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The application of a viper's head, even if it be not the one that has inflicted the wound, is of infinite utility as a remedy. It is highly advantageous, too, to hold the viper that inflicted the injury on the end of a stick, over the steam of boiling water, for it will quite undo1 the mischief, they say. The ashes, also, of the viper, are considered very useful, employed as a liniment for the wound. According to what Nigidius tells us, serpents are compelled, by a sort of natural instinct, to return to the person who has been stung by them. The people of Scythia split the viper's head between the ears, in order to extract a small stone,2 which it swallows in its alarm, they say: others, again, use the head entire.

From the viper are prepared those tablets which are known as "theriaci"3 to the Greeks: for this purpose the animal is cut away three fingers' length from both the head and the tail, after which the intestines are removed and the livid vein adhering to the back-bone. The rest of the body is then boiled in a shallow pan, in water seasoned with dill, and the bones are taken out, and fine wheaten flour added; after which the preparation is made up into tablets,4 which are dried in the shade and are employed as an ingredient in numerous medicaments. I should remark, however, that this preparation, it would appear, can only be made from the viper. Some persons, after cleansing the viper in manner above described, boil down the fat, with one sextarius of olive oil, to one half. Of this preparation, when needed, three drops are added to some oil, with which mixture the body is rubbed, to repel the approach of all kinds of noxious animals.

1 This is perhaps the meaning of "præcanere." Sillig suggests "recanere."

2 Which was said to act as an antidote to the poison, applied to the wound.

3 "Antidotes to serpents' poison."

4 "Pastilli."

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