The fact that people age and die has always stimulated extensive philosophical and medical investigations in all societies. The early theories of ageing that arose in ancient Greece and revived in the Middle Age saw old age as a consequence of the gradual consumption of the innate heat with the inevitable loss of body moisture, according to Hippocrates’ system of four‐humours (fifth century BC). The idea that senescence was itself an illness, the image of the aged body as a lamp in which life‐fuel has run out, the character alterations of elders, the attempt to prolong life through specific diet or by substituting damaged body parts were the main themes around which research into ageing and senescence revolved from the Renaissance to the eighteenth century. The fresh tools provided by evolutionary theory and molecular biology have opened new vistas, sometimes retrieving old conceptions, of the intimate mechanisms underlying the recent prolongation of life expectancy.
History of Research into Ageing/Senescence / Grignolio, A; Franceschi, C. - (2012). [10.1002/9780470015902.a0023955]