Pliny the Elder, Natural History

LCL 353: 412-413


Pliny: Natural History

gigni accepimus a multis. pleraque enim occulta et caeca origine proveniunt, etiam in quadripedum genere, sicut salamandrae, animal lacertae figura, stellatum, numquam nisi magnis imbribus proveniens et serenitate deficiens.1 huic tantus rigor ut ignem tactu restinguat non alio modo quam glacies. eiusdem sanie, quae lactea ore vomitur, quacumque parte corporis humani contacta toti defluunt pili, idque quod contactum est colorem in vitiliginem mutat.


LXXXVII. Quaedam ergo gignuntur ex non genitis et sine ulla simili origine, ut supra dicta et quaecumque2 ver statumque tempus anni generat. ex his quaedam nihil gignunt, ut salamandrae, neque est in his masculum femininumve, sicut neque in anguillis omnibusque quae nec animal nec ovum ex sese generant; neutrum est et ostreis genus et 190ceteris adhaerentibus vado vel saxo. quae autem per se generantur, si in mares et feminas discripta sunt, generant quidem aliquid coitu, sed inperfectum ac dissimile et ex quo nihil amplius gignatur, ut vermiculos muscae. id magis declaravit natura eorum quae insecta dicuntur, arduae explanationis omnia et privatim dicato opere narranda. quapropter ingenium praedictorum et reliqua subtexetur edissertatio.


LXXXVIII. Ex sensibus ante cetera homini tactus, dein gustatus; reliquis superatur a multis.


Book X

human being. For a number of animals spring from some hidden and secret source, even in the quadruped class, for instance salamanders, a creature shaped like a lizard, covered with spots, never appearing except in great rains and disappearing in fine weather. It is so chilly that it puts out fire by its contact, in the same way as ice does. It vomits from its mouth a milky slaver, one touch of which on any part of the human body causes all the hair to drop off, and the portion touched changes its colour and breaks out in a tetter.

LXXXVII. Consequently some creatures are bornOther curiosities of reproduction. from parents that themselves were not born and were without any similar origin, like the ones men-tioned above and all those that are produced by the spring and a fixed season of the year. Some of these are infertile, for instance the salamander, and in these there is no male or female, as also there is no sex in eels and all the species that are neither viviparous nor oviparous; also oystersa and the other creatures clinging to the bottom of shallow water or to rocks are neuters. But self-generated creatures if divided into males and females do produce an off-spring by coupling, but it is imperfect and unlike the parent and not productive in its turn: for instance flies produce maggots. This is shown more clearly by the nature of the creatures called insects, all of which are difficult to describe and must be discussed in a work devoted specially to them. Consequently the psychology of the beforesaid creatures, and the remainder of the discussion, must be appended.

LXXXVIII. Among the senses, that of touch inKeenness of the senses in various species. man ranks before all the other species, and taste next; but in the remaining senses he is surpassed

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.pliny_elder-natural_history.1938