Pliny the Elder, Natural History

LCL 392: 364-365

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Pliny: Natural History

apparatu comitante. noxii erunt fungi qui in coquendo duriores fient; innocentiores qui nitro addito coquentur, utique si percoquantur. tutiores fiunt cum carne cocti aut cum pediculo piri. prosunt et pira confestim sumpta. debellat eos et aceti natura contraria iis.


XLVIII. Imbribus proveniunt omnia haec, imbre et silphium venit primo, ut dictum est. ex Syria nunc hoc maxime inportatur, deterius Parthico, sed Medico melius, extincto omni Cyrenaico, ut diximus. usus silphii in medicina foliorum ad purgandas vulvas pellendosque emortuos partus; decocuntur in vino albo et odorato, ut bibatur mensura acetabuli a balineis. radix prodest arteriis exasperatis, collectionibus sanguinis inlinitur. sed in cibis concoquitur aegre; inflationes facit et ructus, urinae quoque noxia, suggillatis cum vino et oleo amicissima et cum cera strumis. verrucae sedis crebriore eius suffitu cadunt.


XLIX. Laser e silphio profluens quo diximus modo inter eximia naturae dona numeratum plurimis compositionibus inseritur, per se autem algores excalfacit, potum nervorum vitia extenuat. feminis datur in vino, et lanis mollibus admovetur vulvae ad



ambera knives and equipment of silver. Those fungi will be poisonous which become harder in cooking; comparatively harmless will be those that are cooked with some soda added—at any rate if they are thoroughly cooked. They become safer when cooked with meat, or with pear stalks. Pears too are good to take immediately after them. The nature of vinegar too is opposed to them and neutralizes any poisonous action.b

XLVIII. All these fungus growths spring up withSilphium. showers, and silphiumc too, as has been mentioned,d first grew with a shower. At the present day it is imported chiefly from Syria, this Syrian silphium being not so good as the Parthian, though better than the Median; the silphium of Cyrene, as I have said,e is now wholly extinct. The leaves of silphium are used in medicine to purge the uterus and to bring away the dead unborn baby; a decoction of them is made in white, aromatic wine, to be drunk after the bath in doses of one acetabulum. The root is good for soreness of the windpipe, and is applied to collections of extravasated blood; but it is hard to digest when taken as food, causing flatulence and belchings. It is injurious to the passing of urine, but with wine and oil most beneficial for bruises, and with wax for scrofulous swellings. Warts in the seat fall off if fumigated with it several times.

XLIX. Laser, which is distilled from silphium inLaser. the way I have said, being reckoned one of the most precious gifts of Nature, is used as an ingredient in very many medical prescriptions; but by itself it warms after chills, and taken in drink it alleviates affections of the sinews. In wine it is given to women, and on soft wool is used as a pessary to promote menstruation.

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.pliny_elder-natural_history.1938