This electronic edition is funded by the National Library of Medicine History of Medicine Division. This text has been proofread to a high degree of accuracy. It was converted to electronic form using Data Entry. (Medical Information Disclaimer:
It is not the intention of NLM to provide specific medical advice but rather to provide users with information to better understand their health and their diagnosed disorders. Specific medical advice will not be provided, and NLM urges you to consult with a qualified physician for diagnosis and for answers to your personal questions.)
ON THE NATURAL FACULTIES Book I
[p. 99]natural tendency of a vacuum to become refilled,
This was Erasistratus's favourite principle, known in Latin as the "horror vacui" and in English as "Nature's abhorrence of a vacuum," although these terms are not an exact translation of the Greek. τὸκενούμενον probably means the vacuum, not the matter evacuated, although Galen elsewhere uses κενόω in the latter (non-classical) sense, e.g. pp. 67, 215. Akolouthia is a following-up, a sequence, almost a consequence.
when once we have granted the attractive faculty of the kidneys. Now, although Erasistratus knew that this faculty most certainly existed, he neither mentioned it nor denied it, nor did he make any statement as to his views on the secretion of urine.
Why did he give notice at the very beginning of his "General Principles" that he was going to speak about natural activities- firstly what they are, how they take place, and in what situations- and then, in the case of urinary secretion, declared that this took place through the kidneys, but left out its method of occurrence? It must, then, have been for no purpose that he told us how digestion occurs, or spends time upon the secretion of biliary superfluities;
v. p. 123.
for in these cases also it would have been sufficient to have named the parts through which the function takes place, and to have omitted the method. On the contrary, in these cases he was able to tell us not merely through what organs, but also in what way it occurs- as he also did, I think, in the case of anadosis; for he was not satisfied with saying that this took place through the veins, but he also considered fully the method, which he held to be from the tendency of a vacuum to become refilled. Concerning the secretion of urine, however, he writes that this occurs through the kidneys, but does not add in what way it occurs. I do not think he could say that this was from the tendency of matter to fill a vacuum,
cf. Book II., chap. i.
for, if this were so, nobody would have ever died of retention of urine, since no more can