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Title: The Natural History of Pliny — Volume 5 of 6
Author: Pliny, the Younger
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Natural History of Pliny — Volume 5 of 6" ***

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Rowland, Tony Browne, Brian Wilcox and the Online

Transcriber’s Notes:—

Italic text is denoted _thus_.

The spelling, hyphenation, punctuation and accentuation are as the
original, except for apparent typographical errors which have been

Further notes can be found at the end of the book.

















  CHAP.                                                        Page

  1.   The antipathies and sympathies which exist among trees and
         plants                                                   1

  2.   The lotus of Italy: six remedies                           3

  3.   Acorns: thirteen remedies                                  4

  4.   The kermes-berry of the holm-oak: three remedies         _ib._

  5.   Gall-nuts: twenty-three remedies                           5

  6.   Mistletoe: eleven remedies                               _ib._

  7.   The excrescences which grow on the robur: one remedy.
         The cerrus: eight remedies                               6

  8.   The cork-tree: two remedies                                7

  9.   The beech: four remedies                                 _ib._

  10.  The cypress: twenty-three remedies                       _ib._

  11.  The cedar: thirteen remedies                               8

  12.  Cedrides: ten remedies                                     9

  13.  Galbanum: twenty-three remedies                           10

  14.  Hammoniacum: twenty-four remedies                         11

  15.  Storax: ten remedies                                     _ib._

  16.  Spondylium: seventeen remedies                            12

  17.  Sphagnos, sphacos, or bryon: five remedies               _ib._

  18.  The terebinth: six remedies                              _ib._

  19.  The pitch-tree and the larch: eight remedies              13

  20.  The chamæpitys: ten remedies                             _ib._

  21.  The pityusa: six remedies                                 14

  22.  Resins: twenty-two remedies                               15

  23.  Pitch: twenty-three remedies                              17

  24.  Pisselæon and palimpissa: sixteen remedies                18

  25.  Pissasphaltos: two remedies                              _ib._

  26.  Zopissa: one remedy                                       19

  27.  The torch-tree: one remedy                               _ib._

  28.  The lentisk: twenty-two remedies                         _ib._

  29.  The plane-tree: twenty-five remedies                      20

  30.  The ash: five remedies                                    21

  31.  The maple: one remedy                                    _ib._

  32.  The poplar: eight remedies                               _ib._

  33.  The elm: sixteen remedies                                 22

  34.  The linden-tree: five remedies                            23

  35.  The elder: fifteen remedies                              _ib._

  36.  The juniper: twenty-one remedies                          24

  37.  The willow: fourteen remedies. The willow of Ameria:
         one remedy                                              25

  38.  The vitex: thirty-three remedies                          26

  39.  The erica: one remedy                                     28

  40.  The broom: five remedies                                 _ib._

  41.  The myrica, otherwise called the tamarica, or tamarix:
         three remedies                                          29

  42.  The brya: twenty-nine remedies                            30

  43.  The blood-red shrub: one remedy                           31

  44.  The siler: three remedies                                _ib._

  45.  The privet: eight remedies                                32

  46.  The alder: one remedy                                    _ib._

  47.  The several varieties of the ivy: thirty-nine remedies   _ib._

  48.  The cisthos: five remedies                                34

  49.  The cissos erythranos: two remedies. The chamæcissos:
         two remedies. The smilax: three remedies. The
         clematis: eighteen remedies                            _ib._

  50.  The reed: nineteen remedies                               35

  51.  The papyrus, and the paper made from it: three remedies   36

  52.  The ebony: five remedies                                  37

  53.  The rhododendron: one remedy                             _ib._

  54.  The rhus or sumach-tree; two varieties of it: eight
        remedies. Stomatice                                     38

  55.  Rhus erythros: nine remedies                             _ib._

  56.  The erythrodanus: eleven remedies                       _ib._

  57.  The alysson: two remedies                                 39

  58.  The radicula or struthion: thirteen remedies. The
         apocynum: two observations upon it                     _ib._

  59.  Rosemary: eighteen remedies                               40

  60.  The seed called cachrys.                                  41

  61.  The herb savin: seven remedies                           _ib._

  62.  Selago: two remedies                                     _ib._

  63.  Samolus: two remedies                                     42

  64.  Gum: eleven remedies                                     _ib._

  65.  The Egyptian or Arabian thorn: four remedies              43

  66.  The white thorn: two remedies. The acanthion: one
         remedy                                                 _ib._

  67.  Gum acacia: eighteen remedies                            _ib._

  68.  Aspalathos: one remedy                                    45

  69.  The erysisceptrum, adipsatheon, or diaxylon: eight
         remedies                                               _ib._

  70.  The thorn called appendix: two remedies. The
         pyracantha: one remedy                                  46

  71.  The paliurus: ten remedies                               _ib._

  72.  The agrifolia. The aquifolia: one remedy. The yew: one
         property belonging to it                               _ib._

  73.  The bramble: fifty-one remedies                           47

  74.  The cynosbatos: three remedies                            48

  75.  The Idæan bramble                                         50

  76.  The rhamnos; two varieties of it: five remedies          _ib._

  77.  Lycium: eighteen remedies                                 51

  78.  Sarcocolla: two remedies                                  52

  79.  Oporice: two remedies                                    _ib._

  80.  The trixago, chamædrys, chamædrops, or teucria: sixteen
         remedies                                               _ib._

  81.  The chamædaphne: five remedies                            53

  82.  The chamelæa: six remedies                               _ib._

  83.  The chamæsyce: eight remedies                             54

  84.  The chamæcissos: one remedy                              _ib._

  85.  The chamæleuce, farfarum, or farfugium: one remedy       _ib._

  86.  The chamæpeuce: five remedies. The chamæcyparissos: two
         remedies. The ampeloprason: six remedies. The stachys:
         one remedy                                              55

  87.  The clinopodion, cleonicion, zopyron, or ocimoïdes:
         three remedies                                         _ib._

  88.  The clematis centunculus: three remedies                  56

  89.  The clematis echites, or lagine                          _ib._

  90.  The Egyptian clematis, daphnoïdes, or polygonoïdes: two
         remedies                                                57

  91.  Different opinions on dracontium                         _ib._

  92.  The aron: thirteen remedies                               58

  93.  The dracunculus: two remedies                             60

  94.  The arisaros: three remedies                             _ib._

  95.  The millefolium or myriophyllon: seven remedies           61

  96.  The pseudobunion: four remedies                          _ib._

  97.  The myrrhis, myriza, or myrrha: seven remedies           _ib._

  98.  The onobrychis: three remedies                            62

  99.  Coracesta and callicia                                   _ib._

  100. The minsas or corinthia: one remedy                       63

  101. The aproxis: six remedies                                _ib._

  102. The aglaophotis or marmaritis. The achæmenis or
         hippophobas. The theobrotion or semnion. The
         adamantis. The arianis. The therionarca. The
         ætheopis or merois. The ophiusa. The thalassegle
         or potamaugis. The theangelis. The gelotophyllis.
         The hestiatoris or protomedia. The casignetes or
         dionysonymphas. The helianthes or heliocallis. The
         hermesias. The æschynomene. The crocis. The œnotheris.
         The anacampseros                                        64

  103. The eriphia                                               67

  104. The wool plant: one remedy. The lactoris: one remedy.
         The militaris: one remedy                               68

  105. The stratiotes: five remedies                            _ib._

  106. A plant growing on the head of a statue: one remedy      _ib._

  107. A plant growing on the banks of a river: one remedy       69

  108. The herb called lingua: one remedy                       _ib._

  109. Plants that take root in a sieve: one remedy             _ib._

  110. Plants growing upon dunghills: one remedy                _ib._

  111. Plants that have been moistened with the urine of a
         dog: one remedy                                        _ib._

  112. The rodarum: three remedies                              _ib._

  113. The plant called impia: two remedies                      70

  114. The plant called Venus’ comb: one remedy                 _ib._

  115. The exedum. The plant called notia: two remedies          71

  116. The philanthropos: one remedy. The lappa canaria: two
         remedies                                               _ib._

  117. Tordylon or syreon: three remedies                       _ib._

  118. Gramen: seventeen remedies                                72

  119. Dactylos: five remedies                                   73

  120. Fenugreek or silicia: thirty-one remedies                 74



  1.   When the wild plants were first brought into use          77

  2.   The Latin authors who have written upon these plants      78

  3.   At what period the Romans acquired some knowledge of
         this subject                                           _ib._

  4.   Greek authors who have delineated the plants in colours   80

  5.   The first Greek authors who wrote upon plants            _ib._

  6.   Why a few of the plants only have been used medicinally.
         Plants, the medicinal properties of which have been
         miraculously discovered. The cynorrhodos: two remedies.
         The plant called dracunculus: one remedy. The
         britannica: five remedies                               83

  7.   What diseases are attended with the greatest pain. Names
         of persons who have discovered famous plants            86

  8.   Moly: three remedies                                      87

  9.   The dodecatheos: one remedy                               88

  10.  The pæonia, pentorobus, or glycyside: one remedy         _ib._

  11.  The panaces asclepion: two remedies                       89

  12.  The panaces heracleon: three remedies                     90

  13.  The panaces chironion: four remedies                     _ib._

  14.  The panaces centaurion or pharnacion: three remedies     _ib._

  15.  The heracleon siderion: four remedies                     91

  16.  The ampelos chironia: one remedy                         _ib._

  17.  Hyoscyamos, known also as the apollinaris or altercum;
        five varieties of it: three remedies                    _ib._

  18.  Linoxostis, parthenion, hermupoa, or mercurialis: two
         varieties of it: twenty-two remedies                    92

  19.  The achilleos, sideritis, panaces heracleon,
         millefolium, or scopæ regiæ; six varieties of it:
         three remedies                                          94

  20.  The teucrion, hemionion, or splenion: two remedies        95

  21.  Melampodium, hellebore, or veratrum; three varieties
         of it. The way in which it is gathered, and how the
         quality of it is tested                                 96

  22.  Twenty-four remedies derived from black hellebore. How
         it should be taken                                      98

  23.  Twenty-three remedies derived from white hellebore        99

  24.  Eighty-eight observations upon the two kinds of
         hellebore                                              100

  25.  To what persons hellebore should never be administered   101

  26.  The mithridatia                                          102

  27.  The scordotis or scordion: four remedies                 _ib._

  28.  The polemonia, philetæria, or chiliodynamus: six
        remedies                                                _ib._

  29.  The eupatoria: one remedy                                103

  30.  Centaurion or chironion: twenty remedies                 _ib._

  31.  The centaurion lepton, or libadion, known also as fel
         terræ: twenty-two remedies                             104

  32.  The centauris triorchis: two remedies                    _ib._

  33.  Clymenus: two remedies                                   105

  34.  Gentian: thirteen remedies                               _ib._

  35.  The lysimachia: eight remedies                           106

  36.  Artemisia, parthenis, botrys, or ambrosia: five
         remedies                                               _ib._

  37.  Nymphæa, heracleon, rhopalon, or madon; two varieties
         of it: four remedies                                   107

  38.  Two varieties of euphorbia: four remedies. The chamelæa  _ib._

  39.  Two varieties of the plantago: forty-six remedies        109

  40.  Buglossos; three remedies                                _ib._

  41.  Cynoglossos: three remedies                              110

  42.  The buphthalmos or cachla: one remedy                    _ib._

  43.  Plants which have been discovered by certain nations.
         The scythice: one remedy                               _ib._

  44.  The hippace: three remedies                              111

  45.  The ischæmon: two remedies                               _ib._

  46.  The cestros, psychotrophon, vettonica, or serratula:
        forty-eight remedies                                    _ib._

  47.  The cantabrica: two remedies                             112

  48.  Consiligo: one remedy                                    _ib._

  49.  The iberis: seven remedies                               113

  50.  Plants which have been discovered by certain animals.
         Chelidonia: six remedies                               114

  51.  The dog-plant: one remedy                                _ib._

  52.  The elaphoboscon                                         115

  53.  Dictamnon; eight remedies. Pseudodictamnon or chondris.
         In what places the most powerful plants are found.
         How that milk is drunk in Arcadia for the beneficial
         effects of the plants upon which the cattle feed       _ib._

  54.  The aristolochia, clematitis, cretica, plistolochia,
         lochia polyrrhizos, or apple of the earth: twenty-two
         remedies                                               116

  55.  The employment of these plants for injuries inflicted
         by serpents                                            118

  56.  The argemonia: four remedies                             119

  57.  Agaric: thirty-three remedies                            120

  58.  The echios; three varieties of it: two remedies          _ib._

  59.  Hierabotane, peristereon, or verbenaca; two varieties
         of it: ten remedies                                    121

  60.  The blattaria: one remedy                                122

  61.  Lemonium: one remedy                                     _ib._

  62.  Quinquefolium, known also as pentapetes, pentaphyllon,
         or chamæzelon: thirty-three remedies                   _ib._

  63.  The sparganion: one remedy                               123

  64.  Four varieties of the daucus: eighteen remedies          _ib._

  65.  The therionarca: two remedies                            124

  66.  The persolata or areion: eight remedies                  _ib._

  67.  Cyclaminos or tuber terræ: twelve remedies               125

  68.  The cyclaminos cissanthemos: four remedies               _ib._

  69.  The cyclaminos chamæcissos: three remedies               126

  70.  Peucedanum: twenty-eight remedies                        _ib._

  71.  Ebulum: six remedies                                     127

  72.  Polemonia: one remedy                                    _ib._

  73.  Phlomos or verbascum: fifteen remedies                   _ib._

  74.  The phlomis: one remedy. The lychnitis or thryallis      _ib._

  75.  The thelyphonon or scorpio: one remedy                   128

  76.  The phrynion, neuras, or poterion: one remedy            _ib._

  77.  The alisma, damasonion, or lyron: seventeen remedies     129

  78.  Peristereos: six remedies                                130

  79.  Remedies against certain poisons                         _ib._

  80.  The antirrhinum, anarrhinon, or lychnis agria: three
         remedies                                               131

  81.  Euclea: one remedy                                       _ib._

  82.  The pericarpum; two varieties of it: two remedies        _ib._

  83.  Remedies for diseases of the head. Nymphæa heraclia:
         two remedies                                           132

  84.  The lingulaca: one remedy                                _ib._

  85.  The cacalia or leontice: three remedies                  133

  86.  The callitrichos: one remedy                             _ib._

  87.  Hyssop: ten remedies                                     _ib._

  88.  The lonchitis: four remedies                             134

  89.  The xiphion or phasganion: four remedies                 _ib._

  90.  Psyllion, cynoïdes, crystallion, sicelicon, or
         cynomyia; sixteen remedies. Thryselinum: one remedy    135

  91.  Remedies for diseases of the eyes                        136

  92.  The anagallis, or corchoron; two varieties of it: six
         remedies                                               _ib._

  93.  The ægilops: two remedies                                138

  94.  Mandragora, circæon, morion, or hippophlomos; two
         varieties of it: twenty-four remedies                  _ib._

  95.  Hemlock: thirteen remedies                               140

  96.  Crethmos agrios: one remedy                              _ib._

  97.  Molybdæna: one remedy      _ib._

  98.  The first kind of capnos, known also as chicken’s foot:
         one remedy                                             142

  99.  The arborescent capnos: three remedies                   _ib._

  100. The acoron or agrion: fourteen remedies                  _ib._

  101. The cotyledon: two varieties of it: sixty-one remedies   143

  102. The greater aizoüm, also called buphthalmos,
         zoöphthalmos, stergethron, hypogeson, ambrosion,
         amcrimnon, seduni magnum, or digitellus: thirty-six
         remedies. The smaller aizoüm, also called erithales,
         trithales, chrysothales, isoëtes or sedum: thirty-two
         remedies                                               _ib._

  103. The andrachle agria or illecebra: thirty-two remedies    144

  104. A remedy for diseases of the nostrils                    145

  105. Remedies for diseases of the teeth                       _ib._

  106. Erigeron, pappus, acanthis, or senecio: eight
         remedies                                               146

  107. The ephemeron: two remedies                              147

  108. The labrum Venereum: one remedy                          148

  109. The batrachion, ranunculus, or strumus; four varieties
         of it: fourteen remedies                               _ib._

  110. Remedial preparations for offensive breath: two kinds
         of them                                                150



  1.   New forms of disease                                     152

  2.   The nature of lichen                                     _ib._

  3.   At what period lichen first made its appearance in
         Italy                                                  _ib._

  4.   Carbuncle                                                154

  5.   Elephantiasis                                            _ib._

  6.   Colic                                                    155

  7.   The new system of medicine: Asclepiades the physician    156

  8.   The changes effected by Asclepiades in the practice of
         medicine                                               157

  9.   Remarks in dispraise of the practices of magic           159

  10.  Lichen: five remedies                                    160

  11.  Quinzy                                                   161

  12.  Scrofula                                                 _ib._

  13.  The plant called bellis: two remedies                    162

  14.  The condurdum                                            _ib._

  15.  Cough                                                    163

  16.  Bechion, otherwise known as arcion, chamæleuce, or
         tussilago: three remedies                              164

  17.  The bechion, known also as salvia: four remedies         _ib._

  18.  Affections of the side, chest, and stomach               _ib._

  19.  Molon or syron. Amomum                                   165

  20.  The ephedra or anabasis; three remedies                  166

  21.  Geum; three remedies                                     _ib._

  22.  Tripolium: three remedies                                167

  23.  The gromphæna                                            _ib._

  24.  The malundrum: two remedies                              _ib._

  25.  Chalcetum; two remedies. Molemonium; one remedy          168

  26.  Halus or cotonea: five remedies                          169

  27.  The chamædrops: one remedy. The stœchas: one remedy      _ib._

  28.  Remedies for diseases of the belly                       _ib._

  29.  The astragalus: six remedies                             170

  30.  Ladanum: eighteen remedies                               171

  31.  Chondris or pseudodictamnon: one remedy. Hypocisthis or
         orobethron; two varieties: eight remedies              172

  32.  Laver or sion: two remedies                              _ib._

  33.  Potamogiton: eight remedies. The statice: three
         remedies                                               _ib._

  34.  The ceratia: two remedies. Leontopodion, leuceoron,
         doripetron, or thorybethron. Lagopus: three remedies   173

  35.  Epithymon or hippopheos; eight remedies                  174

  36.  Pycnocomon; four remedies                                175

  37.  Polypodion; three remedies                               _ib._

  38.  Scammony; eight remedies                                 176

  39.  The tithymalos characias                                 177

  40.  The tithymalos myrtites, or caryites; twenty-one
         remedies                                               178

  41.  The tithymalos paralios, or tithymalis; four remedies    179

  42.  The tithymalos helioscopios; eighteen remedies           _ib._

  43.  The tithymalos cyparissias; eighteen remedies            180

  44.  The tithymalos platyphyllos, corymbites, or amygdalites;
         three remedies                                         _ib._

  45.  The tithymalos dendroïdes, cobios, or leptophyllos;
         eighteen remedies                                      _ib._

  46.  The apios ischas, or raphanos agria; two remedies        _ib._

  47.  Remedies for griping pains in the bowels                 181

  48.  Remedies for diseases of the spleen                      _ib._

  49.  Remedies for calculi and diseases of the bladder         182

  50.  Crethmos; eleven remedies. Cachry                        183

  51.  The anthyllion; two remedies. The anthyllis; two
         remedies                                               184

  52.  Cepæa; one remedy        _ib._

  53.  Hypericon, chamæpitys, or corison; nine remedies         185

  54.  Caros or hypericon; ten remedies                         _ib._

  55.  The callithrix; one remedy. The perpressa; one remedy.
         The chrysanthemum; one remedy. The anthemis; one
         remedy                                                 186

  56.  Silaus; one remedy                                       _ib._

  57.  The plant of Fulvius                                     187

  58.  Remedies for diseases of the testes and of the
         fundament                                              _ib._

  59.  Inguinalis or argemo                                     188

  60.  Remedies for inflamed tumours. Chrysippios; one remedy   _ib._

  61.  Aphrodisiacs and antaphrodisiacs                         189

  62.  The orchis or serapias; five medicinal properties.
         Satyrion                                               _ib._

  63.  Satyrion; three medicinal properties. Satyrion
         erythraïcon; four medicinal properties                 190

  64.  Remedies for the gout and diseases of the feet           192

  65.  Lappago or mollugo; one remedy. Asperugo; one remedy     _ib._

  66.  Phycos thalassion or sea-weed; three varieties of it.
         Lappa boaria                                           193

  67.  Maladies which attack the whole of the body              194

  68.  The geranion, myrrhis or myrtis; three varieties of it:
         six remedies                                           195

  69.  The onotheras or onear; three remedies                   196

  70.  Remedies for epilepsy                                    _ib._

  71.  Remedies for fevers                                      197

  72.  Remedies for phrenitis, lethargy; and carbuncles         198

  73.  Remedies for dropsy. Acte or ebulum. Chamæacte.          _ib._

  74.  Remedies for erysipelas                                  199

  75.  Remedies for sprains                                     200

  76.  Remedies for jaundice                                    _ib._

  77.  Remedies for boils                                       201

  78.  Remedies for fistula                                     _ib._

  79.  Remedies for abscesses and hard tumours                  _ib._

  80.  Remedies for burns                                       202

  81.  Remedies for diseases of the sinews and joints           _ib._

  82.  Remedies for hæmorrhage                                  203

  83.  Hippuris, otherwise called ephedron, anabasis, or
         equisætum; three kinds of it; eighteen remedies        _ib._

  84.  Stephanomelis                                            205

  85.  Remedies for ruptures and convulsions. Erysithales; one
         remedy                                                 _ib._

  86.  Remedies for phthiriasis                                 206

  87.  Remedies for ulcers and wounds                           _ib._

  88.  Polycnemon; one remedy                                   209

  89.  Remedies for warts, and applications for the removal of
         scars                                                  _ib._

  90.  Remedies for female diseases                             210

  91.  Arsenogonon; one medicinal property. Thelygonon; one
         medicinal property                                     213

  92.  Mastos; one remedy                                       214

  93.  Applications for the hair. Lysimachia. Ophrys            _ib._



  1.   Researches of the ancients upon this subject             217

  2.   Aconite, otherwise called thelyphonon, cammaron,
         pardalianches, or scorpio; four remedies               218

  3.   Æthiopis; four remedies                                  221

  4.   Ageraton; four remedies                                  _ib._

  5.   The aloe; twenty-nine remedies                           222

  6.   Alcea; one remedy                                        224

  7.   The alypon; one remedy                                   _ib._

  8.   Alsine, a plant used for the same purposes as helxine;
         five remedies                                          _ib._

  9.   The androsaces; six remedies                             225

  10.  Androsæmon or ascyron; six remedies                      _ib._

  11.  Ambrosia, botrys, or artemisia; three remedies           226

  12.  The anonis or ononis; five remedies                      _ib._

  13.  The anagyros or acopon; three remedies                   _ib._

  14.  The anonymos; two remedies                               227

  15.  Aparine, omphalocarpos, or philanthropos; three
         remedies                                               _ib._

  16.  The arction or arcturum; five remedies                   228

  17.  The asplenon or hemionion; two remedies                  _ib._

  18.  The asclepias; two remedies                              229

  19.  The aster or bubonion; three remedies                    _ib._

  20.  Ascyron and ascyroïdes; three remedies                   _ib._

  21.  The aphaca; three remedies                               230

  22.  Alcibium; one remedy                                     _ib._

  23.  Alectoroslophos or crista; two remedies                  _ib._

  24.  Alum, also called symphyton petræon; fourteen remedies   231

  25.  Alga rufa or red sea-weed; one remedy                    232

  26.  Actæa; one remedy                                        _ib._

  27.  The ampelos agria, or wild vine; four remedies           _ib._

  28.  Absinthium or wormwood; four varieties; forty-eight
         remedies                                               _ib._

  29.  Absinthium marinum or seriphum                           235

  30.  The ballotes, melamprasion, or black leek; three
         remedies                                               236

  31.  Botrys, ambrosia, or artemisia; one remedy               _ib._

  32.  The brabyla; one remedy                                  _ib._

  33.  Bryon maritimum; five remedies                           _ib._

  34.  The bupleuron; one remedy                                237

  35.  The catanance; one observation upon it. The cemos; one
         observation upon it                                    _ib._

  36.  The calyx; three remedies                                238

  37.  The calyx, known also as anchusa or onoclia; two
         remedies                                               _ib._

  38.  The circæa; three remedies                               _ib._

  39.  The cirsion; one remedy                                  239

  40.  The cratægonon; two kinds of it; eight remedies          _ib._

  41.  The crocodileon; two remedies                            240

  42.  The cynosorchis or orchis; four remedies                 _ib._

  43.  The chrysolachanum; two varieties of it; three remedies.
         Coagulum terræ; two remedies                           241

  44.  The cucubalus, strumus, or strychnon; six remedies       _ib._

  45.  The conferva; two remedies                               242

  46.  The coccus Cnidius, or grain of Cnidos; two remedies     _ib._

  47.  The dipsacos; two remedies                               _ib._

  48.  The dryopteris; two remedies                             243

  49.  The dryophonon                                           _ib._

  50.  The elatine; two remedies        _ib._

  51.  Empetros, by our people called calcifraga; four
         remedies                                               244

  52.  The epipactis or elleborine; two remedies                _ib._

  53.  The epimedion; three remedies                            _ib._

  54.  The enneaphyllon; two remedies                           245

  55.  Two varieties of filix or fern, known to the Greeks as
         pteris or blachnon, and as thelypteris or nymphæa
         pteris; eleven remedies                                _ib._

  56.  Femur bubulum, or ox thigh                               246

  57.  Galeopsis, galeobdolon, or galion; six remedies          _ib._

  58.  The glaux; one remedy                                    247

  59.  Glaucion; three remedies. Diaglaucia; two remedies       _ib._

  60.  The glycyside, pæonia, or pentorobos; twenty remedies    248

  61.  Gnaphalium or chamæzelon: six remedies                   249

  62.  The gallidraga: one remedy                               _ib._

  63.  Holcus or aristis                                        250

  64.  Hyoseris: one remedy                                     _ib._

  65.  The holosteon: three remedies                            _ib._

  66.  The hippophæston: eight remedies                         _ib._

  67.  The hypoglossa: one remedy                               251

  68.  Hypecoön                                                 _ib._

  69.  The Idæa herba or plant of Ida: four remedies            _ib._

  70.  The isopyron or phasiolon: two remedies                  _ib._

  71.  The lathyris: two remedies                               252

  72.  The leontopetalon or pardalion: two remedies             _ib._

  73.  The lycapsos: two remedies                               _ib._

  74.  The lithospermum, exonychon, diospyron, or heracleos:
         two remedies                                           253

  75.  Lapidis muscus, or stone moss: one remedy                254

  76.  The limeum: one remedy                                   _ib._

  77.  The leuce, mesoleucon, or leucas: three remedies         _ib._

  78.  The leucographis: five remedies                          255

  79.  The medion: three remedies                               _ib._

  80.  The myosota or myosotis: three remedies                  _ib._

  81.  The myagros: one remedy                                  256

  82.  The nyma: one remedy                                     _ib._

  83.  The natrix: one remedy                                   _ib._

  84.  Odontitis: one remedy                                    257

  85.  The othonna: one remedy                                  _ib._

  86.  The onosma: one property                                 _ib._

  87.  The onopordon: five remedies                             258

  88.  The osyris: four remedies                                _ib._

  89.  The oxys: two remedies                                   _ib._

  90.  The polyanthemum or batrachion: three remedies           _ib._

  91.  The polygonos, polygonatos, teuthalis, carcinethron,
         clema, or myrtopetalos, otherwise known as sanguinaria
         or orios: four varieties of it: forty remedies         259

  92.  The pancratium: twelve remedies                          260

  93.  The peplis, syce, meconion, or mecon aphrodes: three
       remedies                                                 261

  94.  The periclymenos: five remedies                          _ib._

  95.  Pelecinon: one remedy                                    262

  96.  Polygala: one remedy                                     _ib._

  97.  Poterion, phrynion, or neuras: four remedies             _ib._

  98.  The phalangitis, phalangion, or leucacantha: four
         remedies                                               263

  99.  The phyteuma: one property                               _ib._

  100. The phyllon: one property                                _ib._

  101. The phellandrion: two remedies                           264

  102. The phalaris: two remedies                               _ib._

  103. The polyrrhizon: five remedies                           _ib._

  104. The proserpinaca: five remedies                          _ib._

  105. Rhacoma: thirty-six remedies                             265

  106. The reseda: two remedies                                 _ib._

  107. The stœchas: three remedies                              266

  108. The solanum, by the Greeks called strychnon: two
         remedial properties                                    _ib._

  109. Smyrnion: thirty-two remedies                            _ib._

  110. Telephion: four remedies                                 267

  111. The trichomanes: five remedies                           268

  112. The thalictrum: one remedy                               _ib._

  113. Thlaspi and Persicon napy: four remedies                 _ib._

  114. The trachinia: one property                              269

  115. The tragonis or tragion: four remedies                   _ib._

  116. The tragos or scorpion: four remedies                    270

  117. The tragopogon or come                                   _ib._

  118. The ages of plants                                       _ib._

  119. How the greatest efficacy in plants may be ensured       271

  120. Maladies peculiar to various nations                     _ib._



  1.   Introduction                                             275

  2.   Remedies derived from man                                276

  3.   Whether words are possessed of any healing efficacy      278

  4.   That prodigies and portents may be confirmed, or made
         of no effect                                           280

  5.   A description of various usages                          283

  6.   Two hundred and twenty-six observations on remedies
         derived from man. Eight remedies derived from
         children                                               286

  7.   Properties of the human spittle                          288

  8.   Remedies derived from the wax of the human ear           291

  9.   Remedies derived from the human hair, teeth, &c.         _ib._

  10.  Remedies derived from the human blood, the sexual
         congress, &c.                                          292

  11.  Remedies derived from the dead                           _ib._

  12.  Various reveries and devices of the magicians            293

  13.  Remedies derived from the human excretions               294

  14.  Remedies depending upon the human will                   295

  15.  Remedies derived from sneezing                           297

  16.  Remedies derived from the sexual congress                _ib._

  17.  Various other remedies                                   298

  18.  Remedies derived from the urine                          299

  19.  Indications of health derived from the urine             301

  20.  Forty-one remedies derived from the female sex           _ib._

  21.  Remedies derived from woman’s milk                       302

  22.  Remedies derived from the spittle of females             304

  23.  Facts connected with the menstrual discharge             _ib._

  24.  Remedies derived from foreign animals: the elephant,
         eight remedies                                         307

  25.  Ten remedies derived from the lion                       308

  26.  Ten remedies derived from the camel                      _ib._

  27.  Seventy-nine remedies derived from the hyæna             309

  28.  Nineteen remedies derived from the crocodile             314

  29.  Fifteen remedies derived from the chamæleon              315

  30.  Four remedies derived from the scincus                   318

  31.  Seven remedies derived from the hippopotamus             _ib._

  32.  Five remedies derived from the lynx                      319

  33.  Remedies furnished in common by animals of the same
         class, whether wild or tame. Fifty-four medicinal uses
         of milk, with observations thereon                     _ib._

  34.  Twelve remedies derived from cheese                      322

  35.  Twenty remedies derived from butter                      323

  36.  Oxygala: one remedy                                      324

  37.  The various uses of fat, and observations upon it,
         fifty-two in number                                    _ib._

  38.  Suet                                                     326

  39.  Marrow                                                   327

  40.  Gall                                                     _ib._

  41.  Blood                                                    328

  42.  Peculiar remedies derived from various animals, and
         classified according to the maladies. Remedies against
         the poison of serpents, derived from the stag, the
         fawn, the ophion, the she-goat, the kid, and the ass   _ib._

  43.  Remedies for the bite of the mad dog. Remedies derived
         from the calf, the he-goat, and various other animals  331

  44.  Remedies to be adopted against enchantments.             _ib._

  45.  Remedies for poisons                                     332

  46.  Remedies for diseases of the head, and for alopecy       334

  47.  Remedies for affections of the eyes                      335

  48.  Remedies for diseases and affections of the ears         337

  49.  Remedies for tooth-ache                                  338

  50.  Remedies for diseases of the face                        340

  51.  Remedies for diseases of the tonsillary glands and for
         scrofula                                               342

  52.  Remedies for pains in the neck                           343

  53.  Remedies for cough and for spitting of blood             _ib._

  54.  Remedies for affections of the stomach                   344

  55.  Remedies for liver complaints and for asthma             _ib._

  56.  Remedies for pains in the loins                          _ib._

  57.  Remedies for affections of the spleen                    345

  58.  Remedies for bowel complaints                            346

  59.  Remedies for tenesmus, tapeworm, and affections of the
         colon                                                  348

  60.  Remedies for affections of the bladder, and for urinary
         calculi                                                349

  61.  Remedies for diseases of the generative organs and of
         the fundament                                          350

  62.  Remedies for gout and for diseases of the feet           352

  63.  Remedies for epilepsy                                    353

  64.  Remedies for jaundice                                    354

  65.  Remedies for broken bones                                _ib._

  66.  Remedies for fevers                                      _ib._

  67.  Remedies for melancholy, lethargy, and phthisis          355

  68.  Remedies for dropsy                                      356

  69.  Remedies for erysipelas, and for purulent eruptions      357

  70.  Remedies for sprains, indurations, and boils             _ib._

  71.  Remedies for burns. The method of testing bull-glue;
         seven remedies derived from it                         _ib._

  72.  Remedies for affections of the sinews and for
         contusions                                             358

  73.  Remedies for hæmorrhage                                  _ib._

  74.  Remedies for ulcers and carcinomatous sores              359

  75.  Remedies for the itch                                    360

  76.  Methods of extracting foreign substances which adhere
         body, and of restoring scars to their natural colour   _ib._

  77.  Remedies for female diseases                             _ib._

  78.  Remedies for the diseases of infants                     364

  79.  Provocatives of sleep                                    365

  80.  Stimulants for the sexual passions                       _ib._

  81.  Remarkable facts relative to animals                     366



  1.   The origin of the medical art                            370

  2.   Particulars relative to Hippocrates. Date of the origin
         of clinical practice and of that of Iatraliptics       371

  3.   Particulars relative to Chrysippus and Erasistratus      _ib._

  4.   The Empiric branch of medicine                           372

  5.   Particulars relative to Herophilus and other celebrated
         physicians. The various changes that have been made in
         the system of medicine                                 _ib._

  6.   Who first practised as a physician at Rome, and at what
         period                                                 375

  7.   The opinions entertained by the Romans on the ancient
         physicians                                             _ib._

  8.   Evils attendant upon the practice of medicine            376

  9.   Thirty-five remedies derived from wool                   381

  10.  Thirty-two remedies derived from wool-grease             383

  11.  Twenty-two remedies derived from eggs                    385

  12.  Serpents’ eggs                                           388

  13.  The method of preparing commagenum. Four remedies
         derived from it                                        390

  14.  Remedies derived from the dog                            391

  15.  Remedies classified according to the different maladies.
         Remedies for injuries inflicted by serpents. Remedies
         derived from mice                                      392

  16.  Remedies derived from the weasel                         _ib._

  17.  Remedies derived from bugs                               _ib._

  18.  Particulars relative to the asp                          394

  19.  Remedies derived from the basilisk                       _ib._

  20.  Remedies derived from the dragon                         395

  21.  Remedies derived from the viper                          _ib._

  22.  Remedies derived from the other serpents                 396

  23.  Remedies derived from the salamander                     397

  24.  Remedies derived from birds, for injuries inflicted by
         serpents. Remedies derived from the vulture            398

  25.  Remedies derived from poultry                            399

  26.  Remedies derived from other birds                        400

  27.  Remedies for the bite of the phalangium. The several
         varieties of that insect, and of the spider            _ib._

  28.  Remedies derived from the stellio, or spotted lizard     402

  29.  Remedies derived from various insects                    403

  30.  Remedies derived from cantharides                        _ib._

  31.  Various counter-poisons                                  405

  32.  Remedies for the bite of the mad dog                     _ib._

  33.  Remedies for other poisons                               407

  34.  Remedies for alopecy                                     408

  35.  Remedies for lice and porrigo                            409

  36.  Remedies for head-ache, and for wounds on the head       _ib._

  37.  Remedies for affections of the eyelids                   410

  38.  Remedies for diseases of the eyes                        411

  39.  Remedies for pains and diseases of the ears              416



  1.   The origin of the magic art                              421

  2.   When and where the art of magic originated: by what
         persons it was practised                               422

  3.   Whether magic was ever practised in Italy. At what
         period the senate first forbade human sacrifices       425

  4.   The Druids of the Gallic provinces                       426

  5.   The various branches of magic                            427

  6.   The subterfuges practised by the magicians               428

  7.   Opinions of the magicians relative to the mole. Five
         remedies derived from it                               429

  8.   The other remedies derived from living creatures,
         classified according to the respective diseases.
         Remedies for tooth-ache                                430

  9.   Remedies for offensive odours and sores of the mouth     432

  10.  Remedies for spots upon the face                         _ib._

  11.  Remedies for affections of the throat                    433

  12.  Remedies for quinzy and scrofula                         434

  13.  Remedies for diseases of the shoulders                   436

  14.  Remedies for pains in the viscera                        437

  15.  Remedies for pains in the stomach                        _ib._

  16.  Remedies for pains in the liver, and for spitting of
         blood                                                  438

  17.  Remedies for affections of the spleen                    439

  18.  Remedies for pains in the side and in the loins          440

  19.  Remedies for dysentery                                   441

  20.  Remedies for the iliac passion, and for other maladies
         of the bowels                                          442

  21.  Remedies for urinary calculi and affections of the
         bladder                                                443

  22.  Remedies for diseases of the fundament and of the
         generative organs                                      445

  23.  Remedies for gout and for diseases of the feet           446

  24.  Remedies for evils which are liable to affect the whole
         body                                                   448

  25.  Remedies for cold shiverings                             449

  26.  Remedies for paralysis                                   450

  27.  Remedies for epilepsy                                    _ib._

  28.  Remedies for jaundice                                    452

  29.  Remedies for phrenitis                                   _ib._

  30.  Remedies for fevers                                      453

  31.  Remedies for dropsy                                      456

  32.  Remedies for erysipelas                                  _ib._

  33.  Remedies for carbuncles                                  457

  34.  Remedies for boils                                       _ib._

  35.  Remedies for burns                                       _ib._

  36.  Remedies for affections of the sinews                    _ib._

  37.  Remedies for maladies of the nails and fingers           458

  38.  Methods for arresting hæmorrhage                         _ib._

  39.  Remedies for ulcerous sores and wounds                   _ib._

  40.  Remedies for broken bones                                460

  41.  Applications for cicatrizations, and for the cure of
         morphew                                                461

  42.  Methods of extracting foreign substances from the body   _ib._

  43.  Remedies for female complaints                           462

  44.  Methods of facilitating delivery                         463

  45.  Methods of preserving the breasts from injury            464

  46.  Various kinds of depilatories                            465

  47.  Remedies for the diseases of infants                     _ib._

  48.  Provocatives of sleep                                    467

  49.  Aphrodisiacs and antaphrodisiacs                         _ib._

  50.  Remedies for phthiriasis, and for various other
         affections                                             468

  51.  Remedies for intoxication                                _ib._

  52.  Peculiarities relative to certain animals                469

  53.  Other marvellous facts connected with animals            _ib._



  1.   Remarkable facts connected with water                    471

  2.   The different properties of waters                       472

  3.   Remedies derived from water                              473

  4.   Waters productive of fecundity. Waters curative of
         insanity                                               474

  5.   Waters remedial for urinary calculi                      _ib._

  6.   Waters curative of wounds                                475

  7.   Waters preventive of abortion                            _ib._

  8.   Waters which remove morphew                              _ib._

  9.   Waters which colour the hair                             476

  10.  Waters which colour the human body                       _ib._

  11.  Waters which aid the memory, or are productive of
         forgetfulness                                          477

  12.  Waters which sharpen or dull the senses. Waters which
         improve the voice                                      _ib._

  13.  Waters which cause a distaste for wine. Waters which
         produce inebriety                                      _ib._

  14.  Waters which serve as a substitute for oil               478

  15.  Salt and bitter waters                                   _ib._

  16.  Waters which throw up stones. Waters which cause laughter
         and weeping. Waters which are said to be curative of
         love                                                   _ib._

  17.  Waters which preserve their warmth for three days        479

  18.  Other marvellous facts connected with water. Water in
         which everything will sink. Waters in which nothing
         will sink                                              _ib._

  19.  Deadly waters. Poisonous fishes                          480

  20.  Waters which petrify themselves, or cause other objects
         to petrify                                             482

  21.  The wholesomeness of waters                              _ib._

  22.  The impurities of water                                  484

  23.  The modes of testing water                               485

  24.  The Marcian Waters                                       487

  25.  The Virgin Waters                                        488

  26.  The method of searching for water                        _ib._

  27.  Signs indicative of the presence of water                489

  28.  Differences in waters, according to the nature of the
         soil                                                   _ib._

  29.  The qualities of water at the different seasons of the
         year                                                   491

  30.  Historical observations upon waters which have suddenly
         made their appearance or suddenly ceased               492

  31.  The method of conveying water                            494

  32.  How mineral waters should be used                        _ib._

  33.  The uses of sea-water. The advantages of a sea-voyage    496

  34.  How artificial sea-water may be made in places at a
         distance from the sea                                  498

  35.  How thalassomeli is made                                 _ib._

  36.  How hydromeli is made                                    _ib._

  37.  Methods of providing against the inconvenience of
         drinking suspected water                               499

  38.  Six remedies derived from moss. Remedies derived from
         sand                                                   _ib._

  39.  The various kinds of salt; the methods of preparing it,
         and the remedies derived from it. Two hundred and four
         observations thereupon                                 500

  40.  Muria                                                    503

  41.  The various properties of salt: one hundred and twenty
         historical remarks relative thereto                    504

  42.  Flower of salt: twenty remedies. Salsugo: two remedies   506

  43.  Garum: fifteen remedies                                  507

  44.  Alex: eight remedies                                     508

  45.  The nature of salt                                       509

  46.  The various kinds of nitrum, the methods of preparing
         it, and the remedies derived from it: two hundred
         and twenty-one observations thereon                    512

  47.  Sponges, and the remedies derived from them: ninety-two
         observations thereon                                   519





Not even are the forests and the spots in which the aspect of Nature is
most rugged, destitute of their peculiar remedies; for so universally
has that divine parent of all things distributed her succours for the
benefit of man, as to implant for him medicinal virtues in the trees
of the desert even, while at every step she presents us with most
wonderful illustrations of those antipathies and sympathies which exist
in the vegetable world.

Between the quercus[1] and the olive[2] there exists a hatred so
inveterate, that transplanted, either of them, to a site previously
occupied by the other, they will die.[3] The quercus too, if planted
near the walnut, will perish. There is a mortal feud[4] existing also
between the cabbage and the vine; and the cabbage itself, so shunned as
it is by the vine, will wither immediately if planted in the vicinity
of cyclamen[5] or of origanum. We find it asserted even, that aged
trees fit to be felled, are cut with all the greater difficulty, and
dry all the more rapidly, if touched by the hand of man before the axe
is applied: it is a common belief, too, that when their load consists
of fruit, beasts of burden are immediately sensible[6] of it, and will
instantly begin to sweat, however trifling it may be, unless the fruit
is duly shown to them before starting. Fennel-giant, as a fodder, is
extremely grateful to the ass, and yet to other beasts of burden it
is a deadly poison: hence it is that the ass is consecrated to Father
Liber,[7] to which deity the fennel is also sacred.

Inanimate objects again, even of the most insignificant character, have
their own peculiar antipathies. Cooks disengage meat of the brine, when
it has been too highly salted, by the agency of fine meal and the inner
bark[8] of the linden-tree. Salt again, tends to neutralize the sickly
flavour of food when over-sweet. The taste of water, when nitrous or
bitter, is modified by the addition of polenta,[9] so much so indeed,
as to be rendered potable[10] in a couple of hours: it is for a
similar reason, too, that a layer of polenta is put[11] in our linen
wine-strainers. A similar property is possessed also by the chalk[12]
of Rhodes, and the argilla of our own country.

Equal affinities exist as well; pitch, for instance, is extracted
by the agency of oil, both of them being of an unctuous nature: oil
again, will incorporate only with lime, both of them having a natural
antipathy[13] to water. Gum is most[14] easily removed with vinegar,
and ink[15] with water; in addition to which, there are numberless
other instances of sympathy and antipathy which we shall be careful to
mention in their appropriate places.

It is in tendencies of this description that the medical art first
took its rise; though it was originally intended, no doubt, by Nature,
that our only medicaments should be those which universally exist, are
everywhere to be found, and are to be procured at no great outlay,
the various substances, in fact, from which we derive our sustenance.
But at a later period the fraudulent disposition of mankind,
combined with an ingenuity prompted by lucre, invented those various
laboratories,[16] in which each one of us is promised an extension of
his life—that is, if he will pay for it. Compositions and mixtures
of an inexplicable nature forthwith have their praises sung, and the
productions of Arabia and India are held in unbounded admiration in the
very midst[17] of us. For some trifling sore or other, a medicament
is prescribed from the shores of the Red Sea; while not a day passes
but what the real remedies are to be found upon the tables of the very
poorest man among us.[18] But if the remedies for diseases were derived
from our own gardens, if the plants or shrubs were employed which grow
there, there would be no art, forsooth, that would rank lower than that
of medicine.

Yes, avow it we must—the Roman people, in extending its empire, has
lost sight of its ancient manners, and in that we have conquered we
are the conquered:[19] for now we obey the natives of foreign[20]
lands, who by the agency of a single art have even out-generalled our
generals.[21] More, however, on this topic hereafter.


We have already[22] spoken in their appropriate places of the herb
called lotus, and of the plant of Egypt known by the same name and as
the “tree of the Syrtes.” The berries of the lotus, which is known
among us as the “Grecian bean,”[23] act astringently upon the bowels;
and the shavings of the wood, boiled in wine, are useful in cases of
dysentery, excessive menstruation, vertigo, and epilepsy: they also
prevent the hair from falling off. It is a marvellous thing—but there
is no substance known that is more bitter than the shavings of this
wood, or sweeter than the fruit. The sawdust also of the wood is boiled
in myrtle-water, and then kneaded and divided into lozenges, which form
a medicament for dysentery of remarkable utility, being taken in doses
of one victoriatus,[24] in three cyathi of water.


Acorns,[25] pounded with salted axle-grease,[26] are curative of
those indurations known as “cacoethe.”[27] The acorn of the holm-oak,
however, is the most powerful in its effects; and in all these trees
the bark is still more efficacious, as well as the inner membrane
which lies beneath it. A decoction of this last is good for cœliac
affections; and it is applied topically in cases of dysentery, as well
as the acorns, which are employed also for the treatment of stings
inflicted by serpents, fluxes, and suppurations. The leaves, acorns,
and bark, as well as a decoction prepared from them, are good as
counter-poisons. A decoction of the bark, boiled in cows’ milk, is used
topically for stings inflicted by serpents, and is administered in wine
for dysentery. The holm-oak is possessed of similar properties.


The scarlet berry[28] of the holm-oak is applied to fresh wounds with
vinegar; and in combination with water it is dropt into the eyes in
cases of defluxion of those organs or of ecchymosis. There grows also
in most parts of Attica, and in Asia, a berry of this description,
which becomes transformed with great rapidity into a diminutive worm,
owing to which circumstance the Greeks have given it the name of
“scolecion:”[29] it is held, however, in disesteem. The principal
varieties of this berry have been previously[30] described.


And no fewer are the varieties of the gall-nut which we have
described:[31] we have, for instance, the full-bodied gall-nut, the
perforated one, the white, the black, the large, the small, all of
them possessed of similar properties; that, however, of Commagene is
generally preferred. These substances remove fleshy excrescences on the
body, and are serviceable for affections of the gums and uvula,[32]
and for ulcerations of the mouth. Burnt, and then quenched in wine,
they are applied topically in cases of cœliac affections and dysentery,
and with honey, to whitlows, hangnails, malformed nails, running
ulcers, condylomatous swellings, and ulcerations of the nature known
as phagedænic.[33] A decoction of them in wine is used as an injection
for the ears, and as a liniment for the eyes, and in combination with
vinegar they are employed for eruptions and tumours.

The inner part of the gall, chewed, allays tooth-ache, and is good
for excoriations between the thighs, and for burns. Taken unripe in
vinegar, they reduce the volume of the spleen; and, burnt and then
quenched in salt and vinegar, they are used as a fomentation for
excessive menstruation and procidence of the uterus. All varieties of
the gall-nut stain the hair black.


We have already[34] stated that the best mistletoe is that which
grows on the robur,[35] and have described the manner in which it
is prepared. Some persons, after bruising the berries, boil them in
water, till nothing appears on the surface, while others, again, bite
the berries with the teeth, and reject the skins.[36] The best kind of
viscus is that which has none of the outer skin in it, is extremely
light, yellow without, and of a leek-green colour within. There is
no substance more glutinous than this: it is of an emollient nature,
disperses tumours, and acts as a desiccative upon scrofulous sores;
combined with resin and wax, it heals inflamed swellings of every
description. Some persons add galbanum as well, using equal proportions
of each ingredient, and this preparation they employ also for the
treatment of wounds.

The viscus of the mistletoe has the additional property also of
rectifying malformed nails; but to effect this it must be taken off at
the end of seven days, and the nails must be washed with a solution of
nitre.[37] Some persons have a sort of superstitious notion that the
viscus will be all the more efficacious if the berries are gathered
from the robur at new moon, and without the aid of iron. They have an
impression too, that if it has not touched the ground, it will cure
epilepsy,[38] that it will promote conception in females if they make a
practice of carrying it about them: the berries, chewed and applied to
ulcers, are remarkably efficacious for their cure, it is said.


The round excrescences[39] which grow on the robur * * * and mixed with
bear’s grease, are remedial in cases of loss of the hair by alopecy.

The leaves, bark, and acorns of the cerrus[40] act as a desiccative
upon gatherings and suppurations, and arrest fluxes. A decoction[41] of
them, used as a fomentation, strengthens such parts of the body as are
paralyzed; and it is a very good plan to employ it as a sitting-bath,
for its desiccative or astringent effects upon the lower extremities.
The root of this tree neutralizes the venom of the scorpion.


The bark of the cork-tree,[42] pulverized and taken in warm water,
arrests hæmorrhage at the mouth and nostrils;[43] and the ashes of it,
taken in warm wine, are highly extolled as a cure for spitting of blood.


The leaves[44] of the beech are chewed for affections of the lips
and gums. A liniment is made of the ashes of beech-mast for urinary
calculus, and, in combination with honey, for alopecy.


The leaves of the cypress[45] are pounded and applied to wounds
inflicted by serpents, and with polenta, to the head, in cases of
sunstroke. They are used also for hernia, and an infusion of them is
taken in drink.[46] They are applied with wax to swellings of the
testes, and mixed with vinegar they stain the hair black.[47] Beaten
up with twice the quantity of light bread, and then kneaded with
Aminean[48] wine, they are found very soothing for pains in the feet
and sinews.

The excrescences of this tree are taken in drink for the stings of
serpents and for discharges of blood from the mouth; they are used
also as a topical application for gatherings. Fresh-gathered and
beaten up with axle-grease and bean-meal, they are good for hernia;
and an infusion of them is taken in drink for the same complaint. In
combination with meal, they are applied topically to imposthumes of
the parotid glands, and to scrofulous sores. From these excrescences,
pounded along with the seed, a juice is extracted, which, mixed
with oil, disperses films of the eyes. Taken in doses of one
victoriatus,[49] in wine, and applied at the same time in a pulpy,
dried fig, the seeds of which have been removed, this juice cures
maladies of the testes and disperses tumours: mixed with leaven, it
heals scrofulous sores.

The root of the cypress, bruised with the leaves and taken in drink, is
curative of diseases of the bladder, strangury, and the sting of the
phalangium.[50] The shavings of the wood, taken in drink, act as an
emmenagogue, and neutralize the venom of the scorpion.


The larger cedar, known as the “cedrelates,”[51] produces a pitch
called “cedria,” which is very useful for tooth-ache, it having
the effect of breaking[52] the teeth and extracting them, and so
allaying the pain. We have already[53] stated how the juices of
cedar are extracted, so remarkably useful for seasoning books,[54]
were it not for the head-ache they produce. This extract from the
cedar preserves[55] the bodies of the dead uncorrupted for ages, but
exercises a noxious effect upon the bodies of the living—singular that
there should be such a diversity in its properties, taking away life
from animated beings, and imparting a sort of life, as it were to the
dead! It injures clothing also and destroys[56] animal life. It is
for this reason that I cannot recommend it to be taken internally for
the cure of quinzy and indigestion though there are some who advise
it: I should be greatly in dread too, to rinse the teeth with it in
combination with vinegar, for tooth-ache, or to use it as an injection
for the ears in cases of hardness of hearing, or for worms in those
organs. There is one very marvellous story told about it—if the male
organs, they say, are rubbed with it just before the sexual congress,
it will effectually prevent impregnation.[57]

Still, however, I should not hesitate to employ it as a friction for
phthiriasis or porrigo. It is strongly recommended also, in raisin
wine, as an antidote to the poison of the sea-hare,[58] but I should
be more ready to use it as a liniment for elephantiasis. Some authors
have prescribed it as an ointment for foul ulcers and the fleshy
excrescences which grow in them, as also for spots and films on the
eyes; and have recommended it to be taken, in doses of one cyathus, for
ulcerations of the lungs, and for tapeworm.

There is an oil extracted from this pitch, known as “pisselæon,”[59]
the properties of which are of increased activity for all the purposes
before-mentioned. It is a well-known fact that the saw-dust of cedar
will put serpents to flight, and that a similar effect is produced by
anointing the body with the berries[60] bruised in oil.


Cedrides, or in other words, the fruit of the cedar,[61] is curative
of coughs, acts as a diuretic, and arrests looseness of the bowels.
It is good also for ruptures, convulsions, spasms, and strangury, and
is employed, as a pessary, for affections of the uterus. It is used
also to neutralize the venom of the sea-hare,[62] and for the cure
of the various affections above-mentioned, as also of gatherings and


We have already[63] given some description of galbanum: to be good, it
should be neither too moist nor too dry, but just in the state which
we have mentioned.[64] It is taken by itself for inveterate coughs,
asthma, ruptures, and convulsions; and it is employed externally
for sciatica, pains in the sides, inflamed tumours,[65] boils,
denudations of the bones, scrofulous sores, nodes upon the joints,
and tooth-ache. It is applied with honey also, to ulcerations of the
head. In combination with oil of roses or with nard, it is used as an
injection for suppurations of the ears; and the odour of it is useful
for epilepsy, hysterical suffocations, and faintness at the stomach.
Employed as a pessary or as a fumigation, it brings away the fœtus in
cases of miscarriage; branches too of hellebore covered with it and
laid beneath the patient, have a similar effect.

We have already[66] stated that serpents are driven away by the fumes
of burnt galbanum, and they will equally avoid persons whose body has
been rubbed with it. It is curative also of the sting of the scorpion.
In protracted deliveries, a piece of galbanum the size of a bean is
given in one cyathus of wine: it has the effect also of reducing the
uterus when displaced, and, taken with myrrh and wine, it brings away
the dead fœtus. In combination with myrrh and wine too, it neutralizes
poisons—those which come under the denomination of “toxica”[67] in
particular. The very touch of it, mixed with oil and spondylium,[68]
is sufficient to kill a serpent.[69] It is generally thought to be
productive of strangury.


Of a similar nature to galbanum is hammoniacum, a tearlike gum, the
qualities of which are tested in manner already[70] stated. It is of
an emollient, warming, resolvent, and dispellent nature. Employed
as an ingredient in eye-salves, it improves the sight. It disperses
prurigo, effaces the marks of sores, removes spots in the eyes, and
allays tooth-ache, more particularly when burnt. It is very useful too,
taken in drink, for hardness of breathing, pleurisy, affections of the
lungs, diseases of the bladder, bloody urine, maladies of the spleen,
and sciatica: employed in a similar manner, it acts as a purgative upon
the bowels. Boiled with an equal proportion of pitch or wax, and with
oil of roses, it is good for diseases of the joints, and for gout.
Employed with honey it ripens hard tumours, extracts corns, and has
an emollient effect upon indurations. In combination with vinegar and
Cyprian wax, or oil of roses, it is extremely efficacious as a liniment
for affections of the spleen. In cases of extreme lassitude, it is an
excellent plan to use it as a friction, with vinegar and oil, and a
little nitre.


In speaking too of the exotic trees, we have made mention[71] of the
properties of storax. In addition to those which we have already
mentioned, it ought to be very unctuous, without alloy, and to break
to pieces in whitish fragments. This substance is curative of cough,
affections of the fauces, diseases of the chest, and obstructions or
indurations of the uterus. Taken in drink, or employed as a pessary,
it acts as an emmenagogue; it has a laxative effect also upon the
bowels. I find it stated that, taken in moderate doses, storax dispels
melancholy; but that when employed in large quantities, it promotes it.
Used as an injection it is good for singings in the ears, and employed
as a friction, for scrofulous swellings and nodes of the sinews. It
neutralizes poisons of a cold nature, and consequently, hemlock.[72]


At the same time we have also spoken[73] of spondylium; an infusion
of which is poured upon the head in cases of phrenitis and lethargy,
and of head-ache of long standing. Combined with old oil, it is taken
in drink for affections of the liver, jaundice, epilepsy, hardness
of breathing, and hysterical suffocations, maladies for which it is
equally serviceable in the shape of a fumigation. It relaxes the
bowels, and with rue it is applied to ulcers of a serpiginous nature.
The juice which is extracted from the blossom is a most useful
injection for suppurations of the ears; but the moment it is extracted
it should be covered up, as flies and other insects of a similar nature
are remarkably fond of it.

Scrapings of the root, introduced into the interior of fistulas, have
a caustic effect upon their callosities; and they are sometimes used,
in combination with the juice, as an injection for the ears. The root
itself also is prescribed for jaundice, and for diseases of the liver
and uterus. If the head is rubbed with the juice, it will make the hair


Sphagnos, sphacos, or bryon, grows, as we have already[75] stated, in
Gaul. A decoction of it, employed as a sitting-bath, is useful for
affections of the uterus: mixed with nasturtium, and beaten up in
salt water, it is good for the knees and for swellings in the thighs.
Taken in drink with wine and dried resin, it acts very powerfully as a
diuretic. Pounded in wine with juniper berries, and taken in drink, it
draws off the water in dropsy.


The leaves and root of the terebinth[76] are used as applications for
gatherings; and a decoction of them is strengthening to the stomach.
The seed of it is taken in wine for head-ache and strangury: it is
slightly laxative to the bowels, and acts as an aphrodisiac.


The leaves of the pitch-tree[77] and the larch,[78] beaten up and
boiled in vinegar, are good for tooth-ache. The ashes of the bark
are used for excoriations and burns. Taken in drink this substance
arrests diarrhœa, and acts as a diuretic; and used as a fumigation,
it reduces the uterus when displaced. The leaves of the pitch-tree
are particularly good for the liver, taken in doses of one drachma in

It is a well-known fact that forests planted solely with trees from
which pitch and resin are extracted, are remarkably beneficial for
patients suffering from phthisis,[79] or who are unable to recover
their strength after a long illness: indeed it is said, that in such
cases to breathe the air of localities thus planted, is more beneficial
even than to take a voyage to Egypt,[80] or to go on a summer’s journey
to the mountains to drink the milk there, impregnated with the perfumes
of plants.


The chamæpitys,[81] called in Latin “abiga,”[82] because it promotes
abortion, and known to some as “incense of the earth,”[83] has branches
a cubit in length, and the odour and blossoms of the pine. Another
variety[84] of it, which is somewhat shorter, has all the appearance
of being bent[85] downwards; and there is a third,[86] which, though
it has a similar smell, and consequently the same name, is altogether
smaller, with a stem the thickness of one’s finger, and a diminutive,
rough, pale leaf: it is found growing in rocky localities. All these
varieties are in reality herbaceous productions; but in consequence of
the resemblance of the name,[87] I have thought it as well not to defer
the consideration of them.

These plants are good for stings inflicted by scorpions, and are useful
as an application, mixed with dates or quinces, for maladies of the
liver: a decoction of them with barley-meal is used for the kidneys and
the bladder. A decoction of them in water is used also for jaundice
and for strangury. The kind last mentioned, in combination with honey,
is good for wounds inflicted by serpents, and a pessary is made of it,
with honey, as a detergent for the uterus. Taken in drink it brings
away coagulated blood, and rubbed upon the body it acts as a sudorific:
it is particularly useful also for the kidneys. Pills of a purgative
nature are made of it for dropsy, with figs.[88] Taken in wine, in
doses of one victoriatus,[89] it dispels lumbago, and cures coughs that
are not of an inveterate description. A decoction of it in vinegar,
taken in drink, will instantaneously bring away the dead fœtus, it is


For a similar[90] reason, too, we shall accord the same distinction
to the pityusa, a plant which some persons reckon among the varieties
of the tithymalus.[91] It is a shrub,[92] resembling the pitch-tree
in appearance, and with a diminutive purple blossom. A decoction of
the root, taken in doses of one hemina, carries off the bilious and
pituitous secretions by[93] stool, and a spoonful of the seed, used
as a suppository, has a similar effect. A decoction of the leaves in
vinegar removes scaly eruptions of the skin; and in combination with
boiled rue, it effects the cure of diseases of the mamillæ, gripings in
the bowels, wounds inflicted by serpents, and incipient gatherings of
most kinds.


In treating, first of wines,[94] and then of trees,[95] we have stated
that resin is the produce of the trees above-mentioned, and have
described the several varieties of it, and the countries in which they
are respectively produced. There are two principal kinds of resin,
the dry and the liquid.[96] The dry resins are extracted from the
pine[97] and the pitch-tree,[98] the liquid from the terebinth,[99]
the larch,[100] the lentisk,[101] and the cypress;[102] these last
producing it in the province of Asia and in Syria. It is an error[103]
to suppose that the resin of the pitch-tree is the same as that of the
larch; for the pitch-tree yields an unctuous[104] resin, and of the
same consistency as frankincense, while that of the larch is thin, like
honey in colour, and of a powerful odour. It is but very rarely that
medical men make use of liquid resin, and when they do, it is mostly
that produced by the larch, which is administered in an egg for cough
and ulcerations of the viscera. The resin of the pine, too, is far from
extensively used, and that of the other kinds is always boiled[105]
before use: on the various methods of boiling it, we have enlarged at
sufficient length already.[106]

As to the produce of the various trees, the resin of the terebinth is
held in high esteem, as being the most odoriferous and the lightest,
the kinds[107] which come from Cyprus and Syria being looked upon as
the best. Both these kinds are the colour of Attic honey; but that
of Cyprus has more body, and dries with greater rapidity. In the dry
resins the qualities requisite are whiteness, purity, and transparency:
but whatever the kind, the produce of mountainous[108] districts
is always preferred to that of champaign countries, and that of a
north-eastern aspect to that of any other quarter. Resins[109] are
dissolved in oil as a liniment and emollient cataplasm for wounds; but
when they are used as a potion, bitter almonds[110] are also employed.
The curative properties of resins consist in their tendency to close
wounds, to act as a detergent upon gatherings and so disperse them, and
to cure affections of the chest.

The resin of the terebinth * * * it is used too, warmed, as a liniment
for pains in the limbs, the application being removed after the patient
has taken a walk in the sun. Among slave-dealers too, there is a
practice of rubbing the bodies of the slaves with it, which is done
with the greatest care, as a corrective for an emaciated appearance;
the resin having the property of relaxing the skin upon all parts
of the body, and rendering it more capable of being plumped out by

Next after the resin of the terebinth comes that of the lentisk:[112]
it possesses astringent properties, and is the most powerful diuretic
of them all. The other resins are laxative to the bowels, promote
the digestion of crudities, allay the violence of inveterate coughs,
and, employed as a fumigation, disengage the uterus of foreign[113]
bodies with which it is surcharged: they are particularly useful too
as neutralizing the effects of mistletoe; and, mixed with bull suet
and honey, they are curative of inflamed tumours and affections of
a similar nature. The resin of the lentisk is very convenient as a
bandoline for keeping stubborn eyelashes in their place: it is useful
also in cases of fractures, suppurations of the ears, and prurigo of
the generative organs. The resin of the pine is the best of them all
for the cure of wounds in the head.


We have also stated on a previous occasion[114] from what tree pitch
is extracted, and the methods employed for that purpose. Of this also
there are two kinds; thick pitch and liquid pitch.[115] Of the several
varieties of thick pitch the most useful for medicinal purposes is that
of Bruttium;[116] for being both extremely unctuous and very resinous,
it reunites the properties both of resin and of pitch, that of a yellow
reddish colour being the most highly esteemed. As to the statement made
in addition to this, that the produce of the male tree is the best, I
do not believe that any such distinction is at all possible.

Pitch is of a warming, cicatrizing tendency: mixed with polenta it is
particularly useful as a neutralizer of the venom of the cerastes,[117]
and in combination with honey it is used for quinzy, catarrhs, and
fits of sneezing caused by phlegm. With oil of roses it is used as an
injection for the ears, and employed as a liniment with wax it heals
lichens. It relaxes[118] the bowels, also, and used as an electuary,
or applied with honey to the tonsillary glands, it facilitates
expectoration. Applied topically, it acts as a detergent upon ulcers,
and makes new flesh. Mixed with raisins and axle-grease, it forms a
detergent plaster for carbuncles and putrid ulcers, and, with pine-bark
or sulphur, for serpiginous sores. Pitch has been administered too by
some, in doses of one cyathus, for phthisis and inveterate coughs. It
heals chaps of the feet and rectum, inflamed tumours, and malformed
nails; and used as a fumigation, it is curative of indurations and
derangements of the uterus, and of lethargy. Boiled with barley-meal
and the urine of a youth, who has not arrived at puberty, it causes
scrofulous sores to suppurate. Dry pitch is used also for the cure of
alopecy. For affections of the mamillæ, Bruttian pitch is warmed in
wine with fine spelt meal, and applied as hot as can be borne.


We have already[119] described the way in which liquid pitch and the
oil known as pisselæon are made. Some persons boil the pitch over
again, and give it the name of “palimpissa.”[120] For quinzy[121]
and affections of the uvula, liquid pitch is employed internally. It
is used also for the cure of ear-ache, for the improvement of the
sight, and as a salve for the lips; and is employed for hysterical
suffocations, inveterate coughs, profuse expectorations, spasms,
nervousness, opisthotony, paralysis, and pains in the sinews. It is a
very excellent remedy too for itch in dogs and beasts of burden.


There is pissasphaltos too, a natural production of the territory of
the Apolloniates,[122] and consisting of pitch mixed with bitumen.
Some persons, however, make this mixture artificially, and employ it
for the cure of itch in cattle, and of injuries done by the young
sucklings to the mamillæ. The most esteemed portion of it is that which
floats on the surface when boiled.


We have already[123] stated that zopissa is the pitch, macerated with
salt-water and wax, that has been scraped from off the bottoms of
ships. The best kind is that taken from ships which have been to sea
for the first time. It is used as an ingredient in plasters of an
emollient nature, employed to disperse gatherings.


A decoction in vinegar of the wood of the torch-tree[124] makes a most
efficacious gargle for tooth-ache.


The seed, bark, and tear-like juices of the lentisk are diuretics,
and act astringently upon the bowels:[125] a decoction of them, used
as a fomentation, is curative of serpiginous sores, and is applied
topically for humid ulcerations and erysipelas; it is employed also as
a collutory for the gums. The teeth are rubbed with the leaves in cases
of tooth-ache, and they are rinsed with a decoction of the leaves when
loose:[126] this decoction has the effect also of staining[127] the
hair. The gum of this tree is useful for diseases of the rectum, and
all cases in which desiccatives and calorifics are needed; a decoction
too of the gum is good for the stomach, acting as a carminative and
diuretic; it is applied also to the head, in cases of headache, with
polenta. The more tender of the leaves are used as an application for
inflammations of the eyes.

The mastich[128] produced by the lentisk is used as a bandoline for
the hairs of the eye-lids, in compositions for giving a plumpness
to the face, and in cosmetics for smoothing[129] the skin. It is
employed for spitting of blood and for inveterate coughs, as well as
all those purposes for which gum acacia is in request. It is used also
for the cure of excoriations; which are fomented either with the oil
extracted from the seed, mixed with wax, or else with a decoction of
the leaves in oil. Fomentations too are made of a decoction of it in
water for diseases of the male organs.[130] I know for a fact, that in
the illness of Considia, the daughter of M. Servilius, a personage of
consular rank, her malady, which had long resisted all the more severe
methods of treatment, was at last successfully treated with the milk of
goats that had been fed upon the leaves of the lentisk.


The plane-tree[131] neutralizes the bad effects of bites inflicted by
the bat.[132] The excrescences of this tree, taken in doses[133] of
four denarii, in wine, act as an antidote to the venom of serpents of
all kinds and of scorpions, and are curative of burns. Pounded with
strong vinegar, squill vinegar in particular, they arrest hæmorrhage
of every kind; and with the addition of honey, they remove freckles,
carcinomatous sores, and black spots of long standing on the skin.

The leaves again, and the bark of this tree, are used in the form of
liniments for gatherings and suppurations, and a decoction of them is
employed for a similar purpose. A decoction of the bark in vinegar
is remedial for affections of the teeth, and the more tender of the
leaves boiled in white wine are good for the eyes. The down which grows
upon the leaves[134] is injurious to both the ears and eyes. The
ashes of the excrescences of this tree heal such parts of the body as
have been burnt or frost-bitten. The bark, taken in wine, reduces the
inflammation caused by the stings of scorpions.


We have already[135] made some mention of the virtues possessed by the
ash as an antidote to the venom of serpents. The seed of it is enclosed
in follicules, which are good for diseases of the liver, and, in
combination with wine, for pains in the sides: they are employed also
for drawing off the water in dropsy. They have the property, too, of
diminishing obesity, and of gradually reducing the body to a state of
comparative emaciation,[136] the follicules being pounded in wine and
administered in proportion to the bodily strength; thus, for instance,
to a child, five of them are given in three cyathi of wine, but for
persons in more robust health, seven are prescribed, in five cyathi of

We must not omit to state that the shavings and saw-dust of this wood
are of a highly dangerous nature, according to some.


The root of the maple,[137] beaten up in wine, is extremely efficacious
as a topical application for pains in the liver.


We have already[138] mentioned, when speaking of the unguents, the use
that is made of the berries[139] of the white poplar. A potion prepared
from the bark is good for sciatica and strangury, and the juice of the
leaves is taken warm for ear-ache. So long[140] as a person holds a
sprig of poplar in his hand, there is no fear of[141] chafing between
the thighs.

The black poplar which grows in Crete is looked upon as the most
efficacious of them all. The seed of it, taken in vinegar, is good for
epilepsy. This tree produces a resin also to a small extent, which is
made use of for emollient plasters. The leaves, boiled in vinegar, are
applied topically for gout. A moisture that exudes from the clefts of
the black poplar removes warts, and pimples caused by friction. Poplars
produce also on the leaves a kind of sticky[142] juice, from which bees
prepare their propolis:[143] indeed this juice, mixed with water, has
the same virtues as propolis.


The leaves, bark, and branches of the elm[144] have the property
of filling up wounds and knitting the flesh together: the inner
membrane[145] too, of the bark, and the leaves, steeped in vinegar,
are applied topically for leprosy. The bark, in doses of one denarius,
taken in one hemina of cold water, acts as a purgative upon the bowels,
and is particularly useful for carrying off pituitous and aqueous
humours. The gum also which this tree produces is applied topically
to gatherings, wounds, and burns, which it would be as well to foment
with the decoction also. The moisture[146] which is secreted on the
follicules of the tree gives a finer colour to the skin, and improves
the looks. The foot-stalks of the leaves that first appear,[147] boiled
in wine, are curative of tumours, and bring them to a head:[148] the
same, too, is the effect produced by the inner bark.

Many persons are of opinion that the bark of this tree, chewed, is a
very useful application for wounds, and that the leaves, bruised and
moistened with water are good for gout. The moisture too that exudes
from the pith of the tree, as already[149] stated, on an incision being
made, applied to the head, causes the hair to grow and prevents it from
falling off.


The linden-tree[150] is useful, though in a less marked degree, for
nearly all the same purposes as the wild olive. The leaves, however,
are the only part that is made use of for ulcers upon infants; chewed,
too, or employed in the form of a decoction, they are diuretic. Used as
a liniment they arrest menstruation when in excess, and an infusion of
them, taken, in drink, carries off superfluous blood.


There are two kinds of elder, one of which grows wild and is much
smaller than the other; by the Greeks it is known as the “chamæacte,”
or “helion.”[151] A decoction of the leaves,[152] seed, or root of
either kind, taken in doses of two cyathi, in old wine, though bad
for the upper regions of the stomach, carries off all aqueous humours
by stool. This decoction is very cooling too for inflammations, those
attendant upon recent burns in particular. A poultice is made also of
the more tender leaves, mixed with polenta, for bites inflicted by
dogs. The juice of the elder, used as a fomentation, reduces abscesses
of the brain, and more particularly of the membrane which envelopes
that organ. The berries, which have not so powerful an action as
the other parts of the tree, stain the hair. Taken in doses of one
acetabulum, in drink, they are diuretic. The softer leaves are eaten
with oil and salt, to carry off pituitous and bilious secretions.

The smaller kind is for all these purposes the more efficacious of
the two. A decoction of the root in wine, taken in doses of two
cyathi, brings away the water in dropsy, and acts emolliently upon the
uterus: the same effects are produced also by a sitting-bath made of
a decoction of the leaves. The tender shoots of the cultivated kind,
boiled in a saucepan and eaten as food, have a purgative effect: the
leaves taken in wine, neutralize the venom of serpents. An application
of the young shoots, mixed with he-goat suet, is remarkably good for
gout; and if they are macerated in water, the infusion will destroy
fleas. If a decoction of the leaves is sprinkled about a place, it
will exterminate flies. “Boa”[153] is the name given to a malady
which appears in the form of red pimples upon the body; for its cure
the patient is scourged with a branch of elder. The inner bark,[154]
pounded and taken with white wine, relaxes the bowels.


The juniper is of a warming and resolvent nature beyond all other
plants: in other respects, it resembles the cedar.[155] There are
two species of this tree, also, one of which is larger[156] than
the other:[157] the odour of either, burnt, repels the approach of
serpents.[158] The seed[159] is good for pains in the stomach, chest,
and sides; it dispels flatulency and sudden chills, soothes cough, and
brings indurations to a head. Applied topically, it checks the growth
of tumours; and the berries, taken in red wine, act astringently upon
the bowels: they are applied also to tumours of the abdomen. The seed
is used as an ingredient in antidotes of an aperient nature, and is
diuretic[160] in its effects. It is used as a liniment for defluxions
of the eyes, and is prescribed for convulsions, ruptures griping pains
in the bowels, affections of the uterus, and sciatica, either in a dose
of four berries in white wine, or in the form of a decoction of twenty
berries in wine.

There are persons who rub the body with juniper berries as a preventive
of the attacks of serpents.


The fruit of the willow,[161] before it arrives at maturity, is covered
with a down like a spider’s web: gathered[162] before it is ripe, it
arrests discharges of blood from the mouth. The bark of the upper
branches, reduced to ashes and mixed with water, is curative of corns
and callosities: it removes spots also upon the face, being still more
efficacious for that purpose if mixed with, the juices of the tree.

The juices produced by the willow form three different varieties;
one[163] of which exudes in the shape of a gum from the tree itself,
and another distils from an incision some three fingers in width, made
in the bark while the tree is in blossom. This last is very useful
for dispersing humours which impede the sight, acting also as an
inspissative when needed, promoting the discharge of the urine, and
bringing abscesses of all kinds to a head. The third kind of juice
exudes from the wounds, when the branches are lopt off with the bill.
Either of these juices, warmed in a pomegranate rind, is used as an
injection for diseases of the ears. The leaves, too, boiled and beaten
up with wax, are employed as a liniment for similar purposes, and
for gout. The bark and leaves, boiled in wine, form a decoction that
is remarkably useful as a fomentation for affections of the sinews.
The blossoms, bruised with the leaves, remove scaly eruptions of the
face; and the leaves, bruised and taken in drink, check libidinous
tendencies,[164] and effectually put an end to them, if habitually

The seed of the black willow of Ameria,[165] mixed with litharge in
equal proportions, and applied to the body just after the bath, acts as
a depilatory.


Not much unlike the willow, for the use that is made of it in
wicker-work, is the vitex,[166] which also resembles it in the leaves
and general appearance, though the smell of it is more agreeable. The
Greeks call it “lygos,” or “agnos,”[167] from the fact that the matrons
of Athens, during the Thesmophoria,[168] a period when the strictest
chastity is observed, are in the habit of strewing their beds with the
leaves of this tree.

There are two species of vitex: the larger[169] one, like the willow,
attains the full proportions of a tree; while the other,[170] which
is smaller, is branchy, with a paler, downy leaf. The first kind,
generally known as the “white” vitex, bears a white blossom mixed with
purple, whereas the black one has a flower that is entirely purple.
Both of these trees grow on level spots of a marshy nature.

The seed of these trees, taken in drink, has a sort of vinous flavour,
and has the reputation of being a febrifuge. It is said also to act
as a sudorific, if the body is rubbed with it mixed with oil, and to
have the effect of dispelling extreme lassitude: it acts too as a
diuretic[171] and emmenagogue. The produce of both trees is trying to
the head, like wine, and indeed the odour of them is very similar. They
have the effect also of removing flatulence in the lower regions of the
body, act astringently upon the bowels, and are remarkably useful for
dropsy and affections of the spleen. They promote the secretion of the
milk, and neutralize the venom of serpents, when of a cold nature more
particularly. The smaller kind, however, is the more efficacious of the
two for injuries inflicted by serpents, the seed being taken in doses
of one drachma, in wine or oxycrate, or else the more tender leaves in
doses of two drachmæ.

From both trees also a liniment is prepared for the bites of spiders,
but it is quite sufficient to rub the wounds with the leaves; and if
a fumigation is made from them, or if they are spread beneath the
bed, they will repel the attacks of all venomous creatures. They act
also as an antaphrodisiac, and it is by this tendency in particular
that they neutralize the venom of the phalangium, the bite of which
has an exciting effect upon the generative organs. The blossoms and
young shoots, mixed with oil of roses, allay head-aches arising from
inebriation. A decoction of the seed used as a fomentation cures
head-ache, however intense it may be; and employed as a fumigation or
as a pessary, the seeds acts as a detergent upon the uterus. Taken in
drink with honey and penny-royal, it has a laxative effect; pounded and
used with barley-meal, it quickly brings abscesses and hard tumours to
a head, and has an emollient effect.

The seed, in combination with saltpetre and vinegar, removes lichens
and freckles; mixed with honey, it heals ulcers and eruptions of the
mouth; applied with butter and vine-leaves, it reduces swellings of the
testes; used with water, as a linment, it cures chaps of the rectum;
and employed with salt, nitre, and wax, it is good for sprains. The
seed and leaves are used as ingredients also in emollient plasters for
diseases of the sinews, and for gout; and a decoction of the seed in
oil is employed as a fomentation for the head in cases of phrenitis and
lethargy. Persons[172] who carry a sprig of this plant in the hand, or
stuck in the girdle, will be proof, it is said, against chafing between
the thighs.


The Greeks give the name of “erice,”[173] to a shrub that is but little
different from the myrice.[174] It has the colour, and very nearly the
leaf, of rosemary. It neutralizes[175] the venom of serpents, it is


The broom is used for making withes;[176] the flowers of it are greatly
sought by bees. I have my doubts whether this is not the same plant
that the Greek writers have called “sparton,” and of which, in those
parts of the world, as I have already[177] stated, they are in the
habit of making fishing-nets. I doubt also whether Homer[178] has
alluded to this plant, when he speaks of the seams of the ships,—“the
sparta” coming asunder; for it is certain that in those times the
spartum[179] of Spain or Africa was not as yet in use, and that vessels
made of materials sown together, were united by the agency, not of
spartum, but of flax.

The seed of the plant to which the Greeks now give the name of
“sparton,” grows in pods like those of the kidney-bean. It is as
strongly drastic[180] as hellebore, and is usually taken fasting,
in doses of one drachma and a half, in four cyathi of hydromel. The
branches also, with the foliage, are macerated for several days in
vinegar, and are then beaten up, the infusion being recommended for
sciatica, in doses of one cyathus. Some persons think it a better plan,
however, to make an infusion of them in sea-water, and to inject it as
a clyster. The juice of them is used also as a friction for sciatica,
with the addition of oil. Some medical men, too, make use of the seed
for strangury. Broom, bruised with axle-grease, is a cure for diseases
of the knees.


Lenæus says, that the myrice,[181] otherwise known as the “erica,”
is a similar plant to that of which brooms are made at Ameria.[182]
He states also that, boiled in wine and then beaten up and applied
with honey, it heals carcinomatous sores. I would here remark,
parenthetically, that some persons identify it with the tamarice. Be
this as it may, it is particularly useful for affections of the spleen,
the juice of it being extracted for the purpose, and taken in wine;
indeed so marvellous, they say, is its antipathy to this part of the
viscera, and this only, that if swine drink from troughs made of this
wood,[183] they will be found to lose the spleen. Hence it is that in
maladies of the spleen victuals and drink are given to the patient in
vessels made of this wood.

A medical author too, of high repute,[184] has asserted that a sprig
broken from off this tree, without being allowed to touch the earth
or iron, will allay pains in the bowels, if applied to the body, and
kept close to it by the clothes and girdle. The common people, as
already[185] stated, look upon this tree as ill-omened, because it
bears no fruit, and is never propagated from seed.


At Corinth, and in the vicinity of that city, the Greeks give the name
of “brya”[186] to a plant of which there are two varieties; the wild
brya,[187] which is altogether barren, and the cultivated one.[188]
This last, when found in Syria and Egypt, produces a ligneous fruit,
somewhat larger than a gall-nut, in great abundance, and of an acrid
flavour; medical men employ it as a substitute for galls in the
compositions known as “antheræ.”[189] The wood also, with the blossoms,
leaves, and bark of the tree, is used for similar purposes, but their
properties are not so strongly developed. The bark is pounded also, and
given for[190] discharges of blood from the mouth, irregularities of
the catamenia, and cœliac affections: beaten up and applied to the part
affected, it checks the increase of all kinds of abscesses.

The juice too is extracted from the leaves for similar purposes,
and a decoction is made of them in wine; they are applied also to
gangrenes, in combination with honey. A decoction of them taken in
wine, or the leaves themselves applied with oil of roses and wax, has
a sedative effect: it is in this form that they are used for the cure
of epinyctis. This decoction is useful also for tooth-ache or ear-ache,
and the root is employed for similar purposes. The leaves too have
this additional use—they are applied with polenta to serpiginous
sores. The seed, in doses of one drachma, is administered in drink for
injuries inflicted by spiders or the phalangium; and mixed with the
grease of poultry, it is applied to boils. It is very efficacious also
for stings inflicted by all kinds of serpents, the asp excepted. The
decoction used as a fomentation, is curative of jaundice, phthiriasis,
and lice; it also arrests the catamenia when in excess. The ashes of
the tree are employed for all these purposes; there is a story told,
too, that mixed with the urine of an ox, and taken in the food or drink
they will act most effectually as an antaphrodisiac. The charcoal too
of this wood is quenched in urine of a similar nature, and kept in
a shady spot. When it is the intention of the party to rekindle the
flames[191] of desire, it is set on fire again. The magicians say,[192]
that the urine of an eunuch, will have a similar effect.


Nor is the blood-red[193] shrub looked upon as a less ill-omened[194]
plant than the last. The inner bark of it is used to re-open ulcers
which have healed too rapidly.


The leaves, of the siler,[195] applied to the forehead, allay
head-ache; and the seed of it, beaten up with oil, is curative of
phthiriasis. Serpents also are greatly in dread of this tree, and it is
for this reason that the country-people are in the habit of carrying a
walking-stick made of it.


The ligustrum, or privet, if it is the same tree as the cyprus[196] of
the East, has also its own medicinal uses in Europe. The juice of it is
used for affections of the sinews and joints, and for sudden chills;
and the leaves are universally employed, with a sprinkling of salt,
for the cure of inveterate sores and of ulcerations of the mouth. The
berries are curative of phthiriasis and chafings between the thighs,
for which last purpose the leaves also are employed. The berries are
made use of for the cure of pip in poultry.[197]


The leaves of the alder, steeped in boiling water, are an undoubted
remedy for tumours.


We have already[198] enumerated some twenty varieties of the ivy. The
medicinal properties of them all are of a doubtful nature; taken in
considerable quantities they disturb the mental faculties and purge
the brain. Taken internally they are injurious to the sinews,[199]
but applied topically they are beneficial to those parts of the body.
Ivy possesses properties similar[200] to those of vinegar. All the
varieties of the ivy are of a refrigerative nature, and taken in drink
they are diuretic. The softer leaves, applied to the head, allay
head-ache, acting more particularly upon the brain and the membrane
which envelopes that organ. For this purpose the leaves are bruised
with vinegar and oil of roses and then boiled, after which some more
rose-oil is added. The leaves too are applied to the forehead and the
mouth is fomented with a decoction of them, with which the head is
rubbed as well. They are useful also for the spleen, the leaves being
applied topically, or an infusion of them taken in drink. A decoction
of them is used for cold shiverings in fevers, and for pituitous
eruptions; or else they are beaten up in wine for the purpose.
The umbels too taken in drink or applied externally, are good for
affections of the spleen, and an application of them is useful for the
liver; employed as a pessary, they act as an emmenagogue.

The juice of the ivy, the white cultivated kind more particularly,
cures diseases of the nostrils and removes habitually offensive smells.
Injected into the nostrils it purges the head, and with the addition
of nitre it is still more efficacious for that purpose. In combination
with oil, the juice is injected for suppurations or pains in the ears.
It is a corrective also of the deformities of scars. The juice of
white ivy, heated with the aid of iron, is still more efficacious for
affections of the spleen; it will be found sufficient, however, to
take six of the berries in two cyathi of wine. Three berries of the
white ivy, taken in oxymel, expel tape-worm, and in the treatment of
such cases it is a good plan to apply them to the abdomen as well.
Erasistratus prescribes twenty of the golden-coloured berries of the
ivy which we have mentioned as the “chrysocarpos,”[201] to be beaten
up in one sextarius of wine, and he says that if three cyathi of this
preparation are taken for dropsy, it will carry off by urine the water
that has been secreted beneath the skin. For cases of tooth-ache he
recommends five berries of the chrysocarpos to be beaten up in oil of
roses, and warmed in a pomegranate-rind, and then injected into the
ear opposite the side affected. The berries which yield a juice of a
saffron, colour, taken beforehand in drink, are a preservative against
crapulence; they are curative also of spitting of blood and of griping
pains in the bowels. The whiter umbels of the black ivy, taken in
drink, are productive of sterility, in males even. A decoction in wine
of any kind of ivy is useful as a liniment for all sorts of ulcers,
those even of the malignant kind known as “cacoethes.” The tears[202]
which distil from the ivy are used as a depilatory, and for the cure
of phthiriasis. The blossoms too, of all the varieties, taken twice
a day in astringent wine, a pinch in three fingers at a time, are
curative of dysentery and looseness of the bowels: they are very useful
also, applied to burns with wax. The umbels stain the hair black. The
juice extracted from the root is taken in vinegar for the cure of
wounds inflicted by the phalangium. I find it stated too, that patients
suffering from affections of the spleen are cured by drinking from
vessels made of the wood of the ivy. The berries are bruised also, and
then burnt, and a liniment is prepared from them for burns, the parts
being fomented with warm water first.

Incisions are sometimes made in the ivy to obtain the juice, which is
used for carious teeth, it having the effect of breaking them, it is
said; the adjoining teeth being fortified with wax against the powerful
action of the juice. A kind of gum even is said to be found in the ivy,
which, it is asserted, is extremely useful, mixed with vinegar, for the


The Greeks give the name of “cisthos”—a word very similar to “cissos,”
the Greek name of the ivy—to a plant which is somewhat larger than
thyme, and has a leaf like that of ocimum. There are two varieties
of this plant; the male,[203] which has a rose-coloured blossom, and
the female,[204] with a white one. The blossom of either kind, taken
in astringent wine, a pinch in three fingers at a time, is good for
dysentery and looseness of the bowels. Taken in a similar manner twice
a day, it is curative of inveterate ulcers: used with wax, it heals
burns, and employed by itself it cures ulcerations of the mouth. It is
beneath these plants more particularly that the hypocisthis grows, of
which we shall have occasion[205] to speak when treating of the herbs.


The plant called “cissos erythranos”[206] by the Greeks, is similar
to the ivy: taken in wine, it is good for sciatica and lumbago. The
berries, it is said, are of so powerful a nature as to produce bloody
urine. “Chamæcissos”[207] also is a name given by them to a creeping
ivy which never rises from the surface of the ground: bruised in wine,
in doses of one acetabulum, it is curative of affections of the spleen,
the leaves of it being applied topically with axle-grease to burns.

The smilax[208] also, otherwise known as the “anthophoros,”[209]
has a strong resemblance to ivy, but the leaves of it are smaller.
A chaplet, they say, made of an uneven number of the leaves, is an
effectual cure for head-ache. Some writers mention two kinds of smilax,
one of which is all but perennial, and is found climbing the trees in
umbrageous valleys, the berries hanging in clusters. These berries,
they say, are remarkably efficacious for all kinds of poisons; so much
so indeed, that infants to whom the juice of them has been habitually
administered, are rendered proof against all poisons for the rest of
their life. The other kind, it is said, manifests a predilection for
cultivated localities, and is often found growing there; but as for
medicinal properties, it has none. The former kind, they say, is the
smilax, the wood of which we have mentioned[210] as emitting a sound,
if held close to the ear.

Another plant, similar to this, they call by the name of
“clematis:”[211] it is found adhering to trees, and has a jointed stem.
The leaves of it cleanse leprous[212] sores, and the seed acts as an
aperient, taken in doses of one acetabulum, in one hemina of water, or
in hydromel. A decoction of it is prescribed also for a similar purpose.


We have already[213] treated of twenty-nine varieties of the reed,
and there is none of her productions in which that mighty power of
Nature,[214] which in our successive Books we have described, is
more fully displayed than in this. The root of the reed, pounded and
applied to the part affected, extracts the prickles of fern from the
body, the root of the fern having a similar effect upon splinters of
the reed. Among the numerous varieties which we have described, the
scented reed[215] which is grown in Judæa and Syria as an ingredient
in our unguents, boiled with hay-grass or parsley-seed, has a diuretic
effect: employed as a pessary, it acts as an emmenagogue. Taken in
drink, in doses of two oboli, it is curative of convulsions, diseases
of the liver and kidneys, and dropsy. Used as a fumigation, and with
resin, more particularly, it is good for coughs, and a decoction of it
with myrrh is useful for scaly eruptions and running ulcers. A juice,
too, is collected from it which has similar properties to those of

In every kind of reed the part that is the most efficacious is that
which lies nearest the root; the joints also are efficacious in a high
degree. The ashes of the Cyprian reed known as the “donax,”[217] are
curative of alopecy and putrid ulcers. The leaves of it are also used
for the extraction[218] of pointed bodies from the flesh, and for
erysipelas and all kinds of gatherings. The common reed, beaten up
quite fresh, has also considerable extractive powers, and not in the
root only, for the stem, it is said, has a similar property. The root
is used also in vinegar as a topical application for sprains and for
pains in the spine; and beaten up fresh and taken in wine it acts as an
aphrodisiac. The down that grows on reeds, put into the ears, deadens
the hearing.[219]


Of a kindred nature with the reed is the papyrus[220] of Egypt; a plant
that is remarkably useful, in a dried state, for dilating and drying
up fistulas, and, by its expansive powers, opening an entrance for
the necessary medicaments. The ashes[221] of paper prepared from the
papyrus are reckoned among the caustics: those of the plant, taken in
wine, have a narcotic effect. The plant, applied topically in water,
removes callosities of the skin.


The ebony-tree[222] does not grow in Egypt even, as we have already
stated, and it is not our intention to speak here of the medicinal
properties of the vegetable productions of foreign climates. Still,
however, the ebony must not be omitted, on account of the marvels
related of it. The saw-dust of this wood, it is said, is a sovereign
remedy for diseases of the eyes, and the pulp of the wood, rubbed
upon a whetstone moistened with raisin wine, dispels all films which
impede the sight. The root too, they say, applied with water, is
curative of white specks in the eyes, and, with the addition of root of
dracunculus,[223] in equal proportions, and of honey, of cough. Medical
men reckon ebony also in the number of the caustics.[224]


The rhododendron[225] has not so much as found a Latin name among
us, its other names being “rhododaphne”[226] and “nerium.” It is a
marvellous fact, but the leaves[227] of this plant are poisonous to
quadrupeds; while for man, if taken in wine with rue, they are an
effectual preservative against the venom of serpents. Sheep too, and
goats, it is said, if they drink water in which the leaves have been
steeped, will die immediately.


Nor yet has the tree called “rhus”[228] any Latin name, although it
is employed in numerous ways. Under this name are comprehended a wild
plant,[229] with leaves like those of myrtle, and a short stem, which
is good as an expellent of tapeworm; and the shrub[230] which is known
as the “currier’s plant,” of a reddish colour, a cubit in height, and
about the thickness of one’s finger, the leaves of which are dried and
used, like pomegranate rind, for curing leather.

Medical men also employ the leaves of these plants for the treatment
of contusions, and for the cure of cœliac affections, and of ulcers
of the rectum and phagedænic sores; for all which, purposes they are
pounded with honey and applied with vinegar. A decoction of them is
injected for suppurations of the ears. With the branches, boiled, a
stomatice[231] is also made, which is used for the same purposes as
that prepared from mulberries;[232] it is more efficacious, however,
mixed with alum. This preparation is applied also to reduce the
swelling in dropsy.


Rhus[233] erythros is the name given to the seed of this shrub. It
possesses properties of an astringent and cooling nature, and is
used as a seasoning[234] for provisions, in place of salt. It has a
laxative effect, and, used in conjunction with silphium, it gives a
finer flavour to meat of all kinds. Mixed with honey, it is curative
of running ulcers, pimples on the tongue,[235] contusions, bruises,
and excoriations. It causes ulcers of the head to cicatrize with the
greatest rapidity; and taken with the food, it arrests excessive


The erythrodanus,[236] by some called “ereuthodanus,” and in Latin
“rubia,” is quite a different plant. It is used for dyeing wool, and
skins for leather are prepared with it. Used medicinally, it is a
diuretic, and, employed with hydromel, it is curative of jaundice.[237]
Employed topically with vinegar, it heals lichens; and a potion is
prepared from it for sciatica and paralysis, the patient while using
it taking a bath daily. The root of it and the seed are effectual as
an emmenagogue; they act astringently upon the bowels, and disperse
gatherings. The branches, together with the leaves, are applied to
wounds inflicted by serpents; the leaves too have the property of
staining the hair.[238] I find it stated by some writers that this
shrub is curative of jaundice, even if worn as an amulet only, and
looked at every now and then.


The plant known as the “alysson”[239] differs only from the preceding
one in the leaves and branches, which are more diminutive. It receives
its name from the fact, that, taken in vinegar and worn as an amulet,
it prevents persons bitten by dogs from becoming rabid. It is a
marvellous fact too, that is added, to the effect that the person
bitten has only to look at this shrub, and the flow of corrupt matter
from the wound will be staunched immediately.


The radicula, which we have already[240] mentioned as being called
“struthion” by the Greeks, is used by dyers for preparing wool.
A decoction of it, taken internally, is curative of jaundice and
diseases of the chest. It is diuretic also, and laxative, and acts as
a detergent upon the uterus, for which reasons medical men have given
it the name of the “golden beverage.”[241] Taken with honey, it is a
sovereign remedy for cough; and it is used for hardness of breathing,
in doses of a spoonful. Applied with polenta and vinegar to the parts
affected, it removes leprous sores. Used with panax and root of the
caper-plant, it breaks and expels calculi, and a decoction of it in
wine with barley-meal disperses inflamed tumours. It is used as an
ingredient in emollient plasters and eye-salves for the sight, and
is found to be one of the most useful sternutories known; it is good
too for the liver and the spleen. Taken in hydromel, in doses of one
denarius, it effects the cure of asthma, as also of pleurisy and all
pains in the sides.

The apocynum[242] is a shrub with leaves like those of ivy, but softer,
and not so long in the stalk, and the seed of it is pointed and downy,
with a division running down it, and a very powerful smell. Given in
their food with water, the seed is poisonous[243] to dogs and all other


There are two kinds of rosemary; one of which is barren, and the other
has a stem with a resinous seed, known as “cachrys.” The leaves have
the odour of frankincense.[244] The root, applied fresh, effects the
cure of wounds, prolapsus of the rectum, condylomata, and piles. The
juice of the plant, as well as of the root, is curative of jaundice,
and such diseases as require detergents; it is useful also for the
sight. The seed is given in drink for inveterate diseases of the chest,
and, with wine and pepper, for affections of the uterus; it acts also
as an emmenagogue, and is used with meal of darnel as a liniment for
gout. It acts also as a detergent upon freckles, and is used as an
application in diseases which require calorifics or sudorifics, and
for convulsions. The plant itself, or else the root, taken in wine,
increases the milk, and the leaves and stem of the plant are applied
with vinegar to scrofulous sores; used with honey, they are very useful
for cough.


As already[245] stated, there are several kinds of cachrys;[246] but
that which is produced by rosemary above-mentioned, when rubbed, is
found to be of a resinous nature. It neutralizes poisons and the venom
of animals, that of serpents excepted. It acts also as a sudorific,
dispels griping pains in the bowels, and increases the milk in nursing


Of the herb savin, known as “brathy” by the Greeks,[247] there are
two varieties, one of them[248] with a leaf like that of the tamarix,
the other[249] with that of the cypress; for which reason some
persons have called this last the Cretan cypress. It is used by many
for fumigations, as a substitute for frankincense;[250] employed in
medicine, it is said to have the same effect as cinnamon, if taken
in doses twice as large. It reduces gatherings, disperses corrosive
sores, acts as a detergent upon ulcers, and, used as a pessary and
as a fumigation, brings away the dead fœtus.[251] It is employed as
a topical application for erysipelas and carbuncles, and, taken with
honey in wine, is curative of jaundice.

The smoke of this plant, they say, cures the pip in all kinds of


Similar to savin is the herb known as “selago.”[253] Care is taken to
gather it without the use of iron, the right hand being passed for the
purpose through the left sleeve of the tunic, as though the gatherer
were in the act of committing a theft.[254] The clothing too must be
white, the feet bare and washed clean, and a sacrifice of bread and
wine must be made before gathering it: it is carried also in a new
napkin. The Druids of Gaul have pretended that this plant should be
carried about the person as a preservative against accidents of all
kinds, and that the smoke of it is extremely good for all maladies of
the eyes.


The Druids, also, have given the name of “samolus”[255] to a certain
plant which grows in humid localities. This too, they say, must be
gathered fasting with the left hand, as a preservative against the
maladies to which swine and cattle are subject. The person, too, who
gathers it must be careful not to look behind him, nor must it be laid
anywhere but in the troughs from which the cattle drink.


We have already[256] spoken of the different kinds of gum; the better
sort of each kind will be found the most effective. Gum is bad for
the teeth; it tends to make the blood coagulate, and is consequently
good for discharges[257] of blood from the mouth. It is useful for
burns,[258] but is bad for diseases of the trachea. It exercises
a diuretic effect, and tends to neutralize all acridities, being
astringent in other respects. The gum of the bitter-almond tree, which
has the most[259] astringent properties of them all, is calorific
also in its effects. Still, however, the gum of the plum, cherry,
and vine is greatly preferred: all which kinds, applied topically,
are productive of astringent and desiccative effects, and, used with
vinegar, heal lichens upon infants. Taken in must, in doses of four
oboli, they are good for inveterate coughs.

It is generally thought that gum, taken in raisin wine, improves the
complexion,[260] sharpens the appetite, and is good for calculi[261] in
the bladder. It is particularly useful too for wounds and affections of
the eyes.


When speaking[262] of the perfumes, we have descanted upon the merits
of the Egyptian or Arabian thorn. This, too, is of an astringent
nature, and acts as a desiccative upon fluxes of all kinds, discharges
of blood from the mouth, and excessive menstruation; for all which
purposes the root is still more efficacious.


The seed of the white thorn is useful as a remedy for the stings of
scorpions, and a chaplet made of it, is good for headache. Similar to
this plant is that known to the Greeks as the “acanthion;”[263] though
it is much smaller in the leaf, which is pointed at the extremity, and
covered with a down like a cobweb in appearance. This downy substance
is gathered in the East, and certain textures are made of it similar to
those of silk. An infusion of the leaves or root of this plant is taken
for the cure of opisthotony.


Gum acacia is produced also from the white and black[264] thorns of
Egypt, and from a green thorn as well; the produce, however, of the
former trees is by far the best. There is also a similar gum found in
Galatia, but of very inferior quality, the produce of a more thorny
tree[265] than those last mentioned. The seed of all these trees
resembles[266] the lentil in appearance, only that it is smaller, as
well as the pod which contains it: it is gathered in autumn, before
which period it would be too powerful in its effects. The juice is
left to thicken in the pods, which are steeped in rain-water for the
purpose, and then pounded in a mortar; after which, the juice is
extracted by means of presses. It is then dried in the mortars in the
sun, and when dry is divided into tablets. A similar juice is extracted
from the leaves, but it is by no means[267] so useful as the other. The
seed is used also, as a substitute for nut-galls in curing leather.[268]

The juice extracted from the leaves, as also the extremely black juice
of the Galatian[269] acacia, is held in no esteem. The same too with
that of a deep red colour. The gum which is of a purple, or of an ashy,
grey colour, and which dissolves with the greatest rapidity, possesses
the most astringent and cooling qualities of them all, and is more
particularly useful as an ingredient in compositions for the eyes. When
required for these purposes, the tablets are steeped in water by some,
while some again scorch them, and others reduce them to ashes. They are
useful for dyeing the hair, and for the cure of erysipelas, serpiginous
sores, ulcerations of the humid parts of the body, gatherings,
contusions of the joints, chilblains, and hangnails. They are good
also for cases of excessive menstruation, procidence of the uterus
and rectum, affections of the eyes, and ulcerations of the generative
organs[270] and mouth.


The common[271] thorn too, with which the fulling coppers are filled is
employed for the same purposes as the radicula.[272] In the provinces
of Spain it is commonly employed as an ingredient in perfumes and
unguents, under the name of “aspalathos.” There is no doubt, however,
that there is also a wild thorn of the same name in the East, as
already mentioned,[273] of a white colour, and the size of an ordinary


There is also found in the islands of Nisyros and of Rhodes, a
shrub of smaller size, but full as thorny, known by some as the
erysisceptrum,[274] by others as the adipsatheon, and by the Syrians as
the diaxylon. The best kind is that which is the least[275] ferulaceous
in the stem, and which is of a red colour, or inclining to purple, when
the bark is removed. It is found growing in many places, but is not
everywhere odoriferous. We have already[276] stated, how remarkably
sweet the odour of it is, when the rainbow has been extended over it.

This plant cures fetid ulcers of the mouth, polypus[277] of the nose,
ulcerations or carbuncles of the generative organs, and chaps; taken in
drink it acts as a carminative, and is curative of strangury. The bark
is good for patients troubled with discharges of blood, and a decoction
of it acts astringently on the bowels. It is generally thought that the
wild plant is productive of the same effects.


There is a thorn also known as the appendix;[278] that name being given
to the red berries which hang from its branches. These berries eaten by
themselves, raw, or else dried and boiled in wine, arrest looseness of
the bowels and dispel griping pains in the stomach. The berries of the
pyracantha[279] are taken in drink for wounds inflicted by serpents.


The paliurus,[280] too, is a kind of thorn. The seed of it, known by
the people of Africa as “zura,” is extremely efficacious for the sting
of the scorpion, as also for urinary calculi and cough. The leaves
are of an astringent nature, and the root disperses inflamed tumours,
gatherings, and abscesses; taken in drink it is diuretic in its
effects. A decoction of it in wine arrests diarrhœa, and neutralizes
the venom of serpents: the root more particularly is administered in


The agrifolia,[281] pounded, with the addition of salt, is good for
diseases of the joints, and the berries are used in cases of excessive
menstruation, cœliac affections, dysentery, and cholera; taken in wine,
they act astringently upon the bowels. A decoction of the root, applied
externally, extracts foreign bodies from the flesh, and is remarkably
useful for sprains and tumours.

The tree called “aquifolia,” planted[282] in a town or country-house
is a preservative against sorceries and spells. The blossom of it,
according to Pythagoras, congeals[283] water, and a staff[284] made of
the wood, if, when thrown at any animal, from want of strength in the
party throwing it, it falls short of the mark will roll back again[285]
towards the thrower, of its own accord—so remarkable are the properties
of this tree. The smoke of the yew kills[286] rats and mice.


Nor yet has Nature destined the bramble[287] to be only an annoyance
to mankind, for she has bestowed upon it mulberries of its own,[288]
or, in other words, a nutritive aliment even for mankind. These berries
are of a desiccative, astringent, nature,[289] and are extremely useful
for maladies of the gums, tonsillary glands, and generative organs.
They neutralize also the venom of those most deadly of serpents, the
hæmorrhoïs[290] and the prester;[291] and the flowers or fruit will
heal wounds inflicted by scorpions, without any danger of abscesses
forming. The shoots of the bramble have a diuretic effect: and the more
tender ones are pounded; and the juice extracted and then dried in the
sun till it has attained the consistency of honey, being considered
a most excellent remedy, taken in drink or applied externally, for
maladies of the mouth and eyes, discharges of blood from the mouth,
quinzy, affections of the uterus, diseases of the rectum, and cœliac
affections. The leaves, chewed, are good for diseases of the mouth,
and a topical application is made of them for running ulcers and other
maladies of the head. In the cardiac disease they are similarly applied
to the left breast by themselves. They are applied topically also for
pains in the stomach and for procidence of the eyes. The juice of them
is used as an injection for the ears, and, in combination with cerate
of roses, it heals condylomata.

A decoction of the young shoots in wine is an instantaneous remedy
for diseases of the uvula; and eaten by themselves like cymæ,[292] or
boiled in astringent wine, they strengthen loose teeth. They arrest
fluxes of the bowels also, and discharges of blood, and are very useful
for dysentery. Dried in the shade and then burnt, the ashes of them are
curative of procidence of the uvula. The leaves too, dried and pounded,
are very useful, it is said, for ulcers upon beasts of burden. The
berries produced by this plant would seem to furnish a stomatice[293]
superior even to that prepared from the cultivated mulberry. Under this
form, or else only with hypocisthis[294] and honey, the berries are
administered for cholera, the cardiac disease, and wounds inflicted by

Among the medicaments known as “styptics,”[296] there is none that is
more efficacious than a decoction of the root of the bramble in wine,
boiled down to one third. Ulcerations of the mouth and rectum are
bathed with it, and fomentations of it are used for a similar purpose;
indeed, it is so remarkably powerful in its effects, that the very
sponges which are used become as hard as a stone.[297]


There is another kind of bramble also,[298] which bears a rose. It
produces a round excrescence,[299] similar to a chesnut in appearance,
which is remarkably valuable as a remedy for calculus. This is quite
a different production from the “cynorrhoda,” which we shall have
occasion to speak of in the succeeding Book.[300]

(14.) The cynosbatos[301] is by some called “cynapanxis,”[302] and by
others “neurospastos;”[303] the leaf resembles the human footstep in
shape. It bears also a black grape, in the berries of which there is
a nerve, to which it is indebted for its name of “neurospastos.” It
is quite a different plant from the capparis[304] or caper, to which
medical men have also given the name of “cynosbatos.” The clusters[305]
of it, pickled in vinegar, are eaten as a remedy for diseases of the
spleen, and flatulency: and the string found in the berries, chewed
with Chian mastich, cleanses the mouth.

The rose[306] of the bramble, mixed with axle-grease, is curative
of alopecy: and the bramble-berries themselves, combined with oil
of omphacium,[307] stain[308] the hair. The blossom of the bramble
is gathered at harvest, and the white blossom, taken in wine, is an
excellent remedy for pleurisy and cœliac affections. The root, boiled
down to one third, arrests looseness of the bowels and hæmorrhage,
and a decoction of it, used as a gargle, is good for the teeth: the
juice too is employed as a fomentation for ulcers of the rectum and
generative organs. The ashes of the root are curative of relaxations of
the uvula.


The Idæan bramble[309] is so called from the fact that it is the
only plant of the kind found growing upon Mount Ida. It is of a more
delicate nature than the others, and smaller; the canes too are
thinner, and not[310] so prickly: it mostly grows beneath the shade of
trees. The blossom of it, mixed with honey, is applied topically for
defluxions of the eyes, and is administered in water for erysipelas and
affections of the stomach.[311] In other respects, it has properties
similar to those of the plants[312] already mentioned.


Among the several kinds[313] of bramble is reckoned the plant called
“rhamnos” by the Greeks. One variety of it is whiter[314] than the
other, and has a more shrublike appearance, throwing out branches
armed with straight thorns, and not hooked, like those of the other
kinds; the leaves too are larger. The other kind,[315] which is found
growing wild, is of a more swarthy hue, in some measure inclining to
red; it bears too a sort[316] of pod. With the root of it boiled in
water a medicament is made, known as “lycium:”[317] the seed of it is
useful for bringing away the after-birth. The white kind, however, is
of a more astringent and cooling nature, and better adapted for the
treatment of gatherings and wounds. The leaves of both kinds, either
raw or boiled, are employed topically with oil.


The best lycium,[318] they say, is that prepared from the thorn of that
name, known also as the “Chironian pyxacanthus,”[319] and mentioned by
us when speaking of the trees of India, the lycium of those regions
being generally looked upon as by far the best. The branches and roots,
which are intensely bitter,[320] are first pounded and then boiled for
three days in a copper vessel, after which the woody parts are removed,
and the decoction is boiled again, till it has attained the consistency
of honey. It is adulterated with various bitter extracts,[321] as also
with amurca of olive oil and ox-gall. The froth or flower[322] of this
decoction is used as an ingredient in compositions for the eyes: and
the other part of it is employed as a cosmetic for the face, and for
the cure of itch-scabs, corroding sores in the corners of the eyes,
inveterate fluxes, and suppurations of the ears. It is useful too
for diseases of the tonsillary glands and gums, for coughs, and for
discharges of blood from the mouth, being generally taken in pieces the
size of a bean. For the cure of discharges from wounds, it is applied
to the part affected; and it is similarly used for chaps, ulcerations
of the genitals, excoriations, ulcers, whether putrid, serpiginous,
or of recent date, hard excrescences[323] of the nostrils, and
suppurations. It is taken also by females, in milk, for the purpose of
arresting the catamenia when in excess.

The Indian lycium is distinguished from the other kinds by its
colour, the lumps being black outside, and, when broken, red within,
though they turn black very quickly.[324] It is bitter and remarkably
astringent, and is employed for all the purposes above mentioned,
diseases of the generative organs in particular.


Some authors are of opinion that sarcocolla[325] is a tearlike gum
which exudes from a kind of thorn;[326] it is similar to powdered
incense in appearance, has a sweet flavour with a slight degree of
bitter, and is of the consistency of gum. Pounded in wine, it arrests
defluxions, and is used as a topical application for infants more
particularly. This substance too becomes black[327] when old; the
whiter it is, the more highly it is esteemed.


We are indebted too to the medicinal properties of trees for one very
celebrated medicament, known as “oporice.”[328] This preparation is
used for dysentery and various affections of the stomach; the following
being the method of preparing it. Five quinces, seeds and all, with the
same number of pomegranates, one sextarius of sorbs, a similar quantity
of Syrian rhus,[329] and half an ounce of saffron, are boiled in one
congius of white grape-juice at a slow heat, till the whole mixture is
reduced to the consistency of honey.


We shall now add to these plants, certain vegetable productions to
which the Greeks have given names belonging to trees, so that it would
be doubtful whether they themselves are not trees as well.

(15.) The chamædrys[330] is the same plant that in Latin is called
“trixago;” some persons, however, call it “chamædrops,” and others
“teucria.” The leaves of it are the size of those of mint, but
in their colour and indentations they resemble those of the oak.
According to some, the leaves are serrated, and it was these, they
say, that first suggested the idea of the saw:[331] the flower of it
borders closely upon purple. This plant is gathered in rough craggy
localities, when it is replete with juice; and, whether taken[332]
internally or applied topically, it is extremely efficacious for the
stings of venomous serpents, diseases of the stomach, inveterate
coughs, collections of phlegm in the throat, ruptures, convulsions, and
pains in the sides. It diminishes the volume of the spleen, and acts
as a diuretic and emmenagogue; for which reasons it is very useful in
incipient dropsy, the usual dose being a handful of the sprigs boiled
down to one third in three heminæ of water. Lozenges too are made of it
for the above-named purposes, by bruising it in water. In combination
with honey, it heals abscesses and inveterate or sordid ulcers: a
wine[333] too is prepared from it for diseases of the chest. The juice
of the leaves, mixed with oil, disperses films on the eyes; it is taken
also, in vinegar, for diseases of the spleen; employed as a friction,
it is of a warming nature.


The chamædaphne[334] consists of a single diminutive stem, about a
cubit in height, the limbs of it being smaller than those of the
laurel. These leaves * * * The seed, which is of a red colour, and
attached to the leaves, is applied fresh for head-ache, is of a
cooling nature for burning heats, and is taken for griping pains in
the bowels, with wine. The juice of this plant, taken in wine, acts
as an emmenagogue and diuretic; and applied as a pessary in wool, it
facilitates laborious deliveries.


The leaves of the chamelæa[335] resemble those of the olive; they
are bitter, however, and odoriferous. This plant is found growing
in craggy localities, and never exceeds a palm in height. It is of
a purgative[336] nature, and carries off phlegm and bile; for which
purposes, the leaves are boiled with twice the quantity of wormwood,
and the decoction taken with honey. The leaves, applied to ulcers, have
a detergent effect. It is said, that if a person gathers it before
sunrise, taking care to mention that he is gathering it for the cure of
white specks[337] in the eyes, and then wears it as an amulet, it will
effect a cure: as also that, gathered in any way, it is beneficial for
the eyes of beasts of burden and cattle.


The chamæsyce[338] has leaves similar to those of the lentil, and lying
close to the ground; it is found growing in dry, rocky, localities.
A decoction of it in wine is remarkably useful as a liniment for
improving[339] the sight, and for dispersing cataract, cicatrizations,
films, and cloudiness of the eyes. Applied in a pledget of linen, as
a pessary, it allays pains in the uterus; and used topically[340] it
removes warts and excrescences of all kinds. It is very useful also for
hardness of breathing.


The chamæcissos[341] has ears like[342] those of wheat, with numerous
leaves, and small branches, about five in number. When in blossom
it might almost be taken for the white violet: the root of it is
diminutive. For sciatica, the leaves of it are taken, seven days
consecutively, in doses of three oboli, in two cyathi of wine: this is
a very bitter potion, however.


The chamæleuce[343] is known among us as the “farfarum” or “farfugium:”
it grows on the banks of rivers, and has a leaf like that of the
poplar, only larger. The root of it is burnt upon cypress charcoal,
and, by the aid of a funnel,[344] the smoke inhaled, in cases of
inveterate cough.


The chamæpeuce[345] has a leaf which resembles that of the larch, and
is useful more particularly for lumbago and pains in the back. The
chamæcyparissos[346] is a herb which, taken in wine, counteracts the
venom of serpents of all kinds, and of scorpions.

The ampeloprason[347] is found growing in vineyards; it has leaves like
those of the leek, and produces offensive eructations. It is highly
efficacious for the stings of serpents, and acts as an emmenagogue and
diuretic. Taken in drink or applied externally, it arrests discharges
of blood from the generative organs. It is prescribed also for females
after delivery, and is used for bites inflicted by dogs.

The plant known as “stachys” bears a strong resemblance also to a
leek,[348] but the leaves of it are longer and more numerous. It has
an agreeable smell, and in colour inclines to yellow. It promotes


The clinopodion,[349] cleonicion, zopyron, or ocimoïdes, resembles
wild thyme in appearance. The stem of it is tough and ligneous, and
it is a palm in height. It grows in stony soils, and the leaves are
trained regularly around the stem,[350] which resembles a bed-post in
appearance. This plant is taken in drink, for convulsions, ruptures,
strangury, and wounds inflicted by serpents: a decoction is also made
of it, and the juice is similarly employed.


We shall now have to annex some plants, of a marvellous nature no
doubt, but not so well known, reserving those of a higher reputation
for the succeeding Books.

Our people give the name of “centunculus,”[351] to a creeping plant
that grows in the fields, the leaves of which bear a strong resemblance
to the hoods attached to our cloaks. By the Greeks it is known as
the “clematis.” Taken in astringent wine it is wonderfully effectual
for arresting[352] diarrhœa: beaten up, in doses of one denarius, in
five cyathi of oxymel or of warm water, it arrests hæmorrhage, and
facilitates the after-birth.


The Greeks have other varieties also of the clematis, one of which
is known as “echites”[353] or “lagine,” and by some as the “little
scammony.” Its stems are about two feet in height, and covered with
leaves: in general appearance it is not unlike scammony, were it not
that the leaves are darker and more diminutive; it is found growing in
vineyards and cultivated soils. It is eaten as a vegetable, with oil
and salt, and acts as a laxative upon the bowels. It is taken[354] also
for dysentery, with linseed, in astringent wine. The leaves of this
plant are applied with polenta for defluxions of the eyes, the part
affected being first covered with a pledget of wet linen. Applied to
scrofulous sores, they cause them to suppurate, and if some axle-grease
is then applied, a perfect cure will be effected. They are applied also
to piles, with green oil, and are good for phthisis, in combination
with honey. Taken with the food, they increase the milk in nursing
women, and, rubbed upon the heads of infants, they promote the rapid
growth of the hair. Eaten with vinegar, they act as an aphrodisiac.


There is another kind also, known as the “Egyptian”[355] clematis,
otherwise as “daphnoïdes”[356] or “polygonoïdes:” it has a leaf like
that of the laurel, and is long and slender. Taken in vinegar, it is
very useful for the stings of serpents, that of the asp in particular.


It is Egypt more particularly that produces the clematis known as the
“aron,” of which we have already[357] made some mention when speaking
of the bulbs. Respecting this plant and the dracontium, there have
been considerable differences of opinion. Some writers, indeed, have
maintained that they are identical, and Glaucias has made the only
distinction between them in reference to the place of their growth,
assuming that the dracontium is nothing else than the aron in a wild
state. Some persons, again, have called the root “aron,” and the stem
of the plant “dracontium:” but if the dracontium is the same as the
one known to us as the “dracunculus,”[358] it is a different plant
altogether; for while the aron has a broad, black, rounded root, and
considerably larger,—large enough, indeed, to fill the hand,—the
dracunculus has a reddish root of a serpentine form, to which, in
fact, it owes its name.[359]


The Greeks themselves, in fact, have established an immense difference
between these two plants, in attributing to the seed of the dracunculus
certain hot, pungent properties, and a fetid odour[360] so remarkably
powerful as to be productive of abortion,[361] while upon the aron, on
the other hand, they have bestowed marvellous encomiums. As an article
of food, however, they give the preference to the female plant, the
male plant being of a harder nature, and more difficult to cook. It
carries off,[362] they say, all vicious humours from the chest, and
powdered and taken in the form either of a potion or of an electuary,
it acts as a diuretic and emmenagogue. Powdered and taken in oxymel, it
is good for the stomach; and we find it stated that it is administered
in ewe’s milk for ulcerations of the intestines, and is sometimes
cooked on hot ashes and given in oil for a cough. Some persons, again,
are in the habit of boiling it in milk and administering the decoction;
and it has been used also in a boiled state as a topical application
for defluxions of the eyes, contusions, and affections of the
tonsillary glands. * * * *[363] prescribes it with oil, as an injection
for piles, and recommends it as a liniment, with honey, for freckles.

Cleophantus has greatly extolled this plant as an antidote for poisons,
and for the treatment of pleurisy and peripneumony, prepared the
same way as for coughs. The seed too, pounded with olive oil or oil
of roses, is used as an injection for pains in the ears. Dieuches
prescribes it, mixed in bread[364] with meal, for the cure of coughs,
asthma, hardness of breathing, and purulent expectorations. Diodotus
recommends it, in combination with honey, as an electuary for phthisis
and diseases of the lungs, and as a topical application even for
fractured bones. Applied to the sexual parts, it facilitates delivery
in all kinds of animals; and the juice extracted from the root, in
combination with Attic honey, disperses films upon the eyes, and
diseases of the stomach. A decoction of it with honey is curative
of cough; and the juice is a marvellous remedy for ulcers of every
description, whether phagedænic, carcinomatous, or serpiginous, and for
polypus of the nostrils. The leaves, boiled in wine and oil, are good
for burns, and, taken with salt and vinegar, are strongly purgative;
boiled with honey, they are useful also for sprains, and used either
fresh or dried, with salt, for gout in the joints.

Hippocrates has prescribed the leaves, either fresh or dried, with
honey, as a topical application for abscesses. Two drachmæ of the seed
or root, in two cyathi of wine, are a sufficient dose to act as an
emmenagogue, and a similar quantity will have the effect of bringing
away the after-birth, in cases where it is retarded.[365] Hippocrates
used to apply the root also, for the purpose. They say too, that in
times of pestilence the employment of aron as an article of food
is very beneficial. It dispels the fumes of wine; and the smoke of
it burnt drives away serpents,[366] the asp in particular, or else
stupefies them to such a degree as to reduce them to a state of torpor.
These reptiles also will fly at the approach of persons whose bodies
have been rubbed with a preparation of aron with oil of laurel: hence
it is generally thought a good plan to administer it in red wine to
persons who have been stung by serpents. Cheese, it is said, keeps
remarkably well, wrapped in leaves of this plant.


The plant which I have spoken of[367] as the dracunculus, is taken
out of the ground just when the barley is ripening, and at the moon’s
increase. It is quite sufficient to have this plant about one, to be
safe from all serpents; and it is said, that an infusion of the larger
kind taken in drink, is very useful for persons who have been stung by
those reptiles: it is stated also that it arrests the catamenia when in
excess, due care being taken not to let iron touch it. The juice of it
too is very useful for pains in the ears.

As to the plant known to the Greeks by the name of “dracontion,” I
have[368] had it pointed out to me under three different forms; the
first[369] having the leaves of the beet, with a certain proportion
of stem, and a purple flower, and bearing a strong resemblance to the
aron. Other persons, again, have described it as a plant[370] with a
long root, embossed to all appearance and full of knots, and consisting
of three stems in all; the same parties have recommended a decoction of
the leaves in vinegar, as curative of stings inflicted by serpents. The
third[371] plant that has been pointed out to me has a leaf larger than
that of the cornel, and a root resembling that of the reed. This root,
I have been assured, has as many knots on it as the plant is years old,
the leaves, too, being as many in number. The plant is recommended also
for the stings of serpents, administered either in wine or in water.


There is a plant also called the “arisaros,”[372] which grows in
Egypt, and is similar to the aron in appearance, only that it is more
diminutive, and has smaller leaves; the root too is smaller, though
fully as large as a good-sized olive. The white arisaros throws out two
stems, the other kind only one. They are curative, both of them, of
running ulcers and burns, and are used as an injection for fistulas.
The leaves, boiled in water, and then beaten up with the addition of
oil of roses, arrest the growth of corrosive ulcers. But there is one
very marvellous fact connected with this plant—it is quite sufficient
to touch the sexual parts of any female animal with it to cause its
instantaneous death.


The myriophyllon,[373] by our people known as the “millefolium” has
a tender stem, somewhat similar to fennel-giant in appearance, with
vast numbers of leaves, to which circumstance it is indebted for its
name. It grows in marshy localities, and is remarkably useful for the
treatment of wounds. It is taken in vinegar for strangury, affections
of the bladder, asthma, and falls with violence; it is extremely
efficacious also for tooth-ache.

In Etruria, the same name is given to a small meadow-plant,[374]
provided with leaves at the sides, like hairs, and particularly
useful for wounds. The people of that country say that, applied with
axle-grease, it will knit together and unite the tendons of oxen, when
they have been accidentally severed by the plough-share.[375]


The pseudobunion[376] has the leaves of the turnip, and grows in a
shrub-like form, about a palm in height; the most esteemed being that
of Crete. For gripings of the bowels, strangury, and pains of the
thoracic organs, some five or six sprigs of it are administered in


The myrrhis,[377] otherwise known as the myriza or myrrha, bears a
strong resemblance to hemlock in the stem, leaves, and blossom, only
that it is smaller and more slender: it is by no means unpleasant to
the palate. Taken with wine, it acts as an emmenagogue, and facilitates
parturition: they say too that in times of pestilence it is very
wholesome, taken in drink. It is very useful also for phthisis,
administered in broth. It sharpens the appetite, and neutralizes the
venom of the phalangium. The juice of this plant, after it has been
macerated some three days in water, is curative of ulcers of the face
and head.


The onobrychis[378] has leaves like those of the lentil, only
somewhat[379] longer; the blossom is red, and the root small and
slender. It is found growing in the vicinity of springs. Dried and
reduced to powder, and sprinkled in white wine, it is curative of
strangury, and arrests looseness of the bowels. The juice of it, used
as a friction with oil, acts as a sudorific.


While I am treating of plants of a marvellous nature, I am induced
to make some mention of certain magical plants—for what, in fact,
can there be more marvellous than they? The first who descanted upon
this subject in our part of the world were Pythagoras and Democritus,
who have adopted the accounts given by the Magi. Coracesta[380] and
callicia, according to Pythagoras, are plants which congeal[381] water.
I find no mention made of them, however, by any other author, and he
himself gives no further particulars relative to them.


Pythagoras gives the name of minsas[382] too, or corinthia, to another
plant; a decoction of which, used as a fomentation, will effect an
instantaneous cure of stings inflicted by serpents, according to
him. He adds too, that if this decoction is poured upon the grass,
and a person happens to tread upon it, or if the body should chance
to be sprinkled with it, the result is fatal beyond all remedy; so
monstrously malignant are the venomous proporties of this plant, except
as neutralizing other kinds of poison.


Pythagoras makes mention, too, of a plant called aproxis, the root of
which takes fire[383] at a distance, like naphtha, of which we have
made some mention, when speaking[384] of the marvellous productions of
the earth. He says too, that if the human body happens to be attacked
by any disease while the cabbage[385] is in blossom, the person,
although he may have been perfectly cured, will be sensible of a
recurrence of the symptoms, every time that plant comes into blossom;
a peculiarity which he attributes to it in common with wheat, hemlock,
and the violet.

I am not ignorant, however, that the work of his from which I have
just quoted is ascribed to the physician Cleemporus by some, though
antiquity and the unbroken current of tradition concur in claiming it
for Pythagoras. It is quite enough, however, to say in favour of a
book, that the author has deemed the results of his labours worthy to
be published under the name of so great a man. And yet who can believe
that Cleemporus would do this, seeing that he has not hesitated to
publish other works under his own name?



As to Democritus, there can be no doubt that the work called
“Chirocmeta”[386] belongs to him. How very much more marvellous too
are the accounts given in this book by the philosopher who, next to
Pythagoras, has acquired the most intimate knowledge of the learning
of the Magi! According to him, the plant aglaophotis,[387] which owes
its name to the admiration in which its beauteous tints are held by
man, is found growing among the marble quarries of Arabia, on the side
of Persia, a circumstance which has given it the additional name of
“marmaritis.” By means of this plant, he says, the Magi can summon the
deities into their presence when they please.

The achæmenis,[388] he says, a plant the colour of amber, and destitute
of leaves, grows in the country of the Tradastili, an Indian race. The
root of it, divided into lozenges and taken in wine in the day time,
torments the guilty to such a degree during the night by the various
forms of avenging deities presented to the imagination, as to extort
from them a confession of their crimes. He gives it the name also of
“hippophobas,” it being an especial object of terror to mares.

The theobrotion[389] is a plant found at a distance of thirty
schœni[390] from the river Choaspes; it represents the varied tints
of the peacock, and the odour of it is remarkably fine. The kings of
Persia, he says, are in the habit of taking it in their food or drink,
for all maladies of the body, and derangements of the mind. It has
the additional name of semnion,[391] from the use thus made of it by

He next tells us of the adamantis,[392] a plant grown in Armenia and
Cappadocia: presented to a lion, he says, the beast will fall upon its
back, and drop its jaws. Its name originates in the fact that it is
impossible to bruise it. The arianis,[393] he says, is found in the
country of the Ariani; it is of a fiery colour, and is gathered when
the sun is in Leo. Wood rubbed with oil will take fire on coming in
contact with this plant. The therionarca,[394] he tells us, grows in
Cappadocia and Mysia; it has the effect of striking wild beasts of all
kinds with a torpor which can only be dispelled by sprinkling them
with the urine of the hyæna. He speaks too of the æthiopis,[395] a
plant which grows in Meroë; for which reason it is also known as the
“meroïs.” In leaf it resembles the lettuce, and, taken with honied
wine, it is very good for dropsy. The ophiusa,[396] which is found in
Elephantine, an island also of Æthiopia, is a plant of a livid colour,
and hideous to the sight. Taken by a person in drink, he says, it
inspires such a horror of serpents, which his imagination continually
represents as menacing him, that he commits suicide at last; hence it
is that persons guilty of sacrilege are compelled to drink an infusion
of it. Palm wine, he tells us, is the only thing that neutralizes its

The thalassægle[397] he speaks of as being found on the banks of
the river Indus, from which circumstance it is also known as the
potamaugis.[398] Taken in drink it produces a delirium,[399] which
presents to the fancy visions of a most extraordinary nature. The
theangelis,[400] he says, grows upon Mount Libanus in Syria, upon the
chain of mountains called Dicte in Crete, and at Babylon and Susa in
Persis. An infusion of it in drink, imparts powers of divination to the
Magi. The gelotophyllis[401] too, is a plant found in Bactriana, and
on the banks of the Borysthenes. Taken internally with myrrh and wine,
all sorts of visionary forms present themselves, and excite the most
immoderate laughter, which can only be put an end to by taking kernels
of the pine-nut, with pepper and honey, in palm wine.

The hestiatoris,[402] he tells us, is a Persian plant, so called from
its promotion of gaiety and good fellowship at carousals. Another
name for it is protomedia, because those who eat of it will gain the
highest place in the royal favour. The casignetes[403] too, we learn,
is so called, because it grows only among plants of its own kind,
and is never found in company with any other; another name given
to it is “dionysonymphas,”[404] from the circumstance of its being
remarkably well adapted to the nature of wine. Helianthes[405] is
the name he gives to a plant found in the regions of Themiscyra and
the mountainous parts of maritime Cilicia, with leaves like those of
myrtle. This plant is boiled up with lion’s fat, saffron and palm
wine being added; the Magi, he tells us, and Persian monarchs are in
the habit of anointing the body with the preparation, to add to its
graceful appearance: he states also, that for this reason it has the
additional name of “heliocallis.”[406] What the same author calls
“hermesias,”[407] has the singular virtue of ensuring the procreation
of issue, both beautiful as well as good. It is not a plant, however,
but a composition made of kernels of pine nuts, pounded with honey,
myrrh, saffron, and palm wine, to which theobrotium[408] and milk are
then added. He also recommends those who wish to become parents to
drink this mixture, and says, that females should take it immediately
after conception, and during pregnancy.[409] If this is done, he says,
the infant will be sure to be endowed with the highest qualities, both
in mind and body. In addition to what has here been stated, Democritus
gives the various names by which all these plants are known to the Magi.

Apollodorus, one of the followers of Democritus, has added to this
list the herb æschynomene,[410] so called from the shrinking of its
leaves at the approach of the hand; and another called “crocis,”[411]
the touch of which is fatal to the phalangium. Crateuas, also, speaks
of the œnotheris,[412] an infusion of which in wine, sprinkled upon
them, has the effect of taming all kind of animals, however wild. A
celebrated grammarian,[413] who lived but very recently, has described
the anacampseros,[414] the very touch of which recalls former love,
even though hatred should have succeeded in its place. It will be quite
sufficient for the present to have said thus much in reference to the
remarkable virtues attributed to certain plants by the Magi; as we
shall have occasion to revert to this subject in a more appropriate

CHAP. 103. (18.)—THE ERIPHIA.

Many authors have made mention of the eriphia,[416] a plant which
contains a kind of beetle in its hollow stem. This beetle is
continually ascending the interior of the stalk, and as often
descending, while it emits a sound like the cry of a kid; a
circumstance to which the plant is indebted for its name. There is
nothing in existence, they say, more beneficial to the voice.


The wool plant,[417] given to sheep fasting, greatly increases the
milk. The plant commonly called lactoris,[418] is equally well known:
it is full of a milky juice, the taste of which produces vomiting. Some
persons say that this is identical with, while others say that it only
resembles, the plant known as “militaris,”[419] from the fact that,
applied with oil, it will effect the cure, within five days, of any
wound that has been inflicted with iron.


The Greeks speak in high terms also of the stratiotes,[420] though that
is a plant which grows in Egypt only, and during the inundations of the
river Nilus. It is similar in appearance to the aizoön,[421] except
that the leaves are larger. It is of a remarkably cooling nature,
and, applied with vinegar, it heals wounds, as well as erysipelas and
suppurations. Taken in drink with male frankincense, it is marvellously
useful for discharges of blood from the kidneys.


It is asserted also, that a plant growing[422] on the head of a
statue, gathered in the lappet of any one of the garments, and then
attached with a red string to the neck, is an instantaneous cure for


Any plant that is gathered before sunrise on the banks of a stream or
river, due care being taken that no one sees it gathered, attached
to the left arm without the patient knowing what it is, will cure a
tertian fever, they say.


There is a herb called “lingua,”[423] which grows in the vicinity of
fountains. The root of it, reduced to ashes and beaten up with hog’s
lard—the hog, they say, must have been black and barren—will cure
alopecy, the head being rubbed with it in the sun.


Plants that take root in a sieve that has been thrown in a hedge-row,
if gathered and worn upon the person by a pregnant woman, will
facilitate delivery.


A plant that has been grown upon a dungheap in a field, is a very
efficacious remedy, taken in water, for quinzy.


A plant upon which a dog has watered, torn up by the roots, and not
touched with iron, is a very speedy cure for sprains.


We have already[424] made mention of the rumpotinus, when speaking
of the vine-growing[425] trees. Near the tree, when not accompanied
by the vine, there grows a plant, known to the Gauls as the
“rodarum.”[426] It has a knotted stem like the branch of a fig-tree,
and the leaves, which are very similar to those of the nettle, are
white in the middle, though in process of time they become red all
over. The blossom of it is of a silvery hue. Beaten up with stale
axle-grease, due care being taken not to touch it with iron, this
plant is extremely useful for tumours, inflammations, and gatherings;
the patient, however, on being anointed with it must spit three times
on the right side. They say too, that as a remedy it is still more
efficacious, if three persons of three different nations rub the right
side of the body with it.


The plant called “impia”[427] is white, resembling rosemary in
appearance. It is clothed with leaves like a thyrsus, and is terminated
by a head, from which a number of small branches protrude, terminated,
all of them, in a similar manner. It is this peculiar conformation
that has procured for it the name of “impia,” from the progeny thus
surmounting the parent. Some persons, however, are of opinion that
it is so called because no animal will touch it. Bruised between two
stones it yields an effervescent juice, which, in combination with wine
and milk, is remarkably efficacious for quinzy.

There is a marvellous property attributed to this plant, to the effect
that persons who have once tasted it will never be attacked by quinzy;
for which reason it is given to swine: those among them, however, which
refuse to take it will be sure to die of that disease. Some persons too
are of opinion that if slips of it are put into a bird’s nest, they
will effectually prevent the young birds from choking themselves by
eating too voraciously.


From its resemblance to a comb, they give the name of “Venus’
comb”[428] to a certain plant, the root of which, bruised with
mallows, extracts all foreign substances from the human body.


The plant called “exedum”[429] is curative of lethargy. The herbaceous
plant called “notia,” which is used by curriers for dyeing leather
a bright, cheerful colour, and known by them under various names—is
curative of cancerous ulcers; I find it also stated that, taken in wine
or in oxycrate, it is extremely efficacious for stings inflicted by


The Greeks wittily give the name of “philanthropos”[430] to a certain
plant, because it attaches itself to articles of dress.[431] A chaplet
made of this plant has the effect of relieving headache.

As to the plant known as the “lappa canaria,”[432] beaten up in
wine with plantago and millefolium,[433] it effects the cure of
carcinomatous sores, the application being removed at the end of three
days. Taken out of the ground without the aid of iron, and thrown into
their wash, or given to them in wine and milk, it cures diseases in
swine. Some persons add, however, that the person, as he takes it up,
must say—“This is the plant argemon, a remedy discovered by Minerva for
such swine as shall taste thereof.”


Tordylon is, according to some authorities, the seed of sili,[434]
while according to others it is a distinct plant,[435] known also as
“syreon.” I find no particulars relative to it, except that it grows
upon mountains, and that the ashes of it, taken in drink, act as an
emmenagogue and facilitate expectoration. It is stated also, that for
this last purpose the root is even more efficacious than the stem;
that the juice of it, taken in doses of three oboli, cures diseases of
the kidneys; and that the root is used as an ingredient for emollient


Gramen[436] is of all herbaceous productions the most common. As it
creeps along the ground it throws out jointed stems, from the joints of
which, as well as from the extremity of the stem, fresh roots are put
forth every here and there. In all other parts of the world the leaves
of it are tapering, and come to a point; but upon Mount Parnassus[437]
they resemble the leaves of the ivy, the plant throwing out a greater
number of stems than elsewhere, and bearing a blossom that is white
and odoriferous. There is no vegetable production that is more
grateful[438] to beasts of burden than this, whether in a green state
or whether dried and made into hay, in which last case it is sprinkled
with water when given to them. It is said that on Mount Parnassus a
juice is extracted from it, which is very abundant and of a sweet

In other parts of the world, instead of this juice a decoction of it is
employed for closing wounds; an effect equally produced by the plant
itself, which is beaten up for the purpose and attached to the part
affected, thereby preventing inflammation. To the decoction wine and
honey are added, and in some cases, frankincense, pepper, and myrrh,
in the proportion of one third of each ingredient; after which it
is boiled again in a copper vessel, when required for tooth-ache or
defluxions of the eyes. A decoction of the roots, in wine, is curative
of griping pains in the bowels, strangury, and ulcerations of the
bladder, and it disperses calculi. The seed is still more powerful as
a diuretic,[439] arrests looseness and vomiting, and is particularly
useful for wounds inflicted by dragons.[440] There are some authorities
which give the following prescription for the cure of scrofulous sores
and inflamed tumours:—From one, two, or three stems, as many as nine
joints must be removed, which must then be wrapped in black wool with
the grease in it. The party who gathers them must do so fasting, and
must then go, in the same state, to the patient’s house while he is
from home. When the patient comes in, the other must say to him three
times, “I come fasting to bring a remedy to a fasting man;” and must
then attach the amulet to his person, repeating the same ceremony
three consecutive days. The variety of this plant which has seven[441]
joints is considered a most excellent amulet for the cure of head-ache.
For excruciating pains in the bladder, some recommend a decoction of
gramen, boiled down in wine to one half, to be taken immediately after
the bath.


There are some authorities who mention three varieties of the pointed
gramen. That which has at the extremity five[442] points at the utmost,
is called “dactylos.” Twisting these points together, persons introduce
them into the nostrils and then withdraw them, with the view of
preventing hæmorrhage. The second kind, which, resembles aizoön,[443]
is employed with axle-grease for whitlows and hangnails, and for fleshy
excrescences upon the nails: this also is called “dactylos,” because it
is so useful as a remedy for diseases of the fingers.

The third[444] kind, which is also known as “dactylos,” is more
diminutive, and is found growing upon walls or tiles. It has certain
caustic properties, and arrests the progress of serpiginous ulcers.
By placing a wreath of gramen round the head, bleeding at the nose is
stopped. In Babylonia, it is said, the gramen[445] which grows by the
wayside is fatal to camels.


Nor is fenugreek held in less esteem. By some it is known as “telis,”
by others as “carphos,” and by others again as “buceras,” or
“ægoceras,”[446] the produce of it bearing some resemblance to horns.
Among us it is known as “silicia.” The mode of sowing it we have
already[447] described on the appropriate occasion. Its properties
are desiccative,[448] emollient, and resolvent. A decoction of it is
useful for many female maladies, indurations for instance, tumours,
and contractions of the uterus; in all which cases it is employed as a
fomentation or used for a sitting-bath: it is serviceable also as an
injection. It removes cutaneous eruptions on the face; and a decoction
of it, applied topically with nitre or vinegar, cures diseases of the
spleen or liver. In cases of difficult labour, Diodes recommends the
seed pounded, in doses of one acetabulum, mixed with boiled[449] must.
After taking one third of the mixture, the patient must use a warm
bath, and then, while in a perspiration, she must take another third,
and, immediately after leaving the bath, the remainder—this, he says,
will prove a most effectual means of obtaining relief.

The same authority recommends fenugreek boiled, with barley or
linseed, in hydromel, as a pessary for violent pains in the uterus: he
prescribes it also as an external application for the lower regions
of the abdomen. He speaks also of treating leprous sores and freckles
with a mixture composed of equal proportions of sulphur and meal of
fenugreek, recommending it to be applied repeatedly in the course of
the day, due care being taken not to rub the part affected.

For the cure of leprosy, Theodorus prescribes a mixture of fenugreek,
and one fourth part of cleaned nasturtium, the whole to be steeped
in the strongest vinegar. Damion used to give a potion by way of
emmenagogue, consisting of half an acetabulum of fenugreek seed in
nine cyathi of boiled must[450] and water. There is no doubt too, that
a decoction of it is remarkably useful for diseases of the uterus and
for ulcerations of the intestines, and that the seed is beneficial
for affections of the joints and chest. Boiled with mallows and then
taken in honied wine, fenugreek is extolled in the highest terms,
as serviceable for affections of the uterus and intestines. Indeed,
the very steam that arises from the decoction may be productive of
considerable benefit. A decoction too of fenugreek seed is a corrective
of the rank odours of the armpits. Meal of fenugreek, with wine and
nitre, speedily removes ring-worm and dandriff of the head; and a
decoction of it in hydromel, with the addition of axle-grease, is used
for the cure of diseases of the generative organs, inflamed tumours,
imposthumes of the parotid glands, gout in the feet and hands, maladies
of the joints, and denudations of the bones. Kneaded with vinegar, it
effects the cure of sprains, and, boiled in oxymel only, it is used as
a liniment for affections of the spleen. Kneaded with wine, it acts as
a detergent upon carcinomatous sores; after which, applied with honey,
it effects a perfect cure. A pottage too is made of this meal, which
is taken for ulcerations of the chest and chronic coughs; it is kept
boiling a considerable time, in order to remove the bitterness,[451]
after which honey is added.

We shall now proceed to speak of the plants which have gained a higher
degree of reputation.

SUMMARY.—Remedies, narratives, and observations, eleven hundred and

ROMAN AUTHORS QUOTED.—C. Valgius,[452] Pompeius Lenæus,[453] Sextius
Niger[454] who wrote in Greek, Julius Bassus[455] who wrote in Greek,
Antonius Castor,[456] Cornelius Celsus.[457]

FOREIGN AUTHORS QUOTED.—Theophrastus,[458] Apollodorus,[459]
Democritus,[460] Orpheus,[461] Pythagoras,[462] Mago,[463]
Menander[464] who wrote the “Biochresta,” Nicander,[465] Homer,
Hesiod,[466] Musæus,[467] Sophocles,[468] Anaxilaüs.[469]

MEDICAL AUTHORS QUOTED.—Mnesitheus,[470] Callimachus,[471] Phanias[472]
the physician, Timaristus,[473] Simus,[474] Hippocrates,[475]
Chrysippus,[476] Diocles,[477] Ophelion,[478] Heraclides,[479]
Hicesius,[480] Dionysius,[481] Apollodorus[482] of Citium,
Apollodorus[483] of Tarentum, Praxagoras,[484] Plistonicus,[485]
Medius,[486] Dieuches,[487] Cleophantus,[488] Philistion,[489]
Asclepiades,[490] Crateuas,[491] Petronius Diodotus,[492] Iollas,[493]
Erasistratus,[494] Diagoras,[495] Andreas, Mnesides,[496]
Epicharmus,[497] Damion,[498] Sosimenes,[499] Tlepolemus,[500]
Metrodorus,[501] Solon,[502] Lycus,[503] Olympias[504] of Thebes,
Philinus,[505] Petrichus,[506] Micton,[507] Glaucias,[508]




The more highly esteemed plants of which I am now about to speak, and
which are produced by the earth for medicinal purposes solely, inspire
me with admiration of the industry and laborious research displayed
by the ancients. Indeed there is nothing that they have not tested by
experiment or left untried; no discovery of theirs which they have
not disclosed, or which they have not been desirous to leave for the
benefit of posterity. We, on the contrary, at the present day, make it
our object to conceal and suppress the results of our labours, and to
defraud our fellow-men of blessings even which have been purchased by
others. For true it is, beyond all doubt, that those who have gained
any trifling accession of knowledge, keep it to themselves, and envy
the enjoyment of it by others; to leave mankind uninstructed being
looked upon as the high prerogative of learning. So far is it from
being the habit with them to enter upon new fields of discovery, with
the view of benefitting mankind at large, that for this long time past
it has been the greatest effort of the ingenuity of each, to keep to
himself the successful results of the experience of former ages, and so
bury them for ever!

And yet, by Hercules! a single invention before now has elevated men
to the rank of gods; and how many an individual has had his name
immortalized in being bestowed upon some plant which he was the first
to discover, thanks to the gratitude which prompted a succeeding age
to make some adequate return! If it had been expended solely upon the
plants which are grown to please the eye, or which invite us by their
nutrimental properties, this laborious research on the part of the
ancients would not have been so surprising; but in addition to this, we
find them climbing by devious tracts to the very summit of mountains,
penetrating to the very heart of wilds and deserts, and searching into
every vein and fibre of the earth—and all this, to discover the hidden
virtues of every root, the properties of the leaf of every plant, and
the various purposes to which they might be applied; converting thereby
those vegetable productions, which the very beasts of the field refuse
to touch, into so many instruments for our welfare.


This subject has not been treated of by the writers in our own language
so extensively as it deserves, eager as they have proved themselves to
make enquiry into everything that is either meritorious or profitable.
M. Cato, that great master in all useful knowledge, was the first,
and, for a long time, the only author who treated of this branch[510]
of learning; and briefly as he has touched upon it, he has not omitted
to make some mention of the remedial treatment of cattle. After him,
another illustrious personage, C. Valgius,[511] a man distinguished
for his erudition, commenced a treatise upon the same subject, which
he dedicated to the late Emperor Augustus, but left unfinished. At the
beginning of his preface, replete as it is with a spirit of piety,[512]
he expresses a hope that the majestic sway of that prince may ever
prove a most efficient remedy for all the evils to which mankind are


The only[513] person among us, at least so far as I have been able to
ascertain, who had treated of this subject before the time of Valgius,
was Pompeius Lenæus,[514] the freedman of Pompeius Magnus; and it was
in his day, I find, that this branch of knowledge first began to be
cultivated among us. Mithridates, the most powerful monarch of that
period, and who was finally conquered by Pompeius, is generally thought
to have been a more zealous promoter of discoveries for the benefit
of mankind, than any of his predecessors—a fact evinced not only by
many positive proofs, but by universal report as well. It was he who
first thought, the proper precautions being duly taken, of drinking
poison every day; it being his object, by becoming habituated to it, to
neutralize its dangerous effects. This prince was the first discoverer
too of the various kinds of antidotes, one[515] of which, indeed,
still retains his name; and it is generally supposed that he was the
first to employ the blood of the ducks of Pontus as an ingredient in
antidotes, from the circumstance that they derive their nutriment from

It was to Mithridates that Asclepiades,[517] that celebrated physician,
dedicated his works, still extant, and sent them, as a substitute for
his own personal attendance, when requested by that monarch to leave
Rome and reside at his court. It is a well-known fact, that this
prince was the only person that was ever able to converse in so many
as two-and-twenty languages, and that, during the whole fifty-six
years of his reign, he never required the services of an interpreter
when conversing with any individuals of the numerous nations that were
subject to his sway.

Among the other gifts of extraordinary genius with which he was
endowed, Mithridates displayed a peculiar fondness for enquiries into
the medical art; and gathering items of information from all his
subjects, extended, as they were, over a large proportion of the world,
it was his habit to make copies of their communications, and to take
notes of the results which upon experiment had been produced. These
memoranda, which he kept in his private cabinet,[518] fell into the
hands of Pompeius, when he took possession of the royal treasures; who
at once commissioned his freedman, Lenæus the grammarian, to translate
them into the Latin language: the result of which was, that his victory
was equally conducive to the benefit of the republic and of mankind at


In addition to these, there are some Greek writers who have treated of
this subject, and who have been already mentioned on the appropriate
occasions. Among them, Crateuas, Dionysius, and Metrodorus, adopted a
very attractive method of description, though one which has done little
more than prove the remarkable difficulties which attended it. It was
their plan to delineate the various plants in colours, and then to
add in writing a description of the properties which they possessed.
Pictures, however, are very apt to mislead, and more particularly
where such a number of tints is required, for the imitation of nature
with any success; in addition to which, the diversity of copyists from
the original paintings, and their comparative degrees of skill, add
very considerably to the chances of losing the necessary degree of
resemblance to the originals. And then, besides, it is not sufficient
to delineate a plant as it appears at one period only, as it presents a
different appearance at each of the four seasons of the year.[519]


Hence it is that other writers have confined themselves to a verbal
description of the plants; indeed some of them have not so much as
described them even, but have contented themselves for the most part
with a bare recital of their names, considering it sufficient if they
pointed out their virtues and properties to such as might feel inclined
to make further enquiries into the subject. Nor is this a kind of
knowledge by any means difficult to obtain; at all events, so far as
regards myself, with the exception of a very few, it has been my good
fortune to examine them all, aided by the scientific researches of
Antonius Castor,[520] who in our time enjoyed the highest reputation
for an intimate acquaintance with this branch of knowledge. I had the
opportunity of visiting his garden, in which, though he had passed his
hundredth year, he cultivated vast numbers of plants with the greatest
care. Though he had reached this great age, he had never experienced
any bodily ailment, and neither his memory nor his natural vigour had
been the least impaired by the lapse of time.

There was nothing more highly admired than an intimate knowledge of
plants, in ancient times. It is long since the means were discovered of
calculating before-hand, not only the day or the night, but the very
hour even at which an eclipse of the sun or moon is to take place; and
yet the greater part of the lower classes still remain firmly persuaded
that these phænomena are brought about by compulsion, through the
agency of herbs and enchantments, and that the knowledge of this art
is confined almost exclusively to females. What country, in fact, is
not filled with the fabulous stories about Medea of Colchis and other
sorceresses, the Italian Circe in particular, who has been elevated
to the rank of a divinity even? It is with reference to her, I am of
opinion, that Æschylus,[521] one of the most ancient of the poets,
asserts that Italy is covered with plants endowed with potent effects,
and that many writers say the same of Circeii,[522] the place of her
abode. Another great proof too that such is the case, is the fact, that
the nation of the Marsi,[523] descendants of a son of Circe, are well
known still to possess the art of taming serpents.

Homer, that great parent of the learning and traditions of antiquity,
while extolling the fame of Circe in many other respects, assigns to
Egypt the glory of having first discovered the properties of plants,
and that too at a time when the portion of that country which is now
watered by the river Nilus was not in existence, having been formed at
a more recent period by the alluvion[524] of that river. At all events,
he states[525] that numerous Egyptian plants were sent to the Helena
of his story, by the wife of the king of that country, together with
the celebrated nepenthes,[526] which ensured oblivion of all sorrows
and forgetfulness of the past, a potion which Helena was to administer
to all mortals. The first person, however, of whom the remembrance has
come down to us, as having treated with any degree of exactness on
the subject of plants, is Orpheus; and next to him Musæus and Hesiod,
of whose admiration of the plant called polium we have already made
some mention on previous occasions.[527] Orpheus and Hesiod too we
find speaking in high terms of the efficacy of fumigations. Homer also
speaks of several other plants by name, of which we shall have occasion
to make further mention in their appropriate places.

In later times again, Pythagoras, that celebrated philosopher, was the
first to write a treatise on the properties of plants, a work in which
he attributes the origin and discovery of them to Apollo, Æsculapius,
and the immortal gods in general. Democritus too, composed a similar
work. Both of these philosophers had visited the magicians of Persia,
Arabia, Æthiopia, and Egypt, and so astounded were the ancients at
their recitals, as to learn to make assertions which transcend all
belief. Xanthus, the author of some historical works, tells us, in
the first of them, that a young dragon[528] was restored to life by
its parent through the agency of a plant to which he gives the name
of “ballis,” and that one Tylon, who had been killed by a dragon, was
restored to life and health by similar means. Juba too assures us that
in Arabia a man was resuscitated by the agency of a certain plant.
Democritus has asserted—and Theophrastus believes it—that there is a
certain herb in existence, which, upon being carried thither by a bird,
the name of which we have already[529] given, has the effect, by the
contact solely, of instantaneously drawing a wedge from a tree, when
driven home by the shepherds into the wood.

These marvels, incredible as they are, excite our admiration
nevertheless, and extort from us the admission that, making all due
allowance, there is much in them that is based on truth. Hence it
is too that I find it the opinion of most writers, that there is
nothing which cannot be effected by the agency of plants, but that the
properties of by far the greater part of them remain as yet unknown. In
the number of these was Herophilus, a celebrated physician, a saying of
whose is reported, to the effect that some plants may possibly exercise
a beneficial influence, if only trodden under foot. Be this as it may,
it has been remarked more than once, that wounds and maladies are
sometimes inflamed[530] upon the sudden approach of persons who have
been journeying on foot.


Such was the state of medical knowledge in ancient times, wholly
concealed as it was in the language of the Greeks. But the main reason
why the medicinal properties of most plants remain still unknown, is
the fact that they have been tested solely by rustics and illiterate
people, such being the only class of persons that live in the midst of
them: in addition to which, so vast is the multitude of medical men
always at hand, that the public are careless of making any enquiries
about them. Indeed, many of those plants, the medicinal properties of
which have been discovered, are still destitute of names—such, for
instance, as the one which we mentioned[531] when speaking of the
cultivation of grain, and which we know for certain will have the
effect of keeping birds away from the crops, if buried at the four
corners of the field.

But the most disgraceful cause of all, why so few simples are known,
is the fact that those even who are acquainted with them are unwilling
to impart their knowledge; as though, forsooth, they should lose for
ever anything that they might think fit to communicate to others!
Added to all this, there is no well-ascertained method to guide us to
the acquisition of this kind of knowledge; for, as to the discoveries
that have been made already, they have been due, some of them, to mere
accident, and others again, to say the truth, to the interposition of
the Deity.

Down to our own times, the bite of the mad dog, the symptoms of which
are a dread of water and an aversion to every kind of beverage,
was incurable;[532] and it was only recently that the mother of a
soldier who was serving in the prætorian guard, received a warning
in a dream, to send her son the root of the wild rose, known as the
cynorrhodos,[533] a plant the beauty of which had attracted her
attention in a shrubbery the day before, and to request him to drink
the extract of it. The army was then serving in Lacetania, the part of
Spain which lies nearest to Italy; and it so happened that the soldier,
having been bitten by a dog, was just beginning to manifest a horror
of water when his mother’s letter reached him, in which she entreated
him to obey the words of this divine warning. He accordingly complied
with her request, and, against all hope or expectation, his life was
saved; a result[534] which has been experienced by all who have since
availed themselves of the same resource. Before this, the cynorrhodos
had been only recommended by writers for one medicinal purpose; the
spongy excrescences, they say, which grow[535] in the midst of its
thorns, reduced to ashes and mixed with honey, will make the hair grow
again when it has been lost by alopecy. I know too, for a fact, that
in the same province there was lately discovered in the land belonging
to a person with whom I was staying, a stalked plant, the name given
to which was dracunculus.[536] This plant, about an inch in thickness,
and spotted with various colours, like a viper’s skin, was generally
reported to be an effectual preservative against the sting of all kinds
of serpents. I should remark, however, that it is a different plant
from the one of the same name of which mention has been made in the
preceding Book,[537] having altogether another shape and appearance.
There is also another marvellous property belonging to it: in spring,
when the serpents begin to cast their slough, it shoots up from the
ground to the height of about a couple of feet, and again, when they
retire for the winter it conceals itself within the earth, nor is there
a serpent to be seen so long as it remains out of sight. Even if this
plant did nothing else but warn us of impending danger, and tell us
when to be on our guard, it could not be looked upon otherwise than as
a beneficent provision made by Nature in our behalves.

(3.) It is not, however, the animals only that are endowed with certain
baneful and noxious properties, but, sometimes, waters[538] even,
and localities as well. Upon one occasion, in his German campaign,
Germanicus Cæsar had pitched his camp beyond the river Rhenus; the
only fresh water to be obtained being that of a single spring in the
vicinity of the sea-shore. It was found, however, that within two
years the habitual use of this water was productive of loss of the
teeth and a total relaxation of the joints of the knees: the names
given to these maladies, by medical men, were “stomacace”[539] and
“sceloturbe.” A remedy for them was discovered, however, in the plant
known as the “britannica,”[540] which is good, not only for diseases of
the sinews and mouth, but for quinzy[541] also, and injuries inflicted
by serpents. This plant has dark oblong leaves and a swarthy root: the
name given to the flower of it is “vibones,”[542] and if it is gathered
and eaten before thunder has been heard, it will ensure safety in
every respect. The Frisii, a nation then on terms of friendship with
us, and within whose territories the Roman army was encamped, pointed
out this plant to our soldiers: the name[543] given to it, however,
rather surprises me, though possibly it may have been so called because
the shores of Britannia are in the vicinity, and only separated by the
ocean. At all events, it was not called by this name from the fact of
its growing there in any great abundance, that is quite certain, for at
the time I am speaking of, Britannia was still independent.[544]


In former times there was a sort of ambition, as it were, of adopting
plants, by bestowing upon them one’s name, a thing that has been done
before now by kings even, as we shall have occasion to show:[545] so
desirable a thing did it appear to have made the discovery of some
plant, and thus far to have contributed to the benefit of mankind. At
the present day, however, it is far from impossible that there may be
some who will look upon these researches of ours as frivolous even, so
distasteful to a life of ease and luxury are the very things which so
greatly conduce to our welfare.

Still, however, it will be only right to mention in the first place
those plants the discoverers of which are known, their various
properties being classified[546] according to the several maladies
for the treatment of which they are respectively employed: in taking
a review of which one cannot do otherwise than bewail the unhappy lot
of mankind, subject as it is, in addition to chances and changes,
and those new afflictions which every hour is bringing with it, to
thousands of diseases which menace the existence of each mortal being.
It would seem almost an act of folly to attempt to determine which of
these diseases is attended with the most excruciating pain, seeing
that every one is of opinion that the malady with which for the moment
he himself is afflicted, is the most excruciating and insupportable.
The general experience, however, of the present age has come to the
conclusion, that the most agonizing torments are those attendant upon
strangury, resulting from calculi in the bladder; next to them, those
arising from maladies of the stomach; and in the third place, those
caused by pains and affections of the head; for it is more generally
in these cases, we find, and not in others, that patients are tempted
to commit suicide.

For my own part, I am surprised that the Greek authors have gone so
far as to give a description of noxious plants even; in using which
term, I wish it to be understood that I do not mean the poisonous
plants merely; for such is our tenure of life that death is often a
port of refuge to even the best of men. We meet too, with one case of a
somewhat similar nature, where M. Varro speaks of Servius Clodius,[547]
a member of the Equestrian order, being so dreadfully tormented with
gout, that he had his legs rubbed all over with poisons, the result
of which was, that from that time forward all sensation, equally with
all pain, was deadened in those parts of his body. But what excuse,
I say, can there be for making the world acquainted with plants, the
only result of the use of which is to derange the intellect, to produce
abortion, and to cause numerous other effects equally pernicious? So
far as I am concerned, I shall describe neither abortives nor philtres,
bearing in mind, as I do, that Lucullus, that most celebrated general,
died of the effects of a philtre.[548] Nor shall I speak of other
ill-omened devices of magic, unless it be to give warning against them,
or to expose them, for I most emphatically condemn all faith and belief
in them. It will suffice for me, and I shall have abundantly done my
duty, if I point out those plants which were made for the benefit of
mankind, and the properties of which have been discovered in the lapse
of time.


According to Homer,[549] the most celebrated of all plants is that,
which, according to him, is known as moly[550] among the gods. The
discovery of it he attributes to Mercury, who was also the first
to point out its uses as neutralizing the most potent spells of
sorcery. At the present day, it is said, it grows in the vicinity of
Lake Pheneus, and in Cyllene; a district of Arcadia. It answers the
description given of it by Homer, having a round black root, about
as large as an onion, and a leaf like that of the squill: there is
no[551] difficulty experienced in taking it up. The Greek writers have
delineated[552] it as having a yellow flower, while Homer,[553] on the
other hand, has spoken of it as white. I once met with a physician, a
person extremely well acquainted with plants, who assured me that it
is found growing in Italy as well, and that he would send me in a few
days a specimen which had been dug up in Campania, with the greatest
difficulty, from a rocky soil. The root of it was thirty[554] feet in
length, and even then it was not entire, having been broken in the
getting up.


The plant next in esteem to moly, is that called dodecatheos,[555] it
being looked upon as under the especial tutelage of all the superior
gods.[556] Taken in water, it is a cure, they say, for maladies of
every kind. The leaves of it, seven in number, and very similar to
those of the lettuce, spring from a yellow root.


The plant known as “pæonia”[557] is the most ancient of them
all. It still retains the name[558] of him who was the first to
discover it, being known also as the “pentorobus”[559] by some, and
the “glycyside”[560] by others; indeed, this is one of the great
difficulties attendant on forming an accurate knowledge of plants, that
the same object has different names in different districts. It grows in
umbrageous mountain localities, and puts forth a stem amid the leaves,
some four fingers in height, at the summit of which are four or five
heads resembling Greek nuts[561] in appearance; enclosed in which,
there is a considerable quantity of seed of a red or black colour. This
plant is a preservative against the illusions[562] practised by the
Fauni in sleep. It is generally recommended to take it up at night; for
if the wood-pecker[563] of Mars should perceive a person doing so, it
will immediately attack his eyes in defence of the plant.


The panaces, by its very name,[564] gives assurance of a remedy for
all diseases: there are numerous kinds of it, and the discovery of
its properties has been attributed to the gods. One of these kinds is
known by the additional name of “asclepion,”[565] in commemoration
of the circumstance that Æsculapius gave the name of Panacia[566]
to his daughter. The juice of it, as we have had occasion to remark
already,[567] coagulates like that of fennel-giant; the root is covered
with a thick rind of a salt flavour.

After this plant has been taken up, it is a point religiously observed
to fill the hole with various kinds of grain, a sort of expiation,
as it were, to the earth. We have already[568] stated, when speaking
of the exotic productions, where and in what manner this juice is
prepared, and what kind is the most esteemed. That which is imported
from Macedonia is known as “bucolicon,” from the fact that the
neatherds there are in the habit of collecting it as it spontaneously
exudes: it evaporates, however, with the greatest rapidity. As to the
other kinds, that more particularly is held in disesteem which is black
and soft, such being a proof, in fact, that it has been adulterated
with wax.


A second kind of panaces is known by the name of “heracleon,”[569]
from the fact that it was first discovered by Hercules. Some persons,
however, call it “Heracleotic origanum,” or wild origanum, from its
strong resemblance to the origanum of which we have already[570]
spoken: the root of it is good for nothing.


A third kind of panaces is surnamed “chironion,” from him[571] who
first discovered it. The leaf is similar to that of lapathum, except
that it is larger and more hairy; the flower is of a golden colour,
and the root diminutive. It grows in rich, unctuous soils. The flower
of this plant is extremely efficacious; hence it is that it is more
generally used than the kinds previously mentioned.


A fourth kind of panaces, discovered also by Chiron, is known by the
additional name of “centaurion:”[572] it is also called “pharnacion,”
from King Pharnaces, it being a matter in dispute whether it was really
discovered by Chiron or by that prince. It is grown from seed,[573] and
the leaves of it are longer than those of the other kinds, and serrated
at the edge. The root, which is odoriferous, is dried in the shade, and
is used for imparting an aroma to wine. Some writers distinguish two
varieties of this plant—the one with a smooth leaf, the other of a more
delicate form.


The heracleon siderion[574] is also another discovery of Hercules. The
stem is thin, about four fingers in length, the flower red, and the
leaves like those of coriander. It is found growing in the vicinity
of lakes and rivers, and is extremely efficacious for the cure of all
wounds made by iron.[575]


The ampelos Chironia[576] also, which we have already[577] mentioned
when speaking of the vines, is a discovery due to Chiron. We have
spoken too, on a previous occasion,[578] of a plant, the discovery of
which is attributed to Minerva.


To Hercules also is attributed the discovery of the plant known as
the “apollinaris,” and, among the Arabians, as the “altercum” or
“altercangenum:” by the Greeks it is called “hyoscyamos.”[579] There
are several varieties of it; one of them,[580] with a black seed,
flowers bordering on purple, and a prickly stem, growing in Galatia.
The common kind[581] again, is whiter, more shrublike, and taller than
the poppy. The seed of a third variety is similar to that of irio[582]
in appearance; but they have, all of them, the effect of producing
vertigo and insanity. A fourth[583] kind again is soft, lanuginous, and
more unctuous than the others; the seed of it is white, and it grows in
maritime localities. It is this kind that medical men employ, as also
that with a red seed.[584] Sometimes, however, the white seed turns
of a reddish colour, if not sufficiently ripe when gathered; in which
case it is rejected as unfit for use: indeed, none of these plants are
gathered until they are perfectly dry. Hyoscyamos, like wine, has the
property of flying to the head, and consequently of acting injuriously
upon the mental faculties.

The seed is either used in its natural state, or else the juice of
it is extracted: the juice also of the stem and leaves is sometimes
extracted, separately from the seed. The root is sometimes made use of;
but the employment of this plant in any way for medical purposes is,
in my opinion, highly dangerous. For it is a fact well ascertained,
that the leaves even will exercise a deleterious effect upon the mind,
if more than four are taken at a time; though the ancients were of
opinion that the leaves act as a febrifuge, taken in wine. From the
seed, as already[585] stated, an oil is extracted, which, injected into
the ears, deranges the intellect. It is a singular thing, but we find
remedies mentioned for those who have taken this juice, as though for a
poison, while at the same time we find it prescribed as a potion among
the various remedies. In this way it is that experiments are multiplied
without end, even to forcing the very poisons themselves to act as


Linozostis[586] or parthenion is a discovery attributed to Mercury:
hence it is that among the Greeks it is known as “hermupoa”[587] by
many, while among us it is universally known as “mercurialis.” There
are two varieties of this plant, the male and the female, the last
possessing more decided properties than the other, and having a stem
a cubit in height, and sometimes branchy at the summit, with leaves
somewhat narrower than those of ocimum. The joints of the stem lie
close together, and the axils are numerous: the seed hangs downwards,
having the joints for its basis. In the female plant the seed is
very abundant, but in the male[588] it is less so, lies closer to the
joints, and is short and wreathed. In the female plant the seed hangs
more loosely, and is of a white colour. The leaves of the male plant
are swarthy, while those of the female are whiter: the root, which is
made no use of, is very diminutive.

Both of these plants grow in cultivated champaign localities. A
marvellous property is mentioned as belonging to them: the male plant,
they say,[589] ensures the conception of male children, the female
plant of females; a result which is ensured by drinking the juice in
raisin wine, the moment after conception, or by eating the leaves,
boiled with oil and salt, or raw with vinegar. Some persons, again,
boil the plant in a new earthen vessel with heliotropium and two or
three ears of corn, till it is thoroughly done; and say that the
decoction should be taken in drink by the female, and the plant eaten
for three days successively, the regimen being commenced the second day
of menstruation. This done, on the fourth day she must take a bath,
immediately after which the sexual congress must take place.

Hippocrates[590] has lavished marvellous encomiums upon these plants
for the maladies of females, while at the present day no physician
recognizes their utility for such purpose. It was his practice to
employ them for affections of the uterus, in the form of a pessary, in
combination with honey, rose-oil, oil of iris, or oil of lilies. He
employed them also as an emmenagogue, and for the purpose of bringing
away the after-birth; effects which are equally produced, according
to him, by taking them in drink, or using them in the form of a
fomentation. It was his practice also, to inject the juice of these
plants in cases of fetid odours of the ears, and then to wash the ear
with old wine. The leaves also were used by him as a cataplasm for
the abdomen, defluxions of the eyes, strangury, and affections of the
bladder; a decoction too, of the plants is prescribed by him, with
frankincense and myrrh.

For the purpose of relaxing[591] the bowels, or in cases of fever, a
handful of this plant is boiled down to one half, in two sextarii of
water, the decoction being taken with salt and honey: if a pig’s foot
or a cock is boiled with it, it will be all the more beneficial. Some
persons have been of opinion, that as a purgative the two kinds of
mercurialis ought to be used together, or else that a decoction should
be made of the plant in combination with mallows. These plants act as
a detergent upon the chest, and carry off the bilious secretions, but
they are apt to be injurious to the stomach. We shall have to speak
further of their properties on the appropriate occasions.[592]


Achilles too, the pupil of Chiron, discovered a plant which heals
wounds, and which, as being his discovery, is known as the “achilleos.”
It was by the aid of this plant, they say, that he cured Telephus.
Other authorities, however, assert that he was the first[593] to
discover that verdigris[594] is an extremely useful ingredient in
plasters; and hence it is that he is sometimes represented in pictures
as scraping with his sword the rust from off a spear[595] into the
wound of Telephus. Some again, are of opinion that he made use of both

By some persons this plant is called “panaces heracleon,” by others,
“sideritis,”[596] and by the people of our country, “millefolium:”[597]
the stalk of it, they say, is a cubit in length, branchy, and covered
from the bottom with leaves somewhat smaller than those of fennel.
Other authorities, however, while admitting that this last plant is
good for wounds, affirm that the genuine achilleos has a bluish stem
a foot in length, destitute of branches, and elegantly clothed all
over with isolated leaves of a round form. Others again, maintain that
it has a squared stem, that the heads of it are small and like those
of horehound,[598] and that the leaves are similar to those of the
quercus—they say too, that this last has the property of uniting the
sinews when cut asunder. Another statement is, that the sideritis[599]
is a plant that grows on garden walls, and that it emits, when bruised,
a fetid smell; that there is also another plant, very similar to it,
but with a whiter and more unctuous leaf, a more delicate stem, and
mostly found growing in vineyards.

They speak also of another[600] sideritis, with a stem two cubits in
length, and diminutive branches of a triangular shape: the leaf, they
say, resembles that of fern, and has a long footstalk, the seed being
similar to that of beet. All these plants, it is said, are remarkably
good for the treatment of wounds. The one with the largest leaf is
known among us by the name of “scopæ regiæ,”[601] and is used for the
cure of quinzy in swine.


At the same period also, Teucer discovered the teucrion, a plant known
to some as the “hemionion.”[602] It throws out thin rush-like stems,
with diminutive leaves, and grows in rugged, uncultivated spots: the
taste of it is rough, and it never blossoms or produces seed. It is
used for the cure of affections of the spleen,[603] and it is generally
understood that its properties were discovered in the following
manner:—The entrails of a victim having been placed upon this plant, it
attached itself to the milt, and entirely consumed it;[604] a property
to which it is indebted for the name of “splenion,” given to it by
some. It is said too, that swine which have fed upon the root of this
plant are found to have no milt.

Some authors give this name also to a ligneous plant,[605] with
branches like those of hyssop, and a leaf resembling that of the bean;
they say too, that it should be gathered while in blossom, from which
we may conclude that they entertain no doubt that it does blossom.
That which grows on the mountains of Cilicia and Pisidia is more
particularly praised by them.


The repute of Melampus, as being highly skilled in the arts of
divination, is universally known. This personage has given a name to
one species of hellebore, known as the “melampodion.” Some persons,
however, attribute the discovery of this plant to a shepherd of that
name, who remarked that his she-goats were violently purged after
browsing upon it, and afterwards cured the daughters of Prœtus of
madness, by giving them the milk of these goats. It will be the best
plan, therefore, to take this opportunity of treating of the several
varieties of hellebore. The two principal kinds are the white[606] and
the black;[607] though, according to most authorities, this difference
exists in the root only. There are some authors, however, who assure
us that the leaves of the black hellebore are similar to those of the
plane-tree, only darker, more diminutive, and more jagged at the edges:
and who say, that the white hellebore has leaves like those of beet
when first shooting, though at the same time of a more swarthy colour,
with reddish veins on the under side. The stem, in both kinds, is
ferulaceous, a palm[608] in height, and covered with coats like those
of the bulbs, the root, too, being fibrous like that of the onion.[609]

The black hellebore kills horses, oxen, and swine; hence it is that
those animals avoid it, while they eat the white[610] kind. The proper
time, they say, for gathering this last, is harvest. It grows upon
Mount Œta in great abundance; and the best of all is that found upon
one spot on that mountain, in the vicinity of Pyra. The black hellebore
is found growing everywhere, but the best is that of Mount Helicon;
which is also equally celebrated for the qualities of its other plants.
The white hellebore of Mount Œta is the most highly esteemed, that of
Pontus occupying the second place, and the produce of Elea the third;
which last, it is generally said, grows in the vineyards there. The
fourth rank is held by the white hellebore of Mount Parnassus, though
it is often, adulterated with that of the neighbouring districts of

Of these kinds it is the black hellebore that is known as the
“melampodium:” it is used in fumigations, and for the purpose of
purifying houses; cattle, too, are sprinkled with it, a certain form
of prayer being repeated. This last plant, too, is gathered with more
numerous ceremonies than the other: a circle is first traced around it
with a sword, after which, the person about to cut it turns towards
the East, and offers up a prayer, entreating permission of the gods to
do so. At the same time he observes whether an eagle is in sight—for
mostly while the plant is being gathered that bird is near at hand—and
if one should chance to fly close at hand, it is looked upon as a
presage that he will die within the year. The white hellebore, too, is
gathered not without difficulty, as it is very oppressive to the head;
more particularly if the precaution has not been used of eating garlic
first, and of drinking wine every now and then, care being taken to dig
up the plant as speedily as possible.

Some persons call the black hellebore “ectomon,”[611] and others
“polyrrhizon:” it purges[612] by stool, while the white hellebore
acts as an emetic, and so carries off what might otherwise have given
rise to disease. In former days hellebore was regarded with horror,
but more recently the use[613] of it has become so familiar, that
numbers of studious men are in the habit of taking it for the purpose
of sharpening the intellectual powers required by their literary
investigations. Carneades, for instance, made use of hellebore when
about to answer the treatises of Zeno; Drusus[614] too, among us, the
most famous of all the tribunes of the people, and whom in particular
the public, rising from their seats, greeted with loud applause—to whom
also the patricians imputed the Marsic war—is well known to have been
cured of epilepsy in the island of Anticyra;[615] a place at which it
is taken with more safety than elsewhere, from the fact of sesamoïdes
being combined with it, as already[616] stated. In Italy the name given
to it is “veratrum.”

These kinds of hellebore, reduced to powder and taken alone, or else in
combination with radicula, a plant used, as already mentioned,[617] for
washing wool, act as a sternutatory, and are both of them productive
of narcotic effects. The thinnest and shortest roots are selected, and
among them the lower parts in particular, which have all the appearance
of having been cut short;[618] for, as to the upper part, which is the
thickest, and bears a resemblance to an onion, it is given to dogs
only, as a purgative. The ancients used to select those roots the rind
of which was the most fleshy, from an idea that the pith extracted
therefrom was of a more refined[619] nature. This substance they
covered with wet sponges, and, when it began to swell, used to split it
longitudinally with a needle; which done, the filaments were dried in
the shade, for future use. At the present day, however, the fibres[620]
of the root with the thickest rind are selected, and given to the
patient just as they are. The best hellebore is that which has an
acrid, burning taste, and when broken, emits a sort of dust. It retains
its efficacy, they say, so long as thirty years.


Black hellebore is administered for the cure of paralysis, insanity,
dropsy—provided there is no fever—chronic gout, and diseases of the
joints: it has the effect too, of carrying off the bilious secretions
and morbid humours by stool. It is given also in water as a gentle
aperient, the proportion being one drachma at the very utmost, and four
oboli for a moderate dose. Some authorities have recommended mixing
scammony with it, but salt is looked upon as more safe. If given in
any considerable quantity in combination with a sweet substance, it
is highly dangerous: used in the form of a fomentation, it disperses
films upon the eyes; and hence it is that some medical men have pounded
it and used it for an eye-salve. It ripens and acts detergently upon
scrofulous sores, suppurations, and indurated tumours, as also upon
fistulas, but in this latter case it must be removed at the end of a
couple of days. In combination with copper filings[621] and sandarach,
it removes warts; and it is applied to the abdominal regions, with
barley-meal and wine, in cases of dropsy.

This plant is employed for the cure of pituitous defluxions in cattle
and beasts of burden, a slip of it being passed[622] through the ear,
and removed at the same hour on the following day. With frankincense
also, wax, and pitch, or else pisselæon,[623] it is used for the cure
of itch in quadrupeds.


The best white hellebore is that which acts most speedily as a
sternutatory; but it would seem to be a much more formidable[624]
plant than the black kind; more particularly if we read in the ancient
authors the precautions used by those about to take it, against cold
shiverings, suffocation, unnatural drowsiness, continuous hiccup or
sneezing, derangements of the stomach, and vomitings, either retarded
or prolonged, too sparing or in excess. Indeed, it was generally the
practice to administer other substances to promote vomiting, and to
carry off the hellebore by the aid of purgatives or clysters, while
bleeding even was frequently had recourse to. In addition to all this,
however successful the results may prove, the symptoms by which it is
attended are really most alarming, by reason of the various colours
which the matter vomited presents: besides which, after the vomiting
has subsided, the physician has to pay the greatest attention to
the nature of the alvine evacuations, the due and proper use of the
bath, and the general regimen adopted by the patient; all of them
inconveniences in themselves, and preceded by the terrors naturally
inspired by the character of the drug; for one story is, that it has
the property of consuming flesh, if boiled with it.

The great error,[625] however, on the part of the ancients was, that
in consequence of these fears, they used to give it too sparingly,
the fact being, that the larger the dose, the more speedily it passes
through the body. Themison used to give no more than two drachmæ,
but at a later period as much as four drachmæ was administered;
in conformity with the celebrated eulogium passed upon it by
Herophilus,[626] who was in the habit of comparing hellebore to a
valiant general, and saying, that after it has set in motion all
within, it is the first to sally forth and show the way. In addition
to these particulars, there has been a singular discovery made: the
hellebore which, as we have already stated, has been cut with a small
pair of scissors,[627] is passed through a sieve, upon which the pith
makes its way through, while the outer coat remains behind. The latter
acts as a purgative, while the former is used for the purpose of
arresting vomiting when that evacuation is in excess.


In order to secure a beneficial result, due precautions must be taken
not to administer hellebore in cloudy weather; for if given at such a
time, it is sure to be productive of excruciating agonies. Indeed there
is no doubt that summer is a better time for giving it than winter: the
body too, by an abstinence from wine, must be prepared for it seven
days previously, emetics being taken on the fourth and third days
before, and the patient going without his evening meal the previous
day. White hellebore, too, is administered in a sweet[628] medium,
though lentils or pottage are found to be the best for the purpose.
There has been a plan also, lately discovered, of splitting a radish,
and inserting the hellebore in it, after which the sections are pressed
together; the object being that the strength of the hellebore may be
incorporated with the radish, and modified thereby.

At the end of about four hours it generally begins to be brought
up again; and within seven it has operated to the full extent.
Administered in this manner, it is good for epilepsy, as already[629]
stated, vertigo, melancholy, insanity, delirium, white elephantiasis,
leprosy, tetanus, palsy, gout, dropsy, incipient tympanitis, stomachic
affections, cynic spasms,[630] sciatica, quartan fevers which defy all
other treatment, chronic coughs, flatulency, and recurrent gripings in
the bowels.


It is universally recommended not to give hellebore to aged people or
children, to persons of a soft and effeminate habit of body or mind,
or of a delicate or tender constitution. It is given less frequently
too to females than to males; and persons of a timorous disposition are
recommended not to take it: the same also, in cases where the viscera
are ulcerated or tumefied, and more particularly when the patient is
afflicted with spitting of blood, or with maladies of the side or
fauces. Hellebore is applied, too, externally, with salted axle-grease,
to morbid eruptions of the body and suppurations of long standing:
mixed with polenta, it destroys rats and mice. The people of Gaul, when
hunting, tip their arrows with hellebore, taking care to cut away the
parts about the wound in the animal so slain: the flesh, they say, is
all the more tender for it. Flies are destroyed with white hellebore,
bruised and sprinkled about a place with milk: phthiriasis is also
cured by the use of this mixture.


Crateuas ascribes the discovery of one plant to Mithridates himself,
the name of which is “mithridatia.”[631] Near the root it has two
leaves resembling those of the acanthus, between which it puts forth a
stem supporting a flower at the extremity, like a rose.


Lenæus attributes to Mithridates the discovery of another plant, the
scordotis[632] or scordion, which has been described, he tells us,
by the hand even of that prince. This plant, he says, is a cubit in
height, and has a square stem, branchy, covered with downy leaves,
and resembling the quercus[633] in appearance: it is found growing in
Pontus, in rich, humid soils, and has a bitter taste.

There is another[634] variety also of this plant, with a larger leaf,
and resembling wild mint in appearance. They are both of them used for
numerous purposes, both individually and in combination with other
ingredients, as antidotes.


The polemonia[635] is known as the “philetæria” by some, in consequence
of the contest which has arisen between certain kings for the honour
of its discovery. The people of Cappadocia also give it the name of
“chiliodynamus.”[636] The root of it is substantial, and it has slender
branches, with umbels hanging from the extremities, and a black seed.
In other respects, it bears a resemblance to rue, and is found growing
in mountainous localities.


The eupatoria[637] also is a plant under royal patronage. The stem of
it is ligneous, hairy, and swarthy, and a cubit or more in length. The
leaves, arranged at regular intervals, resemble those of cinquefoil or
hemp; they have five indentations at the edge, and are swarthy like the
stem, and downy. The root is never used. The seed, taken in wine, is a
sovereign remedy for dysentery.


Centaury,[638] it is said, effected a cure for Chiron, on the occasion
when, while handling the arms of Hercules, his guest, he let one of
the arrows fall upon his foot: hence it is that by some it is called
“chironion.” The leaves of it are large and oblong, serrated at the
edge, and growing in thick tufts from the root upwards. The stems, some
three cubits in height and jointed, bear heads resembling those of the
poppy. The root is large and spreading, of a reddish colour, tender
and brittle, a couple of cubits in length, and full of a bitter juice,
somewhat inclining to sweet.

This plant grows in rich soils upon declivities; the best in quality
being that of Arcadia, Elis, Messenia, Mount Pholoë, and Mount Lycæus:
it grows also upon the Alps, and in numerous other localities, and
in Lycia they prepare a lycium[639] from it. So remarkable are its
properties for closing wounds, that pieces of meat even, it is said,
are soldered together, when boiled with it. The root is the only part
in use, being administered in doses of two drachmæ in the several cases
hereafter[640] mentioned. If, however, the patient is suffering from
fever, it should be bruised and taken in water, wine being used in
other cases. A decoction of the root is equally useful for all the same


There is another centaury also, with diminutive leaves, known by
the additional name of “lepton.”[641] By some persons it is called
“libadion,”[642] from the circumstance that it grows upon the borders
of fountains. It is similar to origanum in appearance, except that the
leaves are narrower and longer. The stem is angular, branchy, and a
palm in height; the flower is like that of the lychnis,[643] and the
root is thin, and never used. It is in the juice that its medicinal
properties are centred: it being gathered in the autumn, and the juice
extracted from the leaves. Some persons cut up the stalks, and steep
them for some eighteen days in water, and then extract the juice.

In Italy this kind of centaury is known as “gall[644] of the
earth,” from its extreme bitterness. The Gauls give it the name of
“exacum;”[645] from the circumstance that, taken in drink, it purges
off all noxious substances by alvine evacuation.


There is a third kind of centaury also, known as the “centauris
triorchis.”[646] It is but rarely that a person cuts it without
wounding himself. The juice emitted is just the colour of blood.[647]
Theophrastus relates that this plant is under the protection of
the triorchis, a kind of hawk, which attacks those who gather it; a
circumstance to which it owes its name. Ignorant[648] persons are in
the habit of confounding all these characteristics, and attributing
them to the centaury first named.


Clymenus is a plant so called, after a certain king.[649] It has leaves
like those of ivy, numerous branches, and a hollow, jointed stem. The
smell of it is powerful, and the seed like that of ivy: it grows in
wild and mountainous localities. We shall have to state hereafter, of
what maladies it is curative, taken in drink, but it is as well to take
the present opportunity of remarking that, while effecting a cure, in
the male sex it neutralizes the generative powers.

The Greeks speak[650] of this plant as being similar to the plantago in
appearance, with a square stem, and a seed in capsules, interlaced like
the arms of the polypus. The juice of this plant, too, is used, being
possessed of refreshing properties in a very high degree.


Gentian[651] was first discovered by Gentius, king of Illyria. It
is a plant to be found everywhere,[652] but that of Illyria is the
finest. It has a leaf like that of the ash,[653] but equal in size to
a lettuce-leaf: the stem is tender, about the thickness of the thumb,
hollow and empty, and covered with leaves at regular intervals. This
stem is sometimes three cubits in length, and the root is flexible,
swarthy,[654] and inodorous. It is found in the greatest abundance in
humid localities at the foot of the Alps. The root and juice are the
parts of it that are used: the root is possessed of certain warming
properties, but it should never be taken by women in a state of


King Lysimachus[655] first discovered the plant which from him has
received the name of lysimachia, and the merits of which have been
so highly extolled by Erasistratus. This plant has green leaves
resembling those of the willow, and a purple[656] blossom: it has all
the appearance of a shrub, the branches are erect, and it has a pungent
smell. It is found growing in watery soils. The properties of it are so
extremely powerful, that if placed upon the yoke when beasts of burden
are restive, it will be sure to overcome all stubbornness on their


Women too have even affected an ambition to give their name to plants:
thus, for instance, Artemisia, the wife of King Mausolus, adopted the
plant, which before was known by the name of “parthenis.” There are
some persons, however, who are of opinion that it received this surname
from the goddess Artemis Ilithyia,[658] from the fact of its being used
for the cure of female complaints more particularly. It is a plant with
numerous branches, like those of wormwood, but the leaves of it are
larger and substantial.

There are two varieties of it; one has broader[659] leaves than the
other,[660] which last is of a slender form, with a more diminutive
leaf, and grows nowhere but in maritime districts.

Some persons again, give this name to a plant[661] which grows more
inland, with a single stem, extremely diminutive leaves, and numerous
blossoms which open at the ripening of the grape, and the odour of
which is far from unpleasant. In addition to this name, this last plant
is known as “botrys” to some persons, and “ambrosia” to others:[662] it
grows in Cappadocia.


The plant called “nymphæa,” owes its name, they say, to a Nymph who
died of jealousy conceived on account of Hercules, for which reason it
is also known as “heracleon” by some. By other persons, again, it is
called “rhopalon,” from the resemblance of its root to a club.[663] *
* * * and hence it is that those who take it in drink become impotent
for some twelve days, and incapacitated for procreation. That of the
first quality is found in Orchomenia and at Marathon: the people of
Bœotia call it “madon,” and use the seed for food. It grows in spots
covered with water; the leaves[664] of it are large, and float upon
the surface, while others are to be seen springing from the roots
below. The flower is very similar to a lily in appearance, and after
the plant has shed its blossom, the place of the flower is occupied by
a head like that of the poppy. The stem is slender, and the plant is
usually cut in autumn. The root, of a swarthy hue, is dried in the sun;
garlic[665] manifests a peculiar antipathy to it.

There is another[666] nymphæa also, which grows in the river Peneus, in
Thessaly: the root of it is white, and the head yellow, about the size
of a rose.


In the time, too, of our fathers, King Juba discovered[667] a plant,
to which he gave the name of “euphorbia,” in honour of his physician,
Euphorbus, the brother of the same Musa, whom we have mentioned[668]
as having saved the life of the late Emperor Augustus. It was these
brothers who introduced the practice of douching the body with large
quantities of cold water, immediately after the bath, for the purpose
of bracing the system: whereas in former times, as we find stated in
the works of Homer[669] even, it was the practice to wash the body with
warm water only. With reference to euphorbia,[670] there is a treatise
still in existence, written upon it by King Juba, in which he highly
extols its merits; he discovered it growing upon Mount Atlas, and
describes it as resembling a thyrsus in appearance, and bearing leaves
like those of the acanthus.[671]

The properties of this plant are so remarkably powerful,[672] that the
persons engaged in collecting the juices of it are obliged to stand
at a considerable distance. The incisions are made with a long pole
shod with iron, the juice flowing into receivers of kid-leather placed
beneath. The juice has all the appearance of milk, as it exudes, but
when it has coagulated and dried, it assumes the form and consistency
of frankincense. The persons engaged in collecting it, find their
sight improved[673] thereby. This juice is an excellent remedy for the
stings of serpents: in whatever part of the body the wound may have
been inflicted, the practice is to make an incision in the crown of
the head, and there introduce the medicament. The Gætuli who collect
it, are in the habit of adulterating it with warm milk;[674] a fraud,
however, easily to be detected by the agency of fire, that which is not
genuine emitting a most disgusting smell.

Much inferior to this is the juice extracted, in Gaul,[675] from the
chamelæa,[676] a plant which bears the grain of Cnidos. When broken
asunder, it resembles hammoniacum[677] in appearance; and however
slightly tasted, it leaves a burning sensation in the mouth, which
lasts a considerable time, and increases every now and then, until, in
fact, it has quite parched the fauces.


The physician Themiso, too, has conferred some celebrity upon the
plantago, otherwise a very common plant; indeed he has written a
treatise upon it, as though he had been the first to discover it. There
are two varieties; one, more diminutive[678] than the other, has a
narrower and more swarthy leaf, strongly resembling a sheep’s tongue
in appearance: the stem of it is angular and bends downwards, and it
is generally found growing in meadow lands. The larger[679] kind has
leaves enclosed with ribs at the sides, to all appearance, from the
fact of which being seven[680] in number, the plant has been called
“heptapleuron”[681] by some. The stem of it is a cubit in height,
and strongly resembles that of the turnip. That which is grown in a
moist soil is considered much the most efficacious: it is possessed of
marvellous virtues as a desiccative and as an astringent, and has all
the effect of a cautery. There is nothing that so effectually arrests
the fluxes known by the Greeks as “rheumatismi.”


To an account of the plantago may be annexed that of the buglossos, the
leaf of which resembles an ox tongue.[682] The main peculiarity of this
plant is, that if put into wine, it promotes[683] mirth and hilarity,
whence it has obtained the additional name of “euphrosynum.”[684]


To this plant we may also annex an account of the cynoglossos,[685] the
leaf of which resembles a dog’s tongue, and which produces so pleasing
an effect[686] in ornamental gardening. The root, it is said, of the
kind which bears three[687] stems surmounted with seed, is very useful,
taken in water, for tertian, and of that with four stems, for quartan,

There is another plant[688] very similar to it, which bears diminutive
burrs resembling those of the lappa:[689] the root of it, taken in
water, is curative of wounds inflicted by frogs[690] or serpents.


There is the buphthalmos[691] also, so called from its resemblance
to an ox’s eye, and with a leaf like that of fennel. It grows in the
vicinity of towns, and is a branchy plant, with numerous stems, which
are boiled and eaten. Some persons give it the name of “cachla.” In
combination with wax, it disperses scirrhi.[692]


Entire nations, too, have been the discoverers of certain plants. The
Scythæ were the first to discover the plant known as “scythice,”[693]
which grows in the vicinity of the Palus[694] Mæotis. Among its other
properties, this plant is remarkably sweet, and extremely useful for
the affection known as “asthma.” It is also possessed of another great
recommendation—so long as a person keeps it in his month, he will
never[695] experience hunger or thirst.


The hippace,[696] another plant that grows in Scythia, is possessed of
similar properties: it owes[697] its name to the circumstance that it
produces the like effect upon horses. By the aid of these two plants,
the Scythæ, they say, are enabled to endure hunger and thirst, so long
as twelve days even.


The Thracians were the first to discover the ischæmon,[698] which, it
is said, has the property of stanching the flow of blood, not only when
a vein has been opened, but when it has been cut asunder even. This is
a creeping plant; it is like millet in appearance, and the leaves of it
are rough and lanuginous. It is used as a plug[699] for the nostrils.
The kind that grows in Italy, attached to the body as an amulet, has
the property of arresting hæmorrhage.


The Vettones, a people of Spain, were the original discoverers of the
plant known as the “vettonica”[700] in Gaul, the “serratula”[701] in
Italy, and the “cestros” or “psychotrophon”[702] in Greece. This is
a plant more highly esteemed than any other: it puts forth an angular
stem two cubits in height, and throws out leaves from the root, with
serrated edges, and closely resembling those of lapathum.[703] The
seed of it is purple: the leaves are dried and powdered, and used
for numerous purposes. There is a wine also prepared from it, and
a vinegar, remarkably beneficial to the stomach and the eyesight.
Indeed, this plant enjoys so extraordinary a reputation, that it is a
common belief even that the house which contains it is insured against
misfortunes of every kind.


In Spain, too, is found the cantabrica,[704] which was first discovered
by the nation of the Cantabri in the time of the late Emperor Augustus.
It grows everywhere in those parts, having a stem like that of the
bulrush, a foot in height, and bearing small oblong flowers, like a
calathus[705] in shape, and enclosing an extremely diminutive seed.

Nor indeed, in other respects, have the people of Spain been wanting in
their researches into the nature of plants; for at the present day even
it is the custom in that country, at their more jovial entertainments,
to use a drink called the hundred-plant drink, combined with a
proportion of honied wine; it being their belief, that the wine is
rendered more wholesome and agreeable by the admixture of these plants.
It still remains unknown to us, what these different plants are, or in
what number exactly they are used: as to this last question, however,
we may form some conclusion from the name that is given to the beverage.


Our own age, too, can remember the fact of a plant being discovered in
the country of the Marsi. It is found growing also in the neighbourhood
of the village of Nervesia, in the territory of the Æquicoli, and is
known by the name of “consiligo.”[706] It is very useful, as we shall
have occasion to mention[707] in the appropriate place, in cases of
phthisis where recovery is considered more than doubtful.


It is but very lately, too, that Servilius Democrates, one of our most
eminent physicians, first called attention to a plant to which he gave
the name of iberis,[708] a fanciful appellation[709] only, bestowed
by him upon this discovery of his in the verses by him devoted[710]
to it. This plant is found mostly growing in the vicinity of ancient
monuments, old walls, and overgrown footpaths: it is an evergreen, and
its leaves are like those of nasturtium, with a stem a cubit in height,
and a seed so diminutive as to be hardly perceptible; the root, too,
has just the smell of nasturtium. Its properties are more strongly
developed in summer, and it is only used fresh-gathered: there is
considerable difficulty in pounding it.

Mixed with a small proportion of axle-grease, it is extremely useful
for sciatica and all diseases of the joints; the application being kept
on some four hours at the utmost, when used by the male sex, and about
half that time in the case of females. Immediately after its removal,
the patient must take a warm bath, and then anoint the body all over
with oil and wine—the same operation being repeated every twenty days,
so long as there are any symptoms of pain remaining. A similar method
is adopted for the cure of all internal defluxions; it is never
applied, however, so long as the inflammation is at its height, but
only when it has somewhat abated.


The brute animals also have been the discoverers of certain plants:
among them, we will name chelidonia first of all. It is by the aid
of this plant that the swallow restores the sight of the young birds
in the nest, and even, as some persons will have it, when the eyes
have been plucked out. There are two varieties of this plant; the
larger[711] kind has a branchy stem, and a leaf somewhat similar to
that of the wild parsnip,[712] but larger. The plant itself is some
two cubits in height, and of a whitish colour, that of the flower
being yellow. The smaller[713] kind has leaves like those of ivy, only
rounder and not so white. The juice of it is pungent, and resembles
saffron in colour, and the seed is similar to that of the poppy.

These plants blossom,[714] both of them, at the arrival of the swallow,
and wither at the time of its departure. The juice is extracted while
they are in flower, and is boiled gently in a copper vessel on hot
ashes, with Attic honey, being esteemed a sovereign remedy for films
upon the eyes. This juice is employed also, unmixed with any other
substance, for the eyesalves,[715] which from it take their name of


Dogs, too, are in the habit of seeking a certain plant,[716] as a
stimulant to the appetite; but although they eat it in our presence,
it has never yet been discovered what it is, it being quite impossible
to recognize it when seen half-chewed. There has also been remarked
another bit of spitefulness in this animal, though in a much greater
degree, in reference to another plant. When stung by a serpent, it
cures itself, they say, by eating a certain herb, taking care, however,
never to gather it in presence of man.


The hind, with a much greater degree of frankness, has discovered to
us the elaphoboscon, a plant of which we have already[717] spoken, and
which is also called “helxine,”[718] from the assistance it affords
those animals in yeaning.


It is the hind, too, that, as already[719] stated, first made us
acquainted with dictamnon,[720] or dittany; for when wounded, it eats
some of this plant, and the weapon immediately falls from the body.
This plant grows nowhere[721] but in Crete. The branches of it are
remarkably thin; it resembles pennyroyal in appearance, and is hot
and acrid to the taste. The leaves are the only part employed, it
being destitute of[722] blossom, seed, and stem: the root is thin, and
never used. In Crete even, it is found growing only in a very limited
locality, and is sought by goats with singular avidity.

In place of it, the pseudodictamnum[723] is employed, a plant that is
found growing in many countries. In leaf it is similar to the other,
but the branches are more diminutive: by some persons it is known
as “chondris.” Its properties not being so strongly developed, the
difference is immediately recognized: for an infusion of the very
smallest piece of the real dittany, is sufficient to burn the mouth.
The persons who gather it are in the habit of enclosing it in a stem
of fennel-giant or in a reed, which they close at the ends that the
virtues of it may not escape. Some persons say, that both plants grow
indiscriminately in numerous localities, the inferior sort being the
produce of rich soils, and the genuine dittany being found nowhere but
in rugged, uncultivated spots.

There is, again, a third[724] plant called “dictamnum,” which, however,
has neither the appearance nor the properties of the other plant so
called; the leaves of it are like those of sisymbrium,[725] but the
branches are larger.

There has long been this impression with reference to Crete, that
whatever plant grows there is infinitely superior in its properties
to a similar plant the produce of any other country; the second rank
being given to the produce of Mount Parnassus. In addition to this, it
is generally asserted that simples of excellent quality are found upon
Mount Pelion in Thessaly, Mount Teleuthrius in Eubœa, and throughout
the whole of Arcadia and Laconia. Indeed, the Arcadians, they say, are
in the habit of using, not the simples themselves, but milk, in the
spring season more particularly; a period at which the field plants
are swollen with juice, and the milk is medicated by their agency.
It is cows’ milk in especial that they use for this purpose, those
animals being in the habit of feeding upon nearly every kind of plant.
The potent properties of plants are manifested by their action upon
four-footed animals in two very remarkable instances: in the vicinity
of Abdera and the tract known as the Boundary[726] of Diomedes, the
horses, after pasturing, become inflamed with frantic fury; the same is
the case, too, with the male asses, in the neighbourhood of Potniæ.


In the number of the most celebrated plants is the aristolochia,
which would appear to have derived its name from females in a state
of pregnancy, as being ἀρίστη λοχούσαις.[727] Among us, however,
it is known as the “malum terræ,” or apple of the earth,[728] four
different varieties of it being distinguished. One of these has a root
covered with tubercles of a rounded[729] shape, and leaves of a mixed
appearance, between those of the mallow and the ivy, only softer and
more swarthy. The second[730] kind is the male plant, with an elongated
root some four fingers in length, and the thickness of a walking-stick.
A third[731] variety is extremely thin and long, similar to a young
vine in appearance: it has the most strongly-marked properties of
them all, and is known by the additional names of “clematitis,” and
“cretica.” All these plants are the colour of boxwood, have a slender
stem, and bear a purple flower and small berries like those of the
caper: the root is the only part that is possessed of any virtues.

There is also a fourth[732] kind, the name given to which is
“plistolochia;” it is more slender than the one last mentioned, has
a root thickly covered with filaments, and is about as thick as a
good-sized bulrush: another name given to it is “polyrrhizos.” The
smell of all these plants is medicinal, but that of the one with an
oblong root and a very slender stem, is the most agreeable: this
last, in fact, which has a fleshy outer coat, is well adapted as an
ingredient for nardine unguents even. They grow in rich champaign
soils, and the best time for gathering them is harvest; after the earth
is scraped from off them, they are put by for keeping.

The aristolochia that is the most esteemed, however, is that which
comes from Pontus; but whatever the soil may happen to be, the more
weighty it is, the better adapted it is for medicinal purposes. The
aristolochia with a round root is recommended for the stings of
serpents, and that with an oblong root * * * * But in this is centred
its principal reputation; applied to the uterus with raw beef, as a
pessary, immediately after conception, it will ensure the birth of
male[733] issue, they say. The fishermen on the coasts of Campania give
the round root the name of “poison of the earth;” and I myself have
seen them pound it with lime, and throw it into the sea; immediately
on which the fish flew towards it with surprising avidity, and being
struck dead in an instant, floated upon the surface.

The kind that is known as “polyrrhizos,”[734] is remarkably good,
they say, for convulsions, contusions, and falls with violence, an
infusion of the root being taken in water: the seed, too, is useful for
pleurisy and affections of the sinews. It is considered, too, to be
possessed of warming and strengthening properties, similar to those of
satyrion,[735] in fact.


But it will be as well now to mention the various uses made of
these plants, and the effects produced by them, beginning with that
most dangerous of all evils that can befall us, stings inflicted by
serpents. In such cases the plant britannica[736] effects a cure,
and the same is the case with the root of all the varieties of
panaces,[737] administered in wine. The flower, too, and seed of
panaces chironion are taken in drink, or applied externally with wine
and oil: cunila bubula,[738] too, is looked upon as particularly useful
for this purpose, and the root of polemonia or philetæris is taken in
doses of four drachmæ in unmixed wine. Teucria,[739] sideritis,[740]
and scordotis,[741] are used in wine, plants particularly good, all of
them, for injuries inflicted by snakes; the juice or leaves, or else
a decoction of them, being taken in drink or applied to the wound.
For a similar purpose also, the root of the greater centaury is taken,
in doses of one drachma to three cyathi of white wine. Gentian, too,
is particularly good for the stings of snakes, taken either fresh or
dried, in doses of two drachmæ, mixed with rue and pepper in six cyathi
of wine. The odour, too, of lysimachia[742] puts serpents to flight.

Chelidonia[743] is also given in wine to persons who have been stung;
and betony in particular is used as an external application to the
wound, a plant the virtues of which are so extraordinary, it is said,
that if a circle of it is traced around a serpent, it will lash
itself to death[744] with its tail. The seed of this plant is also
administered in such cases, in doses of one denarius to three cyathi of
wine; or else it is dried and powdered, and applied to the wound, in
the proportion of three denarii of powder to one sextarius of water.

Cantabrica, dittany, and aristolochia, are also similarly used, one
drachma of the root of this last plant being taken every now and then
in a semisextarius of wine. It is very useful too, rubbed in with
vinegar, and the same is the case, also, with plistolochia:[745] indeed
it will be quite sufficient to suspend this last over the hearth, to
make all serpents leave the house.


The argemonia,[746] too, is remedial in such cases; the root of it
being taken, in doses of one denarius, in three cyathi of wine. It will
be as well, however, to enter into some further details in reference
to this plant and others, which I shall have occasion next to mention;
it being my intention first to describe, under each head, those plants
which are the most efficacious for the treatment of the affection under

The argemonia has leaves like those of the anemone, but divided[747]
like those of parsley: the head grows upon a slender stem resembling
that of the wild poppy, and the root is also very similar to that of
the same plant. The juice is of a saffron colour, acrid and pungent:
the plant is commonly found in the fields of this country. Among us
there are three[748] varieties of it distinguished, the one being
the most highly approved of, the root of which smells[749] like


Agaric[751] is found growing in the form of a fungus of a white colour,
upon the trees in the vicinity of the Bosporus. It is administered
in doses of four oboli, beaten up in two cyathi of oxymel. The kind
that grows in Galatia is generally looked upon as not so efficacious.
The male[752] agaric is firmer than the other, and more bitter; it is
productive too of head-ache. The female plant is of a looser texture;
it has a sweet taste at first, which speedily changes into a bitter


Of the echios there are two kinds; one[753] of which resembles
pennyroyal in appearance, and has a concave leaf. It is administered,
in doses of two drachmæ, in four cyathi of wine. The other[754] kind is
distinguished by a prickly down, and bears small heads resembling those
of vipers: it is usually taken in wine and vinegar. Some persons give
the name of “echios personata”[755] to a kind of echios with larger
leaves than the others, and burrs of considerable size, resembling that
of the lappa.[756] The root of this plant is boiled and administered in
vinegar. Henbane, pounded with the leaves on, is taken in wine, for
the sting of the asp in particular.


But among the Romans there is no plant that enjoys a more
extended renown than hierabotane[757] known to some persons as
“peristereon,”[758] and among us more generally as “verbenaca.”[759] It
is this plant that we have already[760] mentioned as being borne in the
hands of envoys when treating with the enemy, with this that the table
of Jupiter is cleansed,[761] with this that houses are purified and due
expiation made. There are two varieties of it: the one that is thickly
covered with leaves[762] is thought to be the female plant; that with
fewer leaves,[763] the male. Both kinds have numerous thin branches, a
cubit in length, and of an angular form. The leaves are smaller than
those of the quercus, and narrower, with larger indentations. The
flower is of a grey colour, and the root is long and thin. This plant
is to be found growing everywhere, in level humid localities. Some
persons make no distinction between these two varieties, and look upon
them as identical, from the circumstance of their being productive of
precisely similar effects.

The people in the Gallic provinces make use of them both for
soothsaying purposes, and for the prediction of future events; but
it is the magicians more particularly that give utterance to such
ridiculous follies in reference to this plant. Persons, they tell us,
if they rub themselves with it will be sure to gain the object of their
desires; and they assure us that it keeps away fevers, conciliates
friendship, and is a cure for every possible disease; they say, too,
that it must be gathered about the rising of the Dog-star—but so as not
to be shone upon by sun or moon—and that honey-combs and honey must be
first presented to the earth by way of expiation. They tell us also
that a circle must first be traced around it with iron; after which
it must be taken up with the left hand, and raised aloft, care being
taken to dry the leaves, stem, and root, separately in the shade. To
these statements they add, that if the banqueting couch is sprinkled
with water in which it has been steeped, merriment and hilarity will be
greatly promoted thereby.

As a remedy for the stings of serpents, this plant is bruised in wine.


There is a plant very similar in appearance to verbascum,[764] so
much so, indeed, as to be frequently gathered for it by mistake. The
leaves,[765] however, are not so white, the stems are more numerous,
and the flower is of a yellow colour. Thrown upon the ground, this
plant attracts black beetles[766] to it, whence its Roman appellation


Lemonium[767] furnishes a milky juice, which thickens like gum. It
grows in moist, watery localities, and is generally administered, in
doses of one denarius, in wine.


There is no one to whom quinquefolium[768] is unknown, being
recommended by a sort of strawberry[769] which it bears: The Greeks
give it the name of pentapetes,[770] pentaphyllon,[770] and
chamæzelon.[771] The root, when taken up, is red; but as it dries it
becomes black and angular. Its name is derived from the number of its
leaves: it puts forth and withers with the leaves of the vine. This
plant also is employed in the purification of houses.


The root, too, of the plant known as the sparganion,[772] is taken in
white wine, as a remedy for the stings of serpents.


Petronius Diodotus has distinguished four kinds of daucus, which it
would be useless here to describe, the varieties being in reality but
two[773] in number. The most esteemed kind is that of Crete,[774] the
next best being the produce of Achaia, and of all dry localities. It
resembles fennel in appearance, only that its leaves are whiter, more
diminutive, and hairy on the surface. The stem is upright, and a foot
in length, and the root has a remarkably pleasant taste and smell. This
kind grows in stony localities with a southern aspect.

The inferior sorts are found growing everywhere, upon declivities for
instance, and in the hedges of fields, but always in a rich soil. The
leaves are like those of coriander,[775] the stem being a cubit in
length, the heads round, often three or more in number, and the root
ligneous, and good for nothing when dry. The seed of this kind is like
that of cummin, while that of the first kind bears a resemblance to
millet; in all cases it is white, acrid, hot, and odoriferous. The seed
of the second kind has more active properties than that of the first;
for which reason it should be used more sparingly.

If it is considered really desirable to recognize a third variety of
the daucus, there is a plant[776] of this nature very similar to the
staphylinos, known as the “pastinaca[777] erratica,” with an oblong
seed and a sweet root. Quadrupeds will touch none of these plants,
either in winter or in summer, except indeed, after abortion.[778]
The seed of the various kinds is used, with the exception of that of
Crete, in which case it is the root that is employed; this root being
particularly useful for the stings of serpents. The proper dose is one
drachma, taken in wine. It is administered also to cattle when stung by
those reptiles.


The therionarca, altogether a different plant from that of the
Magi,[779] grows in our own climates, and is a branchy plant, with
greenish leaves, and a rose-coloured flower. It has a deadly effect
upon serpents, and the very contact of it is sufficient to benumb[780]
a wild beast, of whatever kind it be.


The persolata,[781] a plant known to every one, and called “arcion” by
the Greeks, has a leaf, larger, thicker, more swarthy, and more hairy
than that of the gourd even, with a large white root. This plant also
is taken, in doses of two denarii, in wine.


So too, the root of cyclaminos[782] is good for injuries inflicted
by serpents of all kinds. It has leaves smaller than those of ivy,
thinner, more swarthy, destitute of angles, and covered with whitish
spots. The stem is thin and hollow, the flowers of a purple colour,
and the root large and covered with a black rind; so much so, in fact,
that it might almost be taken for the root of rape. This plant grows
in umbrageous localities, and by the people of our country is known as
the “tuber terræ.”[783] It ought to be grown in every house, if there
is any truth in the assertion that wherever it grows, noxious spells
can have no effect. This plant is also what is called an “amulet;” and
taken in wine, they say, it produces all the symptoms and appearances
of intoxication. The root is dried, cut in pieces, like the squill,
and put away for keeping. When wanted, a decoction is made of it, of
the consistency of honey. Still, however, it has some deleterious[784]
properties; and a pregnant woman, it is said, if she passes over the
root of it, will be sure to miscarry.


There is also another kind of cyclaminos, known by the additional name
of “cissanthemos;”[785] the stems of it, which are jointed, are good
for nothing. It is altogether different from the preceding plant, and
entwines around the trunks of trees. It bears a berry similar to that
of the ivy, but soft; and the flower is white and pleasing to the
sight. The root is never used. The berries are the only part of it in
use, being of an acrid, viscous taste. They are dried in the shade,
after which they are pounded and divided into lozenges.


A third kind[786] of cyclaminos has also been shown to me, the
additional name of which is “chamæcissos.” It consists of but a single
leaf, with a branchy root, formerly employed for killing fish.


But in the very first rank among these plants, stands peucedanum,[787]
the most esteemed kind of which is that of Arcadia, the next best being
that of Samothrace, The stem resembles that of fennel, is thin and
long, covered with leaves close to the ground, and terminating in a
thick black juicy root, with a powerful smell. It grows on umbrageous
mountains, and is taken up at the end of autumn. The largest and
tenderest roots are the most esteemed; they are cut with bone-knives
into slips four fingers in length, and left to shed their juice[788] in
the shade; the persons employed taking the precaution of rubbing the
head and nostrils with rose-oil, as a preservative against vertigo.

There is also another kind of juice, which adheres to the stems, and
exudes from incisions made therein. It is considered best when it has
arrived at the consistency of honey: the colour of it is red, and it
has a strong but agreeable smell, and a hot, acrid taste. This juice,
as well as the root and a decoction of it, enters into the composition
of numerous medicaments, but the juice has the most powerful properties
of the two. Diluted with bitter almonds or rue, it is taken in drink as
a remedy for injuries inflicted by serpents. Rubbed upon the body with
oil, it is a preservative against the attacks of those reptiles.


A fumigation, too, of ebulum,[789] a plant known to every one, will put
serpents to flight.


The root of polemonia,[790] even worn as an amulet only, is
particularly useful for repelling the attacks of scorpions, as also the
phalangium and other small insects of a venomous nature. For injuries
inflicted by the scorpion, aristolochia[791] is also used, or agaric,
in doses of four oboli to four cyathi of wine. For the bite of the
phalangium, vervain is employed, in combination with wine or oxycrate:
cinquefoil, too, and daucus, are used for a similar purpose.


Verbascum has the name of “phlomos” with the Greeks. Of this plant
there are two principal kinds; the white,[792] which is considered to
be the male, and the black,[793] thought to be the female. There is a
third[794] kind, also, which is only found in the woods. The leaves of
these plants are larger than those of the cabbage, and have a hairy
surface: the stem is upright, and more than a cubit in height, and
the seed black, and never used. The root is single, and about the
thickness of the finger. The two principal kinds are found growing
in champaign localities. The wild verbascum has leaves like those of
elelisphacus,[795] but of an elongated form; the branches are ligneous.


There are also two[796] varieties of the phlomis, hairy plants, with
rounded leaves, and but little elevated above the surface of the earth.
A third kind, again, is known as the “lychnitis”[797] by some persons,
and as the “thryallis” by others: it has three leaves only, or four
at the very utmost, thick and unctuous, and well adapted for making
wicks for lamps. The leaves of the phlomos which we have mentioned
as the female plant, if wrapped about figs, will preserve them most
efficiently from decay, it is said. It seems little better than a loss
of time to give the distinguishing characteristics of these three[798]
kinds, the effects of them all being precisely the same.

For injuries inflicted by scorpions, an infusion of the root is taken,
with rue, in water. Its bitterness is intense, but it is quite as
efficacious as the plants already mentioned.


The thelyphonon[799] is a plant known as the “scorpio” to some, from
the peculiar form of its roots, the very touch of which kills[800] the
scorpion: hence it is that it is taken in drink for stings inflicted
by those reptiles. If a dead scorpion is rubbed with white hellebore,
it will come to life, they say. The thelyphonon is fatal to all
quadrupeds, on the application of the root to the genitals. The leaf
too, which bears a resemblance to that of cyclaminos, is productive of
a similar effect, in the course of the same day. It is a jointed plant,
and is found growing in unbrageous localities. Juice of betony or of
plantago is a preservative against the venom of the scorpion.


Frogs, too, have their venom, the bramble-frog[801] in particular,
and I myself have seen the Psylli, in their exhibitions, irritate them
by placing them upon flat vessels made red hot,[802] their bite being
fatal more instantaneously than the sting even of the asp. One remedy
for their poison is the phrynion,[803] taken in wine, which has also
the additional names of “neuras”[804] and “poterion:” it bears a small
flower, and has numerous fibrous roots, with an agreeable smell.


Similar too, are the properties of the alisma,[805] known to some
persons as the “damasonion,” and as the “lyron” to others. The leaves
of it would be exactly those of the plantago, were it not that they are
narrower, more jagged at the edges, and bent downwards in a greater
degree. In other respects, they present the same veined appearance as
those of the plantago. This plant has a single stem, slender, a cubit
in height, and terminated by a spreading head.[806] The roots of it
are numerous, thin like those of black hellebore, acrid, unctuous, and
odoriferous: it is found growing in watery localities.

There is another kind also, which grows in the woods, of a more swarthy
colour, and with larger leaves. The root of them both is used for
injuries inflicted by frogs and by the sea-hare,[807] in doses of one
drachma taken in wine. Cyclaminos, too, is an antidote for injuries
inflicted by the sea-hare.

The bite of the mad dog has certain venomous properties, as an antidote
to which we have the cynorrhodos, of which we have spoken[808]
elsewhere already. The plantago is useful for the bites of all kinds
of animals, either taken in drink or applied topically to the part
affected. Betony is taken on similar occasions, in old wine, unmixed.


The name of peristereos[809] is given to a plant with a tall stem,
covered with leaves, and throwing out other stems from the top. It is
much sought by pigeons, to which circumstance it owes its name. Dogs
will never bark, they say, at persons who have this plant about them.


Closely approaching in their nature to these various kinds of poisons,
are those which have been devised by man for his own destruction.
In the number of antidotes to all these artificial poisons as well
as to the spells of sorcery, the very first place must be accorded
to the moly[810] of Homer; next to which come the mithridatia,[811]
scordotis,[812] and centaury. The seed of betony carries off all kinds
of noxious substances by stool; being taken for the purpose in honied
wine or raisin wine, or else pulverized, and taken, in doses of one
drachma, in four cyathi of old wine: in this last case, however, the
patient must bring it off the stomach by vomit and then repeat the
dose. Persons who accustom themselves to take this plant daily, will
never experience any injury, they say, from substances of a poisonous

When a person has taken poison, one most powerful remedy is
aristolochia,[813] taken in the same proportions as those used for
injuries inflicted by serpents.[814] The juice, too, of cinquefoil is
given for a similar purpose; and in both cases, after the patient has
vomited, agaric is administered, in doses of one denarius, in three
cyathi of hydromel.


The name of antirrhinum[815] or anarrhinon is given to the lychnis
agria,[816] a plant which resembles flax in appearance, is destitute
of root, has a flower like that of the hyacinth, and a seed similar
in form to the muzzle of a calf. According to what the magicians say,
persons who rub themselves with this plant improve their personal
appearance thereby; and they may ensure themselves against all noxious
substances and poisons, by wearing it as a bracelet.


The same is the case, too, with the plant to which they give the name
of “euclea,”[817] and which, they tell us, rubbed upon the person,
will ensure a more extended consideration. They say, too, that if a
person carries artemisia[818] about him, he will be ensured against all
noxious drugs, the attacks of wild beasts of every kind, and sunstroke
even. This last plant is taken also in wine, in cases of poisoning
by opium. Used as an amulet, or taken in drink, it is said to be
particularly efficacious for injuries inflicted by frogs.


The pericarpum is a kind of bulbous plant. There are two varieties of
it; one with a red[819] outer coat, and the other,[820] similar is
appearance to the black poppy, and possessed of greater virtues than
the first. They are both, however, of a warming nature, for which
reason, they are administered to persons who have taken hemlock, a
poison for which frankincense and panaces are used, chironion[821] in
particular. This last, too, is given in cases of poisoning by fungi.


But we shall now proceed to point out the various classes of remedies
for the several parts of the body, and the maladies to which those
parts are subject, beginning in the first place with the head.

The root of nymphæa heraclia[822] effects the cure of alopecy, if they
are beaten up together,[823] and applied. The polythrix[824] differs
from the callitrichos[825] in having white, rushlike suckers, larger
leaves, and more numerous; the main stem,[826] too, is larger. This
plant strengthens the hair, prevents it from falling off, and makes it
grow more thickly


The same is the case too with the lingulaca,[827] a plant that grows
in the vicinity of springs, and the root of which is reduced to ashes,
and beaten up with hog’s lard. Due care must be taken, however, that
it is the lard of a female, of a black colour, and one that has never
farrowed. The application is rendered additionally efficacious, if the
ointment is applied in the sun. Root, too, of cyclaminos is employed
in the same manner for a similar purpose. A decoction of root of
hellebore in oil or in water is used for the removal of porrigo. For
the cure of head-ache, root of all kinds of panaces[828] is used,
beaten up in oil; as also aristolochia[829] and iberis,[830] this last
being applied to the head for an hour or more, if the patient can bear
it so long, care being taken to bathe m the meanwhile. The daucus, too,
is curative of head-ache. Cyclaminos,[831] introduced into the nostrils
with honey, clears the head; used in the form of a liniment, it heals
ulcers of the head. Peristereos,[832] also, is curative of diseases of
the head.


The name of “cacalia”[833] or “leontice” is given to a plant with seed
resembling small pearls in appearance, and hanging down between large
leaves: it is mostly found upon mountains. Fifteen grains of this seed
are macerated in oil, and the head is rubbed with the mixture, the
contrary way to the hair.


A sternutatory, too, is prepared from the callitrichos.[834] The
leaves of this plant are similar to those of the lentil, and the stems
resemble fine rushes; the root is very diminutive. It grows in shady,
moist localities, and has a burning taste in the mouth.


Hyssop,[835] beaten up in oil, is curative of phthiriasis and prurigo
of the head. The best hyssop is that of Mount Taurus in Cilicia, next
to which in quality is the produce of Pamphylia and Smyrna. This plant
is injurious to the stomach: taken with figs, it produces alvine
evacuations, and used in combination with honey, it acts as an emetic.
It is generally thought that, beaten up with honey, salt, and cummin,
it is curative of the stings of serpents.


The lonchitis[836] is not, as most writers have imagined, the same
plant as the xiphion[837] or phasganion, although the seed of it does
bear a resemblance to the point of a spear. The lonchitis, in fact,
has leaves like those of the leek, of a reddish colour near the root,
and more numerous there than on the upper part of the stem. It bears
diminutive heads, which are very similar to our masks of comedy,
and from which a small tongue protrudes:[838] the roots of it are
remarkably long. It grows in thirsty, arid soils.


The xiphion[839] or phasganion, on the other hand, is found growing in
humid localities. On first leaving the ground it has the appearance
of a sword; the stem of it is two cubits in length, and the root is
fringed like a hazel nut.[840]

This root should always be taken up before harvest, and dried in the
shade. The upper part of it, pounded with frankincense, and mixed with
an equal quantity of wine, extracts fractured bones of the cranium,
purulent matter in all parts of the body, and bones of serpents,[841]
when accidentally trodden upon; if is very efficacious, too, for
poisons. In cases of head-ache, the head should be rubbed with
hellebore, boiled and beaten up in olive oil, or oil of roses, or else
with peucedanum steeped in olive oil or rose oil, and vinegar. This
last plant, made lukewarm, is very good also for hemicrania[842] and
vertigo. It being of a heating nature, the body is rubbed with the root
as a sudorific.


Psyllion,[843] cynoïdes, crystallion, sicelicon, or cynomyia, has a
slender root, of which no use is made, and numerous thin branches,
with seeds resembling those of the bean, at the extremities.[844] The
leaves of it are not unlike a dog’s head in shape;[845] and the seed,
which is enclosed in berries, bears a resemblance to a flea—whence its
name “psyllion.” This plant is generally found growing in vineyards,
is of a cooling nature, and is extremely efficacious as a dispellent.
The seed of it is the part made use of; for head-ache, it is applied
to the forehead and temples with rose oil and vinegar, or else with
oxycrate; it is used as a liniment for other purposes also. Mixed in
the proportion of one acetabulum to one sextarius of water, it is left
to coagulate and thicken; after which it is beaten up, and the thick
solution is used as a liniment for all kinds of pains, abscesses, and

Aristolochia is used as a remedy for wounds in the head; it has the
property, too, of extracting fractured bones, not only from other
parts of the body, but the cranium in particular. The same, too, with

Thryselinum[846] is a plant not unlike parsley; the root of it, eaten,
carries off pituitous humours from the head.


It is generally thought that the greater centaury[847] strengthens
the sight, if the eyes are fomented with it steeped in water; and
that by employing the juice of the smaller kind, in combination with
honey, films and cloudiness may be dispersed, marks obliterated,
and small flies removed which have got into the eye. It is thought
also that sideritis is curative of albugo in beasts of burden. As
to chelidonia,[848] it is marvellously good for all the affections
above mentioned. Root of panaces[849] is applied, with polenta,[850]
to defluxions of the eyes; and for the purpose of keeping them down,
henbane-seed is taken, in doses of one obolus, with an equal proportion
of opium, in wine. Juice, too, of gentian is used as a liniment, and
it sometimes forms an ingredient in the more active eyesalves,[851]
as a substitute for meconium. Euphorbia,[852] applied in the form
of a liniment, improves the eyesight, and for ophthalmia juice of
plantago[853] is injected into the eyes.

Aristolochia disperses films upon the eyes; and iberis,[854] attached
to the head with cinquefoil, is curative of defluxions and other
diseases of the eyes. Verbascum[855] is applied topically to defluxions
of the eyes, and vervain is used for a similar purpose, with rose
oil and vinegar. For the treatment of cataract and dimness of sight,
cyclaminos is reduced to a pulp and divided into lozenges. Juice, too,
of peucedanum, as already mentioned,[856] mixed with meconium and oil
of roses, is good for the sight, and disperses films upon the eyes.
Psyllion,[857] applied to the forehead, arrests defluxions of the eyes.


The anagallis is called “corchoron”[858] by some. There are two kinds
of it, the male[859] plant, with a red blossom, and the female,[860]
with a blue flower. These plants do not exceed a palm in height, and
have a tender stem, with diminutive leaves of a rounded form, drooping
upon the ground. They grow in gardens and in spots covered with water,
the blue anagallis being the first to blossom. The juice[861] of either
plant, applied with honey, disperses films upon the eyes, suffusions of
blood[862] in those organs resulting from blows, and argema[863] with
a red tinge: if used in combination with Attic honey, they are still
more efficacious. The anagallis has the effect also of dilating[864]
the pupil; hence the eye is anointed with it before the operation of
couching[865] for cataract. These plants are employed also for diseases
of the eyes in beasts of burden.

The juice, injected into the nostrils, which are then rinsed with
wine, acts as a detergent upon the head: it is taken also, in doses
of one drachma, in wine, for wounds inflicted by serpents. It is a
remarkable fact, that cattle will refuse to touch the female plant; but
if it should so happen that, deceived by the resemblance—the flower
being the only distinguishing mark—they have accidentally tasted it,
they immediately have recourse, as a remedy, to the plant called
“asyla,”[866] but more generally known among us as “ferus oculus.”[867]
Some persons recommend those who gather it, to prelude by saluting it
before sunrise, and then, before uttering another word, to take care
and extract the juice immediately; if this is done, they say, it will
be doubly efficacious.

As to the juice of euphorbia, we have spoken[868] of its properties
at sufficient length already. In cases of ophthalmia, attended with
swelling, it will be a good plan to apply wormwood beaten up with
honey, as well as powdered betony.


The fistula of the eye, called “ægilops,” is cured by the agency of the
plant of the same name,[869] which grows among barley, and has a leaf
like that of wheat. The seed is pounded for the purpose, and applied
with meal; or else the juice is extracted from the stem and more pulpy
leaves, the ears being first removed. This juice is incorporated with
meal of three-month wheat, and divided into lozenges.


Some persons, too, were in the habit of employing mandragora for
diseases of the eyes; but more recently, the use of it for such a
purpose has been abandoned. It is a well-ascertained fact, however,
that the root, beaten up with rose oil and wine, is curative of
defluxions of the eyes and pains in those organs; and, indeed, the
juice of this plant still forms an ingredient in many medicaments for
the eyes. Some persons give it the name of “circæon.”[870] There are
two varieties, the white[871] mandragora, which is generally thought to
be the male plant, and the black,[872] which is considered to be the
female. It has a leaf narrower than that of the lettuce, a hairy stem,
and a double or triple root, black without and white within, soft and
fleshy, and nearly a cubit in length.

Both kinds bear a fruit about the size of a hazel-nut, enclosing a seed
resembling the pips of a pear in appearance. The name given to the
white plant by some persons is “arsen,”[873] by others “morion,”[874]
and by others again, “hippophlomos.” The leaves of it are white, while
those of the other one[875] are broader, and similar to those of
garden lapathum[876] in appearance. Persons, when about to gather this
plant, take every precaution not to have the wind blowing in their
face; and after tracing three circles round it with a sword, turn
towards the west and dig it up.[877] The juice is extracted both from
the fruit and from the stalk, the top being first removed; also from
the root, which is punctured for the purpose, or else a decoction is
made of it. The filaments, too, of the root are made use of, and it is
sometimes cut up into segments and kept in wine.

It is not the mandragora of every country that will yield a juice, but
where it does, it is about vintage time that it is collected: it has
in all cases a powerful odour, that of the root and fruit the most so.
The fruit is gathered when ripe, and dried in the shade; and the juice,
when extracted, is left to thicken in the sun. The same is the case,
too, with the juice of the root, which is extracted either by pounding
it or by boiling it down to one third in red wine. The leaves are best,
kept in brine; indeed, when fresh, the juice of them is a baneful
poison,[878] and these noxious properties are far from being entirely
removed, even when they are preserved in brine. The very odour of them
is highly oppressive to the head, although there are countries in which
the fruit is eaten. Persons ignorant of its properties are apt to be
struck dumb by the odour of this plant when in excess, and too strong a
dose of the juice is productive of fatal effects.

Administered in doses proportioned to the strength of the patient, this
juice has a narcotic effect; a middling dose being one cyathus. It is
given, too, for injuries inflicted by serpents, and before incisions or
punctures are made in the body, in order to ensure insensibility to
the pain.[879] Indeed, for this last purpose, with some persons, the
odour of it is quite sufficient to induce sleep. The juice is taken
also as a substitute for hellebore, in doses of two oboli, in honied
wine: hellebore, however, is more efficacious as an emetic, and as an
evacuant of black bile.


Hemlock,[880] too, is a poisonous plant, rendered odious by the
use made of it by the Athenian people, as an instrument of capital
punishment: still,[881] however, as it is employed for many useful
purposes, it must not be omitted. It is the seed that is noxious, the
stalk being eaten by many people, either green, or cooked[882] in the
saucepan. This stem is smooth, jointed like a reed, of a swarthy hue,
often as much as two cubits in height, and branchy at the top. The
leaves are like those of coriander, only softer, and possessed of a
powerful odour. The seed is more substantial than that of anise, and
the root is hollow and never used. The seed and leaves are possessed of
refrigerating properties; indeed, it is owing to these properties that
it is so fatal, the cold chills with which it is attended commencing
at the extremities. The great remedy[883] for it, provided it has not
reached the vitals, is wine, which is naturally of a warming tendency;
but if it is taken in wine, it is irremediably fatal.

A juice is extracted from the leaves and flowers; for it is at the
time of its blossoming that it is in its full vigour. The seed is
crushed, and the juice extracted from it is left to thicken in the
sun, and then divided into lozenges. This preparation proves fatal by
coagulating the blood—another deadly property which belongs to it; and
hence it is that the bodies of those who have been poisoned by it are
covered with spots. It is sometimes used in combination with water as
a medium for diluting certain medicaments. An emollient poultice is
also prepared from this juice, for the purpose of cooling the stomach;
but the principal use made of it is as a topical application, to
check defluxions of the eyes in summer, and to allay pains in those
organs. It is employed also as an ingredient in eyesalves, and is used
for arresting fluxes in other parts of the body: the leaves, too,
have a soothing effect upon all kinds of pains and tumours, and upon
defluxions of the eyes.

Anaxilaüs makes a statement to the effect, that if the mamillæ[884]
are rubbed with hemlock during virginity, they will always be hard
and firm: but a better-ascertained fact is, that applied[885] to
the mamillæ, it dries up the milk in women recently delivered; as
also that, applied to the testes at the age of puberty, it acts most
effectually as an antaphrodisiac.[886] As to those cases in which it
is recommended to take it internally as a remedy, I shall, for my own
part, decline to mention them. The most powerful hemlock is that grown
at Susa, in Parthia, the next best being the produce of Laconia, Crete,
and Asia.[887] In Greece, the hemlock of the finest quality is that of
Megara, and next to it, that of Attica.


Crethmos agrios,[888] applied to the eyes, removes rheum; and, with the
addition of polenta, it causes tumours to disappear.


Molybdæna[889] also grows everywhere in the fields, a plant commonly
known as “plumbago.”[889] It has leaves like those of
lapathum,[890] and a thick, hairy root. Chewed and applied to the eye
from time to time, it removes the disease called “plum-bum,”[891] which
affects that organ.


The first kind of capnos,[892] known also as “chicken’s foot,”[893]
is found growing on walls and hedges: it has very thin, straggling
branches, with a purple blossom. It is used in a green state, and the
juice of it disperses films upon the eyes; hence it is that it is
employed as an ingredient in medicinal compositions for the eyes.


There is another kind[894] of capnos also, similar both in name and
properties, but different in appearance. It is a branchy plant, is
extremely delicate, has leaves like those of coriander, is of an ashy
colour, and bears a purple flower: it grows in gardens, and amid
crops of barley. Employed in the form of an ointment for the eyes, it
improves the sight, producing tears in the same way that smoke does, to
which, in fact, it owes its name. It has the effect also of preventing
the eyelashes, when pulled out, from growing again.


The acoron[895] has leaves similar to those of the iris,[896] only
narrower, and with a longer stalk; the roots of it are black, and not
so veined, but in other respects are similar to those of the iris, have
an acrid taste and a not unpleasant smell, and act as a carminative.
The best roots are those grown in Pontus, the next best those of
Galatia, and the next those of Crete; but it is in Colchis, on the
banks of the river Phasis, and in various other watery localities, that
they are found in the greatest abundance. When fresh, they have a more
powerful odour than when kept for some time: these of Crete are more
blanched than the produce of Pontus. They are cut into pieces about a
finger in length, and dried in leather bags[897] in the shade.

There are some authors who give the name of “acoron” to the root of
the oxymyrsine;[898] for which reason also some prefer giving that
plant the name of “acorion.” It has powerful properties as a calorific
and resolvent, and is taken in drink for cataract and films upon the
eyes; the juice also is extracted, and taken for injuries inflicted by


The cotyledon[899] is a small herbaceous plant, with a diminutive,
tender stem, and an unctuous leaf, with a concave surface like that
of the cotyloïd cavity of the thigh. It grows in maritime and rocky
localities, is of a green colour, and has a rounded root like an olive:
the juice of it is remedial for diseases of the eyes.

There is another[900] kind also of the same plant, the leaves of which
are of a dirty green[901] colour, larger than those of the other, and
growing in greater numbers about the root, which is surrounded with
them just as the eye is with the socket. These leaves have a remarkably
astringent taste, and the stem is of considerable length, but extremely
slender. This plant is employed for the same purposes as the iris and


Of the plant known as aizoüm[902] there are two kinds; the larger
of which is sown in earthen pots. By some persons it is known as
“buphthalmos,”[903] and by others as “zoöphthalmos,” or else as
“stergethron,” because it forms an ingredient in the composition
of philtres. Another name given to it is “hypogeson,” from the
circumstance that it generally grows upon the eaves[904] of houses:
some persons, again, give it the names of “ambrosion” and “amerimnon.”
In Italy it is known as “sedum magnum,”[905] “oculus,” or “digitellus.”
The other kind[906] of aizoüm is more diminutive, and is known by some
persons as “erithales”[907] and by others as “trithales,” from the
circumstance that it blossoms three times in the year. Other names
given to it are “chrysothales”[908] and “isoëtes:”[909] but aizoüm is
the common appellation of them both, from their being always green.

The larger kind exceeds a cubit in height, and is somewhat thicker
than the thumb: at the extremity, the leaves are similar to a tongue
in shape, and are fleshy, unctuous, full of juice, and about as broad
as a person’s thumb. Some are bent downwards towards the ground, while
others again stand upright, the outline of them resembling an eye in
shape. The smaller kind grows upon walls, old rubbish of houses, and
tiled roofs; it is branchy from the root, and covered with leaves to
the extremity. These leaves are narrow, pointed, and juicy: the stem is
a palm in height, and the root is never used.


A similar plant is that known to the Greeks by the name of “andrachle
agria,”[910] and by the people of Italy as the “illecebra.” Its
leaves, though small, are larger than those of the last-named plant,
but growing on a shorter stem. It grows in craggy localities, and is
gathered for use as food. All these plants have the same properties,
being cooling and astringent. The leaves, applied topically, or the
juice, in form of a liniment, are curative of defluxions of the eyes:
this juice too acts as a detergent upon ulcers of the eyes, makes new
flesh, and causes them to cicatrize; it[911] cleanses the eyelids also
of viscous matter. Applied to the temples, both the leaves and the
juice of these plants are remedial for head-ache; they neutralize the
venom also of the phalangium; and the greater aizoüm, in particular, is
an antidote to aconite. It is asserted, too, that those who carry this
last plant about them will never be stung by the scorpion.

These plants are curative of pains in the ears; which is the case
also with juice of henbane, applied in moderate quantities, of
achillea,[912] of the smaller centaury and plantago, of peucedanum
in combination with rose-oil and opium, and of acoron[913] mixed
with rose-leaves. In all these cases, the liquid is made warm, and
introduced into the ear with the aid of a syringe.[914] The cotyledon
is good, too, for suppurations in the ears, mixed with deer’s marrow
made hot. The juice of pounded root of ebulum[915] is strained through
a linen cloth, and then left to thicken in the sun: when wanted for
use, it is moistened with oil of roses, and made hot, being employed
for the cure of imposthumes of the parotid glands. Vervain and
plantago are likewise used for the cure of the same malady, as also
sideritis,[916] mixed with stale axle-grease.


Aristolochia,[917] mixed with cyperus,[918] is curative of polypus of
the nose.[919]


The following are remedies for diseases of the teeth: root of
panaces,[920] chewed, that of the chironion in particular, and juice
of panaces, used as a collutory; root, too, of henbane, chewed with
vinegar, and root of polemonia.[921] The root of plantago is chewed for
a similar purpose, or the teeth, are rinsed with a decoction of the
juice mixed with vinegar. The leaves, too, are said to be useful for
the gums, when swollen with sanious blood, or if there are discharges
of blood therefrom. The seed, too, of plantago is a cure for abscesses
in the gums, and for gum-boils. Aristolochia has a strengthening effect
upon the gums and teeth; and the same with vervain, either chewed with
the root of that plant, or boiled in wine and vinegar, the decoction
being employed as a gargle. The same is the case, also, with root of
cinquefoil, boiled down to one third, in wine or vinegar; before it is
boiled, however, the root should be washed in sea or salt water: the
decoction, too, must be kept a considerable time in the mouth. Some
persons prefer cleaning the teeth with ashes of cinquefoil.

Root of verbascum[922] is also boiled in wine, and the decoction used
for rinsing the teeth. The same is done too with hyssop and juice
of peucedanum, mixed with opium; or else the juice of the root of
anagallis,[923] the female plant in particular, is injected into the
nostril on the opposite side to that in which the pain is felt.


Erigeron[924] is called by our people “senecio.” It is said that if
a person, after tracing around this plant with an implement of iron,
takes it up and touches the tooth affected with it three times, taking
care to spit each time on the ground, and then replaces it in the same
spot, so as to take root again, he will never experience any further
pain in that tooth. This plant has just the appearance and softness
of trixago,[925] with a number of small reddish-coloured stems: it is
found growing upon walls, and the tiled roofs of houses. The Greeks
have given it the name of “erigeron,”[926] because it is white in
spring. The head is divided into numerous downy filaments, which
resemble those of the thorn,[927] protruding from between the divisions
of the head: hence it is that Callimachus has given it the name of
“acanthis,”[928] while others, again, call it “pappus.[929]”

After all, however, the Greek writers are by no means agreed as to this
plant; some say, for instance, that it has leaves like those of rocket,
while others maintain that they resemble those of the robur, only that
they are considerably smaller. Some, again, assert that the root is
useless, while others aver that it is beneficial for the sinews, and
others that it produces suffocation, if taken in drink. On the other
hand, some have prescribed it in wine, for jaundice and all affections
of the bladder, heart, and liver, and give it as their opinion that it
carries off gravel from the kidneys. It has been prescribed, also, by
them for sciatica, the patient taking one drachma in oxymel, after a
walk; and has been recommended as extremely useful for griping pains
in the bowels, taken in raisin wine. They assert, also, that used as
an aliment with vinegar, it is wholesome for the thoracic organs, and
recommend it to be grown in the garden for these several purposes.

In addition to this, there are some authorities to be found, which
distinguish another variety of this plant, but without mentioning its
peculiar characteristics. This last they recommend to be taken in
water, to neutralize the venom of serpents, and prescribe it to be
eaten for the cure of epilepsy. For my own part, however, I shall only
speak of it in accordance with the uses made of it among us Romans,
uses based upon the results of actual experience. The down of this
plant, beaten up with saffron and a little cold water, is applied to
defluxions of the eyes; parched with a little salt, it is employed for
the cure of scrofulous sores.


The ephemeron[930] has leaves like those of the lily, but smaller; a
stem of the same height, a blue flower, and a seed of which no use is
made. The root is single, about the thickness of one’s finger, and an
excellent remedy for diseases of the teeth; for which purpose it is
cut up in pieces, and boiled in vinegar, the decoction being used warm
as a collutory. The root, too, is employed by itself to strengthen
the teeth, being inserted for the purpose in those that are hollow or

Root of chelidonia[931] is also beaten up with vinegar, and kept in the
mouth. Black hellebore is sometimes inserted in carious teeth; and a
decoction of either of these last-mentioned plants, in vinegar, has the
effect of strengthening loose teeth.


Labrum Venereum[932] is the name given to a plant that grows in running
streams.[933] It produces a small worm,[934] which is crushed by being
rubbed upon the teeth, or else enclosed in wax and inserted in the
hollow of the tooth. Care must be taken, however, that the plant, when
pulled up, does not touch the ground.


The plant known to the Greeks as “batrachion,”[935] we call
ranunculus.[936] There are four varieties of it,[937] one of which
has leaves somewhat thicker than those of coriander, nearly the size
of those of the mallow, and of a livid hue: the stem of the plant is
long and slender, and the root white; it grows on moist and well-shaded
embankments. The second[938] kind is more foliated than the preceding
one, the leaves have more numerous incisions, and the stems of the
plant are long. The third[939] variety is smaller than the others, has
a powerful smell, and a flower of a golden colour. The fourth[940] kind
is very like the one last mentioned, but the flower is milk-white.

All these plants have caustic properties: if the leaves are applied
unboiled, they raise blisters like those caused by the action of fire;
hence it is that they are used for the removal of leprous spots,
itch-scabs, and brand marks upon the skin. They form an ingredient also
in all caustic preparations, and are applied for the cure of alopecy,
care being taken to remove them very speedily. The root, if chewed for
some time, in cases of tooth-ache, will cause[941] the teeth to break;
dried and pulverized, it acts as a sternutatory.

Our herbalists give this plant the name of “strumus,” from the
circumstance of its being curative of strumous[942] sores and inflamed
tumours, for which purpose a portion of it is hung up in the smoke.
It is a general belief, too, with them, that if it is replanted, the
malady so cured will reappear[943]—a criminal practice, for which the
plantago is also employed. The juice of this last-mentioned plant is
curative of internal ulcerations of the mouth; and the leaves and root
are chewed for a similar purpose, even when the mouth is suffering
from defluxions. Cinquefoil effects the cure of ulcerations and
offensive breath; psyllium[944] is used also for ulcers of the mouth.


We shall also here make mention of certain preparations for the cure of
offensive breath—a most noisome inconvenience. For this purpose, leaves
of myrtle and lentisk are taken in equal proportions, with one half
the quantity of Syrian nut-galls; they are then pounded together and
sprinkled with old wine, and the composition is chewed in the morning.
In similar cases, also, ivy berries are used, in combination with
cassia and myrrh; these ingredients being mixed, in equal proportions,
with wine.

For offensive odours of the nostrils, even though attended with
carcinoma, the most effectual remedy is seed of dracontium[945] beaten
up with honey. An application of hyssop has the effect of making
bruises disappear. Brand marks[946] in the face are healed by rubbing
them with mandragora.[947]

SUMMARY.—Remedies, narratives, and observations, twelve hundred and

ROMAN AUTHORS QUOTED.—C. Valgius,[948] Pompeius Lenæus,[949] Sextius
Niger[950] who wrote in Greek, Julius Bassus[951] who wrote in Greek,
Antonius Castor,[952] Cornelius Celsus,[953] Fabianus.[954]

FOREIGN AUTHORS QUOTED.—Theophrastus,[955] Apollodorus,[956]
Democritus,[957] Juba,[958] Orpheus,[959] Pythagoras,[960] Mago,[961]
Menander[962] who wrote the “Biochresta,” Nicander,[963] Homer,
Hesiod,[964] Musæus,[965] Sophocles,[966] Xanthus,[967] Anaxilaüs.[968]

MEDICAL AUTHORS QUOTED.—Mnesitheus,[969] Callimachus,[970] Phanias[971]
the physician, Timaristus,[972] Simus,[973] Hippocrates,[974]
Chrysippus,[975] Diocles,[976] Ophelion,[977] Heraclides,[978]
Hicesius,[979] Dionysius,[980] Apollodorus[981] of Citium,
Apollodorus[982] of Tarentum, Praxagoras,[983] Plistonicus,[984]
Medius,[985] Dieuches,[986] Cleophantus,[987] Philistion,[988]
Asclepiades,[989] Crateuas,[990] Petronius Diodotus,[991] Iollas,[992]
Erasistratus,[993] Diagoras,[994] Andreas,[995] Mnesides,[996]
Epicharmus,[997] Damion,[998] Sosimenes,[999] Tlepolemus,[1000]
Metrodorus,[1001] Solon,[1002] Lycus,[1003] Olympias[1004] of Thebes,
Philinus,[1005] Petrichus,[1006] Micton,[1007] Glaucias,[1008]




The face of man has recently been sensible of new forms of disease,
unknown[1010] in ancient times, not only to Italy, but to almost the
whole of Europe. Still, however, they have not as yet extended to the
whole of Italy, nor have they made any very great inroads in Illyricum,
Gaul, or Spain, or indeed any other parts, to so great an extent as in
Rome and its environs. Though unattended with pain, and not dangerous
to life, these diseases are of so loathsome a nature, that any form of
death would be preferable to them.


The most insupportable of all these diseases is the one which, after
its Greek appellation, is known to us as “lichen.”[1010] In
consequence, however, of its generally making its first appearance
at the chin, the Latins, by way of joke, originally—so prone are
mankind to make a jest of the misfortunes of others—gave it the name
of “mentagra;”[1011] an appellation which has since become established
in general use. In many cases, however, this disease spreads over the
interior of the mouth, and takes possession of the whole face, with the
sole exception of the eyes; after which, it passes downwards to the
neck, breast, and hands, covering them with foul furfuraceous eruptions.


This curse was unknown to the ancients,[1012] and in the times of our
fathers even, having first entered Italy in the middle of the reign of
the Emperor Tiberius[1013] Claudius Cæsar; where it was introduced from
Asia,[1014] in which country it had lately made[1015] its appearance,
by a member of the equestrian order at Rome, a native of Perusium,
secretary to the quæstor. The disease, however, did not attack either
females or slaves,[1016] nor yet the lower orders, or, indeed, the
middle classes, but only the nobles, being communicated even by the
momentary contact requisite for the act of salutation.[1017] Many of
those who persevered in undergoing a course of remedial treatment,
though cured of the disease, retained scars upon the body more hideous
even than the malady itself; it being treated with cauteries, as it was
certain to break out afresh, unless means were adopted for burning it
out of the body by cauterizing to the very bone.

Upon this occasion several physicians repaired to Rome from Egypt, that
fruitful parent of maladies of this nature, men who devoted themselves
solely to this branch of medical practice; and very considerable were
the profits they made. At all events, it is a well-known fact that
Manilius Cornutus, a personage of prætorian rank, and legatus of
the province of Aquitania, expended no less a sum than two hundred
thousand[1018] sesterces upon his cure.

It is much more frequently, on the other hand, that we hear of new
forms of diseases attacking the lower orders; a singular fact, and one
quite unequalled for the marvellous phænomena which sometimes attend
these outbreaks. Thus, for instance, we find an epidemic suddenly
making its appearance in a certain country, and then confining itself,
as though it had made its election so to do, to certain parts of the
body, certain ages, and even certain pursuits in life. In the same way,
too, while one class of diseases attacks the young, another confines
itself to adults; while one malady extends itself only to the higher
classes, another is felt exclusively by the poor.


We find it stated in the Annals, that it was in the censorship[1019]
of L. Paulus and Q. Marcius that carbuncle[1020] was first introduced
into Italy, a malady which till then had confined itself solely to the
province of Gallia Narbonensis. In the year in which I am writing these
lines, two persons of consular rank have died of this disease, Julius
Rufus[1021] and Q. Lecanius Bassus;[1022] the former in consequence
of an incision unskilfully made by his medical attendants, the latter
through a wound upon the thumb of the left hand by pricking a carbuncle
with a needle, a wound so small originally as to be hardly perceptible.

This disease makes its appearance in the more hidden[1023] parts of the
human body, and mostly beneath the tongue. It originally has the form
of a hard, red, pimple, with a blackish head mostly, though sometimes
of a livid colour. It produces tension of the flesh, but unattended
with swelling, pain, or any itching sensation; indeed, the only symptom
that accompanies it is a confirmed drowsiness, which overpowers the
patient, and carries him off in the course of three days. Sometimes,
however, it is accompanied with shuddering, and small pustules about
the sore; and occasionally, though but rarely, with fever. When these
symptoms extend to the fauces and œsophagus, death ensues with the
greatest rapidity.


We have already[1024] stated that elephantiasis[1025] was unknown in
Italy before the time of Pompeius Magnus. This malady, too, like those
already mentioned, mostly makes its first appearance in the face. In
its primary form it bears a considerable resemblance to a small lentil
upon the nose; the skin gradually dries up all over the body, is marked
with spots of various colours, and presents an unequal surface, being
thick in one place, thin in another, indurated every here and there,
and covered with a sort of rough scab. At a later period, the skin
assumes a black hue, and compresses the flesh upon the bones, the
fingers and toes becoming swollen.

This disease was originally peculiar to Egypt. Whenever it attacked the
kings of that country, it was attended with peculiarly fatal effects to
the people, it being the practice to temper their sitting-baths with
human blood, for the treatment of the disease. As for Italy, however,
its career was very soon cut short: the same was the case, too, with
the disease known as “gemursa”[1026] to the ancients, a malady which
made its appearance between the toes, and the very name of which is now
buried in oblivion.


It is a remarkable fact that some diseases should disappear from among
us, while others, again, should continue to prevail, colic[1027] for
example. It was only in the reign of Tiberius Cæsar that this malady
made its appearance in Italy, the emperor himself being the first
to be attacked by it; a circumstance which produced considerable
mystification throughout the City, when it read the edict issued by
that prince excusing his inattention to public business, on the ground
of his being laid up with a disease, the very name of which was till
then unknown. To what cause are we to attribute these various diseases,
or how is it that we have thus incurred the anger of the gods? Was
it deemed too little for man to be exposed to fixed and determinate
classes of maladies, already more than three hundred in number, that
he must have new forms of disease to alarm him as well? And then,
in addition to all these, not less in number are the troubles and
misfortunes which man brings upon himself!

The remedies which I am here describing, are those which were
universally employed in ancient times, Nature herself, so to say,
making up the medicines: indeed, for a long time these were the only
medicines employed.

(2.) Hippocrates,[1028] it is well known, was the first to compile
a code of medical precepts, a thing which he did with the greatest
perspicuity, as his treatises, we find, are replete with information
upon the various plants. No less is the information which we gain from
the works of Diocles[1029] of Carystus, second only in reputation,
as well as date, to Hippocrates. The same, too, with reference
to the works of Praxagoras, Chrysippus, and, at a later period,
Erasistratus[1030] of Cos. Herophilus[1031] too, though himself the
founder of a more refined system of medicine, was extremely profuse of
his commendations of the use of simples. At a later period, however,
experience, our most efficient instructor in all things, medicine
in particular, gradually began to be lost sight of in mere words
and verbiage: it being found, in fact, much more agreeable to sit
in schools, and to listen to the talk of a professor, than to go a
simpling in the deserts, and to be searching for this plant or that at
all the various seasons of the year.


Still, however, the ancient theories remained unshaken, based as they
were upon the still existing grounds of universally acknowledged
experience; until, in the time of Pompeius Magnus, Asclepiades,[1032]
a professor of rhetoric, who considered himself not sufficiently
repaid by that pursuit, and whose readiness and sagacity rendered him
better adapted for any other than forensic practice, suddenly turned
his attention to the medical art. Having never practised medicine, and
being totally unacquainted with the nature of remedies—a knowledge
only to be acquired by personal examination and actual experience—as a
matter of course, he was obliged to renounce all previously-established
theories, and to trust rather to his flowing periods and his
well-studied discourses, for gaining an influence upon the minds of his

Reducing the whole art of medicine to an estimation solely of
primary causes, he made it nothing but a merely conjectural art, and
established it as his creed, that there are five great principles of
treatment for all diseases in common; diet, use or non-use of wine,
frictions, exercise on foot, and exercise[1033] in a carriage or
on horseback. As every one perceived that each of these methods of
treatment lay quite within his own reach, all, of course, with the
greatest readiness gave their assent, willing as they were to believe
that to be true which was so easy of acquisition; and hence it was that
he attracted nearly all the world about him, as though he had been sent
among mankind on a special mission from heaven.


In addition to this, he had a wonderful tact in gaining the full
confidence of his patients: sometimes he would make them a promise of
wine, and then seize the opportune moment for administering it, while
on other occasions, again, he would prescribe cold water: indeed, as
Herophilus, among the ancients, had been the first to enquire into the
primary causes of disease, and Cleophantus had brought into notice
the treatment of diseases by wine, so did Asclepiades, as we learn
from M. Varro, prefer to be indebted for his surname and repute to
the extensive use made by him of cold water as a remedy. He employed
also various other soothing remedies for his patients; thus, for
instance, it was he that introduced swinging beds, the motion of which
might either lull the malady, or induce sleep, as deemed desirable.
It was he, too, that brought baths into such general use,—a method of
treatment that was adopted with the greatest avidity—in addition to
numerous other modes of treatment of a pleasant and soothing nature. By
these means he acquired a great professional reputation, and a no less
extended fame; which was very considerably enhanced by the following
incident: meeting the funeral procession of a person unknown to him, he
ordered the body to be removed from the funeral pile[1034] and carried
home, and was thus the means of saving his life. This circumstance I am
the more desirous to mention, that it may not be imagined that it was
on slight grounds only that so extensive a revolution was effected in
the medical art.

There is, however, one thing, and one thing only, at which we have any
ground for indignation,—the fact, that a single individual, and he
belonging to the most frivolous nation[1035] in the world, a man born
in utter indigence, should all on a sudden, and that, too, for the
sole purpose of increasing his income, give a new code of medical laws
to mankind; laws, however, be it remembered, which have been annulled
by numerous authorities since his day. The success of Asclepiades
was considerably promoted by many of the usages of ancient medicine,
repulsive in their nature, and attended with far too much anxiety:
thus, for instance, it was the practice to cover up the patient
with vast numbers of clothes, and to adopt every possible method of
promoting the perspiration; to order the body to be roasted before a
fire; or else to be continually sending the patient on a search for
sunshine, a thing hardly to be found in a showery climate like that
of this city of ours; or rather, so to say, of the whole of Italy, so
prolific[1036] as it is of fogs and rain.[1037] It was to remedy these
inconveniences, that he introduced the use of hanging baths,[1038]
an invention that was found grateful to invalids in the very highest

In addition to this, he modified the tortures which had hitherto
attended the treatment of certain maladies; as in quinzy for instance,
the cure of which before his time had been usually effected by the
introduction of an instrument[1039] into the throat. He condemned, and
with good reason, the indiscriminate use of emetics, which till then
had been resorted to in a most extraordinary degree. He disapproved
also of the practice of administering internally potions that are
naturally injurious to the stomach, a thing that may truthfully be
pronounced of the greater part of them. Indeed it will be as well to
take an early opportunity of stating what are the medicaments which act
beneficially upon the stomach.


But above all things, it was the follies of magic more particularly
that contributed so essentially to his success—follies which had been
carried to such a pitch as to destroy all confidence in the remedial
virtues of plants. Thus, for instance, it was stoutly maintained that
by the agency of the plant æthiopis[1040] rivers and standing waters
could be dried up, and that by the very touch[1041] * * * * all bars
and doors might be opened: that if the plant achæmenis[1042] were
thrown into the ranks of the enemy it would be certain to create a
panic and put them to flight: that latace[1043] was given by the
Persian kings to their ambassadors, to ensure them an abundant supply
of everything wherever they might happen to be: with numerous other
reveries of a similar nature. Where, I should like to know, were all
these plants, when the Cimbri and Teutones brought upon us the horrors
of warfare with their terrific yells? or when Lucullus defeated, with a
few legions, so many kings who ruled over the Magi?[1044] Why is it too
that the Roman generals have always made it their first care in warfare
to make provision for the victualling of their troops? And how was it
that at Pharsalia the troops of Cæsar were suffering from famine, if
an abundance of everything could have been ensured by the fortunate
possession of a single plant? Would it not have been better too for
Scipio Æmilianus to have opened the gates of Carthage by touching
them with a herb, than to have taken so many years to batter down its
bulwarks with his engines of war?

Turning to the present moment, let them, by the agency of the herb
meroïs,[1045] dry up the Pomptine[1046] Marshes, if they can, and by
these means restore so much territory to the regions of Italy in the
neighbourhood of our city. In the works, too, of Democritus, already
mentioned,[1047] we find a recipe for the composition of a medicament
which will ensure the procreation of issue, both sure to be good and
fortunate.—What king of Persia, pray, ever obtained that blessing? It
really would be a marvellous fact that human credulity, taking its rise
originally in the very soundest of notions, should have ultimately
arrived at such a pitch as this, if the mind of man understood, under
any circumstances, how to keep within the bounds of moderation; and
if the very system of medicine thus introduced by Asclepiades, had
not been carried to a greater pitch of extravagance than the follies
of magic even, an assertion which I shall prove on a more appropriate

Such, however, is the natural constitution of the human mind, that, be
the circumstances what they may, commencing with what is necessary it
speedily arrives at the point of launching out in excess.

We will now resume our account of the medicinal properties of the
plants mentioned in the preceding Book, adding to our description such
others as the necessities of the case may seem to require.


As to the treatment of lichen, so noisome a disease as it is, we shall
here give a number of additional remedies for it, gathered from all
quarters, although those already described are by no means few in
number. For the cure of lichen plantago is used, pounded, cinquefoil
also, root of albucus[1049] in combination with vinegar, the young
shoots of the fig-tree boiled in vinegar, or roots of marsh-mallow
boiled down to one-fourth with glue and vinegar. The sores are rubbed
also with pumice, and then fomented with root of rumex[1050] bruised
in vinegar, or with scum of viscus[1051] kneaded up with lime. A
decoction, too, of tithymalos[1052] with resin is highly esteemed for
the same purpose.

But to all these remedies the plant known as “lichen,” from its
efficacy as a cure, is held in preference. It is found growing among
rocks, and has a single broad leaf[1053] near the root, and a single
long stem, with small leaves hanging from it. This plant has the
property also of effacing brand marks, being beaten up with honey
for that purpose. There is another kind[1054] of lichen also, which
adheres entirely to rocks, like moss, and which is equally used as a
topical application. The juice of it, dropt into wounds, or applied to
abscesses, has the property of arresting hæmorrhage: mixed with honey,
it is curative of jaundice, the face and tongue being rubbed with it.
Under this mode of treatment, the patient is recommended to wash in
salt water, to anoint himself with oil of almonds, and to abstain from
garden vegetables. For the cure of lichen, root of thapsia[1055] is
also used, bruised in honey.


For the treatment of quinzy, we find argemonia[1056] recommended,
in wine; a decoction of hyssop, boiled with figs, used as a gargle;
peucedanum,[1057] with an equal proportion of sea-calf’s rennet;
proserpinaca,[1058] beaten up in the pickle of the mæna[1059] and oil,
or else placed beneath the tongue; as also juice of cinquefoil, taken
in doses of three cyathi. Used as a gargle, juice of cinquefoil is good
for the cure of all affections of the fauces: verbascum,[1060] too,
taken in wine, is particularly useful for diseases of the tonsillary

CHAP. 12. (5.)—SCROFULA.

For the cure of scrofula[1061] plantago is employed, chelidonia[1062]
mixed with honey and axle-grease, cinquefoil, and root of
persolata[1063]—this last being applied topically, and covered with
the leaf of the plant—artemisia,[1064] also, and an infusion of the
root of mandragora[1065] in water. The large-leaved sideritis,[1066]
cleft by the left hand with a nail, is worn attached as an amulet: but
after the cure has been effected, due care must be taken to preserve
the plant, in order that it may not be set again, to promote the wicked
designs of the herbalists and so cause the disease to break out afresh;
as sometimes happens in the cases already mentioned,[1067] and others
which I find stated, in reference to persons cured by the agency of
artemisia or plantago.

Damasonion,[1068] also known as alcea, is gathered at the summer
solstice, and applied with rain-water, the leaves being beaten up, or
the root pounded, with axle-grease, so as to admit, when applied, of
being covered with a leaf of the plant. The same plan is adopted also
for the cure of all pains in the neck, and tumours on all parts of the


Bellis[1069] is the name of a plant that grows in the fields, with
a white flower somewhat inclining to red; if this is applied with
artemisia,[1070] it is said, the remedy is still more efficacious.


The condurdum,[1071] too, is a plant with a red blossom, which flowers
at the summer solstice. Suspended from the neck, it arrests scrofula,
they say: the same being the case also with vervain, in combination
with plantago. For the cure of all diseases of the fingers, hangnails
in particular, cinquefoil is used.


Of all diseases of the chest, cough is the one that is the most
oppressive. For the cure of this malady, root of panaces[1072] in
sweet wine is used, and in cases where it is attended with spitting of
blood, juice of henbane. Henbane, too, used as a fumigation, is good
for cough; and the same with scordotis,[1073] mixed with nasturtium and
dry resin, beaten up with honey: employed by itself also, scordotis
facilitates expectoration, a property which is equally possessed by
the greater centaury, even where the patient is troubled with spitting
of blood; for which last juice of plantago is very beneficial. Betony,
taken in doses of three oboli in water, is useful for purulent or
bloody expectorations: root also of persolata,[1074] in doses of one
drachma, taken with eleven pine-nuts; and juice of peucedanum.[1075]

For pains in the chest, acoron[1076] is remarkably useful; hence it
is that it is so much used an ingredient in antidotes. For cough,
daucus[1077] and the plant scythice[1078] are much employed, this last
being good, in fact, for all affections of the chest, coughs, and
purulent expectorations, taken in doses of three oboli, with the same
proportion of raisin wine. The verbascum[1079] too, with a flower like
gold, is similarly employed.

(6.) This last-named plant is so remarkably energetic, that an infusion
of it, administered in their drink, will relieve beasts of burden, not
only when troubled with cough, but when broken-winded even—a property
which I find attributed to gentian also. Root of cacalia[1080] chewed,
or steeped in wine, is good for cough as well as all affections of the
throat. Five sprigs of hyssop, with two of rue and three figs, act
detergently upon the thoracic organs and allay cough.


Bechion[1081] is known also as tussilago: there are two kinds of it.
Wherever it is found growing wild, it is generally thought that there
is a spring of water below, and it is looked upon as a sure sign that
such is the case, by persons in search[1082] of water. The leaves
are somewhat larger than those of ivy, and are some five or seven
in number, of a whitish hue beneath, and a pale green on the upper
surface. The plant is destitute of stem, blossom, and seed, and the
root is very diminutive. Some persons are of opinion that this bechion
is identical with the arcion, known also as the “chamæleuce.”[1083]
The smoke[1084] of this plant in a dry state, inhaled by the aid of
a reed and swallowed, is curative, they say, of chronic cough; it is
necessary, however, at each inhalation to take a draught of raisin wine.


There is another bechion[1085] also, known to some persons as
“salvia,”[1086] and bearing a strong resemblance to verbascum. This
plant is triturated, and the juice strained off and taken warm for
cough and for pains in the side: it is considered very beneficial also
for the stings of scorpions and sea-dragons.[1087] It is a good plan,
too, to rub the body with this juice, mixed with oil, as a preservative
against the stings of serpents. A bunch of hyssop is sometimes boiled
down with a quarter of a pound of honey, for the cure of cough.


For the cure of pains in the side and chest, verbascum[1088] is used
in water, with rue; powdered betony is also taken in warm water. Juice
of scordotis[1089] is used as a stomachic, centaury also, gentian
taken in water, and plantago, either eaten with the food, or mixed
with lentils or a pottage of alica.[1090] Betony, which is in general
prejudicial to the stomach, is remedial for some stomachic affections,
taken in drink or chewed, the leaves being used for the purpose. In
a similar manner too, aristolochia[1091] is taken in drink, or dried
agaric is chewed, a draught of undiluted wine being taken every now
and then. Nymphæa heraclia[1092] is also applied topically in these
cases, and juice of peucedanum.[1093] For burning pains in the stomach
psyllion[1094] is applied, or else cotyledon[1095] beaten up with
polenta, or aizoüm.[1096]


Molon[1097] is a plant with a striated stem, a soft diminutive leaf,
and a root four fingers in length, at the extremity of which there is a
head like that of garlic; by some persons it is known as “syron.” Taken
in wine, it is curative of affections of the stomach, and of hardness
of breathing. For similar purposes the greater centaury is used, in an
electuary; juice also of plantago, or else the plant itself, eaten with
the food; pounded betony, in the proportion of one pound to half an
ounce of Attic honey, taken daily in warm water; and aristolochia[1098]
or agaric, taken in doses of three oboli, in warm water or asses’ milk.

For hardness of breathing an infusion of cissanthemos[1099] is taken
in drink, and for the same complaint, as also for asthma, hyssop. For
pains in the liver, chest, and side, if unattended with fever, juice of
peucedanum is used. For spitting of blood agaric is employed, in doses
of one victoriatus,[1100] bruised and administered in five cyathi of
honied wine: amomum,[1101] too, is equally useful for that purpose.
For liver diseases in particular, teucria[1102] is taken fresh, in
doses of four drachmæ to one hemina of oxycrate; or else betony, in the
proportion of one drachma to three cyathi of warm water. For diseases
of the heart, betony is recommended, in doses of one drachma to two
cyathi of cold water. Juice of cinquefoil is remedial for diseases of
the liver and lungs, and for spitting of blood as well as all internal
affections of the blood. The two varieties of anagallis[1103] are
wonderfully efficacious for liver complaints. Patients who eat the
plant called “capnos”[1104] discharge the bile by urine. Acoron[1105]
is also remedial for diseases of the liver, and daucus[1106] is useful
for the thorax and the pectoral organs.


The ephedra,[1107] by some persons called “anabasis,” mostly grows in
localities exposed to the wind. It climbs the trunks of trees, and
hangs down from the branches, is destitute of leaves, but has numerous
suckers, jointed like a bulrush; the root is of a pale colour. This
plant is given, pounded, in astringent red wine, for cough, asthma,
and gripings in the bowels. It is administered also in the form of a
pottage, to which some wine should be added. For these complaints,
gentian is also used, being steeped in water the day before, and then
pounded and given in doses of one denarius, in three cyathi of wine.


Geum[1108] is a plant with thin, diminutive roots, black, and
aromatic.[1109] It is curative not only of pains in the chest and
sides, but is useful also for dispelling crudities, owing to its
agreeable flavour. Vervain, too, is good for all affections of the
viscera, and for diseases of the sides, lungs, liver, and thorax.
But one invaluable remedy for diseases of the lungs, and for cases
of incipient phthisis, is the root of consiligo, a plant only very
recently discovered, as already[1110] mentioned. It is a most efficient
remedy also for pulmonary diseases in swine and cattle, even though
only passed through the ear of the animal. When used, it should be
taken in water, and kept for a considerable time in the mouth, beneath
the tongue. Whether the part of this plant which grows above ground
is useful or not for any purpose, is at present unknown. Plantago,
eaten with the food, betony taken in drink, and agaric taken in the
way prescribed for cough, are useful, all of them, for diseases of the


Tripolium[1111] is a plant found growing upon cliffs on the sea-shore
against which the waves break, springing up, so to say, neither upon
dry land nor in the sea. The leaves are like those of isatis,[1112]
only thicker; the stem is a palm in height and divided at the
extremity, and the root white, thick, and odoriferous, with a warm
flavour; it is recommended for diseases of the liver, boiled with
spelt. This plant is thought by some to be identical with polium, of
which we have already spoken in the appropriate place.[1113]


Gromphæna[1114] is the name of a plant, the stem of which is covered
with leaves of a green and rose colour, arranged alternately. The
leaves of it are administered in oxycrate, in cases of spitting of


For diseases of the liver the malundrum[1115] is prescribed, a plant
which grows in meadows and corn-fields, with a white odoriferous
flower. The stem is diminutive, and is beaten up in old wine.


Chalcetum[1116] also is the name of a plant, which is pounded with
grape husks and applied topically, for the cure of liver complaints.
Root of betony acts as a gentle emetic, taken in the same way as
hellebore, in doses of four drachmæ in raisin wine or honied wine.
Hyssop, too, is beaten up with honey for similar purposes; but it is
more efficacious if nasturtium or irio[1117] is taken first.

Molemonium[1118] is used as an emetic, being taken in doses of one
denarius; the same, too, with sillybum.[1119] Both of these plants have
a milky juice, which thickens like gum, and is taken with honey in
the proportions above-mentioned, being particularly good for carrying
off bile. On the other hand, vomiting is arrested by the use of wild
cummin or powdered betony, taken in water. Crudities and distaste
for food are dispelled, and the digestion promoted by employing
daucus,[1120] powdered betony[1121] taken in hydromel, or else plantago
boiled like greens. Hiccup is arrested by taking hemionium[1122] or
aristolochia,[1123] and asthma by the use of clymenus.[1124] For
pleurisy and peripneumony, the greater centaury is used, or else
hyssop, taken in drink. Juice of peucedanum[1125] is also good for


The plant halus,[1126] by the people of Gaul called “sil,” and by the
Veneti “cotonea,” is curative of pains in the side, affections of the
kidneys, ruptures, and convulsions. It resembles cunila bubula[1127]
in appearance, and the tops of it are like those of thyme. It is of a
sweet flavour, and allays thirst; the roots of it are sometimes white,
sometimes black.


The chamærops,[1128] also, is similarly efficacious for pains in the
side. It is a plant with leaves like those of myrtle, arranged in
pairs around the stem, the heads of it resembling those of the Greek
rose: it is taken in wine. Agaric, administered in drink, in the same
manner[1129] as for cough, assuages sciatica and pains in the vertebræ:
the same, too, with powdered stœchas[1130] or betony, taken in hydromel.


But it is the belly, for the gratification of which the greater part
of mankind exist, that causes the most suffering to man. Thus, for
instance, at one time it will not allow the aliments to pass, while
at another it is unable to retain them. Sometimes, again, it either
cannot receive the food, or, if it can, cannot digest it; indeed, such
are the excesses practised at the present day, that it is through
his aliment, more than anything else, that man hastens his end. This
receptacle,[1131] more troublesome to us than any other part of the
body, is ever craving, like some importunate creditor, and makes its
calls repeatedly in the day. It is for its sake, more particularly,
that avarice is so insatiate, for its sake that luxury is so
refined,[1132] for its sake that men voyage to the shores even of the
Phasis, for its sake that the very depths of the ocean are ransacked.
And yet, with all this, no one ever gives a thought how abject is the
condition of this part of our body, how disgusting the results of its
action upon what it has received! No wonder then, that the belly
should have to be indebted to the aid of medicine in the very highest

Scordotis,[1133] fresh-gathered and beaten up, in doses of one
drachma, with wine, arrests flux of the bowels; an effect equally
produced by a decoction of it taken in drink. Polemonia,[1134] too,
is given in wine for dysentery, or two fingers’ length of root of
verbascum,[1135] in water; seed of nymphæa heraclia,[1136] in wine;
the upper root of xiphion,[1137] in doses of one drachma, in vinegar;
seed of plantago, beaten, up in wine; plantago itself boiled in
vinegar, or else a pottage of alica[1138] mixed with the juice of the
plant; plantago boiled with lentils; plantago dried and powdered, and
sprinkled in drink, with parched poppies pounded; juice of plantago,
used as an injection, or taken in drink; or betony taken in wine
heated with a red-hot iron. For cœliac affections, betony is taken
in astringent wine, or iberis is applied topically, as already[1139]
stated. For tenesmus, root of nymphæa heraclia is taken in wine, or
else psyllion[1140] in water, or a decoction of root of acoron.[1141]
Juice of aizoüm[1142] arrests diarrhœa and dysentery, and expels
round tape-worm. Root of symphytum,[1143] taken in wine, arrests
diarrhœa and dysentery, and daucus[1144] has a similar effect. Leaves
of aizoüm[1145] beaten up in wine, and dried alcea[1146] powdered and
taken in wine, are curative of griping pains in the bowels.


Astragalus[1147] is the name of a plant which has long leaves, with
numerous incisions, and running aslant near the root. The stems are
three or four in number, and covered with leaves: the flower is like
that of the hyacinth, and the roots are red, hairy, matted, and
remarkably hard. It grows on stony localities, equally exposed to the
sun and to falls of snow, those in the vicinity of Pheneus in Arcadia,
for instance. Its properties are highly astringent; the root of it,
taken in wine, arrests looseness of the bowels, having the additional
effect of throwing downward the aqueous humours, and so acting as a
diuretic; a property, in fact, which, belongs to most substances which
act astringently upon the bowels.

Bruised in red[1148] wine, this plant is curative of dysentery; it is
only bruised, however, with the greatest difficulty. It is extremely
useful, also, as a fomentation for gum-boils. The end of autumn is the
time for gathering it, after the leaves are off; it being then left to
dry in the shade.


Diarrhœa may be also arrested by the use of either kind of
ladanum.[1149] The kind which, is found in corn-fields is pounded for
this purpose, and then passed through a sieve, being taken either in
hydromel, or in wine of the highest quality. “Ledon” is the name of the
plant from which ladanum[1150] is obtained in Cyprus, it being found
adhering to the beard of the goats there; the most esteemed, however,
is that of Arabia.[1151] At the present day, it is prepared in Syria
and Africa also, being known as “toxicum,” from the circumstance that
in gathering it, they pass over the plant a bow,[1152] with the string
stretched, and covered with wool, to which the dewlike flocks of
ladanum adhere. We have described it at further length, when treating
of the perfumes.[1153]

This substance has a very powerful odour, and is hard in the extreme;
for, in fact, there is a considerable quantity of earth adhering to
it: it is most esteemed when in a pure state, aromatic, soft, green,
and resinous. It is of an emollient, desiccative, and ripening nature,
and acts as a narcotic: it prevents the hair from falling off, and
preserves its dark colour. In combination with hydromel or oil of
roses, it is used as an injection for the ears; with the addition of
salt, it is employed for the cure of furfuraceous eruptions of the
skin, and for running ulcers. Taken with storax, it is good for chronic
cough; it is also extremely efficacious as a carminative.


Chondris, too, or pseudodictamnon,[1154] acts astringently on the
bowels. Hypocisthis,[1155] by some known also as “orobethron,” is
similar to an unripe pomegranate in appearance; it grows, as already
stated,[1156] beneath the cisthus, whence its name. Dried in the shade,
and taken in astringent, red wine, these plants arrest diarrhœa—for
there are two kinds of hypocisthis, it must be remembered, the white
and the red. It is the juice of the plant that is used, being of an
astringent, desiccative, nature: that of the red kind, however, is
the best for fluxes of the stomach. Taken in drink, in doses of three
oboli, with amylum,[1157] it arrests spitting of blood; and, employed
either as a potion or as an injection, it is useful for dysentery.
Vervain, too, is good for similar complaints, either taken in water,
or, when there are no symptoms of fever, in Aminean[1158] wine, the
proportion being five spoonfuls to three cyathi of wine.


Laver,[1159] too, a plant which grows in streams, preserved and boiled,
is curative of griping pains in the bowels.


Potamogiton,[1160] too, taken in wine, is useful for dysentery and
cœliac affections: it is a plant similar to beet in the leaves, but
smaller and more hairy, and rising but little above the surface of
the water. It is the leaves that are used, being of a refreshing,
astringent nature, and particularly good for diseases of the legs, and,
with honey or vinegar, for corrosive ulcers.

Castor has given a different description of this plant. According to
him, it has a smaller leaf,[1161] like horse-hair,[1162] with a long,
smooth, stem, and grows in watery localities. With the root of it he
used to treat scrofulous sores and indurations. Potamogiton neutralizes
the effects of the bite of the crocodile; hence it is that those who go
in pursuit of that animal, are in the habit of carrying it about them.

Achillea[1163] also arrests looseness of the bowels; an effect equally
produced by the statice,[1164] a plant with seven heads, like those of
the rose, upon as many stems.


The ceratia[1165] is a plant with a single[1166] leaf, and a large
knotted root: taken with the food, it is curative of coeliac affections
and dysentery.

Leontopodion,[1167] a plant known also as “leuceoron,” “doripetron,”
or “thorybethron,” has a root which acts astringently upon the bowels
and carries off bile, being taken in doses of two denarii in hydromel.
It grows in champaign localities with a poor soil: the seed, taken in
drink, produces night-mare,[1168] it is said, in the sleep.

Lagopus[1169] arrests diarrhœa, taken in wine, or, if there are
symptoms of fever, in water. This plant is attached to the groin,
for tumours in that part of the body: it grows in cornfields. Many
persons recommend, in preference to anything else, for desperate cases
of dysentery, a decoction of roots of cinquefoil in milk, or else
aristolochia,[1170] in the proportion of one victoriatus[1171] to three
cyathi of wine. In the case of the preparations above-mentioned, which
are recommended to be taken warm, it will be the best plan to heat them
with a red-hot iron.

On the other hand, again, the juice of the smaller centaury acts as a
purgative upon the bowels, and carries off bile, taken, in doses of one
drachma, in one hemina of water with a little salt and vinegar. The
greater centaury is curative of griping pains in the bowels. Betony,
also, has a laxative effect, taken in the proportion of four drachmæ to
nine cyathi of hydromel: the same, too, with euphorbia[1172] or agaric,
taken, in doses of two drachmæ, with a little salt, in water, or else
in three oboli of honied wine. Cyclaminos,[1173] also, is a purgative,
either taken in water or used as a suppository; the same, too, with
chamæcissos,[1174] employed as a suppository. A handful of hyssop,
boiled down to one third with salt, or beaten up with oxymel and salt,
and applied to the abdomen, promotes pituitous evacuations, and expels
intestinal worms. Root also of peucedanum[1175] carries off pituitous
humours and bile.


The two kinds of anagallis, taken in hydromel, are purgative; the
same, too, with epithymon,[1176] which is the blossom of a sort[1177]
of thyme similar to savory; the only difference being that the flower
of this plant is nearer grass green, while that of the other thyme is
white. Some persons call it “hippopheos.”[1178] This plant is by no
means wholesome to the stomach, as it is apt to cause vomiting, but
at the same time it disperses flatulency and gripings of the bowels.
It is taken also, in the form of an electuary, for affections of the
chest, with honey, or in some cases, with iris.[1179] Taken in doses of
from four to six drachmæ, with honey and a little salt and vinegar, it
relaxes the bowels.

Some persons, again, give a different description of epithymon:
according to them, it is a plant without[1180] a root, diminutive,
and bearing a flower resembling a small hood, and of a red colour.
They tell us, too, that it is dried in the shade and taken in water,
in doses of half an acetabulum; and that it has a slightly laxative
effect upon the bowels, and carries off the pituitous humours and bile.
Nymphæa[1181] is taken for similar purposes, in astringent wine.


Pycnocomon,[1182] too, is a purgative. It is a plant with leaves like
those of rocket, only thicker and more acrid; the root is round, of
a yellow colour, and with an earthy smell. The stem is quadrangular,
of a moderate length, thin, and surmounted with a flower like that
of ocimum.[1183] It is found growing in rough stony soils. The root,
taken in doses of two denarii in hydromel, acts as a purgative upon the
bowels, and effectually carries off bile and pituitous humours. The
seed, taken in doses of one drachma in wine, is productive of dreams
and restlessness. Capnos,[1184] too, carries off bile by the urine.


Polypodion,[1185] known to us by the name of “filicula,” bears some
resemblance to fern. The root of it is used medicinally; being
fibrous, and of a grass green colour within, about the thickness of
the little finger, and covered with cavernous suckers like those on
the arms of the polypus. This plant is of a sweetish[1186] taste, and
is found growing among rocks and under trees. The root is steeped in
water, and the juice extracted; sometimes, too, it is cut in small
pieces and sprinkled upon cabbage, beet, mallows, or salt meat; or
else it is boiled with pap,[1187] as a gentle aperient for the bowels,
in cases of fever even. It carries off bile also and the pituitous
humours, but acts injuriously upon the stomach. Dried and powdered and
applied to the nostrils, it cauterizes polypus[1188] of the nose. It
has neither seed[1189] nor flower.


Scammony,[1190] also, is productive of derangement of the stomach. It
carries off bile, and acts strongly as a purgative upon the bowels;
unless, indeed, aloes are added, in the proportion of two drachmæ of
aloes to two oboli of scammony. The drug thus called is the juice
of a plant that is branchy from the root, and has unctuous, white,
triangular, leaves, with a solid, moist root, of a nauseous flavour:
it grows in rich white soils. About the period of the rising of the
Dog-star, an excavation is made about the root, to let the juice
collect: which done, it is dried in the sun and divided into tablets.
The root itself, too, or the outer coat of it, is sometimes dried.
The scammony most esteemed is that of Colophon, Mysia, and Priene. In
appearance it ought to be smooth and shiny, and as much like bull glue
as possible: it should present a fungous surface also, covered with
minute holes; should melt with the greatest rapidity, have a powerful
smell, and be sticky like gum. When touched with the tongue, it should
give out a white milky liquid; it ought also to be extremely light, and
to turn white when melted.

This last feature is recognized in the spurious scammony also, a
compound of meal of fitches and juice of marine tithymalos,[1191] which
is mostly imported from Judea, and is very apt to choke those who use
it. The difference may be easily detected, however, by the taste, as
tithymalos imparts a burning sensation to the tongue. To be fully
efficacious, scammony should be two[1192] years old; before or after
that age it is useless. It has been prescribed to be taken by itself
also, in doses of four oboli, with hydromel and salt: but the most
advantageous mode of using it is in combination with aloes, care being
taken to drink honied wine the moment it begins to operate. The root,
too, is boiled down in vinegar to the consistency of honey, and the
decoction used as a liniment for leprosy. The head is also rubbed with
this decoction, mixed with oil, for head-ache.


The tithymalos is called by our people the “milk plant,”[1193] and by
some persons the “goat lettuce.”[1194] They say, that if characters
are traced upon the body with the milky juice of this plant, and
powdered with ashes, when dry, the letters will be perfectly visible;
an expedient which has been adopted before now by intriguers, for
the purpose of communicating with their mistresses, in preference
to a correspondence by letter. There are numerous varieties of
this plant.[1195] The first kind has the additional name of
“characias,”[1196] and is generally looked upon as the male plant. Its
branches are about a finger in thickness, red and full of juice, five
or six in number, and a cubit in length. The leaves near the root are
almost exactly those of the olive, and the extremity of the stem is
surmounted with a tuft like that of the bulrush: it is found growing in
rugged localities near the sea-shore. The seed is gathered in autumn,
together with the tufts, and after being dried in the sun, is beaten
out and put by for keeping. As to the juice, the moment the down
begins to appear upon, the fruit, the branches are broken off and the
juice of them is received upon either meal of fitches or else figs,
and left to dry therewith. Five drops are as much as each fig ought
to receive; and the story is, that if a dropsical patient eats one of
these figs he will have as many motions as the fig has received drops.
While the juice is being collected, due care must be taken not to let
it touch the eyes. From the leaves, pounded, a juice is also extracted,
but not of so useful a nature as the other kind: a decoction, too, is
made from the branches.

The seed also is used, being boiled with honey and made up, into
purgative[1197] pills. These seeds are sometimes inserted in hollow
teeth with wax: the teeth are rinsed too, with a decoction of the root
in wine or oil. The juice is used externally for lichens, and is taken
internally both as an emetic and to promote alvine evacuation: in other
respects, it is prejudicial to the stomach. Taken in drink, with the
addition of salt, it carries off pituitous humours; and in combination
with saltpetre,[1198] removes bile. In cases where it is desirable that
it should purge by stool, it is taken with oxycrate, but where it is
wanted to act as an emetic, with raisin wine or hydromel; three oboli
being a middling dose. The best method, however, of using it, is to eat
the prepared figs above-mentioned, just after taking food. In taste,
it is slightly burning to the throat; indeed it is of so heating a
nature, that, applied externally by itself, it raises blisters on the
flesh, like those caused by the action of fire. Hence it is that it is
sometimes employed as a cautery.


A second kind of tithymalos is called “myrtites”[1199] by some persons,
and “caryites” by others. It has leaves like those of myrtle, pointed
and prickly, but with a softer surface, and grows, like the one already
mentioned, in rugged soils. The tufted heads of it are gathered just,
as barley is beginning to swell in the ear, and, after being left for
nine days in the shade, are thoroughly dried in the sun. The fruit does
not ripen all at once, some, indeed, not till the ensuing year. The
name given to this fruit is the “nut,” whence the Greek appellation
“caryites.”[1200] It is gathered at harvest, and is washed and dried,
being given with twice the quantity of black poppy, in doses of one
acetabulum in all.

As an emetic, this kind is not so efficacious as the preceding one,
and, indeed, the same may be said of all the others. Some physicians
recommend the leaf to be taken in the manner already mentioned, but say
that the nut should either be taken in honied wine or raisin wine, or
else with sesame. It carries off pituitous humours and bile by stool,
and is curative of ulcerations of the mouth. For corrosive sores of the
mouth, the leaf is eaten with honey.


A third kind of tithymalos is known by the additional name of
“paralios,”[1201] or else as “tithymalis.”[1202] The leaf is round, the
stem a palm in height, the branches red, and the seed white. This seed
is gathered just as the grape is beginning to form, and is dried and
pounded; being taken as a purgative, in doses of one acetabulum.


A fourth kind of tithymalos[1203] is known by the additional name of
“helioscopios.”[1204] It has leaves like those of purslain,[1205]
and some four or five small branches standing out from the root, of
a red colour, half a foot in height, and full of juice. This plant
grows in the vicinity of towns: the seed is white, and pigeons[1206]
are remarkably fond of it. It receives its additional name of
“helioscopios” from the fact that the heads of it turn[1207] with the
sun. Taken in doses of half an acetabulum, in oxymel, it carries off
bile by stool: in other respects it has the same properties as the
characias, above-mentioned.


In the fifth place we have the tithymalos known as “cyparissias,”[1208]
from the resemblance of its leaves to those of the cypress. It has
a double or triple stem, and grows in champaign localities. Its
properties are exactly similar to those of the helioscopios and


The sixth kind is called “platyphyllos”[1209] by some, and “corymbites”
or “amygdalites” by others, from its resemblance to the almond-tree.
The leaves of this kind are the largest of all: it has a fatal effect
upon fish. An infusion of the root or leaves, or the juice, taken
in doses of four drachmæ, in honied wine, or hydromel, acts as a
purgative. It is particularly useful also for carrying off the aqueous


The seventh kind has the additional name of “dendroïdes,”[1210]
and is known by some persons as “cobios,” and by others as
“leptophyllos.”[1211] It grows among rocks, and is by far the most
shrubby of all the varieties of the tithymalos. The stems of it are
small and red, and the seed is remarkably abundant. Its properties are
the same as those of the characias.[1212]


The apios ischas or raphanos agria,[1213] throws out two or three
rush-like branches of a red colour, creeping upon the ground, and
bearing leaves like those of rue. The root resembles that of an onion,
only that it is larger, for which reason some have called it the “wild
radish.” The interior of this root is composed of a mammose substance,
containing a white juice: the outer coat is black. It grows in rugged,
mountainous spots, and sometimes in pasture lands. It is taken up in
spring, and pounded and put into an earthen vessel, that portion of it
being removed which floats upon the surface. The part which remains
acts purgatively, taken in doses of an obolus and a half in hydromel,
both as an emetic and by stool. This juice is administered also, in
doses of one acetabulum, for dropsy.

The root of this plant is dried and powdered, and taken in drink: the
upper part of it, they say, carries off bile by acting as an emetic,
the lower part, by promoting alvine evacuation.


Every kind of panaces[1214] is curative of gripings in the bowels; as
also betony, except in those cases where they arise from indigestion.
Juice of peucedanum[1215] is good for flatulency, acting powerfully as
a carminative: the same is the case, also, with root of acoron[1216]
and with daucus,[1217] eaten like lettuce as a salad. Ladanum[1218]
of Cyprus, taken in drink, is curative of intestinal affections;
and a similar effect is produced by powdered gentian, taken in warm
water, in quantities about as large as a bean. For the same purpose,
plantago[1219] is taken in the morning, in doses of two spoonfuls, with
one spoonful of poppy in four cyathi of wine, due care being taken
that it is not old wine. It is given, too, at the last moment before
going to sleep, and with the addition of nitre or polenta,[1220] if
a considerable time has elapsed since the last meal. For colic, an
injection of the juice is used, one hemina at a time, even in cases
where fever has supervened.


Agaric, taken in doses of three oboli in one cyathus of old wine, is
curative of diseases of the spleen. The same, too, with the root of
every kind of panaces,[1221] taken in honied wine: teucria,[1222]
also, is particularly useful for the same purpose, taken in a dry
state, or boiled down in the proportion of one handful to three heminæ
of vinegar. Teucria, too, is applied with vinegar to wounds of the
spleen, or, if the patient cannot bear the application of vinegar,
with figs or water. Polemonia[1223] is taken in wine, and betony, in
doses of one drachma, in three cyathi of oxymel: aristolochia, too, is
used in the same manner as for injuries inflicted by serpents.[1224]
Argemonia,[1225] it is said, taken with the food for seven consecutive
days, diminishes the volume of the spleen; and a similar effect is
attributed to agaric, taken in doses of two oboli, in oxymel. Root,
too, of nymphæa heraclia,[1226] taken in wine, or by itself, diminishes
the spleen.

Cissanthemos,[1227] taken twice a day, in doses of one drachma in
two cyathi of white wine, for forty consecutive days, gradually
carries off the spleen, it is said, by urine. Hyssop, boiled with
figs, is very useful for the same purpose: root of lonchitis,[1228]
also, boiled before it has shed its seed. A decoction of root of
peucedanum[1229] is good for the spleen and kidneys. Acoron,[1230]
taken in drink, diminishes the spleen; and the roots of it are very
beneficial for the viscera and iliac regions. For similar purposes,
seed of clymenus[1231] is taken, for thirty consecutive days, in doses
of one denarius, in white wine. Powdered betony is also used, taken in
a potion with honey and squill vinegar; root too of lonchitis is taken
in water. Teucrium[1232] is used externally for diseases of the spleen;
scordium,[1233] also, in combination with wax; and agaric, mixed with
powdered, fenugreek.


For diseases of the bladder and calculi (affections which, as
already observed,[1234] produce the most excruciating torments),
polemonia[1235] is highly efficacious, taken in wine; agaric also,
and leaves or root of plantago, taken in raisin wine. Betony, too,
is very good, as already observed, when speaking[1236] of diseases of
the liver. This last plant is used also for hernia, applied topically
or taken in drink: it is remarkably efficacious too for strangury. For
calculi some persons recommend betony, vervain, and milfoil, in equal
proportions in water, as a sovereign remedy. It is universally agreed
that dittany is curative of strangury, and that the same is the case
with cinquefoil, boiled down to one third in wine: this last plant is
very useful, too, taken internally and applied topically, for rupture
of the groin.

The upper part of the root of xiphion[1237] has a diuretic effect
upon infants; it is administered also in water for rupture of the
groin, and is applied topically for diseases of the bladder. Juice of
peucedanum[1238] is employed for hernia in infants, and psyllion[1239]
is used as an application in cases of umbilical hernia. The two kinds
of anagallis[1240] are diuretic, and a similar effect is produced
by a decoction of root of acoron,[1241] or the plant itself bruised
and taken in drink; this last is good too for all affections of the
bladder. Both the stem and root of cotyledon[1242] are used for the
cure of calculi; and for all inflammations of the genitals, myrrh
is mixed in equal proportions with the stem and seed. The more
tender leaves of ebulum,[1243] beaten up and taken with wine, expel
calculi of the bladder, and an application of them is curative of
diseases of the testes. Erigeron,[1244] with powdered frankincense
and sweet wine, is curative of inflammation of the testes; and root
of symphytum,[1245] applied topically, reduces rupture of the groin.
The white hypocisthis[1246] is curative of corroding ulcers of the
genitals. Artemisia[1247] is prescribed also in sweet wine for the cure
of calculi and of strangury; and root of nymphæa heraclia,[1248] taken
in wine, allays pains in the bladder.


A similar property belongs also to crethmos,[1249] a plant highly
praised by Hippocrates.[1250] This is one of the wild plants that are
commonly eaten—at all events, we find Callimachus mentioning it as one
of the viands set on table by the peasant Hecale.[1251] It is a species
of garden batis,[1252] with a stem a palm in height, and a hot seed,
odoriferous like that of libanotis,[1253] and round. When dried, the
seed bursts asunder, and discloses in the interior a white kernel,
known as “cachry” to some. The leaf is unctuous and of a whitish
colour, like that of the olive, only thicker and of a saltish taste.
The roots are three or four in number, and about a finger in thickness:
the plant grows in rocky localities, upon the sea-shore. It is eaten
raw or else boiled with cabbage, and has a pleasant, aromatic flavour;
it is preserved also in brine.

This plant is particularly useful for strangury, the leaves, stem,
or root being taken in wine. It improves the complexion of the skin
also, but if taken in excess is very apt to produce flatulency. Used
in the form of a decoction it relaxes the bowels, has a diuretic
effect, and carries off the humours from the kidneys. The same is the
case also with alcea:[1254] dried and powdered and taken in wine, it
removes strangury, and, with the addition of daucus,[1255] is still
more efficacious: it is good too for the spleen, and is taken in drink
as an antidote to the venom of serpents. Mixed with their barley it
is remarkably beneficial for beasts of burden, when suffering from
pituitous defluxions or strangury.


The anthyllion[1256] is a plant very like the lentil. Taken in wine,
it is remedial for diseases of the bladder, and arrests hæmorrhage,
Another variety of it is the anthyllis, a plant resembling the
chamæpitys,[1257] with a purple flower, a powerful smell, and a root
like that of endive.


The plant known as “cepæa”[1258] is even more efficacious. It
resembles purslain in appearance, but has a darker root, that is never
used: it grows upon the sands of the sea-shore, and has a bitter taste.
Taken in wine with root of asparagus, it is remarkably useful for
diseases of the bladder.


Hypericon,[1259] otherwise known as the “chamæpitys”[1260] or
“corison,”[1261] is possessed of similar properties. It is a
plant[1262] with a stem like that[1263] of a garden vegetable, thin,
red, and a cubit in length. The leaf is similar to that of rue, and has
an acrid smell: the seed is enclosed in a swarthy pod, and ripens at
the same time as barley. This seed is of an astringent nature, arrests
diarrhœa, and acts as a diuretic: it is taken also for diseases of the
bladder, in wine.


There is another hypericon also, known as “caros”[1264] by some.
The leaves of it resemble those of the tamarix,[1265] beneath[1266]
which it grows, but are more unctuous[1267] and not so red. It is an
odoriferous plant, somewhat more than a palm[1268] in height, of a
sweet flavour, and slightly pungent. The seed is of a warming nature,
and is consequently productive of eructations; it is not, however,
injurious to the stomach. This plant is particularly useful for
strangury, provided the bladder be not ulcerated; taken in wine, it is
curative of pleurisy also.


Callithrix,[1269] beaten up with cummin seed, and administered in white
wine, is useful also for diseases of the bladder. Leaves of vervain,
boiled down to one third, or root of vervain, in warm honied wine,
expel calculi of the bladder.

Perpressa,[1270] a plant which grows in the vicinity of Arretium and in
Illyricum, is boiled down to one third in three heminæ of water, and
the decoction taken in drink: the same too with trefoil,[1271] which is
administered in wine; and the same with the chrysanthemum.[1272] The
anthemis[1273] also is an expellent of calculi. It is a plant with five
small leaves running from the root, two long stems, and a flower like a
rose. The roots of it are pounded and administered alone, in the same
way as raw laver.[1274]


Silaus[1275] is a plant which grows in running streams with a gravelly
bed. It bears some resemblance to parsley, and is a cubit in height. It
is cooked in the same manner as the acid vegetables,[1276] and is of
great utility for affections of the bladder. In cases where that organ
is affected with eruptions,[1277] it is used in combination with root
of panaces,[1278] a plant which is otherwise bad for the bladder. The
erratic apple,[1279] too, is an expellent of calculi. For this purpose,
a pound of the root is boiled down to one half in a congius of wine,
and one hemina of the decoction is taken for three consecutive days,
the remainder being taken in wine with sium.[1280] Sea-nettle[1281] is
employed too for the same purpose, daucus,[1282] and seed of plantago
in wine.


The plant of Fulvius[1283] too—so called from the first discoverer
of it, and well known[1284] to herbalists—bruised in wine, acts as a


Scordion[1285] reduces swellings of the testes. Henbane is curative
of diseases of the generative organs. Strangury is cured by juice of
peucedanum,[1286] taken with honey; as also by the seed of that plant.
Agaric is also used for the same purpose, taken in doses of three oboli
in one cyathus of old wine; root of trefoil, in doses of two drachmæ in
wine; and root or seed of daucus,[1287] in doses of one drachma. For
the cure of sciatica, the seed and leaves of erythrodanum[1288] are
used, pounded; panaces,[1289] taken in drink; polemonia,[1290] employed
as a friction; and leaves of aristolochia,[1291] in the form of a
decoction. Agaric, taken in doses of three oboli in one cyathus of old
wine, is curative of affections of the tendon known as “platys”[1292]
and of pains in the shoulders. Cinquefoil is either taken in drink or
applied topically for the cure of sciatica; a decoction of scammony
is used also, with barley meal; and the seed of either kind of
hypericon[1293] is taken in wine.

For diseases of the fundament and for excoriations plantago is
remarkably efficacious; for condylomata, cinquefoil; and for procidence
of the rectum, root of cyclaminos,[1294] applied in vinegar. The
blue anagallis[1295] reduces procidence of the rectum, while, on the
contrary, that with a red flower has a tendency to bear it down.
Cotyledon[1296] is a marvellous cure for condylomatous affections
and piles; and root of acoron,[1297] boiled in wine and beaten up,
is a good application for swelling of the testes. According to what
Cato[1298] says, those who carry about them Pontic[1299] wormwood, will
never experience chafing between the thighs.

(9.) Some persons add pennyroyal to the number of these plants:
gathered fasting, they say, and attached to the hinder part of the
body, it will be an effectual preservative against all pains in the
groin, and will allay them in cases where they already exist.


Inguinalis[1300] again, or, as some persons call it, “argemo,” a plant
commonly found growing in bushes and thickets, needs only to be held in
the hand to be productive of beneficial effects upon the groin.


Panaces,[1301] applied with honey, heals inflammatory tumours; an
effect which is equally produced by plantago applied with salt,
cinquefoil, root of persolata[1302] used in the same way as for
scrofula; damasonium[1303] also, and verbascum[1304] pounded with the
root, and then sprinkled with wine, and wrapped in a leaf warmed upon
ashes, and applied hot. Persons of experience in these matters have
asserted that it is of primary importance that the application should
be made by a maiden, as also that she must be naked at the time, and
fasting. The patient must be fasting too, and the damsel must say,
touching him with the back of her hand,[1305] “Apollo forbids that a
disease shall increase which a naked virgin restrains.” So saying, she
must withdraw her hand, and repeat to the above effect three times,
both of them spitting upon the ground each time.

Root, too, of mandragora[1306] is used for this purpose, with
water; a decoction of root of scammony with honey; sideritis[1307]
beaten up with stale grease; horehound with stale axle-grease; or
chrysippios,[1308] a plant which owes its name to its discoverer—with
pulpy figs.


Nymphæa heraclia, used as already stated,[1309] acts most powerfully
as an antaphrodisiac; the same too if taken once every forty days in
drink. Taken in drink fasting, or eaten with the food, it effectually
prevents the recurrence of libidinous dreams. The root too, used in
the form of a liniment and applied to the generative organs, not only
represses all prurient desires, but arrests the seminal secretions as
well; for which reason, it is said to have a tendency to make flesh and
to improve the voice.[1310]

The upper part of the root of xiphion,[1311] taken in wine, acts as an
aphrodisiac. The same is the case too with the wild crethmos,[1312]
or agrios as it is called, and with horminum,[1313] beaten up with


But there are few plants of so marvellous a nature as the orchis[1315]
or serapias, a vegetable production with leaves like those of the
leek, a stem a palm in height, a purple flower, and a twofold root,
formed of tuberosities which resemble the testes in appearance. The
larger of these tuberosities, or, as some say, the harder of the two,
taken in water, is provocative of lust; while the smaller, or, in other
words, the softer one, taken in goat’s milk, acts as an antaphrodisiac.
Some persons describe this plant as having a leaf like that of the
squill, only smoother and softer, and a prickly stem. The roots heal
liberations of the mouth, and are curative of pituitous discharges from
the chest; taken in wine they act astringently upon the bowels.

Satyrion is also a powerful stimulant. There are two kinds of it: the
first[1316] has leaves like those of the olive, but longer, a stem four
fingers in length, a purple flower, and a double root, resembling the
human testes in shape. This root swells and increases in volume one
year, and resumes its original size the next. The other kind is known
as the “satyrios orchis,”[1317] and is supposed to be the female plant.
It is distinguished from the former one by the distance between its
joints, and its more branchy and shrublike form. The root is employed
in philtres: it is mostly found growing near the sea. Beaten up and
applied with polenta,[1318] or by itself, it heals tumours and various
other affections of the generative organs. The root of the first kind,
administered in the milk of a colonic[1319] sheep, causes tentigo;
taken in water it produces a contrary effect.


The Greeks give the name of “satyrion”[1320] to a plant with red
leaves like those of the lily, but smaller, not more than three of them
making their appearance above ground. The stem, they say, is smooth and
bare and a cubit in length, and the root double; the lower part, which
is also the larger, promoting the conception of male issue, the upper
or smaller part, that of female.

They distinguish also another kind of satyrion, by the name of
“erythraïcon:”[1321] it has seed like that of the vitex,[1322] only
larger, smooth, and hard; the root, they say, is covered with a red
rind, and is white within and of a sweetish taste: it is mostly found
in mountainous districts. The root, we are told, if only held in the
hand, acts as a powerful aphrodisiac, and even more so, if it is taken
in rough, astringent wine. It is administered in drink, they say,
to rams and he-goats when inactive and sluggish; and the people of
Sarmatia are in the habit of giving it to their stallions when fatigued
with covering, a defect to which they give the name of “prosedamum.”
The effects of this plant are neutralized by the use of hydromel or

The Greeks, however, give the general name of “satyrion” to all
substances of a stimulating tendency, to the cratægis[1324] for
example, the thelygonon,[1325] and the arrenogonon, plants, the seed
of which bears a resemblance to the testes.[1326] Persons who carry
the pith of branches of tithymalos[1327] about them, are rendered more
amorous thereby, it is said. The statements are really incredible,
which Theophrastus,[1328] in most cases an author of high authority,
makes in relation to this subject; thus, for instance, he says that by
the contact only of a certain plant, a man has been enabled, in the
sexual congress, to repeat his embraces as many as seventy times even!
The name and genus, however, of this plant, he has omitted to mention.


Sideritis,[1329] attached to the body as an amulet, reduces varicose
veins, and effects a painless cure. Gout used to be an extremely
rare disease, not in the times of our fathers and grandfathers only,
but within my own memory even. Indeed, it may justly be considered a
foreign complaint; for if it had been formerly known in Italy, it would
surely have found a Latin name. It should, however, by no means be
looked upon as an incurable malady; for before now, in many instances,
it has quitted the patient all at once, and still more frequently, a
cure has been effected by proper treatment.

For the cure of gout, roots of panaces[1330] are used, mixed
with raisins; juice of henbane, or the seed, combined with meal;
scordion,[1331] taken in vinegar; iberis, as already mentioned;[1332]
vervain, beaten up with axle-grease; or root of cyclaminos,[1333] a
decoction of which is good also for chilblains.

As cooling applications for gout, root of xiphion[1334] is used;
seed of psyllion;[1335] hemlock, with litharge or axle-grease; and,
at the first symptoms of red gout, or, in other words, hot gout, the
plant aizoüm.[1336] For either kind of gout, erigeron,[1337] with
axle-grease, is very useful; leaves of plantago, beaten up with a
little salt; or argemonia,[1338] pounded with honey. An application of
vervain is also remedial, and it is a good plan to soak the feet in a
decoction of that plant in water.


Lappago[1339] is employed also for this disease; a plant similar to the
anagallis,[1340] were it not that it is more branchy, bristling with
a greater number of leaves, covered with rugosities, full of a more
acrid juice, and possessed of a powerful smell. The kind that resembles
anagallis most closely, is known as mollugo.[1341] Asperugo[1342] is a
similar plant, only with a more prickly leaf. The juice of the first is
taken daily, in doses of one denarius, in two cyathi of wine.


But it is the phycos thalassion, or sea-weed,[1343] more particularly,
that is so excellent a remedy for the gout. It resembles the lettuce in
appearance, and is used as the basis in dyeing tissues with the purple
of the murex.[1344] Used before it becomes dry, it is efficacious as
a topical application not only for gout, but for all diseases of the
joints. There are three kinds of it; one with a broad leaf, another
with a longer leaf of a reddish hue, and a third with a crisped leaf,
and used in Crete for dyeing cloths.[1345] All these kinds have
similar properties; and we find Nicander prescribing them in wine as
an antidote to the venom of serpents even. The seed also of the plant
which we have spoken of as “psyllion,”[1346] is useful for the cure
of gout: it is first steeped in water, and one hemina of the seed is
then mixed with two spoonfuls of resin of Colophon, and one spoonful of
frankincense. Leaves of mandragora,[1347] too, are highly esteemed for
this purpose, beaten up with polenta.

(11.) For swellings of the ankles, slime,[1348] kneaded up with oil,
is wonderfully useful, and for swellings of the joints the juice
of the smaller centaury; this last being remarkably good also for
diseases of the sinews. Centauris,[1349] too, is very useful; and for
pains in the sinews of the shoulder-blades, shoulders, vertebræ, and
loins, an infusion of betony is taken in drink in the same way as
for diseases of the liver.[1350] Cinquefoil is applied topically to
the joints, and a similar use is made of the leaves of mandragora,
mixed with polenta,[1351] or else the root, beaten up fresh with wild
cucumber[1352] or boiled in water. For chaps upon the toes, root of
polypodion[1353] is used; and for diseases of the joints, juice of
henbane with axle-grease; amomum,[1354] with a decoction of the plant;
centunculus,[1355] boiled; or fresh moss steeped in water, and attached
to the part till it is quite dry.

The root, too, of lappa boaria,[1356] taken in wine, is productive of
similar effects. A decoction of cyclaminos[1357] in water, is curative
of chilblains, and all other affections resulting from cold. For
chilblains, cotyledon[1358] is also employed with axle-grease, leaves
of batrachion,[1359] and juice of epithymum.[1360] Ladanum,[1361] mixed
with castoreum,[1361] and vervain applied with wine, extract
corns from the feet.


Having now finished the detail of the diseases which are perceptible
in individual parts of the body, we shall proceed to speak of those
which attack the whole of the body. The following I find mentioned
as general remedies: in preference to anything else, an infusion of
dodecatheos,[1362] a plant already described, should be taken in drink,
and then the roots of the several kinds[1363] of panaces, in maladies
of long standing more particularly: seed, too, of panaces should be
used for intestinal complaints. For all painful affections of the body
we find juice of scordium[1364] recommended, as also that of betony:
this last, taken in a potion, is particularly excellent for removing
a wan and leaden hue of the skin, and for improving its general


The plant geranion has the additional names of “myrrhis”[1365] and
“myrtis.” It is similar to hemlock in appearance, but has a smaller
leaf and a shorter stem, rounded, and of a pleasant taste and odour.
Such, at all events, is the description given of it by our herbalists;
but the Greeks speak of it as bearing leaves a little whiter than those
of the mallow, thin downy stems, and branches at intervals some two
palms in length, with small heads at their extremities, in the midst
of the leaves, resembling the bill[1366] of a crane.[1367] There is
also another[1368] variety of this plant, with leaves like those of the
anemone, but with deeper incisions, and a root rounded like an apple,
sweet, and extremely useful and refreshing[1369] for invalids when
recovering their strength; this last would almost seem to be the true

For phthisis this plant is taken, in the proportion of one drachma
to three cyathi of wine, twice a day; as also for flatulency. Eaten
raw, it is productive of similar effects. The juice of the root is
remedial for diseases of the ear; and for opisthotony the seed is
taken in drink, in doses of four drachmæ, with pepper and myrrh. Juice
of plantago,[1370] taken in drink, is curative of phthisis, and a
decoction of it is equally good for the purpose. Plantago taken as
a food with oil and salt, immediately after rising in the morning,
is extremely refreshing; it is prescribed, too, in cases of atrophy,
on alternate days. Betony is given with honey, in the form of an
electuary, for phthisis, in pieces the size of a bean; agaric, too,
is taken in doses of two oboli in raisin wine, or else daucus[1371]
with the greater centaury in wine. For the cure of phagedæna, a name
given in common to bulimia[1372] and to a corrosive kind of ulcer,
tithymalos[1373] is taken in combination with sesame.


Among the various evils by which the whole of the body in common
is afflicted, that of wakefulness is the most common. Among the
remedies for it we find panaces[1374] mentioned, clymenus,[1375] and
aristolochia,[1376] the odour of the plant being inhaled and the head
rubbed with it. Aizoüm, or houseleek, is beneficial, wrapped in black
cloth and placed beneath the pillow, without the patient being aware
of it. The onotheras[1377] too, or onear, taken in wine, has certain
exhilarating properties; it has leaves like those of the almond tree, a
rose-coloured flower, numerous branches, and a long root, with a vinous
smell when dried: an infusion of this root has a soothing effect upon
wild beasts even.

For fits of indigestion[1378] attended with nausea, betony is taken
in drink: used similarly after the evening meal, it facilitates the
digestion. Taken in the proportion of one drachma to three cyathi of
oxymel, it dispels crapulence. The same is the case, too, with agaric,
taken in warm water after eating. Betony is curative of paralysis, it
is said; the same, too, with iberis, as already stated.[1379] This last
is good, too, for numbness of the limbs; the same being the case with
argemonia,[1380] a plant which disperses those affections which might
otherwise necessitate the application of the knife.


Epilepsy is cured by the root of the panaces which we have spoken[1381]
of as the “heraclion,” taken in drink with sea-calf’s rennet, the
proportions being three parts of panaces and one of rennet. For the
same purpose an infusion of plantago[1382] is taken, or else betony or
agaric, with oxymel, the former in doses of one drachma, the latter in
doses of three oboli; leaves of cinquefoil are taken, also, in water.
Archezostis[1383] is also curative of epilepsy, but it must be taken
constantly for a year; root of bacchar,[1384] too, dried and powdered,
and taken in warm water, in the proportion of three cyathi to one
cyathus of coriander; centunculus[1385] also, bruised in vinegar, warm
water, or honey; vervain, taken in wine; hyssop[1386] berries, three
in number, pounded and taken in water, for sixteen days consecutively;
peucedanum,[1387] taken in drink with sea-calf’s rennet, in equal
proportions; leaves of cinquefoil, bruised in wine and taken for thirty
days; powdered betony, in doses of three denarii, with one cyathus of
squill vinegar and an ounce of Attic honey; as also scammony, in the
proportion of two oboli to four drachmæ of castoreum.


Agaric, taken in warm water, alleviates cold fevers: sideritis, in
combination with oil, is good for tertian fevers; bruised ladanum[1388]
also, which is found in corn fields; plantago,[1389] taken in doses of
two drachmæ, in hydromel, a couple of hours before the paroxysms come
on; juice of the root of plantago made warm or subjected to pressure;
or else the root itself beaten up in water made warm with a hot iron.
Some medical men prescribe three roots of plantago, in three cyathi of
water; and in a similar manner, four roots for quartan fevers. When
buglossos[1390] is beginning to wither, if a person takes the pith out
of the stem, and says while so doing, that it is for the cure of such
and such a person suffering from fever, and then attaches seven leaves
to the patient, just before the paroxysms come on, he will experience a
cure, they say.

Fevers too, those which are attended with recurrent cold shiverings
more particularly, are cured by administering one drachma of betony, or
else agaric, in three cyathi of hydromel. Some medical men recommend
three leaves of cinquefoil for tertian, four for quartan, and an
increased number for other fevers; while others again prescribe in all
cases three oboli of cinquefoil, with pepper, in hydromel.

Vervain, administered in water, is curative of fever, in beasts of
burden even; but care must be taken, in cases of tertian fever, to
cut the plant at the third joint, and of quartan fever at the fourth.
The seed of either kind of hypericon[1391] is taken also for quartan
fevers and cold shiverings. Powdered betony modifies these fits, and
panaces[1392] is of so warming a nature that persons when about to
travel amid the snow are recommended to drink an infusion of it, and to
rub the body all over with the plant. Aristolochia[1393] also arrests
shivering produced by cold.


Phrenitis is cured by sleep induced by the agency of an infusion of
peucedanum[1394] in vinegar, poured upon the head, or else by the juice
of either kind of anagallis.[1395] On the other hand, when patients are
suffering from lethargy, it is with the greatest difficulty that they
are aroused; a result which may be effected, they say, by touching the
nostrils with juice of peucedanum in vinegar. For the cure of insanity,
betony is administered in drink. Panaces[1396] brings carbuncles to
a head, and makes them break; and they are equally cured by powdered
betony applied in water, or else cabbage leaves mixed with frankincense
in warm water, and taken in considerable quantities. For a similar
purpose, a red-hot coal is extinguished in the patient’s presence, and
the ashes are taken up with the finger and applied to the sore. Bruised
plantago[1397] is also used for the cure of carbuncles.


For the cure of dropsy, tithymalos characias[1398] is employed;
panaces[1399] also; plantago,[1400] used as a diet, dry bread being
eaten first, without any drink; betony, taken in doses of two drachmæ
in two cyathi of ordinary wine or honied wine; agaric or seed of
lonchitis,[1401] in doses of two spoonfuls, in water; psyllion,[1402]
taken in wine; juice of either anagallis;[1403] root of cotyledon[1404]
in honied wine; root of ebulum,[1405] fresh gathered, with the mould
shaken off, but not washed in water, a pinch in two fingers being taken
in one hemina of old wine mulled; root of trefoil, taken in doses of
two drachmæ in wine; the tithymalos[1406] known as “platyphyllos;” seed
of the hypericon,[1407] otherwise known as “caros;” the plant called
“acte”—the same thing as ebulum[1408] according to some—the root of
it being pounded in three cyathi of wine, if there are no symptoms of
fever, or the seed of it being administered in red wine; a good handful
of vervain also, boiled down in water to one half. But of all the
remedies for this disease, juice of chamæacte[1409] is looked upon as
by far the most efficacious.

Morbid or pituitous eruptions are cured by the agency of plantago,
or else root of cyclaminos[1410] with honey. Leaves of ebulum,[1411]
bruised in old wine and applied topically, are curative of the disease
called “boa,” which makes its appearance in the form of red pimples.
Juice of strychnos,[1412] applied as a liniment, is curative of prurigo.


For the cure of erysipelas, aizoüm[1413] is used, or else pounded
leaves of hemlock, or root of mandragora;[1414] this last being cut
into round slices like cucumber and suspended over must,[1415] after
which it is hung up in the smoke, and then pounded in wine or vinegar.
It is a good plan too to use fomentations with myrtle wine: two ounces
of mint beaten up in vinegar with one ounce of live sulphur, form a
mixture sometimes employed; as also soot mixed with vinegar.

There are several kinds of erysipelas, one in particular which
attacks the middle of the body, and is known as “zoster:”[1416]
should it entirely surround the body, its effects are fatal. For
this disease, plantago[1417] is remedial, mixed with Cimolian[1418]
chalk; vervain, used by itself; or root of persolata.[1419] For other
kinds of erysipelas of a spreading nature, root of cotyledon[1420]
is used, mixed with honied wine; aizoüm also,[1421] or juice of
linozostis,[1422] in combination with vinegar.


For the cure of sprains, root of polypodion[1423] is used, in the form,
of a liniment: the pain and swelling are modified also by using seed of
psyllion;[1424] leaves of plantago[1425] beaten up with a little salt;
seed of verbascum,[1426] boiled in wine and pounded; or hemlock with
axle-grease. Leaves of ephemeron[1427] are applied topically to tumours
and tuberosities, so long as they are capable of being dispersed.


It is upon the eyes in particular that jaundice is productive of so
remarkable an effect; the bile penetrating between the membranes, so
extremely delicate as they are and so closely united. Hippocrates[1428]
tells us that the appearance of jaundice on or after the seventh day
in fevers is a fatal symptom; but I am acquainted with some instances
in which, the patients survived after having been reduced to this
apparently hopeless state. We may remark also, that jaundice sometimes
comes on without fever supervening. It is combated by taking the
greater centaury,[1429] as already mentioned, in drink; agaric, in
doses of three oboli in old wine; or leaves of vervain, in doses of
three oboli, taken for four consecutive days in one hemina of mulled
wine. But the most speedy cure of all is effected by using juice of
cinquefoil, in doses of three cyathi, with salt and honey. Root of
cyclaminos[1430] is also taken in drink in doses of three drachmæ, the
patient sitting in a warm room free from all cold and draughts, the
infusion expelling the bile by its action as a sudorific.

Leaves of tussilago[1431] are also used in water for this purpose;
the seed of either kind of linozostis,[1432] sprinkled in the drink,
or made into a decoction with chick-pease or wormwood: hyssop berries
taken in water; the plant lichen,[1433] all other vegetables being
carefully abstained from while it is being used; polythrix,[1434] taken
in wine; and struthion,[1435] in honied wine.


There are boils also, known as “furunculi,”[1436] which make their
appearance indiscriminately on all parts of the body, and are
productive of the greatest inconvenience: sometimes indeed, when
the constitution is exhausted, they are fatal in their effects. For
their cure, leaves of pycnocomon[1437] are employed, beaten up with
polenta,[1438] if the boil has not come to a head. They are dispersed
also by an application of leaves of ephedron.[1439]


Fistulas, too, insidiously attack all parts of the body, owing to
unskilfulness on the part of medical men in the use of the knife.
The smaller centaury[1440] is used for their cure, with the addition
of lotions[1441] and boiled honey: juice of plantago[1442] is also
employed, as an injection; cinquefoil, mixed with salt and honey;
ladanum,[1443] combined with castoreum;[1444] cotyledon,[1445] applied
hot with stag’s marrow; pith of the root of verbascum[1446] reduced
to a liquid state in the shape of a lotion, and injected; root of
aristolochia;[1447] or juice of tithymalos.[1448]


Abscesses and inflammations are cured by an application of leaves of
argemonia.[1449] For indurations and gatherings of all descriptions
a decoction of vervain or cinquefoil in vinegar is used; leaves or
root of verbascum;[1450] a liniment made of wine and hyssop; root of
acoron,[1451] a decoction of it being used as a fomentation; or else
aizoüm.[1452] Contusions also, hard tumours, and fistulous abscesses
are treated with, illecebra.[1453]

All kinds of foreign substances which have pierced the flesh are
extracted by using leaves of tussilago,[1454] daueus,[1455] or
seed of leontopodium[1456] pounded in water with polenta.[1457] To
suppurations, leaves of pycnocomon[1458] are applied, beaten up
with polenta, or else the seed of that plant, or orchis.[1459] An
application of root of satyrion[1460] is said to be a most efficacious
remedy for deep-seated diseases of the bones. Corrosive ulcers and all
kinds of gatherings are treated with sea-weed,[1461] used before it has
dried. Root, too, of alcima[1462] disperses gatherings.


Burns are cured by the agency of plantago,[1463] or of arction,[1464]
so effectually indeed as to leave no scar. The leaves of this last
plant are boiled in water, beaten up, and applied to the sore. Boots
of cyclaminos[1465] are used, in combination with aizoüm;[1466] the
kind of hypericon also, which we have mentioned as being called


For diseases of the sinews and joints, plantago,[1468] beaten up
with salt, is a very useful remedy, or else argemonia,[1469] pounded
with honey. Patients affected with spasms or tetanus are rubbed with
juice of peucedanum.[1470] For indurations of the sinews, juice of
ægilops[1471] is employed, and for pains in those parts of the body
erigeron[1472] or epithymum,[1473] used as a liniment, with vinegar.
In cases of spasms and opisthotony, it is an excellent plan to rub the
part affected with seed of the hypericon known as “caros,”[1474] and to
take the seed in drink. Phrynion,[1475] it is said, will effect a cure
even when the sinews have been severed, if applied instantaneously,
bruised or chewed. For spasmodic affections, fits of trembling, and
opisthotony, root of alcima[1476] is administered in hydromel; used in
this manner, if has a warming effect when the limbs are benumbed with


The red seed of the plant called “pæonia”[1477] arrests hæmorrhage; the
root also is possessed of similar properties. But it is clymenus[1478]
that should be employed, when there are discharges of blood at the
mouth or nostrils, from the bowels, or from the uterus. In such
cases, lysimachia[1479] also is taken in drink, applied topically,
or introduced into the nostrils; or else seed of plantago,[1480] or
cinquefoil, is taken in drink, or employed in the form of a liniment.
Hemlock seed is introduced into the nostrils, for discharges of blood
there, or else it is pounded and applied in water; aizoüm.[1481]
also, and root of astragalus.[1482] Ischæmon[1483] and achillea[1484]
likewise arrest hæmorrhage.


Equisætum, a plant called “hippuris” by the Greeks, and which we
have mentioned in terms of condemnation, when treating of meadow
lands[1485]—it being, in fact, a sort of hair of the earth, similar in
appearance to horse-hair[1486]—is used by runners for the purpose of
diminishing[1487] the spleen. For this purpose it is boiled down in a
new earthen vessel to one third, the vessel being filled to the brim,
and the decoction taken in doses of one hemina for three successive
days. It is strictly forbidden, however, to eat any food of a greasy
nature the day before taking it.

Among the Greeks there are various opinions in relation to this plant.
According to some, who give it the same name of “hippuris,” it has
leaves like those of the pine tree, and of a swarthy hue; and, if we
are to believe them, it is possessed of virtues of such a marvellous
nature, that if touched by the patient only, it will arrest hæmorrhage.
Some authorities call it “hippuris,” others, again, “ephedron,” and
others “anabasis;” and they tell us that it grows near trees, the
trunks of which it ascends, and hangs down therefrom in numerous tufts
of black, rush-like hair, much like a horse’s tail in appearance. The
branches, we are told, are thin and articulated, and the leaves, few in
number, small, and thin, the seed round, and similar to coriander in
appearance, and the root ligneous: it grows, they say, in plantations
more particularly.

This plant is possessed of astringent properties. The juice of it, kept
in the nostrils, arrests bleeding therefrom, and it acts astringently
upon the bowels. Taken in doses of three cyathi, in sweet wine, it is
a cure for dysentery, is an efficient diuretic, and is curative of
cough, hardness of breathing, ruptures, and serpiginous affections. For
diseases of the intestines and bladder, the leaves are taken in drink;
it has the property, also, of reducing ruptures of the groin.

The Greek writers describe another[1488] hippuris, also, with shorter
tufts, softer and whiter. This last, they say, is remarkably good
for sciatica, and, applied with vinegar, for wounds, it having the
property of stanching the blood. Bruised nymphæa[1489] is also
applied to wounds. Peucedanum[1490] is taken in drink with cypress
seed, for discharges of blood at the mouth or by the lower passages.
Sideritis[1491] is possessed of such remarkable virtues, that applied
to the wound of a gladiator just inflicted, it will stop the flow of
blood; an effect which is equally produced by an application of charred
fennel-giant, or of the ashes of that plant. For a similar purpose,
also, the fungus that is found growing near the root of fennel-giant is
still more efficacious.


For bleeding at the nostrils, seed of hemlock, pounded in water
is considered efficacious, as also stephanomelis,[1492] applied
with water. Powdered betony, taken with goat’s milk, or bruised
plantago,[1493] arrests discharges of blood from the mamillæ. Juice of
plantago is administered to patients when vomiting blood. For local
discharges of blood, an application of root of persolata[1494] with
stale axle-grease is highly spoken of.


For ruptures, convulsions, and falls with violence, the greater
centaury[1495] is used; root of gentian pounded or boiled; juice
of betony—this last being employed also for ruptures produced by
straining the vocal organs or sides—panaces;[1496] scordium;[1497] or
aristolochia[1498] taken in drink. For contusions and falls, agaric
is taken, in doses of two oboli, in three cyathi of honied wine, or
if there are symptoms of fever, hydromel; the verbascum,[1499] also,
with a golden flower; root of acoron;[1500] the several varieties
of aizoüm,[1501] the juice of the larger kind being particularly
efficacious; juice of symphytum,[1502] or a decoction of the root of
that plant; daucus,[1503] unboiled; erysithales,[1504] a plant with
a yellow flower and a leaf like that of acanthus, taken in wine;
chamærops;[1505] irio,[1506] taken in pottage; plantago[1507] taken any
way, as also * * * *


Phthiriasis is a disease which proved fatal to the Dictator
Sylla,[1508] and which developes itself by the production of insects
in the blood, which ultimately consume the body. It is combated by
using the juice of Taminian grapes[1509] or of hellebore, the body
being rubbed all over with it, in combination with oil. A decoction
of Taminian grapes in vinegar, has the effect, also, of ridding the
clothes of these vermin.


Of ulcers there are numerous kinds, which are treated in various
ways. The root of all the varieties of panaces[1510] is used as an
application for running ulcers, in warm wine.

That which we have spoken of as the “chironion”[1511] is particularly
good as a desiccative: bruised with honey, it opens tumours, and
is useful for serpiginous ulcers, the cure of which appears more
than doubtful; in which case it is amalgamated with flower[1512] of
copper tempered with wine, either the seed, flower, or root, being
employed for the purpose. Mixed with polenta[1513] it is good for old
wounds. The following are also good detergents for wounds: heraclion
siderion,[1514] apollinaris,[1515] psyllion,[1516] tragacantha,[1517]
and scordotis[1518] mixed with honey. Powdered scordotis, applied by
itself, consumes fleshy excrescences on the body. Polemonia[1519] is
curative of the malignant ulcer known as “cacoëthes.” The greater
centaury,[1520] sprinkled in powder, or applied in the form of a
liniment, or the leaves of the smaller[1521] centaury, boiled or
pounded, act as a detergent upon inveterate ulcers, and effect a cure.
To recent wounds, the follicules of the clymenus[1522] are applied.
Gentian is applied to serpiginous ulcers, the root being bruised or
else boiled down in water to the consistency of honey; the juice
also of the plant is employed. For wounds, a kind of lycium[1523] is
prepared from gentian.

Lysimachia[1524] is curative of recent wounds, and plantago[1525] of
all kinds of liberations, those on females, infants, and aged persons
more particularly. This plant, when softened by the action of fire, is
better still: in combination with cerate it acts as a detergent upon
ulcers with indurated edges, and arrests the progress of corrosive
sores: when applied bruised, it should be covered with its own leaves.
Chelidonia[1526] also acts as a desiccative upon suppurations,
abscesses, and fistulous ulcers; indeed, it is so remarkably useful for
the cure of wounds, as to be employed as a substitute for spodium[1527]
even. In cases where the cure is almost hopeless, it is applied with
axle-grease. Dittany,[1528] taken internally, causes arrows to fall
from the flesh; used as a liniment, it has the effect of extracting
other kinds of pointed weapons: the leaves are taken in the proportion
of one obolus to one cyathus of water. Nearly equal in its efficacy
is pseudo-dictamnon:[1529] they are both of them useful, also, for
dispersing suppurations.

Aristolochia[1530] cauterizes putrid sores, and, applied with honey,
acts as a detergent upon sordid ulcers. At the same time also, it
removes maggots, and extracts hard cores, and all foreign bodies
adhering to the flesh, arrows more particularly, and, applied with
resin, splintered bones. Used by itself, it fills the cavities made
by ulcers with new flesh, and, employed with iris,[1531] in vinegar,
it closes recent wounds. Vervain, or cinquefoil with salt and honey,
is remedial for ulcers of long standing. Roots of persolata[1532] are
applied to recent wounds inflicted with iron, but for old wounds, it
is the leaves that are employed: in both cases, in combination with
axle-grease, the sore being then covered with the leaves of the plant.
Damasonium[1533] is used for wounds the same way as for scrofula,[1534]
and leaves of verbascum[1535] are employed with vinegar or wine.

Vervain is useful for all kinds of callosities or putrid sores; root
of nymphæa heraclia[1536] is curative of running ulcers; and the same
is the case with root of cyclaminos,[1537] either used by itself, or
in combination with vinegar or honey. This last root is useful also
for the cure of steatomatous tumours, and hyssop for that of running
ulcers; an effect equally produced by peucedanum,[1538] a plant which
exercises so powerful an influence upon fresh wounds, as to cause
exfoliation even of the bones. The two varieties of anagallis[1539]
are possessed of similar properties, and act as a check upon the
corrosive sores known as “nomæ” and upon defluxions; they are useful
also in cases of recent wounds, those of aged people in particular.
Fresh leaves of mandragora,[1540] applied with cerate, are curative of
apostemes and sordid ulcers: the root too is used, with honey or oil,
for wounds.

Hemlock, incorporated with flour of winter wheat[1541] by the agency
of wine—as also the plant aizoüm[1542]—is curative of herpetic
eruptions, and corrosive or putrid sores. Erigeron[1543] is employed
for ulcers which breed maggots. Root of astragalus[1544] is used for
the cure of recent wounds or of ulcers of long standing; and upon these
last either kind of hypocisthis[1545] acts as a detergent. Seed of
leontopodium,[1546] bruised in water and applied with polenta,[1547]
extracts pointed weapons from the flesh: a result equally produced
by using seed of pycnocomon.[1548] The tithyinalos characias[1549]
supplies its juice for the cure of gangrenes, phagedænic sores, and
putrid ulcers; or else a decoction is made of the branches with polenta
and oil. Boots of orchis[1550] have a similar effect; in addition to
which, applied, either dry or fresh gathered, with honey and vinegar,
they are curative of the ulcer known as “cacoëthes.” Onothera[1551]
also, used by itself, is curative of ulcers when rapidly gaining head.

The people of Scythia employ scythice[1552] for the treatment of
wounds. For carcinoma, argemonia,[1553] applied with honey, is
extremely efficacious. For sores that have prematurely closed,
root of asphodel is boiled, in manner already[1554] stated and
then beaten up with polenta,[1555] and applied. For all kinds of
wounds apollinaris[1556] is very useful. Root of astragalus,[1557]
reduced to powder, is good for running ulcers; the same, too, with
callithrix,[1558] boiled in water. For blisters, more particularly when
caused by the shoes, vervain is used, as also pounded lysimachia,[1559]
or nymphæa[1560] dried and powdered; but when they have assumed
the form of inveterate ulcers, polythrix[1561] will be found more


Polycnemon[1562] is a plant which resembles cunila bubula;[1563] it
has a seed like that of pennyroyal, a ligneous stem with numerous
articulations, and odoriferous umbels, with a pleasant though pungent
smell. This plant is chewed and applied to wounds inflicted with iron,
the application being removed at the end of four days. Symphyton[1564]
causes sores to cicatrize with the greatest rapidity; the same, too,
with sideritis,[1565] which is applied in combination with honey. The
seed and leaves of verbascum,[1566] boiled in wine and pounded, are
used for the extraction of all foreign substances adhering to the
body; and a similar use is made of leaves of mandragora[1567] mixed
with polenta,[1568] and roots of cyclaminos[1569] with honey. Leaves
of trixago,[1570] bruised in oil, are used for ulcers of a serpiginous
nature more particularly, as also sea-weed bruised with honey. Betony,
with the addition of salt, is employed for the cure of carcinomatous
sores and inveterate blisters on the neck.


Argemonia[1571] with vinegar, or root of batrachion,[1572] removes
warts; this last having the effect also of bringing off malformed
nails. The juice or the leaves, applied topically, of either kind of
linozostis,[1573] remove warts. All the varieties of tithymalos[1574]
are efficacious for the removal of every kind of wart, as also of
hangnails[1575] and wens. Ladanum[1576] imparts a fresh colour and
seemly appearance to scars.

(15.) The traveller who carries artemisia[1577] attached to his person,
or elelisphacus,[1578] will never be sensible of lassitude, it is said.


One great remedy for all female diseases in common, is the black seed
of the herbaceous plant pæonia,[1579] taken in hydromel: the root
also is an effectual emmenagogue. Seed of panaces,[1580] mixed with
wormwood, acts as an emmenagogue and as a sudorific: the same, too,
with scordotis,[1581] taken internally or applied topically. Betony,
in doses of one drachma to three cyathi of wine, is taken for various
affections of the uterus, as also directly after child-birth. Excessive
menstruation is arrested by a pessary of achillea,[1582] or else a
sitting-bath composed of a decoction of that plant. Seed of henbane
in wine is used as a liniment for diseases of the mamillæ, and the
root is employed in the form of a plaster for uterine affections;
chelidonia,[1583] too, is applied to the mamillæ.

Roots of panaces,[1584] applied as a pessary, bring away the
after-birth and the dead fœtus, and the plant itself, taken in wine,
or used as a pessary with honey, acts as a detergent upon the uterus.
Polemonia,[1585] taken in wine, brings away the after-birth; used as
a fumigation, it is good for suffocations of the uterus. Juice of the
smaller centaury,[1586] taken in drink, or employed as a fomentation,
acts as an emmenagogue. The root also of the larger centaury, similarly
used, is good for pains in the uterus; scraped and used as a pessary,
it expels the dead fœtus. For pains of the uterus, plantago[1587] is
applied as a pessary, in wool, and for hysterical suffocations, it is
taken in drink. But it is dittany that is of the greatest efficacy
in cases of this description; it acts as an emmenagogue, and is an
expellent of the fœtus when dead or lying transversely in the uterus.
In these cases the leaves of it are taken, in doses of one obolus, in
water: indeed so active is it in its effects that ordinarily it is
forbidden to be introduced into the chamber of a woman lying-in. Not
only is it thus efficacious when taken in drink, but even when applied
topically or used as a fumigation. Pseudodictamnum[1588] possesses
pretty nearly the same virtues, but it acts as an emmenagogue also,
boiled in doses of one denarius in unmixed wine. Aristolochia,[1589]
however, is employed for a greater number of purposes: in combination
with myrrh and pepper, either taken in drink or used as a pessary, it
acts as a powerful emmenagogue, and brings away the dead fœtus and the
after-birth. This plant, the smaller kind in particular, used either
as a fomentation, fumigation, or pessary, acts as a preventive of
procidence of the uterus.

Hysterical suffocations and irregularities of the catamenia are treated
with agaric, taken in doses of three oboli, in one cyathus of old
wine: vervain is used also in similar cases, as a pessary, with fresh
hog’s lard; or else antirrhinum,[1590] with rose, oil and honey. Root
of Thessalian nymphæa,[1591] used as a pessary, is curative of pains
in the uterus; taken in red wine, it arrests uterine discharges. Root
of cyclaminos,[1592] on the other hand, taken in drink and employed
as a pessary, acts as an emmenagogue: a decoction of it, used as a
sitting-bath, cures affections of the bladder. Cissanthemos,[1593]
taken in drink, brings away the after-birth, and is curative of
diseases of the uterus. The upper part of the root of xiphion,[1594]
taken in doses of one drachma, in vinegar, promotes menstruation. A
fumigation of burnt peucedanum[1595] has a soothing effect in cases
of hysterical suffocation. Psyllion,[1596] taken in the proportion
of one drachma to three cyathi of hydromel, is particularly good for
promoting the lochial discharge. Seed of mandragora,[1597] taken in
drink, acts as a detergent upon the uterus; the juice, employed in
a pessary, promotes menstruation and expels the dead fœtus. The seed
of this plant, used with live sulphur,[1598] arrests menstruation
when in excess; while batrachion,[1599] on the other hand, acts as an
emmenagogue. This last plant is either used as an article of food, or
is taken in drink: in a raw state, as already stated,[1600] it has a
burning flavour; but when cooked, the taste of it is greatly improved
by the addition of salt, oil, and cummin. Daucus,[1601] taken in
drink, promotes the catamenia, and is an expellent of the after-birth
in a very high degree. Ladanum,[1602] used as a fumigation, acts as a
corrective upon the uterus, and is employed topically for pains and
ulcerations of that organ.

Scammony, taken in drink or used as a pessary, is an expellent of the
dead fœtus. Either kind of hypericon,[1603] used as a pessary, promotes
menstruation: but for this purpose it is crethmos,[1604] according
to Hippocrates, that is the most efficacious, the seed or root of
it being taken in wine.[1605] * * * of the outer coat brings away
the after-birth. This plant, taken in water, is good for hysterical
suffocations; root of geranion[1606] also, which is peculiarly useful
for the after-birth, and for inflation of the uterus. Hippuris,[1607]
taken in drink or applied as a pessary, acts as a detergent upon the
uterus: polygonos,[1608] taken in drink, promotes menstruation; and the
same with root of alcima.[1609] Leaves of plantago,[1610] and agaric in
hydromel, have a similar effect. Artemisia,[1611] bruised and applied
as a pessary, with oil of iris,[1612] figs, or myrrh, is curative of
diseases of the uterus; the root, too, of this plant, taken in drink,
is so strongly purgative as to expel the dead fœtus even. A decoction
of the branches, used as a sitting-bath, promotes menstruation and
brings away the after-birth; the same too, with the leaves, taken in
doses of one drachma in drink. The leaves, if applied to the lower
regions of the abdomen with barley-meal, will prove equally efficacious.

Acoron[1613] is very useful for internal complaints of females; as
also the two varieties of conyza,[1614] and crethmos.[1615] Either
kind of anthyllis,[1616] taken in wine, is remarkably good for uterine
affections, griping pains in that organ, and retardations of the
after-birth. Callithrix,[1617] applied as a fomentation, is curative
of affections of the vagina: it removes scaly eruptions[1618] also of
the head, and, beaten up in oil, it stains the hair. Geranion,[1619]
taken in white wine, or hypocisthis[1620] in red, arrests all uterine
discharges. Hyssop modifies hysterical suffocations. Root of vervain,
taken in water, is a most excellent remedy for all accidents incident
to, or consequent upon, delivery. Some persons mix bruised cypress
seed with peucedanum[1621] in red wine. Seed, too, of psyllion,[1622]
boiled in water and taken warm, has a soothing effect upon all
defluxions of the uterus. Symphyton,[1623] bruised in wine, promotes
menstruation. Juice of scordotis,[1624] in the proportion of one
drachma to four cyathi of hydromel, accelerates delivery. Leaves of
dittany are given for the same purpose, in water, with remarkable
success. It is a well-known fact, too, that these leaves, to the extent
of a single obolus even, will bring away the fœtus instantaneously,
even when dead, without the slightest inconvenience to the patient.
Pseudodictamnum[1625] is productive of a somewhat similar effect,
but not in so marked a degree: cyclaminos,[1626] too, attached as an
amulet; cissanthemos,[1627] taken in drink; and powdered betony, in


Arsenogonon[1628] and thelygonon are plants, both of them, with
clusters resembling the blossoms of the olive, but paler, and a white
seed like that of the poppy. By taking thelygonon in drink, they
say, the conception of female issue is ensured. Arsenogonon differs
from it in the seed, which resembles that of the olive, but in no
other respect. By taking this last plant in drink, male issue may be
ensured—that is, if we choose to believe it. Some persons, however,
assert that both plants resemble ocimum,[1629] but that the seed of
arsenogonon is double, and resembles the testes in appearance.


Aizoüm, which we have spoken of under the name of digitellus,[1630] is
the great specific for diseases of the mamillæ. The milk is increased
by taking erigeron[1631] in raisin wine, or else sonchos[1632]
boiled with spelt. The plant known as “mastos,”[1633] applied
topically, removes the hairs from the mamillæ,[1634] which make their
appearance after child-birth: it has the effect also of dispersing
scaly crusts[1635] upon the face, and other cutaneous affections.
Gentian also, nymphæa heraclia[1636] employed in a liniment, and
root of cyclaminos,[1637] remove all blemishes of the skin. Seeds of
cacalia,[1638] mixed with melted wax, plump out the skin of the face
and make wrinkles disappear. Root of acoron,[1639] also, removes all
spots upon the skin.


Lysimachia[1640] imparts a blonde tint[1641] to the hair, and the
hypericon,[1642] otherwise called “corisson,” makes it black. The same
too, with ophrys,[1643] a plant with indentations, which resembles the
cabbage, but has only two leaves. Polemonia,[1644] too, boiled in oil,
imparts blackness to the hair.

As for depilatories, I reckon them in the number of cosmetics, fit
for women only, though men use them now-a-days. For this purpose
archezostis[1645] is looked upon as highly efficacious, as also juice
of tithymalos,[1646] applied with oil every now and then in the sun, or
after pulling out the hairs. Hyssop, applied with oil, heals itch-scab
in beasts, and sideritis[1647] is particularly useful for quinzy in

But let us now turn to the remaining plants of which we have to speak.

SUMMARY.—Remedies, narratives, and observations, one thousand and

ROMAN AUTHORS QUOTED.—M. Varro,[1648] C. Valgius,[1649] Pompeius
Lenæus,[1650] Sextius Niger[1651] who wrote in Greek, Julius
Bassus[1652] who wrote in Greek, Antonius Castor,[1653] Cornelius

FOREIGN AUTHORS QUOTED.—Theophrastus,[1655] Democritus,[1656]
Juba,[1657] Orpheus,[1658] Pythagoras,[1659] Mago,[1660] Menander[1661]
who wrote the “Biochresta,” Nicander,[1662] Homer, Hesiod,[1663]
Musæus,[1664] Sophocles,[1665] Xanthus,[1666] Anaxilaüs.[1667]

MEDICAL AUTHORS QUOTED.—Mnesitheus,[1668] Callimachus,[1669]
Phanias[1670] the physician, Timaristus,[1671] Simus,[1672]
Hippocrates,[1673] Chrysippus,[1674] Diocles,[1675] Ophelion,[1676]
Heraclides,[1677] Hicesius,[1678] Dionysius,[1679] Apollodorus[1680]
of Citium, Apollodorus[1681] of Tarentum, Praxagoras[1682]
Plistonieus,[1683] Medius,[1684] Dieuches,[1685] Cleophantus,[1686]
Philistion,[1687] Asclepiades,[1688] Crateuas,[1689] Petronius
Diadotus,[1690] Iollas,[1691] Erasistratus,[1692] Diagoras,[1693]
Andreas,[1694] Mnesides,[1695] Epicharmus[1696] Damion,[1697]
Tlepolemus,[1698] Metrodorus,[1699] Solo,[1700] Lycus,[1701]
Olympias[1702] of Thebes, Philinus,[1703] Petrichus,[1704]
Micton,[1705] Glaucias,[1706] Xenocrates.[1707]




The further I proceed in this work, the more I am impressed with
admiration of the ancients; and the greater the number of plants that
remain to be described, the more I am induced to venerate the zeal
displayed by the men of former times in their researches, and the
kindly spirit manifested by them in transmitting to us the results
thereof. Indeed their bounteousness in this respect would almost seem
to have surpassed the munificent disposition even of Nature herself,
if our knowledge of plants had depended solely upon man’s spirit of
discovery: but as it is, it is evident beyond all doubt that this
knowledge has emanated from the gods themselves, or, at all events, has
been the result of divine inspiration, even in those cases where man
has been instrumental in communicating it to us. In other words, if
we must confess the truth—a marvel surpassed by nothing in our daily
experience—Nature herself, that common parent of all things, has at
once produced them, and has discovered to us their properties.

Wondrous indeed is it, that a Scythian[1708] plant should be brought
from the shores of the Palus Mæotis, and the euphorbia[1709] from
Mount Atlas and the regions beyond the Pillars of Hercules, localities
where the operations of Nature have reached their utmost limit! That
in another direction, the plant britannica[1710] should be conveyed
to us from isles of the Ocean situate beyond the confines of the
earth![1711] That the æthiopis[1712] should reach us from a climate
scorched by the luminaries of heaven! And then, in addition to all
this, that there should be a perpetual interchange going on between
all parts of the earth, of productions so instrumental to the welfare
of mankind! Results, all of them, ensured to us by the peace that
reigns under the majestic sway of the Roman power, a peace which brings
in presence of each other, not individuals only, belonging to lands
and nations far separate, but mountains even, and heights towering
above the clouds, their plants and their various productions! That
this great bounteousness of the gods may know no end, is my prayer, a
bounteousness which seems to have granted the Roman sway as a second
luminary for the benefit of mankind.


But who, I say, can sufficiently venerate the zeal and spirit of
research displayed by the ancients? It is they who have shown us that
aconite is the most prompt of all poisons in its effects—so much so
indeed, that female animals, if the sexual parts[1713] are but touched
with it, will not survive a single day. With this poison it was that M.
Cæcilius[1714] accused Calpurnius Bestia of killing his wives in their
sleep, and this it was that gave rise to that fearful peroration of
his, denouncing the murderous finger of the accused.[1715] According
to the fables of mythology, this plant was originally produced from
the foam of the dog Cerberus, when dragged by Hercules from the
Infernal[1716] Regions; for which reason, it is said, it is still so
remarkably abundant in the vicinity of Heraclea in Pontus, a spot where
the entrance is still pointed out to the shades below.

And yet, noxious as it is, the ancients have shown us how to employ
aconite for the benefit of mankind, and have taught us as the result
of their experience, that, taken in mulled wine, it neutralizes the
venom of the scorpion: indeed such is the nature of this deadly plant,
that it kills man, unless it can find in man something else to kill.
When such is the case, as though it had discovered in the body a fit
rival to contend with, that substance is the sole object of its attack;
finding another poison in the viscera, to it alone it confines its
onslaught; and thus, a truly marvellous thing! two poisons, each of
them of a deadly nature, destroy one another within the body, and the
man survives. Even more than this, the ancients have handed down to
us remedies employed by the animals themselves, and have shown how
that venomous creatures even effect their own cure. By the contact of
aconite the scorpion is struck with torpor,[1717] is quite benumbed,
assumes a pallid hue, and so confesses itself vanquished. When this is
the case, white hellebore is its great auxiliary: the very touch of it
dispels its torpor, and the aconite is forced to yield before two foes,
its own enemy[1718] and the common[1719] enemy of all.

Now, after this, if any one should be of opinion that man could, by
any chance or possibility, make such discoveries as these, he must
surely be guilty of ingratitude in thus appreciating the beneficence of
the gods! In countries frequented by the panther, they rub meat with
aconite, and if one of those animals should but taste it, its effects
are fatal: indeed were not these means adopted, the country would soon
be over-run by them. It is for this reason, too, that some persons have
given to hellebore the name of “pardalianches.”[1720] It has been well
ascertained, however, that the panther instantaneously recovers if it
can find the opportunity of eating human ordure.[1721] So far as these
animals are concerned, who can entertain a doubt that it was chance
only that first led them to this discovery; and that as often as this
happens the discovery is only a mere repetition of the accident, there
being neither reason nor an appreciation of experience to ensure its
transmission among them?

(3.) It is chance,[1722] yes, it is chance that is the Deity who has
made to us these numerous revelations for our practical benefit;[1723]
always understanding that under this name we mean Nature, that great
parent and mistress of all things: and this is evident, whether we come
to the conclusion, that these wild beasts make the discovery from day
to day, or that they are gifted from the first with these powers of
perception. Regarded in another point of view, it really is a disgrace
that all animated beings should have an exact knowledge of what is
beneficial to them, with the exception of man!

The ancients, openly professing their belief that there is no evil
without some admixture of good, have asserted that aconite is a
remarkably useful ingredient in compositions for the eyes. It may
therefore be permitted me, though I have hitherto omitted a description
of the poisonous plants, to point out the characteristics of aconite,
if only that it may be the more easily detected. Aconite[1724] has
leaves like those of cyclaminos[1725] or of the cucumber, never more
than four in number, slightly hairy, and rising from near the root.
This root, which is of moderate size, resembles the sea-fish known
as the “cammarus,”[1726] a circumstance owing to which the plant has
received the name of “cammaron” from some; while others, for the
reason already[1727] mentioned, have called it “thelyphonon.”[1728]
The root is slightly curved, like a scorpion’s tail, for which reason
some persons have given it the name of “scorpio.” Others, again, have
preferred giving it the name of “myoctonon,”[1729] from the fact that
the odour of it kills mice at a considerable distance even.

This plant is found growing upon the naked rocks known as
“aconæ;”[1730] and hence it is, according to some authorities, that
it is called “aconitum,” there being not so much as dust even about it
to conduce to its nutriment. Such is the reason given for its name by
some: but according to others, it receives this appellation from the
fact that it fatally exercises the same effects upon the body that the
whetstone[1731] does upon the edge of iron, being no sooner employed
than its effects are felt.


Æthiopis[1732] is a plant with leaves resembling those of
phlomos,[1733] large, numerous, hairy, and springing from the root. The
stem is square, rough, similar to that of arction[1734] in appearance,
and with numerous axillary concavities. The seed resembles that of the
fitch, being white and twofold; the roots are several in number, long,
fleshy, soft, and of a viscous taste; when dry they turn black and
hard, and might easily be taken for horns. In addition to Æthiopia,
this plant grows upon Mount Ida in Troas, and in Messenia. The roots
are gathered in autumn, and left to dry for some days in the sun, to
prevent them from turning mouldy. Taken in white wine they are curative
of affections of the uterus, and a decoction of them is administered
for sciatica, pleurisy, and eruptions of the throat. The kind, however,
which comes from Æthiopia, is by far the best, and gives instantaneous


Ageraton[1735] is a ferulaceous plant, a couple of palms in height,
similar to origanum[1736] in appearance, and bearing flowers like
balls of gold. Used as a fumigation, this plant acts as a diuretic;
and as a detergent upon the uterus, when used in a sitting bath more
particularly. Its name has been given to it, from the circumstance that
it keeps a very long time without fading.


The aloe[1737] bears a resemblance to the squill, except that it
is larger, and has more substantial leaves, with streaks running
obliquely. The stem is tender, red in the middle, and not unlike that
of the anthericus.[1738] It has a single root, which runs straight
downwards, like a stake driven into the ground; its smell is powerful,
and it has a bitter taste. The most esteemed aloes are those imported
from India, but it grows in the Asiatic provinces[1739] as well. This
last kind, however, is never used, except that the leaves are applied
fresh to wounds; indeed, these leaves, as well as the juice, are
glutinous to a marvellous degree, and it is for this property that it
is grown in vessels of a conical form, in the same way as the greater
aizoüm.[1740] Some persons make incisions in the stem to obtain the
juice, before the seed is ripe, while others, again, make them in the
leaves as well. Tearlike drops are also found adhering to it, which
exude spontaneously: hence it is that some recommend that the place
should be paved where it is grown, to prevent this juice from being

Some authors have stated, that there is found in Judæa, beyond
Hierosolyma, a mineral[1741] aloe, but that it is inferior to the other
kinds, being of a darker colour and more humid than any of the rest.
Aloes[1742] of the finest quality should be unctuous and shining, of a
red colour, brittle, compact, like the substance of liver, and easily
liquefied. That which is hard and black should be rejected; the same,
too, when it is mixed with sand or adulterated with gum and acacia, a
fraud which, may be easily detected by the taste.

This plant is of an astringent nature, binding, and slightly
calorific. It is employed for numerous purposes, but principally as a
purgative,[1743] it being almost the only one of all the medicaments
which produce that effect, that is at the same time a good stomachic,
and does not exercise the slightest noxious influence upon the stomach.
It is taken in doses of one drachma, and, in cases of derangement
of the stomach, it is administered two or three times a day, in the
proportion of one spoonful to two cyathi of warm or cold water, at
intervals, according to the nature of the emergency. As a purgative
it is mostly taken in doses of three drachmæ; and it operates still
more efficaciously, if food is eaten directly afterwards. Used with
astringent wine, it prevents[1744] the hair from falling off, the head
being rubbed with it the contrary way of the hair, in the sun. Applied
to the temples and forehead, with rose oil and vinegar, or used as an
infusion, in a more diluted form, it allays head-ache. It is generally
agreed that it is remedial for all diseases[1745] of the eyes, but more
particularly for prurigo and scaly eruptions of the eye-lids; as also
for marks and bruises, applied in combination with honey, Pontic honey
in particular.

It is employed, also, for affections of the tonsillary glands and gums,
for all ulcerations of the mouth, and for spitting of blood, if not
in excess—the proper dose being one drachma, taken in water or else
vinegar. Used by itself, or in combination, with vinegar, it arrests
hæmorrhage, whether proceeding from wounds or from other causes. In
addition to these properties, it is extremely efficacious for the cure
of wounds, producing cicatrization very rapidly: it is sprinkled also
upon ulcerations of the male organs, and is applied to condylomata
and chaps of the fundament, either in common wine, raisin wine, or
by itself in a dry state, according as a mollifying or restrictive
treatment is required. It has the effect, also, of gently arresting
hæmorrhoidal bleeding, when in excess. In cases of dysentery, it is
used as an injection, and where the digestion is imperfect it is taken
shortly after the evening meal. For jaundice, it is administered in
doses of three oboli, in water. As a purgative for the bowels, it is
taken in pills, with boiled honey or turpentine. It is good also for
the removal of hangnails. When employed in ophthalmic preparations, it
is first washed, that the more gravelly portions of it may subside; or
else it is put over the fire in a pipkin, and stirred with a feather
from time to time, that the whole of it may be equally warmed.


Alcea[1746] is a plant with leaves, resembling those of vervain,[1747]
known also as “peristereon,” some three or four stems covered with
leaves, a flower like that of the rose, and white roots, at most six in
number, a cubit in length, and running obliquely. It grows in a soil
that is rich without being dry. The root is given in wine or water, for
dysentery, diarrhœa, ruptures, and convulsions.


The alypon[1748] has a small stem, with a soft head, and is not unlike
beet in appearance. It has an acrid, viscous taste, extremely pungent
and burning. Taken in hydromel, with a little salt, it acts as a
purgative. The smallest dose is two drachmæ, a moderate dose, four,
and the largest, six. When used as a purgative, it is taken in chicken


Alsine,[1749] a plant known as “myosoton”[1750] to some, grows in the
woods, to which fact it is indebted for its name of “alsine.”[1751]
It begins to make its appearance at mid-winter, and withers in the
middle of summer. When it first puts forth, the leaves bear a strong
resemblance to the ears of mice. We shall have occasion,[1752]
however, to speak of another plant which may, with much more justice,
be called “myosotis.” As for alsine, it would be the same thing as
helxine,[1753] were it not that it is smaller and not so hairy. It
grows in[1754] gardens and upon walls more particularly: when rubbed,
it emits a smell like that of cucumber. It is used for abscesses,
inflammations, and all those purposes for which helxine is employed;
its properties, however, are not so active. It is applied topically,
also, to defluxions of the eyes, and to sores upon the generative
organs, and ulcerations, with barley meal. The juice is used as an
injection for the ears.


The androsaces[1755] is a white plant, bitter, without leaves, and
bearing arms surmounted with follicules, containing the seed. It grows
in the maritime parts of Syria, more particularly. This plant is
administered for dropsy, in doses of two drachmæ, pounded or boiled,
in either water, wine, or vinegar: it acts most powerfully as a
diuretic. It is used also for gout, either taken internally or used as
a liniment. The seed is possessed of similar properties.


Androsæmon[1756] or, as some persons call it, “ascyron,” is not
unlike hypericon, a plant of which we have spoken already:[1757] the
stems, however, are larger, redder, and lie more closely together.
The leaves are of a white colour, and like those of rue in shape; the
seed resembles that of the black poppy, and the upper branches, when
bruised, emit a red juice the colour of blood: these branches have also
a resinous smell.

This plant grows in vineyards, and it is usually in the middle of
autumn that it is taken up and hung to dry. Used as a purgative, it
is bruised with the seed, and taken in the morning or just after the
evening meal, in doses of two drachmæ, in hydromel, wine, or pure
water, the draught amounting to one sextarius in all. It carries off
bile, and is particularly good for sciatica; but in this last case,
caper root must be taken with resin the day after, the dose being one
drachma, to be repeated every four days: after being purged, it is the
practice for the patient, if in robust health, to take wine, but if in
a weak state of body, water. It is employed topically, also, for gout,
burns, and wounds, as it tends to arrest the flow of blood.


Ambrosia is a vague name, which has fluctuated between various
plants: there is one,[1758] however, which has been more particularly
designated by this appellation, a branchy, shrub-like plant, with a
thin stem, some three palms in height; the root of it is one third
shorter, and the leaves, towards the lower part of the stem, resemble
those of rue. Its diminutive branches bear a seed which hangs down in
clusters, and has a vinous smell: hence it is that by some persons
the plant is called “botrys,”[1759] while to others it is known as
“artemisia.” The people of Cappadocia use it for garlands. It is
employed in medicine as a resolvent.


The anonis,[1760] by some called “ononis” in preference, is a branchy
plant, and similar to fenugreek in appearance, except that it is more
shrub-like and more hairy. It has an agreeable smell, and becomes
prickly after spring. It is pickled in brine for eating. Applied
fresh to ulcers, it cauterizes the margins of them. For the cure of
tooth-ache, the root is boiled in oxycrate: taken in drink, with honey,
the root expels urinary calculi. For epilepsy, it is administered in
oxymel, boiled down to one half.


The anagyros, known to some by the name of “acopon,”[1761] is a
shrub-like plant, with an offensive smell, and a blossom like that of
the cabbage. The seed grows in small hornlike pods of considerable
length and resembles a kidney in shape; it hardens about the time of
harvest. The leaves of this plant are applied to gatherings, and are
attached to the person in cases of difficult parturition, care being
taken to remove them the moment after delivery. In cases where the
extraction of the dead fœtus is attended with difficulty, or where the
after-birth or catamenia are retarded, the leaves are taken, in doses
of one drachma, in raisin wine. The leaves are administered in the same
manner for asthma: they are prescribed also in old wine, for injuries
inflicted by the phalangium.[1762] The root is employed medicinally as
a resolvent and maturative: the seed, chewed, acts as an emetic.


The anonymos,[1763] through not having a name, has at last found
one.[1764] It is brought from Scythia, and has been highly extolled
by Hicesius, a physician of no small repute, as also by Aristogiton.
Bruised in water and applied, it is remarkably useful for wounds, and
taken in drink it is good for blows upon the chest or mamillæ, as also
for spitting of blood: it has been thought, too, that it might be
advantageously taken in a potion for wounds. I am of opinion that the
additional statement, to the effect that, burnt fresh, it acts as a
solder to iron or copper, is wholly fabulous.


Aparine,[1765] otherwise called “omphalocarpos”[1766] or
“philanthropos,”[1767] is a ramose, hairy, plant, with five or six
leaves at regular intervals, arranged circularly around the branches.
The seed is round, hard, concave, and of a sweetish taste. It grows
in cornfields, gardens, and meadows, and, by the aid of its prickly
points, adheres to the clothes. The seed is employed to neutralize the
venom of serpents, being taken in doses of one drachma, in wine: it is
useful also for the bite of the phalangium.[1768] The leaves, applied
topically, arrest hæmorrhage from wounds. The juice is used as an
injection for the ears.


The arction[1769] is by some called “arcturum” in preference: the
leaves of it are like those of verbascum,[1770] except that they are
more hairy; the stem is long and soft, and the seed resembles that of
cummin. It grows in rocky localities, and has a tender root, white
and sweet. A decoction of it is made with wine for tooth-ache, being
retained for that purpose in the mouth. The plant is taken in drink
for sciatica and strangury, and is applied with wine to burns and
chilblains, which are fomented also with the root and seed bruised in


Some persons call the asplenon[1771] by the name of “hemionion.”[1772]
It has numerous leaves, a third of a foot in length, and a slimy
root, pierced with holes like that of fern, white, and hairy. It is
destitute of stem, flower, and seed,[1773] and is found growing upon
rocks or sheltered damp walls. The most approved kind is that of Crete.
A decoction of the leaves in vinegar, taken in drink for a period of
thirty days, will consume the spleen, it is said, the leaves being
applied simultaneously. The leaves give relief also in hiccup. This
plant should never be given to females, being productive of sterility.


The asclepias[1774] has leaves like those of ivy,[1775] long branches,
and numerous roots, thin, and odoriferous. The flower has a strong
offensive smell, and the seed is like that of securidaca:[1776] it is
found growing in mountainous districts. The roots are used for the cure
of griping pains in the bowels, and of stings inflicted by serpents,
either taken in drink or applied topically.


The aster[1777] is called “bubonion” by some, from the circumstance
of its being a sovereign remedy for diseases of the groin. It has a
diminutive stem with oblong leaves, two or three in number; and at the
summit it is surmounted with small radiated heads, like stars. This
plant is taken also in drink as an antidote to the venom of serpents:
but if required for the cure of inguinal complaints, it is recommended
that it should be gathered with the left hand, and attached to the body
near the girdle. It is of great service also, worn as an amulet, for


Ascyron[1778] and ascyroïdes are plants similar to one another,
and to hypericon[1779] as well, except that the plant known as
“ascyroïdes”[1780] has larger branches, ferulaceous, red all over,
and bearing small yellow heads. The seed, enclosed in small calyces,
is diminutive, black, and resinous. The tops of the branches, when
bruised, stain like blood; for which reason some persons have given
it the name of “androsæmon.”[1781] The seed is used for the cure of
sciatica, being taken in doses of two drachmæ, in one sextarius of
hydromel. It relaxes the bowels, and carries off bile: it is applied
also to burns.


The aphaca[1782] has remarkably diminutive leaves, and is but little
taller than the lentil. The pods are of a larger size, and enclose
some three or four seeds, of a darker colour, moister, and more
diminutive than those of the lentil: it grows in cultivated fields. It
is naturally more astringent than the lentil, but in other respects
is applied to much the same purposes. The seed, used in a decoction,
arrests fluxes of the stomach and bowels.


I have not found it stated by authors what kind of plant alcibium[1783]
is; but the root, I find, and the leaves, are pounded and employed,
both externally and internally, for injuries inflicted by serpents.
When the leaves are used, a handful of them is bruised in three cyathi
of undiluted wine: the root is employed in the proportion of three
drachmæ to the same quantity of wine.


Alectoroslophos,[1784] or crista,[1785] as we call it, has numerous
leaves resembling a cock’s comb, a thin stem, and a black seed enclosed
in pods. Boiled with broken beans and honey, it is useful for cough
and for films upon the eyes. The seed, too, is sprinkled whole into
the eyes, and so far is it from injuring them, that it attracts and
collects the filmy matter. When thus used, it changes colour, and from
black becomes white, gradually swells, and comes out of itself.


The plant which we call “alum,”[1786] and which is known to the Greeks
as “symphyton[1787] petræon,” is similar to cunila bubula[1788] in
appearance, having a diminutive leaf and three or four branches
springing from the root, with tops like those of thyme. It is a
ligneous plant, odoriferous, of a sweet flavour, and provocative of
saliva: the root of it is long and red. It grows upon rocks, to which
circumstance it is indebted for its additional name of “petræon;” and
is extremely useful[1789] for affections of the sides and kidneys,
griping pains in the bowels, diseases of the chest and lungs, spitting
of blood, and eruptions of the fauces. The root is pounded and taken in
drink, or else a decoction is made of it in wine; sometimes, also, it
is applied externally. Chewed, it allays thirst, and is particularly
refreshing to the pulmonary organs. It is employed topically for
sprains and contusions, and has a soothing effect upon the intestines.

Cooked upon hot ashes, with the follicules removed, and then beaten up
with nine peppercorns and taken in water, it acts astringently upon the
bowels. For the cure of wounds it is remarkably efficacious, being
possessed of agglutinating[1790] properties to such a remarkable degree
as to solder pieces of meat together with which it is boiled; to which,
in fact, it is indebted for its Greek name.[1791] It is used also for
the cure of fractured bones.


Red sea-weed[1792] is useful as an application for the sting of the


Actæa[1793] has leaves with a powerful smell, rough knotted stems, a
black seed like that of ivy, and soft berries. It grows in umbrageous,
rugged, watery localities; and is used, in doses of one full
acetabulum, for female complaints.


Ampelos agria, or wild vine, is the name of a plant with leaves of
an ashy colour, as already[1794] stated in our description of the
cultivated plants, and long, tough twigs of a red hue, like that of the
flower which we have mentioned,[1795] when speaking of violets, under
the name of “flame of Jove.” It bears a seed which resembles the grains
of the pomegranate. The root, boiled in three cyathi of water, with
the addition of two cyathi of Coan wine, is slightly laxative to the
bowels, and is consequently given for dropsy. It is curative also of
uterine affections, and of spots upon the face in females. It is found
a good plan for patients afflicted with sciatica to use the juice of
this plant, bruised, applied topically, with the leaves.


There are numerous kinds of absinthium; the Santonic,[1796] for
instance, so called from a city in Gaul, and the Pontic,[1797] which
comes from Pontus, where the cattle are fattened upon it—a diet which
causes them to be destitute of gall.[1798] The Pontic wormwood, we may
remark, is of the finest quality, superior to that of Italy,[1799] and
much more bitter; the pith, however, of the Pontic wormwood is sweet.
As to its general utility, a plant so commonly found and applied to
such numerous uses, people are universally agreed; but with the Romans
more particularly it has been always held in the highest esteem, from
the fact of its being employed in their religious ceremonials. Thus,
for instance, upon the Latin[1800] Festival, it is the custom to have
a race of four-horsed chariots in the Capital, and for the conqueror
to be presented with a draught of wormwood; from the circumstance, no
doubt, that our forefathers were of opinion that good health was the
most valuable reward they could bestow upon his skill.

This plant is very strengthening to the stomach, and hence it is that
wines are flavoured with it, as already[1801] stated. A decoction of
it in water is also taken, the following being the method employed in
preparing it. Six drachmæ of the leaves are boiled, with the branches,
in three sextarii of rain water, and the preparation is then left to
cool in the open air a day and a night. Salt, too, should be added to
it. When old, it is utterly useless. A dilution of wormwood steeped
in water is also used, such being the name[1802] given to this method
of preparing it. This dilution is made by leaving the vessel covered
up for three days, any kind of water being used. Pounded wormwood is
but rarely employed, and the same with the extracted juice of the
seed.[1803] In cases, however, where it is extracted, the seed is
subjected to pressure as soon as it begins to swell, after which it
is soaked for three days in water, if used fresh, and seven, if dry.
It is then boiled in a copper vessel, in the proportion of ten heminæ
to forty-five sextarii of water, after which it is strained off and
boiled gently to the consistency of honey, in the same way as the
juice is extracted from the smaller centaury. The juice, however, of
wormwood, thus extracted, is bad for the head and stomach; whereas the
decoction, on the other hand, is wholesome in the highest degree, as
it acts astringently upon the stomach, carries off bile, is a powerful
diuretic, has a soothing effect upon the bowels, and assuages pains in
the intestines. With the addition of sile,[1804] Gallic nard, and a
little vinegar, it dispels nausea and flatulency, and expels intestinal
worms. It removes qualmishness, promotes the digestion, and, with the
addition of rue, pepper, and salt, disperses crudities of the stomach.

The ancients were in the habit of giving wormwood as a purgative,
the dose being six drachmæ of the seed with three of salt and one
cyathus of honey, in one sextarius of sea water kept for some time.
This preparation, however, is rendered more efficacious by doubling
the proportion of salt; the seed, too, must be bruised with the
greatest care, as there is considerable difficulty in pounding it. Some
authorities have prescribed the dose above mentioned to be given in
polenta,[1805] with the addition of pennyroyal; while others recommend
the leaves to be given to children in a dried fig, to disguise their
bitterness. Taken with iris,[1806] wormwood acts as a detergent upon
the thoracic organs: for jaundice it is used raw, with parsley or
adiantum.[1807] In cases of flatulency, it is sipped every now and
then, warmed in water; for liver complaints it is taken with Gallic
nard, and for diseases of the spleen, with vinegar, pap,[1808] or
figs. Taken in vinegar it neutralizes the bad effects of fungi and of
viscus:[1809] in wine it is an antidote to the poison of hemlock, and
to the bite of the shrew-mouse, and is curative of wounds inflicted
by the sea-dragon[1810] and the scorpion. It contributes also very
greatly to the improvement of the sight, and is used as an external
application, with raisin wine, for defluxions of the eyes, and with
honey, for bruises.

The steam of a decoction of wormwood is curative of affections of
the ears; and when they are attacked with running sores, a liniment
of wormwood bruised with honey is applied. Three or four sprigs of
wormwood, with one root of Gallic nard, taken in six cyathi of water,
act as a diuretic and as an emmenagogue; indeed, if taken with honey,
or employed as a pessary with wool, it has especial virtues as an
emmenagogue. In combination with honey and nitre it is useful for
quinzy, and an infusion of it in water is good for epinyctis. A topical
application is made of it for recent wounds, provided always they have
not been touched with water: it is employed also for ulcers upon the
head. In combination with Cyprian wax or figs, it is highly recommended
as a plaster for the iliac regions: it is curative also of prurigo,
but it must never be administered in fevers. Taken in drink, it is a
preventive of sea sickness; and, worn attached to the body, beneath an
apron, it arrests inguinal swellings. The smell of it[1811] induces
sleep, a similar effect being produced by placing it under the pillow
unknown to the party. Kept among clothes it preserves them from worms,
and used as a liniment, with oil, or burnt as a fumigation, it has the
effect of driving away gnats.

Writing ink, mixed with an infusion of wormwood, effectually protects
the writings from the attacks of mice. Ashes of wormwood, mixed with
rose unguent, stain the hair black.


There is a sea wormwood[1812] also, known as “seriphum” by some, the
most esteemed being that of Taposiris in Egypt. Those initiated in the
mysteries of Isis carry a branch of it in the hand. It has a narrower
leaf than the preceding plant, and is not so bitter; it is injurious
to the stomach, has a laxative effect upon the bowels, and expels
intestinal worms. It is taken in drink with oil and salt; or else an
infusion of it is taken in a pottage made of meal of three-month wheat.
When employed as a decoction, a handful is used to one sextarius of
water, the mixture being boiled down to one half.


The Greeks give to the ballotes[1813] the other name of “melamprasion,”
meaning “black leek.”[1814] It is a branchy plant, with black angular
stems, covered with hairy leaves, larger and darker than those of the
leek,[1815] and possessed of a powerful smell. The leaves, bruised and
applied with salt, are highly efficacious for bites inflicted by dogs:
cooked upon hot ashes and applied in a cabbage leaf, they are curative
of condylomata. Mixed with honey, this plant acts as a detergent upon
sordid ulcers.


Botrys[1816] is a shrublike plant, which has small yellow branches,
with the seed growing all round them, and leaves resembling[1817] those
of endive. It is found upon the banks of running streams, and is used
for the cure of hardness of breathing. The people of Cappadocia call
this plant “ambrosia,” others again, “artemisia.”


The brabyla[1818] is possessed of astringent properties like those of
the quince, but beyond this, authors give no particulars relative to it.


Sea bryon[1819] is a plant, no doubt,[1820] with leaves like those
of the lettuce, of a wrinkled, pursed appearance, and destitute of
stem, the leaves arising from a single root: it grows upon rocks more
particularly, and shells sunk in the sand. It has desiccative[1821] and
astringent qualities in a very high degree, properties which render it
useful for reducing all kinds of abscesses and inflammations, those
attendant upon gout in particular. It is good also for all affections
which stand in need of cooling applications.


I find it stated that seed of bupleuron[1822] is given for injuries
inflicted by serpents; and that the wound is fomented with a decoction
of the plant, in combination with leaves of the mulberry or of


The catanance[1824] is a Thessalian plant, which it would be a mere
loss of time to describe, seeing that it is only used as an ingredient
in philtres. In order, however, to expose the follies of the magical
art, it may not be out of place to remark that this plant has been
selected for the above-named purpose, from the fact that, as it
withers, it gradually contracts and assumes the shape of the claws of a
dead kite.[1825]

For a similar reason we shall give no description of the plant called


Of the calyx[1827] there are two kinds. One of these resembles arum,
and is found growing in ploughed soils; the proper time for gathering
it being before it begins to wither. It is employed for the same
purposes as arum;[1828] and an infusion of the root is taken as a
purgative and as an emmenagogue. The stalks, boiled with the leaves and
some pulse, are curative of tenesmus.


The other[1829] kind of calyx is known by some persons as “anchusa,”
and by others as “onoclia.” The leaves are like those of the lettuce,
but longer, and with a downy surface. The root is red, and is employed
topically, in combination with fine polenta,[1830] for the cure of
erysipelas: taken internally with white wine, it is good for affections
of the liver.


The circæa[1831] resembles the cultivated trychnon[1832] in appearance.
It has a small swarthy flower, a diminutive seed, like millet, growing
in small horn-shaped pods, and a root half a foot in length, generally
triple or fourfold, white, odoriferous, and hot in the mouth. It is
found growing upon rocks exposed to the sun. An infusion of it is
prepared with wine, and administered for pains and affections of the
uterus: to make it, three ounces of the pounded root should be steeped
in three sextarii of wine a day and a night. This potion is effectual
also for bringing away the after-birth. The seed of this plant, taken
in wine or hydromel, diminishes the milk in nursing women.


The cirsion[1833] is a plant consisting of a diminutive and delicate
stem, two cubits in height, of a triangular form, and covered with
prickly leaves. The prickles on the leaves are downy, and the leaves
themselves resemble those of buglossos[1834] in shape, but are smaller,
and of a whitish colour. At the summit of the plant there are small
purple heads, which fall off in the shape of down. This plant or the
root of it, worn as an amulet, it is said, is curative of the pains
attendant upon varicose veins.


The cratægonon[1835] is similar to an ear of corn in appearance. It is
formed of numerous shoots, springing from a single root, and full of
joints. It grows in umbrageous localities, and has a seed like that of
millet, with a remarkably acrid taste. If a man and woman, before the
evening meal, take three oboli of this seed in three cyathi of water,
for forty days consecutively, before the conception of their issue, it
will be sure to be of the male[1836] sex, they say.

There is another cratægonon, known also as “thelygonos,”[1837] and
distinguished from the last mentioned plant by the mildness of the
taste. Some persons assert that females, if they take the blossom of
this plant in drink, will be sure to conceive before the end of forty
days. These plants, used in combination with honey, are curative of
black ulcers of a chronic nature; they also fill the concavities made
by fistulous ulcers with new flesh, and restore such parts of the body
as are wasted by atrophy. They act as a detergent upon purulent sores,
disperse inflammatory tumours, and alleviate gout and all kind of
abscesses, those of the mamillæ in particular.

Under the name of “cratægos”[1838] or “cratægon,” Theophrastus[1839]
speaks of the tree known in Italy as the “aquifolia.”


The crocodileon[1840] resembles the black chamæleon[1841] in shape:
the root is long, of an uniform thickness, and possessed of a pungent
smell. It is found growing in sandy soils. Taken in drink, it causes a
copious discharge of coagulated blood at the nostrils, and in this way,
it is said, diminishes the volume of the spleen.


The cynosorchis,[1842] by some called “orchis,” has leaves like[1843]
those of the olive, soft, three in number, half a foot in length, and
lying upon the ground. The root is bulbous, oblong, and divided into
two portions,[1844] the upper one hard, and the lower one soft. These
roots are eaten boiled, like bulbs,[1845] and are mostly found growing
in vineyards. If males eat the upper part, they will be parents of
male issue, they say, and females, if they eat the lower part, of
female. In Thessaly, the men take the soft portion in goats’ milk as an
aphrodisiac, and the hard part as an antaphrodisiac. Of these parts,
the one effectually neutralizes the action of the other.[1846]


The chrysolachanum[1847] grows in pine plantations, and is similar to
the lettuce in appearance. It heals wounds of the sinews, if applied
without delay. There is another kind[1848] of chrysolachanum mentioned,
with a golden flower, and a leaf like that of the cabbage: it is boiled
and eaten as a laxative vegetable. This plant, worn as an amulet by a
patient suffering from jaundice, provided it be always kept in sight,
is a cure for that disease, it is said. I am not certain whether this
is all that might be said about the chrysolachanum, but, at all events,
it is all that I have found respecting it; for it is a very general
fault on the part of our more recent herbalists, to confine their
account of plants to the mere name, with a very meagre description of
the peculiar features of the plant,—just as though, forsooth, they were
universally known. Thus, they tell us, for instance, that a plant known
as “coagulum[1849] terræ,” acts astringently upon the bowels, and that
it dispels strangury, taken in water or in wine.


The leaves of the cucubalus,[1850] they tell us, bruised with vinegar,
are curative of the stings of serpents and of scorpions. Some persons
call this plant by the name of “strumus,”[1851] while others give it
the Greek name of “strychnon:” its berries are black. The juice of
these berries, administered in doses of one cyathus, in two cyathi of
honied wine, is curative of lumbago; an infusion of them with rose
oil is used for headache, and they are employed as an application for
scrofulous sores.


The conferva[1852] is peculiar to running streams, those of
the Alpine regions more particularly; receiving its name from
“conferrumino,”[1853] to solder together. Properly speaking, it is
rather a fresh-water sponge than a moss or a plant, being a dense,
porous mass of filaments. I know an instance where a man, who fell
to the ground while lopping a tree of considerable height, and broke
nearly every bone of his body, was cured by the agency of this plant.
The patient’s body was covered all over with conferva, the application
being continually sprinkled with water the moment it began to dry, and
only removed for the purpose of changing it when the plant gave signs
of losing its virtues.[1854] It is hardly credible with what rapidity
he recovered.


The Cnidian grain[1855] has just the colour of the kermes berry.[1856]
It is larger than a peppercorn, and has very heating properties: hence
it is that when used, it is taken in crumb of bread, that it may not
burn the throat in passing downwards. It is a sovereign remedy for
hemlock, and arrests[1857] looseness of the bowels.


The dipsacos[1858] has leaves like those of the lettuce, with prickly
tubercles on the middle of the back. The stem of it, two cubits in
length, is bristling all over with prickles of a similar nature. The
joints of the stem are closely covered with two leaves, which form a
concave axil in which a saltish dew-like liquid collects.[1859] At the
summit of the stem there are small heads covered with prickles: it
grows in watery localities.

This plant is used for the cure of chaps of the fundament and of
fistula; in which latter case the root is boiled down in wine to the
consistency of wax, to allow of its being introduced into the fistula
in the form of a salve.[1860] It is employed too, for the cure of all
kinds of warts: as a liniment for which, the juice collected in the
axils, as above mentioned, is also used by some.


The dryopteris,[1861] which resembles fern in appearance, is found
growing upon trees; the leaves are of a somewhat sweetish[1862] flavour
and marked with slight indentations, and the root is hairy. This plant
is possessed of caustic properties,[1863] and hence the root is pounded
and used as a depilatory. In using it the skin is rubbed with it till
perspiration is excited, the operation being repeated a second and a
third time, care being taken not to remove the perspiration.


The dryophonon[1864] is a similar plant, with thin stems a cubit in
length, and surrounded on either side with leaves about as large as the
thumb and like those of the oxymyrsine[1865] in appearance, only whiter
and softer: the blossom is white, and similar to that of the elder. The
shoots of it are eaten boiled, and the seed is used as a substitute for


The elatine[1866] has leaves like those of the helxine,[1867]
diminutive, round, and hairy; its branches are small, half a foot in
length, five or six in number, and covered with leaves from the root
upwards. It grows in corn-fields, and has a rough flavour: hence it is
found very useful for defluxions of the eyes, the leaves being beaten
up and applied with polenta[1868] in a linen pledget. A decoction of
this plant with linseed, taken in pottage, is good for dysentery.


Empetros,[1869] by the people of our country called “calcifraga,”[1870]
grows on mountains near the sea, and is generally found upon rocks:
the nearer it grows to the sea the salter it is, acting as an evacuant
of bile and pituitous secretions. That, on the other hand, which grows
at a greater distance and more inland, is of a more bitter flavour.
It carries off the aqueous humours of the body, being taken for that
purpose in broth of some kind, or else hydromel. When old, it loses its
strength; but used fresh, either boiled in water or pounded, it acts as
a diuretic, and disperses urinary calculi. Authorities who wish full
credence to be given to this asserted property, assure us that pebbles
boiled with it will split asunder.


The epipactis,[1871] called “elleborine” by some, is a diminutive plant
with small leaves. Taken in drink, it is extremely useful for diseases
of the liver, and as an antidote to poisons.


The epimedion[1872] consists of a stem of moderate size, with ten or
twelve leaves like those of ivy: it never flowers, and has a thin,
black root, with a powerful smell. It grows in humid soils. This plant
also has certain astringent and cooling properties, but females must be
on their guard[1873] against it. The leaves, beaten up in wine, prevent
the bosom from growing too large in young girls.


The enneaphyllon[1874] has nine long leaves, and is of a caustic
nature. It is employed topically, but when used it is wrapped in wool
to prevent it from cauterising further than desirable, for it blisters
immediately. For lumbago and sciatica it is of the greatest utility.


Of fern there are two varieties, equally destitute of blossom and
of seed.[1875] The Greeks give the name of “pteris,” and sometimes
“blachnon,” to the kind[1876] in which numerous shoots take their rise
from a single root, exceeding two cubits even in length, and with a not
unpleasant smell:[1877] this plant is thought to be the male fern.

The other kind is known to the Greeks as “thelypteris,”[1878]
and sometimes, “nymphæa pteris:” it has a single stem only, with
comparatively few branches, is shorter, softer, and more tufted than
the other, and has channelled leaves growing near the root. Swine are
fattened upon the roots of either kind. The leaves of both kinds are
arranged on either side in the form of wings, whence the Greek name
“pteris.” The roots are long, run obliquely, and are of a swarthy
colour, more particularly when dried: when wanted for use, they should
be dried in the sun. These plants are found growing everywhere, but
in cold soils more particularly; they should be taken up, too, at
the setting of the Vergiliæ.[1879] The root is only used at the end
of three years, neither before that period nor after. They act as an
expellent of intestinal worms; for tapeworm[1880] honey is taken with
them, but in other cases sweet wine, for three days.

They are, both of them, extremely detrimental to the stomach, but
are laxative to the bowels, carrying off first the bile and then the
aqueous humours of the body. When used for tapeworm, it is the best
plan to take scammony with them, in equal proportions. For rheumatic
defluxions, the root is taken in doses of two oboli, in water, after
a day’s abstinence from food, a little honey being taken first.
Neither kind must ever be given to females; for in pregnancy they are
productive of abortion, and in other cases entail sterility. Powdered
fern is sprinkled upon sordid ulcers, as also upon the necks of beasts
of burden, when chafed. Fern-leaves kill bugs, and serpents will never
harbour among them: hence it is a good plan to strew them in places
where the presence of those reptiles is suspected. The very smell, too,
of burnt fern will put serpents to flight. Medical men have made this
distinction as to ferns; that of Macedonia, they say, is the best, and
that of Cassiope the next.


The name of femur bubulum[1881] is given to a plant which is good for
the sinews, applied fresh, and beaten up with salt and vinegar.


Galeopsis,[1882] or as some call it, “galeobdolon” or “galion,” is a
plant with a stem and leaves like those of the nettle, only smaller;
and which, when bruised, emit a powerful smell. The flower is purple,
and the plant is found growing everywhere, about hedges and foot-paths.
The leaves and stems, bruised in vinegar, and applied topically, are
curative of indurations, carcinomata, and scrofulous sores. They
disperse also inflammatory tumours and imposthumes of the parotid
glands, and it is found a useful plan to foment the parts affected
with a decoction of them. Applied with salt, this plant is curative of
putrid ulcers and gangrenous sores.


The glaux[1883] was known in ancient times as the “eugalacton.”[1884]
In the leaves it resembles the cytisus and the lentil, only that they
are whiter beneath. The branches, five or six in number, are extremely
thin, and, springing from the root, creep upon the ground, with small
purple blossoms upon them. This plant is found in localities near the
sea. It is boiled in a pottage made of similago,[1885] to increase the
milk: females, however, after taking it, must immediately use the bath.


Glaucion[1886] grows in Syria and Parthia; it is a plant of stunted
growth, and thickly covered with leaves, like those of the poppy in
appearance, only smaller and of a more repulsive aspect: it has an
offensive smell, and a bitter, astringent taste. The seed, which is of
a saffron colour, is put into a vessel coated with potter’s clay, and
heated in an oven; when taken out, a juice[1887] is extracted, which
is known by the same name as the plant. This juice and the leaves,
bruised, are used for defluxions of the eyes, which disappear in an
instant, under this treatment: an eye-salve, too, is prepared from
the juice, known as “diaglaucia,” to medical men. The milk, when the
secretion of it is stopped, is restored by the agency of this plant,
for which purpose it is taken in water.


The glycyside,[1888] by some called “pæonia” or “pentorobos,” has a
stem two cubits in length, accompanied by two or three others, and of
a reddish colour, with a bark like that of the laurel. The leaves are
similar to those of isatis,[1889] but more unctuous, rounder, and more
diminutive; the seed is enclosed in capsules, some being red and some
black, there being two varieties of the plant. The female plant is
generally thought to be the one to the root of which some six or eight
bulbs are attached, of an elongated form; those of the male plant[1890]
being more in number, as it throws out more roots than one, a palm
in length, and of a white colour: it has also an astringent taste.
The leaves of the female plant smell like myrrh,[1891] and lie closer
together than those of the male.

Both plants grow in the woods, and they should always be taken up at
night,[1892] it is said; as it would be dangerous to do so in the
day-time, the woodpecker of Mars being sure to attack the eyes[1893]
of the person so engaged. It is stated also that the person, while
taking up the root, runs great risk of being attacked with procidence
of the anus: all this, however, I take to be so much fiction, most
frivolously invented to puff off their supposed marvellous properties.
Both plants are used[1894] for various purposes: the red seed, taken
in red wine, about fifteen in number, arrest menstruation; while the
black seed, taken in the same proportion, in either raisin or other
wine, are curative of diseases of the uterus. The root, taken in wine,
allays all kinds of pains in the bowels, and acts as a purgative; it
cures opisthotony also, jaundice, nephritic diseases, and affections of
the bladder. Boiled in wine, it is used for diseases of the trachea
and stomach, and acts astringently upon the bowels. It is eaten also by
beasts of burden, but when wanted for remedial purposes, four drachmæ
are sufficient.

The black seed is useful as a preventive of night-mare,[1895] being
taken in wine, in number above stated: it is very good, too, to eat
this seed, and to apply it externally, for gnawing pains of the
stomach. Suppurations are also dispersed, when recent, with the black
seed, and when of long standing, with the red: both kinds are very
useful, too, for wounds inflicted by serpents, and in cases where
children are troubled with calculi, being employed at the crisis when
strangury first makes its appearance.


Gnaphalium[1896] is called “chamæzelon” by some: its white, soft,
leaves are used as flock, and, indeed, there is no perceptible
difference. This plant is administered in astringent wine, for
dysentery: it arrests looseness of the bowels and the catamenia, and is
used as an injection for tenesmus. It is employed topically for putrid


Xenocrates gives the name of “gallidraga”[1897] to a plant which
resembles the leucacanthus,[1898] and grows in the marshes. It is a
prickly plant, with a tall, ferulaceous stem, surmounted with a head
somewhat similar to an egg in appearance. When this head is growing,
in summer, small worms,[1899] he says, are generated, which are put
away in a box for keeping, and are attached as an amulet, with bread,
to the arm on the side on which tooth-ache is felt; indeed it is quite
wonderful, he says, how soon the pain is removed. These worms, however,
are of no use after the end of a year, or in cases where they have been
allowed to touch the ground.


Holcus[1900] is a plant that grows in arid, stony, spots: it has an
ear at the end of a fine stem, and looks like barley that has put
forth again when cut. Attached to the head or around the arm, it
extracts[1901] spikes of corn adhering to the flesh; for which reason,
some persons give it the name of “aristis.”


Hyoseris[1902] resembles endive in appearance, but is a smaller plant,
and rougher to the touch: pounded and applied to wounds, it heals them
with remarkable rapidity.


The holosteon,[1903] so called by the Greeks by way of
antiphrasis,[1904] (in the same way that they give the name of
“sweet”[1905] to the gall,) is a plant destitute of all hardness, of
such extreme fineness as to resemble hairs in appearance, four fingers
in length, and very similar to hay-grass. The leaves of it are narrow,
and it has a rough flavour: it grows upon elevated spots composed of
humus. Taken in wine, it is used for ruptures and convulsions. It has
the property, also, of closing wounds; indeed, if applied to pieces of
meat it will solder them together.


The hippophæston is one of those prickly plants which fullers[1906] use
in their coppers; it has neither stem nor flower, but only diminutive,
empty heads, numerous small leaves of a grass-green colour, and small,
soft, white roots. From these roots a juice is extracted in summer,
which, taken in doses of three oboli, acts as a purgative; being used
for this purpose in cases of epilepsy, fits of trembling, dropsy,
vertigo, hardness of breathing, and incipient paralysis.


The hypoglossa[1907] is a plant with leaves like those of the wild
myrtle, of a concave form, prickly, and presenting another small leaf
within, resembling a tongue in shape. A wreath made of these leaves,
placed upon the head, alleviates headache.


Hypecoön[1908] is a plant found growing in corn-fields, with leaves
like those of rue. Its properties are similar to those of juice of


The Idæan[1909] plant has leaves like those of the oxymyrsine;[1910]
to which leaves a sort of tendril adheres, that bears a flower. This
plant arrests diarrhœa, the catamenia, when in excess, and all kinds of
hæmorrhage. It is of an astringent and repercussive nature.


The isopyron[1911] is called “phasiolon” by some, from the circumstance
that the leaf of it, which resembles that of anise, assumes a spiral
form like the tendrils of the phasiolus.[1912] At the summit
of the stem, it bears small heads full of a seed like that of
melanthium.[1913] These heads, taken with honey or hydromel, are good
for cough and other affections of the chest; they are extremely useful
also for liver complaints.


The lathyris[1914] has numerous leaves like those of the lettuce,[1915]
with numbers of small buds, in which the seed is contained, enclosed in
envelopes like that of the caper. When these buds are dry, the seeds,
about the size of a peppercorn, are taken out: they are white, sweet,
and easily cleansed from the husk. Twenty of them, taken in pure water
or in hydromel, are curative of dropsy, and carry off bile. Persons who
require a stronger purgative, take them with the husks on. They are
apt, however, to be injurious to the stomach; for which reason a plan
has been adopted of taking them with fish or else chicken broth.


The leontopetalon[1916] is called “pardalion” by some: it has a leaf
like that of the cabbage, and a stem half a foot in height, with
numerous lateral branches, and a seed at the extremities of them,
enclosed in pods like those of the chick-pea. The root resembles that
of rape, and is large and black: it grows in plough lands. The root,
taken in wine, neutralizes the venom of all kinds of serpents; indeed,
there is nothing known that is more speedily efficacious for that
purpose. It is given also for sciatica.


The lycapsos[1917] has longer and thicker leaves than those of the
lettuce,[1918] and a long, hairy stem, with numerous offshoots a cubit
in length; the flower is diminutive, and of a purple colour; it grows
in champaign localities. In combination with barley-meal, it is used as
an application for erysipelas: the juice of it, mixed with warm water,
is employed as a sudorific, in fevers.


Among all the plants, however, there is none of a more marvellous
nature than the lithospermum,[1919] sometimes called “exonychon,”
“diospyron,”[1920] or “heracleos.” It is about five inches in height,
with leaves twice the size of those of rue, and small ligneous
branches, about the thickness of a rush. It bears close to the leaves
a sort of fine beard or spike, standing by itself, on the extremity of
which there are small white stones, as round as a pearl, about the size
of a chick-pea, and as hard as a pebble. These stones,[1921] at the
part where they adhere to the stalk, have a small cavity, and contain a
seed within.

This plant is found in Italy, no doubt, but that of Crete is the most
esteemed. Among all the plants, there is none that I ever contemplated
with greater admiration than this; so beauteous is the conformation,
that it might be fancied that the hand of an artist[1922] had arranged
a row of lustrous pearls alternately among the leaves; so exquisite too
the nicety in thus making a stone to grow upon a plant! The authorities
say that this is a creeping plant, and that it lies upon the ground;
but for my own part, I have only seen it when plucked, and not while
growing. It is well known that these small stones, taken in doses of
one drachma, in white wine, break and expel urinary calculi,[1923]
and are curative of strangury. Indeed, there is no plant that so
instantaneously proclaims, at the mere sight of it, the medicinal
purposes for which it was originally intended; the appearance of it,
too, is such, that it can be immediately recognized, without the
necessity of having recourse to any botanical authority.


There grows near running streams, a dry, white moss,[1924] upon
ordinary stones. One of these stones, with the addition of human
saliva, is rubbed against another; after which the first stone is used
for touching impetigo,[1925] the party so doing uttering these words:—

 Φεύγετε κανθαρίδες, λύκος ἄγριος αἷμα διώκει

 “Cantharides[1926] begone, a wild wolf seeks your blood.”[1927]


Limeum[1928] is the name given by the Gauls to a plant, in a
preparation of which, known to them as “deer’s[1929] poison,” they
dip their arrows[1930] when hunting. To three modii of salivating
mixture[1931] they put as much of the plant as is used for poisoning
a single arrow; and a mess of it is passed down the throat, in cases
where oxen are suffering from disease, due care being taken to keep
them fastened to the manger till they have been purged, as they
are generally rendered frantic by the dose. In case perspiration
supervenes, they are drenched all over with cold water.


Leuce,[1932] a plant resembling mercurialis,[1933] has received its
name[1934] from the circumstance that a white line runs through the
middle of the leaf; for which reason also, some give it the name of
“mesoleucon.”[1935] The juice of this plant is curative of fistula,
and the plant itself, bruised, is good for carcinomata. It is probably
the same plant as that called “leucas,” so remarkably efficacious for
the venom of all kinds of marine animals. Authors have not given a
description of it, beyond telling us that the wild leucas has larger
leaves than the other, and has properties more strongly developed: they
state also that the seed of the cultivated kind is the more acrid of
the two.


I have not found a description given by any writer of the
leucographis;[1936] a thing I am the more surprised at, as they tell
us that it is good for the cure of spitting of blood, taken in doses
of three oboli with saffron; as also that it is useful for cœliac
affections, applied beaten up in water, and in cases of excessive
menstruation. They state also that it enters into the composition of
ophthalmic preparations, and that it fills up ulcers on the more tender
parts of the body with new flesh.


The medion[1937] has leaves like those of the cultivated seris,[1938]
a stem three feet in length, and a large, round, purple flower, at its
extremity. The seed is diminutive, and the root half a foot in length:
it grows upon umbrageous, sheltered rocks. The root, taken in doses of
two drachmæ with honey, arrests the catamenia, the electuary being used
for some days. The seed, too, is administered in wine for a similar


The myosota[1939] or myosotis is a smooth plant, throwing out from a
single root numerous hollowed stems, of a somewhat reddish colour; and
bearing at the lower extremities swarthy, narrow, oblong leaves, sharp
on the back, arranged in pairs at regular distances, and springing
from delicate branches attached with axils to the main stems. The
flower is blue, and the root, a finger in length, is provided with
numerous filaments like hairs. This plant possesses certain septic and
ulcerating properties, and hence is used for the cure of fistula of the
eye. The Egyptians say that if upon the morning of the twenty-eight
day of their month Thoth, a day which generally falls in our month
of August, a person rubs himself with the juice of this plant before
speaking to any one, he will be sure to have no diseases of the eyes
all that year.


The myagros[1940] is a ferulaceous plant, with leaves like those of
madder: the seed is of an oily nature—indeed, an oil is extracted from
it. Ulcerations of the mouth are cured by rubbing them with the juice
of this plant.


The plant called “nyma”[1941] bears three long leaves, like those of
endive: applied to scars, it restores the skin to its natural colour.


“Natrix”[1942] is the name of a plant, the root of which, when taken
out of the ground, has just the rank smell of the he-goat. It is used
in Picenum for the purpose of keeping away from females what with a
singular credulity they call by the name of “Fatui.”[1943] For my own
part, however, I should think that persons requiring to be treated
with such medicaments as these, must be labouring under a sort of
mental hallucination.


Odontitis[1944] is a sort of hay-grass,[1945] which throws out from
a single root numerous, small, jointed stems, of a triangular form
and of a swarthy hue. At the joints there are small leaves, somewhat
longer than those of the polygonos;[1946] and in the axils formed by
these leaves is the seed, similar to barley in appearance. It has a
purple, diminutive flower, and is found growing in meadows.[1947] A
handful of the stems, boiled in astringent wine, is used for the cure
of tooth-ache,[1948] the decoction being retained for some time in the


The othonna[1949] is a Syrian plant, resembling rocket in appearance;
its leaves are pierced with numerous holes, and its flower resembles
that of saffron, for which reason some persons have given it the
name of “anemone.” The juice of this plant is employed in ophthalmic
preparations; it is slightly pungent, of a warming nature, and
astringent as it dries. It acts as a detergent upon cicatrizations,
films on the eyes, and all impediments of the sight. Some say that the
plant is washed and dried, and then divided into lozenges.


The onosma[1950] has leaves some four fingers in length, lying upon
the ground, and indented like those of the anchusa:[1951] it has
neither[1952] stem, blossom, nor seed. A pregnant woman, they say,
if she eats of this plant, or even walks over it, will be sure to


The onopordon,[1953] it is said, has strongly carminative effects
upon asses, when they eat of it. It acts as a diuretic and as an
emmenagogue, arrests diarrhœa, and disperses abscesses and suppurations.


The osyris[1954] bears small, swarthy, flexible branches, covered
with dark leaves like those of flax. The seed, which grows upon
the branches, is black at first, but afterwards changes its colour
and turns red. Cosmetics[1955] for females are prepared from these
branches. A decoction of the roots, taken in drink, is curative of
jaundice. The roots, cut in pieces before the seed ripens, and dried in
the sun, act astringently upon the bowels: gathered after the seed has
ripened, and boiled in pottage, they are curative of defluxions of the
abdomen: they are taken also by themselves, bruised in rain water.


The oxys[1956] is a plant with three leaves; it is given for
derangement of the stomach, and patients eat it who are suffering from
intestinal hernia.[1957]


The polyanthemum,[1958] by some persons called “batrachion,”[1959]
by virtue of its caustic properties has an excoriating effect upon
scars, and restores the skin to its proper colour. It heals white
morphew[1960] also.


The Greeks give the name of “polygonos”[1961] to the plant known to us
as “sanguinaria.”[1962] It is but little elevated above the ground,
has leaves like those of rue, and resembles grass in appearance. The
juice of it, injected into the nostrils, arrests hæmorrhage: taken
with wine, it has a similar effect upon bleeding at any other part of
the body, as also spitting of blood. Those who distinguish several
kinds of polygonos, make this to be the male[1963] plant, and say
that it is so called from the large number of seeds, or else from its
numerous branches. Some call it “polygonatos,”[1964] from the number
of its joints, others, again, “teuthalis,” and others, “carcinethron,”
“clema,” or “myrtopetalos.”

There are some authorities to be found, however, who say that this is
the female plant, and that the male is more diminutive, less swarthy,
and more jointed, with a seed protruding beneath all the leaves.
However this may be, these plants are of an astringent, cooling nature.
The seed is laxative, and, taken in large doses, acts as a diuretic,
and arrests defluxions; indeed, if there is no defluxion, it is of no
use taking it. For burning heats of the stomach, the leaves are applied
topically; and they are used, in the form of a liniment, for pains in
the bladder, and for erysipelas. The juice is used as an injection
for suppurations of the ears, and by itself, for pains in the eyes.
It is administered, also, in fevers, tertian and quartan fevers more
particularly, in doses of two cyathi, just before the paroxysms come
on; as also in cases of cholera, dysentery, and derangement of the

There is a third kind, which grows on the mountains, and is known as
“orios,”[1965] similar to a delicate reed in appearance, and having
but a single stem, with numerous joints running into one another; the
leaves of it are similar to those of the pitch-tree, and the root is
never used. This variety, however, is not so efficacious as those
already mentioned, and, indeed, is used exclusively for sciatica.
A fourth kind is known as the wild[1966] polygonos: it is a shrub,
almost a tree in fact, with a ligneous root, a red trunk like that of
the cedar, and branches resembling those of spartum,[1967] a couple
of palms in length, and with three or four dark-coloured, knotted
joints. This kind, also, is of an astringent nature, and has a flavour
like that of the quince. It is either boiled down in water to one
third, or else dried and powdered for sprinkling upon ulcerations
of the mouth and excoriations: it is chewed, also, for affections
of the gums. It arrests the progress of corrosive ulcers and of all
sores of a serpiginous nature, or which cicatrize with difficulty,
and is particularly useful for ulcerations caused by snow. Herbalists
employ it also for quinzy, and use it as a chaplet for head-ache; for
defluxions of the eyes, they put it round the neck.

In cases of tertian fever, some persons pull it up with the left hand,
and attach it as an amulet to the body; the same, too, in cases of
hæmorrhage. There is no plant that is more generally kept by them in a
dry state than the polygonos.


The pancratium is called by some the “little squill,”[1968] in
preference: it has leaves like those of the white lily, but longer and
thicker, and a root composed of a large, red, bulb. The juice of it,
taken with meal of fitches, relaxes the bowels, and acts as a detergent
upon ulcers: for dropsy, and diseases of the spleen, it is administered
with honey. Some persons boil it till the water becomes sweet; the
water is then poured off, and the root is pounded and divided into
tablets, which are dried in the sun and used for ulcerations of the
head, and other affections which require detergents. It is sometimes
given for cough, a pinch in three fingers in wine, and, in the form of
an electuary, for pains in the side or peripneumony.

It is administered, also, in wine, for sciatica, griping pains in the
bowels, and retardations of the catamenia.


The peplis,[1969] known by the various names of “syce,”[1970]
“meconion,” and “mecon aphrodes,” is a shrub-like plant, springing
from a single, diminutive, root. The leaves of it resemble those of
rue, but are a little larger; the seed, which lies beneath the leaves,
is round, and smaller than that of the white poppy. It is ordinarily
gathered in vineyards, at harvest-time, and is dried with the seed on,
receivers being placed beneath to catch it as it falls. This seed,
taken in drink, purges the bowels, and carries off bile and pituitous
secretions: one acetabulum, taken in three heminæ of hydromel, is a
middling dose. It is sprinkled also upon meat and other articles of
food, as a laxative medicine.


The periclymenos[1971] is also a shrub-like plant, with two whitish,
soft, leaves, arranged at intervals. At the extremity, among the
leaves, is the seed, hard, and very difficult to pluck. It grows in
ploughed fields and hedges, entwining around every object from which it
can gain support. The seed is dried in the shade, pounded, and divided
into lozenges. These lozenges are left to dissolve, in three cyathi of
white wine, for a period of thirty days, and are given for diseases
of the spleen; the volume of which is gradually diminished either by
discharges of bloody urine, or else by alvine evacuation, the effects
of the medicament being perceptible at the end of ten days. The leaves,
boiled, act as a diuretic, and are useful for hardness of breathing.
Taken in drink, in manner above-mentioned, they facilitate delivery,
and bring away the afterbirth.


We have already[1972] spoken of pelecinon as growing in corn-fields,
a plant which throws out a number of shoots from thin stems, and has
leaves like those of the chick-pea. The seed, which is contained
in pods of a curved shape, like diminutive horns and three or four
in number, is similar to gith[1973] in appearance, bitter, and an
excellent stomachic. It is used as an ingredient in antidotes.[1974]


Polygala[1975] is a palm in height, with leaves like those of the
lentil at the extremity of the stem. It has an astringent taste; taken
in drink, it increases the milk in nursing women.


Poterion,[1976] or, as some call it, “phrynion” or “neuras,”[1977]
throws out numerous branches, is shrivelled and prickly, and covered
with a thick down. The leaves of it are small and round; the branches
long, soft, thin, and flexible; and the blossom elongated, and of
a grass-green colour. The seed is never used, but it has a pungent
flavour and a powerful smell: the plant is found growing upon moist,
watery, elevations. The roots are two or three in number, some two
cubits in length, sinewy, white, and firm. It is dug up in autumn, and
the stem yields a juice like gum, when cut. The root is said to be
of wonderful efficacy as an application for the cure of wounds, more
particularly of the sinews, even when severed. A decoction of it is
also taken, with honey, for relaxations of the sinews, and for weakness
or wounds of those parts.


The phalangitis[1978] is by some called “phalangion,” and by others
“leucanthemum,”[1979] or, as I find it written in some copies,
“leucacantha.”[1980] Its branches are diminutive, never less than two
in number, and running in contrary directions: the blossom is white,
and similar to the flower of the red lily; the seed dark and broad,
resembling the half of a lentil, but much thinner; and the root slender
and of a grass-green colour. The leaves, blossoms, or seed of this
plant are employed for the cure of wounds inflicted by scorpions,
serpents, and the phalangium,[1981] and for the removal of griping
pains in the bowels.


As for the phyteuma,[1982] I think it a mere loss of time to describe
it, it being only used as an ingredient in philtres.


The Greeks give the name of “phyllon”[1983] to a plant which grows
among the rocks, in mountainous spots. The female plant is of a more
grass-green colour than the other, with a thin stem, a diminutive root,
and a round seed, like that of the poppy. This last kind ensures the
conception of issue of the same sex; while the male plant, differing
only in the seed, which resembles the olive at its first appearance,
ensures the conception of male issue. They are both taken in wine.


The phellandrion[1984] grows in marshy spots, and has a leaf like that
of parsley: the seed of it is taken in drink for calculi and affections
of the bladder.


The phalaris[1985] has a long thin stem, like a reed, with a drooping
flower at the extremity; the seed is like that of sesame.[1986] This
plant, too, taken with milk and honey, in wine or vinegar, breaks
urinary calculi, and is curative of diseases of the bladder.


The polyrrhizon[1987] has leaves like those of myrtle, and numerous
roots. These roots are pounded and administered in wine, for injuries
inflicted by serpents: they are useful, also, for cattle.


The proserpinaca,[1988] a common plant enough, is an excellent remedy
for the sting of the scorpion. Powdered and mixed with brine and oil,
in which the mæna[1989] has been preserved, it is an excellent cure,
they say, for quinzy.[1990] It is also stated that, however fatigued a
person may be, to the extent even of losing his voice, he will be sure
to be refreshed, by putting this plant beneath his tongue; and that if
it is eaten, a vomit will be the result, productive of good effects.


Rhacoma[1991] is imported from the regions situate beyond Pontus.[1992]
The root of it is similar to black costus,[1993] but smaller and
somewhat redder, inodorous, and of a hot, astringent flavour; when
pounded, it yields a colour like that of wine,[1994] but inclining to
saffron. Applied topically, it reduces abscesses and inflammations,
and heals wounds: used with raisin wine, it allays defluxions of the
eyes; with honey, ecchymosis; and with vinegar, livid marks upon the
skin. Reduced to powder, it is sprinkled upon malignant ulcers, and is
given internally for spitting of blood, in doses of one drachma, in
water. For dysentery and cœliac affections, if unattended with fever,
it is administered in wine; but if there is fever, in water. It is
pounded more easily when it has been steeped in water the night before.
A decoction of it is given, in doses of two drachmæ, for ruptures,
convulsions, contusions, and falls with violence.

In cases of pains in the chest, a little pepper and myrrh is added.
When the stomach is deranged, it is taken in cold water; and the same
in cases of chronic cough, purulent expectorations, liver complaint,
affections of the spleen, sciatica, diseases of the kidneys, asthma,
and hardness of breathing. Pounded and taken in doses of three
oboli, in raisin wine, or used in the form of a decoction, it cures
irritations of the trachea: applied with vinegar, it acts as a
detergent upon lichens. It is taken in drink, also, for flatulency,
cold shiverings, chilly fevers, hiccup, gripings of the bowels,
herpetic ulcerations, oppressions of the head, vertigo attended with
melancholy, lassitude accompanied with pain, and convulsions.


In the vicinity of Ariminum, there is a well-known plant called
“reseda:”[1995] it disperses abscesses and all kinds of inflammations.
Those who employ it for these purposes, add the following words:
“Reseda,[1996] allay this disease! knowest thou not, knowest thou not,
what chick it is that has torn up these roots? Let it have nor head nor
feet!”[1997] This formula is repeated thrice, the party spitting on the
ground each time.


The stœchas[1998] grows only in the islands of that name.[1999] It is
an odoriferous plant, with leaves like those of hyssop, and of a bitter
taste. Taken in drink, it promotes menstruation, and allays pains in
the chest. It forms an ingredient, also, in antidotes.


The solanum,[2000] according to Cornelius Celsus,[2001] is called
“strychnon” by the Greeks; it is possessed of repercussive and
refrigerative properties.


Smyrnion[2002] has a stem like that of parsley, but larger leaves,
and growing principally about the young shoots, which are numerous.
From the midst of these shoots the leaves make their appearance,
unctuous, and bending towards the ground. This plant has a medicinal
smell, penetrating to a certain degree, and agreeable: the colour of
it is a pale yellow, and the stems bear rounded umbels like those of
dill,[2003] with a round, black seed, which dries at the beginning of
summer. The root, also, is odoriferous, of an acrid, pungent flavour,
soft and juicy, black on the outer coat and pale within. The smell of
it partakes very much of the nature of that of myrrh, to which, in
fact, it owes its name: it grows in localities of a stony nature, or
covered with humus. Its medicinal properties are warming and resolvent.

The leaves and root are used as a diuretic and as an emmenagogue; the
seed arrests diarrhœa; and the root, applied topically, disperses
abscesses and suppurations, provided they are not inveterate, and
reduces indurated tumours. It is useful, also, for injuries inflicted
by the phalangium and by serpents, taken in wine, with the addition
of cachrys,[2004] polium,[2005] or melissophyllum;[2006] the dose,
however, must be taken a little at a time only, for otherwise it acts
as an emetic, a reason for which it is sometimes administered with
rue. The seed or root is curative of cough, hardness of breathing,
and diseases of the thoracic organs, spleen, kidneys, and bladder;
the root, too, is used for ruptures and convulsions. This plant
facilitates delivery, and brings away the afterbirth; it is also given,
in combination with crethmos,[2007] in wine, for sciatica. It acts as
a sudorific and carminative, for which reason it is used to disperse
flatulency of the stomach; it promotes, also, the cicatrization of

A juice is extracted from the root, which is very useful for female
complaints, and for affections of the thoracic organs and viscera,
possessing, as it does, certain calorific, digestive, and detergent
properties. The seed, in particular, is given in drink for dropsy,
external applications being made of the juice, and emollient poultices
applied of the dried rind of the root. It is used, also, as a seasoning
for food, boiled meat in particular, with the addition of honied wine,
oil, and garum.[2008]

Sinon,[2009] a plant with a flavour very like that of pepper, promotes
the digestion, and is highly efficacious for pains in the stomach.


Telephion[2010] resembles purslain in the stem and leaves. From the
root of it there spring seven or eight small branches, covered with
thick, fleshy leaves; it grows in cultivated spots, and among vines in
particular. It is used as an application for freckles, being removed
as soon as dry; it is employed, also, for white morphew,[2011] being
applied some six hours each night or day, and the treatment continued
for about three months: after removing it, barley-meal should be
applied. Telephion is healing, also, for wounds and fistulas.


The trichomanes[2012] is a plant that resembles the adiantum,[2013]
except that it is more slender and of a darker colour; the leaves of
it, which are similar to those of the lentil, lie close together, on
opposite sides, and have a bitter taste. A decoction of this plant,
taken in white wine, with the addition of wild cummin, is curative
of strangury. Bruised and applied to the head, it prevents the hair
from falling off, and, where it has come off, restores it: pounded and
applied with oil, it effects the cure of alopecy. The mere taste of it
is provocative of sneezing.


The thalictrum[2014] has leaves like those of coriander, only somewhat
more unctuous, and a stem resembling that of the poppy.[2015] It is
found growing everywhere, in champaign localities more particularly.
The leaves, applied with honey, heal ulcers.


Of thlaspi there are two kinds; the first[2016] of which has narrow
leaves, about a finger in length and breadth, turned towards the
ground, and divided at the point. It has a slender stem, half a foot
in length, and not wholly destitute of branches; the seed, enclosed
in a crescent-shaped capsule,[2017] is similar to a lentil in shape,
except that it has a jagged appearance, to which, in fact, it owes its
name;[2018] the flower is white, and the plant is found near footpaths
and in hedges. The seed, which has an acrid flavour, carries off bile
and pituitous secretions, by vomit and by alvine evacuation, the proper
dose being one acetabulum. It is used, also, for sciatica, in the form
of an injection, this treatment being persevered in until it has
induced a discharge of blood: it acts also as an emmenagogue, but is
fatal to the fœtus.

The other thlaspi, known by some as “Persicon napy,”[2019] has broad
leaves and large roots, and is also very useful as an injection for
sciatica. Both plants are very serviceable for inguinal complaints;
it being recommended that the person who gathers them should mention
that he is taking them for diseases of the groin, for abscesses of all
kinds, and for wounds, and that he should pluck them with one hand only.


What sort of plant the trachinia[2020] is, the authorities do not
state. I think that the assurance given by Democritus must be false:
for it would be nothing less than a prodigy, for a plant, attached as
an amulet, to consume the spleen in so short a time as three days.


The tragonis,[2021] or tragion, grows nowhere but in the maritime
districts of the Isle of Crete; it resembles the juniper in the seed,
leaf, and branches. Its milky juice, which thickens in the form of
a gum, or its seed, taken in drink, expels pointed weapons from the
flesh. The plant, too, is pounded fresh and applied as a liniment with
wine, or, dried and powdered, with honey. It increases the milk in
nursing women, and is a sovereign remedy for diseases of the mamillæ.


There is another plant also, called “tragos,”[2022] or “scorpion” by
some, half a foot in height, branchy, destitute of leaves, and bearing
diminutive red clusters, with a seed like that of wheat, but pointed
at the extremity: this too grows in maritime localities. Ten or twelve
tops of the branches, bruised and taken in wine, are remedial in cases
of cœliac affections, dysentery, spitting of blood, and excessive


There is the tragopogon,[2023] also, by some called “come;” a plant
with a small stem, leaves like those of saffron, an elongated, sweet,
root, and a large, swarthy calyx at the extremity of the stem. It grows
in rugged soils, and is never used.


Such, then, is all that I have hitherto been enabled to learn or
discover, worthy of mention, relative to plants. At the close, of this
subject, it seems to me that it will not be out of place to remind
the reader, that the properties of plants vary according to their
age. It is elaterium, as already stated,[2024] that preserves its
properties the longest of all. The black chamæleon[2025] retains its
virtues forty years, centaury not more than twelve, peucedanum[2026]
and aristolochia[2027] six, and the wild vine one year—that is to
say, if they are kept in the shade. I would remark, also, that beyond
those animals which breed within the plants, there are none that
attack the roots of any of those which have been mentioned by me;
with the exception, indeed, of the sphondyle,[2028] a kind of creeping
insect,[2029] which infests them all.


It is also an undoubted truth, that the virtues and properties of
all roots are more feebly developed, when the fruit has been allowed
to ripen; and that it is the same with the seed, when incisions have
been previously made in the root, for the extraction of the juice. The
efficacy, too, of all plants is impaired by making habitual use of
them; and these substances, if employed daily, lose equally their good
or bad properties, when required to be effectual. All plants, too, have
more powerful properties, when grown in soils that are cold and exposed
to the north-eastern blasts, or in dry localities.


There are certain differences, also, by no means inconsiderable, in
the predispositions of the various nations of the earth. I have been
informed, for instance, that the people of Egypt, Arabia, Syria, and
Cilicia, are subject to tapeworm and maw-worm, while those of Thracia
and Phrygia, on the other hand, are totally exempt from them. This,
however, is less surprising than the fact that, although Attica and
Bœotia are adjoining territories, the Thebans are troubled with these
inflictions, while among the people of Athens they are unknown.

Considerations of this description lead me now to turn my attention
to the nature of the animated beings themselves, and the medicinal
properties which are inborn in them, the most assured remedies,
perhaps, for all diseases.

For Nature, in fact, that parent of all things, has produced no
animated being for the purpose solely of eating; she has willed that it
should be born to satisfy the wants of others, and in its very vitals
has implanted medicaments conducive to health. While she has implanted
them in mute[2030] and inanimate objects even, she has equally willed
that these, the most invaluable aids of life, should be also derived
from the life of another—a subject for contemplation, marvellous in the
highest degree![2031]

SUMMARY.—Remedies, narratives, and observations, six hundred and two.

ROMAN AUTHORS QUOTED.—Caius Valgius,[2032] Pompeius Lenæus,[2033]
Sextius Niger[2034] who wrote in Greek, Julius Bassus[2035] who wrote
in Greek, Antonius Castor,[2036] Cornelius Celsus.[2037]

FOREIGN AUTHORS QUOTED.—Theophrastus,[2038] Apollodorus,[2039]
Democritus,[2040] Aristogiton,[2041] Orpheus,[2042] Pythagoras,[2043]
Mago,[2044] Menander[2045] who wrote the “Biochresta,” Nicander.[2046]

MEDICAL AUTHORS QUOTED.—Mnesitheus,[2047] Timaristus,[2048]
Simus,[2049] Hippocrates,[2050] Chrysippus,[2051] Diocles,[2052]
Ophelion,[2053] Heraclides,[2054] Hicesius,[2055] Dionysius,[2056]
Apollodorus[2057] of Citium, Apollodorus[2058] of Tarentum,
Praxagoras,[2059] Plistonicus,[2060] Medius,[2061] Dieuches,[2062]
Cleophantus,[2063] Philistion,[2064] Asclepiades,[2065] Crateuas,[2066]
Petronius Diodotus,[2067] Iollas,[2068] Erasistratus,[2069]
Diagoras,[2070] Andreas,[2071] Mnesides,[2072] Epicharmus,[2073]
Damion,[2074] Tlepolemus,[2075] Metrodorus,[2076] Solo,[2077]
Lycus,[2078] Olympias[2079] of Thebes, Philinus,[2080] Petrichus,[2081]
Micton,[2082] Glaucias,[2083] Xenocrates.[2084]

⁂ Before quitting the Botanical Books of Pliny, it is a duty both to
our author and to the reader, to call attention to the illustrations
of a few passages in this work, which will be found in the _Textrinum
Antiquorum_, by Dr. James Yates, F.R.S., a book characterized by
learning, equally profound and extensive, and the most indefatigable
research: it being but recently, we are sorry to say, that we have been
made acquainted with its valuable contents.

The following are selected as among the most useful and interesting
results of his enquiries.

B. vi. c. 20 [V. ii. p. 36]. Dr. Yates is of opinion that Pliny has
here mistranslated a passage of Aristotle, Hist. Anim. v. 19 and that
he has mistaken the word βομβύκια, “cocoons,” for webs, similar to
those of the spider, attached to the leaves of trees. Not understanding
the original, he would seem to have given a distorted account of the
simple operation of winding the threads from off the cocoons of the
silkworm upon bobbins, by the hands of females; the threads upon which
bobbins would be afterwards unwound for the manufacture of silken
fabrics. See Notes 303 and 304 on the passage in question; also B. xi.
c. 26.

B. viii. c. 74 [V. ii. p. 336]. For the word “Sororiculata,” Dr. Yates
proposes to read “Soriculata,” and he suggests that the cloth thus
called may have been a velvet or plush, which received its name from
its resemblance to the coat of the field-mouse, “sorex,” the diminutive
of which would be “soricula.”

B. xix. c. 2 [V. iv. p. 133] and c. 6 [p. 138], Dr. Yates expresses
it as his opinion that the words “Carbasus” and “Carbasa” are derived
from the oriental word _Carpos_, signifying “cotton,” and thinks that
Pliny, in B. xix. c. 2, may have used the word by Catachresis, as
meaning linen, in the same manner as the Latin poets repeatedly use the
word “carbasa,” as signifying various kinds of woven textures. If this
view be correct, the word “Carbasina” in B. xix. c. 6, will probably
mean “awnings of woven material” generally, and not of fine linen, or
cambric, as suggested in Note 856.

B. xix. c. 2 [V. iv. p. 134]. The genuineness of the passage which
makes mention of the “Gossypium,” is questioned by Dr. Yates, who
thinks it possible that it is an interpolation: such, however, if we
may judge from the result of Sillig’s researches, does not appear to
have been the case. If, on the other hand, the passage is genuine, Dr.
Yates is of opinion that the statement is incorrect, and that cotton
was _not_ grown in Egypt. It seems just possible, however, that Pliny
may have had in view the trees mentioned by him in B. xiv. c. 28.

B. xix. c. 4 [V. iv. p. 137, also p. 134, Note 837]. Dr. Yates has
adduced a number of convincing arguments to prove that the “Byssus” of
the ancients cannot have been cotton, but that in all probability it
was a texture of fine flax. The passages of Pausanias, (B. v. c. 25,
and B. vi. c. 26) in which “Byssus” is mentioned, would certainly seem
to apply to flax, a product which is still cultivated near the mouth
of the river Peneus, in ancient Elis. There is no doubt, however, that
Philostratus, though perhaps erroneously, has used the word “Byssus” as
meaning cotton.




We should have now concluded our description of the various
things[2085] that are produced between the heavens and the earth, and
it would have only remained for us to speak of the substances that are
dug out of the ground itself; did not our exposition of the remedies
derived from plants and shrubs necessarily lead us into a digression
upon the medicinal properties which have been discovered, to a still
greater extent, in those living creatures themselves which are thus
indebted [to other objects] for the cure of their respective maladies.
For ought we, after describing the plants, the forms of the various
flowers, and so many objects rare and difficult to be found—ought we
to pass in silence the resources which exist in man himself for the
benefit of man, and the other remedies to be derived from the creatures
that live among us—and this more particularly, seeing that life itself
is nothing short of a punishment, unless it is exempt from pains and
maladies? Assuredly not; and even though I may incur the risk of being
tedious, I shall exert all my energies on the subject, it being my
fixed determination to pay less regard to what may be amusing, than to
what may prove practically useful to mankind.

Nay, even more than this, my researches will extend to the usages of
foreign countries, and to the customs of barbarous nations, subjects
upon which I shall have to appeal to the good faith of other authors;
though at the same time I have made it my object to select no[2086]
facts but such as are established by pretty nearly uniform testimony,
and to pay more attention to scrupulous exactness than to copiousness
of diction.

It is highly necessary, however, to advertise the reader, that whereas
I have already described the natures of the various animals, and the
discoveries[2087] due to them respectively—for, in fact, they have
been no less serviceable in former times in discovering remedies,
than they are at the present day in providing us with them—it is my
present intention to confine myself to the remedial properties which
are found in the animal world, a subject which has not been altogether
lost sight of in the former portion of this work. These additional
details therefore, though of a different nature, must still be read in
connexion with those which precede.


We will begin then with man, and our first enquires will be into
the resources which he provides for himself—a subject replete with
boundless difficulties at the very outset.[2088]

Epileptic patients are in the habit of drinking the blood even of
gladiators, draughts teeming with life,[2089] as it were; a thing that,
when we see it done by the wild beasts even, upon the same arena,
inspires us with horror at the spectacle! And yet these persons,
forsooth, consider it a most effectual cure for their disease, to quaff
the warm, breathing, blood from man himself, and, as they apply their
mouth to the wound, to draw forth his very life; and this, though it is
regarded as an act of impiety to apply the human lips to the wound even
of a wild beast! Others there are, again, who make the marrow[2090] of
the leg-bones, and the brains of infants, the objects of their research!

Among the Greek writers, too, there are not a few who have enlarged
upon the distinctive flavours of each one of the viscera and members
of the human body, pursuing their researches to the very parings of
the nails! as though, forsooth, it could possibly be accounted the
pursuit of health for man to make himself a wild beast, and so deserve
to contract disease from the very remedies he adopts for avoiding it.
Most righteously, by Hercules! if such attempts are all in vain, is he
disappointed of his cure! To examine human entrails is deemed an act of
impiety;[2091] what then must it be to devour them?

Say, Osthanes,[2092] who was it that first devised these practices;
for it is thee that I accuse, thou uprooter of all human laws, thou
inventor of these monstrosities; devised, no doubt with the view that
mankind might not forget thy name! Who was it that first thought of
devouring each member of the human body? By what conjectural motives
was he induced? What can possibly have been the origin of such a system
of medicine as this? Who was it that thus made the very poisons less
baneful than the antidotes prescribed for them? Granted that barbarous
and outlandish tribes first devised such practices, must the men of
Greece, too, adopt these as arts of their own?

We read, for instance, in the memoirs of Democritus, still extant,
that for some diseases, the skull of a malefactor is most efficacious,
while for the treatment of others, that of one who has been a friend
or guest is required. Apollonius, again, informs us in his writings,
that the most effectual remedy for tooth-ache is to scarify the gums
with the tooth of a man who has died a violent death; and, according to
Miletus, human gall is a cure for cataract.[2093] For epilepsy, Artemon
has prescribed water drawn from a spring in the night, and drunk from
the skull of a man who has been slain, and whose body remains unburnt.
From the skull, too, of a man who had been hanged, Antæus made pills
that were to be an antidote to the bite of a mad dog. Even more than
this, man has resorted to similar remedies for the cure of four-footed
beasts even—for tympanitis in oxen, for instance, the horns have been
perforated, and human bones inserted; and when swine have been found to
be diseased, fine wheat has been given them which has lain for a night
in the spot where a human being has been slain or burnt!

Far from us, far too from our writings, be such prescriptions[2094]
as these! It will be for us to describe remedies only, and not
abominations;[2095] cases, for instance, in which the milk of a nursing
woman may have a curative effect, cases where the human spittle may be
useful, or the contact[2096] of the human body, and other instances of
a similar nature. We do not look upon life as so essentially desirable
that it must be prolonged at any cost, be it what it may—and you, who
are of that opinion, be assured, whoever you may be, that you will
die none the less, even though you shall have lived in the midst of
obscenities or abominations!

Let each then reckon this as one great solace to his mind, that of all
the blessings which Nature has bestowed on man, there is none greater
than the death[2097] which comes at a seasonable hour; and that the
very best feature in connexion with it is, that every person has it in
his own power to procure it for himself.[2098]


In reference to the remedies derived from man, there arises first of
all one question, of the greatest importance and always attended with
the same uncertainty, whether words, charms, and incantations, are of
any efficacy or not?[2099] For if such is the case, it will be only
proper to ascribe this efficacy to man himself;[2100] though the wisest
of our fellow-men, I should remark, taken individually, refuse to
place the slightest faith in these opinions. And yet, in our every-day
life, we practically show, each passing hour, that we do entertain
this belief, though at the moment we are not sensible of it. Thus,
for instance, it is a general belief that without a certain form of
prayer[2101] it would be useless to immolate a victim, and that, with
such an informality, the gods would be consulted to little purpose. And
then besides, there are different forms of address to the deities, one
form for entreating,[2102] another form for averting their ire, and
another for commendation.

We see too, how that our supreme magistrates use certain formulæ for
their prayers: that not a single word may be omitted or pronounced out
of its place, it is the duty of one person to precede the dignitary
by reading the formula before him from a written ritual, of another,
to keep watch upon every word, and of a third to see that[2103]
silence is not ominously broken; while a musician, in the meantime, is
performing on the flute to prevent any other words being heard.[2104]
Indeed, there are memorable instances recorded in our Annals, of cases
where either the sacrifice has been interrupted, and so blemished,
by imprecations, or a mistake has been made in the utterance of the
prayer; the result being that the lobe of the liver or the heart has
disappeared in a moment, or has been doubled,[2105] while the victim
stood before the altar. There is still in existence a most remarkable
testimony,[2106] in the formula which the Decii, father and son,
pronounced on the occasions when they devoted themselves.[2107] There
is also preserved the prayer uttered by the Vestal Tuccia,[2108] when,
upon being accused of incest, she carried water in a sieve—an event
which took place in the year of the City 609. Our own age even has seen
a man and a woman buried alive in the Ox Market,[2109] Greeks by birth,
or else natives of some other[2110] country with which we were at war
at the time. The prayer used upon the occasion of this ceremonial, and
which is usually pronounced first by the Master of the College of the
Quindecimviri,[2111] if read by a person, must assuredly force him to
admit the potency of formulæ; when it is recollected that it has been
proved to be effectual by the experience of eight hundred and thirty

At the present day, too, it is a general belief, that our Vestal
virgins have the power, by uttering a certain prayer, to arrest the
flight of runaway slaves, and to rivet them to the spot, provided they
have not gone beyond the precincts of the City. If then these opinions
be once received as truth, and if it be admitted that the gods do
listen to certain prayers, or are influenced by set forms of words,
we are bound to conclude in the affirmative upon the whole question.
Our ancestors, no doubt, always entertained such a belief, and have
even assured us, a thing by far the most difficult of all, that it
is possible by such means to bring down lightning from heaven, as
already[2112] mentioned on a more appropriate occasion.


L. Piso informs us, in the first Book of his Annals, that King Tullus
Hostilius,[2113] while attempting, in accordance with the books of
Numa, to summon Jupiter from heaven by means of a sacrifice similar
to that employed by him, was struck by lightning in consequence of
his omission to follow certain forms with due exactness. Many other
authors, too, have attested, that by the power of words a change has
been effected in destinies and portents of the greatest importance.
While they were digging on the Tarpeian Hill for the foundations of a
temple, a human head was found; upon which deputies were sent to Olenus
Calenus, the most celebrated diviner of Etruria. He, foreseeing the
glory and success which attached to such a presage as this, attempted,
by putting a question to them, to transfer the benefit of it to his own
nation. First describing, on the ground before him, the outline of the
temple with his staff—“Is it so, Romans, as you say?” said he; “here
then must be the temple[2114] of Jupiter, all good and all powerful;
it is here that we have found the head”—and the constant asseveration
of the Annals is, that the destiny of the Roman empire would have been
assuredly transferred to Etruria, had not the deputies, forewarned by
the son of the diviner, made answer—“No, not here exactly, but at Rome,
we say, the head was found.”

It is related also that the same was the case when a certain four-horse
chariot, made of clay, and intended for the roof of the same temple,
had considerably increased while in the furnace;[2115] and that on this
occasion, in a similar manner, the destinies of Rome were saved. Let
these instances suffice then to show, that the virtues of presages lie
in our own hands, and that they are valuable in each instance according
as they are received.[2116] At all events, it is a principle in the
doctrine of the augurs, that neither imprecations nor auspices of any
kind have any effect upon those who, when entering upon an undertaking,
declare that they will pay no attention whatever to them; a greater
instance than which, of the indulgent disposition of the gods towards
us, cannot be found.

And then besides, in the laws themselves of the Twelve Tables, do
we not read the following words—“Whosoever shall have enchanted the
harvest,”[2117] and in another place, “Whosoever shall have used
pernicious incantations”?[2118] Verrius Flaccus cites authors whom he
deems worthy of credit, to show that on the occasion of a siege, it
was the usage, the first thing of all, for the Roman priests to summon
forth the tutelary divinity of that particular town, and to promise
him the same rites, or even a more extended worship, at Rome; and at
the present day even, this ritual still forms part of the discipline
of our pontiffs. Hence it is, no doubt, that the name[2119] of the
tutelary deity of Rome has been so strictly kept concealed, lest any of
our enemies should act in a similar manner. There is no one, too, who
does not dread being spell-bound by means of evil imprecations;[2120]
and hence the practice, after eating eggs or snails, of immediately
breaking[2121] the shells, or piercing them with the spoon. Hence, too,
those love-sick imitations of enchantments which we find described
by Theocritus among the Greeks, and by Catullus, and more recently,
Virgil,[2122] among our own writers. Many persons are fully persuaded
that articles of pottery may be broken by a similar agency; and not a
few are of opinion even that serpents can counteract incantations, and
that this is the only kind of intelligence they possess—so much so, in
fact, that by the agency of the magic spells of the Marsi, they may be
attracted to one spot, even when asleep in the middle of the night.
Some people go so far, too, as to write certain words[2123] on the
walls of houses, deprecatory of accident by fire.

But it is not easy to say whether the outlandish and unpronounceable
words that are thus employed, or the Latin expressions that are used
at random, and which must appear ridiculous to our judgment, tend the
most strongly to stagger our belief—seeing that the human imagination
is always conceiving something of the infinite, something deserving
of the notice of the divinity, or indeed, to speak more correctly,
something that must command his intervention perforce. Homer[2124]
tells us that Ulysses arrested the flow of blood from a wound in the
thigh, by repeating a charm; and Theophrastus[2125] says that sciatica
may be cured by similar means. Cato[2126] has preserved a formula
for the cure of sprains, and M. Varro for that of gout. The Dictator
Cæsar, they say, having on one occasion accidentally had a fall in his
chariot,[2127] was always in the habit, immediately upon taking his
seat, of thrice repeating a certain formula, with the view of ensuring
safety upon the journey; a thing that, to my own knowledge, is done by
many persons at the present day.


I would appeal, too, for confirmation on this subject, to the intimate
experience of each individual. Why, in fact, upon the first day of the
new year, do we accost one another with prayers for good fortune,[2128]
and, for luck’s sake, wish each other a happy new year? Why, too, upon
the occasion of public lustrations, do we select persons with lucky
names, to lead the victims? Why, to counteract fascinations, do we
Romans observe a peculiar form of adoration, in invoking the Nemesis
of the Greeks; whose statue, for this reason, has been placed in the
Capitol at Rome, although the goddess herself possesses no Latin
name?[2129] Why, when we make mention of the dead, do we protest that
we have no wish[2130] to impeach their good name?[2131] Why is it that
we entertain the belief that for every purpose odd numbers are the most
effectual;[2132]—a thing that is particularly observed with reference
to the critical days in fevers? Why is it that, when gathering the
earliest fruit, apples, or pears, as the case may be, we make a point
of saying—“This fruit is old, may other fruit be sent us that is new?”
Why is it that we salute[2133] a person when he sneezes, an observance
which Tiberius Cæsar, they say, the most unsociable of men, as we all
know, used to exact, when riding in his chariot even? Some there are,
too, who think it a point religiously to be observed to mention the
name as well of the person whom they salute.

And then, besides, it is a notion[2134] universally received, that
absent persons have warning that others are speaking of them by the
tingling of the ears. Attalus[2135] assures us, that if a person,
the moment he sees a scorpion, says “Duo,”[2136] the reptile will
stop short, and forbear to sting. And now that I am speaking of the
scorpion, I recall to mind that in Africa no one ever undertakes
any matter without prefacing with the word “Africa;” while in other
countries, before an enterprise is commenced, it is the practice to
adjure the gods that they will manifest their good will.

In addition to this, it is very clear that there are some religious
observances, unaccompanied by speech, which are considered to be
productive of certain effects. Thus,[2137] when we are at table, for
instance, it is the universal practice, we see, to take the ring from
off the finger. Another person, again, will take some spittle from his
mouth and place it with his finger behind the ear, to propitiate and
modify disquietude of mind. When we wish to signify applause, we have
a proverb even which tells us we should press the thumbs.[2138] When
paying adoration, we kiss the right hand, and turn the whole body to
the right: while the people of the Gallic provinces, on the contrary,
turn to the left, and believe that they show mere devoutness by so
doing. To salute summer lightning with clapping of the hands, is the
universal practice with all nations. If, when eating, we happen to make
mention of a fire that has happened, we avert the inauspicious omen by
pouring water beneath the table. To sweep the floor at the moment that
a person is rising from table, or to remove the table or tray,[2139]
as the case may be, while a guest is drinking, is looked upon as a
most unfortunate presage. There is a treatise, written by Servius
Sulpicius, a man of the highest rank, in which reasons are given why
we should never leave the table we are eating at; for in his day it
was not yet[2140] the practice to reckon more tables than guests at
an entertainment. Where a person has sneezed, it is considered highly
ominous for the dish or table to be brought back again, and not a taste
thereof to be taken, after doing so; the same, too, where a person at
table eats nothing at all.

These usages have been established by persons who entertained a belief
that the gods are ever present, in all our affairs and at all hours,
and who have therefore found the means of appeasing them by our vices
even. It has been remarked, too, that there is never a dead silence
on a sudden among the guests at table, except when there is an even
number present; when this happens, too, it is a sign that the good name
and repute of every individual present is in peril. In former times,
when food fell from the hand of a guest, it was the custom to return
it by placing it on the table, and it was forbidden[2141] to blow upon
it, for the purpose of cleansing it. Auguries, too, have been derived
from the words or thoughts of a person at the moment such an accident
befalls him; and it is looked upon as one of the most dreadful of
presages, if this should happen to a pontiff, while celebrating the
feast of Dis.[2142] The proper expiation in such a case is, to have the
morsel replaced on table, and then burnt in honour of the Lar.[2143]
Medicines, it is said, will prove ineffectual, if they happen to have
been placed on a table before they are administered. It is religiously
believed by many, that it is ominous in a pecuniary point of view, for
a person to pare his nails without speaking, on the market days[2144]
at Rome, or to begin at the forefinger[2145] in doing so: it is
thought, too, to be a preventive of baldness and of head-ache, to cut
the hair on the seventeenth and twenty-ninth[2146] days of the moon.

A rural law observed in most of the farms of Italy, forbids[2147] women
to twirl their distaffs, or even to carry them uncovered, while walking
in the public roads; it being a thing so prejudicial to all hopes and
anticipations, those of a good harvest[2148] in particular. It is not
so long ago, that M. Servilius Nonianus, the principal citizen at
Rome,[2149] being apprehensive of ophthalmia, had a paper, with the
two Greek letters P and A[2150] written upon it, wrapped in linen and
attached to his neck, before he would venture to name the malady, and
before any other person had spoken to him about it. Mucianus, too, who
was thrice consul, following a similar observance, carried about him
a living fly, wrapped in a piece of white linen; and it was strongly
asserted, by both of them, that to the use of these expedients they
owed their preservation from ophthalmia. There are in existence, also,
certain charms against hail-storms, diseases of various kinds, and
burns, some of which have been proved, by actual experience, to be
effectual; but so great is the diversity of opinion upon them, that
I am precluded by a feeling of extreme diffidence from entering into
further particulars, and must therefore leave each to form his own
conclusions as he may feel inclined.


We have already,[2151] when speaking of the singular peculiarities of
various nations, made mention of certain men of a monstrous nature,
whose gaze is endowed with powers of fascination; and we have also
described properties belonging to numerous animals, which it would
be superfluous here to repeat. In some men, the whole of the body is
endowed with remarkable properties, as in those families, for instance,
which are a terror to serpents; it being in their power to cure persons
when stung, either by the touch or by a slight suction of the wound.
To this class belong the Psylli, the Marsi, and the people called
“Ophiogenes”[2152] in the Isle of Cyprus. One Euagon, a member of this
family, while attending upon a deputation at Rome, was thrown by way of
experiment, by order of the consuls, into a large vessel[2153] filled
with serpents; upon which, to the astonishment of all, they licked his
body all over with their tongues. One peculiarity of this family—if
indeed it is still in existence—is the strong offensive smell which
proceeds from their body in the spring; their sweat, too, no less than
their spittle, was possessed of remedial virtues. The people who are
born at Tentyris, an island in the river Nilus, are so formidable[2154]
to the crocodiles there, that their voice even is sufficient to put
them to flight. The presence even, it is well known, of all these
different races, will suffice for the cure of injuries inflicted by
the animals to which they respectively have an antipathy; just in the
same way that wounds are irritated by the approach of persons who have
been stung by a serpent at some former time, or bitten by a dog. Such
persons, too, by their presence, will cause the eggs upon which a hen
is sitting to be addled, and will make pregnant cattle cast their young
and miscarry; for, in fact, so much of the venom remains in their
body, that, from being poisoned themselves, they become poisonous to
other creatures. The proper remedy in such case is first to make them
wash their hands, and then to sprinkle with the water the patient
who is under medical treatment. When, again, persons have been once
stung by a scorpion they will never afterwards be attacked by hornets,
wasps, or bees: a fact at which a person will be the less surprised
when he learns that a garment which has been worn at a funeral will
never be touched by moths;[2155] that it is hardly possible to draw
serpents from their holes except by using the left hand; and that,
of the discoveries made by Pythagoras, one of the most unerring, is
the fact, that in the name given to infants, an odd number of vowels
is portentous of lameness, loss of eyesight, or similar accidents,
on[2156] the right side of the body, and an even number of vowels of
the like infirmities on the left.

(4.) It is said, that if a person takes a stone or other missile which
has slain three living creatures, a man, a boar, and a bear, at three
blows, and throws it over the roof of a house in which there is a
pregnant woman, her delivery, however difficult, will be instantly
accelerated thereby. In such a case, too, a successful result will
be rendered all the more probable, if a light infantry lance[2157]
is used, which has been drawn from a man’s body without touching the
earth; indeed, if it is brought into the house it will be productive
of a similar result. In the same way, too, we find it stated in the
writings of Orpheus and Archelaüs, that arrows, drawn from a human body
without being allowed to touch the ground, and placed beneath the bed,
will have all the effect of a philtre; and, what is even more than
this, that it is a cure for epilepsy if the patient eats the flesh of a
wild beast killed with an iron weapon with which a human being has been

Some individuals, too, are possessed of medicinal properties in
certain parts of the body; the thumb of King Pyrrhus, for instance,
as already[2158] mentioned. At Elis, there used to be shown one of
the ribs[2159] of Pelops, which, it was generally asserted, was made
of ivory. At the present day even, there are many persons, who from
religious motives will never clip the hair growing upon a mole on the


But it is the fasting spittle of a human being, that is, as
already[2160] stated by us, the sovereign preservative against the
poison of serpents; while, at the same time, our daily experience may
recognize its efficacy and utility,[2161] in many other respects. We
are in the habit of spitting,[2162] for instance, as a preservative
from epilepsy, or in other words, we repel contagion thereby: in a
similar manner, too, we repel fascinations, and the evil presages
attendant upon meeting a person who is lame in the right leg. We ask
pardon of the gods, by spitting in[2163] the lap, for entertaining some
too presumptuous hope or expectation.[2164] On the same principle, it
is the practice in all cases where medicine is employed, to spit three
times on the ground, and to conjure the malady as often; the object
being to aid the operation of the remedy employed. It is usual, too,
to mark a boil when it first makes its appearance, three times with
fasting[2165] spittle. What we are going to say is marvellous, but it
may easily be tested[2166] by experiment: if a person repents of a blow
given to another, either by hand or with a missile, he has nothing to
do but to spit at once into the palm of the hand which has inflicted
the blow, and all feelings[2167] of resentment will be instantly
alleviated in the person struck. This, too, is often verified in the
case of a beast of burden, when brought on its haunches with blows; for
upon this remedy being adopted, the animal will immediately step out
and mend its pace. Some persons, however, before making an effort, spit
into the hand in manner above stated, in order to make the blow more

We may well believe, then, that lichens and leprous spots may be
removed by a constant application of fasting spittle; that ophthalmia
may be cured by anointing, as it were, the eyes every morning with
fasting spittle; that carcinomata may be effectually treated, by
kneading the root of the plant known as “apple of the earth,”[2169]
with human spittle; that crick in the neck may be got rid of by
carrying fasting spittle to the right knee with the right hand, and
to the left knee with the left; and that when an insect has got into
the ear, it is quite sufficient to spit into that organ, to make it
come out. Among the counter-charms too, are reckoned, the practice of
spitting into the urine the moment it is voided, of spitting into the
shoe of the right foot before putting it on, and of spitting while a
person is passing a place in which he has incurred any kind of peril.

Marcion of Smyrna, who has written a work on the virtues of simples,
informs us that the sea scolopendra will burst asunder if spit upon;
and that the same is the case with bramble-frogs,[2170] and other
kinds of frogs. Opilius says that serpents will do the same, if a
person spits into their open mouth; and Salpe tells us, that when any
part of the body is asleep, the numbness may be got rid of by the
person spitting into his lap, or touching the upper eyelid with his
spittle. If we are ready to give faith to such statements as these,
we must believe also in the efficacy of the following practices: upon
the entrance of a stranger, or when a person looks at an infant while
asleep, it is usual for the nurse to spit three times upon the ground;
and this, although infants are under the especial guardianship of the
god Fascinus,[2171] the protector, not of infants only, but of generals
as well, and a divinity whose worship is entrusted to the Vestal
virgins, and forms part of the Roman rites. It is the image of this
divinity that is attached beneath the triumphant car of the victorious
general, protecting him, like some attendant physician, against the
effects of envy;[2172] while, at the same time, equally salutary is the
advice of the tongue, which warns him to be wise in time,[2173] that so
Fortune may be prevailed upon by his prayers, not to follow, as the
destroyer of his glory, close upon his back.


The human bite is also looked upon as one of the most dangerous of all.
The proper remedy for it is human ear-wax; a thing that we must not be
surprised at, seeing that, if applied immediately, it is a cure for the
stings of scorpions even, and serpents. The best, however, for this
purpose, is that taken from the ears of the wounded person. Agnails,
too, it is said, may be cured in a similar manner. A human tooth,
reduced to powder, is a cure, they say, for the sting of a serpent.


The first hair, it is said, that is cut from an infant’s head, and, in
fact, the hair of all persons that have not reached the age of puberty,
attached to the limbs, will modify the attacks of gout. A man’s hair,
applied with vinegar, is a cure for the bite of a dog, and, used with
oil or wine, for wounds on the head. It is said, too, if we choose to
believe it, that the hair of a man torn down from the cross, is good
for quartan fevers. Ashes, too, of burnt human hair are curative of
carcinomata. If a woman takes the first tooth that a child has shed,
provided it has not touched the ground, and has it set in a bracelet,
and wears it constantly upon her arm, it will preserve her from all
pains in the uterus and adjacent parts. If the great toe is tied fast
to the one next to it, it will reduce tumours in the groin; and if
the two middle fingers of the right hand are slightly bound together
with a linen thread, it will act as a preservative against catarrhs
and ophthalmia. A stone, it is said, that has been voided by a patient
suffering from calculi, if attached to the body above the pubes, will
alleviate the pains of others similarly afflicted, as well as pains in
the liver; it will have the effect, also, of facilitating delivery.
Granius[2174] adds, however, that for this last purpose, the stone will
be more efficacious if it has been extracted with the knife. Delivery,
when near at hand, will be accelerated, if the man by whom the woman
has conceived, unties his girdle, and, after tying it round her, unties
it, adding at the same time this formula, “I have tied it, and I will
untie it,” and then taking his departure.


The blood of the human body, come from what part it may, is most
efficacious, according to Orpheus and Archelaüs, as an application for
quinzy: they say, too, that if it is applied to the mouth of a person
who has fallen down in a fit of epilepsy, he will come to himself
immediately. Some say that, for epilepsy, the great toes should be
pricked, and the drops of blood that exude therefrom applied to the
face; or else, that a virgin should touch the patient with her right
thumb—a circumstance that has led to the belief that persons suffering
from epilepsy should eat the flesh of animals in a virgin state.
Æschines of Athens used to cure quinzy, carcinoma, and affections of
the tonsillary glands and uvula, with the ashes of burnt excrements, a
medicament to which he gave the name of “botryon.”[2175]

There are many kinds of diseases which disappear entirely after the
first sexual congress,[2176] or, in the ease of females, at the first
appearance of menstruation; indeed, if such is not the case, they
are apt to become chronic, epilepsy in particular. Even more than
this—a man, it is said, who has been stung by a serpent or scorpion,
experiences relief from the sexual congress; but the woman, on the
other hand, is sensible of detriment. We are assured, too, that if
persons, when washing their feet, touch the eyes three times with the
water, they will never be subject to ophthalmia or other diseases of
the eyes.


Scrofula, imposthumes of the parotid glands, and throat diseases, they
say, may be cured by the contact of the hand of a person who has been
carried off by an early death: indeed there are some who assert that
any dead body will produce the same effect, provided it is of the same
sex as the patient, and that the part affected is touched with the
back of the left hand.[2177] To bite off a piece from wood that has
been stuck by lightning, the hands being held behind the back, and then
to apply it to the tooth, is a sure remedy, they say, for tooth-ache.
Some persons recommend the tooth to be fumigated with the smoke of a
burnt tooth, which has belonged to another person of the same sex; or
else to attach to the person a dog-tooth, as it is called, which has
been extracted from a body before burial. Earth, they say, taken from
out of a human skull, acts as a depilatory to the eyelashes; it is
asserted, also, that any plant which may happen to have grown there,
if chewed, will cause the teeth to come out; and that if a circle
is traced round an ulcer with a human bone, it will be effectually
prevented from spreading.

Some persons, again, mix water in equal proportions from three
different wells, and, after making a libation with part of it in a new
earthen vessel, administer the rest to patients suffering from tertian
fever, when the paroxysms come on. So, too, in cases of quartan fever,
they take a fragment of a nail from a cross, or else a piece of a
halter[2178] that has been used for crucifixion, and, after wrapping it
in wool, attach it to the patient’s neck; taking care, the moment he
has recovered, to conceal it in some hole to which the light of the sun
cannot penetrate.


The following are some of the reveries of magic.[2179] A whetstone
upon which iron tools have been frequently sharpened, if put, without
his being aware of it, beneath the pillow of a person sinking under
the effects of poison, will make him give evidence and declare what
poison has been administered, and at what time and place, though at
the same time he will not disclose the author of the crime. When a
person has been struck by lightning, if the body is turned upon the
side which has sustained the injury, he will instantly recover the
power of speech—that is quite certain.[2180] For the cure of inguinal
tumours, some persons take the thrum of an old web, and after tying
seven or nine knots in it, mentioning at each knot the name of some
widow woman or other, attach it to the part affected. To assuage the
pain of a wound, they recommend the party to take a nail or any other
substance that has been trodden under foot, and to wear it, attached
to the body with the thrum of a web. To get rid of warts, some lie in
a footpath with the face upwards, when the moon is twenty days old at
least, and after fixing their gaze upon it, extend their arms above
the head, and rub themselves with anything within their reach. If a
person is extracting a corn at the moment that a star shoots, he will
experience an immediate cure,[2181] they say. By pouring vinegar upon
the hinges of a door, a thick liniment is formed, which, applied to the
forehead, will alleviate headache: an effect equally produced, we are
told, by binding the temples with a halter with which a man has been
hanged. When a fish-bone happens to stick in the throat, it will go
down immediately, if the person plunges his feet into cold water; but
where the accident has happened with any other kind of bone, the proper
remedy is to apply to the head some fragments of bones taken from the
same dish. In cases where bread has stuck in the throat, the best plan
is to take some of the same bread, and insert it in both ears.


In Greece, where everything is turned to account, the owners of the
gymnasia have introduced the very excretions[2182] even of the human
body among the most efficient remedies; so much so, indeed, that the
scrapings from the bodies of the athletes are looked upon as possessed
of certain properties of an emollient, calorific, resolvent, and
expletive nature, resulting from the compound of human sweat and oil.
These scrapings are used, in the form of a pessary, for inflammations
and contractions of the uterus: similarly employed, they act as an
emmenagogue, and are useful for reducing condylomata and inflammations
of the rectum, as also for assuaging pains in the sinews, sprains, and
nodosities of the joints. The scrapings obtained from the baths are
still more efficacious for these purposes, and hence it is that they
form an ingredient in maturative preparations. Such scrapings as are
impregnated with wrestlers’ oil,[2183] used in combination with mud,
have a mollifying effect upon the joints, and are more particularly
efficacious as a calorific and resolvent; but in other respects their
properties are not so strongly developed.

The shameless and disgusting researches that have been made will quite
transcend all belief, when we find authors of the very highest repute
proclaiming aloud that the male seminal fluid is a sovereign remedy
for the sting of the scorpion! In the case too, of women afflicted
with sterility, they recommend the application of a pessary, made
of the first excrement that is voided by an infant at the moment of
its birth; the name they give it is “meconium.”[2184] They have even
gone so far, too, as to scrape the very filth from off the walls of
the gymnasia, and to assert that this is also possessed of certain
calorific properties. These scrapings are used as a resolvent for
inflamed tumours, and are applied topically to ulcers upon aged people
and children, and to excoriations and burns.


It would be the less becoming then for me to omit all mention of the
remedies which depend upon the human will. Total abstinence from
food or drink, or from wine only, from flesh, or from the use of the
bath, in cases where the health requires any of these expedients, is
looked upon as one of the most effectual modes of treating diseases.
To this class of remedies must be added bodily exercise, exertion of
the voice,[2185] anointings, and frictions according to a prescribed
method: for powerful friction, it should be remembered, has a binding
effect upon the body, while gentle friction, on the other hand, acts
as a laxative; so too, repeated friction reduces the body, while used
in moderation it has a tendency to make flesh. But the most beneficial
practice of all is to take walking or carriage[2186] exercise;
this last being performed in various ways. Exercise on horseback is
extremely good for affections of the stomach and hips, a voyage for
phthisis,[2187] and a change of locality[2188] for diseases of long
standing. So, too, a cure may sometimes be effected by sleep, by a
recumbent position in bed, or by the use of emetics in moderation. To
lie upon the back is beneficial to the sight, to lie with the face
downwards is good for a cough, and to lie on the side is recommended
for patients suffering from catarrh.

According to Aristotle and Fabianus, it is towards spring and autumn
that we are most apt to dream; and they tell us that persons are most
liable to do so when lying on the back, but never when lying with
the face downwards. Theophrastus assures us that the digestion is
accelerated by lying on the right side; while, on the other hand, it is
retarded by lying with the face upwards. The most powerful, however,
of all remedies, and one which is always at a person’s own command,
is the sun: violent friction, too, is useful by the agency of linen
towels and body-scrapers.[2189] To pour warm water on the head before
taking the vapour-bath, and cold water after it, is looked upon as a
most beneficial practice; so, too, is the habit of taking cold water
before food, of drinking it every now and then while eating, of taking
it just before going to sleep, and, if practicable, of waking every
now and then, and taking a draught. It is worthy also of remark, that
there is no living creature but man[2190] that is fond of hot drinks,
a proof that they are contrary to nature. It has been ascertained by
experiment, that it is a good plan to rinse the mouth with undiluted
wine, before going to sleep, for the purpose of sweetening the breath;
to rinse the mouth with cold water an odd number of times every
morning, as a preservative against tooth-ache; and to wash the eyes
with oxycrate, as a preventive of ophthalmia. It has been remarked
also, that the general health is improved by a varying regimen, subject
to no fixed rules.

(5.) Hippocrates informs us that the viscera of persons who do not
take the morning meal[2191] become prematurely aged and feeble; but
then he has pronounced this aphorism, it must be remembered, by way
of suggesting a healthful regimen, and not to promote gluttony; for
moderation in diet is, after all, the thing most conducive to health.
L. Lucullus gave charge to one of his slaves to overlook him in this
respect; and, a thing that reflected the highest discredit on him,
when, now an aged man and laden with triumphs, he was feasting in the
Capitol even his hand had to be removed from the dish to which he
was about to help himself. Surely it was a disgrace for a man to be
governed by his own slave[2192] more easily than by himself!


Sneezing, provoked by a feather, relieves heaviness in the head; it
is said too, that to touch the nostrils of a mule with the lips, will
arrest sneezing and hiccup. For this last purpose, Varro recommends
us to scratch the palm, first of one hand and then of the other;
while many say that it is a good plan to shift the ring from off the
left hand to the longest finger of the right, and then to plunge the
hands into hot water. Theophrastus says, that aged persons sneeze with
greater difficulty than others.


Democritus spoke in condemnation of the sexual congress, as[2193] being
merely an act through which one human being springs from another; and
really, by Hercules! the more rarely it is used the better. Still
however, athletes, we find, when they become dull and heavy, are
re-established by it: the voice, too, is restored by it, when from
being perfectly clear, it has degenerated into hoarseness. The congress
of the sexes is a cure also for pains in the loins, dimness of the
eyesight,[2194] alienation of the mental difficulties, and melancholy.


To sit by a pregnant woman, or by a person to whom any remedy is being
administered, with the fingers of one hand inserted between those of
the other, acts as a magic spell; a discovery that was made, it is
said, when Alcmena[2195] was delivered of Hercules. If the fingers
are thus joined, clasping one or both knees, or if the ham of one leg
is first put upon the knee of the other, and then changed about, the
omen is of still worse signification. Hence it is, that in councils
held by generals and persons in authority, our ancestors forbade these
postures, as being an impediment to all business.[2196] They have
given a similar prohibition also with reference to sacrifices and the
offering of public vows; but as to the usage of uncovering the head
in presence of the magistrates, that has been enjoined, Varro says,
not as a mark of respect, but with a view to health, the head being
strengthened[2197] by the practice of keeping it uncovered.

When anything has got into the eye, it is a good plan to close the
other; and when water has got into the right ear, the person should
hop about on the left foot, with the head reclining upon the right
shoulder, the reverse being done when the same has happened to the
left ear. If the secretion of the phlegm produces coughing, the best
way of stopping it is for another person to blow in the party’s face.
When the uvula is relaxed, another person should take the patient with
his teeth by the crown,[2198] and lift him from the ground; while for
pains in the neck, the hams should be rubbed, and for pains in the hams
the neck. If a person is seized in bed with cramp in the sinews of the
legs or thighs, he should set his feet upon the ground: so, too, if he
has cramp on the left side, he should take hold of the great toe of
the left foot with the right hand, and if on the right side, the great
toe of the right foot with the left hand. For cold shiverings or for
excessive bleeding at the nostrils, the extremities of the body should
be well rubbed with sheep’s wool. To arrest incontinence of urine, the
extremities of the generative organs should be tied with a thread of
linen or papyrus, and a binding passed round the middle of the thigh.
For derangement of the stomach, it is a good plan to press the feet
together, or to plunge the hands into hot water.

In addition to all this, in many cases it is found highly beneficial
to speak but little; thus, for instance, Mæcenas Melissus,[2199] we
are told, enjoined silence on himself for three years, in consequence
of spitting blood after a convulsive fit. When a person is thrown from
a carriage, or when, while mounting an elevation or lying extended at
full length, he is menaced with any accident, or if he receives a blow,
it is singularly beneficial to hold the breath; a discovery for which
we are indebted to an animal, as already[2200] stated.

To thrust an iron nail into the spot where a person’s head lay at the
moment he was seized with a fit of epilepsy, is said to have the effect
of curing him of that disease. For pains in the kidneys, loins, or
bladder, it is considered highly soothing to void the urine lying on
the face at full length in a reclining bath. It is quite surprising how
much more speedily wounds will heal if they are bound up and tied with
a Hercules’ knot:[2201] indeed, it is said, that if the girdle which
we wear every day is tied with a knot of this description, it will be
productive of certain beneficial effects, Hercules having been the
first to discover the fact.

Demetrius, in the treatise which he has compiled upon the number Four,
alleges certain reasons why drink should never be taken in proportions
of four cyathi or sextarii. As a preventive of ophthalmia, it is a good
plan to rub the parts behind the ears, and, as a cure for watery eyes,
to rub the forehead. As to the presages which are derived from man
himself, there is one to the effect that so long as a person is able to
see himself reflected in the pupil of the patient’s eye, there need be
no apprehension of a fatal termination to the malady.


The urine,[2202] too, has been the subject not only of numerous
theories with authors, but of various religious observances as well,
its properties being classified under several distinctive heads: thus,
for instance, the urine of eunuchs, they say, is highly beneficial as
a promoter of fruitfulness in females. But to turn to those remedies
which we may be allowed to name without impropriety—the urine of
children who have not arrived at puberty is a sovereign remedy for
the poisonous secretions of the asp known as the “ptyas,”[2203] from
the fact that it spits its venom into the eyes of human beings. It
is good, too, for the cure of albugo, films and marks upon the eyes,
white specks[2204] upon the pupils, and maladies of the eyelids. In
combination with meal of fitches, it is used for the cure of burns,
and, with a head of bulbed leek, it is boiled down to one half, in a
new earthen vessel, for the treatment of suppurations of the ears,
or the extermination of worms breeding in those organs: the vapour,
too, of this decoction acts as an emmenagogue. Salpe recommends that
the eyes should be fomented with it, as a means of strengthening the
sight; and that it should be used as a liniment for sun scorches, in
combination with white of egg, that of the ostrich being the most
effectual, the application being kept on for a couple of hours.

Urine is also used for taking out ink spots. Male urine cures gout,
witness the fullers for instance,[2205] who, for this reason, it is
said, are never troubled with that disease. With stale urine some mix
ashes of calcined oyster-shells, for the cure of eruptions on the
bodies of infants, and all kinds of running ulcers: it is used, too, as
a liniment for corrosive sores, burns, diseases of the rectum, chaps
upon the body, and stings inflicted by scorpions. The most celebrated
midwives have pronounced that there is no lotion which removes itching
sensations more effectually; and, with the addition of nitre,[2206]
they prescribe it for the cure of ulcers of the head, porrigo, and
cancerous sores, those of the generative organs in particular. But the
fact is, and there is no impropriety in saying so, that every person’s
own urine is the best for his own case, due care being taken to apply
it immediately, and unmixed with anything else; in such cases as the
bite of a dog, for instance, or the quill of a hedge-hog entering the
flesh, a sponge or some wool being the vehicle in which it is applied.
Kneaded up with ashes, it is good for the bite of a mad dog, and
for the cure of stings inflicted by serpents. As to the bite of the
scolopendra, the effects of urine are said to be quite marvellous—the
person who has been injured has only to touch the crown of his head
with a drop of his own urine, and he will experience an instantaneous


Certain indications of the health are furnished by the urine. Thus,
for example, if it is white at first in the morning and afterwards
high-coloured, the first signifies that the digestion is going on, the
last that it is completed. When the urine is red, it is a bad sign; but
when it is swarthy, it is the worst sign of all. So, too, when it is
thick or full of bubbles, it is a bad sign; and when a white sediment
forms, it is a symptom of pains in the region of the viscera or in the
joints. A green-coloured urine is indicative of disease of the viscera,
a pale urine of biliousness, and a red urine of some distemper in the
blood. The urine is in a bad state, too, when certain objects form
in it, like bran or fine clouds in appearance. A thin, white, urine
also is in a diseased state; but when it is thick and possessed of an
offensive smell, it is significant of approaching death: so, too, when
with children it is thin and watery.

The adepts in magic expressly forbid a person, when about to make
water, to uncover the body in the face of the sun[2207] or moon,
or to sprinkle with his urine the shadow of any object whatsoever.
Hesiod[2208] gives a precept, recommending persons to make water
against an object standing full before them, that no divinity may be
offended by their nakedness being uncovered. Osthanes maintains that
every one who drops some urine upon his foot in the morning will be
proof against all noxious medicaments.


The remedies said to be derived from the bodies of females closely
approach the marvellous nature of prodigies; to say nothing of
still-born infants cut up limb by limb for the most abominable
practices, expiations made with the menstrual discharge, and other
devices which have been mentioned, not only by midwives but by
harlots[2209] even as well! The smell of a woman’s hair, burnt, will
drive away serpents, and hysterical suffocations, it is said, may be
dispelled thereby. The ashes of a woman’s hair, burnt in an earthen
vessel, or used in combination with litharge, will cure eruptions
and prurigo of the eyes: used in combination with honey they will
remove warts and ulcers upon infants; with the addition of honey and
frankincense, they will heal wounds upon the head, and fill up all
concavities left by corrosive ulcers; used with hogs’ lard, they will
cure inflammatory tumours and gout; and applied topically to the part
affected, they will arrest erysipelas and hæmorrhage, and remove
itching pimples on the body which resemble the stings of ants.


As to the uses to which woman’s milk has been applied, it is
generally agreed that it is the sweetest and the most delicate of
all, and that it is the best[2210] of remedies for chronic fevers
and cœliac affections, when the woman has just weaned her infant
more particularly. In cases, too, of sickness at stomach, fevers,
and gnawing sensations, it has been found by experience to be highly
beneficial; as also, in combination with frankincense, for abscesses of
the mamillæ. When the eyes are bloodshot from the effects of a blow,
or affected with pain or defluxion, it is a very good plan to inject
woman’s milk into them, more particularly in combination with honey
and juice of daffodil, or else powdered frankincense. In all cases,
however, the milk of a woman who has been delivered of a male child
is the most efficacious, and still more so if she has had male twins;
provided always she abstains from wine and food of an acrid nature.
Mixed with the white of an egg in a liquid state, and applied to the
forehead in wool, it arrests defluxions of the eyes. If a frog[2211]
has spirted its secretions[2212] into the eye, woman’s milk is a most
excellent remedy; and for the bite of that reptile it is used both
internally and externally.

It is asserted that if a person is rubbed at the same moment with
the milk of both mother and daughter, he will be proof for the rest
of his life against all affections of the eyes. Mixed with a small
quantity of oil, woman’s milk is a cure for diseases of the ears; and
if they are in pain from the effects of a blow, it is applied warm
with goose-grease. If the ears emit an offensive smell, a thing that
is mostly the case in diseases of long standing, wool is introduced
into those organs, steeped in woman’s milk and honey. While symptoms of
jaundice are still visible in the eyes, woman’s milk is injected, in
combination with elaterium.[2213] Taken as a drink, it is productive
of singularly good effects, where the poison of the sea-hare, the
buprestis,[2214] or, as Aristotle tells us, the plant doryenium[2215]
has been administered; as a preventive also of the madness produced by
taking henbane. Woman’s milk also, mixed with hemlock, is recommended
as a liniment for gout; while some there are who employ it for that
purpose in combination with wool-grease[2216] or goose-grease; a form
in which it is used as an application for pains in the uterus. Taken
as a drink, it arrests diarrhœa, Rabirius[2217] says, and acts as an
emmenagogue; but where the woman has been delivered of a female child,
her milk is of use only for the cure of face diseases.

Woman’s milk is also a cure for affections of the lungs; and, mixed
with the urine of a youth who has not arrived at puberty, and Attic
honey, in the proportion of one spoonful of each, it removes singing in
the ears, I find. Dogs which have once tasted the milk of a woman who
has been delivered of a male child, will never become mad, they say.


A woman’s fasting spittle is generally considered highly efficacious
for bloodshot eyes: it is good also for defluxions of those organs,
the inflamed corners of the eyes being moistened with it every now
and then; the result, too, is still more successful, if the woman has
abstained from food and wine the day before.

I find it stated that head-ache may be alleviated by tying a woman’s
fillet[2218] round the head.


Over and above these particulars, there is no limit to the marvellous
powers attributed to females. For, in the first place, hailstorms,
they say, whirlwinds, and lightning[2219] even, will be scared away by
a woman uncovering her body while her monthly courses are upon her.
The same, too, with all other kinds of tempestuous weather; and out
at sea, a storm may be lulled by a woman uncovering her body merely,
even though not menstruating at the time. As to the menstrual discharge
itself, a thing that in other respects, as[2220] already stated on a
more appropriate occasion, is productive of the most monstrous effects,
there are some ravings about it of a most dreadful and unutterable
nature. Of these particulars, however, I do not feel so much shocked
at mentioning the following. If the menstrual discharge coincides
with an eclipse of the moon or sun, the evils resulting from it are
irremediable; and no less so, when it happens while the moon is in
conjunction with the sun; the congress with a woman at such a period
being noxious, and attended with fatal effects to the man. At this
period also, the lustre of purple is tarnished by the touch of a woman:
so much more baneful is her influence at this time than at any other.
At any other time, also, if a woman strips herself naked while she
is menstruating, and walks round a field of wheat, the caterpillars,
worms, beetles, and other vermin, will fall from off the ears of corn.
Metrodorus of Scepsos tells us that this discovery was first made in
Cappadocia; and that, in consequence of such multitudes of cantharides
being found to breed there, it is the practice for women to walk
through the middle of the fields with their garments tucked up above
the thighs.[2221] In other places, again, it is the usage for women
to go barefoot, with the hair dishevelled and the girdle loose: due
precaution must be taken, however, that this is not done at sun-rise,
for if so, the crop will wither and dry up. Young vines, too, it is
said, are injured irremediably by the touch of a woman in this state;
and both rue and ivy, plants possessed of highly medicinal virtues,
will die instantly upon being touched by her.

Much as I have already stated on the virulent effects of this
discharge, I have to state, in addition, that bees, it is a well-known
fact, will forsake their hives if touched by a menstruous woman; that
linen boiling in the cauldron will turn black, that the edge of a
razor will become blunted, and that copper vessels will contract a
fetid smell and become covered with verdigrease, on coming in contact
with her. A mare big with foal, if touched by a woman in this state,
will be sure to miscarry; nay, even more than this, at the very sight
of a woman, though seen at a distance even, should she happen to be
menstruating for the first time after the loss of her virginity, or for
the first time, while in a state of virginity. The bitumen[2222] that
is found in Judæa, will yield to nothing but the menstrual discharge;
its tenacity being overcome, as already stated, by the agency of a
thread from a garment which has been brought in contact with this
fluid. Fire itself even, an element which triumphs over every other
substance, is unable to conquer this; for if reduced to ashes and then
sprinkled upon garments when about to be scoured, it will change their
purple tint, and tarnish the brightness of the colours. Indeed so
pernicious are its properties, that women themselves, the source from
which it is derived, are far from being proof against its effects; a
pregnant woman, for instance, if touched with it, or indeed if she so
much as steps over it, will be liable to miscarry.

Laïs and Elephantis[2223] have given statements quite at variance, on
the subject of abortives; they mention the efficacy for that purpose
of charcoal of cabbage root, myrtle root, or tamarisk root, quenched
in the menstrual discharge; they say that she-asses will be barren for
as many years as they have eaten barley-corns steeped in this fluid;
and they have enumerated various other monstrous and irreconcileable
properties, the one telling us, for instance, that fruitfulness may be
ensured by the very same methods, which, according to the statement of
the other, are productive of barrenness; to all which stories it is the
best plan to refuse credit altogether. Bithus of Dyrrhachium informs
us that a mirror,[2224] which has been tarnished by the gaze of a
menstruous female, will recover its brightness if the same woman looks
steadily upon the back of it; he states, also, that all evil influences
of this nature will be entirely neutralized, if the woman carries the
fish known as the sur mullet about her person.

On the other hand, again, many writers say that, baneful as it is,
there are certain remedial properties in this fluid; that it is a good
plan, for instance, to use it as a topical application for gout, and
that women, while menstruating, can give relief by touching scrofulous
sores and imposthumes of the parotid glands, inflamed tumours,
erysipelas, boils, and defluxions of the eyes. According to Laïs and
Salpe, the bite of a mad dog, as well as tertian or quartan fevers,
may be cured by putting some menstruous blood in the wool of a black
ram and enclosing it in a silver bracelet; and we learn from Diotimus
of Thebes that the smallest portion will suffice of any kind of cloth
that has been stained therewith, a thread even, if inserted and worn in
a bracelet. The midwife Sotira informs us that the most efficient cure
for tertian and quartan fevers is to rub the soles of the patient’s
feet therewith, the result being still more successful if the operation
is performed by the woman herself, without the patient being aware
of it; she says, too, that this is an excellent method for reviving
persons when attacked with epilepsy.

Icetidas the physician pledges his word that quartan fever may be
cured by sexual intercourse, provided the woman is just beginning to
menstruate. It is universally agreed, too, that when a person has
been bitten by a dog and manifests a dread of water and of all kinds
of drink, it will be quite sufficient to put under his cup a strip
of cloth that has been dipped in this fluid; the result being that
the hydrophobia will immediately disappear. This arises, no doubt,
from that powerful sympathy which has been so much spoken of by the
Greeks, and the existence of which is proved by the fact,[2225] already
mentioned, that dogs become mad upon tasting this fluid. It is a
well-known fact, too, that the menstruous discharge, reduced to ashes,
and applied with furnace soot and wax, is a cure for ulcers upon all
kinds of beasts of burden; and that stains made upon a garment with
it can only be removed by the agency of the urine of the same female.
Equally certain it is, too, that this fluid, reduced to ashes and
mixed with oil of roses, is very useful, applied to the forehead, for
allaying head-ache, in women more particularly; as also that the nature
of the discharge is most virulent in females whose virginity has been
destroyed solely by the lapse of time.

Another thing universally acknowledged and one which I am ready to
believe with the greatest pleasure, is the fact, that if the door-posts
are only touched with the menstruous fluid all spells of the magicians
will be neutralized—a set of men the most lying in existence, as
any one may ascertain. I will give an example of one of the most
reasonable of their prescriptions—Take the parings of the toe-nails
and finger-nails of a sick person, and mix them up with wax, the party
saying that he is seeking a remedy for a tertian, quartan, or quotidian
fever, as the case may be; then stick this wax, before sunrise, upon
the door of another person—such is the prescription they give for
these diseases! What deceitful persons they must be if there is no
truth in it! And how highly criminal, if they really do thus transfer
diseases from one person to another! Some, of them, again, whose
practices are of a less guilty nature, recommend that the parings of
all the finger-nails should be thrown at the entrance of ant-holes, the
first ant to be taken which attempts to draw one into the hole; this,
they say, must be attached to the neck of the patient, and he will
experience a speedy cure.


Such then are the remedies from human beings which may with any degree
of propriety be described, and many of those with the leave and
good-will of the reader. The rest are of a most execrable and infamous
nature, such, in fact, as to make me hasten to close my description
of the remedies derived from man: we will therefore proceed to speak
of the more remarkable animals, and the effects produced by them.
The blood of the elephant, the male in particular, arrests all those
defluxions known by the name of “rheumatismi.” Ivory shavings, it is
said, in combination with Attic honey, are good for the removal of
spots upon the face: with the sawdust, too, of ivory, hangnails are
removed. By the touch of an elephant’s trunk head-ache is alleviated,
if the animal happens to sneeze at the time more particularly. The
right side of the trunk attached to the body with red earth of Lemnos,
acts powerfully as an aphrodisiac. Elephant’s blood is good for
consumption and the liver for epilepsy.


Lion’s fat, mixed with oil of roses, protects the skin of the face from
all kinds of spots, and preserves the whiteness of the complexion;
it is remedial also for such parts of the body as have been frozen
by snow, and for swellings in the joints. The frivolous lies of the
magicians assert that persons who are anointed with lion’s fat, will
more readily win favour with kings and peoples; more particularly when
the fat has been used that lies between the eyebrows of the animal—a
place, in fact, where there is no fat to be found! The like effects
they promise also from the possession of a lion’s tooth, one from the
right side in particular, as also the shaggy hairs that are found upon
the lower jaw. The gall, used as an ointment in combination with water,
improves the eyesight, and, employed with the fat of the same animal,
is a cure for epilepsy; but a slight taste only must be taken of it,
and the patient must run immediately after swallowing it, in order to
digest it. A lion’s heart, used as food, is curative of quartan fevers,
and the fat, taken with oil of roses, of quotidian fevers. Wild beasts
will fly from persons anointed with lion’s fat, and it is thought to be
a preservative even against treacherous practices.


A camel’s[2226] brains, dried and taken in vinegar, are a cure, they
say, for epilepsy: the same, too, with the gall, taken with honey;
which is a remedy also for quinzy. A camel’s tail dried it is said,
is productive of diarrhœa, and ashes of burnt camel’s dung, mixed
with oil, make the hair curl. These ashes applied topically, are very
useful for dysentery, as also taken in drink, the proper dose being a
pinch in three fingers at a time; they are curative also of epilepsy.
Camel’s urine it is said, is very useful to fullers, and is good for
the cure of running sores. Barbarous nations, we are told, are in the
habit of keeping it till it is five years old, and then taking it as
a purgative, in doses of one semisextarius. The hairs of the tail, it
is said, plaited and attached to the left arm, are a cure for quartan


But of all animals, it is the hyæna that has been held in the highest
admiration by the magicians, who have gone so far as to attribute to
it certain magical virtues even, and the power of alluring[2227] human
beings and depriving them of their senses. Of its change of sex each
year, and other monstrous peculiarities[2228] in its nature, we have
spoken already;[2229] we will now proceed to describe the medicinal
virtues that are ascribed to it.

The hyæna, it is said, is particularly terrible to panthers; so much
so, indeed, that they will not attempt to make the slightest resistance
to it, and will never attack a man who has any portion of a hyæna’s
skin about him. A thing truly marvellous to tell of, if the hides of
these two animals are hung up facing one another, the hair will fall
from off the panther’s skin! When the hyæna flies before the hunter, it
turns off on the right, and letting the man get before it, follows in
his track; should it succeed in doing which, the man is sure to lose
his senses and fall from his horse even. But if, on the other hand, it
turns off to the left, it is a sign that the animal is losing strength,
and that it will soon be taken. The easiest method, however, of taking
it, they say, is for the hunter to tie his girdle with seven knots,
and to make as many knots in the whip with which he guides his horse.
In addition to all this, so full of quirks and subtleties are the vain
conceits of the magicians, they recommend the hyæna to be captured
while the moon is passing through the sign of Gemini, and every hair
of it to be preserved, if possible. They say, too, that the skin of
the head is highly efficacious, if attached to a person suffering
from head-ache; that the gall, applied to the forehead, is curative
of ophthalmia; and that if the gall is boiled down with three cyathi
of Attic honey and one ounce of saffron, it will be a most effectual
preservative against that disease, the same preparation being equally
good for the dispersion of films on the eyes and cataract. If, again,
this preparation is kept till it is old, it will be all the better
for improving the sight, due care being taken to preserve it in a box
of Cyprian copper: they assert also, that it is good for the cure of
argema, eruptions and excrescences of the eyes, and marks upon those
organs. For diseases[2230] of the crystalline humours of the eyes, it
is recommended to anoint them with the gravy of hyæna’s liver roasted
fresh, incorporated with clarified honey.

We learn also, from the same sources, that the teeth of the hyæna are
useful for the cure of tooth-ache, the diseased tooth being either
touched with them, or the animal’s teeth being arranged in their
regular order, and attached to the patient; that the shoulders of this
animal are good for the cure of pains in the arms and shoulders; that
the teeth, extracted from the left side of the jaw, and wrapped in the
skin, of a sheep or he-goat, are an effectual cure for pains in the
stomach; that the lights of the animal, taken with the food, are good
for cœliac affections; that the lights, reduced to ashes and applied
with oil, are also soothing to the stomach; that the marrow of the
back-bone, used with old oil and gall, is strengthening to the sinews;
that the liver, tasted thrice just before the paroxysms, is good for
quartan fevers; that the ashes of the vertebræ, applied in hyæna’s
skin with the tongue and right foot of a sea-calf and a bull’s gall,
the whole boiled up together, are soothing for gout; that for the same
disease hyæna’s gall is advantageously employed in combination with
stone of Assos;[2231] that for cold shiverings, spasms, sudden fits of
starting, and palpitations of the heart, it is a good plan to eat some
portion of a hyæna’s heart cooked, care being taken to reduce the rest
to ashes, and to apply it with the brains of the animal to the part
affected; that this last composition, or the gall applied alone, acts
as a depilatory, the hairs being first plucked out which are wanted not
to grow again; that by this method superfluous hairs of the eyelids may
be removed; that the flesh of the loins, eaten and applied with oil,
is a cure for pains in the loins; and that sterility in females may be
removed by giving them the eye of this animal to eat, in combination
with liquorice and dill, conception within three days being warranted
as the result.

Persons afflicted with night-mare and dread of spectres, will
experience relief, they say, by attaching one of the large teeth of a
hyæna to the body, with a linen thread. In fits of delirium too, it
is recommended to fumigate the patient with the smoke of one of these
teeth, and to attach one in front of his chest, with the fat of the
kidneys, or else the liver or skin. They assert also that a pregnant
woman will never miscarry, if she wears suspended from her neck, the
white flesh from a hyæna’s breast, with seven hairs and the genitals of
a stag, the whole tied up in the skin of a gazelle. The genitals, they
say, eaten with honey, act as a stimulant upon a person, according to
the sex, and this even though it should be the case of a man who has
manifested an aversion to all intercourse with females.

Nay, even more than all this, we are assured that if the genitals and
a certain joint of the vertebræ are preserved in a house with the
hide adhering to them, they will ensure peace and concord between all
members of the family; hence it is that this part is known as the
“joint of the spine,”[2232] or “Atlantian[2233] knot.” This joint,
which is the first, is reckoned among the remedies for epilepsy.

The fumes of the burnt fat of this animal will put serpents to flight,
they say; and the jawbone, pounded with anise and taken with the
food, is a cure for shivering fits. A fumigation made therewith has
the effect of an emmenagogue; and such are the frivolous and absurd
conceits of the professors of the magic art, that they boldly assert
that if a man attaches to his arm a tooth from the right side of the
upper jaw, he will never miss any object he may happen to aim at with
a dart. The palate, dried and warmed with Egyptian alum,[2234] is
curative of bad odours and ulcers of the mouth, care being taken to
renew the application three times. Dogs, they say, will never bark at
persons who have a hyæna’s tongue in the shoe beneath the sole of the
foot. The left side of the brain, applied to the nostrils, is said to
have a soothing effect upon all dangerous maladies either in men or
beasts. They say, too, that the skin of the forehead is a preservative
against all fascinations; that the flesh of the neck, whether eaten
or dried and taken in drink, is good for pains in the loins; that the
sinews of the back and shoulders, used as a fumigation, are good for
pains in the sinews; that the bristles of the snout, applied to a
woman’s lips, have all the effect of a philtre; and that the liver,
administered in drink, is curative of griping pains and urinary calculi.

The heart, it is said, taken with the food or drink, is remedial for
all kinds of pains in the body; the milt for pains in the spleen; the
caul, in combination with oil, for inflammatory ulcers; and the marrow
for pains in the spine and weakness in the sinews. The strings of the
kidneys, they say, if taken with wine and frankincense, will restore
fruitfulness, in cases where it has been banished through the agency
of noxious spells; the uterus, taken in drink with the rind of a sweet
pomegranate, is highly beneficial for diseases of the uterus; and
the fat of the loins, used as a fumigation, removes all impediments
to delivery, and accelerates parturition. The marrow of the back,
attached to the body as an amulet, is an effectual remedy for fantastic
illusions,[2235] and the genitals of the male animal, used as a
fumigation, are good for the cure of spasms. For ophthalmia, ruptures,
and inflammations, the feet, which are kept for the purpose, are
touched; the left feet for affections on the right side of the body,
and the right feet for affections on the left. The left foot, if laid
upon the body of a woman in travail, will be productive, they say, of
fatal effects; but the right foot, similarly employed, will facilitate
delivery. The vesicle which has contained the gall, taken in wine or
with the food, is beneficial for the cardiac disease; and the bladder,
taken in wine, is a good preservative against incontinence of urine.
The urine, too, which is found in the bladder, taken with oil, sesame,
and honey, is said to be useful for diseases of long standing.

The first rib and the eighth, used as a fumigation, are said to be
useful for ruptures; the vertebræ for women in travail; and the blood,
in combination with polenta,[2236] for griping pains in the bowels. If
the door-posts are touched with this blood, the various arts of the
magicians will be rendered of no effect; they will neither be able to
summon the gods into their presence nor to converse with them, whatever
the method to which they have recourse, whether lamps or basin, water
or globe,[2237] or any other method.

The flesh of the hyæna, taken as food, is said to be efficacious for
the bite of a mad dog, and the liver still more so. The flesh or bones
of a human being which have been found in the belly of a slain hyæna,
used as a fumigation, are said to be remedial for gout: but if among
these remains the nails are found, it is looked upon as a presage of
death to some one among those who have captured it. The excrements or
bones which have been voided by the animal at the moment when killed,
are looked upon as counter-charms to magic spells. The dung found in
the intestines is dried and administered in drink for dysentery; and it
is applied to all parts of the body with goose-grease, in the form of
a liniment, in the case of persons who have received injury from some
noxious medicament. By rubbing themselves with the grease, and lying
upon the skin, of a hyæna, persons who have been bitten by dogs are

On the other hand, the ashes of the left pastern-bone, they say,
boiled with weasel’s blood, and applied to a person’s body, will
ensure universal hatred; a similar effect being equally produced by
the eye when boiled. But the most extraordinary thing of all is,
their assertion that the extremity of the rectum of this animal is
a preservative against all oppression on the part of chiefs and
potentates, and an assurance of success in all petitions, judgments,
and lawsuits, and this, if a person only carries it about him. The
anus, according to them, has so powerful an effect as a philtre, that
if it is worn on the left arm, a woman will be sure to follow the
wearer the moment he looks at her. The hairs, too, of this part,
reduced to ashes, and applied with oil to the body of a man who is
living a life of disgraceful effeminacy, will render him not only
modest, they assure us, but of scrupulous morals even.


For fabulous stories connected with it the crocodile may challenge
the next place; and, indeed for cunning, the one[2238] which lives
both upon land and in the water is fully its equal: for I would here
remark, that there are two varieties of this animal. The teeth of the
right jaw of the amphibious crocodile, attached to the right arm as
an amulet, acts as an aphrodisiac, that is, if we choose to believe
it. The eye-teeth of the animal, filled with frankincense—for they are
hollow—are a cure for periodical fevers, care being taken to let the
patient remain five days without seeing the person who has attached
them to his body. A similar virtue is attributed to the small stones
which are found in the belly of this animal, as being a check to the
cold shiverings in fevers, when about to come on; and with the same
object the Ægyptians are in the habit of anointing their sick with the
fat of the crocodile.

The other kind of crocodile[2239] resembles it, but is much inferior in
size: it lives upon land only, and among the most odoriferous flowers;
hence it is that its intestines are so greatly in request, being
filled as they are with a mass of agreeable perfumes. This substance
is called “crocodilea,” and it is looked upon as extremely beneficial
for diseases of the eyes, and for the treatment of films and cataract,
being applied with leek-juice in the form of an ointment. Applied with
oil of cyprus,[2240] it removes blemishes growing upon the face; and,
employed with water, it is a cure for all those diseases, the nature of
which it is to spread upon the face, while at the same time it restores
the natural tints of the skin. An application of it makes freckles
disappear, as well as all kinds of spots and pimples; and it is taken
for epilepsy, in doses of two oboli, in oxymel. Used in the form of a
pessary it acts as an emmenagogue. The best kind of crocodilea, is that
which is the whitest, friable, and the lightest in weight: when rubbed
between the fingers it should ferment like leaven. The usual method is
to wash it, as they do white lead. It is sometimes adulterated with
amylum[2241] or with Cimolian earth, but the most common method of
sophistication is to catch the crocodiles and feed them upon nothing
but rice. It is recommended as one of the most efficient remedies for
cataract to anoint the eyes with crocodile’s gall, incorporated with
honey. We are assured also that it is highly beneficial for affections
of the uterus to make fumigations with the intestines and rest of the
body, or else to envelope the patient with wool impregnated with the

The ashes of the skin of either crocodile, applied with vinegar to such
parts of the body as are about to undergo an incision, or indeed the
very smell of the skin when burning, will render the patient insensible
to the knife. The blood of either crocodile, applied to the eyes,
effaces marks upon those organs and improves the sight. The body, with
the exception of the head and feet, is eaten, boiled, for the cure of
sciatica, and is found very useful for chronic coughs, in children more
particularly: it is equally good, too, for the cure of lumbago. These
animals have a certain fat also, which, applied to the hair, makes it
fall off; persons anointed with this fat are effectually protected
against crocodiles, and it is the practice to drop it into wounds
inflicted by them. A crocodile’s heart, attached to the body in the
wool of a black sheep without a speck of any other colour, due care too
being taken that the sheep was the first lamb yeaned by its dam, will
effectually cure a quartan fever, it is said.


To these animals we shall annex some others that are equally foreign,
and very similar in their properties. To begin then with the chamæleon,
which Democritus has considered worthy to be made the subject of an
especial work, and each part of which has been consecrated to some
particular purpose—This book, in fact, has afforded me no small
amusement, revealing as it does, and exposing the lies and frivolities
of the Greeks.—In size, the chamæleon resembles the crocodile last
mentioned, and only differs from it in having the back-bone arched at a
more acute angle, and a larger tail. There is no animal, it is thought,
more[2242] timid than this, a fact to which it owes its repeated
changes of colour.[2243] It has a peculiar ascendancy over the hawk
tribe; for, according to report, it has the power of attracting those
birds, when flying above it, and then leaving them a voluntary prey
for other animals. Democritus[2244] asserts that if the head and neck
of a chamæleon are burnt in a fire made with logs of oak, it will be
productive of a storm attended with rain and thunder; a result equally
produced by burning the liver upon the tiles of a house. As to the
rest of the magical virtues which he ascribes to this animal, we shall
forbear to mention them, although we look upon them as unfounded;[2245]
except, indeed, in some few instances where their very ridiculousness
sufficiently refutes his assertions.

The right eye, he says, taken from the living animal and applied with
goats’ milk, removes diseases of the crystalline humours of the eyes;
and the tongue, attached to the body as an amulet, is an effectual
preservative against the perils of child-birth. He asserts also that
the animal itself will facilitate parturition, if in the house at the
moment; but if, on the other hand, it is brought from elsewhere, the
consequences, he says, will be most dangerous. The tongue, he tells
us, if taken from the animal alive, will ensure a favourable result
to suits at law; and the heart, attached to the body with black wool
of the first shearing, is a good preservative against the attacks of
quartan fever.

He states also that the right fore-paw, attached to the left arm in the
skin of the hyæna, is a most effectual preservative against robberies
and alarms at night; that the pap on the right side is a preventive
of fright and panics; that the left foot is sometimes burnt in a
furnace with the plant which also has the name of “chamæleon,”[2246]
and is then made up, with some unguent, into lozenges; and that these
lozenges, kept in a wooden vessel, have the effect, if we choose
to believe him, of making their owner invisible to others; that the
possession, also, of the right shoulder of this animal will ensure
victory over all adversaries or enemies, provided always the party
throws the sinews of the shoulder upon the ground and treads them under
foot. As to the left shoulder of the chamæleon, I should be quite
ashamed to say to what monstrous purposes Democritus devotes it; how
that dreams may be produced by the agency thereof, and transferred to
any person we may think proper; how that these dreams may be dispelled
by the employment of the right foot; and how that lethargy, which has
been produced by the right foot of this animal, may be removed by the
agency of the left side.

So, too, head-ache, he tells us, may be cured by sprinkling wine upon
the head, in which either flank of a chamæleon has been macerated.
If the feet are rubbed with the ashes of the left thigh or foot,
mixed with sow’s milk, gout, he says, will be the result. It is
pretty generally believed, however, that cataract and diseases of the
crystalline humours of the eyes may be cured by anointing those organs
with the gall for three consecutive days; that serpents may be put
to flight by dropping some of it into the fire; that weasels may be
attracted by water into which it has been thrown; and that, applied to
the body, it acts as a depilatory. The liver, they say, applied with
the lungs of a bramble-frog, is productive of a similar effect: in
addition to which, we are told that the liver counteracts the effects
of philtres; that persons are cured of melancholy by drinking from the
warm skin of a chamæleon the juice of the plant known by that name; and
that if the intestines of the animal and their contents—we should bear
in mind that in reality the animal lives without food[2247]—are mixed
with apes’ urine, and the doors of an enemy are besmeared with the
mixture, he will, through its agency, become the object of universal

We are told, too, that by the agency of the tail, the course of rivers
and torrents may be stopped, and serpents struck with torpor; that
the tail, prepared with cedar and myrrh, and tied to a double branch
of the date-palm, will divide waters that are smitten therewith, and
so disclose everything that lies at the bottom—and I only wish[2248]
that Democritus himself had been touched up with this branch of palm,
seeing that, as he tells us, it has the property of putting an end to
immoderate garrulity. It is quite evident that this philosopher, a man
who has shown himself so sagacious in other respects, and so useful to
his fellow-men, has been led away, in this instance, by too earnest a
desire to promote the welfare of mankind.


Similar in appearance to the preceding animals is the scincus,[2249]
which by some writers has been called the land crocodile; it is,
however, whiter in appearance, and the skin is not so thick. But the
main difference between it and the crocodile is in the arrangement of
the scales, which run from the tail towards the head. The largest of
these animals is the Indian scincus, and next to it that of Arabia;
they are brought here salted. The muzzle and fat of the scincus, taken
in white wine, act as an aphrodisiac; when used with satyrion[2250]
and rocket-seed more particularly, in the proportion of one drachma
of each, mixed with two drachmæ of pepper; the whole being made up
into lozenges of one drachma each, and so taken in drink. The flesh
from the flanks, taken internally in a similar manner, in doses of two
oboli, with myrrh and pepper, is generally thought to be productive
of a similar effect, and to be even more efficacious for the purpose.
According to Apelles, the flesh of the scincus is good for wounds
inflicted by poisoned arrows, whether taken before or after the wound
is inflicted: it is used as an ingredient, also, in the most celebrated
antidotes. Sextius tells us, that, taken in doses of more than one
drachma, in one semisextarius of wine, the flesh is productive of
deadly results: he adds, too, that a broth prepared from it, taken with
honey, acts as an antaphrodisiac.


Between the crocodile, too, and the hippopotamus there is a certain
affinity, frequenting as they do the same river, and being both of them
of an amphibious nature. The hippopotamus was the first inventor of
the practice of letting blood, a a fact to which we have[2251] made
allusion on a previous occasion: it is found, too, in the greatest
numbers in the parts above the præfecture of Saïs.

The hide, reduced to ashes and applied with water, is curative
of inflamed tumours, and the fat, as well as the dung, used as a
fumigation, is employed for the cure of cold agues. With the teeth
of the left side of the jaw, the gums are scarified for the cure of
tooth-ache. The skin of the left side of the forehead, attached to the
groin, acts as an antaphrodisiac; and an application of the ashes of
the same part will cause the hair to grow when lost through alopecy.
The testes are taken in water, in doses of one drachma, for the cure of
injuries inflicted by serpents. The blood is made use of by painters.


To foreign countries, also, belongs the lynx, which of all quadrupeds
is possessed of the most piercing sight. It is said that in the Isle of
Carpathus a most powerful medicament is obtained by reducing to ashes
the nails of the lynx, together with the hide; that these ashes, taken
in drink, have the effect of checking abominable desires in men; and
that, if they are sprinkled upon women, all libidinous thoughts will be
restrained. They are good too for the removal of itching sensations in
any part of the body. The urine of the lynx is a remedy for strangury;
for which reason the animal, it is said, is in the habit of rooting
up the ground and covering it the moment it is voided.[2252] It is
mentioned, too, that this urine is an effectual remedy for pains in the
throat. Thus much with reference to foreign animals.


We will now return to our own part of the world, speaking, first of
all, of certain remedies common to animals in general, but excellent in
their nature; such as the use of milk, for example. The most beneficial
milk to every creature is the mother’s[2253] milk. It is highly
dangerous for nursing women to conceive: children that are suckled
by them are known among us as “colostrati,”[2254] their milk being
thick, like cheese in appearance—the name “colostra,”[2255] it should
be remembered, is given to the first milk secreted after delivery,
which assumes a spongy, coagulated form. The most nutritive milk, in
all cases, is woman’s milk, and next to that goats’ milk, to which
is owing, probably, the fabulous story that Jupiter was suckled by a
goat.[2256] The sweetest, next to woman’s milk, is camels’ milk; but
the most efficacious, medicinally speaking, is asses’ milk. It is in
animals of the largest size and individuals of the greatest bulk, that
the milk is secreted with the greatest facility. Goats’ milk agrees
the best with the stomach, that animal browsing more than grazing.
Cows’ milk is considered more medicinal, while ewes’ milk is sweeter and
more nutritive, but not so well adapted to the stomach, it being more
oleaginous than any other.

Every kind of milk is more aqueous in spring than in summer, and the
same in all cases where the animal has grazed upon a new pasture.
The best milk of all is that which adheres to the finger nail, when
placed there, and does not run from off it. Milk is most harmless when
boiled, more particularly if sea pebbles[2257] have been boiled with
it. Cows’ milk is the most relaxing, and all kinds of milk are less
apt to inflate when boiled. Milk is used for all kinds of internal
ulcerations, those of the kidneys, bladder, intestines, throat, and
lungs in particular; and externally, it is employed for itching
sensations upon the skin, and for purulent eruptions, it being taken
fasting for the purpose. We have already[2258] stated, when speaking
of the plants, how that in Arcadia cows’ milk is administered for
phthisis, consumption, and cachexy. Instances are cited, also, of
persons who have been cured of gout in the hands and feet, by drinking
asses’ milk.

To these various kinds of milk, medical men have added another, to
which they have given the name of “schiston;”[2259] following being
the usual method of preparing it. Goats’ milk, which is used in
preference for the purpose, is boiled in a new earthen vessel, and
stirred with branches of a fig-tree newly gathered, as many cyathi
of honied wine being added to it as there are semisextarii of milk.
When the mixture boils, care is taken to prevent it running over, by
plunging into it a silver cyathus measure filled with cold water,
none of the water being allowed to escape. When taken off the fire,
the constituent parts of it divide as it cools, and the whey is thus
separated from the milk. Some persons, again, take this whey, which is
now very strongly impregnated with wine, and, after boiling it down to
one third, leave it to cool in the open air. The best way of taking
it, is in doses of one semisextarius, at stated intervals, during
five consecutive days; after taking it, riding exercise should be
used by the patient. This whey is administered in cases of epilepsy,
melancholy, paralysis, leprosy, elephantiasis, and diseases of the

Milk is employed as an injection where excoriations have been caused
by the use of strong purgatives; in cases also where dysentery is
productive of chafing, it is similarly employed, boiled with sea
pebbles or a ptisan of barley. Where, however, the intestines are
excoriated, cows’ milk or ewes’ milk is the best. New milk is used as
an injection for dysentery; and in an unboiled state, it is employed
for affections of the colon and uterus, and for injuries inflicted by
serpents. It is also taken internally as an antidote to the venom of
cantharides, the pine-caterpillar, the buprestis, and the salamander.
Cows’ milk is particularly recommended for persons who have taken
colchicum, hemlock, dorycnium,[2260] or the flesh of the sea-hare;
and asses’ milk, in cases where gypsum, white-lead, sulphur,[2261]
or quick-silver, have been taken internally. This last is good too
for constipation attendant upon fever, and is remarkably useful as a
gargle for ulcerations of the throat. It is taken, also, internally,
by patients suffering from atrophy, for the purpose of recruiting
their exhausted strength; as also in cases of fever unattended with
head-ache. The ancients held it as one of their grand secrets, to
administer to children, before taking food, a semisextarius of asses’
milk, or for want of that, goats’ milk; a similar dose, too, was given
to children troubled with chafing of the rectum at stool. It is
considered a sovereign remedy for hardness of breathing, to take cows’
milk whey, mixed with nasturtium. In cases of ophthalmia, too, the
eyes are fomented with a mixture of one semisextarius of milk and four
drachmæ of pounded sesame.

Goats’ milk is a cure for diseases of the spleen; but in such case the
goats must fast a couple of days, and be fed on ivy-leaves the third;
the patient, too, must drink the milk for three consecutive days,
without taking any other nutriment. Milk, under other circumstances,
is detrimental to persons suffering from head-ache, liver complaints,
diseases of the spleen, and affections of the sinews; it is bad for
fevers, also, vertigo—except, indeed, where it is required as a
purgative—oppression of the head, coughs, and ophthalmia. Sows’ milk is
extremely useful in cases of tenesmus, dysentery, and phthisis; authors
have been found too, to assert that it is very wholesome for females.


We have already[2262] spoken of the different kinds of cheese when
treating of the mamillæ and other parts of animals. Sextius attributes
the same properties to mares’ milk cheese that he does to cheese made
of cows’ milk: to the former he gives the names of “hippace.” Cheese
is best for the stomach when not salted, or, in other words, when new
cheese is used. Old [salted] cheese has a binding effect upon the
bowels, and reduces the flesh, but is more wholesome to the stomach
[than new salted cheese]. Indeed, we may pronounce of aliments in
general, that salt meats reduce the system, while fresh food has a
tendency to make flesh. Fresh cheese, applied with honey, effaces
the marks of bruises. It acts, also, emolliently upon the bowels;
and, taken in the form of tablets, boiled in astringent wine and then
toasted with honey on a platter, it modifies and alleviates griping
pains in the bowels.

The cheese known as “saprum,”[2263] is beaten up, in wine, with salt
and dried sorb apples, and taken, in drink, for the cure of cœliac
affections. Goats’ milk cheese, pounded and applied to the part
affected, is a cure for carbuncle of the generative organs; sour
cheese,[2264] also, with oxymel, is productive of a similar effect.
In the bath it is used as a friction, alternately with oil, for the
removal of spots.


From milk, too, butter is produced; held as the most delicate food
among barbarous[2265] nations, and one which distinguishes[2266] the
wealthy from the multitude at large. It is mostly made from cows’
milk, and hence its name;[2267] but the richest butter is that made
from ewes’ milk. There is a butter made also from goats’ milk; but
previously to making it, the milk should first be warmed, in winter. In
summer it is extracted from the milk by merely shaking it to and fro
in a tall vessel, with a small orifice at the mouth to admit the air,
but otherwise closely stopped, a little water[2268] being added to make
it curdle the sooner. The milk that curdles the most, floats upon the
surface; this they remove, and, adding salt to it, give it the name of
“oxygala.”[2269] They then take the remaining part and boil it down in
pots, and that portion of it which floats on the surface is butter,
a substance of an oily nature. The more[2270] rank it is in smell,
the more highly it is esteemed. When old, it forms an ingredient in
numerous compositions. It is of an astringent, emollient, repletive,
and purgative nature.


Oxygala, too, is prepared another way, sour milk being added to
the fresh milk which is wanted to curdle. This preparation is
extremely wholesome to the stomach: of its properties we shall have
occasion[2271] to speak in another place.


Among the remedies common to living creatures, fat is the substance
held in the next highest esteem, that of swine in particular, which
was employed by the ancients for certain religious purposes even: at
all events, it is still the usage for the newly-wedded bride, when
entering her husband’s house, to touch the door-posts with it. There
are two methods of keeping hogs’ lard, either salted or fresh; indeed,
the older it is, the better. The Greek writers have now given it the
name of “axungia,”[2272] or axle-grease, in their works. Nor, in fact,
is it any secret, why swine’s fat should be possessed of such marked
properties, seeing that the animal feeds to such a great extent upon
the roots of plants—owing too, to which, its dung is applied to such
a vast number of purposes. It will be as well, therefore, to promise,
that I shall here speak only of the hog that feeds in the open field,
and no other; of which kind it is the female that is much the most
useful—if she has never farrowed, more particularly. But it is the fat
of the wild boar that is held in by far the highest esteem of all.

The distinguishing properties, then, of swine’s-grease, are emollient,
calorific, resolvent, and detergent. Some physicians recommend it as
an ointment for the gout, mixed with goose-grease, bull-suet, and
wool-grease: in cases, however, where the pain is persistent, it should
be used in combination with wax, myrtle, resin, and pitch. Hogs’ lard
is used fresh for the cure of burns, and of blains, too, caused by
snow: with ashes of burnt barley and nutgalls, in equal proportions,
it is employed for the cure of chilblains. It is good also for
excoriations of the limbs, and for dispelling weariness and lassitude
arising from long journeys. For the cure of chronic cough, new lard
is boiled down, in the proportion of three ounces to three cyathi of
wine, some honey being added to the mixture. Old lard too, if it has
been kept without salt, made up into pills and taken internally, is a
cure for phthisis: but it is a general rule not to use it salted in
any cases except where detergents are required, or where there are no
symptoms of ulceration. For the cure of phthisis, some persons boil
down three ounces of hogs’ lard and honied wine, in three cyathi of
ordinary wine; and after swathing the sides, chest, and shoulders of
the patient with compresses steeped in the preparation, administer to
him, every four days, some tar with an egg: indeed, so potent is this
composition, that if it is only attached to the knees even, the flavour
of it will ascend to the mouth, and the patient will appear to spit it
out,[2273] as it were.

The grease of a sow that has never farrowed, is the most useful of all
cosmetics for the skin of females; but in all cases, hogs’ lard is
good for the cure of itch-scab, mixed with pitch and beef-suet in the
proportion of one-third, the whole being made lukewarm for the purpose.
Fresh hogs’ lard, applied as a pessary, imparts nutriment to the infant
in the womb, and prevents abortion. Mixed with white lead or litharge,
it restores scars to their natural colour; and, in combination with
sulphur, it rectifies malformed nails. It prevents the hair also
from falling off; and, applied with a quarter of a nutgall, it heals
ulcers upon the head in females. When well smoked, it strengthens the
eyelashes. Lard is recommended also for phthisis, boiled down with
old wine, in the proportion of one ounce to a semisextarius, till
only three ounces are left; some persons add a little honey to the
composition. Mixed with lime, it is used as a liniment for inflamed
tumours, boils, and indurations of the mamillæ: it is curative also of
ruptures, convulsions, cramps, and sprains. Used with white hellebore,
it is good for corns, chaps, and callosities; and, with pounded
earthenware[2274] which has held salted provisions, for imposthumes of
the parotid glands and scrofulous sores. Employed as a friction in the
bath, it removes itching sensations and pimples: but for the treatment
of gout there is another method of preparing it, by mixing it with old
oil, and adding pounded sarcophagus[2275] stone and cinquefoil bruised
in wine, or else with lime or ashes. A peculiar kind of plaster is
also made of it for the cure of inflammatory ulcers, seventy-five
denarii of hogs’ lard being mixed with one hundred of litharge.

It is reckoned a very good plan also to anoint ulcers with boars’
grease, and, if they are of a serpiginous nature, to add resin to the
liniment. The ancients used to employ hogs’ lard in particular for
greasing the axles of their vehicles, that the wheels might revolve
the more easily, and to this, in fact, it owes its name of “axungia.”
When hogs’ lard has been used for this purpose, incorporated as it is
with the rust of the iron upon the wheels, it is remarkably useful as
an application for diseases of the rectum and of the generative organs.
The ancient physicians, too, set a high value upon the medicinal
properties of hogs’ lard in an unmixed state: separating it from the
kidneys, and carefully removing the veins, they used to wash and rub it
well in rain water, after which they boiled it several times in a new
earthen vessel, and then put it by for keeping. It is generally agreed
that it is more emollient, calorific, and resolvent, when salted; and
that it is still more useful when it has been rinsed in wine.

Massurius informs us, that the ancients set the highest value of all
upon the fat of the wolf: and that it was for this reason that the
newly-wedded bride used to anoint the door-posts of her husband’s house
with it, in order that no noxious spells might find admittance.


Corresponding with the grease of the swine, is the suet[2276] that is
found in the ruminating animals, a substance employed in other ways,
but no less efficacious in its properties. The proper mode of preparing
it, in all cases, is to take out the veins and to rinse it in sea or
salt-water, after which it is beaten up in a mortar, with a sprinkling
of sea-water in it. This done, it is boiled in several waters, until,
in fact, it has lost all smell, and is then bleached by continual
exposure to the sun; that of the most esteemed quality being the fat
which grows about the kidneys. In case stale suet is required for any
medicinal purpose, it is recommended to melt it first, and then to wash
it in cold water several times; after which, it must again be melted
with a sprinkling of the most aromatic wine that can be procured, it
being then boiled again and again, until the rank smell has totally

Many persons recommend that the fat of bulls, lions, panthers, and
camels, in particular, should be thus prepared. As to the various uses
to which these substances are applied, we shall mention them on the
appropriate occasions.


Common too, to all these animals, is marrow; a substance which in all
cases is possessed of certain emollient, expletive, desiccative, and
calorific properties. The most highly esteemed of all is deer’s marrow,
the next best being that of the calf, and then that of the goat, both
male and female. These substances are prepared before autumn, by
washing them in a fresh state, and drying them in the shade; after
which they are passed through a sieve, and then strained through linen,
and put by in earthen pots for keeping, in a cool spot.


But among the substances which are furnished in common by the various
animals, it is the gall, we may say, that is the most efficacious of
all. The properties of this substance are of a calorific, pungent,
resolvent, extractive, and dispersive nature. The gall of the smaller
animals is looked upon as the most penetrating; for which reason
it is that it is generally considered the most efficacious for the
composition of eye-salves. Bull’s gall is possessed of a remarkable
degree of potency, having the effect of imparting a golden tint to the
surface of copper even and to vessels made of other metals. Gall in
every case is prepared in the following manner: it is taken fresh, and
the orifice of the vesicle in which it is contained being tied fast
with a strong linen thread, it is left to steep for half an hour in
boiling water; after which it is dried in the shade, and then put away
for keeping, in honey.

That of the horse is condemned, being reckoned among the poisons only.
Hence it is that the Flamen[2277] of the Sacrifices is not allowed
to touch a horse, notwithstanding that it is the custom to immolate
one[2278] of these animals at the public sacrifices at Rome.


The blood, also, of the horse is possessed of certain corrosive
properties; and so, too, is mare’s blood—except, indeed, where the
animal has not been covered—it having the effect of cauterizing the
margins of ulcers, and so enlarging them. Bull’s blood too, taken
fresh, is reckoned[2279] among the poisons; except, indeed, at
Ægira,[2280] at which place the priestess of the Earth, when about to
foretell coming events, takes a draught of bull’s blood before she
descends into the cavern: so powerful, in fact, is the agency of that
sympathy so generally spoken of, that it may occasionally originate, we
find, in feelings of religious awe,[2281] or in the peculiar nature of
the locality.

Drusus,[2282] the tribune of the people, drank goats’ blood, it is
said; it being his object by his pallid looks to suggest that his
enemy, Q. Cæpio, had given him poison, and so expose him to public
hatred. So remarkably powerful is the blood of the he-goat, that there
is nothing better in existence for sharpening iron implements, the rust
produced by this blood giving them a better edge even than a file.
Considering, however, that the blood of all animals cannot be reckoned
as a remedy in common, will it not be advisable, in preference, to
speak of the effects that are produced by that of each kind?


We will therefore classify the various remedies, according to the
maladies for which they are respectively used; and, first of all, those
to which man has recourse for injuries inflicted by serpents. That
deer are destructive to those reptiles[2283] no one is ignorant; as
also of the fact that they drag them from their holes when they find
them, and so devour them. And it is not only while alive and breathing
that deer are thus fatal to serpents, but even when dead and separated
limb from limb. The fumes of their horns, while burning, will drive
away serpents, as already[2284] stated; but the bones, it is said, of
the upper part of a stag’s throat, if burnt upon a fire, will bring
those reptiles together. Persons may sleep upon a deer’s skin in
perfect safety, and without any apprehension of attacks by serpents;
its rennet too, taken with vinegar, is an effectual antidote to the
stings of those reptiles; indeed, if it has been only touched by a
person, he will be for that day effectually protected from them. The
testes, dried, or the genitals of the male animal, are considered to be
very wholesome, taken in wine, and so are the umbles, generally known
as the “centipellio.”[2285] Persons having about them a deer’s tooth,
or who have taken the precaution of rubbing the body with a deer or
fawn’s marrow, will be sure to repel the attacks of all serpents.

But the most effectual remedy of all is thought to be the rennet of a
fawn that has been cut from the uterus of the dam, as already[2286]
mentioned in another place. Deer’s blood, burnt upon a fire of lentisk
wood, with dracontium,[2287] cunilago,[2288] and alkanet, will attract
serpents, they say; while, on the other hand, if the blood is removed
and pyrethrum[2289] substituted for it, they will take to flight.

I find an animal mentioned by Greek writers, smaller than the stag,
but resembling it in the hair, and to which they give the name of
“ophion.”[2290] Sardinia, they say, is the only country that produces
it; I am of opinion, however, that it is now extinct, and for that
reason I shall not enlarge upon its medicinal properties.

(10.) As a preservative against the attacks of serpents, the brains and
blood of the wild boar are held in high esteem: the liver also, dried
and taken in wine with rue; and the fat, used with honey and resin.
Similar properties are attributed to the liver of the domesticated
boar and the outer filaments, and those only, of the gall, these last
being taken in doses of four denarii; the brains also, taken in wine,
are equally effectual. The fumes of the burning horns or hair of a
she-goat will repel serpents, they say: the ashes, too, of the horns,
used either internally or externally, are thought to be an antidote to
their poison. A similar effect is attributed to goats’ milk, taken with
Taminian[2291] grapes; to the urine of those animals, taken with squill
vinegar; to goats’ milk cheese, applied with origanum;[2292] and to
goat suet, used with wax.

In addition to all this, as will be seen hereafter, there are a
thousand other remedial properties attributed to this animal; a fact
which surprises me all the more, seeing that the goat, it is said, is
never free from fever.[2293] The wild animals of the same species,
which are very numerous, as already[2294] stated, have a still greater
efficacy attributed to them; but the he-goat has certain properties
peculiar to itself, and Democritus attributes properties still more
powerful to the animal when it has been the only one yeaned. It is
recommended also to apply she-goat’s dung, boiled[2295] in vinegar, to
injuries inflicted by serpents, as also the ashes of fresh dung mixed
with wine. As a general rule, persons who find that they are recovering
but slowly from injuries inflicted by a serpent, will find their
health more speedily re-established by frequenting the stalls where
goats are kept. Those, however, whose object is a more assured remedy,
attach immediately to the wound the paunch of a she-goat killed for
the purpose, dung and all. Others, again, use the flesh of a kid just
killed, and fumigate it with the singed hair, the smell of which has
the effect of repelling serpents.

For stings of serpents, as also for injuries inflicted by the scorpion
and shrew-mouse, some employ the skin of a goat newly killed, as also
the flesh and dung of a horse that has been out at pasture, or a hare’s
rennet in vinegar. They say, too, that if a person has the body well
rubbed with a hare’s rennet, he will never receive injury from venomous
animals. When a person has been stung by a scorpion, she-goat’s dung,
boiled with vinegar, is considered a most efficient remedy: in cases
too, where a buprestis has been swallowed, bacon and the broth in which
it has been boiled, are highly efficacious. Nay, what is even more than
this, if a person applies his mouth to an ass’s ear, and says that he
has been stung by a scorpion, the whole of the poison, they say, will
immediately pass away from him and be transferred to the animal. All
venomous creatures, it is said, are put to flight by a fumigation made
by burning an ass’s lights. It is considered an excellent plan too, to
fumigate persons, when stung by a scorpion, with the smoke of burnt
calves’ dung.


When a person has been bitten by a mad dog, it is the practice to make
an incision round the wound to the quick, and then to apply raw veal to
it, and to make the patient take either veal broth or hogs’ lard, mixed
with lime internally. Some persons recommend a he-goat’s liver, and
maintain that if it is applied to the wound the patient will never be
attacked with hydrophobia. She-goat’s dung, too, is highly spoken of,
applied with wine, as also the dung of the badger, cuckoo, and swallow,
boiled and taken in drink.

For bites inflicted by other animals, dried goats’ milk cheese is
applied with origanum and taken with the drink; and for injuries caused
by the human[2296] teeth, boiled beef is applied; veal, however, is
still more efficacious for the purpose, provided it is not removed
before the end of four days.


The dried muzzle of a wolf, they say, is an effectual preservative
against the malpractices of magic; and it is for this reason that it is
so commonly to be seen fastened to the doors of farm-houses. A similar
degree of efficacy, it is thought, belongs to the skin of the neck,
when taken whole from the animal. Indeed, so powerful is the influence
of this animal, in addition to what we have already[2297] stated,
that if a horse only treads in its track, it will be struck with
torpor[2298] in consequence.


In case where persons have swallowed quicksilver,[2299] bacon is the
proper remedy to be employed. Poisons are neutralized by taking asses’
milk; henbane more particularly, mistletoe, hemlock, the flesh of the
sea-hare, opocarpathon,[2300] pharicon,[2301] and dorycnium:[2302]
the same, too, where coagulated milk[2303] has been productive of bad
effects, for the biestings,[2304] or first curdled milk, should be
reckoned as nothing short of a poison.[2305] We shall have to mention
many other uses to which asses’ milk is applied; but it should be
remembered that in all cases it must be used fresh, or, if not, as new
as possible, and warmed, for there is nothing that more speedily loses
its virtue. The bones, too, of the ass are pounded and boiled, as an
antidote to the poison of the sea-hare. The wild ass[2306] is possessed
of similar properties in every respect, but in a much higher degree.

Of the wild horse[2307] the Greek writers have made no mention, it
not being a native of their country; we have every reason to believe,
however, that it has the same properties as the animal in a tame state,
but much more fully developed. Mares’ milk effectually neutralizes the
venom of the sea-hare and all narcotic poisons. Nor had the Greeks
any knowledge from experience of the urus[2308] and the bison,[2308]
although in India the forests are filled with herds of wild oxen: it
is only reasonable, however, to conclude that all their medicinal
properties must be much more highly developed than in the animal as
found among us. It is asserted also, that cows’ milk is a general
counter-poison, in the cases above-mentioned, more particularly, as
also where the poison of ephemeron[2309] has settled internally, or
cantharides have been administered; it acting upon the poison by
vomit. Broth, too, made from goats’ flesh, neutralizes the effects
of cantharides, in a similar manner, it is said. To counteract the
corrosive poisons which destroy by ulceration, veal or beef-suet is
resorted to; and in cases where a leech has been swallowed, butter is
the usual remedy, with vinegar heated with a red-hot iron. Indeed,
butter employed by itself is a good remedy for poisons, for where
oil is not to be procured, it is an excellent substitute for it.
Used with honey, butter heals injuries inflicted by millepedes. The
broth of boiled tripe, it is thought, is an effectual repellent of
the above-mentioned poisons, aconite and hemlock more particularly;
veal-suet also has a similar repute.

Fresh goats’ milk cheese is given to persons who have taken mistletoe,
and goats’ milk itself is a remedy for cantharides. Taken with
Taminian[2310] grapes, goats’ milk is an antidote to the effects of
ephemeron. Goats’ blood, boiled down with the marrow, is used as
a remedy for the narcotic[2311] poisons, and kids’ blood for the
other poisons. Kid’s rennet is administered where persons have taken
mistletoe, the juice of the white chamæleon,[2312] or bull’s blood; for
which last, hare’s rennet in vinegar is also used by way of antidote.
For injuries inflicted by the pastinaca,[2313] and the stings or bites
of all kinds of marine animals, hare’s rennet, kid’s rennet, or lamb’s
rennet is taken, in doses of one drachma, in wine. Hare’s rennet, too,
generally forms an ingredient in the antidotes for poisons.

The moth that is seen fluttering about the flame of a lamp is generally
reckoned in the number of the noxious substances: its bad effects
are neutralized by the agency of goat’s liver. Goat’s gall, too, is
looked upon as an antidote to venomous preparations from the field
weazel.[2314] But we will now return to the other remedies, classified
according to the various diseases.


Bears’ grease,[2315] mixed with ladanum[2316] and the plant
adiantum,[2317] prevents the hair from falling off; it is a cure also
for alopecy and defects in the eyebrows, mixed with the fungus from
the wick of a lamp, and the soot that is found in the nozzle. Used
with wine, it is good for the cure of porrigo, a malady which is also
treated with the ashes of deer’s horns in wine: this last substance
also prevents the growth of vermin in the hair. For porrigo some
persons employ goat’s gall, in combination with Cimolian chalk and
vinegar, leaving the preparation to dry for a time on the head. Sow’s
gall, too, mixed with bull’s urine, is employed for a similar purpose;
and when old, it is an effectual cure, with the addition of sulphur,
for furfuraceous eruptions. The ashes, it is thought, of an ass’s
genitals, will make the hair grow more thickly, and prevent it from
turning grey; the proper method of applying it being to shave the head
and to pound the ashes in a leaden mortar with oil. Similar effects are
attributed to the genitals of an ass’s foal, reduced to ashes and mixed
with urine; some nard being added to render the mixture less offensive.
In cases of alopecy the part affected is rubbed with bull’s gall,
warmed with Egyptian alum. Running ulcers of the head are successfully
treated with bull’s urine, or stale human urine, in combination with
cyclaminos[2318] and sulphur: but the most effectual remedy is calf’s
gall, a substance which, heated with vinegar, has also the effect
of exterminating lice. Veal suet, pounded with salt and applied to
ulcers of the head, is a very useful remedy: the fat, too, of the fox
is highly spoken of, but the greatest value is set upon cats’ dung,
applied in a similar manner with mustard.

Powdered goats’ horns, or the horns reduced to ashes, those of the
he-goat in particular, with the addition of nitre, tamarisk-seed,
butter, and oil, are remarkably effectual for preventing the hair from
coming off, the head being first shaved for the purpose. So too, the
ashes of burnt goats’ flesh, applied the eye-brows with oil, impart
to them a black tint. By using goats’ milk, they say, lice may be
exterminated; and the dung of those animals, with honey, is thought to
be a cure for alopecy: the ashes, too, of the hoofs, mixed with pitch,
prevent the hair from coming off.

The ashes of a burnt hare, mixed with oil of myrtle, alleviate
head-ache, the patient drinking some water that has been left in the
trough after an ox or ass has been drinking there. The male organs of a
fox, worn as an amulet, are productive, if we choose to believe it, of
a similar effect: the same, too, with the ashes of a burnt deer’s horn,
applied with vinegar, rose oil, or oil of iris.


For defluxions[2319] of the eyes, beef suet, boiled with oil, is
applied to the parts affected; and for eruptions of those organs, ashes
of burnt deer’s horns are similarly employed, the tips of the horns
being considered the most effectual for the purpose. For the cure of
cataract, it is reckoned a good plan to apply a wolf’s excrements: the
same substance, too, reduced to ashes, is used for the dispersion of
films, in combination with Attic honey. Bear’s gall, too, is similarly
employed; and for the cure of epinyctis, wild boar’s lard, mixed with
oil of roses, is thought to be very useful. An ass’s hoof, reduced to
ashes and applied with asses’ milk, is used for the removal of marks in
the eyes and indurations of the crystalline humours. Beef marrow, from
the right fore leg, beaten up with soot, is employed for affections of
the eyebrows, and for diseases of the eyelids and corners of the eyes.
For the same purpose, also, a sort of calliblepharon[2320] is prepared
from soot, the best of all being that made from a wick of papyrus mixed
with oil of sesame; the soot being removed with a feather and caught
in a new vessel prepared for the purpose. This mixture, too, is very
efficacious for preventing superfluous eyelashes from growing again
when once pulled out.

Bull’s gall is made up into eye-salves[2321] with white of egg, these
salves being steeped in water and applied to the eyes for four days
successively. Veal suet, with goose-grease and the extracted juice of
ocimum, is remarkably good for diseases of the eye-lids. Veal marrow,
with the addition of an equal proportion of wax and oil or oil of
roses, an egg being added to the mixture, is used as a liniment for
indurations of the eye-lids. Soft goats’ milk cheese is used as an
application, with warm water, to allay defluxions of the eyes; but when
they are attended with swelling, honey is used instead of the water.
In both cases, however, the eyes should be fomented with warm whey. In
cases of dry ophthalmia, it is found a very useful plan to take the
muscles[2322] lying within a loin of pork, and, after reducing them to
ashes, to pound and apply them to the part affected.

She-goats, they say, are never affected with ophthalmia, from the
circumstance that they browse upon certain kinds of herbs: the same,
too, with the gazelle. Hence it is that we find it recommended, at the
time of new moon, to swallow the dung of these animals, coated with
wax. As they are able to see, too, by night, it is a general belief
that the blood of a he-goat is a cure for those persons affected
with dimness of sight to whom the Greeks have given the name of
“nyctalopes.”[2323] A similar virtue is attributed to the liver of a
she-goat, boiled in astringent wine. Some are in the habit of rubbing
the eyes with the thick gravy[2324] which exudes from a she-goat’s
liver roasted, or with the gall of that animal: they recommend the
flesh also as a diet, and say that the patient should expose his eyes
to the fumes of it while boiling: it is a general opinion, too, that
the animal should be of a reddish colour. Another prescription is, to
fumigate the eyes with the steam arising from the liver boiled in an
earthen jar, or, according to some authorities, roasted.

Goats’ gall is applied for numerous purposes: with honey, for films
upon the eyes; with one-third part of white hellebore, for cataract;
with wine, for spots upon the eyes, indurations of the cornea, films,
webs, and argema; with extracted juice of cabbage, for diseases of the
eyelids, the hairs being first pulled out, and the preparation left to
dry on the parts affected; and with woman’s milk, for rupture of the
coats of the eye. For all these purposes, the gall is considered the
most efficacious, when dried. Nor is the dung of this animal held in
disesteem, being applied with honey for defluxions of the eyes. The
marrow, too, of a goat, or a hare’s lights, we find used for pains in
the eyes; and the gall of a goat, with raisin wine or honey, for the
dispersion of films upon those organs. It is recommended also, for
ophthalmia, to anoint the eyes with wolf’s fat or swine’s marrow: we
find it asserted, too, that persons who carry a wolf’s tongue, inserted
in a bracelet, will always be exempt from ophthalmia.


Pains and diseases of the ears are cured by using the urine of a wild
boar, kept in a glass vessel, or the gall of a wild boar, swine, or
ox, mixed with castor-oil and oil of roses in equal proportions. But
the best remedy of all is bull’s gall, warmed with leek juice, or with
honey, if there is any suppuration. Bull’s gall too, warmed by itself
in a pomegranate rind, is an excellent remedy for offensive exhalations
from the ears: in combination with woman’s milk, it is efficacious
as a cure for ruptures of those organs. Some persons are of opinion
that it is a good plan to wash the ears with this preparation in cases
where the hearing is affected; while others again, after washing the
ears with warm water, insert a mixture composed of the old slough of a
serpent and vinegar, wrapped up in a dossil of wool. In cases, however,
where the deafness is very considerable, gall warmed in a pomegranate
rind with myrrh and rue, is injected into the ears; sometimes, also,
fat bacon is used for this purpose, or fresh asses’ dung, mixed with
oil of roses: in all cases, however, the ingredients should be warmed.

The foam from a horse’s mouth is better still, or the ashes of fresh
horse dung, mixed with oil of roses: fresh butter too is good;
beef-suet mixed with goose-grease; the urine of a bull or she-goat; or
fullers’ lant, heated to such a degree that the steam escapes by the
neck of the vessel. For this purpose also, one third part of vinegar
is mixed with a small portion of the urine of a calf, which has not
begun to graze. They apply also to the ears calf’s dung, mixed with the
gall of that animal and sloughs of serpents, care being taken to warm
the ears before the application, and all the remedies being wrapped in
wool. Veal-suet, too, is used, with goose-grease and extract of ocimum;
or else veal marrow, mixed with bruised cummin and injected into the
ears. For pains in the ears, the liquid ejected by a boar in copulation
is used, due care being taken to receive it before it falls to the
ground. For fractures of the ears, a glutinous composition is made
from the genitals of a calf, which is dissolved in water when used;
and for other diseases of those organs, foxes’ fat is employed, goat’s
gall mixed with rose-oil warmed, or else extracted juice of leeks:
in all cases where there is any rupture, these preparations are used
in combination with woman’s milk. Where a patient is suffering from
hardness of hearing, ox-gall is employed, with the urine of a he or
she-goat; the same, too, where there is any suppuration.

Whatever the purpose for which they are wanted, it is the general
opinion that these substances are more efficacious when they have been
smoked in a goat’s horn for twenty days. Hare’s rennet, too, is highly
spoken of, taken in Aminean[2325] wine, in the proportion of one third
of a denarius of rennet to one half of a denarius of sacopenum.[2326]
Bears’ grease, mixed with equal proportions of wax and bull-suet,
is a cure for imposthumes of the parotid glands: some persons add
hypocisthis[2327] to the composition, or else content themselves with
employing butter only, after first fomenting the parts affected with
a decoction of fenugreek, the good effects of which are augmented
by strychnos. The testes, too, of the fox, are very useful for this
purpose; as also bull’s blood, dried and reduced to powder. She-goats’
urine, made warm, is used as an injection for the ears; and a liniment
is made of the dung of those animals, in combination with axle-grease.


The ashes of deer’s horns strengthen loose teeth and allay tooth-ache,
used either as a friction or as a gargle. Some persons, however, are
of opinion that the horn, unburnt and reduced to powder, is still more
efficacious for all these purposes. Dentifrices are made both from
the powder and the ashes. Another excellent remedy is a wolf’s head,
reduced to ashes: it is a well-known fact, too, that there are bones
generally found in the excrements of that animal; these bones, attached
to the body as an amulet, are productive of advantageous effects. For
the cure of tooth-ache, hare’s rennet is injected into the ear: the
head also of that animal, reduced to ashes, is used in the form of a
dentifrice, and, with the addition of nard, is a corrective of bad
breath. Some persons, however, think it a better plan to mix the ashes
of a mouse’s head with the dentifrice. In the side of the hare there
is a bone found, similar to a needle in appearance: for the cure of
tooth-ache it is recommended to scarify the gums with this bone. The
pastern-bone of an ox, ignited and applied to loose teeth which ache,
has the effect of strengthening them in the sockets; the same bone,
reduced to ashes, and mixed with myrrh, is also used as a dentifrice.
The ashes of burnt pig’s feet are productive of a similar effect, as
also the calcined bones of the cotyloïd cavities in which the hip-bones
move. It is a well-known fact, that, introduced into the throat of
beasts of burden, these bones are a cure for worms, and that, in a
calcined state, they are good for strengthening the teeth.

When the teeth have been loosened by a blow,[2328] they are
strengthened by using asses’ milk, or else ashes of the burnt teeth
of that animal, or a horse’s lichen, reduced to powder, and injected
into the ear with oil. By lichen[2329] I do not mean the hippomanes,
a noxious substance which I purposely forbear to enlarge upon, but an
excrescence which forms upon the knees of horses, and just above the
hoofs. In the heart[2330] of this animal there is also found a bone
which bears a close resemblance to the eye-teeth of a dog: if the gums
are scarified with this bone, or with a tooth taken from the jaw-bone
of a dead horse, corresponding in place with the tooth affected, the
pain will be removed, they say. Anaxilaüs assures us that if the
liquid which exudes from a mare when covered, is ignited on the wick
of a lamp, it will give out a most marvellous representation[2331] of
horses’ heads; and the same with reference to the she-ass. As to the
hippomanes, it is possessed of properties so virulent and so truly
magical, that if it is only thrown into fused metal[2332] which is
being cast into the resemblance of an Olympian mare, it will excite in
all stallions that approach it a perfect frenzy for copulation.

Another remedy for diseases of the teeth is joiners’ glue, boiled in
water and applied, care being taken to remove it very speedily, and
instantly to rinse the teeth with wine in which sweet pomegranate-rind
has been boiled. It is considered, also, a very efficacious remedy to
wash the teeth with goats’ milk, or bull’s gall. The pastern-bones of
a she-goat just killed, reduced to ashes, and indeed, to avoid the
necessity for repetition, of any other four-footed beast reared in the
farm-yard, are considered to make an excellent dentifrice.


It is generally believed that asses’ milk effaces wrinkles in the face,
renders the skin more delicate, and preserves its whiteness: and it is
a well-known fact, that some women are in the habit of washing their
face with it seven[2333] hundred times daily, strictly observing that
number. Poppæa, the wife of the Emperor Nero, was the first to practise
this; indeed, she had sitting-baths, prepared solely with asses’ milk,
for which purpose whole troops of she-asses[2334] used to attend her
on her journies.[2335] Purulent eruptions on the face are removed by
an application of butter, but white lead, mixed with the butter, is an
improvement. Pure butter, alone, is used for serpiginous eruptions of
the face, a layer of barley-meal being powdered over it. The caul of a
cow that has just calved, is applied, while still moist, to ulcers of
the face.

The following recipe may seem frivolous, but still, to please the
women,[2336] it must not be omitted; the pastern-bone of a white
steer, they say, boiled forty days and forty nights, till it is quite
dissolved, and then applied to the face in a linen cloth, will remove
wrinkles and preserve the whiteness of the skin. An application of
bull’s dung, they say, will impart a rosy tint to the cheeks, and not
crocodilea[2337] even is better for the purpose; the face, however,
must be washed with cold water, both before and after the application.
Sun-burns and all other discolorations of the skin, are removed by the
aid of calves’ dung kneaded up by hand with oil and gum; ulcerations
and chaps of the mouth, by an application of veal or beef-suet, mixed
with goose-grease and juice of ocimum. There is another composition,
also, made of veal-suet with stag’s marrow and leaves of white-thorn,
the whole beaten up together. Marrow, too, mixed with resin, even if
it be cow marrow only, is equally good; and the broth of cow-beef is
productive of similar effects. A most excellent remedy for lichens on
the face is a glutinous substance prepared from the genitals of a male
calf, melted with vinegar and live sulphur, and stirred together with
the branch of a fig-tree: this composition is applied twice a day,
and should be used quite fresh. This glue, similarly prepared from a
decoction of honey and vinegar, is a cure for leprous spots, which are
also removed by applying a he-goat’s liver warm.

Elephantiasis, too, is removed by an application of goats’ gall; and
leprous spots and furfuraceous eruptions by employing bull’s gall with
the addition of nitre, or else asses’ urine about the rising of the
Dog-star. Spots on the face are removed by either bull’s gall or ass’s
gall diluted in water by itself, care being taken to avoid the sun or
wind after the skin has peeled off. A similar effect is produced, also,
by using bull’s gall or calf’s gall, in combination with seed of cunila
and the ashes of a deer’s horn, burnt at the rising of Canicula.

Asses’ fat, in particular, restores the natural colour to scars and
spots on the skin caused by lichen or leprosy. A he-goat’s gall, mixed
with cheese, live sulphur, and sponge reduced to ashes, effectually
removes freckles, the composition being brought to the consistency of
honey before being applied. Some persons, however, prefer using dried
gall, and mix with it warm bran, in the proportion of one obolus to
four oboli of honey, the spots being rubbed briskly first. He-goat
suet, too, is highly efficacious, used in combination with gith,
sulphur, and iris; this mixture being also employed, with goose-grease,
stag’s marrow, resin, and lime, for the cure of cracked lips. I find it
stated by certain authors, that persons who have freckles on the skin
are looked upon as disqualified from taking any part in the sacrifices
prescribed by the magic art.


Cow’s milk or goat’s milk is good for ulcerations of the tonsillary
glands and of the trachea. It is used in the form of a gargle, warm
from the udder or heated, goat’s milk being the best, boiled with
mallows and a little salt. A broth made from tripe is an excellent
gargle for ulcerations of the tongue and trachea; and for diseases of
the tonsillary glands, the kidneys of a fox are considered a sovereign
remedy, dried and beaten up with honey, and applied externally. For
quinzy, bull’s gall or goat’s gall is used, mixed with honey. A
badger’s liver, taken in water, is good for offensive breath, and
butter has a healing effect upon ulcerations of the mouth. When a
pointed or other substance has stuck in the throat, by rubbing it
externally with cats’ dung, the substance, they say, will either come
up again or pass downwards into the stomach.

Scrofulous sores are dispersed by applying the gall of a wild boar or
of an ox, warmed for the purpose: but it is only when the sores are
ulcerated that hare’s rennet is used, applied in a linen cloth with
wine. The ashes of the burnt hoof of an ass or horse, applied with oil
or water, is good for dispersing scrofulous sores; warmed urine also;
the ashes of an ox’s hoof, taken in water; cow-dung, applied hot with
vinegar; goat-suet with lime; goats’ dung, boiled in vinegar; or the
testes of a fox. Soap,[2338] too, is very useful for this purpose, an
invention of the Gauls for giving a reddish[2339] tint to the hair.
This substance is prepared from tallow and ashes, the best ashes for
the purpose being those of the beech and yoke-elm: there are two kinds
of it, the hard soap and the liquid, both of them much used by the
people of Germany, the men, in particular, more than the women.


For pains in the neck, the part should be well rubbed with butter or
bears’ grease; and for a stiff neck, with beef suet, a substance which,
in combination with oil, is very useful for the cure of scrofula. For
the painful cramp, attended with inflexibility, to which people give
the name of “opisthotony,” the urine of a she-goat, injected into the
ears, is found very useful; as also a liniment made of the dung of that
animal, mixed with bulbs.

In cases where the nails have been crushed, it is an excellent plan
to attach to them the gall of any kind of animal. Whitlows upon the
fingers should be treated with dried bull’s gall, dissolved in warm
water. Some persons are in the habit of adding sulphur and alum, of
each an equal weight.


A wolf’s liver, administered in mulled wine, is a cure for cough; a
bear’s gall also, mixed with honey; the ashes of the tips of a cow’s
horn; or else the saliva of a horse, taken in the drink for three
consecutive days—in which last case the horse will be sure to die,
they say.[2340] A deer’s lights are useful for the same purpose, dried
with the gullet of the animal in the smoke, and then beaten up with
honey, and taken daily as an electuary: the spitter[2341] deer, be it
remarked, is the kind that is the most efficacious for the purpose.

Spitting of blood is cured by taking ashes of burnt deer’s horns, or
else a hare’s rennet in drink, in doses of one-third of a denarius,
with Samian earth and myrtle-wine. The dung of this last animal,
reduced to ashes and taken in the evening, with wine, is good for
coughs that are recurrent at night. The smoke, too, of a hare’s fur,
inhaled, has the effect of bringing off from the lungs such humours as
are difficult to be discharged by expectoration. Purulent ulcerations
of the chest and lungs, and bad breath proceeding from a morbid state
of the lungs, are successfully treated with butter boiled with an equal
quantity of Attic honey till it assumes a reddish hue, a spoonful of
the mixture being taken by the patient every morning: some persons,
however, instead of honey prefer using larch-resin for the purpose. In
cases where there are discharges of blood, cow’s blood, they say, is
good, taken in small quantities with vinegar; but as to bull’s blood,
it would be a rash thing to believe in any such recommendation. For
inveterate spitting of blood, bull-glue is taken, in doses of three
oboli, in warm water.


Ulcerations of the stomach are effectually treated with asses’
milk[2342] or cows’ milk. For gnawing pains in that region, beef is
stewed, with vinegar and wine. Fluxes are healed by taking the ashes
of burnt deer’s horns; and discharges of blood by drinking the blood
of a kid just killed, made hot, in doses of three cyathi, with equal
proportions of vinegar and tart wine; or else by taking kid’s rennet,
with twice the quantity of vinegar.


Liver complaints are cured by taking a wolf’s liver dried, in honied
wine; or by using the dried liver of an ass, with twice the quantity of
rock-parsley and three nuts, the whole beaten up with honey and taken
with the food. The blood, too, of a he-goat is prepared and taken with
the food. For persons suffering from asthma, the most efficient remedy
of all is the blood of wild horses[2343] taken in drink; and next to
that, asses’ milk boiled with bulbs, the whey being the part used, with
the addition of nasturtium steeped in water and tempered with honey, in
the proportion of one cyathus of nasturtium to three semi-sextarii of
whey. The liver or lights of a fox, taken in red wine, or bear’s gall
in water, facilitate the respiration.


For pains in the loins and all other affections which require
emollients, frictions with bears’ grease should be used; or else ashes
of stale boars’ dung or swine’s dung should be mixed with wine and
given to the patients. The magicians, too, have added to this branch of
medicine their own fanciful devices. In the first place of all, madness
in he-goats, they say, may be effectually calmed by stroking the beard;
and if the beard is cut off, the goat will never stray to another

To the above composition they add goats’ dung, and recommend it to be
held in the hollow of the hand, as hot as possible, a greased linen
cloth being placed beneath, and care being taken to hold it in the
right hand if the pain is on the left side, and in the left hand if
the pain is on the right. They recommend also that the dung employed
for this purpose should be taken up on the point of a needle made of
copper. The mode of treatment is, for the patient to hold the mixture
in his hand till the heat is felt to have penetrated to the loins,
after which the hand is rubbed with a pounded leek, and the loins with
the same dung annealed with honey. They prescribe also for the same
malady the testes of a hare, to be eaten by the patient. In cases
of sciatica they are for applying cow-dung warmed upon hot ashes in
leaves: and for pains in the kidneys they recommend a hare’s kidneys
to be swallowed raw, or perhaps boiled, but without letting them be
touched by the teeth. If a person carries about him the pastern-bone of
a hare, he will never be troubled with pains in the bowels, they say.


Affections of the spleen are alleviated by taking the gall of a wild
boar or hog in drink; ashes of burnt deer’s horns in vinegar; or, what
is best of all, the dried spleen of an ass, the good effects being sure
to be felt in the course of three days. The first dung voided by an
ass’s foal—a substance known as “polea”[2344] by the people of Syria—is
administered in oxymel for these complaints; a dried horse tongue, too,
is taken in wine, a sovereign remedy which, Cæcilius Bion tells us, he
first heard of when living among the barbarous nations. The milt of a
cow or ox is used in a similar manner; but when it is quite fresh, the
practice is to roast or boil it and take it with the food. For pains
in the liver a topical application is made by bruising twenty heads of
garlick in one sextarius of vinegar, and applying them in a piece of
ox bladder. For the same malady the magicians recommend a calf’s milt,
bought at the price set upon it and without any haggling, that being
an important point, and one that should be religiously observed. This
done, the milt must be cut in two lengthwise, and attached to the
patient’s shirt,[2345] on either side; after which, the patient must
put it on and let the pieces fall at his feet, and must then pick them
up, and dry them in the shade. While this last is doing, the diseased
liver of the patient will gradually contract, they say, and he will
eventually be cured. The lights, too, of a fox are very useful for this
purpose, dried on hot ashes and taken in water; the same, too, with a
kid’s milt, applied to the part affected.


To arrest looseness of the bowels, deer’s blood is used; the ashes also
of deer’s horns; the liver of a wild boar, taken fresh and without
salt, in wine; a swine’s liver roasted, or that of a he-goat, boiled in
five semisextarii of wine; a hare’s rennet boiled, in quantities the
size of a chick-pea, in wine, or, if there are symptoms of fever, in
water. To this last some persons add nut-galls, while others, again,
content themselves with hare’s blood boiled by itself in milk. Ashes,
too, of burnt horse-dung are taken in water for this purpose; or else
ashes of the part of an old bull’s horn which lies nearest the root,
sprinkled in water; the blood, too, of a he-goat boiled upon charcoal;
or a decoction made from a goat’s hide boiled with the hair on.

For relaxing the bowels a horse’s rennet is used, or else the blood,
marrow, or liver of a she-goat. A similar effect is produced by
applying a wolf’s gall to the navel, with elaterium;[2346] by taking
mares’ milk, goats’ milk with salt and honey, or a she-goat’s gall with
juice of cyclaminos,[2347] and a little alum—in which last case some
prefer adding nitre and water to the mixture. Bull’s gall, too, is used
for a similar purpose, beaten up with wormwood and applied in the form
of a suppository; or butter is taken, in considerable doses.

Cœliac affections and dysentery are cured by taking cow’s liver; ashes
of deer’s horns, a pinch in three fingers swallowed in water; hare’s
rennet, kneaded up in bread, or, if there is any discharge of blood,
taken with polenta;[2348] or else boar’s dung, swine’s dung, or hare’s
dung, reduced to ashes and mixed with mulled wine. Among the remedies,
also, for the cœliac flux and dysentery, veal broth is reckoned, a
remedy very commonly used. If the patient takes asses’ milk for these
complaints, it will be all the better if honey is added; and no less
efficacious for either complaint are the ashes of asses’ dung taken
in wine; or else polea, the substance above[2349]-mentioned. In such
cases, even when attended with a discharge of blood, we find a horse’s
rennet recommended, by some persons known as “hippace;” ashes of burnt
horse-dung; horses’ teeth pounded; and boiled cows’ milk. In cases
of dysentery, it is recommended to add a little honey; and, for the
cure of griping pains, ashes of deer’s horns, bull’s gall mixed with
cummin, or the flesh of a gourd, should be applied to the navel. For
both complaints new cheese made of cows’ milk is used, as an injection;
butter also, in the proportion of four semi-sextarii to two ounces
of turpentine, or else employed with a decoction of mallows or with
oil of roses. Veal-suet or beef-suet is also given, and the marrow of
those animals is boiled with meal, a little wax, and some oil, so as
to form a sort of pottage. This marrow, too, is kneaded up with bread
for a similar purpose; or else goats’ milk is used, boiled down to one
half. In cases, too, where there are gripings in the bowels, wine of
the first running[2350] is administered. For the last-named pains, some
persons are of opinion that it is a sufficient remedy to take a single
dose of hare’s rennet in mulled wine; though others again, who are more
distrustful, are in the habit of applying a liniment to the abdomen,
made of goats’ blood, barley-meal, and resin.

For all defluxions of the bowels it is recommended to apply soft
cheese, and for cœliac affections and dysentery old cheese, powdered,
one cyathus of cheese being taken in three cyathi of ordinary wine.
Goats’ blood is boiled down with the marrow of those animals for the
cure of dysentery; and the cœliac flux is effectually treated with the
roasted liver of a she-goat, or, what is still better, the liver of a
he-goat boiled in astringent wine, and administered in the drink, or
else applied to the navel with oil of myrtle. Some persons boil down
the liver in three sextarii of water to half a sextarius, and then add
rue to it. The milt of a he or she-goat is sometimes roasted for this
purpose, or the suet of a he-goat is incorporated in bread baked upon
the ashes; the fat, too, of a she-goat, taken from the kidneys more
particularly, is used. This last, however, must be taken by itself and
swallowed immediately, being generally recommended to be taken in water
moderately cool. Some persons, too, boil goats’ suet in water, with a
mixture of polenta, cummin, anise, and vinegar; and for the cure of
cœliac affections, they rub the abdomen with a decoction of goats’ dung
and honey.

For both the cœliac flux and dysentery, kid’s rennet is employed,
taken in myrtle wine in pieces the size of a bean, or else kid’s
blood, prepared in the form of a dish known by the name of
“sanguiculus.”[2351] For dysentery an injection is employed, made
of bull glue dissolved in warm water. Flatulency is dispelled by a
decoction of calf’s dung in wine. For intestinal affections deer’s
rennet is highly recommended boiled with beef and lentils, and taken
with the food; hare’s fur, also reduced to ashes and boiled with honey;
or boiled goat’s milk, taken with a small quantity of mallows and some
salt; if rennet is added, the remedy will be all the more effectual.
Goat suet, taken in any kind of broth, is possessed of similar virtues,
care being taken to swallow cold water immediately after. The ashes of
a kid’s thighs are said to be marvellously efficacious for intestinal
hernia; as also hare’s dung, boiled with honey, and taken daily in
pieces the size of a bean; indeed, these remedies are said to have
proved effectual in cases where a cure has been quite despaired of. The
broth too, made from a goat’s head, boiled with the hair on, is highly


The disease called “tenesmus,” or in other words, a frequent and
ineffectual desire to go to stool, is removed by drinking asses’ milk
or cows’ milk. The various kinds of tapeworm[2352] are expelled by
taking the ashes of deer’s horns in drink. The bones which we have
spoken[2353] of as being found in the excrements of the wolf, worn
attached to the arm, are curative of diseases of the colon, provided
they have not been allowed to touch the ground. Polea, too, a substance
already mentioned,[2354] is remarkably useful for this purpose, boiled
in grape juice:[2355] the same too with swine’s dung, powdered and
mixed with cummin, in a decoction of rue. The antler of a young stag,
reduced to ashes and taken in wine, mixed with African snails, crushed
with the shells on, is considered a very useful remedy.


Diseases of the bladder, and the torments attendant upon calculi, are
treated with the urine of a wild boar, or the bladder of that animal
taken as food; both of them being still more efficacious if they have
been thoroughly soaked first. The bladder, when eaten, should be
boiled first, and if the patient is a female, it should be a sow’s
bladder. There are found in the liver of the wild boar certain small
stones,[2356] or what in hardness resemble small stones, of a white
hue, and resembling those found in the liver of the common swine: if
these stones are pounded and taken in wine, they will expel calculi,
it is said. So oppressed is the wild boar by the burden of his
urine,[2357] that if he has not first voided it, he is unable to take
to flight, and suffers himself to be taken as though he were enchained
to the spot. This urine, they say, has a consuming effect upon urinary
calculi. The kidneys of a hare, dried and taken in wine, act as an
expellent upon calculi. We have already[2358] mentioned that in the
gammon of the hog there are certain joint-bones; a decoction made from
them is remarkably useful for urinary affections. The kidneys of an
ass, dried and pounded, and administered in undiluted wine, are a cure
for diseases of the bladder. The excrescences that grow on horses’
legs, taken for forty days in ordinary wine or honied wine, expel
urinary calculi. The ashes, too, of a horse’s hoof, taken in wine or
water, are considered highly useful for this purpose; and the same with
the dung of a she-goat—if a wild goat, all the better—taken in honied
wine: goats’ hair, too, is used, reduced to ashes.

For carbuncles upon the generative organs, the brains and blood of
a wild boar or swine are highly recommended: and for serpiginous
affections of those parts, the liver of those animals is used, burnt
upon juniper wood more particularly, and mixed with papyrus and
arsenic;[2359] the ashes, also, of their dung; ox-gall, kneaded to the
consistency of honey, with Egyptian alum and myrrh, beet-root boiled
in wine being laid upon it; or else beef. Running ulcers of those
parts are treated with veal-suet and marrow, boiled in wine, or with
the gall of a she-goat, mixed with honey and the extracted juice of
the bramble.[2360] In cases where these ulcers are serpiginous, it is
recommended to use goats’ dung with honey or vinegar, or else butter
by itself. Swellings of the testes are reduced by using veal-suet with
nitre, or the dung of the animal boiled in vinegar. The bladder of a
wild boar, eaten roasted, acts as a check upon incontinence of urine; a
similar effect being produced by the ashes of the feet of a wild boar
or swine sprinkled in the drink; the ashes of a sow’s bladder taken in
drink; the bladder or lights of a kid; a hare’s brains taken in wine;
the testes of a male hare grilled; the rennet of that animal taken with
goose-grease and polenta;[2361] or the kidneys of an ass, beaten up and
taken in undiluted wine.

The magicians tell us, that after taking the ashes of a boar’s genitals
in sweet wine, the patient must make water in a dog kennel, and repeat
the following formula—“This I do that I may not wet my bed as a dog
does.” On the other hand, a swine’s bladder, attached to the groin,
facilitates the discharge of the urine, provided it has not already
touched the ground.


For diseases of the fundament, a sovereign remedy is bear’s gall, mixed
with the grease; to which some persons are in the habit of adding
litharge and frankincense. Butter, too, is very good, employed with
goose-grease and oil of roses. The proportions in which they are mixed
will be regulated by the circumstances of the case, care being taken to
see that they are of a consistency which admits of their being easily
applied. Bull’s gall upon lint is a remarkably useful remedy, and
has the effect of making chaps of the fundament cicatrize with great
rapidity. Swellings of those parts are treated with veal suet—that from
the loins in particular—mixed with rue. For other affections, goats’
blood is used, with polenta. Goats’ gall too, is employed by itself,
for the cure of condylomata, and sometimes, wolf’s gall, mixed with

Bears’ blood is curative of inflamed tumours and apostemes upon these
parts in general; as also bulls’ blood, dried and powdered. The best
remedy, however, is considered to be the stone which the wild ass[2362]
voids with his urine, it is said, at the moment he is killed. This
stone, which is in a somewhat liquefied state at first, becomes solid
when it reaches the ground: attached to the thigh, it disperses all
collections of humours and all kinds of suppurations: it is but rarely
found, however, and it is not every wild ass that produces it, but as a
remedy it is held in high esteem. Asses’ urine too, used in combination
with gith, is highly recommended; the ashes of a horse’s hoof,
applied with oil and water; a horse’s blood, that of a stone-horse in
particular; the blood, also, of an ox or cow, or the gall of those
animals. Their flesh too, applied warm, is productive of similar
results; the hoofs reduced to ashes, and taken in water or honey; the
urine of a she-goat; the flesh of a he-goat, boiled in water; the dung
of these animals, boiled with honey; or else a boar’s gall, or swine’s
urine, applied in wool.

Riding on horseback, we well-know, galls and chafes the inside of the
thighs: the best remedy for accidents of this nature is to rub the
parts with the foam which collects at a horse’s mouth. Where there are
swellings in the groin, arising[2363] from ulcers, a cure is effected
by inserting in the sores three horse-hairs, tied with as many knots.


For the cure of gout, bears’ grease is employed, mixed in equal
proportions with bull-suet and wax; some persons add to the
composition, hypocisthis[2364] and nut-galls. Others, again, prefer
he-goat suet, mixed with the dung of a she-goat and saffron, or else
with mustard, or sprigs of ivy pounded and used with perdicium,[2365]
or with flowers of wild cucumber. Cow-dung is also used, with lees of
vinegar. Some persons speak highly in praise of the dung of a calf
which has not begun to graze, or else a bull’s blood, without any other
addition; a fox, also, boiled alive till only the bones are left;
a wolf boiled alive in oil to the consistency of a cerate; he-goat
suet, with an equal proportion of helxine,[2366] and one-third part of
mustard; or ashes of goats’ dung, mixed with axle-grease. They say,
too, that for sciatica, it is an excellent plan to apply this dung
boiling[2367] hot beneath the great toes; and that, for diseases of the
joints, it is highly efficacious to attach bears’ gall or hares’ feet
to the part affected. Gout, they say, may be allayed by the patient
always carrying about with him a hare’s foot, cut off from the animal

Bears’ grease is a cure for chilblains and all kinds of chaps upon
the feet; with the addition of alum, it is still more efficacious.
The same results are produced by using goat-suet; a horse’s teeth
powdered; the gall of a wild boar or hog; or else the lights of those
animals, applied with their grease; and this, too, where the soles
are blistered, or the feet have been crushed by a substance striking
against them. In cases where the feet have been frozen, ashes of burnt
hare’s fur are used; and for contusions of the feet, the lights of that
animal are applied, sliced or reduced to ashes. Blisters occasioned
by the sun are most effectually treated by using asses’ fat, or else
beef-suet, with oil of roses. Corns, chaps, and callosities of the feet
are cured by the application of wild boars’ dung or swine’s dung, used
fresh, and removed at the end of a couple of days. The pastern-bones
of these animals are also used, reduced to ashes; or else the lights
of a wild boar, swine, or deer. When the feet have been galled by the
shoes, they are rubbed with the urine of an ass, applied with the mud
formed by it upon the ground. Corns are treated with beef-suet and
powdered frankincense; chilblains with burnt leather, that of an old
shoe, in particular; and injuries produced by tight shoes with ashes of
goat-skin, tempered with oil.

The pains attendant upon varicose veins are mitigated by using ashes
of burnt calves’ dung, boiled with lily roots and a little honey: a
composition which is equally good for all kinds of inflammations and
sores that tend to suppurate. It is very useful, also, for gout and
diseases of the joints, when it is the dung of a bull-calf that is used
more particularly. For excoriations of the joints, the gall of a wild
boar or swine is applied, in a warm linen cloth: the dung, also, of a
calf that has not begun to graze; or else goat-dung, boiled in vinegar
with honey. Veal-suet rectifies malformed nails, as also goat-suet,
mixed with sandarach. Warts are removed by applying ashes of burnt
calves’ dung in vinegar, or else the mud formed upon the ground by the
urine of an ass.


In cases of epilepsy, it is a good plan to eat a bear’s testes, or
those of a wild boar, with mares’ milk or water; or else to drink a
wild boar’s urine with honey and vinegar, that being the best which
has been left to dry in the bladder. The testes, also, of swine are
prescribed, dried and beaten up in sows’ milk, the patient abstaining
from wine some days before and after taking the mixture. The lights
of a hare, too, are recommended, salted, and taken with one third of
frankincense, for thirty consecutive days, in white wine: hare’s rennet
also; and asses’ brains, smoked with burning leaves, and administered
in hydromel, in doses of half an ounce per day. An ass’s hoofs are
reduced to ashes, and taken for a month together, in doses of two
spoonfuls; the testes, also, of an ass, salted and mixed with the
drink, asses’ milk or water in particular. The secundines, also, of a
she-ass are recommended, more particularly when it is a male that has
been foaled: placed beneath the nostrils of the patient, when the fits
are likely to come on, this substance will effectually repel them.

There are some persons who recommend the patient to eat the heart
of a black he-ass in the open air with bread, upon the first or
second day of the moon: others, again, prescribe the flesh of that
animal, and others the blood, diluted with vinegar, and taken for
forty days together. Some mix horse-stale for this purpose, with
smithy water fresh from the forge, employing the same mixture for the
cure of delirium. Epilepsy is also treated with mares’ milk, or the
excrescences from a horse’s legs, taken in honey and vinegar. The
magicians highly recommend goats’ flesh, grilled upon a funeral pile;
as also the suet of that animal, boiled with an equal quantity of
bull’s gall, and kept in the gall-bladder; care being taken not to let
it touch the ground, and the patient swallowing it in water, standing
aloft.[2368] The smell arising from a goat’s horns or deer’s antlers,
burnt, efficiently detects the presence of epilepsy.

In cases where persons are suddenly paralyzed, the urine of an ass’s
foal, applied to the body with nard, is very useful, it is said.


For the cure of jaundice, the ashes of a stag’s antlers are employed;
or the blood of an ass’s foal, taken in wine. The first dung,[2369]
too, that has been voided by the foal after its birth, taken in wine,
in pieces the size of a bean, will effect a cure by the end of three
days. The dung of a new-born colt is possessed of a similar efficacy.


For broken hones, a sovereign remedy is the ashes of the jaw-bone
of a wild boar or swine: boiled bacon, too, tied round the broken
bone, unites it with marvellous rapidity. For fractures of the ribs,
goats’ dung, applied in old wine, is extolled as the grand remedy,
being possessed in a high degree of aperient, extractive, and healing


Deer’s flesh, as already[2370] stated, is a febrifuge. Periodical
and recurrent fevers are cured, if we are to believe what the
magicians tell us, by wearing the right eye of a wolf, salted, and
attached as an amulet. There is one kind of fever generally known
as “amphemerine;”[2371] it is to be cured, they say, by the patient
taking three drops of blood from an ass’s ear, and swallowing them in
two semi-sextarii of water. For quartan fever, the magicians recommend
cats’ dung to be attached to the body, with the toe of a horned owl,
and, that the fever may not be recurrent, not to be removed until
the seventh paroxysm is past. Who,[2372] pray, could have ever made
such a discovery as this? And what, too, can be the meaning of this
combination? Why, of all things in the world, was the toe of a horned
owl made choice of?

Other adepts in this art, who are more moderate in their suggestions,
recommend for quartan fever, the salted liver of a cat that has been
killed while the moon was on the wane, to be taken in wine just before
the paroxysms come on. The magicians recommend, too, that the toes of
the patient should be rubbed with the ashes of burnt cow-dung, diluted
with a boy’s urine, and that a hare’s heart should be attached to the
hands; they prescribe, also, hare’s rennet, to be taken in drink just
before the paroxysms come on. New goats’ milk cheese is also given with
honey, the whey being carefully extracted first.


For patients affected with melancholy,[2373] calves’ dung, boiled in
wine, is a very useful remedy. Persons are aroused from lethargy by
applying to the nostrils the callosities from an ass’s legs steeped
in vinegar, or the fumes of burnt goats’ horns or hair, or by the
application of a wild boar’s liver: a remedy which is also used for
confirmed[2374] drowsiness.

The cure of phthisis is effected by taking a wolf’s liver boiled in
thin wine; the bacon of a sow that has been fed upon herbs; or the
flesh of a she-ass, eaten with the broth: this last mode in particular,
being the one that is employed by the people of Achaia. They say too,
that the smoke of dried cow-dung—that of the animal when grazing, I
mean—is remarkably good for phthisis, inhaled through a reed;[2375] and
find it stated that the tips of cows’ horns are burnt, and administered
with honey, in doses of two spoonfuls, in the form of pills. Goat suet,
many persons say, taken in a pottage of alica,[2376] or melted fresh
with honied wine, in the proportion of one ounce of suet to one cyathus
of wine, is good for cough and phthisis, care being taken to stir the
mixture with a sprig of rue. One author of credit assures us that
before now, a patient whose recovery has been despaired of, has been
restored to health by taking one cyathus of wild goat[2377] suet and an
equal quantity of milk. Some writers, too, have stated that ashes of
burnt swine’s dung are very useful, mixed with raisin wine; as also the
lights of a deer, a spitter[2378] deer in particular, smoke-dried and
beaten up in wine.


For dropsy, a wild boar’s urine is good, taken in small doses in the
patient’s drink; it is of much greater efficacy, however, when it has
been left to dry in the bladder of the animal. The ashes, too, of burnt
cow-dung, and of bulls’ dung in particular—animals that are reared in
herds, I mean—are highly esteemed. This dung, the name given to which
is “bolbiton,”[2379] is reduced to ashes, and taken in doses of three
spoonfuls to one semisextarius of honied wine; that of the female
animal being used where the patient is a woman, and that of the other
sex in the case of males; a distinction about which the magicians have
made a sort of grand mystery. The dung of a bull-calf is also applied
topically for this disease, and ashes of burnt calves’ dung are taken
with seed of staphylinos,[2380] in equal proportions, in wine. Goats’
blood also is used, with the marrow; but it is generally thought that
the blood of the he-goat is the most efficacious, when the animal has
fed upon lentisk, more particularly.


For erysipelas a liniment of bears’ grease is used, that from the
kidneys in particular; fresh calves’ dung also, or cow-dung; dried
goats’ milk cheese, with leeks; or else the fine scrapings of deer’s
skin, brought off with pumice-stone and beaten up in vinegar. Where
there is redness of the skin attended with itching, the foam from a
horse’s mouth is used, or the hoof, reduced to ashes.

For the cure of purulent[2381] eruptions ashes of burnt asses’ dung are
applied, with butter; and for the removal of swarthy pimples, dried
goats’ milk cheese, steeped in honey and vinegar, is applied in the
bath, no oil being used. Pustules are treated with ashes of swine’s
dung, applied with water, or else ashes of deer’s antlers.


For the cure of sprains the following applications are used; wild
boars’ dung or swine’s dung; calves’ dung; wild boars’ foam, used fresh
with vinegar; goats’ dung, applied with honey; and raw beef, used as a
plaster. For swellings, swine’s dung is used, warmed in an earthen pot,
and beaten up with oil. The best emollient for all kinds of indurations
upon the body is wolf’s fat, applied topically. In the case of sores
which are wanted to break, the most effectual plan is to apply cow-dung
warmed in hot ashes, or else goats’ dung boiled in vinegar or wine.
For the cure of boils, beef-suet is applied with salt; but if they
are attended with pain, it is melted with oil, and no salt is used.
Goat-suet is employed in a similar manner.


For the treatment of burns, bears’ grease is used, with lily roots;
dried wild boars’ dung also, or swine’s dung; the ashes of burnt
bristles, extracted from plasterers’ brushes, beaten up with grease;
the pastern-bone of an ox, reduced to ashes, and mixed with wax and
bull’s marrow or deer’s marrow; or the dung of a hare. The dung, too,
of a she-goat, they say, will effect a cure without leaving any scars.

The best glue is that prepared from the ears and genitals of the bull,
and there is no better cure in existence for burns. There is nothing,
however, that is more extensively adulterated; which is done by boiling
up all kinds of old skins, and shoes even, for the purpose. The Rhodian
glue is the purest of all, and it is this that painters and physicians
mostly use. The whiter it is, the more highly glue is esteemed: that,
on the other hand, which is black and brittle like wood, is looked upon
as good for nothing.


For pains in the sinews, goats’ dung, boiled in vinegar with honey, is
considered one of the most useful remedies, and this even where the
sinew[2382] is threatened with putrefaction. Strains and contusions
are healed with wild boars’ dung, that has been gathered in spring and
dried. A similar method is employed where persons have been dragged by
a chariot or lacerated by the wheels, or have received contusions in
any other way, the application being quite as effectual, should the
dung happen to be fresh. Some think it a better plan, however, to boil
it in vinegar; and if only powdered and taken in vinegar, they vouch
for its good effects where persons are ruptured, wounded internally, or
suffering from the effects of a fall.

Others again, who are of a more scrupulous tendency,[2383] take the
ashes of it in water; and the Emperor Nero, it is said, was in the
habit of refreshing himself with this drink, when he attempted to gain
the public applause at the three-horse chariot races.[2384] Swine’s
dung, it is generally thought, is the next best to that of the goat.


Hæmorrhage is arrested by applying deer’s rennet with vinegar, hare’s
rennet, hare’s fur reduced to ashes, or ashes of burnt asses’ dung.
The dung, however, of male animals is the most efficacious for this
purpose, being mixed with vinegar, and applied with wool, in all cases
of hæmorrhage. In the same way, too, the ashes of a horse’s head or
thigh, or of burnt calves’ dung, are used with vinegar; the ashes also
of a goat’s horns or dung, with vinegar. But it is the thick blood
that issues from the liver of a he-goat when cut asunder, that is
looked upon as the most efficacious; or else the ashes of the burnt
liver of a goat of either sex, taken in wine or applied to the nostrils
with vinegar. The ashes, too, of a leather wine-bottle—but only when
made of he-goat skin—are used very efficiently with an equal quantity
of resin, for the purpose of stanching blood, and knitting together the
lips of the wound. A kid’s rennet in vinegar, or the thighs of that
animal, reduced to ashes, are said to be productive of a similar result.


Ulcers upon the legs and thighs are cured by an application of bears’
grease, mixed with red earth: and those of a serpiginous nature by
using wild boar’s gall, with resin and white lead; the jaw-bone of a
wild boar or swine, reduced to ashes; swine’s dung in a dry state;
or goats’ dung, made luke-warm in vinegar. For other kinds of ulcers
butter is used, as a detergent, and as tending to make new flesh;
ashes of deer’s antlers, or deer’s marrow; or else bull’s gall, mixed
with oil of cyprus[2385] or oil of iris. Wounds inflicted with edged
weapons are rubbed with fresh swine’s dung, or with dried swine’s dung,
powdered. When ulcers are phagedænic or fistulous, bull’s gall is
injected, with leek-juice or woman’s milk; or else bull’s blood, dried
and powdered, with the plant cotyledon.[2386]

Carcinomatous sores are treated with hare’s rennet, sprinkled upon
them with an equal proportion of capers in wine; gangrenes, with
bears’ grease, applied with a feather; and ulcers of a serpiginous
nature with the ashes of an ass’s hoofs, powdered upon them. The blood
of the horse corrodes the flesh by virtue of certain septic powers
which it possesses; dried horse-dung, too, reduced to ashes, has a
similar effect. Those kinds of ulcers which are commonly known as
“phagedænic,” are treated with the ashes of a cow’s hide, mixed with
honey. Calves’ flesh, as also cow-dung mixed with honey, prevents
recent wounds from swelling. The ashes of a leg of veal, applied with
woman’s milk, are a cure for sordid ulcers, and the malignant sore
known as “cacoëthes:”[2387] bull-glue, melted, is applied to recent
wounds inflicted with edged weapons, the application being removed
before the end of three days. Dried goats’ milk cheese, applied with
vinegar and honey, acts as a detergent upon ulcers; and goat suet, used
in combination with wax, arrests the spread of serpiginous sores: if
employed with pitch and sulphur, it will effect a thorough cure. The
ashes of a kid’s leg, applied with woman’s milk, have a similar effect
upon malignant ulcers; for the cure, too, of carbuncles, a sow’s brains
are roasted and applied.


The itch in man is cured very effectually by using the marrow of an
ass, or the urine of that animal, applied with the mud it has formed
upon the ground. Butter, too, is very good; as also in the case of
beasts of burden, if applied with warmed resin: bull glue is also used,
melted in vinegar, and incorporated with lime; or goat’s gall, mixed
with calcined alum. The eruption called “boa,”[2388] is treated with
cow-dung, a fact to which it is indebted for its name. The itch in dogs
is cured by an application of fresh cows’ blood, which, when quite dry,
is renewed a second time, and is rubbed off the next day with strong


Thorns and similar foreign substances are extracted from the body by
using cats’ dung, or that of she-goats, with wine; the rennet also of
any kind of animal, that of the hare more particularly, with powdered
frankincense and oil, or an equal quantity of mistletoe, or else with

Ass suet restores scars of a swarthy hue to their natural colour; and
they are equally effaced by using calf’s gall made warm. Medical men
add myrrh, honey, and saffron, and keep the mixture in a copper box;
some, too, incorporate with it flower of copper.


Menstruation is promoted by using bull’s gall, in unwashed wool, as
a pessary: Olympias of Thebes adds hyssop and nitre. Ashes, too,
of deer’s horns are taken in drink for the same purpose, and for
derangements of the uterus they are applied topically, as also bull’s
gall, used as a pessary with opium, in the proportion of two oboli.
It is a good plan, too, to use fumigations for the uterus, made
with deer’s hair, burnt. Hinds, they say, when they find themselves
pregnant, are in the habit of swallowing a small stone. This stone,
when found in their excrements, or in the uterus—for it is to be found
there as well—attached to the body as an amulet, is a preventive of
abortion. There are also certain small stones, found in the heart
and uterus of these animals, which are very useful for women during
pregnancy and in travail. As to the kind of pumice-stone which is
similarly found in the uterus of the cow, we have already[2390]
mentioned it when treating of the formation of that animal.

A wolf’s fat, applied externally, acts emolliently upon the uterus, and
the liver of a wolf is very soothing for pains in that organ. It is
found advantageous for women, when near delivery, to eat wolf’s flesh,
or, if they are in travail, to have a person near them who has eaten
it; so much so, indeed, that it will act as a countercharm even to any
noxious spells which may have been laid upon them. In case, however, a
person who has eaten wolf’s flesh should happen to enter the room at
the moment of parturition, dangerous effects will be sure to follow.
The hare, too, is remarkably useful for the complaints of females: the
lights of that animal, dried and taken in drink, are beneficial to
the uterus; the liver, taken in water with Samian earth, acts as an
emmenagogue; and the rennet brings away the after-birth, due care being
taken by the patient not to bathe the day before. Applied in wool as a
pessary, with saffron and leek-juice, this last acts as an expellent
upon the dead fœtus. It is a general opinion that the uterus of a
hare, taken with the food, promotes the conception of male offspring,
and that a similar effect is produced by using the testes and rennet
of that animal. It is thought, too, that a leveret, taken from the
uterus of its dam, is a restorative of fruitfulness to women who are
otherwise past child-bearing. But it is the blood of a hare’s fœtus
that the magicians recommend males to drink: while for young girls they
prescribe nine pellets of hare’s dung, to ensure a durable firmness to
the breasts. For a similar purpose, also, they apply hare’s rennet
with honey; and to prevent hairs from growing again when once removed,
they use a liniment of hare’s blood.

For inflations of the uterus, it is found a good plan to apply wild
boars’ dung or swine’s dung topically with oil: but a still more
effectual remedy is to dry the dung, and sprinkle it, powdered, in the
patient’s drink, even though she should be in a state of pregnancy or
suffering the pains of child-birth. By administering sow’s milk with
honied wine, parturition is facilitated; and if taken by itself it will
promote the secretion of the milk when deficient in nursing women. By
rubbing the breasts of females with sow’s blood they are prevented
from becoming too large. If pains are felt in the breasts, they will
be alleviated by drinking asses’ milk; and the same milk, taken with
honey, has considerable efficacy as an emmenagogue. Stale fat, too,
from the same animal, heals ulcerations of the uterus: applied as a
pessary, in wool, it acts emolliently upon indurations of that organ;
and, applied fresh by itself, or in water when stale, it has all the
virtues of a depilatory.

An ass’s milt, dried and applied in water to the breasts, promotes the
secretion of the milk; and used in the form of a fumigation, it acts
as a corrective upon the uterus. A fumigation made with a burnt ass’s
hoof, placed beneath a woman, accelerates parturition, so much so,
indeed, as to expel the dead fœtus even: hence it is that it should
only be employed in cases of miscarriage, it having a fatal effect
upon the living fœtus. Asses’ dung, applied fresh, has a wonderful
effect, they say, in arresting discharges of blood in females: the
same, too, with the ashes of this dung, which, used as a pessary, are
very good for the uterus. If the skin is rubbed with the foam from
a horse’s mouth for forty days together, before the first hair has
made its appearance, it will effectually prevent the growth thereof:
a decoction, too, made from deer’s antlers is productive of a similar
effect, being all the better if they are used quite fresh. Mares’ milk,
used as an injection, is highly beneficial to the uterus.

Where the fœtus is felt to be dead in the uterus, the lichens or
excrescences from a horse’s legs, taken in fresh, water, will act
as an expellent: an effect produced also by a fumigation made with
the hoofs or dry dung of that animal. Procidence of the uterus is
arrested by using butter, in the form of an injection; and indurations
of that organ are removed by similarly employing ox-gall, with oil
of roses, turpentine being applied externally in wool. They say,
too, that a fumigation, made from ox-dung, acts as a corrective upon
procidence of the uterus, and facilitates parturition; and that
conception is promoted by the use of cows’ milk. It is a well-known
fact that sterility is often entailed by suffering in child-birth; an
evil which may be averted, Olympias of Thebes assures us, by rubbing
the parts, before sexual intercourse, with bull’s gall, serpents’
fat, verdigrease, and honey. In cases, too, where menstruation is too
abundant, the external parts should be sprinkled with a solution of
calf’s gall, the moment before the sexual congress; a method which
acts emolliently also upon indurations of the abdomen. Applied to the
navel as a liniment, it arrests excessive discharges, and is generally
beneficial to the uterus. The proportions generally adopted are—one
denarius of gall, one-third of a denarius of opium, and as much oil
of almonds as may appear to be requisite; the whole being applied in
sheep’s wool. The gall, too, of a bull-calf is beaten up with half the
quantity of honey, and kept in readiness for the treatment of uterine
diseases. If a woman about the time of conception eats roasted veal
with the plant aristolochia,[2391] she will bring forth a male child,
we are assured. Calf’s marrow, boiled in wine and water with the suet,
and applied as a pessary, is good for ulcerations of the uterus; the
same, too, with foxes’ fat and cats’ dung, the last being applied with
resin and oil of roses.

It is considered a remarkably good plan to subject the uterus to
fumigations made with burnt goats’ horns. The blood of the wild goat,
mixed with sea-palm,[2392] acts as a depilatory. The gall of the other
kinds of goat, used as an injection, acts emolliently upon callosities
of the uterus, and ensures conception immediately after menstruation:
it possesses also the virtues of a depilatory, the application being
left for three days upon the flesh after the hair has been removed. The
midwives assure us that she-goats’ urine, taken in drink, and the dung,
applied topically, will arrest uterine discharges, however much in
excess. The membrane in which the kid is enclosed in the uterus, dried
and taken in wine, acts as an expellent upon the after-birth. For
affections of the uterus, it is thought a desirable plan to fumigate
it with burnt kids’ hair; and for discharges of blood, kids’ rennet
is administered in drink, or seed of henbane is applied. According
to Osthanes, if a woman’s loins are rubbed with blood taken from the
ticks upon a black wild bull, she will be inspired with an aversion to
sexual intercourse: she will forget, too, her former love, by taking a
he-goat’s urine in drink, some nard being mixed with it to disguise the
loathsome taste.


For infants there is nothing more useful than butter,[2393] either by
itself or in combination with honey; for dentition more particularly,
for soreness of the gums, and for ulcerations of the mouth. A wolf’s
tooth, attached to the body, prevents infants from being startled, and
acts as a preservative against the maladies attendant upon dentition;
an effect equally produced by making use of a wolf’s skin. The larger
teeth, also, of a wolf, attached to a horse’s neck, will render him
proof against all weariness, it is said. A hare’s rennet, applied to
the breasts of the nurse, effectually prevents diarrhœa in the infant
suckled by her. An ass’s liver, mixed with a little panax, and dropped
into the mouth of an infant, will preserve it from epilepsy and other
diseases to which infants are liable; this, however, must be done for
forty days, they say. An ass’s skin, too, thrown over infants, renders
them insensible to fear. The first teeth shed by a horse, attached as
an amulet to infants, facilitate dentition, and are better still, when
not allowed to touch the ground. For pains in the spleen, an ox’s milt
is administered in honey, and applied topically; and for running ulcers
it is used as an application, with honey. A calf’s milt, boiled in
wine, is beaten up, and applied to incipient ulcers of the mouth.

The magicians take the brains of a she-goat, and, after passing them
through a gold ring, drop them into the mouth of the infant before
it takes the breast, as a preservative against epilepsy and other
infantile diseases. Goats’ dung, attached to infants in a piece of
cloth, prevents them from being restless, female infants in particular.
By rubbing the gums of infants with goats’ milk or hare’s brains,
dentition is greatly facilitated.


Cato was of opinion that hare’s flesh,[2394] taken as a diet, is
provocative of sleep. It is a vulgar notion, too, that this diet
confers beauty for nine days on those who use it; a silly play[2395]
upon words, no doubt, but a notion which has gained far too extensively
not to have had some real foundation. According to the magicians, the
gall of a she-goat, but only of one that has been sacrificed, applied
to the eyes or placed beneath the pillow, has a narcotic effect. Too
profuse perspiration is checked by rubbing the body with ashes of burnt
goats’ horns mixed with oil of myrtle.


Among the aphrodisiacs, we find mentioned, a wild boar’s gall, applied
externally; swine’s marrow, taken inwardly; asses’ fat, mixed with the
grease of a gander and applied as a liniment; the virulent substance
described by Virgil[2396] as distilling from mares when covered; and
the dried testes of a horse, pulverized and mixed with the drink. The
right testicle, also, of an ass, is taken in a proportionate quantity
of wine, or worn attached to the arm in a bracelet; or else the froth
discharged by that animal after covering, collected in a piece of red
cloth and enclosed in silver, as Osthanes informs us. Salpe recommends
the genitals of this animal to be plunged seven times in boiling oil,
and the corresponding parts to be well rubbed therewith. Bialcon[2397]
says that these genitals should be reduced to ashes and taken in drink;
or else the urine that has been voided by a bull immediately after
covering: he recommends, also, that the groin should be well rubbed
with earth moistened with this urine.

Mouse-dung, on the other hand, applied in the form of a liniment, acts
as an antaphrodisiac. The lights of a wild boar or swine, roasted, are
an effectual preservative against drunkenness; they must, however, be
eaten fasting, and upon the same day. The lights of a kid, too, are
productive of the same effect.


In addition to those already mentioned, there are various other
marvellous facts related, with reference to these animals. When a
horse-shoe becomes detached from the hoof, as often is the case, if
a person takes it up and puts it by, it will act as a remedy for
hiccup the moment he calls to mind the spot where he has placed it. A
wolf’s liver, they say, is similar to a horse’s hoof in appearance;
and a horse, they tell us, if it follows in the track of a wolf, will
burst[2398] asunder beneath its rider. The pastern-bones of swine have
a certain tendency to promote discord, it is said. In cases of fire, if
some of the dung can be brought away from the stalls, both sheep and
oxen may be got out all the more easily, and will make no attempt to
return. The flesh of a he-goat will lose its rank smell, if the animal
has eaten barley-bread, or drunk an infusion of laser[2399] the day on
which it was killed. Meat that has been salted while the moon was on
the wane, will never be attacked by worms. In fact, so great has been
the care taken to omit no possible researches, that a deaf hare, we
find, will grow fat[2400] sooner than one that can hear!

As to the remedies for the diseases of animals—If a beast of burden
voids blood, an injection must be used of swine’s dung mixed with wine.
For the maladies of oxen, a mixture of suet is used with quicksilver,
and wild garlic boiled; the whole beaten up and administered in wine.
The fat, too, of a fox is employed. The liquor of boiled horse-flesh,
administered in their drink, is recommended for the cure of diseased
swine: and, indeed, the maladies of all four-footed beasts may be
effectually treated by boiling a she-goat whole, in her skin, along
with a bramble-frog. Poultry, they say, will never be touched by a fox,
if they have eaten the dried liver of that animal, or if the cock, when
treading the hen, has had a piece of fox’s skin about his neck. The
same property, too, is attributed to a weazel’s gall. The oxen in the
Isle of Cyprus cure themselves of gripings in the abdomen, it is said,
by swallowing[2401] human excrements: the feet, too, of oxen will never
be worn to the quick, if their hoofs are well rubbed with tar before
they begin work. Wolves will never approach a field, if, after one has
been caught and its legs broken and throat cut, the blood is dropped
little by little along the boundaries of the field, and the body buried
on the spot from which it was first dragged. The share, too, with which
the first furrow in the field has been traced in the current year,
should be taken from the plough, and placed upon the hearth of the
Lares, where the family is in the habit of meeting, and left there till
it is consumed: so long as this is in doing, no wolf will attack any
animal in the field.

We will now turn to an examination of those animals which, being
neither tame nor wild, are of a nature peculiar to themselves.

SUMMARY.—Remedies, narratives, and observations, one thousand six
hundred and eighty-two.

ROMAN AUTHORS QUOTED.—M. Varro,[2402] L. Piso,[2403] Fabianus,[2404]
Valerius Antias,[2405] Verrius Flaccus,[2406] Cato the Censor,[2407]
Servius Sulpicius,[2408] Licinius Macer,[2409] Celsus,[2410]
Massurius,[2411] Sextius Niger[2412] who wrote in Greek, Bithus[2413]
of Dyrrhachium, Opilius[2414] the physician, Granius[2415] the

FOREIGN AUTHORS QUOTED.—Democritus,[2416] Apollonius[2417] who
wrote the “Myrosis,” Miletus,[2418] Artemon,[2419] Sextilius,[2420]
Antæus,[2421] Homer, Theophrastus,[2422] Lysimachus,[2423]
Attalus,[2424] Xenocrates,[2425] Orpheus[2426] who wrote the
“Idiophya,” Archelaüs[2427] who wrote a similar work, Demetrius,[2428]
Sotira,[2429] Laïs,[2430] Elephantis,[2431] Salpe,[2432]
Olympias[2433] of Thebes, Diotimus[2434] of Thebes, Iollas,[2435]
Andreas,[2436] Marcion[2437] of Smyrna, Æschines[2438] the
physician, Hippocrates,[2439] Aristotle,[2440] Metrodorus[2441] of
Scepsos, Icetidas[2442] the physician, Apelles[2443] the physician,
Hesiod,[2444] Dalion,[2445] Cæcilius,[2446] Bion[2447] who wrote “On
Powers,”[2448] Anaxilaüs,[2449] King Juba.[2450]




The nature and multiplicity of the various remedies already described
or which still remain to be enlarged upon, compel me to enter upon
some further details with reference to the art of medicine itself:
aware as I am, that no one[2451] has hitherto treated of this subject
in the Latin tongue, and that if all new enterprises are difficult or
of doubtful success, it must be one in particular which is so barren
of all charms to recommend it, and accompanied with such difficulties
of illustration. It will not improbably suggest itself, however, to
those who are familiar with this subject, to make enquiry how it is
that in the practice of medicine the use of simples has been abandoned,
so convenient as they are and so ready prepared to our hand: and they
will be inclined to feel equal surprise and indignation when they are
informed that no known art, lucrative as this is beyond all the rest,
has been more fluctuating, or subjected to more frequent variations.

Commencing by ranking its inventors in the number of the gods,[2452]
and consecrating for them a place in heaven, the art of medicine,
at the present day even, teaches us in numerous instances to have
recourse to the oracles for aid. In more recent times again, the same
art has augmented its celebrity, at the cost perhaps of being charged
with criminality, by devising the fable that Æsculapius was struck by
lightning for presuming to raise Tyndareus[2453] to life. And this
example notwithstanding, it has not hesitated to relate how that
others, through its agency, have since been restored to life. Already
enjoying celebrity in the days of the Trojan War, its traditions from
that period have acquired an additional degree of certainty; although
in those times, we may remark, the healing art confined itself solely
to the treatment of wounds.


Its succeeding history, a fact that is truly marvellous, remains
enveloped in the densest night, down to the time of the Peloponnesian
War;[2454] at which period it was restored to light by the agency of
Hippocrates, a native of Cos, an island flourishing and powerful in the
highest degree, and consecrated to Æsculapius. It being the practice
for persons who had recovered from a disease to describe in the temple
of that god the remedies to which they had owed their restoration
to health, that others might derive benefit therefrom in a similar
emergency; Hippocrates, it is said, copied out these prescriptions,
and, as our fellow-countryman Varro will have it, after burning the
temple to the ground,[2455] instituted that branch of medical practice
which is known as “Clinics.”[2456] There was no limit after this to
the profits derived from the practice of medicine; for Prodicus,[2457]
a native of Selymbria, one of his disciples, founded the branch of it
known as “Iatraliptics,”[2458] and so discovered a means of enriching
the very anointers even and the commonest drudges[2459] employed by the


In the rules laid down by these professors, changes were effected by
Chrysippus with a vast parade of words, and, after Chrysippus, by
Erasistratus, son[2460] of the daughter of Aristotle. For the cure of
King Antiochus—to give our first illustration of the profits realized
by the medical art—Erasistratus received from his son, King Ptolemæus,
the sum of one hundred talents.


Another sect again, known as that of the Empirics[2461]—because it
based its rules upon the results of experiment—took its rise in Sicily,
having for its founder Acron of Agrigentum, a man recommended by the
high authority of Empedocles[2462] the physician.


These several schools of medicine, long at variance among themselves,
were all of them condemned by Herophilus,[2463] who regulated
the arterial pulsation according to the musical[2464] scale,
correspondingly with the age of the patient. In succeeding years again,
the theories of this sect were abandoned, it being found that to belong
to it necessitated an acquaintance with literature. Changes, too, were
effected in the school, of which, as already[2465] stated, Asclepiades
had become the founder. His disciple, Themison,[2466] who at first in
his writings implicitly followed him, soon afterwards, in compliance
with the growing degeneracy of the age, went so far as to modify
his own methods of treatment; which, in their turn, were entirely
displaced, with the authorization of the late Emperor Augustus, by
Antonius Musa,[2467] a physician who had rescued that prince from a
most dangerous malady, by following a mode of treatment diametrically

I pass over in silence many physicians of the very highest celebrity,
the Cassii, for instance, the Calpetani, the Arruntii, and the Rubrii,
men who received fees yearly from the great, amounting to no less
than two hundred and fifty thousand sesterces. As for Q. Stertinius,
he thought that he conferred an obligation upon the emperors in being
content with five hundred thousand[2468] sesterces per annum; and
indeed he proved, by an enumeration of the several houses, that a
city practice would bring him in a yearly income of not less than six
hundred thousand sesterces.

Fully equal to this was the sum lavished upon his brother by Claudius
Cæsar; and the two brothers, although they had drawn largely upon their
fortunes in beautifying the public buildings at Neapolis, left to their
heirs no less than thirty millions of sesterces![2469] such an estate
as no physician but Arruntius had till then possessed.

Next in succession arose Vettius Valens, rendered so notorious by his
adulterous connection[2470] with Messalina, the wife of Claudius Cæsar,
and equally celebrated as a professor of eloquence. When established in
public favour, he became the founder of a new sect.

It was in the same age, too, during the reign of the Emperor Nero,
that the destinies of the medical art passed into the hands of
Thessalus,[2471] a man who swept away all the precepts of his
predecessors, and declaimed with a sort of frenzy against the
physicians of every age; but with what discretion and in what spirit,
we may abundantly conclude from a single trait presented by his
character—upon his tomb, which is still to be seen on the Appian Way,
he had his name inscribed as the “Iatronices”—the “Conqueror of the
Physicians.” No stage-player, no driver of a three-horse chariot, had
a greater throng attending him when he appeared in public: but he was
at last eclipsed in credit by Crinas, a native of Massilia, who, to
wear an appearance of greater discreetness and more devoutness, united
in himself the pursuit of two sciences, and prescribed diets to his
patients in accordance with the movements of the heavenly bodies, as
indicated by the almanacks of the mathematicians, taking observations
himself of the various times and seasons. It was but recently that he
died, leaving ten millions of sesterces, after having expended hardly a
less sum upon building the walls of his native place and of other towns.

It was while these men were ruling our destinies, that all at once,
Charmis, a native also of Massilia, took[2472] the City by surprise.
Not content with condemning the practice of preceding physicians, he
proscribed the use of warm baths as well, and persuaded people, in the
very depth of winter even, to immerse themselves in cold water. His
patients he used to plunge into large vessels filled with cold water,
and it was a common thing to see aged men of consular rank make it a
matter of parade to freeze themselves; a method of treatment, in favour
of which Annæus[2473] Seneca gives his personal testimony, in writings
still extant.

There can be no doubt whatever, that all these men, in the pursuit of
celebrity by the introduction of some novelty or other, made purchase
of it at the downright expense of human life. Hence those woeful
discussions, those consultations at the bed-side of the patient, where
no one thinks fit to be of the same opinion as another, lest he may
have the appearance of being subordinate to another; hence, too, that
ominous inscription to be read upon a tomb, “It was the multitude of
physicians that killed me.”[2474]

The medical art, so often modified and renewed as it has been, is still
on the change from day to day, and still are we impelled onwards by
the puffs[2475] which emanate from the ingenuity of the Greeks. It is
quite evident too, that every one among them that finds himself skilled
in the art of speech, may forthwith create himself the arbiter of our
life and death: as though, forsooth, there were not thousands[2476]
of nations who live without any physicians at all, though not, for
all that, without the aid of medicine. Such, for instance, was the
Roman[2477] people, for a period of more than six hundred years; a
people, too, which has never shown itself slow to adopt all useful
arts, and which even welcomed the medical art with avidity, until,
after a fair experience of it, there was found good reason to condemn


And, indeed, it appears to me not amiss to take the present opportunity
of reviewing some remarkable facts in the days of our forefathers
connected with this subject. Cassius Hemina,[2478] one of our most
ancient writers, says that the first physician that visited Rome was
Archagathus, the son of Lysanias, who came over from Peloponnesus, in
the year of the City 535, L. Æmilius and M. Livius being consuls. He
states also, that the right of free citizenship[2479] was granted him,
and that he had a shop[2480] provided for his practice at the public
expense in the Acilian Cross-way;[2481] that from his practice he
received the name of “Vulnerarius;”[2482] that on his arrival he was
greatly welcomed at first, but that soon afterwards, from the cruelty
displayed by him in cutting and searing his patients, he acquired the
new name of “Carnifex,”[2483] and brought his art and physicians in
general into considerable disrepute.

That such was the fact, we may readily understand from the words of M.
Cato, a man whose authority stands so high of itself, that but little
weight is added to it by the triumph[2484] which he gained, and the
Censorship which he held. I shall, therefore, give his own words in
reference to this subject.


“Concerning those Greeks, son Marcus, I will speak to you more at
length on the befitting occasion. I will show you the results of my
own experience at Athens, and that, while it is a good plan to dip
into their literature,[2485] it is not worth while to make a thorough
acquaintance with it. They are a most iniquitous and intractable
race, and you may take my word as the word of a prophet, when I tell
you, that whenever that nation shall bestow its literature upon Rome
it will mar everything; and that all the sooner, if it sends its
physicians among us. They have conspired among themselves to murder all
barbarians with their medicine; a profession which they exercise for
lucre, in order that they may win our confidence,[2486] and dispatch
us all the more easily. They are in the common habit, too, of calling
us barbarians, and stigmatize us beyond all other nations, by giving
us the abominable appellation of Opici.[2487] I forbid you to have
anything to do with physicians.”


Cato, who wrote to this effect, died in his eighty-fifth year, in the
year of the City 605; so that no one is to suppose that he had not
sufficient time to form his experience, either with reference to the
duration of the republic, or the length of his own life. Well then—are
we to conclude that he has stamped with condemnation a thing that
in itself is most useful? Far from it, by Hercules! for he subjoins
an account of the medical prescriptions, by the aid of which he had
ensured to himself and to his wife a ripe old age; prescriptions[2488]
upon which we are now about to enlarge. He asserts also that he has a
book of recipes in his possession, by the aid of which he treats the
maladies of his son, his servants, and his friends; a book from which
we have extracted the various prescriptions according to the several
maladies for which they are employed.

It was not the thing itself that the ancients condemned, but it was
the art as then practised, and they were shocked, more particularly,
that man should pay so dear for the enjoyment of life. For this reason
it was, they say, that the Temple of Æsculapius even after he was
received as a divinity, was built without the City, and afterwards
on an island;[2489] for this reason, too, it was, that when, long
after the time of Cato, the Greeks were expelled from Italy, the
physicians were not[2490] exempted from the decree. And here I
will[2491] improve upon the foresight displayed by them. Medicine is
the only one of the arts of Greece, that, lucrative as it is, the Roman
gravity has hitherto refused to cultivate. It is but very few of our
fellow-citizens that have even attempted it, and so soon as ever they
have done so, they have become deserters to the Greeks forthwith.[2492]
Nay, even more than this, if they attempt to treat of it in any other
language than Greek, they are sure to lose all credit, with the most
ignorant even, and those who do not understand a word of Greek; there
being all the less confidence felt by our people in that which so
nearly concerns their welfare, if it happens to be intelligible to
them. In fact, this is the only one of all the arts, by Hercules! in
which the moment a man declares[2493] himself to be an adept, he is at
once believed, there being at the same time no imposture, the results
of which are more fraught with peril. To all this, however, we give no
attention, so seductive is the sweet influence of the hope entertained
of his ultimate recovery by each.

And then besides, there is no law in existence whereby to punish the
ignorance of physicians, no instance before us of capital punishment
inflicted. It is at the expense of our perils that they learn, and
they experimentalize by putting us to death, a physician being the
only person that can kill another with sovereign impunity. Nay, even
more than this, all the blame is thrown upon the sick man only; he
is accused of disobedience forthwith, and it is the person who is
dead and gone that is put upon his trial. It is the usage at Rome for
the decuries[2494] to pass examination under the censorship of the
emperor, and for inquisitions to be made at our party-walls[2495] even:
persons who are to sit in judgment on our monetary matters are sent for
to Gades[2496] and the very Pillars of Hercules; while a question of
exile is never entertained without a panel of forty-five men selected
for the purpose.[2497] But when it is the judge’s own life that is at
stake, who are the persons that are to hold council upon it, but those
who the very next moment are about to take it!

And yet so it is, that we only meet with our deserts, no one of us
feeling the least anxiety to know what is necessary for his own
welfare. We walk[2498] with the feet of other people, we see with
the eyes of other people, trusting to the memory of others we salute
one another, and it is by the aid of others that we live. The most
precious objects of existence, and the chief supports[2499] of life,
are entirely lost to us, and we have nothing left but our pleasures
to call our own. I will not leave Cato exposed to the hatred of a
profession so ambitious as this, nor yet that senate which judged as he
did, but at the same time I will pursue my object without wresting to
my purpose the cries practised by its adepts, as some might naturally
expect. For what profession has there been more fruitful in poisonings,
or from which there have emanated more frauds upon wills? And then,
too, what adulteries have been committed, in the very houses of our
princes even! the intrigue of Eudemus,[2500] for example, with Livia,
the wife of Drusus Cæsar, and that of Valens with the royal lady
previous mentioned.[2501] Let us not impute these evils, I say, to the
art, but to the men who practise it; for Cato, I verily believe, as
little apprehended such practices as these in the City, as he did the
presence of royal ladies[2502] there.

I will not accuse the medical art of the avarice even of its
professors, the rapacious bargains made with their patients while
their fate is trembling in the balance, the tariffs framed upon their
agonies, the monies taken as earnest for the dispatching of patients,
or the mysterious secrets of the craft. I will not mention how that
cataract must be couched[2503] only, in the eye, in preference to
extracting it at once—practices, all of them, which have resulted
in one very great advantage, by alluring hither such a multitude of
adventurers; it being no moderation on their part, but the rivalry
existing between such numbers of practitioners, that keeps their
charges within moderation. It is a well-known fact that Charmis, the
physician[2504] already mentioned, made a bargain with a patient of his
in the provinces, that he should have two hundred thousand sesterces
for the cure; that the Emperor Claudius extorted from Alcon, the
surgeon,[2505] ten millions of sesterces by way of fine; and that the
same man, after being recalled from his exile in Gaul, acquired a sum
equally large in the course of a few years.

These are faults, however, which must be imputed to individuals only;
and it is not my intention to waste reproof upon the dregs of the
medical profession, or to call attention to the ignorance displayed by
that crew,[2506] the violation of all regimen in their treatment of
disease, the evasions practised in the use of warm baths, the strict
diet they imperiously prescribe, the food that is crammed into these
same patients, exhausted as they are, several times a day; together
with a thousand other methods of showing how quick they are to change
their mind, their precepts for the regulation of the kitchen, and their
recipes for the composition of unguents, it being one grand object with
them to lose sight of none of the usual incitements to sensuality. The
importation of foreign merchandize, and the introduction of tariffs
settled by foreigners,[2507] would have been highly displeasing to our
ancestors, I can readily imagine; but it was not these inconveniences
that Cato had in view, when he spoke thus strongly in condemnation of
the medical art.

“Theriace”[2508] is the name given to a preparation devised by luxury;
a composition formed of six hundred[2509] different ingredients; and
this while Nature has bestowed upon us such numbers of remedies, each
of which would have fully answered the purpose employed by itself! The
Mithridatic[2510] antidote is composed of four and fifty ingredients,
none of which are used in exactly the same proportion, and the
quantity prescribed is in some cases so small as the sixtieth part
of one denarius! Which of the gods, pray, can have instructed man in
such trickery as this, a height to which the mere subtlety of human
invention could surely never have reached? it clearly must emanate
from a vain ostentation of scientific skill and must be set down as a
monstrous system of puffing off the medical art.

And yet, after all, the physicians themselves do not understand this
branch of their profession; and I have ascertained that it is a common
thing for them to put mineral vermilion[2511] in their medicines, a
rank poison, as I shall have occasion[2512] to show when I come to
speak of the pigments, in place of Indian cinnabar, and all because
they mistake the name of the one drug for that of the other! These,
however, are errors which only concern the health of individuals, while
it is the practices which Cato foresaw and dreaded, less dangerous in
themselves and little regarded, practices, in fact, which the leading
men in the art do not hesitate to avow, that have wrought[2513] the
corruption of the manners of our empire.

The practices I allude to are those to which, while enjoying robust
health, we submit: such, for instance, as rubbing the body with wax and
oil,[2514] a preparation for a wrestling match, by rights, but which,
these men pretend, was invented as a preservative of health; the use
of hot baths, which are necessary, they have persuaded us, for the
proper digestion of the food, baths which no one ever leaves without
being all the weaker for it, and from which the more submissive of
their patients are only carried to the tomb; potions taken fasting;
vomits to clear the stomach, and then a series of fresh drenchings
with drink; emasculation, self-inflicted by the use of pitch-plasters
as depilatories; the public exposure, too, of even the most delicate
parts of the female body for the prosecution of these practices. Most
assuredly so it is, the contagion which has seized upon the public
morals, has had no more fertile source than the medical art, and
it continues, day by day even, to justify the claims of Cato to be
considered a prophet and an oracle of wisdom, in that assertion of his,
that it is quite sufficient to dip into the records of Greek genius,
without becoming thoroughly acquainted with them.

Such then is what may be said in justification of the senate and of
the Roman people, during that period of six hundred years in which
they manifested such repugnance to an art, by the most insidious terms
of which, good men are made to lend their credit and authority to the
very worst, and so strongly entered their protest against the silly
persuasions entertained by those, who fancy that nothing can benefit
them but what is coupled with high price.

I entertain no doubt, too, that there will be found some to express
their disgust at the particulars which I am about to give, in relation
to animals: and yet Virgil himself has not disdained—when, too, there
was no necessity for his doing so—to speak of ants and weevils,

  “And nests by beetles made that shun the light.”[2515]

Homer,[2516] too, amid his description of the battles of the gods, has
not disdained to remark upon the voracity of the common fly; nor has
Nature, she who engendered man, thought it beneath her to engender
these insects as well. Let each then make it his care, not so much to
regard the thing itself, as to rightly appreciate in each case the
cause and its effects.


I shall begin then with some remedies that are well known, those
namely, which are derived from wool and from the eggs of birds,
thus giving due honour to those substances which hold the principal
place in the estimation of mankind; though at the same time I shall
be necessitated to speak of some others out of their proper place,
according as occasion may offer. I should not have been at a loss
for high-flown language with which to grace my narrative, had I made
it my design to regard anything else than what, as being strictly
trustworthy,[2517] becomes my work: for among the very first remedies
mentioned, we find those said to be derived from the ashes and nest
of the phœnix,[2518] as though, forsooth, its existence were a well
ascertained fact, and not altogether a fable. And then besides, it
would be a mere mockery to describe remedies that can only return to us
once in a thousand years.

(2.) The ancient Romans attributed to wool a degree of religious
importance even, and it was in this spirit that they enjoined that the
bride should touch the door-posts of her husband’s house with wool. In
addition to dress and protection from the cold, wool, in an unwashed
state, used in combination with oil, and wine or vinegar, supplies us
with numerous remedies, according as we stand in need of an emollient
or an excitant, an astringent or a laxative. Wetted from time to
time with these liquids, greasy wool is applied to sprained limbs,
and to sinews that are suffering from pain. In the case of sprains,
some persons are in the habit of adding salt, while others, again,
apply pounded rue and grease, in wool: the same, too, in the case of
contusions or tumours. Wool will improve the breath, it is said, if the
teeth and gums are rubbed with it, mixed with honey; it is very good,
too, for phrenitis,[2519] used as a fumigation. To arrest bleeding at
the nose, wool is introduced into the nostrils with oil of roses; or it
is used in another manner, the ears being well plugged with it. In the
case of inveterate ulcers it is applied topically with honey: soaked in
wine or vinegar, or in cold water and oil, and then squeezed out, it is
used for the cure of wounds.

Rams’ wool, washed in cold water, and steeped in oil, is used for
female complaints, and to allay inflammations of the uterus. Procidence
of the uterus is reduced by using this wool in the form of a
fumigation. Greasy wool, used as a plaster and as a pessary, brings
away the dead fœtus, and arrests uterine discharges. Bites inflicted
by a mad dog are plugged with unwashed wool, and the application being
removed at the end of seven days. Applied with cold water, it is a
cure for agnails: steeped in a mixture of boiling nitre, sulphur, oil,
vinegar, and tar, and applied twice a day, as warm as possible, it
allays pains in the loins. By making ligatures with unwashed rams’ wool
about the extremities of the limbs, bleeding is effectually stopped.

In all cases, the wool most esteemed is that from the neck of the
animal; the best kinds of wool being those of Galatia, Tarentum,
Attica, and Miletus. For excoriations, blows, bruises, contusions,
crushes, galls, falls, pains in the head and other parts, and for
inflammation of the stomach, unwashed wool is applied, with a mixture
of vinegar and oil of roses. Reduced to ashes, it is applied to
contusions, wounds, and burns, and forms an ingredient in ophthalmic
compositions. It is employed, also, for fistulas and suppurations of
the ears. For this last purpose, some persons take the wool as it
is shorn, while others pluck it from the fleece; they then cut off
the ends of it, and after drying and carding it, lay it in pots of
unbaked earth, steep it well in honey, and burn it. Others, again,
arrange it in layers alternately with chips of torch-pine,[2520]
and, after sprinkling it with oil, set fire to it: they then rub the
ashes into small vessels with the hands, and let them settle in water
there. This operation is repeated and the water changed several times,
until at last the ashes are found to be slightly astringent, without
the slightest pungency; upon which, they are put by for use, being
possessed of certain caustic properties,[2521] and extremely useful as
a detergent the eyelids.


And not only this, but the filthy excretions even of sheep, the sweat
adhering to the wool of the flanks and of the axillary concavities—a
substance known as “œsypum”[2522]—are applied to purposes almost
innumerable; the grease produced by the sheep of Attica being the most
highly esteemed. There are numerous ways of obtaining it, but the most
approved method is to take the wool, fresh clipped from those parts of
the body, or else the sweat and grease collected from any part of the
fleece, and boil it gently in a copper vessel upon a slow fire: this
done, it is left to cool, and the fat which floats upon the surface
collected into an earthen vessel. The material originally used is then
subjected to another boiling, and the two results are washed in cold
water; after which, they are strained through a linen cloth and exposed
to the sun till they become bleached and quite transparent, and are
then put by in a pewter box for keeping.

The best proof of its genuineness is its retention of the strong smell
of the original grease, and its not melting when rubbed with water
upon the hand, but turning white, like white-lead in appearance.
This substance is extremely useful for inflammations of the eyes and
indurations of the eyelids. Some persons bake the wool in an earthen
pot, until it has lost all its grease, and are of opinion that,
prepared this way, it is a more useful remedy for excoriations and
indurations of the eyelids, for eruptions at the corners of the eyes,
and for watery eyes. And not only does this grease heal ulcerations
of the eyes, but, mixed with goose-grease, of the ears and generative
organs as well; in combination also with melilote and butter, it is
a cure for inflammations of the uterus, and for excoriations of the
rectum and condylomata. The other uses to which it is applied, we shall
detail on a more appropriate occasion.

The grease, too, of the wool about the tail is made up into pills,
unmixed with any substance: these pills are dried and pulverized, being
an excellent application for the teeth, when loose even, and for the
gums, when attacked by spreading ulcers of a cancerous nature. Sheep’s
wool, too, cleaned, is applied by itself, or with the addition of
sulphur, for dull, heavy pains, and the ashes of it, burnt, are used
for diseases of the generative organs: indeed, this wool is possessed
of such sovereign virtues, that it is used as a covering for medicinal
applications even. It is also an especial remedy for the sheep itself,
when it has lost its stomach, and refuses to feed; for, upon plucking
some wool from the tail, and then tying the tail therewith, as tight
as possible, the sheep will fall to feeding immediately. It is said
however, that the part of the tail which lies beyond the knot so made
will quickly mortify and die.


There is a considerable affinity also between wool and eggs, which
are applied together as a frontal to the forehead by way of cure
for defluxions of the eyes. Wool, however, is not required for this
purpose to have been dressed with radicula,[2523] the only thing
requisite to be combined with it being the white of an egg and powdered
frankincense. The white of an egg, also applied by itself, arrests
defluxions of the eyes, and has a cooling effect upon inflammations of
those organs: some, however, prefer mixing saffron with it, and employ
it as an ingredient in eye-salves, in place of water. For ophthalmia
in infants there is hardly any remedy to be found, except white of egg
mixed with fresh butter. Eggs beaten up with oil, are very soothing for
erysipelas, beet leaves being laid on the liniment.

White of egg, mixed with pounded gum ammoniac, is used as a bandoline
for arranging the hairs of the eyelids; and, in combination with
pine-nuts and a little honey, it forms a liniment for the removal
of pimples on the face. If the face is well rubbed with it, it will
never be sun-burnt. If, the moment the flesh has been scalded, an egg
is applied, no blisters will form: some persons, however, mix with
it barley-meal and a little salt. In cases of ulceration formed by
burns, there is nothing better than parched barley and hogs’ lard,
mixed with the white of an egg. The same mixture is also used as an
application for diseases of the rectum, in infants even, and in cases,
too, when there is procidence of those parts. For the cure of chaps
upon the feet, white of eggs is boiled, with two denarii of white
lead, an equal quantity of litharge, a little myrrh, and some wine.
For the cure of erysipelas they use the whites of three eggs with
amylum:[2524] it is said, too, that white of egg has the effect of
knitting wounds and of expelling urinary calculi. The yolk of eggs
boiled hard, applied in woman’s milk with a little saffron and honey,
has a soothing effect upon pains in the eyes. The yolk is applied also
to the eyes in wool, mixed with honied wine and oil of roses: or else
mixed with ground parsley-seed and polenta, and applied with honied
wine. The yolk of a single egg, swallowed raw by itself without being
allowed to touch the teeth, is remarkably good for cough, defluxions
of the chest, and irritations of the fauces. It is used, too, both
internally and externally, in a raw state, as a sovereign cure for
the sting of the hæmorrhoïs;[2525] and it is highly beneficial for
the kidneys, for irritations and ulcerations of the bladder, and for
bloody expectorations. For dysentery, the yolks of five eggs are taken
raw in one semi-sextarius of wine, mixed with the ashes of the shells,
poppy-juice, and wine.

For cœliac fluxes, it is recommended to take the yolks of eggs, with
like proportions of pulpy raisins and pomegranate rind, in equal
quantities, for three consecutive days; or else to follow another
method, and take the yolks of three eggs, with three ounces of old
bacon and honey, and three cyathi of old wine; the whole being beaten
up to the consistency of honey, and taken in water, when needed, in
pieces the size of a hazel nut. In some cases, too, the yolks of three
eggs are fried in oil, the whole of the egg having been steeped a day
previously in vinegar. It is in this way that eggs are used for the
treatment of spleen diseases; but for spitting of blood, they should
be taken with three cyathi of must. Yolk of egg is used, too, for the
cure of bruises of long standing, in combination with bulbs and honey.
Boiled and taken in wine, yolks of eggs arrest menstruation: applied
raw with oil or wine, they dispel inflations of the uterus. Mixed with
goose-grease and oil of roses, they are useful for crick in the neck;
and they are hardened over the fire, and applied warm, for the cure of
maladies of the rectum. For condylomata, eggs are used in combination
with oil of roses; and for the treatment of burns, they are hardened
in water, and set upon hot coals till the shells are burnt, the yellow
being used as a liniment with oil of roses.

Eggs become entirely transformed into yolk, on being removed after the
hen has sat upon them for three days; in which state they are known by
the name of “sitista.”[2526] The chicks that are found within the shell
are used for strengthening a disordered stomach, being eaten with half
a nut-gall, and no other food taken for the next two hours. They are
given also for dysentery, boiled in the egg with one semi-sextarius
of astringent wine, and an equal quantity of olive oil and polenta.
The pellicle that lines the shell is used, either raw or boiled, for
the cure of cracked lips; and the shell itself, reduced to ashes, is
taken in wine for discharges of blood: care must be taken, however, to
burn it without the pellicle. In the same way, too, a dentifrice is
prepared. The ashes of the shell, applied topically with myrrh, arrest
menstruation when in excess. So remarkably strong is the shell of an
egg, that if it is set upright, no force or weight can break it, unless
a slight inclination be made to one side or other of the circumference.
Eggs taken whole in wine, with rue, dill, and cummin, facilitate
parturition. Used with oil and cedar-resin, they remove itch and
prurigo, and, applied in combination with cyclaminos,[2527] they are
remedial for running ulcers of the head. For purulent expectorations
and spitting of blood, a raw egg is taken, warmed with juice of
cut-leek and an equal quantity of Greek honey. For coughs, eggs are
administered, boiled and beaten up with honey, or else raw, with raisin
wine and an equal quantity of olive oil. For diseases of the male
organs, an injection is made, of an egg, three cyathi of raisin wine,
and half an ounce of amylum,[2528] the mixture being used immediately
after the bath. Where injuries have been inflicted by serpents, boiled
eggs are used as a liniment, beaten up with nasturtium.

In what various ways eggs are used as food is well known to all,
passing downwards, however swollen the throat may be, and warming
the parts as they pass. Eggs, too, are the only diet which, while it
affords nutriment in sickness, does not load the stomach, possessing
at the same moment all the advantages both of food and drink. We have
already[2529] stated, that the shell of an egg becomes soft when
steeped in vinegar: it is by the aid of eggs thus prepared, and kneaded
up with meal into bread, that patients suffering from the cœliac flux
are often restored to strength. Some, however, think it a better plan
to roast the eggs, when thus softened, in a shallow pan; a method, by
the aid of which, they arrest not only looseness of the bowels, but
excessive menstruation as well. In cases, again, where the discharges
are greatly in excess, eggs are taken raw, with meal, in water. The
yolks, too, are employed alone, boiled hard in vinegar and roasted with
ground pepper, when wanted to arrest diarrhœa.

For dysentery, there is a sovereign remedy, prepared in the following
manner: an egg is emptied into a new earthen vessel, which done, in
order that all the proportions may be equal, fill the shell, first with
honey, then with oil, and then with vinegar; beat them up together,
and thoroughly incorporate them: the better the quality of the several
ingredients, the more efficacious the mixture will be. Others, again,
instead of oil and vinegar, use the same proportions of red resin and
wine. There is also another way of making up this preparation: the
proportion of oil, and of that only, remains the same, and to it they
add two sixtieth parts of a denarius of the vegetable which we have
spoken of under the name of “rhus,”[2530] and five oboli of honey. All
these ingredients are boiled down together, and no food is eaten by
the patient till the end of four hours after taking the mixture. Many
persons, too, have a cure for griping pains in the bowels, by beating
up two eggs with four cloves of garlick, and administering them, warmed
in one semi-sextarius of wine.

Not to omit anything in commendation of eggs, I would here add that
glair of egg, mixed with quicklime, unites broken[2531] glass. Indeed,
so great is the efficacy of the substance of an egg, that wood dipped
in it will not take fire, and cloth with which it has come in contact
will not ignite.[2532] On this occasion, however, it is only of the
eggs of poultry that I have been speaking, though those of the various
other birds as well are possessed of many useful properties, as I shall
have to mention on the appropriate occasions.


In addition to the above, there is another kind of egg,[2533] held in
high renown by the people of the Gallic provinces, but totally omitted
by the Greek writers. In summer[2534] time, numberless snakes become
artificially entwined together, and form rings around their bodies with
the viscous slime which exudes from their mouths, and with the foam
secreted by them: the name given to this substance is “anguinum.”[2535]
The Druids tell us, that the serpents eject these eggs into the air by
their hissing,[2536] and that a person must be ready to catch them in
a cloak, so as not to let them touch the ground; they say also that he
must instantly take to flight on horseback, as the serpents will be
sure to pursue him, until some intervening river has placed a barrier
between them. The test of its genuineness, they say, is its floating
against the current of a stream, even though it be set in gold. But, as
it is the way with magicians to be dexterous and cunning in casting a
veil about their frauds, they pretend that these eggs can only be taken
on a certain day of the moon; as though, forsooth, it depended entirely
upon the human will to make the moon and the serpents accord as to the
moment of this operation.

I myself, however, have seen one of these eggs: it was round, and about
as large as an apple of moderate size; the shell[2537] of it was formed
of a cartilaginous substance, and it was surrounded with numerous
cupules, as it were, resembling those upon the arms of the polypus:
it is held in high estimation among the Druids. The possession of it
is marvellously vaunted as ensuring success[2538] in law-suits, and
a favourable reception with princes; a notion which has been so far
belied, that a Roman of equestrian rank, a native of the territory
of the Vocontii,[2539] who, during a trial, had one of these eggs in
his bosom, was slain by the late Emperor Tiberius, and for no other
reason, that I know of, but because he was in possession of it. It is
this entwining of serpents with one another, and the fruitful results
of this unison, that seem to me to have given rise to the usage among
foreign nations, of surrounding the caduceus[2540] with representations
of serpents, as so many symbols of peace—it must be remembered, too,
that on the caduceus, serpents are never[2541] represented as having


Having to make mention, in the present Book, of the eggs of the goose
and the numerous uses to which they are applied, as also of the bird
itself, it is our duty to award the honour to Commagene[2542] of a
most celebrated preparation there made. This composition is prepared
from goose-grease, a substance applied to many other well-known uses
as well; but in the case of that which comes from Commagene, a part of
Syria, the grease is first incorporated with cinnamon, cassia,[2543]
white pepper, and the plant called “commagene,”[2544] and then placed
in vessels and buried in the snow. The mixture has an agreeable smell,
and is found extremely useful for cold shiverings, convulsions, heavy
or sudden pains, and all those affections, in fact, which are treated
with the class of remedies known as “acopa;”[2545] being equally an
unguent and a medicament.

There is another method, also, of preparing it in Syria: the fat of
the bird is preserved in manner already[2546] described, and there is
added to it erysisceptrum,[2547] xylobalsamum,[2548] palm elate,[2549]
and calamus, each in the same proportion as the grease; the whole being
gently boiled some two or three times in wine. This preparation is made
in winter, as in summer it will never thicken, except with the addition
of wax. There are numerous other remedies, also, derived from the
goose, as well as from the raven;[2550] a thing I am much surprised at,
seeing that both the goose and the raven[2551] are generally said to be
in a diseased state at the end of summer and the beginning of autumn.


We have already[2552] spoken of the honours earned by the geese, when
the Gauls were detected in their attempt to scale the Capitol. It is
for a corresponding reason, also, that punishment is yearly inflicted
upon the dogs, by crucifying them alive upon a gibbet of elder, between
the Temple of Juventas[2553] and that of Summanus.[2554]

In reference to this last-mentioned animal, the usages of our
forefathers compel us to enter into some further details. They
considered the flesh of sucking whelps to be so pure a meat, that they
were in the habit of using them as victims even in their expiatory
sacrifices. A young whelp, too, is sacrificed to Genita Mana;[2555]
and, at the repasts celebrated in honour of the gods, it is still
the usage to set whelps’ flesh on table; at the inaugural feasts,
too, of the pontiffs, this dish was in common use, as we learn from
the Comedies[2556] of Plautus. It is generally thought that for
narcotic[2557] poisons there is nothing better than dogs’ blood; and
it would appear that it was this animal that first taught man the use
of emetics. Other medicinal uses of the dog which are marvellously
commended, I shall have occasion to refer to on the appropriate


We will now resume the order originally proposed.[2558] For stings
inflicted by serpents fresh sheeps’-dung, boiled in wine, is considered
a very useful application: as also mice split asunder and applied
to the wound. Indeed, these last animals are possessed of certain
properties by no means to be despised, at the ascension of the planets
more particularly, as already[2559] stated; the lobes increasing or
decreasing in number, with the age of the moon, as the case may be.
The magicians have a story that swine will follow any person who gives
them a mouse’s liver to eat, enclosed in a fig: they say, too, that it
has a similar effect upon man, but that the spell may be destroyed by
swallowing a cyathus of oil.


There are two varieties of the weasel; the one, wild,[2560] larger than
the other, and known to the Greeks as the “ictis:” its gall is said to
be very efficacious as an antidote to the sting of the asp, but of a
venomous nature in other respects.[2561] The other kind,[2562] which
prowls about our houses, and is in the habit, Cicero tells us,[2563] of
removing its young ones, and changing every day from place to place,
is an enemy to serpents. The flesh of this last, preserved in salt, is
given, in doses of one denarius, in three cyathi of drink to persons
who have been stung by serpents: or else the maw of the animal is
stuffed with coriander seed and dried, to be taken for the same purpose
in wine. The young one of the weasel is still more efficacious for
these purposes.


There are some things, of a most revolting nature, but which are
recommended by authors with such a degree of assurance, that it would
be improper to omit them, the more particularly as it is to the
sympathy or antipathy of objects that remedies owe their existence.
Thus the bug, for instance, a most filthy insect, and one the very name
of which inspires us with loathing, is said to be a neutralizer of the
venom of serpents, asps in particular, and to be a preservative against
all kinds of poisons. As a proof of this, they tell us that the sting
of an asp is never fatal to poultry, if they have eaten bugs that day;
and that, if such is the case, their flesh is remarkably beneficial to
persons who have been stung by serpents. Of the various recipes[2564]
given in reference to these insects, the least revolting are the
application of them externally to the wound, with the blood of a
tortoise; the employment of them as a fumigation to make leeches loose
their hold; and the administering of them to animals in drink when a
leech has been accidentally swallowed. Some persons, however, go so far
as to crush bugs with salt and woman’s milk, and anoint the eyes with
the mixture; in combination, too, with honey and oil of roses, they use
them as an injection for the ears. Field-bugs, again, and those found
upon the mallow,[2565] are burnt, and the ashes mixed with oil of roses
as an injection for the ears.

As to the other remedial virtues attributed to bugs, for the cure
of vomiting, quartan fevers, and other diseases, although we find
recommendations given to swallow them in an egg, some wax, or in a
bean, I look upon them as utterly unfounded, and not worthy of further
notice. They are employed, however, for the treatment of lethargy, and
with some fair reason, as they successfully neutralize the narcotic
effects of the poison of the asp: for this purpose seven of them are
administered in a cyathus of water, but in the case of children only
four. In cases, too, of strangury, they have been injected into the
urinary channel:[2566] so true it is that Nature, that universal
parent, has engendered nothing without some powerful reason or other.
In addition to these particulars, a couple of bugs, it is said,
attached to the left arm in some wool that has been stolen from
the shepherds, will effectually cure nocturnal fevers; while those
recurrent in the daytime may be treated with equal success by enclosing
the bugs in a piece of russet-coloured cloth. The scolopendra, on the
other hand, is a great enemy to these insects; used in the form of a
fumigation, it kills them.


The sting of the asp takes deadly effect by causing torpor and
drowsiness. Of all serpents, injuries inflicted by the asp are the
most incurable; and their venom, if it comes in contact with the blood
or a recent wound, produces instantaneous death. If, on the other
hand, it touches an old sore, its fatal effects are not so immediate.
Taken internally, in however large a quantity, the venom is not
injurious,[2567] as it has no corrosive properties; for which reason it
is that the flesh of animals killed by it may be eaten with impunity.

I should hesitate in giving circulation to a prescription for
injuries inflicted by the asp, were it not that M. Varro, then in the
eighty-third year of his age, has left a statement to the effect that
it is a most efficient remedy for wounds inflicted by this reptile, for
the person stung to drink his own urine.


As to the basilisk,[2568] a creature which the very serpents fly from,
which kills by its odour even, and which proves fatal to man by only
looking upon him, its blood has been marvellously extolled by the
magicians.[2569] This blood is thick and adhesive, like pitch, which
it resembles also in colour: dissolved in water, they say, it becomes
of a brighter red than that of cinnabar. They attribute to it also the
property of ensuring success to petitions preferred to potentates, and
to prayers even offered to the gods; and they regard it as a remedy for
various diseases, and as an amulet preservative against all noxious
spells. Some give it the name of “Saturn’s blood.”


The dragon[2570] is a serpent destitute of venom. Its head, placed
beneath the threshold of a door, the gods being duly propitiated by
prayers, will ensure good fortune to the house, it is said. Its eyes,
dried and beaten up with honey, form a liniment which is an effectual
preservative against the terrors of spectres by night, in the case of
the most timorous even. The fat adhering to the heart, attached to the
arm with a deer’s sinews in the skin of a gazelle, will ensure success
in law-suits, it is said; and the first joint of the vertebræ will
secure an easy access to persons high in office. The teeth, attached
to the body with a deer’s sinews in the skin of a roe-buck, have the
effect of rendering masters indulgent and potentates gracious, it is

But the most remarkable thing of all is a composition, by the aid of
which the lying magicians profess to render persons invincible. They
take the tail and head of a dragon, the hairs of a lion’s forehead with
the marrow of that animal, the foam of a horse that has won a race, and
the claws of a dog’s feet: these they tie up together in a deer’s skin,
and fasten them alternately with the sinews of a deer and a gazelle. It
is, however, no better worth our while to refute such pretensions as
these, than it would be to describe the alleged remedies for injuries
inflicted by serpents, seeing that all these contrivances are so many
evil devices to poison[2571] men’s morals.

Dragon’s fat will repel venomous creatures; an effect which is equally
produced by burning the fat of the ichneumon.[2572] They will take to
flight, also, at the approach of a person who has been rubbed with
nettles bruised in vinegar.


The application of a viper’s head, even if it be not the one that has
inflicted the wound, is of infinite utility as a remedy. It is highly
advantageous, too, to hold the viper that inflicted the injury on the
end of a stick, over the steam of boiling water, for it will quite
undo[2573] the mischief, they say. The ashes, also, of the viper, are
considered very useful, employed as a liniment for the wound. According
to what Nigidius tells us, serpents are compelled, by a sort of natural
instinct, to return to the person who has been stung by them. The
people of Scythia split the viper’s head between the ears, in order to
extract a small stone,[2574] which it swallows in its alarm, they say:
others, again, use the head entire.

From the viper are prepared those tablets which are known as
“theriaci”[2575] to the Greeks: for this purpose the animal is cut away
three fingers’ length from both the head and the tail, after which the
intestines are removed and the livid vein adhering to the back-bone.
The rest of the body is then boiled in a shallow pan, in water seasoned
with dill, and the bones are taken out, and fine wheaten flour added;
after which the preparation is made up into tablets,[2576] which are
dried in the shade and are employed as an ingredient in numerous
medicaments. I should remark, however, that this preparation, it would
appear, can only be made from the viper. Some persons, after cleansing
the viper in manner above described, boil down the fat, with one
sextarius of olive oil, to one half. Of this preparation, when needed,
three drops are added to some oil, with which mixture the body is
rubbed, to repel the approach of all kinds of noxious animals.


In addition to these particulars, it is a well-known fact that for
all injuries inflicted by serpents, and those even of an otherwise
incurable nature, it is an excellent remedy to apply the entrails of
the serpent itself to the wound; as also, that persons who have once
swallowed a viper’s liver, boiled, will never afterwards be attacked
by serpents. The snake, too, is not venomous, except, indeed, upon
certain days of the month when it is irritated by the action of the
moon: it is a very useful plan to take it alive, and pound it in water,
the wound inflicted by it being fomented with the preparation. Indeed,
it is generally supposed that this reptile is possessed of numerous
other remedial properties, as we shall have occasion more fully to
mention from time to time: hence it is that the snake is consecrated
to Æsculapius.[2577] As for Democritus, he has given some monstrous
preparations from snakes, by the aid of which the language of birds, he
says, may be understood.[2578]

The Æsculapian snake was first brought to Rome from Epidaurus,[2579]
but at the present day it is very commonly reared in our houses[2580]
even; so much so, indeed, that if the breed were not kept down by the
frequent conflagrations, it would be impossible to make head against
the rapid increase of them. But the most beautiful of all the snakes
are those which are of an amphibious nature. These snakes are known as
“hydri,”[2581] or water-snakes: in virulence their venom is inferior to
that of no other class of serpents, and their liver is preserved as a
remedy for the ill effects of their sting.

A pounded scorpion neutralizes the venom of the spotted lizard.[2582]
From this last animal, too, there is a noxious preparation made; for
it has been found that wine in which it has been drowned, covers the
face of those who drink it with morphew. Hence it is that females, when
jealous of a rival’s beauty, are in the habit of stifling a spotted
lizard in the unguents which they use. In such a case, the proper
remedy is yolk of egg, honey, and nitre. The gall of a spotted lizard,
beaten up in water, attracts weasels, they say.


But of all venomous animals it is the salamander[2583] that is by far
the most dangerous; for while other reptiles attack individuals only,
and never kill many persons at a time—not to mention the fact that
after stinging a human being they are said to die of remorse, and the
earth refuses to harbour[2584] them—the salamander is able to destroy
whole nations at once, unless they take the proper precautions against
it. For if this reptile happens to crawl up a tree, it infects all the
fruit with its poison, and kills those who eat thereof by the chilling
properties of its venom, which in its effects is in no way different
from aconite. Nay, even more than this, if it only touches with its
foot the wood upon which bread is baked, or if it happens to fall into
a well, the same fatal effects will be sure to ensue. The saliva, too,
of this reptile, if it comes in contact with any part of the body, the
sole of the foot even, will cause the hair to fall off from the whole
of the body. And yet the salamander, highly venomous as it is, is
eaten by certain animals, swine for example; owing, no doubt, to that
antipathy which prevails in the natural world.

From what we find stated, it is most probable, that, next to the
animals which eat it, the best neutralizers of the poison of this
reptile, are, cantharides taken in drink, or a lizard eaten with the
food; other antidotes we have already mentioned, or shall notice in
the appropriate place. As to what the magicians[2585] say, that it is
proof against fire, being, as they tell us, the only animal that has
the property of extinguishing fire, if it had been true, it would have
been made trial of at Rome long before this. Sextius says that the
salamander, preserved in honey and taken with the food, after removing
the intestines, head, and feet, acts as an aphrodisiac: he denies also
that it has the property of extinguishing fire.


Among the birds that afford us remedies against serpents, it is the
vulture that occupies the highest rank; the black vulture, it has
been remarked, being less efficacious than the others. The smell of
their feathers, burnt, will repel serpents, they say; and it has been
asserted that persons who carry the heart of this bird about them will
be safe, not only from serpents, but from wild beasts as well, and will
have nothing to fear from the attacks of robbers or from the wrath of


The flesh of cocks and capons, applied warm the moment it has been
plucked from the bones, neutralizes the venom of serpents; and the
brains, taken in wine, are productive of a similar effect. The people
of Parthia, however, prefer applying a hen’s brains to the wound.
Poultry broth, too, is highly celebrated as a cure, and is found
marvellously useful in many other cases. Panthers and lions will never
touch persons who have been rubbed with it, more particularly if it has
been flavoured with garlic. The broth that is made of an old cock is
more relaxing to the bowels; it is very good also for chronic fevers,
numbness of the limbs, cold shiverings and maladies of the joints,
pains also in the head, defluxions of the eyes, flatulency, sickness at
stomach, incipient tenesmus, liver complaints, diseases of the kidneys,
affections of the bladder, indigestion, and asthma. Hence there are
several recipes for preparing this broth; it being most efficacious
when boiled up with sea-cabbage,[2586] salted tunny,[2587] capers,
parsley, the plant mercurialis,[2588] polypodium,[2589] or dill. The
best plan, however, is to boil the cock or capon with the plants
above-mentioned in three congii of water, down to three semi-sextarii;
after which it should be left to cool in the open air, and given at the
proper moment, just after an emetic has been administered.

And here I must not omit to mention one marvellous fact, even though it
bears no reference to medicine: if the flesh of poultry is mingled with
gold[2590] in a state of fusion, it will absorb the metal and consume
it, thus showing that it acts as a poison upon gold. If young twigs are
made up into a collar and put round a cock’s neck, it will never crow.


The flesh of pigeons also, or of swallows, used fresh and minced, is a
remedy for injuries inflicted by serpents: the same, too, with the feet
of a horned owl, burnt with the plant plumbago.[2591] While mentioning
this bird, too, I must not forget to cite another instance of the
impositions practised by the magicians: among other prodigious lies of
theirs, they pretend that the heart of a horned owl, applied to the
left breast of a woman while asleep, will make[2592] her disclose all
her secret thoughts. They say, also, in addition to this, that persons
who have it about them in battle will be sure to display valour. They
describe, too, certain remedies made from the egg of this bird for the
hair. But who, pray, has ever had the opportunity of seeing the egg of
a horned owl, considering that it is so highly ominous to see the bird
itself?[2593] And then besides, who has ever thought proper to make the
experiment, and upon his hair more particularly? In addition to all
this, the magicians go so far as to engage to make the hair curl by
using the blood of the young of the horned owl.

What they tell us, too, about the bat, appears to belong to pretty
much the same class of stories: if one of these animals is carried
alive, three times round a house, they say, and then nailed outside of
the window with the head downwards, it will have all the effects of
a countercharm: they assert, also, that the bat is a most excellent
preservative for sheepfolds, being first carried three times round
them, and then hung up by the foot over the lintel of the door.[2594]
The blood of the bat is also recommended by them as a sovereign remedy,
in combination with a thistle,[2595] for injuries inflicted by serpents.


Of the phalangium,[2596] an insect unknown to Italy, there are
numerous kinds; one of which resembles the ant, but is much larger,
with a red head, black as to the other parts of the body, and covered
with white spots. Its sting is much more acute than that of the wasp,
and it lives mostly in the vicinity of ovens and mills. The proper
remedy is, to present before the eyes of the person stung another
insect of the same description, a purpose for which they are preserved
when found dead. Their husks also, found in a dry state, are beaten
up and taken in drink for a similar purpose. The young of the weasel,
too, as already[2597] stated, are possessed of a similar property. The
Greeks give the name of “phalangion” also to a kind of spider, but they
generally distinguish it by the surname of the “wolf.”[2598] A third
kind, also known as the “phalangium,” is a spider with a hairy[2599]
body, and a head of enormous size. When opened, there are found in
it two small worms, they say: these, attached in a piece of deer’s
skin, before sunrise, to a woman’s body, will prevent conception,
according to what Cæcilius, in his Commentaries, says. This property
lasts, however, for a year only; and, indeed, it is the only one
of all the anti-conceptives[2600] that I feel myself at liberty to
mention, in favour of some women whose fecundity, quite teeming with
children,[2601] stands in need of some such respite.

There is another kind again, called “rhagion,”[2602] similar to a black
grape in appearance, with a very diminutive mouth, situate beneath the
abdomen, and extremely short legs, which have all the appearance of
not being fully developed. The bite of this last insect causes fully
as much pain as the sting of the scorpion, and the urine of persons
who are injured by it, presents filmy appearances like cobwebs. The
asterion[2603] would be identical with it, were it not distinguished by
white streaks upon the body: its bite causes failing in the knees. But
worse than either of these last, is a blue spider, covered with black
hair, and causing dimness of the sight and vomiting of a matter like
cobwebs in appearance. A still more dangerous kind is one which differs
only from the hornet, in form, in being destitute of wings, and the
bite of which causes a wasting away of the system. The myrmecion[2604]
in the head resembles the ant, has a black body spotted with white,
and causes by its bite a pain like that attendant upon the sting of
the wasp. Of the tetragnathius[2605] there are two varieties, the more
noxious of which has two white streaks crossing each other on the
middle of the head; its bite causes the mouth to swell. The other one
is of an ashy colour, whitish on the posterior part of the body, and
not so ready to bite.

The least noxious of all is the spider that is seen extending its web
along the walls, and lying in wait for flies; it is of the same ashy
colour as the last.

For the bite of all spiders, the best remedies are: a cock’s brains,
taken in oxycrate with a little pepper; five ants, swallowed in drink;
sheep’s dung, applied in vinegar; and spiders of any kind, left to
putrefy in oil. The bite of the shrew-mouse is cured by taking lamb’s
rennet in wine; the ashes of a ram’s foot with honey; or a young
weasel, prepared in manner already[2606] mentioned by us when speaking
of serpents. In cases where a shrew-mouse has bitten beasts of burden,
a mouse, fresh caught, is applied to the wound with oil, or a bat’s
gall with vinegar. The shrew-mouse itself too, split asunder and
applied to the wound, is a cure for its bite; indeed, if the animal
is with young when the injury is inflicted, it will instantly burst
asunder. The best plan is to apply the mouse itself which has inflicted
the bite, but others are commonly kept for this purpose, either steeped
in oil or coated with clay. Another remedy, again, for its bite is the
earth taken from the rut made by a cart-wheel; for this animal, it is
said, owing to a certain torpor which is natural to it, will never
cross[2607] a rut made by a wheel.


The stellio, in its turn, is said to have the greatest antipathy to the
scorpion;[2608] so much so indeed, that the very sight of it strikes
terror in that reptile, and a torpor attended with cold sweats; hence
it is that this lizard is left to putrefy in oil, as a liniment
for injuries inflicted by the scorpion. Some persons boil down the
oil with litharge, and make a sort of plaster of it to apply to the
wound. The Greeks give the name of “colotes” to this lizard, as also
“ascalabotes,” and “galeotes:” it is never[2609] found in Italy, and is
covered with small spots, utters a shrill, piercing noise, and lives on
food; characteristics, all of them, foreign to the stellio of Italy.


Poultry dung, too, is good as an application for the sting of the
scorpion; a dragon’s liver also; a lizard or mouse split asunder; or
else the scorpion itself, either applied to the wound, grilled and
eaten, or taken in two cyathi of undiluted wine. One peculiarity of
the scorpion is, that it never stings the palm of the hand, and never
touches any parts of the body but those covered with hair. Any kind of
pebble, applied to the wound on the side which has lain next to the
ground, will alleviate the pain. A potsherd too, covered with earth on
any part of it, and applied just as it is found, will effect a cure,
it is said—the person, however, who applies it must not look behind
him, and must be equally careful that the sun does not shine upon him.
Earth-worms also, are pounded and applied to the wound; in addition to
which, they form ingredients in numerous other medicaments, being kept
in honey for the purpose.

For injuries inflicted by bees, wasps, hornets, and leeches, the owlet
is considered a very useful remedy; persons, too, who carry about them
the beak of the woodpecker[2610] of Mars are never injured by any
of these creatures. The smaller kinds of locusts also, destitute of
wings and known as “attelebi,” are a good remedy for the sting of the

There is a kind of venomous ant, by no means common in Italy; Cicero
calls it “solipuga,” and in Bætica it is known as “salpuga.”[2611] The
proper remedy for its venom and that of all kinds of ants is a bat’s
heart. We have already[2612] stated that cantharides are an antidote to
the salamander.


But with reference to cantharides, there has been considerable
controversy on the subject, seeing that, taken internally, they are a
poison, attended with excruciating pains in the bladder. Cossinus, a
Roman of the Equestrian order, well known for his intimate friendship
with the Emperor Nero, being attacked with lichen,[2613] that prince
sent to Egypt for a physician to cure him; who recommending a potion
prepared from cantharides, the patient was killed in consequence.
There is no doubt, however, that applied externally they are useful,
in combination with juice of Taminian[2614] grapes, and the suet of a
sheep or she-goat. As to the part of the body in which the poison of
the insect is situate, authors are by no means agreed. Some fancy that
it exists in the feet and head, while others, again, deny it; indeed
the only point that has been well ascertained is, that the wings[2615]
are the only antidote to their venom, wherever it may be situate.

Cantharides are produced from a small grub, found more particularly in
the spongy excrescences which grow on the stem of the dog-rose,[2616]
and still more abundantly upon the ash. Other kinds, again, are found
upon the white rose, but they are by no means so efficacious. The most
active of all in their properties, are those which are spotted with
yellow streaks running transversely across the wings, and are plump
and well-filled. Those which are small, broad, and hairy, are not so
powerful in their operation, and the least useful of all are those
which are thin and shrivelled, and present one uniform colour. They
are put in a small earthen pot, not coated with pitch, and stopped at
the mouth with a linen cloth, a layer of full-blown roses being placed
upon them; they are then suspended over vinegar boiled with salt,
until the steam has penetrated the cloth and stifled them, after which
they are put by for use. They have a caustic effect upon the skin,
and cover the ulcerations with a crust; a property which belongs also
to the pine-caterpillar[2617] found upon the pitch-tree, and to the
buprestis,[2618] both of which are prepared in a similar manner.

All these insects are extremely efficacious for the cure of leprosy
and lichens. It is said, too, that they act as an emmenagogue and
diuretic, for which last reason Hippocrates used to prescribe them for
dropsy. Cato of Utica was reproached with selling poison, because, when
disposing of a royal property by auction,[2619] he sold a quantity of
cantharides, at the price of sixty thousand sesterces. (5.) We may here
remark, too, that it was on the same occasion that some ostrich fat was
sold, at the price of thirty thousand sesterces, a substance which is
preferable to goose-grease in every respect.


We have already[2620] spoken of various kinds of poisonous honey: the
antidote employed for it is honey in which the bees have been stifled.
This honey, too, taken in wine, is a remedy for indispositions caused
by eating fish.


When a person has been bitten by a mad dog, he may be preserved from
hydrophobia by applying the ashes of a dog’s head to the wound. All
ashes of this description, we may here remark once for all, are
prepared in the same method; the substance being placed in a new
earthen vessel well covered with potter’s clay, and put into a furnace.
These ashes, too, are very good, taken in drink, and hence some
recommend the head itself to be eaten in such cases. Others, again,
attach to the body of the patient a maggot, taken from the carcase of
a dead dog; or else place the menstruous blood of a bitch, in a linen
cloth, beneath his cup, or insert in the wound ashes of hairs from the
tail of the dog that inflicted the bite. Dogs will fly from any one
who has a dog’s heart about him, and they will never bark at a person
who carries a dog’s tongue in his shoe, beneath the great toe, or the
tail of a weasel which has been set at liberty after being deprived of
it. There is beneath the tongue of a mad dog a certain slimy spittle,
which, taken in drink, is a preventive of hydrophobia: but much the
most useful plan is, to take the liver of the dog that has inflicted
the injury, and eat it raw, if possible; should that not be the case,
it must be cooked in some way or other, or else a broth must be taken,
prepared from the flesh.

There is a small worm[2621] in a dog’s tongue, known as “lytta”[2622]
to the Greeks: if this is removed from the animal while a pup, it will
never become mad or lose its appetite. This worm, after being carried
thrice round a fire, is given to persons who have been bitten by a
mad dog, to prevent them from becoming mad. This madness, too, is
prevented by eating a cock’s brains; but the virtue of these brains
lasts for one year only, and no more. They say, too, that a cock’s
comb, pounded, is highly efficacious as an application to the wound;
as also, goose-grease, mixed with honey. The flesh also of a mad dog
is sometimes salted, and taken with the food, as a remedy for this
disease. In addition to this, young puppies of the same sex as the dog
that has inflicted the injury, are drowned in water, and the person who
has been bitten eats their liver raw. The dung of poultry, provided it
is of a red colour, is very useful, applied with vinegar; the ashes,
too, of the tail of a shrew-mouse, if the animal has survived and been
set at liberty; a clod from a swallow’s nest, applied with vinegar;
the young of a swallow, reduced to ashes; or the skin or old slough of
a serpent that has been cast in spring, beaten up with a male crab in
wine: this slough, I would remark, put away by itself in chests and
drawers, destroys moths.

So virulent is the poison of the mad dog, that its very urine even,
if trod upon, is injurious, more particularly if the person has
any ulcerous sores about him. The proper remedy in such case is
to apply horse-dung, sprinkled with vinegar, and warmed in a fig.
These marvellous properties of the poison will occasion the less
surprise, when we remember that, “a stone bitten by a dog” has become
a proverbial expression for discord and variance.[2623] Whoever makes
water where a dog has previously watered, will be sensible of numbness
in the loins, they say.

The lizard known by some persons as the “seps,”[2624] and by others as
the “chalcidice,” taken in wine, is a cure for its own bite.


Where persons have been poisoned by noxious preparations from the wild
weasel,[2625] the proper remedy is the broth of an old cock, taken
in considerable quantities. This broth, too, is particularly good,
taken as a counter-poison for aconite, in combination with a little
salt. Poultry dung—but the white part only—boiled with hyssop, or with
honied wine, is an excellent antidote to the poison of fungi and of
mushrooms: it is a cure also for flatulency and suffocations; a thing
the more to be wondered at, seeing that if any other living creature
only tastes this dung, it is immediately attacked with griping pains
and flatulency. Goose blood, taken with an equal quantity of olive
oil, is an excellent neutralizer of the venom of the sea-hare: it
is kept also as an antidote for all kinds of noxious drugs, made up
into lozenges with red earth of Lemnos and juice of white-thorn, five
drachmæ of the lozenges being taken in three cyathi of water. The same
property belongs also to the young of the weasel, prepared in manner
already[2626] mentioned.

Lambs’ rennet is an excellent antidote to all noxious preparations;
the blood, also, of ducks from Pontus;[2627] for which reason it is
preserved in a dry state, and dissolved in wine when wanted, some
persons being of opinion that the blood of the female bird is the
most efficacious. In a similar manner, the crop of a stork acts as an
universal counter-poison; and so does sheep’s rennet. A broth made
from ram’s flesh is particularly good as a remedy for cantharides:
sheep’s milk also, taken warm; this last being very useful in cases
where persons have drunk an infusion of aconite, or have swallowed the
buprestis in drink. The dung of wood-pigeons is particularly good taken
internally as an antidote to quicksilver; and for narcotic poisons
the common weasel is kept dried, and taken internally, in doses of two


Where the hair has been lost through alopecy,[2628] it is made to grow
again by using ashes of burnt sheep’s dung, with oil of cyprus[2629]
and honey; or else the hoof of a mule of either sex, burnt to ashes
and mixed with oil of myrtle. In addition to these substances, we
find our own writer, Varro, mentioning mouse-dung, which he calls
“muscerda,”[2630] and the heads of flies, applied fresh, the part
being first rubbed with a fig-leaf. Some recommend the blood of flies,
while others, again, apply ashes of burnt flies for ten days, in the
proportion of one part of the ashes to two of ashes of papyrus or of
nuts. In other cases, again, we find ashes of burnt flies kneaded up
with woman’s milk and cabbage, or, in some instances, with honey only.
It is generally believed that there is no creature less docile or less
intelligent than the fly; a circumstance which makes it all the more
marvellous that at the sacred games at Olympia, immediately after the
immolation of the bull in honour of the god called “Myiodes,”[2631]
whole clouds of them take their departure from that territory. A
mouse’s head or tail, or, indeed, the whole of the body, reduced to
ashes, is a cure for alopecy, more particularly when the loss of the
hair has been the result of some noxious preparation. The ashes of a
hedge-hog, mixed with honey, or of its skin, applied with tar, are
productive of a similar effect. The head, too, of this last animal,
reduced to ashes, restores the hair to scars upon the body; the place
being first prepared, when this cure is made use of, with a razor and
an application of mustard: some persons, however, prefer vinegar for
the purpose. All the properties attributed to the hedge-hog are found
in the porcupine in a still higher degree.[2632]

A lizard burnt, as already[2633] mentioned, with the fresh root of
a reed, cut as fine as possible, to facilitate its being reduced
to ashes, and then mixed with oil of myrtle, will prevent the hair
from coming off. For all these purposes green lizards are still more
efficacious, and the remedy is rendered most effectual, when salt is
added, bears’ grease, and pounded onions. Some persons boil ten green
lizards in ten sextarii of oil, and content themselves with rubbing
the place with the mixture once a month. Alopecy is also cured very
speedily with the ashes of a viper’s skin, or by an application of
fresh poultry dung. A raven’s egg, beaten up in a copper vessel and
applied to the head, previously shaved, imparts a black colour to
the hair; care must be taken, however, to keep some oil in the mouth
till the application is quite dry, or else the teeth will turn black
as well. The operation must be performed also in the shade, and the
liniment must not be washed off before the end of three days. Some
persons employ the blood and brains of a raven, in combination with red
wine; while others, again, boil down the bird, and put it, at bedtime,
in a vessel made of lead. With some it is the practice, for the cure
of alopecy, to apply bruised cantharides with tar, the skin being
first prepared with an application of nitre:—it should be remembered,
however, that cantharides are possessed of caustic properties, and due
care must be taken not to let them eat too deep into the skin. For the
ulcerations thus produced, it is recommended to use applications made
of the heads, gall, and dung of mice, mixed with hellebore and pepper.


Nits are destroyed by using dogs’ fat, eating serpents cooked[2634]
like eels, or else taking their sloughs in drink. Porrigo is cured by
applying sheep’s gall with Cimolian chalk, and rubbing the head with
the mixture till dry.


A good remedy for head-ache are the heads taken from the snails which
are found without[2635] shells, and in an imperfect state. In these
heads there is found a hard stony substance, about as large as a
common pebble: on being extracted from the snail, it is attached
to the patient, the smaller snails being pounded and applied to the
forehead. Wool-grease, too, is used for a similar purpose; the bones
of a vulture’s head, worn as an amulet; or the brains of that bird,
mixed with oil and cedar resin, and applied to the head and introduced
into the nostrils. The brains of a crow or owlet, are boiled and taken
with the food: or a cock is put into a coop, and kept without food a
day and a night, the patient submitting to a similar abstinence, and
attaching to his head some feathers plucked from the neck or the comb
of the fowl. The ashes, too, of a weasel are applied in the form of
a liniment; a twig is taken from a kite’s nest, and laid beneath the
patient’s pillow; or a mouse’s skin is burnt, and the ashes applied
with vinegar: sometimes, also, the small bone is extracted from the
head of a snail that has been found between two cart ruts, and after
being passed through a gold ring, with a piece of ivory, is attached
to the patient in a piece of dog’s skin; a remedy well known to most
persons, and always used with success.[2636]

For fractures of the cranium, cobwebs are applied, with oil and
vinegar; the application never coming away till a cure has been
effected. Cobwebs are good, too, for stopping the bleeding of
wounds[2637] made in shaving. Discharges of blood from the brain are
arrested by applying the blood of a goose or duck, or the grease of
those birds with oil of roses. The head of a snail cut off with a
reed, while feeding in the morning, at full moon more particularly,
is attached to the head in a linen cloth, with an old thrum, for the
cure of head-ache; or else a liniment is made of it, and applied with
white wax to the forehead. Dogs’ hairs are worn also, attached to the
forehead in a cloth.


A crow’s brains, taken with the food, they say, will make the eyelashes
grow; or else wool-grease, applied with warmed myrrh, by the aid of
a fine probe. A similar result is promised by using the following
preparation: burnt flies and ashes of mouse-dung are mixed in equal
quantities, to the amount of half a denarius in the whole; two sixths
of a denarius of antimony are then added, and the mixture is applied
with wool-grease. For the same purpose, also, the young ones of a mouse
are beaten up, in old wine, to the consistency of the strengthening
preparations known as “acopa.”[2638] When eyelashes are plucked out
that are productive of inconvenience, they are prevented from growing
again by using a hedge-hog’s gall; the liquid portion, also, of a
spotted lizard’s eggs; the ashes of a burnt salamander; the gall of
a green lizard, mixed with white wine, and left to thicken to the
consistency of honey in a copper vessel in the sun; the ashes of a
swallow’s young, mixed with the milky juice of tithymalos;[2639] or
else the slime of snails.


According to what the magicians say, glaucoma[2640] may be cured by
using the brains of a puppy seven days old; the probe being inserted
in the right side [of the eye], if it is the right eye that is being
operated on, and in the left side, if it is the left. The fresh gall,
too, of the asio[2641] is used, a bird belonging to the owlet tribe,
with feathers standing erect like ears. Apollonius of Pitanæ used to
prefer dog’s gall, in combination with honey, to that of the hyæna,
for the cure of cataract, as also of albugo. The heads and tails of
mice, reduced to ashes and applied to the eyes, improve the sight,
it is said; a result which is ensured with even greater certainty by
using the ashes of a dormouse or wild mouse, or else the brains or
gall of an eagle. The ashes and fat of a field-mouse, beaten up with
Attic honey and antimony, are remarkably useful for watery eyes—what
this antimony[2642] is, we shall have occasion to say when speaking of

For the cure of cataract, the ashes of a weasel are used, as also the
brains of a lizard or swallow. Weasels, boiled and pounded, and so
applied to the forehead, allay defluxions of the eyes, either used
alone, or else with fine flour or with frankincense. Employed in a
similar manner, they are very good for sun-stroke, or in other words,
for injuries inflicted by the sun. It is a remarkably good plan, too,
to burn these animals alive, and to use their ashes, with Cretan honey,
as a liniment for films upon the eyes. The cast-off[2643] slough of
the asp, with the fat of that reptile, forms an excellent ointment
for improving the sight in beasts of burden. To burn a viper alive in
a new earthen vessel, with one cyathus of fennel juice, and a single
grain of frankincense, and then to anoint the eyes with the mixture, is
remarkably good for cataract and films upon the eyes; the preparation
being generally known as “echeon.”[2644] An eye-salve, too, is
prepared, by leaving a viper to putrefy in an earthen pot, and bruising
the maggots that breed in it with saffron. A viper, too, is burnt in
a vessel with salt, and the preparation is applied to the tip of the
tongue, to improve the eyesight, and to act generally as a corrective
of the stomach and other parts of the body. This salt is given also
to sheep, to preserve them in health, and is used as an ingredient in
antidotes to the venom of serpents.

Some persons, again, use vipers as an article of food: when this is
done, it is recommended, the moment they are killed, to put some salt
in the mouth and let it melt there; after which, the body must be
cut away to the length of four fingers at each extremity, and, the
intestines being first removed, the remainder boiled in a mixture of
water, oil, salt, and dill. When thus prepared, they are either eaten
at once, or else kneaded in a loaf, and taken from time to time as
wanted. In addition to the above-mentioned properties, viper-broth
cleanses all parts of the body of lice,[2645] and removes itching
sensations as well upon the surface of the skin. The ashes, also,
of a viper’s head, used by themselves, are evidently productive of
considerable effects; they are employed very advantageously in the
form of a liniment for the eyes; and so, too, is viper’s fat. I would
not make so bold as to advise what is strongly recommended by some,
the use, namely, of vipers’ gall; for that, as already stated[2646]
on a more appropriate occasion, is nothing else but the venom of
the serpent. The fat of snakes, mixed with verdigrease,[2647] heals
ruptures of the cuticle of the eyes; and the skin or slough that is
cast off in spring, employed as a friction for the eyes, improves the
sight. The gall of the boa[2648] is highly vaunted for the cure of
albugo, cataract, and films upon the eyes, and the fat is thought to
improve the sight.

The gall of the eagle, which tests its young, as already stated,[2649]
by making them look upon the sun, forms, with Attic honey, an eye-salve
which is very good for the cure of webs, films, and cataracts of the
eye. A vulture’s gall, too, mixed with leek-juice and a little honey,
is possessed of similar properties; and the gall of a cock, dissolved
in water, is employed for the cure of argema and albugo: the gall,
too, of a white cock, in particular, is recommended for cataract.
For short-sighted persons, the dung of poultry is recommended as a
liniment, care being taken to use that of a reddish colour only. A
hen’s gall, too, is highly spoken of, and the fat in particular, for
the cure of pustules upon the pupils, a purpose for which hens are
expressly fattened. This last substance is marvellously useful for
ruptures of the coats of the eyes, incorporated with the stones known
as schistos[2650] and hæmatites. Hens’ dung, too, but only the white
part of it, is kept with old oil in boxes made of horn, for the cure of
white specks upon the pupil of the eye. While mentioning this subject,
it is worthy of remark, that peacocks[2651] swallow their dung, it is
said, as though they envied man the various uses of it. A hawk, boiled
in oil of roses, is considered extremely efficacious as a liniment for
all affections of the eyes, and so are the ashes of its dung, mixed
with Attic honey. A kite’s liver, too, is highly esteemed; and pigeons’
dung, diluted with vinegar, is used as an application for fistulas of
the eye, as also for albugo and marks upon that organ. Goose gall and
duck’s blood are very useful for contusions of the eyes, care being
taken, immediately after the application, to anoint them with a mixture
of wool-grease and honey. In similar cases, too, gall of partridges is
used, with an equal quantity of honey; but where it is only wanted to
improve the sight, the gall is used alone. It is generally thought,
too, upon the authority of Hippocrates,[2652] that the gall to be used
for these purposes should be kept in a silver box.

Partridges’ eggs, boiled in a copper vessel, with honey, are curative
of ulcers of the eyes, and of glaucoma. For the treatment of blood-shot
eyes, the blood of pigeons, ring-doves, turtle-doves, and partridges
is remarkably useful; but that of the male pigeon is generally looked
upon as the most efficacious. For this purpose, a vein is opened
beneath the wing, it being warmer than the rest of the blood, and
consequently more[2653] beneficial. After it is applied, a compress,
boiled in honey, should be laid upon it, and some greasy wool, boiled
in oil and wine. Nyctalopy,[2654] too, is cured by using the blood of
these birds, or the liver of a sheep—the most efficacious being that
of a tawny sheep—as already[2655] stated by us when speaking of goats.
A decoction, too, of the liver is recommended as a wash for the eyes,
and, for pains and swellings in those organs, the marrow, used as a
liniment. The eyes of a horned owl, it is strongly asserted, reduced
to ashes and mixed in an eye-salve, will improve the sight. Albugo is
made to disappear by using the dung of turtle-doves, snails burnt to
ashes, and the dung of the cenchris, a kind of hawk, according to the
Greeks.[2656] All the substances above mentioned, used in combination
with honey, are curative of argema: honey, too, in which the bees have
died, is remarkably good for the eyes.

A person who has eaten the young of the stork will never suffer from
ophthalmia for many years to come, it is said; and the same when a
person carries about him the head of a dragon:[2657] it is stated,
too, that the fat of this last-named animal, applied with honey and
old oil, will disperse incipient films of the eyes. The young of
the swallow are blinded at full moon, and the moment their sight is
restored,[2658] their heads are burnt, and the ashes are employed, with
honey, to improve the sight, and for the cure of pains, ophthalmia, and
contusions of the eyes.

Lizards, also, are employed in numerous ways as a remedy for
diseases of the eyes. Some persons enclose a green lizard in a new
earthen vessel, together with nine of the small stones known as
“cinædia,”[2659] which are usually attached to the body for tumours
in the groin. Upon each of these stones they make nine[2660] marks,
and remove one from the vessel daily, taking care, when the ninth day
is come, to let the lizard go, the stones being kept as a remedy for
affections of the eyes. Others, again, blind a green lizard, and after
putting some earth beneath it, enclose it in a glass vessel, with some
small rings of solid iron or gold. When they find, by looking through
the glass, that the lizard has recovered its sight,[2661] they set it
at liberty, and keep the rings as a preservative against ophthalmia.
Others employ the ashes of a lizard’s head as a substitute for
antimony, for the treatment of eruptions of the eyes. Some recommend
the ashes of the green lizard with a long neck that is usually found in
sandy soils, as an application for incipient defluxions of the eyes,
and for glaucoma. They say, too, that if the eyes of a weasel are
extracted with a pointed instrument, its sight will return; the same
use being made of it as of the lizards and rings above mentioned. The
right eye of a serpent, worn as an amulet, is very good, it is said,
for defluxions of the eyes, due care being taken to set the serpent at
liberty after extracting the eye. For continuous watering[2662] of the
eyes, the ashes of a spotted lizard’s head, applied with antimony, are
remarkably efficacious.

The cobweb of the common fly-spider, that which lines its hole more
particularly, applied to the forehead across the temples, in a compress
of some kind or other, is said to be marvellously useful for the cure
of defluxions of the eyes: the web must be taken, however, and applied
by the hands of a boy who has not arrived at the years of puberty; the
boy, too, must not show himself to the patient for three days, and
during those three days neither of them must touch the ground with his
feet uncovered. The white spider[2663], with very elongated, thin,
legs, beaten up in old oil, forms an ointment which is used for the
cure of albugo. The spider, too, whose web, of remarkable thickness, is
generally found adhering to the rafters of houses, applied in a piece
of cloth, is said to be curative of defluxions of the eyes. The green
scarabæus has the property of rendering the sight more piercing[2664]
of those who gaze upon it: hence it is that the engravers of precious
stones use these insects to steady their sight.


A sheep’s gall, mixed with honey, is a good detergent of the ears.
Pains in those organs are allayed by injecting a bitch’s milk; and
hardness of hearing is removed by using dogs’ fat, with wormwood and
old oil, or else goose-grease. Some persons add juice of onions and of
garlic,[2665] in equal proportions. The eggs, too, of ants are used, by
themselves, for this purpose; these insects being possessed, in fact,
of certain medicinal properties, and bears, it is well known, curing
themselves when sick, by eating[2666] them as food. Goose-grease, and
indeed that of all birds, is prepared by removing all the veins and
leaving the fat, in a new, shallow, earthen vessel, well covered, to
melt in the sun, some boiling water being placed beneath it; which
done, it is passed through linen strainers, and is then put by in a
cool spot, in a new earthen vessel, for keeping: with the addition of
honey it is less liable to turn rancid. Ashes of burnt mice, injected
with honey or boiled with oil of roses, allay pains in the ears. In
cases where an insect has got into the ears, a most excellent remedy
is found in an injection of mouse gall, diluted with vinegar: where,
too, water has made its way into the passages of the ear, goose-grease
is used, in combination with juice of onions. Some persons skin a
dormouse, and after removing the intestines boil the body in a new
vessel with honey. Medical men, however, prefer boiling it down to
one-third with nard, and recommend it to be kept in that state, and to
be warmed when wanted, and injected with a syringe. It is a well-known
fact, that this preparation is an effectual remedy for the most
desperate maladies of the ears: the same, too, with an injection of
earth-worms boiled with goose-grease. The red worms, also, that are
found upon trees, beaten up with oil, are a most excellent remedy
for ulcerations and ruptures of the ears. Lizards, which have been
suspended for some time and dried, with salt in the mouth, are curative
of contusions of the ears, and of injuries inflicted by blows: the most
efficacious for this purpose are those which have iron-coloured spots
upon the skin,[2667] and are streaked with lines along the tail.

Millepedes, known also as “centipedes” or “multipedes,” are insects
belonging to the earth-worm genus, hairy, with numerous feet, forming
curves as they crawl, and contracting themselves when touched: the
Greeks give to this insect the name of “oniscos,”[2668] others, again,
that of “tylos.” Boiled with leek-juice in a pomegranate rind, it is
highly efficacious, they say, for pains in the ears; oil of roses
being added to the preparation, and the mixture injected into the ear
opposite to the one affected. As for that kind which does not describe
a curve when moving, the Greeks give it the name of “seps,” while
others, again, call it “scolopendra;” it is smaller than the former
one, and is injurious.[2669] The snails which are commonly used as
food, are applied to the ears with myrrh or powdered frankincense; and
those with a small, broad, shell are employed with honey as a liniment
for fractured ears. Old sloughs of serpents, burnt in a heated potsherd
and mixed with oil of roses, are used as an injection for the ears,
which is considered highly efficacious for all affections of those
organs, and for offensive odours arising therefrom in particular. In
cases where there is suppuration of the ears, vinegar is used, and it
is still better if goat’s gall, ox-gall, or that of the sea tortoise,
is added. This slough, however, is good for nothing when more than a
year old; the same, too, when it has been drenched with rain, as some
think. The thick pulp of a spider’s body, mixed with oil of roses,
is also used for the ears; or else the pulp applied by itself with
saffron or in wool: a cricket, too, is dug up with some of its earth,
and applied. Nigidius attributes great[2670] virtues to this insect,
and the magicians still greater, and all because it walks backwards,
pierces the earth, and chirrups by night! The mode of catching it is by
throwing an ant,[2671] made fast with a hair, into its hole, the dust
being first blown away to prevent it from concealing itself: the moment
it seizes the ant, it is drawn out.

The dried craw of poultry, a part that is generally thrown away, is
beaten up in wine, and injected warm, for suppurations of the ears; the
same, too, with the grease of poultry.

On pulling off the head of a black beetle,[2672] it yields a sort of
greasy substance, which, beaten up with rose oil, is marvellously good,
they say, for affections of the ears: care must be taken, however, to
remove the wool very soon, or else this substance will be speedily
transformed into an animal, in the shape of a small grub. Some writers
assert that two or three of these insects, boiled in oil, are extremely
efficacious for the ears; and that they are good, beaten up and applied
in linen, for contusions of those organs.

This insect, also, is one of those that are of a disgusting character;
but I am obliged, by the admiration which I feel for the operations
of Nature, and for the careful researches of the ancients, to enter
somewhat more at large upon it on the present occasion. Their writers
have described several varieties of it; the soft beetle, for instance,
which, boiled in oil, has been found by experience to be a very useful
liniment for warts. Another kind, to which they have given the name of
“mylœcon,”[2673] is generally found in the vicinity of mills: deprived
of the head, it has been found to be curative of leprosy—at least
Musa[2674] and Picton[2675] have cited instances to that effect. There
is a third kind, again, odious for its abominable smell, and tapering
at the posterior extremities. Used in combination with pisselæon,[2676]
it is curative, they say, of ulcers of a desperate nature, and, if kept
applied for one-and-twenty days, for scrofulous sores and inflamed
tumours. The legs and wings being first removed, it is employed for
the cure of bruises, contusions, cancerous sores, itch-scabs, and
boils—remedies, all of them, quite disgusting even to hear of. And yet,
by Hercules! Diodorus[2677] tells us that he has administered this
remedy internally, with resin and honey, for jaundice and hardness of
breathing; such unlimited power has the medical art to prescribe as a
remedy whatever it thinks fit!

Physicians who keep more within bounds, recommend the ashes of these
insects to be kept for these various purposes in a box made of horn;
or else that they should be bruised and injected in a lavement for
hardness of breathing and catarrhs. At all events, that, applied
externally, they extract foreign substances adhering to the flesh, is a
fact well known.

Honey, too, in which the bees have died, is remarkably useful for
affections of the ears. Pigeons’ dung, applied by itself, or with
barley-meal or oat-meal, reduces imposthumes of the parotid glands;
a result which is equally obtained by injecting into the ear an
owlet’s brains or liver, mixed with oil, or by applying the mixture
to the parotid glands; also, by applying millepedes with one-third
part of resin; by using crickets in the form of a liniment; or by
wearing crickets attached to the body as an amulet. The other kinds
of maladies, and the several remedies for them, derived from the same
animals or from others of the same class, we shall describe in the
succeeding Book.

SUMMARY.—Remedies, narratives, and observations, six hundred and

ROMAN AUTHORS QUOTED.—M. Varro,[2678] L. Piso,[2679] Flaccus
Verrius,[2680] Antias,[2681] Nigidius,[2682] Cassius Hemina,[2683]
Cicero,[2684] Plautus,[2685] Celsus,[2686] Sextius Niger[2687] who
wrote in Greek, Cæcilius[2688] the physician, Metellus Scipio,[2689]
the Poet Ovid,[2690] Licinius Macer.[2691]

FOREIGN AUTHORS QUOTED.—Homer, Aristotle,[2692] Orpheus,[2693]
Palæphatus,[2694] Democritus,[2695] Anaxilaüs.[2696]

MEDICAL AUTHORS QUOTED.—Botrys,[2697] Apollodorus,[2698]
Archidemus,[2699] Aristogenes,[2700] Xenocrates,[2701]
Democrates,[2702] Diodorus,[2703] Chrysippus[2704] the philosopher,
Horus,[2705] Nicander,[2706] Apollonius[2707] of Pitanæ.




In former parts of this work, I have had occasion more than once, when
the subject demanded it, to refute the impostures of the magic art, and
it is now my intention to continue still further my exposure thereof.
Indeed, there are few subjects on which more might be profitably said,
were it only that, being, as it is, the most deceptive of all known
arts, it has exercised the greatest influence in every country and in
nearly every age. And no one can be surprised at the extent of its
influence and authority, when he reflects that by its own energies it
has embraced, and thoroughly amalgamated with itself, the three other
sciences[2708] which hold the greatest sway upon the mind of man.

That it first originated in medicine, no one entertains a doubt;[2709]
or that, under the plausible guise of promoting health, it insinuated
itself among mankind, as a higher and more holy branch of the medical
art. Then, in the next place, to promises the most seductive and the
most flattering, it has added all the resources of religion, a subject
upon which, at the present day, man is still entirely in the dark. Last
of all, to complete its universal sway, it has incorporated with itself
the astrological art;[2710] there being no man who is not desirous
to know his future destiny, or who is not ready to believe that this
knowledge may with the greatest certainty be obtained, by observing
the face of the heavens. The senses of men being thus enthralled by a
three-fold bond, the art of magic has attained an influence so mighty,
that at the present day even, it holds sway throughout a great part of
the world, and rules the kings[2711] of kings in the East.


There is no doubt that this art originated in Persia,[2712] under
Zoroaster,[2713] this being a point upon which authors are generally
agreed; but whether there was only one Zoroaster, or whether in later
times there was a second person of that name, is a matter which still
remains undecided. Eudoxus,[2714] who has endeavoured to show that
of all branches of philosophy the magic art is the most illustrious
and the most beneficial, informs us that this Zoroaster existed six
thousand years before the death of Plato, an assertion in which he
is supported by Aristotle. Hermippus,[2715] again, an author who has
written with the greatest exactness on all particulars connected with
this art, and has commented upon the two millions[2716] of verses left
by Zoroaster, besides completing indexes to his several works, has
left a statement, that Agonaces was the name of the master from whom
Zoroaster derived his doctrines, and that he lived five thousand years
before the time of the Trojan War. The first thing, however, that must
strike us with surprise, is the fact that this art, and the traditions
connected with it, should have survived for so many ages, all written
commentaries thereon having perished in the meanwhile; and this, too,
when there was no continuous succession of adepts, no professors of
note, to ensure their transmission.

For how few there are, in fact, who know anything, even by hearsay,
about the only professors of this art whose names have come down to
us, Apusorus[2717] and Zaratus of Media, Marmarus and Arabantiphocus
of Babylonia, and Tarmoendas of Assyria, men who have left not the
slightest memorials of their existence. But the most surprising thing
of all is, that Homer should be totally silent upon this art in his
account[2718] of the Trojan War, while in his story of the wanderings
of Ulysses, so much of the work should be taken up with it, that we
may justly conclude that the poem is based upon nothing else; if,
indeed, we are willing to grant that his accounts of Proteus and of the
songs of the Sirens are to be understood in this sense, and that the
stories of Circe and of the summoning up of the shades below,[2719]
bear reference solely to the practices of sorcerers. And then, too,
to come to more recent times, no one has told us how the art of
sorcery reached Telmessus,[2720] a city devoted to all the services of
religion, or at what period it came over and reached the matrons of
Thessaly; whose name[2721] has long passed, in our part of the world,
as the appellation of those who practise an art, originally introduced
among themselves even, from foreign lands.[2722] For in the days of
the Trojan War, Thessaly was still contented with such remedies[2723]
as she owed to the skill of Chiron, and her only[2724] lightnings
were the lightnings hurled by Mars.[2725] Indeed, for my own part, I
am surprised that the imputation of magical practices should have so
strongly attached to the people once under the sway of Achilles, that
Menander even, a man unrivalled for perception in literary knowledge,
has entitled one of his Comedies “The Thessalian Matron,” and has
therein described the devices practised by the females of that country
in bringing down the moon from the heavens.[2726] I should have been
inclined to think that Orpheus had been the first to introduce into a
country so near his own, certain magical superstitions based upon the
practice of medicine, were it not the fact that Thrace, his native
land, was at that time totally a stranger to the magic art.

The first person, so far as I can ascertain, who wrote upon magic, and
whose works are still in existence, was Osthanes,[2727] who accompanied
Xerxes, the Persian king, in his expedition against Greece. It was he
who first[2728] disseminated, as it were, the germs of this monstrous
art, and tainted therewith all parts of the world through which the
Persians passed. Authors who have made diligent enquiries into this
subject, make mention of a second Zoroaster, a native of Proconnesus,
as living a little before the time of Osthanes. That it was this same
Osthanes, more particularly, that inspired the Greeks, not with a
fondness only, but a rage, for the art of magic, is a fact beyond all
doubt: though at the same time I would remark, that in the most ancient
times, and indeed almost invariably, it was in this[2729] branch of
science, that was sought the highest point of celebrity and of literary
renown. At all events, Pythagoras, we find, Empedocles, Democritus,
and Plato, crossed the seas, in order to attain a knowledge thereof,
submitting, to speak the truth, more to the evils of exile[2730] than
to the mere inconveniences of travel. Returning home, it was upon the
praises of this art that they expatiated—it was this that they held
as one of their grandest mysteries. It was Democritus, too, who first
drew attention to Apollobeches[2731] of Coptos, to Dardanus,[2732]
and to Phœnix: the works of Dardanus he sought in the tomb of that
personage, and his own were composed in accordance with the doctrines
there found. That these doctrines should have been received by any
portion of mankind, and transmitted to us by the aid of memory, is to
me surprising beyond anything I can conceive.[2733] All the particulars
there found are so utterly incredible, so utterly revolting, that
those even who admire Democritus in other respects, are strong in
their denial that these works were really written by him. Their
denial, however, is in vain; for it was he, beyond all doubt, who had
the greatest share in fascinating men’s minds with these attractive

There is also a marvellous coincidence, in the fact that the two
arts—medicine, I mean, and magic—were developed simultaneously:
medicine by the writings of Hippocrates, and magic by the works of
Democritus, about the period of the Peloponnesian War, which was waged
in Greece in the year of the City of Rome 300.

There is another sect, also, of adepts in the magic art, who derive
their origin from Moses,[2734] Jannes,[2735] and Lotapea,[2736] Jews
by birth,[2737] but many thousand years posterior to Zoroaster: and
as much more recent, again, is the branch of magic cultivated in
Cyprus.[2738] In the time, too, of Alexander the Great, this profession
received no small accession to its credit from the influence of a
second Osthanes, who had the honour of accompanying that prince in his
expeditions, and who, evidently, beyond all doubt, travelled[2739] over
every part of the world.


It is clear that there are early traces still existing of the
introduction of magic into Italy; in our laws of the Twelve Tables for
instance; besides other convincing proofs, which I have already noticed
in a preceding Book.[2740] At last, in the year of the City 657, Cneius
Cornelius Lentulus and P. Licinius Crassus being consuls, a decree
forbidding human sacrifices[2741] was passed by the senate; from which
period the celebration of these horrid rites ceased in public, and, for
some[2742] time, altogether.


The Gallic provinces, too, were pervaded by the magic art,[2743] and
that even down to a period within memory; for it was the Emperor
Tiberius that put down their Druids,[2744] and all that tribe of
wizards and physicians. But why make further mention of these
prohibitions, with reference to an art which has now crossed the very
Ocean even, and has penetrated to the void[2745] recesses of Nature? At
the present day, struck with fascination, Britannia still cultivates
this art, and that, with ceremonials so august, that she might almost
seem[2746] to have been the first to communicate them to the people of
Persia.[2747] To such a degree are nations throughout the whole world,
totally different as they are and quite unknown to one another, in
accord upon this one point!

Such being the fact, then, we cannot too highly appreciate the
obligation that is due to the Roman people, for having put an end to
those monstrous rites, in accordance with which, to murder a man was to
do an act of the greatest devoutness, and to eat[2748] his flesh was to
secure the highest blessings of health.


According to what Osthanes tells us, there are numerous sorts of magic.
It is practised[2749] with water, for instance, with balls, by the aid
of the air, of the stars, of lamps, basins, hatchets, and numerous
other appliances; means by which it engages to grant a foreknowledge
of things to come, as well as converse with ghosts and spirits of the
dead. All these practices, however, have been proved by the Emperor
Nero, in our own day, to be so many false and chimærical illusions;
entertaining as he did a passion for the magic art, unsurpassed even
by his enthusiastic love for the music of the lyre, and for the songs
of tragedy; so strangely did his elevation to the highest point of
human fortune act upon the deep-seated vices of his mind! It was his
leading desire to command the gods of heaven, and no aspiration could
he conceive more noble than this. Never did person lavish more favours
upon any one of the arts; and for the attainment of this, his favourite
object, nothing was wanting to him, neither riches, nor power, nor
aptitude at learning, and what not besides, at the expense of a
suffering world.

It is a boundless, an indubitable proof, I say, of the utter falsity
of this art, that such a man as Nero abandoned it; and would to heaven
that he had consulted the shades below, and any other spirits as well,
in order to be certified in his suspicions, rather than commissioned
the denizens of stews and brothels to make those inquisitions of his
[with reference to the objects of his jealousy]. For assuredly there
can be no superstition, however barbarous and ferocious the rites
which it sanctions, that is not more tolerant than the imaginations
which he conceived, and owing to which, by a series of blood-stained
crimes, our abodes were peopled with ghosts.


The magicians, too, have certain modes of evasion, as, for instance,
that the gods will not obey, or even appear to, persons who have
freckles upon the skin. Was this perchance the obstacle[2750] in Nero’s
way? As for his limbs, there was[2751] nothing deficient in them. And
then, besides, he was at liberty to make choice of the days prescribed
by the magic ritual: it was an easy thing for him to make choice
of sheep whose colour was no other than perfectly black: and as to
sacrificing human beings, there was nothing in the world that gave him
greater pleasure. The Magian Tiridates[2752] was at his court, having
repaired thither, in token of our triumph over Armenia, accompanied
by a train which cost dear to the provinces through which it passed.
For the fact was, that he was unwilling to travel by water, it being a
maxim with the adepts in this art that it is improper to spit into the
sea or to profane that element by any other of the evacuations that are
inseparable from the infirmities of human nature. He brought with him,
too, several other Magi, and went so far as to initiate the emperor
in the repasts[2753] of the craft; and yet the prince, for all he had
bestowed a kingdom upon the stranger, found himself unable to receive
at his hands, in return, this art.

We may rest fully persuaded then, that magic is a thing detestable
in itself. Frivolous and lying as it is, it still bears, however,
some shadow of truth upon it; though reflected, in reality, by the
practices of those who study the arts of secret poisoning, and not
the pursuits of magic. Let any one picture to himself the lies of the
magicians of former days, when he learns what has been stated by the
grammarian Apion,[2754] a person whom I remember seeing myself when
young. He tells us that the plant cynocephalia,[2755] known in Egypt
as “osiritis,” is useful for divination, and is a preservative against
all the malpractices of magic, but that if a person takes it out of
the ground entire, he will die upon the spot. He asserts, also, that
he himself had raised the spirits[2756] of the dead, in order to make
enquiry of Homer in reference to his native country and his parents;
but he does not dare, he tells us, disclose the answer he received.


Let the following stand as a remarkable proof of the frivolous nature
of the magic art. Of all animals it is the mole that the magicians
admire most! a creature that has been stamped with condemnation by
Nature in so many ways; doomed as it is to perpetual blindness,[2757]
and adding to this darkness a life of gloom in the depths of the earth,
and a state more nearly resembling that of the dead and buried. There
is no animal in the entrails of which they put such implicit faith, no
animal, they think, better suited for the rites of religion; so much
so, indeed, that if a person swallows the heart of a mole, fresh from
the body and still palpitating, he will receive the gift of divination,
they assure us, and a foreknowledge of future events. Tooth-ache, they
assert, may be cured by taking the tooth of a live mole, and attaching
it to the body. As to other statements of theirs relative to this
animal, we shall draw attention to them on the fitting occasions,
and shall only add here that one of the most probable of all their
assertions is, that the mole neutralizes the bite of the shrew-mouse;
seeing that, as already[2758] stated, the very earth even that is found
in the rut of a cart-wheel, acts as a remedy in such a case.


But to proceed, with the remedies for tooth-ache—the magicians tell us,
that it may be cured by using the ashes of the head of a dog that has
died in a state of madness. The head, however, must be burnt without
the flesh, and the ashes injected with oil of cyprus[2759] into the ear
on the side affected. For the same purpose also, the left eye-tooth of
a dog is used, the gum of the affected tooth being lanced with it; one
of the vertebræ also of a dragon or of an enhydris, which is a male
white serpent.[2760] The eye-tooth, too, of this last, is used for
scarifying the gums; and when the pain affects the teeth of the upper
jaw, they attach to the patient two of the upper teeth of the serpent,
and, similarly, two of the lower ones for tooth-ache in the lower jaw.
Persons who go in pursuit of the crocodile, anoint themselves with the
fat of this animal. The gums are also scarified with the frontal bones
of a lizard, taken from it at full moon, and not allowed to touch the
ground: or else the mouth is rinsed with a decoction of dogs’ teeth in
wine, boiled down to one half.

Ashes of dogs’ teeth, mixed with honey, are useful for difficult
dentition in children, and a dentifrice is similarly prepared from
them. Hollow teeth are plugged with ashes of burnt mouse-dung, or
with a lizard’s liver, dried. To eat a snake’s heart, or to wear it,
attached to the body, is considered highly efficacious. There are some
among the magicians, who recommend a mouse to be eaten twice a month,
as a preventive of tooth-ache. Earth-worms, boiled in oil and injected
into the ear on the side affected, afford considerable relief: ashes,
too, of burnt earth-worms, introduced into carious teeth, make them
come out easily; and, used as a friction, they allay pains in such of
the teeth as are sound: the proper way of burning them is in an earthen
potsherd. They are useful, too, boiled with root of the mulberry-tree
in squill vinegar, and employed as a collutory for the teeth. The
small worm that is found in the plant known as Venus[2761] bath, is
remarkably useful, introduced[2762] into a hollow tooth; and as to the
cabbage caterpillar, it will make hollow teeth come out, by the mere
contact only. The bugs[2763] that are found upon mallows, are injected
into the ears, beaten up with oil of roses.

The small grits of sand that are found in the horns of snails,
introduced into hollow teeth, remove the pain instantaneously, Ashes
of empty snail-shells, mixed with myrrh,[2764] are good for the
gums; the ashes also of a serpent, burnt with salt in an earthen
pot, and injected, with oil of roses, into the ear opposite to the
side affected; or else the slough of a snake, warmed with oil and
torch-pine resin,[2765] and injected into either ear. Some persons
add frankincense and oil of roses, a preparation which, of itself,
introduced into hollow teeth, makes them come out without pain. It is
all a fiction, in my opinion, to say that white snakes cast this slough
about the rising of the Dog-star; for such a thing has never been seen
in Italy, and it is still more improbable that sloughing should take
place at so late a period in the warmer climates. We find it stated
also, that this slough, even when it has been kept for some time, mixed
with wax, will extract a tooth very expeditiously, if applied thereto:
a snake’s tooth, also, attached to the body as an amulet, allays
tooth-ache. Some persons think that it is a good remedy to catch a
spider with the left hand, to beat it up with oil of roses, and then to
inject it into the ear on the side affected.

The small bones of poultry, preserved in a hole in a wall, the
medullary channel being left intact, will immediately cure tooth-ache,
they say, if the tooth is touched or the gum scarified therewith,
care being taken to throw away the bone the moment the operation is
performed. A similar result is obtained by using raven’s dung, wrapped
in wool and attached to the body, or else sparrow’s dung, warmed with
oil and injected into the ear on the side affected. This last remedy,
however, is productive of an intolerable itching, for which reason it
is considered a better plan to rub the part with the ashes of young
sparrows burnt upon twigs, mixed with vinegar for the purpose.


To impart sweetness to the breath, it is recommended to rub the teeth
with ashes of burnt mouse-dung and honey; some persons are in the habit
of mixing fennel root. To pick the teeth with a vulture’s feather, is
productive of a sour breath; but to use a porcupine’s quill for that
purpose, greatly strengthens the teeth. Ulcers of the tongue and lips
are cured by taking a decoction of swallows, boiled in honied wine;
and chapped lips are healed by using goose-grease or poultry-grease,
wool-grease mixed with nut-galls, white spiders’ webs, or the fine
cobwebs that are found adhering to the beams of roofs. If the inside of
the mouth has been scalded with any hot substance, bitches’ milk will
afford an immediate cure.


Wool-grease, mixed with Corsican honey—which by the way is considered
the most acrid honey of all—removes spots upon the face. Applied with
oil of roses in wool, it causes scurf upon the face to disappear:
some persons add butter to it. In cases of morphew, the spots are
first pricked with a needle, and then rubbed with dog’s gall. For
livid spots and bruises on the face, the lights of a ram or sheep
are cut fine and applied warm, or else pigeons’ dung is used.
Goose-grease or poultry-grease is a good preservative of the skin
of the face. For lichens a liniment is used, made of mouse-dung in
vinegar, or of the ashes of a hedge-hog mixed with oil: but, when
these remedies are employed, it is recommended first to foment the
face with nitre dissolved in vinegar. Maladies of the face are also
removed by employing the ashes of the small, broad, snail that is so
commonly found, mixed with honey. Indeed, the ashes of all snails are
of an inspissative nature, and are possessed of certain calorific
and detersive properties: hence it is that they form an ingredient
in caustic applications, and are used in the form of a liniment for
itch-scabs, leprous sores, and freckles on the face.

I find it stated that a certain kind of ant known by the name of
“Herculanea”[2766] is beaten up, with the addition of a little salt,
and used for the cure of these diseases. The buprestis[2767] is an
insect but rarely found in Italy, and very similar to a scarabæus,
with long legs. Concealed among the grass, it is very liable to be
swallowed unobserved, by oxen in particular; and the moment it comes
in contact with the gall, it causes such a degree of inflammation,
that the animal bursts asunder; a circumstance to which the insect
owes its name. Applied topically with he-goat suet, it removes lichens
on the face, owing to its corrosive properties, as previously[2768]
stated. A vulture’s blood, beaten up with cedar resin and root of
white chamæleon—a plant which we have already[2769] mentioned—and
covered with a cabbage leaf, when applied, is good for the cure of
leprosy; the same, too, with the legs of locusts, beaten up with
he-goat suet. Pimples are treated with poultry grease, beaten up and
kneaded with onions. One very useful substance for the face is honey
in which the bees have died; but a sovereign detergent for that part
is swans’ grease, which has also the property of effacing wrinkles.
Brand-marks[2770] are removed by using pigeons’ dung, diluted in


I find it stated that catarrhs oppressive to the head may be cured
by the patient kissing a mule’s nostrils. Affections of the uvula
and pains in the fauces are alleviated by using the dung of lambs
before they have begun to graze, dried in the shade. Diseases of the
uvula are cured with the juices of a snail pierced with a needle; the
snail, however, must be then hung up in the smoke. The same maladies
are treated also with ashes of burnt swallows, mixed with honey; a
preparation which is equally good for affections of the tonsillary
glands. Sheep’s milk, used as a gargle, alleviates diseases of the
fauces and tonsillary glands. Millepedes, bruised with pigeons’
dung, are taken as a gargle, with raisin wine; and they are applied,
externally, with dried figs and nitre, for the purpose of soothing
roughness of the fauces and catarrhs. For such cases, too, snails
should be boiled unwashed, the earth only being removed, and then
pounded and administered to the patient in raisin wine. Some persons
are of opinion, that for these purposes the snails of Astypalæa[2771]
are the most efficacious, and they give the preference to the detersive
preparation[2772] made from them. The parts affected are sometimes
rubbed with a cricket, and affections of the tonsillary glands are
alleviated by being rubbed with the hands of a person who has bruised a


For quinzy we have very expeditious remedies in goose-gall, mixed
with elaterium[2773] and honey, an owlet’s brains, or the ashes of a
burnt swallow, taken in warm water; which last remedy we owe[2774] to
the poet Ovid. But of all the remedies spoken of as furnished by the
swallow, one of the most efficacious is that derived from the young
of the wild swallow, a bird which may be easily recognized by the
peculiar conformation of its nest.[2775] By far the most effectual,
however, of them all, are the young of the bank-swallow,[2776] that
being the name given to the kind which builds its nest in holes on
the banks of rivers. Many persons recommend the young of any kind of
swallow as a food, assuring us that the person who takes it need be in
no apprehension of quinzy for the whole of the ensuing year. The young
of this bird are sometimes stifled and then burnt in a vessel with the
blood, the ashes being administered to the patient with bread or in the
drink: some, however, mix with them the ashes of a burnt weasel, in
equal proportion. The same remedies are recommended also for scrofula,
and they are administered for epilepsy, once a day, in drink. Swallows
preserved in salt are taken for quinzy, in doses of one drachma, in
drink: the nest,[2777] too, of the bird, taken internally, is said to
be a cure for the same disease.

Millepedes,[2778] it is thought, used in the form of a liniment, are
peculiarly efficacious for quinzy: some persons, also, administer
eleven of them, bruised in one semi-sextarius of hydromel, through a
reed, they being of no use whatever if once touched by the teeth. Other
remedies mentioned are, the broth of a mouse boiled with vervain, a
thong of dogskin passed three times round the back, and pigeons’ dung
mixed with wine and oil. For the cure of rigidity of the muscles of the
neck, and of opisthotony, a twig of vitex, taken from a kite’s nest, is
attached to the body as an amulet.

(5.) For ulcerated scrofula, a weasel’s blood is employed, or the
animal itself, boiled in wine; but not in cases where the tumours have
been opened with the knife. It is said, too, that a weasel, eaten with
the food, is productive of a similar effect; sometimes, also, it is
burnt upon twigs, and the ashes are applied with axle-grease. In some
instances, a green lizard is attached to the body of the patient, a
fresh one being substituted at the end of thirty days. Some persons
preserve the heart of this animal in a small silver vessel,[2779] as
a cure for scrofula in females. Old snails, those found adhering to
shrubs more particularly, are pounded with the shells on, and applied
as a liniment. Asps, too, are similarly employed, reduced to ashes and
mixed with bull suet; snakes’ fat also, diluted with oil; and the ashes
of a burnt snake, applied with oil or wax. It is a good plan also, in
cases of scrofula, to eat the middle of a snake, the extremities being
first removed, or to drink the ashes of the reptile, similarly prepared
and burnt in a new earthen vessel: they will be found much more
efficacious, however, when the snake has been killed between the ruts
made by wheels. It is recommended also, to dig up a cricket with the
earth about its hole, and to apply it in the form of a liniment; to use
pigeons’ dung, either by itself, or with barley-meal, or oatmeal and
vinegar; or else to apply the ashes of a burnt mole, mixed with honey.

Some persons apply the liver of this last animal, crumbled in the
hands, due care being taken not to wash it off for three days: it is
said, too, that a mole’s right foot is a remedy for scrofula. Others,
again, cut off the head of a mole, and after kneading it with earth
thrown up by those animals, divide it into tablets, and keep it in a
pewter box, for the treatment of all kinds of tumours, diseases of the
neck, and the affections known as “apostemes:” in all such cases the
use of swine’s flesh is forbidden to the patient. “Taurus”[2780] is
the name usually given to an earth-beetle, very similar to a tick in
appearance, and which it derives from the diminutive horns with which
it is furnished: some persons call it the “earth-louse.”[2781] From the
earth thrown up by these insects a liniment is prepared for scrofula
and similar diseases, and for gout the application not being washed off
till the end of three days. This last remedy is effectual for a whole
year, and all those other properties are attributed to it which we have
mentioned[2782] when speaking of crickets. There are some, again, who
make a similar use of the earth thrown up by ants; while others attach
to the patient as many earth-worms as there are scrofulous tumours, the
sores drying as the worms dry up.

Some persons cut off the head and tail of a viper, as already
mentioned,[2783] about the rising of the Dog-star, which done, they
burn the middle, and give a pinch of the ashes in three fingers, for
thrice seven days, in drink—such is the plan they use for the cure of
scrofula. Others, again, pass round the scrofulous tumours a linen
thread, with which a viper has been suspended by the neck till dead.
Millepedes[2784] are also used, with one fourth part of turpentine;
a remedy which is equally recommended for the cure of all kinds of


The ashes of a burnt weasel, mixed with wax, are a cure for pains in
the shoulders. To prevent the arm-pits of young persons from becoming
hairy, they should be well rubbed with ants’ eggs. Slave-dealers also,
to impede the growth of the hair in young persons near puberty, employ
the blood that flows from the testes of lambs when castrated. This
blood, too, applied to the arm-pits,[2785] the hairs being first pulled
out, is a preventive of the rank smell of those parts.


We give the one general name of “præcordia” to the human viscera; for
pains in any part of which, a sucking whelp is applied, being pressed
close to the part affected.[2786] The malady, it is said, will in
such case pass into the animal; a fact which may be satisfactorily
ascertained; for on disembowelling it, and sprinkling the entrails with
wine, that part of the viscera will be found affected in which the
patient himself was sensible of pain: to bury the animal in such a case
is a point most religiously observed. The dogs,[2787] too, which we
call “Melitæi,” applied to the stomach every now and then, allay pains
in that region: the malady, it is supposed, passes into the animal’s
body, as it gradually loses its health, and it mostly dies.

(6.) Affections of the lungs are cured by using mice, those of Africa
more particularly, the animal being skinned and boiled, in salt and
oil, and then taken with the food. The same preparation is used also,
for the cure of purulent or bloody expectorations.


One of the very best remedies for affections of the stomach, is to use
a snail diet.[2788] They must first be left to simmer in water for
some time, without touching the contents of the shell, after which,
without any other addition, they must be grilled upon hot coals, and
eaten with wine and garum;[2789] the snails of Africa being the best
of all for the purpose. The efficacy of this remedy has been proved in
numerous instances of late. Another point, too, to be observed, is to
take an uneven number of them. Snails, however, have a juice, it should
be remembered, which imparts to the breath an offensive smell. For
patients troubled with spitting of blood, they are remarkably good, the
shell being first removed, and the contents bruised and administered in
water. The most esteemed kinds of all are those of Africa—those which
come from Iol,[2790], in particular—of Astypalæa, and, after them,
those of Ætna, in Sicily, those I mean of moderate size, for the large
ones are hard, and destitute of juice. The Balearic snails, called
“cavaticæ,” from being found in caverns, are much esteemed; and so,
too, are those from the islands of Capreæ.[2791] Those of Greece, on
the other hand, are never used for food, either old or fresh.

River snails, and those with a white shell, have a strong, rank,
juice, and forest snails are by no means good for the stomach, having
a laxative effect upon the bowels; the same too, with all kinds of
small snails. Sea-snails,[2792] on the other hand, are more beneficial
to the stomach; but it is for pains in that region that they are found
the most efficacious: the best plan, it is said, is to eat them alive,
of whatever kind they may happen to be, with vinegar. In addition
to these, there are the snails called “aceratæ,”[2793] with a broad
shell, and found in numerous localities: of the uses to which they are
put we shall[2794] speak further on the appropriate occasions. The
craw of poultry, dried and sprinkled in the drink, or else used fresh
and grilled, has a soothing effect upon pectoral catarrhs and coughs
attended with phlegm.[2795] Snails, beaten up raw and taken in three
cyathi of warm water, allay cough. A piece of dog’s skin, wrapped round
any one of the fingers, affords relief to patients suffering from
catarrh. A broth made of boiled partridges is strengthening for the


For the cure of pains in the liver, a wild weasel is taken with the
food, or the liver only of that animal; a ferret also, roasted like a
sucking-pig. In cases of asthma, millepedes are used, thrice seven of
them being soaked in Attic honey, and taken internally by the aid of
a reed:[2796] for all vessels, it should be remembered, turn black on
coming in contact with them. Some persons grill one sextarius of these
insects on a flat pan, till they become white, and then mix them with
honey. There are some authorities who call this insect a “centipede,”
and recommend it to be given in warm water. Snails are administered
to persons subject to fainting fits, alienation of the senses, and
vertigo: for which purposes, a snail is beaten up, shell and all, with
three cyathi of raisin wine, and the mixture is administered warm with
the drink, for nine days at most. Others, again, give one snail the
first day, two the second, three the third, two the fourth, and one the
fifth; a mode of treatment also adopted for the cure of asthma and of

There is, according to some authorities, an insect resembling the
locust in appearance, destitute of wings, and known by the Greek name
of “troxallis,” it being without a name in Latin: a considerable
number of writers, however, consider it as identical with the insect
known to us as “gryllus.”[2797] Twenty of these insects, they say,
should be grilled, and taken in honied wine, by patients troubled with
hardness of breathing or spitting of blood. Some persons pour pure
grape-juice,[2798] or sea-water, upon unwashed snails, and then boil
and eat them for food; or else they bruise the snails, shells and
all, and take them with this grape-juice. A similar method is also
adopted for the cure of cough. Honey in which the bees have died, is
particularly good for the cure of abscesses. For spitting of blood a
vulture’s lungs are used, burnt upon vine logs, and mixed with half the
quantity of pomegranate blossoms, or with the same proportion of quince
and lily blossom: the whole being taken morning and evening, in wine,
if there is no fever; but where there are symptoms of fever, instead of
wine, water is used in which quinces have been boiled.


According to the prescriptions given by the magicians, a fresh sheep’s
milt is the best application for pains in the spleen, the person who
applies it uttering these words: “This I do for the cure of the
spleen.” This done, it is enjoined that the milt should be covered up
with mortar in the wall of the patient’s sleeping-room, and sealed
with a ring, a charm[2799] being repeated thrice nine times. A dog’s
milt, removed from the animal while still alive, taken with the food,
is a cure for diseases of the spleen: some, again, attach it fresh to
that part of the patient’s body. Others give the patient—without his
knowing it—the milt of a puppy two days old, to eat, in squill vinegar;
the milt, too, of a hedge-hog is similarly used. Ashes of burnt snails
are employed, in combination with linseed, nettle-seed, and honey, the
treatment being persisted in till the patient is thoroughly cured.

A green lizard has a remedial effect, suspended alive in an earthen
vessel, at the entrance of the sleeping-room of the patient, who, every
time he enters or leaves it, must take care to touch it with his hand:
the head, too, of a horned owl, reduced to ashes and incorporated with
an unguent; honey, also, in which the bees have died; and spiders, the
one known as the “lycos”[2800] in particular.


For pains in the side, the heart of a hoopoe is highly esteemed; ashes,
too, of burnt snails, that have been boiled in a ptisan, snails being
sometimes applied in the form of a liniment, alone. Potions employed
for this purpose have a sprinkling in them of the ashes of a mad dog’s
skull. For the cure of lumbago, the spotted lizard[2801] from beyond
seas is used: the head and intestines being first removed, the body is
boiled in wine, with half a denarius of black poppy, and the decoction
is taken in drink. Green lizards, also, are taken with the food, the
feet and head being first removed; or else three snails are crushed,
shells and all, and boiled with fifteen peppercorns in wine. The feet
of an eagle are wrenched off in a contrary direction to the joint, and
the right foot is attached to the right side, the left foot to the
left, according as the pains are situate. The millepede,[2802] which
we have spoken of as being called the “oniscos,” is a cure for these
pains, taken, in doses of one denarius, in two cyathi of wine. The
magicians recommend an earth-worm to be put in a wooden dish, which
has been split and mended with iron wire; which done, some water must
be taken up with the dish, the worm drenched with it and buried in the
spot from which it was taken, and the water drunk from the dish. They
assert, also, that this is a marvellously excellent cure for sciatica.


Dysentery is cured by taking the broth of a leg of mutton, boiled with
linseed in water; by eating old ewe-milk cheese; or by taking mutton
suet boiled in astringent wine. This last is good, too, for the iliac
passion, and for inveterate coughs. Dysentery is removed also, by
taking a spotted lizard from beyond seas, boiled down till the skin
only is left, the head, feet, and intestines, being first removed. A
couple of snails also, and an egg, are beaten up, shells and all, in
both cases, and made lukewarm in a new vessel, with some salt, three
cyathi of water, and two cyathi of raisin-wine or date-juice, the
decoction being taken in drink. Ashes, too, of burnt snails, are very
serviceable, taken in wine with a modicum of resin.

The snails without shells, which we have[2803] mentioned as being
mostly found in Africa, are remarkably useful for dysentery, five of
them being burnt with half a denarius of gum acacia, and taken, in
doses of two spoonfuls, in myrtle wine or any other kind of astringent
wine, with an equal quantity of warm water. Some persons employ all
kinds of African snails indiscriminately in this manner; while others,
again, make use of a similar number of African snails or broad-shelled
snails, as an injection, in preference: in cases, too, where the flux
is considerable, they add a piece of gum acacia, about the size of
a bean. For dysentery and tenesmus, the cast-off slough of a snake
is boiled in a pewter vessel with oil of roses: if prepared in any
other kind of vessel, it is applied with an instrument made of pewter.
Chicken-broth is also used as a remedy for these affections; but the
broth of an old cock, strongly salted, acts more powerfully as a
purgative upon the bowels. A pullet’s craw, grilled and administered
with salt and oil, has a soothing effect upon cœliac affections; but
it is absolutely necessary that neither fowl nor patient should have
eaten corn[2804] for some time before. Pigeons’ dung, also, is grilled
and taken in drink. The flesh of a ring-dove, boiled in vinegar, is
curative of dysentery and cœliac affections: and for the cure of
the former, a thrush is recommended, roasted with myrtle-berries; a
blackbird, also; or honey, boiled, in which the bees have died.


One of the most dangerous of maladies is that known by the name of
“ileos:”[2805] it may be combatted, they say, by tearing a bat asunder,
and taking the blood, or by rubbing the abdomen with it. Diarrhœa
is arrested more particularly by taking snails, prepared in manner
already[2806] mentioned for cases of asthma; the ashes, also, of snails
burnt alive, administered in astringent wine; the liver of poultry
grilled; the dried craw of poultry, a part that is usually thrown
away, mixed with poppy-juice—in some cases it is used fresh, grilled,
and taken in wine—partridge broth; the craw of partridges beaten up
by itself in red wine; a wild ringdove boiled in oxycrate; a sheep’s
milt, grilled and beaten up in wine; or else pigeons’ dung, applied
with honey. The crop of an ossifrage, dried and taken in drink, is
remarkably useful for patients whose digestion is impaired—indeed,
its good effects may be felt if they only hold it in the hand while
eating. Hence it is that some persons wear it attached to the body as
an amulet; a practice which must not be too long continued, it being
apt to cause a wasting of the flesh. The blood, too, of a drake has an
astringent effect.

Flatulency is dispelled by eating snails; and griping pains in the
bowels, by taking a sheep’s milt grilled, with wine; a wild ringdove
boiled in oxycrate; the fat of an otis[2807] in wine; or the ashes of
an ibis, burnt without the feathers, administered in drink. Another
prescription mentioned for griping pains in the bowels is of a very
marvellous nature: if a duck, they say, is applied to the abdomen, the
malady will pass into the bird, and it will die.[2808] Gripings of the
bowels are treated also with boiled honey in which the bees have died.

Colic is most effectually cured by taking a roasted lark with the
food. Some recommend, however, that it should be burnt to ashes in
a new vessel, feathers and all, and then pounded and taken for four
consecutive days, in doses of three spoonfuls, in water. Some say that
the heart of this bird should be attached to the thigh, and, according
to others, the heart should be swallowed fresh, quite warm, in fact.
There is a family of consular dignity, known as the Asprenates,[2809]
two brothers, members of which, were cured of colic; the one by eating
a lark and wearing its heart in a golden bracelet; the other, by
performing a certain sacrifice in a chapel built of raw bricks, in form
of a furnace, and then blocking up the edifice the moment the sacrifice
was concluded. The ossifrage has a single intestine only, which has the
marvellous property of digesting all that the bird has swallowed: the
extremity of this intestine, it is well known, worn as an amulet, is an
excellent remedy for colic.

There are certain concealed maladies incident to the intestines, in
relation to which there are some marvellous statements made. If to the
stomach and chest, more particularly, blind puppies are applied, and
suckled with milk from the patient’s mouth,[2810] the virulence of
the malady, it is said, will be transferred to them, and in the end
they will die: on opening them, too, the causes of the malady will be
sure to be discovered. In all such cases, however, the puppies must be
allowed to die, and must be buried in the earth. According to what the
magicians say, if the abdomen is touched with a bat’s blood, the person
will be proof against colic for a whole year: when a patient, too, is
attacked with the pains of colic, if he can bring himself to drink the
water in which he has washed his feet, he will experience a cure.


For the cure of urinary calculi, it is a good plan to rub the abdomen
with mouse-dung. The flesh of a hedge-hog is agreeable eating, they
say, if killed with a single blow upon the head, before it has had
time to discharge its urine[2811] upon its body: [persons[2812] who
eat this flesh, it is said, will never by any possibility suffer from
strangury.] The flesh of a hedge-hog thus killed, is a cure for urinary
obstructions of the bladder; and the same, too, with fumigations made
therewith. If, on the other hand, the animal has discharged its urine
upon its body, those who eat the flesh will be sure to be attacked
by strangury, it is said. As a lithontriptic,[2813] earth-worms are
recommended, taken in ordinary wine or raisin wine; or else boiled
snails, prepared the same way[2814] as for the cure of asthma. For
the cure of urinary obstructions, snails are taken from the shells,
pounded, and administered in one cyathus of wine, three the first day,
two the second, and one the third. For the expulsion of calculi, the
empty shells are reduced to ashes and taken in drink: the liver also of
a water-snake, and the ashes of burnt scorpions are similarly employed,
or are taken with bread or eaten with a locust. For the same purpose,
the small grits that are found in the gizzard of poultry or in the craw
of the ringdove, are beaten up and sprinkled in the patient’s drink;
the craw, too, of poultry is taken, dried, or if fresh, grilled.

For urinary calculi and other obstructions of the bladder, dung of
ring-doves is taken, with beans; ashes also of wild ring-doves’
feathers, mixed with vinegar and honey; the intestines of those birds,
reduced to ashes, and administered in doses of three spoonfuls; a small
clod from a swallow’s nest, dissolved in warm water; the dried crop of
an ossifrage; the dung of a turtle-dove, boiled in honied wine; or the
broth of a boiled turtle-dove.

It is very beneficial also for urinary affections to eat thrushes with
myrtle-berries, or grasshoppers grilled on a shallow-pan; or else to
take the millepedes, known as “onisci,”[2815] in drink. For pains in
the bladder, a decoction of lambs’ feet is used. Chicken-broth relaxes
the bowels and mollifies acridities; swallows’ dung, too, with honey,
employed as a suppository, acts as a purgative.


The most efficacious remedies for diseases of the rectum are
wool-grease,—to which some add pompholix[2816] and oil of roses— a
dog’s head reduced to ashes; or a serpent’s slough, with vinegar. In
cases where there are chaps and fissures of those parts, the ashes of
the white portion of dogs’ dung are used, mixed with oil of roses;
a prescription due, they say, to Æsculapius,[2817] and remarkably
efficacious also for the removal of warts. Ashes of burnt mouse-dung,
swan’s fat, and cow suet, are also used. Procidence of the rectum is
reduced by an application of the juices discharged by snails when
punctured. For the cure of excoriation of those parts, ashes of burnt
wood-mice are used, with honey; the gall of a hedge-hog, with a bat’s
brains and bitches’ milk; goose-grease, with the brains of the bird,
alum, and wool-grease; or else pigeons’ dung, mixed with honey. A
spider, the head and legs being first removed, is remarkably good as a
friction for condylomata. To prevent the acridity of the humours from
fretting the flesh, goose-grease is applied, with Punic wax, white
lead, and oil of roses; swan’s grease also, which is said to be a cure
for piles.

A very good thing, they say, for sciatica, is, to pound raw snails
in Aminean[2818] wine, and to take them with pepper; to eat a green
lizard, the feet, head, and intestines being first removed; or to eat
a spotted lizard, with the addition of three oboli of black poppy.
Ruptures and convulsions are treated with sheep’s gall, diluted with
woman’s milk. The gravy which escapes from a ram’s lights roasted, is
used for the cure of itching pimples and warts upon the generative
organs: for other affections of those parts, the ashes of a ram’s
wool, unwashed even, are used, applied with water; the suet of a
sheep’s caul, and of the kidneys more particularly, mixed with ashes of
pumice-stone and salt; greasy wool, applied with cold water; sheep’s
flesh, burnt to ashes, and applied with water; a mule’s hoofs, burnt
to ashes; or the powder of pounded horse teeth, sprinkled upon the
parts. In cases of decidence of either of the testes, an application of
the slime discharged by snails is remedial, they say. For the treatment
of sordid or running ulcers of those parts, the fresh ashes of a burnt
dog’s head are found highly useful; the small, broad kind of snail,
beaten up in vinegar; a snake’s slough, or the ashes of it, applied
in vinegar; honey in which the bees have died, mixed with resin;
or the kind of snail without a shell, that is found in Africa, as
already[2819] mentioned, beaten up with powdered frankincense and white
of eggs, the application being renewed at the end of thirty days; some
persons, however substitute a bulb for the frankincense.

For the cure of hydrocele, a spotted lizard, they say, is marvellously
good, the head, feet, and intestines being first removed, and the
rest of the body roasted and taken frequently with the food. For
incontinence[2820] of urine dogs’ fat is used, mixed with a piece of
split alum the size of a bean; ashes, also, of African snails burnt
with the shells, taken in drink; or else the tongues of three geese
roasted and eaten with the food, a remedy which we owe to Anaxilaüs.
Mutton-suet,[2821] mixed with parched salt, has an aperient effect upon
inflammatory tumours, and mouse-dung, mixed with powdered frankincense
and sandarach, acts upon them as a dispellent: the ashes, also, of
a burnt lizard, or the lizard itself, split asunder and applied; or
else bruised millepedes, mixed with one third part of turpentine.
Some make use of earth of Sinope[2822] for this purpose, mixed with a
bruised snail. Ashes of empty snail-shells burnt alone, mixed with wax,
possess certain repercussive properties; the same, too, with pigeons’
dung, employed by itself, or applied with oat-meal or barley-meal.
Cantharides, mixed with lime, remove inflammatory tumours quite as
effectually as the lancet; and small snails, applied topically with
honey, have a soothing effect upon tumours in the groin.


To prevent varicose veins, the legs of children are rubbed with a
lizard’s blood: but both the party who operates and the patient must
be fasting at the time. Wool-grease, mixed with woman’s milk and white
lead, has a soothing effect upon gout; the liquid dung also voided
by sheep; a sheep’s lights; a ram’s gall, mixed with suet; mice,
split asunder and applied; a weasel’s blood, used as a liniment with
plantago; the ashes of a weasel burnt alive, mixed with vinegar and
oil of roses, and applied with a feather, or used in combination with
wax and oil of roses; a dog’s gall, due care being taken not to touch
it with the hand, and to apply it with a feather; poultry dung; or
else ashes of burnt earth-worms, applied with honey, and removed at
the end of a couple of days. Some, however, prefer using this last
with water, while others, again, apply the worms themselves, in the
proportion of one acetabulum[2823] to three cyathi of honey, the feet
of the patient being first anointed with oil of roses. The broad, flat,
kind of snail, taken in drink, is used for the removal of pains in the
feet and joints; two of them being pounded for the purpose and taken
in wine. They are employed, also, in the form of a liniment, mixed
with the juice of the plant helxine:[2824] some, however, are content
to beat up the snails with vinegar. Some say that salt, burnt in a
new earthen vessel with a viper, and taken repeatedly, is curative of
gout, and that it is an excellent plan to rub the feet with viper’s
fat. It is asserted, too, that similar results are produced by keeping
a kite till it is dry, and then powdering it and taking it in water, a
pinch in three fingers at a time; by rubbing the feet with the blood
of that bird mixed with nettles; or by bruising the first feathers of
a ring-dove with nettles. The dung of ring-doves is used as a liniment
for pains in the joints; the ashes also of a burnt weasel, or of burnt
snails, mixed with amylum[2825] or gum tragacanth.

A very excellent cure for contusions of the joints is a spider’s web;
but there are persons who give the preference to ashes of burnt cobwebs
or of burnt pigeons’ dung, mixed with polenta and white wine. For
sprains of the joints a sovereign remedy is mutton suet, mixed with
the ashes of a woman’s hair; a good application, too, for chilblains
is mutton suet, mixed with alum, or else ashes of a burnt dog’s head
or of burnt mouse-dung. Ulcers, free from discharge, are brought to
cicatrize by using the above-named substances in combination with
wax; ashes, also, of burnt dormice, mixed with oil; ashes of burnt
wood-mice, mixed with honey; ashes of burnt earth-worms, applied with
old oil; or else ashes of the snails without a shell that are so
commonly found. All ulcers on the feet are cured by the application of
ashes of snails, burnt alive; and for excoriations of the feet, ashes
of burnt poultry-dung are used, or ashes of burnt pigeons’ dung, mixed
with oil. When the feet have been galled by the shoes, the ashes of an
old shoe-sole are used, or the lights of a lamb or ram. For gatherings
beneath[2826] the nails, a horse’s tooth, powdered, is a sovereign
remedy. A light application of a green lizard’s blood, will cure the
feet of man or beast when galled beneath.

For the removal of corns upon the feet, the urine of a mule of either
sex is applied, mixed with the mud which it has formed upon the ground;
sheep’s dung, also; the liver of a green lizard, or the blood of that
animal, applied in wool; earth-worms, mixed with oil; the head of a
spotted lizard, pounded with an equal quantity of vitex and mixed
with oil; or pigeons’ dung, boiled with vinegar. For the cure of all
kinds of warts, dogs’ urine is applied fresh, with the mud which it
has formed upon the ground; dogs’ dung, also, reduced to ashes and
mixed with wax; sheep’s dung; the blood of mice, applied fresh, or the
body of a mouse, split asunder; the gall of a hedgehog; a lizard’s
head or blood, or the ashes of that animal, burnt entire; the cast-off
slough of a snake; or else poultry dung, applied with oil and nitre.
Cantharides, also, bruised with Taminian[2827] grapes, act corrosively
upon warts: but when warts have been thus removed, the remedies should
be employed which we have pointed out for ulcerations on the skin.


We will now turn our attention to those evils which are a cause of
apprehension, as affecting the whole body. According to what the
magicians say, the gall of a male black dog is a counter-charm for the
whole of a house; and it will be quite sufficient to make fumigations
with it, or to use it as a purification, to ensure its preservation
against all noxious drugs and preparations. They say the same, too,
with reference to a dog’s blood, if the walls are sprinkled with it;
and the genitals of that animal, if buried beneath the threshold. This
will surprise persons the less who are aware how highly these same
magicians extol that most abominable insect, the tick, and all because
it is the only one that has no[2828] passage for the evacuations, its
eating ending only in its death, and it living all the longer for
fasting: in this latter state it has been known to live so long as
seven days, they say, but when it gorges to satiety it will burst in
a much shorter period. According to these authorities, a tick from a
dog’s left ear, worn as an amulet, will allay all kinds of pains. They
presage, too, from it on matters of life and death; for if the patient,
they say, gives an answer to a person who has a tick about him, and,
standing at the foot of the bed, asks how he is, it is an infallible
sign that he will survive; while, on the other hand, if he makes no
answer, he will be sure to die. They add, also, that the dog from whose
left ear the tick is taken, must be entirely black. Nigidius has stated
in his writings that dogs will avoid the presence all day of a person
who has taken a tick from off a hog.

The magicians likewise assure us that patients suffering from delirium
will recover their reason on being sprinkled with a mole’s blood; and
that persons who are apt to be troubled by the gods of the night[2829]
and by Fauni, will experience relief by rubbing themselves morning and
evening with the tongue, eyes, gall, and intestines of a dragon,[2830]
boiled in oil, and cooled in the open air at night.


A remedy for cold shiverings, according to Nicander, is a dead
amphisbæna,[2831] or its skin only, attached to the body: in addition
to which, he informs us that if one of these reptiles is attached to
a tree that is being felled, the persons hewing it will never feel
cold, and will fell it all the more easily. For so it is, that this
is the only one among all the serpents that faces the cold, making
its appearance the first of all, and even before the cuckoo’s note is
heard. There is another marvellous fact also mentioned, with reference
to the cuckoo: if, upon the spot where a person hears this bird for
the first time, he traces round the space occupied by his right foot
and then digs up the earth, it will effectually prevent fleas from
breeding, wherever it is thrown.


For persons apprehensive of paralysis the fat of dormice and of
field-mice, they say, is very useful, boiled: and for patients
threatened with phthisis, millepedes are good, taken in drink, in
manner already[2832] mentioned for the cure of quinzy. The same, too,
with a green lizard, boiled down to one cyathus in three sextarii of
wine, and taken in doses of one spoonful daily, until the patient is
perfectly cured; the ashes also of burnt snails, taken in wine.


For the cure of epilepsy wool-grease is used, with a modicum of myrrh,
a piece about the size of a hazel-nut being dissolved and taken after
the bath, in two cyathi of wine: a ram’s testes, also, dried and
pounded, and taken in doses of half a denarius, in water, or in a
semi-sextarius of asses’ milk; the patient being forbidden wine five
days before and after using the remedy. Sheep’s blood, too, is mightily
praised, taken in drink; sheep’s gall, also, and lambs’ gall in
particular, mixed with honey; the flesh of a sucking puppy, taken with
wine and myrrh, the head and feet being first removed; the callosities
from a mule’s legs, taken in three cyathi of oxymel; the ashes of a
spotted lizard from beyond seas, taken in vinegar; the thin coat of a
spotted lizard, which it casts like a snake, taken in drink—indeed some
persons recommend the lizard itself, gutted with a reed and dried and
taken in drink; while others, again, are for roasting it on a wooden
spit and taking it with the food.

It is worth while knowing how the winter slough of this lizard is
obtained when it casts it off, before it has had the opportunity of
devouring[2833] it; there being no creature, it is said, that resorts
in its spite to more cunning devices for the deception of man; a
circumstance owing to which, the name of “stellio”[2834] has been
borrowed as a name of reproach. The place to which it retires in
summer is carefully observed, being generally some spot beneath the
projecting parts of doors or windows, or else in vaults or tombs. In
the early days of spring, cages made of split reeds are placed before
these spots; and the narrower the interstices the more delighted is the
animal with them, it being all the better enabled thereby to disengage
itself of the coat which adheres to its body and impedes its freedom
of action: when, however, it has once quitted it, the construction of
the cage prevents its return. There is nothing whatever preferred to
this lizard as a remedy for epilepsy. The brains of a weasel are also
considered very good, dried and taken in drink; the liver, too, of
that animal, or the testes, uterus, or paunch, dried and taken with
coriander, in manner already[2835] mentioned; the ashes also of a
burnt weasel; or a wild weasel, eaten whole with the food. All these
properties are equally attributed to the ferret. A green lizard is
sometimes eaten, dressed with seasonings to stimulate the appetite, the
feet and head being first removed; the ashes, too, of burnt snails are
used, as an ointment, with linseed, nettle-seed, and honey.

The magicians think highly of a dragon’s tail, attached to the body,
with a deer’s sinews, in the skin of a gazelle; as also the small grits
found in the crops of young swallows, tied to the left arm of the
patient; for swallows, it is said, give small stones to their young the
moment they are hatched. If, at the commencement of the first paroxysm,
an epileptic patient eats the first of a swallow’s brood that has been
hatched, he will experience a perfect cure: but at a later period the
disease is treated by using swallow’s blood with frankincense, or by
eating the heart of the bird quite fresh. Nay, even more than this, a
small stone taken from a swallow’s nest will relieve the patient the
moment it is applied, they say; worn, too, as an amulet, it will always
act as a preservative against the malady. A kite’s liver, too, eaten
by the patient, is highly vaunted; the slough also of a serpent; a
vulture’s liver, beaten up with the blood of the bird, and taken thrice
seven days in drink; or the heart of a young vulture, worn attached to
the body.

And not only this, but the vulture itself is recommended as a food for
the patient, and that, too, when it has been glutted with human flesh.
Some recommend the breast of this bird to be taken in drink from a cup
made of cerrus[2836] wood, or the testes of a dunghill cock to be taken
in milk and water; the patient abstaining from wine the five preceding
days, and the testes being dried for the purpose. There have been
authorities found to recommend one-and-twenty red flies—and those found
dead, too!—taken in drink, the number being reduced where the patient
is of a feeble habit.


Jaundice is combated by administering ear-wax to the patient, or
else the filth that adheres to the udders of sheep, in doses of one
denarius, with a modicum of myrrh, in two cyathi of wine; the ashes,
also, of a dog’s head, mixed with honied wine; a millepede, in one
semi-sextarius of wine; earth-worms, in hydromel with myrrh; wine
in which a hen’s feet have been washed, after being first cleansed
with water—the hen must be one with yellow[2837] feet—the brains of
a partridge or of an eagle, in three cyathi of wine; the ashes of a
ring-dove’s feathers or intestines, in honied wine, in doses of three
spoonfuls; or ashes of sparrows burnt upon twigs, in doses of two
spoonfuls, in hydromel.

There is a bird, known as the “icterus,”[2838] from its peculiar
colour: if the patient looks at it, he will be cured of jaundice, they
say, and the bird will die. In my opinion this is the same bird that is
known in Latin by the name of “galgulus.”[2839]


In cases of phrenitis a sheep’s lights, attached warm round the
patient’s head, would appear to be advantageous. But as to giving a man
suffering from delirium a mouse’s brains in water to drink, the ashes
of a burnt weasel, or the dried flesh even of a hedgehog, who could
possibly do it, supposing even the effects of the remedy were certain?
I should be inclined, too, to rank the ashes of the eyes of a horned
owl in the number of those monstrous prescriptions with which the
adepts in the magic art abuse the credulity of mankind.

It is in cases, too, of fever, more particularly, that the acknowledged
rules of medicine run counter to the prescriptions of these men: for
they have classified the various modes of treating the disease in
accordance with the twelve signs of the Zodiac, and relatively to the
revolutions of the sun and moon, a system which deserves to be utterly
repudiated, as I shall prove by a few instances selected from many.
They recommend, for example, when the sun is passing through Gemini,
that the patient should be rubbed with ashes of the burnt combs,
ears, and claws of cocks, beaten up and mixed with oil. If, again, it
is the moon that is passing through that sign, it is the spurs and
wattles of cocks that must be similarly employed. When either of these
luminaries is passing through Virgo, grains of barley must be used;
and when through Sagittarius, a bat’s wings. When the moon is passing
through Leo, it is leaves of tamarisk that must be employed, and of the
cultivated tamarisk, they add: if, again, the sign is Aquarius, the
patient must use an application of box-wood charcoal, pounded.

Of the remedies, however, that we find recommended by them, I shall be
careful to insert those only the efficacy of which has been admitted,
or, at least, is probable in any degree; such, for instance, as the
use of powerful odours, as an excitant for patients suffering from
lethargy; among which, perhaps, may be reckoned the dried testes of a
weasel, or the liver of that animal, burnt. They consider it a good
plan, too, to attach a sheep’s lights, made warm, round the head of the


In the treatment of quartan fevers, clinical medicine is, so to
say, pretty nearly powerless; for which reason we shall insert a
considerable number of remedies recommended by professors of the
magic art, and, first of all, those prescribed to be worn as amulets:
the dust, for instance, in which a hawk has bathed itself, tied
up in a linen cloth, with a red string, and attached to the body;
the longest tooth of a black dog; or the wasp known by the name of
“pseudosphex,”[2840] which is always to be seen flying alone, caught
with the left hand and attached beneath the patient’s chin. Some use
for this purpose the first wasp that a person sees in the current year.
Other amulets are, a viper’s head, severed from the body and wrapped in
a linen cloth; a viper’s heart, removed from the reptile while still
alive; the muzzle[2841] of a mouse and the tips of its ears, wrapped
in red cloth, the animal being set at liberty after they are removed;
the right eye plucked from a living lizard, and enclosed with the head,
separated from the body, in goat’s skin; the scarabæus also that forms
pellets[2842] and rolls them along.

It is on account of this kind of scarabæus that the people of a great
part of Egypt worship those insects as divinities; an usage for
which Apion gives a curious reason, asserting, as he does, by way of
justifying the rites of his nation, that the insect in its operations
pictures the revolution of the sun. There is also another kind of
scarabæus, which the magicians recommend to be worn as an amulet—the
one that has small horns[2843] thrown backwards; it must be taken up,
when used for this purpose, with the left hand. A third kind also,
known by the name of “fullo,”[2844] and covered with white spots, they
recommend to be cut asunder and attached to either arm, the other kinds
being worn upon the left arm. Other amulets recommended by them, are,
the heart of a snake taken from the living animal with the left hand;
or four joints of a scorpion’s tail, together with the sting, attached
to the body in a piece of black cloth; due care being taken that the
patient does not see the scorpion, which is set at liberty after the
operation, or the person who has attached the amulet, for the space of
three days: after the recurrence, too, of the third paroxysm, he must
bury the whole in the ground. Some enclose a caterpillar in a piece
of linen with a thread passed three times round it, and tie as many
knots, repeating at each knot why it is that the patient performs that
operation. A slug is sometimes wrapped in a piece of skin, or the heads
of four slugs, cut from the body with a reed: a millepede is rolled up
in wool: the small grubs that produce the gadfly,[2845] are used before
the wings of the insect are developed; or any other kind of hairy grub
is employed that is found adhering to prickly shrubs. Some persons
attach to the body four of these grubs, enclosed in an empty walnut
shell, or else some of the snails that are found without a shell.

In other cases, again, it is the practice to enclose a spotted
lizard in a little box, and to place it beneath the pillow of the
patient, taking care to set it at liberty when the fever abates. It
is recommended also, that the patient should swallow the heart of a
sea-diver, removed from the bird without the aid of iron, it being
first dried and then bruised and taken in warm water. The heart of
a swallow is also recommended, with honey; and there are persons
who say that, just before the paroxysms come on, the patient should
take one drachma of swallow’s dung in three cyathi of goats’ milk or
ewes’ milk, or of raisin wine: others, again, are of opinion that
the birds themselves should be taken, whole. The nations of Parthia,
as a remedy for quartan fevers, take the skin of the asp, in doses
of one sixth of a denarius, with an equal quantity of pepper. The
philosopher Chrysippus has left a statement to the effect, that the
phryganion,[2846] worn as an amulet, is a remedy for quartan fevers;
but what kind of animal this is he has nowhere informed us, nor have I
been able to meet with any one who knows. Still, however, I felt myself
bound to notice a remedy that was mentioned by an author of such high
repute, in case any other person should happen to be more successful in
his researches. To eat the flesh of a crow, and to use nitre in the
form of a liniment, is considered highly efficacious for the treatment
of chronic diseases.

In cases of tertian fever—so true it is that suffering takes delight in
prolonging hope by trying every remedy—it may be worth while to make
trial whether the web of the spider called “lycos”[2847] is of any
use, applied, with the insect itself, to the temples and forehead in a
compress covered with resin and wax; or the insect itself, attached to
the body in a reed, a form in which it is said to be highly beneficial
for other fevers. Trial may be made also of a green lizard, enclosed
alive in a vessel just large enough to receive it, and worn as an
amulet; a method, it is said, by which recurrent fevers are often


For the cure of dropsy, wool-grease, a piece about the size of a
hazel-nut, is given in wine, with the addition of a little myrrh: some
add goose-grease, steeped in myrtle wine. The filth that adheres to the
udders of sheep is productive of a similar effect, as also the dried
flesh of a hedge-hog, taken with the food. Matter vomited by a dog, we
are assured, applied to the abdomen, will draw off the water that has
accumulated there.


For the cure of erysipelas, wool-grease is used, with pompholix[2848]
and oil of roses; the blood[2849] also extracted from a tick; earth
worms, applied in vinegar; or else a cricket crushed between the
hands—the good effect of this last being that the person who uses this
precaution before the malady has made its appearance, will be preserved
therefrom for a whole year. Care must be taken also that iron is used
for the removal of the cricket, with some of the earth about its hole.
Goose-grease is also employed for this purpose; a viper’s head, dried
and burnt, and applied with vinegar; or a serpent’s slough, applied to
the body, immediately after the bath, with bitumen and lamb suet.


Carbuncles are removed by an application of pigeons’ dung, either alone
or in combination with linseed and oxymel; or of bees that have died
in the honey. A sprinkling of polenta upon the sores is also used. For
carbuncles and other sores of the generative organs, wool-grease is
used as a remedy, with refuse of lead; and for incipient carbuncles,
sheep’s dung is employed. Tumours and all other affections that stand
in need of emollients are treated most effectually with goose-grease;
that of cranes, too, is equally efficacious.


For boils the following remedies are prescribed; a spider, applied
before mentioning the insect by name, care being taken to remove it
at the end of two days; a shrew-mouse, suspended by the neck till it
is dead, care being taken not to let it touch the earth when dead,
and to pass it three times around the boil, both operator and patient
spitting on the floor each time; poultry-dung, that of a red colour in
particular, applied fresh with vinegar; the crop of a stork, boiled in
wine; flies, an uneven number of them, rubbed upon the patient with the
ring[2850] finger; the filth from sheep’s ears; stale mutton suet, with
ashes of women’s hair; ram suet also, with ashes of burnt pumice and an
equal quantity of salt.


For burns, the ashes of a dog’s head are used; ashes of burnt dormice,
with oil; sheep’s dung, with wax; ashes also of burnt snails, an
application so effectual, as not to leave a scar even. Viper’s fat,
too, is used, and ashes of burnt pigeons’ dung, applied with oil.


For nodosities in the sinews, the ashes of a viper’s head are applied,
with oil of Cyprus;[2851] or else earth-worms, with honey. Pains in the
sinews should be treated with an application of grease; the body of a
dead amphisbæna, worn as an amulet; vulture’s grease, dried with the
crop of the bird and beaten up with stale hog’s lard; or else ashes of
the head of a horned owl, taken in honied wine with a lily root—that
is, if we believe what the magicians tell us. For contractions of the
sinews, the flesh of ring-doves is very good, dried and taken with the
food: and for spasmodic affections, the ashes of a hedge-hog or weasel
are used. A serpent’s slough, attached to the patient’s body in a piece
of bull’s hide, is a preventive of spasms: and the dried liver of a
kite, taken in doses of three oboli, in three cyathi of hydromel, is a
preservative against opisthotony.


Agnails and hangnails upon the fingers are removed by using the ashes
of a burnt dog’s head, or the uterus of a bitch boiled in oil, the
fingers being first rubbed with a liniment of ewe-milk butter, mixed
with honey. The gall-bladder, too, of any animal is very useful for
this purpose. Malformed nails are healed with an application of
cantharides and pitch, which is removed at the end of two days; or else
with locusts fried with he-goat suet; or with an application of mutton
suet. Some mix mistletoe and purslain with these ingredients; while
others, again, use verdigrease and mistletoe, removing the application
at the end of two days.


Bleeding at the nostrils is arrested by mutton suet taken from the
caul, introduced into the nostrils; by drawing up rennet, lamb’s rennet
in particular, mixed with water, into the nostrils, or by using it as
an injection, a remedy which succeeds even where other remedies have
failed; by making up goose-grease into a bolus with an equal quantity
of butter, and plugging the nostrils with it; or by using the earth
that adheres to snails, or else the snails themselves, extracted from
the shell. Excessive discharges from the nostrils are arrested also
by applying crushed snails, or cobwebs, to the forehead. For issues
of blood from the brain, the blood or brains of poultry are used, as
also pigeons’ dung, thickened and kept for the purpose. In cases where
there is an immoderate flow of blood from a wound, an application of
horse-dung, burnt with egg-shells, is marvellously good for stopping it.


For the cure of ulcers, wool-grease is used; with ashes of burnt
barley and verdigrease, in equal quantities; a preparation which is
good, too, for carcinomata and spreading sores. It cauterizes the flesh
also around the margins of ulcers, and reduces and makes level fungous
excrescences formed by sores. Ashes, too, of burnt sheep’s dung, mixed
with nitre, are of great efficacy for the cure of carcinomata; as also
those of lambs’ thigh-bones, in cases more particularly where ulcers
refuse to cicatrize. Very considerable, too, is the efficacy of lights,
ram’s lights in particular, which are of the greatest utility for
reducing and making level the fleshy excrescences formed by ulcerous
sores. With sheep’s dung, warmed beneath an earthen pan and kneaded,
the swellings attendant upon wounds are reduced, and fistulous sores
and epinyctis are cleansed and made to heal.

But it is in the ashes of a burnt dog’s head that the greatest
efficacy is found; as it quite equals spodium[2852] in its property
of cauterizing all kinds of fleshy excrescences, and causing sores
to heal. Mouse-dung, too, is used as a cautery, and weasels’ dung,
burnt to ashes. Pounded millepedes, mixed with turpentine and earth
of Sinope,[2853] are used for penetrating carcinomata and fleshy
indurations in deep-seated sores; and the same substances are
remarkably useful for the treatment of ulcers threatened with maggots.

Indeed the several varieties of worms themselves are possessed of
marvellously useful properties. The worms,[2854] for instance, that
breed in wood are curative of all kinds of ulcers: reduced to ashes,
with an equal quantity of anise, and applied with oil, they heal
cancerous sores. Earthworms are so remarkably healing for wounds
recently inflicted, that it is a very general belief that by the end
of seven days they will unite sinews even that have been cut asunder:
hence it is that it is recommended to keep them preserved in honey.
Ashes of burnt earth-worms, in combination with tar or Simblian
honey,[2855] cauterize the indurated margins of ulcerous sores. Some
persons dry earthworms in the sun, and apply them to wounds with
vinegar, the application not being removed till the end of a couple
of days. The earth also that adheres to snails is useful, similarly
employed; snails, too, taken whole from the shell, are pounded and
applied to fresh wounds, to heal them, and they arrest the progress of
cancerous sores.

There is an insect called “herpes”[2856] by the Greeks, which is
particularly useful for the cure of all kinds of serpiginous[2857]
sores. Snails, beaten up, shells and all, are very good for this
purpose; and it is said that, with myrrh and frankincense, they
will unite the sinews even when cut asunder. The fat, too, of a
dragon,[2858] dried in the sun, is remarkably useful, and so are the
brains of a cook or capon for recent wounds. By taking with the food
salt in which vipers have been preserved, ulcers are rendered more
easy of treatment, it is said, and are made to heal all the sooner.
Antonius[2859] the physician, after operating in vain upon ulcers, that
were incurable with the knife, used to prescribe viper’s flesh to be
eaten by the patient, whereby a marvellously speedy cure was effected.

The locust called “troxallis,”[2860] reduced to ashes and applied with
honey, removes the indurated margins of ulcerous sores: ashes, also, of
burnt pigeons’ dung, with arsenic and honey, are very effectual in all
cases where a cautery is required. The brains of a horned owl, applied
with goose-grease, are marvellously efficacious for uniting wounds, it
is said. For the malignant ulcer known as “cacoëthes,”[2861] the ashes
of a ram’s thigh-bones are used, mixed with woman’s milk, the sores
being washed with linen cloths well rinsed. For the same purpose, the
bird known as the screech-owl[2862] is boiled in oil, ewe-milk butter
and honey being added to the preparation, when properly dissolved.
An application of bees that have died in the honey, acts emolliently
upon the indurated margins of ulcerous sores; and for the cure of
elephantiasis, the blood and ashes of a weasel are employed. Wounds and
weals produced by blows are effaced by an application of sheep-skins
fresh from the body.


For fractures of the joints, ashes of sheep’s thigh-bones are
particularly useful, applied in combination with wax; and the remedy
is all the more efficacious, if a sheep’s jaw-bones are burnt with
the other ingredients, together with a deer’s antler, and some wax
dissolved in oil of roses. For broken bones, a dog’s brains are
used, spread upon a linen cloth, with wool laid upon the surface and
moistened every now and then. The fractured bone will mostly unite
in the course of fourteen days; and a cure equally expeditious may
be effected by using the ashes of burnt field-mice, with honey, or
of burnt earthworms; a substance which is extremely useful for the
extraction of splintered bones.


Cicatrizations are restored to their original colour by applying
sheep’s lights, those of a ram in particular; mutton-suet, mixed with
nitre; the ashes of a green lizard; a snake’s slough, boiled in wine;
or else pigeons’ dung, mixed with honey; a preparation which, in
combination with wine, is good for the removal of white morphew. For
the cure, also, of morphew, cantharides are used, with two-thirds of
rue-leaves; a preparation which the patient must keep applied, in the
sun, till the skin itches and rises in blisters; after which it must
be fomented and well rubbed with oil, and the application repeated.
This must be done for several days in succession, due precautions being
taken that the ulcerations do not penetrate too deep.

For the cure, too, of morphew, a liniment is recommended, made of flies
and root of agrimony; the white part also of poultry dung, kept in a
horn box with stale oil; a bat’s blood; or else the gall of a hedge-hog
applied with water. Itch-scab is cured by using the brains of a horned
owl, incorporated with saltpetre; but dog’s blood is the best thing to
keep it in check. The small, broad, snail that is found, crushed and
applied topically, is an effectual cure for itching sensations.


Arrows, pointed weapons, and other foreign substances that require to
be extracted from the body, are removed by the application of a mouse
split asunder, or of a lizard more particularly, similarly divided, or
else the head only of the animal, pounded with salt. The snails, too,
that are found in clusters upon leaves, are pounded and applied with
their shells on; as also those that are used as food, the shells being
first removed, applied with hare’s rennet in particular. The bones of a
snake, applied with the rennet of any four-footed animal, will produce
a similar effect before the end of two days: cantharides, also, bruised
and applied with barley-meal, are highly extolled.


For diseases incident to females, a ewe’s placenta is very useful, as
already[2863] mentioned by us, when speaking of goats: sheep’s dung,
too, is equally good. A fumigation of burnt locusts, applied to the
lower parts, affords relief to strangury, in females more particularly.
If, immediately after conception, a woman eats a cock’s testes every
now and then, the child of which she is pregnant will become[2864] a
male, it is said. The ashes of a burnt porcupine, taken in drink, are
a preventive of abortion: bitches’ milk facilitates delivery: and the
afterbirth of a bitch, provided it has not touched the ground, will
act as an expellent of the fœtus. Milk, taken as a drink, strengthens
the loins of women when in travail. Mouse-dung, diluted with rain
water, reduces the breasts of females, when swollen after delivery.
The ashes of a burnt hedge-hog, applied with oil, act as a preventive
of abortion. Delivery is facilitated, in cases where the patient has
taken, either goose-dung in two cyathi of water, or the liquid that
escapes from the uterus of a weasel by its genitals.

Earth-worms, applied topically, effectually prevent pains in the
sinews of the neck and shoulders; taken in raisin wine, they expel the
after-birth, when retarded. Applied by themselves, earthworms ripen
abscesses of the breasts, open them, draw the humours, and make them
cicatrize: taken in honied wine, they promote the secretion of the
milk. In hay-grass there are small worms found, which, attached to the
neck, act as a preventive of premature delivery; they are removed,
however, at the moment of childbirth, as otherwise they would have
the effect of impeding delivery; care must be taken, also, not to
put them on the ground. To promote conception, five or seven of them
are administered in drink. Snails, taken with the food, accelerate
delivery; and, applied with saffron, they promote conception. Used
in the form of a liniment, with amylum[2865] and gum tragacanth,
they arrest uterine discharges. Taken with the food, they promote
menstruation; and, mixed with deer’s marrow, in the proportion of one
denarius and the same quantity of cyprus[2866] to each snail, they
reduce the uterus when displaced. Taken from the shell, and beaten up
with oil of roses, they dispel inflations of the uterus; the snails of
Astypalæa being those that are mostly chosen for these purposes.

Those of Africa, again, are employed in a different manner, two of them
being beaten, up with a pinch of fenugreek in three fingers, and four
spoonfuls of honey, and the preparation applied to the abdomen, after
it has been rubbed with juice of iris.[2867] There is a kind of small,
white, elongated snail,[2868] that is found straying here and there:
dried upon tiles in the sun, and reduced to powder, these snails are
mixed with bean-meal, in equal proportions, forming a cosmetic which
whitens and softens the skin. The small, broad, kind of snail, mixed
with polenta, is good for the removal of a tendency to scratch, and rub
the skin.

If a pregnant woman steps over a viper, she will be sure to
miscarry;[2869] the same, too, in the case of the amphisbæna, but
only when it is dead. If, however, a woman carries about her a live
amphisbæna in a box, she may step over one with impunity, even though
it be dead. An amphisbæna, preserved for the purpose, will ensure an
easy delivery, even though it be dead.[2870] It is a truly marvellous
fact, but if a pregnant woman steps over one of these serpents that
has not been preserved, it will be perfectly harmless, provided she
immediately steps over another that has been preserved. A fumigation
made with a dried snake, acts powerfully as an emmenagogue.


The cast-off slough of a snake, attached to the loins, facilitates
delivery; care must be taken, however, to remove it immediately after.
It is administered, too, in wine, mixed with frankincense: taken in
any other form, it is productive of abortion. A staff, by the aid of
which a person has parted[2871] a frog from a snake, will accelerate
parturition. Ashes of the troxallis,[2872] applied with honey, act as
an emmenagogue; the same, too, with the spider that descends as it
spins its thread from aloft; it must be taken, however, in the hollow
of the hand, crushed, and applied accordingly: if, on the contrary, the
spider is taken while ascending, it will arrest menstruation.

The stone aëtites,[2873] that is found in the eagle’s nest, preserves
the fœtus against all insidious attempts at producing abortion. A
vulture’s feather, placed beneath the feet of the woman, accelerates
parturition. It is a well-known fact, that pregnant women must be
on their guard against ravens’ eggs, for if a female in that state
should happen to step over one, she will be sure to miscarry by the
mouth.[2874] A hawk’s dung, taken in honied wine, would appear to
render females fruitful. Goose-grease, or that of the swan, acts
emolliently upon indurations and abscesses of the uterus.


Goose-grease, mixed up with oil of roses and a spider, protects the
breasts after delivery. The people of Phrygia and Lycaonia have made
the discovery, that the grease of the otis[2875] is good for affections
of the breasts, resulting from recent delivery: for females affected
with suffocations of the uterus, they employ a liniment made of
beetles. The shells of partridges’ eggs, burnt to ashes and mixed with
cadmia[2876] and wax, preserve the firmness[2877] of the breasts. It is
generally thought, that if the egg of a partridge or * * * is passed
three times round a woman’s breasts, they will never become flaccid;
and that, if these eggs are swallowed, they will be productive of
fruitfulness, and promote the plentiful secretion of the milk. It is
believed, too, that by anointing a woman’s breasts’ with goose-grease,
pains therein may be allayed; that moles formed in the uterus may be
dispersed thereby; and that itch[2878] of the uterus may be dispelled
by the application of a liniment made of crushed bugs.


Bats’ blood has all the virtues of a depilatory: but if applied to
the cheeks of youths, it will not be found sufficiently efficacious,
unless it is immediately followed up by an application of verdigrease
or hemlock-seed; this method having the effect of entirely removing
the hair, or at least reducing it to the state of a fine down. It is
generally thought, too, that bats’ brains are productive of a similar
effect; there being two kinds of these brains, the red and the white.
Some persons mix with the brains the blood and liver of the same
animal: others, again, boil down a viper in three semisextarii of
oil, and, after boning it, use it as a depilatory, first pulling out
the hairs that are wanted not to grow. The gall of a hedgehog is a
depilatory, more particularly if mixed with bats’ brains and goats’
milk: the ashes, too, of a burnt hedgehog are used for a similar
purpose. If, after plucking out the hairs that are wanted not to grow,
or if, before they make their appearance, the parts are well rubbed
with the milk of a bitch with her first litter, no hairs will grow
there. The same result is ensured, it is said, by using the blood of a
tick taken from off a dog, or else the blood or gall of a swallow.

(15.) Ants’ eggs, they say, beaten up with flies, impart a black
colour[2879] to the eyebrows. If it is considered desirable that the
colour of the infant’s eyes should be black, the pregnant woman must
eat a rat.[2880] Ashes of burnt earth-worms, applied with oil, prevent
the hair from turning white.


For infants that are troubled with coagulation of the milk, a grand
preservative is lamb’s rennet, taken in water; and in cases where the
milk has so coagulated, it may be remedied by administering rennet in
vinegar. For the pains incident to dentition, sheep’s brains are a
very useful remedy. The inflammation called “siriasis,”[2881] to which
infants are liable, is cured by attaching to them the bones that are
found in the dung of dogs. Hernia in infants is cured by letting a
green lizard bite the child’s body while asleep, after which the lizard
is attached to a reed, and hung up in the smoke; by the time the animal
dies, the child will be perfectly cured, it is said. The slime of
snails, applied to the eyes of children, straightens the eyelashes, and
makes them grow. Ashes of burnt snails applied with frankincense and
juice of white grapes, are a cure for hernia [in infants], if applied
for thirty days consecutively. Within the horns[2882] of snails, there
are certain hard substances found, like grits of sand: attached to
infants, they facilitate dentition.

Ashes of empty snail-shells, mixed with wax, are a preventive of
procidence of the rectum; but they must be used in combination with the
matter that exudes from a viper’s brains, on the head being pricked.
Vipers’ brains, attached to the infant’s body in a piece of skin,
facilitate dentition, a similar effect being produced by using the
larger teeth of serpents. Ravens’ dung, attached to an infant with
wool, is curative of cough.

It is hardly possible to preserve one’s seriousness in describing some
of these remedies, but as they have been transmitted to us, I must
not pass them in silence. For the treatment of hernia in infants, a
lizard is recommended; but it must be a male lizard, a thing that may
be ascertained by its having but one orifice beneath the tail. The
method of proceeding, is for the lizard to bite the part affected
through cloth of gold, cloth of silver, and cloth dyed purple; after
which it is tied fast in a cup that has never been used, and smoked.
Incontinence of urine in infants is checked by giving them boiled
mice[2883] with their food. The large indented horns of the scarabæus,
attached to the bodies of infants, have all the virtues of an amulet.
In the head of the boa[2884] there is a small stone, they say, which
the serpent spits out, when it is in fear of death: if the reptile is
taken by surprise, and the head cut off, and this stone extracted,
it will aid dentition to a marvellous degree, attached to the neck of
infants. The brains, too, of the same serpent are recommended to be
attached to the body far a similar purpose, as also the small stone or
bone that is found in the back of the slug.

An admirable promoter of dentition is found in sheep’s brains,
applied to the gums; and equally good for diseases of the ears, is an
application of goose-grease, with juice of ocimum. Upon prickly plants
there is found a kind of rough, hairy, grub: attached to the neck of
infants, these insects give instant relief, it is said, when any of the
food has stuck in the throat.


As a soporific, wool-grease is employed, diluted in two cyathi of wine
with a modicum of myrrh, or else mixed with goose-grease and myrtle
wine. For a similar purpose also, a cuckoo is attached to the body in a
hare’s skin, or a young heron’s bill to the forehead in an ass’s skin:
it is thought, too, that the beak alone, steeped in wine, is equally
efficacious. On the other hand, a bat’s head, dried and worn as an
amulet, acts as a preventive of sleep.


A lizard drowned in a man’s urine has the effect of an antaphrodisiac
upon the person whose urine it is; for this animal is to be reckoned
among the philtres, the magicians say. The same property is attributed
to the excrements of snails, and to pigeons’ dung, taken with oil and
wine. The right lobe of a vulture’s lungs, attached to the body in
the skin of a crane, acts powerfully as a stimulant upon males: an
effect equally produced by taking the yolks of five pigeons’ eggs, in
honey, mixed with one denarius of hog’s lard; sparrows, or eggs of
sparrows, with the food; or by wearing the right testicle of a cock,
attached to the body in a ram’s skin. The ashes of a burnt ibis, it is
said, employed as a friction with goose-grease and oil of iris, will
prevent abortion when a female has once conceived; while the testes of
a game-cock, on the other hand, rubbed with goose-grease and attached
to the body in a ram’s skin, have all the effect of an antaphrodisiac:
the same, too, with the testes of any kind of dunghill cock, placed,
together with the blood of a cock, beneath the bed. Hairs taken from
the tail of a she-mule while being covered by the stallion, will make
a woman conceive, against her will even, if knotted together at the
moment of the sexual congress.[2885] If a man makes water upon a dog’s
urine, he will become disinclined to copulation, they say.

A singular thing, too, is what is told about the ashes of a spotted
lizard—if indeed it is true—to the effect that, wrapped in linen and
held in the left hand, they act as an aphrodisiac, while, on the
contrary, if they are transferred to the right, they will take effect
as an antaphrodisiac. A bat’s blood, too, they say, received on a flock
of wool and placed beneath a woman’s head, will promote sexual desire;
the same being the case also with a goose’s tongue, taken with the food
or drink.


In phthiriasis, all the vermin upon the body may be killed in the
course of three days, by taking the cast-off slough of a serpent, in
drink, or else whey of milk after the cheese is removed, with a little
salt. Cheese, it is said, will never become rotten with age or be
touched by mice, if a weasel’s brains have been mixed with the rennet.
It is asserted, too, that if the ashes of a burnt weasel are mixed with
the cramming for chickens or young pigeons, they will be safe from
the attacks of weasels. Beasts of burden, when troubled with pains in
staling, find immediate relief, if a bat is attached to the body; and
they are effectually cured of bots by passing a ring-dove three times
round their generative parts—a truly marvellous thing to relate, the
ring-dove, on being set at liberty, dies, and the beast is instantly
relieved from pain.


The eggs of an owlet, administered to drunkards three days in wine, are
productive of a distaste for that liquor. A sheep’s lights roasted,
eaten before drinking,[2886] act as a preventive of inebriety. The
ashes of a swallow’s beak, bruised with myrrh and sprinkled in the
wine, act as a preservative against intoxication: Horus,[2887] king of
Assyria, was the first to discover this.[2888]


In addition to these, there are some other peculiar properties
attributed to certain animals, which require to be mentioned in the
present Book. Some authors state that there is a bird in Sardinia,
resembling the crane and called the “gromphena;”[2889] but it is no
longer known even by the people of that country, in my opinion. In the
same province, too, there is the ophion, an animal which resembles the
deer in the hair only, and to be found[2890] nowhere else. The same
authors have spoken also of the “subjugus,”[2891] but have omitted
to state what animal it is, or where it is to be found. That it did
formerly exist, however, I have no doubt, as certain remedies are
described as being derived from it. M. Cicero speaks of animals called
“biuri,”[2892] which gnaw the vines in Campania.


There are still some other marvellous facts related, with reference
to the animals which we have mentioned. A dog will not bark at a
person who has any part of the secundines of a bitch about him, or
a hare’s dung or fur. The kind of gnats called “muliones,”[2893] do
not live more than a single day. Persons when taking honey from the
hives, will never be touched by the bees if they carry the beak of a
wood-pecker[2894] about them. Swine will be sure to follow the person
who has given them a raven’s brains, made up into a bolus. The dust
in which a she-mule has wallowed, sprinkled upon the body, will allay
the flames of desire. Rats may be put to flight by castrating a male
rat, and setting it at liberty. If a snake’s slough is beaten up with
some spelt, salt, and wild thyme, and introduced into the throat of
oxen, with wine, at the time that grapes are ripening, they will be
in perfect health for a whole year to come: the same, too, if three
young swallows are given to them, made up into three boluses. The dust
gathered from the track of a snake, sprinkled among bees, will make
them return to the hive. If the right testicle of a ram[2895] is tied
up, he will generate females only. Persons who have about them the
sinews taken from the wings or legs of a crane, will never be fatigued
with any kind of laborious exertion. Mules will never kick when they
have drunk wine.

Of all known substances, it is a mule’s[2896] hoofs only that are not
corroded by the poisonous waters of the fountain Styx: a memorable
discovery made by Aristotle,[2897] to his great infamy, on the occasion
when Antipater sent some of this water to Alexander the Great, for the
purpose of poisoning him.

We will now pass on to the aquatic productions.

SUMMARY.—Remedies, narratives, and observations, eight hundred and

ROMAN AUTHORS QUOTED.—M. Varro,[2898] Nigidius,[2899] M. Cicero,[2900]
Sextius Niger[2901] who wrote in Greek, Licinius Macer.[2902]

FOREIGN AUTHORS QUOTED.—Eudoxus,[2903] Aristotle,[2904]
Hermippus,[2905] Homer, Apion,[2906] Orpheus,[2907] Democritus,[2908]

MEDICAL AUTHORS QUOTED.—Botrys,[2910] Horus,[2911] Apollodorus,[2912]
Menander,[2913] Archidemus,[2914] Aristogenes,[2915] Xenocrates,[2916]
Diodorus,[2917] Chrysippus,[2918] Nicander,[2919] Apollonius[2920] of




We have now to speak of the benefits derived, in a medicinal point of
view, from the aquatic productions; for not here even has all-bounteous
Nature reposed from her work. Amid waves and billows, and tides of
rivers for ever on the ebb and flow, she still unceasingly exerts her
powers; and nowhere, if we must confess the truth, does she display
herself in greater might, for it is this among the elements that holds
sway over all the rest. It is water that swallows up dry land, that
extinguishes flame, that ascends aloft, and challenges possession of
the very heavens: it is water that, spreading clouds as it does, far
and wide, intercepts the vital air we breathe; and, through their
collision, gives rise to thunders and lightnings,[2921] as the elements
of the universe meet in conflict.

What can there be more marvellous than waters suspended aloft in the
heavens? And yet, as though it were not enough to reach so high an
elevation as this, they sweep along with them whole shoals of fishes,
and often stones as well, thus lading themselves with ponderous masses
which belong to other elements, and bearing them on high. Falling upon
the earth, these waters become the prime cause of all that is there
produced; a truly wondrous provision of Nature, if we only consider,
that in order to give birth to grain and life to trees and to shrubs,
water must first leave the earth for the heavens, and thence bring
down to vegetation the breath of life! The admission must be surely
extorted from us, that for all our resources the earth is indebted to
the bounteousness of water. It will be only proper, therefore, in the
first place to set forth some instances of the powerful properties
displayed by this element; for as to the whole of them, what living
mortal could describe them?


On all sides, and in a thousand countries, there are waters bounteously
springing forth from the earth, some of them cold, some hot, and some
possessed of these properties united: those in the territory of the
Tarbelli,[2922] for instance, a people of Aquitania, and those among
the Pyrenæan[2923] Mountains, where hot and cold springs are separated
by only the very smallest distance. Then, again, there are others that
are tepid only, or lukewarm, announcing thereby the resources they
afford for the treatment of diseases, and bursting forth, for the
benefit of man alone, out of so many animated beings.[2924]

Under various names, too, they augment the number of the
divinities,[2925] and give birth to cities; Puteoli,[2926] for
example, in Campania, Statyellæ[2927] in Liguria, and Sextiæ[2928]
in the province of Gallia Narbonensis. But nowhere do they abound in
greater number, or offer a greater variety of medicinal properties
than in the Gulf of Baiæ;[2929] some being impregnated with sulphur,
some with alum, some with salt, some with nitre,[2930] and some with
bitumen, while others are of a mixed quality, partly acid and partly
salt. In other cases, again, it is by their vapours that waters are so
beneficial to man, being so intensely hot as to heat our baths even,
and to make cold water boil in our sitting-baths; such, for instance,
as the springs at Baiæ, now known as “Posidian,” after the name of a
freedman[2931] of the Emperor Claudius; waters which are so hot as to
cook articles of food even. There are others, too,—those, for example,
formerly the property of Licinius Crassus—which send forth their
vapours in the sea[2932] even, thus providing resources for the health
of man in the very midst of the waves!


According to their respective kinds, these waters are beneficial for
diseases of the sinews, feet, or hips, for sprains or for fractures;
they act, also, as purgatives upon the bowels, heal wounds,[2933] and
are singularly useful for affections of the head and ears: indeed, the
waters of Cicero are good for the eyes.[2934] The country-seat where
these last are found is worthy of some further mention: travelling
from Lake Avernus towards Puteoli, it is to be seen on the sea-shore,
renowned for its fine portico and its grove. Cicero gave it the name of
Academia,[2935] after the place so called at Athens: it was here that
he composed those treatises[2936] of his that were called after it;
it was here, too, that he raised those monuments[2937] to himself; as
though, indeed, he had not already done so throughout the length and
breadth of the known world.

Shortly after the death of Cicero, and when it had come into the
possession of Antistius Vetus,[2938] certain hot springs burst forth at
the very portals[2939] of this house, which were found to be remarkably
beneficial for diseases of the eyes, and have been celebrated in verse
by Laurea Tullius,[2940] one of the freedmen of Cicero; a fact which
proves to demonstration that his servants even had received inspiration
from that majestic and all-powerful genius of his. I will give the
lines, as they deserve to be read, not there only, but everywhere:

  Great prince of Roman eloquence, thy grove,
  Where erst thou bad’st it rise, is verdant now:
  Thy villa, from fair Academia[2941] nam’d,
  From Vetus now its finish’d graces takes.
  Here, too, fair streams burst forth, unknown before,
  Which with their spray the languid eyes relieve.
  The land, I ween, these bounteous springs reveal’d,
  To honour Cicero, its ancient lord.
  Throughout the world his works by eyes are scann’d;
  May eyes unnumber’d by these streams be heal’d.


In Campania, too, are the waters of Sinuessa,[2942] remedial, it is
said, for sterility in females, and curative of insanity in men.


The waters of the island of Ænaria are curative of urinary
calculi,[2943] it is said; and the same is the case with the cold
spring of Acidula,[2944] four miles distant from Teanum[2945]
Sidicinum, the waters at Stabiæ, known as the Dimidiæ,[2946] and those
in the territory of Venafrum,[2947] which take their rise in the spring
of Acidula. Patients suffering from these complaints may be cured
also by drinking the waters of Lake Velia;[2948] the same effects
being produced by those of a spring in Syria, near Mount Taurus, M.
Varro says, and by those of the river Gallus in Phrygia, as we learn
from Callimachus. In taking the waters, however, of this last, the
greatest moderation is necessary, as they are apt to cause delirium;
an effect equally produced, Ctesias tells us, by the waters of the Red
Fountain[2949] in Æthiopia.


The tepid waters of Albula,[2950] near Rome, have a healing effect upon
wounds. Those of Cutilia,[2951] again, in the Sabine territory, are
intensely cold, and by a kind of suction penetrate the body to such a
degree as to have the effect of a mordent almost. They are remarkably
beneficial for affections of the stomach, sinews, and all parts of the
body, in fact.


The waters of Thespiæ[2952] ensure conception to females; the same,
too, with those of the river Elatus[2953] in Arcadia. The spring
Linus,[2954] also in Arcadia, acts as a preservative of the fœtus and
effectually prevents abortion. The waters of the river Aphrodisius, on
the other hand, in the territory of Pyrrhæa,[2955] are productive of


The waters of Lake Alphius remove white morphew,[2956] Varro tells
us; who also mentions the fact that one Titius,[2957] a personage who
had held the prætorship, had a face to all appearance like that of a
marble statue, in consequence of this disease. The waters of the river
Cydnus,[2958] in Cilicia, are curative of gout, as would appear from
a letter addressed by Cassius[2959] of Parma to Marcus Antonius. At
Trœzen, on the contrary, all the inhabitants are subject to diseases of
the feet, owing to the bad quality of the water there. The state of the
Tungri,[2960] in Gaul, has a spring of great renown, which sparkles as
it bursts forth with bubbles innumerable, and has a certain ferruginous
taste, only to be perceived after it has been drunk. This water is
strongly purgative, is curative of tertian fevers, and disperses
urinary calculi: upon the application of fire it assumes a turbid
appearance, and finally turns red. The springs[2961] of Leucogæa,
between Puteoli and Neapolis, are curative of eye diseases and of
wounds. Cicero, in his work entitled “Admiranda,”[2962] has remarked
that it is only by the waters of the marshes of Reate[2963] that the
hoofs of beasts of burden are hardened.


Eudicus informs us that in Hestiæotis[2964] there are two springs;
one of which, Cerona, renders sheep black that drink of it, while the
other, called Neleus, turns them white: if, again, a sheep should
happen to drink their waters mixed, its fleece will be mottled.
According to Theophrastus, the water of the Crathis,[2965] a river of
Thurii, makes sheep and cattle white, while that of the river Sybaris
turns them black.


And not only this, but human beings even, Theophrastus tells us,
are sensible of this difference: for persons who drink the water of
the Sybaris, he says, become more swarthy and more hardy, the hair
inclining to curl: while those, again, who drink of the Crathis become
fair and more soft-skinned, with the hair growing straight and long.
So, too, in Macedonia, persons who wish the produce to be white, drive
their cattle to the river Haliacmon, while those who desire a black
or tawny colour, take them to water at the Axius. Upon the same
authority, too, we learn that in certain localities, as in the country
of the Messapii, for instance, all the productions, the cereals even,
grow of a tawny colour; and that at Lusi,[2966] in Arcadia, there is a
certain fountain in which land-mice live and dwell. The river Aleos,
which passes through Erythræ, promotes the growth of hair upon the body.


At the Temple[2967] of the god Trophonius, in Bœotia, near the river
Hercynnus, there are two fountains,[2968] one of which aids the memory,
while the other is productive of forgetfulness: hence the names which
they respectively bear.


Near the town of Cescum, in Cilicia, runs the river Nus,[2969] the
waters of which, according to Varro, sharpen the intellect; while those
of a certain spring in the island of Cea dull the senses. At Zama, in
Africa, there is a spring, the waters of which render the voice more


Eudoxus says that persons who drink the water[2971] of Lake Clitorius
take a distaste for wine, and Theopompus asserts that the waters of the
springs already[2972] named are productive of inebriety. According to
Mucianus,[2973] there is a fountain at Andros, consecrated to Father
Liber, from which wine flows during the seven days appointed for the
yearly festival of that god, the taste of which becomes like that of
water the moment it is taken out of sight of the temple.


Polyclitus says, that the water[2974] of the river Liparis,[2975] near
Soli, in Cilicia, is used as a substitute for oil, and Theophrastus
mentions a spring of that name in Æthiopia, which is possessed of
similar properties. Lycus says, that at Tasitia[2976] there is a
fountain of it, the water of which emits light: the same is asserted,
too, of a spring at Ecbatana. According to Theopompus, there is a lake
at Scotussa,[2977] the waters of which heal wounds.


Juba says, that in the country of the Troglodytæ there is a lake,
called the “Lake of Insanity,”[2978] from its highly noxious
properties: thrice a day it becomes salt and bitter, and then again
fresh, the same taking place as many times during the night. It
is full, he says, of white serpents, twenty cubits long.[2979] He
mentions, also, a certain spring in Arabia, which rises from the ground
with such remarkable force, as to throw back any object pressed down
upon it, however weighty.


Theophrastus makes mention of the fountain of Marsyas, near the city
of Celænæ, in Phrygia, which throws up masses of stone. Not far from it
are two other springs, called Clæon[2980] and Gelon by the Greeks, from
the effects which they respectively produce. At Cyzicus is a fountain
known as that of Cupido, the waters of which, Mucianus believes,[2981]
cure those who drink thereof of love.


At Crannon[2982] there are certain hot springs, though not at boiling
heat, the water of which, mixed with wine, preserves it warm in the
vessels for a period of three days. The same is the case, too, with the
springs of Mattiacum[2983] in Germany, beyond the river Rhenus, the
water of which retains its boiling heat three days. The margin of these
springs is covered with pumice, formed by the action of the water.


If any of the above-mentioned facts have the appearance of being
incredible to a person, I would have him know that there is no
department of Nature which presents greater marvels than this,
independently of the numerous peculiarities which have been already
mentioned[2984] in an earlier part of this work. Ctesias informs
us that, in India, there is a lake of standing water, upon which
nothing[2985] will float, every object instantly sinking to the bottom.
Cælius says that in the waters of Lake Avernus,[2986] in our own
part of the world, the very leaves of the trees even will sink; and,
according to Varro, these waters are fatal to such birds as fly towards

On the other hand, again, in the waters of Lake Apuscidamus,[2987] in
Africa, nothing will sink; the same, too, Apion tells us, with the
fountain of Plinthia in Sicily, as also a certain lake in Media, and
the well of Saturn. The spring of Limyra[2988] not unfrequently makes
its way through the neighbouring localities, and when it does so, is
always portentous of some coming event. It is a singular thing too,
that the fish always accompany its waters on these occasions; the
inhabitants of the adjoining districts being in the habit of consulting
them by offering them food. When the fishes seize it with avidity,
the answer is supposed to be favourable; but if, on the other hand,
they reject the food, by flapping it with their tails, the response
is considered to be unfavourable. The river Holcas, in Bithynia, runs
close to Bryazus,[2989] the name of a temple and of a divinity there
worshipped; persons guilty of perjury, it is said, cannot endure
contact with its waters, which burn like flame.[2990]

The sources, too, of the Tamaricus,[2991] a river of Cantabria, are
considered to possess certain powers of presaging future events: they
are three in number, and, separated solely by an interval of eight
feet, unite in one channel, and so form a mighty stream. These springs
are often dry a dozen times in the day, sometimes as many as twenty,
without there being the slightest trace of water there: while, on the
other hand, a spring close at hand is flowing abundantly and without
intermission. It is considered an evil presage when persons who wish
to see these springs find them dry: a circumstance which happened very
recently, for example, to Lartius Licinius,[2992] who held the office
of legatus after his prætorship; for at the end of seven days after his
visit he died.

In Judæa there is a river[2993] that is dry every Sabbath day.


There are other marvels again, connected with water, but of a more
fatal nature. Ctesias states in his writings, that there is a spring
in Armenia, the fishes in which are black,[2994] and, if used as food,
productive of instantaneous death. I have heard the same, too, with
reference to the waters near the sources of the river Danuvius,[2995]
until a spring is reached which is near its main channel, and beyond
which this poisonous kind of fish is not to be found. Hence it is that
this spot is generally looked upon as the source of the river. The
same, too, is reported of the Lake of the Nymphs, in Lydia. Near the
river Pheneus, in Achaia, there flows from the rocks a spring known as
the Styx, the waters of which, as already[2996] stated, are instantly
fatal. And not only this, but there are also small fish in it,
Theophrastus says, which are as deadly as the water, a thing that is
not the case with the fish of any other poisonous springs. Theopompus
says, that at the town of Cychri, in Thrace, the waters are deadly;
and Lycus states, that at Leontium[2997] there is a spring, the waters
of which are fatal at the end of a couple of days to those who drink
thereof. Varro speaks also of a spring upon Mount Soracte, some four
feet in breadth, the waters of which bubble forth at sunrise, as though
they were boiling; birds, he says, which only taste thereof, fall dead
close by.

And then, besides, we meet with this insidious circumstance, that
in some cases, waters of this nature are inviting even in their
appearance; those at Nonacris, in Arcadia, for example, the water
of which fountain possesses no apparent quality to excite mistrust,
though, owing to its intense coldness, it is generally looked upon
as highly injurious, seeing that it petrifies as it flows. It is
otherwise with the waters of Tempe, in Thessaly, their baneful
properties inspiring universal terror, and possessing the property of
corroding copper even and iron, it is said. This stream runs a short
distance only, as already stated;[2998] and it is truly marvellous
that, according to general report, the banks of its source[2999] are
surrounded with the roots of a wild carob,[3000] always covered with
purple flowers, while the margin is clothed with a green herbaceous
plant of a peculiar species. In Macedonia, not far from the tomb of the
Poet Euripides, is the confluence of two streams, the water of one of
which is extremely wholesome, that of the other fatal.


At Perperena,[3001] there is a spring which petrifies[3002] the ground
wherever it flows, the same being the case also, with the hot waters
at Ædepsus, in Eubœa; for there, wherever the stream falls, the rocks
are continually increasing in height. At Eurymenæ,[3003] chaplets,
when thrown into the waters of a certain fountain there, are turned
to stone. At Colossæ there is a river, into the water of which if
bricks[3004] are thrown, when taken out they are found changed into
stone. In the mines of Scyros, the trees petrify that are watered by
the river, branches and all. In the caverns of Mount Corycus, the
drops of water that trickle down the rocks become hard in the form of
a stone.[3005] At Mieza, too, in Macedonia, the water petrifies as it
hangs from the vaulted roofs of the rocks; but at Corycus it is only
when it has fallen that it becomes hard.

In other caverns, again, the water petrifies both ways,[3006] and so
forms columns; as we find the case in a vast grotto at Phausia, a
town of the Chersonesus[3007] of the Rhodians, the columns of which
are tinted with various colours. These instances will suffice for the


It is a subject of enquiry among medical men, which kind of water is
the most beneficial. They condemn, and with justice, all stagnant,
sluggish, waters, and are of opinion that running water is the best,
being rendered lighter and more salubrious by its current and its
continuous agitation. Hence it is that I am much surprised that persons
should be found to set so high a value as they do, upon cistern water.
These last give as their reason, however, that rain-water must be the
lightest water of all, seeing that it has been able to rise[3008]
aloft and remain suspended in the air. Hence it is, too, that they
prefer snow-water to rain-water, and ice, again, to snow, as being
water subtilized to the highest possible degree; on the ground that
snow-water and ice-water must be lighter than ordinary water, and ice,
of necessity, considerably lighter. It is for the general interest,
however, of mankind, that these notions should be refuted. For, in the
first place, this comparative lightness which they speak of, could
hardly be ascertained in any other way than by the sensation, there
being pretty nearly no difference at all in weight between the kinds
of water. Nor yet, in the case of rain-water, is it any proof of its
lightness that it has made its way upwards into the air, seeing that
stones,[3009] it is quite evident, do the same: and then, besides, this
water, while falling, must of necessity become tainted with the vapours
which rise from the earth; a circumstance owing to which it is, that
such numerous impurities[3010] are to be detected in rain-water, and
that it ferments[3011] with such extreme rapidity.

I am, surprised, too, that snow[3012] and ice should be regarded as
the most subtilized states of this element, in juxtaposition with
the proofs supplied us by hail, the water of which, it is generally
agreed, is the most pernicious of all to drink. And then, besides,
there are not a few among the medical men themselves, who assert
that the use of ice-water and snow-water is highly injurious, from
the circumstance that all the more refined parts thereof have been
expelled by congelation. At all events, it is a well-ascertained fact
that the volume of every liquid is diminished by congelation; as also
that excessive dews[3013] a reproductive of blight in corn, and that
hoar-frosts result in blast; of a kindred nature, both of them, to
snow. It is generally agreed, too, that rain-water putrefies with
the greatest rapidity, and that it keeps but very badly on a voyage.
Epigenes, however, assures us that water which has putrefied seven
times and as often purified[3014] itself, will no longer be liable to
putrefaction. As to cistern-water, medical men assure us that, owing
to its harshness, it is bad for the bowels and throat;[3015] and it is
generally admitted by them that there is no kind of water that contains
more slime or more numerous insects of a disgusting nature. But it does
not, therefore, follow that river water is the best of all, or that, in
fact, of any running stream, the water of many lakes being found to be
wholesome in the very highest degree.

What water, then, out of all these various kinds, are we to look
upon as best adapted for the human constitution? Different kinds in
different localities, is my answer. The kings of Parthia drink no water
but that of the Choaspes[3016] or of the Eulæus, and, however long
their journies, they always have this water carried in their suite.
And yet it is very evident that it is not merely because this water is
river-water that it is thus pleasing to them, seeing that they decline
to drink the water of the Tigris, Euphrates, and so many other streams.


Slime[3017] is one great impurity of water: still, however, if a river
of this description is full of eels, it is generally looked upon as
a proof[3018] of the salubrity of its water; just as it is regarded
as a sign of its freshness when long worms[3019] breed in the water
of a spring. But it is bitter water, more particularly, that is held
in disesteem, as also the water which swells the stomach the moment
it is drunk, a property which belongs to the water at Trœzen. As to
the nitrous[3020] and salso-acid[3021] waters which are found in the
deserts, persons travelling across towards the Red Sea render them
potable in a couple of hours by the addition of polenta, which they
use also as food. Those springs are more particularly condemned which
secrete mud,[3022] or which give a bad complexion to persons who drink
thereof. It is a good plan, too, to observe if water leaves stains
upon copper vessels; if leguminous vegetables boil with difficulty in
it; if, when gently decanted, it leaves an earthy deposit; or if, when
boiled, it covers the vessel with a thick crust.[3023]

It is a fault also in water,[3024] not only to have a bad smell,[3025]
but to have any flavour[3026] at all, even though it be a flavour
pleasant and agreeable in itself, or closely approaching, as we often
find the case, the taste of milk. Water, to be truly wholesome, ought
to resemble air[3027] as much as possible. There is only one[3028]
spring of water in the whole universe, it is said, that has an
agreeable smell, that of Chabura, namely, in Mesopotamia: the people
give a fabulous reason for it, and say that it is because Juno[3029]
bathed there. Speaking in general terms, water, to be wholesome, should
have neither taste nor smell.


Some persons judge of the wholesomeness of water through the agency
of a balance:[3030] their pains, however, are expended to little
purpose, it being but very rarely that one water is lighter than
another. There is, however, a more certain mode of ascertaining the
difference in quality, that water being the better of the two which
becomes hot and cold with the greatest rapidity: in addition to which,
not to keep poising a balance,[3031] after water has been drawn up in
vessels, if it is good, it should gradually become warmer, they say,
when placed upon the ground. Which water, then, of the several kinds
will be most likely to be good and wholesome? Well-water, no doubt if
we are to judge from the general use made of it in cities: but only
in the case of wells in which it is kept in continual agitation by
repeated drawing, and is refined by the earth acting as a filter. These
conditions are sufficient to ensure salubrity in water: in regard to
coolness, the well must be in a shaded spot, and the water kept exposed
to the air. There is, however one thing above all to be observed,
a point, too, of considerable importance with reference to the
continuance of the flow—the spring must issue from the bed of the well,
and not from the sides. To make water cold to the touch may be effected
artificially even, either by forcing it to rise aloft or by making it
fall from a height, and so come in collision with the air, and become
incorporated[3032] therewith: for in swimming,[3033] we find, when we
hold our breath, the water is felt to be all the colder.

It was the Emperor Nero’s invention[3034] to boil water, and then
enclose it in glass vessels and cool it in snow; a method which ensures
all the enjoyment of a cold beverage, without any of the inconveniences
resulting from the use of snow. Indeed, it is generally admitted
that all water is more[3035] wholesome when it has been boiled;
as also, that water when it has once been heated, will become more
intensely[3036] cold than before—a most ingenious discovery.[3037] The
best corrective of unwholesome water is to boil it down to one half.
Cold water, taken internally, arrests hæmorrhage. By keeping cold water
in his mouth, a person may render himself proof against the intense
heat of the bath. Many a person knows by his own every-day experience,
that water which is the coldest to drink is not of necessity the
coldest to the touch, this delightful property being subject to
considerable fluctuations.[3038]


The most celebrated water throughout the whole world, and the one to
which our city gives the palm for coolness and salubrity, is that of
the Marcian[3039] Spring, accorded to Rome among the other bounties of
the gods: the name formerly given to the stream was the “Aufeian,” the
spring itself being known as “Pitonia.” It rises[3040] at the extremity
of the mountains of the Peligni, passes through the territory of the
Marsi and through Lake Fucinus, and then, without deviating, makes
directly for Rome: shortly after this, it loses itself in certain
caverns, and only reappears in the territory of Tibur, from which it is
brought to the City by an arched aqueduct nine miles in length. Ancus
Marcius, one of the Roman kings, was the first[3041] who thought of
introducing this water into the City. At a later period, the works were
repaired by Quintus Marcius Rex: and, more recently, in his prætorship,
by M. Agrippa.[3042]


It was he, too, who brought the Virgin[3043] Waters from the bye-road
situate at the eighth milestone from the City, which runs for two
miles along the Prænestine Way. Near these waters is the stream
of Hercules, which the former shun, to all appearance, and have
thence obtained[3044] the name of “Virgin Waters.” On instituting
a comparison between the waters of these streams, the difference
above-mentioned[3045] may be immediately detected, the Virgin water
being as much cooler to the touch, as the Marcian water is in taste.
And yet, for this long time past, the pleasure of drinking these waters
has been lost to the City, owing to the ambition and avarice of certain
persons who have turned[3046] them out of their course for the supply
of their country-seats and of various places in the suburbs, to the
great detriment of the public health.


It will not be out of place to append here an account of the method
employed in searching for water. Water is mostly to be found in
valleys, whether formed by the intersection of declivities or lying at
the lower part of mountains. Many persons have been of opinion that all
places with a northern[3047] aspect are naturally provided with water:
a point upon which it will not be amiss to explain the diversities
presented to us by Nature. On the south side of the mountains of
Hyrcania it never rains; and hence it is that it is only on the
north-east side that they are wooded. As for Olympus, Ossa, Parnassus,
the Apennines, and the Alps, they are covered with wood on every side,
and abundantly watered with streams. Some mountains, again, are wooded
on the south side, the White[3048] Mountains in Crete, for example. On
this point, therefore, we may come to the conclusion that there is no
rule which in all cases holds good.


The following are indications of the presence of water:—rushes, reeds,
the plant mentioned with reference to this point already,[3049] or
frogs sitting squatted on a spot for a long time together. As to the
wild[3050] willow, alder, vitex, reed, and ivy, all of which grow
spontaneously on low grounds in which there is a settling of rain water
from higher localities, considered as indications of the presence of
water, they are all[3051] of them of a deceptive nature. A sign much
more to be depended upon, is a certain misty exhalation, visible from
a distance before sunrise. The better to observe this, some persons
ascend an eminence, and lie flat at full length upon the ground, with
the chin touching the earth. There is also another peculiar method
of judging upon this point, known only to men of experience in these
matters: in the very middle of the heats of summer they select the
hottest hours of the day, and observe how the sun’s rays are reflected
in each spot; and if, notwithstanding the general dryness of the earth,
a locality is observed to present a moist appearance, they make no
doubt of finding water there.

But so intense is the stress upon the eyes in doing this, that it is
very apt to make them ache; to avoid which inconvenience, they have
recourse to other modes of testing. They dig a hole, for instance, some
five feet in depth, and cover it with vessels of unbaked pottery, or
with a copper basin well-oiled; they then place a burning lamp on the
spot, with an arch-work over it of leaves, and covered with earth on
the top. If, after a time, they find the pots wet or broken, the copper
covered with moisture, or the lamp extinguished, but not from want
of oil, or if a lock of wool that has been left there is found to be
moist, it is a sign of the presence of water, beyond all doubt. With
some persons it is the practice to light a fire on the spot before they
dig the hole, a method which renders the experiment with the vessels
still more conclusive.


The soil itself, too, gives indications of the presence of water,
by presenting white spots, or an uniformly green appearance: for
where the stratum is black the springs are mostly not of a permanent
nature. The presence of potter’s clay always puts an end to all hopes
of finding water, and the excavation is immediately abandoned; an
eye being carefully kept to the strata[3052] of the earth, to see
whether, beginning with black mould, it successively presents the
appearances above-mentioned. The water is always fresh that is found
in argillaceous soils, but in a stratum of tufa it is colder than
elsewhere; this, indeed, being a soil which is highly approved of, as
having a tendency to make the water pure and extremely light to the
stomach, and, by its action as a filter, to withhold all impurities.
The presence of sand[3053] gives indications of springs of but limited
extent, and of water impregnated with slime; while that of gravel
announces the presence of water of excellent flavour, but not to be
depended upon for permanence. Male[3054] sand, fine sea[3055]-sand,
and charcoal[3056] earth, yield a constant supply of water of a
highly wholesome quality; but it is the presence of red stones that
is the most to be depended upon, and the water found there is of the
very finest quality. Craggy localities at the foot of mountains, and
silicious soils, are equally good; in addition to which, the water
found there is cooler than elsewhere.

In boring for water, the soil should always become more and more humid,
and, the deeper the descent, with the greater facility the implements
should penetrate. In deep-sunk wells, the presence of sulphureous[3057]
or aluminous substances is fatal to the sinkers; a danger that may
be guarded against by letting down a lighted lamp, and ascertaining
whether the flame is extinguished. When such is found to be the case,
it is the practice to sink vent-holes on each side of the well,
both right and left, in order to receive and carry off the noxious
exhalations. Independently of these evils, the air becomes heavier,
from the great depth merely of the excavation, an inconvenience which
is remedied by keeping up a continual circulation with ventilators of
linen cloth. As soon as water is reached, walls are constructed at the
bottom, but without cement,[3058] in order that the springs may not be

Some waters, the sources of which do not lie on elevated ground, are
coldest at the beginning of spring, being maintained by the winter
rains in fact. Others, again, are coldest at the rising of the
Dog-star—peculiarities, both of them, to be witnessed at Pella in
Macedonia; for in front of that city there is a marsh-spring, which at
the beginning of summer is cold, while in the more elevated parts of
the city the water is ice-cold[3059] in the hottest days of summer. The
same is the case, too, at Chios, the water-supply of the harbour and of
the city occupying the same relative positions. At Athens, the water
of the Fountain Enneacrunos[3060] is colder in a cloudy summer than
the well there in the garden of Jupiter; while on the other hand, this
last is ice-cold during the drought of a hot summer. For the most part,
however, wells are coldest about the rising of Arcturus.[3061]

(4.) The water-supply of wells never fails in summer, but in all cases
it falls low during four days at the rising of the constellation
above-mentioned. Throughout the whole winter, on the other hand, many
wells entirely fail; as in the neighbourhood of Olynthus, for example,
where the water returns in the early days of spring. In Sicily too,
in the vicinity of Messana and Mylæ, the springs are entirely dry
throughout the winter, while in summer they overflow and form quite a
river. At Apollonia in Pontus there is to be seen, near the sea-shore,
a fountain which overflows in summer only, and mostly about the rising
of the Dog-star; should the summer, however, not be so hot as usual,
its water is less abundant. Certain soils become drier in consequence
of rain, that in the territory of Narnia for example: a fact which M.
Cicero has mentioned in his “Admiranda,” with a statement that drought
is there productive of mud, and rain of dust.[3062]


Every kind of water is freshest in winter, not so fresh in summer,
still less so in autumn, and least of all in times of drought.
River-water, too, is by no means always the same in taste, the state
of the bed over which it runs making a considerable difference. For
the quality of water, in fact, depends upon the nature of the soil
through which it flows, and the juices[3063] of the vegetation watered
by it; hence it is that the water of the same river is found in some
spots to be comparatively unwholesome. The confluents, too, of rivers,
are apt to change the flavour of the water, impregnating the stream in
which they are lost and absorbed; as in the case of the Borysthenes,
for example. In some instances, again, the taste of river-water is
changed by the fall of heavy rains. It has happened three times in the
Bosporus that there has been a fall of salt rain, a phænomenon which
proved fatal to the crops. On three occasions, also, the rains have
imparted a bitterness to the overflowing streams of the Nilus, which
was productive of great pestilence throughout Egypt.


It frequently happens that in spots where forests have been felled,
springs of water make[3064] their appearance, the supply of which
was previously expended in the nutriment of the trees. This was
the case upon Mount Hæmus for example, when, during the siege by
Cassander,[3065] the Gauls cut down a forest for the purpose of making
a rampart. Very often too, after removing the wood which has covered
an elevated spot and so served to attract and consume the rains,
devastating torrents are formed by the concentration of the waters.
It is very important also, for the maintenance of a constant supply
of water, to till the ground and keep it constantly in motion, taking
care to break and loosen the callosities of the surface crust: at all
events, we find it stated, that upon a city of Crete, Arcadia by name,
being razed to the ground, the springs and water-courses, which before
were very numerous in that locality, all at once dried up; but that,
six years after, when the city was rebuilt, the water again made its
appearance, just as each spot was again brought into cultivation.

(5.) Earthquakes also are apt to discover or swallow[3066] up springs
of water; a thing that has happened, it is well known, on five
different occasions in the vicinity of Pheneus, a town of Arcadia. So
too, upon Mount Coryeus,[3067] a river burst forth; after which, the
soil was subjected to cultivation. These changes are very surprising
where there is no apparent cause for them; such as the occurrence
at Magnesia,[3068] for instance, where the warm waters became cold,
but without losing their brackish flavour; and at the Temple[3069]
of Neptune in Caria, where the water of the river, from being
fresh, became salt. Here, too, is another fact, replete with the
marvellous—the fountain of Arethusa at Syracuse has a smell of dung,
they say, during the celebration of the games at Olympia,[3070] a
thing that is rendered not improbable by the circumstance,[3071] that
the river Alpheus makes its way to that island beneath the bed of the
sea. There is a spring in the Chersonesus of the Rhodians[3072] which
discharges its accumulated impurities every nine years.

Waters, too, sometimes change their colour; as at Babylon, for example,
where the water of a certain lake for eleven days in summer is red.
In the summer season, too, the current of the Borysthenes[3073] is
blue, it is said, and this, although its waters are the most rarefied
in existence, and hence float upon the surface of those of the
Hypanis;[3074]—though at the same time there is this marvellous fact,
that when south winds prevail, the waters of the Hypanis assume the
upper place. Another proof, too, of the surpassing lightness of the
water of the Borysthenes, is the fact that it emits no exhalations,
nor, indeed, the slightest vapour even. Authors that would have the
credit of diligent research in these enquiries, assure us that water
becomes heavier after the winter-solstice.


The most convenient method of making a watercourse from the spring
is by employing earthen pipes, two fingers in thickness, inserted in
one another at the points of junction—the one that has the higher
inclination fitting into the lower one—and coated with quick-lime
macerated in oil. The inclination, to ensure the free flow of the
water, ought to be at least one-fourth of an inch to every hundred
feet; and if the water is conveyed through a subterraneous passage,
there should be air-holes let in at intervals of every two[3075] actus.
Where the water is wanted to ascend[3076] aloft, it should be conveyed
in pipes of lead: water, it should be remembered, always rises to the
level of its source. If, again, it is conveyed from a considerable
distance, it should be made to rise and fall every now and then, so as
not to lose its motive power. The proper length for each leaden pipe is
ten feet; and if[3077] the pipe is five fingers in circumference its
weight should be sixty pounds; if eight feet, one hundred; if ten, one
hundred and twenty; and so on in the same proportion.

A pipe is called “a ten-finger”[3078] pipe when the sheet of metal
is ten fingers in breadth before it is rolled up; a sheet one half
that breadth giving a pipe “of five fingers.”[3079] In all sudden
changes of inclination in elevated localities, pipes of five fingers
should be employed, in order to break the impetuosity of the fall:
reservoirs,[3080] too, for branches should be made as circumstances may


I am surprised that Homer has made no[3081] mention of hot springs,
when, on the other hand, he has so frequently introduced the mention
of warm baths: a circumstance from which we may safely conclude that
recourse was not had in his time to mineral waters for their medicinal
properties, a thing so universally the case at the present day. Waters
impregnated with sulphur are good for the sinews,[3082] and aluminous
waters are useful for paralysis and similar relaxations of the system.
Those, again, which are impregnated with bitumen or nitre, the waters
of Cutilia,[3083] for example, are drunk as a purgative.[3084]

Many persons quite pride themselves on enduring the heat of mineral
waters for many hours together; a most pernicious practice, however,
as they should be used but very little longer than the ordinary bath,
after which the bather should be shampooed[3085] with cold water, and
not leave the bath without being rubbed with oil. This last operation,
however, is commonly regarded as altogether foreign to the use of
mineral baths; and hence it is, that there is no situation in which
men’s bodies are more exposed to the chances of disease, the head
becoming saturated with the intensity of the odours exhaled, and left
exposed, perspiring as it is, to the coldness of the atmosphere, while
all the rest of the body is immersed in the water.[3086]

There is another mistake, also, of a similar description, made by
those who pride themselves upon drinking enormous quantities of these
waters;[3087] and I myself have seen persons, before now, so swollen
with drinking it that the very rings on their fingers were entirely
concealed by the skin, owing to their inability to discharge the vast
quantities of water which they had swallowed. It is for this reason,
too, that these waters should never be drunk without taking a taste of
salt every now and then. The very mud,[3088] too, of mineral springs
may be employed to good purpose; but, to be effectual, after being
applied to the body, it must be left to dry in the sun.

It must not be supposed, however, that all hot waters are of necessity
medicated, those of Segesta in Sicily, for example, of Larissa, Troas,
Magnesia, Melos, and Lipara. Nor is the very general supposition
a correct one, that waters, to be medicinal, must of necessity
discolour copper or silver; no such effect being produced by those of
Patavium,[3089] or there being the slightest difference perceptible in
the smell.


Sea-water also is employed in a similar manner for the cure of
diseases. It is used, made hot, for the cure of pains in the sinews,
for reuniting fractured bones, and for its desiccative action upon the
body: for which last purpose, it is also used cold. There are numerous
other medicinal resources derived from the sea; the benefit of a
sea-voyage, more particularly, in cases of phthisis, as already[3090]
mentioned, and where patients are suffering from hæmoptosis, as lately
experienced, in our own memory, by Annæus Gallio,[3091] at the close
of his consulship:[3092] for it is not for the purpose of visiting the
country, that people so often travel to Egypt, but in order to secure
the beneficial results arising from a long sea-voyage. Indeed, the
very sea-sickness that is caused by the rocking of the vessel to and
fro, is good for many affections of the head, eyes, and chest, all
those cases, in fact, in which the patient is recommended to drink
an infusion of hellebore. Medical men consider sea-water, employed
by itself, highly efficacious for the dispersion of tumours, and,
boiled with barley-meal, for the successful treatment of imposthumes
of the parotid glands: it is used also as an ingredient in plasters,
white plasters more particularly, and for emollient[3093] poultices.
Sea-water is very good, too, employed as a shower-bath; and it is taken
internally, though not without[3094] injury to the stomach, both as a
purgative and as an expellent, by vomit and by alvine evacuation, of
black bile[3095] or coagulated blood, as the case may be.

Some authorities prescribe it, taken internally, for quartan fevers,
as also for tenesmus and diseases of the joints; purposes for which
it is kept a considerable time, to mellow with age, and so lose its
noxious[3096] properties. Some, again, are for boiling it, but in all
cases it is recommended to be taken from out at sea, and untainted with
the mixture of fresh water, an emetic also being taken before using it.
When used in this manner, vinegar or wine is generally mixed with the
water. Those who give it unmixed, recommend radishes with oxymel to be
eaten upon it, in order to provoke vomiting. Sea-water, made hot, is
used also as an injection; and there is nothing in existence preferred
to it as a fomentation for swellings of the testes, or for chilblains
before they ulcerate. It is similarly employed, also, for the cure of
prurigo, itch-scab, and lichens. Lice and other foul vermin of the
head, are removed by the application of sea-water, and lividities of
the skin are restored to their natural colour; it being a remarkably
good plan, in such cases, after applying the sea-water, to foment the
parts with hot vinegar.

It is generally considered, too, that sea-water is highly efficacious
for the stings of venomous insects, those of the phalangium and
scorpion, for example, and as an antidote to the poisonous secretions
of the asp, known as the “ptyas;”[3097] in all which cases it is
employed hot. Fumigations are also made of it, with vinegar, for the
cure of head-ache; and, used warm as an injection, it allays griping
pains in the bowels and cholera. Things that have been heated in
sea-water are longer than ordinary in cooling. A sea-water bath is
an excellent corrective for swelling[3098] of the bosoms in females,
affections of the thoracic organs, and emaciation of the body. The
steam also of sea-water boiled with vinegar, is used for the removal
of hardness of hearing and head-ache. An application of sea-water very
expeditiously removes rust upon iron; it is curative also of scab in
sheep, and imparts additional softness to the wool.


I am by no means unaware that these details may very possibly appear
superfluous to persons who live at a distance from the sea; but
scientific research has made provision against this objection, by
discovering a method of enabling every one to make sea-water[3099]
for himself. It is a singular fact in connexion with this discovery,
that if more than one sextarius of salt is put into four sextarii of
water, the liquefying properties of the water will be overpowered,
and the salt will no longer melt. On the other hand, again, a mixture
of one sextarius of salt with four sextarii of water, acts as a
good substitute for the efficacy and properties of the very saltest
sea-water. The most reasonable proportion, however, is generally
thought to be eight cyathi of salt, diluted in the quantity of water
above mentioned; a preparation which has been found to have a warming
effect upon the sinews, without in any degree chafing the body.


There is also a composition made to ripen for use, known as
“thalassomeli,”[3100] and prepared with equal parts of sea-water,
honey, and rain-water. For this purpose, also, the water is brought
from out at sea, and the preparation is kept in an earthen vessel well
pitched. It acts most efficiently as a purgative, and without in the
least fatiguing the stomach; the taste, too, and smell of it, are very


Hydromeli,[3101] also, was a mixture formerly made with pure rain-water
and honey, and was prescribed for patients who were anxious for wine,
as being a more harmless drink. For these many years past, however,
it has been condemned, as having in reality all the inconveniences of
wine, without the advantages.


As persons out at sea often suffer great inconvenience from the want
of fresh water, we will here describe some methods of obviating it.
Fleeces are spread round the ship, and on becoming moistened with the
exhalations arising from the sea, the water is wrung from them, and
found to be quite fresh. Hollow balls of wax, also, or empty vessels
sealed at the mouth, upon being let down into the sea in a net, become
filled with water that is fresh and potable. On shore, too, sea-water
may be made fresh, by filtering it through argillaceous earth.

By swimming in water of any kind, sprains of the limbs in man or beast
are reduced[3102] with the greatest facility. Persons when travelling,
are sometimes apprehensive that the use of water, the quality of
which is unknown to them, may prove injurious to their health: as a
precaution against this, they should drink the suspected water cold,
immediately after leaving the bath.


Moss which has grown in water[3103] is excellent as a topical
application for gout; and, in combination with oil, it is good for
pains and swellings in the ankles. The foam that floats[3104] upon the
surface of the water, used as a friction, causes warts to disappear.
The sand,[3105] too, of the sea-shore, that more particularly which is
very fine and burnt white by the heat of the sun, is used remedially
for its desiccative properties, the bodies of dropsical or rheumatic
patients being entirely covered with it.

Thus much with reference to water itself; we will now turn to the
aquatic productions, beginning, as in all other instances, with the
principal of them, namely, salt and sponge.


All salt is either native or artificial;[3106] both kinds being
formed in various ways, but produced from one of these two causes,
the condensation or the desiccation, of a liquid.[3107] The Lake of
Tarentum is dried up by the heat of the summer sun, and the whole of
its waters, which are at no time very deep, not higher than the knee in
fact, are changed into one mass of salt. The same, too, with a lake in
Sicily, Cocanicus by name, and another in the vicinity of Gela. But in
the case of these two last, it is only the sides[3108] that are thus
dried up; whereas in Phrygia, in Cappadocia, and at Aspendus, where the
same phænomena are observable, the water is dried up to a much larger
extent, to the very middle of the lake, in fact. There is also another
marvellous[3109] circumstance connected with this last—however much
salt is taken out of it in the day, its place is supplied again during
the night. Every kind of lake-salt is found in grains, and not in the
form of blocks.[3110]

Sea-water, again, spontaneously produces another kind of salt, from the
foam which it leaves on shore at high-water mark, or adhering to rocks;
this being, in all cases, condensed by the action of the sun, and
that[3111] salt being the most pungent of the two which is found upon
the rocks.

There are also three different kinds of native salt. In Bactriana there
are two vast lakes;[3112] one of them situate on the side of Scythia,
the other on that of Ariana, both of which throw up vast quantities
of salt.[3113] So, too, at Citium, in Cyprus; and, in the vicinity of
Memphis, they extract salt from the lake and dry it in the sun. The
surface-waters of some rivers, also, condense[3114] in the form of
salt, the rest of the stream flowing beneath, as though under a crust
of ice; such as the running waters near the Caspian Gates[3115] for
instance, which are known as the “Rivers of Salt.” The same is the
case, too, in the vicinity of the Mardi and of the people of Armenia.
In Bactriana, also, the rivers Ochus[3116] and Oxus carry down from the
mountains on their banks, fragments of salt. There are also in Africa
some lakes, the waters of which are turbid, that are productive of
salt. Some hot springs, too, produce salt—those at Pagasæ for example.
Such, then, are the various kinds of salt produced spontaneously by

There are certain mountains, also, formed of native salt; that of
Oromenus, in India, for example, where it is cut out like blocks
from a quarry, and is continually reproduced, bringing in a larger
revenue to the sovereigns of those countries than that arising from
their gold and pearls. In some instances it is dug out of the earth,
being formed there, evidently, by the condensation of the moisture, as
in Cappadocia for example, where it is cut in sheets, like those of
mirror-stone.[3117] The blocks of it are very heavy, the name commonly
given to them being “mica.”[3118] At Gerrhæ,[3119] a city of Arabia,
the ramparts and houses are constructed of blocks of salt, which
are soldered together by being moistened with water. King Ptolemæus
discovered salt also in the vicinity of Pelusium, when he encamped
there; a circumstance which induced other persons to seek and discover
it in the scorched tracts that lie between Egypt and Arabia, beneath
the sand. In the same manner, too, it has been found in the thirsting
deserts of Africa, as far as the oracle of Hammon,[3120] a locality in
which the salt increases at night with the increase of the moon.

The districts of Cyrenaica are ennobled, too, by the production of
hammoniacum,[3121] a salt so called from the fact of its being found
beneath the sands[3122] there. It is similar in colour to the alum
known as “schiston,”[3123] and consists of long pieces, by no means
transparent, and of an unpleasant flavour, but highly useful in
medicine; that being held in the highest esteem, which is the clearest
and divides into straight[3124] flakes. There is one remarkable fact
mentioned in connexion with it: so long as it lies under ground in
its bed[3125] it is extremely light, but the moment it is exposed
to the light, it is hardly credible to what an extent its weight is
increased. The reason for this is evident:[3126] the humid vapours
of the excavations bear the masses upwards, as water does, and so
aid the workmen. It is adulterated with the Sicilian salt which we
have mentioned as being found in Lake Cocanicus, as also with that of
Cyprus, which is marvellously like it. At Egelasta,[3127] in Nearer
Spain, there is a salt, hewn from the bed in almost transparent blocks,
and to which for this long time past most medical men, it is said,
have given the preference over all other salt. Every spot in which
salt[3128] is found is naturally barren, and produces nothing. Such are
the particulars, in general, which have been ascertained with reference
to native salt.

Of artificial salt there are several kinds; the common salt, and the
most abundant, being made from sea-water drained into salt-pans,
and accompanied with streams of fresh water; but it is rain more
particularly, and, above all things, the sun, that aids in its
formation; indeed without this last it would never dry. In the
neighbourhood of Utica, in Africa, they build up masses of salt, like
hills in appearance; and when these have been hardened by the action
of the sun and moon, no moisture will ever melt them, and iron can
hardly divide them. In Crete, however, salt is made without the aid of
fresh water, and merely by introducing sea-water into the salt-pans.
On the shores of Egypt, salt is formed by the overflow of the sea
upon the land, already prepared for its reception, in my opinion, by
the emanations of the river Nilus. It is made here, also, from the
water[3129] of certain wells, discharged into salt-pans. At Babylon,
the result of the first condensation is a bituminous[3130] liquid, like
oil, which is used for burning in lamps; when this is skimmed off, the
salt is found beneath. In Cappadocia, also, both well and spring-water
are introduced into the salt-pans. In Chaonia there is a spring, from
the water of which, when boiled[3131] and left to cool, there is an
inert salt obtained, not so white as ordinary salt. In the Gallic
provinces and in Germany, it is the practice to pour salt-water upon
burning wood.[3132]


In one part of Spain, they draw a brine for this purpose from deep-sunk
pits, to which they give the name of “muria;” being of opinion, also,
that it makes a considerable difference upon what kind of wood it is
poured. That of the quercus they look upon as the best, as the ashes
of it, unmixed, have the pungency of salt.[3133] In other places,
again, the wood of the hazel is held in high esteem; and thus, we see,
by pouring brine upon it, charcoal even is converted into salt. All
salt that is thus prepared with burning wood is black. I find it stated
by Theophrastus, that the Umbri[3134] are in the habit of boiling
ashes of reeds and bulrushes in water, till there remains but little
moisture unconsumed. The brine, too, of salted provisions is sometimes
boiled over again, and, as soon as all the moisture has evaporated, the
salt resumes its original form. That prepared from the pickle of the
mæna[3135] has the finest flavour.


Of the various kinds of sea-salt, the most esteemed is that of Salamis,
in Cyprus; and of the lake-salts, that of Tarentum, and the salt known
as Tattæan salt, which comes from Phrygia: these last two are also
good for the eyes. That of Cappadocia, which is imported in small
cubes,[3136] imparts a fine colour, it is said, to the skin; but, for
effacing wrinkles, that which we have[3137] already spoken of as the
salt of Citium is the best: hence it is that, in combination with
gith,[3138] it is used by females as a liniment for the abdomen after
childbirth. The drier the salt, the stronger it is in taste; but the
most agreeable of all, and the whitest known, is that of Tarentum. In
addition to these particulars, we would remark also, that the whiter
salt is, the more friable it is. Rain-water deadens every kind of salt,
but dew-water makes it more delicate in flavour. North-easterly winds
render the formation of salt more abundant, but, while south winds
prevail, it never increases. It is only while north-easterly winds
prevail, that flower of salt[3139] is formed. Neither the salt of
Tragasa, nor the Acanthian salt—so called from the town[3140] where it
is found—will decrepitate or crackle in the fire; nor will the froth
of salt do so, or the outside scrapings, or refined salt. The salt of
Agrigentum[3141] resists fire, but decrepitates in water.

There are differences, too, in the colour of salt: at Memphis it is
deep red, russet-coloured in the vicinity of the Oxus, purple at
Centuripa, and so remarkably bright at Gela, situate also[3142] in
Sicily, as to reflect the image of objects. In Cappadocia there is a
saffron-coloured fossil salt, transparent and remarkably odoriferous.
For medicinal purposes, the ancients esteemed the salt of Tarentum in
particular, and next to that all the marine salts, those collected from
sea-foam more especially. For maladies of the eyes in cattle and beasts
of burden, the salt of Tragasa and that of Bætica are employed. For
made dishes[3143] and ordinary food, the more easily a salt liquefies
and the moister it is, the more highly it is esteemed; there being
less bitterness in salt of this description, that of Attica and of
Eubœa, for example. For keeping meat, a pungent, dry, salt, like that
of Megara, is best. A conserve of salt is also made, with the addition
of various odoriferous substances, which answers all the purpose of a
choice sauce,[3144] sharpening the appetite, and imparting a relish to
all kinds of food: indeed, among the innumerable condiments which we
use, the flavour of salt is always distinctly perceptible; and when
we take garum[3145] with our food, it is its salt flavour that is
considered so exquisite. And not only this, but sheep even, cattle, and
beasts of burden, are induced to graze all the better[3146] by giving
them salt; it having the effect, also, of considerably augmenting the
milk, and imparting a superior flavour to the cheese.

We may conclude, then, by Hercules! that the higher enjoyments of life
could not exist without the use of salt: indeed, so highly necessary is
this substance to mankind, that the pleasures of the mind, even, can
be expressed by no better term, than the word “salt,”[3147] such being
the name given to all effusions of wit. All the amenities, in fact, of
life, supreme hilarity, and relaxation from toil, can find no word in
our language to characterize them better than this. Even in the very
honours, too, that are bestowed upon successful warfare, salt plays its
part, and from it, our word “salarium”[3148] is derived. That salt was
held in high esteem by the ancients, is evident from the Salarian[3149]
Way, so named from the fact that, by agreement, the Sabini carried all
their salt by that road. King Ancus Martius gave six hundred modii of
salt as a largess[3150] to the people, and was the first to establish
salt-works. Varro also informs us, that the ancients used salt by way
of a relishing sauce; and we know, from an old proverb,[3151] that it
was the practice with them to eat salt with their bread. But it is in
our sacred rites more particularly, that its high importance is to be
recognized, no offering ever being made unaccompanied by the salted


That which mainly distinguishes the produce of salt-works, in respect
of its purity, is a sort of efflorescence,[3153] which forms the
lightest and whitest part of salt. The name “flower of salt”[3154] is
given, also, to a substance of an entirely different character, more
humid by nature, and of a red or saffron colour; a kind of “rust of
salt,” as it were, with an unpleasant smell like that of garum, and
differing therein not only from froth of salt,[3155] but from salt
itself. This substance is found in Egypt and, as it would appear, is
conveyed thither by the waters of the Nilus; though it is to be found
floating upon the surface of certain springs as well. The best kind is
that which yields a certain fatty[3156] substance, like oil—for salt
even, a thing that is quite marvellous to think of, is not without a
degree of unctuousness.

This substance is sophisticated, and coloured with red earth, or in
most instances, with powdered potsherds; an adulteration to be detected
by the agency of water, which washes off the fictitious colour, the
natural colour being only removable by the agency of oil. Indeed, it
is for its colour that perfumers more particularly make such extensive
use of this drug. When seen in the vessels, the surface of it is white,
but that which lies in the middle is moister, as already stated. It
is of an acrid nature, calorific, and bad for the stomach. It acts
also as a sudorific, and, taken with wine and water, has a purgative
effect upon the bowels. It is very useful, also, as an ingredient in
acopa[3157] and in detersive[3158] compositions, and is remarkably
efficacious for the removal of hairs from the eye-lids. It is the
practice to shake up the sediment, in order to renovate the saffron
colour of the drug.

In addition to these substances, there is another, known in the
salt-works by the name of “salsugo,” or “salsilago:” it is quite
liquid, salter in taste than sea-water, but inferior to it in its


Another liquid, too, of a very exquisite nature, is that known as
“garum:”[3159] it is prepared from the intestines of fish and various
parts which would otherwise be thrown away, macerated in salt; so that
it is, in fact, the result of their putrefaction. Garum was formerly
prepared from a fish, called “garos”[3160] by the Greeks; who assert,
also, that a fumigation made with its head has the effect of bringing
away the afterbirth.

(8.) At the present day, however, the most esteemed kind of garum is
that prepared from the scomber,[3161] in the fisheries of Carthago
Spartaria:[3162] it is known as “garum of[3163] the allies,” and for
a couple of congii we have to pay but little less than one thousand
sesterces. Indeed, there is no liquid hardly, with the exception of
the unguents, that has sold at higher prices of late; so much so, that
the nations which produce it have become quite ennobled thereby. There
are fisheries, too, of the scomber on the coasts of Mauretania, and at
Carteia in Bætica, near the Straits[3164] which lie at the entrance
to the Ocean; this being the only use that is made of the fish. For
the production of garum, Clazomenæ is also famed, Pompeii, too, and
Leptis; while for their muria, Antipolis,[3165] Thurii, and of late,
Dalmatia,[3166] enjoy a high reputation.


Alex, which is the refuse of garum, properly consists of the dregs of
it, when imperfectly strained: but of late they have begun to prepare
it separately, from a small fish that is otherwise good for nothing,
the apua[3167] of the Latins, or aphua of the Greeks, so called from
the fact of its being engendered from rain.[3168] The people of Forum
Julii[3169] make their garum from a fish to which they give the name
of “lupus.”[3170] In process of time, alex has become quite an object
of luxury, and the various kinds that are now made are infinite in
number. The same, too, with garum, which is now prepared in imitation
of the colour of old honied wine, and so pleasantly flavoured as to
admit of being taken as a drink. Another kind, again, is dedicated to
those superstitious observances[3171] which enjoin strict chastity, and
that prepared from fish without[3172] scales, to the sacred rites of
the Jews. In the same way, too, alex has come to be manufactured from
oysters, sea-urchins, sea-nettles, cammari,[3173] and the liver of the
surmullet; and a thousand different methods have been devised of late
for ensuring the putrefaction of salt in such a way as to secure the
flavours most relished by the palate.

Thus much, by the way, with reference to the tastes of the present
day; though at the same time, it must be remembered, these substances
are by no means without their uses in medicine. Alex, for instance,
is curative of scab in sheep, incisions being made in the skin, and
the liquor poured therein. It is useful, also, for the cure of wounds
inflicted by dogs or by the sea-dragon, the application being made with
lint. Recent burns, too, are healed by the agency of garum, due care
being taken to apply it without mentioning it by name. It is useful,
too, for bites inflicted by dogs, and for that of the crocodile in
particular; as also for the treatment of serpiginous or sordid ulcers.
For ulcerations, and painful affections of the mouth and ears, it is a
marvellously useful remedy.

Muria, also, as well as the salsugo which we have mentioned,[3174] has
certain astringent, mordent, and discussive properties, and is highly
useful for the cure of dysentery, even when ulceration has attacked
the intestines. Injections are also made of it for sciatica, and for
cœliac fluxes of an inveterate nature. In spots which lie at a distance
in the interior, it is used as a fomentation, by way of substitute for


Salt, regarded by itself, is naturally igneous, and yet it manifests an
antipathy to fire, and flies[3175] from it. It consumes everything, and
yet upon living bodies it has an astringent, desiccative, and binding
effect, while the dead it preserves from putrefaction,[3176] and
makes them last for ages even. In respect, however, of its medicinal
properties, it is of a mordent, burning, detergent, attenuating, and
resolvent nature; it is, however, injurious to the stomach, except
that it acts as a stimulant to the appetite, For the cure of injuries
inflicted by serpents, it is used with origanum, honey, and hyssop; and
for the sting of the cerastes, with origanum, cedar-resin, pitch, or
honey. Taken internally with vinegar, it is good for injuries caused
by the scolopendra; and, applied topically, with an equal proportion
of linseed, in oil or vinegar, for stings inflicted by scorpions.
For stings of hornets, wasps, and insects of a similar description,
it is applied with vinegar; and, for the cure of hemicrania, ulcers
on the head, blisters, pimples, and incipient warts, with veal-suet.
It is used also among the remedies for the eyes, and for the removal
of fleshy excrescences upon those organs, as also of hangnails[3177]
upon the fingers or toes. For webs that form upon the eyes it is
peculiarly useful, and hence it is that it is so commonly employed
as an ingredient in eye-salves, as well as plasters. For all these
last-mentioned purposes, the salt of Tatta or of Caunus is more
particularly in request.

In cases where there is ecchymosis of the eyes, or a bruise from the
effects of a blow, salt is applied, with an equal quantity of myrrh
and honey, or with hyssop in warm water, the eyes being also fomented
with salsugo. For this last-mentioned purpose, the Spanish salt is
preferred; and when wanted for the treatment of cataract, it is ground
upon small whetstones, with milk. For bruises it is particularly
useful, wrapped in a linen pledget and renewed from time to time, being
first dipped in boiling water. For the cure of running ulcers of the
mouth, it is applied with lint; gum-boils are also rubbed with it; and,
broken to pieces and powdered fine, it removes granulations on the
tongue. The teeth, it is said, will never become carious or corroded,
if a person every morning puts some salt beneath his tongue, fasting,
and leaves it there till it has melted. Salt effects the cure also
of leprosy, boils, lichens, and itch-scabs; for all which purposes
it is applied with raisins—the stones being first removed—beef-suet,
origanum, and leaven, or else bread. In such cases it is the salt from
Thebaïs that is mostly used; the same salt being considered preferable
for the treatment of prurigo, and being highly esteemed for affections
of the uvula and tonsillary glands, in combination with honey.

Every kind of salt is useful for the cure of quinzy; but, in addition
to this, it is necessary to make external applications simultaneously
with oil, vinegar, and tar. Mixed with wine, it is a gentle aperient to
the bowels, and, taken in a similar manner, it acts as an expellent of
all kinds of intestinal worms. Placed beneath the tongue, it enables
convalescents to support the heat[3178] of the bath. Burnt more than
once upon a plate at a white heat, and then enclosed in a bag, it
alleviates pains in the sinews, about the shoulders and kidneys more
particularly. Taken internally, and similarly burnt at a white heat and
applied in bags, it is curative of colic, griping pains in the bowels,
and sciatica. Beaten up in wine and honey, with meal, it is a remedy
for gout; a malady for the especial behoof of which the observation
should be borne in mind, that there is nothing better for all parts of
the body than sun and salt:[3179] hence[3180] it is that we see the
bodies of fishermen as hard as horn—gout, however, is the principal
disease for the benefit of which this maxim should be remembered.

Salt is useful for the removal of corns upon the feet, and of
chilblains: for the cure of burns also, it is applied with oil, or
else chewed. It acts as a check also upon blisters, and, in cases of
erysipelas and serpiginous ulcers, it is applied topically with vinegar
or with hyssop. For the cure of carcinoma it is employed in combination
with Taminian[3181] grapes; and for phagedænic ulcers it is used
parched with barley-meal, a linen pledget steeped in wine being laid
upon it. In cases of jaundice, it is employed as a friction before the
fire, with oil and vinegar, till the patient is made to perspire, for
the purpose of preventing the itching sensations attendant upon that
disease. When persons are exhausted with fatigue, it is usual to rub
them with salt and oil. Many have treated dropsy with salt, have used
external applications of salt and oil for the burning heats of fever,
and have cured chronic coughs by laying salt upon the patient’s tongue.
Salt has been used, also, as an injection for sciatica, and has been
applied to ulcers of a fungous or putrid nature.

To bites inflicted by the crocodile, salt is applied, the sores being
tightly bandaged with linen cloths, first dipped[3182] in vinegar.
It is taken internally, with hydromel, to neutralize the effects of
opium, and is applied topically, with meal and honey, to sprains and
fleshy excrescences. In cases of tooth-ache, it is used as a collutory
with vinegar, and is very useful, applied externally, with resin. For
all these purposes, however, froth of salt[3183] is found to be more
agreeable and still more efficacious. Still, however, every kind of
salt is good as an ingredient in acopa,[3184] when warming properties
are required: the same, too, in the case of detersive applications,
when required for plumping out and giving a smooth surface to the skin.
Employed topically, salt is curative of itch-scab in sheep and cattle,
for which disease it is given them to lick. It is injected, also,
with the spittle, into the eyes of beasts of burden. Thus much with
reference to salt.


And here we must no longer defer giving an account of nitrum;[3185]
which in its properties does not greatly differ from salt, and deserves
all the more to be attentively considered, from the evident fact that
the medical men who have written upon it were ignorant of its nature;
of all which authors Theophrastus is the one that has given the
greatest attention to the point. It is found in small quantities in
Media, in certain valleys there that are white with heat and drought;
the name given to it being “halmyrax.”[3186] In Thracia, too, near
Philippi, it is found, but in smaller quantities, and deteriorated
with earthy substances, being known there as “agrion.”[3187] As to that
prepared from the burnt wood of the quercus,[3188] it never was made to
any very great extent, and the manufacture of it has been long since
totally abandoned. Nitrous[3189] waters are also found in numerous
places, but not sufficiently impregnated to admit of condensation.[3190]

The best and most abundant supply is found at Litæ, in Macedonia, where
it is known as “Chalastricum:”[3191] it is white and pure, and closely
resembles salt. In the middle of a certain nitrous lake there, a spring
of fresh water issues forth. In this lake the nitrum[3192] forms for
nine days, about the rising of the Dog-star, and then ceases for the
same period, after which it again floats upon the surface, and then
again ceases: facts which abundantly prove that it is the peculiar
nature of the soil which generates the nitrum, it being very evident
that, when the formation is there interrupted, neither the heat of
the sun nor the fall of rain is productive of the slightest effect.
It is also a truly marvellous fact, that though the spring of fresh
water is always uninterruptedly flowing, the waters of the lake never
increase or overflow. If it happens to rain on the days during which
the nitrum is forming, the result is, that it is rendered additionally
salt thereby: the prevalence of north-east winds, too, still more
deteriorates its quality, as they have a tendency to stir up the mud at
the bottom. Such is the formation of native nitrum.

In Egypt, again, it is made artificially, and i