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Cacetica grece mala habitudo ut Cassius felix, inde cacetia, sed cachexia dixit grecus ut idem Cassius capitulo de dolore vesice aliquando cachoetica invenitur adiectivum ut apud Dyascoridem capitulo de alosanthos ulcera cachoetica.


Cacetica AC e | Cacectica B f

cacetia AC f | cacetica seu cacetia B | cacexia e

kachexia e | cachexia AC | kachesia B f

dixit AC e | dicit B f

idem Cassius AC e | idẽ casius fel'. B | idem casius felix f

vesice (ues- B f) AB e f | vescice C {'sc' hypercorrect spelling for 'ss'}

cachoetica AC | cachetica e f | kacoetica B

adiectiuum AC | adiectiuũ B | adiactivuʒ f | adiectivum e

alosanthos AC | alosathos B | alosannos e | alisãnos f

cachoetica AC | cacohetica e | kachoetica B | cachetica f

et cetera add. B


Cacetica is Greek for Latin mala habitudo {"general bad health"} as Cassius Felix says. Related to it is the word cacetia {= cachexia}, which a Greek calls kachexia as the same Cassius says in his chapter De dolore vesice {"On bladder pains"}. Sometimes the adjective cachoetica is found, like in Dyascorides' chapter De alosanthos {"On salt efflorescence"}, where he speaks of ulcera cachoetica {"malignant ulcers"}.


Greek καχεξíα /kakhexía/ means "bad habit (of body); (of the mind) bad disposition, disaffection". (LSJ). The word is compounded from κακ- /kak-/ "bad” + ἕξις /héxis/ "habit or state" < ἕξω /héxō/, fut. of /ékhō/ ἔχω "have; hold; hold oneself". The word is adopted into Latin as cachexia. The adjective derived from it is < καχεκτικός /kakhektikós/, Latinised cachecticus. Simon's Cace(c)tica is either neuter pl. {"matters concerning bad health" or ulcera etc.} or Cace(c)tica {sc. dispositio, or some such noun}.

The word cachexia occurs five times in Cassius Felix' De medicina, but he always finds it necessary to explain its meaning to his readers by adding mala habitudo {"bad state of health"}. In the chapter Simon alludes to, chapter XLVI. Ad vesicae passions {"On afflictions of the bladder"}, ed. Fraisse (2001: 128), Cassius speaks of a number of illnesses and the natura vesicae nervosa - "nervous nature of the bladder" when injured. Hoc maxime fieri solet cachexia laborantibus id est mala habitudine corporis – "{sc. These previously mentioned afflictions} stay mostly with those suffering from cachexia, which means having 'a weak or sickly disposition of the body'". The adjective cachecticus is used twice by Cassius, speaking of corpora cachectica - "bodies in an overall bad state of health".

At least according to some witnesses Simon seems to have thought that Latin speakers have their own form of the word: cacetia, different from Greek kachexia. Cacetia is however derived from Greek κακοήθεια /kakoḗtheia/, a compound noun consisting of κακο- /kako-/ "bad” + ἦθος /ethos/ "disposition, character", therefore meaning "bad disposition, malignity", which is semantically very similar to cachexia "bad general state of health". κακοήθεια /kakoḗtheia/ would be Latinized as cacoethia, written in medieval Latin as cacetia.

Simon also alludes to Dioscorides, where - Simon says – in the chapter De alosanthos {"On salt efflorescence"} the adjective cachoetica occurs. To throw light on this statement it is best to check the original Greek text first. In 5, 112, ed. Wellmann (1906-14: III.82), ἄνθος δὲ ἁλὸς /ánthos dè halòs/ {"salt efflorescence"}, the Greek text speaks however of κακοήθη … ἕλκη /kakoḗthē … hélkē/ "malignant … ulcers or sores". κακοήθης /kakoḗthēs/ is a compound adjective consisting of κακο- /kako-/ "bad” + ἦθος /ethos/ "character, disposition". Obviously here again Simon got mixed up between cachect-icus {"bad state of health"} and cacoeth-es or more Latinized cacoet(h)-icus {"malignant"}, perhaps understandably so since they are phonetically similar, cachecticus - cacoeticus, and there is some semantic overlap as well.

In Dioscorides alphabeticus, Bodmer f 16r, and in the Longobardic translation, 5, 137, ed. Stadler (1902: 229), De alosanctos, the adjective κακοήθης /kakoḗthēs/ remains untranslated, but some mss. have, cf. (1902: 229) Apparatus: [ulcera cicoetica purgat, cacoetica be, cacoce curat c,].

However the word cachecticus does occur in the Longobardic Dioscoridean text as well, i.e. in 2, 2, ed. Stadler (1899: 188), De ecino terreno {"On the land hedgehog", as opposed to the ecinus marinus, i.e. "sea urchin", which translates literally from Greek as "sea hedgehog"}. Here Dioscorides says that the cured meat of a hedgehog drunk with oxymel helps those with all kinds of afflictions, also the cacecticis, v.l. catheci - "those with cachexia". In the Greek original text of this chapter, Wellmann, vol. I, book II, chapter 2, p. 122, καὶ τοῦ χερσαίου δὲ ἐχίνου τὸ δέρμα /kaì toû khersaíou dè ekhínou tò dérma/ {"the skin of the land hedgehog …"}, the nominal form καχέκτης /kakhéktēs/, Latinized cachectes, "someone with cachexia" is used: βοηθεῖ … καχέκταις "it {sc. hedgehog flesh in oximel} helps those … with a body in bad general health".

Cachexia has survived into modern medical terminology, defined as a condition of abnormally low weight, weakness and general bodily decline associated with chronic diseases like cancer, pulmonary tuberculosis and malaria.

WilfGunther 22/11/12

See also: Kachexia

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