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We have already,1 when speaking of the singular peculiarities of various nations, made mention of certain men of a monstrous nature, whose gaze is endowed with powers of fascination; and we have also described properties belonging to numerous animals, which it would be superfluous here to repeat. In some men, the whole of the body is endowed with remarkable properties, as in those families, for instance, which are a terror to serpents; it being in their power to cure persons when stung, either by the touch or by a slight suction of the wound. To this class belong the Psylli, the Marsi, and the people called "Ophiogenes,"2 in the Isle of Cyprus. One Euagon, a member of this family, while attending upon a deputation at Rome, was thrown by way of experiment, by order of the consuls, into a large vessel3 filled with serpents; upon which, to the astonishment of all, they licked his body all over with their tongues. One peculiarity of this family—if indeed it is still in existence—is the strong offensive smell which proceeds from their body in the spring; their sweat, too, no less than their spittle, was possessed of remedial virtues. The people who are born at Tentyris, an island in the river Nilus, are so formidable4 to the crocodiles there, that their voice even is sufficient to put them to flight. The presence even, it is well known, of all these different races, will suffice for the cure of injuries inflicted by the animals to which they respectively have an antipathy; just in the same way that wounds are irritated by the approach of persons who have been stung by a serpent at some former time, or bitten by a dog. Such persons, too, by their presence, will cause the eggs upon which a hen is sitting to be addled, and will make pregnant cattle cast their young and miscarry; for, in fact, so much of the venom remains in their body, that, from being poisoned themselves, they become poisonous to other creatures. The proper remedy in such case is first to make them wash their hands, and then to sprinkle with the water the patient who is under medical treatment. When, again, persons have been once stung by a scorpion they will never afterwards be attacked by hornets, wasps, or bees: a fact at which a person will be the less surprised when he learns that a garment which has been worn at a funeral will never be touched by moths;5 that it is hardly possible to draw serpents from their holes except by using the left hand; and that, of the discoveries made by Pythagoras, one of the most unerring, is the fact, that in the name given to infants, an odd number of vowels is portentous of lameness, loss of eyesight, or similar accidents, on6 the right side of the body, and an even number of vowels of the like infirmities on the left.

(4.) It is said, that if a person takes a stone or other missile which has slain three living creatures, a man, a boar, and a bear, at three blows, and throws it over the roof of a house in which there is a pregnant woman, her delivery, however difficult, will be instantly accelerated thereby. In such a case, too, a successful result will be rendered all the more probable, it a light infantry lance7 is used, which has been drawn from a man's body without touching the earth; indeed, if it is brought into the house it will be productive of a similar result. In the same way, too, we find it stated in the writings of Orpheus and Archelaiis, that arrows, drawn from a human body without being allowed to touch the ground, and placed beneath the bed, will have all the effect of a philtre; and, what is even more than this, that it is a cure for epilepsy if the patient eats the flesh of it wild beast killed with an iron weapon with which a human being has been slain.

Some individuals, too, are possessed of medicinal properties in certain parts of the body; the thumb of King Pyrrhus, for instance, as already8 mentioned. At Elis, there used to be shown one of the ribs9 of Pelops, which, it was generally asserted, was made of ivory. At the present day even, there are many persons, who from religious motives will never clip the hair growing upon a mole on the face.

1 In B. vii. c. 2.

2 In B. vii. c. 2, he speaks of these people—"the serpent-born"—as natives of Parium, a town of the Hellespont. Ajasson suggests that they may have been a branch of the Thamirades, a sacerdotal family of Cyprus.

3 "Dolium."

4 See B. viii. c. 38.

5 Ajasson has thought it worth while to contradict this assertion.

6 Meaning, of course, in case such an accident should befall the party. The passage appears, however, to be corrupt.

7 "Hasta velitaris."

8 In B. vii. c. 2.

9 It is the shoulder-blade of Pelops that is generally mentioned in the ancient Mythology. Pliny omits to say of what medicinal virtues it was possessed.

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