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And if it were simply, as is laid down, that such things as are stronger prove injurious, but such as are weaker prove beneficial and nourishing, both to sick and healthy persons, it were an easy matter, for then the safest rule would be to circumscribe the diet to the lowest point. But then it is no less mistake, nor one that injuries a man less, provided a deficient diet, or one consisting of weaker things than what are proper, be administered. For, in the constitution of man, abstinence may enervate, weaken, and kill. And there are many other ills, different from those of repletion, but no less dreadful, arising from deficiency of food; wherefore the practice in those cases is more varied, and requires greater accuracy. For one must aim at attaining a certain measure, and yet this measure admits neither weight nor calculation of any kind, by which it may be accurately determined, unless it be the sensation of the body; wherefore it is a task to learn this accurately, so as not to commit small blunders either on the one side or the other, and in fact I would give great praise to the physician whose mistakes are small, for perfect accuracy is seldom to be seen, since many physicians seem to me to be in the same plight as bad pilots, who, if they commit mistakes while conducting the ship in a calm do not expose themselves, but when a storm and violent hurricane overtake them, they then, from their ignorance and mistakes, are discovered to be what they are, by all men, namely, in losing their ship. And thus bad and commonplace physicians, when they treat men who have no serious illness, in which case one may commit great mistakes without producing any formidable mischief (and such complaints occur much more frequently to men than dangerous ones): under these circumstances, when they commit mistakes, they do not expose themselves to ordinary men; but when they fall in with a great, a strong, and a dangerous disease, then their mistakes and want of skill are made apparent to all. Their punishment is not far off, but is swift in overtaking both the one and the other.1

1 He means both the pilot and physician.

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