name given by the ancients to every professor of the healing art, whether
physician or surgeon, and accordingly both divisions of the medical
profession will here be included under that term. In Greece and Asia Minor
physicians seem to have been held in high esteem; far more so than at Rome.
This was at least to some extent due to the religious sense, ἰατρικὴ
being regarded as akin (Eustath. ad
1.63), and to the apotheosis of Aesculapius, of whom
physicians speak as ὁἡμέτερος πρόγονος
p. 186 A). When we meet such expressions as that
in Athen. 15.666
b, εἰ μὴ ἰατροὶ ἦσαν ουδὲν ἂν ἧν τῶν γραμματικῶν
the allusion is to the pedantry of physicians
after the type ridiculed by Molière, and does not show a general
depreciation of their class. Aelian mentions one of the laws of Zaleucus
among the Epizephyrian Locrians, by which it was ordered that if any one
during his illness should drink wine contrary to the orders of his
physician, even if he should recover, he should be put to death for his
disobedience (Var. Hist.
2.37); and, according to Mead, there
are extant several medals struck by the people of Smyrna in honour of
different persons belonging to the medical profession (Dissert. de
Nummis quibusdam a Smyrnaeis in Medicor. Honor. percussis,
Lend. 1724). According to the Decree of the Athenians and the Life of
Hippocrates by Soranus (Hippocr. Opera,
iii. pp. 829, 853, ed. Kühn), the same honours were conferred upon
that physician as had before been given to Hercules; he was voted a golden
crown, publicly initiated into the Eleusinian mysteries, and maintained in
the Prytaneum at the state's expense. Both these pieces, however, are more
legendary than historical. (Compare Plin. Nat.
.) The physician made up his medicines himself, and either
sat in his ἰατρεῖον,
which was both a
consulting-room and a dispensary (called also ἐργαστήριον,
Aeschin. in Timarch.
124), or went a round of visits (Plat. Legg.
4.720 C. For
cf. Poll. 10.46; Plat.
i. p. 646 C). Here he had also assistants and
apprentices or pupils (Plat. Legg.
Aeschin. in Timarch.
§ 40). In the
former passage the assistant doctors are slaves, on which point cf. D. L. 6.30
. No doubt slaves only as a rule were
attended by slave doctors, and free men by free, but it is noticeable that
Plato, when he says this, qualifies by ὡς ἐπὶ τὸ
When Hyginus, Hyg. Fab.
, says that there was a law at Athens against any slave
practising, he must allude, if his assertion is true at all, to the state
Though hospitals are mentioned in Roman writers (Cels. de
i. praef. sub fin.;
Colum. de Re Rust.
11.1, 18; Sen. Epist.
27.1) after the time of Augustus [see VALETUDINARIA], they are never, with one single exception in
Aesculapius and a Sick Man. (Millin, |
tav. 32, No. 105.)
Crates, mentioned by Greek writers before the Roman period. The function, so
far as it was [p. 2.154]
performed at all, was discharged by
the temples of Aesculapius, and accordingly the chief places of study for
medical pupils were the Ἀσκληπιεῖα,
temples of Aesculapius, where the votive tablets furnished them with a
collection of cases. Hence we find in ancient works of art Aesculapius
represented as visiting the sick. The Asclepiadae [MEDICINA
] were very strict in examining into and
overlooking the character and conduct of their pupils, and the famous
Hippocratic oath (which, if not drawn up by Hippocrates himself, is
certainly very ancient) requires to be inserted here as being the most
curious medical monument of antiquity. “I swear by Apollo the
physician, and Aesculapius, and Hygeia (Health
), and all the gods and goddesses,
calling them to witness that I will fulfil, according to the best of my
power and judgment, this oath and written bond:--to honour as my parents
the master who has taught me this art, and to share my substance with
him, and to minister to all his necessities; to consider his children as
my own brothers, and to teach them this art should they desire to follow
it, without remuneration or written bond; to admit to my lessons, my
discourses, and all my other teaching, my own sons, and those of my
tutor, and those who have been inscribed as pupils and have taken the
medical oath; but no one else. I will prescribe such regimen as may be
for the benefit of my patients, according to the best of my power and
judgment, and preserve them from anything hurtful and mischievous. I
will never, if asked, administer poison, nor be the author of such
advice; neither will I give to a woman a pessary to produce abortion. I
will maintain the purity and integrity both of my conduct and of my art.
I will not cut any one for the stone, but will leave the operation to
those who cultivate it. Into whatever dwellings I may go, I will enter
them for the benefit of the sick, abstaining from all mischief and
corruption, especially from any immodest action, towards women or men,
freemen or slaves. If during my attendance, or even unprofessionally in
common life, I happen to see or hear of anything which should not be
revealed, I will consider it a secret not to be divulged. May I, if I
observe this oath, and do not break it, enjoy good success in life, and
in [the practice of] my art, and be esteemed for ever; should I
transgress and become a perjurer, may the reverse be my lot.”
Some idea of the income of a physician in those times may be formed from the
fact mentioned by Herodotus (3.131
) that the
Aeginetans (about the year B.C. 532) paid Democedes from the public treasury
one talent per annum for his services, i. e. (if we reckon the Aeginetan
drachma to be worth 1s.
) not quite 304l.;
he afterwards received from the Athenians one
hundred minae, i. e. (reckoning the Attic drachma to be worth 9 3/4 d.
) rather more than 406l.,
and he was finally attracted to Samos by being offered by Polycrates a
salary of two talents, i. e. (if the Attic standard be meant) about 422l.
Valckenaer doubts the accuracy of this statement
of Herodotus with respect to the Aeginetans and Athenians, but we have no
right to reject it, and it is accepted as true by Boeckh
i.3 153). A physician,
called by Pliny both Erasistratus (H. N.
Cleombrotus (H. N.
7.123), is said by him to have received
one hundred talents, i. e. considerably over 20,000l.,
for curing king Antiochus.
State physicians were employed in Greece (from Democedes downwards). They
were selected on the ground of knowledge evidenced in their private practice
(Xen. Mem. 4.2
; Plat. Gorg.
455 B, 514 D). In Plat. Polit.
p. 259 A we see them distinguished from those
who practised privately: their practice and official status are described by
the word δημοσιεύειν
specially applied to
them, and in their public capacity they received salary but took no fees
(Aristoph. Birds 587
994); their expenses, however, were paid besides
their salary, and they received public honours for distinguished service
(C. I. A.
2.256, p. 424). It appears from Diod. 12.13
that they attended gratis any one who
applied to them, and it is at least probable that they were bound to give
their services on military expeditions. From Aristoph. Pl. 407
it appears that in that period of depression
at Athens the office was discontinued from motives of economy. [W.A.G
As regards the rise and progress of the medical profession at Rome, we must
distinguish between the slaves skilled in medicine, who were kept in the
larger households, and the physician in general practice. The former, no
doubt, came earlier in date, and those who could afford skilled slaves for
medical treatment already employed them, when for the masses there was no
practising physician: but in the yet earlier times for all alike, and for
the general public to a comparatively late period, the treatment of sickness
was by traditional family recipes, partly founded on experience, partly on
superstition, the Romans being for the most part, as late as the 600th year
of the city (according to Pliny, Plin. Nat.
), “sine medicis nec tamen sine medicina.” A little
earlier however than this (B.C. 219), says Pliny on the authority of Cassius
Hemina, the first professed physician, the Greek Archagathus, came to Rome.
He was made a citizen and started in a shop at the public expense (Plin. Nat. 29.12
): but his treatment was
unpopular from its heroic method, “a saevitia secandi
urendique.” There was much opposition, for the Romans regarded with
suspicion the skill of the foreigners, and shunned the calling themselves as
a degradation. Cato, who still held to the old custom, and used a family
manual of medicine (commentarium
mederetur filio, servis et familiaribus,” strongly opposed the
whole class of medici, against whom he warns his son, as banded together to
kill Roman citizens. In Plautus (Menaechm.
5.1) we have
perhaps evidence of the same mistrust and contempt; but it is never possible
to assume that the customs and sentiments described in Plautus are Roman
rather than Greek.
Gradually however, after the time of Archagathus, the number of foreign
physicians in Rome increased, alike those in private houses, who were either
slaves (cf. Suet. Nero 2
) or freedmen, and
those who had general practice. As a household physician of this kind we may
instance Strato from the Cluentius
(63, 176). We have the price of a slave physician fixed at 60 solidi
7.7, 1, 5). The
practising physicians at Rome were nearly all
of the freedman class (see the inscriptions cited by Marquardt,
p. 772). They had booths (tabernae
), where they practised with slaves or freedmen as
their assistants and pupils, whom they took about with them in their visits
). Few Romans took up the
profession (though we hear of Vettius Valens, a man of equestrian rank in
the reign of Claudius); and Julius Caesar, avowedly to encourage their
residence, gave the citizenship to foreign physicians (Suet. Jul. 42
), with the result which he
Among physicians who seem to have risen to greater repute we have Asclepiades
of Prusa (Cic. de Or. 1.1.
, 62; cf. Plin. Nat. 7.124
Asclapo of Patrae, whom Cicero treated as a friend (Cic. Fam. 13.2. 0
); Alexio, for whom he
seems to have had even greater regard (ad Att.
Antonius Musa, the freedman and trusted physician of Augustus (Suet. Aug. 59
; cf. Hor.
); M. Artorius (Vell. 2.70
; Plut. Brut. 41
); A. Cornelius Celsus, who
wrote a medical treatise under Tiberius; Eudemus (Tac. Ann. 4.3
The professional gains of physicians under the Empire seem often to have been
large: we are told of Stertinius by private practice making more than
a year, and the surgeon Alcon amassing a
fortune of nearly 100,000l.
by a few years' practice
in Gaul (Plin. Nat. 29
. § §
7, 22; cf. Mart. 11.84
). Regular medical posts
were instituted with large appointments: as court physicians with salaries
varying from 250,000 to 500,000 H.S. (Plin. l.c.
as doctors for the army, for gladiatorial schools (C. I. L.
6.10171), and for the poorer public [ARCHIATER
]. Apart from these state appointments the
practice was entirely free from control or training: as a rule probably the
training was gained by the sort of apprenticeship to some medicus described
above, but anyone was at liberty to practise, and, in the words of Pliny,
“experimenta per mortes facere” ; ignorance was not, as in
our country, penal, and hence “medico hominem occidisse summa
impunitas” (Plin. Nat. 29.18
Besides the archiatri at Rome itself (one for each region), there were by
order of Antoninus Pius in each city of Asia Minor state physicians (paid by
the state, with immunity from taxes), in numbers varying from five to ten
according to the size of the town (Dig. 27
; 59, 9, 1; see
Friedländer, iii. ch. 4). We can trace specialist physicians also,
such as the oculist (ocularius or ab oculis
). (Orelli, 4228, 2983;
C. I. L.
6.6192; 8908.) The profession of dentist is
implied at a very early date by the remarkable extract from the XII. Tables
in Cic. de Leg. 2.2. 4
relating to teeth stopped with gold. (See further Mart. 10.56
.) We may also notice that female doctors (medicae
) for attendance on women, apparently
distinct from midwives (obstetrices
), are found
in many inscriptions (see Marquardt, op. cit.
As regards army doctors among the Greeks, we find them in the heroic age when
the ἰητρὸς ἀνὴρ
is πολλῶν ἀντάξιος ἄλλων.
It would appear from Homer, Hom. Il. 16.28
, that there were several;
perhaps, as some suggest, each contingent had an ἰητρός.
In historical times we may learn something of their
presence from Xenophon, Xen. Anab. 3.4
1.6, 16, 3.2,
12, 5.4, 17. Perhaps, as Dr. Hager suggests (Journ. of
vol. viii. No. 15), the δημόσιοι
had to accompany the army, as was the case in
Egyptian armies (Diod. 1.82
). [For Roman army
doctors, see EXERCITUS
I. p. 802 b;
for quack doctors, PHARMACOPOLA; for hospitals, VALETUDINARIA; for surgeons, CHIRURGIA;
and see also the articles ARCHIATER,
(For this article and the preceding, reference may be made, besides the
ancient authorities, to Becker-Göll, Charikles,
2.139 ff.; Marquardt,
772 ff.; Mahaffy, Social Life in
290; Daremberg, Hist. de la
ch. i.; Vercoutre, La
Médecine dans l'antiq., Revue Archéol.,
1880; Friedländer, Sittengeschichte,
i.5 298 ff.)