ON THE VIRTUES OF FABULOUS STONES 169
eases and colic.19
These are bony plates from the upper part of the mouth of the carp.
Such so-called ' ' stones ' ' were also said to check bleeding of the
nose, a quality they owed to their astringent properties, quite noticeable if anyone tasted the powder made from them.20
The cinœdias, a
white and oblong concretion, had in Pliny's time the reputation of
possessing extraordinary powers, announcing beforehand whether the sea
would be clear or stormy.21 In what way this weather
prediction was manifested we are not told ; perhaps the surface of the
concretion may have become dull or grayish when there was much humidity
in the air. The cinaedia were said to be found in pairs in the fish of
that name ; one pair being taken from the head of the fish and another
pair from the two dorsal fins. Power to cure diseases of the eye was
conferred upon these concretions by putting nine of them, duly
numbered, in an earthen jar together with a green lizard. Each day one
of the "stones" was taken from the vessel in the numerical order, and
on the ninth day the lizard was liberated. Evidently it was thought
that to kill the animal would interfere with the transmission of its
virtue to the concretions.22
The eye of the hyena was supposed to furnish a stone called hyœnia and
Pliny writes that these animals were hunted to secure possession of it.
Like rock-crystal and many other decorative stones, this hyœnia was thought to give the power to foretell the future, if it were placed beneath the tongue.23 Because of the hyena's uncanny habit of feeding on carrion, and unearthing dead bodies from
u Encelii, " De re metallica," Francofurti, 1557, p. 218. * Lemnii, " De miraculis nature," Francofurti, 1611, p. 213. 11 Ibid., lib. xxxvii, cap. 56. " Ibid., lib. xxix, cap. 38. eIbid., lib. xxxvii, cap. 60.