Natural History (Rackham, Jones, & Eichholz)/Book 29
I. THE nature of remedies, and the great number of those already described or waiting to be described, compel me to say more about the art of medicine itself, although I am aware that no one hitherto has treated the subject in Latin, and that the judgement passed on all new endeavours is uncertain, especially on such as arc barren of all charm, and the difficulty of setting them forth is so great. But since it is likely to come into the minds of all students of the subject to ask why ever things ready to hand and appropriate have become obsolete in medical practice, the thought occurs at once that it is both a wonder and a shame that none of the arts has been more unstable, or even now more often changed, although none is more profitable. To its pioneers medicine assigned a place among the gods and a home in heaven, and even today medical aid is in many ways sought from the oracle. Then medicine became more famous even through sin, for legend said that Aesculapius was struck by lightning for bringing Tyndareus back to life. But medicine did not cease to give out that by its agency other men had come to life again, being famous in Trojan times, in which its renown was more assured, but only for the treatment of wounds.
II. The subsequent story of medicine, strange to say, lay hidden in darkest night down to the Peloponnesian War, when it was restored to the light by Hippocrates, who was born in the very famous and powerful island of Cos, sacred to Aesculapius. It had been the custom for patients recovered from illness to inscribe in the temple of that god an account of the help that they had received, so that afterwards similar remedies might be enjoyed. Accordingly Hippocrates, it is said, wrote out these inscriptions, and, as our countryman Varro believes, after the temple had been burnt, founded that branch of medicine called 'clinical.' Afterwards there was no limit to the profit from medical practice, for one of the pupils of Hippocrates, Prodicus, born in Selymbria, founded iatraliptice ('ointment cure'), and so discovered revenue for the anointers even and drudges of the doctors.
III. Changes from their tenets were made, with a flood of verbiage, by Chrysippus, and from Chrysippus also a violent change was made by his pupil Erasistratus, a son of the daughter of Aristotle. For curing King Antiochus he received a hundred talents from King Ptolemy, his son, to begin my account of the prizes also of the profession.
IV. Another medical clique, calling themselves 'Empirics' because they relied on experience, arose in Sicily, where Acron of Agrigentum received support from Empedocles, the physical scientist.
V. These schools disagreed with each other, and were all condemned by Herophilus, who divided pulsation into rhythmic feet for the various periods of life. Then this sect also was abandoned, because it was necessary for its members to have booklearning, and that sect also was changed that afterwards had been founded, as I have related, by Asclepiades. He had a pupil called Themison, who at first followed his master, but then later in life he also changed his tenets, a further change being made by Antonius Musa, another pupil of Asclepiades, with the support of the late Emperor Augustus, whose life in a dangerous illness he had saved by reversing the treatment. I pass over many famous physicians, among them men like Cassius, Calpetanus, Arruntius and Rubrius. Two hundred and fifty thousand sesterces were their annual incomes from the Emperors. Q. Stertinius said that the Emperors were in his debt because he had been content with an income of five hundred thousand sesterces a year, proving by a counting of homes that his city practice had brought in six hundred thousand. A like fortune also was showered by Claudius Caesar upon his brother, and the estates, although exhausted by beautifying Naples with buildings, left to the heir thirty million, Arruntius alone in the same age leaving as much. Then there arose Vettius Valens, celebrated for his intrigue with Messalina, wife of Claudius Caesar, and equally so for his eloquence. Chancing to gain followers and power he founded a new sect. The same generation in the principate of Nero rushed over to Thessalus, who swept away all received doctrines, and preached against the physicians of every age with a sort of rabid frenzy. The wisdom and talent he showed can be fully judged even by one piece of evidence: on his monument on the Appian Way he described himself as iatronices, the conqueror of physicians. No actor, no driver of a three-horse chariot, was attended by greater crowds than he as he walked abroad in public, when Crinas of Massilia united medicine with another art, being of a rather careful and superstitious nature, and regulated the diet of patients by the motions of the stars according to the almanacs of the astronomers, keeping watch for the proper times, and outstripped Thessalus in influence. Recently he left ten millions, and the sum he spent upon building the walls of his native city and other fortifications was almost as much. These men were ruling our destinies when suddenly the state was invaded by Charmis, also from Massilia, who condemned not only previous physicians but also hot baths, persuading people to bathe in cold water even during the winter frosts. His patients he plunged into tanks, and we used to see old men, consulars, actually stiff with cold in order to show off. Of this we have today a confirmation even in the writings of Annaeus Seneca. There is no doubt that all these, in their hunt for popularity by means of some novelty, did not hesitate to buy it with our lives. Hence those wretched, quarrelsome consultations at the bedside of the patient, no consultant agreeing with another lest he should appear to acknowledge a superior. Hence too that gloomy 'inscription on monuments.' It was the crowd of 'physicians that killed me.' Medicine changes every day, being furbished up again and again, and we are swept along on the puffs of the clever brains of Greece. It is obvious that anyone among them who acquires power of speaking at once assumes supreme command over our life and slaughter, just as if thousands of peoples do not live without physicians, though not without physic, as the Roman people have done for more than six hundred years, although not slow themselves to welcome science and art, being actually greedy for medicine until trial led them to condemn it.
VI. In fact this is the time to review the outstanding features of medical practices in the days of our fathers. Cassius Hemina, one of our earliest authorities, asserts that the first physician to come to Rome was Archagathus, son of Lysanias, who migrated from the Peloponnesus in the year of the city 535, when Lucius Aemilius and Marcus Livius were consuls. He adds that citizen rights were given him, and a surgery at the crossway of Acilius was bought with public money for his own use. They say that he was a wound specialist, and that his arrival at first was wonderfully popular, but presently from his savage use of the knife and cautery he was nicknamed 'Executioner,' and his profession, with all physicians, became objects of loathing. The truth of this can be seen most plainly in the opinion of Marcus Cato, whose authority is very little enhanced by his triumph and censorship; so much more comes from his personality. Therefore I will lay before my readers his very words.
VII. I shall speak about those Greek fellows in can their proper place, son Marcus, and point out the result of my enquiries at Athens, and convince you what benefit comes from dipping into their literature, and not making a close study of it. They are a quite worthless people, and an intractable one, and you must consider my words prophetic. When that race gives us its literature it will corrupt all things, and even all the more if it sends hither its physicians. They have conspired together to murder all foreigners with their physic, but this very thing they do for a fee, to gain credit and to destroy us easily. They are also always dubbing us foreigners, and to fling more filth on us than on others they give us the foul nickname of Opici. I have forbidden you to have dealings with physicians.
VIII. And this Cato died in the 605th year of the City and the 85th of his own life, so that nobody can think that he lacked opportunities in public life, or length of years in private life, to gather experiences. What then? Are we to believe that he condemned a very useful thing? No, by heaven! For he adds the medical treatment by which he prolonged his own life and that of his wife to an advanced age, by these very remedies in fact with which I am now dealing, and he claims to have a notebook of recipes, by the aid of which he treated his son, servants, and household; these I rearrange under the diseases for which they are used. It was not medicine that our forefathers condemned, but the medical profession, chiefly because they refused to pay fees to profiteers in order to save their lives. For this reason even when Aesculapius was brought as a god to Rome, they are said to have built his temple outside the city, and on another occasion upon an island, and when, a long time too after Cato, they banished Greeks from Italy, to have expressly included e physicians. I will magnify yet further their wisdom. Medicine alone of the Greek arts we serious Romans have not yet practised; in spite of its great profits only a very few of our citizens have touched upon it, and even these were at once deserters to the Greeks; nay, if medical treatises are written in a language other than Greek they have no prestige even among unlearned men ignorant of Greek, and if any should understand them they have less faith in what concerns their own health. Accordingly, heaven knows, the medical profession is the only one in which anybody professing to be a physician is at once trusted, although nowhere else is an untruth more dangerous. We pay however no attention to the danger, so great for each of us is the seductive sweetness of wishful thinking. Besides this, there is no law to punish criminal ignorance, no instance of retribution. Physicians acquire their knowledge from our dangers, making experiments at the cost of our lives. Only a physician can commit homicide with complete impunity. Nay, the victim, not the criminal, is abused; his is the blame for want of self-control, and it is actually the dead who are brought to account. Panels of judges are tested according to custom by the censorial powers of the Emperor; their examination invades the privacy of our homes; to give a verdict on a petty sum a man is summoned from Cadiz and the Pillars of Hercules; indeed, before the penalty of exile can be inflicted forty-five selected men are given power to vote on it; yet on the judge himself what manner of men sit in consultation to murder him out of hand! We deserve it all, so long as not one of us cares to know what is necessary for his own good health. We walk with the feet of others, we recognise our acquaintances with the eyes of others, rely on others' memory to make our salutations, and put into the hands of others our very lives; the precious things of nature, which support life, we have quite lost. We have nothing else of our own save our luxuries. I will not abandon Cato exposed by me to the hatred of so vainglorious a profession, or yet that Senate which shared his views, and that without seizing, as one might expect, any chances of accusation against the profession. For what has been a more fertile source of poisonings? Whence more conspiracies against wills? Yes, and through it too adulteries occur even in our imperial homes, that of Eudemus with Livia, wife of Drusus Caesar, and that of Valens with the royal lady with whom his name is linked. We may grant that the blame for such sins may lie with persons, not with the medical profession; Cato, I believe, had no more fears for Rome about these matters than he had about the presence in Rome of royal ladies. Let me not even bring charges against their avarice, their greedy bargains made with those whose fate lies in the balance, the prices charged for anodynes, the earnest-money paid for death, or their mysterious instructions, that a cataract should be moved away and not pulled off. The result is that the brightest side of the picture is the vast number of marauders; for it is not shame but the competition of rivals that brings down fees. It is well known that the Charmis aforesaid exchanged one sick provincial for 200,000 sesterces by a bargain with Alcon the wound-surgeon; that Charmis was condemned and fined by the Emperor Claudius the sum of 1,000,000 sesterces, yet as an exile in Gaul and on his return from banishment he amassed a like sum within a few years. Let the blame for this sort of thing also be laid on persons. I must not accuse even the dregs of that mob or its ignorance: the irresponsibility of the physicians themselves, with their out-of-the-way use of hot water in sickness, their strict fasts for patients, who when in a fainting condition are stuffed with food several times a day, their thousand ways moreover of changing their minds, their orders to the kitchen, and their compound ointments; for none of life's seductive attractions have they refrained from touching. I am inclined to believe that our ancestors were displeased with imports from abroad and with the fixing of prices by foreigners, but not that Cato foresaw these things when he condemned the profession. There is an elaborate mixture called theriace, which is compounded of countless ingredients, although Nature has given as many remedies, anyone of which would be enough by itself. The Mithridatic antidote is composed of fifty-four ingredients, no two of them having the same weight, while of some is prescribed one sixtieth part of one denarius. Which of the gods, in the name of Truth, fixed these absurd proportions? No human brain could have been sharp enough. It is plainly a showy parade of the art, and a colossal boast of science. And not even the physicians know their facts; I have discovered that instead of Indian cinnabar there is commonly added to medicines, through a confusion of names, red lead, which, as I shall point out when I discuss pigments, is a poison. These things however concern the health of individuals; but those other practices, which Cato feared and foresaw, much less harmful and less regarded, such as the heads of that profession themselves admit about themselves, those, I say, have ruined the morals of the Empire, I mean the practices to which we submit when in healthwrestlers' ointments, as though they were intended to treat ill health, broiling baths, by which they have persuaded us that food is cooked in our bodies, so that everybody leaves them the weaker for the treatment, and the most submissive are carried out to be buried, the draughts taken fasting, vomitings followed by further heavy potations, effeminate depilations produced by their resins, and even the pubes of women exposed to public view. It is certainly true that our degeneracy, due to medicine more than to anything else, proves daily that Cato was a genuine prophet and oracle when he stated that it is enough to dip into the works of Greek brains without making a close study of them. Thus much must be said in defence of that Senate and those 600 years of the Roman State, against a profession where the treacherous conditions allow good men to give authority to the worst, and at the same time against the stupid convictions of certain people who consider nothing beneficial unless it is costly. For I feel sure that some will be disgusted at the animals I shall treat of, although Virgil did not disdain to speak quite unnecessarily of ants and weevils, and of:
'sleeping places heaped up by cockroaches that avoid the light.'
Nor did Homer disdain amid the battles of the gods to tell of the greed of the fly, nor yet did Nature disdain to create them because she creates man. Therefore let each take into account, not things themselves, but causes and results.
IX. But I shall commence with admitted medical aids, that is, with wools and eggs, to give first honours to things of the first importance. Certain matters even out of their proper place it will be necessary to discuss, at least as incidental asides. Nor would material be wanting for rhetoric if it pleased me to pay attention to anything else than to making my work trustworthy, seeing that fable even says that among the first a medicines was one from the ashes and nest of the phoenix, just as though the story were fact and not myth. It is to joke with mankind to point out remedies that return only after a thousand years. The old Romans assigned to wool even supernatural powers, for they bade brides touch with it the doorposts of their new homes; and besides dress and protection from cold, unwashed wool supplies very many remedies if dipped in oil and wine or vinegar, according as the particular need is for an emollient or a pungent remedy, for an astringent or a relaxing one, being applied, and frequently moistened, for dislocations and aching sinews. For dislocations some add salt also; others apply with wool pounded rue and fat, likewise for bruises and swellings. To rub too the teeth and gums with wool and honey is said to make the breath more pleasant, and to fumigate with wool benefits phrenitis. Nose bleeding is checked by inserting wool and rose oil; another way is to put it into the ears and plug them rather firmly. It is applied moreover with honey to old sores. Wounds it heals if dipped in wine, or vinegar, or cold water and oil, and then squeezed out. A ram's fleece washed in cold water and soaked in oil, soothes inflammations of the uterus in women's complaints, and by fumigation reduces prolapsus. Unwashed wool applied or used as a pessary extracts a dead foetus; it also stays uterine fluxes. Plugged into the bites of a mad dog it is taken away after the seventh day. With cold water it cures hangnails. Again, dipped into a hot mixture of soda, sulphur, oil, vinegar and liquid pitch, all as hot as possible, and applied twice a day, wool relieves lumbago. Unwashed ram's wool also stays bleeding if bound round the joints of the extremities. The most highly esteemed wool is: all from the neck, and that from the districts of Galatia, Tareutum, Attica, and Miletus. Unwashed wool is applied to excoriations, blows, bruises, contusions, crushed parts, galling, falls, pains in the head and elsewhere, and with vinegar and rose oil to inflammation of the stomach. The ash of wool is applied to chafings, wounds, and burns. lit is added to medicaments for the eyes, and also used for fistulas and suppurating ears. For this purpose some take shorn wool, others wool plucked out, cut off the ends, dry, card, place in a vessel of unbaked clay, steep in honey, and burn. Others place under it a layer of pitch-pine chips, make several alternate layers, sprinkle with oil, and set on fire. The ash is rubbed by the hand into little pots, with water added, and then allowed to settle. The operation is repeated several times, with changes of water, until the ash becomes slightly astringent to the tongue without stinging it; then it is stored away. It has a caustic property that makes it an excellent detergent for the eyelids.
X. Moreover, even the greasy sweat of sheep that clings to the wool under the hollows of their flanks and forelegsit is called oesypum (suint)has uses almost innumerable. The most prized is that obtained from Attic sheep. There are several ways of preparing it, but the most approved is to take fresh-plucked wool from the parts mentioned, or first to gather the greasy sweat from any part, then warm it in a bronze pot over a slow fire, cool it again, collect in an earthen vessel the fat that floats on the top, and boil again the stuff originally used. Both the fats obtained are washed in cold water, strained through linen, heated in the sun until they become white and transparent, and then stored away in a box of stennum. The test of its purity is that it should retain the strong smell of the grease, and when rubbed with the hand in water, should not melt, but become white like white-lead. It is very useful for inflammations of the eyes and hard places on the eyelids. Some bake it in an earthen jar until it is no longer fatty, holding that in this condition it is a more useful remedy for sores that have eaten into the eyelids, for indurations there, and for watery itch at the corners. It heals, not only sores of the eyes, but also with goose grease those of the mouth and genitals. With melilot and butter it cures inflammations of the uterus, chaps in the anus, and condylomata. Its other uses I shall set out in order later on. The sweaty grease too that gathers into pills about the tail, dried by itself and ground to powder, is wonderfully beneficial if rubbed on the teeth, even when these are loose, and on the gums when they suffer from malignant, running sores. Furthermore, clean pieces of fleece are applied to blind pains, either by themselves or with sulphur added, and their ash to affections of the genitals, being so potent that they are even placed over medicinal applications. Wool is also the best of remedies for sheep themselves if they lose their appetite and will not pasture. For if their tails are tied as tightly as possible with wool plucked therefrom they at once begin to feed, and it is said that all the tail outside the knot dies off.
XI. Wool has also a close affinity with eggs, the two being laid together on the forehead for eye fluxes. There is no need for the wool, when so used, to have been treated with radicula, or for anything else except to spread on it white of egg and powdered frankincense. White of egg by itself, poured into the eyes, checks fluxes and cools in laminations, although some prefer to add saffron, and eggs can take the place of water in eye salves. But for infant ophthahnia scarcely anything else is so remedial as egg mixed with fresh butter. Eggs beaten up with olive oil relieve erysipelas if beet leaves are tied on top. White of egg mixed with pounded gum ammoniac sets back eyelashes, and removes spots on the face with pine nuts and a little honey. The face itself if smeared with egg is not burnt by the sun. If scalds are at once covered with egg they do not blistersome add barley flour and a pinch of saltwhile sores from a burn are made wonderfully better by roasted barley with white of egg and pig's lard. The same treatment is used for affections of the anus, and even for procidence in the case of infants; for chaps on the feet the white of eggs is boiled down with two denarii by weight of white lead, an equal weight of litharge, a little myrrh, and then wine; for erysipelas is used the white of three eggs with starch. It is also said that white of egg closes wounds and expels stone from the bladder. The yolk of eggs, boiled hard, mixed with a little saffron and honey, and applied in woman's milk, relieves pains of the eyes; or it may be placed over the eyes on wool with rose oil and honey wine, or applied in honey wine with ground celery-seed and pearl barley. Swallowed liquid, without letting it touch the teeth, the yolk by itself is good for cough, catarrh of the chest, and rough throats. Applied externally or taken internally the raw yolk is specific for the bite of the haemorrhois. It is also good for the kidneys, and for irritation or ulceration of the bladder. For spitting of blood five yolks of egg are swallowed raw in a hemina of wine, and for dysentery they are taken with the ash of their shells, poppy juice, and wine. With the same weight of plump raisins and pomegranate rind yolk of egg is given in equal doses for three days to sufferers from coeliac affections. Another way is to take the yolks of three eggs, three ounces of old bacon fat and of honey, and three cyathi of old wine, beat them up until they are of the consistency of honey, and take in water when required pieces of the size of a filbert. Yet another way is to fry three eggs after steeping them whole the day before in vinegar, and to use them so for spleen diseases, but to take them in three cyathi of must for the spitting of blood. Eggs are used with bulbs and honey for persistent bruises. Boiled and taken in wine they also check menstruation; inflation too of the uterus if applied raw with oil and wine. They are useful too, with goose grease and rose oil, for pains in the neck; for affections of the anus also, if hardened over fire and applied while the additional benefit of the heat is still retained; for condylomata with rose oil; for burns they are hardened in water, then over hot coals; when the shells have been burned off, finally the yolks are applied in rose oil. Eggs become entirely yolk (they are then called sitista) when the hen has sat upon them for three days before they are taken up. The chicks found in eggs taken with half a gall nut settle a disordered stomach, but care must be taken to eat no other food for the next two hours. There are also given to dysentery patients chicks boiled in the egg itself and added to a hemina of dry wine and the same quantity of oil and pearl barley. The membrane peeled off the shell of a raw or boiled egg heals cracks in the lips. The shell reduced to ash and taken in wine cures discharges of blood. It must be burnt without the membrane. From this ash is also made a dentitrice. It also checks menstruation if applied with myrrh. The strength of the shells is so great that no force or weight will break them when the eggs are perpendicular, but only when the oval is slightly inclined. Childbirth is made easier by whole eggs, with rue, dill, and cummin, taken in wine. Itch and irritation of the skin are removed by a mixture of oil, cedar-resin, and eggs; running ulcers too on the head by eggs mixed with cyclamen. For spitting of pus or blood is swallowed a raw egg warmed with juice of cutleek and an equal amount of Greek honey. There are given to patients with a cough boiled eggs beaten up with honey, or raw eggs with raisin wine and an equal measure of oil. Eggs are also injected for complaints of the male organs, the dose being one egg with three cyathi of raisin wine and half an ounce of starch, given after the bath; for snake bite they are applied after boiling them and beating up with the addition of cress. How helpful in many ways eggs are as food is well known, for they pass a swollen throat and incidentally by their heat soothe it. There is no other food so nourishing in sickness without overloading the stomach, and it has the nature of both food and drink. I have said that the shell is softened of eggs steeped in vinegar. Eggs so prepared and kneaded into bread with flour give refreshment to patients with coeliac affections. Some think it more useful, after softening them in this way, to bake them in shallow pans; when so prepared they check not only diarrhoea but also excessive menstruation; or if the attack is specially severe they are swallowed raw with flour and water, or the yolks from these eggs by themselves are boiled hard in vinegar, and then roasted with ground pepper to check diarrhoea. There is also made for dysentery an excellent remedy by pouring an egg into a new earthen vessel, and so that there may be equal quantities of all the ingredients, in the shell of this egg are measured honey, then vinegar, and oil, which are mixed, and stirred many times. The more excellent the quality of these ingredients the more sovereign will the remedy be. Others substitute for oil and vinegar the same amounts of red resin and wine. There is yet another method of compounding: only the quantity of oil remains the same, and with it are boiled down together two sixtieths of a denarius of pine bark, one of the shrub I have called rhus, and five oboli of honey, but no other food must be taken until four hours have passed. Many also treat colic by beating up two eggs together with four heads of garlic, warming with a hemina of wine, and so giving the mixture as a draught. To omit no attractive feature of eggs, white of egg mixed with quicklime fastens together broken glass. So great indeed is its power that wood dipped in egg will not take fire, and not even cloth stained with it will burn. But I have been speaking only about farmyard hen's eggs; there remain also other birds, the eggs of which are of great utility; about them I shall speak on the proper occasions.
XII. There is, moreover, a kind of egg which is very famous in the Gauls, but not mentioned by the Greeks. Snakes intertwined in great numbers in a studied embrace make these round objects with the saliva from their jaws and the foam from their bodies. It is called a 'wind egg.' The Druids say that it is tossed aloft by the snakes' hisses, and that it ought to be caught in a military cloak before it can touch the earth. The catcher, they say, must flee on horseback, for the serpents chase him until they are separated by some intervening river. A test of a genuine egg is that it floats against the current, even if it is set in gold. Such is the clever cunning of the Magi in wrapping up their frauds that they give out as their opinion that it must be caught at a fixed period of the moon, as if agreement between snakes and moon for this act depended upon the will of man. I indeed have seen this egg, which was like a round apple of medium size, and remarkable for its hard covering pitted with many gristly cup-hollows, as it were, like those on the tentacles of an octopus. The Druids praise it. highly as the giver of victory in the law-courts and of easy access to potentates. Herein they are guilty of such lying fraud that a Roman knight of the Vocontii, for keeping one in his bosom during a lawsuit, was executed by the late Emperor Claudius, and for no other reason. However, this embrace and fertile union of snakes seem to be the reason why foreign nations, when discussing peace terms, have made the herald's staff surrounded with figures of snakes; and it is not the custom for the snakes on a herald's staff to have a crest.
XIII. As in this Book I am going to treat of the very useful goose egg, and of the goose itself, our respects are due to the famous preparation called commagenum. It is made from goose grease, a very popular medicament everywhere, [and for this purpose especially in Commagene, a district of Syria] with cinnamon, cassia, white pepper, and the herb called cornmagene. The mixture is put into vessels and buried in snow; it has a pleasant smell, and is very useful for chills, sprains, blind or sudden pains, and for all the complaints treated by anodynes being equally good as an ointment and as a medicine. It is also prepared in Syria in another way. The grease of the birds is treated in the manner I shall describe, and there are added to it erysisceptrum, balsam-wood, ground palm, and also crushed reed, the same quantity of each as of the grease, the whole being warmed two or three times in wine. But it must be prepared in winter, for it will riot set in summer unless wax is added. There are many other remedies made from the goose, which surprise me as much as the many from the goat, for the goose and the crow are said to be afflicted with disease from the beginning of summer well into the autumn.
XIV. I have spoken of the fame won by the geese which detected the ascent of the Capitoline Hill by the Gauls. For the same reasons dogs are punished with death every year, being crucified alive on a cross of elder between the temple of Juventas and that of Sununanus. But the customs of the ancients compel me to say several other things about the dog. Sucking puppies were thought to be such pure food that they even took the place of sacrificial victims to placate the divinities. Genita Mana is worshipped with the sacrifice of a puppy, and at dinners in honour of the gods even now puppy flesh is put on the table. That it was commonly in fact a special dish at inaugural banquets there is evidence in the comedies of Plautus's Dog's blood is supposed to be the best remedy for arrow poison, and this animal seems also to have shown mankind the use of emetics. Other highly praised remedies from the dog I shall speak of on the appropriate occasions. I will now go on with my proposed plan.
XV. For snake bites efficacious remedies are considered to be fresh dung of sheep boiled down in wine and applied, and mice cut in two and placed on the wound. The nature of mice is not to be despised, especially in their agreement, as I have said, with the heavenly bodies, for the number of their liver filaments becomes greater or less with the light of the moon. The Magi declare that if a mouse's liver in a fig is offered to pigs, that animal will follow the offerer, adding that it has a similar effect on a human being also, but that the spell is broken by drinking a cyathus of oil.
XVI. Of weasels there are two kinds, one wild and larger than the other, called by the Greeks ictis. The gall of both is said to be efficacious against asps, though otherwise poisonous. The other kind, however, which strays about our homes, and moves daily, as Cicero tells us, its nest and kittens, chases away snakes. Its flesh, preserved in salt and given in doses of one denarius by weight, is given in three cyathi of drink to those who have been bitten, or its stomach stuffed with coriander seed is kept to dry and taken in wine. A kitten of the weasel is even better still for this purpose.
XVII. Certain things, revolting to speak of, are so strongly recommended by our authorities that it would not be right to pass them by, if it is indeed true that medicines are produced by that famous sympathy and antipathy between things. The nature for instance of bugs, a most foul creature and nauseating even to speak of, is said to be effective against the bite of serpents, and especially of asps, as also against all poisons. As proof, they say that hens are not killed by an asp on the day they have eaten bugs, and that their flesh then is most beneficial to such as have been bitten. Of the accounts given the least disgusting is how they are applied to bites with the blood of a tortoise, how fumigation with them makes leeches loose their hold, and how they destroy leeches swallowed by animals if administered in drink. And yet some actually anoint the eyes with bugs pounded in salt and woman's milk, and the ears with bugs in honey and rose oil. Those which are field bugs and found in rnallows are burnt, and the ash mixed with rose oil is poured into the ears. The other virtues attributed to bugs, that they are cures for vomiting, quartans, and other diseases, although it is prescribed that they should be swallowed in egg, wax, or a bean, I hold to be imaginary and not worth repeating. Only as a remedy for lethargy are they employed with reason, for they overcome the narcotic poison of asps, and are given in doses of seven in a cyathus of water, and for children in doses of four. For strangury bugs have been inserted into the urethra. So true it is that the Universal Mother gave birth to nothing without very good reasons. Furthermore, a couple of bugs attached to the left arm in wool stolen from shepherds have been said to keep away night fevers, and day fevers when attached in a red cloth. On the other hand, the scolopendra is their enemy, and kills them by fumigation.
XVIII. Asps kill those they strike by torpor and coma, inflicting of all serpents the most incurable bites. But their venom, if it comes into contact with the blood or a fresh wound, is immediately fatal, if with an old sore, its action is delayed. Apart from this, however much is drunk, it is harmless, having no corrosive property. And so the flesh of animals killed by their bite may be eaten with safety. I should hesitate to put forward a remedy obtained from these creatures, had not Marcus Varro, in the seventy-third year of his life, recorded that a sovereign remedy for asp bites is for the victim to drink his own urine.
XIX. The basilisk, which puts to flight even the very serpents, killing them sometimes by its smell, is said to be fatal to a man if it only looks at him. Its blood the Magi praise to the skies, telling how it thickens as does pitch, and resembles pitch in colour, but becomes a brighter red than cinnabar when diluted. They claim that by it petitions to potentates, and even prayers to the gods, are made successful; that it provides cures for disease and amulets against sorcery. Some call it Saturn's blood.
XX. The dragon has no venom. Its head, buried under the threshold of doors after the gods have been propitiated by worship, brings, we are assured, good luck to a home; those rubbed with an ointment of his eyes, dried and beaten up with honey, are not panic-stricken, however nervous, by phantoms of the night; the fat of the heart, tied in the skin of a gazelle on the upper arm by deer sinew, makes for victory in lawsuits; the first vertebra smoothes the approach to potentates; and its teeth, wrapped in the skin of a roe and tied on with deer sinew, make masters kind and potentates gracious. But all these are nothing compared with a mixture that the lying Magi assert makes men invincible, composed of: the tail and head of a dragon, hair from the forehead of a lion and lion's marrow, foam of a victorious racehorse, and the claw of a dog, all attached in deer hide with deer sinew and gazelle sinew plaited alternately. To expose these lies will be no less worth while than to describe their remedies for snakebite, for these too are some of the sorceries of the Magi. Dragon's fat is shunned by venomous creatures, and so too, when burnt, is that of the ichneumon; they shun too those rubbed with nettles pounded in vinegar.
XXI. The head of a viper, placed on the bite, even though the same viper did not inflict it, is infinitely beneficial, as is the snake itself, held up on a stick in steamit is said to undo the harm doneor if the viper is burnt and the ash applied. But Nigidius asserts that a serpent instinctively comes back to the person it has bitten. Some split skilfully the head between the ears, in order to extract the pebble it is said to swallow when alarmed, but others use the entire head itself. From the viper are made the lozenges called by the Greeks theriaci. Lengths of three fingers are cut off from head and tail, the intestines drawn with the livid part that adheres to the spine, the rest of the body, with the vertebrae extracted and fine flour added, is thoroughly boiled in a pan of water with dill, and the mixture dried in the shade and made into lozenges, which are used in making many medicameats. We must note, it appears, that only from the viper can the preparation be made. Some take the fat from the body, cleaned as described above, boil down with a sectarius of oil to one-half, add three drops from it when necessary to oil, and use as ointment to keep off all harmful creatures.
XXII. Furthermore, it is well known that the application of the entrails of a serpent itself is a help for the bites however hard to cure of any of them, and that those who once have swallowed the boiled liver of a viper are never afterwards bitten by a serpent. A snake too is venomous only when during the month it is angered by the moon, and it is beneficial if a snake is caught alive, beaten up in water, and a bite fomented with the preparation. Moreover, many remedies are believed to be obtained from a snake, as I shall relate in their proper order, and this is why it is sacred to Aesculapius. Democritus indeed invents some weird stories about snakes, how for instance they make it possible to understand the language of birds. The Aesculapian snake [note: the word anguis is here used interchangeably with serpent] was brought to Rome from Bpidaurus, and a snake is commonly kept as a pet even in our homes; so that were not their eggs destroyed in fires there would be an incurable plague of them. The most beautiful snake in the world is the kind, called hydri, that is amphibious, no other snake being more venomous. Its liver when preserved does good to those who have been bitten. The scorpion when pounded up counteracts the poison of the spotted lizard, for there is made from these lizards an evil drug: if one has been drowned in wine it covers the face of those who drink it with an eruption of freckle-like spots. So women, plotting to spoil the beauty of rival courtesans, kill a spotted lizard in the ointment used by them. The remedy is yolk of egg, honey, and soda. The gall of this kind of lizard, beaten up in water, is said to attract weasels.
XXIII. Of all venomous creatures the salamander is the most wicked, for while the others strike individuals, and do not kill several together, to say nothing (according to report) of their dying of remorse when they have bitten a man, and of earth's refusal to grant them further admission, the salamander can kill whole tribes unawares. For if it has crawled into a tree, it infects with its venom all the fruit, killing like aconite by its freezing property those who have eaten of it. Nay, moreover, if a slice of bread is placed upon wood or stone that has been touched by a salamander, or if one falls into a well, the bread and the water, like the fruit, are poisoned, while all the hair on the whole body falls off if its saliva has sprinkled any part whatever of the body, even the sole of the foot. Nevertheless, although it is so venomous a creature, some animals, such as pigs, eat it. Under the sway of that same antipathy between things it is likely that his venom is neutralized best of all by those who eat the salamander; but among approved remedies are cantharides taken in drink or a lizard taken in food. The other antidotes I have spoken of, and shall speak of, in the appropriate places. As to the power to protect against fires, which the Magi attribute to the animal, since according to them no other can put fire out, could the salamander really do so, Rome by trial would have already found out. Sextius tells us that as food the salamander, preserved in honey after entrails, feet, and head have been cut away, is aphrodisiac but he denies its power to put fire out.
XXIV. Of birds, the chief protection against serpents is the vulture, and it has been noticed that there is less power in the black vulture. They say that the fumes of their burning feathers chase serpents away, and that those who carry about them a vulture's heart are protected not only from the attacks of serpents, but also from those of wild beasts, bandits, and angry potentates.
XXV. The flesh of chickens, torn away and applied warm to the bite, overcomes the venom of serpents, as will also a chicken's brain taken in wine. The Parthians prefer to put on the wound the brain of a hen. Chicken broth also, taken by the mouth, is a splendid remedy, being wonderfully good for many other purposes. Panthers and lions do not touch those rubbed over with this broth, especially if garlic has been boiled in it. A rather powerful purge is the broth of an old cock, which is also good for prolonged fevers, paralysed and palsied limbs, diseases of the joints, headaches, eye-fluxes, flatulence, loss of appetite, incipient tenesmus, complaints of liver, kidneys, and bladder, indigestion and asthma. And so instructions even are current for making it: they tell us that it is more effective boiled with sea-cabbage, or tunny-fish, or caper, or celery, or the herb mercury, with polypodium or dill, but most beneficial when three congii of water are boiled down to three heminae, with the above-mentioned herbs, cooled in the open air and administered, the best time being when an emetic has preceded. I will not pass over a marvel, though it has nothing to do with medicine: if the limbs of hens are stirred up in melted gold they absorb it all into themselves, so violent a poison of gold is chicken. But cocks themselves do not crow if they have a collar of wood shavings round their necks.
XXVI. A help against snakebite is also flesh of doves or swallows freshly torn away, and the feet of a homed owl burnt with the herb plumbago. Speaking of this bird I will not omit a specimen of Magian fraud, for besides their other monstrous lies they declare that an horned owl's heart, placed on the left breast of a sleeping woman, makes her tell all her secrets, and that men carrying it into battle are made braver by it. From the horned owl's egg they prescribe recipes for the hair. Now who, I ask, could have ever looked at an horned owl's egg, when it is a portent to have seen the bird itself? Who in any case could have tried it, particularly on the hair? The blood, indeed, of a horned owl's chick is guaranteed even to curl the hair. Of much the same kind would seem to be also their stories about the bat: that if carried alive three times round the house and then fastened head downwards through the window, it acts as a talisman, and is specifically such to sheepfolds if carried round them three times and hung up by the feet over the threshold. Its blood also with thistle the Magi praise as one of the sovereign remedies for snakebite.
XXVII. The phalangium is unknown to Italy and of several kinds. One is like the ant, but much larger, having a red head and the rest of the body black with white spots. Its wound is more painful than that of the wasp, and it lives especially near furnaces and mills. One remedy is to show to the bitten person another phalangium of the same kind; for this purpose are kept dead specimens. Their dry bodies are also found, which are pounded and taken as a remedy, as are a weasel's young prepared as I have described. Among classes of spiders the Greeks also include a phalangion which they distinguish by the name of 'wolf.' There is also a third kind of phalangium, a hairy spider with an enormous head. When this is cut open, there are said to be found inside two little worms, which, tied in deer skin as an amulet on women before sunrise, act as a contraceptive, as Caecilius has told us in his Commentarii. They retain this property for a year. Of all such preventives this only would it be right for me to mention, to help those women who are so prolific that they stand in need of such a respite. There is another phalangium called rhox, like a black grape, with a very small month under the abdomen, and very short legs as though not fully grown. Its bite is as painful as a scorpion's sting, forming in the urine as it were spider's webs The asterion is exactly like it, except that it is marked with white streaks. Its bite makes the knees weak. Worse than either is the blue spider; it is covered with black hair, and causes dimness of vision and vomit like spider's web. There is an even worse phalangium, which differs from the hornet only in having no wings. The bite from one of this kind also makes the body thin. The myrmecion in its head resembles the ant, with a black body marked by white spots, and a bite as painful as a wasp. There are two kinds of the phalanginm called tetragnathius, the worse of which has two white lines crossed on the middle of its head, and its bite makes the mouth swell; but the ash-coloured kind, which is whitish in its hind part, is less vicious. Least dangerous of all is the ash-coloured spider which spins its web all over our walls to catch flies. For the bites of all spiders remedial is a cock's brain with a little pepper taken in vinegar and water, five ants also taken in drink, the ash of sheep's dung applied in vinegar, or spiders themselves of any sort that have rotted in oil.
The bite of the shrewmouse is healed by lamb's rennet taken in wine, by the ash of a ram's hoof with honey, and by a young weasel, as I have prescribed for snakebite. If it has bitten draught-animals, a freshly killed mouse is applied with salt, or a bat's gall in vinegar. The shrew-mouse itself, torn asunder and applied, is a remedy for its own bite; but if a pregnant shrewmouse has bitten, it bursts open at once. It is best if the mouse applied is the one which gave the bite, but they preserve them for this purpose in oil, or enclosed in clay. Another remedy for its bite is earth from a wheel rut. For they say that it will not cross a wheel rut owing to a sort of natural torpor.
XXVIII. The stelio is said in its turn to be such a great enemy to scorpions that the mere sight of one strikes them with panic, and torpor with cold sweat. Accordingly they let it rot in oil and so smear on scorpion wounds. Some boil down that oil with litharge to make a sort of ointment which they thus apply. This lizard the Greeks call colotes, ascalabotes, or, galeotes. This kind is not found in Italy, for it is covered with spots, has a shrill cry, and feeds on spiders, all which characteristics are lacking in our stelios.
XXIX. Beneficial too is ash of hen's dung applied, the liver of a python, a lizard or a mouse torn open, the scorpion laid on the wound it has itself inflicted, or roasted and taken in food or in two cyathi of neat wine. Scorpions are peculiar in that they do not sting the palm of the hand or touch any but hairy parts. A pebble of any kind, if the part next the ground is laid on the wound, relieves the pain, and a potsherd too is said to be a cure if a part covered with earth is applied just as it was taken upthose making the application must not look back, and must take care that the sun does not behold themand another cure is an application of pounded earthworms. Many other remedies are obtained from earthworms, so they are kept in honey for this purpose. The night owl is an enemy of bees, wasps, hornets, and leeches, and those are not stung by them who carry about their person a beak of the woodpecker of Mars. Hostile to them are also the smallest of the locusts, which are wingless and called attelebi. There is also a venomous kind of ant, not generally found in Italy. Cicero calls it solipuga and in Baetica it is called salpuga. A bat's heart is hostile to these, as it is to all ants. I have said that cantharides are hostile to salamanders.
XXX. But herein arises a much-disputed question, for the fly taken in drink is a poison, causing excruciating pain in the bladder. Cossinus, a Roman knight, well known for his friendship with the Emperor Nero, fell a victim to lichen. Caesar called in a specialist physician from Egypt, who decided on preliminary treatment with Spanish fly taken in drink, and the patient died. But there is no doubt that, with juice of taminian grapes, sheep suet, or that of a she-goat, an external application is beneficial. In what part of the Spanish fly itself the poison lies authorities disagree; some think in the feet and in the head, hut others say not. The only point agreed upon is that, wherever the poison lies, their wings help. The fly itself is bred from grub found in the sponge-like substance on the stalk of the wild rose especially, but also very plentifully on the ash. The third kind breeds on the white rose, but is less efficacious. The most potent flies of all are marked with yellow lines across their wings and are plump; much less potent are those that are small, broad and hairy; the least useful however are of one colour, and thin. They are stored away in an earthen pot, not lined with pitch, but the mouth closed with a cloth. They are covered with full-blown roses and hung over boiling vinegar and salt until the steam, passing through the cloth, suffocates them. Then they are stored away. Their property is to cauterise the flesh and to form scabs. Of the same character is the pine-caterpillar, which is found on the pitch-pine, and the buprestis, and they are prepared in a similar way. All these are very efficacious for leprous sores and lichen. They are also said to be emmenagogue and diuretic, and so Hippocrates used them also for dropsy. Spanish fly was the subject of a charge against Cato Uticensis that he had sold poison at an auction of royal property, for he had knocked some down for 60,000 sesterces. And I may remark in passing that at this sale there was sold for 30,000 sesterees ostrich suet, a far more useful fat for all purposes than goose-grease.
XXXI. I have also mentioned a kinds of poisonous honey. To counteract it honey is used in which bees have died. The same honey is also a remedy for illness caused by eating fish.
XXXII. If a person has been bitten by a mad dog, as protection from hydrophobia is given by an application to the wound of ash from the burnt head of a dog. Now all reduction to ash (that I may describe it once for all) should be carried out in the following way: a new earthen vessel is covered all over with clay and so put into a furnace. The same method is also good when the ash is to be taken in drink. Some have prescribed as a cure eating a dog's head. Others too have used as an amulet a worm from a dead dog, or placed in a cloth under the cup the sexual fluid of a bitch, or have rubbed into the wound the ash from the hair under the tail of the mad dog itself. Dogs run away from one who carries a dog's heart, and indeed do not hark if a dog's tongue is placed in the shoe under the big toe, or at those who carry the severed tail of a weasel which has afterwards been set free. Under the tongue of a mad dog is a slimy saliva, which given in drink prevents hydrophobia, but much the most useful remedy is the liver of the dog that bit in his madness to be eaten raw, if that can be done, if it cannot, cooked in any way, or a broth must be made from the boiled flesh. There is a little worm on the tongue of dogs which the Greeks call lytta (madness), and if this is taken away when they are baby puppies they neither go mad nor lose their appetite. It is also carried three times round fire and given to those bitten by a mad dog to prevent their going mad. The brains of poultry are an antidote, but to swallow them gives protection for that year only. They say that it is also efficacious to apply to the wound a cock's comb pounded up, or goose grease with honey. The flesh of dogs that have gone mad is also preserved in salt to be used for the same purposes given in food. Puppies too of the same sex as the bitten patient are immediately drowned and their livers swallowed raw. An application in vinegar of poultry dung, if it is red, is also of advantage, or the ash of a shrewmouse's tail (but the mutilated animal must be set free alive), an application in vinegar of a bit of earth from a swallow's nest, of the chicks of a swallow reduced to ash, or the skin or cast slough of snakes, pounded in wine with a male crab; for by it even when put away by itself in chests and cupboards they kill moths. So great is the virulence of this plague that even the urine of a mad dog does harm if trodden on, especially to those who are suffering from sores. A remedy is an application of horse dung sprinkled with vinegar and warmed in a fig. Less surprised at all this will be one who remembers that `a dog will bite a stone thrown at him' has become a proverb to describe quarrelsomeness. It is said that he who voids his own urine on that of a dog will suffer numbness in his loins. The lizard called seps by some and chalcis by others, if taken in wine is a cure for its own bites.
XXXIII. For sorcerers' poisons obtained from the wild weasel a remedy is a copious draught of chicken broth made from an old bird; it is specific for aconite poisoning, and there should be added a dash of salt. Hens' dung, provided it is white, boiled down in hyssop or honey wine, is used for poisonous fungi and mushrooms, as well as for flatulence and suffocationsa matter for wonder, because if any animal save man should taste this dung, it will suffer from colic and flatulence. Goose blood, with the same quantity of oil, is good for the poison of sea hares, also for all sorcerers' poisonsit is kept with red Lemnian earth and the sap of white thorn, and five drachmae of the lozenges should be taken as a dose in three cyathi of wateralso a baby weasel prepared as I have described. Lamb's rennet too is a powerful antidote to all sorcerers' poisons, as is the blood of Pontic ducks; and so when thickened it is also stored away and dissolved in wine. Some are of opinion that the blood of a female duck is more efficacious. In like manner general remedies for all poisons are the crop of storks, sheep's rennet, the broth of ram's flesh (which is specific for cantharides), likewise warmed sheep's milk, which is also good for those who have swallowed buprestis or aconite, the dung of wild doves (specific if quicksilver has been swallowed), and for arrow poisons the common weasel, preserved and taken in drink, two drachmae at a time.
XXXIV. Bald patches through mange are covered again with hair by an application of ash of sheep's dung with cyprus oil and honey, by the hooves, reduced to ash, of a mule of either sex, applied in myrtle oil; moreover, as our countryman Varro relates, by mouse dung, which he calls also muscerdae, or by the fresh heads of flies, but the patches must first be roughened with a fig leaf. Some use the blood of flies, others for ten days apply their ash with that of paper or nuts, but a third of the whole must be that of flies; others make a paste of fly ash, woman's milk, and cabbage, while some add honey only. No creature is thought to be less teachable or less intelligent than the fly; it is all the more wonderful that at the Olympic sacred games, after the bull has been sacrificed to the god they call Myiodes, clouds of flies depart from out Olympic territory. Hair lost by mange is restored by the ash of mice, their heads and tails, or their whole bodies, especially when this affliction is the result of sorcery; it is restored too by the ash of a hedgehog mixed with honey, or by its burnt skin with liquid pitch. The head indeed of this animal, reduced to ash, by itself restores the hair even to scars. But for this treatment the patches must first be prepared by shaving with a razor. Some too have preferred to use mustard in vinegar. All that will be said about the hedgehog will apply even more to the porcupine. Hair is also prevented from falling out by the ash of a lizard that, in the way I have described, has been burnt with the root of a fresh-cut reed, which must be chopped up fine so that the two may be consumed together, an ointment being made by the admixture of myrtle-oil. All the same results are given more efficaciously by green lizards, and with even greater benefit if there are added salt, bear's grease, and crushed onion. Some thoroughly boil ten green lizards at a time in ten sextarii of old oil, being content with one application a month. Vipers' skins reduced to ashes very quickly restore hair lost through mange, as does also an application of fresh hens' dung. A raven's egg, beaten up in a copper vessel and applied to the head after shaving it, imparts a black colour to the hair, but until it dries oil must be kept in the mouth lest the teeth too turn black at the same time; the application too must be made in the shade, and not washed off before three days have passed. Some use a raven's blood and brains added to dark wine; others thoroughly boil the raven itself and store it away at bed time in a vessel of lead. Some apply to patches of mange Spanish fly pounded with liquid pitch, first preparing the skin with sodathe application is caustic, and care must be taken not to cause deep soresand prescribe that afterwards to the sores so formed be applied the heads, gall, and dung of mice with hellebore and pepper.
XXXV. Nits are removed by dog fat, snakes taken in food like eels, or by the cast slough of snakes taken in drink; dandruff by sheep's gall with Cimolian chalk rubbed on the head until it dries off.
XXXVI. Headaches have a remedy in the heads of snails, cut off from those that are found without shells, being not yet complete, and the hard stony substance taken from themit is of the width of a pebblewhich are used as an amulet, while the small snails are crushed, and rubbed on the forehead; there is also wool grease; the bones from the head of a vulture attached as an amulet, or its brain with oil and cedar resin, the head being rubbed all over and the inner part of the nostrils smeared with the ointment; the brain of a crow or owl boiled and taken in food; a cock penned up without food for a day and a night, the sufferer fasting with him at the same time, feathers plucked from the neck, or the comb, being tied round the head; the application of a weasel reduced to ash; a twig from a kite's nest placed under the pillow; a mouse's skin burnt and the ash applied in vinegar; the little bone of a slug found between two wheel ruts, passed through gold, silver and ivory, and attached in dog skin as an amulet, a remedy that always does good to most. Applied in oil and vinegar to a fractured skull, cobweb does not come away until the wound is healed. Cobweb also stops bleeding from a razor cut, but haemorrhage from the brain is stayed by pouring into the wound the blood of goose or duck, or the grease of these birds with rose oil. The head of a snail cut off with a reed as he feeds in the morning, by preference when the moon is full, is attached in a linen cloth by a thread to the head of a sufferer from headaches, or else made into an ointment for the forehead with white wax, and an amulet attached of dog's hair in a cloth.
XXXVII. A crow's brain taken in food is said to make eyelashes grow, and also wool grease and myrrh applied with a warmed probe. We are assured that the same result is obtained by taking the ash of flies and of mouse dung in equal quantities, so that the weight of the whole amounts to half a denarius, then adding two-sixths of a denarius of antimony and applying all with wool grease; or one may use baby mice beaten up in old wine to the consistency of an anodyne salve. When inconvenient hairs in the eyelashes have been plucked out they are prevented from growing again by the gall of a hedgehog, the fluid part of a spotted lizard's eggs, the ash of a salamander, the gall of a green lizard in white wine condensed by sunshine to the consistency of honey in a copper vessel, the ash of a swallow's young added to the milky juice of tithymallus and the slime of snails.
XXXVIII. Opaqueness of the eye-lens is cured, say the Magi, by the brain of a seven-day-old puppy, the probe being inserted into the right side of the eye to treat the right eye and into the left side to treat the left eye; or by the fresh gall of the axio, a kind of owl whose feathers twitch like ears. Apollonius of Pitane preferred to treat cataract with honey and dog's gall rather than using hyena's, as he did also to treat white eye ulcers. The heads and tails of mice, reduced to ash and made into an ointment with honey, restore, they say, clearness of vision; much better the ash of a dormouse or wild mouse, or the brain of an eagle or the gall with Attic honey. The ash and fat of the shrewmouse, beaten up with antimony, is very good for watery eyeswhat antimony is I shall say when I speak of metalsthe ash of the weasel for cataract, likewise of the lizard, or the brain of the swallow. Pounded snails applied to the forehead relieve eye fluxes, either by themselves or with fine flour or with frankincense; so applied they are also good for sunstroke. To burn them alive also, and to use as ointment the ash with Cretan honey is very good for dimness of vision. For the eyes of draught animals the slough cast in spring by the asp makes with asp fat an ointment that improves their vision. To burn a viper alive in new earthenware, with addition of fennel juice up to one cyathus, and of one grain of frankincense, makes an ointment very good for cataract and dimness of vision; this prescription is called eckeon. An eye salve is also made by letting a viper rot in a jar, and pounding with saffron the grubs that breed in it. A viper is also burned in a jar with salt, to lick which gives clearness of vision, and is a tonic to the stomach and to the whole body. This salt is also given to sheep to keep them in health, and is an ingredient of an antidote to snakebite. Some use vipers as food. They prescribe that, first of all, as soon as the viper has been killed, salt should be placed in its mouth until it melts; then at both ends a length of four fingers is cut off and the intestines taken out; the rest they thoroughly boil in water, oil, salt and dill, and either eat at once, or mix in bread so that it can be used several times. In addition to what has been said above, the broth removes lice from any part of the body, as well as itching from the surface of the skin. Even by itself, the ash of a viper's head shows results; as ointment for the eyes it is very effective, and the same is true of viper's fat. I would not confidently recommend what is prescribed about a viper's gall, because, as I have pointed out in the appropriate place a serpent's poison is nothing but gall. The fat of snakes mixed with bronze rust heals ruptured parts of the eyes, and rubbing with their skin, or slough, cast in spring, gives clear vision. The gall of the boa afro is recommended for white ulcers, cataract, and dimness, and its fat similarly for clear vision.
The gall of the eagle, which, as I have said, tests its chicks for gazing at the sun, makes, when mixed with Attic honey, an ointment for film on the eyes, dimness of vision, and cataract. There is the same property also in vulture's gall with leek juice and a little honey, likewise in the gall of a cock, especially of a white cock, diluted with water and used for white specks, white ulcers, and cataract. The dung of poultry also, provided that it is red, is prescribed as an ointment for night blindness. The gall of a hen also, and in particular the fat, is recommended for pustules on the pupils, but of course hens are not fattened specially for this purpose. It is a wonderful help, combined with the stones schistos and haematites, for the coats of the eye when torn. The dung also of hens, provided it is white, is kept in old oil and horn boxes for white ulcers on the pupil; while on the subject I must mention the tradition that peacocks swallow back their own dung, begrudging men its benefits. A hawk boiled down in rose oil is thought to make a very efficacious liniment for all eye complaints, as is its dung reduced to ash and added to Attic honey. A kite's liver too is recommended, and also pigeons' dung, applied in vinegar for fistulas, similarly for white ulcers and for sears, goose's gall and duck's blood for bruised eyes, provided that afterwards they are treated with wool grease and honey; partridge gall can be used with an equal weight of honey, hut by itself for clear vision. It is on the supposed authority of Hippocrates that the further instruction is given to keep this gall in a silver box. Partridge eggs boiled down with honey in a bronze vessel cure ulcers on the eyes and opaqueness of the lens. The blood of pigeons, doves, turtle doves, or partridges, makes an excellent application for blood-shot eyes. Among pigeons, male birds are supposed to have the more efficacious blood, and a vein under a wing is cut for this purpose, because its natural heat makes it more useful. Over the application should be placed a plaster boiled in honey and greasy wool boiled in oil or wine. Night blindness is cured by the blood of the same birds and by the liver of sheep, as I said a when speaking of goats, with greater benefit if the sheep are tawny. With a decoction also of the liver it is recommended to bathe the eyes and to apply the marrow to those that are painful or swollen. We are assured that the eyes of the horned owl, reduced to ash and mixed with a salve, improves the vision. White ulcers are made better by the dung of a turtle dove, by snails reduced to ash, and by the dung of the cenchris, a bird considered by the Greeks to be a species of hawk. White specks are cured by all the above remedies applied with honey. The honey most beneficial for the eyes is that in which bees have died. He who has eaten the chick of a stork, it is said, will not suffer from ophthalmia for years on end, likewise he who carries about the head of a python. Its fat with honey and old oil is said to disperse incipient dimness. The chicks of swallows are blinded by the full moon, and when their sight is restored their heads are burnt and the ash used with honey to improve the vision and for pains, ophthalmia, and blows. Lizards too are employed in several ways for eye remedies. Some shut up a green lizard in new earthenware, and with them the pebbles called cinaedia, which are used as amulets for swellings on the groin, mark them with nine marks and take away one daily; on the ninth day they set the lizard free, but keep the pebbles for pains in the eyes. Others put earth under a green lizard after blinding it, and shut it in a glass vessel with rings of solid iron or gold. When they can see through the glass that the lizard has recovered its sight, they let it out, and use the rings for ophthalmia; others use the ash of the head instead of antimony for scabrous eyes. Some burn the green lizard with a long neck that is found in sandy places, and use it as ointment for incipient fluxes, as well as for opaqueness of the lens. They also say that when a weasel's eyes have been gouged out with a pointed tool, the sight. is restored, and they use the animal as they used the lizards and rings, saying also that a serpent's right eye worn as au amulet, is good for eye fluxes, if the serpent is set free alive. The ash of a spotted lizard's head makes with antimony an excellent remedy for continually streaming eyes. The web of a fly-spider, particularly its very lair, is said to be a marvellous cure for fluxes if laid in a plaster across the forehead from temple to temple; but it must be collected and applied by a boy before puberty, who waits three days before showing himself to the patient needing cure, during which days the latter must not touch the earth with bare feet. White ulcers also are said to be removed by the white spider with very long and very thin legs, which is pounded in old oil and used as ointment. The spider too, whose very coarse web is generally found in rafters, is said to cure fluxes if worn in cloth as an amulet. The green beetle has the property of sharpening the sight of those who gaze at it, and so the carvers of jewels gaze on one to rest their eves.
XXXIX. The ears are cleaned by sheep's gall with honey; pain is relieved by drops of bitch's milk; hardness of hearing by her fat with wormwood and old oil, also by goose grease. Some add the juice of onion and a like measure of garlic. They also use without addition ants' eggs, for this creature also has its use in medicine, and it is well known that bears when sick cure themselves by eating these eggs. The fat of geese and of all birds is prepared all the veins are taken out, and in a new earthenware pan with a lid it is melted in the sun with boiling hot water underneath, strained through linen strainers and set aside in new earthenware in a cool place; if honey is added the fat is less likely to go rancid. The ash of mice, either added to honey or boiled with rose oil, if dropped into the ears relieves pain. If some creature has crept into the ear, the sovereign remedy is mouse gall diluted with vinegar; if it is water that has got in, goose grease with the juice of an onion. A dormouse, skinned and the intestines taken out, is thoroughly boiled in honey in a new vessel. Physicians prefer it to be boiled down to one-third in nard, and so stored away, and then when needed poured into the ear in a warmed strigil. It is well ascertained that desperate ear complaints are cured by this remedy, or if a decoction of earthworms and goose grease is injected. The red worms also that are taken off trees, if pounded with oil, make excellent treatment for ulcerated or ruptured ears. Preserved lizards, with salt put into their mouths as they hang suspended, heal bruised ears that are suffering from a blow, most efficaciously those covered with spots of the colour of iron rust and also marked by streaks along the tail. The millipede, by some called centipede or multipede, is one of the earth worms; it is hairy, with many feet, moving sinuously its back as it crawls, drawing itself together when touched, and called by the Greeks oaiscos or jabs. It is said to be a good cure for ear pains if boiled down in pomegranate rind or leek juice. They add also rose oil, and pour it into the ear that is not painful. The kind however that does not move sinuously its back the Greeks call seps or scolopendra; it is smaller and very venomous. The snails that are edible are applied with myrrh or powdered frankincense, and the small, broad snails are made into an ointment with honey for fractured ears. The slough of serpents, burnt in a heated pot, is mixed with rose oil and dropped into the ears, efficacious indeed for all affections, but especially for offensive smell; if pus is present, vinegar is used, and it is better if there be added gall of goat, ox, or turtlethe slough, as some think, loses power if older than a year, or if soaked with rainthe gore of a spider on wool with rose oil, by itself, or with saffron; a cricket dug out with its earth and applied. Great efficacy is attributed to this creature by Nigidius, greater still by the Magi, just because it walks backwards, bores into the earth, and chirrups at night. They hunt it with an ant tied to a hair and put into the cricket's hole, first blowing the dust away lest it bury itself, and so when the ant has embraced it the cricket is pulled out. The lining of the crop of poultry, usually thrown away, if dried and pounded in wine, is poured warm into suppurating ears, likewise hens' fat and a kind of greasy substance coming from the black beetle if its head is pulled off. This, pounded with rose oil, is said to be wonderfully good for the ears, but the wool on which it is inserted must be taken out after a short time, for this grease very quickly turns into something alive, forming a grub. Some write that a dose of two or three of these beetles, boiled down in oil, make very good treatment for the ears, and that when these are bruised crushed beetles are placed in them in a piece of linen. This insect is one of the things that arouse disgust, but because Nature and the research of the ancients are so wonderful I must go fully into the matter here. They have made several classes of them: first the soft kind which, boiled down in oil, they found to make a good ointment for warts. The second kind they called mylvecos, because they are found commonly about mills. The instances they quoted include Musaeus the boxer, who cured leprous sores by this kind rubbed on without their heads. A third kind, one with a loathsome smell and a sharp-pronged tail-end, they say will cure, if applied with pisselaeum for twenty-one days, ulcers otherwise incurable, scrofulous sores and superficial abscesses; and without legs and wings bruises, contusions, even malignant sores, itch scab, and boils. Even to hear these remedies mentioned makes me feel sick; but, heaven help us! Diodorus says that he had given these beetles with resin and honey even in cases of jaundice and orthopnoea. So much power has the art of medicine to prescribe any medicament it may wish. The kindliest among physicians have thought that the ash of burnt black beetles should be kept for the purposes mentioned in a horn box, or that crushed they should be given in enemas to sufferers from orthopnoea or catarrh. It is a known fact at any rate that an application brings away things embedded in the flesh. The most suitable honey for the ears also is that in which bees have died. Parotid swellings are reduced by pigeon's dung either by itself or with barley meal or oatmeal, by the brain or liver of an owl, poured with oil into the ear on the side of the swelling, by a multipede with a third part of resin used as ointment, and by crickets, used as ointment or as amulets. Medicine for the remaining kinds of disease from the same animals or from animals of the same kind, I shall speak of in the next Book.