Pliny the Elder, Natural History

LCL 418: 30-31

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Pliny: Natural History

nutrice terna adspui?1 quamquam2 religione tutatur et Fascinus, imperatorum quoque, non solum infantium custos, qui deus inter sacra Romana a Vestalibus colitur et currus triumphantium sub his pendens defendit medicus invidiae, iubetque eosdem respicere3 similis medicina linguae, ut sit exorata a tergo Fortuna gloriae carnifex.


VIII. Morsus hominis inter asperrimos quosque numeratur. medentur sordes ex auribus ac, ne quis miretur, etiam scorpionum ictibus serpentiumque statim inpositae, melius ex percussi auribus. produnt ita et reduvias sanari, serpentium vero ictum contusi dentis humani farina.


IX. Capillus puero qui primum decisus est podagrae inpetus dicitur levare circumligatus, et in totum inpubium inpositus. virorum quoque capillus canis morsibus medetur ex aceto et capitum volneribus ex oleo aut vino; si credimus, a revulso cruci quartanis, conbustus utique capillus carcinomati. pueri qui primus ceciderit dens, ut terram non attingat, inclusus in armillam et adsidue in bracchio 42habitus muliebrium locorum dolores prohibet. pollex in pede praeligatus proximo digito tumores inguinum



her charge.a And yet the baby is further under the divine protection of Fascinus,b guardian not only of babies but of generals, a deity whose worship, part of the Roman religion, is entrusted to the Vestals; hanging under the chariots of generals at their triumphs he defends them as a physician from jealousy, and the similar physic of the tongue bids them look back, so that at the back Fortune, destroyer of fame, may be won over.c

VIII. The bite of a human being is consideredHuman bites. to be a most serious one. It is treated with ear wax, and (let no one be surprised) this, if applied locally at once, is also good for the stings of scorpions and for the bites of serpents, being more efficacious if taken from the ears of the sufferer. Hangnails too are said to be cured in this way; the bite of serpents by a human tooth ground to powder.

IX. The hair cut off first from a child’s head, ifUse of hair etc. tied round the affected part,d is said to relieve attacks of gout, as does the application of the hair of all, generally speaking, who have not arrived at puberty. The hair of adult men also, applied with vinegar, is good for dog bites, with oil or wine for wounds on the head. If we believe it, the hair of a man torn from the cross is good for quartan ague; burnt hair is certainly good for carcinoma. The first tooth of a child to fall out, provided that it does not touch the ground, if set in a bracelet and worn constantly on a woman’s arm, keeps pain away from her private parts. If the big toe is tied to the one next to it,

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.pliny_elder-natural_history.1938