Some persons have said that venomous animals contribute greatly to many of the objects of physicians, and that those who reduce that science to a regular system use them in a proper manner, and, acting with great wisdom and prudence, have discovered antidotes, so as to be able to contribute to the unexpected safety of those who were in the greatest possible danger; and even at the present time one may see those persons who apply themselves to the study of medicine, in a careful and diligent manner, using all these animals and plants in a most skilful manner in the composition of drugs.

(61) The other account has no reference to the practice of physicians, but only as it would seem to the studies of philosophers. For it says that all these things have been prepared by God as engines of punishment against offenders, just as generals and rulers prepare halters and chains. On which account, though they are quiet at other times, they are brought out with great power in the case of people who have been condemned, and whom nature in her incorruptible tribunal has sentenced to death; (62) for that they lurk in secret holes and in houses, is a falsehood; for it is seen that these creatures flee out of the cities into the fields and into desert places, to avoid man as their master. Not but what, if this is true, there is a certain sense and principle in it; for rubbish is heaped up in recesses: and quantities of sweepings, and refuse, and such things, are what venomous reptiles love to lurk in, besides the fact that their smell has an attractive power over them.

(63) Again, if swallows live among us, it is not at all strange, for we abstain from hunting them; and a desire of safety is implanted not only in the souls of rational creatures, but also in those of irrational animals.