From time immemorial, men have argued and even fought to the death over matters insignificant or actually trivial. In Greece, many centuries ago, two factions in a religious controversy fought a bloody battle over the mere spelling of a slogan, one side contending vehemently that is should be homoion, (literally similar), the other that homoiousion (of similar essence), was the only acceptable form.
For more than a century the homoeopathic fraternity has waged internecine warfare, bloodless to be sure but none the less persistent, over the two very small letters a and e. On the one hand stand those who contend that the Latin phrase or maxim expressing the method for finding the homoeopathic remedy should be written similia similibus curantur, on the other are those who are equally firm in the contention that the only correct reading is similia similibus curentur. Perhaps the matter is no more vital to the welfare of the homoeopathic school than were homoion and homoiousion to the Hellenic enthusiasts of old.
Even if the entire profession should vote unanimously for one or the other version, the law of similars would still continue to the basic law of cure. It is interesting to note that the advocates of curantur are, for the most part, those who adhere strictly to the teachings of the Organon; while the champions of curentur are to be found chiefly among the more liberal element of the homoeopathic ranks. Boenninghausen, Hering, Lippe, Wesselhoeft and other staunch disciples of the Master, invariably wrote curantur,.
Such shining lights as Hughes, Dudgeon and most of the translators of Hahnemanns works consistently employed curentur. Only Stratten, who translated the fourth edition of the Organon, took, the liberty of changing the curentur of the original to curantur, as it was also written by Hering in his introductory remarks to the same volume.
There are two considerations involved in the controversy: the exact meaning of the word itself and the form which Samuel Hahnemann deemed most appropriate.
Similia similibus curantur is usually translated likes cure likes; similia similibus curentur, or the subjective of the verb, let likes be cured by likes. I have a notion that the loyal followers of Hahnemann adopted curantur mainly because they felt that its meaning was more positive and that it proclaimed the law of similars as the only law of cure; the liberals, curentur as suggesting that the indicated remedy might sometimes fail. Yet the phrase similia similibus curantur is shown to be even more positive than its alternative, for, correctly translated, it reads let likes be cured by likes, which is in the nature of a command. This was perceived by Rau when he wrote in his Organon, similia similibus curanter, likes are to be cured be likes.
Haehl, in his Life and Letters of Samuel Hahnemann, refers to the fact that Hahnemann never wrote curantur, and mentions Dudgeons remarks on the subject.
Dudgeon, in a footnote to the appendix of his translation of the fifth edition of the Organon (London, 1893) wrote as follows:.
“The Latin formula employed by Hahnemann is frequently written erroneously similia similibus curantur and, as erroneously translated likes cure likes, Hahnemann was to good a Latin scholar to use the verb curare in the sense of to cure; besides he always wrote the formula similia similibus curentur, thereby giving an imperative or mandatory turn to the phrase. the translation must evidently he let likes he treated by likes. This is evident be a therapeutic maxim or rule. In the first edition of the Organon he calls the phrase guide to the true way of healing, (Anleitung zum “achten Heilweg) In the second, third and fourth editions it is the maxim (Satz). In the three first editions the Latin formula comes in after the German paraphrase.