Figs have long been valued for their laxative properties. They are also regarded as aphrodisiacs which could lead to some messy love-making. In ancient times, the very best of them were said to come from Greece.
Amitrochates, the king of the Indians, wrote to Antiochus [one of the Seleucid kings], entreating him to buy and send him some sweet wine, and some dried figs, and a sophist; and that Antiochus wrote to him in answer, “The dried figs and the sweet wine we will send you; but it is not lawful for a sophist to be sold in Greece.”
(Athenaeus – The Deipnosophists early 3rd century CE)
The Spanish Moors also praised the fig – although they recognised that eating too many of them could have a very bad effect on the constitution.
Abu Merwán Ibn Zohr was exceedingly fond of green figs, and used to eat immoderately of them; Al-fár, on the contrary, never ate any, or if he did it was only once a year: he used to say to Abu Merwán Ibn Zohr, whenever he saw him eating that fruit, “If thou persist in eating green figs thou wilt soon be attacked with a very bad na’lah,” a word meaning ‘an abscess’ in the language of the Western people. In reply to this, Abu Merwán used to say to him, “if thou do not eat figs thou wilt be subject to fever, and wilt at last die from a constipation in the bowels.” Ibn Zohr’s words were prophetic; Al-fár died of the disease which Ibn Zohr had announced to him. But the most extraordinary thing was that Ibn Zohr himself died from an abscess in one of his sides. This is, no doubt, the most remarkable instance of prophetic sagacity ever known of two physicians.
(Ahmed ibn Mohammed Al-Makkari – History of the Mohammedan Dynasties of Spain 1843)
Lois Bourne, an occult writer and coven leader, recalls being liberally dosed with syrup of figs as a child.
My mother had a positive mania for regular bowel movements which she said was the basis of all good health, and the doctor did nothing to discourage her by constantly asking to see my tongue on his rare visits. This merely served to confirm her aberration to purge me within an inch of my life. Even today I cannot view a bottle of syrup of figs without wanting to heave, and my stomach contracts with spasmodic horror in remembrance of the griping pains of yesteryear.
When many years later I asked her with the benefit of some medical knowledge, “Did you ever read the label, mother? – you were only supposed to dose me with two teaspoonfuls, not the whole bottle!” I would berate her with my profound and newly-discovered erudition about the dangers of the liberal use of purgatives, and she would reply, “Nonsense, a good clean-out never did anyone any harm.”
(Lois Bourne – Witch Amongst Us 1979)