Pliny the Elder, Natural History

LCL 370: 168-169

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Pliny: Natural History

118produnt mortesque miseras.

XXXVIII. Nec auspicatior in Lesbo insula arbor quae vocatur euonymos, non absimilis Punicae arbori—inter eam et laurum folia1 magnitudine, figura vero et mollitia Punicae,—floris2 candidi odore3 statim pestem denuntians. fert siliquas sesames; intus granum quadriangula figura, spissum, letale animalibus, nec non et folio eadem vis. succurrit aliquando praeceps alvi exinanitio.

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XXXIX. Alexander Cornelius arborem leonem appellavit ex qua facta esset Argo, similem robori viscum ferentem,4 quae neque aqua neque igni posset corrumpi, sicuti nec viscum, nulli alii cognitam, quod equidem sciam.

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XL. Andrachlen omnes fere Graecis5 porcillacae nomine interpretantur, cum sit herba et andrachne vocetur unius litterae diversitate: cetero andrachle est silvestris arbor, neque in planis nascens, similis unedoni, folio tantum minore et numquam decidente, cortice non scabro quidem sed qui circumgelatus videri possit, tam tristis aspectus est.

XLI. Similis et coccygia folio, magnitudine minor. 121proprietatem habet fructum amiciendi6 lanugine—pappum vocant—quod nulli alii arbori evenit. similis et apharce, bifera aeque quam andrachle;

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and painful deaths.

XXXVIII. Equally unlucky is the tree on the island of Lesbos called the euonymus,a which is not unlike the pomegranate tree—its leaves are between pomegranate and bay-leaves in size, but have the shape and soft texture of the leaf of the pomegranate—and which by the scent of its white blossom gives prompt warning of its pestilential qualities.b It bears a pod like that of the sesame, with a coarse square-shaped grain inside it which is deadly for animals; and the leaf also has the same property, although sometimes an immediate evacuation of the bowels gives relief.

XXXIX. Alexander Cornelius mentions a tree called the lion-tree, the timber of which he says was used to build the Argo, which bears mistletoe resembling that on Valonia oak, which cannot be rotted by water or destroyed by fire, the same being the case with its mistletoe. This tree is, so far as I am aware, unknown to anyone else.

XL. ‘Andrachle’ is almost always rendered into Latin for the Greeks by the word ‘purslain,’ although purslainc is a herbaceous plant and its Greek name is one letter different, andrachne: for the rest the andrachle is a forest tree, nor does it grow in level country. It resembles the arbutus, only it has a smaller leaf and is an evergreen; the bark, though not rough, might be supposed to have frozen round the tree, it has such a wretched appearance.

XLI. The sumach has a similar leaf, but is smaller in size. It has the peculiarity of clothing its fruit (which is called pappus) with downy fluff, a thing that occurs with no other tree. The apharced also resembles the andrachle, and like it bears twice a

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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.pliny_elder-natural_history.1938