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The Greeks themselves, in fact, have established an immense difference between these two plants, in attributing to the seed of the dracunculus certain hot, pungent properties, and a fetid odour1 so remarkably powerful as to be productive of abortion,2 while upon the aron, on the other hand, they have bestowed marvellous encomiums. As an article of food, however, they give the preference to the female plant, the male plant being of a harder nature, and more difficult to cook. It carries off,3 they say, all vicious humours from the chest, and powdered and taken in the form either of a potion or of an electuary, it acts as a diuretic and emmenagogue. Powdered and taken in oxymel, it is good for the stomach; and we find it stated that it is administered in ewe's milk for ulcerations of the intestines, and is sometimes cooked on hot ashes and given in oil for a cough. Some persons, again, are in the habit of boiling it in milk and administering the decoction; and it has been used also in a boiled state as a topical application for defluxions of the eyes, contusions, and affections of the tonsillary glands. * * *4 prescribes it with oil, as an injection for piles, and recommends it as a liniment, with honey, for freckles.

Cleophantus has greatly extolled this plant as an antidote for poisons, and for the treatment of pleurisy and peripneumony, prepared the same way as for coughs. The seed too, pounded with olive oil or oil of roses, is used as an injection for pains in the ears. Dieuches prescribes it, mixed in bread5 with meal, for the cure of coughs, asthma, hardness of breathing, and purulent expectorations. Diodotus recommends it, in combination with honey, as an electuary for phthisis and diseases of the lungs, and as a topical application even for fractured bones. Applied to the sexual parts, it facilitates delivery in all kinds of animals; and the juice extracted from the root, in combination with Attic honey, disperses films upon the eyes, and diseases of the stomach. A decoction of it with honey is curative of cough; and the juice is a marvellous remedy for ulcers of every description, whether phagedænic, carcinomatous, or serpiginous, and for polypus of the nostrils. The leaves, boiled in wine and oil, are good for burns, and, taken with salt and vinegar, are strongly purgative; boiled with honey, they are useful also for sprains, and used either fresh or dried, with salt, for gout in the joints.

Hippocrates has prescribed the leaves, either fresh or dried, with honey, as a topical application for abscesses. Two drachmæ of the seed or root, in two cyathi of wine, are a sufficient dose to act as an emmenagogue, and a similar quantity will have the effect of bringing away the after-birth, in cases where it is retarded.6 Hippocrates used to apply the root also, for the purpose. . They say too, that in times of pestilence the employment of aron as an article of food is very beneficial. It dispels the fumes of wine; and the smoke of it burnt drives away serpents,7 the asp in particular, or else stupefies them to such a degree as to reduce them to a state of torpor. These reptiles also will fly at the approach of persons whose bodies have been rubbed with a preparation of aron with oil of laurel: hence it is generally thought a good plan to administer it in red wine to persons who have been stung by serpents. Cheese, it is said, keeps remarkably well, wrapped in leaves of this plant.

1 "Virus." Fée says that the Arum dracunculus has a strong, fetid odour, and all parts of it are acrid and caustic, while the Arum colocasia has an agreeable flavour when boiled.

2 This, Fée says, is fabulous.

3 Though no longer used in medicine, the account here given of the properties of the Arum colocasia is in general correct, a few marvellous details excepted.

4 Sillig thinks that there is a lacuna here, and that the name "Cleophantus" should be supplied.

5 Fée thinks that, thus employed, it would be more injurious than beneficial. Though Pliny is treating here of the Arum colocasia or Egyptian Arum, he has mingled some few details with it, relative to the Arum dracunculus, a plant endowed with much more energetic properties. See Note 57 above.

6 See B. viii. c. 54, as to the use alleged to be made by animals of this plant.

7 Fée says that this is very doubtful.

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