After the theory of coction and crisis, that which prevails the most in the Hippocratic books, is the doctrine of the four elements, or the four elementary qualities, heat, cold, dryness and moisture, and the four cardinal humors, blood, bile, atrabile and phlegm. This doctrine was supposed to be an invention of the father of Greek medicine. Such is the opinion of all the commentators and historiographers, among others Galen, who extended and perfected it in his manner, and it reigned, exclusively, after him. The theory of four elements and four humors, harmonizes very well with
This theory, one of the most simple that can be imagined, is regarded as being anterior to Hippocrates. It is predominant in two treatises, viz., those on the Regions in Man, and on the Glands. A few extracts from these two books will give us a sufficient idea of the doctrine.
We have seen, in the preceding chapter, synthesis pushed to its utmost limit, and all the phenomena of the animal economy assimilated to each other, and united by the bond of a common cause, notwithstanding their infinite variety and enormous differences. But in order to arrive at that, to perceive in the formation of man, in the development of his parts and the exercise of his faculties, only the various modifications of one single agent, such as air or fire, it was necessary to clothe this material agent with imaginary faculties - to suppose it possessed of instinct,
semiotics occupies a very considerable place in the medical works of the Asclepiadae. Two of the most complete and best achieved treatises of the collection - that on Prognostics, and the second book on Predictions, or Prorrhetics - are devoted to this branch of Pathology. Beside, the first book on Predictions and Coan Prenotions, a species of treatises believed to belong anterior to Hippocrates, as well as the book on Dreams, which is appended to the treatise on Regimen, relate entirely to the same subject. Now, all these portions united, form more than
The first of these theories, that of coction and crisis, is founded on the capital observation that there exists in the organized body an intrinsic force, diffused in all its parts, creating a mutual sympathy, and harmonizing their various functions for a common end, by a kind of instinct. One of the most distinct characters of this force is its
Nosography is the eye of therapeutics. In proportion as the first is lucid, methodical, and complete, the second is sure and rational. The possession of the most efficacious curative agents is of no avail to us if we can not distinguish the cases in which their use is advantageous, from those in which they would be injurious. In fact the more the means that the therapist dispensers have of power and energy, the more
I will terminate this succinct review of the Hippocratic collection, by the examination of a work which was intended as a recapitulation of all that is set forth in the others. I mean the collection of Aphorisms, in seven of his books. No medical work of antiquity has had a more colossal reputation
Now, after having considered the state of Medicine under the Asclepiadae, in the isle of Cos, in an exclusively practical manner, and, in some sort, material also, it remains for us to examine it in a theoretical point of view to seek the invisible bond that unites all parts of their doctrines, and connects them to a common principle, as the branches of the same tree.
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