τὸ δυνάμει δ’ ἀτελές τι καὶ μέλλον ἔτι καὶ οἷον ἐπιτήδειον μὲν εἰς τὸ γενέσθαι, μήπω δ’ ὑπάρχον ὃ λέγεται. οὔτε γὰρ τὸ βρέφος ἤδη λογικόν, ἀλλ’ ἔσεσθαι μέλλει, οὔθ’ ὁ γεγενημένος ἄρτι κύων ἤδη θηρατικός, ὅς γε μηδὲ βλέπει μηδέπω, τῷ δύνασθαι δ’, εἰ τελειωθείη, θηρᾶν οὕτως ὀνομάζεται. κυριώτατα μὲν οὖν ἐκεῖνα μόνα δυνάμει λέγομεν, ἐφ’ ὧν ἡ φύσις αὐτὴ πρὸς τὸ τέλειον ἀφικνεῖται μηδενὸς τῶν ἔξωθεν ἐμποδὼν αὐτῇ γενομένου, ἤδη δὲ καὶ ὅσαι | 648Kπροσεχεῖς ὗλαι τῶν γιγνομένων εἰσίν. οὐδὲν δὲ διοίσει προσεχῆ λέγειν ἢ οἰκείαν ἢ ἰδίαν· ἐξ ἁπάντων γὰρ αὐτῶν δηλοῦται τὸ πλησίον καὶ μὴ διὰ μέσης ἄλλης μεταβολῆς, οἷον εἰ τὸ αἷμα δυνάμει σάρκα προσαγορεύοις ἐλαχίστης μεταβολῆς δεόμενον εἰς σαρκὸς γένεσιν. οὐ μὴν τό γ’ ἐν τῇ γαστρὶ πεπεμμένον σιτίον ὕλη προσεχὴς σαρκὸς ἀλλὰ διὰ μέσου τοῦ αἵματος· ἔτι δὲ μᾶλλον ἡ μάζα καὶ ὁ ἄρτος ἐπὶ πλέον ἀποκεχώρηκε· τριῶν γὰρ δεῖται μεταβολῶν εἰς σαρκὸς γένεσιν. ἀλλ’ ὅμως καὶ ταῦτα δυνάμει λέγεται σὰρξ καὶ πρὸ τούτων ἀὴρ καὶ πῦρ καὶ ὕδωρ καὶ γῆ καὶ ἡ τούτων αὐτῶν ὕλη κοινή. ταυτὶ μὲν οὖν ἅπαντα καταχρωμένων ἢ μᾶλλον ἢ ἧττον λέγεται. ὁ δὲ πρῶτος τρόπος ὁ κυριώτατός ἐστι τῶν δυνάμει τόδε τι λεγομένων ὑπάρχειν, ἐφεξῆς δ’ ὁ κατὰ τὴν οἰκείαν ὕλην, οἷον εἰ τὴν ἀναθυμίασιν τὴν καπνώδη φλόγα λέγοις ὑπάρχειν ἢ τὸν ἀτμὸν
and already present, whereas “in potentiality” is said of what is incomplete and still about to be, and of a kind appropriate to come about, but doesn’t yet exist. For the infant is not already rational but will become so in the future, nor is a dog that has just been born already a hunting creature—in fact, it doesn’t yet see. But because it has the potential to hunt if it is brought to completion, it is termed “hunting” in this way. Therefore, we say “potentially” most properly only of those things which Nature herself brings to completion when none of those things occurring externally prevents this coming about, while also enough | 648Kmaterials are already at hand for those things to come into being. It makes no difference whether we say close at hand, characteristic, or specific, for from all of these the close proximity is indicated, and is not due to another mediating change. For example, if you say the blood is potentially flesh, the genesis to flesh requires the least change. In fact, the food that has been concocted in the stomach is a material closely connected to flesh, but through the mediation of the blood. Still more, the barley cake and bread are to the greatest extent removed, for they require three changes for the genesis of flesh. But nevertheless, these things are said to be flesh in potentiality, and before these air, fire, water, and earth and the common material2 of these things themselves. These things, then, are all said more or less catachrestically. The first way, and the most important, is of saying something exists potentially. Next is in relation to the characteristic material—for example, if you say the smoky flame rising up is
- 2See Galen’s De elementis secundum Hippocratem 20, I.444K.