previous next


It is universally agreed, that the best gum is that produced from the Egyptian thorn;1 it is of variegated appearance, of azure colour, clean, free from all admixture of bark, and adheres to the teeth; the price at which it sells is three denarii per pound. That produced from the bitter almond- tree and the cherry2 is of an inferior kind, and that which is gathered from the plum-tree is the worst of all. The vine, too, produces a gum,3 which is of the greatest utility in healing the sores of children; while that which is sometimes found on the olive-tree4 is used for the tooth-ache. Gum is also found on the elm5 upon Mount Corycus in Cilicia, and upon the juniper,6 but it is good for nothing; indeed, the gum of the elm found there is apt to breed gnats. From the sarcocolla7 also—such is the name of a certain tree—a gum exudes that is remarkably useful to painters8 and medical men; it is similar to incense dust in appearance, and for those purposes the white kind is preferable to the red. The price of it is the same as that mentioned above.9

1 The Acacia Nilotica of Linnæus, from which we derive the gum Arabic of commerce; and of which a considerable portion is still derived from Egypt.

2 These gums are chemically different from gum Arabic, and they are used for different purposes in the arts.

3 The vine does not produce a gum; but when the sap ascends, a juice is secreted, which sometimes becomes solid on the evaporation of the aqueous particles. This substance contains acetate of potassa, which, by the decomposition of that salt, becomes a carbonate of the same base.

4 This is not a gum, but a resinous product of a peculiar nature. It is known to the moderns by the name of "olivine."

5 The sap of the eim leaves a saline deposit on the bark, principally formed of carbonate of potassa. Fée is at a loss to know whether Pliny here alludes to this or to the manna which is incidentally formed by certain insects on some trees and reeds. But, as he justly says, would Pliny say of the latter that it is "ad nihil utile"—"good for nothing"?

6 A resinous product, no doubt. The frankincense of Africa has been attributed by some to the Juniperus Lycia and Phoenicia.

7 The Penæa Sarcocolla of Linnæus. The gum resin of this tree is still brought from Abyssinia, but it is not used in medicine. This account is from is Dioscorides, B. iii. c. 99. The name is from the Greek σαρξ, "flesh," and κόλλα, "glue."

8 See B. xxiv. c. 7.

9 Three denarii per pound.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Latin (Karl Friedrich Theodor Mayhoff, 1906)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

hide References (3 total)
  • Cross-references in general dictionaries to this page (3):
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: