When I had said thus much, a rhetorician in the company, a man well read in all sorts of polite learning, cried out: Good Gods! was it not but the other day that the Isthmian garland began to be made of pine? And was not the crown anciently of twined parsley? I am sure in a certain comedy a covetous man is brought in speaking thus:
The Isthmian garland I will sell as cheapAnd Timaeus the historian says that, when the Corinthians were marching to fight the Carthaginians in the defence of Sicily, some persons carrying parsley met them, and when several looked upon this as a bad omen,—because parsley is accounted unlucky, and those that are dangerously sick we usually say have need of parsley,—Timoleon encouraged them by putting them in mind of the Isthmian parsley garland with which the Corinthians used to crown the conquerors. And besides, the admiral-ship of Antigonus's navy, having by chance some parsley growing on its poop, was called Isthmia. Besides, a certain obscure epigram upon an earthen vessel stopped with parsley intimates the same thing. It runs thus:
As common wreaths of parsley may be sold.
The Grecian earth, now hardened by the flame,Sure, he continued, they never read these authors, who cry up the pine as anciently wreathed in the Isthmian garlands, and would not have it some upstart intruder. The young men yielded presently to him, as being a man of various reading and very learned. [p. 321]
Holds in its hollow belly Bacchus' blood;
And hath its mouth with Isthmian branches stopped.