« ForrigeFortsæt »
The demons of disease gained entrance to the body through one of its natural openings in an unguarded moment, taking possession and carrying on their destructive work by so eating or gnawing away the entrails and other tissues of the body that, unless driven out, they might even cause death. Comparing such ancient beliefs with our present knowledge of pathogenesis, they are found strangely similar by simple changes in terms, substituting those of bacteriology and parasitology for the hosts of unknown and unnamed active, living forcesthe invisible beings of demonology.
Diagnosis was of small importance in religious healing, since the causes of all diseases were believed to be practically the same in kind and were covered in the prescribed magico-religious formulas. Therapeutic methods differed widely in detail, but each was based upon rituals of worship, sacrifice, and purification to conciliate and gain the favor of the gods, and to entreat divine intervention for cure; or to exorcise the malignant authors of disease; to appease, frighten, or coax them, or to offer a substitute victim, and thus to be rid of them. Such appeals were supported by mystic rites, often accompanied by the administration of remedies, the exact method of treatment not infrequently being communicated in dreams and visions or by oracles; while in the cure of the sick, magic was ever an efficient handmaiden of religion. Healing was, therefore, a mystic process, which, under the ancient régime, often appeared as the successful result of a contest between invisible beings of good and evil, or was taken as proof that offended deities had been conciliated and had conferred their favor. Prevention of disease was believed to be obtained by the wearing of amulets and talismans, the power of prophylaxis being derived from some spiritual source, usually because of some inscribed divine 'words of power.'
In theory, and in large measure in practice, the deities generally were efficacious for healing, and any god might exercise his control over the demons of disease to effect a cure, or might extend his beneficent power directly for the aid of the suffering. Some divinities, however, appeared to the people to be more graciously inclined than others to aid the sick and even to be more efficient as healers, whence they became favorites and were renowned for their therapeutic benefactions in addition to other functions which they might have. A few developed as specialists; but the majority exercised their healing power sporadically and in special instances or they were merely patrons of the healing art and had little or no active function.
Such, in general terms, were the beliefs and customs of the ancient pagan civilizations in the matter of religious therapeutics. In this connection it should be remembered, however, that in most countries herein referred to there were physicians who practiced independently, side by side with temple-healing. Some were governed by custom, others by law. It is assumed that, for the most part, they gathered their medical knowledge from folklore and experience or from the priestly class; and it is known that they frequently coöperated with the priests, to whom they looked for guidance. Such independent work undoubtedly had a very definite influence on the development of the various ancient theories of disease and on the more material, practical therapeutics, fostering scientific methods and a gradual relaxation of the hold of religion on the healing art; but for these coincident phases in the history of medicine the reader is referred to the many general treatises on the subject.
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
Abhandlungen der königlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Berlin. Philosophisch-historische Classe. Altorientalische Forschungen.
American Journal of Archeology.
American Journal of Philology.
American Journal of Semitic Languages and Literatures.
Annals of Medical History.
Allgemeine Monatschrift für Wissenschaft und Literatur.
Abhandlungen der königlich preussischen Akademie der
Bulletin de l'Académie de Médecine.
Bulletino dell' instituto di correspondenza archeologica.
British Medical Journal.
Babylonian and Oriental Record.
Corpus Inscriptionum Græcarum.
CIGGS Corpus Inscriptionum Græcarum Græcia Septentrionalis.
Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum.
Corpus Inscriptionum Rhenanarum.
Corpus Inscriptionum Semiticarum.
The K. R. Cama Memorial Volume.
Classical Studies in Honour of Henry Drisler.
Edinburgh Medical Journal.
Encyclopædia of Religion and Ethics.
Ephemeris für semitische Epigraphik.
Grundriss der indo-arischen Philologie und Altertumskunde.
Inscriptiones Græcæ Antiquissimæ.
Journal of the American Medical Association.
Journal of the American Oriental Society.
Journal of the British-American Archeological Society of
Jahrbücher für classische Philologie.
Journal of Hellenic Studies.
Mittheilungen des kaiserlich deutschen archäologischen In
stituts in Athen.
Mémoires de l'Institut national de France. Académie des
Mythology of All Races.
Mittheilungen der vorderasiatischen Gesellschaft.
Notices et extraits des manuscrits de la Bibliothèque im-
NYHSQB New York Historical Society. Quarterly Bulletin.
Proceedings of the Royal Society of Medicine. Section of
Proceedings of the Society of Biblical Archeology.
Recueil d'Études égyptologiques dédiées à la mémoire de
Jean François Champollion.
Revue de l'histoire des religions.
Records of the Past.
Recueil de travaux relatifs à la Philologie et à l'Archéolo-
Religionsgeschichtliche Versuche und Vorarbeiten.
Studien auf dem Gebiete der griechischen und der arischen
Sylloge Inscriptionum Græcarum.
Untersuchungen zur Geschichte und Altertumskunde Ägyp