Pliny the Elder, Natural History

LCL 392: 188-189


Pliny: Natural History

quod est fenum Graecum. aquatis1 odor non omnino2 sine suco est, ut violae, rosae, croco. quae vero ex aquatis carent suco, eorum omnium odor gravis, ut in lilio utriusque generis. habrotonum et amaracum acres habent odores. quorundam flos tantum iucundus, reliquae partes ignavae, ut violae ac rosae. 38hortensium odoratissima quae sicca, ut ruta, menta, apium et quae in siccis nascantur. quaedam vetustate odoratiora, ut cotonea, eademque decerpta quam in suis radicibus. quaedam non nisi defracta aut ex adtritu olent, alia non nisi detracto cortice, quaedam vero non nisi usta, sicut tura murraeque. 39flores triti omnes amariores quam intacti. aliqua arida diutius odorem continent, ut melilotos. quaedam locum ipsum odoratiorem faciunt, ut iris, quin et arborem totam, cuiuscumque radices adtinget. hesperis noctu magis olet, inde nomine invento. animalium nullum odoratum, nisi si de pantheris quod dictum est credimus.


XIX. Illa quoque non omittenda differentia est, et odoratorum multa nihil adtinere ad coronamenta, ut irim atque saliuncam, quamquam nobilissimi odoris utramque. sed iris radice tantum commendatur,


Book XXI

Waterya flowers have perfume not altogether independent of the essential juice, the violet for instance, the rose and the saffron; moreover, watery flowers without this juice always have an oppressive perfume, for example, both kinds of lily. Southernwood and sweet marjoram have pungent scents. Of some plants the flowers only are pleasant, the other parts being scentless, for example, those of the violet and of the rose. Of garden plants the strongest-scented are those that are dry, like rue, mint and parsley, and such as grow on dry soils. Some products have more scent when old, for example the quince, and these same have more when gathered than when growing in the ground. Some have scent only when broken or after being crushed, others only when the skin or bark has been stripped off, others indeed only when burnt, for example, frankincense and myrrh. Crushed flowers are all more bitter than when unbroken. A few, such as the melilot, keep their scent longer when dried. Some impart a scent to the place itself, as does the iris, which also affects the whole of any tree, the roots of which it happens to touch.b The hesperisc has a stronger scent at night, from which fact it gets its name. No animal has a smell, unless we believe what has been said about the panther.

XIX. This distinction too must not be forgotten, that many flowers, in spite of their perfume, are of no use for chaplets, for example, the iris and Celtic nard, although both have an exquisite perfume. But the iris is valued only for its root, being grown

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.pliny_elder-natural_history.1938