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According to what the magicians say, glaucoma1 may be cured by using the brains of a puppy seven days old; the probe being inserted in the right side [of the eye], if it is the right eye that is being operated on, and in the left side, if it is the left. The fresh gall, too, of the asio2 is used, a bird belonging to the owlet tribe, with feathers standing erect like ears. Apollonius of Pitanæ used to prefer dog's gall, in combination with honey, to that of the hyæna, for the cure of cataract, as also of albugo. The heads and tails of mice, reduced to ashes and applied to the eyes, improve the sight, it is said; a result which is ensured with even greater certainty by using the ashes of a dormouse or wild mouse, or else the brains or gall of an eagle. The ashes and fat of a field-mouse, beaten up with Attic honey and antimony, are remarkably useful for watery eyes—what this antimony3 is, we shall have occasion to say when speaking of metals.

For the cure of cataract, the ashes of a weasel are used, as also the brains of a lizard or swallow. Weasels, boiled and pounded, and so applied to the forehead, allay defluxions of the eyes, either used alone, or else with fine flour or with frankincense. Employed in a similar manner, they are very good for sun-stroke, or in other words, for injuries inflicted by the sun. It is a remarkably good plan, too, to burn these animals alive, and to use their ashes, with Cretan honey, as a liniment for films upon the eyes. The cast-off4 slough of the asp, with the fat of that reptile, forms an excellent ointment for improving the sight in beasts of burden. To burn a viper alive in a new earthen vessel, with one cyathus of fennel juice, and a single grain of frankincense, and then to anoint the eyes with the mixture, is remarkably good for cataract and films upon the eyes; the preparation being generally known as "echeon."5 An eye-salve, too, is prepared, by leaving a viper to putrefy in an earthen pot, and bruising the maggots that breed in it with saffron. A viper, too, is burnt in a vessel with salt, and the preparation is applied to the tip of the tongue, to improve the eyesight, and to act generally as a corrective of the stomach and other parts of the body. This salt is given also to sheep, to preserve them in health, and is used as an ingredient in antidotes to the venom of serpents.

Some persons, again, use vipers as an article of food: when this is done, it is recommended, the moment they are killed, to put some salt in the mouth and let it melt there; after which, the body must be cut away to the length of four fingers at each extremity, and, the intestines being first removed, the remainder boiled in a mixture of water, oil, salt, and dill. When thus prepared, they are either eaten at once, or else kneaded in a loaf, and taken from time to time as wanted. In addition to the above-mentioned properties, viper-broth cleanses all parts of the body of lice,6 and removes itching sensations as well upon the surface of the skin. The ashes, also, of a viper's head, used by themselves, are evidently productive of considerable effects; they are employed very advantageously in the form of a liniment for the eyes; and so, too, is viper's fat. I would not make so bold as to advise what is strongly recommended by some, the use, namely, of vipers' gall; for that, as already stated7 on a more appropriate occasion, is nothing else but the venom of the serpent. The fat of snakes, mixed with verdigrease,8 heals ruptures of the cuticle of the eyes; and the skin or slough that is cast off in spring, employed as a friction for the eyes, improves the sight. The gall of the boa9 is highly vaunted for the cure of albugo, cataract, and films upon the eyes, and the fat is thought to improve the sight.

The gall of the eagle, which tests its young, as already stated,10 by making them look upon the sun, forms, with Attic honey, an eye-salve which is very good for the cure of webs, films, and cataracts of the eye. A vulture's gall, too, mixed with leek-juice and a little honey, is possessed of similar properties; and the gall of a cock, dissolved in water, is employed for the cure of argema and albugo: the gall, too, of a white cock, in particular, is recommended for cataract. For shortsighted persons, the dung of poultry is recommended as a liniment, care being taken to use that of a reddish colour only. A hen's gall, too, is highly spoken of, and the fat in particular, for the cure of pustules upon the pupils, a purpose for which hens are expressly fattened. This last substance is marvellously useful for ruptures of the coats of the eyes, incorporated with the stones known as schistos11 and hæmatites. Hens' dung, too, but only the white part of it, is kept with old oil in boxes made of horn, for the cure of white specks upon the pupil of the eye. While mentioning this subject, it is worthy of remark, that peacocks12 swallow their dung, it is said, as though they envied man the various uses of it. A hawk, boiled in oil of roses, is considered extremely efficacious as a liniment for all affections of the eyes, and so are the ashes of its dung, mixed with Attic honey. A kite's liver, too, is highly esteemed; and pigeons' dung, diluted with vinegar, is used as an application for fistulas of the eye, as also for albugo and marks upon that organ. Goose gall and duck's blood are very useful for contusions of the eyes, care being taken, immediately after the application, to anoint them with a mixture of woolgrease and honey. In similar cases, too, gall of partridges is used, with an equal quantity of honey; but where it is only wanted to improve the sight, the gall is used alone. It is generally thought, too, upon the authority of Hippocrates,13 that the gall to be used for these purposes should be kept in a silver box.

Partridges' eggs, boiled in a copper vessel, with honey, are curative of ulcers of the eyes, and of glaucoma. For the treatment of blood-shot eyes, the blood of pigeons, ring-doves, turtle-doves, and partridges is remarkably useful; but that of the male pigeon is generally looked upon as the most efficacious. For this purpose, a vein is opened beneath the wing, it being warmer than the rest of the blood, and consequently more14 beneficial. After it is applied, a compress, boiled in honey, should be laid upon it, and some greasy wool, boiled in oil and wine. Nyctalopy,15 too, is cured by using the blood of these birds, or the liver of a sheep—the most efficacious being that of a tawny sheep—as already16 stated by us when speaking of goats. A decoction, too, of the liver is recommended as a wash for the eyes, and, for pains and swellings in those organs, the marrow, used as a liniment. The eyes of a horned owl, it is strongly asserted, reduced to ashes and mixed in an eye-salve, will improve the sight. Albugo is made to disappear by using the dung of turtle-doves, snails burnt to ashes, and the dung of the cenchris, a kind of hawk, according to the Greeks.17 All the substances above mentioned, used in combination with honey, are curative of argema: honey, too, in which the bees have died, is remarkably good for the eyes.

A person who has eaten the young of the stork will never suffer from ophthalmia for many years to come, it is said; and the same when a person carries about him the head of a dragon:18 it is stated, too, that the fat of this last-named animal, applied with honey and old oil, will disperse incipient films of the eyes. The young of the swallow are blinded at full moon, and the moment their sight is restored,19 their heads are burnt, and the ashes are employed, with honey, to improve the sight, and for the cure of pains, ophthalmia, and contusions of the eyes.

Lizards, also, are employed in numerous ways as a remedy for diseases of the eyes. Some persons enclose a green lizard in a new earthen vessel, together with nine of the small stones known as "cinædia,"20 which are usually attached to the body for tumours in the groin. Upon each of these stones they make nine21 marks, and remove one from the vessel daily, taking care, when the ninth day is come, to let the lizard go, the stones being kept as a remedy for affections of the eyes. Others, again, blind a green lizard, and after putting some earth beneath it, enclose it in a glass vessel, with some small rings of solid iron or gold. When they find, by looking through the glass, that the lizard has recovered its sight,22 they set it at liberty, and keep the rings as a preservative against ophthalmia. Others employ the ashes of a lizard's head as a substitute for antimony, for the treatment of eruptions of the eyes. Some recommend the ashes of the green lizard with a long neck that is usually found in sandy soils, as an application for incipient defluxions of the eyes, and for glaucoma. They say, too, that if the eyes of a weasel are extracted with a pointed instrument, its sight will return; the same use being made of it as of the lizards and rings above mentioned. The right eye of a serpent, worn as an amulet, is very good, it is said, for defluxions of the eyes, due care being taken to set the serpent at liberty after extracting the eye. For continuous watering23 of the eyes, the ashes of a spotted lizard's head, applied with antimony, are remarkably efficacious.

The cobweb of the common fly-spider, that which lines its hole more particularly, applied to the forehead across the temples, in a compress of some kind or other, is said to be marvellously useful for the cure of defluxions of the eyes: the web must be taken, however, and applied by the hands of a boy who has not arrived at the years of puberty; the boy, too, must not show himself to the patient for three days, and during those three days neither of them must touch the ground with his feet uncovered. The white spider24 with very elongated, thin, legs, beaten up in old oil, forms an ointment which is used for the cure of albugo. The spider, too, whose web, of remarkable thickness, is generally found adhering to the rafters of houses, applied in a piece of cloth, is said to be curative of defluxions of the eyes. The green scarabæus has the property of rendering the sight more piercing25 of those who gaze upon it: hence it is that the engravers of precious stones use these insects to steady their sight.

1 A disease of the crystalline humours of the eye.

2 See B. x. c. :33.

3 "Stibium." See B. xxxiii. c. 33.

4 "Exuta vere," as suggested by Sillig, would appear a better reading than "ex utero," which can have no meaning here.

5 "Viper mixture."

6 See c. 35 of this Book.

7 In B xi. c. 62.

8 As Ajasson remarks, this would be very likely to gangrene the wound.

9 See B. viii. c. 14. Not the Boa constrictor of modern Natural History.

10 In B. x. c. 3.

11 See B. xxxiii. c. 25, and B. xxxvi. cc. 37, 38.

12 The tongues of peacocks and larks are recommended for epilepsy, by Lampridius, in his Life of the Emperor Elagabalus. The statement in the text is, of course, a fiction.

13 The reading here is doubtful.

14 A puerile reason, Ajasson remarks. It is much more probable that the reason was, because this vein was the most easily discovered.

15 See B. xxviii. c. 47.

16 In B. xxviii. c. 47.

17 See B. x. c. 52.

18 The serpent so called.

19 An absurdity. The probability is, that the sight of the young birds was only supposed to be destroyed, the operation being imperfectly performed.

20 See B. xxxvii. c. 56.

21 The mention of this number denotes the Eastern origin of this remedy, Ajasson remarks.

22 See Note 6 above.

23 "Lacrymantibus sine fine oculis."

24 Ajasson remarks, that Pliny has given here a much more exact description of the varieties of the Spider, than in the Eleventh Book. The learned Commentator gives an elaborate discussion, of eighteen pages, on the varieties of the Spider as known to the ancients in common with modern naturalists.

25 Green is universally the colour least fatiguing to the eye.

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