Pliny the Elder, Natural History

LCL 392: 306-307


Pliny: Natural History

nobis docebimus et invisis quoque herbis inseruisse remedia, quippe cum medicinas dederit etiam aculeatis. 16haec enim proxime restant ex iis quas priore libro nominavimus, in quibus ipsis providentiam naturae satis admirari amplectique non est. dederat quas diximus molles cibisque gratas, pinxerat remedia in floribus visuque ipso animos invitaverat 17etiam deliciis auxilia permiscens. excogitavit1 aliquas aspectu hispidas, tactu truces, ut tantum non vocem ipsius fingentis illas rationemque reddentis exaudire videamur, ne se2 depascat avida quadripes, ne procaces manus rapiant, ne neglecta vestigia obterant ne insidens ales infringat, iis muniendo aculeis telisque armando, remediis ut tuta ac salva sint. ita hoc quoque quod in iis odimus hominum causa excogitatum est.


VIII. Clara in primis aculeatarum erynge est sive eryngion contra serpentes et venena omnia nascens. adversus ictus morsusque radix eius bibitur drachmae pondere in vino aut, si plerumque tales iniurias comitetur et febris, ex aqua. inlinitur plagis, peculiariter efficax contra chersydros ac ranas. vero omnibus contra toxica et aconita efficaciorem Heraclides medicus in iure anseris decoctam arbitratur. 19Apollodorus adversus toxica cum rana3 decoquit,



show that she at least has not failed us, having put remedies even into plants that we dislike, seeing that she has given healing properties even to those armed with prickles and thorns. For these remain to be discussed next after those plants I mentioned in the preceding book, as even in them we cannot sufficiently apprehend and admire the forethought of Nature. She had given already the soft plants I spoke of that make pleasant foods; she had coloured the remedies in flowers, and by the mere sight had attracted our attention, combining the helpful with what is actually delightful. Then she devised some so repellent to look at, so cruel to the touch, that we seem almost to hear the voice of Nature justifying herself as she fashions them, and saying that she so creates them lest any greedy animal browse on her own self, any wanton hands steal, any careless steps crush, or any perching bird break; by defending them with these thorns, by arming them with weapons, she is making a protection and safety for her remedies. This very thing then that we hate in them has been devised for the sake of mankind.

VIII. Especially famous among spinous plants isEryngo. the erynge, or eryngion, that grows to counteract snake bites and all poisons. For stings and bites its root in doses of one drachma is taken in wine, or in water if (as usually happens) such injuries are also accompanied by fever. It is applied to the wounds, being a specific for those caused by amphibious snakes and frogs. Heraclides the physician is of opinion that boiled in goose broth it is more efficacious than any other remedy for aconite and other poisoning. Apollodorus would boil it with a froga for poisoning, the other authorities say in water

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.pliny_elder-natural_history.1938