Pliny the Elder, Natural History

LCL 392: 238-239

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Pliny: Natural History

in radice suci. amara et aphace et quae picris nominatur, et ipsa toto anno florens. nomen ei amaritudo inposuit.

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LXVI. Notabilis et scillae crocique natura, quod, cum omnes herbae folium primum emittant, mox in caulem rotundentur, in his caulis prior intellegitur quam folium. et in croco quidem flos inpellitur caule, in scilla vero caulis exit, deinde ex eo flos emergit. eademque ter floret, ut diximus, tria tempora arationum ostendens.

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LXVII. Bulborum generi quidam adnumerant et cypiri, hoc est gladioli, radicem. dulcis ea est et quae decocta panem etiam gratiorem faciat ponderosioremque simul subacta. non dissimilis ei est quae thesium vocatur, gustu aspera.

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LXVIII. Ceterae eiusdem generis folio differunt: asphodelus oblongum et angustum habet, scilla latum et tractabile, gladiolus simile nomini. asphodelus manditur et semine tosto et bulbo, set hoc in cinere tosto, dein sale et oleo addito, praeterea tuso cum ficis, praecipua voluptate, ut videtur

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Book XXI

is bitter, and in the root is an acrid juice. Aphace too is bitter, and so is the plant called picris, which also blossoms throughout the year. It is this bitterness which has given the plant its name.

LXVI. It is a remarkable characteristic too ofSquill and crocus. the squill and of the crocusa that, whereas all other plants put forth leaves first and only afterwards round into a stem, in these plants the stem is seen first, and after the stem the leaves. In the crocus however the blossom is pushed up by the stem; in the squill on the other hand the stem makes its appearance first, and then the blossom sprouts out of it. The plant blossoms, as I have said,b three times a year, pointing to the three seasons for ploughing.c

LXVII. Some include among the class of bulbsGladiolus and asphodel. the root of the cypiros, that is, of the gladiolus. It makes a pleasant food, one which, when boiled, also renders bread more palatable, and also when kneaded with it more weighty.d Not unlike it is the plant which is called thesium, and is acrid to the taste.

LXVIII. The other plants of the same kind differ in the leaf: asphodel has an oblong, narrow leaf; the squill one broad and flexible; the gladiolus one that its name suggests.e Asphodel is used as food. Both the seed and the bulb are roasted, but the second in hot ashes; salt and oil are added. It is also pounded with figs, which Hesiodf thinks is a

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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.pliny_elder-natural_history.1938