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Over and above these particulars, there is no limit to the marvellous powers attributed to females. For, in the first place, hailstorms, they say, whirlwinds, and lightning1 even, will be scared away by a woman uncovering her body while her monthly courses are upon her. The same, too, with all other kinds of tempestuous weather; and out at sea, a storm may be lulled by a woman uncovering her body merely, even though not menstruating at the time. As to the menstrual discharge itself, a thing that in other respects, as2 already stated on a more appropriate occasion, is productive of the most monstrous effects, there are some ravings about it of a most dreadful and unutterable nature. Of these particulars, however, I do not feel so much shocked at mentioning the following. If the menstrual discharge coincides with an eclipse of the moon or sun, the evils resulting from it are irremediable; and no less so, when it happens while the moon is in conjunction with the sun; the congress with a woman at such a period being noxious, and attended with fatal effects to the man. At this period also, the lustre of purple is tarnished by the touch of a woman: so much more baneful is her influence at this time than at any other. At any other time, also, if a woman strips herself naked while she is menstruating, and walks round a field of wheat, the caterpillars, worms, beetles, and other vermin, will fall from off the ears of corn. Metrodorus of Scepsos tells us that this discovery was first made in Cappadocia; and that, in consequence of such multitudes of can- tharides being found to breed there, it is the practice for women to walk through the middle of the fields with their garments tucked up above the thighs.3 In other places, again, it is the usage for women to go barefoot, with the hair dishevelled and the girdle loose: due precaution must be taken, however, that this is not done at sun-rise, for if so, the crop will wither and dry up. Young vines, too, it is said, are injured irremediably by the touch of a woman in this state; and both rue and ivy, plants possessed of highly medicinal virtues, will die instantly upon being touched by her.

Much as I have already stated on the virulent effects of this discharge, I have to state, in addition, that bees, it is a well-known fact, will forsake their hives if touched by a menstruous woman; that linen boiling in the cauldron will turn black, that the edge of a razor will become blunted, and that copper vessels will contract a fetid smell and become covered with verdigrease, on coming in contact with her. A mare big with foal, if touched by a woman in this state, will be sure to miscarry; nay, even more than this, at the very sight of a woman, though seen at a distance even, should she happen to be menstruating for the first time after the loss of her virginity, or for the first time, while in a state of virginity. The bitumen4 that is found in Judæa, will yield to nothing but the menstrual discharge; its tenacity being overcome, as already stated, by the agency of a thread from a garment which has been brought in contact with this fluid. Fire itself even, an element which triumphs over every other substance, is unable to conquer this; for if reduced to ashes and then sprinkled upon garments when about to be scoured, it will change their purple tint, and tarnish the brightness of the colours. Indeed so pernicious are its properties, that women themselves, the source from which it is derived, are far from being proof against its effects; a pregnant woman, for instance, if touched with it, or indeed if she so much as steps over it, will be liable to miscarry.

Laïs and Elephant is5 have given statements quite at variance, on the subject of abortives; they mention the efficacy for that purpose of charcoal of cabbage root, myrtle root, or tamarisk root, quenched in the menstrual discharge; they say that she-asses will be barren for as many years as they have eaten barley-corns steeped in this fluid; and they have enumerated various other monstrous and irreconcileable properties, the one telling us, for instance, that fruitfulness may be ensured by the very same methods, which, according to the statement of the other, are productive of barrenness; to all which stories it is the best plan to refuse credit altogether. Bithus of Dyrrhachium informs us that a mirror,6 which has been tarnished by the gaze of a menstruous female, will recover its brightness if the same woman looks steadily upon the back of it; he states, also, that all evil influences of this nature will be entirely neutralized, if the woman carries the fish known as the sur mullet about her person.

On the other hand, again, many writers say that, baneful as it is, there are certain remedial properties in this fluid; that it is a good plan, for instance, to use it as a topical application for gout, and that women, while menstruating, can give relief by touching scrofulous sores and imposthumes of the parotid glands, inflamed tumours, erysipelas, boils, and defluxions of the eyes. According to Laïs and Salpe, the bite of a mad (log, as well as tertian or quartan fevers, may be cured by putting some menstruous blood in the wool of a black ram and enclosing it in a silver bracelet; and we learn from Diotimus of Thebes that the smallest portion will suffice of any kind of cloth that has been stained therewith, a thread even, if inserted and worn in a bracelet. The midwife Sotira informs us that the most efficient cure for tertian and quartan fevers is to rub the soles of the patient's feet therewith, the result being still more successful if the operation is performed by the woman herself, without the patient being aware of it; she says, too, that this is an excellent method for reviving persons when attacked with epilepsy.

Icetidas the physician pledges his word that quartan fever may be cured by sexual intercourse, provided the woman is just beginning to menstruate. It is universally agreed, too, that when a person has been bitten by a dog and manifests a dread of water and of all kinds of drink, it will be quite sufficient to put under his clip a strip of cloth that has been dipped in this fluid; the result being that the hydrophobia will immediately disappear. This arises, no doubt, from that powerful sympathy which has been so much spoken of by the Greeks, and the existence of which is proved by the fact,7 already mentioned, that dogs become mad upon tasting this fluid. It is a well- known fact, too, that the menstruous discharge, reduced to ashes, and applied with furnace soot and wax, is a cure for ulcers upon all kinds of beasts of burden; and that stains made upon a garment with it can only be removed by the agency of the urine of the same female. Equally certain it is, too, that this fluid, reduced to ashes and mixed with oil of roses, is very useful, applied to the forehead, for allaying head-ache, in women more particularly; as also that the nature of the discharge is most virulent in females whose virginity has been destroyed solely by the lapse of time.

Another thing universally acknowledged and one which I am ready to believe with the greatest pleasure, is the fact, that if the door-posts are only touched with the menstruous fluid all spells of the magicians will be neutralized—a set of men the most lying in existence, as any one may ascertain. I will give an example of one of the most reasonable of their prescriptions—Take the parings of the toe-nails and finger-nails of a sick person, and mix them up with wax, the party saying that he is seeking a remedy for a tertian, quartan, or quotidian fever, as the case may be; then stick this wax, before sunrise, upon the door of another person—such is the prescription they give for these diseases! What deceitful persons they must be if there is no truth in it! And how highly criminal, if they really do thus transfer diseases from one person to another! Some of them, again, whose practices are of a less guilty nature, recommend that the parings of all the finger-nails should be thrown at the entrance of ant-holes, the first ant to be taken which attempts to draw one into the hole; this, they say, must be attached to the neck of the patient, and he will experience a speedy cure.

1 The mention of lightning here, Hardouin seems to look upon as an interpolation.

2 In B. vii. c. 13.

3 Columella describes this practice in verse, in B. x., and in B. xi. c. 3. Ælian also mentions it.

4 See B. vii. c. 13. Tacitus tells the same wonderful story.

5 See the end of this Book.

6 See B. vii. c. 13.

7 See B, vii. c. 13.

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