The Scorpion

Of the Scorpion, Pliny says:--"This animal is a dangerous scourge, and

has a venom like that of the serpent; with the exception that its

effects are far more painful, as the person who is stung will linger for

three days before death ensues. The sting is invariably fatal to

virgins, and nearly always so to matrons. It is so to men also, in the

morning, when the animal has issued from its hole in a fasting state,

and ha
not yet happened to discharge its poison by an accidental

stroke. The tail is always ready to strike, and ceases not for an

instant to menace, so that no opportunity may possibly be lost....

"In Scythia, the Scorpion is able to kill even the swine, with its

sting, an animal which, in general, is proof against poisons of this

kind in a remarkable degree. When stung, those swine which are black,

die more speedily than others, and more particularly if they happen to

throw themselves into the water. When a person has been stung, it is

generally supposed that he may be cured by drinking the ashes of the

Scorpion mixed with wine. It is the belief also that nothing is more

baneful to the Scorpion than to dip it in oil.... Some writers, too, are

of opinion that the Scorpion devours its offspring, and that the one

among the young which is most adroit avails itself of its sole mode of

escape, by placing itself on the back of the mother, and thus finding a

place where it is in safety from the tail and sting. The one that thus

escapes, they say, becomes the avenger of the rest, and, at last, taking

advantage of its elevated position, puts its parents to death."

Topsell has some marvels to relate concerning the generation of

Scorpions:--"And it is reported by Elianus, that about Estamenus in

India, there are abundance of Scorpions generated, onely by corrupt

raine water standing in that place. Also, out of the Baziliske beaten

into peeces, and so putrified, are Scorpions engendred. And when as one

had planted the herbe Basilica on a wall, in the roome or place

thereof hee found two Scorpions. And some say that if a man chaw in his

mouth, fasting, this herbe Basill before he wash, and, afterwards, lay

the same abroade uncovered where no sun commeth at it for the space of

seaven nights, taking it in all the daytime, he shall at length find it

transmuted into a Scorpion, with a tayle of seaven knots.

"Hollerius, to take away all scruple of this thing, writeth that in

Italy, in his dayes, there was a man that had a Scorpion bredde in his

braine, by continuall smelling to this herbe Basil; and Gesner by

relation of an Apothecary in Fraunce, writeth also a storie of a young

mayde, who by smelling to Basill, fell into an exceeding head-ach,

whereof she died without cure, and, after her death, beeing opened,

there were found little Scorpions in her braine.

"Aristotle remembreth an herbe which he calleth Sisimbriae, out of

which putrified Scorpions are engendered. And wee have showed already,

in the history of the Crocodile, that out of the Crocodile's egges doe

many times come Scorpions, which at their first egression doe kill theyr

dam that hatched them."

There is a curious legend, that if a Scorpion is surrounded by fire, so

that it cannot escape, it will commit suicide by stinging itself to