Ancient Medicine (Sciences of Antiquity Series)

Ancient Medicine (Sciences of Antiquity Series)

Vivian Nutton

Language: English

Pages: 504

ISBN: 0415520959

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

The first edition of Ancient Medicine was the most complete examination of the medicine of the ancient world for a hundred years. The new edition includes the key discoveries made since the first edition, especially from important texts discovered in recent finds of papyri and manuscripts, making it the most comprehensive and up-to-date survey available.

Vivian Nutton pays particular attention to the life and work of doctors in communities, links between medicine and magic, and examines the different approaches to medicine across the ancient world. The new edition includes more on Rufus and Galen as well as augmented information on Babylonia, Hellenistic medicine and Late Antiquity.

With recently discovered texts made accessible for the first time, and providing new evidence, this broad exploration challenges currently held perspectives, and proves an invaluable resource for students of both classics and the history of medicine.
















established, treatment followed logically, and there was no need for an excessively complicated nosology or symptomatology. That did not mean a neglect of careful observation and description, for Asclepiades seems to have delighted in pointing out the mistakes in others’ characterisations of particular conditions. Whereas some doctors believed that inflammation of the nerves was far more dangerous and painful because nerves were more sensitive than flesh, he denied that they had any sensation at

to the detriment of their Roman patients.65 Like ornamental tables, medicine was an index of immorality, proof of society’s descent from pristine virtue into the moral sink of Neronian Rome.66 Pliny’s criticism did not lack evidence: his historical examples, and others found in more sober writings, were truly shocking. Furthermore, in subsequent ages, the near total absence of medical texts in Latin from the period before AD 400 appeared to confirm that this was not a subject with which students

the sensation of sight is transmitted to the brain, talking instead about the fiery, gleaming and transparent elements that are contained within the eye, his information on sight almost certainly derived from his knowledge of the optic nerve, for, according to the fourth-century AD commentator on Plato, Chalcidius, ‘he was the first to dare to essay the excision of the eye’.81 What is meant by this is not at all clear. It is unlikely that Alcmaeon dissected in any modern sense of the word, and it

of ailments. Affections is written for the layman, The Use of Liquids for the practitioner with his own surgery. Some, particularly Breaths, are written in elegant prose; others, most notably the Epidemics, represent case notes at various stages of creation and selection.48 No generalisation can cover all the texts, and no summary can do more than hint at the multiplicity of (often conflicting) theories they contain.49 Together they show the gradual creation of a form of medicine that came to

hour or so, but unceasingly throughout his whole life, he comes to penetrate whatever topic he chooses, reaching his goal by persistent enquiry into everything that might be relevant.59 Erasistratus appears to have been the first to discover all the valves in the heart and to have examined their workings in considerable detail before concluding that they were there to prevent any reflux as the heart expanded and contracted ‘like a smith’s bellows’.60 He traced the pathways of both veins and

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