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But of all venomous animals it is the salamander1 that is by far the most dangerous; for while other reptiles attack individuals only, and never kill many persons at a time-not to mention the fact that after stinging a human being they are said to die of remorse, and the earth refuses to harbour2 them—the salamander is able to destroy whole nations at once, unless they take the proper precautions against it. For if this reptile happens to crawl up a tree, it infects all the fruit with its poison, and kills those who eat thereof by the chilling properties of its venom, which in its effects is in no way different from aconite. Nay, even more than this, if it only touches with its foot the wood upon which bread is baked, or if it happens to fall into a well, the same fatal effects will be sure to ensue. The saliva, too, of this reptile, if it comes in contact with any part of the body, the sole of the foot even, will cause the hair to fall off from the whole of the body. And yet the salamander, highly venomous as it is, is eaten by certain animals, swine for example; owing, no doubt, to that antipathy which prevails in the natural world.

From what we find stated, it is most probable, that, next to the animals which eat it, the best neutralizers of the poison of this reptile, are, cantharides taken in drink, or a lizard eaten with the food; other antidotes we have already mentioned, or shall notice in the appropriate place. As to what the magicians3 say, that it is proof against fire, being, as they tell us, the only animal that has the property of extinguishing fire, if it had been true, it would have been made trial of at Rome long before this. Sextius says that the salamander, preserved in honey and taken with the food, after removing the intestines, head, and feet, acts as an aphrodisiac: he denies also that it has the property of extinguishing fire.

1 See B. x. c. 86. Some kind of starred lizard, or an eft or newt perhaps, was thus called: but in most respects it appears to be entirely a fabulous animal.

2 See B ii. c. 63.

3 He probably alludes to the Magi of Persia here, as most of the stories about the salamander appear to bear the aspect of an Eastern origin.

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