Pliny the Elder, Natural History

LCL 392: 142-143

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Pliny: Natural History

243in die sorbeatur in aquae cyatho. virilium vitiis tusum cum melle mire prodest. lichenas purgat ex aceto, ruptis, convolsis, spasticis, nervis salutare. potum alvum solvit cum sale et aceto, item menstrua et secundas mulierum. arida farina cum melle ad tussim siccam efficacissima est, item ad gangraenas et pterygia. sucus vero auriculis et naribus et morbo regio minuendaeque bili cum melle prodest, 244item contra venena inter pauca potens. ipsa herba stomachum et excreationes pectoris purgat cum iride et melle, urinam ciet, cavenda tamen exulceratae vesicae et renium vitiis. dicitur sucus et claritatem oculorum adiuvare. Castor marrubii duo genera tradit, nigrum et quod magis probat candidum. in ovum inane sucum addit is ipsumque ovum infundit. mel aequis portionibus, tepefactum vomicas rumpere. purgare, persanare promittens, inlitis etiam vulneribus a cane factis tuso cum axungia vetere.1

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XC. Serpyllum a serpendo putant dictum, quod in silvestri evenit, in petris maxime; nam sativum non serpit, sed ad palmum altitudine increscit. pinguius voluntarium et candidioribus foliis ramisque, adversus serpentes efficax, maxime cenchrim et scolopendras terrestres ac marinas et scorpiones,

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Book XX

a day swallowed in a cyathus of water. Pounded horehound with honey is remarkably good for maladies of the male genitals. It clears up lichen if applied in vinegar, and is healing for ruptures, spasms, cramp and the sinews. Taken with salt and vinegar it relaxes the bowels, also helping menstruation and the after-birth. Dried and powdered it is very efficacious with honey for a dry cough, likewise for gangrene and hangnails.a The juice moreover with honey is good for the ear-laps, nostrils, jaundice, and for lessening the secretion of bile; as an antidote for poisons it is among the few most effective. The plant itself with iris and honey purges the stomach, clears the lungs of phlegm, promotes urine, but should be avoided when there is an ulcerated bladder or the kidneys are affected. The juice is also said to improve the eyesight. Castor records two kinds of horehound, the dark and the white, the latter being preferred by him. He puts horehound juice into an empty egg-shell, and then pours in the egg itself and honey in equal proportions; this mixture warmed he assures us brings abscesses to a head, cleanses them and heals them. Pounded also he applied horehound with old axle-grease to dog bites.

XC. Wild thyme is thought to be so named fromThyme. its being a creeping plant;b this characteristic is to be found only in the wild kind, mostly in rocky districts; the cultivated does not creep, but grows up to be a palm in height. That growing spontaneously is a more luxuriant plant, with paler leaves and stalks, an efficacious antidote for serpent bites, particularly those of cenchris,c scolopendras, land or sea, and scorpions, the stalks and leaves being

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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.pliny_elder-natural_history.1938