Roman Medicine

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Civilisation and Public Health

It took a while for the Romans to accept Greek Medicine.

  • Initally rejected ideas
  • 3&2nd century BC- many Greek doctors became slaves & some brought to Rome- still suspicious of ideas
  • 293BC- plague- Romans estavlished Asclepions- brought sacred snakes from Epidaurus- this asclepion survived throughout roman period- became public hospital- treat poor & slaves
  • Medicines & greek practitioners- slowly imporved in status until Julius Caesar allowed doctors to become Roman citizens- 46BC
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Civilisation and Public Health

The Romans realised they needed a healthy army.

  • State paid- public doctors & hospitals (Valentundinaria) for wounded soldiers
  • Army had doctors expected to carry out operations like removing arrows
  • Roman surgery had become more advanced- texts describe- how to removed badder stones & cataracts- effective
  • Roman doctors- increasingly sophisticated set of instruments
  • Galen

They took a preventative approach to Public Health.

  • Noticed- exposure to bad smells, unclean drinking water, sewage & dirt- get ill
  • Built aqueducts- carry clean water to cities & built public baths, toilets & sewers to remove waste
  • Roman style buildingd & ideas about public health spread around empire
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Dioscorides and Galen

Dioscorides wrote without mention of superstition.

  • Greek doctor born in Turkey- working for Roman army
  • Wrote 'De Materia Medica'- first on plants as medicines- without supernatural

Galen left an enduring legacy- despite many mistakes.

  • Pergamum(born)- important Aslepion- began training before going to Smyrna & Alexandria
  • Returned to Pergamum- doctor to gladiators & then went to Rome 61 AD
  • Very ambitious- became doctor to emperors son & wrote many texts
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Dioscorides and Galen

Galen believed in the Humours & observation.

  • Increase anatomical by dissecting animals- couldn't dissect humans outside of Alexandria
  • Many mistakes- humans are different to animals
  • Ambition got the best of him- only recorded successful cases & saw what he wanted to see
  • Thought- blood started life in liver & passed through body picking up spirits- finally comsumed rather than recirculated
  • Believed in treatment by opposites- based on idea of balance

Galens reputation lasted for centuries.

  • Great influence- doctor in arabic world & medival christian Europe
  • Writings covered all aspects of medicine- many survived
  • Writing- persuasive  did not stress polytheistic side of RC- so didn't offen monotheistic people- reasons work was copied & so survived
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