Proper Food and MedicineSeptember 27, 2015
Food and Medicine are Connected
Glaucon What about their food?
Socrates The men are training for the great contest of all. I am afraid that their bodily habits are rather perilous to health. These athletes:
- sleep away their lives, and
- are liable to the most dangerous illnesses if they depart from their customary regimen.
- to be like wakeful dogs, and
- to see and hear with the utmost keenness amid the many changes of water and food, of summer heat and winter cold, which they will have to endure when on a campaign.
- Syracusan dinners,
- Athenian confectionary,
- the refinements of Sicilian cookery, or
- a man having a Corinthian girl as his fair friend.
- the artisans and the meaner sort of people need the skill of first-rate physicians and judges, and
- those physicians and judges have had a liberal education.
- a man should have to go abroad for his law and physic because he has none of his own at home.
- he must surrender himself into the hands of other men whom he makes lords and judges over him.
- blame the damsel who gives him the drink, nor
- rebuke Patroclus, who is treating his case.
Yes, a man in his condition of life should use the art of medicine thus far only.
Socrates He has an occupation. What profit would there be in his life if he were deprived of his occupation? But with the rich man this is otherwise as he generally has nothing to do. Phocylides says that a man should practise virtue as soon as he has a livelihood.
No, I think that he had better begin somewhat sooner.
Socrates Is the practice of virtue obligatory on the rich man, or can he live without it? This dieting of disorders impedes the application of the mind in carpentering and the mechanical arts. If the practice of virtue is obligatory, then this dieting stands in the way of Phocylides' policy.
Such excessive care of the body, when carried beyond the rules of gymnastic, hinders most the practice of virtue.
Socrates Yes, it is equally incompatible with the management of a house, an army, or an office of state. Most importantly, it is irreconcileable with any kind of study or self-reflection. Headache and giddiness are suspected to come from philosophy. Therefore, all practice of virtue in the higher sense should be absolutely stopped. A man always imagines that he is being made ill. He is in constant anxiety about the state of his body. That's why our politic Asclepius showed the power of his medicine only to healthy persons who had a real ailment. He cured these by purges and operations. He consulted the interests of the State. But he does not attempt to cure bodies penetrated through and through by disease. He did not want to lengthen good-for-nothing lives or to have weak fathers begetting weaker sons. If a man was not able to live in the ordinary way, he had no business to cure him. Such a cure would have been of no use either to himself, or to the State.
Then you regard Asclepius as a statesman.
Socrates Yes, his character is further illustrated by his sons who were heroes in the days of old. He practised the medicines at the siege of Troy. When Pandarus wounded Menelaus, they 'Sucked the blood out of the wound, and sprinkled soothing remedies'. But they never prescribed what the patient was afterwards to eat or drink, both in the case of Menelaus and that of Eurypylus. They thought that the remedies were enough to heal any man who was healthy and regular in his habits. Even though Menelaus drank Pramnian wine, he might get well all the same. But they would have nothing to do with unhealthy and intemperate subjects, who were as rich as Midas and whose lives were of no use either to themselves or others. The art of medicine was not designed for their good. The sons of Asclepius declined to attend them.
Those sons of Asclepius were very acute.
Socrates Nevertheless, the tragedians and Pindar disobeyed our behests. They say that Asclepius was:
- the son of Apollo,
- bribed into healing a rich man who was at the point of death which was why he was struck by lightning.