Antidotes of Pliny the Elder

Antidotes of the Roman physician, naturalist and philosopher Pliny the Elder (CE 23 – August 25, CE 79) include:

  • To cure epilepsy, eat the heart of a black jackass, outside, on the second day of the moon. Alternatively, eat lightly poached bear testes, a dried camel brain with honey, or drink fresh gladiator’s blood.
  • To cure incontinence, touch the tips of the genitals with linen or papyrus. Alternatively, drink a glass of wine mixed with the ash of a burned pig’s penis, or urinate in your or your neighbour’s dog’s bed.
  • To cure haemorrhoids, use a cream made from pig lard and the rust of a chariot wheel. Alternatively, use swan fat or the urine of a female goat.
  • To cure headaches, tie some fox genitals to your head.
  • To cure choking on a piece of bread, take a piece from the same loaf of bread, and put it in each ear.

Regarding his death, we know that Pliny the Elder died on August 25, CE 79, the day Mount Vesuvius erupted and destroyed Pompeii. Pliny went to investigate the eruption, wearing a pillow tied to his head to protect him. His curiosity proved fatal.


2 thoughts on “Antidotes of Pliny the Elder

  1. I suspect that his cures had a nearly miraculous effect – if faced with those remedies, who would admit they were sick?

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