Hard to Diagnose, Like Rabies

Galen, Constitution of the art of medicine 297k

“Certainly, whenever there is some mass or malignancy of humors or a blockage or some wasting force invades the body, there is a danger previously absent that a person will get sick and there are times when this risk is severe. These types of causes are hard to diagnose because the person doesn’t feel any pain yet.

This is like the infection from a rabid dog: there’s no particular sign in the body before the person afflicted comes near madness. These kinds of causes make it necessary, therefore, that the doctor inquire from patients about everything that happened to them.”

ὅταν γὰρ ἤτοι πλῆθός τι χυμῶν ἢ φαυλότης ἢ ἔμφραξις ἢ φθαρτικὴ δύναμις ἐγγίνηται τῷ σώματι, κίνδυνός ἐστιν ὅσον οὔπω νοσῆσαι τὸν ἄνθρωπον, ἔσθ’ ὅτε δὲ καὶ κινδυνεῦσαι τὰ ἔσχατα. δυσδιάγνωστα δ’ ἐστὶ τὰ τοιαῦτα τῶν αἰτίων ὡς ἂν μηδέπω λυποῦντα τὸν ἄνθρωπον. ὥσπερ ἀμέλει καὶ ὁ τοῦ λυττῶντος κυνὸς ἰός, οὗ σημεῖον ἴδιον οὐδέν ἐστιν ἐν τῷ σώματι περιεχόμενον πρὶν ἐγγὺς ἥκειν λύττης τὸν δηχθέντα· καὶ δὴ καὶ πυνθάνεσθαι τῶν τοιούτων αἰτιῶν ἀναγκαῖόν ἐστιν τὸν ἰατρὸν αὐτῶν τῶν πασχόντων ὑπὲρ τῶν | συμπεσόντων αὐτοῖς ἀπάντων.

Bibliothèque Nationale de France, lat. 3630, Folio 81v

Think You’re Done with that Pee? Wait, There’s More!

Marcus Cato, On Agriculture 157.10-11

“Wait, there’s more: save the urine of someone who eats cabbage all the time, warm it, bathe your patient in it, you will heal them! This has been tested. As a bonus, if you wash a babies in this urine, they will never be unhealthy. If someone’s eyes are a little weak, work that potion into them and they will see more! Head pain or neck pain will also lessen when treated with re-heated urine.

If a woman heats her private parts with this urine, they will suffer no disease. Here’s what you do: warm the urine in a pain and place it on a chair with a cut-out cushion. Have the woman sit on it; cover her; and put clothes over her.”

Et hoc amplius lotium conservato eius qui brassicam essitarit, id calfacito, eo hominem demittito, cito sanum facies hac cura; expertum hoc est. Item pueros pusillos si laves eo lotio, numquam debiles fient. Et quibus oculi parum clari sunt, eo lotio inunguito, plus videbunt.

Si caput aut cervices dolent, eo lotio caldo lavito, desinent dolere. Et si mulier eo lotio locos fovebit, numquam miseri fient, et fovere sic oportet: ubi in scutra fervefeceris, sub sellam supponito pertusam. Eo mulier adsidat, operito, circum vestimenta eam dato.

Forget Plagues, Running Can Kill You!

Hippocrates of Cos, Epidemics 48

“A young man who had run on a rough road developed pain in his heel, especially close to the bottom. The area did not permit any draining of liquid because it was still producing moisture. On the fourth day, after his run, the whole area started turning dark right up to the joint of the ankle and below to the arch of the foot. It did not break out completely, instead he died first. He lived twenty full days after his run.”

Νεηνίσκος ὁδὸν τρηχείην τροχάσας ἤλγει τὴν πτέρνην, μάλιστα τὸ κάτω μέρος, ἀπόστασιν δὲ ὁ τόπος οὐκ ἐλάμβανεν οὐδεμίαν ὡς ξυνάγων ὑγρόν. ἀλλὰ τεταρταίῳ τε ἐόντι αὐτῷ ἐμελαίνετο πᾶς ὁ τόπος ἄχρι τοῦ ἀστραγάλου καλεομένου καὶ τοῦ κοίλου τοῦ κατὰ τὸ στῆθος τοῦ ποδός, καὶ τὸ μελανθὲν οὐ περιερράγη, ἀλλὰ πρότερον ἐτελεύτα· τὰς πάσας δὲ ἐβίου ἡμέρας εἴκοσιν ἀπὸ τοῦ δρόμου.

File:Greek vase with runners at the panathenaic games 530 bC.jpg
These men are running to their doom. A vase for the Panathenaic games

Hippocrates’ Cutting Edge Women’s Health for the Supreme Court

Hippocrates, On Girls

“Blood returns only slowly from the heart and mind because the veins there are transverse and the place is really important and is inclined toward madness and anger. Whenever these parts are filled, a wandering shiver moves about with a fever. When the situation is like this, a woman goes into a rage because of the inflammation. She wants to murder because of the rotting. And because of the depression, she is frightened and afraid. The compression around the heart cause them to want to self-harm and because of the evil state of the blood, her mind is sad and sorrowful and longs for evil.

She also names weird and frightening things that push women to leap or to throw themselves in wells or hang themselves. Even when there are no visions, there’s some strange pleasure that makes her long for death as if it is a kind of good thing. When a woman is sensible again, women will dedicate many different things to Artemis, including really expensive women’s cloaks all because they are tricked by prophets.

Relief from this disease comes whenever there is nothing impeding the flow of blood. I tell young women who are suffering this kind of thing to live with a man as soon as possible, since, if they are pregnant, they become healthy. Otherwise, a girl will be overtaken by this disease or another in puberty or a little latter on.  Barren married women sometimes suffer these things.”

ἐκ δὲ τῆς καρδίης καὶ τῶν φρενῶν βραδέως παλιρροεῖ· ἐπικάρσιαι γὰρ αἱ φλέβες καὶ ὁ τόπος ἐπίκαιρος ἔς τε παραφροσύνην καὶ μανίην ἕτοιμος. ὁπόταν γὰρ πληρωθέωσι ταῦτα τὰ μέρεα, καὶ φρίκη ξὺν πυρετῷ ἀναΐσσει πλανήτης. ἐχόντων δὲ τούτων ὧδε, ὑπὸ μὲν τῆς ὀξυφλεγμασίης μαίνεται, ὑπὸ δὲ τῆς σηπεδόνος φονᾷ, ὑπὸ δὲ τοῦ ζοφεροῦ φοβέεται καὶ δέδοικεν, ὑπὸ δὲ τῆς περὶ τὴν καρδίην πιέξιος ἀγχόνας κραίνουσιν, ὑπὸ δὲ τῆς κακίης τοῦ αἵματος ἀλύων καὶ ἀδημονέων ὁ θυμὸς κακὸν ἐφέλκεται.

ἕτερον δὲ καὶ φοβερὰ ὀνομάζει· καὶ κελεύουσιν ἅλλεσθαι καὶ καταπίπτειν ἐς φρέατα ἢ ἄγχεσθαι, ἅτε ἀμείνονά τε ἐόντα καὶ χρείην ἔχοντα παντοίην. ὁκότε δὲ ἄνευ φαντασμάτων, ἡδονή τις ἀφ᾿ ἧς ἐρᾷ τοῦ θανάτου ὥσπερ τινὸς ἀγαθοῦ. φρονεούσης δὲ τῆς ἀνθρώπου, τῇ Ἀρτέμιδι αἱ γυναῖκες ἄλλα τε πολλὰ καὶ τὰ ἱμάτια τὰ πολυτελέστατα καθιεροῦσι τῶν γυναικείων, κελευόντων τῶν μάντεων ἐξαπατεώμεναι. ἡ δὲ τῆσδε ἀπαλλαγή, ὁκόταν μὴ ἐμποδίζῃ τι τοῦ αἵματος τὴν ἀπόρρυσιν. κελεύω δὴ τὰς παρθένους, ὁκόταν τι τοιοῦτο πάσχωσιν, ὡς τάχιστα ξυνοικῆσαι ἀνδράσιν· ἢν γὰρ κυήσωσιν, ὑγιέες γίνονται.  εἰ δὲ μή, ἢ εὐθέως ἅμα τῇ ἥβῃ ἢ ὀλίγον ὕστερον ἁλώσεται, εἴπερ μὴ ἑτέρῃ νούσῳ. τῶν δὲ ἠνδρωμένων γυναικῶν στεῖραι ταῦτα πάσχουσιν.

Hippocrates sticks to this logic elsewhere too.

Joseph Mallord William Turner – Vision of Medea, 1828

Writing about the Cause of Madness

Pseudo-Hippocrates. Epist. 17 9.352, 354, 356 

“When I [Hippocrates] was near [Democritus], he happened to be writing something eagerly and forcefully when I arrived. So I said. “First, tell me what you are writing about.” And, after he paused for a bit, said “madness.”

So I said, “But what are you writing about madness?” He responded, “What would I write except what it may be, how it afflicts human beings, and in what way it may be treated. This is why,” he continued, “I cut up all these animals you are looking at. It is not because I hate god’s works, but because I am researching the nature and the function of the bile.

For you know that the bile is the cause of madness in humans most of the time, since it appears naturally in most people, even though some have less of it and others have more. Illnesses emerge from an unbalanced amount, implying that the material is sometimes helpful and sometimes harmful.”

I added, “By Zeus, Democritus, you are speaking truthfully and prudently and this is why I think you are blessed for having achieving such a sense of peace. This has certainly not been allotted to me.”

Then he asked, “Why, Hippocrates, has it not?” I responded, “Because fields, my home, children, debts, illnesses, deaths, servants, marriages and all these kinds of things cut off any chance for it.”

At this, that man fell into his customary behavior—he laughed deeply and mocked me and then was silent for the rest of the time.”

ἐπεὶ δὲ ἐπλησίαζον, ἔτυχεν ὅτε ἐπῆλθον αὐτέῳ, τι1 δή ποτε γράφων ἐνθουσιωδῶς καὶ μεθ’ ὁρμῆς. [. . .]

[ΙΠ.] “καὶ πρῶτόν γε τί τοῦτο τυγχάνεις γράφων φράζε.” [. . .]

ὁ δ᾽ ἐπισχὼν ὀλίγον, “περὶ μανίης,” ἔφη. [. . .]

[ΙΠ.] “ἀλλὰ τί περὶ μανίης γράφεις;”

“τί γάρ,” εἶπεν, “ἄλλο, πλὴν ἥτις τε εἴη, καὶ ὅκως ἀνθρώποισιν ἐγγίνεται, καὶ τίνα τρόπον ἀπολωφέοιτο· τά τε γὰρ ζῷα ταῦτα ὁκόσα, ἔφη, ὁρῇς, τουτέου μέντοι γε ἀνατέμνω εἵνεκα, οὐ μισέων θεοῦ ἔργα, χολῆς δὲ διζήμενος φύσιν καὶ θέσιν· οἶσθα γὰρ ἀνθρώπων παρακοπῆς ὡς αἰτίη ἐπιτοπολὺ αὕτη πλεονάσασα, ἐπεὶ πᾶσι μὲν φύσει ἐνυπάρχει, ἀλλὰ παρ’ οἷς μὲν ἔλαττον, παρ’ οἷς δέ τι πλέον· ἡ δ’ ἀμετρίη αὐτέης νοῦσοι τυγχάνουσιν, ὡς ὕλης ὅτε μὲν ἀγαθῆς, ὁτὲ δὲ φαύλης ὑποκειμένης.”

κἀγὼ, “νὴ Δία,” ἔφην, “ὦ Δημόκριτε, ἀληθέως γε καὶ φρονίμως λέγεις, ὅθεν εὐδαίμονά σε κρίνω τοσαύτης ἀπολαύοντα ἡσυχίης· ἡμῖν δὲ μετέχειν ταύτης οὐκ ἐπιτέτραπται.”

ἐρεομένου δὲ “διὰ τί, ὦ Ἱππόκρατες, οὐκ ἐπιτέτραπται;” “ὅτι,” ἔφην, “ἢ ἀγροὶ ἢ οἰκίη ἢ τέκνα ἢ δάνεια ἢ νοῦσοι ἢ θάνατοι ἢ δμῶες ἢ γάμοι ἢ τοιαῦτά τινα τὴν εὐκαιρίην ὑποτάμνεται.” ἐνταῦθα δὴ ὁ ἀνὴρ εἰς τὸ εἰωθὸς πάθος κατηνέχθη, καὶ μάλα ἀθρόον τι ἀνεκάγχασε, καὶ ἐπετώθασε, καὶ τὸ λοιπὸν ἡσυχίην ἦγεν.

Dosso Dossi, 1540

Have You Tried Stabbing the Coronavirus?

Pliny the Elder, Natural History 34.151

“There are other medicinal applications of iron beyond surgery. For when a circle is drawn around both adults and infants—or of they carry a sharp iron weapon with them—it is useful against poisonous drugs. Iron nails which have been taken out of tombs are useful protections against nightmares if they are hammered down before a threshold.

A small penetration with an iron weapon which has wounded a man is effective against sudden side and chest pains. Some afflictions are treated by cauterization, especially true for the bite of a rabid dog, since even when the disease has advanced and those afflicted are starting to exhibit fear of water, they experience relief at cauterization. The drinking of water which has been heated with burning iron is good for many symptoms, but especially for dysentery.”

XLIV. Medicina e ferro est et alia quam secandi. namque et circumscribi circulo terve circumlato mucrone et adultis et infantibus prodest contra noxia medicamenta, et praefixisse in limine evulsos sepulchris clavos adversus nocturnas lymphationes, pungique leviter mucrone, quo percussus homo sit, contra dolores laterum pectorumque subitos, qui punctionem adferant. quaedam ustione sanantur, privatim vero canis rabidi morsus, quippe etiam praevalente morbo expaventesque potum usta plaga ilico liberantur. calfit etiam ferro candente potus in multis vitiis, privatim vero dysentericis.

Bodleian Library, MS. Ashmole 1462, Folio 16r

Some Exercise Advice for the Ancient Beach Body

Celsus, 1.2.5-7

“Whether domestic or civic duties occupy you, keep some time of the day for caring for the body. The chief way of caring for the body is exercise and it should always be done before eating. The work should be greater for one who has labored less and digested well and less for one who is tired and has not digested.

Good exercises include reading aloud, drilling, playing ball, running, walking. The last is not the most useful on a level road, since going up or down moves the body with a variety, unless the body is completely weak. It is better to walk out in the open than under a roof. And it is also better, should your head endure it, to walk in the sun instead of the shade. But better still in the shade than under a roof and better a straight than an indirect walk.

The end of exercise, moreover, should come with sweat or some bit of tiring which should still be on this side of fatigue. Sometimes more and sometimes less needs to be done. But one should not follow the model of athletes with their fixed rule and excessive workout.”

Quem interdiu vel domestica vel civilia officia tenuerunt, huic tempus aliquod servandum curationi corporis sui est. Prima autem eius curatio exercitatio est, quae semper antecedere cibum debet, in eo, qui minus laboravit et bene concoxit, amplior; in eo, qui fatigatus est et minus concoxit, remissior.

Commode vero exercent clara lectio, arma, pila, cursus, ambulatio, atque haec non utique plana commodior est, siquidem melius ascensus quoque et descensus cum quadam varietate corpus moveat, nisi tamen id perquam inbecillum est: melior autem est sub divo quam in porticu; melior, si caput patitur, in sole quam in umbra, melior in umbra quam paries aut viridia efficiunt, quam quae tecto subest; melior recta quam flexuosa. Exercitationis autem plerumque finis esse debet sudor aut certe lassitudo, quae citra fatigationem sit, idque ipsum modo minus, modo magis faciendum est. Ac ne his quidem athletarum exemplo vel certa esse lex vel inmodicus labor debet.

Hippocrates, Regimen 2 61

“I will now explore what kind of impact exercises have. For some are natural and some are pretty violent. Natural exercise deals with sight, hearing, voice, and thinking. The power of sight is like this. The soul, when it attends to what can be seen, moves and warms. As it warms it dries because the moisture is extracted. In hearing, when sound strikes, the soul shakes and works and as it exercises, it turns warm and dries.

A person’s soul is moved by however many thoughts it has and it also warms and is dried and it spends its moisture as it works—it can empty the flesh and make a person thin. Whenever people exercise their voice either in speaking, reading or singing, all these things move the soul. When it is moved, it warms and dries and uses up the moisture.”

Περὶ δὲ τῶν πόνων ἥντινα ἔχουσι δύναμιν διηγήσομαι. εἰσὶ γὰρ οἱ μὲν κατὰ φύσιν, οἱ δὲ διὰ βίης· οἱ μὲν οὖν κατὰ φύσιν αὐτῶν εἰσιν ὄψιος πόνος, ἀκοῆς, φωνῆς, μερίμνης. ὄψιος μὲν οὖν δύναμις τοιήδε· προσέχουσα ἡ ψυχὴ τῷ ὁρατῷ κινεῖται καὶ θερμαίνεται· θερμαινομένη δὲ ξηραίνεται, κεκενωμένου τοῦ ὑγροῦ. διὰ δὲ τῆς ἀκοῆς ἐσπίπτοντος τοῦ ψόφου σείεται ἡ ψυχὴ καὶ πονεῖ, πονέουσα δὲ θερμαίνεται καὶ ξηραίνεται. ὅσα μεριμνᾷ ἄνθρωπος, κινεῖται ἡ ψυχὴ ὑπὸ τούτων καὶ θερμαίνεται καὶ ξηραίνεται, καὶ τὸ ὑγρὸν καταναλίσκουσα πονεῖ, καὶ κενοῖ τὰς σάρκας, καὶ λεπτύνει τὸν ἄνθρωπον. ὁκόσοι δὲ πόνοι φωνῆς, ἢ λέξιες ἢ ἀναγνώσιες ἢ ᾠδαί, πάντες οὗτοι κινέουσι τὴν ψυχήν· κινεομένη δὲ θερμαίνεται καὶ ξηραίνεται, καὶ τὸ ὑγρὸν καταναλίσκει

Bikini Mosaic
Villa Romana del Casale

Pliny’s Slightly Less Stupid Treatments for Sickness

Pliny the Elder Natural History, 28.33

“The treatment is for their hands to be washed in water first and then for that water to be sprinkled on patients. However, those who are struck at some point by a scorpion are never attacked again by wasps and bees. Someone who knows that clothes worn at a funeral are never touched by moths or that snakes are only with great labor pulled out out of their holes except by the left hand will not be shocked by this.

Of the discoveries of Pythagoras, this will not prove false: an unequal number of vowels foretells lameness, blindness, or some similar disability on the right side; an even number predicts this on the left. People claim that a difficult birth labor will result in an immediate delivery if a stone or a missile which has killed three animals with a single strike (a human, a boar and a bear) is thrown over the home containing the pregnant woman. This is done with more success with a spear that has been pulled from a human body and has not touched the ground. This works the same if the spear is carried inside.”

remedio est ablui prius manus eorum aquaque illa eos quibus medearis inspergi. rursus a scorpione aliquando percussi numquam postea a crabronibus, vespis apibusve feriuntur. minus miretur hoc qui sciat vestem a tineis non attingi quae fuerit in funere, serpentes aegre praeterquam laeva manu extrahi. e Pythagorae inventis non temere fallere, inpositivorum nominum inparem vocalium numerum clauditates oculive orbitatem ac similes casus dextris adsignare partibus, parem laevis. ferunt difficiles partus statim solvi, cum quis tectum in quo sit gravida transmiserit lapide vel missili ex his qui tria animalia singulis ictibus interfecerint, hominem, aprum,  ursum. probabilius id facit hasta velitaris evulsa corpori hominis, si terram non attigerit. eosdem enim inlata effectus habet.

Image result for medieval manuscript pliny natural history
From Arundel_ms_98_f085v

Another Reason to Be Cautious When Drinking

Hippocrates, Epidemics 5.86

“A young man who had drunk too much unmixed wine was sleeping on his back in a tent. A bright snake entered his mouth. When he felt it, and he couldn’t imagine what to do, he clamped his teeth down and bit off the snake. Then he was overcome by a severe pain and put his hands up as if he was choking and thrashed around. He had seizures and died.”

  1. Νεηνίσκος δέ τις πολὺν ἄκρητον πεπωκὼς ὕπτιος ἐκάθευδεν ἔν τινι σκηνῇ· τούτῳ ὄφις ἐς τὸ στόμα παρεισεδύετο ἀργής. καὶ δὴ ὅτε ᾔσθετο, οὐ δυνάμενος φράσασθαι, ἔβρυξε τοὺς ὀδόντας, καὶ παρέτραγε τοῦ ὄφιος, καὶ ἀλγηδόνι μεγάλῃ εἴχετο, καὶ τὰς χεῖρας προσέφερεν ὡς ἀγχόμενος, καὶ ἐρρίπτει ἑωυτόν, καὶ σπασθεὶς ἔθανεν.

Medieval Bestiary : Snake Gallery
From the Medieval Bestiary and the British Library

Fear of Flute-girls and Heights: Some Physician’s Notes

Hippocrates, Epidemics 5

“Whenever he went to a drinking party, Nikanor was afflicted with fear of the flute girl. Whenever she began playing the flute and he would hear it in the Symposium, he would be filled with anxiety. He said he could scarcely endure it whenever it was night. But during the day time, he was not scared off by hearing it. These kinds of reactions lasted a very long time.”

“Democles, who was his companion, used to seem blind and weak in his body. He was not able to walk along a cliff or on a bridge to cross over even a smallest depth of a ditch. But he was capable of crossing the ditch itself. This impacted him for a great amount of time.”

  1. Τὸ Νικάνορος πάθος, ὁπότε ἐς ποτὸν ὁρμῷτο, φόβος τῆς αὐλητρίδος· ὁκότε φωνῆς αὐλοῦ ἀρχομένης ἀκούσειεν αὐλεῖν ἐν ξυμποσίῳ, ὑπὸ δειμάτων ὄχλοι· μόγις ὑπομένειν ἔφη, ὅτε εἴη νύξ· ἡμέρης δὲ ἀκούων οὐδὲν διετρέπετο· τοιαῦτα παρείπετο συχνὸν χρόνον.
  2. Δημοκλῆς ὁ μετ᾿ ἐκείνου ἀμβλυώσσειν καὶ λυσισωματεῖν ἐδόκει, καὶ οὐκ ἂν παρῆλθε παρὰ κρημνὸν οὐδὲ ἐπὶ γεφύρης οὐδὲ τοὐλάχιστον βάθος τάφρου διαπορεύεσθαι, ἀλλὰ δι᾿ αὐτῆς τῆς τάφρου οἷος ἦν· τοῦτο χρόνον τινὰ ξυνέβη αὐτῷ.

 

Image result for medieval manuscript fear of heights
There is a lot to be afraid of….