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Stimmi is possessed of certain astringent and refrigerative properties, its principal use, in medicine, being for the eyes. Hence it is that most persons call it "platyophthalmon,"1 it being extensively employed in the calliblepharie2 preparations of females, for the purpose of dilating the eyes. It acts also as a check upon fluxes of the eyes and ulcerations of those organs; being used, as a powder, with pounded frankincense and gum. It has the property, too, of arresting discharges of blood from the brain; and, sprinkled in the form of a powder, it is extremely efficacious for the cure of recent wounds and bites of dogs which have been some time inflicted. For the cure of burns it is remarkably good, mixed with grease, litharge,3 ceruse, and wax.

The method of preparing it, is to burn it, enclosed in a coat of cow-dung, in a furnace; which done, it is quenched with woman's milk, and pounded with rain-water in a mortar.4 While this is doing, the thick and turbid part is poured off from time to time into a copper vessel, and purified with nitre.5 The lees of it, which are rejected, are recognized by their being full of lead and falling to the bottom. The vessel into which the turbid part has been poured off, is then covered with a linen cloth and left untouched for a night; the portion that lies upon the surface being poured off the following day, or else removed with a sponge. The part that has fallen to the bottom of the vessel is regarded as the choicest6 part, and is left, covered with a linen cloth, to dry in the sun, but not to become parched. This done, it is again pounded in a mortar, and then divided into tablets. But the main thing of all is, to observe such a degree of nicety in heating it, as not to let it become lead.7 Some persons, when preparing it on the fire, use grease8 instead of dung. Others, again, bruise it in water and then pass it through a triple strainer of linen cloth; after which, they reject the lees, and pour off the remainder of the liquid, collecting all that is deposited at the bottom, and using it as an ingredient in plasters and eye-salves.

1 "Eye dilating." Belladonna, a preparation from the Atropa belladonna, is now used in medicine for this purpose. A similar effect is attributed in B. xxv. c. 92, to the plant Anagallis. In reality, the application of prepared antimony would contract the eyelids, and so appear to enlarge the eyes. This property is peculiar, Ajasson remarks, to sulphuret of antimony, and sulphuret of antimony and silver.

2 Preparations "for beautifying the eyebrows." See B. xxi. c. 73, B. xxiii. c. 51, and B. xxxv. c. 56. Omphale, the Lydian queen, who captivated Hercules, is represented by the tragic poet Ion, as using "stimmi" for the purposes of the toilet. It was probably with a preparation of antimony that Jezebel "painted her face, and tired her head." 2 Kings, ix. 30. The "Kohl" used by the females in Egypt and Persia is prepared from antimony.

3 "Spuma argenti." See the next Chapter.

4 According to Dioscorides, it was prepared as a cosmetic by enclosing it in a lump of dough, and then burning it in the coals till reduced to a cinder. It was then extinguished with milk and wine, and again placed upon coals, and blown till ignition.

5 As to the "nitrum" of the ancients, see B. xxxi. c. 46.

6 "Flos"—literally the "flower."

7 "From this passage we may infer that the metal antimony was occasionally seen by the ancients, though not recognized by them as distinct from lead."—Dana's System of Mineralogy, p. 418. New York, 1850.

8 Pliny has here mistaken the sense of the word στέαρ, which in the passage of Dioscorides, B. v. c. 99, borrowed probably from the same source, evidently means dough, and not grease.

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