Osta

Theodor Kittelsen, Fattigmannen, 1894-95
Theodor Kittelsen, Fattigmannen (1895)

Ἔργον δέ σοι γενέσθω καὶ σπούδασμα, μὴ μόνον ἐκ τοῦ βιβλίου τήν ἰδέαν ἑκάστου τῶν ὀστῶν ἀκριβῶς ἐκμαθεῖν, ἀλλὰ καὶ διὰ τῶν ὀμμάτων σύντονον αὐτόπτην αὑτὸν ἐργάσασθαι τῶν ἀνθρωπείων ὀστῶν. ἔστι δ’ ἐν Ἀλεξανδρείᾳ μὲν τοῦτο πάνυ ῥᾴδιον, ὥστε καὶ τὴν διδασκαλίαν αὐτῶν τοῖς φοιτηταῖς, οἱ κατ’ ἐκεῖνο τὸ χωρίον ἰατροὶ μετὰ τῆς αὐτοψἰας πορίζονται. καὶ πειρατέον ἐστί σοι, κἄν μὴ δι’ ἄλλο τι, διὰ τοῦτο γοῦν αὐτὸ μόνον ἐν Ἀλεξανδρείᾳ γενέσθαι. μὴ δυνηθέντι δὲ τούτου τυχεῖν, οὐκ ἀδύνατον οὐδ’ οὕτως ἀνθρώπων ὀστᾶ θεάσασθαι. ἐγώ γε οὖν ἐθεασάμην πάνυ πολλάκις, ἤτοι τάφων τινῶν, ἢ μνημάτων διαλυθέντων. ἀλλὰ καὶ ποταμὸς ἐπαναβάς ποτε τάφῳ πρὸ μηνῶν ὀλίγων αὐτοσχεδίως γεγενημένῳ διέλυσέ τε ῥᾳδίως αὐτὸν, ἐπισυράμενός τε τῇ ῥύμῃ τῆς φορᾶς ὅλον τοῦ νεκροῦ τὸ σῶμα, τῶν μὲν σαρκῶν ἤδη σεσηπυιῶν, ἀκριβῶς δ’ ἀλλήλοις ἔτι συνεχομένων τῶν ὀστῶν, ἄχρι μὲν σταδίου κάταντες συρόμενον ἐπηνέγκατο· λιμνώδους δὲ αὐτὸ ἐκδεξαμένου χωρίου, τοῖς χείλεσιν ὑπτίου, πρὸς τοῦτο ἀπεκρούσθη τὸ τοῦ νεκροῦ σῶμα, καὶ ἦν ἰδεῖν καὶ τοῦτο τοιοῦτο, οἶόν περ ἂν ἐπίτηδες αὐτὸ παρεσκεύασεν ἰατρὸς εἰς διδασκαλίαν μειρακίου. ἐθεασάμεθα δέ ποτε καὶ λῃστοῦ σκελετὸν ἐν ὄρει κείμενον ὀλίγον ἐξωτέρω τῆς ὁδοῦ, ὃν ἀπέκτεινε μέν τις ὁδοιπόρος ἐπεγχειροῦντα πρότερον ὁμόσε χωρήσας, οὐκ ἔμελλε δὲ θάψειν οὐδεὶς τῶν οἰκητόρων τῆς χώρας ἐκείνης, ἀλλ’ ὑπὸ μίσους ἐπέχαιρον ἐσθιομένῳ τῷ σώματι πρὸς τῶν οἰωνῶν, οἵτινες ἐν δυσὶν ἡμέραις αὐτοῦ καταφαγόντες τὰς σάρκας ἀπέλιπον ὡς εἰς διδασκαλίαν τῷ βουληθέντι θεάσασθαι τὸν σκελετόν.
(Galen, De Anatomicis Administrationibus 2)

Make it rather your serious endeavour not only to acquire accurate book-knowledge of each bone but also to examine assiduously with your own eyes the human bones themselves. This is quite easy at Alexandria because the physicians there employ ocular demonstration in teaching osteology to students. For this reason, if for no other, try to visit Alexandria. But if you cannot, it is still possible to see something of human bones. I, at least, have done so often on the breaking open of a grave or tomb. Thus once a river, inundating a recent hastily made grave, broke it up, washing away the body. The flesh had putrefied, though the bones still held together in their proper relations. It was carried down a stadium and, reaching marshy ground, drifted ashore. This skeleton was as though deliberately prepared for such elementary teaching. And on another occasion we saw the skeleton of a brigand, lying on rising ground a little off the road. He had been killed by some traveller repelling his attack. The inhabitants would not bury him, glad enough to see his body consumed by the birds which, in a couple of days, ate his flesh, leaving the skeleton as if for demonstration. (tr. Charles Singer)

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