Pliny the Elder, Natural History

LCL 371: 508-509

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Pliny: Natural History

species summa in latitudine; ea contingit, ut in lactucis, cum coeperint colorem trahere inposito levi pondere. neque alii hortensiorum latitudo maior; in binos pedes aliquando se pandunt multum et soli natura conferente, siquidem in Circeiensi agro 135amplissimae proveniunt. sunt qui betas punico malo florente optime seri existiment, transferri autem cum quinque foliorum esse coeperint; mira differentia (si vera est) candidis alvom elici, nigris inhiberi; et cum brassica corrumpatur in dolio vini sapor, eundem1 betae foliis demersis restitui.


XLI. Olus caulesque,quibus nunc principatus hortorum, apud Graecos in honore fuisse non reperio, sed Cato brassicae miras canit laudes, quas in medicinae2 loco reddemus. genera eius facit: extentis foliis, caule magno, alteram crispo folio, quam apiacam vocant, tertiam minutis caulibus, levem, teneram, 137minimeque probat. brassica toto anno seritur, quoniam et toto secatur, utilissime tamen ab aequinoctio autumni; transferturque cum quinque foliorum est. cymam a prima satione praestat proxima vere; hic est quidam ipsorum caulium delicatior teneriorque cauliculus, Apicii luxuriae et per eum Druso Caesari


Book XIX

are most valued for width, which is secured, as in lettuces, by placing a light weight on them when they have begun to assume their colour. No other garden plant grows broader: occasionally beets spread out to two feet across, the nature of the soil also contributing a great deal to this, inasmuch as the widest spreading beets grow in the territory of Circeii. Some people think that beets are best sown when the pomegranate is in blossom, and transplanted when they have begun to make five leaves; and that by a remarkable difference (if this really exists) white beet acts as a purge and black beet as an astringent; and that when the flavour of wine in a cask is getting spoiled by ‘cabbage’,a it can be restored to what it was by plunging in some leaves of beet.

XLI. Cabbages and kales which now have preeminenceCabbages. in gardens, I do not find to have been held in honour among the Greeks; but Cato sings marvellousR.R. CLVI. f. praises of the head of cabbage, which we shall repeat when we deal with medicine. He classifies cabbagesXX. 78 ff. as follows—a kind with the leaves wide open and a large stalk, another with a crinkly leaf, which is called celery-cabbage, and a third with very small stalks; the last is a smooth and tender cabbage, and he puts it lowest in value. Cabbage is sown all the year round, since it is also cut all the year round, but it pays best to sow it at the autumnal equinox; and it is transplanted when it has made five leaves. In the next spring after its first sowing it yields sprout-cabbage; this is a sort of small sprout from the actual cabbage stalks, of a more delicate and tender quality, though it was despised by the fastidious taste of Apiciusb and owing to him by Drusus

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.pliny_elder-natural_history.1938