Roman Medicine II
Will talk about:
• Vitruvius (1st C. B.C.)
• Celsus (1st C. A.D.)
• Scribarius Largus (1st C. A.D.)
• 291 BC Asclepius
• 219 BC Archagathus
• 100 Aslepiades
• Architect, wrote 10 books on architecture which became important for building in
Italy during the Renaissance.
• Architects must know something about medicine because the architect must lay out
the city so that it is conducive to health or that they avoid sites and directions that
• He took this method of sacrificing the animal and looking at the liver and reinter-
prets it medically. If the liver of the animal is sound, then it is healthy because
the food that is grown on this side is healthy. If the liver shows certain abnormali-
ties then the food that grows on this side is not healthy which is deflected in the
animals liver. Do not build the city on this side! Because the food will be unwhole-
• This shows the knowledge of the relationship for the liver in the digestive system.
• The liver is an organ for blood formation.
• It is important which direction the city or the individual buildings will face. Eastern
has the advantage that in the summer the sun will shine over the roof of the
buildings. And in the winter will shine into the windows to heat the inside.
• Make sure to use eastern exposure, do not build facing west or south.
• Stagnant water - do not build beside this.
• To protect the cities and the buildings from winds. Winds have certain properties
that might such out the strength of people's bodies.
Fig. 33, Page 122
• Shows how the city should be laid out
• Main directions of the winds
• See the square at an angle to the directions of the winds. Little squares are city
blocks. The name or this is insula (island).
• Between the city blocks are the streets. The streets are directed at an angle to the
directions of the main winds.
• You would shut out the main winds from blowing through the streets. Winds can
cause diseases. Especially respiratory diseases. Mild air in a city that is protect-
ed from winds. Mild air builds up the body and strengthens and restores people.
Passage 223, Page 118
• About exposure of the theatre
• It was a built up structure the size of one city block and had a curved seating sever-
al meters high with a wall around it.
• In front of the seating area was the ?? • Everybody went to the theatre. If you are motionless, that means you are at rest
and relaxed. If you are spell bound and excited, you would think that would re-
strict your body but your pores are open so outside influences can get into your
body and cause disease.
• Pores are open into which blowing winds find their way. Winds are potentially dan-
gerous. If these winds come from marshy districts or other unwholesome waters,
they could induce disease.
• Again, this talks about the stagnant water and its harm.
• Does not talk about the little creatures but he still sees the connection.
• Southern exposure - bad because it has been heated from air the early morning.
Have an enclosed area and the air sits there because there is no ventilation and
the air becomes hot. Heat attracts and takes out the moisture of the body and
dries out the body.
• Medical idea where fluids do play a role like the Hippocratics.
• We can see he takes medical ideas from different medical places and is Eclectic.
• This means to choose things from different places.
• The air can also have a positive influence. It can also purify the body and not only
take strength out the body. Particular kind of air - air that has been refined and
rarefied through being around greenery. This is what he tells us in the next pas-
sage. When it finds its way into the human body, it can take out harmful and su-
perfluous fluids. If you exercise in clean places and grow warm, your pores will
open and harmful humours will be sucked out which will make the person more
• It can be harmful as flowing winds and when it is hot by drying out the body. But it
can be helpful if it is rarefied.
• Note the humoural pathology.
• The city should have many green parks and places where people can exercise
Bath according to Vitruvius
• Fig. 132 Page 120
◦ These Romans baths date from before 79 A.D., they were both found in
Pompeii before the volcano erupted.
◦ Roman bath was an extensive structure. Would take the place of one insu-
la or city bath. It is surrounded by shops and might affect several en-
trances. Part of it was taken up by the polestar or an open court of exer-
cises and had a swimming pool attached to it which we see in all those il-
lustrations. It also had a toilet. These toilets were public with several
seats in one large room. In front was a water channel for cleaning and un-
derneath the seats was the sewage.
◦ You would first get through the change room and then go through a se-
quence of rooms. You would start with the cold room. Then you would get
into a warm or luke warm room and then finally the hot room.
◦ The hot room was heated underneath the floor with furnaces. This is
through a system called hypocaust. The floor was suspended in the cala-
dium. It was suspended on little columns on stone or bricks and the hot air
would circulate through the columns and then through the walls and es-
cape through chimneys. ◦ The furnace should be built close to calderium
◦ Would also go into sweat room which was a square. You could adjust the
◦ You would then reverse the sequence and go back to the cold room.
• This is based on methodist principles of corpuscle medicine - gradually adjust the
body to heat and the pores would open and you would sweat our all impurities
and you would end up with a cold room and a cold bath and you would close the
pores and constrict the pores and the heat would stay inside the body and if it is
cold outside it would not harm your body.
• Soranus tells us that when you bathe a baby that you should use water that is
pleasant for the baby's skin. Then gradually adjust the baby and then wash with
cold water at the end to close the pores and keep the heat in. (Methodist princi-
ples). This is described in 225.
• Adjust size of bath to population. It is also a social place where you would talk
• Everybody went to the bath and everyone went for hygienic and social reasons.
Women went too separately either at separate times or in a separate place. In
the second century AD, these baths became extremely elaborate.
• The two hot rooms should be close together so that two hot rooms can be heated.
They became extremely elaborate with marble and laid out symmetrically.
Properties of Water
• Vitruvius was concerned about properties of water. Talks about specific properties
• At this time, Romans build spas which spread all over the empire.
• Drinking of the water and bathing have certain health properties.
• Water can be harmful if it comes into contact with certain metals; lead. One should
not use lead pipes but use clay pipes.
• He recommends that one should not use lead pipes but clay pipes.
Passage # 226
• Aqueducts- raised structures that carry water.
• Clay is easier to work with because damage to them can be repaired.
• Lead is harmful.
• P. 11 - E. word plumber comes from latin word for lead. Plumber is a person who
works with lead.
• When lead is melted, fume will settle on the body. There are certain exhalations
from things that get into the body and burns out the strength.
• Lead gets into the body and burns out the strength. People who work with a certain
material for a long time develo