Pliny the Elder, Natural History

LCL 393: 416-417

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Pliny: Natural History

uti hac herba prodest tusa cum foliis et inlita cum suco suo.

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XXVIII. Absinthii genera plura sunt: Santonicum appellatur e Galliae civitate, Ponticum e Ponto, ubi pecora pinguescunt illo et ob id sine felle reperiuntur, neque aliud praestantius,multoque Italicum1 amarius, sed medulla Pontici dulcis. de usu eius convenit, herbae facillimae atque inter paucas utilissimae, praeterea sacris populi Romani celebratae peculiariter, siquidem Latinarum feriis quadrigae certant in Capitolio victorque absinthium bibit, credo, sanitatem praemio dari honorifice arbitratis maioribus. stomachum 46corroborat, et ob hoc sapor eius in vina transfertur, ut diximus. bibitur et decoctum aqua ac postea nocte et die refrigeratum sub divo,2 †decoctis sex drachmis foliorum cum ramis suis in caelestis aquae sextarii tribus, oportet et salem addi. vetustissimum usu est†.3 bibitur et madefacti dilutum, ita enim appelletur hoc genus. diluti ratio ut, quisquis fuerit modus aquae, tegatur per triduum.

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Book XXVII

relieved by this plant ground up with the leaves and applied with its own juice.

XXVIII. There are several kinds of wormwood.Absinthium. The Santonic comes from the state of the Santoni in Gaul, the Pontic from Pontus, where cattle fatten on it, and so are found to be without gall; there is no finer wormwood than this, the Italian being far more bitter, but the pith of Pontic wormwood is sweet. About its use there is general agreement, for it is a plant very easily found, and one of the most useful, being moreover especially honoured at the religious rites of the Roman people, seeing that at the Latin festival there is a race for four-horse chariots on the Capitoline Hill, the winner of which takes a draught of wormwood, our ancestors thinking, I believe, that health was a very grand prize to give. It strengthens the stomach and for this reason it is used, as I have said,a to give a flavour to wines. A decoction in water, which is afterwards cooled in the open for a day and a night, is also taken; six drachmae of the leaves with their branches are boiled down in three sextarii of rain water; salt too should be added. When very old it can still be used.b There is also administered an infusion of wormwood in water; for this preparation should be styled “infusion,” and an essential of the infusion is that, whatever quantityc of water is used, for three days the preparation should be wholly enclosed. Pounded wormwood is rarely

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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.pliny_elder-natural_history.1938