THE NATURAL HISTORY OF WILD PLANT
CHAP. 1. (1.)—WHEN THE WAILD PLANTS WERE FIRST BROUGHT
THE more highly esteemed plants of which I am now about
to speak, and which are produced by the earth for medicinal
purposes solely, inspire me with admiration of the industry
and laborious research displayed by the ancients. Indeed there
is nothing that they have not tested by experiment or left
untried; no discovery of theirs which they have not disclosed,
or which they have not been desirous to leave for the benefit
of posterity. We, on the contrary, at the present day, make
it our object to conceal and suppress the results of our labours,
and to defraud our fellow-men of blessings even which have
been purchased by others. For true it is, beyond all doubt,
that those who have gained any trifling accession of knowledge,
keep it to themselves, and envy the enjoyment of it by others; to
leave mankind uninstructed being looked upon as the high prerogative of learning. So far is it from being the habit with them
to enter upon new fields of discovery, with the view of benefitting mankind at large, that for this long time past it has been
the greatest effort of the ingenuity of each, to keep to himself
the successful results of the experience of former ages, and so
bury them for ever!
And. yet, by Hercules! a single invention before now has
elevated men to the rank of gods; and how many an individual
has had his name immortalized in being bestowed upon some
plant which he was the first to discover, thanks to the
gratitude which prompted a succeeding age to make some
adequate return! If it had been expended solely upon the
plants which are grown to please the eye, or which invite
us by their nutrimental properties, this laborious research on
the part of the ancients would not have been so surprising;
but in addition to this, we find them climbing by devious
tracts to the very summit of mountains, penetrating to the very
heart of wilds and deserts, and searching into every vein and
fibre of the earth-and all this, to discover the hidden virtues
of every root, the properties of the leaf of every plant, and the
various purposes to which they might be applied; converting
thereby those vegetable productions, which the very beasts of
the field refuse to touch, into so many instruments for our
CHAP. 2. (2.)—THE LATIN AUTHORS WHO HAVE WRITTEN UPON
This subject has not been treated of by the writers in our
own language so extensively as it deserves, eager as they have
proved themselves to make enquiry into everything that is
either meritorious or profitable. M. Cato, that great master
in all useful knowledge, was the first, and, for a long time, the
only author who treated of this branch1
of learning; and
briefly as he has touched upon it, he has not omitted to make
some mention of the remedial treatment of cattle. After him,
another illustrious personage, C. Valgius,2
a man distinguished
for his erudition, commenced a treatise upon the same subject,
which he dedicated to the late Emperor Augustus, but left
unfinished. At the beginning of his preface, replete as it is
with a spirit of piety,3
he expresses a hope that the majestic
sway of that prince may ever prove a most efficient remedy
for all the evils to which mankind are exposed.
CHAP. 3.—AT WHAT PERIOD THE ROMANS ACQUIRED SOME KNOW-
LEDGE OF THIS SUBJECT.
person among us, at least so far as I have been able
to ascertain, who had treated of this subject before the time of
Valgius, was Pompeius Lenæus,5
the freedman of Pompeius
Magnus; and it was in his day, I find, that this branch of
knowledge first began to be cultivated among us. Mithridates,
the most powerful monarch of that period, and who was finally
conquered by Pompeius, is generally thought to have been a
more zealous promoter of discoveries for the benefit of mankind,
than any of his predecessors—a fact evinced not only by many
positive proofs, but by universal report as well. It was he
who first thought, the proper precautions being duly taken, of
drinking poison every day; it being his object, by becoming
habituated to it, to neutralize its dangerous effects. This
prince was the first discoverer too of the various kinds of antidotes, one6
of which, indeed, still retains his name; and it is
generally supposed that he was the first to employ the blood
of the ducks of Pontus as an ingredient in antidotes, from the
circumstance that they derive their nutriment from poisons.7
It was to Mithridates that Asclepiades,8
physician, dedicated his works, still extant, and sent them, as a
substitute for his own personal attendance, when requested by
that monarch to leave Rome and reside at his court. It is a
well-known fact, that this prince was the only person that was
ever able to converse in so many as two-and-twenty languages,
and that, during the whole fifty-six years of his reign, he never
required the services of an interpreter when conversing with
any individuals of the numerous nations that were subject to
Among the other gifts of extraordinary genius with which
he was endowed, Mithridates displayed a peculiar fondness for
enquiries into the medical arts; and gathering items of information from all his subjects, extended, as they were, over a large
proportion of the world, it was his habit to make copies
of their communications, and to take notes of the results which
upon experiment had been produced. These memoranda, which
he kept in his private cabinet,9
fell into the hands of Pompeius,
when he took possession of the royal treasures; who at once
commissioned his freedman, Lenæus the grammarian, to translate them into the Latin language: the result of which was,
that his victory was equally conducive to the benefit of the
republic and of mankind at large.
CHAP. 4.—GREEK AUTHORS WHO HAVE DELINEATED THE
PLANTS IN COLOURS.
In addition to these, there are some Greek writers who
have treated of this subject, and who have been already mentioned on the appropriate occasions. Among them, Crateuas,
Dionysius, and Metrodorus, adopted a very attractive method
of description, though one which has done little more than
prove the remarkable difficulties which attended it. It was
their plan to delineate the various plants in colours, and then
to add in writing a description of the properties which they
possessed. Pictures, however, are very apt to mislead, and
more particularly where such a number of tints is required,
for the imitation of nature with any success; in addition to
which, the diversity of copyists from the original paintings,
and their comparative degrees of skill, add very considerably
to the chances of losing the necessary degree of resemblance
to the originals. And then, besides, it is not sufficient to delineate a plant as it appears at one period only, as it presents
a different appearance at each of the four seasons of the year.10
CHAP. 5.—THE FIRST GREEK AUTHORS WHO WROTE UPON PLANTS.
Hence it is that other writers have confined themselves to
a verbal description of the plants, indeed some of them have
not so much as described them even, but have contented themselves for the most part with a bare recital of their names,
considering it sufficient if they pointed out their virtues and
properties to such as might Feel inclined to make further enquiries into the subject. Nor is this a kind of knowledge
by any means difficult to obtain; at all events, so far as regards myself, with the exception of a very few, it has been
my good fortune to examine them all, aided by the scientific
researches of Antonius Castor,11
who in our time enjoyed the
highest reputation for an intimate acquaintance with this
branch of knowledge. I had the opportunity of visiting his
garden, in which, though he had passed his hundredth year, he
cultivated vast numbers of plants with the greatest care.
Though he had reached this great age, he had never experienced
any bodily ailment, and neither his memory nor his natural
vigour had been the least impaired by the lapse of time.
There was nothing more highly admired than an intimate
knowledge of plants, in ancient times. It is long since the
means were discovered of calculating before-hand, not only
the day or the night, but the very hour even at which an
eclipse of the sun or moon is to take place; and yet the greater
part of the lower classes still remain firmly persuaded that
these phenomena are brought about by compulsion, through the
agency of herbs and enchantments, and that the knowledge of
this art is confined almost exclusively to females. What
country, in fact, is not filled with the fabulous stories about
Medea of Colchis and other sorceresses, the Italian Circe in
particular, who has been elevated to the rank of a divinity
even? It is with reference to her, I am of opinion, that
one of the most ancient of the poets, asserts that
Italy is covered with plants endowed with potent effects, and
that many writers say the same of Circeii,13
the place of her
abode. Another great proof too that such is the case, is the
fact, that the nation of the Marsi,14
descendants of a son of
Circe, are well known still to possess the art of taming serpents.
Homer, that great parent of the learning and traditions of
antiquity, while extolling the fame of Circe in many other
respects, assigns to Egypt the glory of having first discovered
the properties of plants, and that; too at a time when the
portion of that country which is now watered by the river
Nilus was not in existence, having been formed at a more recent
period by the alluvion15
of that river. At all events, he states16
that numerous Egyptian plants were sent to the Helena of his
story, by the wife of the king of that country, together with
the celebrated nepenthes,17
which ensured oblivion of all
sorrows and forgetfulness of the past, a potion which Helena
was to administer to all mortals. The first person, however,
of whom the remembrance has come down to us, as having
treated with any degree of exactness on the subject of plants,
is Orpheus; and next to him Musæus and Hesiod, of whose
admiration of the plant called polium we have already made
some mention on previous occasions.18
Orpheus and Hesiod
too we find speaking in high terms of the efficacy of fumigations. Homer also speaks of several other plants by name, of
which we shall have occasion to make further mention in their
In later times again, Pythagoras, that celebrated philosopher,
was the first to write a treatise on the properties of plants, a
work in which he attributes the origin and discovery of them
to Apollo, Æsculapius, and the immortal gods in general.
Democritus too, composed a similar work. Both of these philosophers had visited the magicians of Persia, Arabia, Æthiopia,
and Egypt, and so astounded were the ancients at their recitals,
as to learn to make assertions which transcend all belief.
Xanthus, the author of some historical works, tells us, in the
first of them, that a young dragon19
was restored to life by its
parent through the agency of a plant to which he gives the
name of "ballis," and that one Tylon, who had been killed by
a dragon, was restored to life and health by similar means.
Juba too assures us that in Arabia a man was resuscitated by
the agency of a certain plant. Democritus has asserted—and
Theophrastus believes it—that there is a certain herb in
existence, which, upon being carried thither by a bird, the name
of which we have already20
given, has the effect, by the contact
solely, of instantaneously drawing a wedge from a tree, when
driven home by the shepherds into the wood.
These marvels, incredible as they are, excite our admiration
nevertheless, and extort from us the admission that, making
all due allowance, there is much in them that is based on
truth. Hence it is too that I find it the opinion of most
writers, that there is nothing which cannot be effected by the
agency of plants, but that the properties of by far the greater
part of them remain as yet unknown. In the number of
these was Herophilus, a celebrated physician, a saying of whose
is reported, to the effect that some plants may possibly exercise
a beneficial influence, if only trodden under foot. Be this as
it may, it has been remarked more than once, that wounds and
maladies are sometimes inflamed21
upon the sudden approach of
persons who have been journeying on foot.
CHAP. 6.—WHY A FEW OF THE PLANTS ONLY HAVE BEEN USED
MEDICINALLY. PLANTS, THE MEDICINAL PROPERTIES OF WHICH
HAVE BEEN MIRACULOUSLY DISCOVERED. THE CYNORRHODOS:
TWO REMEDIES. THE PLANT CALLED DRACUNCULUS: ONE
REMEDY. THE BRITANNICA: FIVE REMEDIES.
Such was the state of medical knowledge in ancient times,
wholly concealed as it was in the language of the Greeks. But
the main reason why the medicinal properties of most plants
remain still unknown, is the fact that they have been tested
solely by rustics and illiterate people, such being the only class
of persons that live in the midst of them: in addition to
which, so vast is the multitude of medical men always at hand,
that the public are careless of making any enquiries about
them. Indeed, many of those plants, the medicinal properties
of which have been discovered, are still destitute of names—such, for instance, as the one which we mentioned22
when speaking of the cultivation of grain, and which we know for certain
will have the effect of keeping birds away from the crops, if
buried at the four corners of the field.
But the most disgraceful cause of all, why so few simples
are known, is the fact that those even who are acquainted
with them are unwilling to impart their knowledge; as though,
forsooth, they should lose for ever anything that they might
think fit to communicate to others! Added to all this, there is
no well-ascertained method to guide us to the acquisition of this
kind of knowledge; for, as to the discoveries that have been
made already, they have been due, some of them, to mere
accident, and others again, to say the truth, to the interposition
of the Deity.
Down to our own times, the bite of the mad dog, the symptoms of which are a dread of water and an aversion to every
kind of beverage, was incurable;23
and it was only recently that
the mother of a soldier who was serving in the prætorian guard,
received a warning in a dream, to send her son the root of
the wild rose, known as the cynorrhodos,24
a plant the beauty
of which had attracted her attention in a shrubbery the
day before, and to request him to drink the extract of it. The
army was then serving in Lacetania, the part of Spain which
lies nearest to Italy; and it so happened that the soldier,
having been bitten by a dog, was just beginning to manifest a
horror of water when his mother's letter reached him, in
which she entreated him to obey the words of this divine
warning. He accordingly complied with Her request, and,
against all hope or expectation, his life was saved; a result25
which has been experienced by all who have since availed then-
selves of the same resource. Before this, the cynorrhodos had
been only recommended by writers for one medicinal purpose;
the spongy excrescences, they say, which grow26
in the midst of
its thorns, reduced to ashes and mixed with honey, will make the
hair grow again when it has been lost by alopecy. I know too,
for a fact, that in the same province there was lately discovered
in the land belonging to a person with whom I was staying, a
stalked plant, the name given to which was dracunculus.27
plant, about an inch in thickness, and spotted with various
colours, like a viper's skin, was generally reported to be an
effectual preservative against the sting of all kinds of serpents.
I should remark, however, that it is a different plant from the
one of the same name of which mention has been made in the
having altogether another shape and appear-
ance. There is also another marvellous property belonging to
it: in spring, when the serpents begin to cast their slough, it
shoots up from the ground to the height of about a couple of
Feet, and again, when they retire for the winter it conceals
itself within the earth, nor is there a serpent to be seen so long
as it remains out of sight. Even if this plant did nothing
else but warn us of impending danger, and tell us when to
be on our guard, it could not be looked upon otherwise than
as a beneficent provision made by Nature in our behalves.
(3.) It is not, however, the animals only that are endowed
with certain baneful and noxious properties, but, sometimes,
even, and localities as well. Upon one occasion, in his
German campaign, Germanicus Cæsar had pitched his camp
beyond the river Rhenus; the only fresh water to be obtained
being that of a single spring in the vicinity of the sea-shore.
It was found, however, that within two years the habitual use
of this water was productive of loss of the teeth and a total
relaxation of the joints of the knees: the names given to
these maladies, by medical men, were "stomacace"30
"sceloturbe." A remedy for them was discovered, however,
in the plant known as the "britannica,"31
which is good, not
only for diseases of the sinews and mouth, but for quinzy32
and injuries inflicted by serpents. This plant has dark oblong
leaves and a swarthy root: the name given to the flower of it
and if it is gathered and eaten before thunder
has been heard, it will ensure safety in every respect. The
Frisii, a nation then on terms of friendship with us, and within
whose territories the Roman army was encamped, pointed out
this plant to our soldiers: the name34
given to it, however,
rather surprises me, though possibly it may have been so
called because the shores of Britannia are in the vicinity, and
only separated by the ocean. At all events, it was not called
by this name from the fact of its growing there in any great
abundance, that is quite certain, for at the time I am speaking
of, Britannia was still independent.35
CHAP. 7.—WHAT DISEASES ARE ATTENDED WITH THE GREATEST PAIN.
NAMES OF PERSONS WHO HAVE DISCOVERED FAMOUS PLANTS.
In former times there was a sort of ambition, as it were, of
adopting plants, by bestowing upon them one's name, a thing
that has been done before now by kings even, as we shall have
occasion to show:36
so desirable a thing did it appear to have
made the discovery of some plant, and thus far to have contributed to the benefit of mankind. At the present day, however,
it is far from impossible that there may be some who will
look upon these researches of ours as frivolous even, so distasteful to a life of ease and luxury are the very things which so
greatly conduce to our welfare.
Still, however, it will be only right to mention in the first
place those plants the discoverers of which are known, their
various properties being classified37
according to the several
maladies for the treatment of which they are respectively employed: in taking a review of which one cannot do otherwise
than bewail the unhappy lot of mankind, subject as it is, in
addition to chances and changes, and those new afflictions which
every hour is bringing with it, to thousands of diseases which
menace the existence of each mortal being. It would seem
almost an act of folly to attempt to determine which of these
diseases is attended with the most excruciating pain, seeing
that every one is of opinion that the malady with which for
the moment he himself is afflicted, is the most excruciating
and insupportable. The general experience, however, of the
present age has come to the conclusion, that the most agonizing
torments are those attendant upon strangury, resulting from
calculi in the bladder; next to them, those arising from maladies of the stomach; and in the third place, those caused by
pains and affections of the head; for it is more generally in
these cases, we find, and not in others, that patients are
tempted to commit suicide.
For my own part, I am surprised that the Greek authors
have gone so far as to give a description of noxious plants
even; in using which term, I wish it to be understood that
I do not mean the poisonous plants merely; for such is our
tenure of life that death is often a port of refuge to even the
best of men. We meet too, with one case of a somewhat
similar nature, where M. Varro speaks of Servius Clodius,38
member of the Equestrian order, being so dreadfully tormented
with gout, that he had his legs rubbed all over with poisons,
the result of which was, that from that time forward all sensation, equally with all pain, was deadened in those parts of his
body. But what excuse, I say, can there be for making the
world acquainted with plants, the only result of the use of
which is to derange the intellect, to produce abortion, and to
cause numerous other effects equally pernicious? So far as I am
concerned, I shall describe neither abortives nor philtres,
bearing in mind, as I do, that Lucullus, that most celebrated
general, died of the effects of a philtre.39
Nor shall I speak
of other ill-omened devices of magic, unless it be to give
warning against them, or to expose them, for I most emphatically condemn all faith and belief in them. It will suffice for
me, and I shall have abundantly done my duty, if I point out
those plants which were made for the benefit of mankind, and
the properties of which have been discovered in the lapse of
CHAP. 8. (4.)—MOLY: THREE REMEDIES.
According to Homer,40
the most celebrated of all plants is
that, which, according to him, is known as moly41
gods. The discovery of it he attributes to Mercury, who was
also the first to point out its uses as neutralizing the most
potent spells of sorcery. At the present day, it is said, it
grows in the vicinity of Lake Pheneus, and in Cyllene, a district of Arcadia. It answers the description given of it by
Homer, having a round black root, about as large as an onion,
and a leaf like that of the squill: there is no42
difficulty experienced in taking it up. The Greek writers have delineated43
it as having a yellow flower, while Homer,44
other hand, has spoken of it as white. I once met with a
physician, a person extremely well acquainted with plants,
who assured me that it is found growing in Italy as well, and
that he would send me in a few days a specimen which had
been dug up in Campania, with the greatest difficulty, from a
rocky soil. The root of it was thirty45
Feet in length, and even
then it was not entire, having been broken in the getting up.
CHAP. 9.—THE DODECATHEOS: ONE REMEDY.
The plant next in esteem to moly, is that called dodecatheos,46
it being looked upon as under the especial tutelage of all the superior gods.47
Taken in water, it is a cure,
they say, for maladies of every kind. The leaves of it, seven
in number, and very similar to those of the lettuce, spring
from a yellow root.
CHAP. 10.—THE PÆONIA, PENTOROBUS, OR GLYCYSIDE: ONE
The plant known as "pæonia"48
is the most ancient of them
all. It still retains the name49
of him who was the first to
discover it, being known also as the "pentorobus"50
and the "glycyside"51
by others; indeed, this is one of the great
difficulties attendant on forming an accurate knowledge of
plants, that the same object has different names in different
districts. It grows in umbrageous mountain localities, and puts
forth a stem amid the leaves, some four fingers in height, at the
summit of which are four or five heads resembling Greek
in appearance; enclosed in which, there is a considerable
quantity of seed of a red or black colour. This plant is a
preservative against the illusions53
practised by the Fauni in
sleep. It is generally recommended to take it up at night;
for if the wood-pecker54
of Mars should perceive a person doing
so, it will immediately attack his eyes in defence of the plant.
CHAP. 11.—THE PANACES ASCLEPION: TWO REMEDIES.
The panaces, by its very name,55
gives assurance of a remedy for
all diseases: there are numerous kinds of it, and the discovery
of its properties has been attributed to the gods. One of these
kinds is known by the additional name of "asclepion,"56
commemoration of the circumstance that Æsculapius gave the
name of Panacia57
to his daughter. The juice of it, as we have
had occasion to remark already,58
coagulates like that of
fennel-giant; the root is covered with a thick rind of a salt
After this plant has been taken up, it is a point religiously
observed to fill the hole with various kinds of grain, a sort of
expiation, as it were, to the earth. We have already59
when speaking of the exotic productions, where and in what
manner this juice is prepared, and what kind is the most
esteemed. That which is imported from Macedonia is known
as "bucolicon," from the fact that the neatherds there are
in the habit of collecting it as it spontaneously exudes: it
evaporates, however, with the greatest rapidity. As to the
other kinds, that more particularly is held in disesteem which
is black and soft, such being a proof, in fact, that it has been
adulterated with wax.
CHAP. 12.—THE PANACES HERACLEON: THREE REMEDIES.
A second kind of panaces is known by the name of "heracleon,"60
from the fact that it was first discovered by Hercules.
Some persons, however, call it "Heracleotic origanum," or
wild origanum, from its strong resemblance to the origanum
of which we have already61
spoken: the root of it is good for
CHAP. 13.—THE PANACES CHIRONION: FOUR REMEDIES.
A third kind of panaces is surnamed "chironion," from
who first discovered it. The leaf is similar to that of
lapathum, except that it is larger and more hairy; the flower
is of a golden colour, and the root diminutive. It grows in rich,
unctuous soils. The flower of this plant is extremely effi-
cacious; hence it is that it is more generally used than the
kinds previously mentioned.
CHAP. 14.—THE PANACES CENTAURION OR PHARNACION:
A fourth kind of panaces, discovered also by Chiron, is
known by the additional name of "centaurion:"63
it is also
called "pharnacion," from King Pharnaces, it being a matter
in dispute whether it was really discovered by Chiron or by
that prince. It is grown from seed,64
and the leaves of it are
longer than those of the other kinds, and serrated at the edge.
The root, which is odoriferous, is dried in the shade, and is
used for imparting an aroma to wine. Some writers distin-
guish two varieties of this plant-the one with a smooth leaf,
the other of a more delicate form.
CHAP. 15.—THE HERACLEON SIDERION: FOUR REMEDIES.
The heracleon siderion65
is also another discovery of Hercules. The stem is thin, about four fingers in length, the
flower red, and the leaves like those of coriander. It is found
growing in the vicinity of lakes and rivers, and is extremely
efficacious for the cure of all wounds made by iron.66
CHAP. 16.—THE AMPELOS CHIRONIA: ONE REMEDY.
The ampelos Chironia67
also, which we have already68
mentioned when speaking of the vines, is a discovery due to
Chiron. We have spoken too, on a previous occasion,69
plant, the discovery of which is attributed to Minerva.
CHAP. 17.—HYOSCYAMOS, KNOWN ALSO AS THE APOLLINARIS OR
ALTERCUM; FIVE VARIETIES OF IT: THREE REMEDIES.
To Hercules also is attributed the discovery of the plant
known as the "apollinaris," and, among the Arabians, as the
"altercum" or "altercangenum:" by the Greeks it is called
There are several varieties of it; one of
with a black seed, flowers bordering on purple, and a
prickly stem, growing in Galatia. The common kind72
is whiter, more shrublike, and taller than the poppy. The
seed of a third variety is similar to that of irio73
but they have, all of them, the effect of producing vertigo and
insanity. A fourth74
kind again is soft, lanuginous, and more
unctuous than the others; the seed of it is white, and it grows
in maritime localities. It is this kind that medical men
employ, as also that with a red seed.75
the white seed turns of a reddish colour, if not sufficiently
ripe when gathered; in which case it is rejected as unfit for
use: indeed, none of these plants are gathered until they are
perfectly dry. Hyoscyamos, like wine, has the property of
flying to the head, and consequently of acting injuriously upon
the mental faculties.
The seed is either used in its natural state, or else the juice
of it is extracted: the juice also of the stem and leaves is
sometimes extracted, separately from the seed. The root is
sometimes made use of; but the employment of this plant in
any way for medical purposes is, in my opinion, highly dangerous. For it is a fact well ascertained, that the leaves even
will exercise a deleterious effect upon the mind, if more than
four are taken at a the; though the ancients were of opinion
that the leaves act as a febrifuge, taken in wine. From the
seed, as already76
stated, an oil is extracted, which, injected
into the cars, deranges the intellect. It is a singular thing,
but we find remedies mentioned for those who have taken
this juice, as though for a poison, while at the same time we
find it prescribed as a potion among the various remedies.
In this way it is that experiments are multiplied without end,
even to forcing the very poisons themselves to act as antidotes.
CHAP. 18. (5.)—LINOZOSTIS, PARTHENION, HERMUPOA, OR MER-
CURIALIS; TWO VARIETIES OF IT: TWENTY-TWO REMEDIES.
or parthenion is a discovery attributed to Mer-
cury: hence it is that among the Greeks it is known as
by many, while among us it is universally
known as "mercurialis." There are two varieties of this
plant, the male and the female, the last possessing more
decided properties than the other, and having a stem a cubit in
height, and sometimes branchy at the summit, with leaves
somewhat narrower than those of ocimum. The joints of the
stem lie close together, and the axils are numerous: the seed
hangs downwards, having the joints for its basis. In the
female plant the seed is very abundant, but in the male79
less so, lies closer to the joints, and is short and wreathed. In
the female plant the seed hangs more loosely, and is of a white
colour. The leaves of the male plant are swarthy, while
those of the female are whiter: the root, which is made no
use of, is very diminutive.
Both of these plants grow in cultivated champaign localities. A marvellous property is mentioned as belonging to
them: the male plant, they say,80
ensures the conception of
male children, the female plant of females; a result which is
ensured by drinking the juice in raisin wine, the moment after
conception, or by eating the leaves, boiled with oil and salt,
or raw with vinegar. Some persons, again, boil the plant
in a new earthen vessel with heliotropium and two or three
ears of corn, till it is thoroughly done; and say that the decoction should be taken in drink by the female, and the plant
eaten for three days successively, the regimen being commenced the second day of menstruation. This done, on the
fourth day she must take a bath, immediately after which the
sexual congress must take place.
has lavished marvellous encomiums upon these
plants for the maladies of females, while at the present day
no physician recognizes their utility for such purpose. It was
his practice to employ them for affections of the uterus, in the
form of a pessary, in combination with honey, rose-oil, oil of
iris, or oil of lilies. He employed them also as an emmenagogue, and for the purpose of bringing away the after-birth;
effects which are equally produced, according to him, by taking
them in drink, or using them in the form of a fomentation. It
was his practice also, to inject the juice of these plants in cases
of fetid odours of the ears, and then to wash the ear with old
wine. The leaves also were used by him as a cataplasm for
the abdomen, defluxions of the eyes, strangury, and affections
of the bladder; a decoction too, of the plants is prescribed by
him, with frankincense and myrrh.
For the purpose of relaxing82
the bowels, or in cases of fever,
a handful of this plant is boiled down to one half, in two
sextarii of water, the decoction being taken with salt and
honey: if a pig's foot or a cock is boiled with it, it will be all
the more beneficial. Some persons have been of opinion, that
as a purgative the two kinds of mercurialis ought to be used
together, or else that a decoction should be made of the plant
in combination with mallows. These plants act as a detergent
upon the chest, and carry off the bilious secretions, but they are
apt to be injurious to the stomach. We shall have to speak
further of their properties on the appropriate occasions.83
CHAP. 19.—THE ACIIILLEOS, SIDERITIS, PANACES HERACLEON,
MILLEFOLIUM, OR SCOPÆ REGLÆ; SIX VARIETIES OF IT:
Achilles too, the pupil of Chiron, discovered a plant which
heals wounds, and which, as being his discovery, is known as
the "achilleos." It was by the aid of this plant, they say,
that he cured Telephus. Other authorities, however, assert that
He was the first84
to discover that verdigris85
is an extremely
useful ingredient in plasters; and hence it is that he is sometimes represented in pictures as scraping with his sword the
rust from off a spear86
into the wound of Telephus. Some again,
are of opinion that he made use of both remedies.
By some persons this plant is called "panaces heracleon,"
by others, "sideritis,"87
and by the people of our country,
I the stalk of it, they say, is a cubit in length,
branchy, and covered from the bottom with leaves somewhat
smaller than those of fennel. Other authorities, however,
while admitting that this last plant is good for wounds, affirm
that the genuine achilleos has a bluish stem a foot in length,
destitute of branches, and elegantly clothed all over with
isolated leaves of a round form. Others again, maintain that
it has a squared stem, that the heads of it are small and like
those of horehound,89
and that the leaves are similar to those
of the quercus—they say too, that this last has the property of
uniting the sinews when cut asunder. Another statement is,
that the sideritis90
is a plant that grows on garden walls, and
that it emits, when bruised, a fetid smell; that there is also
another plant, very similar to it, but with a whiter and more
unctuous leaf, a more delicate stem, and mostly found growing
They speak also of another91
sideritis, with a stem two
cubits in length, and diminutive branches of a triangular
shape: the leaf, they say, resembles that of fern, and has a
long footstalk, the seed being similar to that of beet. All
these plants, it is said, are remarkably good for the treatment
of wounds. The one with the largest leaf is known among
us by the name of "scopæ regiæ,"92
and is used for the cure
of quinzy in swine.
CHAP. 20.—THE TEUCRION, HEMIONION, OR SPLENION: TWO
At the same period also, Teucer discovered the teucrion, a
plant known to some as the "hemionion."93
It throws out
thin rush-like stems, with diminutive leaves, and grows in
rugged, uncultivated spots: the taste of it is rough, and it
never blossoms or produces seed. It is used for the cure of
affections of the spleen,94
and it is generally understood that
its properties were discovered in the following manner:—The
entrails of a victim having been placed upon this plant, it
attached itself to the milt, and entirely consumed it;95
property to which it is indebted for the name of "splenion,"
given to it by some. It is said too, that swine which have fed
upon the root of this plant are found to have no milt.
Some authors give this name also to a ligneous plant,96
branches like those of hyssop, and a leaf resembling that of
the bean; they say too, that it should be gathered while in
blossom, from which we may conclude that they entertain no
doubt that it does blossom. That which grows on the moun-
tains of Cilicia and Pisidia is more particularly praised by them.
CHAP. 21.—MELAMIPODIUM, HELLEBORE, OR VERATRUM: THREE
VARIETES OF IT. THE WAY IN WHICH IT IS GATHERED, AND
HOW THES QUALITY OF IT IS TESTED.
The repute of Melampus, as being highly skilled in the arts of
divination, is universally known. This personage has given a
name to one species of hellebore, known as the "Melampodion."
Some persons, however, attribute the discovery of this plant
to a shepherd of that name, who remarked that his she-goats
were violently purged after browsing upon it, and afterwards
cured the daughters of Prœtus of madness, by, giving them
the milk of these goats. It will be the best plan, therefore, to
take this opportunity of treating of the several varieties of
hellebore. The two principal kinds are the white97
though, according to most authorities, this difference
exists in the root only. There are some authors, however,
who assure us that the leaves of the black hellebore are similar
to those of the plane-tree, only darker, more diminutive, and
more jagged at the edges: and who say, that the white hellebore has leaves like those of beet when first shooting,
though at the same time of a more swarthy colour, with reddish
veins on the under side. The stem, in both kinds, is ferulaceous, a palm99
in height, and covered with coats like those
of the bulbs, the root, too, being fibrous like that of the onion.100
The black hellebore kills horses, oxen, and swine; hence it
is that those animals avoid it, while they eat the white101
The proper time, thay say, for gathering this last, is harvest.
It grows upon Mount Œta in great abundance; and the best
of all is that found upon one spot on that mountain, in the
vicinity of Pyra. The black hellebore is found growing every-
where, but the best is that of Mount Helicon; which is also
equally celebrated for the qualities of its other plants. The
white hellebore of Mount Œta is the most highly esteemed,
that of Pontus occupying the second place, and the produce of
Elea the third; which last, it is generally said, grows in the
vineyards there. The fourth rank is held by the white
hellebore of Mount Parnassus, though it is often adulterated
with that of the neighbouring districts of Ætolia.
Of these kinds it is the black hellebore that is known as the
"melampodium:" it is used in fumigations, and for the purpose
of purifying houses; cattle, too, are sprinkled with it, a certain
form of prayer being repeated. This last plant, too, is gathered
with more numerous ceremonies than the other: a circle is
first traced around it with a sword, after which, the person
about to cut it turns towards the East, and offers up a prayer,
entreating permission of the gods to do so. At the same time
he observes whether an eagle is in sight—for mostly while the
plant is being gathered that bird is near at hand—and if one
should chance to fly close at hand, it is looked upon as a presage
that he will die within the year. The white hellebore, too, is
gathered not without difficulty, as it is very oppressive to the
Head; more particularly if the precaution has not been used
of eating garlic first, and of drinking wine every now and
then, care being taken to dig up the plant as speedily as possible.
Some persons call the black hellebore "ectomon,"102
others "polyrrhizon:" it purges103
by stool, while the white
hellebore acts as an emetic, and so carries off what might other-
wise have given rise to disease. In former days hellebore was
regarded with horror, but more recently the use104
of it has become so familiar, that numbers of studious men are in the
habit of taking it for the purpose of sharpening the intellectual
powers required by their literary investigations. Carneades,
for instance, made use of hellebore when about to answer the
treatises of Zeno; Drusus105
too, among us, the most famous of
all the tribunes of the people, and whom in particular the
public, rising from their seats, greeted with loud applause-to
whom also the patricians imputed the Marsic war-is well
known to have been cured of epilepsy in the island of Anti-
a place at which it is taken with more safety than else-
where, from the fact of sesamoïdes being combined with it, as
stated. In Italy the name given to it is "veratrum."
These kinds of hellebore, reduced to powder and taken alone,
or else in combination with radicula, a plant used, as already
for washing wool, act as a sternutatory, and are
both of them productive of narcotic effects. The thinnest and
shortest roots are selected, and among them the lower parts
in particular, which have all the appearance of having been
for, is to the upper part, which is the thickest, and
bears a resemblance to an onion, it is given to dogs only, as a
purgative. The ancients used to select those roots the rind of
which was the most fleshy, from an idea that the pith extracted
there from was of a more refined110
nature. This substance they
covered with wet sponges, and, when it began to swell, used
to split it longitudinally with a needle; which done, the fila-
ments were dried in the shade, for future use. At the present
day, however, the fibres111
of the root with the thickest rind
are selected, and given to the patient just as they are. The
best hellebore is that which has an acrid, burning taste, and
when broken, emits a sort of dust. It retains its efficacy, they
say, so long as thirty years.
CHAP. 22.—TWENTY-FOUR REMEDIES DERIVED FROM BLACK HELLE-
BORE. HOW IT SHOULD BE TAKEN.
Black hellebore is administered for the cure of paralysis,
insanity, dropsy—provided there is no fever—chronic gout,
and diseases of the joints: it has the effect too, of carrying
off the bilious secretions and morbid humours by stool. It is
given also in water as a gentle aperient, the proportion being
one drachma at the very utmost, and four oboli for a moderate
dose. Some authorities have recommended mixing scammony
with it, but salt is looked upon as more safe. If given in any
considerable quantity in combination with a sweet substance,
it is highly dangerous: used in the form of a fomentation, it
disperses films upon the eyes; and hence it is that some medical
men have pounded it and used it for an eye-salve. It ripens
and acts detergently upon scrofulous sores, suppurations, and
indurated tumours, as also upon fistulas, but in this latter case
it must be removed at the end of a couple of days. In combination with copper filings112
and sandarach, it removes warts;
and it is applied to the abdominal regions, with barley-meal
and wine, in cases of dropsy.
This plant is employed for the cure of pituitous defluxions
in cattle and beasts of burden, a slip of it being passed113
through the ear, and removed at the same hour on the fol-
lowing day. With frankincense also, wax, and pitch, or else
it is used for the cure of itch in quadrupeds.
CHAP. 23.—TWENTY-THREE REMEDIES DERIVED FROM WHITE
The best white hellebore is that which acts most speedily as
a sternutatory; but it would seem to be a much more formidable115
plant than the black kind; more particularly if we read
in the ancient authors the precautions used by those about
to take it, against cold shiverings, suffocation, unnatural
drowsiness, continuous hiccup or sneezing, derangements of
the stomach, and vomitings, either retarded or prolonged, too
sparing or in excess. Indeed, it was generally the practice to
administer other substances to promote vomiting, and to carry
off the hellebore by the aid of purgatives or clysters, while
bleeding even was frequently had recourse to. In addition to
all this, however successful the results may prove, the symptoms
by which it is attended are really most alarming, by reason of
the various colours which the matter vomited presents: besides
which, after the vomiting has subsided, the physician has to
pay the greatest attention to the nature of the alvine evacuations, the due and proper use of the bath, and the general
regimen adopted by the patient; all of them inconveniences
in themselves, and preceded by the terrors naturally inspired
by the character of the drug; for one story is, that it has the
property of consuming flesh, if boiled with it.
The great error,116
however, on the part of the ancients was,
that in consequence of these fears, they used to give it too
sparingly, the fact being, that the larger the dose, the more
speedily it passes through the body. Themison used to give
no more than two drachmæ, but at a later period as much as
four drachmæ was administered; in conformity with the cele-
brated eulogium passed upon it by Herophilus,117
who was in
the habit of comparing hellebore to a valiant general, and
saying, that after it has set in motion all within, it is the
first to sally forth and show the way. In addition to these
particulars, there has been a singular discovery made: the
hellebore which, as we have already stated, has been cut with
a small pair of scissors,118
is passed through a sieve, upon which
the pith makes its way through, while the outer coat remains
behind. The latter acts as a purgative, while the former is
used for the purpose of arresting vomiting when that evacuation
is in excess.
CHAP. 24.—EIGHTY-EIGHT OBSERVATIONS UPON THE TWO KINDS
In order to secure a beneficial result, due precautions must
be taken not to administer hellebore in cloudy weather; for if
given at such a time, it is sure to be productive of excruciating
agonies. Indeed there is no doubt that summer is a better
time for giving it than winter: the body too, by an abstinence
from wine, must be prepared for it seven days previously,
emetics being taken on the fourth and third days before, and
the patient going without his evening meal the previous day.
White hellebore, too, is administered in a sweet119
though lentils or pottage are found to be the best for the purpose. There has been a plan also, lately discovered, of splitting
a radish, and inserting the hellebore in it, after which the
sections are pressed together; the object being that the strength
of the hellebore may be incorporated with the radish, and modified thereby.
At the end of about four hours it generally begins to be
brought up again; and within seven it has operated to the full
extent. Administered in this manner, it is good for epilepsy,
stated, vertigo, melancholy, insanity, delirium,
white elephantiasis, leprosy, tetanus, palsy, gout, dropsy, incipient tympanitis, stomachic affections, cynic spasms,121
quartan fevers which defy all other treatment, chronic coughs,
flatulency, and recurrent grippings in the bowels.
CHAP. 25.—TO WHAT PERSONS HELLEBORE SHOULD NEVER BE
It is universally recommended not to give hellebore to aged
people or children, to persons of a soft and effeminate habit of
body or mind, or of a delicate or tender constitution. It is given
less frequently too to females than to males; and persons of a
timorous disposition are recommended not to take it: the same
also, in cases where the viscera are ulcerated or tumefied, and
more particularly when the patient is afflicted with spitting of
blood, or with maladies of the side or fauces. Hellebore is applied, too, externally, with salted axle-grease, to morbid eruptions
of the body and suppurations of long standing: mixed with
polenta, it destroys rats and mice. The people of Gaul, when
hunting, tip their arrows with hellebore, taking care to cut
away the parts about the wound in the animal so slain: the
flesh, they say, is all the more tender for it. Flies are destroyed
with white hellebore, bruised and sprinkled about a place with
milk: phthiriasis is also cured by the use of this mixture.
CHAP. 26. (6.)—THE MITHRIDATIA.
Crateuas ascribes the discovery of one plant to Mithridates
himself, the name of which is "mithridatia."122
Near the root
it has two leaves resembling those of the acanthus, between
which it puts forth a stem supporting a flower at the extremity, like a rose.
CHAP. 27.—THE SCORDOTIS OR SCORDION: FOUR REMEDIES.
Lennæus attributes to Mithridates the discovery of another
plant, the scordotis123
or scordion, which has been described, he
tells us, by the hand even of that prince. This plant, he says,
is a cubit in height, and has a square stem, branchy, covered
with downy leaves, and resembling the quercus124
it is found growing in Pontus, in rich, humid soils, and has a
There is another125
variety also of this plant, with a larger
leaf, and resembling wild mint in appearance. They are both
of them used for numerous purposes, both individually and in
combination with other ingredients, as antidotes.
CHAP. 28.—THE POLEMONIA, PHILETÆRIA, OR CHILIODYNAMUS:
is known as the "philetæria" by some, in
consequence of the contest which has arisen between certain
kings for the honour of its discovery. The people of Cappadocia also give it the name of "chiliodynamus."127
The root of
it is substantial, and it has slender branches, with umbels
hanging from the extremities, and a black seed. In other
respects, it bears a resemblance to rue, and is found growing
in mountainous localities.
CHAP. 29.—THE EUPATORIA: ONE REMEDY.
also is a plant under royal patronage. The
stem of it is ligneous, hairy, and swarthy, and a cubit or more
in length. The leaves, arranged at regular intervals, resemble
those of cinquefoil or hemp; they have five indentations at the
edge, and are swarthy like the stem, and downy. The root is
never used. The seed, taken in wine, is a sovereign remedy
CHAP. 30.—CENTAURION OR CHIRONION: TWENTY REMEDIES.
it is said, effected a cure for Chiron, on the
occasion when, while handling the arms of Hercules, his
guest, he let one of the arrows fall upon his foot: hence it is
that by some it is called "chironion." The leaves of it are
large and oblong, serrated at the edge, and growing in
thick tufts from the root upwards. The stems, some three
cubits in height and jointed, bear heads resembling those of
the poppy. The root is large and spreading, of a reddish
colour, tender and brittle, a couple of cubits in length, and full
of a bitter juice, somewhat inclining to sweet.
This plant grows in rich soils upon declivities; the best in
quality being that of Arcadia, Elis, Messenia, Mount Pholoë, and
Mount Lycæus: it grows also upon the Alps, and in numerous
other localities, and in Lycia they prepare a lycium130
So remarkable are its properties for closing wounds, that
pieces of meat even, it is said, are soldered together, when boiled
with it. The root is the only part in use, being administered
in doses of two drachmæ in the several cases hereafter131
tioned. If, however, the patient is suffering from fever, it
should be bruised and taken in water, wine being used in
other cases. A decoction of the root is equally useful for all
the same purposes.
CHAP. 31.—THE CENTAURION LEPTON, OR LIBATION, KNOWN ALSO
AS FELL TERRÆ: TWENTY-TWO REMEDIES.
There is another centaury also, with diminutive leaves,
known by the additional name of "lepton."132
By some persons it is called "libadion,"133
from the circumstance that it
grows upon the borders of fountains. It is similar to origanum
in appearance, except that the leaves are narrower and longer.
The stem is angular, branchy, and a palm in height; the flower
is like that of the lychnis,134
and the root is thin, and never
used. It is in the juice that its medicinal properties are
centred: it being gathered in the autumn, and the juice extracted
from the leaves. Some persons cut up the stalks, and steep
them for some eighteen days in water, and then extract the
In Italy this kind of centaury is known as "gall"135
earth," from its extreme bitterness. The Gauls give it the
name of "exacum;"136
from the circumstance that, taken in
drink, it purges off all noxious substances by alvine evacuation.
CHAP. 32.—THE CENTAURIS TRIORCHIS: TWO REMEDIES.
There is a third kind of centaury also, known as the
It is but rarely that a person cuts it
without wounding himself. The juice emitted is just the
colour of blood.138
Theophrastus relates that this plant is under
the protection of the triorchis, a kind of hawk, which attacks
those who gather it; a circumstance to which it owes its
persons are in the habit of confounding all
these characteristics, and attributing them to the centaury
CHAP. 33. (7).—CLYMENUS : TWO REMEDIES.
Clymenus is a plant so called, after a certain king.140
has leaves like those of ivy, numerous branches, and a hollow,
jointed stem. The smell of it is powerful, and the seed like
that of ivy: it grows in wild and mountainous localities.
We shall have to state hereafter, of what maladies it is curative,
taken in drink, but it is as well to take the present opportunity
of remarking that, while effecting a cure, in the male sex it
neutralizes the generative powers.
The Greeks speak141
of this plant as being similar to the
plantago in appearance, with a square stem, and a seed in
capsules, interlaced like the arms of the polypus. The juice
of this plant, too, is used, being possessed of refreshing pro-
perties in a very high degree.
CHAP. 34.—GENTIAN: THIRTEEN REMEDIES.
was first discovered by Gentius, king of Illyria.
It is a plant to be found everywhere,143
but that of Illyria is
the finest. It has a leaf like that of the ash,144
but equal in
size to a lettuce-leaf: the stem is tender, about the thickness
of the thumb, hollow and empty, and covered with leaves at
regular intervals. This stem is sometimes three cubits in
length, and the root is flexible, swarthy,145
and inodorous. It
is found in the greatest abundance in humid localities at the
foot of the Alps. The root and juice are the parts of it
that are used: the root is possessed of certain warming pro-
perties, but it should never be taken by women in a state of
CHAP. 35.—THE LYSIMACHIA: EIGHT REMEDIES,
first discovered the plant which from
him has received the name of lysimachia, and the merits of
which have been so highly extolled by Erasistratus. This
plant has green leaves resembling those of the willow, and a
blossom: it has all the appearance of a shrub, the
branches are erect, and it has a pungent smell. It is found
growing in watery soils. The properties of it are so extremely
powerful, that if placed upon the yoke when beasts of burden
are restive, it will be sure to overcome all stubbornness on their
CHAP. 36.—ARTEMISIA, PARTHENIS, BOTRYS, OR AMBROSIA:
Women too have even affected an ambition to give their
name to plants: thus, for instance, Artemisia, the wife of
King Mausolus, adopted the plant, which before was known
by the name of "parthenis." There are some persons, however, who are of opinion that it received this surname from the
goddess Artemis Ilithyia,149
from the fact of its being used for
the cure of female complaints more particularly. It is a
plant with numerous branches, like those of wormwood, but
the leaves of it are larger and substantial.
There are two varieties of it; one has broader150
which last is of a slender form, with a more diminutive leaf, and grows nowhere but in maritime districts.
Some persons again, give this name to a plant152
more inland, with a single stem, extremely diminutive leaves,
and numerous blossoms which open at the ripening of the
grape, and the odour of which is far from unpleasant. In addition to this name, this last plant is known as "botrys" to some
persons, and "ambrosia" to others:153
it grows in Cappadocia.
CHAP. 37.—NYMPHÆA, HERACLEON, RHOPALON, OR MADON; TWO
VARIETIES OF IT: FOUR REMEDIES.
The plant called "nymphæa," owes its name, they say, to a
Nymph who died of jealousy conceived on account of Hercules,
for which reason it is also known as "heracleon" by some. By
other persons, again, it is called "rhopalon," from the resemblance of its root to a club.154
* * * * and hence it is that
those who take it in drink become impotent for some twelve
days, and incapacitated for procreation. That of the first
quality is found in Orchomenia and at Marathon: the people of
Bœotia call it "madon," and use the seed for food. It grows
in spots covered with water; the leaves155
of it are large, and
float upon the surface, while others are to be seen springing
from the roots below. The flower is very similar to a lily
in appearance, and after the plant has shed its blossom, the
place of the flower is occupied by a head like that of the
poppy. The stem is slender, and the plant is usually cut in
autumn. The root, of a swarthy hue, is dried in the sun;
manifests a peculiar antipathy to it.
There is another157
nymphæa also, which grows in the river
Peneus, in Thessaly: the root of it is white, and the head
yellow, about the size of a rose.
CHAP. 38.—TWO VARIETIES OF EUPHORBIA: FOUR REMEDIES.
In the time, too, of our fathers, King Juba discovered158
plant, to which he gave the name of "euphorbia," in honour
of his physician, Euphorbus, the brother of the same Musa,
whom We have mentioned159
as having saved the life of the late
Emperor Augustus. It was these brothers who introduced the
practice of douching the body with large quantities of cold
water, immediately after the bath, for the purpose of bracing
the system: whereas in former times, as we find stated in the
works of Homer160
even, it was the practice to wash the body
with warm water only. With reference to euphorbia,161
is a treatise still in existence, written upon it by King Juba,
in which he highly extols its merits: he discovered it growing
upon Mount Atlas, and describes it as resembling a thyrsus in
appearance, and bearing leaves like those of the acanthus.162
The properties of this plant are so remarkably powerful,163
that the persons engaged in collecting the juices of it are
obliged to stand at a considerable distance. The incisions are
made with a long pole shod with iron, the juice flowing into
receivers of kid-leather placed beneath. The juice has all the
appearance of milk, as it exudes, but when it has coagulated
and dried, it assumes the form and consistency of frankincense.
The persons engaged in collecting it, find their sight improved164
thereby. This juice is an excellent remedy for the stings of
serpents: in whatever part of the body the wound may have
been inflicted, the practice is to make an incision in the crown
of the head, and there introduce the medicament. The Gætuli
who collect it, are in the habit of adulterating it with warm
a fraud, however, easily to be detected by the agency
of fire, that which is not genuine emitting a most disgusting
Much inferior to this is the juice extracted, in Gaul,166
a plant which bears the grain of Cnidos. When
broken asunder, it resembles hammoniacum168
and however slightly tasted, it leaves a burning sensation in
the mouth, which lasts a considerable time, and increases every
now and then, until, in fact, it has quite parched the fauces.
CHAP. 39. (8.)—TWO VARIETIES OF THE PLANTAGO: FORTY-SIX
The physician Themiso, too, has conferred some celebrity
upon the plantago, otherwise a very common plant; indeed he
has written a treatise upon it, as though he had been the first
to discover it. There are two varieties; one, more diminutive169
than the other, has a narrower and more swarthy leaf,
strongly resembling a sheep's tongue in appearance: the stem
of it is angular and bends downwards, and it is generally found
growing in meadow lands. The larger170
kind has leaves
enclosed with ribs at the sides, to all appearance, from the
fact of which being seven171
in number, the plant has been
by some. The stem of it is a cubit in
height, and strongly resembles that of the turnip. That
which is grown in a moist soil is considered much the most
efficacious: it is possessed of marvellous virtues as a desiccative
and as an astringent, and has all the effect of a cautery. There
is nothing that so effectually arrests the fluxes known by the
Greeks as "rheumatismi."
CHAP. 40.—BUGLOSSOS: THREE REMEDIES.
To an account of the plantago may be annexed that of
the buglossos, the leaf of which resembles an ox tongue.173
main peculiarity of this plant is, that if put into wine, it pro-
mirth and hilarity, whence it has obtained the additional
name of "euphrosynum."175
CHAP. 41.—CYNOGLOSSOS: THREE REMEDIES.
To this plant we may also annex an account of the cynoglossos,176
the leaf of which resembles a dog's tongue, and which produces so pleasing an effect177
in ornamental gardening. The
root, it is said, of the kind which bears three178
stems surmounted with seed, is very useful, taken in water, for tertian,
and of that with four stems, for quartan, fevers.
There is another plant179
very similar to it, which bears
diminutive burrs resembling those of the lappa:180
the root of
it, taken in water, is curative of wounds inflicted by frogs181
CHAP. 42.—THE BUPHTALMOS OR CACHLA: ONE REMEDY.
There is the buphthalmos182
also, so called from its resemblance to an ox's eye, and with a leaf like that of fennel. It
grows in the vicinity of towns, and is a branchy plant, with
numerous stems, which are boiled and eaten. Some persons
give it the name of "cachla." In combination with wax, it
CHAP. 43.—PLANTS WHICH HAVE BEEN DISCOVERED BY CERTAIN
NATIONS. THE SCYTHICE: ONE REMEDY.
Entire nations, too, have been the discoverers of certain
plants. The Scythæ were the first to discover the plant known
which grows in the vicinity of the Palus185
Mæotis. Among its other properties, this plant is remarkably
sweet, and extremely useful for the affection known as
"asthma." It is also possessed of another great recommendation—so long as a person keeps it in his mouth, he will never186
experience hunger or thirst.
CHAP. 44.—THE HIPPACE: THREE REMEDIES.
another plant that grows in Scythia, is
possessed of similar properties: it owes188
its name to the
circumstance that it produces the like effect upon horses. By
the aid of these two plants, the Scythæ, they say, are enabled
to endure hunger and thirst, so long as twelve days even.
CHAP. 45.—THE ISCHÆMON: TWO REMEDIES.
The Thracians were the first to discover the ischæmon,189
which, it is said, has the property of stanching the flow of
blood, not only when a vein has been opened, but when it has
been cut asunder even. This is a creeping plant; it is like
millet in appearance, and the leaves of it are rough and lanuginous. It is used as a plug190
for the nostrils. The kind that
grows in Italy, attached to the body as an amulet, has the property of arresting hæmorrhage.
CHAP. 46.—THE CESTROS, PSYCHOTROPEION, VETTONICA, OR SERRA-
TULA: FORTY-EIGHT REMEDIES.
The Vettones, a people of Spain, were the original discoverers
of the plant known as the "vettonica"191
in Gaul, the "serratula"192
in Italy, and the "cestros" or "psychotrophon"193
Greece. This is a plant more highly esteemed than any other: it
puts forth an angular stem two cubits in height, and throws out
leaves from the root, with serrated edges, and closely resembling
those of lapathum.194
The seed of it is purple: the leaves are
dried and powdered, and used for numerous purposes. There
is a wine also prepared from it, and a vinegar, remarkably
beneficial to the stomach and the eyesight. Indeed, this plant
enjoys so extraordinary a reputation, that it is a common be-
lief even that the house which contains it is insured against
misfortunes of every kind.
CHAP. 47.—THE CANTABRICA: TWO REMEDIES.
In Spain, too, is found the cantabrica,195
which was first dis-
covered by the nation of the Cantabri in the time of the late
Emperor Augustus. It grows everywhere in those parts, having
a stem like that of the bulrush, a foot in height, and bearing
small oblong flowers, like a calathus196
in shape, and enclos-
ing an extremely diminutive seed.
Nor indeed, in other respects, have the people of Spain
been wanting in their researches into the nature of plants; for
at the present day even it is the custom in that country, at
their more jovial entertainments, to use a drink called the
hundred-plant drink, combined with a proportion of honied
wine; it being their belief, that the wine is rendered more whole-
some and agreeable by the admixture of these plants. It still
remains unknown to us, what these different plants are, or in
what number exactly they are used: as to this last question,
however, we may form some conclusion from the name that is
given to the beverage.
CHAP. 48.—CONSILIGO: ONE REMEDY.
Our own age, too, can remember the fact of a plant being
discovered in the country of the Marsi. It is found growing
also in the neighbourhood of the village of Nervesia, in the
territory of the Æquicoli, and is known by the name of
It is very useful, as we shall have occasion to
in the appropriate place, in cases of phthisis where
recovery is considered more than doubtful.
CHAP. 49.—THE IBERIS: SEVEN REMEDIES.
It is but very lately, too, that Servilius Democrates, one of
our most eminent physicians, first called attention to a plant
to which he gave the name of iberis,199
a fanciful appellation200
only, bestowed by him upon this discovery of his in the
verses by him devoted201
to it. This plant is found mostly
growing in the vicinity of ancient monuments, old walls, and
overgrown footpaths: it is an evergreen, and its leaves are
like those of nasturtium, with a stem a cubit in height, and a
seed so diminutive as to be hardly perceptible; the root, too,
has just the smell of nasturtium. Its properties are more
strongly developed in summer, and it is only used freshgathered: there is considerable difficulty in pounding it.
Mixed with a small proportion of axle-grease, it is extremely
useful for sciatica and all diseases of the joints; the application
being kept on some four hours at the utmost, when used by
the male sex, and about half that time in the case of females.
Immediately after its removal, the patient must take a warm
bath, and then anoint the body all over with oil and wine the same operation being repeated every twenty days, so long
as there are any symptoms of pain remaining. A similar
method is adopted for the cure of all internal defluxions; it
is never applied, however, so long as the inflammation is at its
height, but only when it has somewhat abated.
CHAP. 50.—PLANTS WHICH HAVE BEEN DISCOVERED BY CERTAIN
ANIMALS. CHELIDONIA: SIX REMEDIES.
The brute animals also have been the discoverers of certain
plants: among them, we will name chelidonia first of all. It
is by the aid of this plant that the swallow restores the sight
of the young birds in the nest, and even, as some persons will
have it, when the eyes have been plucked out. There are two
varieties of this plant; the larger202
kind has a branchy stem, and
a leaf somewhat similar to that of the wild parsnip,203
larger. The plant itself is some two cubits in height, and of
a whitish colour, that of the flower being yellow. The smaller204
kind has leaves like those of ivy, only rounder and not so
white. The juice of it is pungent, and resembles saffron in
colour, and the seed is similar to that of the poppy.
These plants blossom,205
both of them, at the arrival of the
swallow, and wither at the time of its departure. The juice
is extracted while they are in flower, and is boiled gently in a
copper vessel on hot ashes, with Attic honey, being esteemed
a sovereign remedy for films upon the eyes. This juice is
employed also, unmixed with any other substance, for the
which from it take their name of "chelidonia."
CHAP. 51.—THE DOG-PLANT: ONE REMEDY.
Dogs, too, are in the habit of seeking a certain plant,207
stimulant to the appetite; but although they eat it in our
presence, it has never yet been discovered what it is, it being
quite impossible to recognize it when seen half-chewed.
There has also been remarked another bit of spitefulness in
this animal, though in a much greater degree, in reference to
another plant. When stung by a serpent, it cures itself, they
say, by eating a certain herb, taking care, however, never to
gather it in presence of man.
CHAP. 52.—THE ELAPHOBOSCON.
The hind, with a much greater degree of frankness, has discovered to us the elaphoboscon, a plant of which we have
spoken, and which is also called "helxine,"209
assistance it affords those animals in yeaning.
CHAP. 53.—DICTAMNON: EIGHT REMEDIES. PSEUDODICTAMNON
OR CHONDRIS. IN WHAT PLACES THE MOST POWERFUL PLANTS
ARE FOUND. HOW THAT MILK IS DRUNK IN ARCADIA FOR THE
BENEFICIAL EFFECTS OF THE PLANTS UPON WHICH THE CATTLE
It is the hind, too, that, as already210
stated, first made us acquainted with dictamnon,211
or dittany; for when wounded, it
eats some of this plant, and the weapon immediately falls from
the body. This plant grows nowhere212
but in Crete. The
branches of it are remarkably thin; it resembles pennyroyal
in appearance, and is hot and acrid to the taste. The leaves
are the only part employed, it being destitute of213
seed, and stem: the root is thin., and never used. In Crete
even, it is found growing only in a very limited locality, and
is sought by goats with singular avidity.
In place of it, the pseudodictamnum214
is employed, a plant
that is found growing in many countries. In leaf it is similar
to the other, but the branches are more diminutive: by some
persons it is known as "chondris." Its properties not being
so strongly developed, the difference is immediately recognized:
for an infusion of the very smallest piece of the real dittany,
is sufficient to burn the mouth. The persons who gather it
are in the habit of enclosing it in a stem of fennel-giant or in a
reed, which they close at the ends that the virtues of it may
not escape. Some persons say, that both plants grow indiscriminately in numerous localities, the inferior sort being the
produce of rich soils, and the genuine dittany being found
nowhere but in rugged, uncultivated spots.
There is, again, a third215
plant called "dictamnum," which,
however, has neither the appearance nor the properties of the
other plant so called; the leaves of it are like those of sisymbrium,216
but the branches are larger.
There has long been this impression with reference to Crete,
that whatever plant grows there is infinitely superior in its
properties to a similar plant the produce of any other country;
the second rank being given to the produce of Mount Parnassus.
In addition to this, it is generally asserted that simples of excellent quality are found upon Mount Pelion in Thessaly,
Mount Teleuthrius in Eubœa, and throughout the whole of
Arcadia and Laconia. Indeed, the Arcadians, they say, are
in the habit of using, not the simples themselves, but milk,
in the spring season more particularly; a period at which the
field plants are swollen with juice, and the milk is medicated
by their agency. It is cows' milk in especial that they use
for this purpose, those animals being in the habit of feeding
upon nearly every kind of plant. The potent properties of
plants are manifested by their action upon four-footed animals
in two very remarkable instances: in the vicinity of Abdera
and the tract known as the Boundary217
of Diomedes, the horses,
after pasturing, become inflamed with frantic fury; the same
is the case, too, with the male asses, in the neighbourhood of
CHAP. 54.—THE ARISTOLOCHIA, CLEMATITIS, CRETICA, PLISTOTO-
CHIA, LOCHIA POLYRRHIZOS, OR APPLE OF THE EARTH: TWENTY-
In the number of the most celebrated plants is the aristo-
lochia, which would appear to have derived its name from
females in a state of pregnancy, as being ἀρίστη λοχούσαιχ.218
Among us, however, it is known as the "malum terræ," or
apple of the earth,219
four different varieties of it being distinguished. One of these has a root covered with tubercles of
shape, and leaves of a mixed appearance, between
those of the mallow and the ivy, only softer and more swarthy.
kind is the male plant, with an elongated root
some four fingers in length, and the thickness of a walking-stick. A third222
variety is extremely thin and long, similar to
a young vine in appearance: it has the most strongly-marked
properties of them all, and is known by the additional names
of "clematitis," and "cretica." All these plants are the
colour of boxwood, have a slender stem, and bear a purple flower
and small berries like those of the caper: the root is the only
part that is possessed of any virtues.
There is also a fourth223
kind, the name given to which is
"plistolochia;" it is more slender than the one last mentioned,
has a root thickly covered with filaments, and is about as thick
as a good-sized bulrush: another name given to it is "polyrrhizos." The smell of all these plants is medicinal, but that of
the one with an oblong root and a very slender stem, is the most
agreeable: this last, in fact, which has a fleshy outer coat, is
well adapted as an ingredient for nardine unguents even. They
grow in rich champaign soils, and the best time for gathering
them is harvest; after the earth is scraped from off them, they
are put by for keeping.
The aristolochia that is the most esteemed, however, is that
which comes from Pontus; but whatever the soil may happen
to be, the more weighty it is, the better adapted it is for medicinal purposes. The aristolochia with a round root is recommended for the stings of serpents, and that with an oblong
root * * * * But in this is centred its principal reputation; applied to the uterus with raw beef, as a pessary, immediately after conception, it will ensure the birth of male224
issue, they say. The fishermen on the coasts of Campania
give the round root the name of "poison of the earth;" and I
myself have seen them pound it with lime, and throw it into
the sea; immediately on which the fish flew towards it with
surprising avidity, and being struck dead in an instant, floated
upon the surface.
The kind that is known as "polyrrhizos,"225
good, they say, for convulsions, contusions, and falls with
violence, an infusion of the root being taken in water: the
seed, too, is useful for pleurisy and affections of the sinews. It
is considered, too, to be possessed of warming and strengthening
properties, similar to those of satyrion,226
CHAP. 55.—THE EMPLOYMENT OF THESE PLANTS FOR INJURIES
INFLICTED BY SERPENTS.
But it will be as well now to mention the various uses made
of these plants, and the effects produced by them, beginning
with that most dangerous of all evils that can befall us, stings
inflicted by serpents. In such cases the plant britannica227
effects a cure, and the same is the case with the root of all the
varieties of panaces,228
administered in wine. The flower, too,
and seed of panaces chironion are taken in drink, or applied
externally with wine and oil: cunila bubula,229
too, is looked
upon as particularly useful for this purpose, and the root of
polemonia or phileteris is taken in doses of four drachmæ in
unmixed wine. Teucria,230
in wine, plants particularly good, all of them, for injuries inflicted by snakes; the juice or leaves, or else a decoction of
them, being taken in drink or applied to the wound. For a
similar purpose also, the root of the greater centaury is taken,
in doses of one drachma to three cyathi of white wine. Gentian,
too, is particularly good for the stings of snakes, taken either
fresh or dried, in doses of two drachmæ, mixed with rue and
pepper in six cyathi of wine. The odour, too, of lysimachia233
puts serpents to flight.
is also given in wine to persons who have been
stung; and betony in particular is used as an external application to the wound, a plant the virtues of which are so extraordinary, it is said, that if a circle of it is traced around a
serpent, it will lash itself to death235
with its tail. The seed
of this plant is also administered in such cases, in doses of one
denarius to three cyathi of wine; or else it is dried and powdered, and applied to the wound, in the proportion of three
denarii of powder to one sextarius of water.
Cantabrica, dittany, and aristolochia, are also similarly used,
one drachma of the root of this last plant being taken every
now and then in a semisextarius of wine. It is very useful
too, rubbed in with vinegar, and the same is the case, also,
indeed it will be quite sufficient to suspend
this last over the hearth, to make all serpents leave the house.
CHAP. 56. (9.)—THE ARIGEMONIA: FOUR REMEDIES.
too, is remedial in such cases; the root of
it being taken, in doses of one denarius, in three cyathi of
wine. It will be as well, however, to enter into some further
details in reference to this plant and others, which I shall have
occasion next to mention; it being my intention first to describe,
under each head, those plants which are the most efficacious
for the treatment of the affection under consideration.
The argemonia has leaves like those of the anemone, but
like those of parsley: the head grows upon a slender
stem resembling that of the wild poppy, and the root is also
very similar to that of the same plant. The juice is of a
saffron colour, acrid and pungent: the plant is commonly
found in the fields of this country. Among us there are three239
varieties of it distinguished, the one being the most highly
approved of, the root of which smells240
CHAP. 57.—AGARIC: THIRTY-THREE REMEDIES.
is found growing in the form of a fungus of a white
colour, upon the trees in the vicinity of the Bosporus. It is
administered in doses of four oboli, beaten up in two cyathi of
oxymel. The kind that grows in Galatia is generally looked
upon as not so efficacious. The male243
agaric is firmer than
the other, and more bitter; it is productive too of head-ache.
The female plant is of a looser texture; it has a sweet taste at
first, which speedily changes into a bitter flavour.
CHAP. 58.—THE ECHIOS; THREE VARIETIES OF IT: TWO REMEDIES.
Of the echios there are two kinds; one244
of which resembles
pennyroyal in appearance, and has a concave leaf. It is administered, in doses of two drachmæ, in four cyathi of wine.
kind is distinguished by a prickly down, and bears
small heads resembling those of vipers: it is usually taken in
wine and vinegar. Some persons give the name of "echios
to a kind of echios with larger leaves than the
others, and burrs of considerable size, resembling that of the
The root of this plant is boiled and administered in
Henbane, pounded with the leaves on, is taken in wine, for
the sting of the asp in particular.
CHAP. 59.—HIERABOTANE, PERISTEREON, OR VERBENACA; TWO
VARIETIES OF IT: TEN REMEDIES.
But among the Romans there is no plant that enjoys a more
extended renown than hierabotane,248
known to some persons
and among us more generally as "verbenaca."250
It is this plant that we have already251
being borne in the hands of envoys when treating with the
enemy, with this that the table of Jupiter is cleansed,252
this that houses are purified and due expiation made. There
are two varieties of it: the one that is thickly covered with
is thought to be the female plant; that with fewer
the male. Both kinds have numerous thin branches,
a cubit in length, and of an angular form. The leaves are
smaller than those of the quercus, and narrower, with larger
indentations. The flower is of a grey colour, and the root
is long and thin. This plant is to be found growing everywhere, in level humid localities. Some persons make no
distinction between these two varieties, and look upon them as
identical, from the circumstance of their being productive of
precisely similar effects.
The people in the Gallic provinces make use of them both for
soothsaying purposes, and for the prediction of future events;
but it is the magicians more particularly that give utterance to
such ridiculous follies in reference to this plant. Persons, they
tell us, if they rub themselves with it will be sure to gain the
object of their desires; and they assure us that it keeps away
fevers, conciliates friendship, and is a cure for every possible
disease; they say, too, that it must be gathered about the
rising of the Dog-star—but so as not to be shone upon by sun
or moon—and that honey-combs and honey must be first presented to the earth by way of expiation. They tell us also
that a circle must first be traced around it with iron; after
which it must be taken up with the left hand, and raised aloft,
care being taken to dry the leaves, stem, and root, separately
in the shade. To these statements they add, that if the banqueting couch is sprinkled with water in which it has been
steeped, merriment and hilarity will be greatly promoted
As a remedy for the stings of serpents, this plant is bruised
CHAP. 60.—THE BLATTARIA: ONE REMEDY.
There is a plant very similar in appearance to verbascum,255
so much so, indeed, as to be frequently gathered for it by mistake. The leaves, 256
however, are not so white, the stems are
more numerous, and the flower is of a yellow colour. Thrown
upon the ground, this plant attracts black beetles257
to it, whence
its Roman appellation "blattaria."
CHAP. 61.—LEMONIUM : ONE REMEDY.
furnishes a milky juice, which thickens like
gum. It grows in moist, watery localities, and is generally
administered, in doses of one denarius, in wine.
CHAP. 62.—QUINQUEFOLIUM, KNOWN ALSO AS PENTAPETES, PEN-
TAPHYLLON, OR CHAMÆZELON: THIRTY-THREE REMEDIES.
There is no one to whom quinquefolium259
is unknown, being
recommended by a sort of strawberry260
which it bears: The
Greeks give it the name of pentapetes,261
The root, when taken up, is red; but as it
dries it becomes black and angular. Its name is derived from
the number of its leaves: it puts forth and withers with the
leaves of the vine. This plant also is employed in the purification of houses.
CHAP. 63.—THE SPARGANION : ONE REMEDY.
The root, too, of the plant known as the sparganion,264
taken in white wine, as a remedy for the stings of serpents.
CHAP. 64.—FOUR VARIETIES OF THE DAUCUS: EIGHTEEN
Petronius Diodotus has distinguished four kinds of daucus,
which it would be useless here to describe, the varieties being
in reality but two265
in number. The most esteemed kind is that
the next best being the produce of Achaia, and of
all dry localities. It resembles fennel in appearance, only
that its leaves are whiter, more diminutive, and hairy on the
surface. The stem is upright, and a foot in length, and the root
has a remarkably pleasant taste and smell. This kind grows
in stony localities with a southern aspect.
The inferior sorts are found growing everywhere, upon declivities for instance, and in the hedges of fields, but always in
a rich soil. The leaves are like those of coriander,267
being a cubit in length, the heads round, often three or more in
number, and the root ligneous, and good for nothing when
dry. The seed of this kind is like that of cummin, while that
of the first kind bears a resemblance to millet; in all cases
it is white, acrid, hot, and odoriferous. The seed of the
second kind has more active properties than that of the first;
for which reason it should be used more sparingly.
If it is considered really desirable to recognize a third
variety of the daucus, there is a plant268
of this nature very
similar to the staphylinos, known as the "pastinaca269
with an oblong seed and a sweet root. Quadrupeds will touch
none of these plants, either in winter or in summer, except
indeed, after abortion.270
The seed of the various kinds is used,
with the exception of that of Crete, in which case it is the
root that is employed; this root being particularly useful for the
stings of serpents. The proper dose is one drachma, taken in
wine. It is administered also to cattle when stung by those
CHAP. 65.—THE THERIONARCA: TWO REMEDIES.
The therionarca, altogether a different plant from that of
grows in our own climates, and is a branchy plant,
with greenish leaves, and a rose-coloured flower. It has a
deadly effect upon serpents, and the very contact of it is suf-
ficient to benumb272
a wild beast, of whatever kind it be.
CHAP. 66.—THE PERSOLATA OR ARCION; EIGHT REMEDIES.
a plant known to every one, and called
"arcion" by the Greeks, has a leaf, larger, thicker, more
swarthy, and more hairy than that of the gourd even, with a
large white root. This plant also is taken, in doses of two
denarii, in wine.
CHAP. 67.—CYCLAMINOS OR TUBER TERRÆ: TWELVE REMEDIES.
So too, the root of cyclaminos274
is good for injuries inflicted
by serpents of all kinds. It has leaves smaller than those of
ivy, thinner, more swarthy, destitute of angles, and covered
with whitish spots. The stem is thin and hollow, the flowers
of a purple colour, and the root large and covered with a
black rind; so much so, in fact, that it might almost be taken
for the root of rape. This plant grows in umbrageous localities, and by the people of our country is known as the "tuber
It ought to be grown in every house, if there is any
truth in the assertion that wherever it grows, noxious spells
can have no effect. This plant is also what is called an
"amulet;" and taken in wine, they say, it produces all the
symptoms and appearances of intoxication. The root is dried,
cut in pieces, like the squill, and put away for keeping. When
wanted, a decoction is made of it, of the consistency of honey.
Still, however, it has some deleterious276
properties; and a
pregnant woman, it is said, if she passes over the root of it,
will be sure to miscarry.
CHAP. 68.—THE CYCLAMINOS CISSANTHEMOS: FOUR REMEDIES.
There is also another kind of cyclaminos, known by the additional name of "cissanthemos;"277
the stems of it, which are
jointed, are good for nothing. It is altogether different from
the preceding plant, and entwines around the trunks of trees.
It bears a berry similar to that of the ivy, but soft; and the
flower is white and pleasing to the sight. The root is never
used. The berries are the only part of it in use, being of an
acrid, viscous taste. They are dried in the shade, after which
they are pounded and divided into lozenges.
CHAP. 69.—THE CYCLAMINOS CHAMÆCISSOS: THREE REMEDIES.
A third kind278
of cyclaminos has also been shown to me, the
additional name of which is "chamæcissos." It consists of
but a single leaf, with a branchy root, formerly employed for
CHAP. 70.—PEUCEDANUM: TWENTY-EIGHT REMEDIES.
But in the very first rank among these plants, stands peucedanum,279
the most esteemed kind of which is that of Arcadia, the
next best being that of Samothrace. The stem resembles that of
fennel, is thin and long, covered with leaves close to the ground,
and terminating in a thick black juicy root, with a powerful smell.
It grows on umbrageous mountains, and is taken up at the end
of autumn. The largest and tenderest roots are the most esteemed; they are cut with bone-knives into slips four fingers
in length, and left to shed their juice280
in the shade; the persons
employed taking the precaution of rubbing the head and nostrils with rose-oil, as a preservative against vertigo.
There is also another kind of juice, which adheres to the
stems, and exudes from incisions made therein. It is considered best when it has arrived at the consistency of honey:
the colour of it is red, and it has a strong but agreeable smell,
and a hot, acrid taste. This juice, as well as the root and a
decoction of it, enters into the composition of numerous medicaments, but the juice has the most powerful properties of
the two. Diluted with bitter almonds or rue, it is taken in
drink as a remedy for injuries inflicted by serpents. Rubbed
upon the body with oil, it is a preservative against the attacks
of those reptiles.
CHAP. 71. (10.)—EBULUM : SIX REMEDIES.
A fumigation, too, of ebulum,281
a plant known to every one,
will put serpents to flight.
CHAP. 72.—POLEMONIA: ONE REMEDY.
The root of polemonia282
even worn as an amulet only, is
particularly useful for repelling the attacks of scorpions, as also
the phalangium and other small insects of a venomous nature.
For injuries inflicted by the scorpion, aristolochia283
is also used,
or agaric, in doses of four oboli to four cyathi of wine. For
the bite of the phalangium, vervain is employed, in combination with wine or oxycrate: cinquefoil, too, and daucus, are
used for a similar purpose.
CHAP. 73.—PHLOMOS OR VERBASCUM: FIFTEEN REMEDIES.
Verbascum has the name of "phlomos" with the Greeks.
Of this plant there are two principal kinds; the white,284
is considered to be the male, and the black,285
thought to be the
female. There is a third286
kind, also, which is only found in
the woods. The leaves of these plants are larger than those of
the cabbage, and have a hairy surface: the stem is upright, and
more than a cubit in height, and the seed black, and never
used. The root is single, and about the thickness of the finger.
The two principal kinds are found growing in champaign localities. The wild verbascum has leaves like those of elelisphacus,287
but of an elongated form; the branches are ligneous.
CHAP. 74.—THE PHLOMIS: ONE REMEDY. THE LYCHNITIS OR
There are also two288
varieties of the phlomis, hairy plants,
with rounded leaves, and but little elevated above the surface
of the earth. A third kind, again, is known as the "lychnitis"289
by some persons, and as the "thryallis" by others: it has three
leaves only, or four at the very utmost, thick and unctuous,
and well adapted for making wicks for lamps. The leaves of
the phlomos which we have mentioned as the female plant, if
wrapped about figs, will preserve them most efficiently from
decay, it is said. It seems little better than a loss of time to
give the distinguishing characteristics of these three290
the effects of them all being precisely the same.
For injuries inflicted by scorpions, an infusion of the root
is taken, with rue, in water. Its bitterness is intense, but it
is quite as efficacious as the plants already mentioned.
CHAP. 75.—THE THELYPHONON OR SCORPIO: ONE REMEDY.
is a plant known as the "scorpio" to some,
from the peculiar form of its roots, the very touch of which
the scorpion: hence it is that it is taken in drink for stings
inflicted by those reptiles. If a dead scorpion is rubbed with
white hellebore, it will come to life, they say. The thelyphonon is fatal to all quadrupeds, on the application of the root to
the genitals. The leaf too, which bears a resemblance to that
of cyclaminos, is productive of a similar effect, in the course of
the same day. It is a jointed plant, and is found growing in
unbrageous localities. Juice of betony or of plantago is a
preservative against the venom of the scorpion.
CHAP. 76.—THE PHLYNION, NEURAS, OR POTERION ; ONE
Frogs, too, have their venom, the bramble-frog293
and I myself have seen the Psylli, in their exhibitions,
irritate them by placing them upon flat vessels made red hot,294
their bite being fatal more instantaneously than the sting even
of the asp. One remedy for their poison is the phrynion,295
taken in wine, which has also the additional names of "neuras"296
and "poterion:" it bears a small flower, and has numerous
fibrous roots, with an agreeable smell.
CHAP. 77.—THE ALISMA, DAMASONION, OR LYRON: SEYENTEEN
Similar, too, are the properties of the alisma,297
known to some
persons as the "danmasonion," and as the "lyron" to others.
The leaves of it would be exactly those of the plantago, were it
not that they are narrower, more jagged at the edges, and
bent downwards in a greater degree. In other respects, they
present the same veined appearance as those of the plantago.
This plant has a single stern, slender, a cubit in height, and
terminated by a spreading head.298
The roots of it are numerous, thin like those of black hellebore, acrid, unctuous, and
odoriferous: it is found growing in watery localities.
There is another kind also, which grows in the woods, of a
more swarthy colour, and with larger leaves. The root of
them both is used for injuries inflicted by frogs and by the
in doses of one drachma taken in wine. Cyclaminos, too, is an antidote for injuries inflicted by the sea-hare.
The bite of the mad dog lias certain venomous properties,
as an anitidote to which we have the cynorrhodos, of which
we have spoken300
elsewhere already. The plantago is useful
for the bites of all kinds of animals, either taken in drink or
applied topically to the part affected. Betony is taken on
similar occasions, in old wine, unmixed.
CHAP. 78.—PERISTEREOS: SIX REMEDIES.
The name of peristereos301
is given to a plant with a tall stem,
covered with leaves, and throwing out other stems from the top.
It is much sought by pigeons, to which circumstance it
owes its name. Dogs will never bark, they say, at persons
who have this plant about them.
CHAP. 79.— REMEDIES AGAINST CERTAIN POISONS.
Closely approaching in their nature to these various kinds of
poisons, are those which have been devised by man for his own
destruction. In the number of antidotes to all these artificial
poisons as well as to the spells of sorcery, the very first place
must be accorded to the moly302
of Homer; next to which come
and centaury. The seed of betony
carries offail kinds of noxious substances by stool; being taken
for the purpose in honied wine or raisin wine, or else pulverized,
and taken, in doses of one drachma, in four cyathi of old wine:
in this last case, however, the patient must bring it off the
stomach by vomit and then repeat the dose. Persons who
accustom themselves to take this plant daily, will never experience any injury, they say, from substances of a poisonous
When a person has taken poison, one most powerful remedy
taken in the same proportions as those used for
injuries inflicted by serpents.306
The juice, too, of cinquefoil is
given for a similar purpose; and in both cases, after the patient
has vomited, agaric is administered, in doses of one denarius, in
three cyathi of hydromel.
CHAP. 80.—THE ANTIRREHINUM, ANARRHlNON, OR LYCHNIS AGRIA:
The name of antirrhinum307
or anarrhinon is given to the
a plant which resembles flax in appearance, is
destitute of root, has a flower like that of the hyacinth, and
a seed similar in form to the muzzle of a calf. According to
what the magicians say, persons who rub themselves with this
plant improve their personal appearance thereby; and they
may ensure themselves against all noxious substances and
poisons, by wearing it as a bracelet.
CHAP. 81.—EUCLEA: ONE EBMEDY.
The same is the case, too, with the plant to which they give
the name of "euclea,"309
and which, they tell us, rubbed upon
the person, will ensure a more extended consideration. They
say, too, that if a person carries artemisia310
about him, he will
be ensured against all noxious drugs, the attacks of wild beasts
of every kind, and sunstroke even. This last plant is taken
also in wine, in cases of poisoning by opium. Used as an
amulet, or taken in drink, it is said to be particularly efficacious for injuries inflicted by frogs.
CHAP. 82.—TIE PERICARPUM; TWO VARIETIES OF IT: TWO
The pericarpum is a kind of bulbous plant. There are two
varieties of it; one with a red311
outer coat, and the other,312
similar in appearance to the black poppy, and possessed of
greater virtues than the first. They are both, however, of a
warming nature, for which reason they are administered to
persons who have taken hemlock, a poison for which frankincense and panaces are used, chironion313
in particular. This
last, too, is given in cases of poisoning by fungi.
CHAP. 83. (11.)—REMEDIES FOR DISEASES OF THE HEAD.
NYMPHÆA HERACLIA: TWO REMEDIES.
But we shall now proceed to point out the various classes
of remedies for the several parts of the body, and the maladies
to which those parts are subject, beginning in the first place
with the head.
The root of nymphæa heraclia314
effects the cure of alopecy,
if they are beaten up together,315
and applied. The polythrixs316
differs from the callitrichos317
in having white, rushlike suckers,
larger leaves, and more numerous; the main stem,318
larger. This plant strengthens the hair, prevents it from
falling off, and makes it grow more thickly.
CHAP. 84.—THE LINGULACA : ONE REMEDY.
The same is the case too with the lingulaca,319
a plant that
grows in the vicinity of springs, and the root of which is
reduced to ashes, and beaten up with hog's lard. Due care
must be taken, however, that it is the lard of a female, of a
black colour, and one that has never farrowed. Tile application
is rendered additionally efficacious, if the ointment is applied in
the sun. Root, too, of cyclaminos is employed in the same
manner for a similar purpose. A decoction of root of hellebore in oil or in water is used for the removal of porrigo. Fur
the cure of head-ache, root of all kinds of panaces320
beaten up in oil; as also aristolochia321
this last being
applied to the head for an hour or more, if the patient can;
bear it so long, care being taken to bathe in the meanwhile.
The daucus, too, is curative of head-ache. Cyclasninos,323
duced into the nostrils with honey, clears the head: used in
the form of a liniment, it heals ulcers of the head. Peristereos,324
also, is curative of diseases of the head.
CHAP. 85.—THE CACALIA OR LEONTICE: THREE REMEDIES.
The name of "cacalia"325
or "leontice" is given to a plant
with seed resembling small pearls in appearance, and hanging down between large leaves: it is mostly found upon
mountains. Fifteen grains of this seed are macerated in oil,
and the head is rubbed with the mixture, the contrary way to
CHAP. 86.—THE CALLITRICHOS: ONE REMEDY.
A sternutatory, too, is prepared from the callitrichos.326
leaves of this plant are similar to those of the lentil, and the
stems resemble fine rushes; the root is very diminutive. It
grows in shady, moist localities, and has a burning taste in the
CHAP. 87.—HYSSOP: TEN REMEDIES.
beaten up in oil, is curative of phthiriasis and
prurigo of the head. The best hyssop is that of Mount
Taurus in Cilicia, next to which in quality is the produce of
Pamphylia and Smyrna. This plant is injurious to the
stomach: taken with figs, it produces alvine evacuations, and
used in combination with honey, it acts as an emetic. It is
generally thought that, beaten up with honey, salt, and cum-
min, it is curative of the stings of serpents.
CHAP. 88.—THE LONCHITIS : FOUR REMEDIES.
The lonchitis 328
is not, as most writers have imagined, the
same plant as the xiphion329
or phasganion, although the seed
of it does bear a resemblance to the point of a spear. The
lonchitis, in fact, has leaves like those of the leek, of a reddish colour near the root, and more numerous there than on the
upper part of the stem. It bears diminutive heads, which are
very similar to our masks of comedy, and from which a small
the roots of it are remarkably long. It
grows in thirsty, arid soils.
CHAP. 89.—THE XIPHION OR PHASGANION: FOUR REMEDIES.
or phasganion, on the other hand, is found
growing in humid localities. On first leaving the ground it
has the appearance of a sword; the stem of it is two cubits in
length, and the root is fringed like a hazel nut.332
This root should always be taken up before harvest, and
dried in the shade. The upper part of it, pounded with
frankincense, and mixed with an equal quantity of wine, extracts fractured bones of the cranium, purulent matter in all
parts of the body, and bones of serpents,333
trodden upon; it is very efficacious, too, for poisons. In cases
of head-ache, the head should be rubbed with hellebore, boiled
and beaten up in olive oil, or oil of roses, or else with peucedanum steeped in olive oil or rose oil, and vinegar. This last
plant, made lukewarm, is very good also for hemicrania334
vertigo. It being of a heating nature, the body is rubbed with
the root as a sudorific.
CHAP. 90.—PSYLLION, CYNOÏDES, CRYSTALLION, SICELICON, OR
CYNOMYIA; SIXTEEN REMEDIES. TIRYSELINUM: ONE REMEDY.
cynoïdes, crystallion, sicelicon, or cynomyia, has
a slender root, of which no use is made, and numerous thin
branches, with seeds resembling those of the bean, at the extremities.336
The leaves of it are not unlike a dog's head in
and the seed, which is enclosed in berries, bears a
resemblance to a flea—whence its name "psyllion." This plant
is generally found growing in vineyards, is of a cooling nature,
and is extremely efficacious as a dispellent. The seed of it is
the part made use of; for head-ache, it is applied to the forehead and temples with rose oil and vinegar, or else with
oxycrate; it is used as a liniment for other purposes also.
Mixed in the proportion of one acetabulum to one sextarius of
water, it is left to coagulate and thicken; after which it is
beaten up, and the thick solution is used as a liniment for all
kinds of pains, abscesses, and inflammations.
Aristolochia is used as a remedy for wounds in the head; it
has the property, too, of extracting fractured bones, not only
from other parts of the body, but the cranium in particular.
The same, too, with plistolochia.
is a plant not unlike parsley; the root of it,
eaten, carries off pituitous humours from the head.
CHAP. 91. (12.)—REMEDIES FOR DISEASES OF THE EYES.
It is generally thought that the greater centaury339
the sight, if the eyes are fomented with it steeped in water;
and that by employing the juice of the smaller kind, in combination with honey, films and cloudiness may be dispersed,
marks obliterated, and small flies removed which have got
into the eve. It is thought also that sideritis is curative of
albugo in beasts of burden. As to chelidonia,340
it is marvellously good for all the affections above mentioned. Root of
is applied, with polenta,342
to defluxions of the eyes;
and for the purpose of keeping them down, henbane-seed is
taken, in doses of one obolus, with an equal proportion of
opium, in wine. Juice, too, of gentian is used as a lini-
ment, and it sometimes forms an ingredient in the more active eyesalves,343
as a substitute for meconium. Euphorbia,344
applied in the form of a liniment, improves the eyesight,
and for ophthalmia juice of plantago345
is injected into the
Aristolochia disperses films upon the eyes; and iberis,346
attached to the head with cinquefoil, is curative of defluxions
and other diseases of the eyes. Verbascum347
is applied topically to defluxions of the eyes, and vervain is used for a
similar purpose, with rose oil and vinegar. For the treatment of cataract and dimness of sight, cyclaminos is reduced
to a pulp and divided into lozenges. Juice, too, of peu-
cedanum, as already mentioned,348
mixed with meconium and oil
of roses, is good for the sight, and disperses films upon the
applied to the forehead, arrests defluxions of
CHAP. 92. (13.)—THE ANAGALLIS, OR CORCHORON; TWO VARIE-
TIES OF IT: SIX REMEDIES.
The anagallis is called "corchoron"350
by some. There are
two kinds of it, the male351
plant, with a red blossom, and the
with a blue flower. These plants do not exceed a
palm in height, and have a tender stem, with diminutive
leaves of a rounded form, drooping upon the ground. They
grow in gardens and in spots covered with water, the blue
anagallis being the first to blossom. The juice353
plant, applied with honey, disperses films upon the eyes,
suffusions of blood354
in those organs resulting from blows, and
with a red tinge: if used in combination with Attic
honey, they are still more efficacious. The anagallis has the
effect also of dilating356
the pupil; hence the eye is anointed
with it before the operation of couching357
for cataract. These
plants are employed also for diseases of the eyes in beasts of
The juice, injected into the nostrils, which are then rinsed
with wine, acts as a detergent upon the head: it is taken also,
in doses of one drachma, in wine, for wounds inflicted by serpents. It is a remarkable fact, that cattle will refuse to touch
the female plant; but if it should so happen that, deceived by
the resemblance—the flower being the only distinguishing
mark—they have accidentally tasted it, they immediately have
recourse, as a remedy, to the plant called "asyla," 358
generally known among us as "ferus oculus."359
recommend those who gather it, to prelude by saluting it
before sunrise, and then, before uttering another word, to take
care and extract the juice immediately if this is done, they
say, it will be doubly efficacious.
As to the juice of euphorbia, we have spoken360
of its properties at sufficient length already. In cases of ophthalmia,
attended with swelling, it will be a good plan to apply wormwood beaten up with
honey, as well as powdered betony.
CHAP. 93.—THE ÆGILOPS : TWO REMEDIES.
The fistula of the eye, called "ægilops," is cured by the
agency of the plant of the same name,361
which grows among
barley, and has a leaf like that of wheat. The seed is
pounded for the purpose, and applied with meal; or else the
juice is extracted from the stem and more pulpy leaves, the
ears being first removed. This juice is incorporated with meal
of three-month wheat, and divided into lozenges.
CHAP. 94.—MANDRAGORA, CIRCÆON, MORION, OR HIPPOPHLOMOS;
TWO VARIETIES OF IT: TWENTY-FOUR REMEDIES.
Some persons, too, were in the habit of employing mandragora for diseases of the eyes; but more recently the use of it
for such a purpose has been abandoned. It is a well-ascertained
fact, however, that the root, beaten up with rose oil and
wine, is curative of defluxions of the eyes and pains in those
organs; and, indeed, the juice of this plant still forms an ingredient in many medicaments for the eyes. Some persons
give it the name of "circæon."362
There are two varieties,
mandragora, which is generally thought to be the
male plant, and the black,364
which is considered to be the
female. It has a leaf narrower than that of the lettuce, a
hairy stem, and a double or triple root, black without and
white within, soft and fleshy, and nearly a cubit in length.
Both kinds bear a fruit about the size of a hazel-nut,
enclosing a seed resembling the pips of a pear in appearance.
The name given to the white plant by some persons is
by others "morion,"366
and by others again, "hippophlomos." The leaves of it are white, while those of the other
are broader, and similar to those of garden lapathum368
appearance. Persons, when about to gather this plant, take
every precaution not to have the wind blowing in their face;
and, after tracing three circles round it with a sword, turn
towards the west and dig it up.369
The juice is extracted both
from the fruit and from the stalk, the top being first removed;
also from the root, which is punctured for the purpose, or else
a decoction is made of it. The filaments, too, of the root are
made use of, and it is sometimes cut up into segments and
kept in wine.
It is not the mandragora of every country that will yield a
juice, but where it does, it is about vintage time that it is
collected: it has in all cases a powerful odour, that of the
root and fruit the most so. The fruit is gathered when ripe,
and dried in the shade; and the juice, when extracted, is left
to thicken in the sun. The same is the case, too, with the
juice of the root, which is extracted either by pounding it or
by boiling it down to one third in red wine. The leaves
are best, kept in brine; indeed, when fresh, the juice of them
is a baneful poison,370
and these noxious properties are far from
being entirely removed, even when they are preserved in
brine. The very odour of them is highly oppressive to the
head, although there are countries in which the fruit is eaten.
Persons ignorant of its properties are apt to be struck dumb
by the odour of this plant when in excess, and too strong a
dose of the juice is productive of fatal effects.
Administered in doses proportioned to the strength of the
patient, this juice has a narcotic effect; a middling dose being
one cyathus. It is given, too, for injuries inflicted by serpents,
and before incisions or punctures are made in the body, in
order to ensure insensibility to the pain.371
Indeed, for this last
purpose, with some persons, the odour of it is quite sufficient
to induce sleep. The juice is taken also as a substitute for
hellebore, in doses of two oboli, in honied wine: hellebore,
however, is more efficacious as an emetic, and as an evacuant
of black bile.
CHAP. 95.—HEMLOCK: THIRTEEN REMEDIES.
too, is a poisonous plant, rendered odious by the
use made of it by the Athenian people, as an instrument of
capital punishment: still,373
however, as it is employed for
many useful purposes, it must not be omitted. It is the seed
that is noxious, the stalk being eaten by many people, either
green, or cooked374
in the saucepan. This stem is smooth,
jointed like a reed, of a swarthy hue, often as much as two
cubits in height, and branchy at the top. The leaves are like
those of coriander, only softer, and possessed of a powerful
odour. The seed is more substantial than that of anise, and
the root is hollow and never used. The seed and leaves are
possessed of refrigerating properties; indeed, it is owing to
these properties that it is so fatal, the cold chills with which it
is attended commencing at the extremities. The great remedy 375
for it, provided it has not reached the vitals, is wine, which is
naturally of a warming tendency; but if it is taken in wine.
it is irremediably fatal.
A juice is extracted from the leaves and flowers; for it is
at the time of its blossoming that it is in its full vigour. The
seed is crushed, and the juice extracted from it is left to
thicken in the sun, and then divided into lozenges. This
preparation proves fatal by coagulating the blood—another
deadly property which belongs to it; and hence it is that the
bodies of those who have been poisoned by it are covered with
spots. It is sometimes used in combination with water as a medium for diluting certain medicaments. An emollient poultice
is also prepared from this juice, for the purpose of cooling the
stomach; but the principal use made of it is as a topical application, to check defluxions of the eyes in summer, and to
allay pains in those organs. It is employed also as an ingre-
dient in eyesalves, and is used for arresting fluxes in other parts
of the body: the leaves, too, have a soothing effect upon all
kinds of pains and tumours, and upon defluxions of the eyes.
Anaxilaüs makes a statement to the effect, that if the
are rubbed with hemlock (luring virginity, they will
always be hard and firm: but a better-ascertained fact is, that
to the mamillæ, it dries up the mill in women re-
cetntly delivered; as also that, applied to the testes at the age
of puberty, it acts most effectually as an antaphrodisiac.378
to those cases in which it is recommended to take it internally
as a remedy, I shall, for my own part, decline to mention them.
The most powerful hemlock is that grown at Susa, in Parthia,
the next best being the produce of Laconia, Crete, and Asia.379
In Greece, the hemlock of the finest quality is that of Megara,
and next to it, that of Attica.
CHAP. 96.—CRETHMOS AGRIOS : ONE REMEDY.
applied to the eyes, removes rheum; and,
with the addition of polenta, it causes tumours to disappear.
CHAP. 97.—MOLYBDÆNA: ONE REMEDY.
also grows everywhere in the fields, a plant
commonly known as "plumbago."382
It has leaves like those of
and a thick, hairy root. Chewed and applied to the
eye from time to time, it removes the disease called "plumbum,"384
which affects that organ.
CHAP. 98.—THE FIRST KIND OF CAPNOS, KNOWN ALSO AS CHICKEN'S
FOOT: ONE REMEDY.
The first kind of capnos,385
known also as "chicken's foot,"386
found growing on walls and hedges: it has very thin,
straggling branches, with a purple blossom. It is used in a
green state, and the juice of it disperses films upon the eyes;
hence it is that it is employed as an ingredient in medicinal
compositions for the eyes.
CHAP. 99.—THE ARBORESCENT CAPNOS: THREE REMEDIES.
There is another kind387
of capnos also, similar both in name
and properties, but different in appearance. It is a branchy
plant, is extremely delicate, has leaves like those of coriander,
is of an ashy colour, and bears a purple flower: it grows in
gardens, and amid crops of barley. Employed in the form of
an ointment for the eyes, it improves the sight, producing
tears in the same way that smoke does, to which, in fact, it
owes its name. It has the effect also of preventing the eyelashes, when pulled out, from growing again.
CHAP. 100.—THE ACORON OR AGRION: FOURTEEN REMEDIES.
has leaves similar to those of the iris,389
narrower, and with a longer stalk; the roots of it are black,
and not so veined, but in other respects are similar to those of
the iris, have an acrid taste and a not unpleasant smell, and
act as a carminative. The best roots are those grown in
Pontus, the next best those of Galatia, and the next those of
Crete; but it is in Colchis, on the banks of the river Phasis,
and in various other watery localities, that they are found in
the greatest abundance, When fresh, they have a more
powerful odour than when kept for some time: these of Crete
are more blanched than the produce of Pontus. They are cut
into pieces about a finger in length, and dried in leather bags390
in the shade.
There are some authors who give the name of "acoron" to
the root of the oxymyrsine;391
for which reason also some prefer
giving that plant the name of "acorion." It has powerful properties as a calorific and resolvent, and is taken in drink for
cataract and films upon the eyes; the juice also is extracted,
and taken for injuries inflicted by serpents.
CHAP. 101.—THE COTYLEDON: TWO VARIETIES OF IT: SIXTY-ON,
is a small herbaceous plant, with a diminu-
tive, tender stem, and an unctuous leaf, with a concave surface
like that of the cotyloïd cavity of the thigh. It grows in
maritime and rocky localities, is of a green colour, and has a
rounded root like an olive: the juice of it is remedial for
diseases of the eyes.
There is another393
kind also of the same plant, the leaves of
which are of a dirty green394
colour, larger than those of the
other, and growing in greater numbers about the root, which
is surrounded with them just as the eye is with the socket.
These leaves have a remarkably astringent taste, and the stem
is of considerable length, but extremely slender. This plant
is employed for the same purposes as the iris and aizoüm.
CHAP. 102.—THE GREATER AIZOÜM, ALSO CALLED BUPHTHALMOS,
ZOÖPHTHALMOS, STERGETHRON, HYPOGESON, AMBROSION, AME-
RIMNON, SEDTUM MAGNUM, OR DIGITELLUS: THIRTY-SIX REMIIE-
DIES. TIHE SMALLER AIZOÜM, ALSO CALLED ERITHALES, TRI-
THALES, CHRYSOTHALES, ISOETES OR SEDUM: THIRTY-TWO
Of the plant known as aizoüm395
there are two kinds; the
larger of which is sown in earthen pots. By some persons it
is known as "buphthalmos,"396
and by others as "zoöpthalmos," or else as stergethron," because it forms an ingredient in the composition of philtres. Another name
given to it is "hypogeson," from the circumstance that it
generally grows upon the eaves397
of houses: some persons,
again, give it the names of "ambrosion" and "amerimnon."
In Italy it is known as "sedum magnum,"398
"digitellus." The other kind399
of aizoüm is more diminutive,
and is known by some persons as "erithales"400
and by others
as "trithales," from the circusmstance that it blossoms three
times in the year. Other names given to it are "chrysothales"401
but aizoüm is the colmmon appellation
of them both, from their being always green.
The larger kind exceeds a cubit in height, and is somewhat
thicker than the thumb: at the extremity, the leaves are simi-
lar to a tongue in shape, and are fleshy, unctuous, full of juice,
and about as broad as a person's thumb. Some are bent downwards towards the ground, while others again stand upright,
the outline of them resembling an eye in shape. The smaller
kind grows upon walls, old rubbish of houses, and tiled roof,;
it is branchy from the root, anti covered with leaves to the extremity. These leaves are narrow, pointed, and juicy: the
stem is a palm in height, and the root is never used.
CHAP. 103.—THE ANDRACHLE AGRIA OR ILLECEBRA: THIRTY-TWO
A similar plant is that known to the Greeks by the name of
and by the people of Italy as the "illece-
bra." Its leaves, though small, are larger than those of the
last-named plant, but growing on a shorter stem. It grows in
craggy localities, and is gathered for use as food. All these
plants have the same properties, being cooling and astringent.
The leaves, applied topically, or the juice, in form of a liniment, are curative of defluxions of the eyes: this juice too
acts as a detergent upon ulcers of the eyes, makes new flesh,
and causes them to cicatrize; it404
cleanses the eyelids also of
viscous matter. Applied to the temples, both the leaves
and the juice of these plants are remedial for head-ache; they
neutralize the venom also of the phalangium; and the greater
aizoüm, in particular, is an antidote to aconite. It is asserted,
too, that those who carry this last plant about them will never
be stung by the scorpion.
These plants are curative of pains in the ears; which
is the case also with juice of henbane, applied in moderate
quantities, of achillea,405
of the smaller centaury and plantago,
of peucedanum in combination with rose-oil and opium, and of
mixed with rose-leaves. In all these cases, the liquid
is made warm, and introduced into the ear with the aid of a
The cotyledon is good, too, for suppurations in the
ears, mixed with deer's marrow made hot. The juice of
pounded root of ebulum408
is strained through a linen cloth,
and then left to thicken in the sun: when wanted for use, it
is moistened with oil of roses, and made hot, being employed
for the cure of imposthumes of the parotid glands. Vervain
and plantago are likewise used for the cure of the same
malady, as also sideritis,409
mixed with stale axle-grease.
CHAP. 104.—A REMEDY FOR DISEASES OF THE NOSTRILS.
mixed with cyperus,411
is curative of polypus
of the nose.412
CHAP. 105.—REMEDIES FOR DISEASES OF THE TEETH.
The following are remedies for diseases of the teeth: root
chewed, that of the chironion in particular, and
juice of panaces, used as a collutory; root, too, of henbane,
chewed with vinegar, and root of polemonia.414
The root of
plantago is chewed for a similar purpose, or the teeth are
rinsed with a decoction of the juice mixed with vinegar. The
leaves, too, are said to be useful for the gums, when swollen
with sanious blood, or if there are discharges of blood there-from. The seed, too, of plantago is a cure for abscesses in the
gums, and for gum-boils. Aristolochia has a strengthening
effect upon the gums and teeth; and the same with vervain,
either chewed with the root of that plant, or boiled in wine
and vinegar, the decoction being employed as a gargle. The
same is the case, also, with root of cinquefoil, boiled down to
one third, in wine or vinegar; before it is boiled, however, the
root should be washed in sea or salt water: the decoction, too,
must be kept a considerable time in the mouth. Some persons
prefer cleaning the teeth with ashes of cinquefoil.
Root of verbascum415
is also boiled in wine, and the decoction
used for rinsing the teeth. The same is done too with hyssop
and juice of peucedanum, mixed with opium; or else the juice
of the root of anagallis,416
the female plant in particular, is
injected into the nostril on the opposite side to that in which
the pain is felt.
CHAP. 106.—ERIGERON, PAPPUS, ACANTHIS, OR SENECIO: EIGHT
is called by our people "senecio." It is said
that if a person, after tracing around this plant with an imple-
ment of iron, takes it up and touches the tooth affected with it
three times, taking care to spit each time on the ground, and
then replaces it in the same spot, so as to take root again,
he will never experience any further pain in that tooth. This
plant has just the appearance and softness of trixago,418
number of small reddish-coloured stems: it is found growing
upon walls, and the tiled roofs of houses. The Greeks have
given it the name of "erigeron,"419
because it is white in
spring. The head is divided into numerous downy filaments,
which resemble those of the thorn,420
protruding from between
the divisions of the head: hence it is that Callimachus has
given it the name of "acanthis,"421
while others, again, call it
After all, however, the Greek writers are by no means agreed
as to this plant; some say, for instance, that it has leaves
like those of rocket, while others maintain that they resemble
those of the robur, only that they are considerably smaller.
Some, again, assert that the root is useless, while others aver
that it is beneficial for the sinews, and others that it produces
suffocation, if taken in drink. On. the other hand, some have
prescribed it in wine, for jaundice and all affections of the
bladder, heart, and liver, and give it as their opinion that it
carries off gravel from the kidneys. It has been prescribed,
also, by them for sciatica, the patient taking one drachma
in oxymel, after a walk; and has been recommended as extremely useful for griping pains in the bowels, taken in raisin
wine. They assert, also, that used as an aliment with vinegar,
it is wholesome for the thoracic organs, and recommend it to
be grown in the garden for these several purposes.
In addition to this, there are some authorities to be found,
which distinguish another variety of this plant, but without
mentioning its peculiar characteristics. This last they recom-
mend to be taken in water, to neutralize the venom of serpents,
and prescribe it to be eaten for the cure of epilepsy. For my
own part, however, I shall only speak of it in accordance with
the uses made of it among us Romans, uses based upon the
results of actual experience. The down of this plant, beaten
up with saffron and a little cold water, is applied to defluxions
of the eyes; parched with a little salt, it is employed for the
cure of scrofulous sores.
CHAP. 107.—THE EPHEMERON: TWO REMEDIES.
has leaves like those of the lily, but smaller;
a stem of the same height, a blue flower, and a seed of which
no use is made. The root is single, about the thickness of
one's finger, and an excellent remedy for diseases of the teeth;
for which purpose it is cut up in pieces, and boiled in vinegar,
the decoction being used warm as a collutory. The root, too,
is employed by itself to strengthen the teeth, being inserted for
the purpose in those that are hollow or carious.
Root of chelidonia424
is also beaten up with vinegar, and kept in
the mouth. Black hellebore is sometimes inserted in carious
teeth; and a decoction of either of these last-mentioned plants,
in vinegar, has the effect of strengthening loose teeth.
CHAP. 108.—THE LABRUM VENEREUM : ONE REMEDY.
is the name given to a plant that grows
in running streams.426
It produces a small worm,427
crushed by being rubbed upon the teeth, or else enclosed in
wax and inserted in the hollow of the tooth. Care must be
taken, however, that the plant, when pulled up, does not touch
CHAP. 109.—THE BATRACHION, RANUNCULUS, OR STRUMUS ; FOUR
VARIETIES OF IT: FOURTEEN REMEDIES.
The plant known to the Greeks as "batrachion,"428
There are four varieties of it,430
one of which
has leaves somewhat thicker than those of coriander, nearly the
size of those of the mallow, and of a livid hue: the stem of
the plant is long and slender, and the root white; it grows on
moist and well-shaded embankments. The second431
more foliated than the preceding one, the leaves have more
numerous incisions, and the stems of the plant are long. The
variety is smaller than the others, has a powerful smell,
and a flower of a golden colour. The fourth433
kind is very like
the one last mentioned, but the flower is milk-white.
All these plants have caustic properties: if the leaves are
applied unboiled, they raise blisters like those caused by the
action of fire; hence it is that they are used for the removal of
leprous spots, itch-scabs, and brand marks upon the skin.
They form an ingredient also in all caustic preparations, and
are applied for the cure of alopecy, care being taken to remove
them very speedily. The root, if chewed for some time, in
cases of tooth-ache, will cause434
the teeth to break; dried and
pulverized, it acts as a sternutatory.
Our herbalists give this plant the name of "strumus," from
the circumstance of its being curative of strumous435
inflamed tumours, for which purpose a portion of it is hung
up in the smoke. It is a general belief, too, with them, that if
it is replanted, the malady so cured will reappear436
practice, for which the plantago is also employed. The juice
of this last-mentioned plant is curative of internal ulcerations
of the mouth; and the leaves and root are chewed for a similar
purpose, even when the mouth is suffering from defluxions.
Cinquefoil effects the cure of ulcerations and offensive breath;
is used also for ulcers of the mouth.
CHAP. 110.—REMEDIAL PREPARATIONS FOR OFFENSIVE BREATH :
TWO KINDS OF THEM.
We shall also here make mention of certain preparations for
the cure of offensive breath—a most noisome inconvenience.
For this purpose, leaves of myrtle and lentisk are taken in equal
proportions, with one half the quantity of Syrian nut-galls;
they are then pounded together and sprinkled with old wine,
and the composition is chewed in the morning. In similar
cases, also, ivy berries are used, in combination with cassia and
myrrh; these ingredients being mixed, in equal proportions,
For offensive odours of the nostrils, even though attended
with carcinoma, the most effectual remedy is seed of dracontium438
beaten up with honey. An application of hyssop has
the effect of making bruises disappear. Brand marks439
face are healed by rubbing them with mandragora.440
SUMMARY.—Remedies, narratives, and observations, twelve
hundred and ninety-two.
ROMAN AUTHORS QUOTED.—C. Valgius,441
who wrote in Greek, Julius Bassus444
wrote in Greek, Antonius Castor,445
FOREIGN AUTHORS QUOTED.—Theophrastus,448
who wrote the "Biochresta," Nicander,456
MEDICAL AUTHORS QUOTED.—Mnesitheus,462
the physician, Timaristus,465
of Citium, Apollodorus475
of Tarentum, Praxagoras,476
of Thebes, Philinus,498