„On Herbs“: Some Excerpts

These chapters are taken from my eBook, On Herbs: An Anonymous Greek Poem, the first English translation of the so-called Carmen de herbis:

(2) Rhamnus (‘boxthorn, buckthorn’)
As a powerful panacea, have rhamnus in your house,
A white-leaved thorny plant growing in hedges.
It is a plant of the night; and it is helpful to mortals
To gather this rhamnus when the waning Moon
Is seen by all mortals in great Olympus.
Suspended, it can avert the curses
Of evil witches and people’s evil eye.
The first of the blessed (gods) to use this plant
Was Pallas Athenaea, daughter of Zeus Aegis-bearer,
When she had killed Pallas in battle with great force
At the time that immortal gods and mortal Giants,
The most forceful, collided in forceful struggle.
Then the all-seeing goddess, multiform Nemesis
Purified the gods’ temples and statues with rhamnus.
It is good for young cattle and infants to carry this
Plant against headache and daemons and curses.
For it cures all mortal-destroying baneful poisons.

(4) Cinquefoil
Now, pick Hermes’ budding
Cinquefoil, Hermes’ gift helpful in all things,
And a dream-giver, because it makes all good
God-given dreams manifest to mortal humans.
For you may heal all trouble when you carry it around the body,
And restrain all distress of the eyes,
Swellings, inflammations of tonsils and uvula, tumor under the tongue,
Joints, pain of sinews and the fence of teeth,
And [unintelligible word] scurvy, mortal-destroying, caused by curses,
And monthly poultices for women in menstruation.
In warm water, applied as a wash with the hands,
It works against terrors, evil eye and hostile daemons
As an excellent remedy. Therefore, pick the herb
When the mortal-illuminating Moon is waxing, and the Sun
Is about to raise its red light over the earth.

(15) Chrysanthemum
Gather sacred dewy chrysanthemum from the earth
Before the great sun runs over the infinite circle,
And carry it around your body, inside your clothes.
Suspended, it can avert the malignities
Of irrational poisoners and envious humankind.

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