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On The Natural Faculties   

For, as was pointed out in the first book, things having a similar substance can easily change into one another, whereas it is impossible for those which are very different to be assimilated to one another without intermediate stages. Such a one in respect to cartilage is the myxoid substance which surrounds it, and in respect to ligaments, membranes, and nerves the viscous liquid dispersed inside them; for each of these consists of numerous fibres, which are homogeneous- in fact, actual sensible elements; and in the intervals between these fibres is dispersed the humour most suited for nutrition; this they drawn from the blood in the veins, choosing the most appropriate possible, and now they are assimilating it step by step and changing it into their own substance.

All these considerations, then, agree with one another, and bear sufficient witness to the truth of what has been already demonstrated; there is thus no need to prolong the discussion further. For, from what has been said, anyone can readily discover in what way all the particular [vital activities] come about. For instance, we could in this way ascertain why it is that in the case of many people who are partaking freely of wine, the fluid which they have drunk is rapidly absorbed through the body and almost the whole of it is passed by the kidneys within a very short time. For here, too, the rapidity with which the fluid is absorbed depends on appropriateness of quality, on the thinness of the fluid, on the width of the vessels and their mouths, and on the efficiency of the attractive faculty. The parts situated near the alimentary canal, by virtue of their appropriateness of quality, draw in the imbibed food for their own purposes, then the parts next to them in their turn snatch it away, then those next again take it from these, until it reaches the vena cava, whence finally the kidneys attract that part of it which is proper to them. Thus it is in no way surprising that wine is taken up more rapidly than water, owing to its appropriateness of quality, and, further, that the white clear kind of wine is absorbed more rapidly owing to its thinness, while black turbid wine is checked on the way and retarded because of its thickness.

These facts, also, will afford abundant proof of what has already been said about the arteries; everywhere, in fact, such blood as is both specifically appropriate and at the same time thin in consistency answers more readily to their traction than does blood which is not so; this is why the arteries which, in their diastole, absorb vapour, pneuma, and thin blood attract either none at all or very little of the juices contained in the stomach and intestines.


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