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a far easier feat than stabbing several thousand people with a poisoned blade pokey.gif stretcher.gif or hurling large pots of flaming honey at them

 

Pots of flaming honey? :pokey: where ever do you come up with this stuff??

 

How did they get their enemies to eat the honey, does Pliny or Strabo say?

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hurling large pots of flaming honey at them

 

Sounds like something the Hundred Acre Wood militia would use... :thumbs_up:

 

But seriously, I am also curious to know how the natives of the Black Sea area were able to get their enemies to ingest poisonous honey so easily.

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Laurel contains quite a dose of cyanogenic glycoside . Chewing the seeds can lead to poisoning , the cherry laurel is the one divisive to cattle/ruminants , using the leaves instead of bay (they are similar) would cause vomiting.The principle is the same as eating the bitter kernel of almonds-cyanide.

 

Hold on, Pertinax: in that first sentence, which plant do you mean by laurel? :unsure:

 

So sorrry , I didnt see this entry until just now-

 

firstly I will deal with The Laurel or rather the Bay Laurel( Laurus nobilis): this is a mediterranean native (contains cineole as the major component about 50% captured from the volatile oil from the leaves) , thujones and sesquiterpenes also-normally can be used to provoke bile and aid digestion if used sparingly. Not to be confused with :

 

Myrcia ie: West Indian Bay (Pimenta racemosa) which you put on your hair and is not a med range plant.

 

and definitely not to be mixed up with my suggestion for the Delphic plant:

 

Cherry Laurel: (Prunus laurocerasus) a native of Asia Minor and a source of hydrocyanic acid: I paste a quote here-

 

"The leaves yield a volatile oil in the proportion of 40.5 grains to 1 lb. of leaves. This resembles oil of bitter almonds, and in Europe is sometimes sold for it, as flavouring, but the glucoside decomposes more slowly than crystallized amygdalin, and is liable to hold hydrocyanic acid, when it becomes poisonous. This glucoside was called Laurocerasin, or Amorphous amygdalin, and now Prulaurasin".

 

This is of course known to us all as a fraudulent substitute for the flavouring in Kirsch. :pokey:

 

not to be confused with:

 

Mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia) the plant indigenous to our American cousins and I am pleased to tell you that whisky is deemed to be the best antidote to it if ingested.It is called "sheepkill" I believe.

 

So Cherry Laurel is my sugestion for Delphi.Apologies again for overlooking your comment.

 

NB Wikipedia is not bad on non-fatal dose "behaviour" , ie: its very "non-specific " and baffling to practitioners.

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Laurel contains quite a dose of cyanogenic glycoside . Chewing the seeds can lead to poisoning , the cherry laurel is the one divisive to cattle/ruminants , using the leaves instead of bay (they are similar) would cause vomiting.The principle is the same as eating the bitter kernel of almonds-cyanide.

 

Hold on, Pertinax: in that first sentence, which plant do you mean by laurel? :)

 

So sorrry , I didnt see this entry until just now-

 

firstly I will deal with The Laurel or rather the Bay Laurel( Laurus nobilis): this is a mediterranean native (contains cineole as the major component about 50% captured from the volatile oil from the leaves) , thujones and sesquiterpenes also-normally can be used to provoke bile and aid digestion if used sparingly. Not to be confused with :

 

Myrcia ie: West Indian Bay (Pimenta racemosa) which you put on your hair and is not a med range plant.

 

and definitely not to be mixed up with my suggestion for the Delphic plant:

 

Cherry Laurel: (Prunus laurocerasus) a native of Asia Minor and a source of hydrocyanic acid: I paste a quote here-

 

"The leaves yield a volatile oil in the proportion of 40.5 grains to 1 lb. of leaves. This resembles oil of bitter almonds, and in Europe is sometimes sold for it, as flavouring, but the glucoside decomposes more slowly than crystallized amygdalin, and is liable to hold hydrocyanic acid, when it becomes poisonous. This glucoside was called Laurocerasin, or Amorphous amygdalin, and now Prulaurasin".

 

This is of course known to us all as a fraudulent substitute for the flavouring in Kirsch. ;)

 

not to be confused with:

 

Mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia) the plant indigenous to our American cousins and I am pleased to tell you that whisky is deemed to be the best antidote to it if ingested.It is called "sheepkill" I believe.

 

So Cherry Laurel is my sugestion for Delphi.Apologies again for overlooking your comment.

 

NB Wikipedia is not bad on non-fatal dose "behaviour" , ie: its very "non-specific " and baffling to practitioners.

 

Thanks very much, Pertinax. Having been in the habit all my life of chewing the bay (=laurel?) leaf when I get it in my helping of stew, I was waiting for that answer. Now I don't drink kirsch, but I must say I had no idea that oil of cherry-laurel was sold in Europe for oil of bitter almonds. Is that current information, dare I ask? Labelling has tightened up a lot in the last 20 years or so, as we know ...

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No problems flavouring a stew or unblocking your bile ducts with the Bay ( leaf , berry or oil would all be acceptable as food additives). Strictly, the Bay should not now be called "Bay Laurel" by an ethnobotanist but could reasonably be called "The Roman Laurel" ;) (confused? So am I!) , the "Laurel" is taken to mean the Cherry Laurel.

 

You may be amused to know that the Bay was a prized remedy for "hysterical movement of the womb" in French folk medicine.

 

The Kirsch adulteration is a (fairly) well known early to mid 20th C adulteration, probably well under control by the early eighties-just dont buy any "house kirsch" at cut price.Or you may produce Delphic utterances...

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Here is an interesting snippet, this is regarding Silphium (the "lost " herb of great value) as a contraceptive. If it was (as the coin representations seem to show) an umbilliferous member of the carrot family, then perhaps we have a "missing link" between the deadliness of hemlock and the benigin yarrow, (with a tantalising flavour).

 

http://www.healthsystem.virginia.edu/inter.../gynecology.cfm

 

scroll down my blog to "umbelliferae" for a brief exposition on the plant variants.

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So how exactly was this poisoned honey used against enemies? Was there food poisened with it? or was it somehow used in battle?

 

"Now all these peoples who live in the mountains are utterly savage, but the Heptacomitae are worse than the rest. Some also live in trees or turrets; and it was on this account that the ancients called them 'Mosynoeci,' the turrets being called 'mosyni.'

 

They live on the flesh of wild animals and on nuts; and they also attack wayfarers, leaping down upon them from their scaffolds. The Heptacomitae cut down three maniples of Pompey's army when they were passing through the mountainous country; for they mixed bowls of the crazing honey which is yielded by the tree-twigs, and placed them in the roads, and then, when the soldiers drank the mixture and lost their senses, they attacked them and easily disposed of them." - Strabo

 

-AND-

 

"Now for the most part there was nothing here which they really found strange; but the swarms of bees in the neighbourhood were numerous, and the soldiers who ate of the honey all went off their heads, and suffered from vomiting and diarrhoea, and not one of them could stand up, but those who had eaten a little were like people exceedingly drunk, while those who had eaten a great deal seemed like crazy, or even, in some cases, dying men.

 

So they lay there in great numbers as though the army had suffered a defeat, and great despondency prevailed. On the next day, however, no one had died, and at approximately the same hour as they had eaten the honey they began to come to their senses; and on the third or fourth day they got up, as if from a drugging." - Xenophon

Edited by Pantagathus

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But seriously, I am also curious to know how the natives of the Black Sea area were able to get their enemies to ingest poisonous honey so easily.

 

Free honey to a soldier on the march would have been something not easily passed up...

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If I recall Marcus Aurelius had a whole cinnamon tree in his personal effects, on campaign!

 

The same Marcus Aurelius also strongly encourages the use of oppium in "Meditations".

 

That must have been some Contubernium to chill in.

 

I don't recall where I read this (whether it was taken from Meditations or some other speculative source) but I have a vague recollection that the oppium was also enjoyed while mixed into the wine.

 

I think the picture of Commodus' later lunacy begins to unfold. :lol:

 

Primi Pilus

 

I have read the Meditations and don't recall Marcus Aurelius ever referring to using opium nor the cinnamon tree reference. Do you have any historical documents to back this up?

 

 

Severus

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I have read the Meditations and don't recall Marcus Aurelius ever referring to using opium nor the cinnamon tree reference. Do you have any historical documents to back this up?

 

 

Severus

 

As for the cinnamon tree, that's quite correct. It is Galen who says it, and he was Imperial physician. The cinnamon tree had apparently been dried, packed and sent in a crate from the 'country where it grows' (unfortunately he doesn't say where that was, and it's controversial where the Romans were getting their cinnamon from, whether Sri Lanka or southeast Asia). Whether this was a really useful thing to do, heaven knows, but it must have been the showpiece of the Imperial pharmacy.

 

I don't remember if Galen's reference tells us that it was taken on campaign. How much of the pharmacy followed the Emperor on his travels? that would be nice to know.

 

As for the opium in wine, I haven't seen sources on that. In what form would you mix it into wine?

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As for the opium in wine, I haven't seen sources on that. In what form would you mix it into wine?

 

"We have already stated that there are three varieties of the cultivated poppy, and, on the same occasion, we promised to describe the wild kinds. With reference to the cultivated varieties, the calyx of the white poppy is pounded, and is taken in wine as a soporific" - Pliny

 

While we are on the subject of poppies, I came across an interesting one a while ago from Thucydides in regards to the Athenian siege of Pylus:

 

" The cause hereof were the Lacedaemonians, who had proclaimed that any man that would should carry in meal, wine, cheese, and all other esculents necessary for a siege into the island, appointing for the same a great reward of silver; and if any Helot should carry in any thing, they promised him liberty. Hereupon divers with much danger imported victual, but especially the Helotes, who, putting off from all parts of Peloponnesus, wheresoever they chanced to be, came in at the parts of the island that lay to the wide sea.

 

But they had a care above all to take such a time as to be brought in with the wind.

 

For when it blew from the sea, they could escape the watch of the galleys easily; for they could not then lie round about the island at anchor. And the Helotes were nothing tender in putting ashore, for they ran their galleys on ground, valued at a price in money; and the men of arms also watched at all the landing places of the island. But as many as made attempt when the weather was calm were intercepted.

 

There were also such as could dive, that swam over into the island through the haven, drawing after them in a string bottles filled with poppy tempered with honey, and pounded linseed; whereof some at the first passed unseen, but were afterwards watched"

 

That is a very interesting 'staple' for the Lacedaemonians to require throughout the seige.... :lol:

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[The Spartans at Sphacteria] There were also such as could dive, that swam over into the island through the haven, drawing after them in a string bottles filled with poppy tempered with honey, and pounded linseed; whereof some at the first passed unseen, but were afterwards watched"

 

A fascinating quote, Pantagathus. We read that section of Thucydides in Greek classes at school, but I had completely forgotten about it. Unfortunately I don't have Gomme's commentary on Thucydides.

 

I would like to hear what Pertinax says about this. It seems to me that both poppy and linseed must be required for some medicinal effect, the poppy perhaps as analgesic for any who were wounded or sick?

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I would like to hear what Pertinax says about this. It seems to me that both poppy and linseed must be required for some medicinal effect, the poppy perhaps as analgesic for any who were wounded or sick?

 

No doubt the poppy & honey mixture were to be used as a medicine, but the linseed through me off at first. Then I remembered to think of it more rightly as flax seed oil (because linseed oil goes through an extra solvent process).

 

With the addition of flax oil, the medicine would have a great soothing effect on an irritated (empty & grumbling) stomach as well as supplying some much needed calories.

 

It really is facinating. It floored me with it simple ingeniousness.

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Pantagathus is completely correct, indeed the flax is probably even better than we suppose (probably having anticarginogenic effects when ingested), I suggest that apart from stopping any bacterial infection of broken tissue , even a deep wound would be more likely to heal with this mix.

If your troops expected poor quality water this mix along with mastik would be a useful preventitive for enteric problems. As an external hot compress for a severe fever or abdominal pain (ie: poisoned honey!) it would be useful as well.

The flax is of course a 3/6/9 omega oil substitute and very nourishing. Id be interested to have a further breakdown on poppy species types .

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