Pliny the Elder, Natural History

LCL 418: 432-433

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Book XXXI

of food, so that in innumerable seasonings it is the taste of salt that predominates, and it is looked for Value of salt. when we eat garum.a Moreover sheep, cattle, and draught animals are encouraged to pasture in particular by salt; the supply of milk is much more copious, and there is even a far more pleasing quality in the cheese. Therefore, Heaven knows, a civilized life is impossible without salt, and so necessary is this basic substance that its name is applied metaphorically even to intense mental pleasures. We call them sales (wit); all the humour of life, its supreme joyousness, and relaxation after toil, are expressed by this word more than by any other. It has a place in magistracies also and on service abroad, from which comes the term “salary” (salt money); it had great importance among the men of old, as is clear from the name of the Salarian Way, since by it, according to agreement, salt was imported to the Sabines. King Ancus Marcius gave a largess to the people of 6,000 bushels of salt, and was the first to construct salt pools. Varro too is our authority that the men of old used salt as a relish, and that they ate salt with their bread is clear from a proverb.b But the clearest proof of its importance lies in the fact that no sacrifice is carried out without the mola salsa (salted meal).

XLII. Salt-pools have reached their highest degree of purity in what may be called embers of salt, which is the lightest and whitest of its kind. “Flower of salt” is also a name given to an entirely different thing, with a moister nature and a saffron or red colour, a kind of salt rust; it has an unpleasant smell,

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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.pliny_elder-natural_history.1938