[Türkçe çeviri için yorum bölümüne bkz.]
‘Let us go back to our own concerns. It is as important as possible what sort of air we breathe, what sort of odors we inhale; for the spirit in us also becomes like them. For just as the soul quickens us with life, just so the spirit preserves complete harmony with the soul. The spirit indeed is what live in us first, and most of all, and as if it alone lived. Do not life, sense, and motion often in a certain sudden accident or passion suddenly desert the bodily parts, the spirit having retreated suddenly to the chambers of the heart; and often do they not return away to the bodily parts through rubbing and odors when the spirit returns to them, as if life indeed inhered rather in that volatile spirit than in the humors or the bodily parts? Otherwise, on account of the thick viscosity of the humors, life would come to and recede from the bodily parts much more slowly. Therefore people who wish to lengthen their life in the body, should especially cultivate the spirit: augment it with nutriments which augment blood, that blood which is tempered and clear; foment it always with choice air; feed it daily with sweet odors; and delight it with sound and song.
But meanwhile beware the hotter odors, flee the colder ones, seize on the temperate ones; temper the cold with the hot, the dry with the moist. But beware that every odor because it is the most subtle part of the given body, has some heat; and expect that those odors are going to be more nourishing which come from things which are themselves nourishing, as for example from the aromatic pear, the peach, and similar kinds of fruits – more, however, from fresh, hot bread; most from roasted meat; most of all from wine. And consider that just as taste, which wondrously pleases, is the cause or occasion of the most and quickest nourishment to the body, so odors behave towards the spirit. It is pleasant to remind you again how Democritus, when he was at the point of death to gratify the wishes of his friends retained his spirit for four days by the smell of hot loaves; he would have kept his spirit even longer if only it had pleased him to do so. There are those who say that he did this by the smell of honey. I think that if he used honey at all, he poured it liquefied with white wine, into the hot loaves. For the odor of honey is not to be scorned; for it is the flower of flowers; it nourishes considerably by its very sweetness; moreover, by its quality things are kept for a long time whole from putrefaction. And so if anyone knows how to eat honey, even as a food, so as not to fill up his passages with too much sweetness not to augment choler with its heat, he will possess a sure support for a longer life. Present this, therefore at least as a condiment to the cold and moist foods.
But let us get back to odors. When you get very worried about too much suffocation and compression of the spirit, which portends frequent sadness and torpor, tell people to scatter odors around the patient. But when you get worried about the escape of exhaled spirit, take the odor infused in the nourishment instead. If besides you take any odor externally, apply it as a shield only to the left ribs. Don’t you see how quickly the very matrix flings itself upwards or downwards towards odors? – how swiftly the spirit flies to the mouth, to the nostril, allured with the bait of a sweet odor?
Therefore where the spirit is found either meager or prone to escape, of which the signs are pusillanimity or great weakness of body arising even from a small cause, allure it with odors not so much offered externally as inserted internally – indeed, feed it and keep it. But choose the odor of wine before all others. For its odor exhaling from its nature nourishes the spirit much; while most of all and quickly it nourishes the body and affects the sense with pleasure. Such wine is particularly hot, moist, odorous, and clear. I would say sugar is like this, if it assumes an odor; cinnamon is also similar, and doronicum, anise, and sweet fenel, if, with their sharpness, people add more sweetness to the little they have. Thus make for yourself that balance which nature did not make. And as often as you fear dispersion of the spirit, bring to bear the hotter, sharper, and very subtle things, which inhibit a little the volatile spirit and prevail upon it to stand still, vinegar, a rose, myrtle, violet, sandal, coriander, quince, and citron. But i abhor camphor when we have to counteract grey hair. But i always like fresh mint, salutary also to the mind and very safe for the spirit.
Finally, remember that all things which are contrary to poison are very salutary to life, by means not only of taste but of smell, and especially theriac. But we have recounted these in our book ‘ Consiglio contro la Pestilenza’, and we will recount them in the next book. So that you will know them all, among these antidotes, moreover, we number also wine; for just as hemlok is poison to man, so wine is to hemlok, when drunk not at the same time but a little after. And lest i should allure you here only with odors, i entrust to you the making of an electuary, to be tasted every morning, sweet to smell and taste and very salutary to life. Take three ounces of chebule myrobalans, one of emblic, one of Indic, one of belleric, but one-half ounce of doronicum, two ounces of cinnamon, one dram of saffron, one-third dram of amber, and the same amount of musk. Grind it thoroughly and add as much rose-sugar as will satisfy the taste, as much red sandal as is sufficient for color, likewise as much of emblic or chebule honey as needed to take the electuary soft, and as many leaves of gold as there are ounces aforesaid. But when a multiple compound is too difficult, we have found that this simple one is the best, namely, of chebule myrobalans, sweet fenel, and sugar dissolved in rose-water, taken sometimes on an empty stomach, sometimes after supper. Remember that preserved myrobalans are the best; moisten the dry ones at least a whole day in sweet almond-oil or cow butter before you ix them with anything.
Also Avicenna endorses for you a confection made of emblic and Indic myrobalans with cashew-honey and melted butter, likewise chebule myrobalans with ginger and scales of iron and preferably gold. Likewise, Pietro D’abano approves a compound made of saffron, mace, and castor, and ground and mixed with wine with which he affirms that he often extended even a life which was practically moribund. In conclusion, Haly, the astrologer and excellent physician, asserts that life is made longer by the use of triphera and similar things. In every triphera, myrobalans is the foundation; but this one they temper with subtle and soft things, especially when the myrobalans is somewhat dry, so that it penetrates yet does not obstruct the passages or dry up the belly too much or constrict it. I use it most conveniently with wine alongside, but a little, so as not to dilute it. But Pietro’s composition which i recounted just now, if it is useful, i think it will be useful rather to smell than to drink.’
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From Marsilio Ficino’s
‘Three Books on Life’.
Book II_Chapter XVIII.
May be found