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Tiresias: The Ancient Mediterranean Religions Source Database



9458
Pliny The Elder, Natural History, 30.14


nanPraecordia is a comprehensive name we use for the vital organs of the human body. When any one of them is in pain, the application of a sucking puppy pressed close to that part is said to transfer the malady to it; they add that, if the organs of the puppy are taken out and washed with wine, by the diseased aspect of those organs can be detected the source of the patient's pain; but the burial of an animal so used is an essential part of the ritual. Those puppies too that we call Melitaean relieve stomachache if laid frequently across the abdomen. That the disease is transferred to the puppy is seen by its sickening, usually even by its death. Lung complaints are also cured by mice, especially African; they are skinned, boiled down in oil and salt, and taken in food. The same preparation is also a cure for expectoration of pus or blood.


Intertexts (texts cited often on the same page as the searched text):

5 results
1. Cicero, On Divination, 2.90, 2.100, 2.148 (2nd cent. BCE - 1st cent. BCE)

2.90. O delirationem incredibilem! non enim omnis error stultitia dicenda est. Quibus etiam Diogenes Stoicus concedit aliquid, ut praedicere possint dumtaxat, qualis quisque natura et ad quam quisque maxume rem aptus futurus sit; cetera, quae profiteantur, negat ullo modo posse sciri; etenim geminorum formas esse similis, vitam atque fortunam plerumque disparem. Procles et Eurysthenes, Lacedaemoniorum reges, gemini fratres fuerunt. 2.100. Restant duo dividi genera, quae habere dicimur a natura, non ab arte, vaticidi et somniandi; de quibus, Quinte, inquam, si placet, disseramus. Mihi vero, inquit, placet; his enim, quae adhuc disputasti, prorsus adsentior, et, vere ut loquar, quamquam tua me oratio confirmavit, tamen etiam mea sponte nimis superstitiosam de divinatione Stoicorum sententiam iudicabam; haec me Peripateticorum ratio magis movebat et veteris Dicaearchi et eius, qui nunc floret, Cratippi, qui censent esse in mentibus hominum tamquam oraclum aliquod, ex quo futura praesentiant, si aut furore divino incitatus animus aut somno relaxatus solute moveatur ac libere. His de generibus quid sentias et quibus ea rationibus infirmes, audire sane velim. 2.148. Explodatur igitur haec quoque somniorum divinatio pariter cum ceteris. Nam, ut vere loquamur, superstitio fusa per gentis oppressit omnium fere animos atque hominum inbecillitatem occupavit. Quod et in iis libris dictum est, qui sunt de natura deorum, et hac disputatione id maxume egimus. Multum enim et nobismet ipsis et nostris profuturi videbamur, si eam funditus sustulissemus. Nec vero (id enim diligenter intellegi volo) superstitione tollenda religio tollitur. Nam et maiorum instituta tueri sacris caerimoniisque retinendis sapientis est, et esse praestantem aliquam aeternamque naturam, et eam suspiciendam admirandamque hominum generi pulchritudo mundi ordoque rerum caelestium cogit confiteri. 2.148. Then let dreams, as a means of divination, be rejected along with the rest. Speaking frankly, superstition, which is widespread among the nations, has taken advantage of human weakness to cast its spell over the mind of almost every man. This same view was stated in my treatise On the Nature of the Gods; and to prove the correctness of that view has been the chief aim of the present discussion. For I thought that I should be rendering a great service both to myself and to my countrymen if I could tear this superstition up by the roots. But I want it distinctly understood that the destruction of superstition does not mean the destruction of religion. For I consider it the part of wisdom to preserve the institutions of our forefathers by retaining their sacred rites and ceremonies. Furthermore, the celestial order and the beauty of the universe compel me to confess that there is some excellent and eternal Being, who deserves the respect and homage of men.
2. Cicero, On The Nature of The Gods, 1.55, 1.117 (2nd cent. BCE - 1st cent. BCE)

1.55. An outcome of this theology was first of all your doctrine of Necessity or Fate, heimarmenē, as you termed it, the theory that every event is the result of an eternal truth and an unbroken sequence of causation. But what value can be assigned to a philosophy which thinks that everything happens by fate? it is a belief for old women, and ignorant old women at that. And next follows your doctrine of mantikē, or Divination, which would so steep us in superstition, if we consented to listen to you, that we should be the devotees of soothsayers, augurs, oracle-mongers, seers and interpreters of dreams. 1.117. On the other hand what reason is there for adoring the gods on the ground of our admiration for the divine nature, if we cannot see that that nature possesses any special excellence? "As for freedom from superstition, which is the favourite boast of your school, that is easy to attain when you have deprived the gods of all power; unless perchance you think that it was possible for Diagoras or Theodorus to be superstitious, who denied the existence of the gods altogether. For my part, I don't see how it was possible even for Protagoras, who was not certain either that the gods exist or that they do not. For the doctrines of all these thinkers abolish not only superstition, which implies a groundless fear of the gods, but also religion, which consists in piously worshipping them.
3. Pliny The Elder, Natural History, 30.1-30.2, 30.4-30.7, 30.9-30.13, 30.18 (1st cent. CE - 1st cent. CE)

4. Tacitus, Annals, 2.27.2, 6.22 (1st cent. CE - 2nd cent. CE)

6.22.  For myself, when I listen to this and similar narratives, my judgement wavers. Is the revolution of human things governed by fate and changeless necessity, or by accident? You will find the wisest of the ancients, and the disciplines attached to their tenets, at complete variance; in many of them a fixed belief that Heaven concerns itself neither with our origins, nor with our ending, nor, in fine, with mankind, and that so adversity continually assails the good, while prosperity dwells among the evil. Others hold, on the contrary, that, though there is certainly a fate in harmony with events, it does not emanate from wandering stars, but must be sought in the principles and processes of natural causation. Still, they leave us free to choose our life: that choice made, however, the order of the future is certain. Nor, they maintain, are evil and good what the crowd imagines: many who appear to be the sport of adverse circumstances are happy; numbers are wholly wretched though in the midst of great possessions — provided only that the former endure the strokes of fortune with firmness, while the latter employ her favours with unwisdom. With most men, however, the faith is ineradicable that the future of an individual is ordained at the moment of his entry into life; but at times a prophecy is falsified by the event, through the dishonesty of the prophet who speaks he knows not what; and thus is debased the credit of an art, of which the most striking evidences have been furnished both in the ancient world and in our own. For the forecast of Nero's reign, made by the son of this very Thrasyllus, shall be related at its fitting place: at present I do not care to stray too far from my theme.
5. Augustine, The City of God, 5.2, 5.4 (4th cent. CE - 5th cent. CE)

5.2. Cicero says that the famous physician Hippocrates has left in writing that he had suspected that a certain pair of brothers were twins, from the fact that they both took ill at once, and their disease advanced to its crisis and subsided in the same time in each of them. Posidonius the Stoic, who was much given to astrology, used to explain the fact by supposing that they had been born and conceived under the same constellation. In this question the conjecture of the physician is by far more worthy to be accepted, and approaches much nearer to credibility, since, according as the parents were affected in body at the time of copulation, so might the first elements of the fœtuses have been affected, so that all that was necessary for their growth and development up till birth having been supplied from the body of the same mother, they might be born with like constitutions. Thereafter, nourished in the same house, on the same kinds of food, where they would have also the same kinds of air, the same locality, the same quality of water - which, according to the testimony of medical science, have a very great influence, good or bad, on the condition of bodily health - and where they would also be accustomed to the same kinds of exercise, they would have bodily constitutions so similar that they would be similarly affected with sickness at the same time and by the same causes. But, to wish to adduce that particular position of the stars which existed at the time when they were born or conceived as the cause of their being simultaneously affected with sickness, manifests the greatest arrogance, when so many beings of most diverse kinds, in the most diverse conditions, and subject to the most diverse events, may have been conceived and born at the same time, and in the same district, lying under the same sky. But we know that twins do not only act differently, and travel to very different places, but that they also suffer from different kinds of sickness; for which Hippocrates would give what is in my opinion the simplest reason, namely, that, through diversity of food and exercise, which arises not from the constitution of the body, but from the inclination of the mind, they may have come to be different from each other in respect of health. Moreover, Posidonius, or any other asserter of the fatal influence of the stars, will have enough to do to find anything to say to this, if he be unwilling to im pose upon the minds of the uninstructed in things of which they are ignorant. But, as to what they attempt to make out from that very small interval of time elapsing between the births of twins, on account of that point in the heavens where the mark of the natal hour is placed, and which they call the horoscope, it is either disproportionately small to the diversity which is found in the dispositions, actions, habits, and fortunes of twins, or it is disproportionately great when compared with the estate of twins, whether low or high, which is the same for both of them, the cause for whose greatest difference they place, in every case, in the hour on which one is born; and, for this reason, if the one is born so immediately after the other that there is no change in the horoscope, I demand an entire similarity in all that respects them both, which can never be found in the case of any twins. But if the slowness of the birth of the second give time for a change in the horoscope, I demand different parents, which twins can never have. 5.4. In the time of the ancient fathers, to speak concerning illustrious persons, there were born two twin brothers, the one so immediately after the other, that the first took hold of the heel of the second. So great a difference existed in their lives and manners, so great a dissimilarity in their actions, so great a difference in their parents' love for them respectively, that the very contrast between them produced even a mutual hostile antipathy. Do we mean, when we say that they were so unlike each other, that when the one was walking the other was sitting, when the one was sleeping the other was waking - which differences are such as are attributed to those minute portions of space which cannot be appreciated by those who note down the position of the stars which exists at the moment of one's birth, in order that the mathematicians may be consulted concerning it? One of these twins was for a long time a hired servant; the other never served. One of them was beloved by his mother; the other was not so. One of them lost that honor which was so much valued among their people; the other obtained it. And what shall we say of their wives, their children, and their possessions? How different they were in respect to all these! If, therefore, such things as these are connected with those minute intervals of time which elapse between the births of twins, and are not to be attributed to the constellations, wherefore are they predicted in the case of others from the examination of their constellations? And if, on the other hand, these things are said to be predicted, because they are connected, not with minute and inappreciable moments, but with intervals of time which can be observed and noted down, what purpose is that potter's wheel to serve in this matter, except it be to whirl round men who have hearts of clay, in order that they may be prevented from detecting the emptiness of the talk of the mathematicians?


Subjects of this text:

subject book bibliographic info
achaemenid empire Edelmann-Singer et al., Sceptic and Believer in Ancient Mediterranean Religions (2020) 248
astrology Edelmann-Singer et al., Sceptic and Believer in Ancient Mediterranean Religions (2020) 248; Frede and Laks, Traditions of Theology: Studies in Hellenistic Theology, its Background and Aftermath (2001) 245
babylonia Edelmann-Singer et al., Sceptic and Believer in Ancient Mediterranean Religions (2020) 248
britannia Edelmann-Singer et al., Sceptic and Believer in Ancient Mediterranean Religions (2020) 248
chaldeans Frede and Laks, Traditions of Theology: Studies in Hellenistic Theology, its Background and Aftermath (2001) 245
defixiones Edelmann-Singer et al., Sceptic and Believer in Ancient Mediterranean Religions (2020) 248
democritus Edelmann-Singer et al., Sceptic and Believer in Ancient Mediterranean Religions (2020) 248
dionysius the sophist Frede and Laks, Traditions of Theology: Studies in Hellenistic Theology, its Background and Aftermath (2001) 245
dreams Edelmann-Singer et al., Sceptic and Believer in Ancient Mediterranean Religions (2020) 248
empedocles Edelmann-Singer et al., Sceptic and Believer in Ancient Mediterranean Religions (2020) 248
epicureans Frede and Laks, Traditions of Theology: Studies in Hellenistic Theology, its Background and Aftermath (2001) 245
medicine Edelmann-Singer et al., Sceptic and Believer in Ancient Mediterranean Religions (2020) 248
ostanes Edelmann-Singer et al., Sceptic and Believer in Ancient Mediterranean Religions (2020) 248
persia/persian Edelmann-Singer et al., Sceptic and Believer in Ancient Mediterranean Religions (2020) 248
pliny the elder Edelmann-Singer et al., Sceptic and Believer in Ancient Mediterranean Religions (2020) 248
posidonius Frede and Laks, Traditions of Theology: Studies in Hellenistic Theology, its Background and Aftermath (2001) 245
priest/priesthood, egyptian Edelmann-Singer et al., Sceptic and Believer in Ancient Mediterranean Religions (2020) 248
pyrrho Frede and Laks, Traditions of Theology: Studies in Hellenistic Theology, its Background and Aftermath (2001) 245
pythagoras/pythagoreanism Edelmann-Singer et al., Sceptic and Believer in Ancient Mediterranean Religions (2020) 248
superstition/religio Frede and Laks, Traditions of Theology: Studies in Hellenistic Theology, its Background and Aftermath (2001) 245
zoroaster' Edelmann-Singer et al., Sceptic and Believer in Ancient Mediterranean Religions (2020) 248