Pliny the Elder, Natural History

LCL 418: 22-23

Go To Section
Go To Section

Pliny: Natural History

civitatis non pridem in metu lippitudinis, priusquam ipse eam nominaret aliusve ei praediceret, duabus litteris Graecis PA chartam inscriptam circumligatam lino subnectebat collo, Mucianus ter consul eadem observatione viventem muscam in linteolo albo, his remediis carere ipsos lippitudine praedicantes. carmina quidem extant contra grandines contraque morborum genera contraque ambusta, quaedam etiam experta, sed prodendo obstat ingens verecundia in tanta animorum varietate. quapropter de his ut cuique libitum fuerit opinetur.


VI. Hominum monstrificas naturas et veneficos aspectus diximus in portentis gentium et multas animalium proprietates, quae repeti supervacuum est. quorundam hominum tota corpora prosunt, ut ex his familiis quae sunt terrori serpentibus tactu ipso levant percussos suctuve madido,1 quorum e genere sunt Psylli Marsique et qui Ophiogenes vocantur in insula Cypro, ex qua familia legatus Evagon nomine a consulibus Romae in dolium serpentium coniectus experimenti causa circummulcentibus 31linguis miraculum praebuit. signum eius familiae est, si modo adhuc durat, vernis temporibus odoris virus. atque eorum sudor quoque



citizen of Rome, who was not so long ago afraid of ophthalmia, used to tie round his neck, before he mentioned the disease himself or any one else spoke to him about it, a sheet of paper fastened with thread, on which were written the two Greek letters rho and alpha;a Mucianus,b three times consul, following the same observance, used a living fly in a white linen bag. Both avowed that by these remedies they themselves were kept free from ophthalmia. We certainly still have formulas to charm away hail, various diseases, and burns, some actually tested by experience, but I am very shy of quoting them, because of the widely different feelings they arouse. Wherefore everyone must form his own opinion about them as he pleases.

VI. Persons possessed of powers of witchcraftPeople with magic powers. and of the evil eye, along with many peculiar characteristics of animals, I have spoken ofc when dealing with marvels of the nations; it is superfluous to go over the ground again. Of certain men the whole bodies are beneficent, for example the members of those families that frighten serpents. These by a mere touch or by wet suctiond relieve bitten victims. In this class are the Psylli, the Marsi, and the Ophiogenes, as they are called, in the island of Cyprus. An envoy from this family, by name Evagon, was at Rome thrown by the consuls as a test into a cask of serpents, which to the general amazement licked him all over. A feature of this family, if it still survives, is the foul smell of its members in spring. Their sweat also, not only

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.pliny_elder-natural_history.1938