I thought I might chase down the origins of metastasis. The Middle-Liddle gives μετάστασις as
- a removing, removal
- a being put into a different place, removal, migration
- a changing, change, as in Sophocles' θυμῷ μετάστασιν διδόναι, to allow a change to one's wrath, i. e. suffer it to cease
- a change of political constitution, revolution
Lots of ancient authors used the term. But the big question, of course, is how it shows up in Plato's dialogues. It occurs twice in the Laws.
ἐνδεικνύτω ταῖς ἀρχαῖς εἰς κρίσιν ἄγων τὸν ἐπιβουλεύοντα βιαίου πολιτείας μεταστάσεως inform the magistrates by prosecuting the plotter on a charge of violent and illegal revolution [856c]
...τὸν μὲν θάνατον ἀφελεῖν τοῦ τρώσαντος, μετάστασιν δὲ εἰς τὴν γείτονα πόλιν αὐτῷ γίγνεσθαι διὰ βίου, καρπούμενον ἅπασαν τὴν αὑτοῦ κτῆσιν. …the wounder shall be relieved of the death-penalty, but shall be deported for life to a neighboring State, enjoying the fruits of all his own possessions. [877a-b]
τεττάρων γὰρ ὄντων γενῶν ἐξ ὧν συμπέπηγεν τὸ σῶμα, γῆς πυρὸς ὕδατός τε καὶ ἀέρος, τούτων ἡ παρὰ φύσιν πλεονεξία καὶ ἔνδεια καὶ τῆς χώρας μετάστασις ἐξ οἰκείας ἐπ᾽ ἀλλοτρίαν γιγνομένη, πυρός τε αὖ καὶ τῶν ἑτέρων ἐπειδὴ γένη πλείονα ἑνὸς ὄντα τυγχάνει, τὸ μὴ προσῆκον ἕκαστον ἑαυτῷ προσλαμβάνειν, καὶ πάνθ᾽ ὅσα τοιαῦτα, στάσεις καὶ νόσους παρέχει For seeing that there are four elements of which the body is compacted,—earth, fire, water and air,—when, contrary to nature, there occurs either an excess or a deficiency of these elements, or a transference thereof from their native region to an alien region; or again, seeing that fire and the rest have each more than one variety, every time that the body admits an inappropriate variety, then these and all similar occurrences bring about internal disorders and disease.
So how did Joseph Récamier strike on metastasis to describe his findings in 1829? Was the term just floating in the ether? Was it currently in use to describe something else? Was he a philological hobbyist? Did he, after a particularly gory day at work, dismayed by the reappearance of a presumedly vanquished tumor, pour himself a drink, reach for his beloved set of classics, and strike upon this specimen of teleological anatomy? Now that would make for the nice opening of a novel.