Now with respect to dried figs. Those which came from Attica were always considered a great deal the best. Accordingly Dinon, in his History of Persia, says—“And they used to serve up at the royal table all the fruits which the earth produces as far as the king's dominions extend, being brought to him from every district as a sort of first-fruits. And the first king did not think it becoming for the kings either to eat or drink anything which came from any foreign country; and this idea gradually acquired the force of a law. For once, when one of the eunuchs brought the king, among the rest of the dishes at dessert, some Athenian dried figs, the king asked where they came from. And when he heard that they came from Athens, he forbade those who had bought them to buy them for him any more, until it should be in his power to take them whenever he chose, and not to buy them. And it is said that the eunuch did this on purpose, with a view to remind him of the expedition against Attica.” And Alexis, in his Pilot, says—
Then came in figs, the emblem of fair Athens,And Lynceus, in his epistle to the comic poet, Posidippus, says—“In the delineation of the tragic passions, I do not think that Euripides is at all superior to Sophocles, but in dried figs, I do think that Attica is superior to every other country on earth.” And in his letter to Diagoras, he writes thus:—"But this country opposes to the Chelidonian dried figs those which are called Brigindaridæ, which in their name indeed are barbarous, but which in delicious flavour are not at all less Attic than the others. And Phœnicides, in his Hated Woman, says—
And bunches of sweet thyme.
They celebrate the praise of myrtle-berries,In which lines we must take notice of the mention of the [p. 1044] woodcock. But Philemon, in his treatise on Attic Names, says that “the most excellent dried figs are those called Aegilides; and that Aegila is the name of a borough in Attica, which derives its name from a hero called Aegilus; but that the dried figs of a reddish black colour are called Chelidonians.” Theopompus also, in the Peace, praising the Tithrasian figs, speaks thus—
Of honey, of the Propylæa, and of figs;
Now these I tasted when I first arrived,
And saw the Propylæa; yet have I found nothing
Which to a woodcock can for taste compare.
Barley cakes, cheesecakes, and Tithrasian figs.But dried figs were so very much sought after by all men, (for really, as Aristophanes says—
There's really nothing nicer than dried figs;)that even Amitrochates, the king of the Indians, wrote to Antiochus, entreating him (it is Hegesander who tells this story) to buy and send him some sweet wine, and some dried figs, and a sophist; and that Antiochus wrote to him in answer, "The dried figs and the sweet wine we will send you; but it is not lawful for a sophist to be sold in Greece. The Greeks were also in the habit of eating dried figs roasted, as Pherecrates proves by what he says in the Corianno, where we find—
But pick me out some of those roasted figs.And a few lines later he says—
Will you not bring me here some black dried figsI am aware, too, that Pamphilus has mentioned a kind of dried figs, which he calls προκνίδες.
Dost understand? Among the Mariandyni,
That barbarous tribe, they call these black dried figs