Moreover, that they call Kyphi is a kind of a composition made up of sixteen ingredients, that is, of honey, wine, raisins, cyperus, rosin, myrrh, aspalathus, seseli, mastich, bitumen, nightshade, and dock; to which they add the berries of both the junipers (the one whereof they call the greater, and the other the lesser sort), as also calamus and cardamom. Neither do they put them together slightly or at a random rate; but the sacred books are read to the perfumers all the while they are compounding them. As for the number of the ingredients (sixteen), —although it may appear important, being the square of a square, and making the only square surface which has a periphery equal to its area,—yet I must needs say that [p. 138] this contributes but very little here. But it is the contained species (most of which are of aromatic properties) that send up a sweet fume and an agreeable exhalation, by which the air is changed; and the body, being moved by the breath, sinks into a calm and gentle sleep, and retains a temperament conducive to sleep; and without the disorders of drunkenness, as it were, it loosens and unties, like a sort of knots, the doziness and intenseness of the thoughts by day-time; and the fantastic part and that which is receptive of dreams it wipes like a mirror and renders clearer, with no less efficacy than those strokes of the harp which the Pythagoreans made use of before they went to sleep, to charm and allay the distempered and irrational part of the soul. For we find that strong scents many times call back the failing sense, but sometimes dull and obstruct it, their wasted parts diffusing themselves by their great fineness and subtilty through the whole body; like as some physicians tell us that sleep is produced when the fumes of meat, by creeping gently about the inwards, and as it were groping every part, cause a certain soft titillation.

They also use this Kyphi both for a drink and for a medicinal potion; for when drunk it is found to cleanse the inwards, it being a loosener of the belly. Besides all this, rosin is the creature of the sun, and they gather myrrh as the trees weep it out by moonlight; but now of those ingredients that make up Kyphi, there are some that delight more in the night, as those whose nature it is to be nourished by cool blasts, shades, dews, and humidities. For the light of day is one thing and simple; and Pindar saith, the sun is then seen

Through solitary air.1

But the air of night is a kind of composition; for it is made up of many lights and powers, which, like so many [p. 139] several seeds, flow down from every star into one place. They therefore very pertinently cense the former things by daytime, as being simples and deriving their original from the sun; and the latter at the entrance of the night, they being mixed and of many and different qualities.

1 Pindar, Olymp. I. 10.

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.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: