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Roman Medicine Essay

1219 words - 5 pages

“Mens sana in corpore sano” (Juvenal 10.356). A healthy mind in a healthy body, the Ancient Romans lived by this motto. The Ancient Romans believed that the health of the people was key to success in war and in creating a prosperous empire. Roman texts that have been gathered overtime have greatly influenced modern medical practices and without them, modern medicine would not be as advanced as it is today. The Ancient Romans learned numerous details about the human body and applied their knowledge in ways that were superior compared to other cultures occupying the time period. Roman medicine was advanced for its time because the Romans adopted advanced methods from Ancient Greek medicine, they organized architecture for the sake of public health, and because of their vast knowledge of disease, herbs, and medical tools.

The Romans would not have acquired an interest in medicine if it weren’t for early Greek influence. Around 500 BC, the Romans and the Greeks first came in contact with each other and by 146 B.C. a large portion of Greece had become a province of the Roman Empire. With the exposure to Greek traditions, the Romans began to obtain information from the Greeks, but only based their own ideas on Greek findings. Greek ideas were considered to be impractical and inferior to Roman ideas, which were always centered on bringing success to the empire. Once the Roman Empire expanded into Greece, many Greek doctors travelled to Rome. The Greeks brought with them new knowledge from Alexandria where human dissection was being practiced and vivisection of convicted criminals was considered acceptable. Later on, The Roman Empire would go on to concur Alexandria, gaining more knowledge from its Great Library, which held innumerable volumes of information and texts. Some of these Greek doctors who occupied Rome were kept as war prisoners and sold off as family doctors, which were considered to be a valuable asset to a household. Overtime, many of theses Greek doctors were able to buy their freedom and open up the first known medical practice facilities in Rome, since it was easier to make a living in Rome than in Greek cities. Some of the most famous Greek physician who moved to Rome included Galen, who became an appointed medic to Marcus Aurelius's son Commodus, Soranus, who became the chief representative of the Methodist school of medicine and Pedanius Dioscorides, who became a famous Roman Army doctor. Influences from Greek doctors continued on from this point and influenced Roman medicine for over 1,500 years.

The Romans knew a significant amount about public health. They understood the vital importance of exercise, eating healthy foods, and maintaining good hygiene in order to prevent the spread of diseases. Sustaining a good hygiene and staying physically fit was believed to fight disease, so most people spent their time and money staying healthy rather than spending money on a doctor to treat them. The Romans did believe that disease...

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