CHAP. 21.—REMEDIES DERIVED FROM THE VIPER.
The application of a viper's head, even if it be not the one
that has inflicted the wound, is of infinite utility as a remedy.
It is highly advantageous, too, to hold the viper that inflicted
the injury on the end of a stick, over the steam of boiling
water, for it will quite undo1
the mischief, they say. The
ashes, also, of the viper, are considered very useful, employed as
a liniment for the wound. According to what Nigidius tells
us, serpents are compelled, by a sort of natural instinct, to
return to the person who has been stung by them. The people
of Scythia split the viper's head between the ears, in order to
extract a small stone,2
which it swallows in its alarm, they
say: others, again, use the head entire.
From the viper are prepared those tablets which are known
to the Greeks: for this purpose the animal is
cut away three fingers' length from both the head and the tail,
after which the intestines are removed and the livid vein adhering to the back-bone. The rest of the body is then boiled
in a shallow pan, in water seasoned with dill, and the bones are
taken out, and fine wheaten flour added; after which the
preparation is made up into tablets,4
which are dried in the
shade and are employed as an ingredient in numerous medicaments. I should remark, however, that this preparation, it
would appear, can only be made from the viper. Some persons, after cleansing the viper in manner above described, boil
down the fat, with one sextarius of olive oil, to one half. Of
this preparation, when needed, three drops are added to some
oil, with which mixture the body is rubbed, to repel the
approach of all kinds of noxious animals.