 It is said that this mixture is still employed in the Valais and in Savoy.

3 Fabata.

4 Beans were used in ancient times, in place of balls or pebbles, in voting by ballot. Hence it has been suggested that Pythagoras, in recom- mending his disciples to abstain from beans, meant to advise them to have nothing to do with politics.

5 The sacrifices offered to the Manes or spirits of deceased relations. See Ovid's Fasti, B. ii. l. 563.

6 "Brought home." The bean was offered up, to ensure good luck.

7 Didymus, in the Geoponica, B. ii. c. 33, repeats this absurdity.

8 Georg. i. 215.

9 This notion still prevails, and the bean, while in blossom, is dug into the ground to manure it, both in England and France.

10 It does not appear, however, that this was done with the view of digging in the beans.

11 Or Bean Islands. See B. iv. c. 27.

12 The Nymphæa nelumbo of Linnæus is alluded to, but it is no longer to be found in Egypt. Pliny is supposed to derive this from theophrastus, Hist. Plant. B. iv. c. 10, but his translation is not exactly correct.

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