Pliny the Elder, Natural History

LCL 371: 440-441


Pliny: Natural History

philuraque manifestum est. inde translatum a Poenis sparti usum perquam simile veri est.


X. Theophrastus auctor est esse bulbi genus circa ripas amnium nascens, cuius inter summum corticem eamque partem qua vescuntur esse laneam naturam ex qua inpilia vestesque quaedam conficiantur; sed neque regionem in qua id fiat nec quicquam diligentius praeterquam eriophoron id appellari in exemplaribus quae equidem invenerim tradit, neque omnino ullam mentionem habet sparti cuncta magna cura persecutus cccxc1 annis ante nos, ut iam et alio loco diximus, quo apparet post id temporis in usum venisse spartum.


XI. Et quoniam a miraculis rerum coepimus, sequemur eorum ordinem, in quibus vel maximum est aliquid nasci ac vivere sine ulla radice. tubera haec vocantur undique terra circumdata nullisque fibris nixa aut saltem capillamentis, nec utique extuberante loco in quo gignuntur aut rimas sentiente; neque ipsa terrae cohaerent, cortice etiam includuntur, ut plane nec terram esse possimus dicere neque aliud quam terrae 34callum. siccis haec fere et sabulosis locis frutectosisque nascuntur. excedunt saepe magnitudinem mali cotonei, etiam librali pondere. duo eorum genera,


Book XIX

and the inner bark of lime trees. It is extremely probable that the Carthaginians imported the use of esparto grass from Greece.

X. Theophrastus states that there is a kind of bulba growing in the neighbourhood of river banks, which contains a woolly substance (between the outer skin and the edible part) that is used as a material for making felt slippers and certain articles of dress; but he does not state, at all events in the copies of his work that have come into my hands, either the region in which this manufacture goes on or any particulars in regard to it beyond the fact that the plant is called ‘wool-bearing’; nor does he make any mention at all of esparto grass,b although he has given an extremely careful account of all plants at a date 390 years before our time (as we have also said already in another place); which shows that esparto grassXV. 1. came into use after that date.

XI. And now that we have made a beginning inTruffles. treating of the marvels of nature, we shall proceed to take them in order, by far the greatest among them being that a plant should spring up and live without having any root. The growths referred to are called truffles; they are enveloped all round with earth and are not strengthened by any fibres or at least filaments, nor yet does the place they grow in show any protuberance or undergo cracks; and they themselves do not stick to the earth, and are actually enclosed in a skin, so that while we cannot say downright that they consist of earth, we cannot call them anything but a callosity of the earth. They usually grow in dry and sandy soils and in places covered with shrubs. They often exceed the size of a quince, even weighing as much as a pound. They are of two

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.pliny_elder-natural_history.1938