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Medical Knowledge and the Aquatic Animals in Claudius Aelianus’s On the Characteristics of Animals1

Savoir médical et animaux aquatiques chez Claude Elien, Caractéristiques des animaux
Dimitrios Papadopoulos

Résumés

Mon article examine l'utilisation du vocabulaire médical (c'est-à-dire les symptômes et les maladies) dans les récits sur les animaux aquatiques qu'Elien inclut dans son ouvrage zoologique « Sur la Personnalité des animaux ». Mon objectif est de comprendre comment le texte d'Elien emploie la terminologie et les concepts médicaux, afin de décrire ces animaux comme étant soit nuisibles, soit bénéfiques pour les humains. Dans un premier temps, je me concentre sur certains cas où l'auteur mentionne des symptômes nocifs ou mortels causés aux humains par leur morsure, leur contact ou leur consommation. Je suggère que l'auteur dépeint les animaux aquatiques comme mortels pour les humains, car il suit un exposé temporel détaillé de leurs symptômes, semblable à celui des textes médicaux. Dans le second cas, je me concentre sur l’utilisation d’animaux aquatiques comme remèdes pour différentes maladies humaines. Je soutiens qu’Elien décrit les animaux aquatiques comme bénéfiques, car les récits ont la forme de courtes recettes pharmacologiques semblables à celles présentes dans les traités médicaux de Dioscoride et de Galien. Elian est, en effet, en contact avec un large éventail de sources médicales et emploie pour intégrer les connaissances médicales dans son œuvre des méthodes de travail caractéristiques.

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1. Introduction

  • 1 This research was supported by Grant 80679 from the Research Committee of the University of Patras (...)
  • 2 I refer to the chapters 2.44, 2.45, 3.18, 4.59, 7.31, 8.7, 14.20 and 16.13.
  • 3 For dermatological symptoms see NA 7.31 ὀδαξᾶταί τε παραχρῆμα καὶ κνησιᾷ (the skin feels pain and i (...)
  • 4 For gastrological symptoms see NA 2.44 κλονοῦνται τὴν γαστέρα καὶ στρέφονται (they have convulsions (...)
  • 5 For mental symptoms see 14.20 παράνοια (madness), caused due to the consumption of the stomach of t (...)
  • 6 Aelian mentions narratives about harmful symptoms to humans due to the contact with aquatic animals (...)
  • 7 He mentions narratives about harmful symptoms due to the bite in chapter 4.59.
  • 8 He mentions symptoms due to the consumption of aquatic animals in chapters 2.44, 2.45, 3.18, 14.20.
  • 9 Aelian mentions such narratives in chapters 3.19, 6.26, 11.34, 14.2, 14.4, 14.15 14.20 and 14.21.
  • 10 Aelian’s stories mention different medical practices. In chapters 6.26 and 14.2 he transmits testim (...)
  • 11 Aelian also offers a detailed preview of the symptoms caused by the bite of specific land snakes an (...)
  • 12 Aelian mentions testimonies about remedies regarding land animals in six cases. In particular, he m (...)
  • 13 Aelian transmits pharmacological opinions about remedies regarding herbs in four cases. In particul (...)

1This paper explores how Aelian uses symptoms and diseases in narratives regarding aquatic animals by describing their harmful or beneficial attributes. I have chosen to focus on medical cases concerning aquatic species, because they offer a rich source of discussion on medicine in his zoological miscellany. In particular, Aelian mentions sixteen instances on this topic, which can be divided into two different categories according to their context. On the one hand, in eight occasions2 Aelian mentions harmful dermatological,3 gastrological4 or mental5 symptoms caused to humans either by the touch,6 the bite7 of aquatic animals or due to the consumption of noxious fish.8 On the other hand, in the remaining eight cases, Aelian integrates opinions9 according to which parts of fish can serve as remedies for certain diseases/symptoms10. These cases are part of a wider medical discussion in the heterogeneous work, which also includes testimonies on the medical properties of land snakes,11 land animals,12 and herbs.13 In Aelian’s miscellany, medical discussion covers mainly testimonies regarding the use of animals as remedies (i.e. in the cases of aquatic animals, land species and herbs), while Aelian discusses the symptoms/diseases caused to humans in the cases of aquatic animals and land snakes.

2My aim in what follows is double: first, I will explore the connection between zoological miscellany and ancient medical discourse, by studying the inclusion of medical knowledge in Aelian’s text. In this framework, I compare the medical vocabulary found in stories about aquatic animal species with parallels found in Hippocratic treatises, as well as in Dioscorides and Galen’s works, in order to investigate the medical background of these stories. I will discuss in detail the contexts in which this vocabulary appears, indicating either the harmfulness/deathfulness or the usefulness of aquatic animals for humans.

  • 14 My methodology is based on various studies about ancient medicine. For the discussion of the Hippoc (...)

3During this examination, I follow the methodology used in studies on ancient medical epistemology, which focus on the way ancient doctors discussed the progression of diseases or the production of remedies, using a specialized medical vocabulary14.

4I show that Aelian’s medical vocabulary finds key parallels in medical texts. In particular, in cases where he discusses the healing properties of aquatic animals, the form of the testimonies that he includes in his miscellany resembles short pharmacological recipes found in Dioscorides and Galen. On the other hand, in stories where he presents the harmful or fatal abilities of aquatic animals the author offers a detailed temporal overview of the infections that they cause, which is akin to discussions of the progression of human diseases in medical texts. In the course of the temporal exposition of symptoms, Aelian also presents them on the basis of the increase of their severity / repulsion, since he starts from milder/more common (e.g. stomachache, cough) and ends in more horrendous and disgusting ones (e.g. rabies, madness), finally reaching the death of patients.

  • 15 For the role of paideia in the Imperial Era see e.g. Johnson, A.W., « Constructing Elite Reading Co (...)

5The paper also investigates how Aelian’s audience might have received the medical case studies included in his zoological text. I argue that the author motivates his readers to take an active part in these medical discussions at different levels. Reading these stories requires the reader to have medical knowledge/experience and paideia15. However, the medical stories are presented randomly in his miscellanistic work, thus inviting readers to connect them to each other among other unrelated chapters to medicine.

  • 16 For the discussion on disgust in antiquity and ancient texts see e.g. Lateiner, D. and Spatharas D. (...)
  • 17 Overduin 2017.
  • 18 Webb, R., Ekphrasis, imagination and persuasion in ancient rhetorical theory and practice, Aldersho (...)

6In addition, readers are invited to actively participate in Aelian’s zoological stories on an emotional level, especially in cases which describe the fatal symptoms of some patients. I mainly examine the role of disgust, relying on key studies of this topic16. In particular, following Overduin’s analysis of disgust in Nicander’s Theriaca (2017: 144-155)17, I suggest that Aelian often emphasizes repulsive symptoms caused to humans – repulsive due to their connection with elements such as blood, vomit or saliva/frothing. The rhetorical technique of enargeia adds special vividness to these descriptions. According to Webb (2009: 87-110), in rhetorical and literary contexts, this term refers to the vivid description of events, which has an emotional impact on listeners or readers, as they reconstruct the episodes in their minds through the cognitive association between the words used in the speech and the images these words recall18. In Aelian’s stories, the readers mentally reconstruct the different stages of the infections through reading the detailed medical descriptions and feel disgust as they consider both the repulsive nature of specific symptoms and the patient’s condition, which progressively worsens. Moreover, through his vivid descriptions the author brings these patients before the readers’ eyes, as if they were present at the particular events, making them feel pity for their fate, as well as fear for the powers of the aquatic animal.

2. Medical symptomatology and aquatic animals

  • 19 For the description of the symptoms in ancient medical texts see e.g. Geller 2004: 42-47; Perez Cañ (...)

7Aelian offers a detailed symptomatology in his eight narratives regarding the harmful/fatal animals: he gives emphasis on the symptoms that occur in the infected body and notes how the select aquatic species harm persons when they touch them, bite them or harm them when consumed as food. As will be discussed in this section, this method of describing symptoms finds important parallels in the ancient medical tradition19.

  • 20 For a discussion for the content and the structure of this treatise see Geller 2004: 29-33; Pérez C (...)
  • 21 I follow the date of the composition of the treatise proposed by Craik 2014: 140.
  • 22 οὗτος μὲν μέχρι τεσσερεσκαίδεκα ἡμερέων τοιαῦτα πάσχων διατελέει.

8A key parallel is found in the Hippocratic treatise On the Internal Affections20 (Int. 3), where a disease of the lungs (πλευμονίς) is described. In this text, which dates from the first half of the 4th century BC21, the doctor follows a temporal sequence in presenting the disease’s symptoms. In particular, he divides them into two phases according to the time of their appearance in the infected body. The crucial time which splits the discussion into two parts is the fourteenth day of the infection22, when the symptoms in the human body change. Specifically, in the first phase of infection, the doctor claims that the patient has a sharp dry cough (βὴξ ὀξέη ἔχει καὶ ξηρή), chills (ῥῖγος), fever (πυρετός), pain in the chest, back and side (καὶ ὀδύνη ἐν τοῖσι στήθεσι καὶ ἐν τῷ μεταφρένῳ ἔγκειται, ἐνίοτε δὲ καὶ ἐν τῷ πλευρῷ), as well as a severe orthopnea (i.e difficulty in breathing) (ὀρθοπνοίη σφοδρὴ ἐπιπίπτει). In its second phase, he notes that coughing intensifies (ἀποπτύει πολύ) and material that looks like spiders’ webs is expectorated (πολλάκις δὲ καὶ οἷον χιτῶνας ἀραχνίων ἀποπτύει), along with sputum mixed with blood (πολλάκις δὲ ὕφαιμον). He argues that the illness lasts for a year and causes additional symptoms in the patient, if the lungs are not cleaned from the sputum collected there (ἢν δὲ μὴ προσέχῃ, ἡ νοῦσος ἐπ᾿ ἐνιαυτὸν παρατείνει καὶ μεταβάλλει ἄλλοτε ἀλλοῖα πάσχων).

  • 23 Pérez Cañizares 2005: 366.
  • 24 Pérez Cañizares 2005: 366.

9By presenting symptoms in the temporal order of their appearance in two parts (he uses the adverb ἔπειτα –afterwards–, which shows the temporal relationship of the two phases of the illness), the author offers a precise overview of the progression of the disease from the first moment of the symptoms’ appearance (τάδε πάσχει κατ᾿ ἀρχὰς), presenting how the patient suffers during the course of the progression of his/her infection. Pérez Cañizares links this detailed symptomatology to the authorial choice to mention all the possible variations of the symptoms through the use of the adverbs ἐνίοτε (at times) and πολλάκις (often)23. According to the same scholar, this choice portrays the physician as an experienced practitioner with good knowledge of several instances of patients infected by this disease24.

10The detailed presentation of the symptoms is apparent in the following three instances: in Leonidas of Byzantium’s testimony about an exotic fish of the Red Sea (3.18), in Aristotle’s narrative about the fatal properties of the water snake’s bite (4.59), as well as in an anonymous story of human suffering after the consumption of the sea horse’s stomach with wine (14.20). Ι have chosen to study these testimonies as case studies, as they offer the longest examples of medical stories regarding aquatic animals in Aelian’s miscellany. The author chooses testimonies drawn from older texts (citing earlier authors, such as Leonidas of Byzantium and Aristotle), and presents them as single medical incidents in his text. The possible principle behind their choice is probably the nature of the symptoms mentioned in these medical stories, since they contain beautiful and extreme symptoms, the combination of which evokes emotions of fear, shock, as well as disgust in the readers.

2.1. Leonidas of Byzantium’s testimony about an exotic fish of the Red Sea (NA 3.18)

11The first example is from Chapter 3.18 and cites Leonidas of Byzantium’s testimony on an exotic fish of the Red Sea:

ἐν τῇ Ἐρυθρᾷ θαλάττῃ ἰχθὺν Λεωνίδης Βυζάντιος γίνεσθαί φησι, κωβιοῦ τοῦ τελείου μείονα οὐδὲ ἕν. ἔχειν δὲ οὔτε ὀφθαλμοὺς αὐτὸν οὔτε στόμα ἐν νόμῳ τῷ τῶν ἰχθύων. προσπέφυκε δ ο βράγχια κα σχῆμα κεφαλῆς, ς εἰκάσαι, οὐ μή έκμεμόρφωται εἶδος˙ κάτω δὲ ἄρα ὑπὸ τῇ γαστρὶ αὐτῷ, ἐντέθλασται τύπος κολπώδης ἡσυχῇ, καὶ ἐκπέμπει σμαράγδου χροάν. τοῦτον οὖν εἶναι ὀφθαλμὸς καὶ στόμα. ὅστις δὲ αὐτοῦ γεύεται, σὺν τῷ κακῷ τῷ ἑαυτοῦ ἐθήρασεν αὐτόν. καὶ τῆς διαφθορᾶς τρόπος, γευσάμενος ᾤδησεν, εἶτα γαστὴρ κατέρραξε, καὶ ἄνθρωπος ἀπόλωλε [(ed. Garcia Valdés et al. (2016)].

  • 25 The translation is Scholfield 1958.

Leonidas of Byzantium claims that there is a fish in the Red Sea which is as large as the goby in size. He claims that it has neither eyes nor mouth as it happens naturally in fish. Gills and a shape of head grow in it, but, as one can imagine, they are not perfectly developed. Below its stomach is a slightly indented depression, and it emits the colour of an emerald. Leonidas claims that this depression is its eye and its mouth. The man who tastes it has caught his disaster with it; and this is the way of the harmfulness: The person feels pain, afterwards his stomach bursts and he dies25.

  • 26 Aelian is the main source for Leonidas’ treatise in ancient literature as he cites testimonies from (...)
  • 27 See Athenaeus, Deipn. 1.13 b-c: Καίκαλον λέγω τὸν Ἀργεῖον καὶ Νουμήνιον τὸν Ἡρακλεώτην, Παγκράτην τ (...)

12The material of Aelien in this chapter probably derives from Leonidas’ lost treatise on fishing26. According to Athenaeus (Deipn. 1.13c Olson), this author wrote a treatise on this topic in prose (καταλογάδην) and belonged to the same literary tradition as Oppian’s poem Haleutica27. Leonidas offers a precise zoological description of the appearance of an anonymous exotic fish of the Red Sea, giving its anatomical details, and focusing on its strange differences compared to normal fish species.

  • 28 Aelian also describes with the temporal progression of the infection caused to the fatal touch of a (...)

13Next, Aelian associates the creature’s harmfulness to humans with its consumption, mentioning in a sequence the two gastrological symptoms which appear to the infected body prior to the person’s death: he first mentions the pain ( γευσάμενος ᾤδησεν), he then continues with the burst of the stomach and concludes with the death of the person. In this case, the author briefly denotes the temporal progression of the infection, using the term εἶτα (afterwards), which places the occurrence of stomach rupture after stomach pain and before death of the person28.

14Aelian’s chapter 2.45, concerning the harmful consumption of the sea hare (Λαγὼς δὲ θαλάττιος βρωθείς), offers a parallel to 3.18, as the author claims that it causes stomachache in aul cases to people (πάντως δὲ τὴν γαστέρα ὠδύνησεν), while it often leads to their death (θάνατον ἤνεγκε πολλάκις). Similarly to Leonidas’ testimony, the consumption of a fish leads to death; however, the use of the term πολλάκις in 2.45 leaves open the possibility of recovery, since it implies that people can sometimes survive after eating it, contrary to the testimony in 3.18, where death appears inevitable.

  • 29 s.v. LSJ ὠδυνάω.
  • 30 For the use of ὀδυνάω in the Hippocratic Corpus denoting pain see e.g. Hippocrates, Epid. 5.1: Εὐπό (...)

15In 3.18 the increase in severity of the two gastrological symptoms becomes apparent, if we consider the background of the terms ὀδυνάω and καταρρήγνυμι in medical literature. The former denotes pain29 that affect different parts of the human body30. For example, in the Hippocratic treatise On Diseases of Women 2 (62) the physician claims that when the uterus becomes inflamed (Ἢν φλεγμαίνωσιν αἱ μήτραι) the women suffer from pain everywhere in the loins, in the lower abdomen, in the groins, and at the attachments (ὀδυνᾶται πᾶσα καὶ ἦτρον καὶ βουβῶνας καὶ ἰξύας καὶ παραφύσιας) and they die quickly (καὶ ταχὺ θνῄσκουσιν), while in the treatise On Affected Areas (8.102) Galen argues that patients feel more pain in a stretched diaphragm (τὸ διάφραγμα τεινόμενον ὀδυνᾶται μᾶλλον) when an inflamed tumor grows in the lower parts of the sides (ὅτ’ ἂν μὲν οὖν ἐν τοῖς κάτω μέρεσιν τῶν πλευρῶν φλεγμονὴ γένηται). In both cases, the physicians describe pain which affects different parts of the human body due to the growth of tumors.

  • 31 s.v. LSJ καταρρήγνυμι.

16As far as καταρρήγνυμι is concerned, according to LSJ, the verb means break/burst, while in medical texts it often denotes violent gastric discharges31. The latter meaning is found in the Hippocratic treatise On Ancient Medicine, where the physician underlines (10) that some people suffer from violent diarrhea, when they have dinner (ἢν δὲ καὶ ἐπιδειπνήσωσι, καὶ φῦσα καὶ στρόφος καὶ ἡ κοιλίη καταρρήγνυται). In addition, the Greek historian Appian (Hisp. 227) offers another parallel: he describes fatal gastric discharges caused to Roman soldiers, due to the consumption of food which has not been boiled with salt (καὶ κριθὰς καὶ ἐλάφων κρέα πολλὰ καὶ λαγωῶν χωρὶς ἁλῶν ἑψόμενα σιτούμενοι κατερρήγνυντο τὰς γαστέρας, καὶ πολλοὶ καὶ ἀπώλλυντο).

  • 32 οἱ γάρ τοι τῷ δήγματι προσπεσόντες ἐξάπτονταί τε ἐς δίψος καὶ πιεῖν ἀναφλέγονται καὶ ἀμυστὶ σπῶσι κ (...)
  • 33 εἰ δὲ καὶ ὠτειλαί εἰσί τινες παλαιαὶ περὶ τὸ σῶμα, ῥήγνυνται καὶ αὗται.

17In his miscellany, Aelian uses καταρρήγνυμι only in Leonidas’ testimony. However, he uses ῥήγνυμι in two cases, where he denotes the bursting of the human body due to the bite of the land lizard διψάς and the land snake αἱμόρροος in chapters 6.51 and 15.13, respectively. In the former case, the author claims that the human body bursts after the bite, as the bitten person drinks water to stop thirst.32 In the latter passage, he argues that the old wounds in the bitten body burst due to the snake’s poisonous bite.33

  • 34 A similar case is found in Galen’s treatise On Crises (9.655). There, he describes a paroxysm and c (...)
  • 35 Aelian also mentions a case of food poisoning due to the consumption of the fish rainbow-wrasse in (...)

18The term κατέρραξε referring to stomach bursting fits the paradoxographical context of this anecdote, since it is more dramatic and denotes the strange, wondrous and unexpected peculiarity of this anonymous exotic fish34. The phrase γαστὴρ κατέρραξε underlines the increase of the intensity of the symptoms in the course of the symptomatology, in comparison with the relatively milder stomachache that is denoted with the term ὤδησεν. The order of the symptoms follows Aelian’s strategy used in the depiction of infections in his miscellany; in particular, at the beginning of his symptomatology he usually posits symptoms that do not surprise readers, since they appear in human diseases, later mentioning the more strange or unexpected. In this case, the infection starts as a normal food poisoning, which does not show anything wondrous35. However, the turn to stomach bursting is the unexpected element. Furthermore, in the course of his symptoms, death is inevitable, since Aelian does not mention any remedy that would stop the infection and save the patient.

19In general, Aelian’s combination of the list of anatomical information about the creature and the harmful symptoms it causes stirs feelings of disgust about the grotesque appearance of the creature, along with fear of its powers, which cause repulsive symptoms and death. This happens since the readers imagine both its appearance and the phases of infection and act as spectators of this medical incident due to the element of enargeia of the vivid description of Aelian.

2.2. Aristotle’s testimony [fr. 270.9 Gig.] on the bite of the water snake (NA 4.59)

20Moving now to Aristotle’s testimony on the symptoms caused by the bite of the water snake in 4.59, his exposition is longer than that of Leonidas’ narrative:

Ἀριστοτέλης λέγει [fr. 270.9 Gig.] τὸν ὑπὸ ὕδρου πληγέντα παραχρῆμα ὀσμὴν βαρυτάτην ἀπεργάζεσθαι, ὡς μὴ οἷόν τε εἶναι προσπελάσαι αὐτῷ τινα. λήθην τε καταχεῖσθαι τοῦ πληγέντος αὐτὸς λέγει καὶ μέντοι καὶ ἀχλὺν κατὰ τῶν ὀμμάτων πολλήν, καὶ λύτταν ἐπιγίνεσθαι καὶ τρόμον εὖ μάλα ἰσχυρόν, καὶ ἀπόλλυσθαι διὰ τρίτης αὐτόν (ed. Garcia Valdés et al. 2016).

  • 36 The translation is mine.

Aristotle says that a person bitten by a water snake immediately exhales an intolerable bad smell, so much so that nobody can approach him. The same author argues that loss of memory and sight descends upon the infected person and that rabies and strong fear appear and that the person dies in the course of three days36.

  • 37 Gigon, O., Aristotelis Opera III. Librorum deperditorum fragmenta, Berlin, 1987: 465.
  • 38 Mayhew, R., « Aristotle on Philoctetes’ snake? Hom. Il. 2.721-725 and Ael. NA 4.57 », Philologus, 1 (...)

21In this passage, the medical discussion in the Aristotelian fragment has been connected in scholarship with different aspects of the philosopher’s expertise. In particular, Gigon has included it in the zoological fragments of Aristotle37, whereas Mayhew has proposed that the symptomatology were part of one of Aristotle’s Homeric Puzzles, on the kind of snake that bit Philoctetes in Lemnos38.

22Τhe philosopher mixes both physical and mental symptoms in his narrative. In particular, he mentions the physical symptoms of bad smell and the loss of sight, alongside the mental symptoms of the loss of memory and terror.

  • 39 s.v. LSJ λῦσσα ΙΙ .
  • 40 For select Galen’s discussions regarding antidotes against rabies see e.g. Galen, Simpl. Med. temp.(...)
  • 41 Aelian uses λῦττα and refers to the disease of rabies connected with mad dogs in chapters 8.9, 9.15 (...)
  • 42 For the connection of λῦσσα to madness/rage s.v. LSJ λῦσσα Ι.
  • 43 Aelian refers to mares’ love madness in chapters 12.10, 14.18, while he mentions the lust of the ma (...)

23As far as the disease of rabies is concerned, the use of λῦττα is unique in the medical context of this passage. The term normally connects the disease caused to humans to the bite of frenzied dogs39, as Galen’s example also shows, since he refers to λῦττα in discussions regarding antidotes that cure this disease40. Similarly, Aelian refers mainly to incidents of frenzied dogs with this term41. However, here Aristotle connects it with the harmfulness of the bite of the water snake. Mayhew (2017: 253) has proposed that, apart from the physical symptom of rabies, λῦττα could also refer in this passage to the mental symptom of madness, as the word can bear both meanings in ancient texts42. In Aelian’s miscellany, λῦττα refers to a specific kind of madness, namely love furry, in four cases, where the author mentions the extreme expression of lust of different animals43.

24Similarly to Leonidas, Aristotle describes symptoms whose severity increases progressively. In particular, the intolerable bad smell is a disgusting symptom affecting mainly those who are next to the bitten person (ὡς μὴ οἷόν τε εἶναι προσπελάσαι αὐτῷ τινα). At the second stage of the infection, loss of memory and sight occurs. Finally, rabies and fear are the most serious and horrendous symptoms, since they describe the mental and physical impact on the patient (in the former case) and his emotional state (in the latter).

25The emotional impact on the readers is equally considerable: in particular, they feel disgust for the symptoms of intolerable smell and rabies, as they bring into their mind the awful odor (due to the use of the adjective βαρυτάτην), as well the symptoms of saliva and frothing at the mouth, following the disease of rabies; as a result, the readers imagine the repulsive picture of the patient. They also feel fear due to the increased severity of the symptoms, which shows the fatality of the water-snake. Another textual factor that evokes this emotion is the symptom τρόμος, as it bears the emotional meaning of horror, making the readers feel empathy for the terror aroused in the patient by the bite. This emotion is more intense than in Leonidas’ case, as contrary to his narrative, the water-snake is a common animal, whose harmfulness may be imminent to them.

  • 44 A similar case regarding quick infection and death of the bitten person is the description of the b (...)

26The rapid progression of the infection caused by this aquatic animal is another characteristic of the bite of the water snake. In particular, Aelian used παραχρῆμα (at once), as the bad smell appears immediately to the bitten person, while his/her death becomes inevitable and without any chance of salvation after three days (ἀπόλλυσθαι διὰ τρίτης)44. In the same light as in Leonidas’ case, the symptomology describes the powers of the water snake as fatal, through combining the progressive nature of the symptoms, the emotional impact of the energetic description on the readers, the quick infection caused by the bite, as well as the absence of any known remedy for the cure of the disease. Overall, the vivid description of Aelian presents the patient helpless suffering until his/her inevitable and rapid death, and thus evokes the symptom of compassion in his readers for the condition of the patient.

  • 45 In this case, Aelian presents nine consequent symptoms caused due to the bite of the prester. Speci (...)
  • 46 In this case, Aelian mentions four sequent symptoms caused due to the bite of this snake. In partic (...)
  • 47 In this case, Aelian, apart from the terror, also mentions the heart pain (καὶ περὶ τὴν καρδίαν ἄλγ (...)

27As far as the use of the symptoms in this chapter is concerned, Aelian also uses specific examples of these instances in medical incidents caused to humans by land snakes or venomous spiders. In particular, the anonymous description of the bite of the land snake prester in 17.4 offers a first parallel to the case of Aristotle, as the author lists the loss of memory (καὶ λήθην καταχεῖ τῆς γνώμης τὸ δῆγμα)45. A second parallel is Nicander’s testimony in chapter 15.18 about the bite of the land snake σηπεδών; it relies on verses 320-333 from his Theriaca and presents the loss of sight by the bitten person (καὶ τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς ἀχλὺς κατέχει) as one of its symptoms46. A third parallel is Aelian’s narrative about the bite of the venomous spider πιθήκη in 6.26. In that example, he notes that terror appears by the bitten person (καὶ παρέπεται τρόμος τῷ δηχθέντι) after the bite of this spider47.

2.3 Consumption of the stomach of the sea horse with wine (NA 14.20)

28By far the most detailed medical story in Aelian’s zoological miscellany is provided in Chapter 14.20, about the consumption of the stomach of the sea horse combined with wine, which is a ‘strange’ poison (φάρμακον ἀήθες), according to the author. There, Aelian lists ten consequent symptoms, starting from the more common or frequent and moving on to rarer, more severe, disgusting, and horrendous examples at the end of his text. In this context, the study of his long symptomatology can be arranged into three phases, according to the nature of the symptoms mentioned.

29In the first phase, the author mentions the strong retching (καταλαμβάνεσθαι λυγγὶ σφοδροτάτῃ), the dry cough (βήττειν ξηρὰν βῆχα), the growth and expansion of the stomach (διογκοῦσθαι δὲ καὶ διοιδάνειν τὴν ἄνω γαστέρα), the hot streams in the head (θερμά τε τῇ κεφαλῇ ἐπιπολάζειν ῥεύματα) and the descent of phlegm from the nose (διὰ τῆς ῥινὸς κατιέναι φλέγμα) as the starting symptoms of this illness. These symptoms do not surprise the reader at all because they frequently appear in human diseases.

30Moving to the second phase of the disease, Aelian claims that the person emits a fishy odor (ἰχθυηρᾶς ὀσμῆς προσβάλλειν), his/her eyes become bloodshot and fiery (τοὺς δὲ ὀφθαλμοὺς ὑφαίμους αὐτῷ γίνεσθαι καὶ πυρώδεις), his/her eyelids swell (τὰ βλέφαρα δὲ διογκοῦσθαι), and he/she starts vomiting (ἐμέτων δὲ ἐπιθυμίαι ἐξάπτονταί φασιν). In this case, he lists strange and unexpected symptoms. Their extraordinary nature reflects Aelian’s comment on this poison at the beginning of the chapter, which characterizes it as φάρμακον ἀήθες (strange poison). This phrase likely underlines his uncertainty as to how the mixture of these ingredients could cause such strange symptoms. Again, these symptoms as described have an emotional impact on the readers: they stir disgust, on the basis of their emphasis on the emitted fish smell, on vomiting, since Aelian’s vivid presentation makes his readers imagine the repulsive fishy smell, as if they were spectators of the episode, as well as bring into their mind the terrible picture of the patient vomiting and having fiery eyes and swollen eyelids.

31In the last phase of his symptomatology, Aelian presents two alternative final courses of the disease: he claims that the person may lose his/her memory (ἐς λήθην δὲ ὑπολισθάνειν) and get mad (παράνοια), or can die if the wine slips in the lower part of the stomach (ἐὰν δὲ ἐς τὴν κάτω γαστέρα διολίσθῃ, μηδὲν ἔτι εἶναι, πάντως δὲ ἀποθνήσκειν τὸν ἑαλωκότα). As in the two previous cases, in the second instance death comes quickly and inevitably, as the adverb πάντως denotes, without any chance of salvation for the people who drink the poisoned mixture, as the author does not mention any remedy which can cure them. Memory loss and madness are also not positive symptoms: even if they are not fatal to humans, they cannot be stopped and permanently harm the mind of patients.

  • 48 The Hippocratic authors mention παράνοια in five instances in their treatises. In particular, they (...)
  • 49 For a discussion on the denotation of the emotion of joy in connection with madness in the Hippocra (...)

32Aelian’s description of how such patients behave is in fact the longest discussion of a single symptom affecting people in his zoological miscellany. In ancient medical texts, παράνοια is not a common term denoting madness48, while in the Hippocratic corpus it is a mental illness often caused when the condition of the blood changes in the human body due to various factors49. For instance, in the treatise On Diseases of Women 1 (Mul. 1.63), Hippocrates claims that a woman becomes mad (παρανοεῖ), if the uterus forms ulcers (Ἢν δ’ αἱ μῆτραι ἑλκωθέωσιν), mentioning the discharge of blood and pus (αἷμα καὶ πῦα καθαίρεται) as one of the symptoms leading to παράνοια, while in the treatise Diseases (Morb. 1.30) the author argues that people become mad (παράνοοι γίνονται), if their blood is disordered by bile and phlegm (ὅταν φθαρῇ τὸ αἷμα ὑπὸ χολῆς καὶ φλέγματος). In both select cases, physicians explain the appearance of madness to patients by discussing how particular phenomena regarding the condition of blood in the human body cause this disease, either in connection to gynecology (in the former case) or to the function of the bile (in the latter one).

  • 50 Another vivid description of madness in Aelian is presented in chapter 11.32; there, he uses μανία (...)

33Aelian connects παράνοια with the attraction of people to water on different occasions50. He says ἱμέρῳ πολλῷ καταλαμβάνονται ὕδατος (they are seized by a great desire for water), καὶ ὁρᾶν διψῶσιν ὕδωρ καὶ ἀκούειν λειβομένου (they are thirsty to see water and listen to it falling), φιλοῦσι διατριβεῖν παρὰ τοῖς ἀενάοις ποταμοῖς ἢ αἰγιαλῶν πλησίον ἢ παρὰ κρήναις ἢ λίμναις τισί, (they love to stay either next to the ever flowing rivers or near the coasts or next to wells or lakes), πιεῖν μὲν οὐ πάνυ τι γλίχονται (they do not have the desire to drink water) and ἐρῶσι δὲ νήχεσθαι καὶ τέγγειν τὼ πόδε ἢ ἀπονίπτειν τὼ χεῖρε (they warmly love to swim and dip their feet or wash their hands). All these phrases seek to explain how water instills happiness to people suffering from madness. Aelian discusses further their physiological condition, claiming that it makes them sleep (καταβαυκαλᾷ) and calm (κατευνάζει).

  • 51 For a discussion about the emotional impact of madness on the patients in the Hippocratic texts see (...)
  • 52 For the doubts and the discussion about the attribution of the treatise Theriaca ad Pisonem to Gale (...)

34Aelian’s emphasis on the psychological impact of παράνοια shows similarities to descriptions of madness in medical texts51. The discussion about hydrophobia in the treatise De theriaca ad Pisonem, which has been attributed to Galen52, offers (14.278) a select parallel to Aelian’s description. In particular, during his exposition of the symptoms caused by this disease, the text claims that the hydrophobic person becomes mad (καὶ γνώμῃ παρανοεῖ) and frenzied (παρακοπήν). In this framework, the author connects the mental condition of the patient with a fear of water (τὸ γὰρ ὕδωρ φοβοῦνται / τὸ ὕδωρ φοβοῦμενοι), with a desire of moisture, due to his dry body (διὰ τὴν πολλὴν ξηρότηταν τοῦ ὑγροῦ ἐπιθυμίαν ἔχουσιν), as well as with despise for drinking water (τοῦ πίειν ἀπέχονται). In addition, the author says that the fear of the patient and the hatred of water becomes fatal to him, as he dies because of the hydration (φεύγοντες τὸ ὕδωρ καὶ φοβοῦμενοι τῷ οἰκτίστῳ θανάτῳ ἀποθνήσκουσι). In this case, the text offers a contrasting example of the impact of madness on patients compared to Aelian’s description, as in the former case they fear and despise water, contrary to the patients in the latter case who desire it. However, a common point between them is the choice of the author to present the psychological condition of people, using relevant terms. In particular, similarly to Aelian’s denotation of the desire and joy of patients being next to water through the use of synonymous phrases, such as the verbs φιλοῦσι and ἐρῶσι, in the treatise De Theriaca ad Pisonem, Galen offers a detailed overview of patients’ emotions of fear and despise for water through the phrases τὸ ὕδωρ φοβοῦνται / τὸ ὕδωρ φοβούμενοι and τοῦ πίειν ἀπέχονται respectively.

2.4. Selection, exposition of the symptoms and the readers’ participation in Aelian’s symptomatology

35The case-studies discussed above denote some important aspects regarding the choice and the role of medical stories about aquatic animals in Aelian’s miscellany. In particular, these stories may reflect his interest in wondrous, extreme, disgusting, and horrendous examples of diseases caused to humans by specific species, as the principle of their selection is probably their severity and the repulsion they invoke. In this framework, the author depicts the fatality of dangerous aquatic animals through the combination of various symptoms, both physical and mental.

36Moreover, the study of these medical cases in his miscellany requires an active participation of his audience at various levels. Specifically, Aelian uses specialized medical vocabulary relevant to the ancient medical discourse; during the study of these stories the readers should recall what they have learned or experienced regarding medicine in order to understand and acquire information. In addition, the level of medical exploration varies among the readers of this text. In particular, a more experienced audience, such as ancient physicians, can associate the medical vocabulary to previous or contemporary medical discourse or even explain the rationale behind their appearance in the human body.

37As I have discussed, the vivid and energetic depiction of aquatic animals’ fatality is a common topic in all three case studies analyzed. The stomach rupture described in Leonidas’ case, the intolerable smell after the water snake bite, as well as the madness due to the consumption of the stomach of the sea horse, are all examples of severe symptoms that have an intense emotional effect on the reader. The literary function of these incidents is to make the reader emotionally participate in medical stories, since one can imagine the progression of the infection and empathize with emotions of fear and disgust. The exposition of these stories in random parts of his text, among other zoology-related stories, is probably an aesthetic choice from part of Aelian. The use of the technique of variatio in his narration further enhances the surprise element and emotional effect it has on his readers, because horrifying stories are unexpected in the course of reading.

3. Pharmacology and aquatic animals

  • 53 I refer to chapters 6.26, 11.34, 14.2, 14.4, 14.15 14.20 and 14.21.
  • 54 For a preview of ancient pharmacology see Keyser, T.P., « Science and magic in Galen's recipes (Sym (...)
  • 55 Van der Eijk 1997: 33-56.
  • 56 For Galen’s mention of powers in pharmacology see e.g. Simpl. med. temp. fac. 12.356: γε μὴν τῶν (...)
  • 57 Vongt 2008: 308-310.
  • 58 For a discussion about magic in Galen’s pharmacology see Keyser 1997: 175-197; Petit 2017: 51-70.

38As mentioned in the Introduction, in eight cases about the use of the aquatic animals as remedies for specific human diseases, Aelian transmits pharmacological knowledge53. Pharmacology was a distinct field of ancient medicine, represented by physicians such as Dioscorides (1st c. AD) and Galen (2nd c. AD). Its aim was to explain how the use of various objects (e.g. herbs, stones, animal parts) could cure specific human illnesses54. Galen offers the most extensive information on the background and goals of his pharmacological investigation. As Van der Eijk has argued, an important principle in Galen’s pharmacological treatises is the rule of « qualified experience »55. According to this rule, physicians should not rely solely on their personal experiences when prescribing remedies, but should also follow logical syllogisms in order to test their efficiency. Another principle in his pharmacology is the theory that specific materials used have particular powers (e.g., heating and cooling), which are responsible for their healing properties56. As Vongt argued57, this principle in Galen’s pharmacology is attributed to the mixture of the elements of hot, wet, dry and cold of their substances. Furthermore, Galen tries to distance himself from previous physicians who wrote on pharmacology: whereas they proposed magical recipes using strange or repulsive materials, he does not include them in his works. However, he is not always consistent in following this principle in his work, as a number of recipes he collects tend to be magical58.

39Aquatic animals are featured in the second book of Dioscorides’ Materia Medica, whereas Galen cites them in the 12th book of his pharmacological treatise On Simple drugs. The form of the recipes has similarities between the two authors. More specifically, the recipes are presented in short sentences, emphasizing the process that should be followed for their production, as well as the illnesses they cure. For instance, Dioscorides claims (Med. Mat. 2.7) that the covers of the shell murex (πορφύρας πώματα) reduce a swollen spleen, if one drinks them with vinegar (ποθέντα δὲ σὺν ὄξει σπλῆνα στέλλει), and he adds that, if they are burned to produce smoke, they awaken women who suffer from hysteria and cause abortions (ὑποθυμιαθέντα δὲ ἐγείρει τὰς ὑστερικῶς πνιγομένας καὶ τὰ δεύτερα ἐκβάλλει). Like Dioscorides, Galen cites an anonymous opinion that the ashes of the frogs are both a remedy for violent bleeding, if they are sprinkled upon the skin (τῶν γε μὴν κεκαυμένων βατράχων τὴν τέφραν αἱμοῤῥαγίας ἴαμά φασιν ὑπάρχειν ἐπιταττομένην), and a cure for bald patches, if they are mixed with liquid pitch (ἀλωπεκίας δὲ ἰᾶσθαι μετὰ πίττης ὑγρᾶς). In both cases, the healing properties of specific animals become efficient if people follow a specific procedure or recipe in their production. For example, animal parts should either be drunk (in Dioscorides’ first opinion) or burned (in Dioscorides’ second opinion and Galen’s testimonies).

  • 59 Aelian mentions testimonies about remedies regarding land animals in six cases. In particular, he m (...)
  • 60 Aelian transmits pharmacological opinions about remedies regarding herbs in five cases. In particul (...)
  • 61 In 16.28 Aelian mentions the anecdote about the healing of bitten persons by poisonous snakes throu (...)

40In Aelian, pharmacological information regarding the healing properties of aquatic animals is part of his extended discussion about the use of animals59, herbs60 or humans61 as remedies in medicine, which includes eighteen case studies in total. In all these cases, the author transmits this knowledge in short recipes, showing how the remedies should be produced, drawing medical material from the same tradition as Dioscorides and Galen. For example, in 14.4 Aelian claims that hedgehog ashes are good for the kidneys, if they are drunk with wine.

41In what follows, I will study the most characteristic of these case studies, in order to examine how Aelian includes pharmacological knowledge regarding the aquatic animals in his zoological miscellany. The proposed recipes frequently reflect magical practices. The select medical practices in Aelian’s pharmacological recipes discussed in this part of my paper vary, as they propose the consumption of animal parts or single animals (6.26, 3.19), the use of their parts as healing amulets (14.15), as well as mixing them with other ingredients (14.20, 14.21). Moreover, I discuss the healing of the symptoms caused to humans due to the touch of the Indian fish sea hare in chapter 16.19.

3.1. Pharmacological remedies based on the consumption aquatic animals’ parts

42When suggesting that aquatic animals be consumed, it is to underline that this practice either stops the progression of a human infection or cures a human disease. For example, in 6.26 Aelian discusses the harmful bite of the venomous spider πιθήκη, which makes the victim have fear (παρέπεται τρόμος τῷ δηχθέντι) and pain in the heart (περὶ τὴν καρδίαν ἄλγημα ἰσχυρὸν ἐπιγίνεται). Moreover, it stops the function of his bladder (τὰ οὖρα ἑμφράττεται). At the end of this passage, the author claims that an antidote against the bite is the consumption of river crabs (ἔοικε δὲ τοῖς προειρημένοις ἀντίπαλος ὁ καρκίνος ὁ ποτάμιος εἶναι βρωθείς), indicating that the use of an aquatic animal can stop the power of this poison.

  • 62 For an overview of the doctrine of this treatise, see Sharples, R., Theophrastus of Eresus. Sources (...)
  • 63 Photius, Bibl. 528a39-528b26: Καὶ ἡ φώκη ὅταν μέλλῃ ἁλίσκεσθαι, ἐξεμεῖ τὴν πιτύαν, χρησιμεύουσαν κα (...)

43Similarly, in 3.19 Aelian presents anonymous testimony about the healing properties of seal rennet against epilepsy (Φώκη δέ, ὡς κούω, τήν πυτίαν τὴν αυτῆς κροφε, να μὴ τοῖς ἐπιλήπτοις ἰᾶσθαι). Although this medical opinion is mentioned anonymously, it seems to reflect Theophrastus’ investigation on animal behavior; in particular, according to Photius (Bibl. 528a39-528b26), Theophrastus discussed the healing properties of seal rennet in his lost treatise Creatures that are said to be Grudging (fr. 362A Sharples)62. According to Photius, the philosopher examined the habit of the seal of shedding its rennet before being caught, attributing this habit not to its malicious nature of shedding a precious medical material, as people believed, but instead to its fear63. In his miscellany, Aelian presents the pharmacological testimony regarding the healing of epilepsy through the consumption of the seal rennet in the course of the description of its malicious nature with βάσκανος (malicious), mirroring a part of Theophrastus’ discussion.

  • 64 Holmes, B., « The Generous Text. Animal Intuition, Human Knowledge and Written Transmission in Plin (...)

44In both cases, Aelian presents the proposed recipes as facts without explaining the rationale behind their choice of remedies for the particular diseases. However, these cases can probably reflect the ancient theory of « sympathy and antipathy ». As Holmes has claimed, it is an important principle behind the pharmacological testimony used in antiquity to explain the healing or the harmful properties of specific materials64. In the above cases, the testimonies may mirror the opinions that the river crab and seal’s rennet have properties which counteract the poison and epilepsy respectively due their « natural » antipathy to them.

45In terms of the practice of creating mixtures with parts of aquatic animals, a basic principle found in most cases is to combine them with water and vinegar. For instance, in 14.20 Aelian mentions the story of young fishermen infected by rabies, who were cured when their father rubbed in their wounds stomachs of sea-horses mixed with water and vinegar (τῶν δὲ ἱπποκάμπων τὰς γαστέρας ἐκκαθάρας […]τὰς δὲ συντρίψας ἐς ὄξος καὶ μέλι, καὶ τὰ ἕλκη περιπλάσας τούτοις τὰ τοῦ δήγματος). Similarly, in 14.21 Aelian claims that the blood of the seadog softens swollen human nerves, if it is mixed with water and vinegar (λέγονται δὲ τῷ μὲν αἵματι νεῦρα ἀνθρώπων διοιδάνοντα πραΰνειν, εἰ ἐγχέοις ὕδατι καὶ ὄξει ἀναμιχθέντι). In both cases, the recipes are complex and require the combination of specific ingredients to activate the healing properties of the animal parts used.

3.2. The use of the eye of marine eel μῦρος as a healing amulet (NA 14.15)

  • 65 s.v. LSJ περίαπτος ΙΙ.
  • 66 For the use of amulets in Dioscorides see e.g. Mat. Med. 5.142: δοκοῦσι δὲ πάντες εἶναι φυλακτήρια (...)
  • 67 For a discussion about the use of amulets in Galen’s pharmacology see e.g. Petit 2017: 63-66.
  • 68 Galen, Med. Fac. 11.792: οὕτω δὴ καὶ Πάμφιλος ἐποιήσατο τὴν περὶ τῶν βοτάνων πραγματείαν. ἀλλἐκεῖν (...)
  • 69 For the inclusion of opinions about amulets with Galen’s doubt see e.g. Comp. med. 13. 256: περίαπτ (...)
  • 70 For the inclusion of opinions about amulets through Galen’s own judgment see e.g. Med. Fac. 12.157: (...)

46Aelian also recommends the use of aquatic animals as amulets: in 14.15 he discusses the healing properties of the eyes of the marine eel μῦρος. He claims that the extraction of one of its eyes and its use as an amulet heals the human disease of ophthalmia (ὀφθαλμὸς δὲ ἄρα ὁ τούτου ὁπότερος οὖν ἐξαιρεθεὶς καὶ περίαπτον γενόμενος ἀπαλλάττει ξηρᾶς ἄνθρωπον ὀφθαλμίας). This is the only passage where Aelian mentions the practice of using amulets as healing objects in his work and refers to it with περίαπτον65, a word used also in Dioscorides’ and Galen’s treatises to mention the same medical practice. The attitude of both physicians towards the use of amulets as medicinal objects varies: Dioscorides cites many beliefs regarding the production of amulets from different objects which have medical properties66. Galen, on the other hand, often expresses a negative opinion about them, as he connects amulets with magic67. For instance, he openly criticizes Pamphilus (1st c. AD) for including information about amulets and magical trickeries through the use of herbs in his botanic treatise, which, according to Galen, do not belong to medicine68. However, in some instances he too mentions amulets, not only in the context of expressing his doubts69, but in some cases testifying to their effectiveness on the basis of his own experience or judgment70.

47Aelian only mentions the testimony regarding the use of this amulet as a healing object, without offering any clear explanation about its mechanism of action. This way of presenting this testimony seems to reflect methods of exposition of opinions regarding amulets in cases where magic approaches medicine. For instance, Dioscorides in his treatise Euporista (1.29) offers a similar testimony regarding the use of a healing amulet against opthalmia, claiming that the root of the plant τρίβολος as an amulet around the neck stops this opthalmological disease (περιαπτομένη δὲ τῷ τραχήλῳ διηνεκῶς κωλύει ὀφθαλμίαν τριβόλου ῥίζα). In addition to Aelian, Dioscorides argues with the adverb διηνεκῶς (continuous) that this protective or healing power of the amulet lasts forever. In this case, Aelian presents a medical opinion closely related to magical practices, reflecting the obscurity regarding the rationale for the healing properties found in these magical recipes. In particular, similarly to Dioscorides’ instance, he presents the healing ability of this amulet as a fact. Moreover, I suggest that the use of περίαπτον in this chapter makes his reader feel wonder and surprise, as he associates the word with its magical background.

3.3. The cure of the contact of the Indian sea hare on human skin (NA 16.19)

  • 71 Aelian NA 2.43: καμόντες δὲτὴν ὄψιν ἱέρακες, εὐθὺ τῶν αἱμασιῶν ἴασι, καὶ τὴν ἀγρίαν θριδακίνην ἀνασ (...)

48The pharmacological story about the healing of the symptoms caused to humans due to the touch of the sea hare of the Great Sea in India is cited in Chapter 16.19. There, Aelian claims that its contact with human skin causes death, when this fish is ill (ὅταν δὲ ἄρα νοσήσας ὅδε λαγὼς εἶτα ἥκιστος ὢν νήχεσθαι ἐκβρασθῇ, πᾶς ὅστις ἂν αὐτοῦ προσάψηται τῇ χειρὶ ἀπόλλυται ἀμεληθείς). The sea hare is clearly a source of harmfulness to humans. However, in this story, Aelian insists that there is a suitable remedy, showing that there is a chance of recovery after the infection. In this case, the remedy is a specific root, well known to everybody (ῥίζαν πᾶσιν εὔγνωστον), which cures fainting caused after contact with the sea hare (ἥπερ οὖν τῇ λιποθυμίᾳ ἀντίπαλός ἐστιν). Moreover, similarly to the pharmacological recipes already discussed, the author describes the process which saves the infected people, claiming that it should be placed close to the nose of the patient, as it makes him/her come back to life (προσενεχθεῖσα γοῦν τῇ τοῦ λιποψυχοῦντος ῥινὶ ἀναβιώσκεται τὸν ἄνθρωπον). Furthermore, Aelian concludes his story by returning to the fatality of the sea hare, since he claims that the person can die if the use of this root is neglected (ἐὰν δὲ ἀμεληθῇ, καὶ μέχρι θανάτου πρόεισι τῷ ἀνθρώπῳ τὸ πάθος). Contrary to recipes that contain specific parts of aquatic animals, in this case Aelian’s recipe uses an anonymous and unspecified root, since the phrase πᾶσιν εὔγνωστον (well known to everyone) leaves its identity unclear to the reader. The obscurity of the remedy becomes more obvious through its comparison with other pharmacological herbal remedies in the zoological miscellany. For example, in 2.43 Aelian claims that doctors heal ophthalmological diseases through the use of wild lettuce juice, imitating the practices of the hawk71. In this case, the remedy requires the use of a common and easily accessible ingredient. Therefore, the phrase « well known to everyone », which effectively obscures the identity of the root that is intended to be used in the recipe, creates a mysterious and magical impression of its powers. Moreover, this story has an emotional impact on the readers: they feel fear due to the fatality of the fish, as well as wonder due to the strange property of this exotic root. However, the readers’ fear is allayed since, similarly to Leonidas of Byzantium’s testimony, this fish is distant and exotic, and therefore its fatality is not so imminent for them.

4. Selection and exposition of medical material in NA

49Aelian exposes symptoms in both symptomatology and pharmacology following forms and techniques used in different fields of ancient medical discourse. Regarding symptomatology, his method is similar to the detailed methodology found in medical works describing the progression of diseases. His medical discussions are based on the principles of both temporal exposition and gradual increase of the severity or repulsion of the symptoms, which show precisely how infections progress untill the death of the patient. In the cases regarding the aquatic animals’ healing properties, he presents the recipes following the model used in ancient pharmacology, since, similarly to Dioscorides and Galen, he briefly recommends the practices that produce specific remedies for human diseases. In both cases, Aelian uses medical vocabulary (i.e. symptoms and diseases) covering mainly dermatological, gastrological and mental cases, which share a common background with prior and contemporary medical discourse.

50The author often seems to choose his medical material on the basis of its wondrous content or its emotional impact on the reader. As I have shown, these principles become more obvious in the stories regarding their fatality, since his vivid descriptions stimulate the readers, as they imagine the repulsive and horrendous symptoms, feeling disgust, wonder and fear for their powers, as well as empathy for the condition of the patient, who inevitably dies. Aelian follows a similar approach in pharmacological cases as well, mainly in testimonies regarding the creation of the healing amulet against ophthalmia and the cure of the contact of the Indian sea hare on human skin in Chapters 14.15 and 16.13 respectively. Once again, the readers marvel at the healing powers of the proposed remedies due to their connection to magic. Another possible criterion behind their selection is the exotic nature of aquatic animals, as, for example, in the cases of the Indian sea hare and Leonidas of Byzantium’s testimony.

51As far as the organization of the medical material about aquatic animals in the miscellany is concerned, Aelian presents them randomly in his books, following the authorial schedule declared in his epilogue about the mixture of the zoological topics (ἀνέμειξα δὲ καὶ τὰ ποικίλα ποικίλως). In this framework, medical knowledge is positioned among chapters of his books that describe unrelated subjects to medicine.

52Last but not least, the most obvious difference among the medical instances regarding aquatic animals is the presence or absence of efficient remedies to cure human diseases. In particular, in the pharmacological stories it is evident that Aelian mentions proposed recipes for the cure of illnesses. On the contrary, in the three cases-studies I discussed regarding fatal powers of sea animals, a repeated motif is the absence of any sufficient medicine which can stop or cure the symptoms caused either by the consumption, the bite or touch of particular dangerous aquatic species. In these cases, the patients are left alone and helpless after their infections, suffering the different harms appeared in their bodies and lead inevitably to their death.

5. Conclusion

  • 72 For the aesthetic function of variatio in ancient miscellanies and its connection to pleasure in re (...)

53As we saw, Aelian presents medical knowledge regarding the aquatic animals in the form of shorter or longer stories and opinions randomly in the course of his zoological miscellany, since his plan is to write a pleasant text through the mixture of chapters on a variety of zoological topics, following the aesthetic principle of variatio72. The readers could probably study them more or less successfully, depending on the level of their medical knowledge, paideia or experience. Furthermore, readers who have relatively deeper or more systematic medical knowledge may investigate Aelian’s case-studies further, relating the symptoms described by Aelian with those found in medical texts, explaining the reasoning behind the appearance of symptoms in the human body and the choice of certain parts of aquatic animals as remedies, or even criticizing and dismissing specific healing practices (e.g. the use of amulets), if they judge that these recipes are not effective or are related to magic. Moreover, the medical incidents in Aelian often have a wondrous or an extreme nature, arousing the emotions of the reader and making the text more compelling and engaging.

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Bibliographie

Editions of texts

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Notes

1 This research was supported by Grant 80679 from the Research Committee of the University of Patras via the ‘C. Caratheodori’ Programme.

2 I refer to the chapters 2.44, 2.45, 3.18, 4.59, 7.31, 8.7, 14.20 and 16.13.

3 For dermatological symptoms see NA 7.31 ὀδαξᾶταί τε παραχρῆμα καὶ κνησιᾷ (the skin feels pain and itch) due to the touch of the aquatic creature scolopendra.

4 For gastrological symptoms see NA 2.44 κλονοῦνται τὴν γαστέρα καὶ στρέφονται (they have convulsions and torments) due to the consumption of fish touched by parrot-wrasse, NA 2.45 πάντως δὲ την γαστέρα δύνησεν (it caused pain in the stomach) due to the consumption of sea hare, NA 3.18 ὁ γευσάμενος ᾤδησεν, εἶτα ἡ γαστὴρ κατέρραξε (who eats it feels pain in the stomach and afterwards his stomach burst) due to the consumption of an anonymous fish of Red Sea.

5 For mental symptoms see 14.20 παράνοια (madness), caused due to the consumption of the stomach of the sea horse with wine.

6 Aelian mentions narratives about harmful symptoms to humans due to the contact with aquatic animals in chapters 7.31 and 8.7.

7 He mentions narratives about harmful symptoms due to the bite in chapter 4.59.

8 He mentions symptoms due to the consumption of aquatic animals in chapters 2.44, 2.45, 3.18, 14.20.

9 Aelian mentions such narratives in chapters 3.19, 6.26, 11.34, 14.2, 14.4, 14.15 14.20 and 14.21.

10 Aelian’s stories mention different medical practices. In chapters 6.26 and 14.2 he transmits testimonies regarding the cure of human diseases through the consumption of animal parts. In chapters 14.20 and 14.21 he presents opinions about the mix of aquatic animals’ parts with water and wine. Moreover, in chapter 14.4 Aelian mentions the use of the eye of the eel μῦρος as a healing amulet (περίαπτον), whereas in 11.34 he connects the healing properties of the murena with its touch.

11 Aelian also offers a detailed preview of the symptoms caused by the bite of specific land snakes and venomous spiders in eight cases. In the former category, he includes the Egyptian cobra in 6.38, the land snakes διψάς in 6.51, αἱμόρροος in 15.13, σηπεδών in 15.18, σήψ in 16.40 and πρηστήρ in 17.4. Moreover, in the latter category, he uses this method mentioning the venomous spider πιθήκη in 6.26 and the venomous spider φαλάγγιον in 17.11.

12 Aelian mentions testimonies about remedies regarding land animals in six cases. In particular, he mentions them in 10.16, 11.18, in 11.35, in 14.7 and in 17.13.

13 Aelian transmits pharmacological opinions about remedies regarding herbs in four cases. In particular, he presents them in 2.43, in 5.37, in 7.14 and in 14.27.

14 My methodology is based on various studies about ancient medicine. For the discussion of the Hippocratic epistemology see Geller, J.M., « West meets East. Early Greek and Babylonian Diagnosis’, in H.S.J. Horstmanshoff and M. Stol (eds.), Magic and Rationality in Ancient Near Eastern and Graeco-Roman Medicine, Leiden – Boston, 2004, p. 11-61; Nutton, V., « Galenic Medicine », in Vivian Nutton (ed.), Ancient Medicine, London – New York, 2004, p. 230-247: 72-86; Perez Cañizares, P., « Special features in Internal Affections. Comparison to other nosological treatises », in Philip J. Van der Eijk (ed.), Hippocrates in context. Papers read at the XIth International Hippocrates Colloquium, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, 27-31 August 2002, Leiden – Boston, 2005, p. 360-370; Fausti, D., « Modelli espositivi relativi alla prognosi nel Corpus Hippocraticum (Prorrhetico 2, Malattie 1–3, Affezioni, Affezioni Interne, Prognosi di Cos), in Philip J. Van der Eijk (ed.), Hippocrates in context, 2005, p. 101-117: 101-111; Barton, J., « Hippocratic Explanations », in Van der Eijk 2005, Hippocrates in context, p. 29-47; Perili, L., « Epistemologies », in Peter E. Pormann (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Hippocrates, Cambridge – New York, 2018, p. 119-151; Roselli, A., « Nosology », in Peter E. Pormann (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Hippocrates, Cambridge – New York, 2018, p. 180-199: 180-197; Kazantzidis G., « Empathy and the Limits of Disgust in the Hippocratic Corpus », in Donald Lateiner and Dimos Spatharas (eds.), The Ancient Emotion of Disgust, New York, 2017, p. 45-68: 31-61. For Galen’s epistemology see Van der Eijk, F.P., « Galen's use of the concept of 'qualified experience' in his dietetic and pharmacological works » in Armelle Debru (ed.), Galen on Pharmacology, Leiden – New York – Köln, 1997, p. 35-57; Von Staden, H., « Inefficacy, error and failure » in Debru (ed.), Galen on Pharmacology, 1997, p. 59-83; Nutton 2004, « Galenic Medicine; Vongt, S., « Drugs and pharmacology », in R.J. Hankinson (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Galen, Cambridge – New York, 2008, p. 304-322; Petit, C., « Galen, Pharmacology and the Boundaries of Medicine. A Reassessment », in Lennart Lehmhaus and Matteo Martelli (eds.), Collecting Recipes. Byzantine and Jewish Pharmacology in Dialogue, Boston – Berlin, 2017, p. 51-79: 51-74; Lehoux, D., « The Authority of Galen’s Witnesses », in Jason König and Greg Woolf (eds.), Authority and Expertise in Ancient Scientific Culture, Cambridge – New York, 2017, p. 260-282; Rosen, M.R., « Anatomy and Aporia in Galen’s On the Construction of Fetuses », in Jason König and Greg Woolf (eds.), Authority and Expertise in Ancient Scientific Culture, Cambridge – New York, 2017, p. 283-305; Hankinson, J.R., « Discovery, Method, and Justification. Galen and the Determination of Therapy », in R.J. Hankinson and Matyáš Havrda (eds.), Galen’s Epistemology. Experience, Reason and Method in Ancient Medicine, Cambridge – New York, 2022, p. 79-115; Havrda, M., « From Problems to Demonstrations. Two Case Studies of Galen’s Method », in R.J. Hankinson and Matyáš Havrda (eds.), Galen’s Epistemology, p. 116-135.

15 For the role of paideia in the Imperial Era see e.g. Johnson, A.W., « Constructing Elite Reading Communities in the High Empire », in William A. Johnson and Holt N. Parker (eds.), Ancient Literacies. The Culture of Reading in Greece and Rome, Oxford - New York, 2009, p. 320-330; Johnson, A.W., « Libraries and reading culture in the High Empire », in Jason König, Katerina Oikonomopoulou and Greg Woolf (eds.), Ancient Libraries, Cambridge, 2013, p. 347-363, Zadorojnyi, V.A., « Libraries and paideia in the Second Sophistic. Plutarch and Galen », in Jason König, Katerina Oikonomopoulou and Greg Woolf (eds.), Ancient Libraries, Cambridge, 2013, p. 377-400; Webb, R., « Schools and Paideia », in Daniel S. Richter and William A. Johnson (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of the Second Sophistic, New York, 2017, p. 139-153; Oikonomopoulou, K., « Miscellanies », in Daniel S. Richter and William A. Johnson (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of the Second Sophistic, New York, 2017, p. 447-462: 452-458.

16 For the discussion on disgust in antiquity and ancient texts see e.g. Lateiner, D. and Spatharas D., « Introduction: Ancient and Modern Modes of Understanding and Manipulating Disgust », in Lateiner and Spatharas 2017, p. 1-42: 1-35; Kazantzidis 2017; Overduin, F., « Beauty in Suffering. Disgust in Nicander’s Theriaca », in Lateiner and Spatharas 2017, p. 141-155.

17 Overduin 2017.

18 Webb, R., Ekphrasis, imagination and persuasion in ancient rhetorical theory and practice, Aldershot, 2009.

19 For the description of the symptoms in ancient medical texts see e.g. Geller 2004: 42-47; Perez Cañizares 2005; Perili 2018: 122-133; Roselli 2018: 180-195.

20 For a discussion for the content and the structure of this treatise see Geller 2004: 29-33; Pérez Cañizares 2005: 363-370; Craik, M.E., The Hippocratic Corpus. Content and Context, London –New York, 2015: 135-140.

21 I follow the date of the composition of the treatise proposed by Craik 2014: 140.

22 οὗτος μὲν μέχρι τεσσερεσκαίδεκα ἡμερέων τοιαῦτα πάσχων διατελέει.

23 Pérez Cañizares 2005: 366.

24 Pérez Cañizares 2005: 366.

25 The translation is Scholfield 1958.

26 Aelian is the main source for Leonidas’ treatise in ancient literature as he cites testimonies from his work four times in the chapters 2.6, 2.50, 3.18 and 12.42.

27 See Athenaeus, Deipn. 1.13 b-c: Καίκαλον λέγω τὸν Ἀργεῖον καὶ Νουμήνιον τὸν Ἡρακλεώτην, Παγκράτην τὸν Ἀρκάδα, Ποσειδώνιον τὸν Κορίνθιον λέγω καὶ τὸν ὀλίγῳ πρὸ ἡμῶν γενόμενον Ὀππιανὸν τὸν Κίλικα· τοσούτοις γὰρ ἐνετύχομεν ἐποποιοῖς Ἁλιευτικὰ γεγραφόσι· καταλογάδην δὲ τοῖς Σελεύκου τοῦ Ταρσέως καὶ Λεωνίδου τοῦ Βυζαντίου <καὶ Ἀγαθοκλέους τοῦ Ἀτρακίου>.

28 Aelian also describes with the temporal progression of the infection caused to the fatal touch of a tiny anonymous Indian fish, relying on Megasthenes (FGrH715, fr. 24). Specifically, he claims that at the beginning (τὰ πρῶτα) the touched person faints (λειποθυμεῖν) and dies away (ἐκθνήσκειν), before his final death (εἶτα ἀποθνήσκειν).

29 s.v. LSJ ὠδυνάω.

30 For the use of ὀδυνάω in the Hippocratic Corpus denoting pain see e.g. Hippocrates, Epid. 5.1: Εὐπόλεμος ἐν Οἰνειάδῃσιν ὠδυνᾶτο ἰσχυρῶς ἰσχίον δεξιόν (for pain in the hip-joint), Hippocrates, Epid. 5.1.13: μετὰ δὲ τοῦτο πυρετὸς ἔλαβε δύο ἡμέρας καὶ δύο νύκτας, καὶ ὠδυνᾶτο τὴν γαστέρα πᾶσαν καὶ τὰ ἰσχύα (for pain in the stomach and the hip-joint); Ibid. 7.122: Πολύφαντος ἐν Ἀβδήροισι κεφαλὴν ὠδυνᾶτο (for headache). For the use of this verb in Galen see e.g. Galen, Meth. Mel. 10.338: ἔνιοι δὠδυνῶντο κατὰ θώρακα (for pain in the trunk); Ibid. 10.885: εἶτα κατὰ τὴν τετάρτην ἡμέραν ἔτι καὶ μᾶλλον ὠδυνήθη τὰ κατὰ τὴν γαστέρα (for stomachache); Galen, Dif. Resp. 7.956: ὁπότε δὲ βήσσοι, φησίν, ὠδυνᾶτο τὰ στήθεα καὶ τὰ νῶτα (for pain in the breasts and in the back).

31 s.v. LSJ καταρρήγνυμι.

32 οἱ γάρ τοι τῷ δήγματι προσπεσόντες ἐξάπτονταί τε ἐς δίψος καὶ πιεῖν ἀναφλέγονται καὶ ἀμυστὶ σπῶσι καὶ τάχιστα ῥήγνυνται.

33 εἰ δὲ καὶ ὠτειλαί εἰσί τινες παλαιαὶ περὶ τὸ σῶμα, ῥήγνυνται καὶ αὗται.

34 A similar case is found in Galen’s treatise On Crises (9.655). There, he describes a paroxysm and claims that the stomach bursts (γαστήρ που κατέρρηξε) and the patient urinates bile colored urine (καὶ οὔρησε χολώδη), showing a violent gastrological blast due to the severe condition of the patient.

35 Aelian also mentions a case of food poisoning due to the consumption of the fish rainbow-wrasse in 2.44 κλονοῦνται τὴν γαστέρα καὶ στρέφονται (they have convulsions and torments).

36 The translation is mine.

37 Gigon, O., Aristotelis Opera III. Librorum deperditorum fragmenta, Berlin, 1987: 465.

38 Mayhew, R., « Aristotle on Philoctetes’ snake? Hom. Il. 2.721-725 and Ael. NA 4.57 », Philologus, 161(2), (2017), p. 243-255: 254.

39 s.v. LSJ λῦσσα ΙΙ .

40 For select Galen’s discussions regarding antidotes against rabies see e.g. Galen, Simpl. Med. temp. 11.823: Ἄλυσσον, ὠνόμασται μὲν ἄλυσσον ἡ πόα διὰ τὸ θαυμαστῶς ὀνινάναι τοὺς ὑπὸ λυσσῶντος κυνὸς δεδηγμένους. ἀλλὰ καὶ ἤδη λυττῶντι δοθεῖσα πολλάκις ἐξιάσατο.

41 Aelian uses λῦττα and refers to the disease of rabies connected with mad dogs in chapters 8.9, 9.15, 12.22 and 14.20.

42 For the connection of λῦσσα to madness/rage s.v. LSJ λῦσσα Ι.

43 Aelian refers to mares’ love madness in chapters 12.10, 14.18, while he mentions the lust of the male fish in 1.12 and the lust of the female mice in 12.10.

44 A similar case regarding quick infection and death of the bitten person is the description of the bite of the cobra in chapter 6.38. There, Aelian lists the symptoms of suffocation (πνιγμὸς), spasms (σπασμός) and hiccup (λυγμός) and adds that the patient dies inevitably four hours after being bitten (οἱ δηχθέντες δὲ ὑπ᾽ ἀσπίδος οὐ περαιτέρω βιοῦσι τετάρτης ὥρας), depicting the quick fatality of this snake.

45 In this case, Aelian presents nine consequent symptoms caused due to the bite of the prester. Specifically, apart from loss of memory, he claims that the bitten person becomes slothful (τὰ μὲν πρῶτα νωθεῖς ἀπεργάζεται) and less able to move (καὶ ἥκιστα κινητικούς), slightly ill (εἶτα μέντοι κατ᾽ ὀλίγον ἀρρώστους) and he cannot breathe (καὶ ἀναπνεῖν ἀδυνάτους). Moreover, the bite stops his spleen (τὴν κύστιν ἐπέχει), makes his hair fall (λιπότριχας ἀποφαίνει), causes drown and spams (εἶτα ἕπεται πνιγμός, καὶ σπᾶσθαι ποιεῖ), before his death (καὶ τὸ τέλος τοῦ βίου ἀλγεινότατον).

46 In this case, Aelian mentions four sequent symptoms caused due to the bite of this snake. In particular, apart from the loss of sight (καὶ τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς ἀχλὺς κατέχει), he argues that the bitten person loses his hair (ἡ θρὶξ καὶ ἐκείνη μυδῶσα ἀφανίζεται), his eyebrows and eyelids fall (λείβονται δὲ αἱ ὀφρῦς καὶ αἱ βλεφαρίδες) and his eyes are covered with white spots (καὶ ἔφηλοι γίνονται).

47 In this case, Aelian, apart from the terror, also mentions the heart pain (καὶ περὶ τὴν καρδίαν ἄλγημα ἰσχυρὸν ἐπιγίνεται), the stop of the discharge of urine (καὶ τὰ οὖρα ἑμφράττεται) as symptoms of the bite of this spider.

48 The Hippocratic authors mention παράνοια in five instances in their treatises. In particular, they refer to it in Morb. 1.30 (παράνοοι γίνονται), in Mull. Affect. 41 (παράνοιαι γίνονται), in Mull. Affect. 63 (παρανοεῖ), in Virg. Morb. (παράνοιαν ἔλαβεν) and Sacr. Morb. 1 (παράνοιαι). Galen uses the term in Symp. Caus. 7.202 (μελαγχολικαὶ παράνοιαι), Mot. Musc. 4.446 (οὗτοι παυσάμενοι τῆς παρανοίας), Ther. ad Pison. 14.278 (ἀλλὰ καὶ γνώμῃ παρανοεῖ). For the discussion of παράνοια in Galen see e.g. Symp. caus. 7.202: μόναι δ' αἱ μελαγχολικαὶ παράνοιαι ψυχρότερον ἔχουσι τὸν αἴτιον χυμόν.

49 For a discussion on the denotation of the emotion of joy in connection with madness in the Hippocratic treatises see Thumiger, C., A History of the Mind and Mental Health in Classical Greek Medical Thought, Cambridge, 2017: 336-337.

50 Another vivid description of madness in Aelian is presented in chapter 11.32; there, he uses μανία and its symptoms are the hallucinations in the mind of a farmer due to the unintentional killing of a cobra which was a sacred animal.

51 For a discussion about the emotional impact of madness on the patients in the Hippocratic texts see Thumiger 2017: 335-373.

52 For the doubts and the discussion about the attribution of the treatise Theriaca ad Pisonem to Galen see For the doubts and the discussion about the attribution of the treatise Theriaca ad Pisonem to Galen see Nutton, V., « Galen on Theriac: Problems of Authenticity », in Armelle Debru (ed.), Galen on Pharmacology, Leiden – Boston - Köln, 1997, p. 133-151.

53 I refer to chapters 6.26, 11.34, 14.2, 14.4, 14.15 14.20 and 14.21.

54 For a preview of ancient pharmacology see Keyser, T.P., « Science and magic in Galen's recipes (Sympathy and efficacy) », in Debru (ed.), Galen on Pharmacology, 1997, p. 175-198: 178-185. For an overview on Dioscorides’ pharmacological project in Materia Medica see Riddle, M.J., Dioscorides on Pharmacy and Medicine, Austin, 1985: 1-24 with special focus on 133-141 in the discussion about pharmacological testimonies regarding animals. For an overview of Galen’s pharmacology see Vongt, S., « Drugs and pharmacology », in R.J. Hankinson (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Galen, Cambridge – New York, 2008, p. 304-322: 304-318.

55 Van der Eijk 1997: 33-56.

56 For Galen’s mention of powers in pharmacology see e.g. Simpl. med. temp. fac. 12.356: γε μὴν τῶν ποταμίων καρκίνων τέφρα ξηραντικὴ μέν ἐστιν […], ἰδιότητι δὲ τῆς ὅλης οὐσίας θαυμαστῶς ἐπὶτῶν λυσσοδήκτων ἐνεργεῖ; about the opinion that the ashes of river crabs have a power to dry up and heal the frenzied people).

57 Vongt 2008: 308-310.

58 For a discussion about magic in Galen’s pharmacology see Keyser 1997: 175-197; Petit 2017: 51-70.

59 Aelian mentions testimonies about remedies regarding land animals in six cases. In particular, he mentions them in 10.16, 11.18, in 11.35, in 14.7 and in 17.13.

60 Aelian transmits pharmacological opinions about remedies regarding herbs in five cases. In particular, he presents them in 2.43, in 5.37, in 7.14 and in 14.27.

61 In 16.28 Aelian mentions the anecdote about the healing of bitten persons by poisonous snakes through the spitting of the people of the tribe of Psylli, as their spitting has healing properties against poisons.

62 For an overview of the doctrine of this treatise, see Sharples, R., Theophrastus of Eresus. Sources for His Life, Writings, Thought and Influence (Commentary, vol. 5, Sources on Biology), Leiden – New York – Koln, 1995: 72-73.For a discussion about the meaning of envy (φθόνος) in this Theophrastean treatise see Zucker, A., « Psychological, Cognitive and Philosophical Aspects of Animal ‘Envy’ Towards Humans in Theophrastus and Beyond », in Thorsten Fögen and Edmund Thomas (eds.), Interactions between Animals and Humans in Graeco-Roman Antiquity, Berlin – Boston, 2017, p. 159-180.

63 Photius, Bibl. 528a39-528b26: Καὶ ἡ φώκη ὅταν μέλλῃ ἁλίσκεσθαι, ἐξεμεῖ τὴν πιτύαν, χρησιμεύουσαν καὶ ταύτην τοῖς ἐπιλήπτοις. […] Καὶ φώκη ὅταν μέλλῃ ἁλίσκεσθαι, ἐξεμεῖ τὴν πιτύαν, χρησιμεύουσαν καὶ ταύτην τοῖς ἐπιλήπτοις. […] Ἀλλ' μὲν φώκη διὰ τὸν φόβον ἴσως ταραττομένη ἐμεῖ τὴν πιτύαν

64 Holmes, B., « The Generous Text. Animal Intuition, Human Knowledge and Written Transmission in Pliny’s Books on Medicine », in Marco Formisano and Philip Van der Eijk (eds.), Knowledge, Text and Practice in Ancient Technical Writing, Cambridge, 2017, p. 231-251: 236-243.

65 s.v. LSJ περίαπτος ΙΙ.

66 For the use of amulets in Dioscorides see e.g. Mat. Med. 5.142: δοκοῦσι δὲ πάντες εἶναι φυλακτήρια περίεπτα καὶ ὠκυτόκια μηρῷ περιεπτόμενα (for the stone jasper); Ibid. 4.17: περιάπτεται δὲ πρὸς φλεγμονὴν βουβώνων (for the plant λαγώπους); Ibid. 2.174: ἡ δὲ ρίζα δοκεῖ ὀδόντων ἀλγήματα παραιτεῖσθαι περιαπτομένη τῷ τραχήλῳ (for the plant λεπίδιον).

67 For a discussion about the use of amulets in Galen’s pharmacology see e.g. Petit 2017: 63-66.

68 Galen, Med. Fac. 11.792: οὕτω δὴ καὶ Πάμφιλος ἐποιήσατο τὴν περὶ τῶν βοτάνων πραγματείαν. ἀλλἐκεῖνος μὲν εἴς τεμύθους γραῶν τινας ἐξετράπετο καί τινας γοητείας Αἰγυπτίας ληρώδεις ἅμα τισὶν ἐπῳδαῖς, ἃς ἀναιρούμενοι τὰς βοτάνας ἐπιλέγουσι. καὶ δὴ κέχρηται πρὸς περίαπτα καὶ ἄλλας μαγγανείας οὐ περιέργους μόνον, οὐδἔξω τῆς ἰατρικῆς τέχνης, ἀλλὰ καὶ ψευδεῖς ἁπάσας.

69 For the inclusion of opinions about amulets with Galen’s doubt see e.g. Comp. med. 13. 256: περίαπτα δὲ καὶ ἀντιπαθῆ προς τε ἧπαρ καὶ σπλῆνα ταῦτα δοκεῖ πεπιστεῦσθαι.

70 For the inclusion of opinions about amulets through Galen’s own judgment see e.g. Med. Fac. 12.157: Ἐπειδὴ δὲ καὶ περίαπτα τοῖς κεφαλαλγοῦσιν ἔγραψεν Ἀρχιγένης, ὅσα μὲν οὐδένα λόγον ἰατρικὸν ἔχει τοῖς πείρᾳ κεκρικόσι, ταῦτα παραλείπω, […] ὅσα δὲ λόγον ἰατρικὸν ἔχει τῶν ὑπἈρχιγένους γεγραμμένων ἐκλέξας ἐρῶ μόνα.

71 Aelian NA 2.43: καμόντες δὲτὴν ὄψιν ἱέρακες, εὐθὺ τῶν αἱμασιῶν ἴασι, καὶ τὴν ἀγρίαν θριδακίνην ἀνασπῶσι, καὶ τὸν ὀπὸν αὐτῆς πικρὸν ὄντα καὶ δριμὺν ὑπὲρ τῶν ὀφθαλμῶν αἰωροῦσι τῶν σφετέρων, καὶ λειβόμενον δέχονται, καὶ τοῦτο αὐτοῖς ὑγίειαν ἐργάζεται. λέγουσι δὲ καὶ τοὺς ἰατρικοὺς χρῆσθαι τῷδε τῷ φαρμάκῳ ἐς τὴν χρείαν τῶν καμνόντων τὴν αὐγήν.

72 For the aesthetic function of variatio in ancient miscellanies and its connection to pleasure in reading, see e.g. Smith, D.S., Man and Animal in Severan Rome. The literary Imagination of Claudius Aelianus, Cambridge – New York, 2014: 47-66, Fitzgerald, W., Variety. The Life of a Roman Concept, Chicago, 2016: 149-187.

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Dimitrios Papadopoulos, « Medical Knowledge and the Aquatic Animals in Claudius Aelianus’s On the Characteristics of Animals »RursuSpicae [En ligne], 4 | 2022, mis en ligne le 12 décembre 2022, consulté le 13 juin 2024. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/rursuspicae/2357 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/rursuspicae.2357

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Dimitrios Papadopoulos

Doctoral Research Fellow at the Department of Philology at the University of Patras in Greece. He was awarded with scholarship of ‘C. Caratheodory’ by University of Patras Research Committee in 2019 for his thesis with the title « The zoology of Pliny the Elder and Claudius Aelian: The transmission and organization of zoological knowledge in the Natural History and On the Characteristics of Animals ».

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