Natural History (Rackham, Jones, & Eichholz)/Book 27
I. THE mere treatment of this subject undoubtedly increases the admiration that I at least feel for the men of old; the greater the number of plants waiting to be described, the more one is led to revere the careful research of the ancients and their kindness in passing on the results. Without a doubt even the bounteousness of Nature herself might seem to have been surpassed by them in this way if the discoveries had been the result of human endeavour. But as it is, it is clear that this bounteousness has been the work of the gods, or at least due to their inspiration, even when the actual discoverer was a man, and that the same Mother of all things both produced the herbs and made them known to us. This is the greatest miracle of life, if we care to admit the truth. To think that the Scythian plant, for example, is brought from the marshes of Maeotis, euphorbea from Mount Atlas and from beyond the pillars of Hercules, where the works of Nature actually begin to fail; on another side britannica, from islands in the ocean lying beyond the mainland, aethiopis too from the clime scorched by the constellations of heaven, and other plants moreover passing hither and thither from all quarters throughout the whole world for the welfare of mankind, all owing to the boundless grandeur of the Roman Peace, which displays in turn not men only with their different lands and tribes, but also mountains, and peaks soaring into the clouds, their offspring and also their plants. May this gift of the gods last, I pray, for ever! So truly do they seem to have given to the human race the Romans as it were a second Sun.
II. But who could revere enough the diligent research of the ancients? It is established that of all poisons the quickest to act is aeonite, and that death occurs on the same day if the genitals of a female creature are but touched by it. This was the poison that Marcus Caelius accused Calpurnius Bestia of using to kill his wives in their sleep. Hence the damning peroration of the prosecutor's speech accusing the defendant's finger. Fable has it that aeonite sprang out of the foam of the dog Cerberus when Hercules dragged him from the underworld, and that this is why it grows around Heraclea in Pontus, where is pointed out the entrance to the underworld used by Hercules. Yet even aconite the ancients have turned to the benefit of human health, by finding out by experience that administered in warm wine it neutralizes the stings of scorpions. It is its nature to kill a human being unless in that being it finds something else to destroy. Against this alone it struggles, regarding it as more pressing than the find. [This is the only fight, when the aconite discovers a poison in the viscera.] What a marvel! Although by themselves both are deadly, yet the two poisons in a human being perish together so that the human survives. Moreover even remedies used by wild beasts have been handed down by the ancients, who have shown how venomous a creatures also by themselves obtain healing. Scorpions, touched by aconite, become numbed, and are pale and stupefied, acknowledging their defeat. They find a help in white hellebore, its touch dispelling the torpor; the aconite yields to two evil foes, one peculiar to itself and one common to all creatures. If anyone believes that these discoveries could, by any chance, have been made by a man, he shows himself ungrateful for the gods' gifts. They touch flesh with aconite, and kill panthers by a mere taste of it, otherwise panthers would overrun the regions where they are found. For this reason some have called aconite pardalianehes, that is panther-strangler. But it has been proved that panthers are at once saved from this death by tasting human excrement; surely nobody doubts that this remedy has been found by Chance, and that on every occasion it is even today a new find, since wild animals have neither reason nor experience for results to be passed from one to another. This Chance therefore, this is that great deity who has made most of the discoveries that enrich our life, this is the name of him by whom is meant she who is at once the Mother and the Mistress of all creation. Either guess is equally likely, whether we judge that wild animals make these discoveries every day or that they possess a never-failing instinct. Again it is shameful that all animals except man know what is health-giving for themselves. Our ancestors however advertised the view that aconite is also a very health-giving ingredient of preparations for the eyes, openly declaring their belief that no evil a at all is without some admixture of good. It will therefore be right for me, who have described no poisons, to point out the nature of aconite, if only for the purpose of detecting it. It has leaves like those of cyclamen or of cucumber, not more than four, rising from the root and slightly hairy, and a root of moderate size, like a crayfish (cammarus), whence some have called it cammaran, and others thelyphonon, for the reason I have given already. The end of the root curves up a little like a scorpion's tail, whence some have called it also scorpion. There have been some who would prefer to call it myoctonos since at a distance, even a long distance, its smell kills rats and mice. The plant grows on bare crags which are called aeonae, and for that reason some have given it the name of aconite, there being nothing near, not even dust, to give it nourishment. This then is the reason for its name given by some; others have thought it was so named because it had the same power to cause rapid death as whetstones had to give an edge to an iron blade; no sooner was the stone applied than its rapid action was noticeable.
III. Aethiopis has leaves like those of phlomos, large, numerous and hairy, growing from the root. The stem is quadrangular, rough, like that of arction and hollowed by many axils. The seed is like that of vetch, white and geminate; the roots are numerous, long, fleshy, soft, and gluey to the taste. When dry these become black and hard, so that they might be taken for horns. This plant grows not only in Aethiopia, but also on Mount Ida in the Troad and in Messenia. The roots are gathered in autumn and dried in the sun for some days to prevent their growing mouldy. Taken in white wine they are a remedy for uterine troubles, and a decoction is given by the mouth for sciatica, pleurisy and rough throats. The Aethiopian kind, however, gives the greatest, and immediate, relief.
IV. Ageraton resembles fennel-giant, is two spans high and like origanum, and the flowers are golden knobs. The fumes when the plant is burnt are diuretic and purge the uterus: used in a sits bath the plant does this more effectively. The reason for the name is [not this but] because it lasts for a long time without fading.
V. The aloe bears a resemblance to the squill, but it is larger, and has more fleshy leaves, and with slanting streaks. Its stem is tender, red in the centre, and not unlike anthericus; the root is single, as it were a stake sunk into the ground. It has an oppressive smell, and a bitter taste. The most valued kind is imported from India, but it also grows in the province of Asia. This kind is used only for wounds, the freshly gathered leaves, or the juice, having a wonderful power of uniting. For this reason it is planted in conical jars, as is the greater aizoum. Some, before the seed ripens, make an incision in the stem to get the juice; some do so in the leaves as well. Drops too form spontaneously on it, and adhere. Some therefore recommend that the ground where the aloe has been planted should be beaten down hard, so as to prevent absorption. Some have reported that in Judea beyond Jerusalem can be found mineral aloes. This however is the most inferior kind of all, and no other is darker or more moist. So the best aloes will he fatty and shiny, of a ruddy colour, friable, compact like liver, and easily melted. The kind to be rejected is dark and hard, gritty, and adulterated with gum and acacia, the adulteration being easily detected by the taste. The nature of an aloe is bracing, astringent! and gently warming. There are many uses for it, but the chief is to relax the bowels, for it is almost the only laxative that is also a stomach tonic, no ill effects whatever resulting from its use. A drachma is taken in drink, but for fluxes of the stomach a spoonful in two cyathi of warm or cold water is taken twice or three times a day at intervals, as circumstances require; but for purging the bowels the maximum dose is three drachmae, which is more effective if food is taken after the draught. With a dry wine it prevents the hair from falling out, the head being thoroughly rubbed in the contrary way to the hair. It relieves headache if it is applied in vinegar and rose oil to the temples and forehead, or a dilute solution may be poured over them. All eye troubles, it is agreed, are cured by the aloe, but it is specific for itch and scaliness of the eyelids; it is also good, applied with honey, especially with Pontic honey, for marks and bruises; for diseased tonsils or gums, for all sores in the mouth, and for spitting of blood, the dose is a drachma, taken in water if the spitting is not excessive, and in vinegar if it is. Haemorrhage due to wounds also, or to any other cause, it arrests if used by itself or in vinegar. In other ways too it is very useful for wounds, as it promotes cicatrisation. It is also sprinkled on ulcerated male genitals, condylomata and chaps of the anus, sometimes in wine, in raisin wine, or else dry by itself, according as the treatment may need mild measures or coercive. It also gently arrests excessive bleeding from haemorrhoids. For dysentery it is injected, and for indigestion it is taken in drink shortly after the evening meal. For jaundice the dose is three oboli in water; for internal purgings pills also are swallowed made up with boiled honey or turpentine resin. It removes hangnails; for eye preparations it is washed, to let the most gritty parts settle, or else it is roasted in an earthen vessel and occasionally stirred with a feather so that the roasting may be even throughout.
VI. Alcea has leaves like those of the vervain called aristereon, three or four stems covered with leaves, flowers like a rose, and white roots, six at most, a cubit long, and slanting. It grows in a soil which is rich but not dry. The root is used in wine or water for dysentery, diarrhoea, ruptures and sprains.
VII. Alypon is a small sprout with a soft head, and not unlike beet, sharp to the taste and viscous, very pungent and burning. In hydromel with a little salt added it loosens the bowels. The smallest dose is two drachmae, a moderate one four, the maximum being six. When given as a purge it is taken in chicken broth.
VIII. Alsine, which some call myosoton, is found in groves; hence its name. It begins to grow just after midwinter, and withers at midsummer. When it puts forth its leaves, they are like the ears of little mice. However, I shall describe another plant, to which more properly would be given the name myosotis. Alsine would be just the same as helxine, were it not that it is smaller and less hairy. It grows in gardens and especially on walls. When being bruised it smells like cucumber. It is used for gatherings and inflammations, and for all purposes for which helxine is employed, but with less efficacy. Especially is it applied to eye fluxes, and with barley meal to sore genitals and ulcers. Its juice is poured into the ears.
IX. Androsaces is a whitish plant, bitter, leafless, with seed pods in hairy tufts. It grows especially along the sea coast of Syria. For dropsy are prescribed two-drachma doses of the plant pounded or boiled down in water, vinegar, or wine, for it is a powerful diuretic. It is also prescribed for dropsy and applied locally. The seed too has the same properties.
X. Androsaemon, or, as others have called it, ascyron, is not unlike hypericum, about which I have already spoken, but the stalks are larger, closer together, and redder. Its leaves are pale and shaped like those of rue; the seed resembles that of the dark poppy. The stalk tops when crushed give out a juice of the colour of blood. Their smell is resinous. It grows in vineyards; about the middle of autumn it is dug and hung up. When used as a purge it is pounded with the seed and taken early in the morning or after dinner, the dose being two drachmae in hydromel, wine, or plain water, and the whole draught a sextarius. It brings away bile, and is excellent for sciatica, but on the following day should be swallowed a drachma of caper root well mixed with resin. This dose should be repeated after an interval of four days. After the actual purging wine should be drunk by the stronger patients and water by the weaker. The plant is applied also to gouty limbs, to burns, and, as it stanches blood, to wounds.
XI. Ambrosia, an indeterminate name loosely given to other plants, is the primary name of one in particular, which is branchy and close set, slender about three spans high, with a root one span less, and with leaves around the bottom of the stem resembling those of rue. The seed is on the twigs, hanging dawn in clusters, and has a vinous smell; and so the plant is called botrys by some, although others call it artemisia. The Cappadocians use it for chaplets. In medicine it is used as a discutient.
XII. Anonis, which some prefer to call ononis, is branchy, and like fenugreek, except that it is more bushy and more hairy. It has an agreeable smell, and becomes prickly after spring. Preserved in brine it is also used as food, while the fresh plant cauterizes the edges of ulcers. The root is boiled down in vinegar and water for toothache, and taken in drink with honey it also expels stone from the bladder. For epilepsy it is given in oxymel boiled down to one half.
XIII. Anagyros, which some call acopon, is bushy, with a strong smell and a flower like that of cabbage. The seed grows in little horn-like pods of some length; it is kidney-shaped and becomes hard during the harvests. The leaves are placed on gatherings, and tied as an amulet on women in difficult labour, care being taken to remove them immediately after delivery. But if a dead foetus does not come away, or if the afterbirth or menstruation is retarded, the leaves are taken in raisin-wine, a dose being a drachma. Similar doses are given for asthma, and in old wine the leaves are given for the bites of poisonous spiders. The root is employed to disperse or mature boils; the seed chewed acts as an emetic.
XIV. Anonymus has found a name by not finding one. It is imported from Scythia. Hicesius, a physician of no small authority, spread its fame, as did Aristogiton; it is excellent for wounds if applied pounded in water; taken however in drink it is equally good for blows on the breasts or on the hypochondia, likewise for spitting of blood. Some authorities have held that wounded patients should take it in drink. The further statement I think fabulous, that if burnt fresh it acts as solder for iron or copper.
XV. Aparine, called by some omphalocarpos, by others philanthrops, is branchy, hairy, and with five or six leaves arranged at intervals in a circle around the branches. The seed is round, hard, hollowed, and rather sweet. It grows in cornfields, or gardens, or meadows, and is so prickly as even to cling to the clothes. The seed, taken in drachma doses in wine, is efficacious against the bite of serpents and poisonous spiders. The leaves, applied locally, check excessive bleeding from wounds. The juice is poured into the ears.
XVI. Arction, which some prefer to call arcturns, has leaves like those of verbascum, except that they are more hairy. The stem is long and soft, and the seed like that of cummin. It grows on rocky soils, and has a tender root, whitish and sweet. A decoction of it in wine is given for toothache, hut it must be retained in the mouth. The decoction is drunk for sciatica and strangury. In wine the root is applied to burns and chilblains, which are also fomented with the seed pounded in wine with the root.
XVII. Asplenon, called by some hemionion, has many leaves four inches long, a slimy root, pitted as is a fern's, whitish and hairy. There is no stem, flower or seed. It grows on rocks and on shaded, damp walls, the most approved kind in Crete. A decoction of its leaves in vinegar, taken as a draught for thirty days, is said to reduce the spleen, the leaves being also applied locally. They relieve too hiccoughs. This plant, as it causes barrenness, must not be given to women.
XVIII. Asclepias has leaves like those of ivy, bug branches, numerous roots that are slender and scented, stinking flowers, and a hatchet-shaped seed. It grows on hills. The roots cure colic and are used for snakebite; they are not only taken in drink but also applied locally.
XIX. Aster is called by some bubonion, because it is a sovereign remedy for affections of the groin. Its stem has two or three oblong leaves, and on the top are little heads with rays like stars. In drink it is also taken for snake bites. But as medicine for the groin it is enjoined to be plucked with the left hand, and to be tied as an amulet next the girdle. As an amulet it is also good for sciatica.
XX. Ascyron and ascyroides are like one another and also like hypericon, but what is called ascyroides has larger branches, which are like fennel-giant, red and with small yellow heads. The seed, in little cups, is very small, black, and resinous. The hairy tufts when crushed cause stains like blood, and therefore some have called the plant androsaemon. Two-drachmae doses of the seed, taken in a sextarius of hydromel, are used for sciatica. It loosens the bowels, brings away bile, and is applied to burns.
XXI. Aphaca has very slender and tiny leaves. Taller than the lentil it also bears larger pods, in which are three or four seeds, darker and smaller than those of the lentil. It grows in cultivated fields, and has bracing qualities more powerful than those of the lentil, its other uses being the same. A decoction of the seed checks fluxes of the stomach and bowels.
XXII. In my authorities I have found no description of alcibium, but only that its pounded root and leaves are applied locally, and taken in drink, for snake bite; a handful of the pounded leaves with three cyathi of neat wine, or three drachmae by weight of the root with the same measure of wine.
XXIII. Alectoros lophos, which we Romans call, 'comb' (crista), has several leaves like a cock's comb, a slender stem, and black seed in pods. Boiled with ground beans it is useful for cough, and with the addition of honey for film on the eyes. The seed is cast whole into the eye; it does no harm but attracts the film to itself. Changing colour it begins to turn from black to white, swells, and works out by itself.
XXIV. We Romans call alum what the Greeks call symphyton petraeum. It is like ox cunila, with small leaves and three or four branches growing from the root, which have tips like those of thyme; a ligneous plant, scented, sweet to the taste, promoting saliva, and with a long, red root. It grows on rocks (hence its surname petraeum, 'rocky'), and is very useful for affections of the sides and kidneys, for colic, chest, lungs, spitting of blood, and sore throat. The root is pounded and taken in drink or boiled down in wine; sometimes too this is used as embrocation. Moreover, chewed it allays thirst, and is especially cooling to the lungs. It is also applied to dislocations and bruises, and it soothes the intestines. Cooked in hot ashes, pounded, after removal of the pods, with nine peppercorns and taken in water, it is binding to the bowels. So excellent is it for healing wounds that, added even to pieces of meat that are being boiled, it binds them together. Hence its Greek name symphyton. It is also good for broken bones.
XXV. Red seaweed for scorpion stings.
XXVI. Actaea has leaves with an offensive smell, rough and jointed stems, black seed like that of ivy, and soft berries. It grows on shaded, rough, watery wound. In doses of a full acetabulum it is given for internal diseases of women.
XXVII. Ampelos agria is a name given to a plant with hard leaves of an ashy colour, as I have described in my account of cultivated trees. It has long, hard-skinned twigs, of a red colour like the blossom we call flame of Jupiter. It bears in little clusters seed like pomegranate pips. Its root, boiled down in three cyathi of water with the addition of two cyathi of Coan wine, is a gentle aperient, and therefore is given to dropsical patients. The clusters remove the spots on women's faces. Sciatica too is relieved by this plant ground up with the leaves and applied with its own juice.
XXVIII. There are several kinds of wormwood. The Santonic comes from the state of the Santoni in Gaul, the Pontic from Pontus, where cattle fatten on it, and so are found to be without gall; there is no finer wormwood than this, the Italian being far more bitter, but the pith of Pontic wormwood is sweet. About its use there is general agreement, for it is a plant very easily found, and one of the most useful, being moreover especially honoured at the religious rites of the Roman people, seeing that at the Latin festival there is a race for four-horse chariots on the Capitoline Hill, the winner of which takes a draught of wormwood, our ancestors thinking, I believe, that health was a very grand prize to give. It strengthens the stomach and for this reason it is used, as I have said, to give a flavour to wines. A decoction in water, which is afterwards cooled in the open for a day and a night, is also taken; six drachmae of the leaves with their branches are boiled down in three sextarii of rain water; salt too should be added. When very old it can still be used. There is also administered an infusion of wormwood in water; for this preparation should be styled 'infusion,' and an essential of the infusion is that, whatever quantity of water is used, for three days the preparation should be wholly enclosed. Pounded wormwood is rarely employed; rarely too the extracted juice. It is extracted, however, as soon as the seed begins to swell, the plant being soaked in water for three days when fresh and for seven when dried; it is then boiled down to one third in a bronze vessel, ten heminae to forty-five sextarii of water; and after being strained to remove the solid pieces it is boiled down again to the thickness of honey, just like juice obtained from the lesser centaury. But this juice is injurious to the stomach and head, while the decoction I mentioned is very wholesome. For it is astringent to the stomach, and with sil, Gallic nard and a little vinegar, brings away bile, promotes urine, soothes the bowels, curing them when in pain, drives out worms from the belly, and removes nausea and flatulence. With rue, pepper and salt, it takes away the distaste for food, and aids digestion, bringing away undigested food. As a purge, the old custom was to give six drachmae of the seed, three of salt, and a cyathus of honey, in a sextarius of sea water kept for a time, the purge being more efficacious if the amount of salt is doubled. The pounding however must be carefully done, as it is a difficult task. Some have also given the aforesaid weight in pearl barley with the addition of pennyroyal; some the leaves in a dried fig to children, so that the bitter taste is not noticed. Taken with iris it purges the thorax. For jaundice it is taken raw in drink with celery or adiantum. For flatulence it is slowly sipped hot in water; for the liver it is taken with Gallic nard; for the spleen, with vinegar, pottage or fig. In vinegar it is an antidote to poisonous fungi, as also to mistletoe; in wine, to hemlock, the poison of the shrew mouse, sea weever and scorpions. It is a great aid to clear vision. With raisin wine it is applied to eye fluxes, and with honey to bruises. Ear trouble is cured by fumigation with the steam of the decoction, or when bloody pus exudes, by pounded wormwood with honey. Three or four twigs, with one root of Gallic nard and six cyathi of water, are diuretic and an emmenagogue; it is specific for faulty menstruation if taken with honey or applied as a pessary in wool. With honey and soda it is helpful for quinsy. In water it cures night rashes. Recent wounds it heals if applied before they have been touched with water; it cures, moreover, sores on the head. With Cyprian wax or with fig it makes an exceptionally good application for affections of the flanks. It also cures pruritus, but must not be given to feverish patients. Taken in drink on sea voyages it prevents nausea; worn under a belly-band, swellings of the groin. It induces sleep if inhaled through the nose or placed secretly under the sufferer's head. Put into clothes it keeps away moth. Rubbing the body all over with it in oil drives away gnats, as does the smoke of it when burnt. Writing ink mixed with the infusion protects the writing from mice. Ashes of wormwood mixed with ointment and rose-oil stain the hair black.
XXIX. There is also a sea wormwood, called by some seriphum, the most approved growing at Taposiris in Egypt. At the ceremonies of Isis the priests carry a branch of it ritually before them. Narrower than the former, and less bitter, it is injurious to the stomach, but softens the bowels and expels intestinal worms. It is taken in drink with oil and salt, or infused into gruel of three-month wheat. A handful is boiled down in a sextarius of water to one-half.
XXX. Ballote has a second name, black leek, given to it by the Greeks. It is a bushy plant, with quadrangulate, dark stems, covered with hairy leaves, larger and darker than those of leek, and with an offensive smell. It proves an effective antidote to dog-bites, the pounded leaves being laid with salt on the wound; cooked also in hot ashes and wrapped in a cabbage leaf they are applied to condylomata. With honey the plant also cleanses foul ulcers.
XXXI. Botrys is a bushy plant with yellow twigs. Seed grows all round them, and the leaves are like those of chicory. It is found on the banks of torrents, and is used as treatment for orthopnoea. The Cappadocians call it ambrosia, others artemisia.
XXXII. Brabilla has an astringent property like the quince; apart from this my authorities tell me nothing about it.
XXXIII. Sea bryon is without doubt a plant; it has leaves like those of lettuce, wrinkled, and as it were crumpled. It has no stem, the leaves growing out of a single root. It grows more especially upon rocks and on shells sunk in the ground. Its special properties are to dry, astringency, and to reduce all gatherings and inflammations, in particular those of gout, and whenever there is need of cooling applications.
XXXIV. The seed of bupleuron I find is given for snakebite, and that wounds are fomented with a decoction of this plant to which has been added leaves of mulberry or of origanum.
XXXV. Catanance, Thessalian plant, it would be a waste of time for me to describe, since it is used only for love-potions. One thing it is quite pertinent to say in order to show up the fraud of sorcery: the plant was chosen for this purpose by soothsayers because as it withers it crumples up into the shape of the claws of a dead kite. For the same reason I shall say nothing about cemos.
XXXVI. There are two kinds of calyx. One is like arum, and grows on ploughed land. It is gathered before it withers, and has the same uses as aris. Its root is also taken in drink as a powerful aperient and emmenagogue, while its stalks, boiled down with the leaves in pulse, cures tenesmus.
XXXVII. The other kind of it is called by some anchusa, by others rhinoclia, having leaves like those of lettuce, but longer and downy, and a red root. This applied with the finest pearl barley cures erysipelas, and, taken in white wine, liver complaints.
XXXVIII. Circaea is like cultivated trychnos, having a tiny, dark flower, small seed like that of millet forming in a sort of little horn, a six-inch root, generally triple or quadruple, whitish, scented, and with a hot taste. It grows on sunny rocks. An infusion of it in wine is taken for uterine pains and affections. Three ounces of the pounded root should be steeped for a night and a day in three sextarii of wine. The same draught also brings away the afterbirth. The seed taken in wine or hydromel reduces the supply of milk.
XXXIX. Cirsion is a tender, little sprout, two cubits high, triangular, and surrounded by prickly leaves, the prickles being soft. The leaves are like those of bugloss, but smaller, and whitish. At the tip are small, purple heads, which fall off as down. It is said that this plant, or its root, used as an amulet, cures the pain of varicose veins.
XL. Crataegonon is like an ear of wheat, with many reed-like shoots, full of joints, springing from a single root. It is found in shaded places. The seed is like that of millet, with a very sharp taste. If three oboli of it in three cyathi of water are taken in wine before supper by the woman, and also by the man, for forty days before conception takes place, the child they say will be of the male sex. There is another crataegonos, which is called thelygonos; it is distinguished from the other by its mild taste. There are some who maintain that women who take the flower of crataegonos in drink conceive within forty days. These plants with honey also heal chronic black ulcers, fill up the pits of ulcers, add flesh to atrophied parts, thoroughly cleanse purulent sores, disperse superficial abscesses, and soothe gout and every kind of gathering, in particular those on the breasts. By crataegos or crataegon Theophrastus a would have us understand the tree which in Italy is called aquifolium.
XLI. Crocodileon is like black chamaeleon in shape, with a long root uniformly thick, and a pungent smell. It grows in sandy places. Taken in drink it causes copious epistaxis of thick blood; it is also said to reduce the spleen.
XLII. Cynosorchis, called by some orchis, has leaves like olive leaves, soft, three in number and lying on the ground to the length of half a foot. The root is bulbous, longish, and in two parts, the upper being harder and the lower softer. Found generally in vineyards these are boiled and eaten as are bulbs. If men eat the larger of these roots, male children are said to be conceived, but female if the smaller is eaten by women. In Thessaly men take in goat's milk the softer root as an aphrodisiac, but the harder as an antaphrodisiac. The one part neutralizes the other.
XLIII. Chrysolachanum, growing in pine woods, is like lettuce. If applied at once it heals cut sinews. Elsewhere too is said to grow a kind of chrysolachanum with a golden flower and leaves like those of cabbage. It is eaten boiled as a soft vegetable. This plant, tied on as an amulet so that the patient can look at it, is said to cure jaundice. I know that this account of chrysolachanum is inadequate, yet I find no more detail given, for a further fault of which our modern herbalists, at least, are guilty is that they have described but briefly, and even by a mere name, plants well known to themselves just as if these were generally familiar. They say, for instance, that coagulum terrae (earth rennet) is constipating and diuretic if taken in water or wine, and that
XLIV. the pounded leaves of eucullus with vinegar cure the bites of serpents and the stings of scorpions. Some give this plant another name, strumus, others the Greek name of strychnus. It has black berries; a cyathus of juice from these, with two of honey wine, is good treatment for lumbago, as also for headache if used with rose oil for bathing the brow, while for serofulous sores the plant itself is applied locally.
XLV. Couferva is peculiar to running streams, Alpine in particular, so named from confer-vamainare, to solder together. It is more like a freshwater sponge than a moss or vascular plant, being a hairy, dense, and porous mass. To my knowledge a man who, pruning a very high tree, fell and broke nearly all his bones, was treated with this plant. His entire body was enveloped in it; whenever it dried it was sprinkled with its native water but rarely taken off, only in fact for renewals when the plant lost its strength. The patient recovered in an almost incredibly short time.
XLVI. The Cnidian grain has the colour of kermes-red, and in size is larger than a peppercorn. Its heating properties are so great that it is swallowed in bread, lest it should scorch the throat in its passage. A sovereign remedy for hemlock poisoning, it also checks looseness of the bowels.
XLVII. Dipsacos has leaves like those of lettuce, with prickly knobs on the middle of their backs. The stem, two cubits long and rough with the same prickles, has joints enfolded by pairs of leaves, forming hollow axils in which collects a salt, dewy fluid. On the top of the stem are little heads, which bristle with prickles. The plant grows on watery ground. A decoction of the root in wine heals chaps of the anus; fistulas as well, but the decoction must be reduced to the consistency of wax, so that a suppository may be inserted into the fistula. It also removes warts of all kinds, for which purpose some apply the juice that is found in the axils which I mentioned above.
XLVIII. Dryopteris, which is like fern, grows on trees; it has sweetish leaves with a slight indentation and a hairy root. It has caustic properties, so that its crushed root is also used as a depilatory, for it is rubbed on until the skin sweats, and then again and a third time without washing the sweat away.
XLIX. Drabe is a similar plant to phonos, with slender stalks a cubit high surrounded on either side by leaves the size of a thumb, similar to those of oxymyrsine, but whiter and softer. The blossom is white and like that of the elder. The stalks are eaten boiled, but its seed is used instead of pepper.
L. Elatine has leaves like those of cassia, very small, shaggy and round, with five or six little branches, half a foot long, which are covered with leaves right from the root. The plant grows among the corn, is harsh to the taste and therefore good for fluxes of the eyes; the leaves are pounded with pearl barley and applied, a napkin being placed underneath. The plant boiled with linseed makes a gruel that cures dysentery.
LI. Empetros, called calcifraga by us Romans, is found on coastal mountains, generally on a rock. When it has grown near the sea it is salt, and taken in drink brings away bile and phlegms; when farther off and in deeper soil it tastes more bitter. It brings away fluid, and is taken in broth of some kind or in hydromel. When stale it loses its potency, but when fresh and boiled down in water or beaten up it is diuretic and breaks up stone in the bladder. Those who seek to win belief in this assurance assert that pebbles boiled with it are broken up.
LII. Epicactis, called by some elleborine, is a small plant with tiny leaves; taken in drink it is very useful for liver complaints and to counteract poisons.
LIII. Epimedion is a stem, not large, with ten or even twelve leaves like ivy leaves. It never flowers, has a slender, blackish, evil-smelling root, and ...[an insipid taste?] This plant, which grows in damp soils, is one of those with bracing and cooling properties, and should be avoided by women. Its leaves, beaten up in wine, check the growth of maidens' breasts.
LIV. Enneaphyllon has nine long leaves, and is of caustic nature. When applied it is wrapped up in wool, lest it cauterize too far, for it raises blisters immediately. It is very good for the pains of lumbago and sciatica.
LV. Ferns are of two kinds, neither having blossom or seed. Some Greeks call pteris, others blachnon, the kind from the sole root of which shoot out several other ferns exceeding even two cubits in length, with a not unpleasant smell. This is considered male. The other kind the Greeks call thelypteris, some nymphaea pteris. It has only one stem, and is not bushy, but shorter, softer and more compact than the other, and channelled with leaves at the root. The root of both kinds fattens pigs. In both kinds the leaves are pinnate on either side, whence the Greeks have named them pteris. The roots of both are long, slanting, and blackish, especially when they have lost moisture; they should, however, be dried in the sun. Ferns grow everywhere, but especially in a cold soil. They ought to be dug up at the setting of the Pleiades. The root must be used only at the end of three years, neither earlier nor later. Ferns expel intestinal worms, tapeworms when taken with honey, but for other worms they must be taken in sweet wine on three consecutive days; both kinds are very injurious to the stomach. Fern opens the bowels, bringing away first bile, then fluid. tapeworms better with an equal weight of scammony. To treat catarrhal fluxes two oboli by weight of the root are taken in water after fasting for one day, with a taste of honey beforehand. Neither fern should be given to women, since either causes a miscarriage when they are pregnant, and barrenness when they are not. Reduced to powder they are sprinkled over foul ulcers as well as on the necks of draught animals. The leaves kill lice and will not harbour snakes, so that it is well to spread them in suspected places; by the smell too when burnt they drive away these creatures. Among ferns also physicians have their preference; the Macedonian is the best, the next best comes from Cassiope?
LVI. Femur bubulum ('ox thigh') is the name given to a plant which, applied fresh and beaten up in. vinegar and salt, is one of the remedies beneficial for the sinews.
LVII. Galeopsis, called by some galeobdolon or galion, has stem and leaves like those of the nettle, but smoother, and giving off when beaten up an offensive smell; the flower is purple. It grows along hedges and lanes everywhere. Its leaves and stalks, beaten up in vinegar and applied, cure indurations and malignant growths, dispersing scrofulous sores, superficial abscesses and parotid swellings. It is also beneficial to use the juice of a decoction as a fomentation. With the addition of salt moreover it heals festering sores and gangrenes.
LVIII. Glaux, called of old eugalacton, has leaves like those of cytisus and the lentil; they are whiter underneath. The branches, five or six in number, extremely slender and springing from the root, lie along the ground; on them form small, purple blossoms. It is found near the sea, and is boiled in similago porridge to stimulate a rich supply of milk; those who have drunk a dose should proceed to a bath.
LIX. Glaucion grows in Syria and Parthia, a low plant, with tightly packed leaves, rather like those of the poppy but smaller and dirtier looking; it has a foul smell and a bitter, astringent taste. The seed, of a saffron colour, is put into a pot lined with fuller's clay and heated in an oven. Then it is taken out, and a juice of the same name is extracted from it. Both the juice and beaten-up leaves are used for the fluxes that fall in streams from the whole eye. There is made from it a salve called by physicians diaglaucin. It also restores a rich supply of milk if this fails. When taken for this purpose, water is the medium.
LX. Glycyside, called by some paeonia or pentorobon, has a stem two spans high; two or three others go with it. This stem is reddish, with bark like that of bay; the leaves resemble those of isatis, only more fleshy, rounder, and smaller. The seed is in pods, with some grains red, some black. There are however two kinds of the plant. The one to the roots of which are attached about six or eight rather long bulbs like acorns is regarded as female. The male has no more bulbs, since it is supported only by a single root, a span deep, white, and astringent to the taste. The leaves of the female smell of myrrh, and are closer together. The plants grow in woods. It is said that they should be dug up by night, because to do so in the daytime is dangerous, for the woodpecker called 'bird of Mars' assaults the eyes. That there is a danger, however, of prolapsus of the anus when a root is being dug up, I hold to be a very fraudulent lie, calculated to exaggerate the real facts. These plants are of manifold use. The red grains check red menstrual discharge, about fifteen being taken in dark-red wine. The black grains are healing to the uterus, the same number being taken in raisin or ordinary wine. The root in wine relieves all pains of the belly, opens the bowels, cures opisthotonic tetanus, jaundice, and complaints of the kidneys and bladder; for the trachea and the stomach however a decoction in wine is used, which also acts astringently on the bowels. It is eaten too as a food, but as a medicine four drachmae are enough. The black grains, taken in wine to the number mentioned, also prevent nightmares, while for stomach ache and for gnawing colic it is beneficial both to eat them and to apply them locally. Suppurations too are dispersed, recent by the black seed and old by the red. Both kinds are good for snakebites, and to cure stone in children when strangury is beginning.
LXI. Gnaphalium is called by some chamaezelon; its pale, soft leaves are used as flock; the two indeed are similar. It is given in a dry wine for dysentery, arrests fluxes of the belly and excessive menstruation, is injected for tenesmus and applied to festering ulcers.
LXII. Xenocrates calls gallidraga a prickly marsh-plant like leucacanthus, with a tall stem like fennel-giant, on the top of which is perched an egg-shaped ball. In this, he says, as summer advances, are bred maggots, which are kept in a box and attached with bread, as an amulet, to the arm on the same side as an aching tooth, and the pain disappears at once in a wonderful manner. These maggots, he says, retain their potency for not more than a year, and then only if they have not touched the ground.
LXIII. Holcus grows on dry rocks. The plant is like barley that has grown again after cutting, with ears at the top of a slender straw. Tied round the head or round the arm this plant draws ears (orisias) from the flesh, for which reason some call it aristis.
LXIV. Hyoseris is like endive, but smaller and rougher to the touch; crushed it is a splendid remedy for wounds.
LXV. Holosteon (all-bone) is a plant with nothing hard about it, the name being an antiphrasis coined by the Greeks, just as they call gall sweet. Its root is so slender as to look like hair. Four fingers long, the plant has narrow leaves like grass and an astringent taste, growing on hills with deep soil. Taken in wine for sprains and ruptures it also closes wounds, for it even fastens together pieces of meat when boiled with them.
LXVI. Hippophaeston is to be found among the thorns out of which fullers' pots are made up, having no stem, no blossom, but only little, hollow heads and many small leaves of the colour of grass. Its little roots are whitish and soft. Their juice is extracted in summer; the dose to open the bowels is three oboli, being used especially in epilepsy, palsy, dropsy, and to treat giddiness, orthopnoea, and incipient paralysis.
LXVII. Hypoglossa has leaves shaped like those of wild myrtle, concave, prickly, and on them as it were tongues, small leaves growing out of the leaves proper. A chaplet made from these and placed on the head relieves headache.
LXVIII. Hypecod grows in cornfields and has leaves like those of rue. Its properties are those of poppy juice.
LXIX. The plant of Ida has leaves like those of oxymyrsine, and to them adhere as it were tendrils, which bear the blossom. The plant itself cheeks looseness of the bowels, menstruation, and all excessive bleeding, as it has astringent, and repressive properties.
LXX. Isopyron is called by some phaselion, because its leaf, which resembles that of anise, twists itself into the shape of the tendrils of the passeolus. At the top of the stem grow little heads, slender, full of seed like that of melanthium, and very efficacious, when taken with honey or hydromel, for cough, other chest complaints, and also those of the liver.
LXXI. Lathyris has many leaves like those of lettuce, but slighter, and many buds, in which the seed is enclosed in envelopes as is that of the caper. When the buds are dry, the seeds, of the size of a peppercorn, are taken out; they are white, sweet, and easily shelled. Twenty of them in fresh water or hydromel cure dropsy, and also draw away bile. Those who wish for a more violent purge take the pods themselves with the seeds, but since they injure the stomach the plan has been devised of taking them with fish or chicken broth.
LXXII. Leontopetalon, called by some rapadion, has leaves like cabbage leaves and a stem half a foot long. There are several side branches, and at the ends, in pods like those of chick-peas, is the seed. The root is like a turnip, large and blackish. It grows on cultivated ground. Taken in wine the root neutralises the poison of serpents of every kind [or 'of the bites of all serpents'], and no other remedy acts more quickly. It is also given to sufferers from sciatica.
LXXIII. Lycapsos has longer and coarser leaves than those of lettuce, a long stem, with many subsidiary others, hairy and a cubit long, and a small, purple flower. It grows in flat, meadowy land. With barley meal it makes a local application for erysipelas. The juice with hot water added promotes perspiration in fevers.
LXXIV. Among all plants nothing is more wonderful than lithospermum, called by some exonychon, by others 'Juppiter's corn,' and by others 'corn of Hercules.' The plant is about five inches high, with leaves twice as big as those of rue, and ligneous little branches of the thickness of a rush. Near the leaves it grows as it were little beards, which are single, and on their tops little stones, white and round as pearls, as big as a chick-pea but as hard as a stone. Where they are attached to pedicels these jewels have little holes, in which is the seed. The plant grows indeed in Italy, but the most highly valued in Crete, and I have never seen anything among plants that filled me with greater wonder. So charming the adornment that one might think that the jeweller's art had arranged gleaming white pearls symmetrically among the leaves; very exquisite and difficult the birth of a gem from a plant! The authorities say that it lies and spreads over the ground; have seen it only when gathered, not when so growing. It is indisputable that a drachma by weight of these jewels taken in white wine breaks up and brings away stone, and cures strangury. There is no other plant the medicinal property of which can be recognised with greater confidence; its very appearance is such that at once by a glance, even without being told, people can become aware of this property.
LXXV. On ordinary stones near rivers grows a dry, hoary moss. One of them is rubbed with another one smeared with human spittle; with the latter stone is touched eczema, and he who touches says: 'Begone, cantharides, for a savage wolf seeks your blood.'
LXXVI. Limeum is the name given by the Gauls to a plant that they use to make a drug, called by them deer poison, with which when hunting they poison their arrows. As much of the plant as is usually used for one arrow is mixed with three bushels of saliva stimulant, and when cattle are sick this mash is forced down their throats. Afterwards they must be tied to their stalls until they are purgedfor they usually go wildand if sweating ensues cold water should be poured over them.
LXXVII. Leuce, a plant like mercurialis, has a reason for the name it bears, because a white line runs down the middle of the leaves, which is why some call it mesoleucion. Its juice heals fistulas; crushed, the plant itself cures malignant ulcers. Perhaps it is the same as the plant called leueas, which is a remedy for the poison of all sea creatures. My authorities do not report its appearance; they only say that the wild plant has the broader leaves, that this is the more efficacious, and has the more pungent seed.
LXXVIII. A description of leucographis I have nowhere found in writing. I am the more surprised at this because in three-oboli doses with saffron it is considered useful for haemoptysis, and also for the coeliae disease; beaten up in water and applied as a pessary for excessive menstruation; useful too as an ingredient of eye salves, and for filling up ulcers that form on tender parts of the body.
LXXIX. Medion has leaves like those of cultivated seris; the stem is three feet long, on which is a large, purple, round flower, bearing tiny seeds; the root is half a foot long. The plant grows on shaded rocks. The root checks excessive menstruation, two-drachma doses, with honey, being taken in the form of an electuary for a few successive days. For the same purpose the seed too is given in wine.
XX. Myosota or myosotis is a smooth plant with several stems growing from one root, these being red to a certain extent and hollow; narrow leaves grow at the bottom, longish, with a spine along the back, dark, carefully arranged in pairs at regular intervals. There are slender stalks growing from the axils, and the blossom is blue. The root, of the thickness of a finger, is fringed with many filaments like hairs. It has tseptic and ulcerating properties, and so heals lacrimal fistulas. The Egyptians say that if, on the twenty-eighth day of the month they call thoti (a day generally falling in our August), you rub yourself over in the morning with the juice of this plant before speaking to anyone, you will not in that year a suffer from ophthahnia.
LXXXI. Myagros is a plant like fennel-giant, with leaves like those of madder; it is three feet high. The seed is oily, and from it is extracted an oil. This juice, used as liniment, is good treatment for an ulcerated mouth.
LXXXII. The plant called nyma, with its three long leaves like those of endive, makes a liniment that restores the colour of a skin disfigured by scars.
LXXXIII. Natrix is the name of a plant the root of which, when pulled up, gives out the foul smell of he-goats. In Picenum they use this plant to drive away from women what are, with a strange credulity, called Fatui. I myself should believe that it is the hallucination of minds delirious in this way that is helped by such a drugs.
LXXXIV. Odontitis is classed as a hay with close-set stalks growing from the same root, jointed, triangular and dark. At the joints it has small leaves, longer however than those of polygonum, seed like barley in the axils, and a tiny, bright red flower. It grows in meadows. A decoction of its stalks, a handful in a dry wine, is a cure for toothache, but it must be kept in the mouth.
LXXXV. Othonna grows in Syria. It is like eruca, has leaves full of holes and a saffron flower. This is why some have called it anemone. Its juice is a suitable ingredient of eye salves, for it is slightly biting, warming, and astringent, because of its drying nature; it clears away scars, films and all obstructions. Some say that it is washed, and then, after drying, worked up into lozenges.
LXXXVI. Onosma has long leaves up to about three fingers in length, lying on the ground like those of anchusa. It has no stem, no blossom and no seed. If a woman with child should eat it or step over it, she is said to miscarry.
LXXXVII. Asses are said, if they have eaten onopradon, to break wind. It is diuretic and an emmenagogue, checks looseness of the bowels, and disperses suppurations and gatherings.
LXXXVIII. Osyris bears dark twigs, slender and pliant, on which are dark leaves like those of flax. The seed on the twigs is black to begin with, and then the colour changes to red. From them are made cosmetics for women. A decoction of the roots taken by the mouth cures jaundice. These roots also, if cut off before the seed ripens and dried in the sun, check looseness of the bowels; but, if dug up after the ripening and boiled down in gruel, they are good treatment for catarrhs of the belly, and by themselves they are beaten up and taken in rain water.
LXXXIX. Oxys has three leaves. It is given for a relaxed stomach, and is also eaten by sufferers from intestinal hernia.
XC. Polyanthemum, called by some batrachion, with its caustic property clears away scars and brings back a healthy colour. It also effaces psoriasis.
XCI. Polygonum is the name given by the Greeks to the plant we Romans call sanguinaria. It does not rise from the ground, has leaves like those of rue, and resembles grass. Its juice poured into the nostrils checks epistaxis, and taken with wine stays haemorrhage in any part of the body and the spitting of blood. Those who hold that there are several kinds of polygonum would have this to be considered the male plant, and to be so named because of the great number of its seeds or from its being a shrub with close-packed branches. Some call it polygonaton from its many joints, others thalattias or carcinothron or clema, many myrtopetalum. There are also to be found some who say that this kind is the female, and that the male is larger, less dark, with the joints closer together, and swelling with seed under all the leaves. However this may be, the property of these plants is to be astringent and to cool. Their seed relaxes the bowels, and taken in larger doses is diuretic; it checks catarrhs, and if these have not occurred it is of no uses The leaves are applied to a heated stomach, and also used to make liniment for a painful bladder and for erysipclas. The juice is also dropped into purulent ears and painful eyes. It used also to be given by itself in doses of two cyathi, before the paroxysms of agues, especially tertian and quartan, also for cholera, dysentery and a relaxed stomach. The third kind, called orion, grows on mountains and is like a tender reed. It has one stem with knots close together and fitted one into another, leaves resembling those of the pitch pine, and a root of no medicinal use. This kind is less efficacious than those already mentioned, and used especially for sciatica. The fourth kind is called wild polygonum, a shrub that is almost a tree; it has a ligneous root, a red trunk like that of the cedar, branches like those of spartum, two spans long, and with three or four dark, knotted joints. This kind too is of an astringent nature, and tastes like a quince. It is boiled down in water to one third, or dried and powdered for sprinkling on ulcerations of the mouth and excoriated bruises, but for sore gums the plant itself is chewed. It arrests corrosive ulcers, and all those that spread or are slow to heal; for frostbite however it is specific. Herbalists also use it for quinsy; for headache they make a chaplet of it which they place on the head; while to cure eye fluxes they put one round the neck. For tertian ague some pluck it with the left hand and attach it as an amulet, and for haemorrhage also. There is no other plant that they keep in a dry state more than they do polygonum.
XCII. Pancratium some prefer to call 'little squill.' It has leaves resembling those of the white lily, but longer and thicker, and a root like a large, red bulb. Its juice taken with retch flour relaxes the bowels and cleans ulcers. With honey it is given for dropsy and affections of the spleen. Others boil it down until the water becomes sweet, pour this off, pound the root, and work it into lozenges, which they dry in the sun and use afterwards for sores on the head and all other ailments that call for a detergent. Moreover, they give in wine a three-finger pinch for cough, and an electuary made of it for pleurisy or pneumonia. They also give it to be taken in wine for sciatica, for colic, and as an emmenagogue.
XCIII. Peplis, called by some syce, by others meconion or meconaphrodes, grows into a shrub from one slender root, and has leaves like those of rue but a little broader. Under the leaves is a round seed, smaller than that of the white poppy. It is generally gathered among vines at harvest time, and is dried with its seed after a vessel has been placed beneath to catch this. Taken in drink it relaxes the bowels, bringing away bile and phlegm. A moderate dose is an acetabulum in three heminae of hydromel. It is sprinkled over foods and relishes to loosen the bowels.
XCIV. Periclymenon too is a plant which grows into a shrub, having after an interval two leaves which are whitish and soft. And at the top among the leaves is a seed which is hard, and difficult to pluck. The plant grows in cultivated fields and in hedges, climbing round supports of any kind. Its seed is dried in the shade, pounded, and worked up into lozenges. These, dissolved in three cyathi of white wine, are given for thirty days to cure splenic affections, the spleen being reduced either by blood in the urine or through the bowels, as is plain immediately from the tenth day. The boiled leaves too are diuretic, and also beneficial to asthmatics; they aid delivery and bring away the afterbirth if taken in drink in a similar way.
XCV. Pelecinos I have said grows in cornfields. It makes a bushy plant with its stalks, and has leaves like those of the chick-pea. It bears seed, like git seed as we know it, in three or four pods curved like little horns. This seed is bitter, a good stomachic, and an ingredient of antidotes.
XCVI. Polygala is a full span in height, with leaves, like those of lentil, on the top of the stem, and with an astringent taste. Taken in drink it promotes an abundant supply of milk.
XCVII. Poterion, or as some call it, phrynion or neuras, is a spreading shrub, shrivelled and prickly, with thick down, small round leaves, long branches that are soft, flexible and slender, and a long flower of a grass-green colour. The seed is not used in medicine, but has a sham, aromatic taste. The plant is found on moist hills. It has two or three roots, two cubits in depth, sinewy, white and firm. It is dug np in autumn, and when the shrub has been cut away, the root yields a juice like gum. An application of the root is said to be a wonderful healer of wounds, especially of sinews even when they have been severed. A decoction of the root also, taken with honey, is good for relaxed, weak, or cut sinews.
XCVIII. Phalangitis is called by some phalangion, by others leucanthemum, or, as I find in some copies, leucacantha. It has little branches, never fewer than two, which grow in opposite directions; white flowers like the red lily in shape, a black, broad seed, of the shape of half a lentil, but much thinner, and a slender root of a grass-green colour. The leaves, flowers or seed of this plant are of help for the treatment of wounds inflicted by scorpions, poisonous spiders, and serpents; they are also good for griping colic.
XCIX. To describe phyteuma is in my opinion a waste of time, because it is used only for love-philtres.
C. Phyllon is the name given by the Greeks to a plant that grows on rocky heights. The female is more grass-green in colour than the male, with a slender stem and a small root. The seed is like the round seed of a poppy. This kind causes births of its own sex, the male those of males, differing from the female merely in its seed, which resembles that of the olive when it is just beginning to form. Both kinds are taken in wine.
CI. Phelandrion grows in marshy places, and has leaves resembling celery. Its seed is taken in drink for stone and troubles of the bladder.
CII. Phaleris has a stalk which is long and slender as a reed; at the top is a drooping flower; the seed resembles sesame seed, and is one of the remedies that break up stone in the bladder, being taken in wine, vinegar, or with honey and milk; it also cures complaints of the bladder.
CIII. Polyrrhizon has leaves like those of myrtle, and many roots. These are pounded and given in wine for snake bite. They are also of benefit when quadrupeds are bitten.
CIV. Proserpinaca is a common plant, and an excellent remedy for scorpion stings. It also, they say, when thoroughly crushed and with the addition of brine and sprats oil, makes an excellent remedy for quinsy; moreover, however tired one may be, even so weary as to lose one's voice, to put it under the tongue is said to dispel the fatigue; also that to swallow it results in healthful vomiting.
CV. Rhecoma is imported from the regions beyond Pontus. The root resembles dark costus, but is smaller and a little redder, without smell bnt with a hot, astringent taste. When pounded it also is of a wine-like colour, but inclining to saffron. Used as liniment it reduces gatherings and inflammations, and heals wounds; in raisin wine it relieves eye-fluxes; with honey it removes dark bruises, and in vinegar other livid marks. Powdered it is sprinkled over malignant sores; for spitting of blood a drachma by weight is taken in water; for dysentery too and coeliac disease, should no fever be present, it is given in wine, but where there is fever, in water. It is easier to pound if it is steeped the night before. Its decoction too is given, to be drunk in double doses, for ruptures, sprains, bruises, and tumbles from a height. Should there be pains in the chest, a little quantity of pepper and myrrh is added; should the stomach be relaxed, it is taken in cold water; so also for chronic cough and spitting of pus, likewise for liver complaints, spleen complaints, sciatica, kidney troubles, asthma, and orthopnoea. Roughness of the trachea is cured by three-oboli doses of it pounded and taken in raisin wine, or by its decoction. Lichen also is cleared away by an application of the root in vinegar. It is taken in drink for flatulence, chills, feverish shivers, hiccough, colic, herpes, heaviness of the head, bilious giddiness, tired pains, and sprains.
CVI. Around Ariminnm is well known the plant called reseda. It disperses all gatherings and inflammations. Those who use it in treatment add these words:
Reseda, allay diseases;
Dost know, dost know, what chick here uprooted thee?
May he have neither head nor feet.
They say these words three times, and spit three times on the ground.
CVII. Stoechas grows only in the islands of the same name, a fragrant plant with the foliage of hyssop and a bitter taste. Taken in drink it is an emmenagogue, and relieves pains in the chest. It is also an ingredient of antidotes.
CVIII. Solanum according to Cornelius Celsus is called by the Greeks. It has repressive and cooling properties.
CIX. Smyrnion has a stem like that of celery, and rather broad leaves, which grow mostly about its many shoots, from the curve of which they spring; they are juicy, bending towards the ground, and with a drug-like smell not unpleasing with a sort of sharpness. The colour shades off to yellow; the heads of the stems are umbellate, as are those of celery; the seed is round and black. It withers at the beginning of summer. The root too has a smell, and a sharp, biting taste, being soft and full of juice. Its skin is dark on the outside, but the inside is pale. The smell has the character of myrrh, whence too the plant gets its name. It grows on rocky hills, and also on those with plenty of earth. It is used for warming and for reducing. Leaves, root, and seed are diuretic and emmenagogues. The root binds the bowels, and an application of it disperses gatherings and suppurations, if not chronic, as well as indurations; mixed with cachry, polium, or melissophyllum, it is also taken in wine to counteract the poison of spiders and serpents, but only a little at a time, for if taken all at once it acts as an emetic, and so is sometimes given with rue. Seed or root is a remedy for cough and orthopnoea, also for affections of thorax, spleen, kidneys or bladder, and the root is for ruptures and sprains; it also facilitates delivery and brings away the afterbirth. In wine with crethmos it is also given for sciatica. It promotes sweating and belching, and therefore dispels flatulence of the stomach. It causes wounds to cicatrize. There is also extracted from the root a juice useful for female ailments, and for affections of the thorax and of the hypochondria, for it is warming, digestive and cleansing. The seed is given in drink, especially for dropsy, for which the juice also is used as liniment. The dried skin is used in plasters, and also as a side-dish with honey wine, oil and garum, especially when the meat is boiled.
Sinon tastes very like pepper and aids digestion. It also is very good for pain in the stomach.
CX. Telephion resembles purslane in both stem and leaves. Seven or eight branches from the root make a bushy plant with coarse, fleshy leaves. It grows on cultivated ground, especially among vines. It is used as liniment for freckles and rubbed off when dry; it makes liniment also for psoriasis, to be applied for about three months, six hours each night or day; afterwards barley meal should be applied. It is also good treatment for wounds and fistulas.
CXI. Trichomanes resembles adiantum, but is thinner and darker; the leaves are like those of the lentil, closely set, small, and opposite one another. The decoction, taken in white wine, with wild cummin added, cures strangury. Eaten as food it prevents hair falling off, or if it has already done so, restores it. Beaten up and applied in oil it makes a thick growth when there is mange. Sneezing too is provoked by the taste.
CXII. Thalictrum has coriander-like leaves, but a little more fleshy, and the stem of a poppy. It grows everywhere, but particularly in flat, meadowy country. The leaves with honey are good treatment for ulcers.
CXIII. Thlaspi is of two kinds. One has narrow leaves, a finger in breadth and length, turned towards the ground, and divided at the tip. The stem is half a foot long, not without branches, and with seed enclosed in shield-like pods and shaped like a lentil, except thathence comes the nameit is indented. The blossom is white, and the plant grows in lanes and in hedges. The seed has a sharp taste and brings away bile and phlegm by both vomit and stools. The measure of a dose is an acetabnlum. Injections are good for sciatica, if continued until they draw blood. It is also an emmenagogue but kills the foetus. The other thlaspi is called by some Persicon napy; it has broad leaves and large roots, while the plant itself is useful to make an injection for sciatica. Both kinds are good for affections of the groin. The picker is recommended to say that he is taking it as a remedy for the groin, all kinds of gatherings, and wounds. He should lift it with one hand.
CXIV. We are not told the nature of the plant trachinia. I think it untrue, and the assurance of Democritus fantastic, that used as an amulet it consumes the spleen in three days.
CXV. Tragonis, or tragion, grows only on the shores of the island of Crete, and resembles juniper in seed, leaf and branches. Its milky juice, hardened into gum, or its seed taken in drink, brings away sharp points embedded in the flesh. For use as liniment it is beaten up when fresh and applied with wine, or it is dried, powdered, and applied with honey. It also promotes abundance of milk, and is a specific for ailments of the breasts.
CXVI. There is also another plant, tragos, called by some scorpion, half a foot high, bushy, without leaves, and bearing tiny red clusters with wheat-like seeds, and pointed at the extremity. This plant too grows in coastal districts. Ten or twelve extremities of clusters, pounded and taken in wine, are good for coeliac affections, dysentery, spitting of blood, and excessive menstruation.
CXVII. There is also tragopogon, called by some come with a small stem, leaves like those of saffron, a long, sweet root, and at the top of the stem a broad, dark calyx. It grows on rugged soils, and is eaten but never used in medicine.
CXVIII. Such is all that I have been told or discovered worth recording about plants. At the close, I think it not out of place to add a warning that their properties vary with their age. As I have said, elaterium lasts longest, dark chamaeleon forty years, centaury not more than twelve, peucedanum and aristolochia up to six, and the wild vine one yearthat is, if they are kept in the shade. And of external animals indeed none attack the roots that I have mentioned except the sphondyle, a kind of creeping thing, which infests them all.
CXIX. There is no doubt either that the potency and efficacy of all roots are lessened if the fruit ripens before they are dug, and it is the same with seeds if the root has been cut previously for the sake of the juice. The properties moreover of all plants are weakened by habit, and they cease to be beneficial when needed if they have been in daily use; similarly with harmful plants. All plants however have greater efficacy and potency when they grow in cold regions subject to north-east winds, and likewise those that grow in dry.
CXX. There are also considerable differences between races. I have heard for instance about tapeworms and maw-worms, that they infest the peoples of Aegypt, Arabia, Syria and Cilicia, while on the contrary they are never found at all among those of Thrace and Phrygia. This is less remarkable than their being found among the Thebans, but not among the Athenians, although Attica and Boeotia are adjoining territories. That thought brings me to the nature of animals themselves, and to the remedies for all diseases, of even greater reliability, that are implanted in them at birth. For again, the Mother of all creation both willed that no animal should be born merely to eat or to satisfy the appetites of others, implanting also healthful medicines in their vitals, because she was implanting them even in unconscious things, and she also willed that those outstanding aids to life should come from another life, a thought beyond all else most wonderful.