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Serĭcum

σηρικόν, βομβύκια). Silk. Silk was known to the Greeks and Romans, who generally supposed that it grew upon leaves and was scraped off them (Strabo, xv. p. 693). It was imported overland from China through Samarcand and the Persian Gulf, and thence to Phœnicia (or Egypt) and Rome (Anecd. 25), probably in woven pieces. Silk soon became popular, and was worn even by men (Tac. Ann. ii. 33), so that its use became the subject of legislative enactment, as by Tiberius, who discouraged it, and Caligula, who approved of it (Suet. Cal. 52). It was always very expensive, and at one time, at least, sold for its weight in gold (Vopisc. Aurel. 45). It was frequently mixed with flax or wool (subserica and tramoserica), from which a garment of pure silk was distinguished by the name holoserica. Raw silk began to be produced in Europe in the reign of Justinian (A.D. 530), silkworms having then been brought to Constantinople by monks, and the production of silk was long a flourishing industry, though it was a government monopoly. See Pariset, Histoire de la Soie, i. pp. 1- 90; Wardle, Silk (1888); and Blümner, Technologie, i. 192.

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