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According to Homer,1 the most celebrated of all plants is that, which, according to him, is known as moly2 among the gods. The discovery of it he attributes to Mercury, who was also the first to point out its uses as neutralizing the most potent spells of sorcery. At the present day, it is said, it grows in the vicinity of Lake Pheneus, and in Cyllene, a district of Arcadia. It answers the description given of it by Homer, having a round black root, about as large as an onion, and a leaf like that of the squill: there is no3 difficulty experienced in taking it up. The Greek writers have delineated4 it as having a yellow flower, while Homer,5 on the other hand, has spoken of it as white. I once met with a physician, a person extremely well acquainted with plants, who assured me that it is found growing in Italy as well, and that he would send me in a few days a specimen which had been dug up in Campania, with the greatest difficulty, from a rocky soil. The root of it was thirty6 Feet in length, and even then it was not entire, having been broken in the getting up.

1 Od. x. 1. 302, et seq.

2 Fée devotes a couple of pages to the vexata quœstio of the identification of this plant, and comes to the conclusion that the Moly of Homer, mentioned on the present occasion, and of Theophrastus, Ovid, and the poets in general is only an imaginary plant; that the white-flowered Moly of Dioscorides and Galen is identical with the Allium Dioscoridis of Sibthorpe; and that the yellow-flowered Moly of the author of the Priapeia is not improbably the Allium Moly or magicum of Linnæus. Sprengel derives the name "Moly" from the Arabic, and identifies it with the Allium. nigrunm of Linnæus.

3 Homer says that there is difficulty to men, but not to the gods.

4 In their pictures, mentioned in c. 4.

5 Ovid, Galen, and Theophrastus, say the same.

6 There must either be some error in the reading here, or the physician must have attempted to impose upon our author's credulity.

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