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Lecture

CLA232H1 Lecture Notes - Gastrointestinal Tract, Maeotian Swamp, Furlong


Department
Classics
Course Code
CLA232H1
Professor
Victoria Wohl

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ON AIRS, WATERS, AND PLACES
WHOEVER wishes to investigate medicine properly, should proceed thus: in the first place to consider the seasons of the year,
and what effects each of them produces for they are not at all alike, but differ much from themselves in regard to their changes.
Then the winds, the hot and the cold, especially such as are common to all countries, and then such as are peculiar to each
locality. We must also consider the qualities of the waters, for as they differ from one another in taste and weight, so also do
they differ much in their qualities. In the same manner, when one comes into a city to which he is a stranger, he ought to
consider its situation, how it lies as to the winds and the rising of the sun; for its influence is not the same whether it lies to the
north or the south, to the rising or to the setting sun. These things one ought to consider most attentively, and concerning the
waters which the inhabitants use, whether they be marshy and soft, or hard, and running from elevated and rocky situations,
and then if saltish and unfit for cooking; and the ground, whether it be naked and deficient in water, or wooded and well
watered, and whether it lies in a hollow, confined situation, or is elevated and cold; and the mode in which the inhabitants live,
and what are their pursuits, whether they are fond of drinking and eating to excess, and given to indolence, or are fond of
exercise and labor, and not given to excess in eating and drinking.
2. From these things he must proceed to investigate everything else. For if one knows all these things well, or at least
the greater part of them, he cannot miss knowing, when he comes into a strange city, either the diseases peculiar to the place,
or the particular nature of common diseases, so that he will not be in doubt as to the treatment of the diseases, or commit
mistakes, as is likely to be the case provided one had not previously considered these matters. And in particular, as the season
and the year advances, he can tell what epidemic diseases will attack the city, either in summer or in winter, and what each
individual will be in danger of experiencing from the change of regimen. For knowing the changes of the seasons, the risings
and settings of the stars, how each of them takes place, he will be able to know beforehand what sort of a year is going to
ensue. Having made these investigations, and knowing beforehand the seasons, such a one must be acquainted with each
particular, and must succeed in the preservation of health, and be by no means unsuccessful in the practice of his art. And if it
shall be thought that these things belong rather to meteorology, it will be admitted, on second thoughts, that astronomy
contributes not a little, but a very great deal, indeed, to medicine. For with the seasons the digestive organs of men undergo a
change.
3. But how of the aforementioned things should be investigated and explained, I will now declare in a clear manner. A
city that is exposed to hot winds (these are between the wintry rising, and the wintry setting of the sun), and to which these
are peculiar, but which is sheltered from the north winds; in such a city the waters will be plenteous and saltish, and as they
run from an elevated source, they are necessarily hot in summer, and cold in winter; the heads of the inhabitants are of a
humid and pituitous constitution, and their bellies subject to frequent disorders, owing to the phlegm running down from the
head; the forms of their bodies, for the most part, are rather flabby; they do not eat nor drink much; drinking wine in
particular, and more especially if carried to intoxication, is oppressive to them; and the following diseases are peculiar to the
district: in the first place, the women are sickly and subject to excessive menstruation; then many are unfruitful from disease,
and not from nature, and they have frequent miscarriages; infants are subject to attacks of convulsions and asthma, which they
consider to be connected with infancy, and hold to be a sacred disease (epilepsy). The men are subject to attacks of dysentery,
diarrhea, hepialus, chronic fevers in winter, of epinyctis, frequently, and of hemorrhoids about the anus. Pleurisies,
peripneumonies, ardent fevers, and whatever diseases are reckoned acute, do not often occur, for such diseases are not apt to
prevail where the bowels are loose. Ophthalmies occur of a humid character, but not of a serious nature, and of short duration,

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unless they attack epidemically from the change of the seasons. And when they pass their fiftieth year, defluxions supervening
from the brain, render them paralytic when exposed suddently to strokes of the sun, or to cold. These diseases are endemic to
them, and, moreover, if any epidemic disease connected with the change of the seasons, prevail, they are also liable to it.
4. But the following is the condition of cities which have the opposite exposure, namely, to cold winds, between the
summer settings and the summer risings of the sun, and to which these winds are peculiar, and which are sheltered from the
south and the hot breezes. In the first place the waters are, for the most part, hard cold. The men must necessarily be well
braced and slender, and they must have the discharges downwards of the alimentary canal hard, and of difficult evacuation,
while those upwards are more fluid, and rather bilious than pituitous. Their heads are sound and hard, and they are liable to
burstings (of vessels?) for the most part. The diseases which prevail epidemically with them, are pleurisies, and those which
are called acute diseases. This must be the case when the bowels are bound; and from any causes, many become affected with
suppurations in the lungs, the cause of which is the tension of the body, and hardness of the bowels; for their dryness and the
coldness of the water dispose them to ruptures (of vessels?). Such constitutions must be given to excess of eating, but not of
drinking; for it is not possible to be gourmands and drunkards at the same time. Ophthalmies, too, at length supervene; these
being of a hard and violent nature, and soon ending in rupture of the eyes; persons under thirty years of age are liable to
severe bleedings at the nose in summer; attacks of epilepsy are rare but severe. Such people are likely to be rather long-lived;
their ulcers are not attended with serious discharges, nor of a malignant character; in disposition they are rather ferocious
than gentle. The diseases I have mentioned are peculiar to the men, and besides they are liable to any common complaint
which may be prevailing from the changes of the seasons. But the women, in the first place, are of a hard constitution, from the
waters being hard, indigestible, and cold; and their menstrual discharges are not regular, but in small quantity, and painful.
Then they have difficult parturition, but are not very subject to abortions. And when they do bring forth children, they are
unable to nurse them; for the hardness and indigestable nature of the water puts away their milk. Phthisis frequently
supervenes after childbirth, for the efforts of it frequently bring on ruptures and strains. Children while still little are subject to
dropsies in the testicle, which disappear as they grow older; in such a town they are late in attaining manhood. It is, as I have
now stated, with regard to hot and cold winds and cities thus exposed.
5. Cities that are exposed to winds between the summer and the winter risings of the sun, and those the opposite to
them, have the following characters: Those which lie to the rising of the sun are all likely to be more healthy than such as are
turned to the North, or those exposed to the hot winds, even if there should not be a furlong between them. In the first place,
both the heat and cold are more moderate. Then such waters as flow to the rising sun, must necessarily be clear, fragrant, soft,
and delightful to drink, in such a city. For the sun in rising and shining upon them purifies them, by dispelling the vapors which
generally prevail in the morning. The persons of the inhabitants are, for the most part, well colored and blooming, unless some
disease counteract. The inhabitants have clear voices, and in temper and intellect are superior to those which are exposed to
the north, and all the productions of the country in like manner are better. A city so situated resembles the spring as to
moderation between heat and cold, and the diseases are few in number, and of a feeble kind, and bear a resemblance to the
diseases which prevail in regions exposed to hot winds. The women there are very prolific, and have easy deliveries. Thus it is
with regard to them.
6. But such cities as lie to the west, and which are sheltered from winds blowing from the east, and which the hot winds
and the cold winds of the north scarcely touch, must necessarily be in a very unhealthy situation: in the first place the waters
are not clear, the cause of which is, because the mist prevails commonly in the morning, and it is mixed up with the water and
destroys its clearness, for the sun does not shine upon the water until he be considerably raised above the horizon. And in

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summer, cold breezes from the east blow and dews fall; and in the latter part of the day the setting sun particularly scorches
the inhabitants, and therefore they are pale and enfeebled, and are partly subject to all the aforesaid diseases, but no one is
peculiar to them. Their voices are rough and hoarse owing to the state of the air, which in such a situation is generally impure
and unwholesome, for they have not the northern winds to purify it; and these winds they have are of a very humid character,
such being the nature of the evening breezes. Such a situation of a city bears a great resemblance to autumn as regards the
changes of the day, inasmuch as the difference between morning and evening is great. So it is with regard to the winds that are
conducive to health, or the contrary.
7. And I wish to give an account of the other kinds of waters, namely, of such as are wholesome and such as are
unwholesome, and what bad and what good effects may be derived from water; for water contributes much towards health.
Such waters then as are marshy, stagnant, and belong to lakes, are necessarily hot in summer, thick, and have a strong smell,
since they have no current; but being constantly supplied by rain-water, and the sun heating them, they necessarily want their
proper color, are unwholesome and form bile; in winter, they become congealed, cold, and muddy with the snow and ice, so
that they are most apt to engender phlegm, and bring on hoarseness; those who drink them have large and obstructed spleens,
their bellies are hard, emaciated, and hot; and their shoulders, collar-bones, and faces are emaciated; for their flesh is melted
down and taken up by the spleen, and hence they are slender; such persons then are voracious and thirsty; their bellies are
very dry both above and below, so that they require the strongest medicines. This disease is habitual to them both in summer
and in winter, and in addition they are very subject to dropsies of a most fatal character; and in summer dysenteries,
diarrheas, and protracted quartan fevers frequently seize them, and these diseases when prolonged dispose such constitutions
to dropsies, and thus prove fatal. These are the diseases which attack them in summer; but in winter younger persons are
liable to pneumonia, and maniacal affections; and older persons to ardent fevers, from hardness of the belly. Women are
subject to oedema and leucophlegmasiae; when pregnant they have difficult deliveries; their infants are large and swelled, and
then during nursing they become wasted and sickly, and the lochial discharge after parturition does not proceed properly with
the women. The children are particularly subject to hernia, and adults to varices and ulcers on their legs, so that persons with
such constitutions cannot be long-lived, but before the usual period they fall into a state of premature old age. And further, the
women appear to be with child, and when the time of parturition arrives, the fulness of the belly disappears, and this happens
from dropsy of the uterus. Such waters then I reckon bad for every purpose. The next to them in badness are those which have
their fountains in rocks, so that they must necessarily be hard, or come from a soil which produces thermal waters, such as
those having iron, copper, silver, gold, sulphur, alum, bitumen, or nitre (soda) in them; for all these are formed by the force of
heat. Good waters cannot proceed from such a soil, but those that are hard and of a heating nature, difficult to pass by urine,
and of difficult evacuation by the bowels. The best are those which flow from elevated grounds, and hills of earth; these are
sweet, clear, and can bear a little wine; they are hot in summer and cold in winter, for such necessarily must be the waters
from deep wells. But those are most to be commended which run to the rising of the sun, and especially to the summer sun; for
such are necessarily more clear, fragrant, and light. But all such as are salty, crude, and harsh, are not good for drink. But there
are certain constitutions and diseases with which such waters agree when drunk, as I will explain presently. Their characters
are as follows: the best are such as have their fountains to the east; the next, those between the summer risings and settings of
the sun, and especially those to the risings; and third, those between the summer and winter settings; but the worst are those
to the south, and the parts between the winter rising and setting, and those to the south are very bad, but those to the north
are better. They are to be used as follows: whoever is in good health and strength need not mind, but may always drink
whatever is at hand. But whoever wishes to drink the most suitable for any disease, may accomplish his purpose by attending
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