14

HUMORAL ALTERNATIVES

The hostility of their enemies has rendered the reconstruction of the ideas and opinions of the Methodists difficult, but there can be little doubt as to the extent of their success and importance in the first and second centuries of the Roman Empire. The achievements of their rivals who favoured humoral theories are even more difficult to establish, for precisely the opposite reason. The suffocating friendship of Galen has tended to subsume all who agreed with him under the banner of Hippocrates and to imply that all were united in resisting the novelties of the Methodists and the Empiricists. Differences are downplayed, and Galen's precursors are rarely allowed to speak for themselves, even to be contradicted. Galen's egocentric rhetoric disguises his debts to his teachers, and developments within Hippocratism, so that it is often difficult to gain a comprehensive picture of what later medical writers called the Dogmatist viewpoint. Historians have until recently had to make do with a meagre collection of fragments in Greek and a handful of treatises, but the rediscovery of more writings of Rufus of Ephesus in Arabic translation, as well as others by Galen himself, has allowed a better understanding of Galen's place within the humoral tradition. He no longer appears so isolated as he claimed to be, and several of his striking medical methodologies can be seen to have been inherited from his teachers or from his immediate predecessors. At the same time, a clearer picture emerges of the ways in which doctors who did not believe in corpuscular theories but in humours applied them to medicine.

Among the most influential rivals of the Methodists of the first and second centuries were the Pneumatists, so called because they placed great emphasis on pneuma, or spirit, as the controlling factor in health and disease. 1 A passage preserved only in later translations of a work by Galen reveals that their founder, Athenaeus of Attaleia (S.W. Turkey), was a pupil of a certain Posidonius. 2 If this is the famous Stoic philosopher and scientist Posidonius of Apamea, and if Galen meant that Athenaeus actually sat at his feet (neither hypothesis is entirely proven), the sect would have been founded in the last century BC, and perhaps as early as 60 BC. 3 But neither Pliny nor Celsus refers to it, and, where dates can be assigned with confidence to its most famous adherents, none can be shown to have flourished before the middle years of the first century AD.

-202-

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Ancient Medicine
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations vii
  • Note to the Reader ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Abbreviations xiii
  • 1 - Sources and Scope 1
  • 2 - Patterns of Disease 19
  • 3 - Before Hippocrates 37
  • 4 - Hippocrates, the Hippocratic Corpus and the Defining of Medicine 53
  • 5 - Hippocratic Theories 72
  • 6 - Hippocratic Practices 87
  • 7 - Religion and Medicine in Fifth- and Fourth-Century Greece 103
  • 8 - From Plato to Praxagoras 115
  • 9 - Alexandria, Anatomy and Experimentation 128
  • 10 - Hellenistic Medicine 140
  • 11 - Rome and the Transplantation of Greek Medicine 157
  • 12 - The Consequences of Empire: Pharmacology, Surgery and the Roman Army 171
  • 13 - The Rise of Methodism 187
  • 14 - Humoral Alternatives 202
  • 15 - The Life and Career of Galen 216
  • 16 - Galenic Medicine 230
  • 17 - All Sorts and Conditions of (Mainly) Men 248
  • 18 - Medicine and the Religions of the Roman Empire 273
  • 19 - Medicine in the Later Roman Empire 292
  • 20 - Conclusion 310
  • Notes 317
  • Bibliography 419
  • Index of Names 465
  • Index of Topics 478
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