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This curse was unknown to the ancients,1 and in the times of our fathers even, having first entered Italy in the middle of the reign of the Emperor Tiberius2 Claudius Cæsar; where it was introduced from Asia,3 in which country it had lately made4 its appearance, by a member of the equestrian order at Rome, a native of Perusiun, secretary to the quæstor. The disease, however, did not attack either females or slaves,5 nor yet the lower orders, or, indeed, the middle classes, but only the nobles, being communicated even by the momentary contact requisite for the act of salutation.6 Many of those who persevered in undergoing a course of remedial treatment, though cured of the disease, retained scars upon the body more hideous even than the malady itself; it being treated with cauteries, as it was certain to break out afresh, unless means were adopted for burning it out of the body by cauterizing to the very bone.

Upon this occasion several physicians repaired to Rome from Egypt, that fruitful parent of maladies of this nature, men who devoted themselves solely to this branch of medical practice; and very considerable were the profits they made. At all events, it is a well-known fact that Manilius Cornutus, a personage of prætorian rank, and legatus of the province of Aquitania, expended no less a sum than two hundred thousand7 sesterces upon his cure.

It is much more frequently, on the other hand, that we hear of new forms of diseases attacking the lower orders; a singular fact, and one quite unequalled for the marvellous phænomena which sometimes attend these outbreaks. Thus, for instance, we find an epidemic suddenly making its appearance in a certain country, and then confining itself, as though it had made its election so to do, to certain parts of the body, certain ages, and even certain pursuits in life. In the same way, too, while one class of diseases attacks the young, another confines itself to adults; while one malady extends itself only to the higher classes, another is felt exclusively by the poor.

1 Meaning the people of Italy.

2 It is somewhat difficult to say whether Tiberius, the predecessor, or Claudius, the successor of Caligula, is meant; most probably the latter, as the former's reign would have been in the times of "our fathers."

3 Asia Minor.

4 "Cum apparuisset." He is probably wrong here, for leprosy was known in Asia from the very earliest times.

5 This assertion as to the slaves and lower orders is somewhat doubtful, though it is very possible that the diet and habits of the higher orders may have predisposed them more particularly for the attacks of the diseases.

6 "Osculi," "kissing;" a nauseous and silly practice, still adhered to, between bearded men even, in many parts of Europe.

7 Upwards of £1500.

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