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qualities and those of certain remedial agents, exercises upon these agents a specific or peculiar attraction. Again, the qualities of agents may be actual or potential;-fire is actually hot, pepper is potentially so. This distinction is still observed in modern. times in reference to the cautery. Certain medicines, as specifics, purgatives, several of the poisons and their antidotes, act not by their primitive qualities, but by their whole substance. The art of medicine in Galen's time consisted mostly in devising or applying particular remedies to particular diseases, each ailment having, as was supposed, its own particular remedy. From the usages of his contemporaries in this respect he did not vary; and like most of them, he had his shop, in which his medicinal compounds were prepared, but only for legitimate purposes. He had a horror of charlatans of every stamp; and that branch of the apothecary's business which the moral tone of modern times no longer tolerates, the open sale of poisons, so common in former times,, he condemns in the severest terms.
Galen wrote no work expressly on the practice of medicine; bnt he has left a complete code of medical science, the only complete code of which we read among the ancients. Possessing in its individual ́parts. no great originality, made up of the doctrines of his predecessors of every sect, and disfigured by occasional incongruities, yet, as a whole, this code is remarkable for its general unity and consistency. But its fundamental doctrines are too often the creations of the imagination. In all his works Galen delights to display his erudition; and notwithstand
ing their vast number they are mostly written in polished style. He professes to be the admirer and disciple of Hippocrates. Yet no two writers on medicine were ever in style and substance more dissimilar. Hippocrates wrote with the terseness of a philosopher; Galen, with the flowing redundancy of the rhetorician, allowing nothing to remain unsaid, and adorning his discourse with criticism, biography, anecdote, sarcasm, vain-glorious boasting, personal narrative, and incidental allusions of every sort. But his brilliant errors no less than his sterner truths, gave popularity and influence to his writings. It does not appear that among the Latins he was at first received as favorably as among his own countrymen. He is mentioned neither by Serenus Sammonicus, who immediately succeeded him; nor by Marcellus Empiricus, who wrote two. centuries afterwards. But the next writer of celebrity among his own nation, Oribasius, who was a contemporary of Marcellus, appropriated nearly the whole of Galen's doctrines; and Alexander Trallianus calls him the divine. But authority, however transcendent, to be enduring must be founded on truth alone. The authority of Galen was not thus founded; and after a reign of more than twelve centuries, he has fallen from his high estate. He who looked upon himself as superior to Hippocrates, who held that the latter had merely commenced what he himself had been able to carry to completion, lies buried in the accumulations of his own labors; whilst Hippocrates, drawing his inspiration from the developments of nature, still
lives, to be studied with as much edification by the physicians of the present day as by his own immediate disciples.
WITH GALEN closes all that remains of the school of medicine at Rome, and all that was aggressive in the scientific advancement of the ancients. Most of those who had practiced or taught the art at Rome, up to this period, as we have already seen, were Grecians who had received the elements of their education at Alexandria or other eastern institutions. With the decadence of the Roman school, that of Alexandria again acquired its former rank. The intestine commotions and misrule, the religious and other wars of the empire, from the death of Marcus Aurelius to the accession of Constantine, left but little opportunity at the capital for cultivating the arts of peace. During this long interval, Italy had but few attractions for men of learning. And after the removal of the imperial court to Constantinople, the scholars that still lingered about the palace of the Cæsars, were attracted from the Latin portion of the empire; so that, from the time of Galen to the final overthrow of the empire of the West, Latin literature can boast of only four or five medical authors whose works have been deemed worthy of
preservation. The first of these was Serenus Sammonicus, a junior contemporary of Galen; the second was Theodore Priscian; the third, Marcellus Empiricus, physician to the elder Theodosius; the fourth was Vegetius; and the last, if properly belonging to the ancients, was Macer Floridus, our notice of whom must be reserved to a subsequent chapter.
Quintus Serenus Sammonicus was the author of a medical poem of considerable literary merit,* which is said to have often furnished. amusement for the leisure hours of Geta and Septimus Severus. In this work he treats of several diseases and their cure, after the manner of the other medical writers of that period, but with more than their usual taint of superstition. He affects a peculiar veneration for the numbers three, seven, and nine; and, though he condemns the use of incantations, he recommends an amulet which he calls the Abracadabra,t to be sus
Sereni Sammonici de Medicina Præcepta. 8vo. Paris, 1845; also, the same work in the Medicinæ Artis Principes, as collected by H. Stephanus ̧ Fol. Venice, 1567.
This word is said, by Selden, to have been the name of one of the Syrian divinities. The written form of the amulet was as follows':
A br a c adabra
a br a c a da br
a b r & c ada b
The Talmudists used the word Abraclan after the same manner. See
Le Clerc, partie i. liv. i. chap. xii. p. 41.
pended by a string and worn as a necklace for the cure of hemitritic fever. This amulet consisted in writing on cloth or parchment, the word Abracadabra in full on the upper line, and on every succeeding line omitting a single letter until the initial letter was at length the only one remaining to be written on the last line. Thus making, by means of these letters, à triangular figure. During the reign of Caracalla, the use of charms and amulets had become so alarming that an imperial edict was issued against them. Serenus Sammonicus gave offense to the tyrant by disregarding this injunc tion; and he is said to have paid for his temerity with his life. The belief in charms and incantations, which became so common towards the downfall of the empire, has been attributed by some writers to the influence of the false philosophy of Persia and the East. But mysticism and credulity have their source in the human heart, and are everywhere the natural offspring of ignorance and intellectual debasement.
Theodore Priscian, a pupil of Vindician, physician to Valentinian, flourished at the Eastern capital, and was the author of a work on the use of indigenous medicines. He appears also to have paid much attention to the diseases of women. A digest of his opinions on all that relates to the obstetric art in connection with those of his predecessors, Cleopatra and Moschion, is to be found in the Harmonia Gynæciorum of Casper Wolphius.* A Latin
*Constituting one of the works in the collection entitled Gynæciorum, sive de Mulierum Affectibus Commentarii Græcorum Latinorum Barbarorum, in tres tomas digesti. Published in 4to. at Bâle, 1586.