A restless Des Esseintes with dull unease decided to daze himself with real fragrances in the hope that this nasal homeopathy would cure him of the little scented posies.
He did this in his house in Fontenay which had been changed to act as a backdrop to an exacerbated aestheticism that according to Des Esseintes should only indulge the intellectual needs of a dandy, detached from conformism or vulgarity.
Amidst confusion, fusion and clash of the largest number of artificial stimuli, only one scent came close to reality. A herb permeated memory and evoked... Thyme rubbed between the fingers, smoke exhalation, “The Herbarium” of Apuleius, a collection of writings on the antiseptic and purifying properties of the air in enclosed areas, a clear morning in a wooded landscape.
A successful blend of thyme and eucalyptus. Aromatic, invigorating, refreshing, balsamic. Thymus: not only for delight of nostrils, but also a purifier.
Thymus, from the Greek language “thymos” was the principle of vitality, breath and, in metaphorical sense, the heart.
Thymus represented the origin of breathing, feelings and passions like anger, bravery and ardour. “Thymòssta” meant smoke exhalation (ancient people burned thyme sprigs during religious functions), but also physical vigour and bravery transmitted by this plant. In fact, its aroma was believed to have heroic virtues, which is why soldiers invigorated their body washing it with thymus water, and refreshed their mind drinking herbal tisanes.
In Roman days, Apuleius, the famous writer and philosopher, acknowledged its high anti-inflammatory properties as he wrote in 148 BC in “Herbarium”. Both Pliny and Virgil thought that by burning thymus, poisonous animals would be driven away from fields and houses. Romans also took advantage of its antiseptic properties for foodstuffs preservation, air purification in enclosed areas, food and cheese flavouring.