Pliny the Elder, Natural History

LCL 370: 248-249

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Pliny: Natural History

in tantum dissimilis istis qui etiam convivis alia quam sibimet ipsis ministrant aut procedente mensa subiciunt.


XV. Lautissima apud priscos vina erant myrrhae odore condita, ut apparet in Plauti fabulis, quamquam in ea quae Persa inscribitur1 et calamum addi iubet. ideo quidam aromatite delectatos maxime credunt; sed Fabius Dossennus his versibus decernit:

Mittebam vinum pulchrum, murrinam,

et in Acharistione:

Panem et polentam, vinum murrinam.


Scaevolam quoque et L. Aelium et Ateium Capitonem in eadem sententia fuisse video, quoniam in Pseudolo sit:

Quod si opus est ut dulce promat indidem, ecquid habet?—Rogas? Murrinam, passum, defrutum, mella—

quibus apparet non inter vina modo murrinam, sed inter dulcia quoque nominatum.


XVI. Apothecas fuisse et diffundi solita vina anno dcxxxiii urbis apparet indubitato Opimiani vini argumento, iam intellegente suum bonum Italia. nondum tamen ista genera in claitate erant; itaque omnia tunc genita unum habent consulis 95nomen. sic quoque postea diu transmarina in


Book XIV

resemble the gentlemen who give even their guests other wines than those served to themselves, or else substitute inferior wines as the meal progresses.

XV. The finest wines in early days were those spiced wine. spiced with scent of myrrh, as appears in the plays of Plautus, although in the one entitled The Persian he recommends the addition of sweet-reed also.a Consequently some think that in old times people were extremely fond of scented wine; but Fabius Dossennus decides the point in these verses:

I sent them a fine wine, one spiced with myrrh,

and in his Acharistio:

Bread and pearl-barley and wine spiced with myrrh.

I also observe that Scaevola and Lucius Aelius and Ateius Capito were of the same opinion, inasmuch as we find in Pseudolusb:

A. But if he has to bring out a sweet wine From that same cellar, has he got one?

B. Got one? Myrrh-wine and raisin-wine and boiled-down must And honey—

which shows that myrrh-wine was counted not only among wines but also among sirops.

XVI. The existence of the Opimian wine—ItalyItalian and imported wine. already understanding the blessing she enjoyed—affords an undoubted proof that wine-lofts existed there and it was usual for wine to be racked off in the 633rd year of the city. Nevertheless the21 b.c. vintages referred to were not yet celebrated; and accordingly all the wines grown in that year bear the name of the consul only.c Similarly also afterwards wines imported from oversea held the field for

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.pliny_elder-natural_history.1938