Billeder på siden
[ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

who found themselves sickening, and the fact of their being charged with the infection from attending on one another, and so dying like sheep; for when seized, they fell into despair, and by abandoning themselves the more certainly to the disease, they were the less able to resist it. It was this that caused the greatest mortality; for if through fear they were unwilling to assist each other, they perished from being deserted; or if they did visit, they met their death, especially such as made any pretensions to goodness, or who, from a feeling of shame, were unsparing of themselves, going into their friends' houses, where even the members of the family were worn out with the moanings of the dying, and overcome with excessive misery. Still more, however, than even these, did such as had escaped the disorder, show pity for the dying and the suffering, both from their previous knowledge of what it was, and from being now in no fear of it themselves; for it never seized the same person twice, so as to prove actually fatal.

[ocr errors]

"In addition to the original calamity, what oppressed them still more, was the crowding of the city with new comers from the country. For, as these had no houses, and were forced to live in stifling cabins at the hot season of the year, the mortality amongst them spread without restraint; bodies lying on one another in the death-agony, and halfdead creatures rolling about in the streets, and around all the fountains, in their longing for water. The sacred places also, in which they had quartered, were full of the corpses of those who died there; for, in the surpassing violence of the calamity, men

came to disregard every thing, both sacred and profane. All the laws of burial were violated, and many from want of proper means, had recourse, to shameless modes of sepulture; for, on the piles prepared for others, some, anticipating those who had raised them, would lay their own dead, and set fire to them; and others, while the body of a stranger was burning, would throw on the top of it the one they were carrying, and go away.

"In other respects also, the plague was the origin of lawless conduct, for the deeds which men had formerly hidden from view, were now openly perpetrated. Seeing the sudden changes, they resolved to take their enjoyment quickly; regarding their lives and their riches alike as things of a day. As for taking trouble about what was thought honorable, no one was forward to do it, deeming it uncertain whether before he had attained it, he would not be cut off. And as to fear of gods, or law of men-there was none to stop them.

"Such was the calamity which afflicted the Athenians, their men dying within the city, and their lands being wasted without. Their fleet too, which, during the same summer, had proceeded against Potidæa, was unsuccessful; the plague attacking the forces, and utterly overpowering them, so that out of four thousand heavy-armed men, fifteen hundred perished in about forty days; and the soldiers of the Athenians, who had been there before the arriyal of the fleet, became infected by the newly arrived troops, though previously they had been in good health.

"On the following winter," adds Thucydides in

another place,* "the plague a second time attacked the Athenians, having, indeed, never entirely left them, though there had been some abatement of it. It lasted, the second time, not less than a year, the former attack having lasted two; so that nothing reduced the power of the Athenians more than this, for not less than four thousand four hundred heavyarmed in the ranks, died of it; and three hundred of the equestrian order, with a number of the multitude that was never ascertained. It was at this time also, that the numerous earthquakes happened at Athens, Eubea, and Boeotia, particularly at Orchomenos in the last-named country."

One circumstance mentioned in the foregoing passages from Thucydides, is worthy of particular notice, his direct allusion to the spread of this disease by infection, a subject rarely if ever referred to by the medical authorities of antiquity, and upon which I shall again have occasion to, speak in connection with Pliny's account of the Mentagra of the Romans.

Before closing our notice of medicine among the early Grecians, having already ventured beyond the strictly professional authorities, it is but proper to give some attention to an author whose writings, more than those of most other men, have been instrumental in exciting to discussion and inquiry in every branch of science. I allude to Aristotle. I need not in this connection refer to his influence as a teacher of philosophy. In this department he

* III. 87..

divided with Plato the admiration of the ancient world, and throughout the middle ages was held in supreme authority among the schoolmen. I refer to him here simply as a contributor to our knowledge of animated nature, to anatomy, and physiology, to the history of the lower animals, and of many of their diseases.

The work of Aristotle, entitled "De Animalibus Historiæ," is divided into nine books. In book first he gives the configuration of every organ and part of the human body, accessible to the sight without the aid of dissection; next, acknowledging his utter ignorance of the internal structure of the body, he proceeds to describe that of such lower animals as are thought to hear the greatest resemblance to the human race. In book second he, gives the organization of the various classes of animals supplied with blood, meaning such as have red blood. In book third he gives a treatise on what would now be called general anatomy, or the anatomy of the simple tissues and structures: the blood-vessels, and the heart; the nervous, and what we would call the tendinous, and some of the membranous tissues and organs; the firmer fibrous tissues; the bones, the cartilages, the tegumentary envelopes and their modifications in different classes of animals; the substance of the brain and its envelopes; the envelopes of the bones; the muscular tissue; the fat; the blood; the medulla of bones; the

Aristotelis de Animalibus Historiæ libri x. Lipsiæ, 1811, 4 vols. 8vo., of which the last book is spurious. :

milk, and seminal fluid. In book fourth he proceeds to describe with equal care the organization of the different classes of animals without blood, or as we would say, having only white blood. Books fifth and sixth treat of the reproductive functions of the lower animals, from the simplest upwards; book seventh, of the corresponding functions in the human race; and the two remaining books, of the habits, localities, instincts, and propensities of the lower animals; several chapters of the eighth book being devoted to their diseases.

[ocr errors]

His division of the parts of animals into simple and compound, was adopted by most of the later writers on anatomy, and particularly by Galen. He denies the assumption of Alcmeon, that goats are able to respire through their ears. He describes the two envelopes of the brain; the firmer investing the inner surface of the skull; the more delicate or venous membrane resembling a skin, surrounding the brain itself; which, he says, is without blood, and consists of two parts, the cerebrum and cerebellum. He alludes also to the lateral ventricles. He gives a sufficiently close and accurate description of the respiratory organs, and their connection with the heart. It is not certain, says he, when air has traversed the arteria aspera whether it passes directly to the heart by the lungs, in all animals; though he held such to be the fact in most of them. Of all the organs the heart alone holds blood within itself; for the blood of the lungs is not proper to them, but is contained within the vessels in communication with the 'heart.

« ForrigeFortsæt »