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On p. 188 of Breath, James Nestor writes:

The concept of prana was first documented in India and China…, some 3,000 years ago, and became the bedrock of medicine. The Chinese called it ch'i and believed the body contained channels that functioned like prana power lines connecting organs and tissues. The Japanese had their own name for prana, ki, as did the Greeks (pneuma), Hebrews (ruah), Iriquois (orenda), and so on.

Different names, same premise. The more prana something has, the more alive it is. Should this flow of energy ever become blocked, the body would shut down and sickness would follow. If we lose so much prana that we can't support basic body functions, we die.

My question: in Ancient Roman Latin, does anima or spiritus also denote breath in the sense of a life force that you take in from the air? If so or nearly so, what Roman writings attest to this?


I'm wondering partly because of this passage from Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata (X.52):

Cum homō spīrat, anima in pulmōnēs intrat at rūrsus ex pulmōnibus exit. Anima est āēr quī in pulmōnēs dūcitur. Quī animam dūcit animal est. … Sine animā nēmō potest vīvere.

and at XXVIII.89, a character explaining which gods rule the mundus universus says:

"…Pluto autem regnāret apud Īnferōs, ubi animae mortuōrum velut umbrae versārī dīcuntur."

with a marginal note saying "anima: fōrma hominis mortuī ut ex animā facta". I'm not sure if this means that in the Underworld, the dead are made of breath or only that they have invisible forms as if made of breath.

I gather that much of LLPSI is greatly simplified forms of classical writings, so perhaps these passages refer to some well-known ancient works.

Regarding spiritus, there is this well-known passage from Catholic liturgy, slightly different from the Vulgate's John 19:30:

Et inclinātō capite, ēmīsit spiritum.

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