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The milky juice of the fig-tree possesses kindred properties with vinegar;1 hence it is, that, like rennet, it curdles milk. This juice is collected before the fruit ripens, and dried in the shade; being used with yolk of egg as a liniment, or else in drink, with amylum,2 to bring ulcers to a head and break them, and for the purposes of an emmenagogue. With meal of fenugreek and vinegar, it is applied topically for gout; it acts also as a depilatory,3 heals eruptions of the eyelids, lichens and itch-scabs, and relaxes the bowels. The milk of the fig-tree is naturally curative of the stings of hornets, wasps, and similar insects, and is remarkably useful for wounds inflicted by scorpions. Mixed with axle-grease it removes warts. With the leaves and figs still green an application is made for scrofulous4 and other sores of a nature which requires emollients or resolvents. The leaves, too, used by themselves, are productive of a similar effect. In addition to this, they are employed for other purposes, as a friction for lichens, for example, for alopecy, and other diseases which require caustic applications. The young shoots of the branches are used as an application to the skin in cases of bites inflicted by dogs. With honey they are applied to the ulcers known as honeycomb ulcers;5 mixed with the leaves of wild poppies they extract6 splinters of bones; and the leaves beaten up in vinegar are a cure for bites inflicted by dogs. The young white shoots of the black7 fig are applied topically, with wax, to boils, and bites inflicted by the shrew-mouse: and the ashes of their leaves are used for the cure of gangrenes and the reduction of fleshy excrescences.

Ripe figs are diuretic and laxative; they promote the perspiration, and bring out pimples; hence it is that they are unwholesome in autumn, the perspirations which they excite being always attended with shivering. They are injurious also to the stomach, though for a short time only; and it is generally thought that they spoil the voice. The figs which are the last to ripen are more wholesome than the first, but those which are drugged8 for the purpose of ripening them are never wholesome. This fruit invigorates the young, and improves the health of the aged and retards the formation of wrinkles; it allays thirst, and is of a cooling nature, for which reason it should never be declined in those fevers of an astringent tendency which are known as "stegnæ."

Dried figs are injurious to the stomach,9 but are beneficial in a marvellous degree to the throat and fauces. They are of a warming nature, are productive of thirst, and relax the bowels, but are unwholesome in stomachic complaints and fluxes of the bowels. In all cases they are beneficial for the bladder, hard- ness of breathing, and asthma, as also for diseases of the liver, kidneys, and spleen. They are nourishing and invigorating, for which reason, the athletes in former times used them as food: Pythagoras, the gymnast, being the first who intro- duced among them a flesh diet.10 Figs are extremely useful for patients recovering from a long illness, and for persons suffering from epilepsy or dropsy. They are applied topically also in all cases where sores require to be brought to a head, or dispersed; and they are still more efficacious when mixed with lime or nitre. Boiled with hyssop they act as a purgative on the pectoral organs, carry off the phlegm, and cure inveterate coughs: boiled with wine they heal maladies of the fundament, and tumours of the jaws. A decoction of them is applied also to boils, inflamed tumours, and imposthumes of the parotid glands. This decoction, too, is found very useful as a fomentation for disorders incident to females.

Boiled with fenugreek,11 figs are very useful in cases of pleurisy and peripneumony. A decoction of them with rue is good for griping pains in the bowels; in combination with verdigris,12 they are used for ulcers of the legs and imposthumes of the parotid glands; with pomegranates, for hang- nails;13 and with wax, for burns and chilblains. Boiled in wine, with wormwood and barley-meal, they are employed for dropsy. Eaten with nitre, they relax the bowels; and beaten up with salt they are applied to stings inflicted by scorpions. Boiled in wine, and applied topically, they bring carbuncles to a head. In cases of carcinoma, unattended with ulceration, it is a singularly good plan to apply to the part the pulpiest fig that can be procured; the same, too, with phagedænic sores.

As to the ashes of the fig, those of no tree known are of a more acrid character,14 being of a detergent and astringent nature, and tending to make new flesh and to promote the cicatrization of wounds. They are also taken in drink, for the purpose of dissolving coagulated blood, as also for bruises, falls with violence, ruptures, convulsions * * * * in one cyathus respectively of water and oil. They are administered also for tetanus and spasms, and are used either in a potion, or as an injection for cœliac affections and dysentery. Employed as a liniment with oil, they have a warming effect; and kneaded into a paste with wax and rose-oil, they heal burns, leaving the slightest scar only. Applied in oil, as a liniment, they are a cure for weakness of sight, and are used as a dentifrice in diseases of the teeth.

It is said, too, that if a patient draws downward a branch of a fig-tree, and turns up his head and bites off some knot or other of it, without being seen by any one, and then wears it in a leather bag suspended by a string from his neck, it is a certain cure for scrofulous sores and imposthumes of the parotid glands. The bark of this tree, beaten up with oil, cures ulcerations of the abdomen. Green figs, applied raw, with the addition of nitre and meal, remove warts and wens.15

The ashes of the suckers which spring from the roots are used as a substitute for spodium.16 Burnt over a second time and incorporated with white lead, they are divided into cakes which are used for the cure of ulcerations of the eyes and eruptions.

1 In reality it has no affinity with vinegar or any other acid, and the fact that it curdles milk is no proof whatever that such is the case.

2 See B. xviii. c. 17.

3 Being of a caustic nature, it might have this effect, Fée thinks. It is, however, no longer employed in medicine. He is also of opinion that the juice of the fig-tree might be useful in making cheese.

4 Here, also, the caustic nature of their juices might render them useful.

5 "Ceria:" now known in surgery as "favus."

6 This and the next statement are equally untrue.

7 See B. xv. c. 19.

8 "Medicatæ" See B. xvi. c. 51.

9 They produce heart-burn and flatulency.

10 "Ad carnes eos transtulit." Dalechamps takes this to mean "showed them that the flesh was increased by eating figs." This Pythagoras was probably the Samian pugilist who gained a victory in Ol. 48.

11 This herb is rich in mucilage, and of a soothing nature.

12 "Æris fore."

13 "Pterygiis."

14 This is the case, as they are remarkably rich in alkaline salts. The assertion, however, as to their properties, is, as Fée says, hypothetical.

15 "Thymos."

16 Metallic ashes, or dross. See B. xxxiv. c. 52.

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    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), ATHLE´TAE
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