Natural Faculties

This entry is part 2 of 37 in the series Bridge to Nowhere: poems at mid-life


Lines from Galen, translated by Arthur John Brock (1916)

When a warm thing becomes cold, and a cold warm
When anything moist becomes dry, or dry moist
When a small thing becomes bigger
When food turns into blood
When the limbs have their position altered
When, therefore, the animal has attained its complete size
When the matter that flows into each part of the body in the form of nutriment is being worked up into it
When the vapours have passed through the coats of the stomach and intestines
When this has been made quite clear
When the iron has another piece brought into contact with it
When a small body becomes entangeld with another small body
When our peasants are bringing corn from the country into the city in wagons

Children take the bladders of pigs, fill them with air, and then rub them on ashes near the fire, so as to warm but not to injure them. This is a common game in the district of Ionia, and among not a few other nations. As they rub, they sing songs, to a certain measure, time, and rhythm, and all their words are an exhortation to the bladder to increase in size.

Imagine the heart to be, at the beginning, so small as to differ in no respect from a millet-seed, or, if you will, a bean…

Now, clearly, in these doings of the children, the more the interior cavity of the bladder increases in size, the thinner, necessarily, does its substance become

common to all kinds of motion is change

tangible distinctions are hardness and softness, viscosity, friability, lightness, heaviness, density, rarity, smoothness, roughness, thickness and thinness; all of these have been duly mentioned by Aristotle

Nature constructs bone, cartilage, nerve, membrane, ligament, vein, and so forth, at the first stage of the animal’s genesis

pain is common to all these conditions

please test this assertion first in the muscles themselves

This also was unknown to Erasistratus, whom nothing escaped.

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