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Pliny: Natural History

illud exuit nitidusque vernat; exuit autem a capite primum, nec celerius quam uno die et nocte, replicans ut extra fiat membranae quod fuerit intus. idem hiberna latebra visu obscurato marathro herbae se adfricans oculos inunguit ac refovet, si vero squamae obtorpuere spinis iuniperi se scabit. draco vernam nausiam silvestris lactucae suco restinguit. 100pantheras perfricata carne1 aconito [venenum id est]2 barbari venantur; occupat ilico fauces earum angor (quare pardalianches id venenum appellavere quidam), at fera contra hoc excrementis hominis sibi medetur, et alias tam avida eorum ut a pastoribus ex industria in aliquo vase suspensa altius quam ut queat saltu attingere iaculando se appetendoque3 deficiat et postremo expiret, alioqui vivacitatis adeo lentae ut eiectis interaneis diu pugnet. 101elephans chamaeleone concolori4 frondi5 devorato occurrit oleastro huic veneno suo. ursi cum mandragorae malum gustavere formicas lambunt. cervus herba cinare venenatis pabulis resistit. palumbes, graculi, merulae, perdices lauri folio annuum fastidium purgant, columbae, turtures et gallinacei herba quae vocatur helxine, anates, anseres ceteraeque aquaticae herba siderite, grues et similes iunco palustri. corvus occiso chamaeleone,

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Book VIII

out all glossy for spring; but it begins the process at its head, and takes at least 24 hours to do it, folding the skin backward so that what was the inner side of it becomes the outside. Moreover as its sight is obscured by its hibernation it anoints and revives its eyes by rubbing itself against a fennel plant, but if its scales have become numbed it scratches itself on the spiny leaves of a juniper. A large snake quenches its spring nausea with the juice of wild lettuce. Barbarian hunters catch leopards by means of meat rubbed over with wolf’s-bane; their throats are at once attacked by violent pain (in consequence of which some people have given this poison a Greek name meaning choke-leopard), but to cure this the creature doses itself with human excrement, and in general it is so greedy for this that shepherds have a plan of hanging up some of it in a vessel too high for the leopard to be able to reach it by jumping up, and the animal keeps springing up and trying to get it till it is exhausted and finally dies, although otherwise its vitality is so persistent that it will go on fighting for a long time after its entrails have been torn out. When an elephant swallows a chameleon (which is poisonous to it) because it is of the same colour as a leaf, it uses the wild olive as a remedy. When bears have swallowed the fruit of the mandrake they lick up ants. A stag uses wild artichoke as an antidote to poisoned fodder. Pigeons, jays, blackbirds and partridges cure their yearly distaste for food with bay-leaves; doves, turtle-doves and domestic fowls use the plant called helxinea, ducks, geese and other water-fowl water-starwort, cranes and the like marsh-rushes. When a raven has killed a chameleon lizard, which is noxious even to

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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.pliny_elder-natural_history.1938