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when they suffered much and severely from this strong and brutish diet, swallowing things which were raw, unmixed, and possessing great strength, they became exposed to strong pains and diseases, and to early deaths. It is likely, indeed, that from habit they would suffer less from these things then than we would now, but still they would suffer severely even then; and it is likely that the greater number, and those who had weaker constitutions, would all perish; whereas the stronger would hold out for a longer time, as even nowadays some, in consequence of using strong articles of food, get off with little trouble, but others with much pain and suffering. From this necessity it appears to me that they would search out the food befitting their nature, and thus discover that which we now use and that from wheat, by macerating it, stripping it of its hull, grinding it all down, sifting, toasting, and baking it, they formed bread; and from barley they formed cake (maza), performing many operations in regard to it; they boiled, they roasted, they mixed, they diluted those things which are strong and of intense qualities with weaker things, fashioning them to the nature and powers of man, and considering that the stronger things Nature would not be able to manage if administered, and that from such things pains, diseases, and death would arise, but such as Nature could manage, that from them food, growth, and health, would arise. To such a discovery and investigation what more suitable name could one give than that of Medicine? since it was discovered for the health of man, for his nourishment and safety, as a substitute for that kind of diet by which pains, diseases, and deaths were occasioned.
And if this is not held to be an art, I do not object. For it is not suitable to call any one an artist of that which no one 1 The invention of bread must have been very ancient, as is obvious from the circumstance of its being referred to a mythological name, that is to say, Demeter or Ceres. The ancients have paid great attention to the manufacture of bread.
2 The maza was a sort of pudding or cake made from barley-meal mixed up with water, oil, milk, oxymel, hydromel or the like. It also was a very ancient invention, for it is mentioned in the Works and Days of Hesiod.
is ignorant of, but which all know from usage and necessity. But still the discovery is a great one, and requiring much art and investigation. Wherefore those who devote themselves to gymnastics and training, are always making some new discovery, by pursuing the same line of inquiry, where, by eating and drinking certain things, they are improved and grow stronger than they were.1
Let us inquire then regarding what is admitted to be Medicine; namely, that which was invented for the sake of the sick, which possesses a name and practitioners, whether it also seeks to accomplish the same objects, and whence it derived its origin. To me, then, it appears, as I said at the commencement, that nobody would have sought for medicine at all, provided the same kinds of diet had suited with men in sickness as in good health. Wherefore, even yet, such races of men as make no use of medicine, namely, barbarians, and even certain of the Greeks, live in the same way when sick as when in health; that is to say, they take what suits their appetite, and neither abstain from, nor restrict themselves in anything for which they have a desire. But those who have cultivated and invented medicine, having the same object in view as those of whom I formerly spoke, in the first place, I suppose, diminished the quantity of the articles of food which they used, and this alone would be sufficient for certain of the sick, and be manifestly beneficial to them, although not to all, for there would be some so affected as not to be able to manage even small quantities of their usual food, and as such persons would seem to require something weaker, they invented soups, by mixing a few strong things with much water, and thus abstracting that which was strong in them by dilution and boiling. But such as could not manage even soups, laid them aside, and had recourse to drinks, and so regulated them as to mixture and quantity, that they were administered neither stronger nor weaker than what was required.
1 Hippocrates studied the application of gymnastics to medicine under the great master of the art, Herodicus, who was a native of Selymbra in Thrace, and is generally represented as the father of medicinal gymnastics.
But this ought to be well known, that soups do not agree with certain persons in their diseases, but, on the contrary, when administered both the fevers and the pains are exacerbated, and it becomes obvious that what was given has proved food and increase to the disease, but a wasting and weakness to the body. But whatever persons so affected partook of solid food, or cake, or bread, even in small quantity, would be ten times and more decidedly injured than those who had taken soups, for no other reason than from the strength of the food in reference to the affection; and to whomsoever it is proper to take soups and not eat solid food, such a one will be much more injured if he eat much than if he eat little, but even little food will be injurious to him. But all the causes of the sufferance refer themselves to this rule, that the strongest things most especially and decidedly hurt man, whether in health or in disease.
What other object, then, had he in view who is called a physician, and is admitted to be a practitioner of the art, who found out the regimen and diet befitting the sick, than he who originally found out and prepared for all mankind that kind of food which we all now use, in place of the former savage and brutish mode of living? To me it appears that the mode is the same, and the discovery of a similar nature. The one sought to abstract those things which the constitution of man cannot digest, because of their wildness and intemperature, and the other those things which are beyond the powers of the affection in which any one may happen to be laid up. Now, how does the one differ from the other, except that the latter admits of greater variety, and requires more application, whereas the former was the commencement of the process?
And if one would compare the diet of sick persons with that of persons in health, he will find it not more injurious than that of healthy persons in comparison with that of wild beasts and of other animals. For, suppose a man laboring under one of those diseases which are neither serious and unsupportable, nor yet altogether mild, but such as that, upon making any mistake in diet, it will become apparent, as if he should eat bread and flesh, or any other of those articles which prove beneficial to healthy persons, and that, too, not
in great quantity, but much less than he could have taken when in good health; and that another man in good health, having a constitution neither very feeble, nor yet strong, eats of those things which are wholesome and strengthening to an ox or a horse, such as vetches, barley, and the like, and that, too, not in great quantity, but much less than he could take; the healthy person who did so would be subjected to no less disturbance and danger than the sick person who took bread or cake unseasonably. All these things are proofs that Medicine is to be prosecuted and discovered by the same method as the other.
And if it were simply, as is laid down, that such things as are stronger prove injurious, but such as are weaker prove beneficial and nourishing, both to sick and healthy persons, it were an easy matter, for then the safest rule would be to circumscribe the diet to the lowest point. But then it is no less mistake, nor one that injures a man less, provided a deficient diet, or one consisting of weaker things than what are proper, be administered. For, in the constitution of man, abstinence may enervate, weaken, and kill. And there are many other ills, different from those of repletion, but no less dreadful, arising from deficiency of food; wherefore the practice in those cases is more varied, and requires greater accuracy. For one must aim at attaining a certain measure, and yet this measure admits neither weight nor calculation of any kind, by which it may be accurately determined, unless it be the sensation of the body; wherefore it is a task to learn this accurately, so as not to commit small blunders either on the one side or the other, and in fact I would give great praise to the physician whose mistakes are small, for perfect accuracy is seldom to be seen, since many physicians seem to me to be in the same plight as bad pilots, who, if they commit mistakes while conducting the ship in a calm do not expose themselves, but when a storm and violent hurricane overtake them, they then, from their ignorance and mistakes, are discovered to be what they are, by all men, namely, in losing their ship. And thus bad and commonplace physicians, when they treat men who have no serious illness, in which case one may commit great mistakes without producing any formidable mischief,
(and such complaints occur much more frequently to men than dangerous ones): under these circumstances, when they commit mistakes, they do not expose themselves to ordinary men; but when they fall in with a great, a strong, and a dangerous disease, then their mistakes and want of skill are made apparent to all. Their punishment is not far off, but is swift in overtaking both the one and the other.1
And that no less mischief happens to a man from unseasonable depletion than from repletion, may be clearly seen upon reverting to the consideration of persons in health. For, to some, with whom it agrees to take only one meal in the day, and they have arranged it so accordingly; whilst others, for the same reason, also take dinner, and this they do because they find it good for them, and not like those persons who, for pleasure or from any casual circumstance, adopt the one or the other custom: and to the bulk of mankind it is of little consequence which of these rules they observe, that is to say, whether they make it a practice to take one or two meals. But there are certain persons who cannot readily change their diet with impunity; and if they make any alteration in it for one day, or even for a part of a day, are greatly injured thereby. Such persons, provided they take dinner when it is not their wont, immediately become heavy and inactive, both in body and mind, and are weighed down with yawning, slumbering, and thirst; and if they take supper in addition, they are seized with flatulence, tormina, and diarrhoea, and to many this has been the commencement of a serious disease, when they have merely taken twice in a day the same food which they have been in the custom of taking once. And thus, also, if one who has been accustomed to dine, and this rule agrees with him, should not dine at the accustomed hour, he will straightway feel great loss of strength, trembling, and want of spirits, the eyes of such a person will become more pallid, his urine thick and hot, his mouth bitter; his bowels will seem, as it were, to hang loose; he will suffer from vertigo, lowness of spirit, and inactivity,-such are the effects; and if he should attempt to take at supper the same food which he was wont to
1 1 He means both the pilot and physician.