The third part of the Art of Medicine is that which cures by the hand, as I have already said, and indeed it is common knowledge. It does not omit medicaments and regulated diets, but does most by hand. The effects of this treatment are more obvious than any other kind; inasmuch as in diseases since luck helps much, and the same things are often salutary, often of no use at all, it may be doubted whether recovery has been due to medicine or a sound body or good luck. Besides, in cases where we depend chiefly upon medicaments, although an improvement is clear enough, yet it is often clear that recovery is sought in vain with them and gained without them: this can be seen for instance in treating the eyes, which after being worried by doctors for a long time sometimes get well without them. But in that part of medicine which cures by hand, it is obvious that all improvement comes chiefly from this, even if it be assisted somewhat in other ways. This branch, although very ancient, was more practised by Hippocrates, the father of all medical art, than by his forerunners. Later it was separated from the rest of medicine, and began to have its own professors; in Egypt it grew especially by the influence of Philoxenus, who wrote a careful and comprehensive work on it in[p. 297]
several volumes. Gorgias also and Sostratus and Heron and the two Apollonii and Ammonius, the Alexandrians, and many other celebrated men, each found out something. In Rome also there have been professors of no mean standing, especially the late Tryphon the father and Euelpistus, and Meges, the most learned of them all, as can be understood from his writings; these have made certain changes for the better, and added considerably to this branch of learning.
Now a surgeon should be youthful or at any rate nearer youth than age; with a strong and steady hand which never trembles, and ready to use the left hand as well as the right; with vision sharp and clear, and spirit undaunted; filled with pity, so that he wishes to cure his patient, yet is not moved by his cries, to go too fast, or cut less than is necessary; but he does everything just as if the cries of pain cause him no emotion.
But it can be asked what is the proper province of this part of my work because surgeons claim for themselves the treatment of wounds as well, and of many of the ulcerations which I have described elsewhere. I for my part deem one and the same man able to undertake all of these; and when divisions are made, I praise him who has undertaken the most. I have myself kept for this part cases in which the practitioner does not find wounds but makes them, and in which I believe wounds and ulcerations to be benefited more by surgery than by medicine; as well as all that which concerns the bones. These cases I shall proceed to discuss in turn, and leaving to another volume the subject of bones I shall deal with the rest in this one; beginning[p. 299]
with cases which occur anywhere in the body I shall pass on to those which occur in special situations.