ancient alexandrian and roman medicine
Skip this Video
Download Presentation

Loading in 2 Seconds...

play fullscreen
1 / 102

Before we discuss the Hellenistic medical world - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

  • Uploaded on

ANCIENT ALEXANDRIAN AND ROMAN MEDICINE. Jonathon Erlen , Ph.D . University of Pittsburgh. Before we discuss the Hellenistic medical world, we need to define what we mean by the Hellenistic period, which is 1 of the most intriguing, yet confusing eras in world history.

I am the owner, or an agent authorized to act on behalf of the owner, of the copyrighted work described.
Download Presentation

PowerPoint Slideshow about 'Before we discuss the Hellenistic medical world' - Mia_John

An Image/Link below is provided (as is) to download presentation

Download Policy: Content on the Website is provided to you AS IS for your information and personal use and may not be sold / licensed / shared on other websites without getting consent from its author.While downloading, if for some reason you are not able to download a presentation, the publisher may have deleted the file from their server.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - E N D - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Presentation Transcript
ancient alexandrian and roman medicine


Jonathon Erlen, Ph.D.

University of Pittsburgh

Before we discuss the Hellenistic medical world, we need to define what we mean by the Hellenistic period, which is 1 of the most intriguing, yet confusing eras in world history.

Unfortunately we hit a major roadblock in our examinations of the work of these 2 great Alexandrian medical figures because we have none of their original writings. All we have are the commentaries about their work by Galen of Pergamon who lived in the 2nd century AD and other later medical compilers.


After perhaps this one century of scientific research freedom, outside forces such as religions factors were to create barriers to medical research and education that in some cases lasted into the 19th century in the United States.


In Alexandria, Ptolemy Physcon, during the 2nd century B.C.E., for unspecified reasons, decided to severely limit the academic freedom which had existed under his predecessors at the museon. He ordered the execution of a number of scholars for no apparent reason, and dispersed many more researchers to various points throughout the Mediterranean world.


The remaining medical scholars formed 2 bitterly opposing factions of medical thought, with 1 upholding the anatomical doctrines of Herophilus, while the other staunchly supported the precepts of Empedocles and the 4 elements.


What emerged from the Hellenistic and Alexandrian medical endeavors were 4 competing schools of medical philosophy, all of which were transmitted, to some degree, to ancient Rome.


Long before this time; however, ancient Romans had developed their own, very different pattern of health care.

common roman diseases

Common Roman Diseases



Typhus Fever


The first Greek doctor to supposedly arrive in Rome was Archagathus of Sparta in 219 B.C.E., though there certainly were others who preceded him.


Over the following centuries Greek iatroi from the various parts of the Hellenistic world arrived in Rome in ever increasing numbers.


At first many of these philosophically trained iatroi came as slaves, as Rome solidified its military hold over the Near East.


As Greek medical concepts became more popular, especially among members of the upper class; however, we find efforts in the Empire period to actively attract Greek doctors to Rome.

roman emperors granted greek physicians willing to come to rome

Roman emperors granted Greek physicians willing to come to Rome:

high status of Roman citizenship

freedom from military service

no taxation of their incomes


It was in their practicality and their greatness in large‑scale organization that the Romans made their major contributions to medicine and public health.


This point is well illustrated by the massive public works projects during the Roman Empire, undertaken to assure an adequate water supply and acceptable public sanitation.


Roman technical and hygienic public health achievements clearly surpassed any purely medical advances made in this period, and this fact can at least be partially attributed to the Roman belief that it was far more important to maintain one\'s good health than to depend on medicine’s ability to cure disease.