Athenaeus: The Deipnosophists

BOOK 15, Pages 680-692

Translated by C.D.Yonge (1854). A few words and spellings have been changed.

See key to translations for an explanation of the format. The page numbers in the Greek text are shown in red. The chapter numbers in the translation are shown in green.

← Previous pages (665-680)

← Previous pages (665-680)

[27.] G   [680] Now Theophrastus gives the following list of flowers as suitable to be made into garlands - "The violet, the flower of Zeus, the iphyon, the wallflower, the hemerocallis, or yellow lily. But he says the earliest blooming flower is the white violet; and about the same time that which is called the wild wallflower appears, and after them the narcissus and the lily; and of mountain flowers, that kind of anemone which is called the mountain anemone, and the head of the bulb-plant. For some people twine these flowers into garlands. And next to these there comes the dropwort {oinanthe}, and the purple violet. And of wild flowers, there are the helichrysum, and that species of anemone called the meadow anemone, and the gladiolus, and the hyacinth. But the rose is the latest blooming flower of all; and it is the latest to appeal and the first to go off. But the chief summer flowers are the lychnis, and the flower of Zeus, and the lily, and the iphyon, and the Phrygian amaracus, and also the flower called the pothos." And in his ninth book the same Theophrastus says, if any one wears a garland made of the flower of the helichrysum, he is praised if he sprinkle it with ointment. 

And, Alcman mentions it in these lines -
  [681] And I pray to you, and bring
  This chaplet of the helichrysum,
  And of the holy kypairon.

And Ibycus says -
  Myrtle-berries with violets mixed,
  And helichrysum, and apple blossoms,
  And roses, and the tender bay.

And Cratinus, in his Effeminate People, says -
  With ground thyme and with crocuses,
  And hyacinths, and helichrysum.

But the helichrysum is a flower like the lotus. And Themistagoras the Ephesian, in his book entitled The Golden Book, says that the flower derives its name from the nymph who first picked it, who was called Helichrysa. There are also, says Theophrastus, such flowers as purple lilies. But Philinus says that the lily, which he calls krinon, is by some people called leirion, and by others ion. The Corinthians also call this flower ambrosia, as Nicander says in his Dictionary. And Diocles, in his treatise On Deadly Poisons, says - "The amaracus, which some people call the sampsouchos."

[28.] G   Cratinus also speaks of the hyacinth by the name of kosmosandalon in his Effeminate People, where he says -
  I crown my head with flowers, leiria,
  Roses, and krina, and kosmosandala.

And Clearchus, in the second book of his Lives, says -"You may remark the Lacedaemonians who, having invented garlands of kosmosandalon, trampled under foot the most ancient system of government in the world, and utterly ruined themselves; on which account Antiphanes the comic poet very cleverly says of them, in his Harp-players -
  Did not the Lacedaemonians boast of old
  As though they were invincible? but now
  They wear effeminate purple head-dresses.

And Hicesius, in the second book of his treatise on Matter, says -"The white violet is of moderately astringent properties, and has a most delicious fragrance, and is very delightful, but only for a short time; and the purple violet is of the same appearance, but it is far more fragrant." And Apollodorus, in his treatise on Beasts, says -"There is the chamaipitys, or ground pine, which some call holokyron, but the Athenians call it ionia, and the Euboeans sideritis." And Nicander, in the second book of his Georgics, (the words themselves I will quote hereafter, when I thoroughly discuss all the flowers fit for making into garlands,) says that the violet {ion} was originally given by some Ionian nymphs to Ion.

And in the sixth book of his History of Plants, Theophrastus says that the narcissus is also called leirion; but in a subsequent passage he speaks of the narcissus and leirion as different plants. And Eumachus of Corcyra, in his treatise On Cutting Roots, says that the narcissus is also called akakallis, and likewise krotalon. But the flower called hemerocallis, or day-beauty, which fades at night but blooms at sunrise, is mentioned by Cratinus in his Effeminate People, where he says -
  And the dear hemerocallis.

Concerning the ground thyme, Theophrastus says -"The people gather the wild ground thyme on the mountains and plant it around Sicyon, and the Athenians gather it on Hymettus; and other nations too have mountains fill of this flower, as the Thracians for instance." But Philinus says that it is called zygis. And Amerias the Macedonian, speaking of the lychnis in his treatise On Cutting up Roots, says that "it sprang from the baths of Aphrodite , when Aphrodite bathed after having been sleeping with Hephaestus . And it is found in the greatest perfection in Cyprus and Lemnos, and also in Strongyle and near mount Eryx, and at Cythera."

"But the iris," says Theophrastus, "blooms in the summer, and is the only one of all the European flowers which has a sweet scent. And it is in the highest beauty in those parts of Illyricum which are at a distance from the sea." [682] But Philinus says that the flowers of the iris are called lykoi, because they resemble the lips of the wolf {lykos}. And Nicolaus of Damascus, in the hundred and eighth book of his History, says that there is a lake near the Alps, many stades in circumference, round which there grow every year the most fragrant and beautiful flowers, like those which are called kalchai. Alcman also mentions the kalchai in these lines:-
  Having a golden-coloured necklace on
  Of the bright kalchai, with their tender petals.

And Epicharmus, too, speaks of them in his Rustic.

[29.] G   Of roses, says Theophrastus in his sixth book, there are many varieties. For most of them consist only of five leaves, but some have twelve leaves; and some, near Philippi, have even as many as a hundred leaves. For men take up the plants from Mount Pangaeum, (and they are very numerous there,) and plant them near the city. And the inner petals are very small; for the fashion in which the flowers put out their petals is, that some form the outer rows and some the inner ones: but they have not much smell, nor are they of any great size. And those with only five leaves are the most fragrant, and their lower parts are very thorny. But the most fragrant roses are in Cyrene: on which account the perfumes made there are the sweetest. And in this country, too, the perfume of the violets, and of all other flowers, is most pure and heavenly; and above all, the fragrance of the crocus is most delicious in those parts." And Timachidas, in his Banquets, says that the Arcadians call the rose euomphos, meaning euosmos, or 'fragrant'. And Apollodorus, in the fourth book of his History of Parthia, speaks of a flower called philadelphon, as growing in the country of the Parthians, and describes it thus:- "And there are many kinds of myrtle,- the milax, and that which is called the philadelphon, which has received a name corresponding to its natural character; for when branches, which are at a distance from one another, meet together of their own accord, they cohere with a vigorous embrace, and become united as if they came from one root, and then growing on, they produce fresh shoots: on which account they often make hedges of them in well-cultivated farms; for they take the thinnest of the shoots, and plait them in a net-like manner, and plant them all round their gardens, and then these plants, when plaited together all round, make a fence which it is difficult to pass through."

[30.] G   The author, too, of the Cyprian Poems gives lists of the flowers which are suitable to be made into garlands, whether he was Hegesias, or Stasinus, or any one else; for Demodamas, who was either a Halicarnassian or Milesian, in his History of Halicarnassus, says that the Cyprian Poems were the work of a citizen of Halicarnassus: however, the author, whoever he was, in his eleventh book, speaks thus:-
  Then did the Graces, and the smiling Hours,
  Make themselves garments rich with various hues,
  And dyed them in the varied flowers that Spring
  And the sweet Seasons in their bosom bear.
  In crocus, hyacinth, and blooming violet,
  And the sweet petals of the peerless rose,
  So fragrant, so divine; nor did they scorn
  The dewy cups of the ambrosial flower
  That boasts Narcissus' name. Such robes, perfumed
  With the rich treasures of revolving seasons,
  The golden Aphrodite wears.

And this poet appears also to have been acquainted with the use of garlands, when he says -
  And when the smiling Aphrodite with her train
  Had woven fragrant garlands of the treasures
  The flowery earth puts forth, the goddesses
  All crowned their heads with their queen's precious work,-
  The Nymphs and Graces, and golden Aphrodite ,-
  And raised a tuneful song round Ida's springs.

[31.] G   [683] Nicander also, in the second book of his Georgics, gives a regular list of the flowers suitable to be made into garlands, and speaks as follows concerning the Ionian nymphs and concerning roses:-
  And many other flowers you may plant,
  Fragrant and beauteous, of Ionian growth;
  Two sorts of violets are there,- pallid one,
  And like the colour of the virgin gold,
  Such as the Ionian nymphs to Ion gave,
  When in the meadows of the holy Pisa
  They met and loved and crowned the modest youth.
  For he had cheered his hounds and slain the boar,
  And in the clear Alpheius bathed his limbs,
  Before he visited those friendly nymphs.
  Cut then the shoots from off the thorny rose,
  And plant them in the trenches, leaving space
  Between, two spans in width. The poets tell
  That Midas first, when Asia's realms he left,
  Brought roses from the Odonian hills,
  And cultivated them in the Emathian lands,
  Blooming and fragrant with their sixty petals.
  Next to the Emathian roses those are praised
  Which the Megarian Nisaea displays:
  Nor is Phaselis, nor the land which worships
  Artemis Leucophrys, to be lightly praised,
  Made verdant by Magnesia’s Lethaean stream.
  In other trenches place the ivy cuttings,
  And often even a branch with berries loaded
  May be entrusted to the ground in spring -
  Either with berries or those with sprawling tendrils.
  Or with well-sharpened knife cut off the shoots,
  And plait them into baskets,
  So that two clusters, weaving and yoking together,
  May unite in a proud head shaded with golden leaves.
  High on the top the calyx full of seed
  Grows with white leaves, tinged in the heart with gold,
  Which some call krina, others leiria,
  Others ambrosia, but those who love
  The fittest name, call them Aphrodite's joy;
  For in their complexion they rival Aphrodite,
  And, it is said, an object of shame,
  The braying ass's member, springs up in the middle.
  The iris in its roots is like the agallis,
  Or hyacinth fresh sprung from Ajax' blood;
  It rises high with swallow-shaped flowers,
  Blooming when summer brings the swallows back.
  Thick are the leaves they from their bosom pour,
  And the fresh flowers constantly succeeding,
  Shine in their stooping mouths.
  Nor is the lychnis, nor the lofty rush,
  Nor the fair anthemis in light esteem,
  Nor the boanthemon with towering stem,
  Nor phlox whose brilliancy scarce seems to yield
  To the bright splendour of the midday sun.
  Plant the ground thyme where the more fertile ground
  Is moistened by fresh-welling springs beneath,
  That with long creeping branches it may spread,
  Or droop in quest of some transparent spring,
  The wood-nymphs' chosen draught. Throw far away
  The poppy's leaves, and keep the head entire,
  A sure protection from the teasing gnats;
  For every kind of insect makes its seat
  Upon the opening leaves; and on the head,
  Like freshening dews, they feed, and much rejoice
   [684] In the rich latent honey that it bears;
  But when the leaves {thria} are off, the mighty flame
  Soon scatters them . . . .
- but by the word thria he does not here mean the leaves of fig-trees, but of the poppy -
  Nor can they place their feet
  With steady hold, nor juicy food extract;
  And oft they slip, and fall upon their heads.
  Swift is the growth, and early the perfection
  Of the sampsychon, and of rosemary,
  And of the others which the gardens
  Supply to diligent men for well-earned garlands.
  Such are the feathery fern, the boy's-love sweet,
  (Like the tall poplar); such the golden crocus,
  Fair flower of early spring; the gopher white,
  And fragrant thyme, and all the unsown beauty
  Which in moist grounds the verdant meadows bear;
  The ox-eye, the sweet-smelling flower of Zeus,
  The chalka, and the much sung hyacinth,
  And the low-growing violet, to which
  Dark Persephone a darker hue has given;
  The tall panosmeon, and the varied colours
  Which the gladiolus puts forth in vain
  To decorate the early tombs of maidens.
  Then too the ever-flourishing anemones,
  Tempting afar with their most vivid dyes.
- but for ἐφελκόμεναι χροιῇσιν some copies have ἐφελκόμεναι φιλοχροιαῖς -
  And above all remember to select
  The elecampane and the aster bright,
  And place them in the temples of the gods,
  By roadside built, or hang them on their statues,
  Which first do catch the eye of the visitor.
  These are propitious gifts, whether you pluck
  The many-hued chrysanthemum, or lilies
  Which wither sadly over the much-wept tomb,
  Or goat's-beard, or long-stalked cyclamen,
  Or rank nasturtium, whose scarlet flowers
  Grim Hades chooses for his royal garland.

[32.] G   From these lines it is plain that the chelidonium is a different flower from the anemone (for some people have called them the same). But Theophrastus says that there are some plants, the flowers of which constantly follow the stars, such as the one called the heliotrope, and the chelidonium; and this last plant is named so from its coming into bloom at the same time as the swallows arrive. There is also a flower spoken of under the name of ambrosia by Carystius, in his Historical Commentaries, where he says -" Nicander says that the plant named ambrosia grows at Cos, on the head of the statue of Alexander." But I have already spoken of it, and mentioned that some people give this name to the lily. And Timachidas, in the fourth book of his Banquet, speaks also of a flower called thēseion,-
  The soft thēseion, like the apple blossom,
  The sacred blossom of Leucerea,
  Which the fair goddess loves above all others.
And he says that the garland of Ariadne was made of this flower.

[685] Pherecrates also, or whoever the poet was who wrote the play called The Persians, mentions some flowers as fit for garlands, and says -
  O you who sigh like mallows soft,
  Whose breath like hyacinths smells,
  Who like the melilotus speak,
  And smile as does the rose,
  Whose kisses are as marjoram sweet,
  Whose action crisp as parsley,
  Whose gait like kosmosandalon;
  Pour rosy wine, and with loud voice
  Raise the glad paean's song,
  As is our custom.

And the author of The Miners, whoever he was, (and that poem is attributed to the same Pherecrates,) says -
  Treading on soft aspalathoi
  Beneath the shady trees,
  In lotus-bearing meadows green,
  And on the dewy kypeiros;
  And on the fresh anthriscus, and
  The modest tender violet,
  And green trefoil. . .

But here I want to know what this trefoil is; for there is a poem attributed to Dēmaretē, which is called The Trefoil. And also, in the poem which is entitled The Good Men, Pherecrates or Strattis, whichever is the author, says -
  And having bathed before the heat of day,
  Some crown their head and some anoint their bodies.

And he speaks of thyme, and of kosmosandalon. And Cratinus, in his Effeminate Persons, says -
  Joyful now I crown my head
  With every kind of flower;
  Leiria, roses, krina too,
  And kosmosandala,
  And violets, and fragrant thyme,
  And spring anemones,
  Ground thyme, crocus, hyacinths,
  And buds of helichrysum,
  Shoots of the vine, anthriscus too,
  And lovely hemerocallis,
  . . . . tufts of narcissus.
  My head is likewise shaded
  With evergreen melilotus;
  And of its own accord there comes
  The flowery cytisus.

[33.] G   Formerly the entrance of garlands and perfumes into the banqueting rooms, used to herald the approach of the second course, as we may learn from Nicostratus in his Pseudostigmatias, where, in the following lines, he says -
  And you too,
  Be sure and have the second course quite neat;
  Adorn it with all kinds of rich confections,
  Perfumes, and garlands, aye, and frankincense,
  And girls to play the flute.

But Philoxenus the dithyrambic poet, in his poem entitled The Banquet, represents the garland as entering into the commencement of the banquet, using the following language:
  Then water was brought in to wash the hands,
  Which a delicate youth bore in a silver jug,
  Ministering to the guests; and after that
  He brought us garlands of the tender myrtle,
  Close woven with young richly-coloured shoots.

And Eubulus, in his Nurses, says -
  For when the old men came into the house,
  At once they sat them down. Immediately
  Garlands were handed round; a well-filled table
  Was placed before them, and (how good for the eyes!)
  A closely-kneaded loaf of barley bread.

And this was the fashion also among the Egyptians, as Nicostratus says in his Usurer; for, representing the usurer as an Egyptian, he says -
  (A)   We caught the pimp and two of his companions,
  When they had just had water for their hands,
  And garlands.
  (B)   Sure the time, O Chaerophon,
  Was most propitious.

But you may go on gorging yourself, O Cynulcus; and when you have done, tell us why Cratinus has called the melilotus "the ever-watching melilotus." However, as I see you are already a little tipsy {ἔξοινον} -for that is the word Alexis has used for a man thoroughly drunk {μεθύσην}, in his Settler - I won't go on teasing you; but I will bid the slaves, as Sophocles says in his Fellow Feasters,
   [686] Come, quick! let some one make the barley-cakes,
  And fill the goblets deep; for this man now,
  Just like a farmer's ox, can't work a bit
  Till he has filled his belly with good food.

And there is a man of the same kind mentioned by Aristias of Phlius; for he, too, in his play entitled The Fates, says -
  The guest is either a boatman or a parasite,
  A hanger-on of hell, with hungry belly,
  Which nought can satisfy.

However, as he gives no answer whatever to all these things which have been said, I order him ( as it is said in the Twins of Alexis ) to be carried out of the party, crowned with confused {chydaioi} garlands. But the comic poet, alluding to chydaioi garlands, says -
  These garlands all promiscuously {χύδην} woven.

But, after this, I will not carry on this conversation any further today; but will leave the discussion about perfumes to those who choose to continue it: and only desire the boy, on account of this lecture of mine about garlands, as Antiphanes says -
  To bring now hither two good garlands,
  And a good lamp, with good fire brightly burning;
- for then I shall wind up my speech like the conclusion of a play.

And not many days after this, as if he had been prophesying a silence for himself [which should be eternal], Ulpianus died, happily, without suffering under any long illness, to the great affliction of us his companions.

[34.] G   And while the slaves were bringing round perfumes in alabaster boxes, and in other vessels made of gold, someone, seeing Cynulcus (?) dozing, anointed his face with a great deal of ointment. But he, being awakened by it, when he recollected himself, said:- What is this? O Heracles, will not some one come with a sponge and wipe my face, which is thus polluted with a lot of dirt? And do not you all know that that exquisite writer Xenophon, in his Symposium, represents Socrates as speaking thus:- " 'By Zeus! O Callias, you entertain us superbly; for you have not only given us a most faultless feast, but you have furnished us also with delicious food for our eyes and ears.' - 'Well, then,' said he, 'suppose anyone were to bring us perfumes, in order that we might also banquet on sweet smells? ' - ' By no means,' said Socrates; ' for as there is one sort of dress fit for women and another for men, so there is one kind of smell fit for women and another for men. And no man is ever anointed with perfume for the sake of men; and as to women, especially when they are brides,- as, for instance, the bride of this Niceratus here, and the bride of Critobulus,- how can they want perfumes in their husbands, when they themselves are redolent of it? But the smell of the oil in the gymnasia, when it is present, is sweeter than perfume to women; and when it is absent, they long more for it. For if a slave and a freeman be anointed with perfume, they both smell alike in a moment; but those smells which are derived from free labours, require both virtuous habits and a good deal of time if they are to be agreeable and in character with a freeman.' " And that admirable writer Chrysippus says that perfumes {myra} derive their name from being prepared with great toil {moros} and useless labour. The Lacedaemonians even expel from Sparta those who make perfumes, as being wasters of oil; [687] and those who dye wool, as being destroyers of the whiteness of the wool. And Solon the wise, in his laws, forbade men to be sellers of perfumes.

[35.] G   "But now, not only scents," as Clearchus says in the third book of his Lives, "but also dyes, being full of luxury, tend to make those men effeminate who have anything to do with them. And do you think that effeminacy without virtue has anything desirable in it? But even Sappho, a thorough woman, and a poetess into the bargain, was ashamed to separate honour from elegance; and speaks thus -
  But elegance I truly love;
  And this my love of life has brightness,
  And honour, too, attached to it:
- making it evident to everybody that the desire of life that she confessed had respectability and honour in it; and these things especially belong to virtue. But Parrhasius the painter, although he was a man beyond all measure arrogant about his art, and though he got the credit of a liberal profession by some mere pencils and pallets, still in words set up a claim to virtue, and put this inscription on all his works that are at Lindus:-
  This is Parrhasius the painter's work,
  A most luxurious {habrodiaitos} and virtuous man.

And a wit being indignant at this, because, I suppose, he seemed to be a disgrace to the delicacy and beauty of virtue, having perverted the gifts which fortune had bestowed upon him to luxury, proposed to change the inscription into 'a man who lives by the painting tool' {rhabdodiaitos}: Still, said he, the man must be endured, since he says that he honours virtue." These are the words of Clearchus. But Sophocles the poet, in his play called The Judgment, represents Aphrodite, being a sort of Goddess of Pleasure, as anointed with perfumes, and looking in a glass; but Athena, as being a sort of Goddess of Intellect and Mind, and also of Virtue, as using oil and gymnastic exercises.

[36.] G   In reply to this, Masurius said:- But, my most excellent friend, are you not aware that it is in our brain that our senses are soothed, and indeed reinvigorated, by sweet smells? as Alexis says in his Wicked Woman, where he speaks thus-
  The best recipe for health
  Is to apply sweet scents unto the brain.

And that most valiant, and indeed warlike poet, Alcaeus, says -
  He shed a sweet perfume all over my breast.

And the wise Anacreon says somewhere -
  Why fly away, now that you've well anointed
  Your breast, more hollow than a flute, with unguents?
- for he recommends anointing the breast with unguent, as being the seat of the heart, and considering it an admitted point that that is soothed with fragrant smells. And the ancients used to act thus, not only because scents do of their own nature ascend upwards from the breast to the seat of smelling, but also because they thought that the soul had its abode in the heart; as Praxagoras, and Philotimus the physician taught; and Homer, too, says -
  He struck his breast, and thus reproved his heart.

And again he says -
  His heart within his breast did rage.

And in the Iliad he says -
  But Hector's heart within his bosom shook.

And this they consider a proof that the most important portion of the soul is situated in the heart; for it is as evident as possible that the heart quivers when under the agitation of fear. [688] And Agamemnon, in Homer, says -
  Scarce can my knees these trembling limbs sustain,
  And scarce my heart support its load of pain;
  With fears distracted, with no fixed design,
  And all my people's miseries are mine.

And Sophocles has represented women released from fear as saying -
  Now Fear's dark daughter does no more exult
  Within my heart.

But Anaxandrides makes a man who is struggling with fear say -
  O my wretched heart!
  How you alone of all my limbs or senses
  Rejoice in evil; for you leap and dance
  The moment that you see your lord alarmed.

And Plato says that the great Architect of the universe has placed the lungs close to the heart, by nature soft and destitute of blood, and having cavities penetrable like sponge, that so the heart, when it quivers, from fear of adversity or disaster, may vibrate against a soft and yielding substance.   But the garlands with which men bind their bosoms are called hypothymides by the poets, from the exhalations {apothymiasis} of the flowers, and not because the soul is called thymos, as some people think.

[37.] G   Archilochus is the earliest author who uses the word myron {perfume}, where he says -
  She being old would spare her perfumes {myra}.

And in another place he says -
  Displaying hair and breast perfumed {ἐσμυρισμένον};
  So that a man, though old, might fall in love with her.

And the word myron is derived from myrrha, which is the Aeolic form of smyrna {myrrh}; for the greater portion of unguents are made up with myrrh, and that which is called staktē is wholly composed of it. However Homer was acquainted with the fashion of using unguents and perfumes, but he calls them elaia, with the addition of some distinctive epithet, as -
  Himself anointing them with dewy oil {δροσόεντι ἐλαίῳ}.

And in another place he speaks of an oil as perfumed {τεθυωμένον}. And in his poems also, Aphrodite anoints the dead body of Hector with ambrosial rosy oil; and this is made of flowers. But with respect to that which is made of spices, which they called thyōmata, he says, speaking of Hera, -
  Here first she bathes, and round her body pours
  Soft oils of fragrance and ambrosial showers:
  From the chamber of Zeus, the winds convey
  The scent through heaven and earth in every way.

[38.] G   But the choicest unguents are made in particular places, as Apollonius, the follower of Herophilus, says in his treatise On Perfumes, where he writes- "The iris is best in Elis, and at Cyzicus; the perfume made from roses is most excellent at Phaselis, and that made at Neapolis and Capua is also very fine. That made from crocuses is in the highest perfection at  Soli in Cilicia, and at Rhodes. The essence of spikenard is best at Tarsus; and the extract of vine-leaves is made best in Cyprus and at Adramyttium. The best perfume from marjoram and from apples comes from CosEgypt bears the palm for its essence of henna; and the next best is the Cyprian, and Phoenician, and after them comes the Sidonian. The perfume called Panathenaicum is made at Athens; and those called Metopian and Mendesian are prepared with the greatest skill in Egypt. But the Metopian is made of oil which is extracted from bitter almonds. Still, the superior excellence of each perfume is owing to the purveyors and the materials and the artists, and not to the place itself; [689] for Ephesus formerly, as men say, had a high reputation for the excellence of its perfumes, and especially of its megalleium, but now it has none. At one time, too, the unguents made in Alexandria were brought to high perfection, on account of the wealth of the city, and the attention that Arsinoe and Berenice paid to such matters; and the finest extract of roses in the world was made at Cyrene while the great Berenice was alive. Again, in ancient times, the extract of vine-leaves made at Adramyttium was but poor; but afterwards it became first-rate, owing to Stratonice, the wife of Eumenes. Formerly, too, Syria used to make every sort of unguent admirably, especially that extracted from fenugreek; but the case is quite altered now. And long ago there used to be a most delicious unguent extracted from frankincense at Pergamon, owing to the invention of a certain perfumer of that city, for no one else had ever made it before him; but now none is made there.  Now, when a valuable unguent is poured on the top of one that is inferior, it remains on the surface; but when good honey is poured on the top of that which is inferior, it works its way to the bottom, for it compels that which is worse to rise above it."

[39.] G   Achaeus mentions Egyptian perfumes in his Prizes; and says -
  They'll give you Cyprian stones, and ointments choice
  From dainty Egypt, worth their weight in silver.

And perhaps, says Didymus, he means in this passage that which is called staktē, on account of the myrrh which is brought to Egypt, and from thence imported into Greece. And Hicesius says, in the second book of his treatise on Matter,- Of perfumes, some are rubbed on, and some are poured on. Now, the perfume made from roses is suitable for drinking parties, and so is that made from myrtles and from apples; and this last is good for the stomach, and useful for lethargic people. That made from vine-leaves is good for the stomach, and has also the effect of keeping the mind clear. Those extracted from marjoram and ground thyme are also well suited to drinking parties; and so is that extract of crocus which is not mixed with any great quantity of myrrh. The staktē, also, is well suited for drinking parties; and so is the spikenard: that made from fenugreek is sweet and tender; while that which comes from white violets is fragrant, and very good for the digestion.

Theophrastus, also, in his treatise on Scents, says, that some perfumes are made of flowers; as, for instance, from roses, and white violets, and lilies, which last is called sousinon. There are also those which are extracted from mint and ground thyme, and henna, and the crocus; of which the best is procured in Aegina and Cilicia. Some, again, are made of leaves, as those made from myrrh and the wild vine; and this grows in Cyprus, on the mountains, and is very plentiful; but no perfume is made of that which is found in Greece, because that has no scent. Some perfumes, again, are extracted from roots; as is that made from the iris, and from spikenard, and from marjoram, and from costus.

[40.] G   Now, that the ancients were very much addicted to the use of perfumes, is plain from their knowing to which of our limbs each unguent was most suitable. Accordingly, Antiphanes, in his Thoricians, or The Digger, says -
  (A)   He really bathes -   (B)   What then?
  (A)   In a large gilded tub, and steeps his feet
  And legs in rich Egyptian unguents;
  His jaws and breasts he rubs with thick palm-oil,
  And both his arms with extract sweet of mint;
  His eyebrows and his hair with marjoram,
  His knees and neck with essence of ground thyme.

And Cephisodorus, in his Trophonius, says -
  (A)   And now that I may well anoint my body,
  Buy me some unguents, I beseech you, Xanthias,
  Of roses made and irises. Buy, too,
  Some oil of bakkaris for my legs and feet.
  (B)   You stupid wretch! Shall I buy bakkaris,
  And waste it on your worthless feet?

Anaxandrides, too, in his Protesilaus, says -
  Unguents from Peron, which but yesterday
  [690] He sold to Melanopus,- very costly,
  Fresh come from Egypt; which he uses now
  To anoint the feet of vile Callistratus.

And Theopompus also mentions this perfumer, Peron, in his Admetus, and in the Hedychares. Antiphanes, too, says in his Antaea -
  I left the man in Peron's shop, just now,
  Dealing for ointments; when he has agreed,
  He'll bring you cinnamon and spikenard essence.

[41.] G   Now, there is a sort of ointment called bakkaris by many of the comic poets; and Hipponax uses this name in the following line:-
  I then my nose with bakkaris anointed,
  Redolent of crocus.

And Achaeus, in his Aethon, a satyric drama, says -
  Anointed around with bakkaris, and dressing
  All his front hair with cooling fans of feathers.

But Ion, in his Omphale, says -
  'Tis better far to know the use of myra,
  And bakkaris, and Sardian ornaments,
  Than all the fashions in the Peloponnese.

And when he speaks of Sardian ornaments, he means to include perfumes; since the Lydians were very notorious for their luxury. And so Anacreon uses the word Λυδοπαθὴς {Lydian-like} as equivalent to ἡδυπαθὴς {luxurious}. Sophocles also uses the word bakkaris; and Magnes, in his Lydians, says -
  A man should bathe, and then with bakkaris
  Anoint himself.

Perhaps, however, myron and bakkaris were not exactly the same thing; for Aeschylus, in his Amymone, makes a distinction between them, and says -
  Your bakkareis and your myra.

And Simonides says -
  And then with myron, and rich spices too,
  And bakkaris, did I anoint myself.

And Aristophanes, in his Thesmophoriazusae, says - 
  O venerable Zeus ! with what a scent
  Did that vile bag, the moment it was opened,
  Overwhelm me, full of bakkaris and myron!

[42.] G   Pherecrates mentions an unguent, which he calls brenthion, in his Trifles, saying -
  I stood, and ordered him to pour upon us
  Some brenthian unguent, that he also might
  Pour it on those departing.

And Crates mentions what he calls royal unguent, in his Neighbours; speaking as follows:-
  He smelt deliciously of royal unguent.

But Sappho mentions the royal and the brenthian unguent together, as if they were one and the same thing; saying -
  βρενθείῳ βασιληίῳ.

Aristophanes speaks of an unguent which he calls psagdēs, in his Daitaleis; saying -
  Come, let me see what unguent I can give you:
  Do you like psagdēs?

And Eupolis, in his Marica, says -
  All his breath smells of psagdēs.

Eubulus, in his Female Garland-sellers, says -
  She thrice anointed with Egyptian psagdas.

Polemon, in his writings addressed to Adaeus, says that there is an unguent in use among the Eleans called plangonion, from having been invented by a man named Plangon. And Sosibius says the same in his Similitudes; adding, that the unguent called megalleion is so named for a similar reason: for that that was invented by a Sicilian whose name was Megallus. But some say that Megallus was an Athenian: and Aristophanes mentions him in his Telmissians, and so does Pherecrates in his Petale; and Strattis, in his Medea, speaks thus:-
  And say that you are bringing her such unguents,
  As old Megallus never did compound,
  Nor Dinias, that great Egyptian, see,
  Much less possess.

[691] Amphis also, in his Odysseus, mentions the megalleion unguent in the following passage -
  (A)   Adorn the walls all round with hangings rich,
  Milesian work; and then anoint them over
  With sweet megalleion, and also burn
  The royal incense.
  (B)   Where did you, O master,
  Ever hear the name of such a spice as that

Anaxandrides, too, in his Tereus, says -
  And like the illustrious bride, great Basilis,
  She rubs her body with Megallian unguent.

Menander speaks of an unguent made of spikenard, in his Cecryphalus, and says -
  (A)   This unguent, boy, is really excellent.
  (B)   Of course it is, 'tis spikenard.

[43.] G   And anointing oneself with an unguent of this description, Alcaeus calls μυρίσασθαι, in his Palaestras, speaking thus -
  Having anointed her {μυρίσασα}, she shut her up
  In her own stead most secretly.

But Aristophanes uses not μυρίσματα, but μυρώματα, in his Ecclesiazusae, saying -
  I who am anointed {μεμύρισμαι} over my head with unguents {μυρώμασι}.

There was also an unguent called sagda, which is mentioned by Epilycus in his Coraliscus, where he writes -
  And bakkaris, and sagda too.

And it is spoken of likewise by Aristophanes, in his Daitaleis; and Eupolis in his Marica says -
  And all his breath is redolent of sagda:
- which expression Nicander of Thyateira understands to be meant as an attack upon a man who is too much devoted to luxury. But Theodorus says, that sagda is a species of spice used in fumigation.

[44.] G   Now a cotyla of unguent used to be sold for a high price at Athens, even, as Hipparchus says in his Nocturnal Festival, for as much as five minas; but as Menander, in his Misogynist, states, for ten. And Antiphanes, in his Phrearrus, where he is speaking of the unguent called staktē, says -
  The staktē at two minas is not worth having.

Now the citizens of Sardis were not the only people addicted to the use of unguents, as Alexis says in his Maker of Goblets -
  The whole Sardian people is of unguents fond;
- but the Athenians also, who have always been the leaders of every refinement and luxury in human life, used them very much; so that among them, as has been already mentioned, they used to fetch an enormous price; but, nevertheless, they did not abstain from the use of them on that account; just as we now do not deny ourselves scents which are so expensive and exquisite that those things are mere trifles which are spoken of in the Settler of Alexis -
  For he did use no alabaster box
  From which to anoint himself; for this is but
  An ordinary, and quite old-fashioned thing.
  But he let loose four doves all dipped in unguents,
  Not of one kind, but each in a different sort;
  And then they flew around, and hovering over us
  Besprinkled all our clothes and tablecloths.
  Envy me not, ye noble chiefs of Greece;
  For thus, while sacrificing, I myself
  Was sprinkled over with unguent of the iris.

[45.] G   Just think, in God's name, my friends, what luxury, or I should rather say, what profuse waste it was to have one's garments sprinkled in this manner, when a man might have taken up a little unguent in his hands, as we do now, and in that manner have anointed his whole body, and especially his head. For (?) Philonides says, in his treatise On Unguents and Garlands, [692] that the fashion of anointing the head at banquets arose from this:- that those men whose heads are naturally dry, find the humours which are engendered by what they eat, rise up into their heads; and on this account, as their bodies are inflamed by fevers, they bedew their heads with lotions, so as to prevent the neighbouring humours from rising into a part which is dry, and which also has a considerable vacuum in it. And so at their banquets, having consideration for this fact, and being afraid of the strength of the wine rising into their heads, men have introduced the fashion of anointing their heads, and by these means the wine, they think, will have less effect upon then, if they make their head thoroughly wet first. And as men are never content with what is merely useful, but are always desirous to add to that whatever tends to pleasure and enjoyment; in that way they have been led to adopt the use of unguents.

We ought, therefore, my good cynic Theodorus, to use at banquets those unguents which have the least tendency to produce heaviness, and to employ those which have astringent or cooling properties very sparingly. But Aristotle, that man of most varied learning, raises the question, Why men who use unguents are more grey than others? Is it because unguents have drying properties by reason of the spices used in their composition, so that they who use them become dry, and the dryness produces greyness? For whether greyness arises from a drying of the hair, or from a want of natural heat, at all events dryness has a withering effect. And it is on this account too that the use of hats makes men grey more quickly; for by them the moisture which ought to nourish the hair is taken away.

[46.] G   But when I was reading the twenty-eighth book of the History of Poseidonius [ Fr_20 ], I observed, my friends, a very pleasant thing which was said about unguents, and which is not at all foreign to our present discussion. For the philosopher says- "In Syria, at the royal banquets, when the garlands are given to the guests, some slaves come in, with little pouches full of Babylonian perfumes, and going round the room at a little distance from the guests, they bedew their garlands with the perfumes, sprinkling nothing else." And since the discussion has brought us to this point, I will add "A verse to Love", as the bard of Cythera [Philoxenus] says, telling you that Janus, who is worshipped as a great god by us, and whom we call Janus the Father, was the original inventor of garlands. And Dracon of Corcyra tells us this in his treatise On Precious Stones, where his words are- "But it is said that Janus had two faces, the one looking forwards and the other backwards; and that it is from him that the mountain Janus and the river Janus are both named, because he used to live on the mountain. And they say that he was the first inventor of garlands, and boats, and ships; and was also the first person who coined brazen money. And on this account many cities in Greece, and many in Italy and Sicily, place on their coins a head with two faces, and on the obverse a boat, or a garland, or a ship. And they say that he married his sister Camese, and had a son named Aethex, and a daughter Olistene. And he, aiming at a more extended power and renown, sailed over to Italy, and settled on a mountain near Rome, which was called Janiculum from his name."

→ Following pages (692-702)

Attalus' home page   |   16.03.21   |   Any comments?