Sex Drugs and Magnetic Wood: Another Wondrous Wednesday

Apollonios Paradoxographus, Historiae Mirabiles 13-19

13“…in the mythical [legend] for those places, in Halicarnassos, when a sacrifice is completed to Zeus Askraios a heard of goats are driven before the temple and stopped [there]; while the prayers are being completed a single goat which is led forward by no one steps ahead and approaches the altar and the priest, after he takes her, sacrifices as a good omen.”

13     <…..> ἐν τῷ κατὰ τόπους μυθικῷ, ἐν ῾Αλικαρνασσῷ θυσίας τινὸς τῷ Διὶ τῷ ᾿Ασκραίῳ συντελουμένης ἀγέλην αἰγῶν ἄγεσθαι πρὸ τοῦ ἱεροῦ καὶ ἵστασθαι· τῶν δὲ κατευχῶνσυντελεσθεισῶν προβαίνειν μίαν αἶγα ὑπὸ μηδενὸς ἀγομένην καὶ προσέρχεσθαι τῷ βωμῷ, τὸν δὲ ἱερέα λαβόμενον αὐτῆς καλλιερεῖν.


14“Phylarkhos writes in the eighth book of his Histories that there is a spring of water  near the Gulf of Arabia from which if anyone ever anoints their feet what transpires miraculously is that their genitals extend pretty far. And for some they do not contract completely, and for others they are put back to shape with great suffering and medical attention.”

14 Φύλαρχος ἐν τῇ η′ τῶν ἱστοριῶν [καὶ] κατὰ τὸν ᾿Αράβιόν φησι κόλπον πηγὴν εἶναι ὕδατος, ἐξ οὗ εἴ τις τοὺς πόδας χρίσειεν, συμβαίνειν εὐθέως ἐντείνεσθαι ἐπὶ πολὺ τὸ αἰδοῖον, καί τινων μὲν μηδ’ ὅλως συστέλλεσθαι, τινῶν δὲ μετὰ μεγάλης κακοπαθείας καὶ θεραπείας ἀποκαθίστασθαι.

15 “Skumnos of Khios says that the Brittanic island is forty-thousand stades in length, and plants grow there without a kernel—for example olive trees do not have seeds nor does the grape vine have stones nor anything similar to this.”

15 Σκύμνος δὲ ὁ Χῖος τὴν Βρεττανικὴν νῆσον λέγει σταδίων εἶναι τετρακισμυρίων τὸ περίμετρον, γίγνεσθαι δὲ ἐν αὐτῇ τὰ γεννήματα ἀπύρηνα, οἷον τὰς ἐλαίας πυρῆνας μὴ ἔχειν μηδὲ βότρυς γίγαρτον μηδὲ τὰ ἐμφερῆ τούτοις.

16“Theophrastos, in his work On Plants [says] that the root of sallow, which doctors use, should someone roast it with meat, the many individual pieces becomes one so that it is no longer possible to take it out of the vessel.”

16 Θεόφραστος δ’ ἐν τῇ περὶ [τῶν] φυτῶν πραγματείᾳ τὴν <τῆς> θαψίας ῥίζαν, ᾗ οἱ ἰατροὶ χρῶνται, ἐάν τις σὺν κρέασιν ἑψήσῃ, τὰ πολλὰ ἓν γίγνεσθαι, ὥστε ἐκ τοῦ ἀγγείου μηκέτι δύνασθαι ἐξαιρεθῆναι.

17 “Ktêsias says that there is wood among the Indians which is called parêbos [lit. “beyond its prime”]. This attracts everything which is brought near it to it—like gold, silver, tin, bronze and all the other metals. “ it attracts the sparrows which fly near too” [quotation]. If the wood/material is larger, it [also attracts] goats and sheep and animals of similar types.”

17 Κτησίας πα ρ’ ᾿Ινδοῖς ξύλον γίνεσθαί φησιν, ὃ καλεῖται πάρηβον. τοῦτο ἐφ’ ἑαυτὸ ἕλκει πᾶν τὸ προσκομισθὲν αὐτῷ, οἷον χρυσόν, ἄργυρον, κασσίτερον, χαλκὸν καὶ τἆλλα μεταλλικὰ πάντα. “ἕλκει δὲ καὶ τὰ σύνεγγυς ἱπτάμενα στρουθία.”ἐὰν δὲ μεῖζον ᾖ τὸ ξύλον, καὶ αἶγας καὶ πρόβατα καὶ τὰ ὁμήλικα ζῷα.

18 “Phularkhos in book 20 of the Histories says that there is a white root imported from India which when [people] cut it and smear it over their feet with water, those who are smeared with it experience forgetfulness of sex and become similar to Eunuchs. For this reason still some apply it before they are fully adults and are not aroused for the rest of their life.”

18 Φύλαρχος ἐν <τῇ> κ′ τῶν ἱστοριῶν ἐκ τῆς ᾿Ινδικῆς φησιν ἐνεχθῆναι λευκὴν ῥίζαν, ἣν κόπτοντας μεθ’ ὕδατος καταπλάττειν τοὺς πόδας, τοὺς δὲ καταπλασθέντας ἄνδρας τῆς συνουσίας λήθην ἴσχειν καὶ γίγνεσθαι ὁμοίους εὐνούχοις. διὸ καὶ ἔτι ἀνήβων ὄντων καταχρίουσι, καὶ μέχρι θανάτου οὐκ ἐπαίρουσιν.

19 “Herakleides the critic in his book about the cities in Greece writes that on the Pêlion mountain a thistle plant grows which bears fruit. If someone grinds up the fruit with olive and water and anoints his own body or another during the winter, he does not feel cold.”

19 ῾Ηρακλείδης δὲ ὁ κριτικὸς ἐν τῷ περὶ τῶν ἐν τῇ ῾Ελλάδι πόλεων κατὰ τὸ Πήλιον ὄρος φύεσθαί φησιν ἄκανθαν καρποφόρον, ἧς τὸν καρπὸν ἐάν τις τρίψας μετ’ ἐλαίου καὶ ὕδατος χρίσῃ τὸ αὑτοῦ ἢ ἄλλου σῶμα χειμῶνος ὄντος, οὐκ ἐπαισθήσεται τοῦ ψύχους.

20 “Ktêsias, in his tenth book of Persian Affairs says that there a some camels born in the Kaspian land which have hair which is soft like Milesian wool. Priests and other prominent individuals wear vestments from these animals.”

20 Κτησίας δέ, ἐν τῇ δεκάτῃ Περσικῶν, καμήλους τινὰς ἐν τῇ <Κασπίᾳ> χώρᾳ γίγνεσθαι, ἃς ἔχειν τρίχας πρὸς Μιλήσια ἔρια τῇ μαλακότητι· ἐκ δὲ τούτων τοὺς ἱερεῖς καὶ τοὺς ἄλλους δυνάστας τὰς ἐσθῆτας φέρειν.

Image result for medieval manuscript woolly camel
Koninklijke Bibliotheek, KB, 76 E 4, Folio 9r. Camel


3 thoughts on “Sex Drugs and Magnetic Wood: Another Wondrous Wednesday

  1. What is the source for this text? The phrase “Skumnos of Khios says that the Brittanic island is forty-thousand stades in length” does not agree with the Teubner edition, that gives 400 stades only.

      1. Unfortunately I don’t have access to the full TLG. May I ask you a publication-grade bibliographical reference to insert in my work? Thak you in advance!

Leave a Reply