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The people of our country were acquainted with but very few garland flowers among the garden plants, and those few hardly any but the violet and the rose. The plant which bears the rose is, properly speaking, more of a thorn than a shrub—indeed, we sometimes find it growing on a bramble1 even; the flower having, even then, a pleasant smell, though by no means penetrating. The flower in all roses is originally enclosed in a bud,2 with a grained surface within, which gradually swells, and assumes the form of a green pointed cone, similar to our alabaster3 unguent boxes in shape. Gradually acquiring a ruddy tint, this bud opens little by little, until at last it comes into full blow, developing the calyx, and embracing the yellow-pointed filaments which stand erect in the centre of it.

The employment of the rose in chaplets is, so to say, the least4 use that is made of it. The flower is steeped in oil, a practice which has prevailed from the times of the Trojan war, as Homer5 bears witness; in addition to which, it now forms an ingredient in our unguents, as mentioned on a previous occasion.6 It is employed also by itself for certain medicinal purposes, and is used in plasters and eye-salves7 for its penetrating qualities: it is used, also, to perfume the delicacies of our banquets, and is never attended with any noxious results.

The most esteemed kinds of rose among us are those of Præneste8 and Campania.9 Some persons have added to these varieties the rose of Miletus,10 the flower of which is an ex- tremely brilliant red, and has never more than a dozen petals. The next to it is the rose of Trachyn,11 not so red as the last, and then that of Alabanda,12 with whitish petals, but not so highly esteemed. The least esteemed of all, however, is the thorn rose,13 the petals of which are numerous, but extremely small. The essential points of difference in the rose are the number14 of the petals, the comparative number15 of thorns on the stem, the colour, and the smell. The number of the petals, which is never less than five, goes on increasing in amount, till we find one variety with as many as a hundred, and thence known as the "centifolia:"16 in Italy, it is to be found in Campania, and in Greece, in the vicinity of Philippi, though this last is not the place of its natural17 growth. Mount Pan- gæus,18 in the same vicinity, produces a rose with numerous petals of diminutive size: the people of those parts are in the habit of transplanting it, a method which greatly tends to im- prove its growth. This kind, however, is not remarkable for its smell, nor yet is the rose which has a very large or very broad petal: indeed, we may state in a few words, that the best proof of the perfume of the flower is the comparative roughness of the calyx.19

Cæpio, who lived in the reign of the Emperor Tiberius, asserts that the centifolia is never employed for chaplets, except at the extreme20 points of union as it were, being remarkable neither for its smell21 nor its beauty. There is another variety of rose, too, called the "Grecian" rose by our people, and "lychnis"22 by the Greeks: it grows nowhere except in humid soils, and has never more than five petals: it does not exceed the violet in size, and is destitute of smell. There is another kind, again, known to us as the "Græcula,"23 the petals of which are tightly rolled together, and which never open except when pressed in the hand, it having always the appearance, in fact, of being in bud: the petals of it are remarkably large. Another kind, again, springs from a stem like that of the mallow, the leaves being similar to those of the olive—the name given to it is "macetum."24 There is the rose of autumn, too, known to us as the "coroniola,"25 which is of a middle size, between the varieties just mentioned. All these kinds, however, are destitute of smell, with the exception of the coroniola, and the one which grows on the bramble:26 so extended is the scope for fictitious27 productions!

And, indeed, the genuine rose, for the most part, is indebted for its qualities to the nature of the soil. That of Cyrenæ28 is the most odoriferous of all, and hence it is that the unguents of that place are so remarkably fine: at Carthage, again, in Spain, there are early29 roses throughout all the winter. The temperature, too, of the climate is not without its influence: for in some years we find the roses much less odoriferous than in others; in addition to which, their smell is always more powerful when grown in dry soils30 than in humid ones. The rose does not admit of being planted in either a rich or an argillaccous soil, nor yet on irrigated land; being contented with a thin, light earth, and more particularly attached to ground on which old building rubbish has been laid.

The rose of Campania is early, that of Miletus late, but it is the rose of Præneste that goes off the very latest of all. For the rose, the ground is generally dug to a greater depth than it is for corn, but not so deep as for the vine. It grows but very slowly31 from the seed, which is found in the calyx beneath the petals of the flower, covered with a sort of down; hence it is that the method of grafting is usually the one preferred, or else propagation from the eyes of the root, as in the reed.32 One kind is grafted, which bears a pale flower, with thorny branches of a remarkable length; it belongs to the quinquefolia variety, being one of the Greek roses.33 All roses are improved by being pruned and cauterized; transplanting, too, makes them grow, like the vine, all the better, and with the greatest rapidity. The slips are cut some four fingers in length or more, and are planted immediately after the setting of the Vergiliæ; then, while the west winds are prevalent, they are transplanted at intervals of a foot, the earth being frequently turned up about them.

Persons whose object it is to grow early roses, make a hole a foot in width about the root, and pour warm water into it, at the period when the buds are beginning to put forth.34

1 He alludes to the wild rose or eglantine. See B. xvi. c. 71.

2 "Granoso cortice."

3 Boxes of a pyramidal shape. See B. ix. c. 56.

4 Still, even for that purpose the rose was very extensively used. One ancient author states that, even in the middle of winter, the more luxurious Romans were not satisfied without roses swimming in their Falernian wine; and we find Horace repeatedly alluding to the chaplets of roses worn by the guests at banquets. Hence probably arose the expression, "Under the rose." Fée is evidently mistaken in thinking that Pliny implies here, that it was but rarely used in chaplets.

5 I. xxiii. 1. 186.

6 B. xiii. c. 2.

7 "Collyriis."

8 Clusius was of opinion that this was the Provence rose, the Rosa Gallica of Linnæus.

9 The same rose, probably, of which Virgil says, Georg. B. iv. l. 119, "Biferique rosaria Pæsti"—"And the rose-beds of Pæstum, that bear twice in the year." It has been suggested that it is identical with the Rosa alba vulgaris major of Bauhin, the Rosa alba of Decandolle: but, as Fée says, it is very questionable if this is correct, this white rose blossoming but once a year.

10 A simple variety of the Rosa Gallica of Linnæus, Fée thinks.

11 See B. iv. c. 14. According to J. Bauhin, this is the pale, flesh-coloured rose, called the "rose of France,"—the "Rosa rubello flore, majore, pleno, incarnata vulgo." Others, again, take it to be the Damascus rose.

12 See B. v. c. 29. A variety of the white rose, Fée thinks, the determination of which must be sought among the Eglantines.

13 "Spiniola." A variety belonging to or approaching the Eglantine in all probability. Fée makes mention here of a kind called the Rosa myriacantha by Decandolle (the "thousand-thorn rose"), which is found in great abundance in the south of Europe, and other parts of it.

14 Fée remarks on this passage, that the beauty of the flower and the number of the petals are always in an inverse proportion to the number of thorns, which disappear successively the more carefully the plant is cultivated.

15 This is most probably the meaning of "Asperitate, levore."

16 Still known as the "Rosa centifolia." Its petals sometimes exceed three hundred in number; and it is the most esteemed of all for its fragrant smell.

17 "Non suæ terræ proventu."

18 This rose is mentioned also by Theophrastus, Hist. Plant. B. vi. c. 6. From the description that Pliny gives of it, Fée is inclined to think that it is some variety of the Rosa rubrifolia, which is often found in mountainous localities.

19 This assertion is borrowed from Theophrastus, Hist. Plant. B. vi. c. 6. Fée remarks that there is no truth in it. It is not improbable, however, that the word "cortex" here may mean, not the calyx, but the bark of the stem, in reference to its exemption from thorns. The τραχὺ τὸ κάτω of Theophrastus would seem to admit of that rendering. See Note55 above.

20 "Extremas velut ad cardines."

21 This is not the case with the Rosa centifolia of modern botany. See Note57 above. It is not improbable, however, that the reading is "probabilis," and that this passage belongs to the next sentence.

22 The Lychnis, Fée remarks, is erroneously classed by Pliny among the roses, It is generally agreed among naturalists that it is the garden flower, the Agrostemma coronaria of Linnæus; which, however, does not grow in humid soils, but in steep, rocky places.

23 Or "small Greek" rose. Some commentators have identified it with the Rosa silvestris, odorata, flore albo of C. Bauhin, a wild white rose.

24 Sillig thinks that this may mean the "Macedonian" rose. Another reading is "moscheuton." Fée says that it is not a rose at all, but one of the Malvaceæ belonging to the genus Alcæa; one variety of which is called the Alcæa rosa.

25 Or "little chaplet." Possibly a variety of the Eglantine, the Rosa canina or dog-rose, Fée suggests.

26 The Eglantine.

27 This seems to be the meaning of "tot modis adulteratur:" the roses without smell appearing to him to be not genuine roses.

28 The Rosa Damascena of Miller, Fée thinks, our Damascus rose.

29 The earliest rose in France and Spain, Fée says, is the "pompon," the variety Pomponæa of the Rosa centifolia.

30 This is consistent with modern experience.

31 From Theophrastus, Hist. Plant. B. vi. c. 6. The rose is but very rarely reproduced from seed.

32 See B. xvi. c. 67, and B. xvii. c. 33.

33 Previously mentioned in this Chapter. The meaning of this passage, however, is extremely doubtful. "Unum genus inseritur pallidæ, spinosæ. longissimis virgis, quinquifoliæ, quæ Græcis altera est."

34 If the water was only lukewarm, Fée says, it would be of no use, and if hotter, the speedy death of the tree would be the result.

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