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Slime1 is one great impurity of water: still, however, if a river of this description is full of eels, it is generally looked upon as a proof2 of the salubrity of its water; just as it is regarded as a sign of its freshness when long worms3 breed in the water of a spring. But it is bitter water, more particu- larly, that is held in disesteem, as also the water which swells the stomach the moment it is drunk, a property which belongs to the water at Trœzen. As to the nitrous4 and salso-acid5 waters which are found in the deserts, persons travelling across towards the Red Sea render them potable in a couple of hours by the addition of polenta, which they use also as food. Those springs are more particularly condemned which secrete mud,6 or which give a bad complexion to persons who drink thereof. It is a good plan, too, to observe if water leaves stains upon copper vessels; if leguminous vegetables boil with difficulty in it; if, when gently decanted, it leaves an earthy deposit; or if, when boiled, it covers the vessel with a thick crust.7

It is a fault also in water8 but to have any flavour9 not only to have a bad smell,10 at all, even though it be a flavour pleasant and agreeable in itself, or closely approaching, as we often find the case, the taste of milk. Water, to be truly wholesome, ought to resemble air11 as much as possible. There is only one12 spring of water in the whole universe, it is said, that has an agreeable smell, that of Chabura, namely, in Mesopotamia: the people give a fabulous reason for it, and say that it is because Juno13 bathed there. Speaking in general terms, water, to be wholesome, should have neither taste nor smell.

1 Or "mud"—"limus." All rivers of necessity have it, in a greater or less degree.

2 On the contrary, the more the mud and slime, the more numerous the eels

3 "Tænias."

4 Waters, probably, impregnated with mineral alkali. As to the "nitrum" of Pliny, see c. 46 of this Book.

5 "Salmacidas."

6 "Cænum."

7 Also, Ajasson says, to observe whether soap will melt in it. If it will not, it is indicative of the presence of selenite.

8 As drinking water.

9 As Plautus says of women, Mostell, A. i. S. 3—"They smell best, when they smell of nothing at all."

10 See B. xv. c. 32.

11 In purity and tastelessness. As Ajasson observes, Pliny could hardly appreciate the correctness of this remark, composed as water is of two gases, oxygen and hydrogen.

12 Pausanias and Athenæus mention also the well of Mothone in Peloponnesus, the water of which exhaled the odour of the perfumes of Cyzicus. Such water, however, must of necessity be impure.

13 More probably Astarte, Fée thinks, Juno being unknown in Mesopotamia.

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