Gesta Romanorum Vol. II (1871)/Of spiritual Medicine




There was a male child born, divided from the navel upward. Thus he had two heads and breasts, and a proper number of sensitive faculties to each. While one slept or eat, the other did neither. After two years, one part of the boy died, and the other survived about three days. (120)

Also, as Pliny records, there was a tree in India whose flowers had the flavour and smell of fruit. A serpent, called Jacorlus, which dwelt near, had a great aversion to the odour, and that he might destroy its productiveness envenomed the root of the tree. The gardener, observing what was done, took an antidote of that country, and inserted it in a branch at the top of the tree, which presently drove the poison from the root. The tree, before barren, was now loaded with fruit.


My beloved, the child represents the soul and body of man. The tree is also man; the fruit good works. The serpent, is the devil; and the gardener is God. The branch is the blessed Virgin Mary:—so Isaiah, "A branch shall spring from the root of Jesse." And thus also Virgil, in the second of his Bucolics[1].

"Jam redit et virgo redeunt saturnia regna;
Jam nova progenies cœlo dimittitur alto.
Tu modo nascendi[2] puero, quo ferrea primum,
Desinet, et[3] toto surget gens aurea mundo."

In this branch was placed the antidote, that is Christ.


  1. The reader will be surprised to meet with a quotation from Virgil in this place. It is most probable, from its corruptness, that the passage was not drawn immediately from the poet. But it is remarkable from its similarity to that in Isaiah, from whence perhaps Virgil extracted it. Pope says, "from a Sybilline prophecy on the same subject." See his "Messiah."
  2. The true reading is—

    "Tu modo nascenti puero, &c.
    Casta fave Lucina."—Ecl. IV. Line 10.

    It is nonsense as it stands above; but the edition of 1521, 18mo. has, "tu modo nascenti"
  3. It should be Ac


Note 120.Page 382.

Bracciolinus, or Brandiolinus Poggius, a Florentine, who flourished in the 15th century, has given an account of the monster here alluded to. I quote the translation of his fables, of 1658.

"Also, within a little while after it befell out about the marches of Italy, that there was a child born which had two heads, and two visages, beholding one another, and the arms of each other embraced the body; the which body from the navel upward was joined, save the two heads; and from the navel downward, the limbs were all separated one from another. Of the which child tidings came unto the person of Poge at Rome."