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UPON this discourse, when we all hummed Trypho, Ammonius with a smile said: It is not decent by any contradiction to pull in pieces, like a chaplet, this various and florid discourse of Trypho's. Yet methinks the ivy is a little oddly interwoven, and unjustly said by its cold powers to temper the heat of strong wine; for it is rather fiery and hot, and its berries steeped in wine make the liquor more apt to inebriate and inflame. And from this cause, [p. 266] as in sticks warped by the fire, proceeds the crookedness of the boughs. And snow, that for many days will lie on other trees, presently melts from the branches of the ivy, and wastes all around, as far as the warmth reaches. But the greatest evidence is this. Theophrastus tells us, that when Alexander commanded Harpalus to plant some Grecian trees in the Babylonian gardens, and—because the climate is very hot and the sun violent—such as were leafy, thick, and fit to make a shade, the ivy only would not grow; though all art and diligence possible was used, it withered and died. For being hot itself, it could not agree with the fiery nature of the soil; for excess in similar qualities is destructive, and therefore we see every thing as it were affects its contrary; a cold plant flourishes in a hot ground, and a hot plant is delighted with a cold. Upon which account it is that bleak mountains, exposed to cold winds and snow, bear firs, pines, and the like, full of pitch, fiery, and excellent to make a torch. But besides, Trypho, trees of a cold nature, their little feeble heat not being able to diffuse itself but retiring to the heart, shed their leaves; but their natural oiliness and warmth preserve the laurel, olive, and cypress always green; and the like too in the ivy may be observed. And therefore it is not likely our dear friend Bacchus, who called wine μέθυ (intoxicating) and himself μεθυμναῖος, should bring ivy into reputation for being a preservative against drunkenness and an enemy to wine. But in my opinion, as lovers of wine, when they have not any juice of the grape ready, drink ale, mead, cider, or the like; thus he that in winter would have a vine-garland on his head, finding the vine naked and without leaves, used the ivy that is like it; for its boughs are twisted and irregular, its leaves moist and disorderly confused, but chiefly the berries, like ripening clusters, make an exact representation of the vine. But grant the ivy to be a preservative against drunkenness,—that to please you, Trypho, [p. 267] we may call Bacchus a physician,—still I affirm that power to proceed from its heat, which either opens the pores or helps to digest the wine.
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