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XIV. Of course I know also that it makes a difference to a man's body whether bread be of bolted or of unbolted flour, whether it be of winnowed or of unwinnowed wheat, whether it be kneaded with much water or with little, whether it be thoroughly kneaded or unkneaded, whether it be thoroughly baked or underbaked, and there are countless other differences. Barley-cake varies in just the same way. The properties1 too of each variety are powerful, and no one is like to any other. But how could he who has not considered these truths, or who considers them without learning, know anything about human ailments ? For each of these differences produces in a human being an effect and a change of one sort or another, and upon these differences is based all the dieting of a man, whether he be in health, recovering from an illness, or suffering from one. Accordingly there could surely be nothing more useful or more necessary to know than these things, and how the first discoverers, pursuing their inquiries excellently and with suitable application of reason to the nature of man, made their discoveries, and thought the art worthy to be ascribed to a god, as in fact is the usual belief. For they did not consider that the dry or the moist or the hot or the cold or anything else of the kind injures a man, or that he has need of any such thing, but they considered that it is the strength of each thing, that which, being too powerful for the human constitution, it cannot assimilate, which causes harm, and

[p. 39] this they sought to take away. The strongest part of the sweet is the sweetest, of the bitter the most bitter, of the acid the most acid, and each of all the component parts of man has its extreme. For these they saw are component parts of man, and that they are injurious to him ; for there is in man salt and bitter, sweet and acid, astringent and insipid,2 and a vast number of other things, possessing properties of all sorts, both in number and in strength. These, when mixed and compounded with one another are neither apparent nor do they hurt a man ; but when one of them is separated off, and stands alone, then it is apparent and hurts a man. Moreover, of the foods that are unsuitable for us and hurt a man when taken, each one of them is either bitter, or salt, or acid, or something else uncompounded and strong, and for this reason we are disordered by them, just as we are by the secretions separated off in the body. But all things that a man eats or drinks are plainly altogether free from such an uncompounded and potent humour, e.g. bread, cake, and suchlike, which men are accustomed constantly to use in great quantity, except the highly seasoned delicacies which gratify his appetite and greed. And from such foods, when plentifully partaken of by a man, there arises no disorder at all or isolation of the powers3 resident in the body, but strength, growth and nourishment in great measure arise from them, for no other reason except that they are well compounded, and have nothing undiluted and strong, but form a single, simple whole.

[p. 41]

1 Or "powers."

2 Or "flat," the opposite of "sharp."

3 Or "properties."

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