Billeder på siden
[ocr errors]

Cleophantus of Alexandria,* appear to have furnished the leading principles upon which he and his followers founded this third sect, the philosophy of which was adopted from Epicurus. The Pneumatic sect was an offset from the Dogmatists, and advocated the stoic philosophy. But of these several sects, and of the Episynthetics who attempted to reconcile the whole of them, we shall have again occasion to speak, in connection with the school of Rome. In speaking of the profession of his own time, Galen classes them as Herophilians and Erasistratians, showing that the opinions of the founders of the Alexandrian school had not yet been superseded; and that after an interval of more than five centuries, the impression left upon it by these great men, still continued to give it character and distinction. After falling under the sway of the Romans, for a century or more the school of Alexandria lost much of its previous celebrity, and is little spoken of during the more active period of the school of Rome. Yet even in Galen's day, it was still the center of medical science. And to have studied medicine at Alexandria, was everywhere considered a passport to the confidence and patronage of the public.

Celsus, iii. 14.

[blocks in formation]


BUT if Alexandria was for many centuries the principal seat of medical science, there was perhaps no period in which it was, the only school open to the profession. The followers of Erasistratus, in consequence of temporary disturbance at the Museum, are said to have removed to Smyrna, and at the Asclepion of that city to have established a rival institution. It is even asserted that the school of Smyrna originated with Erasistratus rather than with his disciples, and that he there spent his latter days in teaching.

The school of Pergamus, as before remarked, had been early celebrated. Several of the Alexandrian professors also added luster to this rival institution. The older Heras, whò probably flourished during the reign of Attalus II., after whom the kingdom passed into the hands of the Romans, was of this school. He was among the earliest, if not the first, to introduce those compound confections, which, under the name of Theriaca, or antidotes, were afterwards almost in universal use. among the ancients, Acopa, or anodyne and analeptic lini

[ocr errors]

ments or embrocations, were also among his inventions; some of which he honored with the name of his sovereign.

Attalus Philometor was not only the patron of the profession, but was himself actively occupied in the cultivation and employment of medicinal plants. We are told by Plutarch, that in his gardens he planted the hyoscyamus, hellebore, cicuta, aconite, and other poisonous herbs, and collected them at the proper seasons, with his own hands, for the purpose of experimenting with their expressed juice, their fruit, and their seed, and determining their respective properties.* Attalus was not the only sovereign who, about this epoch, turned occasionally from the cares of state to mingle in the affairs of our profession. Mithridates, king of Pontus, experimented with poisonous plants upon himself, in order to habituate himself to their use, and thus to become unsusceptible to their deleterious effects. His composition, afterwards known as the Mithridaticum, and employed as an antidote, was among the most celebrated nostrums of antiquity. Pompey, after overcoming this prince, ordered diligent search to be made among the archives of his palace for the formula of this famous antidote; and supposed he had discovered it in a confection consisting of rue twenty leaves, salt a few grains, two walnuts, and a couple of dried figs, which, was to be taken fasting every morning, and followed with a draught of wine.t

*Le Clerc, part ii. liv. iii, chap. iii. p. 388-90.
Serenus Sammonicus, v. 1064-71.

Again, without referring to numerous other places of less repute, there is reason to believe that a school of medicine was still associated with that most ancient of all the Asclepions, the temple of Epidaurus; which is said to haye stood on the spot upon which Esculapius was born, a promontory on the coast of Argolis nearly opposite the island of Ægina. The school here may have been dispersed when Sylla ravaged the temple, and appropriated the wealth of its shrine to the maintenance of his army during the Mithridatic war. But so late as the reign of Antoninus Pius, the temple of Epidaurus was still a place of great resort. By the bounty of this ruler its accommodations for the sick were increased, and a new edifice was erected in its. vicinity for the accommodation of such patients as were about to die, and by the rules of the temple no longer permitted to remain within the hallowed bounds. This new edifice was also in part appropriated to parturient women, and as a lying-in asylum, sacred to the services of Lucina.*

* Le Clerc, part i, liv. i. chap. xx. p. 63; and Schulze, p. 127, after Pausanias.



SECTION I.-From their Origin to the Rise of the Eclectics.

AFTER the Romans had acquired the mastery of the East, many adventurers from the Grecian provinces resorted to the capital in pursuit of occupation as teachers and physicians; at first, with small encouragement. The people of Rome were slow in relinquishing their prejudices against Greek scholars, and were indisposed to forget the humble position of those amongst themselves who were devoted to the healing art.* Cato the Censor, as already intimated, rejecting the sciences not of native growth, trusted for medical assistance, to the untutored skill of servants, to a few simple preparations from domestic plants, and even to charms and incantations. For curing a luxation at the hip, take, says he, a green divining rod four or five feet long, split it in the middle, and let two men hold it at the hip and begin to sing: "In alio, s. f. motas vata daries dardaries astataries dissunapiter," until the injured parts are again united. The luxation being reduced, or the fracture set and properly adjusted in splints, repeat the incantation every day as at first, or the

* Pliny, Hist. Nat., lib. xxix. chap. viii.

« ForrigeFortsæt »