ANCIENT GREEK MEDICINE Jonathon Erlen, Ph.D.
We cannot really talk about medical "science" in these 2 civilizations, as their approach to ill healthand medicine wasreligious rather than scientific as we use this term today.
We must, however, be very careful not to overstate the views and contributions of ancient Greek medicine. Their anatomical and physiological opinions did not directly lead to modern Western medicine.
In fact, much of the Greek medical legacy would actually hinder the evolution of medical science in the Western world.
Ancient Greek society was built around the polis , or city-state, such as Athens and Sparta. The polis was roughly the size of one of our current counties and contained one major city or town.
Homer continued the Mesopotamian and Egyptian theory of disease causation by blaming diseases on divine intervention by the gods.
The first recorded natural philosopher of Miletus was Thales, whom we can say flourished in 580 B.C. Thales was a wealthy man who had made a fortune selling olive presses and then retired.
In retirement this philosopher speculated about the nature of "being", in other words what was Physis [pronounced foosis] or the nature of nature. What caused or was necessary for life?
Thales postulated that all life came from hudor, which is Greek for water
Thales' idea was ridiculed by following philosophers over the next century who came up with their own definitions of physis, of being.Fire Fire Air Earth
EMPEDOCLES’4ELEMENTS WATER EARTH FIRE AIR
In one of his books, Timaeus, Plato discusses the basis of good health and the cause of diseases, saying they both depended on the appropriate balance of the 4 elements, proper nutrition, and proper respiration.
Plato did break with Empedocles' teachings concerning the site of intelligence in the body. While Empedocles had place this location in the heart, Plato claimed that intelligence was located in the brain. Plato also credited the blood with providing nutrition throughout the body.
Plato had no first hand medical experience and never dissected animals-he based his medical theories on his studies of the writings of earlier medical authorities and natural philosophers, the works of contemporary medical authors, and tied these views together with his own physical theory of the universe, thus creating a systematic and detailed medical theory for his time.
TELEOLOGY Nature with a Purpose
ASCELPIADS They were iatros, Greek physicians, who were members of the guild dedicated to Asclepios, the healing god of ancient Greece.