L’alum de plume
Voiez Pline, l. 35, chap 15.
Œuvres de Maitre François Rabelais. Publiées sous le titre de : Faits et dits du géant Gargantua et de son fils Pantagruel, avec la Prognostication pantagrueline, l’épître de Limosin, la Crême philosophale et deux épîtres à deux vieilles de moeurs et d’humeurs différentes. Nouvelle édition, où l’on a ajouté des remarques historiques et critiques. Tome Troisieme
Jacob Le Duchat [1658–1735], editor
Amsterdam: Henri Bordesius, 1711
alum de plume
Voy. Pline, l. XXXV, c. XV.
Œuvres de F. Rabelais. Nouvelle edition augmentée de plusieurs extraits des chroniques admirables du puissant roi Gargantua… et accompagnée de notes explicatives…
L. Jacob (pseud. of Paul Lacroix) [1806–1884], editor
Paris: Charpentier, 1840
Pliny xxxv. 15, § 52 (186).
Gargantua and Pantagruel
William Francis Smith [1842–1919], translator
l’alum de plume,
Nec minor est aut adeo dissimilis aluminis opera, quod intellegitur salsugo terrae. plura et eius genera. in Cypro candidum et nigrius, exigua coloris differentia, cum sit usus magna, quoniam inficiendis claro colore lanis candidum liquidumque utilissimum est contraque fuscis aut obscuris nigrum. et aurum nigro purgatur. fit autem omne ex aqua limoque, hoc est terrae exudantis natura. conrivatum hieme aestivis solibus maturatur. quod fuit ex eo praecox, candidius fit. gignitur autem in Hispania, Aegypto, Armenia, Macedonia, Ponto, Africa, insulis Sardinia, Melo, Lipara, Strongyle, laudatissimum in Aegypto, proximum in Melo. huius quoque duae species, liquidum spissumque. liquidi probatio ut sit limpidum lacteumque, sine offensis fricandi, cum quodam igniculo coloris. hoc phorimon vocant. an sit adulteratum, deprehenditur suco Punici mali; sincerum enim mixtura ea non nigrescit. alterum genus est pallidi et scabri et quod inficiatur et galla, ideoque hoc vocant paraphoron. liquidi aluminis vis adstringere, indurare, rodere. melle1 admixto sanat oris ulcera, papulas pruritusque. haec curatio fit in balneis n mellis partibus, tertia aluminis. virus alarum sudorisque sedat. sumitur pilulis contra lienis vitia pellendumque per urinam sanguinem. emendat et scabiem nitro ac melanthio admixtis.
Concreti aluminis unum genus σχιστὸν appellant Graeci, in capillamenta quaedam canescentia dehiscens, unde quidam trichitim potius appellavere. hoc fit e lapide, ex quo et aes—chalcitim vocant—, ut sudor quidam eius lapidis in spumam coagulatus. hoc genus aluminis minus siccat minusque sistit umorem inutilem corporum, et auribus magnopere prodest infusum, vel inlitum et oris ulceribus dentibusque et si saliva cum eo contineatur. et oculorum medicamentis inseritur apte verendisque utriusque sexus. coquitur in catinis, donec liquari desinat. inertioris est altermu generis, quod strongylen vocant. duae et eius species, fungosum atque omni umore dilui facile, quod in totum damnatur. melius pumicosum et foraminum fistulis spongeae simile rotundumque natura, candido propius, cum quadam pinguitudine, sine harenis, friabile, nec inficiens nigritia. hoc coquitur per se carbonibus puris, donec cinis fiat. Optimum ex omnibus quod Melinum vocant ab insula, ut diximus. nulli vis maior neque adstringendi neque denigrandi neque indurandi, nullum spissius. oculorum scabritias extenuat, combustum utilius epiphoris inhibendis, sic et ad pruritus corporis. sanguinem quoque sistit intus potum, foris inlitum. evulsis pilis ex aceto inlinitur renascentesque mollit in languinem. summa omnium generum vis in adstringendo, unde nomen Graecis. ob id oculorum vitiis aptissima sunt, sanguinis fluctiones inhibent. cum adipe putrescentia ulcerum compescit—sic et infantium ulcera et hydropicorum eruptiones siccat—et aurium vitia cum suco Punici mali et unguium scabritias cicatricumque duritias et pterygia ac perniones, phagedaenas ulcerum ex aceto aut cum galla pari pondere cremata, lepras cum suco olerum, cum salis vero n partibus vitia, quae serpunt, lendes et alia capillorum animalia aquae permixtum. sic et ambustis prodest et furfuribus corporum cum sero picis. infunditur et dysintericis uvamque in ore comprimit ac tonsillas. ad omnia, quae in ceteris generibus diximus, efficacius intellegatur ex Melo advectum. Ad reliquos usus vitae in coriis lanisque perficiendis quanti sit momenti, significatum est.
Not less important or very different is the use made of alum [several astringent substances were included in the word alumen, especially, it seems, aluminium sulphates, sulpbate of iron, and common potash-alum; also kalinite, and perhaps also certain halotrichites (K. C. Bailey, The Elder Pliny’s Chapters on Chemical Subjects, II, p. 233).], by which is meant a salt exudation from the earth. There are several varieties of it. In Cyprus there is a white alum and another sort of a darker colour, though the difference of colour is only slight; nevertheless the use made of them is very different, as the white and liquid kind is most useful for dying woollens a bright colour whereas the black kind is best for dark or sombre hues. Black alum is also used in cleaning gold. All alum is produced from water and slime, that is, a substance exuded by the earth; this collects naturally in a hollow in winter and its maturity by crystallisation is completed by the sunshine of summer; the part of it that separates earliest is whiter in colour. It occurs in Spain, Egypt, Armenia, Macedonia, Pontus, Africa, and the islands Sardinia, Melos, Liparic and Stromboli; the most highly valued is in Egypt and the next best in Melos. The alum of Melos also is of two kinds, fluid and dense. The test of the fluid kind is that it should be of a limpid, milky consistency, free from grit when rubbed between the fingers, and giving a slight glow of colour; this kind is called in Greek ‘phorimon’ in the sense of ‘abundant.’ Its adulteration can be detected by means of the juice of a pomegranate, as this mixed with it does not turn it black if it is pure. The other kind is the pale rough alum which may be stained with oak-gall also, and consequently this is called ‘paraphoron,’ ‘perverted’ or adulterated alum. Liquid alum has an astringent, hardening and corrosive property. Mixed with honey it cures ulcers in the mouth, pimples and eruptions; this treatment is carried out in baths containing two parts of honey to one of alum. It reduces odour from the armpits and perspiration. It is taken in pills against disorders of the spleen and discharge of blood in the urine. Mixed with soda and chamomile it is also a remedy for scabies.
One kind [Including potash-alum, halotrichite, etc.] of solid alum which is called in Greek schiston, ‘splittable,’ splits into a sort of filament of a whitish colour, owing to which some people have preferred to give it in Greek the name of trichitis, ‘hairy alum.’ This is produced from the same ore as copper, known as copperstone, a sort of sweat from that mineral, coagulated into foam. This kind of alum has less drying effect and serves less to arrest the detrimental humours of the body, but it is extremely beneficial as an ear-wash, or as a liniment also for ulcers of the mouth and for the teeth, and if it is retained in the mouth with saliva; or it forms a suitable ingredient in medicines for the eyes and for the genital organs of either sex. It is roasted in crucibles until it has quite lost its liquidity. There is another alum of a less active kind, called in Greek strongyle, ‘round alum.’ Of this also there are two varieties, the fungous which dissolves easily in any liquid and which is rejected as entirely worthless, and a better kind which is porous and pierced with small holes like a sponge and of a round formation, nearer white in colour, possessing a certain quality of unctuousness, free from grit, friable, and not apt to cause a black stain. This is roasted by itself on clean hot coals till it is reduced to ash. The besta of all kinds is that called Melos alum, after the island of that name, as we said; no other kind has a. greater power of acting as an astringent, giving a black stain and hardening, and none other has a closer consistency. It removes granulations of the eyes, and is still more efficacious in arresting defluxions when calcined, and in that state also it is applied to itchings on the body. Taken as a draft or applied externally it also arrests haemorrhage. It is applied in vinegar to parts from which the hair has been removed and changes into soft down the hair that grows in its place. The chief property of all kinds of alum is their astringent effect, which gives it its nameb in Greek. This makes them extremely suitable for eye troubles, and effective in arresting haemorrhage. Mixed with lard it checks the spread of putrid ulcers—so applied it also dries ulcers in infants and eruptions in cases of dropsy—and, mixed with pomegranate juice, it checks ear troubles and malformations of the nails and hardening of scars, and flesh growing over the nails, and chilblains. Calcined with vinegar or gallnuts to an equal weight it heals gangrenous ulcers, and, if mixed with cabbage juice, pruritus, or if with twice the quantity of salt, serpiginous eruptions, and if thoroughly mixed with water, it kills eggs of lice and other insects that infest the hair. Used in the same way it is also good for burns, and mixed with watery fluid from vegetable pitch for scurf on the body. It is also used as an injection for dysentery, and taken in the mouth it reduces swellings of the uvula and tonsils. It must be understood that for all the purposes which we have mentioned in the case of the other kinds the alum imported from Melos is more efficacious. It has been indicated how important it is for the other requirements of life in giving a finish to hides and woollens.
The Natural History. Volume 9: Books 33–35
Harris Rackham [1868–1944], translator
Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1952
Loeb Classical Library
alum de plume
Alumen trichites de Dioscoride, alumen schistos de Pline (XXXV, 52), halotrichum, alumen plumeum, alun de plume, ou sulfate d’alumine naturel fibreux, «en filamens réunis par fasceaux» (Haüy) comme les barbes d’une plume. On le trouvait notamment dans les grottes de l’île de Milo, où Tournefort (Voy. au Levant, I, p. 141) et plus tard Olivier l’ont observé. Pour d’autres commentateurs, le trichites serait l’aminate, et le schistos la fleur d’alun de roche. En tout cas, et même au temps de Tournefort (loc. cit., p. 164), on confondait encore souvent l’amiante avec l’alun de plume. (Paul Delaunay)
Oeuvres. Tome Cinquieme: Tiers Livre. Édition critique
Abel Lefranc [1863-1952], editor
Paris: Librairie Ancienne Honoré Champion, 1931
alum de plume
feather-alum (sulphate of aluminum in clustered fibres)
Complete works of Rabelais
Jacques LeClercq [1891–1971], translator
New York: Modern Library, 1936
alum de plume
Ce qu’on appelle vulgairement en français de ce nom est l’amiante, selon Calepin.
Le Tiers Livre. Edition critique
Jean Céard, editor
Librarie Général Français, 1995
alum de plume
Alun de plume, ou sulfate d’alumine natural, souvent confondu avec l’amiante. Panurge (Pantagruel, chap xvi, p. 235) «avoit un aultre poche plein de alun de plume, dont il gettoit dedals le doz des femmes…»
Le Tiers Livre
Pierre Michel, editor
Paris: Gallimard, 1966
alum: Latin alumen, the same substance: compare aluta tawed skin.]
A whitish transparent mineral salt, very astringent, used in dyeing, tawing skins, and medicine, also for sizing paper, and making materials fire-proof; Burnt alum: Alum deprived of its water of crystallization so as to become a white powder; rock or Roman alum, that prepared from the alum-stone in Italy.
C. 1325 E.E. Allit. P. B. 1035 As alum & alka[t]ran, that angré arn boþe.
1366 Maundev. ix. 99 About that see growethe moche Alom.
C. 1386 Geoffrey Chaucer Canterbury Tales, Chanounes Yemanne’s Tale. Prologue 260 Tartre, alym, glas [v.r. alum, alumglas(se, alem].
1436 Pol. Poems II. 172 Coton, roche-alum, and gode golde of Jene.
1453 in Heath Grocers’ Comp. (1869) 422 Alum, foyle or rooch, ye bale…
1551 William Turner A new herball ii. (1568) 123 Layed to with honey and allome.
1601 Philemon Holland, translator Pliny’s History of the world, commonly called the Natural historie (1634) II. 559 Alume brought from Melos, is the best.
1660 R. Coke Power & Subj. 208 The Pope had excommunicated all persons whatsoever, who had bought alume of the Florentines.
Applied to various native minerals, which are chemically alums proper, as native alum or kalinite; also to others (pseudo-alums), which are compounds of aluminium sulphate with the sulphate of some other base; or with the protoxides of iron, manganese, etc., as feather or plume alum (ferroso-aluminic sulphate). The name feather alum has been applied also to magnesia alum and alunogen.
1661 Barten Holyday, translator A. Persius Flaccus his Satires (1673) 122 Plume-alume burns the skin… rock-alume dissolves metals, shrivels the skin, loosens the teeth.