7

RELIGION AND MEDICINE IN FIFTH- AND FOURTH-CENTURY GREECE

On a remote hilltop in Southern Greece stands one of the most beautiful of all ancient temples. The temple of Apollo at Bassae was built by the architect Ictinus at the expense of the small town of Phigaleia around 425 BC. 1 The cost of building this temple, transporting the marble a considerable distance up the mountain and arranging for carving and decorations of superb quality would have been enormous, certainly, one might imagine, far more than the resources easily available to an unimportant town in the middle of a war. Pausanias, our ancient informant, links the dedication to Apollo Epikourios (the Bringer of Help) with dedications made in Athens at the same time to Apollo Alexikakos (the Warder-off of Evil) in an endeavour to put an end to the great plague. 2 Pausanias' instincts, if not his arguments, were sound. 3 Plague, as the historian Thucydides had already noted, has an impact upon religion as much as upon medicine. Just as a sick individual might have recourse to a god for assistance, so the leaders of a community suffering from a widespread disease might appeal for divine aid or advice. In 426, when there was a recurrence of plague at Athens, the authorities took advice from an oracle and purified the island of Delos, sacred to Apollo, by removing from it all dead bodies, forbidding all future burials on the island and reinstating a long-decayed festival of Apollo and Artemis. 4 At about the same time, the shrine of the daughters of Leos, who had delivered Athens centuries before from plague, seems to have been refurbished after years of neglect. Outside the city, in the deme of Melite a shrine was set up to Hercules Alexikakos (the Warder-off of Evil), whose cult statue was carved by Ageladas, one of the leading sculptors of the day. 5 And, within a decade at most, a completely new healing god had been introduced into Athens, Asclepius. 6

The burgeoning of the cult of Asclepius in the late fifth century BC is arguably as significant a development in the history of medicine as the contemporary ferment of medical theories that were later included in the Hippocratic Corpus. Asclepius came to be seen as the healing god par excellence, and the methods of healing favoured in his cult, principally incubation (seeking visions while sleeping in a temple), have often been regarded by historians as typifying all

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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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