Theophrastus, Enquiry into Plants

LCL 70: 454-455

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Theophrastus

πάμπαν ξηρῶν· τὰ μὲν γὰρ παύονται, τὰ δὲ ἵστανται· τὰ δὲ χλωρὰ λίαν συμμύει καὶ ἐνέχεται ἐν τοῖς ὀδοῦσι τὰ πρίσματα καὶ ἐμπλάττει, δι᾿ ὃ καὶ παραλλάττουσιν ἀλλήλων τοὺς ὀδόντας ἵνα ἐξάγηται. ἔστι δὲ καὶ δυστρυπητότερα τὰ λίαν χλωρά· βραδέως γὰρ ἀναφερεται τὰ ἐκτρυπήματα διὰ τὸ βαρέα εἶναι· τῶν δὲ ξηρῶν ταχέως καὶ εὐθὺς ὁ ἀὴρ ἀναθερμαινόμενος ἀναδίδωσι· πάλιν δὲ τὰ λίαν ξηρὰ διὰ τὴν σκληρότητα δύσπριστα· καθάπερ γὰρ ὄστρακον συμβαίνει πρίειν, δι᾿ ὃ καὶ τρυπῶντες ἐπιβρέχουσιν.

4Εὐπελεκητότερα δὲ καὶ εὐτορνότερα καὶ εὐξοώτερα τὰ χλωρά· προσκάθηταί τε γὰρ τὸ τορνευτήριον μᾶλλον καὶ οὐκ ἀποπηδᾷ. καὶ ἡ πελέκησις τῶν μαλακωτέρων ῥᾴων, καὶ ἡ ξέσις δὲ ὁμοίως καὶ ἔτι λειοτέρα. ἰσχυρότατον δὲ καὶ ἡ κράνεια, τῶν δὲ ἄλλων οὐχ ἥκιστα ἡ πτελέα, δι᾿ ὃ καὶ τοὺς στροφέας, ὥσπερ ἐλέχθη, ταῖς θύραις πτελεΐνους ποιοῦσιν. ὑγρότατον δὲ μελία καὶ ὀξύη· καὶ γὰρ τὰ κλινάρια τὰ ἐνδιδόντα ἐκ τούτων.

VII. Ὅλως δὲ πρὸς ποῖα τῆς ὕλης ἑκάστη χρησίμη καὶ ποία ναυπηγήσιμος καὶ οἰκοδομική, πλείστη γὰρ αὕτη ἡ χρεία καὶ ἐν μεγίστοις, πειρατέον εἰπεῖν, ἀφορίζοντα καθ᾿ ἕκαστον τὸ χρήσιμον.

Ἐλάτη μὲν οὖν καὶ πεύκη καὶ κέδρος ὡς ἁπλῶς

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Enquiry Into Plants, V. vii.

are altogether dry: for the latter give,1 while the former resist. Wood which is too green closes up again when sawn, and the sawdust catches in the saw’s teeth and clogs2 them; wherefore the teeth of the saw are set alternate ways, to get rid of the sawdust. Wood which is too green is also harder to bore holes in; for the auger’s dust is only brought up slowly, because it is heavy; while, if the wood is dry, the air gets warmed by the boring and brings it up readily and at once. On the other hand, wood which is over dry3 is hard to saw because of its hardness: for it is like sawing through earthenware; wherefore they wet the auger when using it.

However green wood is easier to work with the axe the chisel or the plane; for the chisel gets a better hold and does not slip off. Again softer woods are easier for the axe and for smoothing,4 and also a better polished surface is obtained. The cornelian cherry is also a very strong wood, and among the rest elm-wood is the strongest; wherefore, as was said,5 they make the ‘hinges’ for doors of elm-wood. Manna-ash and beech have very moist wood, for of these they make elastic bedsteads.

Of the woods used in ship-building.

VII. Next we must endeavour to say in a general way, distinguishing the several uses, for which purposes each kind of timber is serviceable, which is of use for ship-building, which for house-building: for these uses extend far and are important. Now silver-fir, fir and Syrian cedar6 are, generally

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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.theophrastus-enquiry_plants.1916