Sabinus & Co.

The fragments of Sabinus and his ‘disciples’ were recently collected, edited, and translated by Tommaso Raiola, Sabini medici eivsqve discipvlorvm fragmenta (Rome: 2018).

Sabinus was probably active in the late 1st/early 2nd Century CE, given that he was the teacher of Stratonicus (one of Galen’s former teachers). As noted by Raiola (p. 17), our testimony is essentially limited to Sabinus’ activity as a commentator on the Hippocratic Corpus. From this, we can deduce that he or his circle wrote commentaries on: Aphorisms; Airs, Waters, and Places; Epidemics 1-3 & 6; and On the Nature of Man.

I have not personally reviewed the work in its entirety, though I’ll note a few things that I noticed. Raiola’s critical apparatus is quite meticulous and seems well done. For example, in fr. 29d (=Palladius,​​ Comm.Epid.VI​​ 2.80.9-19 Dietz), Raiola (line 4) corrects Dietz’ φύσαι to​​ φῦσαι. In fr. 40 (=Galen, Comm.Epid.VI 5.26, 304.13-305.3 Wenkebach-Pfaff), Raiola (line 6) makes a plausible suggestion where Wenkebach-Pfaff (line 20) marked a crux: οἷον ἀπο<πληξίας> ποδάγρας κτλ. instead of οἷον †ἀπο ποδάγρας κτλ. Raiola does not explicitly give this reason for the conjecture, but apoplēxia appears in or near discussions of podagra, arthritis, and nephritis elsewhere in medical literature (e.g. Diocles of Carystus fr. 183a van der Eijk; Pseudo-Galen, Def.Med. 19.387 K).

Raiola also takes account of the Arabic tradition of Galen’s commentary on Epid. 6 wherever noted by Wenkebach-Pfaff. But one looks forward to the forthcoming re-edition of the Arabic tradition by Vagelpohl, which will likely shed new light on the Sabinus fragments contained therein and render Pfaff’s translations outdated.

Is Sex Hot or Cold? An Ancient Debate

While gathering evidence for my dissertation (early stages), I’ve been amassing a wealth of delightfully interesting passages. I’ve made the decision to start sharing some of these, Sententiae Antiquae style. Here goes nothing:

Hippocratic Corpus,​​ Epid.​​ 6.5.15 Smith:

Chilling hardens the region of the belly.​​ 

ψύξις τὰ​​ κατὰ​​ κοιλίην σκληρύνει.

ψύξις: Smith,​​ μίξις​​ Galenus et Littré

Hippocratic Corpus, Vict. 2.58, 182.7-10 Joly-Byl:

Sex is thinning and moistening and heating. It is heating because of the exercise and the secretion of moisture. It is thinning because of the draining. It is moistening because of the remnant in the body of the melting caused by exercise.

Λαγνείη ἰσχναίνει καὶ ὑγραίνει καὶ θερμαίνει· θερμαίνει μὲν διὰ τὸν πόνον καὶ τὴν ἀπόκρισιν τοῦ ὑγροῦ, ἰσχναίνει δὲ διὰ τὴν κένωσιν, ὑγραίνει δὲ διὰ τὸ ὑπολειπόμενον ἐν τῷ σώματι τῆς συντήξιος τῆς ὑπὸ τοῦ πόνου.

Aristotelian Corpus,​​ Prob.​​ 4.17, 878b.17-21​​ (trans. Mayhew​​ 2011, 161):​​ 

Why does sexual intercourse cool and dry the stomach? Does it cool it because heat is excreted during copulation? But copulation also dries: for evaporation takes place as the heat exits, and (the heat) escapes as (the stomach) is cooled. And further, the heat produced during intercourse dries.

Διὰ​​ τί​​ τὰ​​ ἀφροδίσια​​ τὴν​​ κοιλίαν​​ ψύχει​​ καὶ​​ ξηραίνει;​​ ἢ​​ ψύχει​​ μέν,​​ ὅτι​​ ἐκκρίνεται​​ τὸ​​ θερμὸν​​ ἐν​​ τῇ​​ μίξει;​​ ξηραίνει​​ δ᾿​​ ἡ​​ μῖξις·​​ ἐξατμίζεται​​ γὰρ​​ τοῦ​​ θερμοῦ​​ ἐξιόντος,​​ ἐξέρχεται​​ δὲ​​ ψυχομένου.​​ ἔτι​​ καὶ​​ ἡ​​ θερμότης​​ ἐν​​ τῇ​​ ὁμιλίᾳ​​ ξηραίνει.

Sabinus fr. 29d Raiola (< Palladius,​​ Comm.Epid.VI​​ 2.80.9-19 Dietz):​​ 

It is necessary to make mention of the honorable Sabinus. Having come across the words ‘is inflated’ (φυσᾶται) and ‘noise’ (ψόφος), he says that if someone begins sexual activity, many gasses are secreted during sexual activity. His account is that we are not accustomed to sexual activity in childhood, but in our prime. At that time, there is a renewal and one’s nature undergoes change. The body is heated by sexual activity. From the heat and the agitation (ταραχή), pneumata are loosened, which are carried downwards and make gasses. This is the exegesis of Sabinus, and it is not to be tossed aside.​​ 

δεῖ​​ δὲ​​ τοῦ​​ ἀστειοτέρου​​ ἀναμνῆσαι​​ Σαβίνου.​​ τοίνυν​​ εὑρηκὼς​​ τὸ​​ φυσᾶται​​ καὶ​​ τὸν​​ ψόφον,​​ τοῦτο​​ λέγει,​​ ὅτι​​ ἐάν​​ τις​​ ἄρξηται​​ ἀφροδισιάζειν,​​ ἐν​​ τοῖς​​ ἀφροδισίοις​​ φῦσαι​​ πολλαὶ​​ ἐκκρίνονται.​​ ἀποδίδωσι​​ δὲ​​ καὶ​​ λόγον,​​ ὅτι​​ ἐν​​ τῇ​​ παιδικῇ​​ ἡλικίᾳ​​ οὐκ​​ εἰώθαμεν​​ ἀφροδισιάζειν,​​ ἀλλ’​​ ἐν​​ τῇ​​ ἀκμαστικῇ.​​ τότε​​ οὖν​​ καινοτομεῖται​​ καὶ​​ ξενισμὸν​​ ὑπομένει​​ ἡ​​ φύσις·​​ ἀπὸ​​ δὲ​​ τῶν​​ ἀφροδισίων​​ θερμαίνεται​​ τὸ​​ σῶμα·​​ ἀπὸ​​ τῆς​​ θέρμης​​ οὖν​​ καὶ​​ τῆς​​ ταραχῆς​​ διαλύεται​​ πνεύματα,​​ ἃ​​ φέρεται​​ ἐπὶ​​ τὰ​​ κάτω,​​ καὶ​​ ποιεῖ​​ φύσας.​​ αὕτη​​ μὲν​​ οὖν​​ ἡ​​ Σαβίνου​​ ἐξήγησις,​​ καὶ​​ οὐκ​​ ἀπόβλητος.

4​​ φῦσαι:​​ correxit​​ Raiola,​​ φύσαι Dietz

Galen, Comm.Epid.VI 5.23, 17b.284.5-10K = 301.14-18 Wenkebach-Pfaff

You all have learned that sex is drying, just like sleeplessness, because of the further dispersing of the humors. But sex heats the body of those who are strong in their capacity, whereas for those who are weak it heats at first but afterwards cools strongly. 

μεμαθήκατε γὰρ ὅτι λαγνεία ξηραίνει, καθάπερ ἀγρυπνία, διὰ τὸ διαφορεῖν ἐπὶ πλέον τοὺϲ χυμούϲ. ἀλλὰ καὶ θερμαίνει τὸ ϲῶμα τοῖϲ ἐρρωμένην ἔχουϲι τὴν δύναμιν ἡ λαγνεία, τοῖϲ δ’ ἀϲθενέϲιν ἐν μὲν τῷ παραχρῆμα θερμαίνει, ψύχει δὲ μετὰ ταῦτα γενναίωϲ.

Galen, San.Tuen. 3.11, 6.222 K = 98 Koch (trans. Johnston slightly mod.)

Those who regard apotherapia as worthwhile, as in those fatigued from toil, are anticipating the dissipation of the capacity and dryness of the body. For, we suffer both of these immediately after sexual activity and excessive exercise. [ . . .] Both sides will agree it is necessary to strengthen the capacity and condense the looseness but not increase the dryness.

οἱ μὲν οὖν ἀποθεραπεύειν ἀξιοῦντεϲ, ὥϲπερ τοὺϲ ἀπὸ καμάτου, τήν τε κατάλυϲιν τῆϲ δυνάμεωϲ ὑφορῶνται καὶ τὴν ξηρότητα τοῦ ϲώματοϲ (ἄμφω γὰρ ταῦτα πάϲχομεν ἐπ’ ἀφροδιϲίοιϲ τε καὶ πλήθει τῶν γυμναϲίων) [. . .] ὅτι μὲν γὰρ ἀναρρῶϲαί τε χρὴ τὴν δύναμιν καὶ ϲφίγξαι τὴν ἀραιότητα καὶ μὴ παραυξῆϲαι τὴν ξηρότητα, ϲυγχωρήϲουϲιν ἑκάτεροι.

Galen, Comm.Epid.VI 5.26, 305.22-306.8 Wenkebach-Pfaff, based on German trans. of the Arabic  

I therefore praise Capito and Dioscorides because they have firmly helped out. They have written the following words: “During diseases which are in the process of growing, sex makes the body cold.” In accordance with this reading, the saying is not faulty and garbled, as is the case with the first reading. Also, with most of the diseases that we have mentioned, the consummation of sexual activity makes the body cold, and this is correct apart from the case of epilepsy, which affects children. In the case of this disease it is appropriate to say that what helps such a patient is not sex, but rather the passing of age, even without sex. We certainly see the passing of age helping in this case. It seems then that both claims are correct, namely, that as sex is drying it is cooling.

Galen, Comm.Epid.VI 5.27, 17b.295.1-10K = 309.9-16 Wenkebach-Pfaff + Lukus of Macedon (?) based on the German trans. of the Arabic:

“Copulation hardens the region of the belly” [Epid. 6.5.15].That sex dries the entire body is one of the agreed upon points. However, residues do not always appear to dry the region of the belly, but whenever it is greatly weighed down by them due to the ruin of function and chilling of the parts by which nourishment is concocted and distributed to the region of the belly. < . . . > “Copulation chills and hardens the region of the belly.” < . . . > For, they want the chilling of the region of the belly to be caused by copulation, and the dryness by the chilling, even though we demonstrated that it (sc. dryness?) does not happen via chilling but via hardening.

(Lukus ap. Gal. arab.): I have already said that most interpreters only know the reading whose interpretation just preceded, and this is the following: ‘The cold makes the body hard.” The reading, which we now put forward as having ‘sex’ in place of ‘cold’, Lukus explained as follows: “This saying is right and true. For, we have watched it and observed it as so.” Yet, despite his lengthy remarks in front of many people, Lukus could not discredit the interpretation which we brought forth. He could not even specify the reason why sex makes the body dry, but instead he simply explained it is clear that the matter is so. Thus he made the mistake of relying on observations and experience without any qualification.

Μίξιϲ τὰ κατὰ τὴν γαϲτέρα ϲκληρύνει. ὅτι μὲν ἡ λαγνεία ξηραίνει τὸ ϲύμπαν ϲῶμα, τῶν ὁμολογουμένων ἐϲτίν. οὐ μὴν ἀεί γε τὰ κατὰ τὴν κοιλίαν περιττώματα φαίνεται ξηραίνειν, ἀλλ’ ὅταν μεγάλωϲ ὑπ’ αὐτῶν βαρυνθῇ διὰ τὴν κατάλυϲίν τε τῆϲ δυνάμεωϲ καὶ ψῦξιν τῶν μορίων, ὑφ’ ὧν ἡ τροφὴ πέττεται καὶ ἀναδίδοται τὰ κατὰ τὴν κοιλίαν. *** “μίξιϲ τὰ κατὰ τὴν κοιλίαν ψύχει καὶ ϲκληρύνει.” *** βούλονται μὲν γὰρ ὑπὸ τῆϲ μίξεωϲ τὴν ψῦξιν γίνεϲθαι τῶν κατὰ τὴν κοιλίαν, ὑπὸ δὲ τῆϲ ψύξεωϲ τὴν ξηρότητα, καίτοι μὴ γινομένην τῷ λόγῳ τῆϲ ψύξεωϲ ἐδείξαμεν, ἀλλὰ τῷ τῆϲ ϲκληρότητοϲ.

13 lacunam ante μίξιϲ posuit Wenkebach   14 etiam post ϲκληρύνει lacunam posuit Wenkebach ex interpr. arab.

Oribasius, Eun. 1.13.5, 329.28-31 Raeder (cf. Gal. San.Tuen. 3.11):

Since the body becomes looser, colder, drier, and weaker from sexual activity, it is necessary to prescribe things that are clearly contracting, heating, moistening, and strengthening.

ἐπεὶ δ’ ἐξ ἀφροδισίων ἀραιότερόν τε καὶ ψυχρότερον καὶ ξηρότερον καὶ ἀσθενέστερον γίνεται τὸ σῶμα, τὰ πυκνοῦντα δηλονότι καὶ θερμαίνοντα καὶ ὑγραίνοντα καὶ ῥωννύντα δεῖ προσάγεσθαι.

Palladius,​​ Comm.Epid.VI​​ 2.143.28-144.3​​ Dietz:

But we ought to examine what sort of quality sexual activity instills. All declare unanimously that it is drying. For,​​ seed is secreted at that time, the emptying of which then makes dryness. As for the other controversy: some people say that sexual activity is heating, and others that it is cooling. Those that claim it is heating say that​​ diffusion occurs at some point, and swelling is found in the face, and often an opening of the vessel with total heat. Those that claim​​ it is cooling say that chilling​​ accompanies the seed and the vital pneuma draining.​​ ​​  ​​​​ 

ἀλλ’​​ ὀφείλομεν​​ ζητεῖν​​ ποίαν​​ ποιότητα​​ ἐντιθέασι​​ τὰ​​ ἀφροδίσια.​​ πάντες​​ οὖν​​ ἐξ​​ ἑνὸς​​ στόματος​​ ἀπεφήναντο,​​ ὅτι​​ ξηραίνουσι.​​ σπέρμα​​ γὰρ​​ τότε​​ ἐκκρίνεται,​​ οὗ​​ ἡ​​ κένωσις​​ τότε​​ ξηρότητα​​ ποιεῖ.​​ περὶ​​ δὲ​​ τῆς​​ ἑτέρας​​ ἀντιθέσεως​​ οἱ​​ μὲν​​ εἶπον​​ ὅτι​​ θερμαίνουσιν,​​ οἱ​​ δὲ​​ ψύχουσι.​​ καὶ​​ οἱ​​ λέγοντες​​ ὅτι​​ τάδε​​ θερμαίνουσι,​​ τάδε​​ φασὶν,​​ ὅτι​​ χύσις​​ ποτὲ​​ γίνεται,​​ ὄγκος​​ εὑρέθη​​ ἐν​​ τῷ​​ προσώπῳ,​​ καὶ​​ πολλάκις​​ ἀναστόμωσις​​ ἀγγείου​​ ἀπαντᾷ​​ τῇ​​ θερμασίᾳ.​​ οἱ​​ δὲ​​ λέγοντες​​ ὅτι​​ ψύχουσι,​​ φασὶν​​ ὅτι​​ σὺν​​ τῷ​​ σπέρματι​​ καὶ​​ ζωτικὸν​​ πνεῦμα​​ κενούμενον​​ ψύξις​​ ἀκολουθεῖ.​​ 

John of Alexandria, Comm.Epid.VI 29, 82.24-31 Duffy:

This copulation is in dispute as to whether it is heating or cooling. It has been agreed among all that it is drying, since secretion of the seed occurs and dispersion of vital tone. What, then, do we say? That it is both heating and cooling, but heating in respect to quality. Hence, we see that following this movement and agitation the body becomes warmer and sharper. And thereafter blood is secreted. But in respect to essence it is cooling, owing to the excretion of both the vital tone and the seed, as well as much dissipation.

αὕτη δὲ ἡ μίξις ἀμφιβάλλεται μέν, εἴτε θερμαίνει ἢ ψύχει, παρὰ πᾶσι δὲ ὡμολόγηται, ὅτι ξηραίνει, εἴ γε καὶ σπέρματος ἔκκρισις γίνεται καὶ ζωτικοῦ τόνου διαφόρησις. τί οὖν λέγομεν; ὅτι καὶ θερμαίνει καὶ ψύχει, ἀλλὰ κατὰ ποιότητα θερμαίνει. ὅθεν ὁρῶμεν, ὅτι ἐπὶ τῇ κινήσει ταύτῃ καὶ ἐπὶ τῷ βρασμῷ θερμότερον γίνεται τὸ σῶμα καὶ δριμύτερον· ἐντεῦθεν καὶ αἷμα ἐκκρίνεται. κατ’ οὐσίαν δὲ ψύχει τῇ ἐκκρίσει τοῦ τε ζωτικοῦ τόνου καὶ τοῦ σπέρματος καὶ τῇ πολλῇ διαφορήσει.

Anonymus Londinensis and Some Recent Publications

There has been some recent activity on the Anonymus Londinensis (even a dissertation!) by Jordi Crespo Saumell:

Crespo Saumell, J. 2017. “New Lights on the Anonymus Londiniensis Papyrus,” Journal of Ancient Philosophy 11.2: 120-150.

Overlaps with the 2018 BASP article, but more interested in a lost source (e.g. Alexander Philalethes) behind later material in the papyrus. 

———. 2017. “The Anonymus Londiniensis Papyrus with an Italian Translation, A Commentary, and Some Critical Chapters,” Ph.D diss., Università degli Studi di Cagliari.

As the title implies, the translation is in Italian, but the commentary is in English. Downloadable here.

———. 2018. “A Critical Assessment of the Anonymus Londiniensis Papyrus,” Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists 55: 129-156.

Some overlap with the 2017 article, but more interested in the possible relationship between the writings on the verso and the recto.

Also, to return to two previously mentioned publications: the Cambridge Companion to Hippocrates is now out in paperback, and the table of contents for the Cambridge History of Science, vol.1 Ancient Science is up.

Some Forthcoming Publications

Two general works may be of interest:

Oxford Handbook of Science and Medicine in the Classical World, edited by Paul Keyser and John Scarborough (released yesterday according to Google Books). In addition to Greco-Roman science and medicine, the first part has broad coverage of Mesopotamia, Egypt, India, and China.

The Cambridge Companion to Hippocrates, edited by Peter Pormann. The Cambridge site now gives October 2018 as the “expected online publication date.” There have been [forthcoming] references to chapters in this collection by, e.g., Chiara Thumiger and Brooke Holmes, though the contents do not seem to be up yet on the Cambridge site.

Scribonius Largus

I had no idea so much work had already been done on Scribonius Largus, given their being no full length English translation yet, until I started an entry for it yesterday in Texts & Translations. Ianto Jocks (University of Glasgow), whose Ph.D dissertation will be the first translation and commentary in English as I’ve discovered, was kind enough to provide me with many helpful citations. For those interested in ancient pharmacology, this will be a treat!


The Geoponica and Arabic

For those who are interested in the text of the Geoponica, a new article by Carl Scardino has just come out in Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies entitled, “Editing the Geoponica: The Arabic Evidence and its Importance.” I have not had a chance to read it yet, but look forward to doing so. One still wonders when we will receive an update from Rodgers as to his promised critical edition of the Greek text?


Bibliography Update

Recently, I stumbled across the series Catalogus Translationum et Commentariorum, which helpfully collects bibliographical material on medieval/renaissance translations and commentaries of various ancient texts. I will be incorporating “CTC” entries from now on into the Text and Translations page when entries are available. I’ve just added links to Paul of Aegina and Theophrastus.

In other news, my entry in Texts and Translations for the Geoponica has become quite robust. It’s become somewhat of a commonplace in reference encyclopedias (and even peer reviewed articles) to simply claim that no modern translation of the Geoponica exists. My entry clearly shows that’s in no way the case. May it be of use to you!


The Geoponica and Sotion’s Agricultural Magic

I’ve had the Geoponica on my mind lately as I’m tracking down bibliography for a seminar paper on Late Antique Agronomy. While reading through Dalby’s translation, I was struck in particular by 2.19.1, a supposed excerpt from an otherwise unknown “Sotion.” The Greek (from Beckh) reads:

Ἐπίγραψον ἐν τῷ ἀρότρῳ φρυήλ, καὶ ἐν τῷ νεάζειν καὶ ἐν τῷ σπείρειν τὴν γῆν, καὶ εὐθαλήσει ἡ χώρα.

Dalby transliterates φρυήλ as “Phyrel” without comment, while other commentators suggest that it’s some sort of acrostic that’s not clear. Having had a brief stint with Hebrew (which I unfortunately can no longer read), though, I immediately suspected “-el” was something to do with a Hebrew name for God (El). H.J. Rose apparently caught this back in his 1933 article, “The Folklore of the Geoponica“, where Rose gives (at the suggestion of a colleague) פְריִאֵל phri El, “fruit of God.”

Always pays off to be a bibliographical pedant. Or at least most of the time?


Progress Update

Though still far from complete, the site has made progress in three facets:

Portions of the Leitner bibliography are now surpassed and up to date–especially Oribasius, Rufus of Ephesus, and Aetius of Amida. Leitner and the Ancient Medical Society continuation will eventually be superseded (at the slow and steady speed of a busy graduate student, of course).

There is now a reasonably concise “research guide” up for Animals and Plants, ever the bane of the medical historian. More guides to come as I think of them. Suggestions or requests would be much appreciated!

Aelius Promotus’ Dynameron is now up on the TLG! (Strangely, this text was said to remain unedited in the 4th edition of the Oxford Classical Dictionary (2012), but there’s been an edition for well over a decade). Part of my intentions for this site, as I mentioned in my email to them, was to provide the wonderful folks at the TLG with an easier way to keep up with, shall we say, more obscure texts.