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Three Millennia of Greek Literature
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Plato's TIMAEUS : Diseases of the body

Timaeus 81e - 86a  * Greek Fonts


Page 3

Again, the substance which is formed by the liquefaction of new and tender flesh when air is present, if inflated and encased in liquid so as to form bubbles, which separately are invisible owing to their small size, but when collected are of a bulk which is visible, and have a white colour arising out of the generation of foam-all this decomposition of tender flesh when inter-mingled with air is termed by us white phlegm. And the whey or sediment of newly-formed phlegm is sweat and tears, and includes the various daily discharges by which the body is purified. Now all these become causes of disease when the blood is not replenished in a natural manner by food and drink but gains bulk from opposite sources in violation of the laws of nature. When the several parts of the flesh are separated by disease, if the foundation remains, the power of the disorder is only half as great, and there is still a prospect of an easy recovery; but when that which binds the flesh to the bones is diseased, and no longer being separated from the muscles and sinews, ceases to give nourishment to the bone and to unite flesh and bone, and from being oily and smooth and glutinous becomes rough and salt and dry, owing to bad regimen, then all the substance thus corrupted crumbles away under the flesh and the sinews, and separates from the bone, and the fleshy parts fall away from their foundation and leave the sinews bare and full of brine, and the flesh again gets into the circulation of the blood and makes the previously-mentioned disorders still greater. And if these bodily affections be severe, still worse are the prior disorders; as when the bone itself, by reason of the density of the flesh, does not obtain sufficient air, but becomes mouldy and hot and gangrened and receives no nutriment, and the natural process is inverted, and the bone crumbling passes into the food, and the food into the flesh, and the flesh again falling into the blood makes all maladies that may occur more virulent than those already mentioned. But the worst case of all is when the marrow is diseased, either from excess or defect; and this is the cause of the very greatest and most fatal disorders, in which the whole course of the body is reversed.

τὸ δ΄ αὖ μετ΄ ἀέρος τηκόμενον ἐκ νέας καὶ ἁπαλῆς σαρκός͵ [83d] τούτου δὲ ἀνεμωθέντος καὶ συμπεριληφθέντος ὑπὸ ὑγρότητος͵ καὶ πομφολύγων συστασῶν ἐκ τοῦ πάθους τούτου καθ΄ ἑκάστην μὲν ἀοράτων διὰ σμικρότητα͵ συναπασῶν δὲ τὸν ὄγκον παρεχομένων ὁρατόν͵ χρῶμα ἐχουσῶν διὰ τὴν τοῦ ἀφροῦ γένεσιν ἰδεῖν λευκόν͵ ταύτην πᾶσαν τηκεδόνα ἁπαλῆς σαρκὸς μετὰ πνεύματος συμπλακεῖσαν λευκὸν εἶναι φλέγμα φαμέν. φλέγματος δὲ αὖ νέου συνισταμένου ὀρὸς ἱδρὼς καὶ δάκρυον͵ [83e] ὅσα τε ἄλλα τοιαῦτα σώματα τὸ καθ΄ ἡμέραν χεῖται καθαιρόμενα· καὶ ταῦτα μὲν δὴ πάντα νόσων ὄργανα γέγονεν͵ ὅταν αἷμα μὴ ἐκ τῶν σιτίων καὶ ποτῶν πληθύσῃ κατὰ φύσιν͵ ἀλλ΄ ἐξ ἐναντίων τὸν ὄγκον παρὰ τοὺς τῆς φύσεως λαμβάνῃ νόμους. διακρινομένης μὲν οὖν ὑπὸ νόσων τῆς σαρκὸς ἑκάστης͵ μενόντων δὲ τῶν πυθμένων αὐταῖς ἡμίσεια τῆς συμφορᾶς ἡ δύναμιςἀνάληψιν γὰρ ἔτι μετ΄ εὐπετείας ἴσχει [84a] τὸ δὲ δὴ σάρκας ὀστοῖς συνδοῦν ὁπότ΄ ἂν νοσήσῃ͵ καὶ μηκέτι αὐτὸ ἐξ ἰνῶν αἷμα καὶ νεύρων ἀποχωριζόμενον ὀστῷ μὲν τροφή͵ σαρκὶ δὲ πρὸς ὀστοῦν γίγνηται δεσμός͵ ἀλλ΄ ἐκ λιπαροῦ καὶ λείου καὶ γλίσχρου τραχὺ καὶ ἁλμυρὸν αὐχ μῆσαν ὑπὸ κακῆς διαίτης γένηται͵ τότε ταῦτα πάσχον πᾶν τὸ τοιοῦτον καταψήχεται μὲν αὐτὸ πάλιν ὑπὸ τὰς σάρκας καὶ τὰ νεῦρα͵ ἀφιστάμενον ἀπὸ τῶν ὀστῶν͵ [84b] αἱ δ΄ ἐκ τῶν ῥιζῶν συνεκπίπτουσαι τά τε νεῦρα γυμνὰ καταλείπουσι καὶ μεστὰ ἅλμης· αὐταὶ δὲ πάλιν εἰς τὴν αἵματος φορὰν ἐμπεσοῦσαι τὰ πρόσθεν ῥηθέντα νοσήματα πλείω ποιοῦσιν. χαλεπῶν δὲ τούτων περὶ τὰ σώματα παθημάτων γιγνομένων μείζω ἔτι γίγνεται τὰ πρὸ τούτων͵ ὅταν ὀστοῦν διὰ πυκνότητα σαρκὸς ἀναπνοὴν μὴ λαμβάνον ἱκανήν͵ ὑπ΄ εὐρῶτος θερμαινόμενον͵ σφακελίσαν μήτε τὴν τροφὴν καταδέχηται [84c] πάλιν τε αὐτὸ εἰς ἐκείνην ἐναντίως ἴῃ ψηχόμενον͵ ἡ δ΄ εἰς σάρκας͵ σὰρξ δὲ εἰς αἷμα ἐμπίπτουσα τραχύτερα πάντα τῶν πρόσθεν τὰ νοσήματα ἀπεργάζηται· τὸ δ΄ ἔσχατον πάντων͵ ὅταν ἡ τοῦ μυελοῦ φύσις ἀπ΄ ἐνδείας ἤ τινος ὑπερβολῆς νοσήσῃ͵ τὰ μέγιστα καὶ κυριώτατα πρὸς θάνατον τῶν νοσημάτων ἀποτελεῖ͵ πάσης ἀνάπαλιν τῆς τοῦ σώματος φύσεως ἐξ ἀνάγκης ῥυείσης.

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