Pliny the Elder, Natural History

LCL 418: 484-485

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Book XXXII

on land, in the sea, in muddy water, and in fresh water. The last are called by some Greeks emydes.

The flesh of the land tortoise is reported to be especially useful for fumigations, to keep off magical tricks, and to counteract poisons. It is most common in Africa. There the flesh of this tortoise, with its head and feet cut off, is said to be given as an antidote, and taken in its broth as food to disperse scrofulous sores, to reduce the spleen, and to cure epilepsy. The blood clarifies the vision and arrestsa cataract. For the poisons of all serpents, spiders and similar creatures, and of frogs,b it is of service; the blood is preserved in flour, made up into pills, and given in wine when necessary. It is beneficial to use the gall of tortoises with Attic honey as an eye-wash for opaqueness of the lens, and to drop itc into the wounds made by scorpions. The shell, reduced to ash and kneaded with wine and oil, heals chaps and sores on the feet. Shavings from the top of the shell and given in drink are antaphrodisiac. This is all the more surprising because the whole shell, reduced to powder, is said to incite to lust. The urine of this tortoise, I believe, is found only in the bladder of dissected animals, and this is one of the substances to which the Magi give supernatural virtues as being specific for the bites of asps; a more efficacious one, however, they say, if bugs are added. The eggs are applied hard boiled to scrofulous sores, frost bites and burns. They are swallowed for pains in the stomach.

The flesh of sea tortoises mixed with that of frogs is an excellent remedy for salamander bites, and nothing is more opposed to the salamander than the

  • aBrakman’s sistit is perhaps the best supplement of the lacuna.
  • bToads are included in ranae.
  • cIf a comma is placed at prodest the instillari of the MSS. can perhaps be kept with fel as its understood subject.
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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.pliny_elder-natural_history.1938