MEDICINE, HISTORY OF. There is reason to believe that Egypt was the country in which the art of medicine, as well as the other arts of civilized life, was first cultivated with any degree of success, the offices of the priest and the physician being probably •combined in the same person. In the writings of Moses there are various allusions to the practice of medicine amongst the Jews, especially with reference to the treatment of ieprocy. The priests were the physicians, and their treatment mainly aimed at promot ing cleanliness and preventing contagion. Chiron (q.v.), the centaur, is said to have introduced the art of medicine amongst the Greeks; but the early history of the art is .entirely legendary. See JESCULAPIUS.
With a passing. allusion to the names of Pythagoras, Democritus, and Heraclitus, who in their various departinents may be regarded as having advanced the art of medicine, we arrive at the thne of Hippocrates (q.v.). The advance which Hippocrates made in the practice of medicine was so great, that no attempts were made for some .centuries to improve upon his views and precepts. His sons, Thessalus and Draco, and his son-in-law, Polybius, are regarded as the founders of tU medical sect.which was -called the Hippocratean or dogniatic school, " because it professed to set out with certain theoretical principles which were derived from the generalization of facts and obser vations, and to make these principles the basis of practice." The next circumstance requiring notice in the history of medicine is the establishment of the school of Alexandria, which was effected by the munificence of the Ptolemies, about 300 years before the Christian era. Amongst the most famous of its medical pro fessors are Erasistratus and Herophilus. The former was the pupil of Chrysippus, and probably imbibed from his master his prejudice against bleeding, and against the use of active remedies, preferrinrr to trust mainly to diet and to the Hs medicatriz natural It was about this time that tlie empirics formed themselves into a distinct sect, and became the declared opponents of the dogmatists. The controversy, says Bostock, in his History Medicine, really consisted in the question—how far we are to suffer theory- to influence our practice. While the dogmatists, or, as they were sometimes styled, the rationalists, asserted, that before attempting to treat any disease, we ought to make ourselves fully acquainted with the nature aud functions of the body generally, with the operation of medical agents upon it, and with the changes which it undergoes when under the operation -of any morbid cause; the empirics, on the contrary, contended that this knowledge is impossible to be obtained, and, if possible, is not necessary; that our sole guide must be experience, and that if we step beyond this, either as learned from our own observation, or that of others on whose testimony we can rely, we are alwayrs liable to fall into dan gerous and often fatal errors. According to Celsus, who has given an excellent account
of the leading opinions of both sects, the founder of the empirics was Serapion of Alexandria, who was said to be a pupil of Herophilus. At this period, and for some tenturies subsequent to it, all physicians were included in one or other of these rival sects, and, apparently, the numbers of the two schools were ahout equal.
We learn from Pliny that niedicine was introduced into Roino at a later period than the other arts and sciences. The first person who seems to have made it a distinct pro fession was Archagathus, a Peloponnesian, who settled at Rome about 200 B.c. Fli§: treatment was so severe and unsuccessful that he was finally banished; and we hear of no other Roman physician for about a century, when Asclepiades, of Bithynia, acquired a great reputation. His popularity depended upon his allowing his patients the liberal use of wine and of their favorite dishes, and in all respects consulting their inclinations aud flattering their prejudices; aud hence it it is easy to understand the eminence at which he arrived. He was succeeded by his pupil Themison of Laodicea, the founder of a sect called Methodies, who adopted a middle course between the dogmatists and empirics. During the greater part of the first two ceaturies of our era the Methodics were the prepondering medical sect, and they included in their ranks C. Aurelianus, some of whose writings have come down to us. They then broke up into various sects, of which the chief were the Pneumatics, represented by Aretus of Cappadocia, whose. works are still extant; and the Eclectics, of whom Archigenes of Apamea was the most celebrated. But the most remarkable writer of this age is Celsus (q.v.), whose work De Aredieina gives a sketch of the history of medicine up to his time, and the state in which it then existed. He is remarkable as being the first native Roman physician whose name has been transmitted to us. The names of Andromachus, the inventor of the theriaca, a preparation which was retained in our pharmaeopceias until .the close of the last cen tury—of Pliny the naturalist—and of Dioseorides, cannot be Atogether omitted in even; the briefest sketch of the early history- of medicine; but their contributions to its progress dwarf into insignificance when compared with those of Galen (q.v.), Whose writings were universally acknowledged as ultimate authority until they were attacked and pub licly burned in the 16th c. by the arch-quack, Paracelsus (q.v.). A learned and impar- fiat critic, the late Dr. Aikin, after giving full credit to Galen for talent and acquire ments, thus concludes: " His own mass and modern improvements have now in a great measure consigned his writings to neglect, but his fame can only perish with the science itself." As in the case' of Hippocrates, his immeasurable superiority over his contem poraries seems to have acted as a check to all attempts at further improvement.