Last updated: 23 December 1998
What drugs will not cure, the knife will; what the knife will not cure,
the cautery will; what the cautery will not cure must be considered incurable.
... whenever people arguing on the same theory do not reach the same
conclusion, you may be sure they do not know what they are talking about.
Hard work is undesirable for the underfed.
It is better to be full of drink than full of food.
Some diseases are produced by the manner of life that is followed; others
by the life-giving air we breathe. (...) When a large number of people
all catch the same disease at the same time, the cause must be ascribed
to something common to all and which they all use; in other words to what
they all breathe. In such a disease, it is obvious that individual bodily
habits cannot be responsible because the malady attacks one after another,
young and old, men and women alike, those who drink their wine neat and
those who drink only water; whose who eat barley-cake as well as those
who live on bread, those who take a lot of exercise and those who take
but little. The régime cannot therefore be responsible where people
who live very different lives catch the same disease.
A wise man ought to realize that health is his most valuable possession
and learn how to treat his illnesses by his own judgement.
... disease has a plurality of forms and a plurality of cures.
The human body contains blood, phlegm, yellow bile and black bile. These
are the things that make up its constitution and cause its pain and health.
Health is primarily that state in which these constituent substances are
in the correct proportion to each other, both in strength and quantity,
and are well mixed.
Hunger is alleviated by the drinking of neat wine.
To know the cause of a disease and to understand the use of the various
methods by which disease may be prevented amounts to the same thing in
effect as being able to cure the malady.
It is a general rule that men with weak heads are not great drinkers
because they are particularly liable to hangovers.
The factors which enable us to distinguish between diseases are as follows:
First we must consider the nature of man in general and of each individual
and the characteristics of each disease. Then we must consider the patient,
what food is given to him and who gives it - for this may take it easier
for him to take or more difficult - the conditions of climate and locality
both in general and in particular, the patient's customs, mode of life,
pursuits and age. Then we must consider his speech, his mannerisms, his
silences, his thoughts, his habits of sleep or wakefulness and his dreams,
their nature and time.
First of all I would define medicine as the complete removal of the
distress of the sick, the alleviation of the more violent diseases and
the refusal to undertake to cure cases in which the disease has already
won the mastery, knowing that everything is not possible to medicine.
It is well known that a low diet of food and drink is on the whole a
surer way to health than violent changes from one diet to another.
Life is short, science is long; opportunity is elusive, experiment is
dangerous, judgement is difficult.
Whoever would study medicine aright must learn of the following subjects.
First he must consider the effect of each of the seasons of the year and
the differences between them. Secondly he must study the warm and the cold
winds, both those which are common to every country and those peculiar
to a particular locality. Lastly, the effect of water on health must not
be forgotten. Just as it varies in taste and when weighed, so does its
effect on the body vary as well. When, therefore, a physician comes to
a district previously unknown to him, he should consider both its situation
and its aspects to the winds. The effect of any town upon the health of
its population varies according as it faces north or south, east or west.
This is of the greatest importance. Similarly, the nature of the water
supply must be considered; is it marshy and soft, hard as it is when it
flows from high and rocky ground, or salty with a hardness which is permanent?
Then think of the soil, whether it be bare and waterless or thickly covered
with vegetation and well-watered; whether in a hollow and stiftling, or
exposed and cold. Lastly consider the life of the inhabitants themselves;
are they heavy drinkers and eaters and consequently unable to stand fatigue
or, being fond of work and exercise, eat wisely but drink sparely?
You will find, as a general rule, that the constitutions and the habits
of a people follow the nature of the land where they live.
Copyright © by Eberhard Wenzel, 1997-2001