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to inflammation, and through this, to a fever. Others again, accepting the new doctrine of Asclepiades, placed the occult cause of all diseases in the interruption or arrest of the minute corpuscles in their passage through the invisible pores. They all, too, maintained the importance of a correct knowledge of concoction ; but here again, their opinions varied; some of them affirming, with Erasistratus, that in the stomach the food is concocted by attrition; others, with Plistonicus, the disciple of Praxagoras, that it is effected by putrefaction; others, upon the authority of Hippocrates, that it should be ascribed to the effects of heat; whilst the disciples of Asclepiades, looking upon all these opinions as, futile speculations, maintained that there is no such function as concoction, but that the food and drink in their crude state are distributed, by means of the pores, throughout the body. They all held to the importance of anatomy and correct knowledge of the internal organization of the body, and maintained that Herophilus and Erasistratus had taken the best means for acquiring such knowledge, in procuring criminals from the prisons by royal consent, and dissecting them alive, so as to contemplate, while yet living, those parts which nature has concealed. And they declared it was by no means cruel, by the torture of a few criminals, to search after remedies for the whole innocent race of mankind in all ages.
. The Empirics, on the other hand, relied on personal experience alone. They, indeed, admitted the advantages of occasionally studying the evident causes; but to search after the occult causes, or the natural actions, they believed to be useless; because nature is incomprehensible, as shown even by the discussions of the philosophers; who, if reasoning were of much avail, ought to be the ablest physicians; whereas they have abundance of words, but very little skill in healing. All theories as to causes, said they are of little account, seeing that men of opposite theories were about equally successful in the treatment of disease, and that whatever be the character of these causes, the diseases require to be differently treated in different places and different seasons. Again, even where the apparent cause is recognized,
, as in lippitude, a wound, or ulcer, it does of itself point to the means of cure. And if the evident cause do not suggest these means, much less can the other, which is itself obscure. They held that medicine was not the result of reasoning, but that theory was invented after the remedy had been employed, and for explaining its effects. They asked, too, whether reason prescribes the same things as experience, or different; for, if the same, it is needless; if different, mischievous. On the appearance of any new disease, instead of inquiring into its occult or apparent causes, they sought for its analogy to diseases already known, and met it by remedies analogous to such as were used in these, until the true mode of treatment could be discovered. They did not affirm that judgment is unnecessary, but that conjecture is of no use, and that it is of little consequence how the disease originates, so long as we are able to cure it. They admit that in all discussions of this sort, much may be said
, on both sides; yet, that diseases are not to be cured by eloquence, but by remedies. They regarded as
. useless the study of the natural actions and internal organization of the body; and they denounced the dissection of living men with as much vehemence as would the moralist of modern times.
Thus stood the discussion, which had been handled with great warmth for many ages, when Themison of Laodicea, the disciple and successor of Asclepiades, entered the lists in his old age, as the leader of a third party.* Though he was influential as a teacher and reformer, his writings are not often quoted; and as they have perished in the wreck of ages, his opinions are known to us only through his reputed followers, or the critics and historians who have noticed them. According to Cælius Aurelianus, he was the first to write systematically on the management of chronic diseases, upon which subject he published a work in three books. He wrote also on acute diseases. As a practitioner he was familiar with the use of opium, hyoscyamus, and other narcotics; and his name is associated with a confection of poppies, which he employed in the diseases of the respiratory organs. But he is more especially worthy of notice as the founder of the Methodic Sect.
Adopting the theory of Asclepiades as to the arrest of the ultimate molecules in the invisible pores, he attributed all diseases to excessive tension or relaxaation; and this doctrine of Laxum and Strictum became the essential principle of the new party; who, with the Empirics, abandoned the study of exciting causes, as having no relation whatever to the method of cure; and maintained that the correct method of treating disease may be ascertained by simply observing a few of its general symptoms. Of distempers they made three kinds, the bound, the loose, and the mixture of these two, according as the excretions are too scanty, too profuse, or some particular excretions are deficient whilst the others are in excess. These several forms they subdivided into the acute and chronic, and, also, according as they were increasing, stationary, or receding. Their rule of treatment was, that the body if bound, should be opened ; if relaxed, it should be astringed; and if the distemper were complex, the most urgent ailment should be the first opposed ; varying the agent with the duration or stage of the disease. The observance of these rules constituted, according to their notion, the whole art of medicine; and from their own established way of proceeding by method, they claimed for themselves the name of Methodists; for they differed from the Rationalists, in not allowing medicine to consist in theorizing about occult or other causes,—and from the Empirics, in holding personal experience to be but a small part of the art. The doctrine of the Methodists had for a time great sway. Celsus, while criticising them with his accustomed acuteness,
* Celsus, book i. preface; Galen and Cælius Aurelianus, at several places.
gives them but little countenance, and denies their claim to the title of a distinct sect.
Aulus Cornelius Celsus, justly styled the Latin Hippocrates, was the junior contemporary of Themison, and so far as we are aware, the earliest medical writer of unequivocal Roman birth.* Of his own personal history little is known. Quintilian attributes to him a treatise upon Rhetoric, and gives honorable testimony to the extent of his learning. His contemporary Columella,† who often quotes from his work on agriculture, with great deference to his authority, equals him to the ablest writers on husbandry, and speaks of him as one not only skilled in agriculture, but who had familiarized himself with the whole compass of natural knowledge. His treatise on Medicine, I in eight books, is all that now remains of his writings. According to the best critics, this work must have been written towards the close of the reign of Augustus, or, at latest, at the beginning of the reign of Tiberius. Celsus, more than any other of the ancient Latin physicians, is celebrated for the purity and elegance of his style, and for a concise and judicious manner of handling his subject. The summary history of medical doctrines, of the materia medica, and of surgery, introduced at the
* Columella, Pliny, and Quintilian, an speak of him as a Roman. | De Re Rustica, lib. i. cap. 1, et seq.
† A. Corn. Celsi Medicinæ lib. octo. ex recensione Leonardi Targæ, &c. Edinburg, 8vo. 1831. See also the translation of the same, by James Greive, M. D. 3d edition. London, 1837.