Ancient Greece - Exam Questions

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Exam Question 1

Briefly describe the work of Hippocrates (5) 

Hippocrates is recognised as being the father of modern medicine. He was a Greek doctor who developed the theory of the four humours, which was the idea that humours in the body (blood, phlegm, yellow bile, black bile) had to balance. Hippocrates used clinical observation, which meant observing the patients and writing the treatments and symptoms down, and he wrote many of his ideas down in books. His followers built on these books, known as the Hippocratic collection, which were the basis of medical education until the Renaissance. 

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Exam Question 2

Explain why the Greeks were able to make so much progress in medicine (7)

The Greeks were able to make so much progress because of the idea of clinical observation. This meant that doctors made a detailed record of what their patients' symptoms were, which treatments they had used and how effective the treatment was. By sharing these ideas, doctors could get to effective cures more quickly.

The Greeks also had Alexandria, which was a centre of learning and education for doctors who were important to Greek medicine. The Hippocratic Collection was held there and doctors could train using these works. 

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Exam Question 3

Explain why the Greeks used both natural and supernatural approaches to medicine. (7)

The Greeks used both natural approaches to medicine, such as the four humours, and supernatural ones, such as their belief to the god Asclepios.

They were able to use both methods at the same time because they believedthey were both important part of life.

The Greeks would go to an Asclepion if they were ill. There, they would rest, eat carefully, exercise and sleep, all of which are treatments that we know to be very effective. Meanwhile they believed that the god would make them better. The two approahces can therefore coexist.

Hippocrates' four humours were at the core of natural approaches. Treatments focused on the whole body, diet, exercise and lifestyle. However although all these treatments could be very effective, we now know the theory of the four humours to be incorrect and therefore other treatments, such as bleeding, were of little use. Neither supernatural or natural approaches were 100% effective and so the Greeks used a combination of the two as a treatment.

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