Classics Notes – Feb. 21/12
- Hellenistic Medicine began in the 3 c. BC in Alexandria, Egypt. This was the time just after Alexander
the Great. Ptolemy was interested in culture and founded a museum as a research institute. This
research institute allowed people to conduct research for the sake of research. This was the first time
dissection was performed. Human bodies were cut open and this was done on prisoners who were
condemned to death. Their bodies were given to research for vivisection. Diocles of Carystus (4 c. th
BC) wrote on all areas of medicine. He practiced Hippocratic humoral pathology. He wrote a book on
healthy lifestyle and treatment by diet and exercise, which was similar to the Hippocratic collection.
Praxagoras of Cos (4 c. BC) elaborated humoral pathology, distinguished between arteries and
veins, and had an interest in pulse as a diagnostic tool. He came up with 11 different humours and he
was interested in anatomy. He believed fluids moved (pulse) and this could be used as diagnostic aid
for changes in body. Artery means windpipe or air. Arteries are connected to air. He was possibly a
teacher of Herophilus. Herophilus and Erasistratos were around in the 3 c. BC. These four people
were considered dogmatists. Dogmatists are physicians believing in the use of reason (logos) to
understand the workings of the body in health and disease, since the physician must understand the
cause of the disease in order to treat it.
- Herophilus and Erasistratos made important anatomical discoveries based on dissection. They were
interested in research. In Hippocratic medicine, the body is a black box as they didn’t really
understand what was going on. They observed what was going on by looking at what came out of the
body and by analogy, but this was all just speculation. But now in the time of the dogmatists, the body
is being opened and it can be observed theoretically and this new knowledge can be used for
improved treatment. Dogmatists had different beliefs about how diseases arise. The Greek word
dogma means belief, so these people were called dogmatists or rationalists (reason) or logikon.
- This passage is written by Celsus. According to him to four dogmatic sources of knowledge were
evident causes, hidden causes, natural actions, and internal parts. Hidden causes are things that go on
inside body (internal factors), like the movement of fluids. Evident causes are things you can see
(external factors), such as heat, cold, hunger, and surfeit. Natural actions are physiological processes,
such as digestion and respiration. Internal parts are the internal organs and their structure, and
these parts can now be observed directly because of dissection. Physicians must have knowledge of
all of these things in order to properly treat patients. Anatomy in Greek is anatome and dissection is
the literal translation of anatome, and it means to cut open. They believe that the body must be cut
open and the parts looked at directly in order to learn about their structure. Dogmatists believed that
it was best to observe parts when patients were still alive. If you don’t know where a part is, you
cannot know how to treat that part, and you cannot even apply external medicines. You can’t know if
a part is healthy or not if you don’t know what it looks like when it is in health. It is best to do
vivisection when the person is alive, because once they die the parts change. Prisoners were used for
this because they would have been tortured anyways and it would have been good for all of mankind.
They believed that dissection and vivisection were necessary and important for health and
treatment. - Herophilus made many anatomical discoveries. He distinguished between motor and sensory nerves.
Neuron is a Greek word and it means nerve, ligament, or tendon. The i