Whether old age can be slowed down.
One inquires whether old age can be slowed down.
1. It seems not. Because when the path to an end is slowed, then the end is also slowed. But old age is the path to death. Therefore, if old age can be slowed, then death can be slowed.
2. Moreover, according to the Philosopher in the second book of On Generation,66 the lifespan of each individual is measured according to a certain period, and therefore old age cannot be slowed.
3. To the contrary. Old age arises from the consumption of heat and moisture, and this consumption is radical. But this consumption can be hindered. For it happens that one receives nutriment in a quantity proportionate to what has been lost, and it therefore works out that it slows old age, because it never reaches old age.
To this last argument, one must reply that old age is of two types: accidental and natural. The accidental is the one that occurs from certain accidental and fortuitous causes, and this type of aging can be slowed and can therefore be blocked by the removal of these causes. The other is natural aging, which arises from the voiding of natural heat and the consumption of the radical moisture, and this can be slowed but it cannot be avoided because the lifespan of each individual is measured in a certain period, as has been argued, and life is divided among the ages. Thus, the ages cannot be avoided.
1. On to the arguments. To the first, one must reply that just as aging can be slowed, so too can death. But just as aging cannot be avoided, neither can death.
2. To the second argument one must reply that although the lifespan of each individual is measured with respect to superior causes, just as the Philosopher and the Commentator intend in the second book of On Generation, nevertheless the period can vary with respect to inferior causes. Thus, if this period is compared to superior causes, it is fixed [certa]; but when it is compared to inferior causes, it is variable.
3. To the argument to the contrary, one must reply that although one happens to absorb nutriment in a quantity proportionate to what has been lost, still one does not avoid aging because the natural power does not always have a power equal to converting the nutriment, since at the time of youth it converts more than has been lost and at the time of stasis it converts an equal amount, but at the time of old age it converts less than has been lost, and this is why, etc. In this way a solution is evident.
Whether age can be renewed by taking the poison of a viper or some other poison.
One inquires further whether age can be renewed by taking the poison of a viper or some other poison.
1. It seems not. For nothing of the sort that is contrary to the natural heat and dissolves it and dissipates its harmony contributes to its renewal. But poison is a thing like this, and therefore, etc.
2. Moreover, poison that has been taken in naturally seeks the heart. But once the heart is injured, the animal is injured, because it does not endure grave suffering, according to the Philosopher in On the Parts [of Animals]; therefore, etc.
To the contrary. If age is to be renewed, it is necessary for the earlier parts of the flesh to be removed; but this cannot be done without a contrary. Since, then, a poison is particularly contrary to these parts, they will have to be removed by means of poison. Therefore, etc.
To this, one must reply that age can apparently be renewed by taking a poison. For example, a leper is cured in this way. For the animal's corruption can occur in three ways: to wit, in quantity, quality, and substance. But changes occur through opposites. Therefore, corruption in a substance will be removed through a contrary in the substance. But poison is something like this. And this is why the ingestion of poison rejuvenates an animal, as is said of the stag, which eats the viper, and this is why the leper is cured and then apparently is rejuvenated.
The reason for this is that if someone takes up a serpent and then removes its head and removes the liver from the area of the tail in the amount of two fingers, and strikes the remaining part well with a rod and cooks it well and gives it to a sick animal, then, if the power of the sick animal is weak, it will die immediately, but if the power is still potent then it will repel the poison. And every like naturally draws its like to itself. Thus, during the expulsion of the poison the poison draws with it all the corruption that is in the flesh, as far as the exterior parts, and as a result a change occurs in the exterior parts and even a change in the interior parts. Nevertheless if the power is weak, then the animal dies, and this is why it is very dangerous to use medicine like this.
1. On to the arguments. To the first, one must reply that although poison is contrary to the natural heat, nevertheless the poison has a power for drawing to itself the infection which is in the flesh, and for expelling the old flesh.
2. To the second argument one must reply that although poison naturally seeks the heart, since the heart attracts a great deal by virtue of its heat, if the heart's power is potent it still prohibits the poison's penetration and expels it with other infections.