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[85a]

White phlegm, also, is dangerous when it is blocked inside because of the air in its bubbles; but when it has air-vents outside the body it is milder, although it marks the body with spots by breeding white scabs and tetters and the maladies akin thereto. And when this phlegm is blended with black bile and spreads over the revolutions of the head, which are the most divine, and perturbs them, [85b] its action is more gentle during sleep, but when it attacks persons who are awake it is harder to shake off; and because it is a disease of the sacred substance it is most justly termed “the sacred disease.”1 Phlegm that is sharp and saline is the fount of all the maladies which are of the nature of catarrhs; and these have received all kinds of names because the regions into which they flow are of all varieties.

All those diseases which are called inflammations, owing to the burning and inflaming of the body which they involve, are caused by bile. This, when it gains an external outlet, [85c] boils and sends up all kinds of eruptions; but when it is confined inside it produces many burning diseases; and of these the gravest occurs when the bile, being mixed with pure blood, displaces the matter of the fibrine from its proper position. For this fibrine is dispersed through the blood in order that the blood may have a due proportion of both rarity and density, and may neither flow out from the porous body through being liquefied by heat, nor yet prove immobile [85d] through its density and circulate with difficulty in the veins. Of these qualities the fibrine preserves the due amount owing to the nature of its formation.2 Even when anyone collects together the fibrine of blood that is dead and in process of cooling, all the rest of the blood turns liquid; but if the fibrine is left alone as it is, it acts in combination with the surrounding cold and rapidly congeals the blood. As the fibrine, then, has this property, bile, which is naturally formed of old blood and dissolved again into blood from flesh, penetrates the blood gradually at first, while it is hot and moist, [85e] and is congealed by this property of the fibrine; and as it becomes congealed and forcibly chilled it causes internal cold and shivering. But when the bile flows in with more volume, it overpowers the fibrine by the heat it contains, and shakes it into disorder by its boiling up; and should it be capable of thus overpowering the fibrine continuously, it penetrates to the substance of the marrow and loosens from thence, by burning, the mooring-ropes of the soul,3 as it were of a ship, and sets it free. But when the bile is in smaller quantity and the body resists dissolution, then the bile itself is overpowered, and either it is ejected over the whole surface of the body, or else it is forced through the veins into the lower or the upper belly, being ejected from the body like fugitives from a city in revolt;


1 i.e., epilepsy; Cf. Laws916 A.

2 Cf. 82 D.

3 Cf. 73 D, 81 D.

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