The mystical period of the history of medicine
Comprising a space of time extending from the trojan war, B. C. 1184 to the dissolution of petagorian society.
During the space of about seven hundred years, which this period embraces, Medicine underwent, in Greece, a first transformation ; from having been domestic and popular, it became sacerdotal, and wrapt itself in a mysterious habit. Until that time, the world
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The priests of Esculapius formed, as we have before said, a separate caste, transmitting from one to another their medical knowledge as a family heritage. In the remotest times, no layman, according to the report of Galen, was admitted to participate in the sacred science, but at a later period, this severe secrecy was relaxed. They consented to reveal their secrets
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We have said that one of the greatest difficulties, perhaps the greatest that is encountered in the use of a fundamental axiom in therapeutics, comes from the impossibility of applying, rigorously, a past fact in treatment to a case in hand ; in other words, whatever precision may be obtained in diagnosis, whatever may be the degree of similarity that exists between two pathological states, as there is never identity between them, it follows, that a course of medication which has succeeded perfectly in one case, may, strictly speaking, fail in another.
It is not less evident, that the best means of avoiding, or rather of diminishing this permanent cause of mistakes, consists in
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All antiquity has had faith in dreams, prophets and philosophers- strong and weak minds, all believed that the Divinity employed these means to reveal the future and instruct us in his designs. Sacred and profane history are full of examples that attest the universality of this sentiment. It is, then, more than probable that the
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We have heretofore said that the physicians of primitive times reasoned very little on morbid phenomena, or the effects of remedies ; that they contented themselves to observe which were the remedies that would heal certain diseases, and to employ thereafter the same means in like cases.
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Fifty years after the destruction of the kingdom of Priam, there was elevated at Titanus, a city of the Peleponnesus, the first temple in honor of Esculapius. Very soon the worship of this god was spread throughout Greece, whence it passed into Asia, Africa, and Italy. Among a multitude of temples which were consecrated to him, those at
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When a great number of pathological descriptions, sufficiently detailed, were collected, the embarrassment of such an accumulation began to be realized. Indeed, how could such a mass of material, arranged without any order, be made serviceable '? How find in this pell-mell the record they wished to consult - the tableau which answered best the symptoms of the disease before them ? No man's memory was equal to such a task.
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The Trojan war, celebrated in the Songs of Homer, appears in Greek antiquity as a luminous point in the midst of
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