AT a summer entertainment, one of the company pronounced that common verse,
Now drench thy lungs with wine, the Dog appears.And Nicias of Nicopolis, a physician, presently subjoined: It is no wonder that Alcaeus, a poet, should be ignorant of that of which Plato the philosopher was. Though Alcaeus may be defended; for it is probable that the lungs, lying near the stomach, may participate of the steam of the liquor, and be drenched with it. But the philosopher, expressly delivering that most part of our drink passeth through the lungs, hath precluded all ways of excuse to those that would be willing to defend him. For it is a very great and complicated ignorance; for first, it being necessary that our liquid and dry food should be mixed, it is very probable that the stomach is the vessel for them both, which throws out the dry food after it is [p. 364] grown soft and moist into the guts. Besides, the lungs being a dense and compacted body, how is it possible that, when we sup gruel or the like, the thicker parts should pass through them? And this was the objection which Erasistratus rationally made against Plato. Besides, when he considered for what end every part of the body was made, and what use Nature designed in their contrivance, it was easy to perceive that the epiglottis was framed on purpose that when we drink the wind-pipe should be shut, and nothing be suffered to fall upon the lungs. For if any thing by chance gets down that way, we are troubled with retching and coughing till it is thrown up again. And this epiglottis being framed so that it may fall on either side, whilst we speak it shuts the weasand, but when we eat or drink it falls upon the wind-pipe, and so secures the passage for our breath. Besides, we know that those who drink by little and little are looser than those who drink greedily and large draughts; for in the latter the very force drives it into their bladders, but in the former it stays, and by its stay is mixed with and moistens the meat thoroughly. Now this could not be, if in the very drinking the liquid was separated from the food; but the effect follows, because we mix and convey them both together, using (as Erasistratus phraseth it) the liquid as a vehicle for the dry.