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Lecture 12

Hellenistic Medicine - Lecture 12.doc

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Western University
Classical Studies
Classical Studies 2900
Beate Gundert

Hellenistic Medicine 5th Century • classical period that is the period of the Greek city state. Towards the end of the 5th century, there is a power struggle between Athens and Sparta that results in the Peloponessian War. This is the end of the city-states of this region. This also marks the end of the classical period. • Education was also by teachers that were itinerant. They went from place to place and talked in places like the gymnasia. They were called Sophists (people who have knowledge). 4th Century • post-classical period, the time of Aristotle (384-322 B.C.). He was the tutor of Alexander the Great (356-323). • Theophrastus - wrote on ethics and human nature. He also wrote on more scientific studies. He classified plants and also noticed that there was a limit of classifica- tion and that reality cannot be cut into neat slices. • He had a classification of plants based on if they were trees, shrubs or herbs and then further divided them into cultivated or uncultivated. • These different divisions would not neatly fit into the different categories but that they were cross divisions and cross sections. • Medicinal plants - describes the properties and effects of drugs in these writings. • Note: peripatos - walking Passage #159, Page 73 • Effect of drugs depends on the constitution of the person - habits and health. • This person seems to be a person who collected drugs and sold them and also wrote about their effects. • Drugs were sold at the marketplace and this vendor was able to eat one root of a very violent drug. Then a shepherd came along who was used to this drug and ate more than one root and destroyed this vendor's reputation. • Food is something that the body is used to but drugs are different because the body is not used to it and the body is not used to it. They have the effect of purg- ing the body in this way. They were mainly used at this time to have a purging ef- fect. Some drugs did have a soothing effect. • Some people might be more able to take on drug than another. They might already be used to it. • Effect of the drug depends on the constitution of the person. If you take a drug more often in minimizes the effect. • Usually you take the antidote before you take the drug. The antidote we see in Homer with the sorcerous. The God Hermus gives Ulysses a plant which he should take which will counteract the effect of the potion he was given. He was not turned into a pig because of this. • Kings were often afraid to be poisoned so they developed a habit of taking a daily does of antidotes. Politics • By the end of the 5th century, the city-state had lost power. • Macedonia - by the end of the 5th century the father of Alexander the Great de- feats the combined Greek city-states which marks the end of this period of city- states. They fall under Macedonian rule. • He founded Alexandria in Egypt - have a map about this and about his empire. • He encounters many different people and tries to make them into Greeks - Hel- lenistine, Hellenistic comes from this word. These people were not Greeks, but had a little Greek culture. • They were not citizens of one particular rule but were called cosmopolitan or citi- zens of the world. • Found some scientific institutions - library. This is the time where medical manuscripts from the 5th century were being collected. This is where the Hippo- cratic manuscripts were being collected. • Mouseion - sacred to the Muses that are the divinity of culture. • Scholars had complete freedom to carry out any research that they want and this becomes important to medicine. • End of the 4th century is the century of science and research in Alexandria in Egypt. • See a shift of the culture centre from Athens to Alexan
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