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1 Having dealt with all that pertains to whole classes of diseases taken together, I come to the treatment of diseases one by one. Now the Greeks divided these into two species, terming some acute, others chronic. But because maladies did not always respond in the same way to treatment, some of the Greek writers have placed among the acute what others have placed among the chronic; from this it is clear that there are more than two classes. For some diseases are certainly of short duration, which carry off the patient quickly, or themselves come quickly to an end; some are chronic, in which neither recovery is near at hand nor death; and there is a third class, at one time acute, at another time chronic, and that occurs not only in fevers, where it is most frequent, but in other affections also. And besides the above there is a fourth class which cannot be said to be acute, because it is not fatal, nor really chronic, because if treated it is readily cured. When I come myself to speak of diseases singly, I will point out to which class each belongs. But I shall divide all diseases into those which appear to have their seat in the body as a whole, and into those which originate in particular parts. I shall begin with the former, after a few words of preface concerning all. Whatever the malady luck no less than the art can claim influence for itself; seeing that with nature[p. 221] in opposition the art of medicine avails nothing. There is, however, for a practitioner who is unsuccessful, more excuse in acute than in chronic diseases: for acute diseases are of short duration, within which the patient is snuffed out, if not benefited by the treatment: chronic diseases give time for deliberation, and for change of remedies, so that when the practitioner is in attendance from the commencement, it is seldom that a docile patient should perish unless by the practitioner's default. A chronic disease, nevertheless, when it has become deep-seated, is no less difficult to deal with than an acute one. And indeed the older an acute malady, the more recent a chronic one, the more easily it is treated. There is another point which should be borne in mind, that the same remedies do not suit all patients. Hence it is that the highest authorities proclaim as if they were the only remedies, now some, now others, each in accordance with what he has found successful. It is well, then, when any one remedy fails, to look not so much to the authority as to the patient, and to make trial, now of one, now of another remedy, taking care, however, that in acute diseases what is doing no good is changed quickly; in chronic diseases which it takes time to produce as well as to remove, if a remedy does not succeed at once, it should not be condemned at once, much less should it be discontinued if it is beneficial, though only to a small extent, because the progress is completed by time.
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