servant: unum tuberibus radicis rotundis, foliis inter malvam et hederam, nigrioribus mollioribusque, alterum masculae, radice longa, quattuor digitorum longitudine, baculi crassitudine, tertium longissimae, tenuitate vitis novellae, cuius sit praecipua vis, quae 96et clematitis1 vocatur, ab aliis cretica. omnes colore buxeo, caulibus parvis, flore purpureo. ferunt baculas parvas ut cappari. valent radice tantum. est et quae plistolochia vocatur, quarti generis, tenuior quam proxime dicta, densis radicis capillamentis, iunci plenioris crassitudine. hanc quidam 97polyrrhizon cognominant. odor omnium medicatus, sed oblongae radici tenuiorique gratior, carnosi enim est corticis, unguentis quoque nardinis conveniens. nascuntur pinguibus locis et campestribus. effodere eas messibus tempestivum, desquamato2 terreno servantur. maxime tamen laudatur Pontica et in quocumque genere ponderosissima quaeque, medicinis aptior rotunda, contra serpentes oblonga, in summa
four kinds of it: one with round tubers on the root, and with leaves partly like those of the mallow and partly like those of ivy, but darker and softer: the second is the male plant,a with a long root of four fingers’ length, thick as a walking-stick; the third is very long and as slender as a young vine, with especially strong properties, and is called by some clematitis and by other cretica. All kinds of this plant are of the colour of boxwood, and have small stems and purple blossom. They bear small berries like caper berries. Only the root has medicinal value. There is also a fourth kind, called plistolochia, more slender than the one last mentioned, with dense, hair-like masses for a root, and of the thickness of a stoutish rush, which some surname polyrrhizos. All kinds have a drug-like smell, but that of the rather longb and slender root is more agreeable; its fleshy outer skin in fact is even suitable for nard ointments. These plants grow on plains with a rich soil. The time to dig them up is at harvest; the earth is scraped off them before they are stored away.c The most valued root, however, comes from Pontus, and in every case the heaviest specimens are preferred; for medicines the round is more suitable, for snake bites the longer
- aMasculae and longissimae agree with aristolochiae understood. Perhaps radicis has fallen out before longissimae.
- bOr “oblong” (so Littré), but this rendering seems unsuitable in view of § 95. Dioscorides (III 4. § 3) has: ἥτις καὶ κληματῖτις καλεῖται . . . ἔχουσα . . . . . . . . ῥίζας μακροτάτας, λεπτάς, φλοιὸν ἐχούσας παχὺν καὶ ἀρωματίζοντα, ἰδίως χρησιμευούσας μυρεψαῖς εἰς τὰς τῶν μύρων στύψεις. So Pliny’s oblongae radici tenuiorique should refer to clematitis, but it is hard to reconcile the phrase just quoted with Pliny’s description of clematitis in § 95.
- cMayhoff’s emendation would mean: “they are stored away in earth scraped off them”. He says in a note on XIX. § 115 (vol. III p. 495) that in is generally used with servare in this sense. If this restoration is correct, the implication is that the roots keep better in the earth in which they are grown. On the whole I prefer to follow Detlefsen. To clean the roots might help to keep pure the odor medicatus.