Pliny the Elder, Natural History

LCL 418: 482-483



the smell of fumigation, sufferers from coma and hysterical, fainting women, the latter also by a pessary; it is an emmenagogue and brings away the after-birth if two drachmae are taken in water with pennyroyal. It is also a remedy for vertigo, opisthotonus, palsied tremors, cramps, sinew pains, sciatica, stomach troubles, and paralysis; in all cases by rubbing all over, or ground to the consistency of honey with seed of vitex in vinegar and rose oil. In this form it is taken for epilepsy, but in drink for flatulence, griping and poisons. The only difference in its use for the various poisons lies in the ingredients with which it is mixed. For scorpion bites it is taken in wine; for the phalangium and other spiders in honey wine if it is to be vomited back or with rue if it is to be retained; for the chalcisa with myrtle wine; for the horned asp and prester with panaces or rue in wine; for the bites of other serpents with wine. Two drachmae are a sufficient dose, of the other ingredients one drachma. It is specific in vinegar for mistletoe poisoning, in milk or water for poisoning by aconite, for white hellebore in oxymel and soda. It also cures toothache if pounded with oil; it is poured into the ear on the side of the pain; for ear-ache it is better mixed with poppy juice. Added to Attic honey and used as an ointment it improves the vision. In vinegar it checks hiccoughs. Beaver urine, too, counteracts poisons, and therefore is added to antidotes. It is however best preserved, as some think, in the beaver’s bladder.

XIV. Like the beaver the tortoise is amphibious, and of the same medical properties, distinguished by the high price given for its use, and by its peculiar shape. So there are various kinds: tortoises that live

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.pliny_elder-natural_history.1938