Billeder på siden

seven sections, each of which is devoted to the medical virtues of some particular plant. The interest, however, assigned to this performance at the present day, is in its display of learning. Macer Floridus, says M. Baudet, introduced among us the knowledge of the Greeks and Romans in natural history and practical medicine; and he supplies us with many

curious and useful documents, not only on his own art, but also on the manners and domestic usages of the ancients. To this commendation may here be added, that he is the earliest of the Latin writers to speak of Galen, or as he calls him, Galienus. He cites Hippocrates, Diocles, Chrysippus, Dioscorides, Themison, Strabo,

, Apollodorus, Menemachus, Oribasius, the elder Cato,. Sextus Niger, Pliny, . and the obscurer names of Anaxilaus and Melicius. He alludes occasionally to the efficacy of charms, but he is free from the grosser superstitions of the monks of the middle ages; and with the exception of the word "frater," which he once employs as a term of address, we could hardly suspect him to have been acquainted with the institutions of. Christianity.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Aëtius of Amida in Mesopotamia, a learned physician of the Christian faith, is supposed to have flourished about the middle of the sixth century: After completing his education, he settled in Constantinople, where he rose to the dignity of archiater at the imperial court, with the honorary title of

[ocr errors]

colonel of the imperial guard. We are indebted to him for a voluminous compilation on the art of medicine,* mostly copied from the writings of his predecessors, but interspersed with original observations, and often presenting the opinions of earlier authors 'so condensed and well expressed as to be clearer than the originals. This work was at first prepared in sixteen distinet discourses, which håve since been arranged into four books of four discourses each. Of these discourses, the first treats of medicinal plants and their pharmaceutical preparation; the second, of such medicines as are not of vegetable 'origin; the third, a somewhat confused

; : medley of miscellaneous subjects, treats mostly of the influence of air, exercise, climate, locality, waters. The fourth treats of the management of children, of the humors and temperaments, and their signs. The fifth discourse, or the first of the second book, treats of the signs of disease, prognostic and diagnostic; of fevers and their management; and of other constitutional affections. The sixth discourse, and the others to the end of the twelfth, are devoted to the consideration of local diseases from head to foot; the thirteenth treats of the bites and stings of animals, including poisoned wounds. Here also, lepra and certain other diseases affecting the skin, are introduced. The fourteenth discourse is occupied with diseases merely of à surgical character, affecting the groin, perineum, and


of gen

* Ætii Medici Græci Contractæ ex Veteribus Medicinæ Tetrabiblos; id est, libri universales quatuor, singuli quatuor sermones complectentes. Per Janum Cornarium Latine conscriptí. : In the collection of Stephanus. Venice, 1567.

eration; the fifteenth also treats of diseases mostly surgical

, tumors, ganglia, stramous affections, aneurisms; and enters fully into the preparation and employment of plasters. The last discourse of all is occupied with diseases peculiar to women. The portions of the work assigned to the management of young children, are full, and well considered, as are also those on fevers. The following observations on eruptive fevers, which he derives from Herodotus, a practitioner at Rome prior to the time of Galen, are worthy of notice :

In certain acute fevers, says he, there will be an eruption of pustules about the lips and nose towards the close of the attack. In fevers which are not simple, but rather from a depraved. condition of the humors, there will appear vibices like flea-bites, over every part of the body. In malignant and pestilential fevers, these may ulcerate and sometimes assume the appearance of carbuncles [a term here applied to minute and highly inflamed pustules, and to furuncles, as well as to what is now understood by carbuncle]. These eruptions are all indicative of a multitude of corrupt and eroșive humors. Those which appear on the face are the most malignant; their danger being in proportion to their number and dimensions. Those which rapidly 'disappear, or go through their changes quickly, are worse than those of longer duration. The highly inflamed are more dangerous than such as are attended with pruritus. Those following constipation or moderate evacuation, are of little danger; but those succeeding a looseness or vomiting are bad.

Pustules are often followed by malignant fevers, or by deliquium animi.*

The allusions in the foregoing paragraph will be seen to have some bearing upon the eruption and fever of small pox; and their bearing upon this disease will be more clearly seen by comparing them with a similar passage hereafter to be introduced from Ahrun, the earliest author known to have written expressly upon that disease,

Many surgical topics are well handled by Aëtius. He was a strenuous advocate for the actual cautery. He is the first to mention uterine calculus. He recommends the perineal operation for vesical calculus; and describes a scabrous affection of the bladder, which, however, is also spoken of by Oribasius! He excises hæmorrhoidal tumors; he operates on brachial aneurism by a double ligature upon the artery on the cardiac side of the tumor, and subsequently. opening the sac and emptying it; and secures the vessel at the points of its communication with the tumor. But he pays his deference to the súperstition of his times, in recommending the use of amulets, and in-resorting to charms and incantations. For removing a foreign substance from the pharynx, he tells us to touch the patient's neck and repeat the following: “As Jesus Christ raised Lazarus from the dead, and Jonas from the whale's belly, so do thou, whether shell or bone, make thy escape;" or thus: "The martyr St. Blaisius and the Saviour Jesus Christ, command thee to move either upwards

[merged small][ocr errors]

or downwards." In like manner hë resorts to incantations and Scriptural expressions in the preparation of his medicaments, for imparting to them greater efficacy. In compiling from other writers, Aëtius is careful to give the name of the author at the head of each chapter. He has thus preserved the names and given valuable extracts from the works of several writers not elsewhere mentioned'; among these may be noticed Aspasia, an able and original writer on obstetrics and the diseases of women and children, from whom many distinct chapters have been borrowed by him, and in this way preserved from oblivion.

Alexander, surnamed Trallianus, from his native city, Tralles in Lydia, flourished shortly after Aëtius, whom he takes occasion to mention. He was of a talented family; his father Stephen, and his brother Dioscurus, were of his own profession; his brother Olympius, was distinguished in jurisprudence; his brother Metrodorus was known as a grammarian; and a fourth, Anthemias, was employed as an architect by Justinian, A. D. 532, in building the cathedral of St. Sophia, which still stands among the principal ornaments of Constantinople. Alexander had traveled extensively in Italy, Gaul, and Spain, and had resided long in Tuscany, before ultimately settling in Rome, where he rose to great distinction. His work on the art of medicine, * dedicated to his friend Cosmas, the son of his preceptor, was written


* Alexandri Tralliani de Arte Medica libri duodecim. Joanne Guinterio Andernaco interprete. See Collection of Stephanus, Venice, 1567.

« ForrigeFortsæt »