This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
20 There is also another disease, a contrast in a different way to the phrenetic. In the latter sleep is got with great difficulty, and the mind is disposed to any foolhardiness; in this disease there is a pining away, and an almost insurmountable need of sleep. The Greeks name it lethargy. And it also is an acute sort, and unless remedied, quickly kills. Some strive to excite these patients by applying at intervals medicaments to promote sneezing, and those which stimulate by their offensive odour, such as burning pitch, unscoured wool, pepper, hellebore, castoreum, vinegar, garlic, onion. Moreover, they burn near them galbanum, hair or hartshorn, or when that is not at hand, some other kind of horn, for these when burnt give out an offensive odour. One Tharrias said, indeed, that this affection is a sort of feverish paroxysm, and that the patient is relieved when that remits, hence those without keep on irritating such patients do harm uselessly. But the important point is whether the patient wakes up with the remission; or whether the fever is either not relieved, or else it is relieved and yet sleep still oppresses him. For if the patient wakes up, it is needless to treat him as if in a stupor; for he is not made better by keep in him awake, but if he is better he keeps awake of himself. If the sleepiness in us interrupted the patient must certainly be aroused, but only at those times when the fever is of the slightest, in order that he may both make a[p. 311] natural evacuation and take food. Now a most powerful excitant is cold water poured suddenly over him; therefore when the fever has remitted, and he has been anointed freely, he should have three or four jarfuls poured over his head. But this measure should be employed only when the patient's breathing is regular, and the parts below the ribs soft: otherwise those are to be preferred which have been mentioned above. Such is the most suitable procedure, so far as concerns sleeplessness. But in order to cure, the head is to be shaved, and then fomented with vinegar and water in which laurel or rue leaves have been boiled. On the following day castoreum may be applied, or rue pounded up in vinegar, or laurel berries or ivy with rose oil and vinegar; mustard put to the nostrils is particularly efficacious both for arousing the patient, and when put on the head or forehead for driving out the disease itself. Rocking is also advantageous in this malady; and most of all food given opportunely, that is in the greatest degree of remission that can be found. Now gruel is most fitting until the disease begins to decrease; so if there is a severe paroxysm every day, it is given daily; if every other day, after a more severe paroxysm, gruel, and after a slighter paroxysm, hydromel. Wine is also of no mean service, when given at the proper time all with suitable food. But if this kind of torpor attacks the body after prolonged fevers, all the other measures are to be carried out, in the same way, and in addition three or four hours before the paroxysm castoreum is administered, mixed with scammony if the bowels are costive, if not, then by itself in water. If the parts below the ribs are soft, food should be given more freely; if hard,[p. 313] the patient must subsist on the gruel mentioned above, whilst something is to be applied to the parts below the ribs to repress and mollify at the same time.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.