Galen, On Non-Uniform Distemperment

LCL 546: 286-287

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dyskrasias may be due to heating, cooling, drying, or wetting. Dissolution of continuity is also mentioned with respect to the part(s) involved.

4. On non-uniform dyskrasia due to heating, specifically inflammation, and the relation between the heat of the blood in the inflamed part and that contained in the whole body is discussed. The various factors that affect this include both the four humors and pneuma. When a humor is involved, relevant factors are its nature and whether it is obstructed, transpired, or putrefied. Also important is the distance of the inflamed part from the blood-containing internal organs.

5. This section continues the discussion of the differential heating of an affected part, as by a flux, and the rest of the body, both specific structures and the blood generally. Consideration is given to the variations in the change of krasis in different parts, the left chamber of the heart being particularly susceptible to heating. The limit of the change for each part is the damage to its function. Pain is produced when a quality is undergoing change; when the change ceases and uniformity is reached, pain stops. The latter is the case in the hectic fevers, which are painless and imperceptible to the sufferer. The hectic fever is unique among fevers in not being a non-uniform dyskrasia.

6. Non-uniform dyskrasias do not cause change in adjacent parts unless the disproportion is severe. Every disproportion is relative to something, and some animals can have humors compatible with each other. In general terms, things are increased and nourished by things similar to themselves but distressed and destroyed by dissimilars

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(opposites). To extend the discussion, Galen regards it as necessary to speak about capacities (faculties).

7. Fevers, apart from the hectic, are diseases compounded non-uniformly. The important point is that the development of non-uniform dyskrasias will be variable. Brief consideration is given to fevers being caused by putrefaction as in turn causing non-uniform dyskrasia. Heating is the main focus of the section.

8. This section focuses on cooling, in particular severe cooling, and its association with pain. Galen also discusses the coincident occurrence of heating and cooling and the resultant perception of the two together. He returns to the ague fever, in which both fever/heat and shivering/cold occur. He concludes that this fever is combined from two non-uniform dyskrasias, as indeed most fevers are apart from the hectic.

9. Galen concludes with a brief account of other diseases due to a non-uniform dyskrasia. He lists cancer, erysipelas, anthrax, herpes, edema, inflammation, phagedaina, and gangrene. The common feature is a flux of fluids. The nature of the resultant non-uniform dyskrasia will depend on what the flux is.

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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.galen-nonuniform_distemperment.2020