Certainty, Hope, and Cures for Disease

Hippocrates of Cos, Nature of Man 13

“However many diseases develop quickly and whose causes are well-known turn out to be those whose progression can be foretold most certainly. The patient needs to provide their own cure by taking action against the cause of the disease. This is the way to remove what exposes the body to disease.”

Ὅσα τῶν νοσημάτων ἐξ ὀλίγου γίνεται, καὶ ὅσων αἱ προφάσιες εὔγνωστοι, ταῦτα δὲ ἀσφαλέστατά ἐστι προαγορεύεσθαι· τὴν δὲ ἴησιν χρὴ ποιεῖσθαι αὐτὸν ἐναντιούμενον τῇ προφάσει τῆς νούσου· οὕτω γὰρ ἂν λύοιτο τὸ τὴν νοῦσον παρασχὸν ἐν τῷ σώματι.


Cicero, De Senectute 69

“But the young person hopes to live for a long time, a very hope which the old person cannot hold. They hope unwisely for what is more foolish than to take uncertainty for certainty and falsehood for truth. They claim also that the old person has nothing to hope for. But the elderly are in a better place than the young because the young merely hope for what the elderly have obtained and the one wishes to live long, while the other has already done so.”

At sperat adulescens diu se victurum, quod sperare idem senex non potest. Insipienter sperat; quid enim stultius quam incerta pro certis habere, falsa pro veris? At senex ne quod speret quidem habet. At est eo meliore condicione quam adulescens, quoniam id quod ille sperat hic consecutus est: ille volt diu vivere, hic diu vixit.

Edinburgh. St. Cuthbert’s Churchyard. Grave of James Bailie.

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