Then Trypho taking the discourse said: The ancients were very curious and well acquainted with all these things, because plants were the chief ingredients of their physic. And of this some signs remain till now; for the Tyrians offer to the son of Agenor, and the Magnesians to Chiron, the first supposed practitioners of physic, as the first fruits, the roots of those plants which have been successful on a patient. And Bacchus was counted a physician not only for finding wine, the most pleasing and most potent remedy, but for bringing ivy, the greatest opposite imaginable to wine, into reputation, and for teaching his drunken followers to wear garlands of it, that by that means they might be secured against the violence of a debauch, the heat of the liquor being remitted by the coldness of the ivy. Besides, the names of several plants sufficiently evidence the ancients' curiosity in this matter; for they named the walnut-tree καρύα, because it sends forth a heavy and drowsy (καρωτικόν) spirit, which affects their heads who sleep beneath it; and the daffodil, νάρκισσος, because it benumbs the nerves and causes a stupid narcotic heaviness in the limbs; and therefore Sophocles calls it the ancient garland flower of the great (that is, the earthy) Gods. And some say rue was called πήγανον from its astringent quality; for, by its dryness proceeding from its heat, it fixes (πήγνυσι) or coagulates the seed, and is very hurtful to great-bellied women. But those that imagine the herb amethyst (ἀμέθυστος), and the precious stone of the same name, are [p. 264] called so because powerful against the force of wine, are much mistaken; for both receive their names from their color; for its leaf is not of the color of strong wine, but resembles that of weak diluted liquor. And indeed I could mention a great many which have their names from their proper virtues. But the care and experience of the ancients sufficiently appears in those of which they made their garlands when they designed to be merry and frolic over a glass of wine; for wine, especially when it seizes on the head, and strains the body just at the very spring and origin of the sense, disturbs the whole man. Now the effluvia of flowers are an admirable preservative against this, they secure the brain, as it were a citadel, against the efforts of drunkenness; for those that are hot open the pores and give the fumes free passage to exhale, and those that are moderately cold repel and keep down the ascending vapors. Of this last nature are the violet and rose; for the odors of both these are prevalent against any ache and heaviness in the head. The flowers of privet and crocus bring those that have drunk freely into a gentle sleep; for they send forth a smooth and gentle effluvia, which softly takes off all asperities that arise in the body of the drunken; and so all things being quiet and composed, the violence of the noxious humor is abated and thrown off. The smells of some flowers being received into the brain cleanse the organs and instruments of sense, and gently by their heat, without any violence or force, dissolve the humors, and warm and cherish the brain itself, which is naturally cold. Upon this account, they called those little posies they hung about their necks ὑποθύμιδες, and anointed their breasts with the oils that were squeezed from them; and of this Alcaeus is a witness, when he bids his friends,
Pour ointment o'er his laboring temples, pressed[p. 265] Hence the odors by means of the heat shoot upward into the very brain, being caught up by the nostrils. For they did not call those garlands hung about the neck ὑποθυμίδες because they thought the heart was the seat and citadel of the mind (θυμός), for on that account they should rather have called them ἐπιθυμίδες; but, as I said before, from their vapor and exhalation. Besides, it is no strange thing that these smells of garlands should be of so considerable a virtue; for some tell us that the shadow of the yew, especially when it blossoms, kills those that sleep under it; and a subtile spirit ariseth from pressed poppy, which suddenly overcomes the unwary squeezers. And there is an herb called alyssus, which to some that take it in their hands, to others that do but look on it, is found a present remedy against the hiccough; and some affirm that planted near the stalls it preserves sheep and goats from the rot and mange. And the rose is called ῥόδον, probably because it sends forth a stream (ῥεῦμα) of odors; and for that reason it withers presently. It is a cooler, yet fiery to look upon; and no wonder, for upon the surface a subtile heat, being driven out by the inward cold, looks vivid and appears.
With various cares, and o'er his aged breast.