previous next


There are certain plants which are grown in company1 with others, the poppy, for instance, sown with cabbages and purs- lain, and rocket with lettuce. Of the cultivated poppy2 there are three kinds, the first being the white3 poppy, the seed of which, parched, and mixed with honey, used to be served up in the second course at the tables of the ancients; at the present day, too, the country people sprinkle it on the upper crust of their bread, making it adhere by means of the yolk of eggs, the under crust being seasoned with parsley and gith to heighten the flavour of the flour. The second kind is the black4 poppy, from which, upon an incision being made in the stalk, a milky juice distils; and the third is that known to the Greeks by the name of "rhœas;"5 and by us as the wild poppy. This last grows spontaneously, but in fields, more particularly, which have been sown with barley: it bears a strong resemblance to rocket, grows to the height of a cubit, and bears a red flower, which quickly fades; it is to this flower that it is indebted for its Greek name.6

As to the other kinds of poppies which spring up spontaneously, we shall have occasion to speak of them when treating of the medicinal plants.7 That the poppy has always been held in esteem among the Romans, we have a proof in the story related of Tarquinius8 Superbus, who, by striking down the tallest poppies in his garden, surreptitiously conveyed, unknown to them, his sanguinary message through the envoys who had been sent by his son.

1 This practice, as Fée remarks, is not followed; and indeed, unless it is intended to transplant them, it would be attended with injurious results to the young plants.

2 As to the poppy, for further particulars see B. xx. c. 76 and the Note.

3 The variety Album of the Papaver somniferum of modern botanists.

4 The variety Nigrum of the Papaver somniferum. The white poppy has also a milky juice.

5 The Papaver rhœas of modern botanists, the corn-poppy, or wild poppy. The seed of the poppy does not partake of the qualities of its capsular envelope, and at the present day it is extensively employed in the South of Europe for sprinkling over pastry.

6 "Rhœas," the "crimson," or "pomegranate" poppy.

7 See B. xx. cc. 76–79.

8 See c. 17 of this Book, also Ovid's Fasti, B. ii. 1. 703, et seq.

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 (5 total)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: