Pliny the Elder, Natural History

LCL 371: 486-487

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Pliny: Natural History

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XXXII. Alium cepasque inter deos in iureiurando habet Aegyptus. cepae genera apud Graecos Sarda, Samothracia, Alsidena, setania, schista, Ascalonia ab oppido Iudaeae nominata. omnibus corpus totum pingui tunicarum cartilagine1 omnibus etiam odor lacrimosus et praecipue Cypriis, minime Cnidiis. e 102cunctis setania minima, excepta Tusculana, sed dulcis; schista autem et Ascalonia condiuntur.2 schistam hieme cum coma sua relincunt, vere folia detrahunt et alia subnascuntur isdem divisuris, unde et nomen. hoc exemplo reliquis quoque generibus detrahi iubent, ut in capita crescant potius quam in semen. et 103Ascaloniarum propria natura: etenim velut steriles sunt ab radice, et ob id semine seri illas, non deponi iussere Graeci, praeterea serius, circa ver, at3 cum germinent, transferri; ita crassescere et properare cum4 praeteriti temporis pensitatione. festinandum autem in iis est, quoniam maturae celeriter putrescunt. si deponantur, caulem emittunt5 et semen, 104ipsaeque evanescunt. est et colorum differentia: in Isso enim et Sardibus candidissimae proveniunt. sunt in honore et Creticae, de quibus dubitant an eaedem sint quae Ascaloniae, quoniam satis capita

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Book XIX

XXXII. In Egypt people swear by garlic and onionsVarieties of onion. as deities in taking an oath. Among the Greeks the varieties of onion are the Sardinian, Samothracian, Alsidenian, setanian, the split onion, and the Ascalon oniona, named from a town in Judaea. In all these the body consists entirely of coats of greasy cartilage; also they all have a smell which makes one’s eyes water, especially the Cyprus onions, but least of all those of Cnidos. The smallest of all except the Tuscany onion is the setanian, though it has a sweet taste; but the split onion and the Ascalon onion need flavouring. The split onion is left with its leaves on in winter, these being pulled off in spring, and others grow in their place at the same divisions, from which these onions get their name. This has suggested the recommendation to strip the other kinds also of their leaves, so as to make them grow to heads rather than run to seed. Ascalon onions also have a peculiar nature, being in a manner sterile at the root, and consequently the Greeks have advised growing them from seed and not planting them, and moreover sowing them rather late, about spring-time, but transplanting them when they are in bud; this method, they say, causes them to fill out and grow quickly, making up for the time lost. But in their case haste is necessary, because when ripe they quickly go rotten. If grown from roots they throw out a stalk and run to seed, and the bulb withers away. There is also a difference of colours, the whitest onions growing at Issus and at Sardis. Those of Crete are also esteemed, though the question is raised whether they are identical with the Ascalon variety, because when grown from seed they make large heads but run to stalk and seed when

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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.pliny_elder-natural_history.1938