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The fat of all kinds of fish, both fresh-water as well as sea fish, melted in the sun and incorporated with honey, is an excellent improver of the eye-sight;1 the same, too, with castoreum,2 in combination with honey. The gall of the callionymus3 heals marks upon the eyes and cauterizes fleshy excrescences about those organs: indeed, there is no fish with a larger quantity of gall than this, an opinion expressed too by Menander in his Comedies.4 This fish is known also as the "uranoscopos,"5 from the eyes being situate in the upper part of the head.6 The gall, too, of the coracinus7 has the effect of sharpening the eyesight.

The gall of the red sea-scorpion,8 used with stale oil or Attic honey, disperses incipient cataract; for which purpose, the application should be made three times, on alternate days. A similar method is also employed for removing indurations9 of the membrane of the eyes. The surmullet, used as a diet, weakens the eyesight, it is said. The sea-hare is poisonous itself, but the ashes of it are useful as an application for preventing superfluous hairs on the eyelids from growing again, when they have been once pulled out by the roots. For this purpose, however, the smaller the fish is, the better. Small scallops, too, are salted and beaten up with cedar resin for a similar purpose, or else the frogs known as "diopetes"10 and "calamitæ," are used; the blood of them being applied with vine gum to the eyelids, after the hairs have been removed.

Powdered shell11 of sæpia, applied with woman's milk, allays swellings and inflammations of the eyes; employed by itself it removes eruptions of the eyelids. When this remedy is used, it is the practice to turn up the eyelids, and to leave the medicament there a few moments only; after which, the part is anointed with oil of roses, and the inflammation modified by the application of a bread-poultice. Powdered bone of sæpia is used also for the treatment of nyctalopy, being applied to the eyes with vinegar. Reduced to ashes, this substance removes scales upon the eyes: applied with honey, it effaces marks upon those organs: and used with salt and cadmia,12 one drachma of each, it disperses webs which impede the eyesight, as also albugo in the eyes of cattle. They say, too, that if the eyelids are rubbed with the small bone13 taken from this fish, a perfect cure will be experienced.

Sea-urchins, applied with vinegar, cause epinyctis to disappear. According to what the magicians say, they should be burnt with vipers' skins and frogs, and the ashes sprinkled in the drink; a great improvement of the eyesight being guaranteed as the sure result.

"Ichthyocolla"14 is the name given to a fish with a glutinous skin; the glue made from which is also known by the same name, and is highly useful for the removal of epinyctis. Some persons, however, assert that it is from the belly of the fish, and not the skin—as in the case of bull glue—that the ichthyocolla is prepared. That of Pontus15 is highly esteemed: it is white, free from veins or scales, and dissolves with the greatest rapidity. The proper way of using it, is to cut it into small pieces, and then to leave it to soak in water or vinegar a night and a day, after which it should be pounded with sea-shore pebbles, to make it melt the more easily. It is generally asserted that this substance is good for pains in the head and for tetanus.

The right eye of a frog, suspended from the neck in a piece of cloth made from wool of the natural colour,16 is a cure for ophthalmia in the right eye; and the left eye of a frog, similarly suspended, for ophthalmia in the left. If the eyes, too, of a frog are taken out at the time of the moon's conjunction, and similarly worn by the patient, enclosed in an eggshell, they will effectually remove indurations of the membrane of the eyes. The rest of the flesh applied topically, removes all marks resulting from blows. The eyes, too, of a crab, worn attached to the neck, by way of amulet, are a cure for ophthalmia, it is said. There is a small frog17 which lives in reed-beds and among grass more particularly, never croaks, being quite destitute of voice, is of a green colour, and is apt to cause tympanitis in cattle, if they should happen to swallow it. The slimy moisture on this reptile's body, scraped off with a spatula and applied to the eyes, greatly improves the sight, they say: the flesh, too, is employed as a topical application for the removal of pains in the eyes.

Some persons take fifteen frogs, and after spitting them upon as many bulrushes, put them into a new earthen vessel: they then mix the juices which flow from them, with gum of the white vine,18 and use it as an application for the eye-lids; first pulling out such eye-lashes as are in the way, and then dropping the preparation with the point of a needle into the places from which the hairs have been removed. Meges19 used to prepare a depilatory for the eyelids, by killing frogs in vinegar, and leaving them to putrefy; for which purpose he employed the spotted frogs which make their appearance in vast numbers20 during the rains of autumn. Ashes of burnt leeches, it is thought, applied in vinegar, are productive of a similar effect; care must be taken, however, to burn them in a new earthen vessel. Dried liver, too, of the tunny,21 made up into an ointment, in the proportion of four denarii, with oil of cedar, and applied as a depilatory for nine months together, is considered to be highly effectual for this purpose.

1 This assertion reminds us of the healing effects of the fish with which Tobit cured his father's blindness. See Tobit, c. xi. v. 13.

2 See c. 13 of this Book.

3 Identified by Ajasson with the white Rascasse of the Mediterranean. Hardouin combats the notion that this was the fish, the gall of which was employed by Tobit for the cure of his father, and is inclined to think that the Silurus was in reality the fish; a notion no better founded than the other, Ajasson thinks.

4 In his "Messenia," for instance. The fragment has been preserved by Ælian, Hist. Anim. B. xiii. c. 4. Ajasson remarks that the ancients clearly mistook the swimming bladder of the fish for the gall.

5 Or "heaven-gazer."

6 The original has "ab oculo quem,"—but we have adopted the reading suggested by Dalechamps, "Ab oculis quos in superiore capite." Ajasson says that the white rascasse has the eyes so disposed on the upper part of the head as to have the appearance of gazing upwards at the heavens. Hence it is that at Genoa, the fish is commonly known as the prête or "priest."

7 See B. ix. c. 32.

8 See Chapter 17 of the present Book.

9 "Albugines."

10 Meaning, literally, "Fallen from Jupiter," in reference to their supposed descent from heaven in showers of rain.

11 Cortex.

12 See B. xxxiv. co. 22, 23.

13 "Ossiculo."

14 Literally, "fish-glue." We can hardly believe Pliny that any fish was known by this name. Hardouin takes the fish here spoken of to be identical with that mentioned in B. ix. c. 17, as being caught in the Borysthene, and destitute of bones. It is most probable, however, that the "ichthyocolla" of the ancients, or "fish-glue," was the same as our isinglass, and that it was prepared from the entrails of various fish, the sturgeon more particularly, the Acipenser huso of Linnæus.

15 The best isinglass still comes from Russia.

16 " Nativi coloris." See B. viii. c. 23. Beckmann says, in reference to the present passage: "We manufacture the wool of our brown sheep in its natural colour, and this was done also by the ancients."—Hist. Inv. vol. ii. p. 110, Bohn's Ed.

17 The "calamites" above mentioned, so called from "calamus," a reed.

18 The Bryonia Cretica of Linnæus; see B. xxiii. c. 16.

19 An eminent surgeon, born at Sidon in Phœnicia, who practised at Rome, probably in the first century B.C.

20 "Mutis," silent," or "voiceless" frogs, as suggested by Gessner, Hist. Anim. B. ii., would almost seem to be a preferable reading here to "multis," "many."

21 Another reading is "tænia," a fish mentioned by Epicharmus, Athenæus informs us, and considered by Ajasson to be probably identical with the Cepola rubescens, or Cepola tænia of Linnæus.

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