), an infirmary. A detached building or room was
commonly found in large houses for the reception of sick slaves, who, we are
told, should at once be removed there for better treatment, and, no doubt,
for the prevention of infection (Col. 11.1, 18; 12.3, 7;--Senec. de Ira,
1.16; Nat. Qu.
1). We have no
satisfactory evidence of anything that can be regarded as a public
infirmary or hospital in Italy until the end
of the 4th century A.D. Though the passages of Seneca cited above might bear
this interpretation, there [p. 2.918]
is no reason to
consider the valetudinaria which he mentions as anything but infirmaries for
slaves in private houses. Attendants for such valetudinaria are mentioned in
C. I. L.
6.4475, 9084, 9085. [As regards military
in camps for sick or wounded
soldiers, see EXERCITUS
I. p. 802 b.
] The earliest mention of an
infirmary or hospital for the poor in Italy seems to be that found in Jerome
3.10, de mort. Fab.
), where we are
told that Fabiola, A.D. 380, took care of the sick brought from the streets
into a building of this kind: “Primo omnium nosocomium, id est
languentium villam, instituit, in quo aegrotantes colligeret de plateis
et consumpta languoribus atque inedia membra foveret.” Shortly
before this (A.D. 372) we hear (Sozom. Hist. Eccles.
a hospital at Caesarea established by Basil (primarily, however, for the
reception of poor travellers or pilgrims). Vercoutre maintains, probably
with reason, that all idea of such an institution was derived by the Romans
from the Greeks, whose lead they followed in everything connected with
medicine [see MEDICINA, MEDICUS]. We doubt,
however, whether this writer is justified in making as much as he does of
the Greek ἰατρεῖα,
or in regarding them as
in any sense hospitals. The state physicians, who treated the pool
gratuitously in return for their state salary, had in many Greek cities not
only their medicines and surgical appliances provided for them by the state,
but also a room, or suite of rooms, called ἰατρεῖον,
which otherwise means merely the consulting-room and
dispensary of any physician [MCEDICUS]. The
description in Galen is οἶκοι μέγαλοι θύρας
μεγάλας φωτὸς πλήρεις ἔχουσιν, οἷοι καὶ νῦν κατὰ πολλὰς τῶν
πολέων δίδονται τοῖς ἰατροῖς, οὓς παρωνύμως αὐτῶν ἰατρεῖα
de Med. Officin.
1.8). In such rooms it is probable that
patients might remain for a time; if, for instance, they were unable to move
after an operation: but we lack information which would warrant our
crediting Greece with hospitals properly so called earlier than the 4th
century. It is possible that the παιώνιον
at Piraeus, mentioned by Crates, the comedian of the 5th century B.C.
15, Meineke), may have been something of the kind,
but this is doubtful; at any rate, it is not alluded to anywhere else, and
can hardly have been an institution lasting or imitated in many other
places. The function of hospitals for the poor was, to some extent,
performed by the temples of Aesculapius [MEDICUS
p. 154], where the priests no doubt combined
a certain amount of medical knowledge (cf. Liv.
) with a great deal of quackery and superstitious observance
(cf. Aristoph. Pl. 665
ff.), and it may,
we think, fairly be surmised that the disuse of these temples in Christian
times made the necessity of hospitals more apparent, and so led to their
institution, in much the same way as in this country the suppression of
monasteries, which had largely relieved the indigent poor, made the
necessity of Poor-laws immediately evident. (On this subject, see Daremberg,
Hist. de la Médecine,
vol. Iii.; and especially three
articles by Vercoutre in Revue Archéol.
90, 231, 309 ff.)