Pliny the Elder, Natural History

LCL 393: 192-193

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Pliny: Natural History

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XXXVIII. Invenit et patrum nostrorum aetate rex Iuba quam appellavit euphorbeam medici sui nomine. frater is fuit Musae a quo divum Augustum conservatum indicavimus. iidem fratres instituere a balineis frigida multa corpora adstringere. antea non erat mos nisi calida tantum lavari, sicut apud 78Homerum etiam invenimus. sed Iubae volumen quoque extat de ea herba et clarum praeconium. invenit eam in monte Atlante, specie thyrsi, foliis acanthinis. vis tanta est ut1 e longinquo sucus excipiatur incisa conto; subitur excipulis ventriculo haedino. umor lactis videtur defluens;2 siccatus cum coiit, turis effigiem habet. qui colligunt clarius vident. contra serpentes medetur, quacumque parte percussa vertice inciso et medicamento addito ibi. 79Gaetuli qui legunt taedio lacte adulterant, sed discernitur igni, id enim quod sincerum non est fastidiendum odorem habet. multum infra hunc sucum est qui in Gallia fit ex herba chamelaea granum cocci ferente. fractus hammoniaco similis est, etiam levi gustu os accensum diu detinens et magis ex intervallo, donec fauces quoque siccet.

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Book XXV

XXXVIII. In the age too of our fathers KingEuphorbea. Jubaa discoveredb a plant to which he gave the name euphorbea, calling it after his own physician Euphorbus. This man was the brother of the Musa we have mentionedc as the saviour of the life of the late Emperor Augustus. It was these brothers who first adopted the plan of bracing the body by copious douches of cold water after the bath. Before this the custom was to bathe in hot water only, as we find that it is also in Homer. But the treatise also of Juba on this plant is still extant, and it makes a splendid testimonial. He discovered it on Mount Atlas: it has the appearance of a thyrsus and the leaves of the acanthus. Its potency is so great that the juice, obtained by incision with a pole, is gathered from a distance; it is caught in receivers made of kids’ stomachs placed underneath. Fluid and like milk as it drops down, when it has dried and congealed it has all the features of frankincense. The collectors find their vision improved. It is employed as treatment for snake-bite. In whatever part of the body the bite may be, an incision is made in the top of the skull and the medicament inserted there. The Gaetulians who gather the juice adulterate it out of weary disgust by adding milk, but fire is a test of genuineness, for that which is adulterated emits a nauseating smell. Far inferior to the Atlas juice is that which in Gaul comes from the ground-olive, which bears a red berry like kermes. Broken it resembles hammoniacum, and even a slight taste leaves for a long time a burning sensation in the mouth; after a while this increases until it dries up even the throat.

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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.pliny_elder-natural_history.1938