Pliny,   Natural History

-   Book 7 ,   sections 1-76


Translated by H.Rackham (1952), with some minor alterations. Click on the L symbols to go to the Latin text of each chapter.    

  ← Book 6

[1] The above is a description of the world, and of the lands, races, seas, important rivers, islands and cities that it contains.

The nature of the animals also contained in it is not less important than the study of almost any other department, albeit here too the human mind is not capable of exploring the whole field.

The first place will rightly be assigned to man, for whose sake [great] Nature appears to have created all other things - thongh she asks a cruel price for all her generous gifts, making it hardly possible to judge whether she has been more a kind parent to man or more a harsh stepmother. [2] First of all, man alone of all animals she drapes with borrowed resources. On all the rest in various wise she bestows coverings - shells, bark, spines, hides, fur, bristles, hair, down, feathers, scales, fleeces; even the trunks of trees she has protected against cold and heat by bark, sometimes in two layers: but man alone on the day of his birth she casts away naked on the naked ground, to burst at once into wailing and weeping, and none other among all the animals is more prone to tears, and that immediately at the very beginning of life; whereas, I vow, the much-talked-of smile of infancy even at the earliest is bestowed on no child less than six weeks old. [3] This initiation into the light is followed by a period of bondage such as befalls not even the animals bred in our midst, fettering all his limbs; and thus when successfully born he lies with hands and feet in shackles, weeping - the animal that is to lord it over all the rest, and he initiates his life with punishment because of one fault only, the offence of being born. Alas the madness of those who think that from these beginnings they were bred to proud estate!

[4] His earliest promise of strength and first grant of time makes him like a four-footed animal. When does man begin to walk? when to speak? when is his mouth firm enough to take food? how long does his skull throb, a mark of his being the weakest among all animals? Then his diseases, and all the cures contrived against his ills - these cures also subsequently defeated by new disorders! And the fact that all other creatures are aware of their own nature, some using speed, others swift flight, others swimming, whereas man alone knows nothing save by education - neither how to speak nor how to walk nor who to eat; in short the only thing he can do by natural instinct is to weep! Consequently there have been many who believed that it were best not to be born, or to be put away as soon as possible. [5] On man alone of living creatures is bestowed grief, on him alone luxury, and that in countless forms and reaching every separate part of his frame; he alone has ambition, avarice, immeasurable appetite for life, superstition, anxiety about burial and even about what will happen after he is no more. No creature's life is more precarious, none has a greater lust for all enjoyments, a more confused timidity, a fiercer rage. In fine, all other living creatures pass their time worthily among their own species: we see them herd together and stand firm against other kinds of animals - fierce lions do not fight among themselves, the serpent's bite attacks not serpents, even the monsters of the sea and the fishes are only cruel against different species; whereas to man, I vow, most of his evils come from his fellowman.

{1.} L   [6] And about the human race as a whole we have in large part spoken in our account of the various nations. Nor shall we now deal with manners and customs, which are beyond counting and almost as numerous as the groups of mankind; yet there are some that I think ought not to be omitted, and especially those of the people living more remote from the sea; some things among which I doubt not will appear portentous and incredible to many. For who ever believed in the Ethiopians before actually seeing them? or what is not deemed miraculous when first it comes into knowledge? how many things are judged impossible before they actually occur? [7] Indeed the power and majesty of the nature of the universe at every turn lacks credence if one's mind embraces parts of it only and not the whole. Not to mention peacocks, or the spotted skins of tigers and panthers and the colourings of so many animals, a small matter to tell of but one of measureless extent if pondered on is the number of national languages and dialects and varieties of speech, so numerous that a foreigner scarcely counts as a human being for someone of another race! [8] Again though our physiognomy contains ten features or only a few more, to think that among all the thousands of human beings there exist no two countenances that are not distinct - a thing that no art could supply by counterfeit in so small a number of specimens! Nevertheless in most instances of these I shall not myself pledge my own faith, and shall preferably ascribe the facts to the authorities who will be quoted for all doubtful points: only do not let us be too proud to follow the Greeks, because of their far greater industry or older devotion to study.

{2.} L   [9] We have pointed out that some Scythian tribes, and in fact a good many, feed on human bodies - a statement that perhaps may seem incredible if we do not reflect that races of this portentous character have existed in the central region of the world, named Cyclopes and Laestrygones, and that quite recently the tribes of the parts beyond the Alps habitually practised human sacrifice, which is not far removed from eating human flesh. [10] But also a tribe is reported next to these, towards the North, not far from the actual quarter whence the North Wind rises and the cave that bears its name, the place called the Earth's Doorbolt the Arimaspi whom we have spoken of already, people remarkable for having one eye in the centre of the forehead. Many authorities, the most distinguished being Herodotus and Aristeas of Proconnesus, write that these people wage continual war around their mines with the griffins, a kind of wild beast with wings, as commonly reported, that digs gold out of mines, which the creatures guard and the Arimaspi try to take from them, both with remarkable covetousness.

[11] But beyond the other Scythian cannibals, in a certain large valley of the Imavus Mountain, there is a region called Abarimon where are some people dwelling in forests who have their feet turned backward behind their legs, who run extremely fast and range abroad over the country with the wild animals. It is stated by Baeton, Alexander the Great's route-surveyor on his journeys, that these men are unable to breathe in another climate, and that consequently none of them could be brought to the neighbouring kings or had ever been brought to Alexander. [12] According to Isogonus of Nicaea the former cannibal tribes whom we stated to exist to the north, ten days' journey beyond the river Borysthenes, drink out of human skulls and use the scalps with the hair on as napkins hung round their necks. The same authority states that certain people in Albania are born with keen grey eyes and are bald from childhood, and that they see better by night than in the daytime. He also says that the Sauromatae, thirteen days' journey beyond the Borysthenes, always take food once every two days.

[13] Crates of Pergamum states that there was a race of men round Parium on the Hellespont, whom he calls Ophiogenes, whose custom it was to cure snakebites by touch and draw the poison out of the body by placing their hand on it. Varro says that there are still a few people there whose spittle is a remedy against snakebites. [14] According to the writings of Agatharchides there was also a similar tribe in Africa, the Psylli, named after King Psyllus, whose tomb is in the region of the greater Syrtis. In their bodies there was engendered a poison that was deadly to snakes, and the smell of which they employed for sending snakes to sleep, while they had a custom of exposing their children as soon as they were born to the most savage snakes and of using that species to test the fidelity of their wives, as snakes do not avoid persons born with adulterous blood in them. This tribe itself has been almost exterminated by the Nasamones who now occupy that region, but a tribe of men descended from those who had escaped or had been absent when the fighting took place survives today in a few places. [15] A similar race lingers on in Italy also, the Marsi, said to be descended from the son of Circe and to possess this natural property on that account. However, all men contain a poison available as a protection against snakes: people say that snakes flee from contact with saliva as from the touch of boiling water, and that if it gets inside their throats they actually die; and that this is especially the case with the saliva of a person fasting.

Beyond the Nasamones and adjacent to them Calliphanes records the Machlyes, who are Androgyni and perform the function of either sex alternately. Aristotle adds that their left breast is that of a man and their right breast that of a woman. [16] Isogonus and Nymphodorus report that there are families in the same part of Africa that practise sorcery, whose praises cause meadows to dry up, trees to wither and infants to perish. Isogonus adds that there are people of the same kind among the Triballi and the Illyrians, who also bewitch with a glance and who kill those they stare at for a longer time, especially with a look of anger, and that their evil eye is most felt by adults; and that what is more remarkable is that they have two pupils in each eye. [17] Apollonides also reports women of this kind in Scythia, who are called the Bitiae, and Phylarchus also the Thibii tribe and many others of the same nature in Pontus, whose distinguishing marks he records as being a double pupil in one eye and the likeness of a horse in the other, and he also says that they are incapable of drowning, even when weighed down with clothing. Damon records a tribe not unlike these in Ethiopia, the Pharmaces, whose sweat relieves of diseases bodies touched by it. [18] Also among ourselves Cicero states that the glance of all women who have double pupils is injurious everywhere. In fact when nature implanted in man the wild beasts' habit of devouring human flesh, she also thought fit to implant poisons in the whole of the body, and with some persons in the eyes as well, so that there should be no evil anywhere that was not present in man.

[19] There are a few families in the Faliscan territory, not far from the city of Rome, named the Hirpi, which at the yearly sacrifice to Apollo performed on Mount Soracte walk over a charred pile of logs without being scorched, and who consequently enjoy exemption under a perpetual decree of the senate from military service and all other burdens. [20] Some people are born with parts of the body possessing special remarkable properties, for instance King Pyrrhus in the great toe of his right foot, to touch which was a cure for inflammation of the spleen; it is recorded that at his cremation it proved impossible to bum the toe with the rest of the body, and it was stored in a chest in a temple.

[21] India and parts of Ethiopia especially teem with marvels. The biggest animals grow in India: for instance Indian dogs are bigger than any others. Indeed the trees are said to be so lofty that it is not possible to shoot an arrow over them, and [the richness of the soil, temperate climate and abundance of springs bring it about] that, if one is willing to believe it, squadrons of cavalry are able to shelter beneath a single fig-tree; while it is said that reeds are of such height that sometimes a single section between two knots will make a canoe that will carry three people. [22] It is known that many of the inhabitants are more than five cubits tall, never spit, do not suffer from headache or toothache or pain in the eyes, and very rarely have a pain in any other part of the body - so hardy are they made by the temperate heat of the sun; and that the sages of their race, whom they call Gymnosophists, stay standing from sunrise to sunset, gazing at the sun with eyes unmoving, and continue all day long standing first on one foot and then on the other in the glowing sand. [23] Megasthenes states that on the mountain named Nulus there are people with their feet turned backwards and with eight toes on each foot, while on many of the mountains there is a tribe of human beings with dogs' heads, who wear a covering of wild beasts' skins, whose speech is a bark and who live on the produce of hunting and fowling, for which they use their nails as weapons; he says that they numbered more than 120,000 when he published his work. Ctesias writes that also among a certain race of India the women bear children only once in their lifetime, and the children begin to turn grey directly after birth; he also describes a tribe of men called the Monocoli who have only one leg, and who move in jumps with surprising speed; the same are called the Umbrella-foot tribe, because in the hotter weather they lie on their backs on the ground and protect themselves with the shadow of their feet; and that they are not far away from the Trogodytae; and again westward from these there are some people without necks, having their eyes in their shoulders. [24] There are also satyrs in the mountains in the east of India (it is called the district of the Catarcludi); this is an extremely swift animal, sometimes going on all fours and sometimes standing upright as they run, like human beings; because of their speed only the old ones or the sick are caught. Tauron gives the name of Choromandae to a forest tribe that has no speech but a horrible scream, hairy bodies, keen grey eyes and the teeth of a dog. Eudoxus says that in the south of India men have feet eighteen inches long and the women such small feet that they are called Sparrowfeet. [25] Megasthenes tells of a race among the Nomads of India that has only holes in the place of nostrils, like snakes, and bandy-legged; they are called the Sciritae. At the extreme boundary of India to the East, near the source of the Ganges, he puts the Astomi tribe, that has no mouth and a body hairy all over; they dress in cotton-wool and live only on the air they breathe and the scent they inhale through their nostrils; they have no food or drink except the different odours of the roots and flowers and wild apples, which they carry with them on their longer journeys so as not to lack a supply of scent; he says they can easily be killed by a rather stronger odour than usual. [26] Beyond these in the most outlying mountain region we are told of the Three-span men and Pygmies, who do not exceed three spans {i.e.. twenty-seven inches} in height; the climate is healthy and always spring-like, as it is protected on the north by a range of mountains; this tribe Homer has also recorded as being beset by cranes. It is reported that in springtime their entire band, mounted on the backs of rams and she-goats and armed with arrows, goes in a body down to the sea and eats the cranes eggs and chickens, and that this outing occupies three months; and that otherwise they could not protect themselves against the flocks of cranes that would grow up; and that their houses are made of mud and feathers and eggshells. [27] Aristotle says that the Pygmies live in caves, but in the rest of his statement about them he agrees with the other authorities. The Indian race of Cyrni according to Isigonus live to 140; and he holds that the same is true of the Long-lived Ethiopians, the Seres and the inhabitants of Mount Athos - in the last case because of their diet of snakes' flesh, which causes their head and clothes to be free from creatures harmful to the body. [28] Onesicritus says that in the parts of India where there are no shadows there are men five cubits and two spans a high, and people live a hundred and thirty years, and do not grow old but die middle-aged. Crates of Pergamum tells of Indians who exceed a hundred years, whom he calls Gymnetae, though many call them Macrobii. Ctesias says that a tribe among them called the Pandae, dwelling in the mountain valleys, live two hundred years, and have white hair in their youth that grows black in old age; [29] whereas others do not exceed forty years, this tribe adjoining the Macrobii, whose women bear children only once. Agatharchides records this as well, and also that they live on locusts, and are very swift-footed. Clitarchus gave them the name of Mandi; and Megasthenes also assigns them three hundred villages, and says that the women bear children at the age of seven and old age comes at forty. [30] Artemidorus says that on the Island of Taprobane the people live very long lives without any loss of bodily activity. Duris says that some Indians have union with wild animals and the offspring is of mixed race and half animal; that among the Calingi, a tribe of the same part of India, women conceive at the age of five and do not live more than eight years, and that in another part men are born with a hairy tail and extremely swift, while others are entirely covered by their ears.

The river Arabis is the frontier between the Indians and the Oritae. These are acquainted with no other food but fish, which they cut to pieces with their nails and roast in the sun and thus make bread out of them, as is recorded by Clitarchus. [31] Crates of Pergamum says that the Trogodytae  beyond Ethiopia are swifter than horses; also that there are Ethiopians more than twelve feet in height, and that this race is called the Syrbotae. The tribe of the Ethiopian nomads along the river Astragus towards the north called the Menismini is twenty days' journey from the Ocean; it lives on the milk of the animals that we call dog-headed apes, herds of which it keeps in pastures, killing the males except for the purpose of breeding. [32] In the deserts of Africa ghosts of men suddenly meet the traveller and vanish in a moment.

These and similar varieties of the human race have been made by the ingenuity of Nature as toys for herself and marvels for us. And indeed who could possibly recount the various things she does every day and almost every hour? Let it suffice for the disclosure of her power to have included whole races of mankind among her marvels. From these we turn to a few admitted marvels in the case of the individual human being.

{3.} L   [33] The birth of triplets is attested by the case of the Horatii and Curiatii; above that number is considered portentous, except in Egypt, where drinking the water of the Nile causes fecundity. Recently on the day of the obsequies of the deified Augustus a certain woman of the lower orders named Fausta at Ostia was delivered of two male and two female infants, which unquestionably portended the food shortage that followed. We also find the case of a woman in the Peloponnese who four times produced quintuplets, the greater number of each birth surviving. In Egypt also Trogus alleges cases of seven infants born at a single birth.

[34] Persons are also born of both sexes combined - what we call Hermaphrodites, formerly called androgyni and considered as portents, but now as entertainments. Pompey the Great among the decorations of his theatre placed images of celebrated marvels, made with special elaboration for the purpose by the talent of eminent artists; among them we read of Eutychis who at Tralles was carried to her funeral pyre by twenty children and who had given birth 30 times, and Alcippe who gave birth to an elephant - [35] although it is true that the latter case ranks among portents, for one of the first occurrences of the Marsic War was that a maidservant gave birth to a snake, and also monstrous births of various kinds are recorded among the ominous things that happened. Claudius Caesar writes that a hippo-centaur was born in Thessaly and died the same day; and in his reign we actually saw one that was brought here for him from Egypt preserved in honey. One case is that of an infant at Saguntum which at once went back into the womb, in the year {218 BC} in which that city was destroyed by Hannibal.

{4.} L   [36] Transformation of females into males is not an idle story. We find in the Annals that in the consulship of Publius Licinius Crassus and Gaius Cassius Longinus {171 BC} a girl at Casinum was changed into a boy, under the observation of the parents, and at the order of the augurs was conveyed away to a desert island. Licinius Mucianus has recorded that he personally saw at Argos a man named Arescon who had been given the name of Arescusa and had actually married a husband, and then had grown a beard and developed masculine attributes and had taken a wife; and that he had also seen a boy with the same record at Smyrna. I myself saw in Africa a person who had turned into a male on the day of marriage to a husband; this was Lucius Constitius, a citizen of Thysdritum ... [37] [It is said that] at the birth of twins neither the mother nor more than one of the two children usually lives, but that if twins are born that are of different sex it is even more unusual for either to be saved; that females are born more quickly than males, just as they grow older more quickly; and that movement in the womb is more frequent in the case of males, and males are usually carried on the right side, females on the left.

{5.} L   [38] All the other animals have a fixed season both for copulation and for bearing offspring, but human reproduction takes place all the year round and the period of gestation varies - in one case it may exceed six months, in another seven, and it may even exceed ten; a child born before the seventh month is usually still born. Only those conceived the day before or the day after full moon, or when there is no moon, are born in the seventh month. [39] It is a common thing in Egypt for children to be born even in the eighth month; and indeed in Italy also for such cases to live, contrary to the belief of old times. These matters vary in more ways also. Vistilia the wife of Glitius and subsequently of Pomponius and of Orfitius, citizens of the highest distinction, bore these husbands four children, in each case after six months' pregnancy, but subsequently gave birth to Suillius Rufus after ten months and Corbulo after six - both of these became consuls - and subsequently bore Caesonia, the consort of the Emperor Gaius, after seven months. [40] Infants born in this number of months are weakest in health during the first six weeks, the mothers iu the fourth and eighth months of pregnancy; and abortions in these cases are fatal. Masurius states that Lucius Papirius as praetor in a suit for an estate brought by an heir presumptive gave judgement for the defendant; the plaintiff's case was that the heir apparent's mother said that he had been born after thirteen months' pregnancy, and the ground for the judgement was that there appeared to be no fixed period of pregnancy.

{6.} L   [41] On the tenth day from conception pains in the head, giddiness and dim sight, distaste for food, and vomiting are symptoms of the formation of the embryo. If the child is a male, the mother has a better colour and an easier delivery; there is movement in the womb on the fortieth day. In a case of the other sex all the symptoms are the opposite: the burden is hard to carry, there is a slight swelling of the legs and groin, but the first movement is on the ninetieth day. [42] But in the case of both sexes the greatest amount of faintness occurs when the embryo begins to grow hair; and also at the full moon, which period is also specially inimical to infants after birth. The gait in walking and everything that can be mentioned are so important during pregnancy that mothers eating food that is too salt bear children lacking nails, and that not holding the breath makes the delivery more difficult; indeed, to gape during delivery may cause death, just as a sneeze following copulation causes abortion.

{7.} L   [43] One feels pity and even shame in realizing how trivial is the origin of the proudest of the animals, when the smell of lamps being put out usually causes abortion! These are the beginnings from which are born tyrants and the pride that deals slaughter. You who put confidence in your bodily strength, you who accept fortune's bounty and deem yourself not even her nurseling but her offspring, [44] you whose thoughts are of empire, you who when swelling with some success believe yourself a god, could you have been made away with so cheaply? and even today you can be more cheaply, from being bitten by a snake's tiny tooth, or even choked by a raisin-stone like the poet Anacreon, or by a single hair in a draught of milk, like the praetor Fabius Senator. Assuredly only he who always remembers how frail a thing man is will weigh life in an impartial balance!

{8.} L   [45] It is against nature to be born feet foremost; this is the reason why the designation of 'Agrippa' has been applied to persons so born - meaning 'born with difficulty' {aegre partus}; Marcus Agrippa is said to have been born in this manner, almost the solitary instance of a successful career among all those so born - although he too is deemed to have paid the penalty which his irregular birth foretold, by a youth made unhappy by lameness, a lifetime passed amidst warfare and ever exposed to the approach of death, by the misfortune caused to the world by his whole progeny but especially due to his two daughters a who became the mothers of the emperors Gaius Caligula and Domitius Nero, the two firebrands of mankind; [46] and also by the shortness of his life, as he was cut off at the age of fifty during the agony caused him by his wife's adulteries and during his irksome subjection to his father-in-law Augustus. Nero also, who was emperor shortly before and whose entire rule showed him the enemy of mankind, is stated in his mother Agrippina's memoirs to have been born feet first. It is Nature's method for a human being to be born head first, and it is the custom for him to be carried to burial feet first.

{9.} L   [47] It is a better omen when the mother dies in giving birth to the child; instances are the birth of the elder Scipio Africanus and of the first of the Caesars, who got that name from the surgical operation performed on his mother; the origin of the family name Caeso is also the same. Also Manilius who entered Carthage with his army was born in the same manner.

{10.} L   The name Vopiscus used to be given to cases of a twin born after being retained in the womb when the other twin had been killed by premature delivery - for extremely remarkable though infrequent cases of this occur.

{11.} L   [48] Few animals except woman ever have sexual intercourse when pregnant - at all events superfetation only occurs with animals in very few cases. In the records of the medical profession and of writers who have been interested in collecting such occurrences, there is a case of miscarriage in which twelve infants were stillborn at once. When, however, a moderate interval of time separates two conceptions, both may be successful, [49] as was seen in the instance of Hercules and his brother Iphicles and in the case of the woman who bore twins of whom one resembled her husband and the other an adulterer; and also in that of the maidservant of Proconnesus who, as a result of intercourse on the same day, bore one twin resembling her master and another resembling his steward, and that of another woman who bore one twin at the proper period and the other a five-months' child, and again of another who after bearing a seven months' child was delivered of twins three months later.

[50] It is also well known that sound parents may have deformed children and deformed parents sound children or children with the same deformity, as the case may be; that some marks and moles and even scars reappear in the offspring, in some cases a birth-mark on the arm reappearing in the fourth generation - {12.} L [51] we are told that in the Lepidus family three children were born, though not all in succession, with a membrane over the eyes; and indeed that other children have resembled their grandfather, and that also there has been a case of twins of which one resembled the father and the other the mother, and one of a child who resembled his brother like a twin although born a year later. Also that some women always bear children like themselves, some bear children like their husbands, some children with no family likeness, some a female child like its father and a male child like themselves. One unquestioned instance is that of the famous boxer Nicaeus, born at Byzantium, whose mother was the offspring of adultery with an Ethiopian but had a complexion no different from that of other women, whereas Nicaeus himself reproduced his Ethiopian grandfather.

[52] Cases of likeness are indeed an extremely wide subject, and one which includes the belief that a great many accidental circumstances are influential - recollections of sights and sounds and actual sense-impressions received at the time of conception. Also a thought suddenly flitting across the mind of either parent is supposed to produce likeness or to cause a combination of features, and the reason why there are more differences in man than in all the other animals is that his swiftness of thought and quickness of mind and variety of mental character impress a great diversity of patterns, whereas the minds of the other animals are sluggish, and are alike for all and sundry, each in their own kind. [53] A man of low station named Artemon so closely resembled Antiochus, king of Syria, that the royal consort Laodice after she had murdered Antiochus successfully made use of him to stage a play of her being recommended for succession to the throne. Pompey the Great had two doubles almost indistinguishable from him in appearance, a plebeian named Vibius and one Publicius who was actually a liberated slave, both of whom reproduced that noble countenance and the actual dignity of his magnificent brow. [54] A similar resemblance was the reason that saddled Pompey's father also with the surname Menogenes, that being the name of his cook, when he already had the surname Strabo {cross-eyed} from the appearance of his eyes, which actually copied a defect in his slave; and a Scipio received the surname Serapio in a similar way, Serapio being a low chattel belonging to a dealer in hogs. Another Scipio of a later generation received his name from an actor Salutio, just as Spinther and Pamphilus who played second and third roles respectively gave their names to the colleagues in the consulship Lentulus and Metellus, a situation which also (most inappropriately) resulted incidentally in the counterfeit presentations of two consuls being seen on the stage at once. [55] Vice versa, Lucius Plancus an orator gave a surname to a player Rubrius, whereas Burbuleius gave his name to Curio senior and likewise Menogenes to the former censor Messala, both alike being actors. A fisherman in Sicily not only resembled the proconsul Sura in appearance but actually reproduced his gape while speaking and his tongue-tied stammering utterance. The famous orator Cassius Severus was taunted for his likeness to the gladiator Armentarius. Recently in the household of Annaeus people used to mistake Gallio for the freedman Castellanus and the senator Agrippinus for the actor Sannius, surnamed Paris. [56] The slave-dealer Toranius sold to Antonius after he had become one of the triumvirate two exceptionally handsome boys, who were so identically alike that he passed them off as twins, although one was a native of Asia and the other of a district North of the Alps. Later the boys' speech disclosed the fraud, and a protest was made to the dealer by the wrathful Antonius, who complained especially about the large amount of the price (he had bought them for 200,000 sesterces); but the crafty dealer replied that the thing protested about was precisely the cause of his having charged so much, because there was nothing remarkable in a likeness between any pair of twin brothers, whereas (he said) to find natives of different races so precisely alike in appearance was something above all appraisal; and this produced in Antonius so convenient a feeling of admiration that the great inflictor of outlawry, who had just been in a fury of threats and abuse, considered that no other property that he possessed was more suited to his station!

{13.} L   [57] Particular individuals may have a certain physical incongruity between them, and persons whose union is infertile may have children when they form other connexions - for instance Augustus and Livia, and similarly others. Also some women have only female or only male children, though usually the sexes come alternately - for instance in the case of the mother of the Gracchi { Cornelia } this occurred twelve times, and in that of Germanicus's wife Agrippina nine times; some women are childless in youth; on some parentage is bestowed once in a lifetime; [58] certain women are always delivered prematurely, and those of this class, if ever they succeed in overcoming this tendency by the use of drugs, usually bear a female child. One of the many exceptional circumstances connected with the deified Augustus is that he lived to see his daughter's grandson, Marcus Silanus, who was born in the year of his death; Silanus, who after his consulship {46 AD} held the province of Asia, upon the succession of Nero as emperor was despatched by him with poison. [59] Quintus Metellus Macedonicus, leaving six children, left eleven grandchildren, but including daughters-in-law and sons-in-law the total of those who greeted him by the title of father was twenty-seven. [60] In the annals of the period of the deified Augustus is found a statement that in his twelfth consulship {5 BC}, when Lucius Sulla was his colleague, on the 9th April a freeman of humble station at Faesulae named Gaius Crispinius Hilarus went in procession preceded by eight children, including two daughters, twenty-seven grandchildren, eighteen great-grandchildren, and eight granddaughters by marriage, and with all of these in attendance offered sacrifice on the Capitol.

{14.} L   [61] A woman does not bear children after the age of fifty, and with the majority menstruation ceases at 40. As for the case of men, it is well known that King Masinissa begot a son when over 86, whom he called Methimannus, and Cato the ex-censor had a son by the daughter of his client Salonius when he was 81: [62] this is the reason why this branch of his family bears the surname of Salonianus, although that of the other branch is Licinianus; Cato of Utica belonged to the Salonian branch. Recently also Lucius Volusius Saturninus, who died while holding the office of City Praefect, is known to have had a son, by Cornelia of the Scipio family, born after he was 62, Volusius Saturninus, who was consul. Parentage even up to the age of 75 is commonly found in the lower classes.

{15.} L   [63] Woman is, however, the only animal that has monthly periods; consequently she alone has what are called moles in her womb. This mole is a shapeless and inanimate mass of flesh that resists the point and the edge of a knife; it moves about, and it checks menstruation, as it also checks births: in some cases causing death, in others growing old with the patient, sometimes when the bowels are violently moved being ejected. A similar object is also formed in the stomach of males, called a tumour, as in the case of the ex-praetor Oppius Capito. [64] But nothing could easily be found that is more remarkable than the monthly flux of women. Contact with it turns new wine sour, crops touched by it become barren, grafts die, seeds in gardens are dried up, the fruit of trees falls off, the bright surface of mirrors in which it is merely reflected is dimmed, the edge of steel and the gleam of ivory are dulled, hives of bees die, even bronze and iron are at once seized by rust, and a horrible smell fills the air; to taste it drives dogs mad and infects their bites with an incurable poison. [65] Moreover bitumen, a substance generally sticky and viscous, that at a certain season of the year floats on the surface of the lake of Judaea called Lake Asphaltites, adheres to everything touching it, and cannot be drawn asunder except by a thread soaked in the poisonous fluid in question. Even that very tiny creature the ant is said to be sensitive to it, and throws away grains of corn that taste of it and does not touch them again. [66] Not only does this pernicious mischief occur in a woman every month, but it comes in larger quantity every three months; and in some cases it comes more frequently than once a month, just as in certain women it never occurs at all. The latter, however, do not have children, since the substance in question is the material for human generation, as the semen from the males acting like rennet collects this substance within it, which thereupon immediately is inspired with life and endowed with body. Hence when this flux occurs with women heavy with child, the offspring is sickly or still-born or sanious, according to Nigidius; {16.} L   [67] The same writer holds that a woman's milk does not go bad while she is suckling a baby if she has become pregnant again from the same male. It is stated, however, that the easiest conceptions are when this condition is beginning or ceasing. We have it recorded as a sure sign of fertility in women if when the eyes have been anointed with a drug the saliva contains traces of it.

[68] Moreover, it is known that children cut their first teeth when six months old, the upper ones mostly coming first, and that the first teeth fall out and are replaced by others when they are six years old; and that some children are born having teeth - two distinguished instances are Manius Curius, who received the surname Dentatus in consequence, and Gnaeus Papirius Carbo. In the regal period this occurrence was considered a sign of bad luck in females; [69] Valeria was born with teeth, and the soothsayers in reply to inquiry prophesied that she would bring disaster to any community to which she was taken; she was deported to Suessa Pometia, at that period a very flourishing place, the eventual result verifying the oracle. (Some females are born with the genitals closed; this is proved by the case of Cornelia the mother of the Gracchi to be a sign of bad luck.) Some infants are born with a ridge of bone instead of teeth; this was the case as regards the upper jaw with the son of Prusias, King of Bithynia. [70] The teeth are so far indestructible by fire as not to burn when the rest of the body is cremated, but although they resist fire they are corroded by a morbid state of the saliva. A certain drug gives them whiteness. Use wears them down, and in some people they decay much before this. Nor are they only necessary for food and nourishment, as the front teeth regulate the voice and speech, meeting the impact of the tongue with a kind of harmony, and according to their regularity of arrangement and size clipping or modulating or else dulling the words, and when they are lost preventing all clear articulation. [71] Moreover this part of the body is believed to possess prophetic powers. Males (excepting the Turduli tribe) have 32 teeth; there have been cases of men with more - this is thought to foretell a longer term of life. Women have fewer; with them two dog-teeth on the right side of the upper jaw are a promise of fortune's favours, as in the case of Domitius Nero's mother Agrippina; on the left side the opposite - [72] it is the universal custom of mankind not to cremate a person who dies before cutting his teeth - But more of this later when our researches go through the parts of the body seriatim.

It is recorded of only one person, Zoroaster, that he laughed on the same day on which he was born, and also that his brain throbbed so violently as to dislodge a hand placed on his head - this foretelling his future knowledge.

[73] It is known that at the age of three a person's measurement is half his future stature. But it is almost a matter of observation that with the entire human race the stature on the whole is becoming smaller daily, and that few men are taller than their fathers, as the conflagration that is the crisis towards which the age is now verging is exhausting the fertility of the semen. When a mountain in Crete was cleft by an earthquake a body 69 feet in height was found, which some people thought must be that of Orion and others of Otus. [74] The records attest that the body of Orestes dug up at the command of an oracle measured l0 ft. 6 in. Moreover, the famous bard Homer nearly 1000 years ago never ceased to lament that mortals were smaller of stature than in the old days. In the case of Naevius Pollio the annals do not record his height, but they show that was deemed portentous, because he was almost killed by the people flocking round him. The tallest person our age has seen was a man named Gabbara brought from Arabia in the principate of the deified Claudius who was 9 ft. 9 in. in height. [75] Under the deified Augustus there were two persons 6 in. taller, whose bodies on account of this remarkable height were preserved in the tomb in Sallust's Gardens; their names were Pusio and Secundilla. When the same emperor was head of the state the smallest person was a dwarf 2 ft. 5 in. high named Conopas, the pet of his granddaughter Julia, and the smallest female was Andromeda, a freed-woman of Julia Augusta. Marcus Varro states that the Roman knight Manius Maximus and Marcus Tullius were 3 ft. high, and we have ourselves seen their bodies preserved in coffins. It is a matter of common knowledge that persons are born 18 in. high and some taller, who complete their life's course at the age of three.

[76] We find in the records that at Salamis the son of Euthymenes grew to 4 ft. 6 in. in his third year; he walked slowly, was dull of sense, became sexually quite mature, had a bass voice, and was carried off by a sudden attack of paralysis when he turned three. We ourselves recently saw almost all these features except sexual maturity in a son of the Roman knight Cornelius Tacitus, Deputy Finance Minister in Gallia Belgica. The Greeks call these cases 'perverts,' but in the Latin country there is no name for them.

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