put Smarties tubes on cats legs

Wednesday reading —delightful remedies

I did not get to do a lot of reading this week, for various reasons. However, one of the books I did read is the greatest thing ever and I need to share it immediately.

What I've been reading

I read Ancient Egyptian Medicine: The Papyrus Ebers, because I was sending my protagonist in my NaNovel to the doctor for a broken ankle, and while I had some familiarity with the content of ancient Egyptian medicine in general I was looking to see if any of the extant medical papyri covered this ailment or its treatment specifically. I was searching for a translation of the Ebers Papyrus online and discovered that the Oriental Institute has a PDF scan of James Henry Breasted's copy of this book, which is a translation of the Ebers Papyrus and so much more.

It contains a great deal of commentary along these lines:
Another remedy for Constipaton which not only claims to act as a purgative but drives out all the diseases in the body, smacks more of a dawn-of-history cocktail than a purgative. It consists of Half-an-Onion mixed in Froth-of-Beer, and is further described as 'A DELIGHTFUL REMEDY AGAINST DEATH.' The remedy still persists in the shape of the 'life-saver' dispensed at the public bar, but the ingredients are no longer the same and its purgative action has long since disappeared.

Another excerpt, lengthier but so worth it:
Pods-of-the-Poppy-plant (Opium)

Make into one, strain, and take for four days.

This is startling! No other word can convey the amusement with which one finds that the means employed to quell the squalling infant five thousand years ago are identically the same as many a modern mother employs to-day. Let us compare them:


Mix in the Child's mouth.

(Nowadays, of course, giving opium to children is frowned upon, but in 1930 the man had a point.)

I read Egyptian Boats, because I figured that the ancient Egyptian equivalent of sending your characters on a road trip when you're stuck with your plot would be a boat trip and I wanted to be prepared. It does what it says on the tin. It is well-illustrated, too.

What I'm reading now

I have only read a little farther in The Widow's House, though not for a lack of interest.

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Is it a little FU to a kid to give them fly dirt in addition to the opium?

From personal experience, sometimes it seems the best course of action is to take the opium oneself.
Honestly, compared with some of the ingredients they used in these things, the fly dirt is pretty benign. God forbid you come down with something they wanted to treat with cat dung or a hog's tooth. Besides, you pretty much have to assume that flies had been on everything that they ate. They didn't have screens on their windows.

I feel like there's a lot to be said for opium all around.
Some opium would come in handy this week. I suppose there's at least $1K worth of it in my house right now, in fact. Too bad it isn't mine.
Not too bad, considering. I have a little under 17,000 words right now, and I should have had 20,000 last night, so I'm definitely behind but it's far from insurmountable.