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THIS discourse ended, the next question was about fig-trees, how so luscious and sweet fruit should come from so bitter a tree. For the leaf from its roughness is called θρίον. The wood of it is full of sap, and as it burns sends forth a very biting smoke; and the ashes of it thoroughly burnt are so acrimonious, that they make a lye extremely detersive. And, which is very strange, all other trees that bud and bear fruit put forth blossoms too; but the fig-tree never blossoms. And if (as some say) it is never thunderstruck, that likewise may be attributed to the sharp juices and bad temper of the stock; for such things are as secure from thunder as the skin of a sea calf or hyena. Then said the old man: It is no wonder that when all the sweetness is separated and employed in making the fruit, that which is left should be bitter and unsavory. For as the liver, all the gall being gathered in its proper place, is itself very sweet; so the fig-tree having parted with its oil and sweet particles to the fruit, reserves no portions for itself. For that this tree hath some good juice, I gather from what they say of rue, which growing under a fig-tree is sweeter than usual, and hath a sweeter and more palatable juice, as if it drew some sweet particles from the tree which mollified its offensive and corroding qualities; unless perhaps, on the [p. 336] contrary, the fig-tree robbing it of its nourishment draws likewise some of its sharpness and bitterness away.
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