Classics Notes – Mar. 6/12
- Rome conquered different places and they enslaved people who were knowledgeable in medicine. So
some Greek physicians were brought to Rome as slaves. Roman history starts in 8 c. BC (753 BC).
Latini people were a tribe living in this area, and Latin language formed from them. As they expanded
over Italy they met different people, such as the Etruscans, Greeks. They came into conflict with
Carthage, a city in Egypt. They also won a battle against Macedonia – this was the end of the
Hellenistic age and the beginning of Roman domination. The Romans dominated the eastern and
western parts of the Mediterranean. Romans were practical and were involved in trades. They were
interested in Greek things like science. They were educated. They translated a lot of Greek literature
into Latin, but they also viewed the Greek culture as luxurious. Pietas is a feeling of obligation or
loyalty towards ones ancestry, gods, parents, also socially superior to socially inferior. Fides. They
were filhellenics – they had ambivalence towards things Greek and were also traditionalists.
Aspects of Roman medicine:
1. Sanitary regulations – There was a lot of malaria and they knew that it had something to do with
stagnant water, so they created a drainage and sewage system. They created a cloaca maxima, which
is a large drain. It is built of stone and is underneath the city. It collects water and drains it into the
Tiber. They also built baths, which served hygienic and social needs. In the 1 c. AD they created
hospitals because it was important to keep the slaves (people working for them) healthy.
2. Religious medicine – Pietas, an obligation towards gods, was important to Romans. Different aspects
of human life were under the control of gods, such as fertility and health. Minerva was the goddess of
medicine in Rome, just as Apollo was the god of medicine in Greece.
3. Folk and lay medicine – This is medicine that was practiced by the head of a household, called the
pater familias. He was responsible for the health of his immediate family, as well as his livestock. This
was not Greek scientific medicine, but it was practical, using remedies (herbs, plants, foods) from
around the home. This was cheap and everybody had access to it. The Roman way of keeping healthy
was through a simple lifestyle involving exercise (keep body strong) so that they would not be in
need of more complex Greek medications. This was the view of people in the 1 c. AD when life was
4. Greek scientific medicine
- Nature provides everything that is needed to keep healthy. Our daily food should be our medicine.
This is a general Roman theme. They believed that complex medications with lots of ingredients were