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Physis : World Creation  

Gregory of Nyssa : THE MAKING OF MAN

A Brief Examination of the Construction of Our Bodies from a Medical Point of View

Patrologia Graeca 44.240-256  * Greek Fonts


OW the exact structure of our body each man teaches himself by his experiences of sight and light and perception, having his own nature to instruct him; any one too may learn everything accurately who takes up the researches which those skilled in such matters have worked out in books. And of these writers some learnt by dissection the position of our individual organs; others also considered and expounded the reason for the existence of all the parts of the body; so that the knowledge of the human frame which hence results is sufficient for students. But if any one further seeks that the Church should be his teacher on all these points, so that he may not need for anything the voice of those without (for this is the wont of the spiritual sheep, as the Lord says, that they hear not a strange voice ), we shall briefly take in hand the account of these matters also.

We note concerning our bodily nature three things, for the sake of which our particular pans were formed. Life is the cause of some, good life of others, others again are adapted with a view to the succession of descendants. All things in us which are of such a kind that without them it is not possible that human life should exist, we consider as being in three parts; in the brain, the heart, and the liver. Again, all that are a sort of additional blessings, nature's liberality, whereby she bestows on man the gift of living well, are the organs of sense; for such things do not constitute our life, since even where some of them are wanting man is often none the less in a condition of life; but without these forms of activity it is impossible to enjoy participation in the pleasures of life. The third aim regards the future, and the succession of life. There are also certain other organs besides these, which help, in common with all the others, to subserve the continuance of life, importing by their own means the proper supplies, as the stomach and the lungs, the latter fanning by respiration the fire at the heart, the former introducing the nourishment for the internal organs.

Θεωρία τις ἰατρικωτέρα περὶ τῆς τοῦ σώματος ἡμῶν κατασκευῆς δι' ὀλίγων

Ἀλλὰ τὴν μὲν ἀκριβῆ τοῦ σώματος ἡμῶν διασκευὴν διδάσκει μὲν ἕκαστος ἑαυτόν͵ ἐξ ὧν ὁρᾷ τε καὶ ζῇ καὶ αἰσθάνεται͵ τὴν ἰδίαν ἑαυτοῦ φύσιν διδάσκαλον ἔχων. Ἔξεστι δὲ καὶ τὴν ἐν βίβλοις φιλοπονηθεῖσαν τοῖς τὰ τοιαῦτα σοφοῖς περὶ τούτων ἱστορίαν ἀναλαβόντι͵ πάντα δι' ἀκριβείας μαθεῖν. Ὧν οἱ μὲν ὅπως ἔχει θέσεως τὰ καθέκαστον τῶν ἐν ἡμῖν͵ διὰ τῆς ἀνατομῆς ἐδιδάχθησαν, οἱ δὲ καὶ πρὸς ὅ,τι γέγονε πάντα τὰ τοῦ σώματος μόρια κατενόησάν τε καὶ διηγήσαντο͵ ὡς ἀρκοῦσαν ἐντεῦθεν τῆς ἀνθρωπίνης κατασκευῆς τὴν γνῶσιν τοῖς φιλοπόνοις γενέσθαι. Εἰ δέ τις ἐπιζητοίη πάντων αὐτῶν τὴν ἐκκλησίαν διδάσκαλον γίνεσθαι͵ ὡς εἰς μηδὲν τῆς ἔξωθεν φωνῆς ἐπιδεῖσθαι (οὗτος γὰρ τῶν πνευματικῶν προβάτων ὁ νόμος͵ καθώς φησιν ὁ Κύριος͵ τὸ ἀλλοτρίας μὴ ἀκούειν φωνῆς)͵ διὰ βραχέων καὶ τὸν περὶ τούτων λόγον διαληψόμεθα.

Τρία περὶ τὴν τοῦ σώματος ἐνοήσαμεν φύσιν͵ ὧν χάριν τὰ καθ' ἕκαστον τῶν ἐν ἡμῖν κατεσκεύασται. Τὰ μὲν γὰρ διὰ τὸ ζῇν͵ τὰ δὲ διὰ τὸ καλῶς ζῇν͵ ἕτερα δὲ πρὸς τὴν διαδοχὴν τῶν ἐπιγινομένων ἐπιτηδείως ἔχει. Ὅσα μὲν οὖν ἐν ἡμῖν τοιαῦτά ἐστιν͵ ὧν ἄνευ συστῆναι τὴν ἀνθρωπίνην ζωὴν οὐκ ἐνδέχεται͵ ἐν τρισὶ μορίοις κατενοήσαμεν, ἐν ἐγκεφάλῳ καὶ καρδίᾳ καὶ ἥπατι. Ὅσα δὲ προσθήκη τίς ἐστι τῶν ἀγαθῶν͵ καὶ φιλοτιμία τῆς φύσεως͵ τὸ εὖ ζῇν δι' ἐκείνων τῷ ἀνθρώπῳ χαριζομένης͵ [241] τὰ περὶ τὴν αἴσθησίν ἐστιν ὄργανα. Τὰ γὰρ τοιαῦτα τὴν ζωὴν μὲν οὐ συνίστησιν͵ ἐπεὶ καὶ λιπόντων τινῶν πολλάκις͵ οὐδὲν ἧττον ἐν τῷ ζῇν ἐστιν ὁ ἄνθρωπος͵ ἀλλ' ἀμήχανον δίχα τούτων τῶν ἐνεργειῶν͵ τῶν κατὰ τὴν ζωὴν ἡδέων τὴν μετουσίαν ἔχειν. Ὁ δὲ τρίτος σκοπὸς πρὸς τὸ ἐφεξῆς τε καὶ τὴν διαδοχὴν βλέπει. Ἔστι δὲ καὶ ἄλλα τινὰ παρὰ ταῦτα͵ ἃ πρὸς διαμονὴν κοινὰ τοῖς πᾶσιν ὑπόκειται. τὰς καταλλήλους προσθήκας δι' ἑαυτῶν ἐπεισάγοντα͵ ὡς κοιλία καὶ πνεύμων͵ ὁ μὲν τῷ πνεύματι τὸ ἐγκάρδιον πῦρ ἀναῤῥιπίζων͵ ἡ δὲ τοῖς σπλάγχνοις τὴν τροφὴν εἰσοικίζουσα.

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