Varkas, the market-crier, has a large sealed scroll on which the emperor himself extols the efficacy of this elixir, which will make the lame see and the blind walk again.
Death is dressed in a clown-suit and is not afraid to out-quack the quack: "I pull out teeth and set them back again, I operate on hernia, prick the cataract,(1) and cure neck and bones".
Death calls himself Hans Wurst — a well-known Teutonic clown-figure. Wurst also appears in the Danish Døde-Dands as Harlequin, where you can recognize him by the "H.W." on his chest.
Der Tod zum Storcher:
This dialogue is a bit unusual in that the human speaks before Death. However, Götz brings these two verses in the usual order, where Death speaks first. This means that the dialogue starts: »Und ich […]«, which is an odd way to start a dialogue.
prick the cataract . . .: this operation to treat cataracts, known as "couching" has been known since 500 BC.
A needle is used to dislocate the clouded lens and push it back into the posterior chamber of the eye, to let the light inside.
Of course, a traveling doctor in a tent has not been able to achieve a particularly high level of hygiene, let alone sterility, and anesthesia was an unknown concept in those days.