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.)
[p. 143]they must either advance the one proposition or the other. According to the former one the Peripatetics had no accurate acquaintance with Nature, and according to the second, Erasistratus. It is my task, then, to point out the opposition
between the two doctrines, and theirs to make the choice....
But they certainly will not abandon their reverence for Erasistratus. Very well, then; let them stop talking about the Peripatetic philosophers. For among the numerous physiological teachings regarding the genesis and destruction of animals, their health, their diseases, and the methods of treating these, there will be found one only which is common to Erasistratus and the Peripatetics- namely, the view that Nature does everything for some purpose, and nothing in vain.
But even as regards this doctrine their agreement is only verbal; in practice Erasistratus makes havoc of it a thousand times over. For, according to him, the spleen was made for no purpose, as also the omentum; similarly, too, the arteries which are inserted into kidneys- although these are practically the largest of all those that spring from the great artery [aorta]! And to judge by the Erasistratean argument, there must be countless other useless structures; for, if he knows nothing at all about these structures, he has little more anatomical knowledge than a butcher, while, if he is acquainted
with them and yet does not state their use, he clearly imagines that they were made for no purpose, like the spleen. Why, however, should I discuss these structures fully, belonging as they do to the treatise "On the Use of Parts," which I am personally about to complete?