Book VI, Chapter XXIV
In which another account, which belongs in book XIX, is noted to aid my memory: of two animals that are found on the island of Cubagua, one a land animal, the other a sea animal, and some notable things about them.
Translated by Isabella Perez ’21
On the island of Cubagua there are some very small spiders, but the pain they cause to those bitten is so great that it has no other equal in measure, except for that of another sea animal mentioned below. And if the pain caused by these spiders lasted, it would not be exaggerating to say that the one injured or stung by it would be so desperate as to kill himself, if only to alleviate his suffering and avoid such raw pain. But there is no greater remedy or comfort in this danger than the hope and experience that one already has of arriving at the end when their fatigue ceases, thus freeing the one who is suffering; because while the pain persists, the torment and agony they suffer, without being able to relieve or mitigate the pain by any means, is an unbearable thing, leaving the patient without the capacity to eat, drink, or rest (even for an instant) until the following day at the same hour he was bitten. And though none die of this complaint, when the pain has ceased, the one who suffered remains such that he cannot fully return to his original state of health for two or three days.
There is a fish or animal of the sea called tatara; it is no larger than a thumb and painted with freckles and white and yellow stripes. And those it stings in the water, as sometimes befalls some Indians, get so many spasms of pain and feel such great agony and unbearable misery, as was said of that spider’s sting, and these do not cease until the following day, when the tide is at the same ebb or rising that at the time of the sting. So that the illness and pain caused by each animal is endured for exactly twenty-four natural hours, without making use of any remedy on the one afflicted, until the stated time has passed; once this is completed, there is no danger from either of these two stings.
Image: Lithograph of the long-jawed orb weaver, raft spider, printed in Germany in 1956 by Claus Caspari.