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The perdicium or parthenium1—for2 the sideritis is, in reality, a different plant—is known to the people of our country as the herb urceolaris,3 and to some persons as the "astercum." The leaf of it is similar to that of ocimum, but darker, and it is found growing on tiled roofs and walls. Beaten up with a sprinkling of salt, it has all the medicinal properties of the lamium,4 and is used in a similar manner. The juice of it, taken warm, is good, too, for suppurated abscesses; but for the cure of convulsions, ruptures, bruises, and the effects of falls from a height, or of the overturning of vehicles, it is possessed of singular virtues.

A slave, who was held in high esteem by Pericles,5 the ruler of the Athenians, being engaged upon the buildings of a temple in the citadel, while creeping along the top of the roof, happened to fall; from the effects of which he was relieved, it is said, by this plant, the virtues whereof had been disclosed to Pericles by Minerva in a dream. Hence it is that it was first called "parthenium,"6 and was consecrated to that goddess. It is this slave of whom there is a famous statue in molten bronze, well known as the Splanchnoptes.7

1 The Parthenium of Celsus, mentioned by Pliny in B. xxi. 104, is not identical with this Perdicium (though there also he gives it that name), but is the Matricaria Parthenium of Linnæus, a different plant. See Notes to C. 19.

2 In reference to what was said at the beginning of the preceding Chapter.

3 Or "pitcher plant."

4 See c. 16 of this Book.

5 Plutarch, in his life of Pericles, tells the same story about the slave, but does not speak of the appearance of Minerva. He relates a story, however, of her appearance to Sylla, pointing out a spot near the Acropolis, where the Parthenium grew.

6 Or "Virgin" plant, Minerva being called "Parthenos," the "virgin."

7 One who "cooks entrails." See B. xxxiv. cc. 19 and 31.

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