Tag Archives: Antiquity

Medicine in the afterlife – The Egyptian Book of the Dead

Maureen Hirthler Bradenton, Florida, USA   “And therefore shall I neither be borne away, nor carried by force to the East to take part in the festivals of the fiends; nor shall there be given unto me cruel gashes with knives, nor shall I be shut in on every side, nor gored by the horns […]

Byzantine physicians

Greek physicians dominated medicine for almost two thousand years, beginning with the school of Hippocrates, of Herophilus and Erasistratus in Alexandria, and continuing after the Roman conquest. Celsus and Galen were in Rome; Dioscorides was in the Roman army during the reign of the Emperor Nero. Aretaeus of Cappadocia practiced sometime during the second century. […]

From the goddess of healing to hair of the dog: the role of canines in health myth and fact

Mariel Tishma Chicago, Illinois, USA    “A sculpture of Gula, Sumerian deity of healing, with a dog at her side.” Credit: Wellcome Collection. CC BY The landscape of Mesopotamia was riddled with challenges, but for every problem that arose there was a deity to petition. Of these perhaps the most well-known was Inanna or Ishtar, who influenced […]

Aristotle and the four humors

Aristotle is one of the greatest philosophers of all time. He has influenced human thought for almost 2500 years and many of his works are as relevant today as they were in the days of ancient Greece. Students of his philosophical works are likely to be familiar with his Nicomachean Ethics, Politics, Rhetoric, and Poetics, […]

Aretaeus of Cappadocia, second only to Hippocrates

Aretaeus was born in Cappadocia during the Roman hegemony over Greek Asia Minor. Few details are known about his life, but it is believed he studied in Alexandria and practiced medicine in Rome around the second century AD. After his death he was forgotten until rediscovered during the Renaissance, when a Latin translation of his […]

An ancient oath with modern significance

 Emmanuel Ugokwe SIA Africa and Society for Young Writers, Nigeria Southeast and SouthSouth Hippocrates of Kos Engraving by Peter Paul Rubens, 1638 About 400 BCE Hippocrates, commonly known as the father of medicine, wrote the Hippocratic oath. That noble, ethical creed still guides the medical profession. Is that what you have been taught? If so, you are […]

Alcmaeon of Croton, philosopher physician

Steph Magowan Royal Holloway, University of London   Alcmaeon of Croton remains one of the lesser known Presocratic writers, not only because of the sparse nature of his extant work but also because of his fragmentary treatment in modern scholarship. He is mentioned in passing but rarely fully examined, often even excluded entirely in work […]

Virgil and the Aeneid

Patrick Guinan Chicago, Illinois, United States   “Arma virumque canto.—I sing of arms and of a man” Virgil reading the Aeneid to Augustus and his sister Octavia, Jean Baptiste Wicar, c.1790,  Art Institute of Chicago, In the painting Octavia has fainted on hearing the name of her dead son, who may have been murdered by […]

Medicine in ancient Nineveh

Hussain A. Al-Sardar Essex, United Kingdom   A view of ancient Nineveh Introduction Mesopotamia is the land between the Tigris and Euphrates, currently in the southern part of Iraq. Many civilizations developed and vanished in this very fertile part of the world. The first civilization was that of the Sumerians, who invented the cuneiform tablets […]

Death in ancient times

George Dunea British Medical Journal, Volume 294, 18 April 1987   “Many a physician has slain a king!” the emperor Hadrian shouted aloud as he lay on his deathbed. But Augustus when he was near death gathered his friends to ask if, in the manner of actors, he deserved applause for having played well his […]