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On Ancient Medicine   

Whoever having undertaken to speak or write on Medicine, have first
laid down for themselves some hypothesis to their argument, such as
hot, or cold, or moist, or dry, or whatever else they choose (thus
reducing their subject within a narrow compass, and supposing only
one or two original causes of diseases or of death among mankind),
are all clearly mistaken in much that they say; and this is the more
reprehensible as relating to an art which all men avail themselves
of on the most important occasions, and the good operators and practitioners
in which they hold in especial honor. For there are practitioners,
some bad and some far otherwise, which, if there had been no such
thing as Medicine, and if nothing had been investigated or found out
in it, would not have been the case, but all would have been equally
unskilled and ignorant of it, and everything concerning the sick would
have been directed by chance. But now it is not so; for, as in all
the other arts, those who practise them differ much from one another
in dexterity and knowledge, so is it in like manner with Medicine.
Wherefore I have not thought that it stood in need of an empty hypothesis,
like those subjects which are occult and dubious, in attempting to
handle which it is necessary to use some hypothesis; as, for example,
with regard to things above us and things below the earth; if any
one should treat of these and undertake to declare how they are constituted,
the reader or hearer could not find out, whether what is delivered
be true or false; for there is nothing which can be referred to in
order to discover the truth.

But all these requisites belong of old to Medicine, and an origin
and way have been found out, by which many and elegant discoveries
have been made, during a length of time, and others will yet be found
out, if a person possessed of the proper ability, and knowing those
discoveries which have been made, should proceed from them to prosecute
his investigations. But whoever, rejecting and despising all these,
attempts to pursue another course and form of inquiry, and says he
has discovered anything, is deceived himself and deceives others,
for the thing is impossible. And for what reason it is impossible,
I will now endeavor to explain, by stating and showing what the art
really is. From this it will be manifest that discoveries cannot possibly
be made in any other way. And most especially, it appears to me, that
whoever treats of this art should treat of things which are familiar
to the common people. For of nothing else will such a one have to
inquire or treat, but of the diseases under which the common people
have labored, which diseases and the causes of their origin and departure,
their increase and decline, illiterate persons cannot easily find
out themselves, but still it is easy for them to understand these
things when discovered and expounded by others. For it is nothing
more than that every one is put in mind of what had occurred to himself.
But whoever does not reach the capacity of the illiterate vulgar and
fails to make them listen to him, misses his mark. Wherefore, then,
there is no necessity for any hypothesis.

For the art of Medicine would not have been invented at first, nor
would it have been made a subject of investigation (for there would
have been no need of it), if when men are indisposed, the same food
and other articles of regimen which they eat and drink when in good
health were proper for them, and if no others were preferable to these.
But now necessity itself made medicine to be sought out and discovered
by men, since the same things when administered to the sick, which
agreed with them when in good health, neither did nor do agree with
them. But to go still further back, I hold that the diet and food
which people in health now use would not have been discovered, provided

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