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WE are now about to enter upon an examination of the greatest of all the operations of Nature—we are about to discourse to man upon his aliments,1 and to compel him to admit that he is ignorant by what means he exists. And let no one, misled by the apparent triviality of the names which we shall have to employ, regard this subject as one that is frivolous or contemptible: for we shall here have to set forth the state of peace or of war which exists between the various departments of Nature, the hatreds or friendships which are maintained by objects dumb and destitute of sense, and all, too, created—a wonderful subject for our contemplation!—for the sake of man alone. To these states, known to the Greeks by the respective appellations "sympathia" and "antipathia," we are indebted for the first principles2 of all things; for hence it is that water has the property of extinguishing fire, that the sun absorbs water, that the moon produces it, and that each of those heavenly bodies is from time to time eclipsed by the other.

Hence it is, too, descending from the contemplation of a loftier sphere, that the loadstone3 possesses the property of at- tracting iron, and another stone,4 again, that of repelling it: and that the diamond, that pride of luxury and opulence, though infrangible by every other object, and presenting a resistance that cannot be overcome, is broken asunder by a he-goat's blood5—in addition to numerous other marvels of which we shall have to speak on more appropriate occasions, equal to this or still more wonderful even. My only request is that pardon may be accorded me for beginning with objects of a more humble nature, though still so greatly conducive to our health—I mean the garden plants, of which I shall now proceed to speak.

1 Fée remarks, that the commencement of this exordium is contrary to truth, and that Pliny appears to forget that in the Eighteenth Book he has treated, at very considerable length, of the various cereals, the art of preparing bread, pottages, ptisans. &c. He suggests, that the author may have originally intended to place the Eighteenth Book after the present one, and that on changing his plan he may have neglected to alter the present passage. From his mention, however, of man's "ignorance by what means he exists," it is not improbable that he may have considered that the nutritive qualities of plants are really based upon their medicinal vir- tues, a point of view little regarded by the majority of mankind in his time, but considered by Pliny to be the true key to a just appreciation of their utility.

2 "Quibus cuncta constant." See B. xxiv. c. 1.

3 See B. xxxiv. c. 42.

4 The "theamedes." See B. xxxvi. c. 25.

5 Pliny is the only author who makes mention of this singularly absurd notion.

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