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The lily holds the next highest rank after the rose, and has a certain affinity1 with it in respect of its unguent and the oil extracted from it, which is known to us as "lirinon."2 Blended, too, with roses, the lily3 produces a remarkably fine effect; for it begins to make its appearance, in fact, just as the rose is in the very middle of its season. There is no flower that grows to a greater height than the lily, sometimes, indeed, as much as three cubits; the head of it being always drooping, as though the neck of the flower were unable to support its weight. The whiteness of the lily is quite remarkable, the petals being striated on the exterior; the flower is narrow at the base, and gradually expanding in shape like a tapering4 cup with the edges curving outwards, the fine pistils of the flower, and the stamens with their antheræ of a saffron colour, standing erect in the middle.5 Hence the perfume of the lily, as well as its colour, is two-fold, there being one for the petals and another for the stamens. The difference, however, between them is but very small, and when the flower is employed for making lily unguents and oils, the petals are never rejected.

There is a flower, not unlike the lily, produced by the plant known to us as the "convolvulus."6 It grows among shrubs, is totally destitute of smell, and has not the yellow antheræ of the lily within: only vying with it in its whiteness, it would almost appear to be the rough sketch7 made by Nature when she was learning how to make the lily. The white lily is propagated in all the various ways which are employed for the cultivation of the rose,8 as also by means of a certain tearlike gum9 which belongs to it, similarly to hipposelinum10 in fact: indeed, there is no plant that is more prolific than this, a single root often giving birth to as many as fifty bulbs.11 There is, also, a red lily, known by the name of "crinon"12 to the Greeks, though there are some authors who call the flower of it "cynorrodon."13 The most esteemed are those of Antiochia and Laodicea in Syria, and next to them that of Phaselis.14 To the fourth rank belongs the flower that grows in Italy.

1 "Quâdam cognatione." He alludes to a maceration of the petals of the rose and lily in oil. The aroma of the lily, Fée says, has not been fixed by any method yet found.

2 See B. xiii. c. 2.

3 The Lilium candidum of Linnæus. Fée remarks that the "Lilium" of the Romans and the λείριον of the Greeks is evidently derived from the laleh of the Persians.

4 "Calathi." The "calathus" was a work-basket of tapering shape; it was also used for carrying fruits and flowers, Ovid, Art. Am. ii. 264. Cups, too, for wine were called by this name, Virg. Eel. v. 71.

5 As this passage has been somewhat amplified in the translation, it will perhaps be as well to insert it: "Resupinis per ambitum labris, tenuique pilo et staminum stantibus in medio crocis."

6 The Convolvulus sæpium of modern botany; the only resemblance in which to the lily is in the colour, it being totally different in every other respect.

7 "Rudimentum." She must have set to work in a very roundabout way, Fée thinks, and one in which it would be quite impossible for a naturalist to follow her.

8 The white lily is reproduced from the offsets of the bulbs; and as Fée justly remarks, it is highly absurd to compare the mode of cultivation with that of the rose, which is propagated from slips.

9 This absurd notion is derived from Theophrastus, Hist. Plant. B. ii. c. 2, and B. vi. c. 6.

10 See B. xix. c. 48.

11 The root really consists of certain fine fibres, to which the bulbs, or rather cloves or offsets, are attached.

12 Judging from what Theocritus says, in his 35th Idyl, the "crinon" would appear to have been a white lily. Sprengel, however, takes the red lily of Pliny to be the scarlet lily, the Lilium Chalcedonicum of Linnæus.

13 Or "dog-rose:" a name now given to one of the wild roses.

14 See B. xiii. c. 9.

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  • Cross-references to this page (4):
    • Harper's, Corōna
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    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), CORO´NA
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), FUNUS
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