Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Pre-classical Greek medicine

Greek medicine can be divided into two developmental phases: pre-classical medicine (1200-550 BC) and classical medicine (550-136 BC).

Pre-classical Greek medicine, like the early medicine of Sumer and Egypt was closely associated with magic and religion. Greek language has no world to describe health in a purely ‘clinical’ sense.

Seers, bards and healers were often thought to have magic, sacerdotal powers; Empedocles considered doctors to be ‘elevated even to the status of gods.’

Like other earlier peoples, the Greeks developed the idea that humans could placate the god’s anger through ritual and sacrifice and these practices formed the center of early Greek religion and medicine.

The Greeks believed that disease derived from an inner imbalance and not from outside pathogens. The key to good health was to maintain a balance of the bodily fluids, ‘The four humors’.

Health, healing and religious faith were regarded as one and the same the condition of mans was determined by the will of the gods or of daemons.

Most Greek physicians learned their craft through apprenticeship, though there were some written materials of the time providing clinical descriptions of diabetes, tetanus, diphtheria and leprosy.

The Greeks did not have hospitals, so patients were either treated at their own homes, at the home of a physician or at a shrine of Asclepius.

At the beginning of the fifth century BC, the most important centers of medicine were those of Croton and Sicily in Italy and those of Cos and Cnidus in Greece.
Pre-classical Greek medicine

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