previous next


Wax is made1 from the honeycombs after the honey has been extracted. For this purpose, they are first cleaned with water, and then dried three days in the shade: on the fourth day they are melted on the fire in a new earthen vessel, with sufficient water to cover them, after which the liquor is strained off in a wicker basket.2 The wax is then boiled again with the same water and in the same pot, and poured into vessels of cold water, the interior of which has been well rubbed with honey. The best wax is that known as Punic3 wax, the next best being that of a remarkably yellow colour, with the smell of honey. This last comes from Pontus, and, to my surprise, it is in no way affected by the poisonous honey which it has contained.4 The next in quality is the Cretan wax, which contains the largest proportion of propolis,5 a substance of which we have previously made mention when treating of bees. Next to these varieties comes the Corsican wax, which, being the produce of the box-tree, is generally thought to be possessed of certain medicinal properties.

The Punic wax is prepared in the following manner: yellow wax is first blanched in the open air, after which it is boiled in water from the open sea, with the addition of some nitre.6 The flower of the wax, or, in other words, the whitest part of it, is then skimmed off with spoons, and poured into a vessel containing a little cold water. After this, it is again boiled in sea-water by itself, which done, the vessel is left to cool. When this operation has been three times repeated, the wax is left in the open air upon a mat of rushes, to dry in the light of the sun and moon; for while the latter adds to its whiteness, the sun helps to dry7 it. In order, however, that it may not melt, it is the practice to cover it with a linen cloth: if, when it has been thus refined, it is boiled once more, the result is a wax of the greatest possible whiteness.

Punic wax is considered the best for all medicinal preparations. Wax is made black by the addition of ashes of papyrus, and a red colour is given to it by the admixture of alkanet; indeed, by the employment of various pigments, it is made to assume various tints, in which state it is used for making models,8 and for other purposes without number, among which we may mention varnishing walls9 and armour, to protect them from the air. We have given the other particulars relative to bees and honey, when speaking10 of the nature of those insects. We have now stated pretty nearly all that we have to say on the subject of the pleasure garden.

1 The method here described differs but little from that employed at the present day.

2 "Sporta."

3 Or Carthaginian.

4 In reality, the wax has properties totally different from those of the honey, and it is not always gathered from the same plants.

5 A kind of bee-glue. See B. xi. c. 6.

6 Neither the nitre nor the salt, Fée says, would be of the slightest utility.

7 By causing the aqueous particles that may remain in it, to evaporate.

8 Or "likenesses"—"similitudines." Waxen profiles seem to have been the favourite likenesses with the Romans: See the Asinaria of Plautus, A. iv. sc. i. 1. 19, in which one of these portraits is clearly alluded to. Also Ovid, Heroid. xiii. 1. 152, and Remed. Amor. 1. 723. The "imagines" also, or busts of their ancestors, which were kept in their "atria," were made of wax.

9 To protect the paintings, probably, with which the walls were decorated.

10 In B. xi.

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