A small and common plant growing in ancient Egypt
. Mentioned in the most popular medium
5. The plant was used as a cure
all, most commonly ingested to treat headaches
, and other such ailments. Also, called silphium, it is interesting that Catullus
mentions this plant in a love poem
because it was also used as an aphrodisiac
. The context of the poem is as follows:
Quaeris, quot mihi basiationes
tuae, Lesbia, sint satis superque.
quam magnus numerus Libyssae harenae
oraclum Iovis inter aestuosi
et Batti veteris sacrum sepulcrum;
aut quam sidera multa, cum tacet nox,
furtivos hominum vident amores:
tam te basia multa basiare
vesano satis et super Catullo est,
quae nec pernumerare curiosi
possint nec mala fascinare lingua.
CATULLUS 7 (Translation)
You ask, my Lesbia, how many of your kisses
are enough and more than enough for me.
As big a number as the Libyan grains of sand
that lie at lasarpicium
between the oracle of Sultry Jupiter
and the sacred tomb of old Battus;
Or as many stars that see the secret love affairs of men,
when the night is silent.
So many kisses are enough
and more than enough for mad Catullus to kiss you,
these kisses which the inquisitive are able to count
nor an evil tongue bewitch.