Natural History (Rackham, Jones, & Eichholz)/Book 20
I. FROM this point we are going to deal with a most important work of nature, namely to tell man his proper foods, and to force him to acknowledge that his means of living are unknown to him. Nobody should be deceived by the meanness of the names into considering this a petty or trifling task. Herein will be told of Nature at peace or at war with herself, along with the hatreds and friendships of things deaf and dumb, and even without feeling. Moreover, to increase our wonder, all of them are for the sake of mankind. The Greeks have applied the terms 'sympathy' and 'antipathy' to this basic principle of all things: water putting out fire; the sun absorbing water while the moon gives it birth; each of these heavenly bodies suffering eclipse through the injustice of the other. Furthermore, to leave the more heavenly regions, the magnetic stone draws iron to itself while another kind of stone repels it; the diamond, the rare delight of wealth, unbreakable and invincible by all other force, is broken by goat's blood. Other marvels, equally or even more wonderful, we shall speak of in their proper place. I only ask pardon for beginning with trivial though healthful objects. First I shall deal with kitchen-garden plants.
II. We have said that there is a wild cucumber much smaller than the cultivated kind. From it is made the drug called elaterium by pressing the juice out of the seed. Unless, to prepare it, the cucumber be cut open before it is ripe, the seed spurts out, even endangering the eyes. After being gathered, the cucumber is kept for one night and then cut open on the next day with a reed. The seed too is kept in ash to prevent the juice from running away. This when pressed out is received in rain water, where it falls to the bottom. Then it is thickened in the sun, and made into lozenges for the great benefit of mankind, being good for dim vision, eye diseases and sores of the eyelids. It is said that if the roots of vines are touched by this juice the grapes are not attacked by birds. The root too when boiled in vinegar is used as ointment in cases of gout, and its juice cures toothache. Dried and mixed with resin it heals impetigo, itch, what are called psora and lichen, parotid swellings and superficial abscesses; it restores the natural colour to scars, while the juice of the leaves mixed with vinegar and poured by drops into the ears is a remedy for deafness.
III. The proper season to prepare elaterium is the autumn, and no drug keeps for a longer period. It begins to be potent when three years old; if it is desired to use it earlier, the lozenges must be made less harsh by warming them in vinegar in a new clay pot over a slow fire. The older it is the better, and it has been known to keep, so Theophrastus tells us, for two hundred years, and its power to put out the flame of a lamp it retains right up to the fiftieth year. Indeed, the test of genuine elaterium is whether its application makes a flame flicker up and down before putting it out. The pale smooth variety is better than the grass-green and rough, and is slightly bitter. lit is thought that conception is aided by cucumber seed if a woman keeps it fastened to her body without its having touched the ground; while labour is easier if, without her knowledge, the seed, wrapped in ram's wool, be tied to her loins; but it must be hastily carried out of the house immediately after delivery.
As to this cucumber itself, those who sing its praises tell us that the best variety grows in Arabia, and the next best in Arcadia; some report that in Cyrene grows a cucumber like the heliotrope, of the size of a walnut, appearing between the leaves and the branches; its seed is curled back like a scorpion's tail but white in colour. Moreover, some call this cucumber 'scorpion'; both its seed and elaterium are most effective antidotes to the sting of the scorpion. The regular dose as purge or emetic is from half to one obolus, according to the idiosyncrasy of the patient, a larger dose being fatal. Similar are the doses when taken in drink as a remedy for phthiriasis and dropsy. Mixed with honey or old olive oil it is used to cure quinsy and tracheal affections.
IV. Many authorities hold that this cucumber is the same as that known among us as the serpentine, and by some as the stray cucumber, a decoction of which spread over things prevents mice from touching them. The same authorities say that a decoction of it in vinegar applied externally gives immediate relief to gout and to diseases of the joints; that lumbago is cured by the seed dried in the sun, then pounded, and administered in doses of twenty denarii in half a sextarius of water, and that sudden tumours are cured by a liniment made by mixing it with woman's milk. Elaterium promotes menstruation but causes abortion when taken by women with child. It is good for asthma and also for jaundice when I injected into the nostrils. Smeared in the sunshine on the face, it removes therefrom freckles and spots.
V. Many authorities assign all these qualities to the cultivated cucumbers, which even apart from cucumfret. them is of great importance. For instance, the seed too, a three-finger pinch of it, when pounded with cummin and taken in wine, is beneficial for coughs, for phrenitis when drunk in woman's milk, a dose of an acetabulum for dysentery, and with an equal weight of cummin for expectoration of pus. Taken in hydromel it is good for diseases of the liver. With sweet wine it is diuretic, while for kidney pain it is used with cumrnin as an enema.
VI. The gourds called pepones make a very refreshing food, and are also laxative. Their pulp is used as an application for fluxes or pains of the eyes. The root is a cure for the hard sores, like honeycomb, which they call ceria. It also acts as an emetic; it is dried and pounded into flour, the dose being four oboli taken in hydromel, but after it has been drunk a walk of half a mile must be taken. This flour is also used as an ingredient in skin-smoothing cosmetics. The rind too serves as an emetic and clears the face of spots. The leaves also of any kind of cultivated gourd have when applied externally the same effect. The same, mixed with honey, also cure night rash and mixed with wine dog-bites and the bite of multipedes, an insect called seps by the Greeks. It is rather long, with hairy legs, and is particularly harmful to cattle. The bite is followed by swelling, the wound suppurating. The cucumber itself by its smell revives those who have fainted. When peeled and cooked in oil, vinegar and honey, cucumbers are, it is firmly held, more pleasant to the taste.
VII. There is also found a wild gourd, called by the Greeks σομφός, hollow inside (whence its name), of the thickness of a finger, growing only in rocky soils. If it be chewed the juice is very beneficial to the stomach.
VIII. Another kind of wild gourd is called colocynthis. The fruit is smaller than the cultivated, and full of seed. The pale variety is more useful than the grass-green. Taken by itself when dried it is a drastic purge. Used also as an enema an injection is a remedy for all complaints of the bowels, of the kidneys, and of the loins, as well as for paralysis. After the seed has been picked out, hydromel is added and boiled down to one half, which gives a very safe strength for an injection of four oboli. The stomach is benefited also by taking pills made of the dry powder mixed with boiled honey. In jaundice seven seeds of it are taken, to be followed immediately by hydromel. The pulp added to wormwood and salt cures toothache, while its juice warmed with vinegar makes loose teeth firm. Rubbed on with oil it likewise relieves pains of spine, loins and hips. Moreover, wonderful to relate, an equal a number of its seeds, fastened to the body in a cloth, is said to reduce those fevers which the Greeks call periodic. The warmed juice, also, of the shredded cultivated colocynthis cures earache, and its inner pulp without the seed corns on the feet, as well as the suppurations called by the Greeks άποστήματα. The juice obtained by boiling down the whole pulp along with the seeds makes loose teeth firm and stops toothache, and a boiled mixture of it with wine stops inflammation of the eyes. An application of the pounded leaves with fresh cypress leaves, or of the fruit alone, roasted in a clay pot, reduced to powder and added to goose grease, is a cure for wounds. Moreover, when fresh, with shreds of its bark it cools gout and inflammations of the head, especially of babies, and erysipelas by the application to the part affected of the same shreds, or of the seeds. The juice from scrapings, mixed with rose-oil and vinegar, makes a liniment which cools the heat of fevers. The dust of the dried fruit applied to burns is wonderfully healing. Chrysippus the physician disapproved of gourds as food, but there is a general agreement that they are very beneficial to the stomach, and also for ulceration of the intestines and bladder.
IX. The turnip too has its medicinal properties. A hot application cures chilblains, besides preventing the feet from being chilled. A hot decoction of it is good even for cold gout, and raw turnip, pounded and mixed with salt, for every ailment of the feet. The seed, made into liniment or drunk in wine, is said to protect against snake bites and poisons; many moreover hold that taken in wine and oil it serves as an antidote. Democritus entirely disapproved of the turnip as a food on the ground that it causes flatulence; Diocles, however, praised it highly, maintaining that it is also aphrodisiac. Dionysius agrees, holding that its effect is greater when it is seasoned with rocket, and that, when roasted and made into an ointment with grease, it is good for pain in the joints.
X. Wild turnip grows chiefly in fields; it is bushy, with a white seed, which is twice as big as that of the poppy. For smoothing the skin of the face or of the whole body it is used when mixed with equal parts of the meal of vetches, barley, wheat and lupins. The root is not good for anything.
XI. The Greeks retain in pharmacology also two varieties of navews. The one with angular leaf-stalks, and a flower like that of dill, called bunion, is beneficial for the purgings of women, for the bladder and for the urine, in the form of a decoction, drunk in hydromel, or in a drachma of the juice; the seed, roasted and ground, taken in four cyathi of warm water, is good for dysentery. It checks urine, however, if a linseed drink be not taken with it. The other kind of navew is called bunias; it is like the radish and turnip, its seed being a splendid remedy for poisons, for which reason it is also used in antidotes.
XII. We have said that there is also a wild radish. The most popular kind is found in Arcadia, although it also grows elsewhere. It is rather useful as a diuretic. This is its only merit, for in other respects it is heating. In Italy it is also called armoracia.
XIII. Cultivated radishes moreover, besides what has been said about them, purge the stomach, loosen phlegm, promote urine and bring away bile. In addition, a decoction of the skin in wine, drunk in the morning up to three cyathi, break up and eliminate gall-stones. A decoction of the same in vinegar and water is used as liniment for the bites of serpents. The radish too is good for a cough if taken with honey in the morning on an empty stomach; its seed too when roasted and chewed by itself. To use a radish as an amulet and to drink either a decoction of its leaves in water or its juice neat in doses of two cyathi is good for phthiriasis. Good for inflammation is a liniment of radishes crushed by themselves, and for a fresh bruise a liniment made from the skin with honey. Lethargic persons are benefited by eating them at their hottest, asthmatics by the seed, first roasted and then beaten up with honey. Radishes are also useful for poisons, counteracting the sting of the cerastes and of the scorpion. With hands rubbed with radish or its seed you may handle these creatures without fear, and a radish placed on scorpions kills them. Radishes too counteract the poisons of fungi and of henbane, and moreover, as Nicander tells us, the effects of drinking bull's blood. Both the physicians with the name of Apollodorus prescribe radishes to be given for mistletoe poisoning; but Apollodorus of Citium recommends the pounded seed in water, he of Tarentum the juice. Radishes also reduce the size of the spleen, and are good for the liver and pains in the loins; taken also with vinegar or mustard they are beneficial in cases of dropsy, lethargus, epilepsy and melancholia. Praxagoras would administer it to patients with iliac, and Plistonicus to those with coeliae disease. If eaten with honey they also cure ulcers of the intestines and suppurations of the chest. Some for these purposes prefer to cook them in mud; [Mayhoff's reading: 'to smear them over with mud before cooking.'] if so taken they promote, according to them, the menstrual discharge. Taken with vinegar or honey they bring away intestinal worms; a decoction of them boiled down to one third, drunk with wine, is good for intestinal hernia; so taken they draw off superfluous blood. For these purposes and for spitting of blood Medius prescribes that they should be given cooked, as well as to women lying-in to increase the supply of milk; Hippocrates that radishes should be rubbed on the head of women when the hair falls off, and that they should be placed on the navel for pains in the womb. They also bring scars back to the original colour of the skin. An application also of the seed soaked in water arrests ulcers called phagedaenae. Democritus thinks that as a food radishes are aphrodisiac; for this reason, perhaps, some have maintained that they are injurious to the voice. The leaves, but only those of the long radish, are said to improve the eyesight; should however too strong a dose of radish be applied as a remedy, they prescribe the immediate use of hyssop, for it is antipathetic. For deafness the juice of the radish is dropped into the ear. But, for those who would vomit, it is very useful to eat radishes after a meal.
XIV. Like the parsnip is the hibiscum, which some call the wild mallow, and others πλειστολοχεία; it is a cure for ulcers and for broken cartilages and bones. The leaves, taken in water, relax the bowels; they keep serpents away, and used as a liniment heal the stings of bees, wasps and hornets. Its root dug up before sunrise is wrapped in wool of the colour called natural, taken moreover from a ewe that has given birth to a ewe lamb, and bound on scrofulous sores, even when they have suppurated. Some think that when it is to be used for this purpose the root should be dug up with a tool of gold, care being taken not to let it touch the ground. Celsus too prescribes a decoction of the root in wine as a liniment for cases of gout without swelling.
XV. Another kind is staphylinus, which they call stray parsnip. Its seed, crushed and taken in wine, soothes a swollen belly, and the hysterical chokings and pains of women, to such an extent that it restores the womb to normal, benefits their abdomen, moreover, if applied in raisin wine, benefiting men also when pounded with an equal part of bread and drunk in wine as a cure for bellyache. It is diuretic also, and if applied fresh with honey, or after being sprinkled dry on flour it stays phagedaenic ulcers. Its root, taken in hydromel, Dieuches prescribes against affections of the liver, spleen, loins and kidneys; Cleophantus in cases also of chronic dysentery. Philistion boils it in milk; for strangury he prescribes four ounces of the root, giving it in water for dropsy, likewise for those stricken by pitonitetanus, pleurisy and epilepsy. It is said that those who carry it are not bitten by serpents, and that those who have eaten of it, if bitten, receive no hurt; for bites it is applied with axlegrease, and its leaves are chewed as a remedy for indigestion. Orpheus said that there is in staphylinus a love-philtre, perhaps because it is a proved fact that when eaten it is an aphrodisiac; for which reason some have declared that by it conception is aided. For all other purposes the cultivated kind too is powerful, but the wild plant is more efficacious, especially that growing on rocky soils. The seed of the cultivated kind too is a cure for the sting of scorpions when taken in wine or vinegar and water. Its root used as a dentifrice is a cure for toothache.
XVI. In Syria very great pains are taken over kitchen-gardens; hence the Greek proverb: 'Syrians have plenty of vegetables.' They sow a vegetable called by some gingidion that is very like staphylinus, only it is slighter and more bitter, though its properties are the same. lit is eaten, cooked or raw, with great advantage to the stomach, for it dries up all its humours, however deep these may lie.
XVII. Wild (or stray) skirret is like the cultivated kind and has similar properties. It stimulates the appetite, banishing distaste for food, if taken in vinegar and silphium, or with pepper and honey wine, or if you like with fish sauce. It is both diuretic, as Ophion believes, and an aphrodisiac. Diocles too is of the same opinion, and moreover thinks that it acts as a cordial in convalescence, or is very useful after many vomitings. Heraclides prescribed it for mercury poisoning, for occasional impotence and in convalescence. Hicesius said that the reason why it appeared to be harmful to the stomach was that no one could eat three skirrets in succession; adding however that it was beneficial to convalescents who are beginning to take wine again. The juice, especially of the cultivated variety, checks looseness of the bowels if drunk with goats' milk.
XVIII. Since most people confuse the two similar Greek names, σέσελι and σέσελι (σίλι), we have added some account of sili or hartwort, though it is a plant generally known. The best is that of Massilia, for its seed is broad and yellow; the next best, the Aethiopian, is darker, and the Cretan has the strongest smell of all. The root has a pleasant smell, and the seed, it is said, even the vultures eat. When drunk in white wine it is beneficial to man for chronic cough, ruptures and convulsions; likewise for opisthotonic tetanus, affections of the liver, colic and strangury, in doses of two or three spoonfuls. The leaves also are useful because they aid parturition, even that of quadrupeds; it is said that does, when about to give birth, make this their special food. The leaves are also applied to erysipelas, and digestion is much helped if the leaf or seed be eaten after food. It arrests also looseness of bowels in quadrupeds, either pounded and mixed with their drink, or chewed up when they eat their food. It acts as a cure for diseases of oxen, if taken with salt or pounded and injected.
XIX. Elecampane too chewed by people fasting strengthens the teeth. If it is taken from the ground so as not to touch it, a confection of it is healing for a cough; the juice moreover of the boiled root expels worms, and dried in the shade its powdered form cures cough, convulsions, flatulence and affections of the trachea. It keeps off the bite of poisonous creatures. An application of the leaves steeped in wine is used for lumbago.
XX. There are no wild onions. Cultivated onions, by the running caused by the mere smell, is a cure for feebleness of vision; an even better cure is to apply to the eye some of the juice. Onions are also said to induce sleep, and chewed with bread to heal sores in the mouth; fresh onions applied in vinegar, or dry with honey and wine, dog-bites, provided that the bandage is taken off three days after. Applied in the same way they also heal abrasions. An onion cooked in ash many have applied with barley flour to fluxes of the eyes, and to sores of the genitals. The juice of onions they used as ointment for eyesores, albugo and argema with honey for serpent bites and all kinds of ulcers, with woman's milk for sore ear-laps, and dropped it into them with goose grease or honey for singing or hardness of hearing. Diluted with water it was prescribed for those suddenly smitten with dumbness. In toothache it was poured by drops into the mouth to rinse the teeth; likewise on to wounds made by any wild beasts, especially to those of scorpions. In mange and itch crushed onions have been rubbed on the places affected. Boiled onions were given to eat to those affected by dysentery or lumbago; onion-peelings burnt to ash were applied in vinegar to serpent bites, and onions themselves in vinegar for those of the multipede. Apart from what has been said, there are remarkable differences of opinion among physicians. The latest opinion holds that they are injurious to the viscera and the digestion, causing, it is said, flatulence and thirst. The school of Asclepiades holds that, used as food, onions promote a healthy complexion, and, if they are eaten daily on an empty stomach, preserve a good state of health, are useful to the stomach, loosen the bowels by putting the air in motion, disperse haemorroids when used as a suppository, and the juice, added to that of fennel, is very beneficial in cases of incipient dropsy; added to rue and honey it is used for quinsy, and for dispelling lethargus. Varro is our authority that an onion steeped in salt and vinegar, and then dried, is not attacked by worms.
XXI. Cutleek stops bleeding at the nose if the nostrils be plugged with leek pounded, or mixed with gall-nut or mint; fluxes also after miscarriage are arrested by drinking the juice with woman's milk. It cures chronic cough, and affections of the chest and lungs. By an application of the leaves are healed pimples, burns and epinyctisis called a sore, also known as syce, in the corner of the eye and perpetually running; some give the same name to livid pustules causing restlessness at night a ... and other sores by leeks pounded with honey; the bites of beasts are treated by leek in vinegar, as are those of serpents and other poisonous creatures. Affections of the ears, however, are treated by leeks and goats, gall, or else leeks and mead in equal proportions. With woman's milk leeks are used for singing in the ears; for headache the juice is poured into the nostrils, or two tablespoons of juice with one of honey are poured into the ears at bedtime. The juice also is drunk with neat wine to counteract the bites of serpents and of scorpions, and a draught can be taken with half a sextarius of wine for lumbago. For spitting of blood, moreover, for consumption, and for chronic catarrhs the juice is beneficial, as is also the leek by itself eaten as food; for jaundice, dropsy and kidney pains an acetabulum of the juice mixed with barley-water. The same dose taken with honey purges the womb. Leek moreover is eaten to counteract the poisons of fungi; it is applied to wounds, is an aphrodisiac, quenches thirst, serves as a pick-me-up after drunkenness, but is said to dim the eyesight, and to cause flatulences which do no harm, however, to the stomach but relax the bowels. Leeks impart brilliance to the voice.
XXII. Headed leek has the same properties as cutleek, but they are stronger. Those who spit blood are given its juice along with ground gall-nut or frankincense, or with gum arabic. Hippocrates directs it also to be given without other ingredient, and is of opinion that a contracted womb opens under its influence; likewise that by its use as food the fertility of women is increased. Beaten up, with honey added, it cleanses sores. Cough, catarrh of the chest, and affections of the lungs and of the trachea are cured by it when given in a draught of barley-water or eaten raw, the head excepted, without bread; it must however be taken only on alternate days, even if pus be expectorated. Given thus it greatly benefits the voice, venery and sleep. The heads, boiled in water that is twice changed checks diarrhoea and chronic fluxes; a decoction of the skin serves as a dye for grey hair.
XXIII. Garlic has powerful properties, and is of great benefit against changes of water and of residence. It keeps off serpents and scorpions by its smell, and, as some have maintained, every kind of beast. It cures bites when drunk or eaten, or applied as ointment, being particularly efficacious against the haemorrhoids when taken with wine and brought up by vomiting. Lest we be surprised that it is an antidote against the poisonous bite of the shrewmouse, it neutralizes aconite, which is also known by the name of pardalianehes ['Panther-strangler.'] as well as henbane and dog-bites; for the wounds of the latter it is made into an ointment with honey. For the bites of serpents it is very efficacious to roast it with its own leaves and make a liniment by adding oil; also for bruises on the body, even if they have swollen into blisters. Moreover, Hippocrates thinks that garlic fumigations bring away the afterbirth; by its ash mixed with oil he used to restore to health running sores on the head. To asthmatics it is given cooked, though some have given it raw. Diocles prescribed it wit centaury for dropsy, or in a split fig as a purge, a more efficient one being fresh garlic taken in neat wine with coriander; pounded garlic too has by some been given in milk to asthmatics. Praxagoras again mixed it with wine as a remedy for the jaundice, and with oil and pottage for passion; the latter prescription he also used as a liniment for scrofula. The ancients used also to give it raw to madmen, Diocles gave it well boiled for phrenitis. Pounded and, drunk with vinegar and water it is useful as a gargle for quinsy. By three pounded heads with vinegar toothache is relieved, as it is by rinsing the teeth with a decoction, and inserting garlic itself into the hollow teeth. Garlic juice, mixed with goose-grease, is also dropped into the ears. Garlic, in drink or injected with vinegar and soda, checks phthiriasis and scurf, catarrhs likewise if boiled with milk, also beaten up or mixed with soft cheese; it relieves hoarseness also if taken thus, or in gruel of peas or beans. On the whole, however, it is more useful cooked than raw, boiled than roasted. Thus prepared it is also more beneficial to the voice. When cooked in oxymel it expels tapeworms and other parasites of the intestines; in pottage it cures tenesmus. Well boiled it is used as ointment for pains in the temples; cooked, and then beaten up with honey, it makes an ointment for blisters. For a cough a decoction is taken with stale grease, or with milk; or if there be also spitting of blood or pus, it is roasted under live ashes and taken with an equal part of honey. For sprains and ruptures it is used with salt and oil. With fat, however, it cures suspected tumours. Mixed with sulphur and resin it draws the pus from fistulas, with pitch extracting even arrows. Leprous sores, lichen and freckly eruptions are cleansed and cured by it and wild marjoram, or by a liniment made out of its ash with oil and fish-sauce. Used in this way it is also good for erysipelas. Burnt to ash and mixed with honey it brings back to the original colour parts that are black-and-blue or livid. It is believed that epilepsy too is cured by garlic taken in food and drink, and that one head of it, taken in a dry wine with an obolus of silphium shakes off a quartan ague. Taken in another way, namely boiled in broken beans and eaten with food until health is restored, it cures a cough, and suppuration of the chest, however severe. It induces sleep also, and makes the body generally of a ruddier colour. It is believed to act as an aphrodisiac, when pounded with fresh coriander and taken in neat wine. Its drawbacks are that it dulls the sight, causes flatulence, injures the stomach when taken too freely, and creates thirst. In addition, mixed with emmerwheat and added to their food it is good for poultry to save them from the pip. Beasts of burden are said to pass urine without pain, if their parts are treated with pounded garlic.
XXIV. The chief kind of lettuce growing wild is the one called goat-lettuce, which when thrown into the sea kills immediately all the fish in the neighbourhood. Its milk, or juice, when thickened and then added to vinegar, in doses of two oboli to one cyathus of water, is prescribed for dropsical patients. The crushed stalk and leaves, sprinkled with salt, cure a cut sinew. The pounded plant and vinegar, used as a mouthwash twice a month in the morning, keeps away toothache.
XXV. There is a second kind, called caesapon by the Greeks, the pounded leaves of which, made into an ointment with pearl-barley, heal sores. These two grow in the open fields. A third kind growing in woods is called ίσάτις. Its leaves pounded up with pearl-barley are good for wounds. A fourth kind is used by dyers of wools. Its leaves would be like those of wild sorrel, were they not more numerous and darker. By its root or leaves it stanches bleeding, heals phagedaenic and putrefying ulcers, spreading ulcers, tumours before suppuration, and erysipelas. Taken in drink it is good even for the spleen. Such are the peculiar properties of the several kinds.
XXVI. The characteristics, however, common to the wild kinds are whiteness, a stem occasionally a cubit long, and a roughness on the stalk and on the leaves. Of these kinds, one with round, short leaves is called by some hieracion (hawkweed), since hawks, by tearing it open and wetting their eyes with the juice, dispel poor vision when they have become conscious of it. The juice in all of them is white, in its properties, also, like that of the poppy; collected at harvest by cutting the stem, it is stored in new earthenware, being excellent for many purposes. With woman's milk it heals all eye-diseaseswhite ulcers, films, all wounds and inflammations, and especially dimness of sight. It is also applied to the eyes on wool for fluxes. The same juice purges the bowels if drunk in vinegar and water in doses not exceeding two oboli. Drunk in wine it heals snakebites, as do its leaves and stalks when pounded and drunk in vinegar. They are applied as ointment to a wound, especially for the stings of scorpions; for those, however, of venomous spiders wine and vinegar are added. They also neutralise other poisons, except those which kill by suffocation, or those which hurt the bladder, white lead also being an exception. They are applied to the belly with honey and vinegar to clear away troubles of the bowels. The juice corrects difficulty in making water. Cratenas prescribes it also for dropsy in doses of two oboli with vinegar and a cyathus of wine. Some collect the juice of the cultivated lettuce also, but it is less efficacious. The special properties of lettuces, besides those already mentioned a of causing sleep, checking sexual desire, cooling a heated body, cleansing the stomach and making blood, are not few; it breaks up flatulence, calms belching, aids digestion without ever itself causing indigestion. No other article of diet has a greater power of both increasing appetite and also of diminishing it. In either case moderation of the amount taken is the reason; thus an immoderate amount loosens the bowels, while a moderate amount binds them. Lettuces loosen thick phlegm, and, as some have put on record, clear the senses, being very useful to stomachs which are out of order. They are aided for these purposes by oboli of digestive, the mixer modifying the sharpness by the addition of a sweet wine until it is no greater than that of vinegar sauce, mixing with it, if the phlegm be thick, squill or wormwood wine; if a cough also be experienced, hyssop wine. Lettuces are given with wild endive for coeliac affections and for hardness in the abdomen. White lettuce in great quantity is given to melancholic patients and for bladder troubles. Praxagoras gave it also to patients with dysentery. It is good for fresh burns, if applied with salt before the blisters form. They cheek spreading ulcers, if applied at first with saltpetre, afterwards in wine. Pounded they are applied in cases of erysipelas. The pounded stalks, added to pearl-barley and applied with cold water, soothe cramps and sprains, and eruptions of pimples when applied with wine and pearl-barley. In cholera also they have been given cooked in a pan, for which purpose the most beneficial are the bitter ones with the largest stems. Some people too inject the lettuce milk. Their stalks thoroughly boiled are said to be very beneficial to the stomach; likewise for sleep the summer lettuce especially, and the milky, bitter kind, which we have called meconis. This milk added to woman's milk is prescribed also as very useful for clearness of vision if the eyes and the head are bathed in good time, and likewise for eye troubles caused by chill. I find much other extravagant praise of lettuce: that with Attic honey it is as good as southernwood for chest complaints; that menstruation is regulated by its use as food; that the seed of cultivated lettuce is given for scorpion stings; that the crushed seed taken in wine prevents libidinous dreams; that noxious waters do not harm those who eat lettuce. Some however have maintained that when eaten too often they impair the eyesight.
XXVII. Not without healing properties is either kind of beet; the fresh root of either the white variety or of the dark, if soaked and hung on a cord is said to be efficacious against serpent bites; white beet boiled and taken with raw garlic against tapeworms. Dark roots boiled in water remove dandruff; the dark for all purposes is held to be the more efficacious. Its juice relieves headache and giddiness, noises in the ears if poured into them, and it is diuretic. Injected it is a remedy for dysentery and jaundice; the juice used as liniment relieves toothache, besides being an antidote for serpent bites, but only if extracted from the dark root. A decoction, moreover, of the beet itself relieves chilblains. White beet applied to the forehead allays fluxes of the eyes, and mixed with a little alum, erysipelas. Similarly applied, when beaten up without oil it also heals burns. It is also used for eruptions of pimples; again, when boiled, it is applied to spreading sores, likewise raw for mange, and for running sores on the head. Its juice applied with honey to the nostrils clears the head. It is gently boiled with lentils, with vinegar added, in order to relax the bowels. Boiled faster beet checks fluxes of the stomach and bowels.
XXVIII. There is also a wild beet, called by some limonium, by others neuroides, with leaves much smaller, thinner and closer together, often having eleven stalks. Its leaves, useful for burns, dry the mouth of those who taste them. Its seed, in doses of one acetabulum, is good for dysentery. The liquid moreover decocted from the root of the beet washes out, it is said, the stains on clothes as well as those on parchment.
XXIX. Endives also are not without their value in medicine. Their juice with rose oil and vinegar relieves headache; moreover, drunk with wine, pains of the liver and bladder; it is also applied to fluxes from the eyes. The wild endive certain among us have called ambubaia. In Egypt they call the wild kind cichorium; the cultivated they call seris, a variety which is smaller and has more veins.
XXX. Chicory taken in food or applied as liniment cools gatherings. The juice of the boiled-down vegetable loosens the bowels, and benefits liver, kidneys and stomach. Again, if it is boiled down in vinegar it dispels pain of urination, jaundice also if taken in honey wine, provided that there is no fever. It helps the bladder. Boiled down in water it so helps the purgation of women as even to withdraw the dead unborn baby. The Magi add that those who have anointed themselves with the juice of the entire plant, mixed with oil, become more popular, and obtain their requests more easily. So great indeed are its health-giving properties that some call it chreston (useful) others pancration (almighty).
XXXI. The wild kindsome call it hedypnois has a broader leaf; boiled, it acts as an astringent upon a relaxed stomach, and eaten raw it checks looseness of the bowels. It is beneficial in dysentery, more so when taken with lentils. Ruptures and cramps are relieved by both kinds, as also are those troubled with a diseased flux of sperm.
XXXII. Seris also, itself very similar to lettuce, is of two kinds. The wild is the better; it is dark and grows in summer, while the winter variety, which is whiter, is not so good. Each is bitter, and very beneficial to the stomach, especially to one troubled by a humour. They are cooling when taken with vinegar in food, and when applied as liniment; they disperse other humours besides those in the stomach. With pearl-barley the roots of the wild variety are taken in a draught to benefit the stomach; for heartburn they are applied above the left breast; prepared with vinegar all these are useful for gout, for spitting of blood, and likewise for fluxes of sperm, a dose to be taken on alternate days. Petronius Diodotus, who wrote a medical Herbal, gives many arguments condemning seris altogether, but the opinion of all others is against him.
XXXIII. It would be a long task to make a list of all the praises of the cabbage, since not only did Chrysippus the physician devote to it a special volume, divided according to its effects on the various parts of the body, but Dieuches also, and Pythagoras above all, and Cato no less lavishly, have celebrated its virtues; the views of the latter it is meet to set forth all the more carefully for the sake of learning what medicine the Roman people used for six hundred years. The earliest Greeks divided cabbage into three varieties; (a) the curly, which they called selinas from the resemblance of its leaves to those of parsley, useful for the stomach and moderately laxative; (b) the helia, with broad leaves growing out of the stem, from which some have called it caulodes, of no importance in medicine; (c) the third, crambe properly so-called, with thinner leaves of plain shape and very close together, is more bitter but very beneficial. Cato thinks most highly of the curly variety, next after it approving the smooth cabbage with large leaves and big stem. He considers it good for headache, dimness of the eyes and sparks in them, for the spleen, the stomach and the hypochondria, when taken raw in the morning with oxymel, coriander, rue, mint and root of silphium, in doses of two acetabula, saying that their power is so great that he who pounds the ingredients together feels himself growing stronger. He therefore recommends that it should either be pounded with these herbs when taken in a draught, or at least be in sauce made from them; while for gout and rheumatic joints a liniment should be made with a dash of rue, coriander and salt, along with barley flour; he adds that its water, boiled down, is wonderfully beneficial for sinews and joints, if they are fomented with it. Wounds, whether fresh or old, and even cancerous sores, which can be healed by no other treatment, should, so he prescribes, first be fomented with hot water and then have pounded cabbage applied to them twice daily. Similar treatment he prescribes for fistulas also and sprains; for tumours too, both such as must be brought to a head and those that need to be dispersed. He says that boiled cabbage prevents dreams and sleeplessness, if you eat fasting as much as possible with oil and salt; gripings it relieves if after boiling it is boiled down again with the addition of oil, salt, cummin and pearl-barley. If when so prepared it is taken without bread, it will, he adds, be more beneficial. Among other things he tells us that bile is cleared away by drinking cabbage in dark wine; and what is more, he recommends that the urine of a person who has lived on a cabbage diet should be kept, because when warmed it is a cure for pains in the sinews. I will add his actual words to explain his thought: 'Little boys, if you bathe them with such urine, never become weak.' He also advises that the juice of cabbage should be poured warm into the ears, with wine added, and he insists that this treatment benefits those who are hard of hearing, and that impetigo by the same means is cured without ulceration.
XXXIV. Just because we have dealt with Cato it is well to put down now the views of the Greeks also, limiting ourselves to making good Cato's omissions. If not overcooked they think that cabbage brings away bile, also that it loosens the bowels, checking diarrhoea however if it be boiled twice. As cabbage is the enemy of the vine, they say that it opposes wine; that if taken in food beforehand it prevents drunkenness, taken after drinking it dispels its unpleasant effects. They hold that cabbage taken as food greatly brightens the vision, and that the benefit is very great indeed if the juice of raw cabbage and Attic honey merely touch the corners of the eyes. They add that cabbage is very easily digested, and that its use as food clears the senses. The school of Erasistratus loudly declares that nothing is more useful than cabbage for the stomach and sinews, and he therefore prescribes it for paralysis and palsy, as well as for spitting of blood. Hippocrates prescribed twice-boiled cabbage and salt for coeliac trouble and dysentery, also for tenesmus and kidney troubles, holding also that its use as food gave a rich supply of milk to lying-in women and benefited women's purgings. The stalk indeed eaten raw brings out the dead unborn baby. Apollodorus holds that its seed should be eaten, or its juice drunk, to counteract poisonous fungi; Philistion prescribes it to be taken in goat's milk, with salt and honey, for opisthotonic tetanus. I find that gout has been cured by eating cabbage and drinking cabbage water; the latter has been given with the addition of salt for heart-bum also and epilepsy, and with white wine for a period of forty days for diseases of the spleen, as well as for jaundice and phrenitis. For hoarseness he prescribes the juice of the raw cabbage as a gargle or drink, but for hiccoughs he recommends it to be taken in vinegar with coriander, dill, honey and pepper. An application of it is good for flatulence of the stomach, snake bite and putrid sores of long standing; if you like, the mere water may be used with barley meal, the juice in vinegar or with fenugreek. In this way some apply it to aching joints and gouty limbs. An application of it relieves epinyctis and every other kind of spreading eruption, and also sudden dimness of sight; the last too is benefited by eating it in vinegar, but for bruises and other livid marks the application should be of cabbage alone, for leprous sores and itch, of cabbage in vinegar with a ball of alum. Applied in this way it also prevents the hair from falling out. Epicharmus says that a local application of cabbage is very good for troubles of the testes and genitals, that cabbage and crushed beans are more efficacious still, and likewise for convulsions; that with rue it relieves high fever and stomach troubles, and with the seed of rue it brings away the afterbirth and cures the bite of the shrewmouse. The dried leaves when powdered purge by vomit or by stool.
XXXV. Of all the varieties of cabbage the most pleasant-tasted is cyma, although it is thought to be unwholesome, being difficult of digestion and bad for the kidneys. Further, we must not forget that the water in which it has been boiled, though praised for its many uses, has a foul smell when poured out on the ground. The ash of dried cabbage-stalks is understood to be caustic, and with stale grease is used for sciatica, but with silphiurn and vinegar, applied as a depilatory, it prevents the growth of other hair in place of that pulled out. It is also taken lukewarm in oil, or boiled in water by itself, for convulsions, internal ruptures, and falls from a height. Has cabbage then no faults to be charged with? Nay, we find in the same authors that it makes the breath foul and harms teeth and gums. In Egypt too, because of its bitterness, it is not eaten.
XXXVI. Cato gives vastly higher praise to the wild, or stray, cabbage, so much so that he asserts that the mere powder of the dried vegetable, collected in a smelling-bottle, or the scent only, snuffed up the nostrils, removes nose-troubles and any offensive odour. Some call this variety rock-cabbage; it is strongly antipathetic to wine, so that the vine tries very hard to avoid it, or, if it cannot do so, dies. It has thin leaves, round, small, and smooth; though rather like the ordinary vegetable, it is both whiter and more hairy than the cultivated kind. Chrysippus tells us that it heals flatulence, biliousness and fresh wounds, if applied with honey and not removed till the seventh day; also that beaten up in water it cures scrofula and fistulas. Others moreover maintain that it checks running sores, called nomae, removes too excrescences, and smoothes away scars; that if it is chewed, or if cabbage water be used with honey as a gargle, sores in the mouth or on the tonsils disappear, as also do the itch and chronic leprous sores, if three parts of it and two of alum in strong vinegar be applied as a liniment. Epicharmus thought this cabbage a sufficient remedy if applied to the bite of a mad dog, and an even better one with the addition of silphium juice and strong vinegar; he also said that dogs are killed by it, if given with their meat. Its seed if roasted is a help against serpents, fungi, and bull's blood. The boiled leaves taken in food or applied raw with sulphur and soda relieves splenic diseases and also hardness of the breasts. The ash of its roots even by a mere touch cures a swollen uvula, reduces parotid swellings if applied with honey, and heals bites of serpents. Of the power of cabbage I will add but one proof, which is both striking and wonderful: let the scale form on the inside of any vessel in which water is boiled, so that it cannot be scraped away; yet it disappears if cabbage is boiled in them.
XXXVII. Among wild cabbages is also lapsana, which is a foot high, has hairy leaves, being like mustard, except that the flower is whiter. It is eaten cooked, and soothes and relaxes the bowels.
XXXVIII. Of all the varieties, sea cabbage is the strongest purgative. On account of its pungency it is cooked with fat meat, and is very bad for the stomach.
XXXIX. The squill used in medicine is white (the dark squill is female), and the whiter it is the more beneficial. When the dried skin has been torn from it, what is left of the living a plant is cut up and hung on a cord at short distances. Afterwards the dry pieces are plunged still hanging into a jar of very strong vinegar, so as not to touch any part of the vessel. Then the jar, plastered with gypsum, is placed under tiles which receive the sun the whole day long. This is done forty-eight days before the solstice. After this number of days the vessel is removed and the squills taken out, the vinegar being poured into another vessel. This vinegar sharpens the vision, is beneficial for pains of the stomach and sides if taken for two days at a time. But so great is its strength that too copious a draught produces for a moment the appearance of death. Even when chewed by themselves squills are good for the gums and teeth. Taken in vinegar and honey they bring away tapeworm and other intestinal parasites. Fresh squills placed under the tongue prevent dropsical patients from suffering thirst. They are cooked in several ways: either in a pot lined with fat or clay, to be put into an oven or furnace, or else they are cut up and cooked in a stewpan. Raw squills too are dried, then cut up, boiled in vinegar and then applied to snake bites. Another way is to roast the squills and then clean them, after which the centre parts are again cooked in water. Thus prepared they are used for dropsy, as a diuretic, drunk with honey and vinegar in doses of three oboli, and also for diseases of the spleen and stomach, when food floats undigested, provided that no ulceration is felt, for griping pains, jaundice, and chronic cough with asthma. Scrofula is cleared away by squill leaves, if they are left on for four days; dandruff and running sores by an application of squills cooked in oil. Cooked too in honey squills are used as food, especially to promote digestion. So prepared they also purge the bowels. Cooked in oil and mixed with resin squills heal cracks in the feet. The seed mixed with honey is applied to relieve lumbago. Squills too, hung in a doorway, are said by Pythagoras to have power to keep off evil enchantments.
XL. The other bulbs cure cuts on the face when used with vinegar and sulphur, contraction of the sinews too when pounded up and used by themselves, dandruff when mixed with wine, and the bites of dogs when mixed with honey; Erasistratus would mix them with pitch. The same authority holds that applied with honey they stop a flow of blood. Others add coriander and flour for bleeding at the nose. Theodorus treats lichen also with bulbs in vinegar, adding a dry wine or egg for eruptions on the head. The same authority applies them for eye-fluxes, and their centres for dry ophthalmia. Red bulbs in particular, applied in the sun with honey and soda, remove spots on the face, and freckles when applied with wine or with vinegar. They are wonderfully good too for wounds, either by themselves, or as Damion advises, with honey wine, if the application be allowed to remain for four days at least. By the same means he treats broken ear-laps and hydrocele, adding flour also for pains in the joints. Boiled in wine and applied to the belly they soften hardness abdomen. For dysentery they are given in diluted with rain-water, for internal spasms in the size of a bean compounded with silphium. sweating they are bruised and applied. They good for the sinews, and therefore are given to paralytics. Red bulbs, mixed with honey and salt, heal sprains of the foot very quickly. Megarian bulbs are a strong aphrodisiac; garden bulbs taken with concentrated must or raisin wine help delivery; wild bulbs compounded with silphium and swallowed in pills relieve intestinal wounds and affections. The seed of the last is taken in wine against the bite of venomous spiders. The bulbs themselves are applied in vinegar against the bites of serpents. The ancients used to give the seed in drink to persons raving mad. The flowers of bulbs pounded up remove spots on the legs and patches produced by fire. Diocles thinks that the eyes are weakened by them. He adds that when boiled they are less useful than roasted, and that according to the strength of every variety they are difficult of digestion.
XLI. The Greeks call bulbine a plant with leaves like those of leeks and with a red bulb. This is said to be wonderfully good for wounds, provided that they are recent. The bulb called the emetic from its effects has dark leaves, longer than those of other kinds.
XLII. Asparagus is reported to be one of the most beneficial foods to the stomach. Indeed if cummin is added it disperses flatulence of the stomach and colon; it improves vision also, moves the bowels gently, benefits pains in the chest and spine as well as intestinal trouble, wine being added when it is being cooked. For pains in the loins and kidneys asparagus seed is taken in drink in doses of three oboli, an equal quantity of cummin being added. It is aphrodisiac and very useful as a diuretic, except when the bladder has been ulcerated. Very many recommend that the root be pounded and taken in white wine, when it also disperses stone, and relieves pains of the loins and kidneys. Some also prescribe this root to be taken in sweet wine for pain in the womb. This root boiled down in vinegar is good for elephantiasis. If a man is rubbed with a mixture of pounded asparagus and oil it is said that he is never stung by bees.
XLIII. Wild asparagus is called by some corruda, by others Libyan, by the Attics orminus. For all the purposes mentioned above its properties are more efficacious than those of the cultivated asparagus, and those of the whiter kind are the more powerful. Both relieve jaundice. As an aphrodisiac, the water in which it has been boiled is recommended to be drunk in doses up to a hemina. Its seed has the same effect mixed with dill and taken in doses of three oboli of each. A decoction of the juice is also given for the bites of serpents. Its root, mixed with the root of fennel, is among our most efficacious aids. In cases of haematuria the seed of asparagus, of parsley, and of cummin is prescribed by Chrysippus in doses of three oboli in two cyathi of wine. He goes on to say that thus prepared, although it is diuretic, yet it is bad for dropsy, as it is for venery, and also for the bladder unless it is boiled in water; that this water kills dogs if they drink it; that the juice of the root boiled in wine, if it be held in the mouth, cures toothache.
XLIV. Parsley is universally popular, for sprigs of it are found swimming in draughts of milk everywhere in the country, and in sauces it enjoys a popularity all its own. Moreover applied with honey to the eyes, provided that they are also frequently fomented with a warm decoction, it is wonderfully beneficial, as also for other fluxes on the limbs, when applied pounded up, either by itself or with bread or pearl-barley. Fish also, if they are sickly in ponds, are revived by fresh parsley. But no other plant taken from the ground has caused such a variety of opinion among the learned. Parsley shows distinction of sex. Chrysippus says that female parsley has hard and curlier leaves, a thick stem and a sharp, hot taste, Dionysius that it is darker, has a shorter root and breeds grubs; both agree that neither should be classed among the foodsnay, that it is altogether a sin to eat parsley, because it is dedicated to the funeral feasts in honour of the dead, and that it is also bad for the eyesight. They say that the stem of female parsley breeds grubs, and because of this those who have eaten it, whether male or female, become barren, and actually that sucking babies become epileptic if their nurses have eaten parsley. The male plant however they say is the less injurious. This is why it is not classed among plants utterly taboo. The application of parsley leaves softens hardness of the breasts. To boil parsley in it makes water sweeter to drink. The juice of the root in particular added to wine relieves lumbago, and hardness of hearing if the same liquid be dropped into the ears. The seed is diuretic, aids the menses and the afterbirth, and restores bruises to their natural colour if they are fomented with a decoction of the seed. Applied with white of egg, or boiled in water and drunk, parsley cures kidney troubles, and ulcers in the mouth when pounded up in cold water. The seed with wine, or the root with old wine, breaks up stones in the bladder. The seed is also given, in white wine, to jaundice patients.
XLV. Hyginus gives the name of apiastrum to melissophyllum, but by general consent the Sardinian variety is condemned as poisonous; I must however include in the same class all plants so placed by Greek writers.
XLVI. Olusatrum (alexanders), also called hipposelinum (horse parsley), is antipathetic to scorpions. Its seed taken in drink cures colic and intestinal worms. The seed too, boiled and drunk in honey wine, cures dysuria. Its root, boiled in wine, expels stone, besides curing lumbago and pains in the side. Taken in drink and applied as liniment it cures the bite of a mad dog. A draught of its juices warms those who have been chilled. A fourth kind of parsley is made by some authorities out of oreoselinum (mountain parsley), a straight shrub a palm high, with a seed like cummin, beneficial to the urine and the menses. Heleoselinum (marsh celery) is especially valuable for the bites of spiders; this variety and oreoselinum taken in wine promotes the menses.
XLVII. Another kind of parsley, which grows on rocks, is called by some petroselinum (rock parsley); it is especially good for abscesses, two spoonfuls of the juice making a dose with one cyathus of juice of horehound and three cyathi of warm water. Other authorities have added to the parsleys buselinem (cow parsley), which differs from the cultivated kind in the shortness of its stalk and the redness of its root, although its properties are the same. They add that taken in drink or applied it is a powerful antidote against the bites of serpents.
XLVIII. Ocimuni (basil) too was severely condemned by Chrysippus as injurious to stomach, urine and eyesight, adding that it causes madness, lethargus and liver troubles, and that for this reason goats refuse to touch it, so that men also ought to avoid it. Certain authorities add that pounded ocimum, if covered by a stone, breeds a scorpion, and that ocimum chewed and left in the sun breeds worms; the Africans moreover hold that a man's life is lost if he is stung by a scorpion on the same day as he has eaten ocimum. Moreover, some hold that if a handful of ocimum be pounded up with ten sea or river crabs, all the scorpions in the neighbourhood are drawn to it. Diodorus in his Empirica says that the use of ocimum as a food breeds lice. The period that followed saw strong defenders of ocimum who said that goats do eat it, that no man's mind has been affected by it, and that in wine and a little vinegar it cures the stings of land scorpions and the venom of those in the sea. Experience also proves, they say, that ocimum if smelt in vinegar is good for fainting; also for lethargus, and to cool inflammations; for headache, too, if used as a liniment with rose oil or with myrtle oil or with vinegar, and for eye fluxes if applied in wine. It is said too, to be beneficial to the stomach, to disperse flatulence by belching if taken in vinegar, to check looseness of the bowels if applied externally, to be diuretic, applied thus to be good for both jaundice and dropsy, and to check even the diarrhoea of cholera. Philistion therefore prescribed ocimum even for coeliac complaints and when boiled for dysentery; some against the advice of Plistonicus prescribe it in wine for tenesmus, spitting of blood and hardness of the hypochondria. Applied to the breasts it checks the flow of milk. It is very beneficial, especially with goose grease, for the ears of babies. The pounded seed snuffed up the nostrils promotes sneezing, and used as a liniment the flow of mucus from the head; taken as food in vinegar it purges the womb. Mixed with cobbler's blacking it removes warts. Being aphrodisiac it is also administered to horses and asses at the time of service.
For all these purposes wild ocimum is of greater efficacy, particularly for the troubles caused by frequent vomitings and for abscesses of the womb, the root taken in wine being very efficacious for the bites of wild beasts.
XLIX. Rocket seed cures the poisons of scorpions and of the shrewmouse; it keeps off all the little parasites breeding on the body, and removes spots on the skin of the face when applied with honey, freckles when applied with vinegar, reducing livid scars to whiteness when mixed with ox-gall. Taken in wine it is said to harden as it were the feeling of those about to be flogged. As a seasoning for dishes it imparts such a pleasant flavour that the Greeks have called it cuzomon (good broth). It is thought that if the eyes are fomented with slightly pounded rocket, clearness of vision is restored ... the coughing of babies is soothed. A decoction of its root in water extracts broken bones. We have already spoken of rocket as an aphrodisiac; if three leaves of wild rocket plucked with the left hand and pounded are drunk in hydromel, they so act.
L. On the other hand cress is antaphrodisiac, but as we have already said sharpens the senses. There are two varieties of it. The white acts as a purge, and carries bile away if one denarius by weight of it be taken in seven of water. It is an excellent cure for scrofula if applied with bean meal and covered with a cabbage leaf. The other kind, which is darker, purges away peccant humours of the head, clears the vision, calms if taken in vinegar troubled minds, and benefits the spleen when drunk in wine or eaten with a fig, or a cough if taken in honey, provided that the dose be repeated daily and administered on an empty stomach. The seed in wine expels all parasites of the intestines, more effectively however if there be added wild mint. Taken with wild marjoram and sweet wine it is good for asthma and cough, and a decoction in goat's milk relieves pains in the chest. Applied with pitch it disperses superficial abscesses; applied in vinegar it extracts thorns from the body and removes spots. When used for carcinoma white of egg is added. It is applied in vinegar to the spleen, but with babies it is best applied in honey. Sextius adds that burnt cress keeps away serpents, and neutralizes scorpion stings; that the pounded plant relieves headache, and mange, if mustard be added; that pounded and placed with fig on the ears it relieves hardness of hearing, and tooth ache if its juice be poured into the ears; and that dandruff and sores on the head are removed if the juice be applied with goose grease. Boils it brings to a head if applied with leaven. It makes carbuncles suppurate and break, and with honey it cleanses phagedaenic ulcers. With pearl barley it is applied in vinegar for sciatica and lumbago, likewise for lichen and rough nails, because its nature is caustic. The best kind, however, is the Babylonian; the wild variety for all the purposes mentioned is the more efficacious.
LI. But among our chief medicinal plants is rue. The cultivated kind has the wider leaves and the more bushy branches; the wild variety is harsh in its effects and sharper in all respects. The juice is extracted by pounding with a moderate sprinkling of water, and is kept in a copper box. An overdose of this juice possesses poisonous qualities, especially in Macedonia near the river Aliaemon. Strangely enough, it is neutralized by the juice of hemlock; so there are actually poisons of poisons, and hemlock juice is good for the hands and face of those who gather rue. Further, rue, especially the Gallic variety, is one of the chief ingredients of antidotes. Any sort of rue, however, is even by itself a powerful antidote, the pounded leaves being taken in wine, especially against aconite and mistletoe; likewise, whether given in drink or in food, against poisonous fungi. In like manner it counteracts the bites of serpents, seeing that weasels, when about to fight with them, first protect themselves by eating rue. Rue is good for stings of scorpions and for those of spiders, bees, hornets and wasps, for injuries caused by cantharides and salamanders, and for the bites of mad dogs. The juice is drunk in wine in doses of one acetabulum, and the leaves pounded or chewed are applied with honey and salt, or after boiling with vinegar and pitch. It is said that any besmeared with its juice, and even those having it on their persons, are never stung by these poisonous creatures, and that serpents avoid the fumes that come from burning rue. Its most efficient form is the wild root taken with wine. Authorities add that this root is more efficacious if the draught be taken out of doors. Pythagoras divided rue also into (a) male, with smaller leaves and of a grass-green colour, and (b) female, with more luxuriant leaves and more colour. He also thought it injurious to the eyes, wrongly, since engravers and painters use rue as food, with bread or cress, for the sake of their eyes; wild goats also, they say, cat it to improve their vision. Many have dispelled dimness by anointing the eyes with its juice added to Attic honey or to the milk of a woman who has just borne a male child, or even by touching the corners of the eyes with the pure juice. Rue applied with pearl barley relieves fluxes from the eyes; taken in wine or applied with vinegar and rose oil, headaches likewise; if however the headache be chronic, barley flour and vinegar should be the other ingredients. The same plant soon relieves indigestion, flatulence and chronic pains of the stomach. It opens the womb, and corrects displacement of it, if applied in honey to the whole abdomen and chest; added to figs and boiled down to one half it is administered in wine in cases of dropsy. In this form it is also taken for pains in the chest, sides and loins, for coughs and asthma, for complaints of the lungs, liver and kidneys, and for cold shivers. To prevent the after-effects of drinking a decoction of the leaves is taken before indulgence in wine, It is beneficial as a food, raw, boiled or preserved, likewise for colic if boiled in hyssop and taken with wine. In this form it checks internal haemorrhage, and, if injected into them, bleeding nostrils; this form is also good for rinsing the teeth. The juice is also poured into the ears for earache, care being taken, as we have said, to inject only a moderate quantity if the wild variety is used; but for hardness of hearing and for singing in the ears there is added rose oil or bay oil, or else wine and honey. For phrenitis too the juice of pounded rue is poured in vinegar over the temples and cranium. Some have also added wild thyme and bay, rubbing with this mixture the head and the neck. Rue has been given in vinegar for sufferers from lethargus to smell, and a decoction of the juice for epileptics to drink in doses of four cyathi; it has been given before attacks of fever with unbearable chill, and also raw, as food, to sufferers from shivering fits. It is diuretic also, even when there is haematuria; it promotes too menstruation, and brings away the afterbirth and the foetus that has died before delivery, as Hippocrates holds, if it be taken in sweet, dark wine, or so applied locally. He also prescribes fumigation with rue to stimulate the womb. Diocles so applies it in vinegar and honey with barley meal for heartburn: for severe colic, the meal should be boiled in oil and spread over pieces of fleece. Many moreover also think that two drachmae of dried rue and one and a half drachmae of sulphur can be taken for purilent spittings, and for spitting of blood three sprays boiled in wine. Pounded and taken in wine with cheese it is also given to patients with dysentery. Crumbed into a draught it has also been given with bitumen for shortness of breath; for heavy falls three ounces of seed with one pound of oil and a sextarius of wine. The leaves boiled with oil ate applied to parts that have been bitten by frost. If it is diuretic, as Hippocrates holds, it is strange that some prescribe it as an antidiuretic drink for incontinence of urine. An application of rue, with honey and alum, heals itch and leprous sores; vitiligo also and warts, scrofula and similar complaints, with nightshade, lard and beef suet; in vinegar and oil, or white lead, erysipelas; in vinegar, carbuncles. Some prescribe the addition of silphium to the ointment, without using it, however, for the treatment of night pustules. A decoction of it is applied to swollen breasts, and with the addition of wax for outbursts of phlegm; for fluxes of the testicles, however, tender sprigs of laurel are added, and so extraordinary is the effect of these on the abdomen that, it is said, by an ointment of the wild variety with old axle-grease hernia is healed, as are also broken limbs by an application of the pounded seed and wax. The root of rue applied to the part affected restores to normal blood-shot eyes, and scars or spots on any part of the body. Of the other traditions about rue a remarkable one is that, although it is agreed that rue is by nature hot, yet a bunch of rue boiled in rose oil with one ounce of aloes checks the perspiration of those who have rubbed themselves with it, and that its use as food hinders the generative powers. Accordingly it is prescribed for spermatorrhoea and for frequent amorous dreams. Pregnant women must take care to exclude rue from their diet, for I find that the foetus is killed by it. Of all plants rue is the one most generally used for the diseases of quadrupeds also, whether it be difficulty of breathing or the bites of noxious creatures; it is injected through the nostrils in wine, or in vinegar if a bloodsucker has been swallowed; in any type of illness it is compounded as in the corresponding illness in man.
LII. Mentastrum is wild mint, differing from the cultivated kind in the appearance of its leaves, which have the shape of those of ocimum and the smell of pennyroyal, for which reason some call it wild pennyroyal. If these leaves are chewed and applied, elephantiasis is cured, as was discovered in the time of Pompeius Magnus by the chance experiment of some one who for shame smeared his face with them. The same leaves are applied, or taken in drink, for the bites of serpents, in doses of two drachmae in two cyathi of wine, for the stings of scorpions with salt, oil and vinegar; for the wound of the scolopendra the juice of a decoction is used. The leaves are dried to a powder and kept as an antidote for all poisons. Spread out or burnt, the plant drives away even scorpions. Taken in drink it brings on menstruation, but it kills the foetus. For ruptures, spasms, orthopnoea, cholic and cholera it is very beneficial, and an external application is so for lumbago and gout. The juice is injected into ears that are infected with parasites. It is taken in drink for jaundice, and applied as ointment for scrofula; it prevents amorous dreams, and if taken in vinegar expels worms; for dandruff, vinegar with the plant in it is poured over the head in the sun.
LIII. The smell of mint by itself refreshes our spirits and its flavour gives a zest to food; for this reason it is a familiar ingredient in our sauces. By itself mint prevents milk from turning sour or curdled and thick; for which reason it is added to milk for drinking, and administered in water or in honey wine to such as are choked by a curdled draught. Through the same property it is believed to be a hindrance to generation by not allowing the genital fluids to thicken. Bleeding it checks in both men and women, and stays menstruation; violent disturbance of the bowels also, if taken in water with starch. Ulceration and abscess of the womb are healed by an external application, liver complaints by doses of three oboli in honey wine, spitting of blood by the same in broth. It is wonderfully good for curing sores on children's heads; it dries a wet and braces a dry trachea, in honey wine and water it clears away purulent phlegm, and benefits the voice, if its juice be taken just before a strain is put upon it, not otherwise; a gargle also of the juice added to rue and coriander in milk is good for a swollen uvula. With alum it is good for the tonsils, with honey for a rough tongue, and by itself for internal spasms and for lung complaints. With pomegranate juice, as Democritus tells us, it stops hiccough and vomitings. The juice of fresh mint, inhaled, is good for affections of the nostrils. Pounded by itself mint is good for cholera, taken in a draught of vinegar, for internal fluxes of blood, made into a plaster with pearl barley, for iliac trouble also and tension of the breasts. It is also applied to the temples for headache, and it is taken for the wounds caused by the scolopendra, sea scorpion and serpent. It is applied to fluxes of the eyes, to all eruptions on the head, and to rectal troubles. It prevents too chafing, even if only held in the hand. Added to honey wine it is poured into the ears. It is even said to cure splenic trouble if it be tasted in the garden, without plucking it, if he who bites it says on nine consecutive days that he is curing his spleen; also that a three-finger pinch of the dried powder taken in water relieves stomach ache, and that the same with a sprinkling of drink expels intestinal worms.
LIV. Pennyroyal and mint are strong allies in reviving people who have fainted, both being put, in whole sprays, into glass bottles full of vinegar. For this reason Varro declared that a garland of pennyroyal was more suited to our bedrooms than one of roses, for an application is said to relieve headache; moreover, its very smell protects the head, so it is reported, against injury from cold or heat, and from thirst, nor do they suffer from the heat who carry when they are in the sun two sprays of pennyroyal behind their ears. It is also applied with pearl barley and vinegar for pains. The female plant is the more efficacious. This has a mauve flower, but the male a white one. Taken in cold water with salt and pearl barley it checks nausea; in this form pains in the chest also, and in water by itself pains in the stomach. Likewise it checks gnawings and vomiting if taken with vinegar and pearl barley; in salt, vinegar and pearl barley it loosens the bowels. Boiled with honey and soda it cures complaints of the intestines; in wine it is diuretic, and if the wine be Aminean it disperses both stone and all internal pains. In honey and vinegar it relieves menstruation and the afterbirth, replaces displaced uterus and expels the dead foetus. Its seed is given to smell in cases of aphasia; to epileptics it is administered with vinegar in doses of one cyathus. If unwholesome water has to be drunk, pounded pennyroyal is sprinkled on it. It relieves physical tiredness if taken in wine; it is rubbed with salt and vinegar on the sinews, and when these are contracted, and with honey for opisthotonic tetanus. A decoction is drunk for serpent bites; pounded it is taken in wine for stings of scorpions, especially if the pennyroyal be grown on dry soil. It is supposed to be good for ulcerations of the mouth, and for cough. The flower of the freshly gathered plant, when burnt, kills fleas by its smell. Xenocrates includes in his prescriptions the administering of a sprig of pennyroyal wrapped in wool to be smelt by sufferers from tertian ague before an attack of fever, or its being placed under the bedclothes for the patient to lie on.
LV. Wild pennyroyal has for the same purposes as I have mentioned yet more beneficial properties. It is like wild marjoram, has smaller leaves than cultivated pennyroyal, and by some is called dictamnos (dittany). Its taste incites sheep or goats to bleat; for this reason certain Greeks changing one letter only have named it bleehon. Its nature is so heating that it raises a blister on the parts of the body to which it is applied. It does a chill good for the patient to be rubbed with pounded pennyroyal before a bath, as well as before the shivering fit of attacks of ague. For convulsions and gripings of the bowels, and for gout, it is wonderfully efficacious; for cramps it is administered as a drink with honey and salt; in lung troubles it makes expectoration easier. Taken with salt it is beneficial for splenic trouble, bladder, asthma and flatulence; a decoction of it, quite as well as the juice, replaces displaced uterus, and is an antidote for the wound inflicted by scolopendra, whether land or sea variety, by scorpions, and especially for the bite of a man. Its root is most efficacious when fresh for spreading ulcers, but the dried root restores scars to their natural state.
LVI. There is likewise kinship between pennyroyal and catmint. Boiled down to one third in water they disperse chills, help menstruation and allay the heats of summer. Catmint also has power to counteract the poisons of serpents. The smoke and smell of burning catmint drives them away; so those about to sleep in fear of snakes had better place catmint under the bedclothes. The pounded plant is applied to lachrymal fistula, and the fresh plant with one third part of bread mixed in vinegar is used as a liniment for headache. The juice of it dropped into the nostrils when thrown back stops bleeding at the nose; the root likewise, which with myrtle seed makes in warm raisin-wine a gargle that heals quinsy.
LVII. There is also a wild cummin, a very slender plant with four or five serrated leaves, but, like the cultivated variety, of great use, especially as a remedy for stomach trouble. Pounded and taken with bread, or drunk in water and wine, it dispels phlegms and flatulence; pipings also and pains in the bowels. All cummin, however, produces paleness in those who drink the draughts. At least it is reported that the followers of Porcius Latro, a distinguished teacher of rhetoric, imitated by this means the pallor that had followed his close application to study; and not so long ago Julius Vindex, the famous supporter of freedom against Nero, flattered in this way the hopes of legacy-hunters. Applied in the form of lozenges or fresh in vinegar it arrests bleeding at the nose; applied by itself it is good for fluxes from the eyes, and applied with honey it is good for them when swollen. For babies it is sufficient for it to be placed upon the abdomen. For jaundice it is administered in white wine after bathing. Ethiopian cummin is given chiefly in vinegar and water, and in an electuary with honey. The African variety is thought to have the special quality of checking incontinence of urine. Cultivated cummin, parched, and beaten up in vinegar, is given for troubles of the liver, likewise for vertigo; pounded moreover it is given in sweet wine to those who smart from too acrid urine; for disorders of the womb, in wine, and besides with an application of the leaves wrapped up in wool; for swollen testes it is parched and pounded, and applied with honey or with rose oil and wax. For all these purposes wild cummin is more efficacious; moreover with oil it is so for bites of serpents, and for stings of scorpions and scolopendras. A three-finger pinch in wine checks vomiting and nausea. For colic also it is drunk, or applied hot in lint kept in its place by bandages. Taken in wine it opens up suffocations of the womb, the dose being three drachma of cummin in three cyathi of wine. It is poured into the ears with veal suet or honey, when there are noises or ringing in them. For bruises it is applied with honey, raisins and vinegar, for black freckles in vinegar.
LVIII. There is a plant very like cummin which the Greeks call ami. Some authorities however consider that it is Ethiopian cummin. Hippocrates called it royal cummin, doubtless because he thought that it was more efficacious than the Egyptian. Most people think that it is of an entirely different nature from cununin, because it is thinner and whiter. Yet its use is similar to that of cummin, for it is put under loaves of bread at Alexandria and included among the ingredients of Alexandrian sauces. It dispels flatulence and griping, promotes urine and menstruation, relieves bruises and fluxes of the eyes, and taken in wine with linseed in doses of two drachmae it is good for the wounds of scorpions, and with an equal proportion of myrrh it is especially good for the bite of the cerastes. Like cummin it produces pallor in the complexion of those who drink it. A fumigation of it with raisins or resin acts as a purge upon the womb. It is believed that those women more easily conceive who smell the plant during sexual intercourse.
LIX. I have said enough about the caper in the treatment of foreign plants. The caper growing overseas is not to be used; that of Italy is less harmful. They say that those who eat capers daily run no risk of paralysis or of pains in the spleen. Its root, pounded and rubbed on the skin in the sun, removes white eruptions. The skin of the root is good for troubles of the spleen if it be taken in wine in doses of two drachmae, but the patient must give up the use of the bath; it is said that in thirty-five days by urine and by stools the whole spleen is brought away. It is given in drink for lumbago and paralysis. Toothache is eased by pounded caper-seed in vinegar, by a decoction of it, or by chewing the root. Boiled in oil it is injected for earache. The sores called phagedaenic are cured by leaves or freshly gathered root applied with honey. In this form the root removes scrofula; boiled In water it removes parotid tumours and worms. For pains in the liver it is pounded and applied with barley meal. It also cures diseases of the bladder. In vinegar and honey it is also given for tapeworm: A decoction in vinegar removes sores in the mouth. Authorities agree that the caper is harmful to the stomach.
LX. Lovagesome call it panacesis good for the stomach, likewise for convulsions and flatulence. Some have called it ox cunila, but wrongly, as I have pointed out.
LXI. Besides the cultivated cunila there are several other kinds used in medicine. The one called ox cunila has a seed like that of pennyroyal which is curative if chewed and applied to wounds provided that the bandage is not taken off till the fifth day after. For the bites of serpents it is taken in wine and applied to the wound after being pounded. The bites made by serpents they rub ... likewise tortoises that are going to fight with serpents. Certain people call it panacea (all-heal) in this connection. It relieves tumours and troubles of the male organs, applied dry or after pounding the leaves; for every use it combines wonderfully well with wine.
LXII. There is another, called chicken cunila by Romans, Heracleotic marjoram by the Greeks. Pounded and with the addition of salt it is good for the eyes. It relieves a cough also and liver complaints, pains in the side when mixed into a broth with meal, oil and vinegar, but especially the bites of serpents.
LXIII. There is a third kind, which the Greeks call male cunila, and the Romans cunilago; it has a foul smell, wood-like root and a rough leaf. Of all varieties of cunila it is said that this has the strongest qualities, that a handful of it thrown about attracts all the cockroaches in the whole house, that taken in vinegar and water it is a specific against scorpions, and that if a man be rubbed over with three a leaves in oil serpents are kept away.
LXIV. On the other hand the cunila called soft has shaggier and prickly branches, and when pounded the smell of honey, the fingers sticking together at its touch; a second variety smells of frankincense, and we have called it libanotis. Either kind in wine or vinegar is an antidote against the bites of serpents; furthermore, pounded and scattered about in water both varieties kill fleas.
LXV. Cultivated cunila too has its uses. The juice with rose oil is good for the ear-laps, and it is taken by itself in drink for stings. From it grows the mountain variety, which is like wild thyme and efficacious against the bites of serpents. It is diuretic and cleanses after childbirth. Wild or cultivated it is a wonderful stimulus to digestion and to the appetite, or relieves indigestion taken fasting and sprinkled in a drink. Useful too for sprains, taken in barley meal with vinegar and water it is very useful for the stings of wasps and the like. Other kinds of libanotis will be dealt with in their proper place.
LXVI. Piperitis, which I have also called siliquastrum, is taken in drink for epilepsy. Castor gave a further description of it: a red, long stem, with its knots close together; leaves like those of the bay; a white, small seed, with a taste like pepper; good for the gums, teeth, sweetness of breath and for belching.
LXVII. Origanum, which rivals cunila in its wild flavour, as I have said has many varieties useful in medicine. One is onitis, called by some prasion, and not unlike hyssop. Its special use is to be taken in warm water for gnawings of the stomach and indigestion, and in white wine for the stings of spiders and scorpions, while it is applied on wool with vinegar and oil for sprains and bruises.
LXVIII. Goat origanum is more like wild thyme. Diuretic, it disperses tumours; if taken in drink it is most efficacious for poisoning by mistletoe or by viper bites, for acid belchings from the stomach and for the hypochondria. With honey it is also given for coughs, pleurisy and pneumonia.
LXIX. Heraclium too has three varieties. The darker one with the broader leaf is glutinous; the second variety, with a more slender leaf, is more tender and not unlike sampsuchum, which some prefer to call prasion. There is a third kind, intermediate between the other two, but less efficacious than either. The best kind, however, is the Cretan, which also has a pleasant smell, the next best that of Smyrna, having less smell, and the Heracleotic, called onitis, is more useful for drinking. All kinds are used to keep away serpents, are given to eat boiled to those who have been bitten, are diuretic when taken in drink as above, cure with the root of all-heal ruptures and convulsions, dropsy with fig or with hyssop boiled down to one sixth in doses of one acetabulum, likewise itch, prurigo and psoriasis, if given on going down to the bath. Its juice, with woman's milk, is poured into the ears. It cures the tonsils also and uvula, as well as sores on the head. Boiled, and taken in wine with ashes it neutralizes the poison of opium and gypsum. A dose of one acetabulum loosens the bowels; it is applied to bruises, and also for toothache, importing whiteness to the teeth when used as a dentifrice with honey and soda. It checks bleeding at the nose. For parotid tumours it is boiled down with barley meal, for a rough trachea pounded with gall-nut and honey, and its leaves with honey and salt are good for the spleen. Boiled with vinegar and salt, and taken in small doses it loosens thick, black phlegm. Beaten up with oil it is poured into the nostrils for jaundice. Tired bodies are rubbed with it, care being taken not to touch the abdomen. With pitch it cures epinyctis; with a roasted fig it brings boils to a head. It is good for scrofulous swellings if applied with oil, vinegar and barley meal, if with fig, for pains in the side, pounded and applied in vinegar for fluxes of blood from the genitals, and also for bringing away more thoroughly the afterbirth.
LXX. Dittander (pepperwort) is considered to be one of the caustic plants. So it clears the complexion, but produces sores on the skin, which, however, are easily cured with wax and rose oil. Thus used, it always removes leprous sores and psoriasis easily, as well as the sores left by scars. It is said that in cases of toothache, if it be attached to the arm on the side where the pain is, this is diverted to it.
LXXI. Git is by some Greeks called melanthium, by others, melaspermon. The best has the most pungent smell and the darkest colour. It cures the wounds of serpents and of scorpions. I find that it is applied in vinegar and honey, and that by burning it serpents are kept away. A dose of one drachma also is taken in drink for the wounds of spiders. Pounded, and smelt in a piece of linen it stops running from the nose, and headaches if applied in vinegar; poured into the nostrils with iris juice it cures fluxes and swellings of the eyes, toothache when boiled with vinegar, ulcers in the month when pounded or chewed; likewise leprous sores and freckles when added to vinegar, difficulty of breathing when taken in drink with soda, and indurations, chronic swellings and suppurations, when used as liniment. It increases the flow of women's milk if taken daily for a few days. Its juice is collected in a similar way to that of henbane, and like it is poisonous if taken in too large doses, a fact more remarkable because the seed actually makes a most pleasant seasoning for loaves of bread. It cleanses the eyes also, is diuretic and an emmenagogue. Moreover, I find that merely by tying thirty grains to the body in a piece of linen, the afterbirth is brought away. It is also said that pounded and applied in urine it cures corns on the feet, and that fumigation with it kills gnats as well as flies.
LXXII. Anise too is taken in wine for the stings of scorpions, being one of the few remedies specially praised, whether raw or boiled, by Pythagoras. Green also or dried, it is valued for all such foods as require seasoning or sauce; it is also put under the bottom crust of a loaf. Placed with bitter almonds on the strainers it improves wine. Moreover, the breath is made more pleasant and bad odour removed if anise be chewed in the early morning along with alexanders and a little honey, the mouth being afterwards rinsed with wine, it makes the face look younger. It relieves sleeplessness if hung on the pillow, so that it may be smelt by the sleepers. It sharpens the appetite, to do which has been added to the arts by luxury, ever since the craving for food ceased to come from toil. For these reasons some have called anise anicetum.
LXXIII. The most esteemed variety is the Cretan; next comes the Egyptian. This in seasoning takes the place of lovage. To burn it and inhale the fumes through the nostrils relieves headache. Evenor recommends its pounded root to be applied to fluxes of the eyes; Iollas recommends a similar application of the plant itself with saffron and wine; by itself, with only pearl barley added, he prescribes it for violent fluxes and for extraction of anything which has got into the eyes. Applied in water it also removes a cancerous growth in the nostril. Used as a gargle with hyssop and honey in vinegar it relieves quinsies; it is poured with rose oil into the ears; phlegm in the chest is cleared away by parched anise taken with honey. For a cough it is better to pound up in honey fifty bitter almonds, peeled, with an acetabulum of anise. A remedy very easy indeed to make consists of three drachmae of anise and two of poppy mixed with honey and divided into pieces of the size of a bean, the dose being three daily. Its chief value, however, is to cause belching, and so it cures flatulence of the stomach, griping of the intestines and coeliac trouble. Boiled, and either smelt or drunk, it also stays hiccough. Its boiled leaves are a remedy for indigestion. To smell the juice of the plant boiled with celery a stops sneezing. Taken in drink it promotes sleep, disperses stone, stays vomiting and swelling of the hypochondria, besides being very useful for chest troubles and for the sinews with which the body is girt. It is good for headache also to pour in drops upon the head the juice of anise boiled with oil. Nothing is considered to be more beneficial to the belly and intestines, and so it is given roasted for dysentery and for tenesmus. Some add opium also, pills of the size of a lupine-seed being swallowed three times a day and washed down in a cyathus of wine. Dieuches used the juice also for lumbago; the pounded seed with mint he gave for dropsy and coeliac trouble; Evenor gave the root also for diseases of the kidneys. Dalion the herbalist prescribed a poultice of anise and parsley for women in labour, and also for pain in the womb; he recommended it to be taken with dill in drink by women in labour. It is applied also in cases of phrenitis, sometimes freshly gathered and with pearl barley; it is also so applied to babies suffering from epilepsy or convulsions. Pythagoras indeed declares that no epileptic fit occurs while anise is held in the hand, and for this reason advises that as much as possible be planted near the home. He also says that to smell it makes for easier childbirth, and that immediately after delivery it should be given in a draught with a sprinkling of pearl barley. Sosimenes used it in vinegar for all indurations and for fatigue, boiling it in oil after adding soda. He guaranteed travellers less fatigue if they took anise seed in drink. For flatulence of the stomach Heraclides gave in honey-wine a three-finger pinch of the seed with two oboli of beaver oil, and in like manner for flatulence in the belly or intestines and for orthopnoea a three-finger pinch of the seed, the same quantity of henbane, and asses' milk added. Many advise that those intending to take an emetic should during the dinner take it in water by acetabula of anise and ten pounded bay leaves. It relieves suffocation of the womb, if it be chewed and applied warm, or if it be taken with beaver-oil in oxymel. A dose of a three-finger pinch of cucumber seed and of the same quantity of linseed, in three cyathi of white wine, dispels vertigo after childbirth. For quartan agues Tlepolemus used a three-finger pinch of the seed of anise and fennel, taken in vinegar and one cyathus of honey. Applied with bitter almonds it relieves diseases of the joints. There are some who believe that its nature neutralizes the poison of asps. Diuretic, it quenches thirst, is an aphrodisiac, promotes with wine a gentle perspiration, and also protects clothes from moths. It is more efficacious always when fresh and the darker it is, yet it injures the stomach except when there is flatulence.
LXXIV. Dill too causes belching and relieves griping; it arrests diarrhoea. Its roots in water or wine are applied for fluxes from the eyes. To smell its seed when boiling checks hiccoughs. Taken in water it relieves indigestion. Its ash relieves an inflamed uvula, but weakens the eyes and the powers of generation.
LXXV. The sacopenium which grows in our country is quite unlike that which comes from overseas. The latter, also called sagapemon, resembles ammoniac gum. It is good for pains in the sides and in the chest, for convulsions, for chronic coughs and expectoration, and for swellings of the hypochondria. It cures also vertigo, palsy, opisthotonic tetanus, diseases of the spleen and loins, and violent chills. It is given in vinegar to be smelt in cases of suffocation of the womb. In other cases it is both given in drink and with oil used as an embrocation. It is also useful as an antidote to harmful drugs.
LXXVI. Of the cultivated poppy I have mentioned three kinds a and I promised to describe other kinds, those of the wild poppy. Of the cultivated poppy the calyx itself of the white kind is pounded and is taken in wine to induce sleep. The seed cures elephantiasis. From the dark poppy a soporific is obtained by making incisions in the stalk, when the buds are forming (as Diagoras advises), or when the flowers are falling (as Iollas recommends), at the third hour of a clear day, that is to say, when the dew on the plant has dried up. They recommend that the incision be made beneath the head and calyx, and in no other variety either is an incision made into the head itself. Both this juice and that of any other plant is gathered in wool, or if there be but little, by scratching it off, as it is from lettuce, with the thumb nail, doing the same on the following day to any that has since become drier. Poppy juice however being copious thickens, and squeezed into lozenges is dried in the shade; it is not only a soporific, but if too large a dose be swallowed the sleep even ends in death. It is called opium. In this way, we are told, died at Bavilum in Spain the father of Publius Licinius Caecina, a man of praetorian rank, when an unbearable illness had made life hateful to him, and so also several others. For this reason a great controversy has arisen. Diagoras and Erasistratus have utterly condemned it as a fatal drug, forbidding its use moreover in injections on the ground that it is injurious to the eyesight. Andreas has added that the only reason why it does not cause instantaneous blindness is because it is adulterated at Alexandria. Afterwards, however, its use was not disapproved of in the form of the famous drug called διά κωδυών (diacodion). The seed too pounded into lozenges with milk is used to induce sleep, also with rose oil for headache; with rose oil too it is poured into the ears for earache. As a liniment for gout it is applied with woman's milk (the leaves by themselves are also so used), likewise in vinegar for erysipelas and wounds. I myself, however, should disapprove of its addition to eye salves, and much more to what are called febrifuges, digestives and coeliacs; the dark poppy, however, is given in wine for coeliac trouble. All kinds of cultivated poppy are larger than the wild. The heads are round, while those of the wild are long and small, though for all purposes more effective. The poppy is boiled and the liquid drunk for sleeplessness, with the same water the face is fomented. The best poppies grow on dry soils, and where the rainfall is slight. When the heads themselves and the leaves are boiled down, the juice is called meconium, and is much weaker than opium. The chief test of opium is its smell, that of pure opium being unbearable; the next best test is to put it in a lamp, when it should burn with a bright, clear flame, and smell only when it has gone out; adulterated opium does not behave in this fashion. Adulterated opium is also harder to light, and is continually going out. A further test of pure opium is by water, on which it floats as a light cloud, while the impure gathers into blisters. But especially wonderful is the fact that pure opium is detected by the summer sun. For pure opium sweats and melts until it becomes like freshly gathered juice. Mnesides thinks that opium is best kept by adding. the seed of henbane, others by putting it in beans.
LXXVII. Intermediate between the cultivated poppy and the wild is a third kind, for though growing on cultivated land it is self-sown; we have called it rhoeas or roving poppy. Some gather it and eat it straight away with the whole calyx. It acts as a purge; five heads boiled in three heminae of wine also induce sleep ...
LXXVIII. Of the wild poppy one kind is called ceratitis. Black-seeded, a cubit high, with a thick root covered with a hard skin, it has a little calyx curved like a little horn. Its leaves are smaller and thinner than those of the other wild varieties. The seed is small, ripening at harvest; half an acetabulum of it, taken in honey wine, acts as a purge. The pounded leaves with oil cure eye-ulcers of beasts of burden. Its root, in the proportion of one acetabulum to two sextarii of water, boiled down to one half, is given for complaints of the loins and liver. Its leaves applied in honey are a cure for carbuncles. This variety is called glaucion by some and paralium by others, for it grows within reach of the sea breezes or in alkaline soils.
LXXIX. A second variety of wild poppy is called heradium, by others aphron, having leaves, if you look at it from a distance, that look like sparrows. Its roots are on the surface of the ground, and its seed is like foam. It is from the use of this plant that linen gets its shiny whiteness. In summer it is pounded in a mortar for epilepsy, the dose being an acetabulum in white wine; for it causes vomiting, and is very useful for the drug called diacodion and arteriace. This preparation however is made by steeping one hundred and twenty heads of this or any other wild poppy in three sextarii of rain water for two days; then they are thoroughly boiled in the same water, and after the whole has been dried it is again boiled down to one half with honey in a slow heat. More recently there has been added six drachmae of saffron, hypocisthis, frankincense and gum arabic, with a sextarius of Cretan raisin-wine. This however is just for show; this simple and old-fashioned remedy depends for its virtues entirely on the poppy and honey.
LXXX. A third variety is tithymalon, called by some mecon, by others paralion, with a leaf like that of flax, a white flower, and a head of the size of a bean. It is gathered when the grape is at its best and then dried in the shade. Its seed, taken in half an acetabulum of honey wine, purges the bowels. But the head of any poppy, whether fresh or dried, if applied to the eyes relieves fluxes. Opium taken in nearly neat wine, if administered immediately, is an antidote for the stings of scorpions. Some give this property only to the dark variety, if its heads or leaves be pounded up.
LXXXI. There is also purslane, which is called peplis, being not much more beneficial than the cultivated variety, of which are recorded remarkable benefits: that the poison of arrows and of the serpents haemorrhoids and prester are counteracted if purslane be taken as food, and if it be applied to the wound, the poison is drawn out; likewise the poison of henbane if purslane be taken in raisin wine, after extraction of the juice. When the plant itself is not available, its seed has a similarly beneficial effect. It also counteracts the impurities of water, and if pounded and applied in wine it cures headache and sores on the head; other sores it heals if chewed and applied with honey. So prepared it is applied also to the cranium of infants, and to an umbilical hernia; for eye-fluxes in persons of all ages, with pearl bailey, to the forehead and temples, but to the eyes themselves in milk and honey; also, if the eyes should fall forwards pounded leaves are applied with bean husks, to blisters with pearl barley, salt and vinegar. Sores in the mouth and gumboils are relieved by chewing it raw; toothache likewise and sore tonsils by the juice of the boiled plant, to which some have added a little myrrh. But to chew it makes firm loose teeth, strengthens the voice and keeps away thirst. Pains at the back of the neck are relieved by it with equal parts of gall nut, linseed and honey, complaints of the breasts with honey or Cimolian chalk, while asthma is alleviated by a draught of the seed with honey. Taken in salad it strengthens the stomach. It is applied with pearl barley to reduce high temperature, and besides this when chewed it also cools the intestines. It arrests vomiting. For dysentery and abscesses it is eaten in vinegar or taken in drink with cummin, and for tenesmus it is boiled. Whether eaten or drunk it is good for epilepsy, for menstruation if one acetabulum be taken in concentrated must, for hot gout and crysipelas if applied with salt. A draught of its juice helps the kidneys and the bladder, expelling also intestinal parasites. For the pain of wounds it is applied in oil with pearl barley. It softens indurations of the sinews. Metrodorus, author of Compendium of Prescriptions from Roots, was of opinion that it should be given after delivery to aid the afterbirth. It checks lust and amorous dreams. A Spanish prince, father of a man of praetorian rank, because of unbearable disease of the uvula, to my knowledge carries except in the bath a root of purslane hung round his neck by a thread, being in this way relieved of all inconvenience. Moreover, I have found in my authorities that the head rubbed with purslane ointment is free from catarrh the whole year. It is supposed however to weaken the eyesight.
LXXXII. Coriander is not found among wild plants. The best, as is generally agreed, is the Egyptian. It is an antidote for the poison of one kind of serpent, the amphisbaena, both taken in drink and applied. It heals other wounds also, when pounded, besides night rashes and blisters; in this form too, with honey or raisins, all tumours and gatherings, though to treat the anus the pounded plant must be applied in vinegar. Some prescribe three grains of seed to be swallowed before the fit comes on by patients with tertian ague, or more than three to be applied in ointment to the forehead. There are some who believe that it is beneficial to place coriander before sunrise under the pillows. The fresh plant has great power to cool inflammations. Spreading sores also are healed by coriander with honey or raisins, likewise diseased testes, burns, carbuncles and sore ears, fluxes of the eyes too if woman's milk be added, while fluxes from belly or intestines are stayed by the seed taken in water. It is also taken in drink with rue for cholera. Intestinal parasites are expelled by coriander seed, taken with pomegranate juice and oil. Xenocrates records a great wonder, if it be a fact: that if women take in drink one grain of the seed the menses are retarded for one day, for two days if she takes two grains, and so on, one day's delay for each grain taken. M. Varro thinks that by slightly pounded coriander and cummin, with vinegar, meat of any kind can be kept sweet in the heat of summer.
LXXXIII. Orache is also found wild, a vegetable accused by Pythagoras of causing dropsy, jaundice and pallor, and of being very hard indeed to digest; he adds as another drawback that not even in gardens does anything grow near it without drooping. Dionysius and Diocles have added that very many diseases arise from it, that it must never be boiled without changing the water often, that it is injurious to the stomach, and that it is the cause of freckles and pimples. I am at a loss to understand why Solon of Smyrna has stated that orache is difficult to grow in Italy. Hippocrates injects it with beet for complaints of the womb. Lycus of Naples prescribed it to be taken in drink for stings of the Spanish fly, and considered that it might be applied, scesses, incipient boils, and all indurations; with honey, vinegar and soda he used it in this way for erysipelas, and likewise gout. It is said to bring away scabrous nails without producing a sore. There are some who give its seed with honey for jaundice, add soda and rub the throat and tonsils, besides using it as a purge, boiled either by itself or with mallows or lentils. They also give it as an emetic. They use wild orache as a hair-dye as well as for the purposes mentioned above.
LXXXIV. On the other hand, both kinds of mallow, the cultivated and the wild, are highly praised. The two lands of them are distinguished by the size of the leaf. Among cultivated mallows the larger is called by the Greeks malope; the other is called malache, the reason being, it is thought, because it relaxes the bowels. But of the wild kinds, the one with a large leaf and white roots, called althaea, has received from some the name of phstolochia, from the excellence of its properties. Mallows make richer every soil in which they are sown. They are efficacious against every sort of stings, especially those of scorpions, wasps and similar creatures, and those of the shrewmouse. Moreover, those who have been rubbed beforehand with oil and any one of the mallows pounded, or who carry it on their persons, are never stung. A leaf placed on a scorpion paralyses it. Mallows also counteract the poison of white lead. Raw mallow applied with saltpetre extracts splinters and thorns; taken moreover boiled with its root it counteracts the poison of the sea-hare, some adding that it must be brought back by vomiting. Other marvels are reported of the mallows, the most wonderful being that whoever swallows daily half a cyathus of the juice of any one of them will be immune to all diseases. Running sores on the head are cured by mallows that have rotted in urine, lichen and sores in the mouth by them and honey, dandruff and loose teeth by a decoction of the root. With the root of the single-stem plant they stab around an aching tooth until the pain ceases; the same plant a clears scrofula and parotid abscesses, and with the addition of human saliva superficial abscess also, and that without leaving a wound. The seed taken in dark wine clears away phlegm and nausea. The root attached as an amulet in dark wool stays troubles of the breasts; boiled in milk and taken like broth. it relieves a cough in five days. Sextius Niger says that mallows are injurious to the stomach; the Theban lady Olympias that with goose-grease they cause abortion, and others that a handful of their leaves taken in oil and wine assist the menstruation of women. It is agreed at any rate that women in labour are more quickly delivered if mallow leaves are spread under them, but they must be withdrawn immediately after delivery for fear of prolapsus of the womb. They give the juice to be drunk by women in labour; they must be fasting, and the dose is a hemina boiled down in wine. Moreover, they attach the seed to the arm of sufferers from spermatorrhoea, and mallows are so aphrodisiac that Xenocrates maintains that the seeds of the single-stem mallow, sprinkled for the treatment of women, stimulate their sexual desire to an infinite degree, and that three roots attached near to the part have a like effect. He says too that injections of mallow are very good for tenesmus and dysentery, and also for rectal troubles, or fomentations may be used. The juice is also given warm in doses of three cyathi to sufferers from melancholia, and in doses of four to those who are raving; for epilepsy the dose is a hemina of the decoded juice. This juice is also applied warm to patients with stone, and to sufferers from flatulence, griping and opisthotonusft. For both crysipelas and burns the leaves are applied boiled down to an oily paste, and they are applied raw with bread for painful wounds. The juice of a decoction is good for sinews, bladder and gnawings of the intestines. The paste soothes the womb whether taken by the mouth or injected; the decoction makes the passage pleasant. For all purposes mentioned above the root of althaea is more efficacious, especially for spasms and ruptures. Boiled in water it checks looseness of the bowels; taken in white wine it is good for scrofula, parotid abscesses and inflammation of the breasts, and an application of the leaves, boiled down in wine, removes superficial abscess. The same leaves dried and boiled down in milk cure very quickly the most racking cough. Hippocrates gave the juice of the boiled-down root to be drunk by wounded men who were thirsty through loss of blood, and applied the plant itself with honey and resin to wounds; likewise to bruises, sprains, and swellings; as above also to muscles, sinews and joints. He gave it to be taken in wine by patients suffering from cramp or dysentery. It is remarkable that water to which this root has been added thickens in the open air and congeals. The fresher it is also, the better.
LXXXV. Sorrel (lapathum) has similar properties. There is also a wild kind called by some oxalis, by our people rumex and by others gelding sorrel. It has a taste very like that of the cultivated kind, pointed leaves, the colour of white beet and a very small root, being when mixed with axle-grease very efficacious for scrofula. There is also another kind, generally called pointed sorrel, even more like the cultivated kind, but with a leaf more pointed and redder, growing only in marshy localities. There are some who speak of a water sorrel, growing in water, and yet another, horse sorrel, larger, paler and more compact than the cultivated kind. The wild sorrels heal the stings of scorpions and protect from stings those who carry them on their persons. The root, boiled down in vinegar, is good for the teeth, if the juice be used as a mouth wash, while to drink the same is good for jaundice. The seed cures inveterate stomach troubles. The root of horse sorrel, in particular, brings away scabrous nails; its seed taken in wine in doses of two drachmae cures dysentery. The seed of pointed sorret washed in rainwater, with the addition of a piece of gum arabic, of the size of a lentil, is good for spitting of blood. Most excellent lozenges are made from the leaves and root, with the addition of soda and a little frankincense. When wanted for use they are steeped in vinegar.
LXXXVI. But the cultivated kind is applied to the forehead for fluxes from the eyes. With the root they treat lichen and leprous sores; it is boiled down in wine however for scrofula and parotid abscesses, taken in wine for stone, and applied as liniment for complaints of the spleen, being equally good for coelac troubles, dysentery and tenesmus. For all the same purposes the juice of sorrel is more efficacious; it causes belching, is diuretic, and dispels dimness of the eyes; put in the bottom of the bath, or rubbed on the body without oil before taking a bath, it also removes itching of the body. The root also chewed strengthens loose teeth. A decoction of it with wine checks looseness of the bowels; the leaves relax them. Solon has added (not to omit anything) another variety, ox sorrel, differing from the others only in the depth of the root, and by the efficacy of this root, when taken in wine, to cure dysentery.
LXXXVII. Mustard, of which we have three kinds among the cultivated plants, Pythagoras judged to be chief of those whose pungent properties reach a high level, since no other penetrates further into the nostrils and brain. Pounded it is applied with vinegar to the bites of serpents and scorpion stings. It counteracts the poisons of fungi. For phlegm it is kept in the mouth until it melts, or is used as a gargle with hydromel. For toothache it is chewed, for the uvula it is used as a gargle with vinegar and honey. It is very beneficial for all stomach troubles. Taken with food it eases expectoration from the lungs, and is given to asthmatics, as well as for epileptic exhaustion a with the addition of juice of cucumber. lit clears the senses, and, by the sneezing caused by it, the head; it relaxes the bowels; it promotes menstruation and urine. Pounded with figs and cummin, each being one third of the whole, it is applied externally for dropsy. By its powerful smell when mixed with vinegar mustard revives those in epileptic swoons and women fainting with prolapsus, as well as those afflicted with lethargus. Tordylonthat is, the seed of hartwortis added, and if the lethargy be unusually deep, it is applied with fig in vinegar to the legs or even to the head. Long-standing pains of the chest, loins, hips, shoulders, and whatever deep-seated troubles in any part of the body have to be removed, are relieved by the caustic property of an external application, causing blisters; but when there is great hardness the application is made without the fig, or if too severe burning be feared, between a doubled cloth. They use it with red earth for mange, itch, leprous sores, phthiriasis, tetanus and opisthotonus. With honey they also use it as ointment for scabrous cheeks or dimness of vision, and the juice is extracted in three ways in an earthen pot, in which it is slightly warmed by the sun. There also exudes from the slender stem of the mustard plant a milky juice, which, when it has thus hardened, cures toothache. Seed and root, steeped in must, are pounded together, and a handful is swallowed to strengthen the throat, stomach, eyes, head and all the senses, as well as the lassitude of women, being a very wholesome medicine indeed. Taken in vinegar it also disperses stone. To livid places and bruises it is applied with honey and goose-grease, or else with Cyprian wax. From mustard-seed, steeped in olive oil and then compressed, there is extracted an oil, which is used for stiffness of the sinews, loins and hips, and for violent chills.
LXXXVIII. The same nature and properties as those of mustard are said to belong to adarca, mentioned in my account of wild plants, which grows on the bark of reeds right under the tuft.
LXXXIX. Most authorities have placed among the especially valuable plants horehound, called by some Greeks prasion, by others linostrophon, by a few philopais or philochares, a plant too well known to need description. Its leaves and seed pounded together are good for the bites of serpents, pains in the chest and side, and chronic cough; and those who have been troubled with spitting of blood derive extraordinary benefit from its stalks, boiled in water with Italian millet to mellow the harshness of the juice. It is applied externally with grease for scrofula. There are some who prescribe for a cough a two-finger pinch of the fresh seed, boiled down with a handful of emmer to which a little oil and salt has been added, to be swallowed by the patients when fasting. Others consider incomparable for the same purpose an extract of horehound and fennel; three sextarii are extracted and boiled down to two; a sextarius of honey is added and the whole is again boiled down to two. The dose should be a spoonful a day swallowed in a cyathus of water. Pounded horehound with honey is remarkably good for maladies of the male genitals. It clears up lichen if applied in vinegar, and is healing for ruptures, spasms, cramp and the sinews. Taken with salt and vinegar it relaxes the bowels, also helping menstruation and the afterbirth. Dried and powdered it is very efficacious with honey for a dry cough, likewise for gangrene and hangnails. The juice moreover with honey is good for the ear-laps, nostrils, jaundice, and for lessening the secretion of bile; as an antidote for poisons it is among the few most effective. The plant itself with iris and honey purges the stomach, clears the lungs of phlegm, promotes urine, but should be avoided when there is an ulcerated bladder or the kidneys are affected. The juice is also said to improve the eyesight. Castor records two kinds of horehound, the dark and the white, the latter being preferred by him. He puts horehound juice into an empty eggshell, and then pours in the egg itself and honey in equal proportions; this mixture warmed he assures us brings abscesses to a head, cleanses them and heals them. Pounded also he applied horehound with old axle-grease to dog bites.
XC. Wild thyme is thought to be so named from its being a creeping plant; this characteristic is to be found only in the wild kind, mostly in rocky districts; the cultivated does not creep, but grows up to be a palm in height. That growing spontaneously is a more luxuriant plant, with paler leaves and stalks, an efficacious antidote for serpent bites, particularly those of cenchris scolopendras, land or sea, and scorpions, the stalks and leaves being boiled in wine. When burnt it keeps away all such creatures by its smell, and is an especially potent antidote for the poison of marine creatures. For headache a decoction in vinegar is applied to the temples and forehead, rose oil being added; so also for phrenitis and lethargus. For griping and strangury, for quinsy and vomiting, four drachmae are taken in water. For liver complaints four oboli of the leaves are given, and the same in vinegar for splenic troubles. For spitting of blood it is pounded in two cyathi of oxymel.
XCI. Wild sisymbrium, called by some thymbraeum, grows no higher than a foot. The sisymbrium growing in watery districts resembles cress, and both are efficacious for the stings of such creatures as hornets; the kind growing on dry soil has a pleasant scent and is used for wreaths. The leaf is narrower. They both relieve headache as well as fluxes from the eyes, according to the testimony of Philinus. Some add bread, but others boil it in wine by itself. It heals night rashes and spots on women's faces within four days if applied at night and taken away during the day. Vomiting, hiccough, griping and fluxes of the stomach it checks whether taken in food or drunk as juice. It should not be eaten by pregnant women unless the foetus be dead, since even an application of it produces abortion. Taken with wine it is diuretic, the wild kind moreover even expels stone. Those who must remain awake are kept roused by an infusion in vinegar poured on the head.
XCII. Linseed is not only used in combination with other ingredients, but also by itself removes spots on women's faces, and its juice benefits the eyesight. With frankincense and water or with myrrh and wine it relieves fluxes from the eyes, parotid abscesses with honey or grease or wax, fluxes from the stomach when sprinkled in water like pearl barley, and quinsies when boiled in water and oil and applied externally with anise. It is roasted to check looseness of the bowels. For coeliac trouble and dysentery it is applied in vinegar. For pains of the liver it is eaten with raisins; for consumption electuaries are made from the seed with very useful results. Linseed meal, with soda or salt or ash added, softens indurations of the muscles, sinews, joints and nape of the neck, as well as the membranes of the brain. With a fig it also opens and brings to a head a parotid abscess; with the root moreover of wild cucumber it extracts bodies sticking into the flesh, including pieces of broken bone. Boiled in wine it prevents a sore from spreading, and with honey checks eruptions of phlegm. With an equal part of cress it cures scabrous nails, with resin and myrrh complaints of the testes and hernia, and in water gangrene. Stomach ache is cured by a decoction of one sextarius of linseed with an equal quantity of fenugreek in hydromel, and dangerous maladies of the intestines and lower trunk by an enema of linseed in oil or honey.
XCIII. Blite seems to be an inactive plant, without flavour or any sharp quality, for which reason in Menander husbands use the name as a term of abuse for their wives. It is injurious to the stomach. It so disturbs the bowels as to cause in some persons. It is said however to be good for scorpion stings when drunk in wine, for corns on the feet when applied in a liniment, and also, with oil, for diseases of the spleen and for pain in the temples. Used as a food it is thought by Hippocrates to check menstruation.
XCIV. Spignel is not grown in Italy except by medical men, and by very few of these. There are two kinds of it. The more famous is called Athamanticum or Athamanicum, because, as some think, it was discovered by Athamas, or according to others because the most esteemed variety is found in Athamania. Its leaves are like those of anise, the stem being sometimes two feet high; it has many roots, slanting, dark, and occasionally deep, the plant being less red than the other kind. The root, pounded or boiled and taken in water, is diuretic, and wonderfully good for dispersing flatulence of the stomach, and also for griping and troubles of the bladder and of the womb. With honey it is applied to the joints, and an application with celery to the lower abdomen is diuretic for babies.
XCV. Fennel has been made famous, as we have said, by serpents, which taste it to east off their old skin and with its juice improve their eyesight. Consequently it has been inferred that by fennel juice especially can dimness of human vision also be removed. This juice is collected when the stem is swelling to bud, dried in the sun and applied in honey as an ointment. The most esteemed is gathered in Spain from the teardrops of the plant. It is also made from fresh seed and from incisions in the root when germination has first begun.
XCVI. There is in this class of plant a wild variety called hippomarathum, by some myrsineum, with larger leaves and a sharper taste, taller, as thick as a walking-stick, and with a white root. It grows in warm and rocky soils. Diocles has spoken of yet another kind of hippomarathum, with a long, narrow leaf, and a seed like that of coriander. The cultivated kind is used in medicine for the wounds of scorpions and serpents, the seed being taken in wine. The juice is also dropped into the ears, where it kills the worms infesting them. The plant itself is an ingredient of nearly all condiments, being especially suited for digestives. Moreover, it is placed under the crusts of loaves. The seed braces a relaxed stomach, even if taken in fevers, relieves nausea if pounded and taken in water, and is a highly praised remedy for complaints of the lungs and liver. It stays looseness of the bowels, if a moderate amount be taken; when taken for griping it is diuretic, and a decoction drunk when milk fails fills the breasts again. The root cleanses the kidneys when taken with barley water, or if the juice of the boiled-down root be drunk with wine. Taken in wine the root is also good for dropsy, likewise for spasms. The leaves are applied in vinegar to inflamed tumours, and they expel stones in the bladder. In whatever way it is taken it creates an abundance of seed, being very soothing to the privates, whether the root be boiled down with wine for a fomentation, or the plant be pounded up and applied in oil. Many also apply it with wax to bruises, and use the root in the juice or with honey for dog bites, and in wine for the sting of the multipede. Hippomarathum is for all purposes more drastic, expelling stone particularly well, and with a soft wine doing good to the bladder and to retarded menstruation. In this the seed is more efficacious than the root. The dose of either is a two-finger pinch, ground and added to drink. Petrichus who wrote Serpent-lore and Miecion, author of Prescriptions from Roots, thought nothing more efficacious than hippomarathum for serpent bites. Nicander indeed also has placed it far from last in his list of antidotes.
XCVII. Hemp at first grew in woods, with a darker and rougher leaf. Its seed is said to make the genitals impotent. The juice from it drives out of the ears the worms and any other creature that has entered them, but at the cost of a headache; so potent is its nature that when poured into water it is said to make it coagulate. And so, drunk in their water, it regulates the bowels of beasts of burden. The root boiled in water eases cramped joints, gout too and similar violent pains. It is applied raw to burns, but is often changed before it gets dry.
XCVIII. Fennel-giant has a seed similar to that of dill. The kind with one stem divided at the top is supposed to be female. The stems are eaten boiled, and are made tasty with brine and honey, being good for the stomach. If however too many are eaten they cause headache. One denarius of the root in two cyathi of wine is taken for serpent bites, and the root itself is applied to them. So administered it also cures griping, and in oil and vinegar it checks profuse perspirations, even in fevers. To swallow the juice of fennel-giant, of the size of a bean in quantity, loosens the bowels. The pith from the fresh plant is good for the womb, and for all the complaints I have mentioned. To stop bleeding ten seeds are ground and taken in wine or with some pith. There are some who think that the seed should be given for epilepsy from the fourth day of the moon to the seventh, in doses of one spoonful. The nature of fennel-giant is very poisonous to the murena, a mere touch causing death. Castor thought that the juice of the root was also very beneficial to the eyesight.
XCIX. We have also spoken in our description of garden plants of the cultivation of thistles, and so we should not put off a discussion of their medical value. Of wild thistles there are two kinds: one being more bushy as soon as it leaves the earth, the other is thicker, but has only one stem. Both kinds have only a few leaves, prickly and with pointed heads, but the latter puts forth in the middle of its points a purple flower, that quickly turns white and is gone with the wind; the Greeks call it σκόλυμος. If this kind be pounded and compressed before it flowers, an application of the juice restores skin and hair lost by mange. The root of any kind boiled in water is said to create thirst in those who are drunkards. It strengthens the stomach, and, if we may believe the report, it also affects the womb in such a way that male children are engendered. Glaucias, at any rate, who seems to have been a most careful student of thistles, put this statement on record. A gum-like mastich coming from thistles makes the breath sweet.
C. And now that I am about to leave garden plants, I have appended a very famous preparation from them which is used to counteract the poison of venomous animals. It is carved in verse upon a stone in the temple of Aesculapius in Cos. Take two denarii of wild thyme, and the same of opopanax and of spignel respectively, one denarius of trefoil seed, of aniseed, fennel-seed, ami and parsley, six denarii respectively, and twelve denarii of vetch meal. These are ground and passed through a sieve, and then kneaded with the best wine obtainable into lozenges, each of one victoriatus.* One of these is given at a time mixed with three cyathi of wine. King Antiochus the Great is said to have used this preparation as an antidote for the poison of all venomous creatures except the asp.
- This coin, stamped with a figure of Victory, was half a denarius in weight.