Helix Chapter Summary

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In the sections I was assigned of The Natural History, Pliny goes on to talk about the Helix and its characteristics, different types of Ivy and how they vary from one another, Smilax, and water plants and how people had different uses of them. For example, people used Reed to make arrows. This paper will provide a summary on what Pliny touched upon in passage 334, as well as problems that may arise with Pliny’s depiction of these plants. This paper will also touch on who Pliny was and whether or not he is furthering his knowledge or simply repeating what he has heard.
In book XVI, Pliny talks about how the Helix differs in the size of its leaves, and how it has the most varieties of all. He goes on about how the leaves are small and have
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It has thick jointed stems, and very thorny branches that make it into a shrub of some sort and has leaves that resemble the leaves of an ivy but they are small and have no corners. It also throws out vines from its stem. The flower is white and is said to have the scent of a lily (Pliny, XVI, 487). The smilax grows berries that are red in color, and Pliny says that the larger ones have three hard black stones within them but the smaller berries only have one stone. Apparently, this plant is very unlucky when it comes to sacred rites because it has a very desolate association; a maiden named Smilax was turned into a shrub because of her love for a youth named Crocus. People who don’t know this story often use this plant to decorate festivals because they think it is ivy. Smilax is used for making tablets, and apparently something about that wood gives out a slight of sound when you place it close to your ear. It is also said that ivy is very good for testing wine, in a way that a vessel is made of its wood that lets wine pass through it, and when water is mixed with the wine, it stops the vessel (Pliny, XVI, …show more content…
Many people used reed to make arrows, as it was a way of hastening the approach of death. The point of adding reeds to arrows was because of their barb, which dealt extra wounds to their enemies, and was something that could not be extracted from the enemies wound. It is said that these weapons “obscure the very rays of the sun” and which is why they wanted calm weather, because bad weather made them want to keep peace (Pliny, XVI, 491). Pliny goes on to say that Italy had won the war, because the reed that grows from the river in Bologna trumped all other reeds that were suitable for an arrow. The Reno reed contains the largest amount of pith, it has the best flying weight and a great balance make it the superior reed. Even then, it is said that the reeds from India are placed as the best reed of them all, making some people believe that they belong to a different species (Pliny, XVI,

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