Table of Contents:
But concerning the Naucratite Crown, and what kind of flowers that is made of, I made many investigations, and inquired a great deal without learning anything, till at last I fell in with a book of Polycharmus of Naucratis, entitled On Venus, in which I found the following passage: —“But in the twenty-third Olympiad Herostratus, a fellow-countryman of mine, who was a merchant, and as such had sailed to a great many different countries, coming by chance to Paphos, in Cyprus, bought an image of Venus, a span high, of very ancient workmanship, and came away meaning to bring it to Naucratis. And as he was sailing near the, Egyptian coast, a violent storm suddenly overtook him, and the sailors could not tell where they were, and so they all had recourse to this image of Venus, entreating her to save them. And the goddess, for she was kindly disposed towards the men of Naucratis, on a sudden filled all the space near her with branches of green myrtle, and diffused a most delicious odor over the whole ship, when all the sailors had previously despaired of safety from their violent sea-sickness. And after they had been all very sick, the sun shone out, and they, Seeing the landmarks, came in safety into Naucratis. And Herostratus having disembarked from the ship with his image, and carrying with him also the green branches of myrtle which had so suddenly appeared to him, consecrated it and them in the temple of Venus. And having sacrificed to the gooddess, and having consecrated the image to Venus, and invited all his relations and most intimate friends to a banquet in the temple, he gave every one of them a garland of these branches of myrtle, to which garlands he then gave the name of Naucratite.” This is the account given by Polcharmus; and I myself believe the statement, and believe that the Naucratite garland is no other than one made of myrtle, especially as in Anacreon it is represented as worn with one made of roses. And Philonides has said that the garland made of myrtle acts as a check upon the fumes of wine, and that the one made of roses, in addition to its cooling qualities, is to a certain extent a remedy for headache. And, therefore, those men are only to be laughed at, who say that the Naucratite garland is the wreath made of what is called by the [p. 1080] Egyptians biblus, quoting the statement of Theopompus, in the third book of his History of Greece, where he says, “That when Agesilaus the Lacedæmonian arrived in Egypt, the Egyptians sent him many presents, and among them the papyrus, which is used for making garlands.” But I do not know what pleasure or advantage there could be in having a crown made of biblus with roses, unless people who are enamoured of such a wreath as this should also take a fancy to wear crowns of garlic and roses together. But I know that a great many people say that the garland made of the sampsychon or amaracus is the Naucratite garland; and this plant is very plentiful in Egypt, but the myrtle in Egypt is superior in sweetness to that which is found in any other country, as Theophrastus relates in another place.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.