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On Ancient Medicine   


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 injuries a man less,
provided a deficient diet, or one consisting of weaker things than
what mare 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.


PART 10
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 diarrhea, 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 partake of at dinner, it will appear insipid,
and he will not be able to take it off; and these things, passing
downwards with tormina and rumbling, burn up his bowels; he experiences
insomnolency or troubled and disturbed dreams; and to many of them
these symptoms are the commencement of some disease.

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