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The breath of the lion is fetid, and that of the bear quite pestilential; indeed, no beast will touch anything with which its breath has come in contact, and substances which it has breathed upon will become putrid sooner than others. It is in man only that Nature has willed that the breath should become tainted in several ways, either through faultiness in the victuals or the teeth, or else, as is more generally the case, through extreme old age. Our breath in itself was insensible to all pain, utterly devoid as it was of all powers of touch and feeling, without which there can be no sensation; ever renewed, it was always forthcoming, destined to be the last adjunct that shall leave the body, and the only one to remain when all is gone beside; it drew, in fine, its origin from heaven. In spite of all this, however, certain penalties were discovered to be inflicted upon it, so that the very substance by the aid of which we live might become a torment to us in life. This inconvenience is more particularly experienced among the Parthians, from their youth upwards, on account of the indiscriminate use of food among them; and, indeed, their very excess in wine causes their breath to be fetid. The grandees, however, of that nation have a remedy for bad breath in the pips of the Assyrian citron,1 which they mix with their food, and the aroma of which is particularly agreeable. The breath of the elephant will attract serpents from their holes, while that of the stag scorches them. We have already made mention2 of certain races of men who could by suction extract from the body the venom of serpents; and swine will even eat serpents,3 which to other animals are poisonous. All those creatures which we have spoken of as insects, can be killed by merely sprinkling them with oil.4 Vultures, which are put to flight by unguents, are attracted by other odours: the beetle, too, is attracted by the rose. The scorpion puts to death certain serpents. The Scythians dip their arrows in the poison of serpents and human blood: against this frightful composition there is no remedy, for with the slightest touch it is productive of instant death.

1 See B. xii. c. 7.

2 B. vii. c. 2.

3 See B. xxix. c. 23.

4 See c. 21 of the present Book.

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