previous next


WE have now to speak of the benefits derived, in a medicinal point of view, from the aquatic productions; for not here even has all-bounteous Nature reposed from her work. Amid waves and billows, and tides of rivers for ever on the ebb and flow, she still unceasingly exerts her powers; and nowhere, if we must confess the truth, does she display herself in greater might, for it is this among the elements that holds sway over all the rest. It is water that swallows up dry land, that extinguishes flame, that ascends aloft, and challenges possession of the very heavens: it is water that, spreading clouds as it does, far and wide, intercepts the vital air we breathe; and, through their collision, gives rise to thunders and lightnings,1 as the elements of the universe meet in conflict.

What can there be more marvellous than waters suspended aloft in the heavens? And yet, as though it were not enough to reach so high an elevation as this, they sweep along with them whole shoals of fishes, and often stones as well, thus lading themselves with ponderous masses which belong to other elements, and bearing them on high. Falling upon the earth, these waters become the prime cause of all that is there produced; a truly wondrous provision of Nature, if we only consider, that in order to give birth to grain and life to trees and to shrubs, water must first leave the earth for the heavens, and thence bring down to vegetation the breath of life! The admission must be surely extorted from us, that for all our resources the earth is indebted to the bounteousness of water. It will be only proper, therefore, in the first place to set forth some instances of the powerful properties displayed by this element; for as to the whole of them, what living mortal could describe them?

1 See B. ii. c. 43. Ajasson remarks, that the electric fluid, forming lightning, escapes from the clouds through causes totally independent of water. Still, Pliny would appear to be right in one sense; for if there were no water, there would be no clouds; and without clouds the electric fluid would probably take some other form than that of lightning.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Latin (Karl Friedrich Theodor Mayhoff, 1906)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

hide References (6 total)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: