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Preface to the Reader

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Source: Tractatus varii, de vera praeparatione et usu medicamentorum chymicorum, ed. Bernard Gilles Penot, Frankfurt am Main: Johann Feyerabend for Peter Fischer, 1594, sig. B5v–B6v = pag. 26–28 [BP.Penot.1594-01]

Summary: The preface discusses the importance of taking a thoughtful and informed approach to the treatment of human ailments. The author emphasizes the fragility and challenging nature of human life and asserts the value of both personal experience and the wisdom found in the works of renowned philosophers and physicians. The focus is on the necessity of carefully studying ancient texts to extract medical knowledge while also acknowledging the contributions of contemporary scholars.
The author delves into the concept of the "fifth essence" or quintessence, which is seen as a powerful and effective element hidden within various natural substances, such as plants, metals, and stones. This essence, when properly extracted and prepared, is believed to possess remarkable healing properties far superior to the substances in their original form. The process of preparing medicines is described as an art that requires both skill and knowledge, distinguishing true philosophers and practitioners from ordinary people and pharmacists.
In conclusion, the text advocates for a balanced integration of ancient wisdom and modern science in medical practice. It highlights the transformative potential of medicinal substances when expertly harnessed and the critical role of proper preparation in restoring health. (generated by ChatGPT)


[p. 26] Avthor ad lectorem.

Cvm vitam humanam, quæ satis alias fragilis, ærumnosa ac miserabilis conditionis, haud leuiter ac temerè transigendam esse constet, Idcirco multorum grauißimorum morborum veram quandam curam & sanationem partim propria diuturnaque scientia edoctus, partim ex multis probatißimorum philosophorum libris, hinc indè sedulo ac diligenter collegi.

Philosophos ac authores quoque antiquiores (Medicinæ videlicet de quibus hic scribimus intelligi tantum volumus, ne partes scientiarum fortè præterquam fas est confundi aut perturbari videantur) perpetua cum aßiduitate perlegendos obseruandosq́ue statuimus: Neotericos autem ac recentiores quosque idoneos, vt qui perspecta fuerint eruditionis ac peritiæ, nemo tamen despiciat. Hippocrates in prognosticis inquit: Est quoddam cœleste quod ipsum medicum prouidere liceat, cuius si tanta est prudentia, fit admirabilis nimiumque stupendus. Vniuscuiusque autem vel densioris, vel rarioris substantiæ corporis, essentia quinta & virtus in profundo la- [p. 27] titans (vt dicitur in prouerbio) tanto difficilius, quanto profundius latitare solet, elici potest. Nec idem quod prius in suo mixto vel crasso corpore: Sed multo adhuc celerius multoque mirabilius operatur. Nam essentia quinta, vt lignorum fructuum, florum, radicum, foliorum, seminum, lapidum, metallorum, carnium, & rerum quarumlibet vndenam extrahi potest, sine dubio millies maiorem virtutem & efficaciam habet, quàm antea cum adhuc corpori suo inclusa esset, ideoque artificiosa ac solerti quadam decoctione elicienda: magnaque est differentia in præparatione medicaminum, & decoctione lignorum, radicum, foliorum, seminum, lapidum, metallorum, carnium, aliarumque specierum inter vulgares, pharmacopolas & veros philosophos, quia pro vt præparata sunt, aut fuerint, corpus humanum præseruare & confortare, sublatisque omnibus prauis qualitatibus hominem in pristinam sanitatem restituere possunt. Inde Aristoteles in metaphysicis ait, quicquid ex humana carne deperditum fuerit & corruptum, necesse est, vt aliqua re corruptibili restauretur, vt ex cibis corruptibilibus; virtute caloris naturalis corrumpuntur corpora & transmutantur in stomacho, hepate, cunctisq́ue membris virtute potentiæ nutritiuæ & conuertuntur in carnem [p. 28] humanam, ita etiam medicamenta quæuis præparata esse debent, vt virtute caloris naturalis corrumpantur in stomacho, hepate alijsque membris principalibus, & conuertantur in carnem humanam potentia nutritiua, tunc corpora hominum, vnà cum membris suis principalibus ac spiritibus vitalibus, à putrefactione, corruptione ac imbecillitate, viriumque resolutione tuto præseruari, confortari, ac in pristinam sanitatem collocari possunt.

Modern English Raw Translation

Generated by ChatGPT on 27 February 2024. Attention: This translation is a machine translation by artificial intelligence. The translation has not been checked and should not be cited without additional human verification.
Author to the reader.

Given that human life, which is already fragile, troubled, and miserable in its condition, should not be passed carelessly or rashly, I have therefore, partly taught by my own long experience and partly from the books of many of the most approved philosophers, diligently and carefully collected a certain true cure and healing for many of the most serious diseases.

We have decided to continuously read and observe the philosophers and older authors (specifically those about medicine, which we intend to be understood here, lest the parts of sciences might be confused or disturbed more than is right) with constant diligence. However, no one should despise the more modern and recent authors deemed suitable, as those who have been recognized for their learning and expertise. Hippocrates says in his prognostics: There is a certain heavenly aspect that the physician himself may foresee, and if his wisdom is so great, he becomes admirably and exceedingly astonishing. The essence and power of each body, whether of denser or rarer substance, hidden deep within (as the proverb says) tends to hide all the more difficultly the deeper it lies, can be drawn out. Nor does it act the same as before in its mixed or dense body: But it operates much more quickly and much more wonderfully. For the fifth essence, such as of woods, fruits, flowers, roots, leaves, seeds, stones, metals, meats, and of any kind of things whatsoever can be extracted, undoubtedly has a thousand times greater power and efficacy than before when it was still enclosed in its own body, and therefore must be drawn out by some artful and clever decoction: and there is a great difference in the preparation of medicines, and the decoction of woods, roots, leaves, seeds, stones, metals, meats, and other kinds among the common people, pharmacists, and true philosophers, because according to how they are prepared, or have been prepared, they can preserve and strengthen the human body, and by removing all bad qualities, restore a person to their original health. Hence, Aristotle says in the Metaphysics, whatever has been lost and corrupted from human flesh must necessarily be restored by some corruptible thing, such as corruptible foods; by the power of natural heat, bodies are corrupted and transformed in the stomach, liver, and all the members by the power of the nutritive potential and are converted into human flesh, so also medicines must be prepared, that by the power of natural heat they may be corrupted in the stomach, liver, and other principal members, and be converted into human flesh by the nutritive power, then the bodies of people, together with their principal members and vital spirits, can be safely preserved, strengthened, and restored to their original health from decay, corruption, and weakness, and the dissolution of their powers.