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and to teach them this art, if they shall wish to learn it, without fee or stipulation; and that by precept, lecture, and every other mode of instruction, I will impart a knowledge of this art to my own sons, to those of my teachers, and to disciples bound by a stipulation and oath according to the law of medicine, but to none others. I will follow that system of regimen which, according to my
ability and judgment, I consider for the benefit of my patients; and abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous; I will give no deadly medicine to any one, if asked; nor suggest any such counsel; and in like manner, I will not give a woman a pessary to produce an abortion. With purity and with holiness I will pass my life and practice my art. I will not cut persons laboring under the stone, but will leave this to be done by men who are practitioners of this work. Into whatever houses I enter, I will go into them for the benefit of the sick, and will abstain from every voluntary act of mischief and corruption; and, further, from the seduction of females and males, of freemen and slaves. Whatever, in connection with my professional practice, or not in connection with it, I see or hear, I will not divulge, as reckoning that all such should be kept secret. While I continue to keep this oath inviolate, may it be granted to me to enjoy life and the practice of my art, respected by all men at all times ! But should I trespass and violate this oath, may the reverse be my lot !"*
* Adams' Hippocrates, vol. ii., p. 779.
The pupil thus admitted, proceeded next to the ordinary business of Illumination, which consisted in committing to memory certain traditionary precepts; in listening to the prelections of the instructor; in the contemplation of diseases within the temples, or at the bed-side of the sick; in combining the knowledge thus obtained with some general acquaintance with the rules of health; and where the preparatory training in the accessory sciences had not already been completed, in acquiring a knowledge of these, and of the higher philosophy of the day.*
The business of Inspection, which was next in order, and which, in philosophy, was “an occupation about intelligibles, true beings, and ideas," immediately preceded Coronation; and, as in philosophy,
: had relation to practical subjects, probably the treatment of disease under the immediate supervision of the instructor. The ceremony of Coronation took place at the completion of the term of study, and corresponded with the modern ceremony of Graduation. It was in evidence of the recipient's fitness for assuming the duties of his profession, it conferred upon him the privileges of fellowship, and, as a master of his art, the right of initiating others into its sacred mysteries.
It is here worthy of remark, that the ceremony of placing a wreath, cap, or crown, upon the head of those who were admitted into full fellowship at these ancient schools, was continued down to the period of the Middle Ages. It was the usual form of admission at Salernum, the earliest of the medieval schools of medicine. The ceremony was also the same at the school of Paris, the regulations of which were adopted in full from those of the Salernian institution. At Paris, as at the other universities, the cap or bonnet was substituted for the wreath. But even at the temples the cap may have occasionally been used. The statues of the ancients usually represent the head uncovered. And some have been at a loss to know why the head of Hippocrates is sometimes seen covered with a cap. The ceremonies of his school, if more minutely understood, might, perhaps, be sufficient to explain this.
* Littré, Introduction, Euvres d'Hippocrate.
As a rational study, so long as medicine was taught orally, or by tradition and example only, the acquirements of its votaries could not have been extensive. Their main study in the management of acute diseases, was in regulating the regimen. Epidemic diseases they looked upon as divine dispensations, with which they did not dare to interfere. A knowledge of the general rules of health, and the influence of diet, exercise, climate, and locality, attracted much of their attention. In the management of injuries and external diseases, they were but little inferior to their descendants of modern times. Their medical agents were, the lancet, of which they made frequent use; certain active cathartics, emetics, and diuretics; cataplasms, unguents, escharotics; and mechanical instruments and appliances. Of anatomy and physiology their knowledge was limited; and as for chronic diseases, up to the
time of Herodicus of Selymbria, who is said to have been one of the teachers of Hippocrates, they did not venture to interfere with them.
This Herodicus had been a teacher of youth, and being always in delicate health, he had prolonged his life by systematic exercises and a regulated diet. The treatment which he had found useful in his own case, he recommended to others; and thus be turned the attention of medical men to a course of practice, and a group of diseases, which they had hitherto disregarded. His innovations were for a time unpopular; and even Plato undertakes to upbraid him for them, declaring " that no attempt should be made to cure a thoroughly diseased system, and so to afford a long and miserable life to the man himself, as well as to his descendants. For Æsculapius," he continues, " did not think a man ought to be cured who could not live in the ordinary course, as in this case he would be of no service to himself or to the state.” He goes on to deplore the necessity of using the terms then recently invented for designating chronic diseases :—“ Dropsies, and Catarrhs ! Do not you think these abominable? Truly these are very strange names of diseases ; such, I think, as existed not in the days of Æsculapius."* But though not in the habit of treating chronic internal ailments, the profession were at least supposed to be acquainted with them, so far as to be able to detect them, and pronounce correctly in regard to them, in the inspection of slaves. Even Plato would hold the physician responsible for his opinion in such cases,
* Republic. Book iii. c. 14.
the object of the philosopher being to guard against dishonesty in the sale or transfer of slaves from one master to another.*
With respect, then, to the policy and ethics of the Asclepiadæ, we learn from the Oath and Law, as also from other passages in the Hippocratic code, that the student was formally bound to his master by indentures; that the son of a former master, choosing to enter the profession, received his education gratuitously; that others not thus circumstanced, were expected to pay for their instruction; that the sons of the Asclepiadæ did not necessarily follow their fathers' employment; that those who were employed in the temples, or in practice elsewhere, were therefore, simply a fraternity, in the modern acceptation of that word, and not, as some suppose, an exclusive caste derived from one family; that each practitioner was at liberty to follow his occupation where and when he chose, but for honorable purposes only; and that even at this early day, there were designing men who were “physicians only in name," and who gave themselves up to disreputable practices ; against whom the regularly initiated had no redress, and no other advantage than that upon which we ourselves rely, a superior education, honesty of purpose, devotion to their duties, and the confidence of a discerning public.
Many of the self-imposed restrictions of the Asclepiadæ had reference to the evil doings of the medical impostors of their own times. M. Littré leads us to suppose that the injunction against lithotomy
* Laws. Book xi. c. 2.