Peter Kirby wrote: ↑Fri Apr 24, 2015 9:19 pm ...
(4) 'Cyrenean' (Κυρηναῖον) // A Plant Stalk (Famous Association) // 'Hyssop' (ὕσσωπον)
This item is one of the three things thrown into the burning sacrifice of the heifer, and thus we are interested to know if we can identify all three. ...
Pliny the Elder, in the first century, writes about this plant extensively (chapter 15 sometimes titled 'Laserpitium, Laser, and Maspetum' and chapter 49 sometimes titled 'Laser: Thirty-Nine Remedies'). Pliny introduces it by saying, "Next to these, laserpitium claims our notice, a very remarkable plant, known to the Greeks by the name of 'silphion,' and originally a native of the province of Cyrenaica." It is described as being held in vaults and worth its weight in silver. Its fame can only have increased in the latter half of the first century, due to the difficulty of finding any, as Pliny mentions:
(As to this 'notion', which is here credited with the disappearance of the plant in Cyrenaica, Pliny writes, "They used to feed the cattle there upon it; at first it purged them, but afterwards they would grow fat, the flesh being improved in flavour in a most surprising degree.")For these many years past, however, it has not been found in Cyrenaica, as the farmers of the revenue who hold the lands there on lease, have a notion that it is more profitable to depasture flocks of sheep upon them. Within the memory of the present generation, a single stalk is all that has ever been found there, and that was sent as a curiosity to the Emperor Nero.
It can be asked how strong the association is between Cyrene and the laserpitium (Latin) or silphion (Greek) plant found there. And it can be answered that it is an association of the very highest degree, which anyone back then can be expected to know. The Wikipedia entry Silphium reads:
Here is an example of such a Cyrenian coin.It was the essential item of trade from the ancient North African city of Cyrene, and was so critical to the Cyrenian economy that most of their coins bore a picture of the plant.
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https://greekreporter.com/2024/01/03/pl ... iscovered/