End of the Year Health Advice: Harmonize the Body with Its Nature!

Hippocrates of Cos, Precepts 9                              

“With all of these things, a clear sign should emerge with the reality of the discipline if the doctor, as he treats someone well, does not hold back from these kinds of assurances, advising the sick not to weigh down their thoughts in their hurrying to reach the time of safety. For, we [doctors] should lead in those matters which contribute to health. A patient who has instructions, at least, will not wander too far.

For those who are sick can decline without assistance because of their painful state and give up on life. But one who takes the sick person by the hand, should he demonstrate the discoveries of the art, by preserving rather than altering nature, will fend off the present depression or inclement distrust. For the healthy human nature is one which has necessarily managed a kind of movement which is not alien but is especially fit to that body, accompanied by breath and heat and the flowing of fluids whereby everything is united in a manner of functioning and it all works combined well together, unless there is something missing from the birth or from an early period of life. If there is something possible when a patient is wasting away, try to harmonize the body with its underlying nature. For such wasting over time is unnatural.”

Μετὰ τούτων δὲ πάντων μέγα ἂν τεκμήριον φανείη σὺν τῇ οὐσίῃ τῆς τέχνης, εἴ τις καλῶς ἰητρεύων προσαγορεύσιος τοιαύτης μὴ ἀποσταίη, κελεύων τοῖσι νοσέουσι μηδὲν ὀχλεῖσθαι κατὰ διάνοιαν ἐν τῷ σπεύδειν ἀφικέσθαι ἐς καιρὸν σωτηρίης· ἡγεύμεθα γὰρ ἃ χρὴ ἐς τὴν ὑγιείην. καὶ προστασσόμενός γε οὐ διαμαρτήσει· αὐτοὶ μὲν γὰρ οἱ νοσέοντες διὰ τὴν ἀλγεινὴν διάθεσιν ἀπαυδέοντες ἑωυτούς τε . . . μεταλλάσσουσι ῆς ζωῆς· ὁ δ᾿ ἐγκεχειρισμένος τὸν νοσέοντα, ἢν ἀποδείξῃ τὰ τῆς τέχνης ἐξευρήματα, σῴζων οὐκ ἀλλοιῶν φύσιν, ἀποίσει τὴν παρεοῦσαν <ἀθυμίην> ἢ τὴν παραυτίκα ἀπιστίην. ἡ γὰρ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου εὐεξίη φύσις τίς ἐστι φύσει περιπεποιημένη κίνησιν οὐκ ἀλλοτρίην, ἀλλὰ λίην γε εὐαρμοστεῦσαν, πνεύματί τε καὶ θερμασίῃ καὶ χυμῶν κατεργασίῃ, πάντη τε καὶ πάσῃ διαίτῃ καὶ τοῖσι σύμπασι δεδημιουργημένη, ἢν μή τι ἐκ γενετῆς ἢ ἀπ᾿ ἀρχῆς ἔλλειμα ᾖ· ἢν γένηταί τι, ἐξιτήλου ἐόντος, πειρᾶσθαι ἐξομοιοῦν τῇ ὑποκειμένῃ· παρὰ γὰρ φύσιν τὸ μινύθημα καὶ διὰ χρόνου.

Zodiac Man, Germany, 15th century
British Library MS Arundel 251,  f. 46

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