• They are called the methodists and develop a certain method of treatment and it
• They also base their medical ideas on philosophical ideas.
• We have to consider for a moment the pre-Socratic times from the 5th C. B.C. to
the later Pre-Socratics. And the person by the name of Democritus; developed a
system in which the world consists of a combination of atoms.
• Atom is a Greek word meaning that which cannot be cut.
• They thought there were indivisible particles that could not be seen in one's eyes
and only one's mind.
• For some reason, they might collide and attach to each other so they form different
shapes and different sizes. From these, we get all the things that we can see with
• They don't think there is any will behind this that determines how these atoms join.
Epicurus and Lucretius
• The ideas of atoms influenced a Roman writer and he wrote a poem on the nature
of things. He picked up the idea of atoms and empty space and how things come
together by chance.
• If everything comes together just by chance (also human beings), there is really no
life after death.
Asclepiades of Bithnyia
• Lived in the 1st and 2nd century B.C. at around the same time as the Empiricists.
• Rome started to expand into Greece and conquered parts of Greece and became a
big city in need of physicians. This is the beginning of Greek medicine in Rome.
• He thought that the body just consisted tiny little corpuscles (means little body) not
unlike the atoms of Democritus.
• These are constant motion and for some reason also join at some point and join
different shapes and different positions. These can only be seen by the mind and
through these other corpuscles are a finer substance in fluid like blood.
• We know him mainly through other writings like Celsus and Galen. Galen is very
unsympathetic to this type of theory because he believes there is no nature that
arranges everything for the best. It is really up to chance and to fate.
• Another source is Soranus (Methodist) who wrote on gynaecology and wrote about
acute and chronic diseases.
• As long as those fluid corpuses move in a regular fashion through the corpuses,
everything is healthy. If this movement is impeded the person is diseased.
• How to get impeded?
◦ Somehow destructed (get stuck because are too big, move too fast, some
sort of object, passage is bent).
◦ Some kind of the disease means the body is kind of restricted. A fever
arises which is usually acute.
• Another disturbance would be when the passages are too wide, too many corpuses
would flow through which means that the body would lose too many corpuses
and would result in diarrhea. • We treat them by opposites. If the passages are too narrow or too bent, or if they
are obstructed then we have to use relaxing medications or treatment in order to
remove the obstruction.
• If the passages are too wide must use astringent to get passages narrow.
• He devised five types of treatments to remove obstructions.
◦ Treatment by regimen; food and drink.
◦ He was particularly interested in wine.
◦ Heat could also dissolve material so wine could be used in fevers to pro-
duce sweat and the sweat could somehow resolve obstructions.
◦ The second treatment could be massages to set the corpuses in motion
◦ Furthermore he could use baths and he was especially interested in cold
baths. The Greek term is psychrolusia which means cold baths. This is of
course fits into roman interests of different qualities of water. Cold has an
astringent property and would tighten passages.
◦ He would use exercise and walks which would get corpuses moving in
cases when they are obstructed. He would also use walks and passive ex-
ercise. This is when the person doesn't actively move his body himself.
This is a milder way of exercising.
◦ These four treatments are actually mild and he was against harsh medica-
tions. However he did use vivisection and cupping in certain diseases
when the blockage was too obstinate and could not be removed other-
After Asclepiades: Themison
• Asclepiades' student; we don't actually know.
• Took over his theory and developed it further.
• There are corpuses and passages that are too wide or too narrow.
• How do we know these passages at all? We don't know except for what comes out
of the body.
◦ The state of the body where nothing comes out and the person is consti-
pated and the body is kind of closed means that the corpuses in the body
are too dense and this means constricted state. One might call this a stric-
◦ When the passages are too wide, then too much flows out and the person
has diarrhea and nose bleeds and might sweat a lot which we might call a
◦ Statis mictus - a little bit of flow or at some point in the course of the dis-
ease could suffer from one or another condition, this is a mix of both. One
part of the body had one condition and the other part of the body had an-
◦ These are called communities or general states of the disease. He really
had to know the condition and then could use the treatment that would
counteract this position.
• Furthermore, he also for the first time differentiated clearly between acute and
chronic diseases and found that acute diseases were characterized by laxus and
chronic was characterized by mixture of corpuses. • Treatment could become complicated because of the different stages.
• He would divide treatment into acute disease that are characterized by phases.
◦ Divide into three day periods
■ Diatritos (three days) - treat for two full days and then change ther-
apy on third day.
■ Treatment wasn't that much different from Hippocratic treatment.
■ Don't give the person anything to eat and also not have him sleep
because sleep has an astringent quality so sleep might make it
worse if the disease is characterized by a stricture.
■ Don't treat the person until the end of the period, at the end of the
three day period.
■ Might use vivisection if he has high pain or a high fever.
■ If the person has a lot of pain then the first time you should warm
his body which will relax this stricture.
• He now talks about medicine that is almost contemporary and is adapted to Roman