With respect to Figs.-The fig-tree, says Magnus, (for I will not allow any one to take what I have to say about figs out of my mouth, not if I were to be hanged for it, for I am most devilishly fond of figs, and I will say what occurs to me;) "the fig-tree, my friends, was the guide to men to lead them to a more civilized life. And this is plain from the fact that the Athenians call the place where it was first discovered The Sacred Fig; and the fruit from it they call hegeteria, that is to say, “the guide,” because that was the first to be discovered of all the fruits now in cultivation. Now there are many species of figs;—there is the Attic sort, which Antiphanes speaks of in his Synonymes; and when he is praising the land of Attica, he says—
A. What fruits this land produces!And Isistrus, in his “Attics,” says that it was forbidden to export out of Attica the figs which grew in that country, in order that the inhabitants might have the exclusive enjoyment of them. And as many people were detected in sending them away surreptitiously, those who laid informations against them before the judges were then first called sycophants. And Alexis says, in his “The Poet”—
Superior, O Hipponicus, to the world.
What honey, what bread, what figs!
Hipp. It does, by Jove!
Bear wondrous figs.
The name of sycophant is one which doesAnd Philomnestus, in his treatise on the Festival of Apollo at Rhodes, which is called the Sminthian festival, says—"Since the sycophant got his name from these circumstance, because [p. 126] at that time there were fines and taxes imposed upon figs and oil and wine, by the produce of which imposts they found money for the public expenses; they called those who exacted these fines and laid these informations sycophants, which was very natural, selecting those who were accounted the most considerable of the citizens.
Of right apply to every wicked person;
For figs when added to a name might show
Whether the man was good and just and pleasant
But now when a sweet name is given a rogue,
It makes us doubt why this should be the case.