Pliny the Elder, Natural History

LCL 371: 176-177


Pliny: Natural History

firmiores fertilioresque fiunt. nam caprificatio maturat.


XLIV. In ea culices nasci e grossis manifestum, quoniam cum evolavere non inveniuntur intus grana, quae in eos versa apparet; exeundi tanta est aviditas ut plerique aut pede relicto aut pinnae parte erumpant. est et aliud genus culicum quos vocant centrinas, fucis apium similes ignavia malitiaque cum pernicie verorum et utilium; interemunt enim illos 256atque ipsi commoriuntur. vexant et tineae semina ficorum, contra quas remedium in eadem scrobe defodere taleam lentisci inversa parte quae fuerit a cacumine. uberrimas autem ficus rubrica amurca diluta et cum fimo infusa radicibus frondere incipi-entium facit. caprificorum laudantur maxime nigrae et in petrosis, quoniam frumenta plurima habeant, caprificatio ipsa post imbrem.


XLV. In primis autem cavendum ne ex remediis vitia fiant, quod evenit nimia aut intempestiva medicina. interlucatio arboribus prodest, sed omnium annorum trucidatio inutilissima. vitis tantum tonsuram annuam quaerit, alternam vero myrtus, punicae, oleae, quia celeriter fruticescunt. ceterae



foliage. The object of the process that employsXV. 81. the gall-insect from the wild fig is to ripen the fruit.

XLIV. In the gall-insect process it is clear thatInsects infesting figs. the unripe figs give birth to gnats, since when these have flown away the fruit is found not to contain any seeds, which have obviously turned into the gnats; these are so eager to escape that most of them leave a foot or part of a wing behind them in forcing their way out. There is also another kind of gnat with a Greek name meaning ‘sting-fly’; these resemble drone bees in their sloth and malice, and also in killing the genuine and serviceable insects; for the sting-flies kill the real gnats and themselves die with them. The seeds of figs are also infested by moths, a remedy against them being to bury a slip of mastich upside down in the same hole. But the way to make fig-trees bear very large crops is to dilute red earth with the lees from an olive-press, mix dung with it, and pour the mixture on the roots of the trees when they are beginning to make leaves. Of wild figs the black ones and those growing in rocky places are the most highly spoken of, because they contain the largest number of grains; the best times for the actual process of transference of the gall-insect from the wild fig is said to be just after rain has fallen.

XLV. But it is of the first importance to avoidOver-pruning. allowing our remedies to produce other defects, which results from using remedial processes to excess or at the wrong time. To prune away branches is beneficial for trees, but to slaughter them every year without respite is extremely unprofitable. A vine only requires a yearly trimming, but myrtles, pomegranates and olives one every other year, because they produce shoots with great rapidity. All other

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.pliny_elder-natural_history.1938