How to Heal Elephants

Aelian, de Natura Animalium 13.7:

The people of India heal the wounds of hunted elephants this way. They put warm water on them, as Patroclus did to the wound of Eurypylus in the excellent Homer. Then they anoint the wounds with butter. If the wounds are deep, they temper the inflammation by bringing forth and placing upon it hot, still bloody swine flesh. They heal ophthalmia by warming up cows’ milk and pouring it into the eyes. The elephants open their eyes, and being so helped, they are pleased and understand what has happened, just like people. They continue pouring the milk into their eyes until they cease to be bleary. This is the sign that the ophthalmia has ceased. For whatever illnesses occur to them otherwise, black wine is the remedy. If this medicine is not suited to their illness, then they cannot be saved.


τῶν τεθηραμένων ἐλεφάντων ἰῶνται τὰ τραύματα οἱ Ἰνδοὶ τὸν τρόπον τοῦτον. καταιονοῦσι μὲν αὐτὰ ὕδατι χλιαρῷ, ὥσπερ οὖν τὸ τοῦ Εὐρυπύλου παρὰ τῷ καλῷ Ὁμήρῳ ὁ Πάτροκλος: εἶτα μέντοι διαχρίουσι βουτύρῳ αὐτά: ἐὰν δὲ ᾖ βαθέα, τὴν φλεγμονὴν πραΰνουσιν ὕεια κρέα θερμὰ μὲν ἔναιμα δὲ ἔτι προσφέροντες καὶ ἐντιθέντες. τὰς δὲ ὀφθαλμίας θεραπεύουσιν αὐτῶν βόειον γάλα ἀλεαίνοντες εἶτα αὐτοῖς ἐγχέοντες, οἳ δὲ ἀνοίγουσι τὰ βλέφαρα, καὶ ὠφελούμενοι ἥδονταί τε καὶ αἰσθάνονται, ὥσπερ ἄνθρωποι. καὶ ἐς τοσοῦτον ἐπικλύζουσιν, ἐς ὅσον ἂν ἀποπαύσωνται λημῶντες. μαρτύριον δὲ τοῦ παύσασθαι τὴν ὀφθαλμίαν τοῦτό ἐστι. τὰ δὲ νοσήματα ὅσα αὐτοῖς προσπίπτει ἄλλως, ὁ μέλας οἶνός ἐστιν αὐτοῖς ἄκος. εἰ δὲ μὴ γένοιτο ἐξάντης τοῦ κακοῦ τῷ φαρμάκῳ τῷδε, ἄσωστά οἵ ἐστιν.


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