It was a crop of raggedy leafed plants with tiny yellow petals that to the untrained eye appeared like unremarkable weeds. Yet when one stalk passed through the lips in Roman times, it was pure magic. Silphium, a cousin of fennel it is said, was so precious that it sustained the city of Cyrene in Northern Africa. The citizens had it stamped on their coins, the bundles sold had to be rationed, men had to stand guard to protect the plantation from thieves, and it came to be so coveted that it was consumed out of existence.
Why? Why do you ask? What could be in such demand? Was it a panacea? Did it hold the wisdom of the ages? Be patient now and I will tell you: it was the world’s best aphrodisiac and first abortifacient all wrapped up in heart-shaped pods.
And although many strides have been made in 2000 and more years, one might wonder of a world where silphium wasn’t extinct.
Bayveen O’Connell lives in Dublin and loves history, travel and all things dark. Her writing has appeared in Underground Writers, The Cabinet of Heed, Lonesome October Lit, Molotov Cocktail, Selene Quarterly, The Bohemyth, Nilvx, Boyne Berries, and others. Find her on Twitter @bayveenwriter and on her website: www.bayveenoconnell.com