Saturday, 9 February 2013

Martial 6.53: what caused the death of Androgagas.

I just read an article in my newspaper in which a doctor was telling that about 70 % of the patients coming to him have simple complaints, which hardly needs a treatment, like a cough or a little stomach. This was different in Roman times: doctors were feared, as often the patient did not survive the treatment. If patients nowadays had the same fear and trembling for doctors, the rising budgets for healthcare in the West would quickly come down….
It made me think of an epigram Martial made on this theme: Andragogas was found dead in the morning, whereas he was alive and kicking at Martial’s place the night before. What happened? Well, in his dream he saw doctor Hermocrates and was scared to death!

Martial 6.53

Lotus nobiscum est, hilaris cenauit, et idem
     inuentus mane est mortuus Andragoras.
Tam subitae mortis causam, Faustine, requiris?
     in somnis medicum uiderat Hermocraten.

lotus: washed,  bathed (vulgair form of lavatus/lautus)
hilaris: cheerful,  gay (Latin often uses and adjective where English uses and adverb)
ceno: to have dinner
mane: in the morning
subitus: sudden
Hermocraten: Greek accusative.

Bath'd, supp'd, in glee Andragoras went to bed
Last night; but in the morning was found dead:
Would'st know, Faustinus, what was his disease?
He dreaming saw the quack, Hermocrates.
                     Montaigne (by Cotton), B. ii ch. 37.

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