Front Page Titles (by Subject) PARALLEL BETWEEN THE ASIATICS AND EUROPEANS. - The Writings of Hippocrates and Galen
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PARALLEL BETWEEN THE ASIATICS AND EUROPEANS. - Hippocrates, The Writings of Hippocrates and Galen 
The Writings of Hippocrates and Galen. Epitomised from the Original Latin translations, by John Redman Coxe (Philadelphia: Lindsay and Blakiston, 1846).
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PARALLEL BETWEEN THE ASIATICS AND EUROPEANS.
I wish at present to notice wherein Asia and Europe vary, and explain why their respective inhabitants so widely differ. I should be too prolix were I to speak of every particular diversity, and shall therefore mention only those principal points which appear most deserving of attention. I commence by observing, that Asia greatly exceeds Europe in respect both to its vegetation and its inhabitants. All is larger in Asia, and the country is milder,—the people are less active and more effeminate. The cause of this is to be found in the constitution of the seasons. Asia is located between the two extremes of winter and of summer, and therefore removed from the extremes of heat and cold. Every thing there increases greatly, and has a character of mildness, and of a just medium. It is not so, however, in every part of Asia; I speak only of that portion located intermediately between the two extremes above-mentioned. It is, moreover, abundant in fine fruit and beautiful trees; its sky is serene; there is abundance of water, both of rain and from springs, so that the country is neither scorched, dried up, nor affected by severe cold. It is sufficiently warm, and moistened by rain and snow; the seeds of fruit are there developed, and by means of culture and of grafting, man has ameliorated, and fitted them for both his gratification and his wants. The cattle are numerous, fruitful, and well fed;—the men are large and of good proportions, and scarcely differ in height or in appearance. Such a country ought to have, naturally, a good soil, and an equable temperature in each season; but courage, patience, steady application, and firmness of mind, find no existence there, nor can the love of their own species predominate. Pleasure alone exerts an absolute control, and gives origin to the many monsters observable among brutes. What I thus affirm of a part of Asia, applies equally to Egypt and to Lybia.
With respect to those who dwell on the right of the rising of the summer sun, to the Palus Mæotis, which separates Europe from Asia, they differ more from each other than those I have spoken of, both in regard to soil and climate. As elsewhere, whenever the seasons are more variable in degree or frequency, there the country is more wild and irregular. There we find mountains, forests, heaths, and meadows; and somewhat similar is seen in man, if closely observed. The nature of some resembles the mountains, forests, and rocks; others are like plains in fertility, and partake of the humid nature of meadows and marshes; in others again, we recognise the character of a dry and arid country. The various seasons of the year affording diversity of form, have, in their succession, many differences; and these variations are productive of as many peculiar and distinct constitutions. I say nothing of those countries that differ little from each other; I speak of such only in which nature and customs have established well-marked differences.
We commence with the Macro-cephali. No other people have such elongated heads. It is an ancient custom that gave rise to this, and nature concurred in the practice. A very long head is esteemed a mark of distinction: this opinion led them to compress their children’s heads with their hands, as soon as they were born, and whilst the bones were flexible; aiding this elongation by means of bandages and other measures adapted to destroy a spheroidal form. Such practice was at first the only measures pursued to produce this form, and time has insensibly rendered it natural; so that it is no longer requisite to use violence. In the act of generation, portions of the seed come from every member of the body; the humid members transmit moisture, those that are diseased send particles that are equally so; hence, bald fathers usually propagate bald children; those with blue eyes, get children with eyes of a similar colour; the lame beget lame children. Why then should not those who have long heads beget macro-cephali? Although at present, not perhaps for a like reason, because all customs become neglected and lose their power. This is my view as respects the Macro-cephali.
As to those who inhabit Phasis,—this country is marshy, hot, humid, and woody; the rains are frequent and heavy at all seasons; the men live in marshes, in dwellings formed of reeds on the water: they are rarely seen in towns and public places, but wander about in boats formed of a single log (canoe), traversing the canals that every where abound. Their drink is the warm stagnant water of the falling rains that the sun has corrupted. The river Phasis itself is one of the slowest, its flow being scarcely perceptible; the fruits are unhealthy, soft, and imperfect, owing to the moisture, nor do they ever come to maturity. Thick clouds perpetually arise and fill the atmosphere; and these are the causes of the difference of the Phasians from other people. They are tall and very fat; no joint or vein is well distinguished; their complexion is sallow, allied to jaundice; their voice is hoarse from living in an impure, humid, and thick atmosphere; and they are unable to bear fatigue. The seasons differ but little as to heat or cold; the winds mostly blow from the south, with one exception, appropriate to the country, called Cenchron, which is sometimes very violent, powerful, and hot: the north wind is rare, and when it blows, it is moderate and scarcely perceptible.
After what I have said as to the difference in the nature of the inhabitants of Asia and Europe, it follows that the former, possessing neither vigour nor courage, must be less fitted for war than the Europeans; whilst their manners are at the same time more amiable. We must attribute this to the seasons, as being less variable and less liable to great changes from cold to heat, and the reverse; the senses are less powerfully affected, and the constitution of their bodies is more enervated; hence anger and other passions are less vehement than where the temperature of the seasons is very variable, for all changes are the causes which most excite the mind and prevent the tranquillity of man. I think, therefore, the defect of courage in the Asiatics arises from these causes; though another powerful one is to be found in their form of government. They are almost entirely under regal authority. When we are not our own masters, but receive laws from a despot instead of framing them ourselves, we cannot feel much disposed for war, but prefer peace, for the dangers are unequal. On the one hand, we must take the field, undergo fatigue, and die far from home, from wife, children, and friends, to satisfy the will of a master. On the other hand, any extraordinary action we perform is altogether for the advantage and aggrandizement of the sovereign. He alone receives the reward of danger and of death. If then amongst such people one should grow up courageous and brave, his courage would become enervated by the laws under which he would have to live; a proof of which is, that all the Greeks in Asia, as well as those barbarians who are not subjected to a master, who make their own laws, and labour for their own advantage solely, are warlike, inured to hardship, and are very brave. It is for their own profit that danger is encountered, for they know that they will enjoy the fruit of their courage, and that they will suffer from the effects of cowardice. In Asia we find the people of a character altogether different, though some are braver than others; and these differences depend chiefly on the seasons, as I have endeavoured to demonstrate.
Among the nations of Europe we find the Scythians, living near the Lacus Mœotis, and differing entirely from all the others. Amongst them are the Sarmatians, whose females ride on horseback, draw the bow and shoot their arrows from that situation; and fighting their enemies whilst yet virgins; nor do they lose their virginity until they have killed three of them, nor cohabit with a husband before performing certain prescribed ceremonies. After this, they dwell with their husbands, and are dispensed from riding, except when necessity requires the whole nation to join in battle. They are deficient in the right breast, which is burned by their mothers in infancy, by means of an appropriate heated copper instrument, by which the nourishment and strength of the shoulder and arm are greatly increased. Although the various Scythian tribes resemble one another, they differ greatly from all other nations. It is the same with the Egyptians, who are, however, oppressed by heat, but the Sarmatians by cold.
What is called the Scythian desert is a vast plain, abounding in meadows, very bare, and considerably humid. It has large rivers, into which its waters are received. In this, those Scythians called Nomades, dwell, not in houses, but in chariots, covered with skins, the smaller of which have four, the larger six wheels. Some have but one apartment, others three, resembling in construction a house; and they are well secured against the rain, cold, and wind; and are drawn by two or three pair of oxen, without horns, which are hindered from growing by the cold. The women live in these cars; the men mount their horses and camels, and are followed by their flocks, oxen, and horses. So long as sufficient herbage is found for their cattle, they remain in the same place, and when this is exhausted they remove to another. They feed on baked flesh, and drink mare’s milk, of which they likewise make a sort of cheese called Hippace. Such is the mode of life of this wandering race, and it is greatly allied with the nature of their seasons.
The Scythians have customs and a character peculiar to themselves, by which they are distinguished from all other people, in the same way as the Egyptians. Their women are not fruitful; their wild animals are small and few in number; their location is under the Riphean Mountains, from whence proceed the northern blasts; the region being but slightly under the solar influence, and that chiefly during the summer solstice. Southern gales are rare and faint, but those from the north are violent, with snow, ice, and rain. They rarely quit their mountains, which are habitable only to a south exposure. Dense clouds arise during the day, with great humidity, so that winter seems almost perpetual; the summer heat is moderate, and of short continuance. The plains are elevated and barren, and not protected by the mountains, having all a northern inclination. The wild animals are all small, and easily protect themselves from the cold in holes in the earth; the frosts and sterility of the country checking their increase; being open and flat, they cannot readily conceal themselves. The change of seasons is not considerable, being nearly alike,—and hence there is but little variety among the people; they employ the same food and clothing both in winter and summer; the air they breathe is damp and heavy; their drink is chiefly the water from ice or snow, and they exercise but little constancy in labour. It is hence impossible that either mind or body should be vigorous, and consequently the inhabitants of those countries are thick and heavy, their limbs flabby and relaxed, their belly loose; how indeed could it be otherwise in such a country and with such seasons? With such uniformity of surface, &c., the men and women also must be greatly alike. There being so little change of seasons, there can be but a slight alteration or change in the semen of the parents, except induced by some accident or disease. I will state a manifest proof that moisture predominates, at least among the Nomadic Scythians. The greater number of them exhibit marks of burning on the shoulders, arms, wrists, breasts, thighs, and flanks; they burn those parts only to correct the humidity and softness of the flesh. They cannot, in their natural state, either draw the bow, or throw a dart, on account of the weakness and atony of their limbs; the application of fire dries up the excess of moisture, and strengthens the muscles; the body consequently is better, and the joints become stronger. In Scythia the men are fat and large, because, as in Egypt, they are not in infancy swaddled and bandaged; moreover, they are always on horseback or in cars, and until fit to ride, the boys live a nearly sedentary life, walking but little even in their journeys.
The women are astonishingly fat and large, generally ruddy from the cold, which gives that hue to their fair skin. Such a nation cannot be prolific. Men of a cold climate, delicate, and with relaxed bowels, can have but few desires for coition, independently of the enervation caused by constant equitation, which unfits them for the act of generation. So much for the male sex. As for the women, their fat and corpulency obstruct conception, their menses flow but rarely and in small amount, the mouth of the uterus, closed by fat, can neither attract nor retain the seed; want of exercise renders their bodies flabby and weak; the abdominal viscera are cold and deficient in tone;—all which causes insure a defect of fecundity, as is manifest from the opposite result in their servants, who, from their active life and want of corpulency, are readily impregnated. I shall here remark that many of the Scythians become impotent, and that then they perform the duties of women; they acquire their tone of voice, and are called effeminate. The inhabitants ascribe this misfortune to the gods, and honour those thus affected, and fearing that the same may happen to them. For my own part, I believe that this affection, like every other, comes from God; none are properly the work of man, but all spring from Him. Every disease has its own particular mode of production, in which the above-mentioned participates, from natural causes: thus we find them always on horseback; their legs hanging down, fluxions to those parts necessarily ensue, which cause lameness, and a dragging of the limb as the disease advances. To cure this in the commencement, they open a vein behind each ear, suffering the blood to flow until much weakened, and sleep ensues. On awakening some are cured, others not. Now I apprehend, they lose their virility by this treatment, for we have veins near the ears whose section causes impotency, and I suspect they cut these. When, therefore, they desire to approach their wives, they find themselves incapable. At first this gives them little concern, but after three or four attempts, finding the evil to continue, they conclude that they have offended God, and to this they attribute it. Assuming now the female dress, they thereby proclaim distinctly their impotency; they live like the women, and perform their duties. This occurs among the rich and most considerable of the Scythians, such as are always on horseback, and possessed of large flocks, and not among the poorer classes, with whom it is uncommon, for they rarely ride. Now if this evil proceeded particularly from God, it ought to be common to both classes, and especially to the poor, who are unable to sacrifice to the gods, if indeed they delight in sacrifices, and count the number of victims. The rich have the means to offer numerously; not so the poor, who even blame the gods for the misery they endure, so that on this score the evil should rather fall upon them. But it is with this as with all other diseases, which I have already remarked as beyond doubt coming from God, each one according to its peculiar nature. The cause productive of that of the Scythians, appears to me to be that I have stated; it operates equally on others. It may be observed that they who are perpetually on horseback, are subject to fluxions in the thighs, pains in the feet, and that generally they are little fitted for the battles of Venus. Such are the Scythians, and of all men, they are the least ardent and apt for the rites of marriage, for the reasons thus assigned. It may be added, that passing their lives thus on horseback, and wearing drawers, they have less leisure and opportunity for lascivious feelings; besides which, the cold and fatigue prevent those desires for women, so that at length this loss of virility becomes almost a matter of indifference. So much for the Scythians.
In other European nations men differ greatly both in size and form, owing to the great and frequent changes of the seasons, extremes of heat and cold, great rains and extreme droughts, with winds from every quarter. It is natural that men should feel this influence, and that the semen should differ in summer and winter, and in wet and dry weather. Hence we do not notice among Europeans the same similarity that is observed among the Asiatics. A difference of size is frequently noticed even in adjoining towns; the seed is modified in a variety of ways beyond what would be the case if the seasons were uniform, or approaching thereto. It is the same as to manners. A rough unpolished state, with violent passions, ought to prevail where changes of seasons are great. Strong impressions induce somewhat of a savage character, and dispel mildness and tranquillity. It is on this account, I apprehend, that Europeans are more courageous than Asiatics. Uniformity of seasons induces indolence, the reverse strengthens both mind and body. Cowardice follows in the train of indolence, courage in that of exercise and labour. The Europeans ought therefore to be better calculated for war; their laws likewise co-operate, which do not, as in Asia, emanate from a king, for where kings have sway their courage is restricted. I have before said that minds enslaved will not naturally expose themselves to danger. Those on the contrary who are their own lawgivers, and encounter danger for their own advantage and not of others, do this with pleasure, and support labour readily, because they partake of the benefit. It is thus the nature of the government tends to promote courage, and we see in this respect a vast difference between Europe and Asia. I remark, in addition, that generally the European nations differ from each other in size and form for the same reasons, and equally so do they differ in respect to bravery. We notice, for example, that those who inhabit mountainous, barren, rough, and arid countries, with very variable seasons, are naturally tall, laborious, and brave; their character is wild and savage. In valleys and meadow countries, in close situations with warm exposure, man is neither so tall nor well proportioned. They grow plump, and have a darker complexion, are less pituitous than bilious, and are less; but they are not deficient in strength or courage. Their nature is unequal, being modified by circumstances of laws and customs. Being deficient in large streams to convey away the rain and water of their lakes, and using stagnant water for drink, their complexions are inferior to those under opposite circumstances, and their spleen is affected. Those who live in open upland situations, exposed to the winds and moisture, are large and resemble each other; they are well proportioned and gentle in disposition. Such as reside in dry and open countries, with great changes in the seasons, have firm and robust bodies, with complexions fairer, manners free, unbridled passions, and strongly self-opinionated; for wherever seasons are very changeable, there we find great variety of figure, temperament, manners, and customs. The difference in the seasons may be set down as the principal cause of difference in the nature of men; next follows the situation and nature of the soil, and the quality of the waters. Wherever the earth is rich, loose, and moist, the waters high, in summer warm, and cold in winter, with equable temperature of the seasons, you may be assured that the inhabitants are lazy, weak, and commonly mischievous, unskilled in arts, and not bright of understanding. Where, on the contrary, the country is open, rough, and difficult of access, oppressed by cold in winter, and by the heats of summer, there the men are vigorous, lusty, hairy, laborious, hardy, watchful, violent, obstinate, harsh, and well adapted for war. In general every thing that grows upon the earth partakes of its quality;—and here I terminate what I desire to say on the subject of the principal differences in the forms and characters of men. It might be greatly extended, without falling into error, keeping in view the same principles.