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itself, to show that prior to the dispersal of the Pythagoreans, the cities of Greece were supplied with practitioners who were visiting the sick at their own abodes.
Thus, then, long before the age of Pericles, even before the Persian war, the medical men of Greece were acquiring a knowledge of their art at the schools of philosophy, and at the exercises of the gymnasia, as well as at the temples; and were practicing as private individuals, as stipendaries at the royal courts, or as public functionaries with stated salaries, appointed by the people; sometimes in the army, sometimes in the fleet; liberally rewarded, and held in high repute. The custom in the cities of stipulating annually for the public services of medical men, is a fact worthy of notice. Plato in
, the “Statesman,” and elsewhere, alludes to it. And his commentator remarks, that from numerous passages in this author, as well as from others in the writings of Xenophon, Aristotle, Strabo, and the scholiasts, it is evident there were at Athens a body of medical men who were paid by the state, as well as others who were engaged in private practice.*
* Burgess, in Plato. Bohn's edition, vol. iii. p. 192.
THE course of education among the Asclepiadæ, was in conformity with the national habits. The youth who were destined for the profession, if not the sons of the initiated, were probably not allowed to begin until after the completion of their preparatory education, from their seventeenth to the twentieth year. But the sons of physicians began earlier, and, with both, the course of training probably continued to the close of their twenty-fifth year.
The neophyte was inducted into his art with all the secrecy and exclusiveness which, from the remotest ages, had prevailed among the handicraft associations, the religious orders, and, at a later period, in the political clubs, and even in the schools of philosophy. For, as at Athens, so in all the other states, these unions, mysteries, or secret associations, were innumerable. Some of them were for charitable purposes, some of them for traffic, some for the cultivation of knowledge; and some, as among ourselves, were secret organizations for controlling the affairs of the people. The ceremony of initiation into them, varied somewhat with the character and .object of each ; but from the few hints preserved respecting them, there is reason to believe that in all of them it was modeled, as nearly as possible, after that of the Eleusinian and Dionysian Mysteries.
Of the Mysteries of Eleusis, there' were two orders, the less and the greater. The less were the most essential, and consisted of three grades. The ceremony for the first grade was styled Illumination or the Tradition of the Sacred Rites; that for the second was styled Inspection, or the Looking-on; and that for the third, which was the end and design of the other two, was called the Binding of the Head, or Coronation. But according to the greater order, there were two additional ceremonies; namely, the introductory, which was called Purification ; and the ultimate, which was called Friendship with the Deity.
For, of those who sought to engage in these mysteries, all were not admissible; there being certain characters excluded by the voice of the crier, such as those of impure hands or inarticulate voice. So that before admission, each candidate underwent the ceremony of Purification. The two succeeding ceremonies were strictly progressive; but the Binding of the Head, or Coronation, signified the full reception of those who were thus honored, and that they could afterwards communicate to others the sacred rites; or officiate as torch-bearers, or interpreters; or sustain any other part in the sacred offices. The fifth degree, or Friendship with the Deity, was a result reached only after many years of active service, by those who had attained the highest perfection in their respective occupations.
In the political clubs, and in the schools of philosophy, the ceremony of Purification, which in the figurative language of Empedocles, was the act of
drawing from the five fountains with an indissoluble vessel of brass, had reference to elementary training in arithmetic, geometry, stereometry, music, and astronomy. After such preparation in the schools of philosophy, came; first, Illumination, or the study of theorems, logical, political, and philosophical ; in other words, the study of abstract principles. The next stage of advancement, or as it was called, Inspection, had reference to practical studies, or what Plato calls “intelligibles, true beings, and ideas.” But the last stage, or Coronation, was the closing ceremony of education, and imparted to the recipient the right of leading others to the subjects of his own contemplation.*
These three essential stages of advancement answered to the three scholastic degrees in the universities of the middle ages, and to the three degrees among free-masons; with both of whom the ceremonies were in fact derived from those of the early mysteries. And, we are told by Mr. Burgess, that the Crowning, or Binding of the head, never took place before the completion of the fifth year.t
Now, to return to the Asclepiadæ; it is clear that the youth in the course of initiation, submitte to observances, and advanced by gradations, analogous to those of the other secret associations. For we are expressly informed by Hippocrates,in reference to his own profession, that “Things which are sacred are to be imparted only to sacred persons;" and that
* Thos. Taylor. Eleusinian and Bacchic Mysteries, p. 48–52. + In Plato. Bohn's edition, vol. iii. p. 549. | In the Law.
“it is unlawful to impart them to the profane until after their initiation into the mysteries of the science.” With reference to Purification, or the training which should precede Illumination, he says, “Whoever is to acquire a competent knowledge of medicine, ought to possess the following advantages : a natural disposition, instruction, a favorable position for study, early tuition, love of labor, leisure."** And, writing to his son, the author of the Hippocratic Letters, says, “Give due attention, my son, to Geometry and Arithmetic. For such studies will not only render your life illustrious and useful to your fellow-beings; but your mind more acute and perspicacious in arriving at fruitful results in every thing pertaining to your art.”+
The candidate having passed the first ordeal of preparation, and commencing the ceremonies of Illumination, was obliged to subscribe to the Oath ; which was a formula analogous to that which was enjoined among the Pythagoreans, and was in the following words:
“I swear by Apollo, the physician, by Æsculapius, by Hygeia, Panacea, and all the Gods and Goddesses, that according to my ability and judgment, I will keep this oath and stipulation, to reckon him who teaches me this art equally dear to me as my parents, to share my substance with him, and relieve his necessities if required; to look upon his offspring on the same footing as my own brothers,
* In the Law. + Kuhn's edition, vol. iii. p. 822.