Pliny the Elder, Natural History

LCL 393: 334-335

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Pliny: Natural History

LX. Panos sanat panaces ex melle, plantago cum sale, quinquefolium, persollatae radix ut in strumis, item damasonium, verbascum cum sua radice tusum, vino aspersum folioque involutum et ita in cinere 93calefactum ut inponatur calidum. experti adfirmavere plurimum referre, si virgo inponat nuda ieiuna ieiuno et manu supina tangens dicat: Negat Apollo pestem posse crescere cui nuda virgo restinguat, atque ita retrorsa manu ter dicat totiensque despuant ambo. medetur et radix mandragorae ex aqua, radicis scamoniae decoctum cum melle, sideritis cum adipe vetere contusa, marruvium cum axungia vetere, vel chrysippios cum ficis pinguibus. et haec ab inventore habet nomen.

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LXI. Venerem in totum adimit, ut diximus, nymphaea Heraclia, eadem semel pota in XL dies, insomnia quoque veneris a ieiuno pota et in cibo sumpta. inlita quoque radix genitalibus inhibet non solum venerem sed et affluentiam geniturae. ob id corpus alere vocemque dicitur. adpetentiam veneris facit radix e xiphio superior data potui1 in vino, item quam cremnon agrion appellant, ormenos agrios cum polenta contritus.

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Book XXVI

LX. Superficial abscess is cured by panaces inCures for superficial abscesses. honey, plantain with salt, cinquefoil, root of persollata administered as for scrofula; also by damasonium and by verbascum, pounded with its root, sprinkled with wine, wrapped round with its leaves, and heated, thus prepared, on embers, so that it may be applied hot. Those with experience have assured us that it makes all the difference if, while the patient is fasting, the poultice is laid upon him by a maiden, herself fasting and naked, who must touch him with the back of her hand and say: “Apollo tells us that a plague cannot grow more fiery in a patient if a naked maiden quench the fire;” and with her hand so reversed she must repeat the formula three times, and both must spit on the ground three times. Other cures are mandrake root in water, a decoction of scammony root with honey, sideritis crushed with stale grease, marruvium with stale axle-grease, or chrysippios—another plant named after its discoverer—with plump figs.

LXI. Nymphaea heraclia, as I have said,a takesNymphaea heraclia. away altogether sexual desire; a single draught of it does so for forty days; sexual dreams too are prevented if it is taken in drink on an empty stomach andb eaten with food. Applied to the genitals the root also checks not only desire but also excessive accumulation of semen. For this reason it is said to make flesh and to improve the voice. Sexual desire is excited by the upper part of xiphium root given in wine as a draught; also by the plant called cremnos agrios and by ormenos agrios crushed with pearl barley.

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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.pliny_elder-natural_history.1938