Classics Notes – Feb. 28/12
- Methodists developed a certain method of treatment. Methodos or method means way. They also
based their ideas on philosophical ideas. Democritus (pre-socratic, 5 /4 c. BC) believed that the
world consists of atoms moving empty space. Atom in Greek means that which cannot be cut or
divided. He thought they were indivisible particles that could only be seen with the mind and not
eyes. They travel or float through a void space or vacuum, and they can accumulate together. There is
no nature behind it to determine how they float or move. Epicurus (341-270 BC) and Lucretius (1 c. st
BC) also believed that things come together by chance.
- Asclepiades (2 /1 c. BC) moved to Rome, which had now become a larger city and had started to
expand into Greece. It needed physicians. This is the beginning of Greek medicine in Rome. We don’t
have his writings; we just know about his ideas from other sources. He believed that the body
consists of little bodies (corpuscles), which is similar to the idea of atoms, and that these corpuscles
combine to form passages. These bodies are in constant motion and can join and form different sizes
and shapes that can only been seen through the mind. They form passages in the body through which
fluids can flow. These passages can be wide or narrow depending on the size, form, position, and
arrangement of the corpuscles. Through these passages other corpuscles pass in the form of bodily
fluids (blood, pneuma). This idea has nothing to do with nature/teleology; it has to do with chance.
As long as these fluids move through these passages normally, the person is healthy. But if fluid flow
is impeded, the person may become ill. Health is the proper relationship of passages and fluids and
disease is disturbance of this relationship. Treatment is removal of the disturbance. If the passages
are too wide, too many corpuscles can flow through. The passages may also be too narrow.
Treatment is by opposites. If there is an obstruction, a relaxing treatment must be used, and if they
are too wide, an astringent treatment must be used. He thought that wine heats the body and this
could dissolve material (cause sweating) and this would resolve obstruction. Massage was also used
to dispel stuck fluids. Cold baths (psychrolusia) would be used if passages were too wide because the
cold would tighten them. Walking was also used as treatment. Passive exercise is when the person is
carried or moved without actually moving himself (boat, hammock, wagon). Asclepiades was against
harsh medications because he thought it would harm the body (was against cutting and burning).
The Hippocratic idea of helping but not harming is contained within this idea. He used vivisection or
cutting though if the blockage could not be removed any other way. Treatment should be safe, fast,
and plesant (tuto, celeriter, iucunde). Sleep has an astringent quality, so people shouldn’t sleep or eat
if their passages are narrow. Also, if the person has a lot of pain, their body should be warmed
because this would relax the stricture or narrowing.
- Themison (1 c. BC/1 c. AD) took over his theories and developed them further. He believed that we
can determine the state of passages by looking at what comes out of the body. If nothing comes out of
the body, he concluded that the corpuscles were too big and he called this status strictus (stricture).
If passages are too wide, too much comes out of the body, and he called this status laxus (solution). If
there was a combination of both, he called this status mixtus. These conditions were called
communities or general states (commonalities, communitates). He differentiated between acute
(swift) and chronic (slow) diseases. He also differentiated between different phases of diseases, and