Medically Mad or Just Thinking Bad? Early Greek on Being Crazy

Aristophanes, Assemblywomen, 248-253

[First Woman]: But what if Kephalos attacks you with abuse—
How will you response to him in the assembly?

[Praksagora]: I will say he’s out of his mind [paraphronein]

[First Woman]: but everyone knows this!

[Praksagora]: then I will also call him psychopathic [lit. ‘black-biled’=melancholic].

[First Woman]: They know this too.

[Praksagora]: But I will add that he produces terrible ceramics and will then do a fine job of doing the same to the city.

ἀτὰρ ἢν Κέφαλός σοι λοιδορῆται προσφθαρείς,
πῶς ἀντερεῖς πρὸς αὐτὸν ἐν τἠκκλησίᾳ;
ΠΡΑΞΑΓΟΡΑ φήσω παραφρονεῖν αὐτόν.
ΓΥΝΗ Α …ἀλλὰ τοῦτό γε
ἴσασι πάντες.
ΠΡΑΞΑΓΟΡΑ ἀλλὰ καὶ μελαγχολᾶν.
ΓΥΝΗ Α καὶ τοῦτ᾿ ἴσασιν.
ΠΡΑΞΑΓΟΡΑἀλλὰ καὶ τὰ τρύβλια
κακῶς κεραμεύειν, τὴν δὲ πόλιν εὖ καὶ καλῶς.

Melancholy here contrasts with “thinking -wrongly” (paraphronein). A scholion to another play by Aristophanes glosses the realms of these types of mental maladies (Schol. ad Plut. 11a ex 20-28)

“He seems to say this because he harmed or helped his master through his own virtue more—and while he disturbed him through prophecy, he made him crazy [melankholan] through medicine and took away his ability to think [phronein] through wisdom, which is the art of thinking. The servant lies. For he does not speak the truth….”

…τοῦτο οὖν
ἔοικε λέγειν, ὅτι διὰ τῶν ἑαυτοῦ
μᾶλλον ἀρετῶν ἔβλαψε τὸν δεσπότην
ἤπερ ὠφέλησε, καὶ διὰ μὲν τῆς
μαντείας ἐτάραξε, διὰ δὲ τῆς ἰατρι-
κῆς μελαγχολᾶν ἐποίησε, διὰ δὲ
τῆς σοφίας, ὅ ἐστι τῆς φρονήσεως,
τοῦ φρονεῖν αὐτὸν ἀφείλατο. ψεύδεται
ὁ δοῦλος· οὐ γὰρ ἀλήθειαν λέγει

Where melancholy denotes a physical ailment [i.e. biologically caused and treated], paraphrosunê indicates parafunctionality which may be treated without medicine.

μελαγχολάω: to be atrabilious, melancholy-mad.

μελαγχολία: atrabiliousness, melancholy, a disease [atual LSJ definition]

παραφροσύνη, ἡ:  wandering of mind, derangment, delirium

παραφρονέω: to be beside oneself, be deranged, or mad.

Lyrica Adespota, fr. 3.9-10

“Lust–that magician–takes me. It descends upon my mind
And makes me crazy!”

῎Ερως μ’ ἔλα]β’ ὁ γόης· εἰς τὴν ψυχήν μου εἰσπε-
σὼν [ποιεῖ μ]ε παραφρονεῖν.

Aristotle, Metaphysics 4.1009b

“In the same way, ‘truth’ concerning the way things appear has come to some people from their senses. They believe that it is right that truth should be judged neither by the multitude or the scarcity [of those who believe it]; and they believe that the same thing seems sweet to some who taste it and bitter to others with the result that if all men were sick or if they were all insane and two or three were healthy or in their right mind, wouldn’t it seem that these few were sick and crazy and not the rest?”

[1] —ὅμοιως δὲ καὶ ἡ περὶ τὰ φαινόμενα ἀλήθεια ἐνίοις ἐκ τῶν αἰσθητῶν ἐλήλυθεν. τὸ μὲν γὰρ ἀληθὲς οὐ πλήθει κρίνεσθαι οἴονται προσήκειν οὐδὲ ὀλιγότητι, τὸ δ᾽ αὐτὸ τοῖς μὲν γλυκὺ γευομένοις δοκεῖν εἶναι τοῖς δὲ πικρόν, ὥστ᾽ εἰ πάντες ἔκαμνον [5] ἢ πάντες παρεφρόνουν, δύο δ᾽ ἢ τρεῖς ὑγίαινον ἢ νοῦν εἶχον, δοκεῖν ἂν τούτους κάμνειν καὶ παραφρονεῖν τοὺς δ᾽ ἄλλους οὔ:

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Some Men’s Health Advice for the New Year

Celsus, On Medicine 4.7

“If a swelling develops in the testicles when they haven’t been struck, blood should be let from the ankle; the patient should fast; and the swelling should be treated with bean meal cooked in honeyed-wine or rubbed with cumin with boiled honey; or ground cumin with rose oil, or wheat flour with honey wine and cypress roots; or the root of a lily, pounded.

In testiculis vero si qua inflammatio sine ictu orta est, sanguis a talo mittendus est; a cibo abstinendum; inponenda ex faba farina eo ex mulso cocta cum cumino contrito et ex melle cocto; aut contritum cuminum cum cerato ex rosa facto; aut lini semen frictum, contritum et in mulso coctum; aut tritici farina ex mulso cocta cum cupresso; aut lilii radix contrita.

 

Pliny the Elder, Natural History 26.81

“Ebulum, when ground up with its tender leaves and drunk with wine, takes care of stones; when applied as a salve, it helps testicles. Erigeron, as well, when mixed with frankincense and sweet wine, relieves swollen testicles.”

ebulum teneris cum foliis tritum ex vino potum calculos pellit, inpositum testes sanat. erigeron quoque cum farina turis et vino dulci testium inflammationes sanat.

 

Pliny the Elder, Natural History 28.215

“They say that a goat’s dung is good for you with honey or vinegar, or just butter by itself. Testicular swelling can be treated  with veal suet mixed with soda, or by the calf’s dung reduced in vinegar.”

fimum etiam prodesse cum melle dicunt aut cum aceto et per se butyrum. testium tumor sebo vituli addito nitro cohibetur vel fimo eiusdem ex aceto decocto.

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Happy New Year: Hangover Poems and Cures

Crapulous: def. 2: Sick from excessive indulgence in liquor.

kraipale

From the Suda:

Kraipalê: The pounding that comes from drinking too much wine. We also have the participle “carousing” which is when someone acts poorly because of drinking, or just being drunk. It derives from the word “head” (kara) and “pound” (pallein). Or, it could also come from screwing up (sphallesthai) timely matters (kairiôn)

Κραιπάλη: ὁ ἐκ πολλῆς οἰνώσεως παλμός. καὶ Κραιπαλῶν, ἀντὶ τοῦ ἐκ μέθης ἀτακτοῦντα, μεθύοντα. ἀπὸ τοῦ κάρα πάλλειν τοὺς μεθύοντας. ἢ ἀπὸ τοῦ σφάλλεσθαι τῶν καιρίων.

Kraipalôdês: “Prone to drunkenness”: The ancients knew well the weaknesses of the spirit, weather it was a person who was prone to excessive drinking or a love-seeker who has his brain in his genitals.”

Κραιπαλώδης· τῆς ψυχῆς τὰ ἐλαττώματα κατηπίσταντο, εἴτε κραιπαλώδης τις εἴη καὶ μέθυσος εἴτε φιλήδονος καὶ ἐν τοῖς αἰδοίοις ἔχων τὸν ἐγκέφαλον.

Kraipalaikômos“Hangover-revel”: Metonymically, this a song that happens while drunk

Κραιπαλαίκωμος: μετωνυμικῶς ὁ κατὰ μέθην γινόμενος ὕμνος.

Image result for Ancient Greek puking vase

Alexis, fr. 287

“Yesterday you drank too much and now you’re hungover.
Take a nap—this will help it. Then let someone give you
Cabbage, boiled.”

ἐχθὲς ὑπέπινες, εἶτα νυνὶ κραιπαλᾷς.
κατανύστασον· παύσῃ γάρ. εἶτά σοι δότω
ῥάφανόν τις ἑφθήν.

Eubulus, fr. 124

“Woman, it’s because you think I am a cabbage that you’re trying
To give me your hangover. At least, that’s how it seems to me.”

γύναι,
ῥάφανόν με νομίσασ’ εἰς ἐμέ σου τὴν κραιπάλην
μέλλεις ἀφεῖναι πᾶσαν, ὡς ἐμοὶ δοκεῖς.

Nikokharês

“Tomorrow we will boil acorns instead of cabbage
To treat our hangover.”

εἰσαύριον .. ἀντὶ ῥαφάνων ἑψήσομεν
βαλάνιον, ἵνα νῷν ἐξάγῃ τὴν κραιπάλην.

Alexis, fr. 390

“If only we got hangovers before we drank
Then no one would ever drink more
Than is good for them. But now, because
We do not expect to escape drinking’s penalty,
We too eagerly drink unmixed wines”

εἰ τοῦ μεθύσκεσθαι πρότερον τὸ κραιπαλᾶν
παρεγίνεθ’ ἡμῖν, οὐδ’ ἂν εἷς οἶνόν ποτε
προσίετο πλείω τοῦ μετρίου. νυνὶ δὲ τὴν
τιμωρίαν οὐ προσδοκῶντες τῆς μέθης
ἥξειν προχείρως τοὺς ἀκράτους πίνομεν.

Sopater

“It is sweet for men to drink at dawn
Streams of honey when they are struck by thirst
Driven by the last night’s hangover”

νᾶμα μελισσῶν ἡδὺ μὲν ὄρθρου
καταβαυκαλίσαι τοῖς ὑπὸ πολλῆς
κραιπαλοβόσκου δίψης κατόχοις.

How to Cure a Hangover…

Aristotle, Problemata 873a-b

“Wine (being of a wet nature) stretches those who are slow and makes them quick, but it tends to restrain those who are quick already. On that account, some who are melancholic by nature become entirely dissipated in drunken stupors (kraipalais). Just as a bath can make those who are all bound up and stiff more readily able to move, so does it check those who are already movable and loose, so too does wine, which is like a bath for your innards, accomplish this same thing.

Why then does cabbage prevent drunkenness (kraipale)? Either because it has a sweet and purgative juice (and for this reason doctors use it to clean out the intestines), even though it is itself of a cold nature. Here is a proof: doctors use it against exceptionally bad cases of diarrhea, after preparing it by cooking it, removing the fiber, and freezing it. It happens in the case of those suffering from the effects of drunkenness (kraipalonton) that the cabbage juice draws the wet elements, which are full of wine and still undigested, down to their stomachs, while the body chills the rest which remains in the upper part of the stomach. Once it has been chilled, the rest of the moist element can be drawn into the bladder. Thus, when each of the wet elements has been separated through the body and chilled, people are likely to be relieved of their drunkenness (akraipaloi). For wine is wet and warm.”

καὶ ὁ οἶνος (ὑγρὸς γάρ ἐστι τὴν φύσιν) τοὺς μὲν βραδυτέρους ἐπιτείνει καὶ θάττους ποιεῖ, τοὺς δὲ θάττους ἐκλύει. διὸ ἔνιοι τῶν μελαγχολικῶν τῇ φύσει ἐν ταῖς κραιπάλαις ἐκλελυμένοι γίνονται πάμπαν. ὥσπερ γὰρ τὸ λουτρὸν τοὺς μὲν συνδεδεμένους τὸ σῶμα καὶ σκληροὺς εὐκινήτους ποιεῖ, τοὺς δὲ εὐκινήτους καὶ ὑγροὺς ἐκλύει, οὕτως ὁ οἶνος, ὥσπερ λούων τὰ ἐντός, ἀπεργάζεται τοῦτο.

Διὰ τί ἡ κράμβη παύει τὴν κραιπάλην; ἢ ὅτι τὸν  μὲν χυλὸν γλυκὺν καὶ ῥυπτικὸν ἔχει (διὸ καὶ κλύζουσιν αὐτῷ τὴν κοιλίαν οἱ ἰατροί), αὐτὴ δ’ ἐστὶ ψυχρά. σημεῖον δέ· πρὸς γὰρ τὰς σφοδρὰς διαρροίας χρῶνται αὐτῇ οἱ ἰατροί, ἕψοντες σφόδρα καὶ ἀποξυλίζοντες καὶ ψύχοντες. συμβαίνει δὴ τῶν κραιπαλώντων τὸν μὲν χυλὸν αὐτῆς εἰς τὴν κοιλίαν κατασπᾶν τὰ ἐν αὐτοῖς ὑγρά, οἰνηρὰ καὶ ἄπεπτα ὄντα, αὐτὴν δὲ ὑπολειπομένην ἐν τῇ ἄνω κοιλίᾳ ψύχειν τὸ σῶμα. ψυχομένου δὲ ὑγρὰ λεπτὰ συμβαίνει εἰς τὴν κύστιν φέρεσθαι. ὥστε κατ’ ἀμφότερα τῶν ὑγρῶν ἐκκρινομένων διὰ τοῦ σώματος, καὶ καταψυχομένου, εἰκότως ἀκραίπαλοι γίνονται· ὁ γὰρ οἶνος ὑγρὸς καὶ θερμός ἐστιν.

Hippocrates of Cos, Epidemics 2.30

“If someone has head pain from a hangover, have him drink a cup of unmixed wine. For different head pains, have the patient eat bread warm from unmixed wine.”

Ἢν ἐκ κραιπάλης κεφαλὴν ἀλγέῃ, οἴνου ἀκρήτου κοτύλην πιεῖν· ἢν δὲ ἄλλως κεφαλὴν ἀλγέῃ, ἄρτον ὡς θερμότατον ἐξ οἴνου ἀκρήτου ἐσθίειν.

Plutarch, Table-Talk 3 (652F)

“Those who are suffering bodily from drinking and being hungover can find relief from sleeping immediately, warmed with a cover. On the next day, they can be restored with a bath, a massage, and whatever food does not cause agitation but restores the warmth dispelled and lost from the body by wine.”

 ἰῶνταί γε μὴν τὰς περὶ τὸ σῶμα τῶν μεθυσκομένων καὶ κραιπαλώντων κακώσεις εὐθὺς μὲν ὡς ἔοικε περιστολῇ καὶ κατακλίσει συνθάλποντες, μεθ᾿ ἡμέραν δὲ λουτρῷ καὶ ἀλείμματι καὶ σιτίοις, ὅσα μὴ ταράττοντα τὸν ὄγχον ἅμα πράως ἀνακαλεῖται τὸ θερμὸν ὑπὸ τοῦ οἴνου διεσπασμένον καὶ πεφυγαδευμένον ἐκ τοῦ σώματος.

 Latin: crapula, from Grk. Kraipalê

Plautus, Rudens 585-590

“But why am I standing here, a sweating fool?
Maybe I should leave here for Venus’ temple to sleep off this hangover
I got because I drank more than I intended?
Neptune soaked us with the sea as if we were Greek wines
And he hoped to relieve us with salty-beverages.
Shit. What good are words?”

sed quid ego hic asto infelix uuidus?
quin abeo huc in Veneris fanum, ut edormiscam hanc crapulam,
quam potaui praeter animi quam lubuit sententiam?
quasi uinis Graecis Neptunus nobis suffudit mare,
itaque aluom prodi sperauit nobis salsis poculis;
quid opust uerbis?

Image result for Ancient Roman Drinking

Plautus, Stichus 226-230

“I am selling Greek moisturizers
And other ointments, hangover-cures
Little jokes, blandishments
And a sycophant’s confabulations.
I’ve got a rusting strigil, a reddish flask,
And a hollowed out follower to hide your trash in.”

uel unctiones Graecas sudatorias
uendo uel alias malacas, crapularias;
cauillationes, assentatiunculas,
ac periuratiunculas parasiticas;
robiginosam strigilim, ampullam rubidam,
parasitum inanem quo recondas reliquias.

 

Advice more useful the day before

John of Damascus, Sacra Parallela 96.161:

“When the membranes become full of the vapors which wine produces when it is vaporized, the head is stricken with unbearable pains. No longer can it stay upright upon the shoulders, but it constantly drops this way and that, slipping around upon its joints. But who would say such things to those stricken by wine? Their heads are heavy from drunkenness (kraipale), they nod off, they yawn, they see through a fog, and they feel nauseous. On that account, they do not listen to their teachers yelling out to them all of the time. Don’t get drunk on wine, in which there is profligacy. Therein lie trembling and weakness, the breath is beaten out by immoderate indulgence in wine, the nerves are slackened, and the entire mass of the body is put into disorder. “

῞Οταν γὰρ πλήρεις αἱ μένιγγες γίνωνται τῆς αἰθάλης, ἣν ὁ οἶνος ἐξατμιζόμενος ἀναφέρει, βάλλεται μὲν ὀδύναις ἀφορήτοις ἡ κεφαλή· μένειν δὲ ὀρθὴ ἐπὶ τῶν ὤμων μὴ δυναμένη, ἄλλοτε ἐπ’ ἄλληλα καταπίπτει, τοῖς σπονδύλοις ἐνολισθαίνουσα. ᾿Αλλὰ τίς εἴποι ταῦτα τοῖς οἰνοπλήκτοις; καρηβαροῦσι γὰρ ἐκ τῆς κραιπάλης, νυστάζουσι, χασμῶνται, ἀχλὺν βλέπουσιν, ναυτιῶσιν. Διὰ τοῦτο οὐκ ἀκούουσι τῶν διδασκάλων πολλαχόθεν αὐτοῖς ἐκβοώντων· Μὴ μεθύσκεσθε οἴνῳ, ἐν ᾧ ἐστιν ἀσωτία. ᾿Εντεῦθεν οἱ τρόμοι καὶ αἱ ἀσθένειαι, κοπτομένου αὐτοῖς τοῦ πνεύματος ὑπὸ τῆς ἀμετρίας τοῦ οἴνου, καὶ τῶν νεύρων λυομένων, ὁ κλόνος τῷ σύμπαντι ὄγκῳ τοῦ σώματος ἐπιγίνεται.

Physician’s Notes on a Depressed Patient

Hippocrates, Epidemics 7

“Bouts of depression and a longing for death afflicted Parmeniskos before too; but he was in turns touched by a sense of elation. Once, in Olynthos during the Autumn, he went to bed without a voice and rested, not even trying to begin speaking for some time. At other times, he spoke a bit, but then again went silent.

Sleep overcame him but then he would be awake, turning repeatedly in silence and delirium. His hand would go to his hypochondria as if he were in pain. Sometimes he would turn away and lie very still. He had a continuous fever but was breathing easily. He said afterwards that he knew who the people who entered were.

Sometimes, he would refuse the water they offered for a whole day and night; at other times, he would grab the pitcher and drink it all. He had urine as thick as a mule’s. But he was better by the 14th day.”

Παρμενίσκῳ καὶ πρότερον ἐνέπιπτον ἀθυμίαι καὶ ἵμερος ἀπαλλαγῆς βίου, ὁτὲ δὲ πάλιν εὐθυμίη. ἐν Ὀλύνθῳ δέ ποτε φθινοπώρου ἄφωνος κατέκειτο ἡσυχίην ἔχων, βραχύ τι ὅσον ἄρχεσθαι ἐπιχειρέων προσειπεῖν· ἤδη δέ τι καὶ διελέχθη, καὶ πάλιν ἄφωνος. ὕπνοι ἐνῆσαν, ὁτὲ δὲ ἀγρυπνίη, καὶ ῥιπτασμὸς μετὰ σιγῆς, καὶ ἀλυσμός, καὶ χεὶρ πρὸς ὑποχόνδρια ὡς ὀδυνωμένῳ· ὁτὲ δὲ ἀποστραφεὶς ἔκειτο ἡσυχίην ἄγων. ὁ πυρετὸς δὲ διατέλεος, καὶ εὔπνοος· ἔφη δὲ ὕστερον ἐπιγινώσκειν τοὺς ἐσιόντας· πιεῖν ὁτὲ μὲν ἡμέρης ὅλης καὶ νυκτὸς διδόντων, οὐκ ἤθελεν, ὁτὲ δὲ ἐξαίφνης τὸν στάμνον ἁρπάσας τοῦ ὕδατος ἐξέπιεν· οὖρον παχὺ ὡς ὑποζυγίου. περὶ δὲ τὴν τεσσαρεσκαίδεκα ἀνῆκεν.

A doctor examines a patient's urine in an illustration from the 13th century. Uroscopy, the study of urine, was one of the medieval physician's most effective tools, and is still employed today. (Photo by Bridgman Art Library)

Madness, Philosophy, and the Natural Realm

Menander, Aspis 305-310

[Khairestratos]:
“Daos, boy, I am not well
I am depressed because of these events. By the gods
I am not under my own control. I am almost completely crazy.
That fine brother of mine is forcing me
To such insanity with his vile behavior.
He is about to get married!”

ΧΑΙΡΕΣΤΡΑΤΟΣ
Δᾶε παῖ, κακῶς ἔχω.
μελαγχολῶ τοῖς πράγμασιν· μὰ τοὺς θεούς,
οὐκ εἴμ᾿ ἐν ἐμαυτοῦ, μαίνομαι δ᾿ ἀκαρὴς πάνυ·
ὁ καλὸς ἀδελφὸς εἰς τοσαύτην ἔκστασιν
ἤδη καθίστησίν με τῇ πονηρίᾳ.
μέλλει γαμεῖν γὰρ αὐτός.

Cicero, De Finibus 1.64

“In this way strength is drawn from natural philosophy against death; so too is determination against the fears of religion and a calmness of mind once the ignorance of all natural mysteries has been removed. So too comes moderation, once the nature and number of desires have been explained. And, finally, as I was just arguing, we can learn how to divine a lie from the truth, since this philosophy provides the Rule or Judgment of knowledge.”

Sic e physicis et fortitudo sumitur contra mortis timorem et constantia contra metum religionis et sedatio animi, omnium rerum occultarum ignoratione sublata, et moderatio, natura cupiditatum generibusque earum explicatis, et, ut modo docui, cognitionis regula et iudicio ab eodem illo constituto veri a falso distinctio traditur.

Image result for medieval manuscript marriage
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Madness, Philosophy, and the Natural Realm

Menander, Aspis 305-310

[Khairestratos]:
“Daos, boy, I am not well
I am depressed because of these events. By the gods
I am not under my own control. I am almost completely crazy.
That fine brother of mine is forcing me
To such insanity with his vile behavior.
He is about to get married!”

ΧΑΙΡΕΣΤΡΑΤΟΣ
Δᾶε παῖ, κακῶς ἔχω.
μελαγχολῶ τοῖς πράγμασιν· μὰ τοὺς θεούς,
οὐκ εἴμ᾿ ἐν ἐμαυτοῦ, μαίνομαι δ᾿ ἀκαρὴς πάνυ·
ὁ καλὸς ἀδελφὸς εἰς τοσαύτην ἔκστασιν
ἤδη καθίστησίν με τῇ πονηρίᾳ.
μέλλει γαμεῖν γὰρ αὐτός.

Cicero, De Finibus 1.64

“In this way strength is drawn from natural philosophy against death; so too is determination against the fears of religion and a calmness of mind once the ignorance of all natural mysteries has been removed. So too comes moderation, once the nature and number of desires have been explained. And, finally, as I was just arguing, we can learn how to divine a lie from the truth, since this philosophy provides the Rule or Judgment of knowledge.”

Sic e physicis et fortitudo sumitur contra mortis timorem et constantia contra metum religionis et sedatio animi, omnium rerum occultarum ignoratione sublata, et moderatio, natura cupiditatum generibusque earum explicatis, et, ut modo docui, cognitionis regula et iudicio ab eodem illo constituto veri a falso distinctio traditur.

Image result for medieval manuscript marriage
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Sleep, Pregnancy, and Head Wounds: Some Hippocratic Aphorisms

Hippocrates of Cos, Aphorisms

The aphorisms attributed to Hippocrates of Cos contain a range of medical ‘wisdom’. There are hundreds. Here are a handful.

2.3 “Sleep, or sleeplessness, should either come beyond moderation, can be bad.”

III. Ὕπνος, ἀγρυπνίη, ἀμφότερα μᾶλλον τοῦ μετρίου γινόμενα, κακόν.

2.7 “Bodies that have wasted away over a long amount of time should be healed slowly. Those that have declined quickly, should be healed quickly.”

VII. Τὰ ἐν πολλῷ χρόνῳ λεπτυνόμενα σώματα νωθρῶς ἐπανατρέφειν, τὰ δὲ ἐν ὀλίγῳ, ὀλίγως.

2.44 “People who are naturally rather fat die more quickly than the thin.”

XLIV. Οἱ παχέες σφόδρα κατὰ φύσιν, ταχυθάνατοιγίνονται μᾶλλον τῶν ἰσχνῶν.

5.38 “When a woman is pregnant and carrying twins, should either breast become thin, she loses one child. If the right breast thins, she loses the male child; if the left one does, the female.”

XXXVIII. Γυναικὶ ἐν γαστρὶ ἐχούσῃ ἢν ὁ ἕτερος μασθὸς ἰσχνὸς γένηται, δίδυμα ἐχούσῃ, θάτερον ἐκτιτρώσκει· καὶ ἢν μὲν ὁ δεξιὸς ἰσχνὸς γένηται, τὸ ἄρσεν· ἢν δὲ ὁ ἀριστερός, τὸ θῆλυ.

6.18 “A serious wound striking either the bladder, the head, the heard, the brain, some part of the smaller intestine, the stomach or the liver, is mortal.”

XVIII. Κυστιν διακοπέντι, ἢ ἐγκέφαλον, ἢ καρδίην, ἢ φρένας, ἢ τῶν ἐντέρων τι τῶν λεπτῶν, ἢ κοιλίην, ἢ ἧπαρ, θανατῶδες.

7.58 “Whenever the brain is concussed for any reason, people immediately become speechless.”

LVIII. Ὁκόσοισιν ἂν ὁ ἐγκέφαλος σεισθῇ ὑπό τινος προφάσιος, ἀνάγκη ἀφώνους γενέσθαι παραχρῆμα.

Image result for ancient greek medical practice
Physician treating a patient (Attic red-figurearyballos, 480–470 BC). Image taken from Wikipedia.

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

A Medical Justification for Taking Part in a Feast

Some helpful advice for all our friends taking part in feasts this week

Plutarch, Table Talk 662 c–d

“He said, ‘We only unwillingly and rarely use pain as a tool for treatment because it is the most violent. No one could expel pleasure from all the other medical interventions even if he wanted to—for pleasure accompanies food, sleep, baths, massages, and relaxation, all of which help to revive a sick person by wearing away foreign elements with a great abundance of what is natural.

What pain, what deprivation, what kind of poisonous substance could so easily and quickly resolve a disease that it, once it is cleansed at the right time, wine may also be given to those who want it? Food, when it is delivered with pleasure, resolves every kind of malady and returns us to our natural state, just as a clear sky returning after a storm.’”

“σμικρὰ γάρ,” ἔφη, “καὶ ἄκοντες ὡς βιαιοτάτῳ τῶν ὀργάνων ἀλγηδόνι προσχρώμεθα· τῶν δ᾿ ἄλλων οὐδεὶς ἂν οὐδὲ βουλόμενος ἀπώσαιτο τὴν ἡδονήν, ἀλλὰ καὶ τροφαῖς καὶ ὕπνοις καὶ περὶ λουτρὰ καὶ ἀλείμματα καὶ κατακλίσεις ἀεὶ πάρεστιν καὶ συνεκδέχεται καὶ συνεκτιθηνεῖται τὸν κάμνοντα, πολλῷ τῷ οἰκείῳ καὶ κατὰ φύσιν ἐξαμαυροῦσα τὸ ἀλλότριον. ποία γὰρ ἀλγηδών, τίς ἔνδεια, ποῖον δηλητήριον οὕτω ῥᾳδίως καὶ ἀφελῶς νόσον ἔλυσεν, ὡς λουτρὸν ἐν καιρῷ γενόμενον καὶ οἶνος δοθεὶς δεομένοις; καὶ τροφὴ παρελθοῦσα μεθ᾿ ἡδονῆς εὐθὺς ἔλυσε τὰ δυσχερῆ πάντα καὶ κατέστησεν εἰς τὸ οἰκεῖον τὴν φύσιν, ὥσπερ εὐδίας καὶ γαλήνης γενομένης.

Image result for medieval manuscript banquet
Le Banquet des Vœux du Paon, Jean Wauquelin, Les faits et conquêtes d’Alexandre le Grand, Flandre, atelier de Mons, 1448-1449, Paris, BnF

Let’s Talk About Sweat, Baby

sweating profusely” sudans multum, Fronto

“much sweat was pouring down” πολὺς δ’ ἐξέρρεεν ἱδρὼς, Quintus Smyrnaeus

Aristotle, Problems 2, 866b10 (Problems Concerning Sweat) Selections

“Why does head sweat not stink or at least stink less than that from the body? Is it because the top of the head is well aired?”

Διὰ τί ὁ ἱδρὼς ἐκ τῆς κεφαλῆς ἢ οὐκ ὄζει ἢ ἧττον | τοῦ ἐκ τοῦ σώματος; ἢ ὅτι εὔπνους ὁ τῆς κεφαλῆς τόπος

“Why does the face sweat most of all?”

Διὰ τί ἱδροῦσι μάλιστα τὰ πρόσωπα;

“Why do our backs sweat more than our fronts?”

Διὰ τί ἱδροῦμεν τὸν νῶτον μᾶλλον ἢ τὰ πρόσθεν;

“Why do we sweat less while we are toiling than when we stop?”

Διὰ τί ἧττον ἱδροῦσιν ἐν αὐτῷ τῷ πονεῖν ἢ ἀνέντες;

Hippocrates, Prorrhetic 1.39 (Full Greek text on the Scaife Viewer)

“To sweat acutely, especially with an unpleasant perspiration over the head, is bad; even more so if it comes with dark urine. Difficult breathing in these patients is bad” 
 
Οἱ ἐφιδρῶντες καὶ μάλιστα κεφαλὴν ἐν ὀξέσιν ὑποδύσφοροι, κακόν, ἄλλως τε καὶ ἐπ᾿ οὔροισι μέλασι, καὶ τὸ θολερὸν πνεῦμα ἐν τούτοισι κακόν.
 
Hippocrates, Coan Prenotions 561 (Full Greek text on the Scaife Viewer)
 
“The best sweat is one that breaks a fever on the necessary day, but one that brings relief is also useful. A cold sweat developing only around the head and neck is not good and also indicates limited time and danger.”
 
Ἱδρὼς ἄριστος μὲν ὁ λύων τὸν πυρετὸν ἐν ἡμέρῃ κρισίμῳ, χρήσιμος δὲ καὶ ὁ κουφίζων· ὁ δὲ ψυχρὸς καὶ μοῦνον περὶ κεφαλὴν καὶ τράχηλον γινόμενος, φλαῦρος, καὶ γὰρ χρόνον καὶ κίνδυνον σημαίνει.