Pliny the Elder, Natural History

LCL 393: 162-163

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Pliny: Natural History

calyce;1 nascitur in Galatia. vulgare autem candidius est et fruticosius, altius papavere. tertii semen irionis semini simile, sed omnia insaniam gignentia 36capitisque vertigines. quartum genus molle, lanuginosum, pinguius ceteris, candidi seminis, in maritimis nascens. hoc recepere medici, item rufi seminis. nonnumquam autem candidum rufescit, si non ematuruit, inprobaturque, et alioqui nullum nisi cum inaruit legitur. natura vini ideoque mentem caputque infestans. usus seminis et per se et suco expresso. exprimitur separatim et caulibus foliisque. utuntur et radice, temeraria in totum, ut arbitror, 37medicina. quippe etiam foliis constat mentem corrumpi, si plura quam quattuor bibant; bibebant2 etiam antiqui in vino febrim depelli arbitrantes. oleum fit ex semine, ut diximus, quod ipsum auribus infusum temptat mentem, mireque ut contra venenum remedia prodidere iis qui id bibissent et ipsum pro remediis, adeo nullo omnia experiendi fine ut cogerent3 etiam venena prodesse.

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Book XXV

thorny calyx,a growing in Galatia. The common kind, however, is whiter and more bushy; it is taller than the poppy. The seed of the third kind is like the seed of irio; but all kinds cause insanityb and giddiness. A fourth kind is soft, downy, richer in juice than the others, with a white seed, and growing in places near the sea. This is a kind that medical men have adopted, as they have that with a red seed. Sometimes, however, the white seed turns red if gathered before getting ripe, and then it is rejected; and generally no kind is ever gathered before it has become dry. It has the character of wine, and therefore injures the head and brain. Use is made of the seed as it is or when the juice has been extracted from it. The juice is extracted separately also from the stems and leaves. They also use the root, but the drug is, in my opinion, a dangerous medicine in any form. In fact, it is well known that even the leaves affect the brain if more than four are taken in drink; yetc the ancients used to take them in wine under the impression that fever was so brought down. An oil is made from the seed, as I have said,d which by itself if poured into the ears deranges the brain. It is a wonderful thing that they have prescribed remedies for those who have taken the drink, which implies that it is a poison, and yet have included it among remedies; so unwearied have been researches in making every possible experiment, even to compellinge poisons to be helpful remedies.

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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.pliny_elder-natural_history.1938