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As to Democritus, there can be no doubt that the work called "Chirocmeta"1 belongs to him. How very much more marvellous too are the accounts given in this book by the philosopher who, next to Pythagoras, has acquired the most intimate knowledge of the learning of the Magi! According to him, the plant aglaophotis,2 which owes its name to the admiration in which its beauteous tints are held by man, is found growing among the marble quarries of Arabia, on the side of Persia, a circumstance which has given it the additional name of "marmaritis." By means of this plant, he says, the Magi can summon the deities into their presence when they please.

The achæmenis,3 he says, a plant the colour of amber, and destitute of leaves, grows in the country of the Tradastili, an Indian race. The root of it, divided into lozenges and taken in wine in the day time, torments the guilty to such a degree during the night by the various forms of avenging deities presented to the imagination, as to extort from them a confession of their crimes. He gives it the name also of "hippophobas," it being an especial object of terror to mares.

The theobrotion4 is a plant found at a distance of thirty schœnis5 from the river Choaspes; it represents the varied tints of the peacock, and the odour of it is remarkably fine. The kings of Persia, he says, are in the habit of taking it in their food or drink, for all maladies of the body, and derangements of the mind. It has the additional name of semnion,6 from the use thus made of it by majesty.

He next tells us of the adamantis,7 a plant grown in Armenia and Cappadocia: presented to a lion, he says, the beast will fall upon its back, and drop its jaws. Its name originates in the fact that it is impossible to bruise it. The arianis,8 he says, is found in the country of the Ariani; it is of a fiery colour, and is gathered when the sun is in Leo. Wood rubbed with oil will take fire on coming in contact with this plant. The therionarca,9 he tells us, grows in Cappadocia and Mysia; it has the effect of striking wild beasts of all kinds with a torpor which can only be dispelled by sprinkling them with the urine of the hyæna. He speaks too of the æthiopis,10 a plant which grows in Meroë; for which reason it is also known as the "meroïs." In leaf it resembles the lettuce, and, taken with honied wine, it is very good for dropsy. The ophiusa,11 which is found in Elephantine, an island also of Æthiopia, is a plant of a livid colour, and hideous to the sight. Taken by a person in drink, he says, it inspires such a horror of serpents, which his imagination continually represents as menacing him, that he commits suicide at last; hence it is that persons guilty of sacrilege are compelled to drink an infusion of it. Palm wine, he tells us, is the only thing that neutralizes its effects.

The thalassægle12 he speaks of as being found on the banks of the river Indus, from which circumstance it is also known as the potamaugis.13 Taken in drink it produces a delirium,14 which presents to the fancy visions of a most extraordinary nature. The theangelis,15 he says, grows upon Mount Li- banus in Syria, upon the chain of mountains called Dicte in Crete, and at Babylon and Susa in Persis. An infusion of it in drink, imparts powers of divination to the Magi. The gelotophyllis16 too, is a plant found in Bactriana, and on the banks of the Borysthenes. Taken internally with myrrh and wine, all sorts of visionary forms present themselves, and excite the most immoderate laughter, which can only be put an end to by taking kernels of the pine-nut, with pepper and honey, in palm wine.

The hestiatoris,17 he tells us, is a Persian plant, so called from its promotion of gaiety and good fellowship at carousals. Another name for it is protomedia, because those who eat of it will gain the highest place in the royal favour. The casignetes18 too, we learn, is so called, because it grows only among plants of its own kind, and is never found in company with any other; another name given to it is "dionysonymphas,"19 from the circumstance of its being remarkably well adapted to the nature of wine. Helianthes20 is the name he gives to a plant found in the regions of Themiscyra and the mountainous parts of maritime Cilicia, with leaves like those of myrtle. This plant is boiled up with lion's fat, saffron and palm wine being added; the Magi, he tells us, and Persian monarchs are in the habit of anointing the body with the preparation, to add to its graceful appearance: he states also, that for this reason it has the additional name of "heliocallis."21 What the same author calls "hermesias,"22 has the singular virtue of ensuring the procreation of issue, both beautiful as well as good. It is not a plant, however, but a composition made of kernels of pine nuts, pounded with honey, myrrh, saffron, and palm wine, to which theobrotium23 and milk are then added. He also recommends those who wish to become parents to drink this mixture, and says, that females should take it immediately after conception, and during pregnancy.24 If this is done, he says, the infant will be sure to be endowed with the highest qualities, both in mind and body. In addition to what has here been stated, Democritus gives the various names by which all these plants are known to the Magi.

Apollodorus, one of the followers of Democritus, has added to this list the herb æschynomene,25 so called from the shrinking of its leaves at the approach of the hand; and another called "crocis,"26 the touch of which is fatal to the phalangium. Crateuas, also, speaks of the œnotheris,27 an infusion of which in wine, sprinkled upon them, has the effect of taming all kind of animals, however wild. A celebrated grammarian,28 who lived but very recently, has described the anacampseros,29 the very touch of which recalls former love, even though hatred should have succeeded in its place. It will be quite sufficient for the present to have said thus much in reference to the remarkable virtues attributed to certain plants by the Magi; as we shall have occasion to revert to this subject in a more appropriate place.30

1 "The work of his own hands," according to Hesychius.

2 "Admiration of man." It is impossible to say what plant is meant under this name, but the pæony, Pæonia officinalis, has been suggested; also the Tropæolum majus. Desfontaines queries whether it may not he the Cæsalpinia pulcherrima, a native of the East. Some authors, Fée says, have identified it with the "Moly" of Homer.

3 So called from Achæmenes, the ancestor of the Persian kings. Fée thinks that it was a variety of the Euphorbia antiquorum, or else a night- shade.

4 "Food for the gods"

5 See B. xii. c. 30; also the Introduction to Vol. III.

6 "Venerable" or "majestic."

7 "Hard as a diamond."

8 The Spina Ariana is mentioned in B. xii. c. 18.

9 See B. xx. c. 65, where a plant is mentioned by this name.

10 Dalechamps thinks that an Euphorbia is meant under this name.

11 "Serpent-plant." Fée thinks that a hemlock may possibly be meant, or perhaps the Arum serpentaria; see c. 93 of this Book.

12 "Brightness of the sea." A narcotic plant, Fée thinks, probably a night-shade.

13 Hardouin suggests "potamitis," river-plant.

14 It is not impossible that this may in reality be an allusion to the. effects of opium, or of hasheesh.

15 "Messenger of the gods," apparently.

16 "Laughing leaves." Possibly, Fée thinks, the Ranunculus philonotis, the Herba Sardoa or Sardonic plant of Virgil, known by some authorities as the Apium risus, or "laughing parsley." Desfontaines suggests that hemp (prepared in the form of hasheesh) is meant.

17 "Convivial" plant. Desfontaines identifies it with the Areca catechu, which is chewed in India for the benefit of the teeth and stomach, and as a sweetener of the breath.

18 "Brother" plant.

19 "Bride of Dionysus or Bacchus."

20 "Sun-flower." Not the plant, however, known to us by that name.

21 "Beauty of the sun," apparently.

22 "Mixture of Hermes," apparently.

23 Previously mentioned in this Chapter.

24 As Fée remarks, it has been a notion in comparatively recent times, that it is possible to procreate children of either sex at pleasure.

25 The "bashful" plant. An Acacia, Fée thinks; see B. xiii. c. 19. The Mimosa casta, pudica, and sensitiva, have similar properties: the Sensitive Plant is well known in this country.

26 Fée queries whether this may not be the Silene muscipula of Lin- næus, the fly-trap.

27 The "wine-tamer."

28 Hardouin thinks that he alludes to the Grammarian Apion. Dalechamps thinks that it is either Apion or Apollodorus.

29 The "returning" plant. Fée says that the Sedum Telephium of Linnæus, or orpine, is called in the dictionaries by this name. He queries whether it may not be the Sedum anacampseros, or evergreen orpine, as Hesychius says that it continues to live after being taken up from the earth; a peculiarity, to some extent, of the house-leek.

30 He probably alludes to his remarks upon Magic, in Books xxix. and xxx.

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