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Among the Greeks, the physicians Mnesitheus and Callimachus have written separate treatises on the subject of chaplets, making mention of such flowers as are injurious to the head.1 For, in fact, the health is here concerned to some extent, as it is at the moments of carousal and gaiety in particular that penetrating odours steal insidiously upon the brain—witness an instance in the wicked cunning displayed upon one occasion by Cleopatra.

At the time when preparations were making for the battle that was eventually fought at Actium, Antonius held the queen in such extreme distrust as to be in dread of her very attentions even, and would not so much as touch his food, unless another person had tasted it first. Upon this, the queen, it is said, wishing to amuse herself with his fears, had the extremities of the flowers in a chaplet dipped in poison, and then placed it upon her head.2 After a time, as the hilarity increased apace, she challenged Antonius to swallow the chap- lets, mixed up with their drink. Who, under such circumstances as these, could have apprehended treachery? Accordingly, the leaves were stripped from off the chaplet, and thrown into the cup. Just as Antonius was on the very point of drinking, she arrested his arm with her hand.—"Behold, Marcus Antonius," said she, "the woman against whom you are so careful to take these new precautions of yours in employing your tasters! And would then, if I could exist without you, either means or opportunity of effecting my purpose be wanting to me?" Saying this, she ordered a man to be brought from prison, and made him drink off the potion; he did so, and fell dead3 upon the spot.

Besides the two authors above-mentioned, Theophrastus,4 among the Greeks, has written on the subject of flowers. Some of our own writers also have given the title of "Anthologica" to their works, but no one, to my knowledge at least, has treated expressly5 of flowers. In fact, we ourselves have no intention here of discussing the mode of wearing chaplets, for that would be frivolous6 indeed; but shall proceed to state such particulars in relation to flowers as shall appear to us deserving of remark.

1 It is a well-known fact, as Fée remarks, that the smell of flowers is productive, in some persons, of head-ache, nausea, and vertigo. He states also that persons have been known to meet their death from sleeping all night in the midst of odoriferous flowers.

2 "Ipsaque capiti imposita." Holland and Ajasson render this as though Cleopatra placed the garland on Antony's head, and not her own. Littré agrees with the translation here adopted.

3 Fée remarks that we know of no poisons, hydrocyanic or prussic acid excepted, so instantaneous in their effects as this; and that it is very doubtful if they were acquainted with that poison.

4 Hist. Plant. B. vi. cc. 6, 7.

5 "Persecutus est."

6 A characteristic, it would appear, of the greater part of the information already given in this Book.

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