previous next


The sonchos,1 too, is edible—at least, it was this that, according to Callimachus, Hecale2 set before Theseus. There are two kinds, the white3 and the black:4 they are, both of them, similar to the lettuce, except that they are prickly, with a stem a cubit in height, angular, and hollow within; when broken, the stem gives out an abundance of milky juice. The white kind, which derives its colour from the milk it contains, is good for hardness of breathing, if eaten dressed with seasoning like the lettuce. Erasistratus says that it carries off calculi by the urine, and that, chewed, it is a corrective of bad breath. The juice of it, taken warm in doses of three cyathi, with white wine and oil, facilitates delivery, but the patient must be careful to walk about immediately after drinking it: it is also given in broth.

A decoction of the stalk renders the milk more abundant in nursing women, and improves the complexion of the infants suckled by them; it is also remarkably beneficial for females when the milk coagulates. The juice of it is used as an injection for the ears, and is taken warm in doses of one cyathus, for strangury, as also for gnawing pains of the stomach, with cucumber seed and pine nuts. It is employed topically for abscesses of the rectum, and is taken in drink for the stings of serpents and scorpions, the root also being applied to the wounds. The root, boiled in oil, with the rind of a pomegranate, is a remedy for diseases of the ears—all these remedies, however, be it remembered, are derived from the white kind.

As to the black sonchos, Cleemporus forbids it to be eaten, as being productive of diseases, but at the same time he approves of the use of the white. Agathocles, however, goes so far as to assert that the juice of the black kind is an antidote for poisoning by bulls' blood; and, indeed, it is generally agreed that the black sonchos has certain refreshing properties; for which reason cataplasms of it may be advantageously applied with polenta. Zeno recommends the root of the white kind for strangury.

1 The Sonchus oleraceus of Linnæus, the common sow-thistle.

2 A poor old woman, who hospitably entertained Theseus when on his expedition for the purpose of slaying the Marathonian bull. Theseus instituted a sacrifice at Athens in honour of her. See Ovid, Remed. Am. 1. 747, and Callim. Fragm. 40.

3 The Sonchus arvensis of Linnæus, the field sow-thistle.

4 The Sonchus oleraceus as per of Linnæus, the prickly-leafed sow-thistle. These plants are eaten as a salad in some countries. They possess but little energy in a medicinal point of view, but they are cooling and slightly laxative. The marvels here related by Pliny, Fée says, are entirely fabulous.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Latin (Karl Friedrich Theodor Mayhoff, 1906)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

hide References (6 total)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: