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1 Possibly the Ferula asafœtida of Linnæus; or, according to some, the Thapsia silphium of Viviani, Flor. Lib. It was a plant common, accord- ing to ancient writers, to Syria, Armenia, Media, and Liba; but it was the produce of this last country, probably, that afforded the juice or gum resin here mentioned as "laser," and so highly esteemed by the ancients, as forming a component part of their perfumes. Fée is inclined to think that the Laserpitium here spoken of was the Thapsia silphium, and to reject the more general opinion that it is identical with the Ferula asafœtida. Pliny has probably caused some confusion by blending the description of other writers with that given by Theophrastus, each having in view a different plant. Indeed, whatever the Laserpitium or Silphium of other countries may have been, it is not improbable that the odoriferous plant of Cyrenaica was not identical with the Ferula asafœtida of Linnæus. The foliage of the Thapsia silphium is exactly similar to that of the Laserpitium as depicted on medals of Cyrenaica, still extant. We learn from Littré, that Dr. Guyon showed, in 1842, to the Académie des Sciences, a plant which the Arabs of Algeria employ as a purgative, and which they call bonnefa. It is the Thapsia Garganica of Desfontaines, and is considered by Guyon to be identical with the Silphium of the ancients.
2 See B. xxii. c. 48. In the "Rudens" of Plautus, the scene of which is near Cyrene, frequent allusion is made to the growth of laserpitium there, and the preparation and export of the resin, as forming the staple article of commerce.
3 Scribonius Largus, who lived in the time of Tiberius, speaks of using in a prescription laser of Cyrenaica, "if it can be met with;" "si poterit inveniri."
4 "In spem nascentis."
5 Fée remarks that Pliny has not found this absurd story in any of the works from which he has compiled his account, but that it is entirely his own.
6 This was probably the Ferula asafœtida of Linnæus.
7 See B. xx. c. 75.
8 A.U.C. 661.
9 Fée remarks, that if Pliny here alludes to Theophrastus, Hist. Plant. B vi. c. 3, he has mistaken his meaning.
10 This, as Fée says, could hardly apply to the Ferula asafœtida of Linnæus, the stalk of it being extremely acrid, and the juice fetid in the highest degree.
11 "Vitia his omnibus." The reading here is probably corrupt.
12 "Root-juice," and "stalk-juice."
13 Poinsinet fancies that this name means "staff of the Magi."
14 Or "laser," these names being indifferently applied to the gum-resin.
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