previous next


Other authors, again, have erroneously taken the glycyrrhiza1 to be a kind of eryngium: it will, therefore, be as well to take this opportunity of making some further mention of it. There can be no doubt, however, that this is one of the thorny plants, the leaves of it being covered with prickles,2 substantial, and viscous and gummy to the touch: it has much the appearance of a shrub, is a couple of cubits in height, and bears a flower like that of the hyacinth, and a fruit the size of the little round balls3 of the plane. The best kind is that grown in Cilicia, and the next best that of Pontus the root of it is sweet, and this is the only part that is used. It is gathered at the setting of the Vergiliæ,4 the root of it being long, like that of the vine.5 That which is yellow, the colour of boxwood in fact, is superior to the darker kind, and the flexible is better than the brittle. Boiled down to one-third, it is employed for pessaries; but, for general purposes, a decoction is made of it of the consistency of honey. Sometimes, also, it is used pounded, and it is in this form that it is applied as a liniment for wounds and all affections of the throat. The juice6 of it is also very good for the voice, for which purpose it is thickened and then placed beneath the tongue: it is good, too, for the chest and liver.

We have already stated7 that this plant has the effect of allaying hunger and thirst: hence it is that some authors have given it the name of "adipsos,"8 and have prescribed it for dropsical patients, to allay thirst. It is for this reason, too, that it is chewed as a stomatic,9 and that the powder of it is often sprinkled on ulcerous sores of the mouth and films10 on the eyes: it heals, too, excrescences11 of the bladder, pains in the kidneys, condylomtata,12 and ulcerous sores of the genitals. Some persons have given it in potions for quartan fevers, the doses being two drachmæ, mixed with pepper in one hemina of water. Chewed, and applied to wounds, it arrests hæmorrhage:13 some authors have asserted, also, that it expels calculi of the bladder.

1 Or "sweet-root," our liquorice; the Glycyrrhiza glabra of Linnæus. In reality, Fée remarks, there is no resemblance whatever between it and the Eryngium, no kind of liquorice being prickly.

2 "Echinatis;" literally, "like a hedge-hog." Pliny, it is supposed, read here erroneously in the Greek text, (from which Dioscorides has also borrowed) ἐοικότα ἐχίνῳ, "like a hedge-hog," for ἐοικότα σχίνῳ, "like those of the lentisk."

3 "Pilularum."

4 Or Pleiades.

5 Dioscorides compares the root, with less exactness, with that of gentian.

6 The same preparation that is known to us as Spanish liquorice or Spanish juice.

7 In B. xi. c. 119. It certainly has the effect of palling the appetite, but in many people it has the effect of creating thirst instead of allaying it. Fée thinks that from the fecula and sugar that it contains, it may possibly be nourishing, and he states that it is the basis of a favourite liquor in the great cities of France. Spanish liquorice water is used in England, but only by school-boys, as a matter of taste, and by patients as a matter of necessity.

8 The Greek for "without thirst."

9 Or "mouth medicine." Beyond being a bechie, or cough-medicine, it has no medicinal properties whatever.

10 "Pterygiis." The word "pterygia" has been previously used as meaning a sort of hang-nail, or, perhaps, whitlow.

11 "Scabiem."

12 Swellings of the anus more particularly.

13 It has in reality no such effect.

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 (2 total)
  • Cross-references to this page (1):
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), EXE´RCITUS
  • Cross-references in general dictionaries to this page (1):
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: