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We know, too, that from plants are extracted admirable colours for dyeing; and, not to mention the berries1 of Galatia,2 Africa, and Lusitania, which furnish the coccus, a dye reserved for the military costume3 of our generals, the people of Gaul beyond the Alps produce the Tyrian colours, the conchyliated,4 and all the other hues, by the agency of plants5 alone. They have not there to seek the murex at tine bottom of the sea, or to expose themselves to be the prey of the monsters of the deep, while tearing it from their jaws, nor have they to go searching in depths to which no anchor has penetrated—and all this for the purpose of finding the means whereby some mother of a family may appear more charming in the eyes of her paramour, or the seducer may make himself more captivating to the wife of another man. Standing on dry land, the people there gather in their dyes just as we do our crops of corn—though one great fault in them is, that they wash6 out; were it not for which, luxury would have the means of bedecking itself with far greater magnificence, or, at all events, at the price of far less danger.

It is not my purpose, however, here to enter further into these details, nor shall I make the attempt, by substituting resources attended with fewer risks, to circumscribe luxury within the limits of frugality; though, at the same time, I shall have to speak on another occasion how that vegetable productions are employed for staining stone and imparting their colours to walls.7 Still, however, I should not have omitted to enlarge upon the art of dyeing, had I found that it had ever been looked upon as forming one of our liberal8 arts. Meantime, I shall be actuated by higher considerations, and shall proceed to show in what esteem we are bound to hold the mute9 plants even, or in other words, the plants of little note. For, indeed, the authors and founders of the Roman sway have derived from these very plants even almost boundless results; as it was these same plants, and no others, that afforded them the "sagmen,"10 employed in seasons of public calamity, and the "verbena" of our sacred rites and embassies. These two names, no doubt, originally signified the same thing, —a green turf torn up from the citadel with the earth attached to it; and hence, when envoys were dispatched to the enemy for the purpose of clarigation, or, in other words, with the object of clearly11 demanding restitution of property that had been carried off, one of these officers was always known as the "verbenarius."12

1 "Granis." What the ancients took to be a vegetable substance, is now known to be an insect, the kermes of the Quercus coccifera.

2 See B. ix. c. 63.

3 "Paludamentis." The "paliudamentum" was the cloak worn by a Roman general when in command, his principal officers, and personal attendants. It was open in front, reached to the knees or thereabout, and hung over the shoulders, being fastened across the chest by a clasp. It was commonly white or purple.

4 For an account of all these colours see B. ix. cc. 60–65.

5 The vaccinium for instance. See B. xvi. c. 31.

6 Fée thinks that

7 Fée thinks that the art of dyeing with alkanet and madder may be here alluded to. 11 See B. xxxv. c. 1.

8 The "good," "ingenuous," or "liberal" arts were those which might be practised by free men without loss of dignity. Pliny is somewhat inconsistent here, for he makes no scruple at enlarging upon the art of medicine, which among the Romans was properly not a liberal, but a servile, art.

9 "Surdisart of dyeing with alkanet and madder may be her alluded too."

10 Festus says the "verbenæ," or pure herbs, were called "sagmina," because they were taken from a sacred (sacer) place. It is more generally supposed that "sagmen" comes from "sanction," "to render inviolable," the person of the bearer being looked upon as inviolable.

11 "Clare."

12 Or bearer of the "verbena." See further on this subject in B. xxv. c. 59.

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