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any of their limbs. She visited them at their own dwellings, waited upon them herself, and supplied their wants. She repaired with the same zeal to the public hospitals of the church, where she tended the sick, made ready their culinary utensils, tasted their broth, carried the dish to them, broke the bread, divided the meal, washed the cups, and performed for them all the offices which usually devolve upon servants.*
In the Code of Justiniant we find a summary of the edicts issued by different emperors in relation to the charitable foundations, and the duties of the several officers in charge of them. The Orphanotrophi officiated as guardians to the orphans. The Xenodochi were commissioned to give accommodation to strangers and travelers. It was at the Stranger's House that Ambrose, bishop of Milan, received the emperor Theodosius, A. D. 390, on his visit of reconciliation to that prelate. The Brephotrophi had the care and protection of foundlings. The Ptochotrophi had charge of the poor; and the Nosocomi had the care and management of the sick. These several functionaries all belonged to the order of the clergy. But the Perabolani, who, to the number of six hundred, served under the bishop of Alexandria, and whose duty it was to
* Theodoret, book v., chapter xix.
† Lib. i., Tit. iii., "De Episcopis et Clericis, et Orphanotrophis et Xenodocis et Brephotrophis, Ptochotrophis et Ascetriis et Monachis, et Privilegiis eorum," &c. In reference to the Nosocomi see, also under the foregoing title, L. 42, §§ 6 and 9; and the notes of Cujacius on the third of the Nouvelle Constitutiones; and the edict of Honorius and Theodosius, A. D. 487, in reference to the Perabolani.
Theodoret, book v. chapter xviii. Bohn's edition, p. 221.
administer to the sick in time of pestilence, were uneducated laymen. Among the clerici or clergy, besides the prelates and officers already mentioned, were presbyters, archdeacons, deacons of either sex, sub-deacons, ascetriæ, or those appointed for religious meditation, readers of the Sacred Scriptures, exorcists, ostiarii or door-keepers, psaltæ or singers, and hermiæ,-monitors or expositors. These various functionaries received the appointments not by favor of their superiors, but by the voice of the people among whom they officiated.
The duties of the Nosocomi, or those in charge of the Nosocomia or hospitals, imposed upon them the necessity of familiarizing themselves in some measure with the principles of medicine, and in this way they were prepared to practice at large among the people. The regularly educated lay physicians were thus gradually deprived of many of their prerogatives, and supplanted by the clergy, who, in their united capacity of priest and physician, were afterwards for many ages almost the only practitioners of medicine. During this long period many of the higher clergy, as well as of the humbler members of the monastic order, were distinguished as writers and teachers of the healing art. One of the earliest of these, Nemesius, bishop of Emesa, the contemporary and friend of Basil and Gregory Nazianzen, flourished A. D. 380, and was the author of a work on the Nature of Man,* which is
* Nemesius Eme senus De Natura Hominis, Græce et Latine, 8vo., Magdeburg, 1802.
still extant—a work long popular as a text-book in the schools, and written after the manner of Galen's treatise, "De Usu Partium." In this work, medicine, philosophy, and morality are intermingled. In its chapter on the pulse, some critics have imagined they could discern the first intimation of Harvey's great discovery, the circulation of the blood. The worth of their opinion may be readily inferred from the following passage; which it must be admitted is a clearer exposition of the subject, and nearer the truth, than any similar passage that can be cited from Galen or Aristotle: "The movement of the pulse, which is a vital function, has its origin in the heart, especially in the left ventricle, which is called Spirabilis, and which imparts the innate vital heat through the arteries to every part of the body, in the same manner as the liver through the veins imparts nourishment." The pathology of fever advanced by Nemesius is deduced from his theory of innate heat, and is evidently borrowed from Galen.
The assumption of the duties of the medical fession by the clergy, was effected at a comparatively early period in the western portion of the empire, and was nearly complete, excepting in some of the larger cities, especially of Italy. But though it began also early in the East, it does not appear ever to have been so thorough there. The Perabolani of Alexandria, who seem to have ranked between the uneducated nurse and the clerical physician, became so troublesome by their numbers and their turbulent habits, that they were disbanded by their
superiors. The regular teaching of medicine in that city, as well as the business of general instruction there, passed, after the reign of Theodosius, directly into the hands of lay professors of the Christian faith. The school of medicine at Alexandria, continued to flourish, though with waning luster; and from it issued most of the medical writers whose works remain to be noticed among the later of the ancient classics.
The first practitioner worthy of notice, after Oribasius, was Jacob Psychrestus, who flourished at Constantinople during the reign of Leo the Great, which extended from A. D. 457 to 474. He is not known as a writer, but he is mentioned by Alexander Trallianus* as a practitioner of consummate ability. He was educated under his father, Hesychius, at Alexandria. He officiated as Archiater under Leo, and was held in high estimation by the Senate, who decreed him a statue, which was raised to his honor in the Baths of Zeuxippus; and another was still existing at Athens as late as the reign of Justinian.+
The Last of the Ancient Latins.
Before again returning to the classical medical writers of the Eastern empire, not knowing where else to speak of the only remaining Latin pagan writer of the profession after the time of Oribasius, I must here briefly notice the hexameter poem "De Viribus Herbarum," by Macer Floridus.
* Lib. v. cap. iv.
Freind, vol. i.
Par M. Louis Baudet (professeur). Paris, 8vo. 1845.
det, I am aware, is disposed to class this work among the literary performances of the ninth century. But the name of Strabus, which he finds in it, and upon which he founds this opinion under the presumption that it refers to Walafride Strabo, a German ecclesiastical writer of that age, is no proof that the author of this poem flourished at so recent a period; since the name Strabo, as given in the poem, is quite as applicable to the ancient geographer, or to any other ancient author who, like him, may have received this appellation from the accidental disfigurement of a strabismus. Emilius Macer, a contemporary of Ovid, was also the author of a medical poem on birds, serpents, and plants. And according to the theory of M. Baudet, the author of the work "De Viribus Herbarum," whose real name is said to have been Odobonus, adopted the name of this ancient writer in order to give greater repute to his own performance.* But the first lines of the poem in question introduce the ancient mythology, and could hardly have been written by any of the Christian monks of the ninth century, when literature was at its lowest ebb among the Latins, and when the name of Emilius Macer was perhaps as little known to the medical profession of western Europe as if he had never existed.
The style, versification, and language of this poem are above mediocrity, and are in imitation of Serenus Sammonicus. It begins by recognizing Diana, the Artemis of the Greeks, among the divinities of medicine. It is divided into seventy
*See, also, Le Clerc, p. 560.