Page:Horse shoes and horse shoeing.djvu/77

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only, so that it might be soft for the horses when resting, and hard for their hoofs when standing.[1]

Publius Vegetius Renatus (A.D. 450—510?)[2], a veterinarian, has left us the most complete treatise on veterinary medicine of any ancient writer. He describes more fully than any other Roman hippiatrist the maladies and accidents to which horses where liable in his day; and though he speaks of contracted tendons, horses and mules walking on the fronts of their hoofs, and the casualties these animals are exposed to, as well as the method of curing them, yet he says nothing of shoeing (in a modern sense), either as producing disease or injuries, or as a means of remedying these.

When treating of the hoofs and the feet generally, however, it is plainly intimated that such a practice as nailing on iron plates was not available in his age. He

  1. Scrip. Rer. Rustic, edit. Schneider, vol. iii.
  2. There is much uncertainty with regard to the period in which Vegetius lived. Nothing whatever is known of him, and his writings alone offer evidence as to the date about which they were composed. Eichenfeld thinks he lived in the second century, and Sprengel, in his History of Medicine, carries him forward to the twelfth century, while others have placed him at various periods between these two extremes. A recent writer, M. Megnin (Recueil de Méd. Vétérinaire, 1867, p. 803), gives what is termed a mathematical demonstration that Vegetius knew the art of horse-shoeing, and that he lived and composed his work in A.D. 945. He partly founds his demonstration on Lebeau's ‘Histoire du Bas-Empire,’ in the chapter in which reference to Constantine VII. is made. According to M. Megnin, the reason why Vegetius did not speak of shoeing, was because he did not wish to do so (c'est qu'il n'a pas voulus et qu'il la connaissait parfaitement). For lack of better evidence than is here adduced, I think it will be preferable to follow Heusinger, and retain the date I have given above. Niebuhr (Merobaudes, p. 12) found at St Gallen some short fragments of a very old codex, (palimpseste) which were ascribed to Vegetius, and supposed to