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Athenaeus of Naucratis / Volume III: Books XII-XV

Book XIV,   pp. 978-1062


Page 1043

c. 67.1                   FIGS.                    1043 
the Nicolaan dates, which are imported from  Syria, I can 
give you this information; that they received this name from 
Augustus the emperor,. because he was exceedingly fond of 
the fruit, and because Nicolaus of Damascus, who was his 
friend, was constantly sending him presents of it. And this 
Nicolaus was a. philosopher of the Peripatetic School, and 
wrote a very voluminous history. 
67.- Now with respect to dried figs. Those which came 
from Attica were always considered a great deal the best. 
Accordingly Dinon, in his History of Persia, says-" And they 
used to serve up at the royal table all the fruits which the 
earth produces as far as the king's dominions extend, being 
brought to him from every district as a sort of first-fruits. 
And the first king did not think it becoming for the kings 
either to eat or drink anything which came from any foreign 
country; and this idea gradually acquired the force of a 
law. For once, when one of the eunuchs brought the king, 
among the rest of the dishes at dessert, some Athenian dried 
figs, the king asked where they came from. And when he 
heard that they came from Athens, he forbade those who 
had bought them to buy them   for him any more, until it 
should be in his power to take them whenever he chose, and 
not to buy themr. And it is said that the eunuch did this 
on purpose, with a view to remind him of the expedition 
against Attica." And Alexis, in. his Pilot, says- 
Then came in figs, the emblemi of fair Athens, 
And bunches of sweet thyme. 
And Lynceus, inl his epistle to the comic poet, Posidippus, 
says-" In the delineation of the tragic passions, I do not 
think that Euripides is at all superior to Sophocles, but in 
dried figs, I do think that Attica is superior to every other 
country on earth." And in his letter to Diagoras, he writes 
thus:-" But this country opposes to the Chelidonian dried 
figs those which are called Brigindaride, which in their name 
indeed are barbarous, but which in delicious flavour are not at 
all less Attic than the others. And Phcenicides, in his Hated 
Woman, says- 
They celebrate the praise of myrtle-berries, 
Of honey, of the Propylhea. and of figs; 
Now these I tasted when I first arrived, 
And saw the Propylna; yet have I found nothing 
Which to a woodcock can for taste compare. 
In which lines we must take notice of the mention of the 
.  X 2 


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