It is a remarkable fact that some diseases should disappear
from among us, while others, again, should continue to prevail,
for example. It was only in the reign of Tiberius
Cæsar that this malady made its appearance in Italy, the
emperor himself being the first to be attacked by it; a circumstance which produced considerable mystification throughout the City, when it read the edict issued by that prince
excusing his inattention to public business, on the ground of his
being laid up with a disease, the very name of which was till
then unknown. To what cause are we to attribute these various
diseases, or how is it that we have thus incurred the anger of
the gods? Was it deemed too little for man to be exposed to
fixed and determinate classes of maladies, already more than
three hundred in number, that he must have new forms of
disease to alarm him as well? And then, in addition to all
these, not less in number are the troubles and misfortunes which
man brings upon himself!
The remedies which I am here describing, are those which
were universally employed in ancient times, Nature herself,
so to say, making up the medicines: indeed, for a long time
these were the only medicines employed.
it is well known, was the first to compile a code of medical precepts, a thing which he did with the
greatest perspicuity, as his treatises, we find, are replete with
information upon the various plants. No less is the information which we gain from the works of Diocles3
second only in reputation, as well as date, to Hippocrates.
The same, too, with reference to the works of Praxagoras,
Chrysippus, and, at a later period, Erasistratus4
too, though himself the founder of a more refined
system of medicine, was extremely profuse of his commendations of the use of simples. At a later period, however, experience, our most efficient instructor in all things, medicine in
particular, gradually began to be lost sight of in mere words
and verbiage: it being found, in fact, much more agreeable
to sit in schools, and to listen to the talk of a professor, than
to go a simpling in the deserts, and to be searching for this
plant or that at all the various seasons of the year.