Greek Medicine in the 1st C. A.D. - Lecture 19.doc
Classical Studies 2900
Greek Medicine in the 1st C. A.D.
• Deduces that plumbers get lead poisoning and disease. White lead hurts humans.
These two facts lead him to think that lead is poisonous to the human body. This
allows him to determine lead pipes are bad for the body.
• However pipes are often lined with calcium and other minerals.
Passage # 236, Page 129
• By Scribonius Largus (1st c. A.D.)
• Collected plants (first hand experience) and writes about 271 recipes which are ar-
ranged ad capite ad calcem. He starts with conditions with recipes for headaches
and ends with gout.
• He discusses substances from plants, animals and minerals. He is mainly interest-
ed in plants their uses for certain conditions.
• He defends why he is doing this - tells us that medications are an important part of
medicine. He argued here against methodists which limit against the use of
harsher medications in their medicine.
• He says medicines are based on experience (influence of Empiricists).
• Experience gives the certainty that they work.
• These might work better than physicians that know all the theory but won't have the
same practical experience.
• Because medications can have this powerful and useful effect, it would be a crime
not to use them. It would be a crime to withhold them from the patient.
• 1st C. AD - this is the time you find references to the oath. This reminds us of the
Hippocratic Oath - should not harm anybody because you cannot give a poi-
sonous drug and cannot give an abortion.
• Can also see this in Soranus about abortion he is also in the 1st c. A.D. and we can
find these references to the Oath.
• You shouldn't give an abortive drug or a drug that kills anybody.
• You have different allegiances as a soldier - allegiance is to the country so as long
as you act as a soldier you can harm.
• Harm no one - help or at least not to harm.
• Help everyone equally - help someone as a higher or lower understanding. All men
are equal and you should help them all equally.
• Also can see the oath here because we don't want to harm anyone and we want to
help everyone equally. Want to help slaves, nonslaves and foreigners. The Latin
term for this would be humanitas.
• Humanitas - that all humans are equal.
• This might be influenced by a philosophical idea
◦ Stoic philosophy - Plato, Aristotle, Epicurius then Stoic (fourth philosophi-
◦ Derive their name from a building on columns in roofs. There was one par-
ticular building where Stoic teaching took place.
◦ Basic idea - one ruling principle in the world. (logos) which means reason.
They also call it pneuma which means air. This pnuema holds everything together. They think there is some kind of cohesive pneuma that holds
stones together and a natural pneuma that holds human beings together
and then humans also have pyshic pneuma or the soul so there is a natu-
ral tie between everyone which might have formed the idea of humanities.
Hierarchy of pneuma (ex. humans have soul).
• Talks about Hippocrates (seen as the father of medicine) putting humanity in the
soul of his students.
• If you harm an embryo, you are harming a human being. The life of humans is sa-
cred. If you don't harm an embryo, don't harm a human being.
• Medicine is the science of healing not of harming - quote from the oath.
• One can not harm a person fully formed. Wants to claim that you cannot withhold
medications from patients would mean to harm a person. This is kind of a reinter-
pretation of the oath.
• He wants to make sure that you should give people medications and not withhold.
• He travels around the Medditeranean because he describes plants from different
• Empirical idea that you look at something yourself. He is not just interested in listing
but has a more scientific aim in plants of different conditions.
• He has a scientific handbook of plants. They are organized as certain categories
which are then further divided into medicines derived from the roots and from
trees and shrubs.
• THis is not a piece of rhetoric but a book in which he tells us something useful.
• Autopsia - empirical catch word, something that you experience yourself.
• Historia - second leg of the empirical tripod, experience of others as they are writ-
• I shall endeavour to use a different arrangement - arranges the books by the prop-
erties of the plants. Plants with similar properties are grouped together.
• Drugs are an important part of medicine that belongs to all parts of medicine.
• You can continue research all the time.
• It is based on his own experience and he did all the history and used a different ar-
rangement - other people arrange drugs alphabetically. The other guy arranges
them according to diseases that they are useful for.
• He arranges them according to their properties. This arrangement was felt not quite
as useful as authorities thought. Earliest manuscript from 500 A.D. which has il-
lustrations like his and this manuscript the drugs are all arranged alphabetically
so so much for his idea.
• Start with an illustration.
• This does have properties that affect the nervous system.
• The goddess Heuress is within the figure holding a plant and showing you a specif-
ic appearance of the plant.
• The appearance specifies that is can be used in humans
• Could be used in operations.
Rufus of Epheses.
• 1st c. A.D. from a city in Asia Minor. • Probably studies medicine in Alexandria - good education in anatomy.
• Wrote several books some on individual diseases and wrote the first book on Ro-
man nomenclature that explains the different terms of the body. He also wrote a
book on how conduct a medical intervie