The Pythagorean diet, of vegetables only, conducive to the preservation of health, and the cure of diseases
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- The following Discourse having been received in Italy with a great deal of Approbation... The Author was some years ago in England, is now Keeper of the Great Luke of Tufcany’j Museaum, a Fellow of our Royal Society, as well as of the College of Physicians in Florence, and will be found to speak of the English Nation in the highest Terms of Regard. [Preface]
- Pythagoras was certainly one of the greatest geniuses that ever Human Nature produc’d.
- We see that their most worthy Physicians and Philosophers were also of the same Opinion. Antonins Musa, who merited a public Statue in Rome ( i) for the perfect and happy Cure perform’d by him upon Augustus, made of Lettice (2) principally therein: and by his Advice it was that this great Prince came into that sparing and simple Pythagorean Diet, which Suetonius (3) minutely describes, confiding principally of Bread topp’d in cold Water, and of some Sorts of Apples of an agreeable and vinous Acidity. Horace also made great Use of the Pythagorean Diet, as he tells us in may Places of his judicious and most excellent Poems, therein following, as we suppose, the Advice of the fame Musa, who was his Physician.
- We find the same Preference given to vegetable Food by all the other ancient Latin Writers, who had any Understanding of the Nature of Things, and by Galen, and Plutarch, who has shown more particularly, perhaps than any one, the Danger of animal Diet, in his Precepts of Health, and in his Discourses on eating Flesh.
- Nor has our Age been destitute of Examples of Men, brave from the Vigour both of their Bodies and Minds, who at the same time have been Drinkers of Water, and Eaters of Fruits and Herbs. In certain Mountains of Europe, there are People, even at this Time, who live on Herbs only and Milk; yet are very invincible and stout; and the Japanese (who are very resolute in dispelling Dangers, and even Death itself) abstain from all animal Food; and there are besides a thousand Examples known to every one, of Nations and Persons of great Temperance, joined with all other consummate Virtues.
- I have thought it my Duty thus publicly to set forth the Reasons for the Pythagorean Diet, considered as fit to be used in Medicine, and at the same time perfectly innocent, well adapted to Temperance, and greatly beneficial and conducive to Health.
- Pythagoras.. was both a very great Philosopher and an able Physician.. whole Motive for the so much commending and introducing his Way of Life, was not any Superstition or Extravagance; but a Desire to be assisting to the Health and good Behaviour of Mankind...
- I mean the Pythagorean Diet, which consisted (i ) in the free and universal Ufe of every Thing that is vegetable, tender and fresh, which requires little or no Preparation to make it fit to eat, such as Roots, Leaves, Flowers, Fruits and Seeds: And in a general Abstinence from every Thing that is animal, whether it be fresh or dried. Bird, Beast, or Fish.
- Milk and Honey made up part of this Diet: Eggs, on the contrary, were excluded, Their Drink was to be the purest Water; neither Wine nor any vinous Liquor.
- He forbid, in Flesh itself, that of carnivorous Animals above all other Kinds; and, for the same Reason, that of Wild Boars, and what was taken in Hunting
- His two only Meals in a Day, equivalent to our Collations, were for the most Part of Bread only...
- One of these Abstinences, rigorously and universally observed in Egypt, was that from Beans
- Abstinency from Beans, it is now plain, from the general Sense of all the antient Writers, that this Prohibition of his was allegorical, and that it would be now a vain Undertaking to attempt finding out the literal Sense of it, since those who knew it were so industrious to keep it secret.
- And as we find, on the other hand, that Pythagoras made no Difficulty of eating them, and that he extended his Prohibition concerning Food even to other kinds... also to old Cocks, plowing Oxen, and many other Substances
- It seems much more reasonable to suppose, that the symbolical Prohibition of Beans was something entirely different, of an important and secret Signification; and that the real Abstinences intended, were indeed first prescribed by others before him, and for other Ends
- I find in his original Writings consisted in drinking largely of Lemon and Orange Juice, or in some Cafes even of Verjuice with a great deal of Water: and in taking no other Food but the Crumb of Bread, boiled or sop’d in fair Water.
- How effectual then this Pythagorean Diet is, towards obtaining the End for which, as has been said, it was principally intended by its Author; that is, for preserving the present Health of the Body... may easily be understood by whoever will but consider the Nature and Faculties of our Bodies, as also of the Aliments which sustain them
- I have always named fresh Vegetables, because the dry’d ones have almost all the bad Qualities of Animal Food, particularly as their earthy and oleaginous particles are too strongly coherent together.
- It being far more reasonable to believe, that wise Man, who was... of the Truth of the Phenomenon as we are, was likewise no less capable of understanding the true Reason thereof founded on the Elasticity or natural Contraction of the Fibres whereof the human Body is composed... A Belief that Health is the principal part or Basis of human Happiness, and that it depends on a Harmony, that is, a Correspondence of the several Motions with the Powers that produce them...