Deipnosophistae

Athenaeus

Speaking of Alexandria, I know that in that fair city there is a wreath called Antinoeios made from the lotus bearing that name there. This grows in marshes in the summer season; there are two colours, one resembling the rose; it is from this that the wreath properly called Antinoeios is twined; the other is called lotus, and its colour is blue. Pancrates, a poet of those regions whom we knew, showed the Emperor Hadrian when he visited Alexandria the rosy lotus as a great wonder, alleging that it was the one which should be called Antinoeios, since it sprang, so he said, from the earth when it received the blood of the Mauritanian lion which Hadrian had killed when hunting in the part of Libya near Alexandria; it was a huge creature that for a long time had ravaged the whole of Libya, of which this lion had made many places uninhabitable. Hadrian, therefore, pleased at the originality and novelty of his thought, granted him the favour of maintenance in the temple of the Muses. The comic poet Cratinus, also, calls the lotus a wreath plant in Odysseis, since all leafy plants are spoken of as wreath plants by the Athenians. So Pancrates in his poem says, not without elegance: “The thyme with its woolly tufts, the white lily, the purple hyacinth, the flowers of blue celandine, yes, and the rose which unfolds to the zephyrs of spring; but not before, surely, has the earth brought to bloom the flower named for Antinous.” — Book XV

 

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