Pliny the Elder, Natural History

LCL 393: 280-281

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Pliny: Natural History

et fortunati gignantur liberi cui umquam Persarum 20regi tales dedit? mirum esset profecto hucusque provectam credulitatem antiquorum saluberrimis ortam initiis, si in ulla re modum humana ingenia novissent atque non hanc ipsam medicinam ab Asclepiade repertam probaturi suo loco essemus evectam ultra Magos etiam. haec est omni in re animorum condicio, ut a necessariis orsa primo cuncta pervenerint ad nimium. igitur demonstratarum priore libro herbarum reliquos effectus reddemus adicientes ut quasque ratio dictabit.

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X. Sed in lichenis remediis atque tam foedo malo plura undique acervabimus quamquam non paucis iam demonstratis. medetur ergo plantago trita, quinquefolium, radix albuci ex aceto, ficulni caules aceto decocti, hibisci radix cum glutino et aceto acri decocta ad quartas. defricant etiam pumice, ut rumicis radix trita ex aceto inlinatur et flos visci cum 22calce subactus. laudatur et tithymalli cum resina decoctum, lichen vero herba omnibus his praefertur, inde nomine invento. nascitur in saxis, folio uno ad radicem lato, caule uno parvo, longis foliis dependentibus. haec delet et stigmata, teritur cum melle. est aliud genus lichenis, petris totum adhaerens ut

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Book XXVI

good and lucky children, did it ever give such offspring to any Persian king? It would certainly be wonderful that the credulity of our forefathers, though it arose from most sound beginnings, reached the height it did, if in any matter man’s wit knew moderation, and I were not about to show,a in the appropriate place, that this very system of medicine invented by Asclepiades has surpassed even Magian nonsense. It is without exception the nature of the human mind that what begins with necessities is finally carried to excess. I shall therefore go on to describe the omitted properties of the plants I dealt with in the preceding book, adding any other plants that my judgment will suggest.

X. But of lichen, which is so disfiguring a disease,Lichen. I shall amass from all sources a greater number of remedies, although not a few have been noticed already. Remedies, then, are pounded plaintain, cinquefoil, root of asphodel in vinegar, shoots of the fig-tree boiled down in vinegar, and the root of hibiscus with bee-glue and strong vinegar boiled down to one quarter. The affected part is also rubbed with pumice, as a preparation for the application of rumex root pounded in vinegar, or of mistletoe scumb kneaded with lime. A decoction too of tithymallus with resin is highly recommended; the plant lichen however is considered a better remedy than all these, a fact which has given the plant its name. It grows among rocks, has one broad leaf near the root, and one small stem with long leaves hanging down from it. This plant removes also marks of scars; it is pounded with honey. There is another kind of lichen, entirely clinging, as does moss, to rocks; this too is used by itself as a local application.

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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.pliny_elder-natural_history.1938