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Of the phalangium,1 an insect unknown to Italy, there are numerous kinds; one of which resembles the ant, but is much larger, with a red head, black as to the other parts of the body, and covered with white spots. Its sting is much more acute than that of the wasp, and it lives mostly in the vicinity of ovens and mills. The proper remedy is, to present before the eyes of the person stung another insect of the same description, a purpose for which they are preserved when found dead. Their husks also, found in a dry state, are beaten up and taken in drink for a similar purpose. The young of the weasel, too, as already2 stated, are possessed of a similar property. The Greeks give the name of "phalangion" also to a kind of spider, but they generally distinguish it by the surname of the "wolf."3 A third kind, also known as the "phalangium," is a spider with a hairy4 body, and a head of enormous size. When opened, there are found in it two small worms, they say: these, attached in a piece of deer's skin, before sunrise, to a woman's body, will prevent conception, according to what Cæcilius, in his Commentaries, says. This property lasts, however, for a year only; and, indeed, it is the only one of all the anti-conceptives5 that I feel myself at liberty to mention, in favour of some women whose fecundity, quite teeming with children,6 stands in need of some such respite.

There is another kind again, called "rhagion,"7 similar to a black grape in appearance, with a very diminutive mouth, situate beneath the abdomen, and extremely short legs, which have all the appearance of not being fully developed. The bite of this last insect causes fully as much pain as the sting of the scorpion, and the urine of persons who are injured by it, presents filmy appearances like cobwebs. The asterion8 would be identical with it, were it not distinguished by white streaks upon the body: its bite causes failing in the knees. But worse than either of these last, is a blue spider, covered with black hair, and causing dimness of the sight and vomiting of a matter like cobwebs in appearance. A still more dangerous kind is one which differs only from the hornet, in form, in being destitute of wings, and the bite of which causes a wasting away of the system. The myrmecion9 in the head resembles the ant, has a black body spotted with white, and causes by its bite a pain like that attendant upon the sting of the wasp. Of the tetragnathius10 there are two varieties, the more noxious of which has two white streaks crossing each other on the middle of the head; its bite causes the mouth to swell. The other one is of an ashy colour, whitish on the posterior part of the body, and not so ready to bite.

The least noxious of all is the spider that is seen extending its web along the walls, and lying in wait for flies; it is of the same ashy colour as the last.

For the bite of all spiders, the best remedies are: a cock's brains, taken in oxycrate with a little pepper; five ants, swallowed in drink; sheep's dung, applied in vinegar; and spiders of any kind, left to putrefy in oil. The bite of the shrewmouse is cured by taking lamb's rennet in wine; the ashes of a ram's foot with honey; or a young weasel, prepared in manner already11 mentioned by us when speaking of serpents. In cases where a shrewmouse has bitten beasts of burden, a mouse,. fresh caught, is applied to the wound with oil, or a bat's gall with vinegar. The shrew-mouse itself too, split asunder and applied to the wound, is a cure for its bite; indeed, if the animal is with young when the injury is inflicted, it will instantly burst asunder. The best plan is to apply the mouse itself which has inflicted the bite, but others are commonly kept for this purpose, either steeped in oil or coated with clay. Another remedy, again, for its bite is the earth taken from the rut made by a cart-wheel; for this animal, it is said, owing to a certain torpor which is natural to it, will never cross12 a rut made by a wheel.

1 A sort of spider. See B. xi. cc. 21, 28, 29.

2 In c. 16 of this Book.

3 "Lupus." See B. xi. c. 28.

4 The Tarantula has been suggested, but that is a native of Italy.

5 "Atocium."

6 "Plena liberis."

7 From ᾿ράξ,, a "grape."

8 Or "starred" spider. Nicander describes all these varieties of the Phalangium.

9 From μυρμὴξ, "an ant."

10 The "four-jawed" spider.

11 In c. 16 of this Book.

12 See B. viii. c. 83.

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