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ἰατρός). A physician or surgeon, the name being indiscriminately used of either. In Greece and Asia Minor, physicians were held in higher repute than at Rome, probably because of the traditional association of medicine with religion. A law of the Locrians quoted by Aelian (Var. Hist. ii. 37), punished with death the patient who disobeyed the orders of his physician. Hippocrates was treated as a demigod by the Athenians, if the account of Soranus be true.

The Greek physician compounded his own medicines, and either sat in his consulting-room (ἰατρεῖον) or visited his patients, in the latter duty being often accompanied by his pupils or assistants. There is only one mention of a Greek hospital prior to the Roman period. (See Valetudinaria.) State physicians were employed in Greece, receiving a salary and their expenses, but no fees (Aves, 587; Acharn. 994). Thus Democedes received from the public treasury of Aegina about $1400 per annum, and from Athens afterwards a salary of some $2000 (Herod.iii. 131). A physician who cured King Antiochus received from him a fee of over $100,000 (Pliny , Pliny H. N. vii. 123; xxix. 5). State physicians attended gratis any one who called for them.

In the early days of the Republic, Rome had no regular physicians. The haruspices and augurs pretended to some knowledge of medicine; but when a man fell ill, he was usually treated by the

Aesculapius and a Sick Man. (Millin.)

old women with their simples; or if the disease was a very serious one, he trusted to religious rites, vows, and sacrifices for his recovery. The various deities of disease were propitiated by temples and altars. In Varro's time there were in Rome three temples to the goddess of Fever; in the Esquiline quarter, an altar to Mefitis, the goddess Malaria; in the centre of the Forum Romanum, an altar to Cloacina, “the goddess of typhoid” (so Lanciani), and near the Praetorian Camp, an altar to Verminus, the god of diseasegerms. Cf. Lanciani, Ancient Rome, pp. 49-73.

At a later period, among the Greeks who first came in numbers to Rome in the second century B.C., were many professed physicians; and from that time the practice of medicine became a lucrative profession among the Romans, though the chief practitioners remained Greeks, a fact to which the Latin vocabulary bears witness in that its medical terms are nearly all of Greek origin. The elder Pliny gives some interesting details regarding the fees received by the leading doctors. The native physicians of celebrity, Cassius, Calpetanus, and Arruntius, received, he estimates, an income of not less than 250,000 sesterces ($10,000) a year. Quintus Stertinius, a fashionable physician, was asked by the emperor to give up his private practice and devote himself to the imperial family alone. Stertinius said that, as an especial favour, he would do it if he could receive a salary of 500,000 sesterces ($20,000). This struck the emperor as an exorbitant demand, but Stertinius showed from his books that his private practice was worth to him at least 600,000 sesterces per annum. The brother of this Stertinius had a sort of partnership with him, and when they died, which they did at about the same time, they left a property of 30,000,000 sesterces ($1,200,000), though they had lived very expensively, and given large sums to public objects. The Greek physicians at Rome probably earned still larger sums. An ex-praetor paid 200,000 sesterces ($8000) as a single fee to the practitioner who treated him for leprosy. Pliny mentions one Thessalus, of whom he says: “No popular actor, no famous jockey, had a greater throng attending him when he appeared in public.”

Nothing is known of the course of study necessary to qualify a man for medical practice. That there were medical students and clinical lectures is seen from Martial (v. 9). It is probable that the profession was open to all kinds of quacks and impostors, for we read of men taking up medicine as they would any form of trade, with no mention of any special qualification. It is, in fact, likely that, in the main, ancient medicine was little better than quackery, and that the best physicians were men like Crinas who made a careful study of dietetics, and like Asclepiades, who said “Nature is the true physician.” How absurd much of the treatment must have been is shown in the list of remedies given by Pliny in his Historia Naturalis (bk. xxix.). The patent medicines of to-day sink into insignificance beside them. Thus, we read of a mysterious preparation called Theriaca with 600 ingredients, and of another known as “the Mithridatic antidote” with 450. Pliny mentions 35 nostrums prepared from wool, 22 from eggs, and also several pastes of which the principal constituent was pounded bugs. The notion, which is still largely prevalent among the laity, that the efficacy of a drug is in direct proportion to its nastiness seems to have had a strong hold on the minds of the ancients. Dog's blood was given for narcotic poisons; urine for gout; goat's gall for ophthalmia; bull's gall and garlic for ear-ache. Superstition entered largely into the treatment. A person afflicted with hiccoughing was gravely advised to touch his lips to a mule's nostrils and be cured. Hydrophobia was treated by applying to the bite the ashes of the dead dog's hair. A still more effectual remedy for the same disease was to cut out the liver of the dog and to eat it raw, applying at the same time to the wound, horse-dung sprinkled with vinegar.

All these prescriptions are the serious advice of men of reputation. It is not surprising if, on the whole, the profession was less esteemed than others. Pliny the Elder sums up the matter in the following sentences:

“There is no doubt that physicians in pursuit of celebrity, by the introduction of some novelty or other, purchase it at the cost of human life. Hence these woful discussions, these consultations at the bedside of the patient; hence, too, the ominous inscription to be read upon a tomb—‘I perished by the multitude of physicians’ . . . And there is, moreover, no law to punish the mistakes of a physician, and no instance before us of any punishment so inflicted. They acquire skill at our risk, and put us to death for the sake of making an experiment; for a physician is the only person who is licensed to kill.”

Other scandals besides those due to ignorance were not unknown. So many unprincipled persons entered the profession that it is not surprising to find complaints made of their conduct. Even the palace of the Caesars was the scene of strange occurrences, for it is recorded that both Livia, the wife of Drusus, and the empress Messalina were criminally intimate with their medical attendants. It is not remarkable, therefore, to find a Roman writer concluding a discussion of the subject with the words: “Medicine is the only one of the arts of Greece that, lucrative though it be, Roman dignity still refuses to cultivate.”

Nevertheless, medicine flourished, and its followers kept increasing in number. We hear of the practice of specialties. General practitioners were known as medici; surgeons as chirurgi and vulnerarii. There were also oculists (ocularii) and dentists (medici a dentibus). We even read of female physicians (Orell. Inscript. 4320-31), and, of course, of numerous midwives (obstetrices). Pharmacies existed, their sign being the Aesculapian snake; and though physicians usually furnished their own drugs, they also gave signed prescriptions (Duruy). The physicians attached to the imperial household were under the direction of a chief styled archiater (ἀρχίατρος), or in pure Latin dominus medicorum. The name archiater was also applied to the dispensary-physicians who gave their services to the people (archiatri populares). See Goldhorn, De Archiatris Romanis (Leipzig, 1841).

Surgery was the branch of medicine most scientifically pursued, and successful operations were performed by the ancient surgeons for stone and cataract, while trephining was not unknown. See Chirurgia.

For a full discussion of the subject of ancient medicine, see Daremberg, Histoire des Sciences Médicales (Paris, 1870-73); Watson, The Medical Profession in Ancient Times (N. Y. 1856); Dunglison, History of Medicine (Philadelphia, 1872); and Berdoe, Origin and Growth of the Healing Art (London, 1894).

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    • Herodotus, Histories, 3.131
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