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 The byblus1 and the Egyptian bean grow in the marshes and lakes; from the latter the ciborium is made.2 The stalks of the bean are nearly of equal height, and grow to the length of ten feet. The byblus is a bare stem, with a tuft on the top. But the bean puts out leaves and flowers in many parts, and bears a fruit similar to our bean, differing only in size and taste. The bean-grounds present an agreeable sight, and afford amusement to those who are disposed to recreate themselves with convivial feasts. These entertainments take place in boats with cabins; they enter the thickest part of the plantation, where they are overshadowed with the leaves, which are very large, and serve for drinking-cups and dishes, having a hollow which fits them for the purpose. They are found in great abundance in the shops in Alexandreia, where they are used as vessels. One of the sources of land revenue is the sale of these leaves. Such then is the nature of this bean. The byblus does not grow here in great abundance, for it is not cultivated. But it abounds in the lower parts of the Delta. There is one sort inferior to the other.3 The best is the hieratica. Some persons intending to augment the revenue, employed in this case a method which the Jews practised with the palm, especially the caryotic, and with the balsamum.4 In many places it is not allowed to be cultivated, and the price is enhanced by its rarity: the revenue is indeed thus increased, but the general consumption [of the article] is injured.
1 The Papyrus.
2 ‘There is also the ciborium. Hegesander the Delphian says that Euphorion the poet, when supping with Prytanis, his host, exhibited to him some ciboria, which appeared to be made in a most exquisite and costly manner. Didymus says that it is a kind of drinking-cup, and perhaps it may be the same as that which is called scyphium, which derives its name from being contracted to a narrow space at the bottom, like the Egyptian ciboria.’ Athenœus, b. xi. § 54, p. 761. Bohn's Classical Library.
3 The two kinds known at present are the Egyptian and the Syracusan, which, according to Professor Parlatori, have the same general appearance, but differ in the number of flower-lobes.
4 That is, the juice was extracted for its sugar; see b. xvi c. ii. § 41, and Pliny, xiii. 12.
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