[Türkçe çeviri için yorum bölümüne bkz.]
‘We read in certain regions that are hot and redolent throughout with many odors, many people of delicate body and weak stomach are nourished almost on odors alone – perhaps because the very nature of the place reduces as it were all the juices of the green vegetables, field-produce, and fruits into odors, and in consequence there it resolves the humors of the human body into spirit. Since each of them- that is, odor and spirit- is a certain vapor, and like it is nourished by like, no doubt the spirit and the person with a lot of spirit receive great nourishment from odors. But this nourishment, whatever it is, or this fomentation through odors is especially necessary to who are old or delicate; by this we can compensate, in one way or another, for their lack of more solid and genuine food. But some people frequently question whether the spirit can be nourished by odors. I think, though, that perhaps it is never nourished by anything else, in that if foods, which are dense, are not finally attenuated by digestion into vapors, the spirit, which itself is a vapor, as we have said, will receive no nourishment there from. For that reason wine full of odor renews instantly a spirit which other things can scarcely restore in a long time. But we call an odor that vapor into which digested food is subsequently transformed on these grounds: because odor is always a vapor, and this vapor extracted from foods inside us scarcely affords any nourishment to the spirit unless it pleases the spirit by an odor. For this reason i heartily approve my favorite authority Avicenna saying that the body is nourished by sweetness, the spirit, however, by a certain (to use his term) aromaticity – since the density of the body cannot coalesce without a dense nature such as inheres in sweetness; while the fineness of the spirit cannot be restored otherwise than by a certain smoke and vapor in which that aromaticity flourishes. We call aromatic a quality that is odorous and sharp. Accordingly the liver, because it furnishes food to the body through the blood, is much augmented by sweetness; the heart, moreover, because it both creates the spirit and generates food for it, rightly desires spices (‘aromatica’). Notwithstanding, it is expedient that spices for the heart be seasoned with sweetness, and that the sweet things for the liver be mixed with spices, all the while avoiding excessive sweetness.
What more shall i say? Galen himself, following Hippocrates, thinks the spirit is nourished not only by odor but by the air- by air, i say, that is not simple but rather suitably mixed. If we believe them, we will judge that it is not more necessary to life to select either foods or any other thing than it is to select aid adapted to us. For air, affected easily and always by qualities of things both sublunary and celestial, poured around us with a sort of immeasurable amplitude, and with its perpetual motion penetrating us on all sides, reduces us wonderfully to its quality – especially our spirit, especially the vital spirit, which flourishes in the heart, into whose chambers it (the air) flows now steadily, now suddenly; thus straightway affecting the spirit according as it is itself disposed, and through the vital spirit – which is the matter and origin of the animal spirit – equally affecting the animal spirit. For intellectuals, the quality of the animal spirit is of the highest concern because they mostly work by means of this spirit; and so they, more than anyone, have to select pure and luminous air, odors, and music. For these three are judged to be the principal fomentation of the animal spirit. Most important to life, however, is choice air. For in Egypt, many babies born in the eighth month survive, and also many in the temperate region of Greece, thanks to the very salubrious air – which Aristotle recounts and Avicenna confirms. But assuredly just as the body composed of various things must be nourished by various foods (albeit not at the same meal), so the spirit similarly composed must be delighted and fomented by a variety of air, always well selected; it should also be refreshed daily by a similar variety of choice odors; for air and odor themselves seem to be things resembling spirits.
Now the Peripathetics Alexander and Nicolas along with Galen conclude that the vital and the animal spirit are nourished with odor and with air for this reason: because both of the latter are mixed and are of like form and both have been absorbed penetrate into the heart and there are digested and tempered to the use of life and poured through the arteries. In the arteries, as they say, both having been digested, again nourish both of these spirits and especially the animal spirit. Moreover, they say that the air we breathe is good not only for cooling our heat but also for nourishment, on the grounds that even animals who are very cold (egg. reptiles) breathe. They add that the thicker air is more suitable for the natural spirit, these being the more corporeal; the thin air, pure and clear, suitable rather for the vital and, most of all, for the animal spirit. Nor should it be any surprise that the spirit being so tenuous is nourished by things that are also tenuous, since indeed many small fishes are nourished by the cleanest water, and in such water basil lives, grow, flourishes, and gives forth its odor – not to mention those elements which the chameleon and the salamander are frequently said to subsist on.’
End of part I.
From Marsilio Ficino’s
‘Three Books on Life’.
Book II_Chapter XVIII.
May be found