Was Roman medicine the same as Greek medicine?

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Was Roman medicine the same as Greek medicine?

300BC the Roman Empire was gaining power and strength, but at the same time the Greek Empire was growing weaker. By 120AD Rome controlled most of the Mediterranean lands and Western Europe. The Romans took over most of the Greeks old empire thus leading to the two empires being closely connected. These connections affected Roman medicine, so much so that we must question as to if Roman medicine was the same as Greek medicine. We must look at the differences and similarities in the factors science and technology, individuals, religion, chance, improved communications, war and government.

The Greeks had many Gods. They had a God of wisdom, God of the sea and a God of laughing. It was believed by the Greeks that Gods caused events such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and thunderstorms, as well as disease. If there was a good harvest, the people would have said that the Gods were pleased. There also was a God of healing, Asclepius. From 600BC temples were built in quiet places. When people went to the Asclepius Temples to be cured they firstly had to put offerings for the God on the Altar. They all then had to go to sleep, then in the patient’s dreams they were visited by the God and his daughters and he then cured them. Also at the Temples there would have been a gymnasium and a stadium. This shows that the Greeks had noticed the connection between health and exercise.

Romans like the Greeks also believed in the God of healing Asclepius. In 295BC, the people of Rome were in grave danger of a plague. Some Romans tried age old remedies, while others appealed to the goddess of health Salus. The Romans turned to Asclepius and the plague ebbed away. Gods were part of their everyday life and were expected to be powerful. The Romans then began to become more interested in solutions to problems rather than theories.

After 460BC Greek doctors such as Hippocrates developed many important ideas about medicine, disease and health. It has sometimes been said that Greeks doctors ‘set scientific medicine on its course’. Certainly many Greek doctors like modern doctors believed that the medicine should be based on the patient and his/her symptoms gained through observation. Due to the enquiring minds of Greek doctors they came up with the theory of the four humours. Your body contained four different liquids which were called the ‘four humours’. They were blood, black bile, yellow bile and phlegm. The theory of the four humours grew directly out of the theory of the four elements. The four elements air, water, earth and fire all have a different quality. Also the four elements were then related to the four seasons. They knew that each season was different and they could see how the elements described that. Water was cold and moist and, so, too was winter. Greek doctors carefully observed their patients. In winter they noticed that the patients were often ill with sneezing and runny noses. Clearly they had to m7ch phlegm, the humour most like the element water, which was cold and moist. This table shows the elements, qualities, season, humour and the illness/symptoms.

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Greek doctors were convinced that nature itself was the best healer and that whenever possible they shouldn’t interfere with this process. There was however some treatments for the unbalanced humours included vomit, purging their bowels, or bleeding them, depending on which humour was out of balance.

Along with the theory of the four humours there were also developments on the medical front with many great ideas from Hippocrates. Hippocrates showed how important it was to observe and record carefully the patient’s symptoms and developments of disease. This had two advantages. Doctors were more likely to choose the right ...

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