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18 After having spoken of those things which benefit by depleting, we come to those which nourish, namely food and drink. Now these are of general assistance not only in diseases of all kinds but in preserving health as well; and an acquaintance with the properties of all is of importance, in the first place that those in health may know how to make use of them, then, as we follow on to the treatment of diseases (III, IV), we can state the species of aliments to be consumed, without the necessity every time of naming them singly.

So then it should be known that all pulses, and all bread-stuffs made from grain, form the strongest[p. 193] kind of food (I call strongest that which has most nourishment). To the same class of further belong: all domesticated quadruped animals; all large game such as the wild she-goat, deer, wild boar, wild ass; all large birds, such as the goose and peacock and crane; all sea monsters, among which is the whale and such like; also honey and cheese. Hence it is not wonderful that pastry made of grain, lard, honey and cheese is very strong food.

Among food materials of the middle class ought to be reckoned: of pot-herbs, those of which the roots or bulbs are eaten; of quadrupeds, the hare; birds of all kinds from the smallest up to the flamingo; likewise all fish which do not bear salting or are salted whole.

The weakest of food materials are: all vegetable stalks and whatever forms on a stalk, such as the gourd and cucumber and caper, all orchard fruits, olives, snails, and likewise shellfish.

But although these are so divided, nevertheless even those of the same species admit of great differentiation, one thing being stronger or weaker than another: whilst there is more nutriment in bread than in anything else, wheat is a stronger food than millet, and that again than barley; and of wheat the strongest is siligo, next simila, then the meal from which nothing is extracted, which the Greeks call autopuros; weaker is bread made from pollen, weakest the common grey bread.

Among pulses, bean and lentils are stronger food than peas. Of vegetables the turnip and navew and all bulbs, among which I include the onion also and garlic, are stronger than the parsnip, or that which is specially called a root.[p. 195] Also cabbage and beet and leek are stronger than lettuce or gourd or asparagus. But of fruit growing on twigs, grapes, figs, nuts, dates are stronger than orchard fruit properly so‑called; and of these last, the juicy are stronger than the mealy.

Likewise of those birds, which belong to the middle class, those which rely more on their feet are stronger food than those which rely more on their wings; and of those birds which depend on flight, the larger birds yield stronger food than the smaller, such as the fig-eater and thrush. And those also which pass their time in the water yield a weaker food than those which have no knowledge of swimming.

Among food from domesticated quadrupeds pork is the weakest, beef the strongest. And so also of game, the larger the animal the stronger the food it yields.

The fish most in use belong to the middle class; the strongest are, however, those from which salted preparations can be made, such as the mackerel; next come those which, although more tender, are nevertheless firm, such as the gilthead, gurnard, sea bream, eyefish, then the flat fish, and after these still softer, the bass and mullets, and after these all rock fish.

Not only is there differentiation in the classes of nutriments, but also as much in the actual species of nutriment; which is due both to age and part of the animal and to soil and to climate and to habit. For every four-footed animal yields less nutriment while it is a suckling, likewise a chicken in a coop, the more tender it is; also a half-grown fish, which has not filled out to its full[p. 197] size. Then likewise in the same pig, trotters, chaps, ears or brain, in a lamb or kid the whole head, also the pettitoes, are somewhat less nutritious than other parts, and so can be placed in the middle class. In birds, the neck and wings are rightly counted as weak nutriment. As regards soil, grain is also more nutritious grown in hilly than in flat districts; fish living among rocks are less nutritious than those in sand, and these again less than those in mud. Hence it is that the same classes of fish from a pond or lake or river are heavier, and those which live in deep water are lighter food than those which live in shallows. Every wild animal is a lighter food than the same species domesticated, and the product of a damp climate is lighter than that of a dry one. Again, all kinds of fat meat have more nutriment than lean, fresh meat than salted, recently killed than stale. Then the same meat is more nourishing stewed than roasted, more so roasted than boiled. A hard-boiled egg is a very substantial material, a soft cooker or raw egg very light. And while all bread-stuffs are among the most solid, yet some kinds of grain after being soaked, such as spelt, rice, pearl barley, or the gruel or porridge made out of these, and also bread soaked in water, can be reckoned among the weakest of food.

Of drinks too the strongest class are: whatever can be made from grain, likewise milk, mead, must boiled down, raisin wine, wine either sweet or heady or still fermenting or of great age. But vinegar, and that wine which is a few years old, whether dry or rich, are intermediate in quality; and therefore to weak patients nothing of the other class[p. 199] should be given. Water is of all the weakest; and drink from grain is the more nutritious, according as the grain itself is nutritious; wine coming from a good soil is more nutritious than from a poor one, that from a temperate climate more nutritious than from an extreme one, whether too wet or too dry, whether excessively cold or hot. Mead, the more honey it contains, must the more it is boiled down, raisin wine the drier the grapes - are the stronger. Rain water is the lightest, then spring water, next water from a river, than from a well, after that from snow or ice; heavier still is water from a lake, the heaviest from a marsh. The recognition of water is as easy as it is necessary for those who want to know its nature. For by weighing, the lightness of water becomes evident, and of water of equal weight, that is the better, which most quickly heats or cools, also in which pulse is most quickly cooked. It is generally the case too that the more substantial the material, the less readily it is digested, but once digested it nourishes the more. Thus the quality of the food administered should be in accordance with the patient's strength, and the quantity in accordance with its quality. For weak patients, therefore, there is needed the lightest food; food of the middle class best sustains those moderately strong, and for the robust the strongest is the fittest. Finally, of the lightest foods more can be taken; it is rather with the strongest food that moderation should be observed.

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load focus Introduction (Charles Victor Daremberg, 1891)
load focus Latin (W. G. Spencer, 1971)
load focus Latin (Charles Victor Daremberg, 1891)
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