Mekonion: Prepared Poppy Seeds. Or Newborn Poop

Pliny, Natural History 22 

“A poppy is boiled and consumed for insomnia. The same water is used for the face. Poppies grow best in dry conditions where it does not often rain. When the heads themselves are boiled with the leaves, the juice is called meconium and is a lot less potent than opium.”

decoquitur et bibitur contra vigilias, eademque aqua fovent ora. optimum in siccis et ubi raro pluat. cum capita ipsa et folia decocuntur, sucus meconium vocatur multum opio ignavior.


Aristotle, Historia Animalium 587a 31

“[Newborns] also discharge excrement right away, pretty soon, or at least within the same day. This material is greater than one might expect from the size of the infant and the women call it “poppy-juice” [mêkonion]. Its color is similar to blood but very dark and like pitch. Later on, it is milk-like once the baby immediately eats from the breast. Before it comes out, the newborn does not cry, even if the birth is difficult and the head sticks out while the whole body is inside.”

ἀφίησι δὲ καὶ περιττώματα τὰ μὲν εὐθὺς τὰ δὲ διὰ ταχέων, πάντα δ᾿ ἐν ἡμέρᾳ· καὶ τοῦτο τὸ περίττωμα πλέον ἢ τοῦ παιδὸς κατὰ μέγεθος· ὃ καλοῦσιν αἱ γυναῖκες μηκώνιον. χρῶμα δὲ τούτου αἱματῶδες καὶ σφόδρα μέλαν καὶ πιττῶδες, μετὰ δὲ τοῦτο ἤδη γαλακτῶδες· σπᾷ γὰρ εὐθὺς καὶ τὸν μαστόν. πρὶν δ᾿ ἐξελθεῖν οὐ φθέγγεται τὸ παιδίον, κἂν δυστοκούσης τὴν κεφαλὴν μὲν ὑπερέχῃ 35τὸ δ᾿ ὅλον σῶμα ἔχῃ ἐντός.

If you want more words for excrement in ancient Greek, we have you covered.

After oxidation, the juice of a poppy turns from white to, well, this:

Etymology of Mêkôn from Beekes (2010):


There Must Be Other Worlds, Apart from Ours

Lucretius, De Rerum Natura 4.1048-1066

“To begin: in all directions around us—
Including both sides, above and below, everywhere,
There is no end; as I have explained and as the truth itself
declares on its own and the nature of this depth shines through.
There is then no way it can be considered probable—
When there is empty space without limit to all sides
And where the seeds of creation spread in uncountable numbers
In every direction speeding in a timeless motion—
That ours is the only round earth and sky that has been made,
That so many bodies of material in space do nothing.
This is especially true since this world was made by nature,
Since the seeds of everything by their own will came together
Driven in many different ways, in vain, in frustration,
Until that point when some gathered together which, when connected,
Will always form the core of magnificent things,
Of the earth, sea, the sky and the species of life.
Therefore, I say again and again that you must admit
That there are other collocations of life elsewhere,
Such as this of ours which the hungry sky holds in place.”

Principio nobis in cunctas undique partis
et latere ex utroque supterque per omne
nulla est finis; uti docui, res ipsaque per se 1050
vociferatur, et elucet natura profundi.
nullo iam pacto veri simile esse putandumst,
undique cum vorsum spatium vacet infinitum
seminaque innumero numero summaque profunda
multimodis volitent aeterno percita motu, 1055
hunc unum terrarum orbem caelumque creatum,
nil agere illa foris tot corpora materiai;
cum praesertim hic sit natura factus et ipsa
sponte sua forte offensando semina rerum
multimodis temere in cassum frustraque coacta 1060
tandem coluerunt ea quae coniecta repente
magnarum rerum fierent exordia semper,
terrai maris et caeli generisque animantum.
quare etiam atque etiam talis fateare necesse est
esse alios alibi congressus materiai, 1065
qualis hic est, avido complexu quem tenet aether.