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Pliny's Natural history. In thirty-seven books online

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1 No signs are known by which the sex of the child before birth is in
the least indicated. Wern Club.

2 The term of pregnancy natural to the human female is 280 days ;
by the Prussian laws, 300 days ; by the French, 301 days are considered
to mark the extreme limit. From physiological reasons it is extremely
improbable if the usual term of nine calendar, or ten lunar months, is
ever exceeded by more than one lunar month. Wern. Club.

3 The emperor so named is better known by the name of Caligula,
which was imposed upon him on account of the military shoe which,
when a child, he wore in the camp. The wife's father here spoken of
was the Emperor Augustus. Wern. Club.



BOOK VII.] History of Nature. 191

labor. Gravidis autetn quarto et octavo mense, letalesque in
iis abortus. Massurius auctor est, L. Papyrium Prsetorem,
secundo hserede lege agente, bonorum possessionem contra
eum dedisse, cum mater partum se 13 mensibus diceret
tulisse, quoniara nullum certum tempus pariendi statutum
videretur. 1

CAP. VI.

De Conceptibus, et Signa Sexus in gravidis prcevenientia
Partum.

A CONCEPTU decimo die, doloris capitis, oculorum verti-
ginis tenebrseque, fastidium in cibis, redundatio stomachi,
indices sunt horninis inchoati. Melior color marem ferenti,
et facilior partus : motus in utero quadragesimo die. Con-
traria omnia in altero sexu : ingestabile onus, crurum et
inguinum levis tumor. Primus autem nonagesimo die
motus. Sed plurimum languoris in utroque sexu, capil-
lum germinante partu, et in plenilunio ; quod tempus editos
quoque infantes prsecipue infestat. Adeoque incessus, atque
omne, quicquid dici potest, in gravida refert : ut salsioribus
cibis usae, carentem unguiculis partum edant, et, si respi-
ravere, difficilius enitantur. Oscitatio quidem in enixu letalis
est: sicut sternuisse a coi'tu abortivum.

CAP. VII.
De Conceptu Hominum et Generatione.

MISERET atque etiam pudet aestimantem quam sit frivola
animalium superbissimi origo, cum plerunque abortus causa
fiat odor a lucernarum extinctu. His principiis nascuntur
tyranni, his carnifex animus. Tu qui corporis viribus fidis,

1 According to the Roman law : " Sei qua molier post virei mortem
in decem proximeis mensebos pariat, quei, quave ex ea nascatur, sonus,
suave, in verei familia heres estod :" "If a woman is delivered of a
child ten months after the death of her husband, let the child born, either
boy or girl, be heir to his father." Ulpian's opinion is, that a child born
eleven months after the death of his father is not able to inherit. The
Emperor Adrian allowed a legitimate birth in the eleventh month ; but
this is explained by saying, that the eleventh month may be begun, but
not ended. Wem. Club.



192 History of Nature. [BooK VII.

tu qui fortunes munera amplexaris, et te ne alumnum qui-
dem ejus existimas, sed partum : tu cujus semper in victoria
est mens, tu qui te Deum credis, aliquo successu turaens,
tanti perire potuisti : atque etiam hodie minoris potes, quan-
tulo serpentis ictus dente : aut etiam, ut Anacreon Poeta,
acino uvae passse : ut Fabius Senator Praetor, in lactis haustu
uno pilo strangulatus. Is demum profecto vitam aequa lance
pensitabat, qui semper fragilitatis human memor fuerit.

CAP. VIII.
De Agrippis.

IN pedes procedere nascentem contra naturam est; quo
argumento eos appellavere agrippas, ut segre partos : qua-
liter M. Agrippam ferunt genitum unico prope felicitatis
exemplo in omnibus ad hunc modum genitis. Quanquam is
quoque adversa pedum valetudine, misera juventa, exercito
aevo inter arma mortesque, ad noxia successu, infelici terris
stirpi omni, sed per utrasque Agrippinas maxirne, quae Caium
et Domitium Neronem Principes genuere, totidem faces
generis humani : praeterea brevitate aevi quinquagesimo uno
raptus anno, in tormentis adulteriorum conjugis, socerique
praegravi servitio, luisse augurium praeposteri natalis existi-
matur. Neronem, quoque paulo ante Principem, et toto Prin-
cipatu suo hostem generis humani, pedibus genitum parens
ejus scribit Agrippina. Ritu naturae capite hominem gigni
mos est, pedibus efferri.

CAP. IX.

Monstruosi Partus excisi Utero.

AUSPICATIUS enecta parente gignuntur, sicut Scipio Afri-
canus prior natus, primusque Csesarum a caeso matris utero
dictus : qua de causa et Caesones appellati. 1 Siinili modo
natus et Manlius, qui Carthaginem cum exercitu intravit.

1 The Caesarian operation, as it is now called, has been an unsuccessful
one in modern times ; but this arises from the fact that it is now performed
on the living mother to preserve her life, perhaps at the risk of that of



BOOK VII.] History of Nature. 193

CAP. X.

Qui sint Vopisci.

VOPISCOS appellabant e geminis, qui retenti utero nasce-
rentur, altero interempto abortu. Namque maxima et rara
circa hoc miracula existunt.

CAP. XI.
Exempla Numerosa Sobolis.

PRJETER mulierem pauca animalia coitura novere gra-
vida. Unum quidem omnino, aut alterum, superfoetat. 1
Extat in monumentis etiam medicorum, et quibus talia con-
sectari curse fuit, uno abortu duodecim puerperia egesta.
Sed ubi paululum teraporis inter duos conceptus intercessit,
uterque perfertur : ut in Hercule et Iphiclo fratre ejus apparuit,
et in ea quae gemino partu, altero marito similem, alterum
adultero genuit ; Item in Proconnesia ancilla, quae ejusdem
diei coitu, alterum domino similem, alterum procurator!
ejus; et in alia, qua? unum justo partu quinque mensium
alterum edidit. Rursus in alia, quae septein mensium edito
puerperio, insecutis mensibus geminos enixa est. Jam ilia
vulgata, varie ex integris truncos gigni, ex truncis integros,
eademque parte truncos: signa quaedam, naevosque et cica-
trices etiam regenerari. Quarto partus Dacorum originis Nota
in brachio redditur.

CHAPTER XII.
Examples of those who have closely resembled one another."

IN the Race of the Lepidi it is said there were three, not
successively one after another, who had when they were

the child ; whereas it appears that anciently it was had recourse to only
after the mother had expired, to save the child which still gave signs of
life. Cornelius Gamma says, that he performed it six times on as many
women, and that the children were preserved ; but he says nothing of the
fate of the mothers. Wern. Club.

1 Superfcetation is an exceedingly rare occurrence in women; but some
modern instances place the certainty of this fact on certain grounds.
Wern. Club.

2 This chapter is borrowed from Aristotle's " History of Animals,"
b. xvii. c. 6. Wern. Club.

VOL. IT. O



194 History of Nature. [BooK VII.

Born, a Membrane growing over the Eye. Some have
resembled their Grandfathers : and of Twins, one hath been
like the Father, the other the Mother : but he that was
Born a year after hath been so like his elder Brother as if he
had been one of the Twins. Some Women bring all their
Children like themselves ; others again resembling their
Husbands, and some like neither the one nor the other.
Some Women bring all their Daughters like their Fathers,
and their Sons like the Mothers. The Example is undoubted,
of NiccBus^ a famous Painter of Byzantium, who having to
his Mother a Woman begotten in Adultery by an Ethiopian,
and nothing different in Colour from other Women, was
himself begotten an Ethiopian. Indeed, the Consideration
of the Likenesses is in the Mind ; in which likewise many
other Accidents are thought to be very strong, whether they
come by Sight, Hearing, and Memory, or Imaginations
drunk in in the very instant of Conception. 1 The thought of
either Father or Mother flying to and fro transporting the
Soul in a moment, is supposed to stamp this Likeness, or to
mix it. On this account it is that Men are more unlike one
another than other Creatures: for the Quickness of the
Thoughts, the Agility of the Mind, the very great variety
of our Dispositions, imprint the great Multiplicity of Marks ;
whereas the Minds of other Creatures is immovable, being
alike in all, and in every one according to its own Kind.
Artenon, a Man of the common Rank, was so like in all
points to Antiochus King of Syria, that Laodicl the Queen,
after Antiochus was killed, effected the Succession of the
Kingdom through his acting the part of Recommendation.
Vibius, a certain Commoner of Rome, and Publicius, one
from a Bondslave made a Freeman, were both of them so
like Pompey the Great, that the one could scarcely be
discerned from the other : so closely did they represent that
open Countenance, and the singular Majesty which appeared
in his Forehead. The like cause it was that gave his Father
also the Surname of Menogenes, from his Cook ; although he

1 The reader will scarcely fail to remember Jacob's singular stratagem
with Laban's flock Genesis, xxx. and xxxi. Wern. Club.



BOOK VII.] History of Nature. 195

was already surnamed Strabo, because of his Squint Eyes :
imitating a defect that existed in his Servant. So was one
of the Scipios surnamed Serapio upon such an occasion,
after the name of one Serapio, who was a base Slave of his,
and the dealer in buying and selling his Swine. Another
Scipio after him, of the same House, was surnamed Salutio,
because of a certain Jester of that Name. After the same
manner one Spinter, a Player of the second Place, 1 arid
Pamphilus, a Player of the third Part, resembled Lentulus
and Metellus, who were Consuls together. And this fell
out very untowardly, that such resemblances of the two
Consuls should be seen together on the Stage. On the other
hand, Rubrius the Player was surnamed Plancus, because
he was so like Plancus the Orator. Again, Burbuleius and
Menogenes, both Players, gave name, the one to Curio the
Father, as did the other to Messala Censorius. There
was in Sicily a Fisherman who resembled Sura the Pro-
consul, not in general likeness only, but also in the grin
when he spoke, in drawing his Tongue short, and in his
thick Speech. Cassius Severus, the famous Orator, was
reproached for being like Mirmillo, a Keeper of Cattle.
Toranius sold to Marcus Antonius, at that time Triumvir,
two very beautiful Boys as Twins, so like they were one to
the other : although one was born in Asia, and the other
beyond the Alps. But when Antony afterwards came to
the knowledge of the fraud, which was detected by the Lan-
guage of the Boys, he threatened him in great Anger :
Among other things complaining of the high Price that he
had made him pay, for they cost him two hundred Sesterces.
But the cunning Merchant answered, That this was the very
cause why he bad sold them at so great a rate : for it would
not have been so wonderful if two Brothers of the same
Mother had resembled one another ; but that there should
be any found, who were born in different Countries, so like
in all respects, was above every thing deserving of a high
Price. This answer of his produced a well-timed admiration,

1 That is, he who supported the second or the third rate of characters
on the ancient stage. Wern. Club.



196 History of Nature. [BooK VII.

so that the Proscriptor, whose mind was enraged and uttered
reproaches, was not only appeased, hut also induced to be
well pleased with his good Fortune.

CAP. XIII.
Qucs sit Generandi Ratio.

EST quaedam privatim dissociatio corporum ; et inter se
steriles, uhi cum aliis junxere, gignunt : sicut Augustus et
Livia. Item alii aliaeque fbeminas tantum generant, aut
mares ; plerunque et alternant : sicut Gracchorum mater duo-
decies, et Agrippina Germanici novies. Aliis sterilis est
juventa, aliis semel in vita datur gignere. Quaedam non
perferunt partus : quales, si quando medicina et cura vicere,
fceminam fere gignunt. Divus Augustus in reliqua exemplo-
rum raritate, neptis suae nepotem vidit genitum quo excessit
anno, M. Syllanum ; qui cum Asiam obtineret post Consu-
latum, Neronis Principis successione, veneno ejus interemptus
est. Q. Metellus Macedonicus, cum sex liberos relinqueret,
undecim nepotes reliquit, nurus vero generosque et omnes
qui se patris appellatione salutarent, viginti septem. In Actis
temporum Divi Augusti invenitur, XII. Consulatu ejus L.
qusB Sylla Collega, ad III. Id us Aprilis, C. Crispinum Hila-
rum ex ingenua plebe Fesulana, cum liberis novem (in quo
numero filiae duae fuerunt) nepotibus XXVII., pronepotibus
XXIX., neptibus IX., praelata pompa, cum omnibus in
Capitolio immolasse. 1

1 These instances are more than equalled by some which are men-
tioned in the preface to " Hearne's Edition of Leland," vol. vi. p. 4.
Mary, wife of Richard Honiwood, of Charinge, in Kent, died at the age
of ninety-eight, in the year 1620, leaving by one husband sixteen children,
114 grand-children, 228 great-grand-children, and nine in the fourth de-
gree : in all 367 persons. Thomas Urqhart, laird and sheriff of Cromarty,
had by one wife twenty-five sons and eleven daughters : all of whom he
lived to see of considerable eminence in the world. "In Dunstable
church," says Hakewell (Apol.) " is an epitaph on a woman, testifying
that she bore three children at a birth three several times, and five at a
birth two other times." In the year 1553 the wife of John Gissger, an
Italian, had twins, and before the year was out she produced five children,
three sons and two daughters. Thomas Fazel writes that " Jane Pancica,



BOOK VII.] History of Nature. 197

CAP. XIV.
De eodem multiplicius.

MULIER post quinquagesimum annum non gignit, major-
que pars quadragesimo profluvium genitale sistit. Nam in
viris Massinissam Regem, post LXXXVI. annum generasse
filium, quern Methymnatum appellaverit, clarum est: Cato-
nem Censorium octogesimo exacto, a filia Salonii clientis sui.
Qua de causa, aliorum ejus liberorum propago, Liciniani
snnt cognominati, hi Saloniani, ex quibus Uticensis fuit.
Nuper etiam L. Volusio Saturnine in urbis praefectura ex-
tincto, notum est Cornelias Scipionum gentis Volusium Sa-
turninum, qui fuit Consul, genitum post LXII. annum.
Et usque ad LXXXV. apud ignobiles vulgaris reperitur
generatio.

CAP. XV.
.De Menstruis Mulierum.

SOLUM autem animal menstruale mulier est : inde unius
utero, quas appellarunt molas. Ea est caro informis,
inanima, ferri ictum et aciein respuens. Movetur, sistitque
menses; ut et partus, alias lethalis, alias una senescens,
aliquando alvo citatiore excidens. Simile quiddam et viris
in ventre gignitur, quod vocant scirron : sic ut Oppio Capi-
toni praetorio viro. Sed nihil facile reperiatur mulierum
profluvio magis monstrificum. Acescunt superventu inusta,
sterilescunt tactae frtiges, moriuntur insita, exuruntur horto-
rum germina, et fructus arborum, quibus insidere, decidunt ;
speculorum fulgor aspectu ipso hebetatur, acies ferri prae-
stringitur, eborisque nitor ; alvei apum emoriuntur ; aes
etiam ac ferrum rubigo protinus corripit, odorque dirus
aera ; et in rabiem aguntur gustato eo canes, atque insanabili
veneno morsus inficitur. Quin et bituminum sequax alio-

wife of Bernard, a Sicilian, in thirty births produced seventy-three
children." The latter instances are from Wanley's " Wonders of the
Little World," where his authorities are given. Wern. Club.



198 History of Nature. [BooK VII.

quin ac lenta Natura, in Lacu Judaese (qui vocatur Asphal-
tites), certo tempore anni supernatans, nequit sibi avelli, ad
omnein contactum adhserens, praeterquam filo quod tale
virus infecerit. Etiam formicis animali minimo, inesse sen-
sum ejus ferunt; abjicique gustatas fruges, nee postea repeti.
Et hoc tale tantumque omnibus tricenis diebus malum in
muliere exsistit, et trimestri spatio largius. Quibusdam vero
saepius mense; sicut aliquibus nunquam ; sed tales non gig-
nunt, quando hsec est generando homini rnateria semine e
maribus coaguli modo hoc in sese glomerante, quod deinde
tempore ipso animatur, corporaturque. Ergo cum gravidis
fluxit, invalidi aut non vitales partus eduntur, aut saniosi, ut
autor est Negidius. 1

CAP. XVI.
Item de Ratione Partuum.

IDEM, lac fbeminae non corrumpi alenti partum si ex
eodem viro rursus conceperit, arbitratur. Incipiente autem
hoc statu, aut desinente, conceptus facillimi traduntur.
Faecunditatis in fceminis praerogativam accepimus, inunctis
medicamine oculis, salivam infici. Caeterum editis primores
septimo mense gigni dentes priusque in supera fere parte,haud
dubium est. Septimo eosdem decidere anno, aliosque suffici.
Quosdam et cum dentibus nasci, 2 sicut M. Curium, quod ob
id Dentatus cognominatus est, et Cn. Papyrium Carbonem,
praeclaros viros. In Women the same thing was counted
inauspicious in the times of the Kings, for when Valeria
was born toothed in this manner, the Augurs (Aruspices)
being consulted about it, answered by way of Prophecy,
that she would be the ruin of that City to which she might
be conveyed ; whereupon she was conveyed to Suessa Pometia,

1 Much that is here stated is erroneous, and mere fable ; the recondite
subject of generation abounding in the marvellous. Wern. Club.

2 However this might have been regarded in ancient times, on a super-
stitious account, it is not an uncommon circumstance. The editor is
acquainted with the fact, that in an instance of three children being born
at one birth, all of them were furnished with teeth.- Wern. Club.



BOOK VII.] History of Nature. 199

which at that time was very flourishing: and the ruin of the
place certainly followed. Cornelia, the Mother of the Grac-
chi, is sufficient proof that it is an adverse omen, when
Women are born with the Genital Parts grown together.
Some Children are born with a continued edge of Bone
instead of a row of distinct Teeth j 1 as a Son of Prusius King
of the Bythinians, who had such a Bone in his Upper Jaw.
But Teeth are the only parts that are not subdued by the
Fires ; so that they are not consumed with the rest of the
Body; but the same parts that are not conquered by the
Flames are hollowed out and wasted by a Waterish Rheum.
They may be made White by some Medicines. They are
worn away by use ; and sometimes they fall first out of the
Head ; they serve not only to grind our Meat for our Nourish-
ment, but they are necessary for the framing of our Speech.
The Fore-teeth hold the Government over our Voice and
Words by a peculiar accord, answering to the Stroke of the
Tongue, and the series of their Formation, with their Size,
catting up, softening, or restraining the Words ; but when
they are fallen out all explanation of Words is lost.
Moreover, it may be believed, that some Augury can be
gathered from the Teeth. Men are in possession of two-and-
thirty in all, except the Nation of the Turduli ; and those
who have above this Number suppose that they may calcu-
late on longer Life. Women have not so many : they that
have on the right Side in the upper Jaw two Eye-teeth,
named Canine, may promise themselves the Favours of For-
tune ; as was the case in Agrippina, the Mother of Domitius
Nero : but it is the contrary in the Left Side. It is not the Cus-
tom in any Country to burn in a Funeral Fire the dead Body
of an Infant before the Teeth are come up : but of this we will
write more, when our History will take in the individual
Members. Zoroastres was the only Man we have heard of,
who laughed the same day he was born : his Brain did so
evidently pulsate, that it would lift up the Hand that was
laid on it: a Presage of his future Learning. It is certain

1 This was also the case with King Pyrrhus. See note, lib. vii. 2.
Wem. Club.



200 History of Nature. [BooK VII.

that a Man at three years of Age is come to one-half of the
Measure of his Height. This also is observed for a Truth, that
generally all Men fall short of the full Stature in Times past ;
and seldom are they taller than their Fathers : the Exube-
rance of the Seeds being consumed by the burning, in the
Changes of which the World now vergeth toward the latter
End. In Crete, a Mountain being cloven asunder by an
Earthquake, a Body was found standing, forty-six Cubits
high ; which some judged to be the Body of Orion, and
others, of Otus. It is believed from Records that the Body
of Orestes, when taken up by direction of the Oracle, was
seven Cubits long. 1 And that great Poet, Homer, who lived
almost a thousand Years ago, did not cease to complain that
Men's Bodies were less of Stature even then, than in old
Time. The Annals do not deliver down the Bulk of Navius
Pollio; but that he was of great size appeareth by this, that
it was taken for a Wonder, that in a great Crowd of People
running together he was almost killed. The tallest Man
that hath been seen in our Age was one named Gabbara,
who in the Days of Prince Claudius was brought out of
Arabia; he was nine Feet high, and as many Inches. There
were in the Time of Divus Augustus two others, named
Pusio and Secundilla, higher than Gabbara by half a Foot,
whose Bodies were preserved for a Wonder in a Vault in the
Gardens of the Salustiani. While the same (Augustus) was
President, his Niece Julia had a very little Man, two Feet
and a Hand- breadth high, called Canopas, whom she made
much of; and also a Woman named Andromeda,* the Freed
Woman of Julia Augusta. M. Varro reporteth that Manius
Maximus, and M. Tullius, Roman Knights, were but two
Cubits hio;h : and we ourselves have seen their Bodies em-

\j

balmed in Presses. It is well known that there are some

1 Ten feet and an half.

2 The instance of the American who exhibited himself through Eu-
rope is of recent occurrence. John Duck, an Englishman, was carried
about for a show in 1610, being two feet and a half high at forty-five years
of age. Cardan says he saw a man in Italy, of full age, not above a cubit
high. He was carried about in a parrot- cage. Wern. Club.



BOOK VII .] History of Nature. 201

born a Foot and a half high ; others again somewhat longer :
filling up the Course of their Life in three Years. We find
in the Chronicles, that in Salamis the Son of Euthimenes 1 in
three Years grew to he three Cubits high ; but he was in
his Pace slow and in his Understanding dull ; but having
attained the State of Puberty, and his Voice having become
strong, at Three Years' end he died suddenly of a Contraction
of all the Parts of his Body. Some while since I saw myself
the like in almost all respects, except the Puberty, in a Son
of Cornelius Tacitus, a Roman Knight, and a Procurator for
the State in Belgic Gaul. Such the Greeks call Ectrapelos ;
in Latin they have no Name.

CHAPTER XVII.
Observations of Bodies.

WE see that the Length of a Man from the Sole of the
Foot to the Crown of the Head is equal to the Extent of his
longest Fingers when his Arms and Hands are stretched out.
As also, that most People are stronger on the right Side ;
others are as strong on one Side as on the other : and there are
some that are altogether Left-handed; but that is never seen
in Women. Men weigh heavier than Women : and in every
kind of Creature, the bodies, when dead, are more heavy than
when alive ; and the same Parties sleeping weigh more than
when awake. The dead Bodies of Men float with the Face

1 In the year 1747, Mr. Dawkes, a surgeon at St. Ives, near Hun-
tingdon, published a small tract called " Prodigium Willinghamense," or
an account of a surprising boy, who was buried at Willingham, near
Cambridge, upon whom he wrote the following epitaph : " Stop, tra-
veller, and wondering know, here buried lie the remains of Thomas, son
of Thomas and Margaret Hall, who, not one year old, had the signs of
manhood ; not three, was almost four feet high ; endued with uncommon
strength, a just proportion of parts, and a stupendous voice; before six he
died, as it were, of advanced age. He was born at this village, October 31,
1741, and the same departed this life, September 3, 1747." (See also
"Philosophical Transactions," 1744-45.) As Dr. Elliotson has observed
(Blumenbach's " Physiology "), this perfectly authentic case removes all
doubts respecting the boy at Salamis mentioned by Pliny. Wern. Club.



202 History of Nature. [BooK VII.

upward, and Women with the Face downward, as if Nature
had provided to save their Modesty even when dead.

CHAPTER XVIII.
Examples of a Variety of Forms.

WE have heard that some Men's Bones are solid, and so
live without any Marrow. They are known by the Signs, that
they never feel Thirst, nor put forth any Sweat : and yet we
know that a Man may conquer his Thirst by his Will ; and
Julius Viator, a Roman Knight, descended from the Race of
the Confederate Voconti, in his younger Years being ill with
an Effusion of Water beneath the Skin, and forbidden by
the Physicians to use Fluids in any way, obtained a Nature
by Custom, so that in his old Age he forbore to drink.



Online Librarythe Elder PlinyPliny's Natural history. In thirty-seven books → online text (page 34 of 60)