Natural History (Rackham, Jones, & Eichholz)/Book 23
I. THE medicinal properties also of cereals have and now been described, as well as those of all plants that spring up from the face of the earth to give us food, flowers or perfume. Their rival in bounty is Pomona, who even to hanging fruits has given healing qualities, not being content to protect, and to nourish with the shade of her trees, the plants I have noted. Nay, it is as though she was vexed at the thought of there being more help in things further away from heaven and coming into use later. For the earliest food of man, she called to mind, had come from trees; in this way he had been led to gaze at the heavens, and he could still obtain his food from herself without recourse to the crops of the field.
II. And so, God be praised, she bestowed healing powers on the vine in particular, not being satisfied with having richly supplied it with delicious flavours, perfumes, and unguents, in its omphacium, its oenanthe, and its massaris, which I have described in the proper places. Man, she says, enjoys through me a very great amount of pleasure. It is I who create the juice of the grape and the oil of the olive, I who create dates and fruits in great variety. I am unlike Mother Earth, all of whose gifts must be earned by toilploughing by bulls, beating on threshing-floors, and then grinding between millstones, and all to produce food at some indefinite time and with immense labour. But my gifts are perfect before they leave me, and need no laborious preparation. They proffer themselves unasked, and if it be too much trouble to reach them, they actually fall of themselves. She has striven to outdo herself, in that she has created more for our benefit even than for our pleasure.
III. Headache and inflammations on the body are relieved by vine leaves and vine shoots combined with pearl barley, heartburn by the leaves alone in cold water, diseases of the joints, moreover, by the leaves mixed with barley meal. Vine shoots pounded and applied to any kind of tumour dry it up; an injection of their juice cures dysentery. The drops of the vine, which are a kind of gum, heal leprous sores, lichen, and itch, but these must first be treated with soda. They also act as a depilatory if the hair be repeatedly smeared with them and oil, and particularly those drops that exude from green vines when burnt, by which even warts are removed. An infusion of the shoots taken as a draught is good for the spitting of blood and for the fainting of women after conception. The bark and dried leaves of vines check the bleeding of wounds, and close up the wound itself. The juice of the white vine, extracted while the vine is still green, removes eruptions on the skin. The ash of the twigs of vines and of grape skins, applied in vinegar, heals condylomata and complaints of the anus; with rose oil, rue and vinegar added, it heals sprains, burns, and swollen spleen. This ash too, in wine but without oil, is sprinkled on parts affected by erysipelas or chafed, besides acting as a depilatory. The ash of the twigs sprinkled with vinegar is also given in drink as a cure for splenic complaints, the dose being two cyathi in lukewarm water, and the patient after taking the draught should lie down on his spleen. The very tendrils by which the vine climbs, pounded and swallowed in water, check habitual vomiting. The ash of vines with old axle grease is good for tumours, cleanses fistulas and in time heals them completely, as it does cramps, and pains in the sinews arising from chill; for bruises however it may be applied thus or with oil, for excrescences of flesh on bones it should be with vinegar and soda, for scorpion stings and dog bites, with oil. The ash of the bark by itself restores the hair on burns.
IV. How omphacium is made, just before the grape begins to mature, I have already described in my section on unguents; will now notice its medicinal properties. It also cures sores in a moist part of the body, such as the mouth, tonsils or genitals. It is very helpful for clearness of vision and is good for scabrous eyelids, sores in the corners of the eyes, films on the eyes, running sores in any part of the body, flabby scars, and bones with a slimy pus on them. Its strength can be modified by adding honey or raisin wine. Omphacium is also good for dysentery, spitting of blood, and quinsy.
V. Closely related to omphacium is oenanthe, a product of the wild vine; I have spoken about it in my account of unguents. The most popular is to be found in Syria, in particular from the white vine around the mountains of Antioch and Laodicea. It is cooling and astringent, is sprinkled on wounds and applied to the stomach, being also useful as a diuretic, for pains in the liver or head, for dysentery, coeliac affections and cholera; for nausea a dose of one obolus is taken in vinegar. It dries up running eruptions on the head, and being very efficacious for affections in moist parts of the body is used with honey and saffron for sores in the mouth and for complaints of the genitals and anus. It checks looseness of the bowels, heals scabrous eyelids and running eyes; taken in wine it cures a disordered stomach, and in cold water the spitting of blood. Its ash is valued for eye-salves, and for cleansing sores, also for whitlows and pterygia. It is burned in an oven until a loaf would be thoroughly cooked. Massaris is produced only for use in perfumes, and all such preparations have been made famous by the greed of the human spirit in its haste to seize them before the proper season.
VI. Of the grapes left to ripen, the dark have the stronger properties, and so the wine made from them is less agreeable; the white are the more pleasant, because air passes more readily through what is transparent. When fresh they disturb the stomach, and, by causing flatulence, the bowels. Accordingly for fever patients they are disapproved of, at any rate in large quantities; for they cause heaviness in the head and the disease called lethargus. Less injurious are those which after being gathered have been left to hang; this exposure to the air makes them actually beneficial to the stomach, and for sick persons, as they are slightly cooling and remove nausea.
VII. Next after those that have been hung come in value those kept in chaff; but those kept in grape skins are injurious to the head, bladder and stomach, although they check looseness of the bowels and are very beneficial to those who spit blood. Those which have been preserved in wine or 'sweet wine' go to the head; when however they have been preserved in must they have an effect worse even than those preserved in grape skins. Concentrated must too makes them injurious to the stomach. Physicians hold that the most wholesome grapes are those kept in rain water, although they are the least pleasant to the taste; but their grateful character is felt by those suffering from heartburn, disordered liver, vomiting of bile, cholera, dropsy, and fever accompanied by high temperature. Those however kept in jars stimulate the palate, stomach and appetite, but they are thought to become rather heavy owing to the fumes from the skins. If chickens have eaten the flower of the vine among their food, they never torch the bunches on the vine.
VIII. Vine cuttings that have borne grapes have an astringent property, but are more efficacious if they have been kept in jars.
IX. Grape stones have the same property. It is because of them that wine causes headache. Roasted and pounded they are beneficial to the stomach. Ground into meal they are sprinkled like pearl barley into drink and taken for dysentery, coeliac affections and a disordered stomach. It is also beneficial to foment with a decoction of them itch scab and pruritus.
X. Grape skins by themselves are less injurious to the head or bladder than are the stones. Pounded and applied with salt they are good for inflammation of the breasts. A decoction of them, whether taken as drink or used as a fomentation, relieves chronic dysentery and coeliac affections.
XI. The theriac grape, about which I have spoken in its proper place, is eaten to counteract the poison from the bites of serpents. The young shoots, too, of this vine are recommended to be eaten and to be applied; wine and vinegar made from these grapes are useful for the same purpose.
XII. The raisin, or astaphis as it is called, would injure stomach, belly and intestines, were it not that the stones in the fruit itself acts as a corrective. When these are removed raisins are held to be useful for the bladder and for coughs, those from white grapes being the more so, useful also for the trachea and kidneys, just as the wine made from stoned raisins is specific for the poison of the serpent called haemorrhois. For inflamed testicles raisins are applied with the meal of cummin or of coriander, while for carbuncles and diseases of the joints they are pounded without the stones with the addition of rue. Sores should be fomented beforehand with wine. Used with their stones they heal epinyctis, honeycomb ulcers and dysentery. Boiled in oil they are applied to gangrenes with radish skins and honey; for gouty pains and loose nails with heal-all. They are chewed by themselves for cleansing the mouth and with pepper for clearing the head.
XIII. Wild astaphis, otherwise staphis, wrongly called by some uva taminiafor that is a distinct plantwith dark, straight stalks and the leaves of the wild vine, bears what may be called more correctly pods rather than grapes, green and like chickpeas, with a three-cornered stone in them. It ripens at harvest time and grows dark, whereas we are familiar with the red grapes of the taminian vine, and also know that staphis grows on sunny sites, while the taminian vine is found only on shady spots. I should not recommend the use of these stones as a purge owing to the danger of choking, nor yet to dry phlegm in the mouth, because it is injurious to the throat. Pounded they rid the head of lice, as well as the rest of the body, and the more readily if sandarach be mixed with them, and also cure prnritus and itch scab. A decoction in vinegar is made for toothache, for affections of the ears, for fluxes from scars and for running ulcers. The pounded flowers are taken in wine to counteract the poison of serpents; the seed however I should reject because of its excessive heat. Some call the plant pituitaria. Serpent bites in particular are treated by applications of it.
XIV. Labrusca too produces oenanthe, already sufficiently described by me; it is called by the Greeks the wild vine, with thick whitish leaves, jointed stem and a bark covered with fissures. It bears grapes red like the scarlet berry, which clear the faces of women, removing blotches, while pounded and used with the leaves and juice they are good for sciatica and lumbago. A decoction of the root in water and drunk in two cyathi of Coan wine evacuates watery humour in the belly, and for this reason is prescribed for dropsy. I am inclined to believe that it is rather this plant that is popularly called uva taminia. It is used as an amulet, and also for the spitting of blood; only however as a gargle, and, to prevent any of it from being swallowed, there are added salt, thyme and oxymel. For this reason it is thought unsafe to use it as a purge.
XV. There is a plant like this, but growing in willow-beds. It is therefore known by a distinct name, although it has the same uses; it is called salicastrum. This, pounded and applied with oxymel, is more efficacious in removing itch scab and pruritus whether in man or beast.
XVI. There is a white vine, which the Greeks call variously ampelos leuce, staphyle, melothron, psilotrum, archezostis, cedrosis, and madon. Its twigs are jointed and climbing, with long, thin interstices between the knots. The leaves, thick and bushy, are of the size of ivy leaves, and with jagged edges like those of vine leaves. The root is white, large, and like a radish at first. From it grow out stalks like asparagus. These, boiled and taken in food, are laxative and diuretic. The leaves and the stalks free the flesh from sores, and in particular are applied with salt to phagedaenic ulcers, to gangrenes, and to 'bad legs' The fruiting bunch hangs down in thinly scattered grapes, having a red juice, which turns later on to a saffron yellow. This fruit is well known to the curriers, who use it in the preparation of leather. It is applied to itch scab and leprous sores; if it is boiled with wheat, the decoction when drunk produces an abundance of milk in nurses. The root, famous for many uses, is pounded and taken in doses of two drachmae for snake bite. It removes spots and blotches on the face, freckles, bruises and scars; a decoction in oil is equally efficacious. It is given also in drink for epilepsy, as well as for nervous disorders and giddiness, the daily dose being a drachma by weight for a whole year. In larger doses, however, even the root itself sometimes disorders the senses. Its most remarkable property is that applied in water, as bryony is, it extracts splintered bones, for which reason some call it white bryony, the one they call black bryony being distinct. The addition of honey and frankincense makes it more effective for the same use. Incipient suppurations it disperses; those of long standing it matures and drains. It is an emmenagogue and diuretic. Out of it an electuary is made for asthma and pains in the sides, and for spasms and ruptures. Doses of three oboli taken in drink for thirty days eat up the spleen. In the form of an ointment it is also used with figs as a cure for hangnails. A pessary with wine brings away the afterbirth, and phlegm is brought away by a drachma dose taken in hydromel of the juice of the rootit ought to be dug up before the seed ripensand this juice used as an ointment either by itself or with vetches shows off the body with what I may call a brighter complexion as well as with a softer skin. It keeps snakes away. The root itself pounded with a plump fig removes wrinkles from the body, but a walk of a quarter of a mile should be taken immediately after the application; otherwise it will cause a burn unless immediately washed away in cold water. The dark vine produces this same effect more pleasantly, for the white vine causes itching.
XVII. There is then also a dark vine, which is the one properly named bryony, called by some Chironia, by others gynaecanthe or apronia, similar to the preceding except for the colour; for that is, as I have said, dark. Diocles preferred its shoots to the real asparagus as a food for promoting urine and reducing the spleen. It is to be found growing mostly in shrubberies and reed beds. Its root is dark outside, but inside of the colour of box-wood. Splintered bones are extracted by it even more effectively than by the vine mentioned above; in other respects it has the same properties. It is a special feature of it that it is a specific for the sores that come on the necks of beasts of burden. It is said that if one grows it round a country house hawks keep away, and the poultry are kept safe. It also heals, in beast or man, if tied round the ankles, congestion of blood that may have settled there. So much then for the various kinds of vines.
XVIII. The natural differences shown by musts are these. They are white, dark, or of a colour between the two: from some there can be made wine, from others raisin wine. Manufacture makes innumerable differences, so that the general survey that follows will have to suffice. All must is injurious to the stomach but comforting to the veins. If drunk rapidly after a bath without taking breath, death ensues. It is an antidote to the poisonous nature of cantharicles and to the bites of serpents, especially of haemorrhois and of the salamander. It causes headache, and is injurious to the throat, but good for kidneys, liver, intestines and bladder, for it makes these organs smooth. It is particularly efficacious against the buprestis, opium, curdled milk, hemlock, poisons and dorycninm; it should be taken in oil and brought up again by vomitings. For all purposes white must is the weaker; raisin must is more pleasant, besides causing less headache.
XIX. The varieties of wine, their very many differences, and most of the properties of each I have already described. There is no topic more difficult to handle, or more full of detail, seeing that it is hard to say whether wine does good to more people or harms them. Besides, a draught is fraught with great risk, it being uncertain whether it will immediately turn out to be a help or a poison. And indeed I shall confine my present remarks to the properties of wine as a medicine. Asclepiades composed one volume on its administration, a circumstance which gave him a nickname but his commentators on it afterwards composed an endless number of them. I, with Roman seriousness and with my appetite for the liberal arts, will carefully discuss the separate details, not as a physician, but to point out their effect on human health. But to treat of the various kinds of wine one by one is a vast and baffling task, because medical opinion is very divided.
XX. In the past there was a strong preference for the wine of Surrentum, followed by one for Alban or Falernian; after that various choices have been popular, each manso unreasonable are we in our judgmentsdictating to everybody else a preference for what he himself finds most pleasant; and yet even with uniformity of opinion how small a part of mankind could make use of these kinds of wine. Today indeed not even our nobility ever enjoys wines that are genuine. So low has our commercial honesty sunk that only the names of the vintages are sold, the wines being adulterated as soon they are poured into the vats. Accordingly, strange indeed as the remark may seem, the more common a wine is today, the freer it is from impurities. Nevertheless, the opinions of the wines we have mentioned seem on the whole the best maintained. If anyone lays stress also on the test of age, that Falernian is wholesome which is neither new nor too old; its middle age begins when it is fifteen years old. Taken as a cold draught it is good for the stomach, but in hot water it is not. For chronic cough and likewise for quartan ague it is swallowed with benefit neat and on an empty stomach. No other wine quickens so much the action of the veins. Astringent to the bowels it puts flesh on the body. It is a firm belief that this wine injures the vision and is not beneficial to nerves or to the bladder. Alban wines are better for the nerves, the sweet ones less so to the stomach, while the dry are even more beneficial than the Falernian. They aid digestion less and tend to overload the stomach, but the wines of Surrentum have no such bad effects, nor do they go to the head, while they check catarrhs of the stomach and intestines. Caecuban wines are no longer produced.
XXI. Of the wines still produced, those of Setia ensure digestion; they have more body than Surrentine wine, more dryness than Alban and less potency than Falernian. Not much inferior to them will be found the Statan wines. It is a firm belief that the wines of Signia are very beneficial to disordered bowels.
XXII. The other considerations will be combined in a general description. By wine are improved men's strength, blood and complexion. Wine it is that distinguishes the middle or temperate zone from the two that lie on either side of it. All the strength produced by the cruel extremes we of the temperate clime derive from the juice of the grape. Bone is nourished by drinking milk, sinews by the beers, and flesh by water. Accordingly, the drinkers of such have a less ruddy complexion, less strength, and less power to endure toil. Wine in moderation strengthens the sinews; excess is injurious to them, as it is also to the eyes. Wine is a tonic to the stomach and a sharpener of the appetite; it dulls sorrow and anxiety, expels urine and chills, and induces sleep. In addition it checks vomiting, and pieces of wool, soaked in wine and applied externally, soften abscesses. Asclepiades asserted that the usefulness of wine is hardly exceeded by the power of the gods. Old wine is diluted with a larger proportion of water, and while being for this reason a more powerful diuretic quenches thirst less effectively. Sweet wine is less inebriating but floats in the stomach; but a dry wine is more easily digested. The lightest wine is that which matures most quickly. That wine is less injurious to the sinews that sweetens as it ages. Less beneficial to the stomach is the wine that is rich and dark; it is, however, more flesh-forming. A thin, dry wine is less flesh-forming, but is more nourishing to the stomach, and passes more rapidly by means of urine, going, however, all the more to the head; this remark may be taken once and for all to apply to every other intoxicating liquor. Wine matured by age and not by smoke is the most wholesome. Wine-dealers first discovered the device, adopted today also by householders as well, of adding age in the storeroom to wines before they have acquired cariosity naturally. By using the word cariosity the men of old gave sound enough advice, since smoke eats out cariosity even in timber, but we moderns on the contrary are convinced that the bitterness of smoke produces in wines the character of age. Wines that are of a very pale colour become unwholesome as they grow older. The more generous a wine is the thicker it becomes with age, contracting a bitter taste, which is very injurious to health, and to spice a less mature wine with it is also unwholesome. Each wine has its peculiar flavour, the presence of which is a sign of great purity each wine has an ageits middle agewhen it is most pleasant.
XXIII. Those who want to put on flesh or to relax the bowels are benefited by drinking during meals; those on the other hand who are reducing weight and checking looseness of the bowels should not drink at all at meals and but sparingly after. To drink while fasting is a recent innovation that is very injurious to those absorbed in business and trying to keep their mind actively on the alert. In order to induce sleep, however, and to banish worries wine was so taken long ago, as we see from Homer's Helena, who served wine before food. So too it passed into a proverb that 'wine befogs the wits.' It is to wine that we men should attribute the fact that of animals we alone drink when we are not thirsty. To drink water at intervals during bouts is very helpful, as it is also to drink it after a prolonged bout. Intoxication indeed is immediately banished by a draught of cold water. Hesiod recommends the use of strong draughts of wine for twenty days before and twenty days after the rising of the Dog-star. Neat wine indeed is a remedy for poison by hemlock, coriander, henbane, mistletoe, opium, mercury, for the wounds of bees, wasps, hornets, spiders, snakes and scorpions, and for all poisons that harm by chilling, especially for those of the haemorrhois, the prester, and of tree fungi; also for flatulence and gnawings of the hypochondria, for violent vomitings from the stomach, and if the belly or intestines suffer from catarrh; for dysentery, and for sweats after prolonged coughing, while, for eye-fluxes the wine should be slightly diluted. For cardiac affections it is beneficial to apply to the left breast neat wine on a sponge; but for all these purposes the best to use is white wine that is growing old. It is also useful to foment the testicles with warm wine, and administered through a horn to beasts of burden it removes fatigue. Apes and quadrupeds with fingers are said to stop growing if they acquire the habit of drinking neat wine.
XXIV. Now I shall discuss wines in relation to sickness. The most wholesome for gentry are the thinnest wines the common sort however may drink what each most fancies, provided that he is in robust health. Wines are most beneficial when all their potency has been overcome by the strainer. We must remember that wine is grape juice that has acquired strength by fermentation. A mixture of several sorts of wine is injurious to anybody. The most wholesome wine is that to which nothing has been added in the state of must, and it is better if not even the wine-vessels have been touched by pitch. As for wines treated with marble, gypsum or lime, who would not dread to touch them, however robust his health? Wine therefore prepared with seawater is particularly injurious to the stomach, to the sinews and to the bladder. Wines seasoned with resin are supposed to be beneficial to cold stomachs but unsuited to those inclined to vomit, just as boiled-down must, and raisin wine, so seasoned, are also unsuitable. New wine seasoned with resin is good for nobody, causing headache and fits of giddiness. For this reason it has been named crapula. The wines already mentioned are good for coughs and catarrhs, as also for coeliac troubles and dysentery, and for the menstruation of women. In this class the red or dark wine is more astringent and more heating. Less harmful is wine seasoned with pitch and with nothing else, but we ought to remember that pitch is nothing but the liquid from burnt resin. This kind of wine heats, digests, cleanses, is beneficial to chest and bowels, and also for pain in the uterus if there be no fever, for chronic catarrh, ulceration, rupture, spasms, abscesses, weak sinews, flatulence, cough, asthma, and for sprains if it be applied on unwashed wool. For all these purposes that wine is more beneficial which has naturally the flavour of pitch and is called pitchy wine in the Helvian district, although taken in excess it flies, as is generally agreed, to the head. As far as fevers are concerned, wine should undoubtedly not be given when fever is present unless the patient be old, and then only when the disease has passed the crisis; in acute diseases only when the patients experience undoubted remissions, and these by preference at nightthere is only half the danger for those who drink at night, that is, to induce sleepnor should it be taken after delivery or a miscarriage, nor by those ill through sexual excess, nor with headache, nor when exacerbations are attended with chill in the extremities, nor in feverish coughs, tremulousness, pains in the sinews or throat, or if the violence of the disease is felt in the region of the groin; nor is it suitable when there is induration of the hypochondria, violent throbbing of the veins, nor in opisthotonus or tetanus, nor in hiccoughs, nor if there be difficulty of breathing accompanied by fever; least of all if the eyes be rigid and staring, or weak and heavy, nor should it be given when the eyes of those who have closed them are full of light, or when the lids do not cover them, or when the same thing happens in sleep, or if the eyes be bloodshot or rheum should form in the corners; certainly not if the tongue be furred a and heavy, and speech is blurred from time to time; nor in dysuria, nor in sudden frights, nor to those who are in convulsions, or again comatose, nor if the seed be emitted in sleep.
XXV. In cardiac disease the one hope of relief lies undoubtedly in wine. Some however think that it should be given only during an attack, others only when there is a remission; the object of the former is to control the sweating, the latter think that there is increased safety when the disease is on the decline, most authorities, I notice, holding this view. It ought at any rate to be given only with food, not after sleep nor after another kind of drinkthat is, there must at any rate be thirstonly in the last resort and to a man rather than a woman, to an old man rather than to a young one, to a young man rather than to a boy, in winter rather than in summer, to those used to wine rather than to teetotallers. The dose to be taken depends upon the potency of the wine and also on the amount of water added. The general opinion is that a satisfactory mixture is one cyathus of wine to two of water. If the stomach be disordered, should the food not pass down, the wine must be given once more.
XXVI. The artificial kinds of wines, the preparation of which I have mentioned, I think to be no longer made and their use superfluous, since I give instructions about the use of the ingredients themselves of which they are composed. In other respects the pretence of physicians about these had exceeded all bounds; for instance, they prescribed navew wine as beneficial for fatigue after military exercises or riding, and to pass over the others, they recommended even juniper wine. And who would prefer to use wormwood wine rather than wormwood itself? Among the rest let me omit also palm wine, which is injurious to the head, and only useful as a laxative and to relieve the spitting of blood. That wine cannot be considered artificial which I have called bion, for there is nothing artificial about it except the gathering of unripe grapes. It is good for a disordered stomach or a weak digestion, for pregnancy, faintness, paralysis, trembling, giddiness, colic, and sciatica. In time of plague too, and on travels, it is said to be a powerful aid.
XXVII. Even when sour, wine still has uses as a remedy. Vinegar has very great cooling qualities, being equally efficacious, however, as a resolvent; earth in fact effervesces when vinegar is poured on it. I have often said, and shall often have to say, how often it is a beneficial ingredient with other things. Drunk by itself it removes nausea and checks hiccough, and to smell it stops sneezing. Kept in the mouth it moderates excessive heat in the bath. Further, drunk with water it is a useful digestive to many when they are convalescing, and a gargle of vinegar and water is a good thing after sunstroke, the eyes too being greatly benefited by fomentation with the same mixture. It is a remedy after swallowing a leech, as well as for leprous sores, scurf, running sores, dog bites, the wounds of scorpions, of the scolopendra and of the shrewmouse; it is also an antidote for the poison and irritation caused by all stinging animals and for the bite of the multipede. Applied warm on a sponge, with either two ounces of sulphur or a bunch of hyssop added to three sextarii of vinegar, it is also a remedy for troubles of the anus. For haemorrhage after excision of stone, or any other, it is applied externally on a sponge, and doses of two cyathi of the strongest vinegar are taken internally. It certainly disperses clotted blood. In the treatment of lichens it is used both internally and externally. Injected it checks looseness of the bowels and catarrh of the intestines, and it is similarly employed for prolapse of the anus and of the uterus. It arrests chronic cough, catarrh of the throat, orthopnoea, and looseness of the teeth. It is injurious to the bladder and to weak sinews. Its great efficacy as an antidote for asp bite was unknown to physicians, but recently a man who was bitten by an asp on which he trod while carrying a skin of vinegar felt the wound every time he put the skin down, but at other times it was as though he had never been bitten. He inferred that vinegar was an antidote and was relieved by taking a draught of it. And it is similarly with vinegar that those rinse out their mouth who suck poison from wounds. Its all-embracing potency is not confined to foods, but includes also very many things; poured on rocks it splits them when attempts to do so with fire have failed. No other sauce serves so well to season food or to heighten a flavour; when used for which purpose its effect is lessened by burnt bread or cummin, or heightened by pepper and laserwort, and without fail is kept in check by salt. On this point I must not pass over a striking illustration of the power of vinegar. In the last years of his life M. Agrippa was afflicted with grievous gout, and could not endure the pain. Guided by the wonderful skill of one of his physicians, and without informing the late Augustusso strong the urge to be rid of that pain even at the price of losing all power to use his feet and all sensation in themhe plunged his legs into hot vinegar when a paroxysm of the disease was at its worst.
XXVIII. Squill vinegar is supposed to improve with age. Besides the uses I have mentioned, it is good when foods turn sour on the stomach, a mere taste dispersing that inconvenience, and for those who vomit fasting, for it makes hard the skin of the throat and gullet; it removes offensive breath, braces the gums, strengthens the teeth and improves the complexion. By its use as a gargle it clears hardness of hearing, opening the ear passages. Incidentally it sharpens the eyesight, and is very beneficial for epilepsy, melancholia, giddiness, hysterical suffocations, blows or falls with clotted blood in consequence, weakness of the sinews, and affections of the kidneysbut it must be avoided when there is ulceration.
XXIX. The ancients, as Dieuches tells us, prepared oxymel in the following manner. Ten minae of honey, five heminae of old vinegar, a pound and a quarter by weight of sea salt and five sextarii of water, were boiled together in a cauldron, but taken off the boil ten times, when it was poured off and put away to keep. Asclepiades condemned it, and did away with its use altogetherfor it used to be given even in feversyet he admits that it was beneficial for the bites of the serpent called seps, and for poisoning by opium or mistletoe. It made a warm gargle for quinsy, with benefit to the ears also and to the mouth and throat when affected. For all these purposes they now spray, getting better results, with oxyalme, that is, with salt and fresh vinegar.
XXX. Related to wine is sapa, which is must boiled down until one third remains. That made from white must is the better. It is used as an antidote to cantharides, buprestis, pine caterpillars, which are called pityocampae, salamanders, and to all poisonous bites. Taken in drink with onions it brings away the afterbirth and also the dead foetus. Fabianus states that it is poisonous if a man drinks it fasting just after a bath.
XXXI. Next in order come the lees of these several liquids. The lees of wine then are so potent that they are fatal to any who go down into the vats. A lamp let down makes a good test; so long as it goes out danger is indicated. Unrinsed lees are an ingredient of medicines; moreover, with au equal weight of iris they make a liniment for phlegmatic eruptions; dry or moist they are applied to the stings of venomous spiders, to inflammation of testicles or breasts, or of any part of the body; or a decoction may be made in wine with barley meal and dust of frankincense. They are dried as well before being parched. The test of their being properly boiled is if, after cooling, a touch, seems to burn the tongue. If kept in an uncovered place wine lees very rapidly lose their power. Parching adds greatly to their potency. A decoction with fig is very efficacious for checking lichen and scaly eruptions. In this form they are applied also to leprous sores and running ulcers. Taken in drink they are an antidote to poisonous fungi, but a better one when crude. Boiled and rinsed they are used as an ingredient of eye salves. An application of them is healing to the testicles and genitals, but in wine they are taken for strangury. When too they have lost their strength, they are still useful for washing the person as well as clothes; for this purpose they take the place of gum arabic.
XXXII. Lees of vinegar, their substance being of what it is, must be more acid and much more caustic. They check the spreading of suppuration, and are beneficial if applied locally to the stomach, the intestines and the belly. They check fluxes of those parts and also menstruation. They disperse superficial abscesses not yet come to a head, quinsies and, applied with wax, erysipelas. These lees also dry up breasts that do not restrain their milk, and remove scabrous nails. With pearl barley they are a very powerful antidote to the poison of the snake called horned, and with melanthium cure the bites of crocodiles and of dogs. These lees too increase their potency when parched. An application of them, so prepared, with the addition of mastic oil turns the hair red in one night. Applied as a pessary with water on a linen cloth they act as a detergent to the uterus.
XXXIII. Lees of concentrated grape-juice cure burns, the better if the down of reeds be added, and to drink a decoction of the same cures chronic coughs. A decoction made in a saucepan, with salt and fat, is used also for tumours of the jaws and of the neck.
XXXIV. Next in importance, as is generally recognized, comes the olive. The leaves are, to a very high degree, astringent, detergent and binding. Accordingly sores are healed if these leaves are chewed and applied, headache by a liniment of leaves and oil, by a decoction with honey parts which physicians have cauterized, inflammation of the gums too, whitlows and foul, putrefying sores; with honey, the decoction checks bleeding from sinewy parts of the body. The juice of the leaves is good for carbuncular sores and pustules around the eyes, and for prolapse of the pupil, being therefore a common ingredient of salves, as it heals chronic streaming from the eyes and sores that have eaten into the eyelids. Now the juice is extracted by crushing the leaves with wine and rain water, after which the whole is dried and worked into lozenges. A woollen pessary made from it arrests excessive menstruation, and it is useful for sores running with sanies, as well as for condylomata, erysipelas, spreading sores and epinyctis.
XXXV. The flowers of the olive have the same properties. Stems are burnt that have blossoms on them, for the ash to serve as a substitute for spodium; wine is poured over this and it is again burned. Suppurations and superficial abscesses are treated by an application of this ash or of the leaves pounded with honey; for the eyes, however, pearl barley is added. The juice exuding from the wood, burnt while still green, heals lichen, eruptions of scurf, and running sores. As for the drops exuding from the tree itself, especially from the Ethiopian olive, one cannot but be surprised that some have been found to recommend its use as an application for toothache, while yet declaring that it is a poison, who even bid us procure it from the wild olive. The bark of olive root, taken from a tree as young as may be, scraped into honey and taken in frequent small doses, cures spitting of blood and purulent expectoration. The ash of the tree itself mixed with axle-grease cures tumours, withdraws morbid matter from fistulas and heals the fistulas themselves.
XXXVI. White olives are more useful to the stomach, less so to the belly. Fresh and eaten by themselves as food before they are preserved, they are of excellent use, curing gravel and improving teeth that have been worn or loosened by chewing meat. The dark olive is less useful to the stomach, better for the belly, but of no use to the head and eyes. Both sorts, applied after pounding, are good for burns; the dark, however, is chewed up, and if applied at once from the mouth to the affected part prevents the formation of pustules. Olives preserved in brine cleanse foul ulcers, but are bad for strangury.
XXXVII. About lees of oil I might seem to have said enough, as I have followed Cato, but their medicinal value must be dealt with. They are excellent for the gums, for sores in the mouth, for strengthening loose teeth, and, poured over the part affected, for erysipelas and spreading sores. For chilblains lees from the dark olive are the more useful, as well as for the fomentation of babies; but those from the white olive are used for a wool pessary. All lees of oil, however, are more beneficial after being boiled down. This is done to the consistency of honey in a copper vessel. They are used, with vinegar, old wine, or honey wine, as the particular case requires, for the treatment of the mouth, teeth, ears, running sores, the genitals and chaps. To wound they are applied on linen cloth, to sprains on wool. Used thus they are of great value, particularly when old, as a medicament, curing fistula. They are injected for ulceration of the anus, genitals, and uterus, but applied as liniment for incipient gout and diseases of the joints. If moreover they are reboiled with omphacium to the consistency of honey, they extract diseased teeth, and with a decoction of lupins and the plant chamaeleon are a wonderful healer of itch scab in beasts of burden. The crude lees are very beneficial as a fomentation for gout.
XXXVIII. Wild-olive leaves have the same qualities. Spodium from the young branches act as a powerful check on catarrhs, reduce inflammations of the eyes, cleanse sores that have eaten into the flesh and restore it, while they gently cauterize those that swell outwards, dry them up and promote cicatrisation. In other respects the properties of wild and of cultivated olive are the same, except that the wild variety has this virtue of its own: a decoction of the leaves in honey is given in doses of three spoonfuls for spitting of blood. Only, wild-olive oil is sharper and more powerful, for which reason it is used to rinse the mouth in order to strengthen the teeth. The leaves with wine are applied to whitlows, to carbuncles, and to reduce any kind of gathering; with honey, however, to those that require cleansing. A decoction too of the leaves, with the juice of the wild olive, is used as an ingredient in remedies for the eyes. It is beneficial to inject it with honey into the ears, even though there is a discharge of pus. Flowers of the wild olive are applied to condylomata and to epinyctis with barley meal to the belly for catarrhs, and with oil to the head for headache. When the skin on the head detaches itself from the bone, the young branches, boiled down and applied with honey, bring them together again. These branches, when fully grown, taken in food check looseness of the bowels and when parched and beaten up with honey, they cleanse corroding sores and make carbuncles burst.
XXXIX. Of the nature and usefulness of olive oil I have already spoken at length. Here are the kinds that contribute to medicine: the most useful is omphacium, next comes green oil; moreover, it should be as fresh as possible (unless there is special need for the oldest oil), thin, with a pleasant odour and no pungent tastein fact the reverse of what we look for when it is used in food. Omphacium is good for the gums. If it be retained in the mouth it keeps the teeth white and strengthens loose ones. It checks perspirations.
XL. Oil of oenanthe has the same qualities as rose of oil, though all oil makes the body supple, giving it vigour and strength. It is injurious to the stomach and makes worse the spreading of sores. It makes the throat sore, and tends to neutralize all poisons, especially white lead and gypsum, if taken in hydromel or a decoction of dried figs for opium poisoning, in water for the poison of cantharides, buprestis, salamander and pine caterpillar, and by itself as an emetic to get rid of any of the poisons mentioned above. It is a restorative after fatigue and severe chills. Six cyathi drunk warm, especially if boiled with rue, cure gripings and drive out worms from the intestines. A hemina-dose drunk with wine and warm water, or with barley water, loosens the bowels; useful to make plasters for wounds, it removes spots from the face. Injected into the nostrils of oxen until they belch, it relieves flatulence. It is more warming, however, to the body if it be old oil, disperses better profuse sweats, reduces better indurations, being of help in cases of lethargus and also when the disease is on the decline. With an equal portion of honey taken from the hive without smoke, it is of some use for improving the vision. It is a remedy for headache and with water reduces high fever. If old oil cannot be obtained, new is boiled down to hasten the properties of age.
XLI. Castor oil is taken with an equal quantity of warm water to open the bowels. It is said to act especially upon the hypochondria. It is good also for diseases of the joints, for all indurations, for the uterus, the ears and bums; with the ashes moreover of the murex shell for inflammation of the anus, and likewise for the itch. It improves the complexion, and through its fertilizing power it promotes the growth of the hair. The seed from which it is made no living creature will touch. The wicks made from the fibres give a brilliantly dear flame, but the oil burns with a dull light because it is much too thick. The leaves in vinegar are applied locally for erysipelas, but fresh leaves by themselves for diseases of the breasts and for eye-fluxes; a decoction of them in wine, with pearl barley and saffron, is used for inflammations, and applied by themselves for three days they clear the complexion.
XLII. Almond oil cleanses, makes the body supple, smoothes the skin, improves the complexion, and with honey removes spots on the face. A decoction also with rose oil or honey and pomegranate rind is good for the ears, kills the little worms in them, and dears away hardness of hearing, vague noises and singing, incidentally relieving headache and pains in the eves. Combined with wax it cures boils and sunburn. With wine it cleans away running sores and scaly eruptions; with melilot, eondylomata. Applied to the head moreover by itself it induces sleep.
XLIII. Laurel oil is the more useful the fresher and greener it is. Its quality is heating, and therefore it is applied, warmed in pomegranate rind, for paralysis, convulsions, sciatica, bruises, headache, chronic catarrh and troubles of the ear.
XLIV. Similar also is the method of using myrtle oil. It is astringent and hardens. With copper scales and wax it cures sore gums, toothache, dysentery, ulcerations of the uterus, bladder troubles, chronic or running sores, and also eruptions and burns. It heals abrasions, scaly eruptions, chaps, condylomata, and relaxed a joints, removing also offensive odours of the body. It is an antidote to cantharides, the buprestis, and noxious poisons too that injure by causing sores.
XLV. Oil of dwarf myrtle or prickly myrtle has at the same qualities. Oil of cypress has the same effects as oil of myrtle and as oil of citrus. On of walnuts, which we have called caryinum, is useful for mange, and is injected into the ears for hardness of hearing, and an application relieves headache; for the rest, it is sluggish and of a disagreeable taste; indeed, if there should be any rottenness in a kernel a whole peck is spoilt. The oil made from mezerium seed has the same property as castor oil. Oil of mastich is a very useful ingredient of acopum, and would be as profitable as rose oil were it not generally thought to be rather too hard. They use it also for profuse sweating and for the pimples caused by sweats. It is a very efficient cure for the itch in beasts of burden. Oil of behen nut clears away spots, boils and freckles, and heals the gums.
XLVI. I have already described the nature of the cyprus and the method of extracting oil from it. Its properties are heating, and it softens the sinews. The leaves make an application for the stomach and for an irritated uterus; their juice too is made into a pessary. The fresh leaves are chewed and used as a remedy for running sores on the head, also for sores in the mouth, gatherings and condylomata. A decoction of the leaves is good for burns and sprains. The leaves themselves, pounded and applied with the juice of the sparrow apple turn the hair red. The blossom applied with vinegar soothes headache, and also, if burnt in a pot of unbaked clay and applied either alone or with honey, heals corroding sores and putrefying ulcers. The smell of the blossom and of the oil induces sleep. Oil of must is astringent and cooling in the same way as oil of oenanthe.
XLVII. Oil of balsam is by far the most valuable of all oils, as I have said in my account of unguents. It is efficacious for all snake bites, improves very much clearness of vision, disperses films over the eves, and also eases difficulty of breathing and all kinds of gatherings and indurations. It prevents thickening of the blood and cleanses sores, being very beneficial for ear troubles, headache, palsy, convulsions and ruptures. Taken in milk it is an antidote to aconite, and rubbing the body with it reduces fevers that are accompanied by shivering. It must, however, be used in moderation, since it burns the flesh and aggravates complaints if there be any excess.
XLVIII. The nature of malobathrum also and the various kinds of it, have been described. It is diuretic; boiled in wine it makes a very useful application for fluxes of the eyes; applied to the forehead it induces sleep, more effectively if the nostrils also be smeared with it, or if it be taken in water. A leaf placed under the tongue improves the sweetness of the mouth and breath, and similarly, if placed among clothes it imparts a pleasant smell.
XLIX. Oil of henbane is useful as an emollient but injurious to the sinews; indeed if drunk it causes derangement of the brain. Therminum, or oil of lupins, is emollient, being very similar in its effects to rose oil. Oil of narcissus was mentioned along with the flower. Oil of radishes removes phthiriasis caused by chronic illness and smoothes roughness of the skin on the face. Oil of sesame cures earache, spreading sores, and those called malignant. Oil of lilies, which I have also called Syrian oil, is very useful for the kidneys, for promoting perspiration, for softening the uterus, and for bringing internal abscesses to a head. Oil of Selga, I have said to be beneficial to the sinews, as is also the grass-green oil that the people of Iguvium sell along the Flaminian way.
L. Olive honey, which I have said exudes in Syria from the olive trees themselves, has a taste like honey, relaxes the bowels, though not without nausea, and brings away bile in particular if two cyathi be given in a hemina of water. Those who have drunk it become torpid and need to be roused at short intervals. Those about to take part in drinking bouts take a cyathus of it beforehand. Oil of pitch is used for cough, and for itch in cattle.
LI. Next in honour to the vine and the olive and comes the palm. Fresh dates are intoxicating, though causing headache less when dried, and they are not, so far as can be seen, beneficial to the stomach. They relieve a cough and are flesh-forming food. The juice of boiled dates used to be given by the ancients to invalids instead of hydromel to restore their strength and to assuage thirst; for this purpose they used to prefer Thebaic dates, which are also useful, especially in food, for the spitting of blood. The dates called caryotae are applied with quinces, wax, and saffron to the stomach, bladder, belly and intestines. They heal bruises. The kernels of dates, if they are burnt in a new earthen vessel and the ashes washed, take the place of spodium, are an ingredient of eye-salves, and with the addition of nard make lotions for the eyebrows.
LII. The palm which bears the myrobalanum, found in Egypt, is very highly esteemed. It has no stone in its dates, as other date-palms have. Taken in a dry wine it checks diarrhoea and excessive menstruation, and unites wounds!
LIII. The palm called date or spathe gives to medicine its buds, leaves, and bark. Its leaves are applied to the hypochondria, stomach, liver, and to sores that spread and refuse to form a scar. The tender bark of it, mixed with resin and wax, heals the itch in twenty days. A decoction of it also is used for diseases of the testicles. It darkens the hair, and fumigation with it brings away the foetus. It is given in drink for diseases of the kidneys, bladder and hypochondria, though it is injurious to the head and sinews. A decoction of it arrests fluxes of the uterus and of the belly; the ashes also cure colic, and taken in white wine are very beneficial for affections of the uterus.
LIV. Next come the various kinds of medicines to be obtained from apples. Of these, spring apples are sour and injurious to the stomach, derange the bowels and bladder, and do harm to the sinews; cooked, however, they are less harmful. Quinces are more pleasant when cooked; though when raw, provided they are ripe, they are good for spitting of blood, dysentery, cholera and coeliac disease. They are not of the same efficacy when cooked, for they lose the astringent power that resides in their juice; nevertheless, a decoction in rain water is made for the purposes I have mentioned above. For stomachache, moreover, they are applied, either raw or in a decoction, after the manner of a wax salve; also to the chest in attacks of high fever. The down on them heals carbuncles. Boiled in wine and applied with wax they restore the hair lost through mange. Raw quinces preserved in honey move the bowels. They add much to the pleasant taste of honey, and make it more beneficial to the stomach. Boiled quinces preserved in honey and beaten up with a decoction of roseleaves are given by some as food for the treatment of affections of the stomach. The juice of raw quinces is good for the spleen, difficulty of breathing, and dropsy, as well as for the breasts, condylomata and varicose veins, and the flowers, both fresh and dried, for inflammations of the eyes, spitting of blood, and to regulate menstruation. A soothing juice is also derived from quinces by pounding them with sweet wine, which is good for coeliac affections and the liver. A decoction of them is also used to foment prolapsus of the uterus and of the intestines. An oil also is extracted from them, which I have called melinum, provided that the fruit is not grown on wet soil. Hence the most useful are the quinces imported from Sicily; while the sparrow quince, although nearly related, is not so good. The root of the quince tree, after a ring has been drawn round it, is pulled up with the left hand, the person doing so being careful to state why he is pulling it, and for whom. An amulet from such a root cures scrofulous sores.
LV. Honey apples and the other sweet kinds relax the stomach and bowels, cause thirst and heat, but do no injury to the sinews. Round apples arrest looseness of the bowels and vomitings, and act as a diuretic. Wild apples are like sour spring apples and arrest looseness of the bowels; indeed for this purpose they must be used while unripe.
LVI. Citrons, either the fruit or the pips, are taken in wine to counteract poisons. They make the breath pleasant if the mouth be washed with a decoction of them, or with the juice extracted from them. Their pips are prescribed to be eaten by women for the nausea of pregnancy, the fruit itself, moreover, is eaten for weakness of the stomach, but not very easily without vinegar.
LVII. It would be waste of time to go over again the nine varieties of pomegranates. The sweet ones, which I have also called apyrena, are considered to be injurious to the stomach; they cause flatulence, and do harm to the teeth and gums. Those however which resemble these closely in taste, called by me vinous pomegranates, have small pips and are understood to be a little more useful. They are astringent to the bowels and stomach, provided that moderation is observed and surfeit avoided. In fever even these are strictly forbidden, although no pomegranates at all ought really to be allowed, as neither pulp of the seeds nor the juice is anything but injurious. They are equally to be avoided when there is vomiting and bringing up of bile. In these nature has shown us a grape and, not mere must, but actually wine ready made. Both are enclosed in a rather rough skin, which in the case of the bitter fruit is much used. It is popular knowledge that skins are thoroughly tanned by it; hence physicians call it the leather apple. They tell us that it is diuretic, and that a decoction in vinegar with the addition of gall-nut strengthens loose teeth. It is in request for easing the nausea of women with child, since by a taste the foetus is quickened. The apple is divided and soaked in rain water for about three days. This infusion is drunk cold by sufferers from coeliac affections and spitting of blood.
LVIII. From the bitter pomegranate is made a medicine which is called stomatice, and is very good for affections of the mouth, nostrils and ears, for dimness of vision, for sores on the eyelid, for the genitals, for so-called corroding sores and excrescences on ulcers, and to counteract the poison of the sea-hares. This is the mode of preparation. After the rind has been taken off the berries are crushed; the juice is boiled down to one-third with saffron, split alum, myrrh and Attic honey, a half-pound of each. Others prepare it also in the following way. Many acid pomegranates are pounded, and the juice is boiled in a new pot to the consistency of honey, for the treatment of lesions of the male genitals and anus, of all lesions treated by lycium, of purulent ears, of incipient fluxes from the eyes, and of red spots upon the hands. Branches of the pomegranate keep away snakes. The rind of the fruit boiled in wine and applied is a cure for chilblains. A pomegranate, pounded and boiled down to one heufina in three heminae of wine, cures griping and acts as a vermifuge. A pomegranate in a new earthen jar with the lid sealed, burnt in a furnace, well pounded and taken in wine, checks looseness of the bowels and cures griping.
LIX. The first bud of this fruit when it is beginning to blossom is called cytinus by the Greeks; it has a wonderful feature, which has come under the notice of many investigators. If a person, after freeing himself from every kind of bandgirdle, shoes, even his ringplucks one of these buds with two fingers, the thumb and the fourth finger, of his left hand, brushes his eyes with it, lightly touching them, and then swallows it without its touching any tooth, he will suffer, it is said, no eye-trouble during the same year. These same buds, dried and pounded, reduce fleshy excrescences, healing gums and teeth, even if they be loose, by the use of a decoction of the juice. The little buds, just as they are except for pounding, are applied to spreading, purulent sores, also to inflamed eyes and for inflammation of the intestines, and for nearly all the affections for which pomegranate rinds are used. They neutralize the stings of scorpions.
LX. It is impossible sufficiently to admire the pains and care of the old inquirers, who have explored everything and left nothing untried. In this very cytinus are little blossoms, unfolding of course before the pomegranate itself forms, which I have said a is called balaustium. So these blossoms too they investigated, and discovered them to neutralize the stings of scorpions. Taken in drink they arrest excessive menstruation, and heal sores of the mouth, tonsils and uvula, spitting of blood, looseness of the bowels and stomach, disorders of the genitals, and running sores in any part of the body. They dried too these blossoms, to test their efficacy also when thus prepared, and found that reduced to powder they cure sufferers from dysentery even when on the point of death, checking the diarrhoea. Moreover, they have taken the trouble to try out the very pips of the pomegranate berry. Roasted and pounded they are good for the stomach, if taken in food or drink. They are taken by themselves in rain water to arrest looseness of the bowels. The root when boiled yields a juice which kills tapeworm, the dose being one victoriatus by weight. The same root, thoroughly boiled in water serves the same purposes as lycium.
LXI. There is also a wild pomegranate, so called because of its likeness to the cultivated tree. Its roots, which have a red skin, act as a soporific if taken in wine, a denarius by weight being the dose. Its seed taken in drink dries up water under the skin. If pomegranate rind be burned the smoke keeps off gnats.
LXII. All kinds of pears are indigestible food, even for men in health; and to the sick they are as strictly forbidden as wine. Cooked, however, they are remarkably wholesome and pleasant, especially those of Crustumium. All kinds of pears, however, if boiled down with honey are wholesome to the stomach. Out of pears are made plasters for dispersing flesh lesions, and they use a decoction of them for iudurations. By themselves they neutralize the poison of toadstools and tree-fungi, expelling it by their weight in addition to the counteracting effect of their juice. The wild pear is very slow in ripening. Sliced the pears are hung up and dried for checking looseness of the bowels, for which purpose a decoction also of them is efficacious, taken as drink. A decoction also of the leaves with the fruit is used for the same purposes. The ashes of pear wood are even more efficacious against the poison of tree-fungi. Apples and pears, even a small quantity, make a remarkably heavy load for beasts of burden. It is said that a remedy for this is to give them a few to eat, or at least to show some, before beginning the journey.
LXIII. The milky juice of the fig has the nature of vinegar, and so like rennet it curdles milk. It is extracted before the fruit is ripe and dried in the shade for clearing up sores and promoting menstruation, the application being a pessary made with yoke of egg, or a draught with starch. With fenugreek meal and vinegar it makes a liniment for gout. It also serves as a depilatory, heals eruptions on the eyelids, as well as lichen and itch. It loosens the bowels. Fig juice has the property of counteracting the poison of hornets, wasps and similar creatures, especially scorpions. With axle-grease it also removes warts. The leaves and unripe figs make a liniment for scrofulous sores and for all sores requiring the use of emollients or resolvents; the leaves by themselves too have the same property. They are used as well for rubbing lichen, mange, and on all occasions where a caustic is called for. The young shoots of the branches are applied to the skin to render dog-bites harmless. The same shoots with honey are applied to the sores called honeycomb. With leaves of wild poppy they extract fragments of bone. Their leaves beaten up with vinegar render harmless the bites of mad dogs. The tender white shoots of the dark fig are applied to boils, and with wax to the bites of the shrewmouse, and the ash from their leaves to gangrenes and to reduce excrescences. Ripe figs are diuretic, laxative, sudorific, and bring out pimples; for this reason they are unwholesome in autumn, since a body perspiring because figs have been eaten becomes very chilled. They upset the stomach, although. only for a while, and they are understood to be bad for the voice. The last figs are more wholesome than the first; doctored a figs, however, are never wholesome. Figs increase the strength of youth; to age they give improved health and fewer wrinkles. They relieve thirst and cool the heat of the body; for this reason they are not to be rejected in the constrictive fevers called stegnae. Dried figs are injurious to the stomach, but wonderfully beneficial to the throat and pharynx. The nature of these is heating, and they cause thirst. They relax the bowels, but are injurious to bowel catarrhs and to the stomach. On all occasions they are beneficial for the bladder, for difficult breathing and for asthma. Likewise for complaints of the liver, kidneys and spleen. They are flesh-forming and strengthening, and therefore the earlier athletes used them as a staple food. It was the trainer Pythagoras who was the first to change their diet of figs for one of meat. A convalescent after a long illness finds them very beneficial, as do sufferers from epilepsy and dropsy. They are applied to all gatherings that need bringing to a head or dispersing, more effectively if combined with lime, soda or iris. Boiled with hyssop they clear the chest of phlegm and chronic cough; boiled with wine they clear away trouble at the anus and swellings of the jaws. A decoction of them makes an ointment for boils, superficial abscesses and parotid swellings. This decoction makes a useful fomentation for female complaints, and the same decoction, combined with fenugreek, is useful in pleurisy and pneumonia. Boiled with rue figs are good for colic; with red copper oxide for sores on the shins and for parotid swellings; with pomegranate for hangnails; with wax for burns and chilblains; for dropsy they are boiled in wine with wormwood and barley meal. If they are chewed with soda added they relax the bowels; beaten up with salt they make a liniment for scorpion stings. Boiled in wine and applied they bring carbuncles to a head. In cases of carcinoma, if there be no ulceration, it is almost specific to apply the richest fig possible, and the same is true of corroding ulcers. The ash from no other wood is more active as a cleanser, healer of wounds, former of new flesh, and as an astringent. It is also taken in drink to disperse blood that has coagulated, and likewise for bruises, violent falls, ruptures, and cramps, the dose being a cyathus to a cyathus of oil and water respectively. It is given to sufferers from tetanus and convulsions: in drink also or in an injection for coeliac trouble and for dysentery. With oil it makes an ointment which has warming properties. Kneaded into a paste with wax and rose oil it forms over burns the slightest of scars. Made into a paste with oil it cures short sight., and ailments of the teeth if used frequently as a dentifrice. It is said that, if anyone with upturned face draws a fig tree down, and a knot of it be bitten off without anybody seeing, to tie this round the neck by a string with a bag of fine leather and wear it as an amulet disperses scrofulous sores and parotid swellings. The crushed bark with oil heals ulcerations of the belly. Raw green figs with soda and meal added remove warts and warty excrescences? The ash of the bushy shoots from the root is a substitute for zinc oxide. After two washings, with white lead added it is worked into lozenges for the treatment of ulcers and scabs on the eyes.
LXIV. The wild fig is even much more efficacious than the fig; a sprig of it also curdles milk into cheeses. It has less milk in it than the cultivated fig. This milk is collected and hardened by pressure, when it is rubbed on meat to keep it sweet. Diluted with vinegar it forms an ingredient of blistering preparations. It relaxes the bowels; with starch it opens the uterus; with the yolk of egg it promotes menstruation. With fenugreek meal it is applied to gouty limbs. It clears up leprous sores, itch, lichen and freckles, and similarly cures wounds made by venomous creatures and dog bites. Applied on wool this juice is also good for toothache, or hollow teeth may be plugged. The tender stalks and leaves mixed with vetches are a remedy for the poison of marine animals; wine also is added. Beef can be boiled soft with a great saving of fuel if the stalks be added to the water. An application of the unripe figs soften and disperse scrofulous sores and every kind of gathering; to a certain degree the leaves too do the same. The softest leaves with vinegar heal running sores, epinyctis and scurfy eruptions. With honey the leaves cure honeycomb sores and fresh dog bites, with wine corroding sores, and with poppy leaves they extract splinters of bone. Wild figs when green disperse flatulence by fumigationtaken in drink they are an antidote to bulls' blood that has been swallowed, to white lead and to curdled milkand boiled down in water they disperse when used as a liniment sores of the parotid glands. The young stalks or green fruit of the wild fig, plucked when as small as possible, are taken in wine to counteract scorpion stings. The milk, too, is poured into a wound and the leaves are applied to it, and the same treatment is employed for the bite of the shrewmouse. The ash of the young shoots soothes a sore uvula; the ash of the tree itself applied in honey cures chaps, and the root boiled down in wine cures toothache. The winter wild fig, boiled in vinegar and beaten up, clears up eczema. The branches with the bark removed are scraped to produce particles as fine as sawdust, which are used as an application. The wild fig too one miraculous medicinal property attributed to it; if a boy not yet adolescent break off a branch and tears off with his teeth its bark swollen with sap, the mere pith tied on as an amulet before sunrise keeps away, it is said, scrofulous sores. The wild fig, if a branch be put round the neck of a bull, however fierce, by its miraculous nature so subdues the animal as to make him incapable of movement.
LXV. A plant too, called erinos by the Greeks, must be described here because of the kinship of its name. It is a span high, and generally has five small stalks; it resembles basil, with a white flower and small black seed. Pounded and added to Attic honey this seed cures fluxes of the eyes, the proportions being two cyathi to four drachmae of Attic honey. When broken this plant distils much sweet milk, which with the addition of a little soda is very beneficial for earaches. The leaves are an antidote to poisons.
LXVI. The leaves of the plum boiled in wine are good for tonsils, gums and uvula, the mouth being rinsed with this decoction occasionally. The fruit by itself relaxes the bowels, but is not very good for the stomach, though its effects are transitory.
LXVII. Peaches are more wholesome, and so is their juice, which is also squeezed out and taken in wine or vinegar. No other food is more harmless than this fruit; nowhere do we find less smell or more juice, though the latter tends to create thirst. Peach leaves pounded and applied arrest haemorrhage. Peach kernels mixed with oil and vinegar make an application good for headache.
LXVIII. As for wild plums, their fruit or the skin of their root, boiled down in dry wine from one hemina to one third, checks looseness of the bowels and colic. A cyathus of the decoction at a time makes a sufficient dose.
LXIX. Both on wild and on cultivated plum trees there forms a gummy substance called lichen by the Greeks and wonderfully beneficial for chaps and condylomata.
LXX. In Egypt and in Cyprus are mulberries of a unique sort, as I have already said. If the outer rind be peeled off they stream with copious juice; a deeper cut (so wonderful is their nature) finds them dry. The juice counteracts the poison of snakes, is good for dysentery, disperses superficial abscesses and all kinds of gatherings, heals wounds, and allays headache and earache. For diseases of the spleen it is taken by the mouth and used as a liniment, as also for violent chills. It very quickly breeds worms. We Romans use the juice quite as much. Taken in wine it neutralizes aconitc and the poison of spiders; it opens the bowels, expelling phlegm, tapeworm and similar intestinal parasites. The same effect also is produced by the pounded bark. The leaves boiled in rain water together with the bark of the dark fig and of the vine dye the hair. The juice of the fruit itself moves the bowels immediately; the fruit itself is for the time being good for the stomach, being cooling, though thirst-producing, and if no other food is taken afterwards, it swells up. The juice of unripe mulberries is constipating; there are marvels to be noticed about this tree, mentioned by me in my description of it, which suggest that it has some sort of soul.
LXXI. There is made from the mulberry a mouthwash called panchrestos, or arteriace, in the following way. Three sextarii of the juice from the fruit are reduced by a gentle heat to the consistency of honey; then are added two denarii of dried omphacium, or one of myrrh, and one denarius of saffron. These are beaten up together and mixed with the decoction. There is no other remedy more pleasant for the mouth, the trachea, the uvula or the gullet. It is also prepared in another wax. Two sextarii of the juice and one sextarius of Attic honey are boiled down in the mariner I have described above.
There are besides marvels related of the mulberry. When it begins to bud, but before the leaves unfold, the fruit-to-be is plucked with the left hand. The Greeks call them ricini. These, if they have not touched the ground, when worn as an amulet stay a flow of blood, whether it flows from a wound, the mouth, the nostrils, or from haemorrhoids. For this purpose they are stored away and kept. The same effect is said to be produced if there be broken off at a full moon a branch beginning to bear; it must not touch the ground, and is specially useful when tied on the upper arm of a woman to prevent excessive menstruation. It. is thought that the same result is obtained if the woman herself breaks off a branch at any time, provided that it does not touch the ground before it is used as an amulet. Mulberry leaves pounded, or a decoction of dried leaves, are used as an application for snake bite, and it is of some benefit to take them in drink. The juice extracted from the skin of the root, and drunk in wine or diluted vinegar, counteracts the poison of scorpions. There must also be given a recipe of the ancients. The juice of the ripe fruit was mixed with that of the unripe, and the two boiled in a copper vessel to the consistency of honey. Some used to add myrrh and cypress and then to bake the mixture very hard in the sun, stirring it three times a day with a spatula. This was their stomatice, which they also used to help the formation of a scar on wounds. Another method was to squeeze the juice from dried fruit; this greatly improved the flavour of viands, and was moreover used in medicine for corroding sores, phlegm on the chest, and whenever astringent treatment of the bowels was called for. It was also used to rinse the teeth. A third kind of juice is to make a decoction of the leaves and root, to be applied in oil to burns. The leaves are also applied by themselves. An incision into the root at the time of harvest yields a juice admirably suited to relieve toothache, gatherings and suppurations, besides acting as a purge. Mulberry leaves soaked in urine remove hair from hides.
LXXII. Cherries relax the bowels, but are injurious to the stomach; dried cherries arrest looseness of the bowels and are diuretic. I find it stated in my authorities that if anyone swallows cherries with their stones in the morning, when the dew is on them, the bowels are so relieved that the feet are freed from gout.
LXXIII. Medlars, except the setanian, which is nearer to the apple in its properties, act astringently upon the stomach and check looseness of the bowels. Likewise sorb apples when dried; but when fresh they are beneficial to the stomach and to disordered bowels.
LXXIV. Pine nuts, containing resin, if lightly crushed and boiled down to one half with a sextarius of water to each nut, cure spitting of blood when the decoction is taken in doses of two cyathi. A decoction of the bark of the pine in wine is prescribed for colic. The kernels of the pine nut allay thirst, heartburn, gnawings of the stomach and the peccant humours that settle there; they tone up the system, and are beneficial for the kidneys and bladder. They seem to relieve roughness of the throat or of a cough, and drive out bile when taken in water, wine, raisin wine or a decoction of dates. For severe gnawing pains of the stomach they are combined with cucumber seed and juice of purslane, and also for ulcerations of the bladder and affections of the kidneys, since they are also diuretic.
LXXV. A decoction of roots of the bitter almond clears the complexion of spots and makes it of a more cheerful colour. Almonds themselves induce sleep and increase the appetite; they are diuretic and act as an emmenagogue. They are applied for headache, especially in fever; if the headache arises from wine, the application is with vinegar, rose oil and a sextarius of water. With starch and mint they arrest haemorrhage, and to anoint the head with the mixture is good for lethargus and epilepsy; mixed with old wine they heal epinyctis and purulent sores, with honey dog bites and, after preliminary fomentation, scaly eruptions on the face. Taken in water, too, they remove pains of the liver and kidneys, and they are often made also into an electuary for this purpose with resin from the turpentine tree. For stone and strangury they are beneficial taken in raisin wine, and for clearing the skin taken crushed in hydromel. In an electuary they are good for the liver, for a cough and for colic, if a little elelisphacus be added. The electuary is taken in honey, and is of the size if a filbert. It is said that if about five of these almonds are taken before a carouse drinkers do not become intoxicated, and that foxes die if they eat them without having water at hand to lap. Less efficacious as a remedy are sweet almonds, yet these two are purging and diuretic. Eaten fresh they lie heavy on the stomach.
LXXVI. Greek nuts taken in vinegar with wormwood seed are said to cure jaundice, applied by themselves affections of the anus, condylomata in particular, as well as coughs and spitting of blood.
LXXVII. Walnuts have received their name in Greek from the heaviness of the head which they because; the trees themselves, in fact, and their leaves give out a poison that penetrates to the brain. The kernels if they are eaten have the same effect, though the pain is less severe. Freshly gathered, however, they are more agreeable. The dried nuts are more oily, and injurious to the stomach, difficult digestion, productive of headache and bad for a cough; they are good, however, for those who intend to vomit fasting, for tenesmus and for colic, as they bring away phlegm? Taken in time these nuts deaden the effects of poisons, neutralize onions and make their flavour milder. They are applied to inflammation of the ears, with rue and a little honey to the breasts and to sprains, with rue and oil to quinsy, and with onion, salt and honey to the bites of dogs and of humans. By a walnut shell a hollow tooth is cauterized? If the shell be burnt and beaten up with the addition of oil or wine, to anoint a baby's head with the mixture is to promote the growth of hair, and this preparation is also used for mange. The more walnuts eaten, the easier it is to expel tapeworms. Very old walnuts are a cure for gangrenes and carbuncles, as also for bruises; the bark of walnuts cures lichen and dysentery, and the pounded leaves with vinegar cure earache. When the mighty king Mithridates had been overcome, Cn. Pompeius found in a private notebook in his cabinet a prescription for an antidote written in the king's own handwriting:two dried walnuts, two figs and twenty leaves of rue were to be pounded together with the addition of a pinch of salt; he who took this fasting would be immune to all poison for that day. The kernels of walnuts chewed by a fasting person and applied to the bite of a mad dog are said to be a sovereign remedy.
LXXVIII. Filberts cause headache and flatulence of the stomach, and put more fat on the body than one would think at all likely. Parched they also cure catarrh, pounded too and taken in hydromel they cure chronic cough; some add grains of pepper, others take them in raisin wine. Pistachio nuts have the same uses as pine nuts, and are besides, whether eaten or taken in drink, beneficial for snake bites. Chestnuts cheek effectually fluxes of the stomach and belly; they encourage peristaltic action of the bowels, arrest haemoptysis, and increase the growth of flesh.
LXXIX. Fresh carobs, injurious to the stomach, relax the bowels; dried carobs are astringent and prove more beneficial to the stomach; they are diuretic. For pain in the stomach some persons boil down to one half three Syrian carobs in a sextarius of water, and drink this decoction. The sap that sweats from a branch of the cornel tree is caught on a red-hot iron plate without the wood touching it; the resulting rust is applied as a cure for incipient lichen. The arbutus or strawberry tree bears a fruit that is difficult of digestion and injurious to the stomach.
LXXX. The bay-leaves, bark and berriesis of a heating nature; and so a decoction made from these, especially from the leaves, as is generally agreed, is good for the uterus and bladder. An application of the leaves, moreover, counteracts the poison of wasps, hornets and bees, as well as that of snakes, in particular of the seps, the dipsas band the viper. Boiled with oil the leaves are also good for menstruation; tender leaves pounded and mixed with pearl barley are good for inflammations of the eyes, with rue for those of the testicles, and with rose oil or iris oil for headache. Moreover three leaves, chewed and swallowed for three days in succession, free from cough; the same pounded and with honey free from asthma. The skin of the root is to be avoided by women with child. The root itself breaks up stone in the bladder, and three oboli taken in a draught of fragrant wine are good for the liver. The leaves taken in drink act as an emetic. The berries pounded and applied in a pessary or taken in drink act as an emmenagogue. Doses of two berries with the skin removed taken in wine cure chronic cough and difficulty of breathing. If fever also be present, the berries are given in water, or in a raisin-wine electuary, or boiled down in hydromet. Prepared in the same way they are good for phthisis and for all fluxes of the chest, for they both produce coctions of the phlegm and bring it up. For scorpion stings doses of four berries are taken in wine. Applied in oil the berries clear up epinyctis, freckles, running sores, sores in the mouth, and scaly eruptions; the juice of the berries clear scurf from the skin and phthiriasis; for pain or dullness of the ears it is injected with old wine and rose oil. Those anointed with it are shunned by all venomous animals; taken in drink also it is beneficial for wounds inflicted by them, especially the juice from the bay with very small leaves. The berries with wine are a prophylactic a against serpents, scorpions and spiders; with oil and vinegar they are applied also to the spleen and liver, with honey to gangrene. Further, when there is severe fatigue or chill, anointing with the juice of this berry, to which soda has been added, is beneficial. Some think that delivery is much hastened by taking in water an acetabulum by measure of bay root, fresh root being more efficacious than dried. Several authorities prescribe that ten berries be given in drink for scorpion stings; to cure relaxed uvula that a quarter of a pound of berries or leaves be boiled down to one-third in three sextarii of water, the decoction to be used as a warm gargle; and that to take away headache an uneven number of berries be pounded with oil and warmed. The pounded leaves of the Delphic bay, if smelt occasionally, keep off infection of plague, and the effect is greater if they are also burnt. Oil from the Delphic bay is useful for making wax salves and anodynes, for shaking off chills, for relaxing the sinews, and for the treatment of pain in the side and of the shivers of fever; warmed in the rind of a pomegranate it is also used for earache. The leaves boiled down in water to one-third, and used as a gargle, brace the uvula; taken by the mouth the decoction relieves pains in the bowels and intestines; the most tender leaves, pounded and applied in wine at night, remove pimples and itching. The other varieties of bay have very nearly the same properties. That of Alexandria, or Mt. Ida, taken in doses of three denarii of the root to three cyathi of sweet wine, hastens delivery; it also brings away the afterbirth and acts as an emmenagogue. Taken in drink in the same way, the wild bay, called daphnoides, or by the names already given to it, is beneficial; three drachmae of the leaves, fresh or dried, taken with salt in hydromel, relax the bowels. Chewed, this bay brings up phlegm and the leaves bring up vomit, being injurious to the stomach. In this way, too, the berries, fifteen at a time, are taken as a purge.
LXXXI. The white cultivated myrtle is less useful in medicine than the dark. Its berries cure haemoptysis, and are taken in wine to counteract poisonous tree-fungi. Even when chewed the day previously they make the mouth smell sweet, and so in Menander the women in Synaristosae [a comedy by Menander] eat them. A denarius of the same by weight is given in wine for dysentery. Made lukewarm they heal with wine obstinate sores on the extremities of the body. With pearl barley they are applied to the eyes for ophthalmia and to the left breast for cardiac disease. In neat wine they are applied to wounds inflicted by scorpions, and for affections of the bladder, headache, lacrimal fistulas before suppuration, and tumours; for pituitous eruptions the kernels are first taken out and then the berries are crushed in old wine. The juice of the berries settles the bowels and is diuretic. For eruptions of pimples and for those of phlegm an ointment is made of the juice and wax salve, and this is also used for the wounds of venomous spiders. The juice also darkens the hair. The oil from the same myrtle is milder than the juice, and so also is myrtle wine, which never intoxicates. When fully matured the wine settles the bowels and the stomach, cures colic and dispels squeamishness. The dried leaves, powdered and dusted over the body, check perspiration even in fever; it is useful also for coeliac trouble, prolapse of the uterus, affections of the anus, running sores, as a fomentation for erysipelas, for loss of hair, scaly eruptions, other eruptions also, and bums. The powder forms an ingredient in the plasters called liparae (emollient), for the same reason as the oil also is which is made from the leaves, for it is a very efficient application to the moist parts of the body, the mouth for instance and the uterus. The pounded leaves themselves are taken in wine as an antidote to the poison of tree-fungi, and moreover mixed with wax are used for diseases of the joints and for gatherings. A decoction of them in wine is prescribed to be taken by sufferers from dysentery and dropsy. They are dried to a powder which is dusted on sores and haemorrhages. They clear away freckles also, hangnails, whitlows, sores on the eyelid, condylomata, affections of the testicles, offensive sores, and also, with wax salve, burns. For pus in the ears they use both the burnt leaves and the juice as well as the decoction. The leaves are also burnt to afford material for antidotes; stalks too, plucked when in flower, are burnt in a furnace in a newly-made clay pot with the lid on and then pounded in wine. The ashes too of the leaves cure bums. If from a sore there be a swelling in the groin, it is a sufficient remedy merely to carry on the person a sprig of myrtle that has touched neither iron nor the ground.
LXXXII. I have described the preparation of myrtidanum. It is beneficial to the uterus, whether used as a pessary, a fomentation, or a liniment, being much more efficacious than the bark of the tree or the leaves or the berries. There is also extracted a juice from the leaves; the most tender are crushed in a mortar, a dry wine or sometimes rain water poured on them little by little, and the liquid now drawn off. It is used for sores in the mouth and of the anus, for those of the uterus, or of the intestines, for darkening the hair, for moisture at the armpits, for clearing away freckles, and whenever an astringent remedy is indicated.
LXXXIII. The wild myrtle, oxymyrsine or chamaemyrsine, is distinguished from the cultivated by its red berries and small size. Its root is much esteemed. A decoction in wine is taken for pains in the kidneys and for strangnry, particularly when the urine is thick and of foul odour; for jaundice and purging the uterus it is pounded with wine. The young stalks also are cooked in ashes and taken as food in the same way as asparagus. The berries, taken with wine or with oil and vinegar, break up stone in the bladder; pounded also in vinegar and rose oil it relieves headache, and taken in drink the jaundice. Castor gave the name of ruscum [Butcher's broom] to the oxymyrsine, having leaves which are a myrtle's but prickly, from which in the country they make brooms; its medicinal properties are the same. So much for the medicines derived from cultivated trees of our cities; lei me pass on to the wild ones of the woods.