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Cato1 makes mention of three varieties of the myrtle, the black, white, and the conjugula, perhaps so called from its reference to conjugal unions, and belonging to the same species as that which grew where Cluacina's statues now stand: at the present day the varieties are differently distinguished into the cultivated and the wild2 myrtle, each of which includes a kind with a large leaf. The kind known as "oxymyrsine,"3 belongs only to the wild variety: ornamental gardeners classify several varieties of the cultivated kind; the "Tarentine,"4 they speak of as a myrtle with a small leaf, the myrtle of this country5 as having a broad leaf, and the hexasticha6 as being very thickly covered with leaves, growing in rows of six: it is not, however, made any use of. There are two other kinds, that are branchy and well covered. In my opinion, the conjugula is the same that is now called the Roman myrtle. It is in Egypt that the myrtle is most odoriferous.

Cato7 has taught us how to make a wine from the black myrtle, by drying it thoroughly in the shade, and then putting it in must: he says, also, that if the berries are not quite dry, it will produce an oil. Since his time a method has been discovered of making a pale wine from the white variety; two sextarii of pounded myrtle are steeped in three semi-sextarii of wine, and the mixture is then subjected to pressure.

The leaves8 also are dried by themselves till they are capable of being reduced to a powder, which is used for the treatment of sores on the human body: this powder is of a slightly corrosive nature, and is employed also for the purpose of checking the perspiration. A thing that is still more re- markable, this oil is possessed of a certain vinous flavour, being, at the same time, of an unctuous nature, and remarkably efficacious for improving9 wines. When this is done, the wine strainer10 is dipped in the oil before it is used, the result of which is that it retains the lees of the wine, and allows nothing but the pure liquor to escape, while at the same time it accompanies the wine and causes a marked improvement in its flavour.

Sprigs of myrtle, if carried by a person when travelling on foot, are found to be very refreshing11 on a long journey. Rings, too, made of myrtle which has never been touched by iron, are an excellent specific for swellings in the groin.12

1 De Re Rust. c. 8,

2 The so-called wild myrtle does not in reality belong to the genus Myrtus.

3 See B. xxiii. c. 83; the Ruscus aculeatus of the family of the Asparagea.

4 The common myrtle, Myrtus communis of the naturalists.

5 Or Roman myrtle, a variety of the Myrtus communis.

6 The "six row" myrtle. Fée thinks that it belongs to the Myrtus angustifolia Bœtica of Bauhin.

7 De Re Rust. 125.

8 See B. xxiii. c. 81.

9 A new proof, as Fée remarks, that the ancients had peculiar notions of their own, as to the flavour of wine; myrtle berries, he says, would impart to wine a detestable aromatic flavour.

10 "Saccis:" the strainer being made of cloth.See B. xiv. e. 28.

11 They would be of no assistance whatever, and this statement is entirely fictitious.

12 He may possibly mean hernia.

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