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[16arg] That Pontic ducks have a power which is able to expel poisons; and also of the skill of Mithridates in preparing antidotes.


IT is said that the ducks of Pontus commonly live by eating poisons. It was also written by Lenaeus, 1 the freedman of Pompey the Great, that Mithridates, the famous king of Pontus, was skilled in medicine and in antidotes of that kind, and that he was accustomed to mix the blood of these ducks with drugs that have the power of expelling poisons, and that the blood was the very most powerful agency [p. 263] in their preparation; furthermore, that the king himself by the constant use of such remedies guarded against hidden plots at banquets; nay more, that lie often voluntarily and wittingly, to show his immunity, drank a swift and rapid poison, which yet did him no harm. Therefore, at a later time, when he had been defeated in battle, and after fleeing to the remotest bounds of his kingdom had resolved to take his own life, having vainly tried the most violent poisons for the purpose of hastening his death, he fell upon his own sword. the most celebrated antidote of this king is the one which is called “Mithridatian.”

1 See Suet. De G. amm. xv. (ii, p. 418, L.C.L.).

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