RINGS OF HEALING
LOSELY allied with
the magic rings, so closely indeed that it is often difficult to
establish a satisfactory distinction between them, are the rings of
healing, those to which were ascribed special and peculiar curative
powers. In some instances this was due to a legend connected with a
particular ring or with the prototype of a class of rings; at other
times the therapeutic virtue was believed to result from the
inscription of certain letters or words. In other cases, again, the
belief arose from the form given to the ring.
the course of his eleventh consulate, Augustus was attacked by a
serious illness. None of the remedies prescribed for him were of any
avail, until finally he was relieved by following the directions of
Antonius Musa, who recommended cold baths and cold drinks. As a reward
Musa was granted the privilege of wearing gold rings, and also received
a large gift of money from the grateful emperor.1 Although this ring was not in itself a cause of healing it was certainly the memorial of a successful cure.
strange remedy for sneezing or hiccoughing, recommended by Pliny, was
to transfer a ring from one of the fingers of the left hand to the
middle finger of the right hand.2 This prescription is copied from Pliny by the physician Marcellus Empiricus 3 who says, how-
1 Cassius Dio, lib. liii.
2 Plinii, " Historia Naturalis," lib. xxviii, cap. 15.
3 Marcelli Empirici, " De medicamentis," cap. 17. 336