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Ancient Greek Medicine Essay

2267 words - 10 pages

The direct relationship between one and the ability to restore one's body to its original state of health may never be fully comprehended. The fields of medicine and health are two most paramount features affecting the daily lives of all beings. Throughout recorded history, various cultures concoct their own methods of alternative medicine for treatment and therapy which is then relied on by todays nations. Medicine in its earliest times begins with the ancient civilizations' assimilation with the world around and their beliefs on how things function. Ancient Greek medicine may have began with spiritual beliefs but Greek practitioners had steered the medical profession in the right direction for modern times.
To fully comprehend Greek medicine, one must first endeavour to acquire knowledge on how it all begins. “In Greek mythology, a demi-god hero by the name of Asclepius was conceived by Apollo, the god of music, healing and prophecy and Coronis, a mortal princess. The mother of Asclepius, Coronis, was unfaithful to Apollo. Apollo then killed her for her unfaithfulness to the god. She was placed upon a funeral pyre so her body can be cremated. As her body commenced to burn, Apollo felt sorrow for his unborn son and snatched the child Asclepius from his mother's corpse, saving him from death. The god then handed Asclepius to the Centaur Chiron who became his tutor and mentor in the art of healing” (Leadbetter). Asclepius later becomes the god of medicine and healing. “In Epidaurus, his most famous sanctuary was establish in addition to throughout the Greek world. The cult of Asclepius became very popular during the 300s BCE and the cult centres (known as an Asclepieion) were used by priests to cure the sick. ‘The cult developed old theories and introduced several treatments not too different from modern ‘alternative medicine’(Ancient Greek Medicine) Sick patients came to the temples of Asclepius to perform the rite of incubation. During this process, the patient spent the night in the temple, hoping for the god to visit them with a miraculous cure, or a dream with a prescription or encoding of the cure in some form” (Kellie). “The cures would then later be self-administered or carried out by resident priests in the more complex cases. Thankful patients often left votive offerings at the site, sometimes depicting the body part which had been cured. The site also had a 6000 seat theatre (340-330 BCE) which is the best preserved theatre in Greece and still in use today”(Cartwright).
The legacy of the ancient Greek world on medical practice have been tremendous. “In the Hippocratic Corpus ‘which is roughly 70 medical works written between 450 and 350 B.C’, disease was thought to be caused by isonomia, the predominance of one of the 4 bodily humors, which are Blood, Black bile, Yellow bile and Phlegm ” (Gill). Thus developing the Theory of the Four Humors created by Hippocrates. According to Gill, each humor is identified with one of the...

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