Linguists writing about analogy as a way to analyze language do not agree with each other or, when they do agree with each other, they are at odds with the way words are actually used. This does not mean that analogy is not a valid technique. If that were so, all arts would have to be rejected, for there is disagreement among writers about medicine and music and many other arts, and their points of agreement are often at odds with nature. The fault lies not with the art, but with the artists (Varro, On the Latin Language 9.111).

Some doctors are extremely crass. For example, Callianax the Herophilean. Zeuxis records that Baccheius wrote this about him in his Memoirs of Herophilus and his Followers: When a patient asked Callianax “Am I going to die?”, he replied by quoting “unless Leto of the lovely children bore you” [Anonymous Tragic Fragment 178; Leto was the mother of the immortal deities Apollo and Artemis]; and when another patient asked him the same question, he replied “Even Patroclus died, and he was a much better man than you” [Homer, Iliad 21.107; Achilles is about to kill Lycaon, one of King Priam’s sons] (Galen, In Hippocratis librum vi epidemiarum commentarii vi 17b.145 Kühn).

It is easier to produce and rear a mortal man than it is to instill a good mind in him. No one has ever yet managed to devise a way to make an insane person rational or change a bad person into a good one. If god had granted to the sons of Asclepius the ability to cure mankind’s evil ways and destructive thoughts, they would earn many great rewards (Theognis, Elegies 429-434).

A doctor cannot always save his patient, for sometimes the illness is more powerful than his knowledge and his art. You see how blood expelled from a weak lung leads by a sure path to the Stygian waters. Even if he were to apply his sacred herbs, Asclepius himself, the god of Epidaurus, will not be able to cure a wounded heart. The medical art does not know how to relieve knotted gout, nor how to help those suffering from edema, with their terror of water. It is also sometimes beyond the power of medical skill to cure anxiety (Ovid, Letters from the Black Sea 1.3.17-25).

Some people say that the reason why most pictures of Hippocrates show him with his head covered by a cloak is that he wanted to emphasise the need to protect the part of the body that has control over all the others (Soranus, Life of Hippocrates 12). Soranus does, however, give several other explanations:

It enhanced his appearance, since he was bald.
It protected his head, since it was weak.
It showed that he was fond of traveling.
It was a metaphor for the obscurity of his writings.
It illustrated that even healthy people have to watch out for things that may harm them.
It ensured that his hands were not encumbered during a surgical procedure if he gathered up the edges of his cloak and put them on his head.
Others say that he wore a felt cap, not a cloak, as a sign of his high social rank, for Odysseus wore such a cap.

The prophet Hegesistratus of Elis had once escaped from Sparta by sawing through his foot at the instep with an iron tool that had been smuggled into the prison. When the wound healed, he had a wooden foot made and, because of his hatred of Sparta, he helped the Persians conduct sacrifices in the Greek manner before the Battle of Plataea in 479 BC (Herodotus, Histories 9.37). The great-grandfather of Lucius Sergius Catilina, who attempted to overthrow the government in 63 BC, was a hero in the Second Punic War. He was twice captured by Hannibal and kept in chains for twenty months, but twice he escaped. He had a prosthetic right arm made of iron so that he could continue fighting, and twice had his horse killed under him (Pliny, Natural History 7.104-5).

When “do-it-yourself” goes wrong … According to one version of Heraclitus’s death, he contracted edema, and the doctors he consulted said they did not know how to cure him, so he shut himself up in a cow-byre, hoping to draw the excess liquid out of his body by means of the heat generated by the manure with which he covered himself. The treatment did not work. … The coating of manure hardened and he could not pull it off. He was stuck where he was, and no one recognized him because of the alteration in his appearance. Eventually he was eaten by dogs (Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Philosophers 9.3).

A body should be laid out only long enough to ensure that the person has not simply fainted but is really dead. The funeral should normally take place on the third day (Plato, Laws 959a).

Roman law generally forebade the use of gold to decorate a corpse before cremation or burial, but let it be without penalty if a person whose teeth are bound together with gold is buried or cremated with it (Cicero, On the Laws 2.60).

Good health is the best thing for a mortal man
Second is a fine physique
Third is honest wealth
Fourth is enjoying one’s youth among friends (Drinking Songs frg. 7).

So, will people not pray for anything? If you want my advice, you will leave it to the gods themselves to calculate what is appropriate for us and helps us in our affairs. For the gods will give us what is most suitable, not what is merely pleasant. People are dearer to the gods than they are to themselves. … However, so that there may be something that you may ask for when you vow to the gods at their little shrines to sacrifice to them the entrails and the sanctified sausages of a wee white pig, you should pray for a healthy mind in a healthy body (Juvenal, Satires 10.346-356).

The recent illness of one of my friends reminded me that we are at our best when we are unwell. What sick person is assailed by greed or lust? He is not a slave to his love-affairs; he does not strive for public honors; he does not care about his wealth, and is content with so very little, knowing that he is just about to leave behind him even that very little. A sick person remembers that the gods exist, and that he himself is mortal. He envies no one; he idolizes no one; he despises no one; he neither heeds nor feeds on malicious gossip. Baths and fountains are what he dreams of. This is the sum total of his preoccupations, the sum total of his aspirations. He makes up his mind that, if he should recover, he will lead a gentle and easy life, full of contentment and doing harm to no one. And so, the lessons that philosophers try to teach us with their countless words, their countless books, I can set all that out very succinctly for you and for me myself: when we are in good health, we should strive to be the sort of people we resolve to be when are sick. Farewell (Pliny the Younger, Letters 7.26).