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The Medical Culture of those Nations whose Development in Medicine has been or is progressive.


The Medicine of the Greeks (and Romans) to the Downfall of the Western Empire in the year 476. History of Ancient Medicine.


Medicine from the Downfall of the Western Empire to the Discovery of America, from A. D. 476-1492. History of Mediæval Medicine.


Medicine from the Discovery of America to the close of the First French Revolution by the Consulate, from 1492-1800 A. D. History of More Modern Medicine.


History of the Medicine of the 19th Century. History of the Most Recent Medicine.


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lavra pet.-Heraclitus.

Egypt, if not the oldest, is undoubtedly one of the oldest of civilized lands. Mesopotamia may alone with some justification dispute her claim to the first rank in antiquity. If too there is any truth in the hypothesis that, at the dawn of the world's history, the home of primeval man lay to the south-east of Africa, in the region long since submerged by the ocean, it is also probable that the progenitors of the ancient Egyptians wandered into upper Egypt along the course of the modern Bar el Asrek, and establishing here a permanent settlement, founded the earliest home of civilization. The tradition of the Ethiopians that Egypt was one of their colonies supports this hypothesis, as well as the fact that the settlement of the valley of the Nile undoubtedly followed the current of that stream. Recent investigators (including Ebers) suppose, however, that the Egyptians, undoubtedly an Indo-Germanic people, migrated across Phoenicia into their present home. But in language they belong to the Semitic stock.

The extreme antiquity of Egyptian civilization, from which many of the most ancient nations (including even the Greeks) manifestly borrowed a part of their science and their culture, is evidenced by its venerable edifices and monuments, which indicate considerable technical skill, by the records of the dynastic registers, and especially by the medical works of the ancient Egyptians, which have been preserved to our day. These reach back to a period which we can as yet indicate by trustworthy figures in the case of no other people; and yet they presuppose a long antecedent course of development, extending from the age of primeval rudeness to the attainment of such a grade of civilization as that by which they were themselves produced. In the great number of their writings already discovered, as well as in the fact that the ancient Egyptians decorated their monuments and mummy-cases with hieroglyphics, we also find evidence to the same effect. Later grades of civilization alone mature a literature so extensive as that which we find among the Egyptians. Indeed this is so considerable that, basing our argument upon it alone, we might defend the view that the Egyptian people, even at the very early period when this literature arose, had already considerably degenerated, and were in fact verging on senescence. For youthful peoples are especially proud of physical abilities, and devote attention to these alone, while it is only nations which are growing old that lay the chief importance upon scientific culture, and are fond of writing. The truth of this statement is confirmed by the history of the Greeks, the Romans, and even by our own age.


In accordance with such facts and considerations, there is no internal improbability in assigning the foundation of the first kingdom of Egypt to the sixth millennium before Christ.' An especial ground for referring this event to so early a period, a period of whose medical writings especially we have acquired no knowledge in the case of any other people, may be found in the fact that the sober, earnest and heavy intellect of the ancient Egyptians, as we meet it in their surviving and characteristic works of architecture, sculpture and painting, unlike the boundless vanity of the Chinese, or the overflowing fancy of the natives of India, was not suited to originate supposititious history.

The Egyptians, like all other people, had several divinities who presided over the cure of disease. The principal of these deities. Isis, was at once the sister and the wife of Osiris. For among the Egyptians, as well as the pagan North-Germans (though in contrast with the custom of the Jews), marriages with sisters were permissible and usual even for their gods, and this custom, in accordance with popular prejudice, was adopted or retained by the Grecian Ptolemies. Isis had demonstrated her eminent medical skill by recalling to life her son Horus. Imhotep, the Egyptian Esculapius. whose temple stood at Memphis, and Chunsu, the counsellor of the sick, were of lower rank. The cat-headed Pacht (Bubastis) and Ape were worshipped as the deities of parturient women or of child-blessedness; for children among the Egyptians were esteemed a great blessing, as they were, and indeed still are, by their docile pupils the Jews. The cat was sacred to Pacht, and this animal was held in such honor that the death penalty was prescribed for killing a "mau" (cat). Thot (Thout, Thuti), a god represented sometimes with the head of an ibis, sometimes with that of a dog, enjoyed greater respect, and was regarded as the inventor of art in general, and especially of the healing art. By many he is regarded as the Egyptian Esculapius, though he enjoys many peculiarities in common with the Greek Hermes and the Phoenician Esmun."

Thot is supposed to have been the author of the oldest Egyptian medical works, whose contents were first engraved upon pillars of stone. Subsequently collected into the book Ambre or Embre (a title based upon the initial words of this book, viz.: “Ha em re em per em hru", i. e. "Here begins the book of the preparation of drugs for all parts of the human body") they formed a part of the so-called "Hermetic Books", from

1. The period of Chufu (Cheops), who built. the famous pyramid, and had the Sphinx restored, is assigned (according to Buchta) by Lepsius to 3124 B. C., by Brugsch to 3733, by Unger to 4845, and by Champollion to B. C. 5000. Wiedemann takes as the mean date 4845 B. C. Now since the Sphinx at this period already required to be restored, its erection must be referred to a period hundreds, indeed thousands of years before the days of Cheops, for the climate of Egypt (unlike that of America) is very favorable to the preservation of stone monuments.

2. Esmun was one of the ancient Cabiri, and the Esculapius of the Phoenicians. Famous temple in his honor stood at Carthage and Berytus. (H.)

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