It is an incontestible fact, that Medicine was practiced and taught in the gymnasiae of Greece, a long time before the Asclepiadae had divulged the secret of their doctrines.(See Plato - Laws : Daniel Leclerc, Hist, de la Medicine : C. Sprengel, Hist, le la Medicine : M. Houdart, Etudes Historiques et Critiques Bur la Doctrine d'Hippocrate. Paris, 1840, in 8vo) There were in these establishments three orders of physicians. A director termed the gymnasiarch, whose duties consisted in regulating the diet of the Athlete, and of the young men who frequented these schools ; a sub-director, or gymnast, who directed the pharmaceutic treatment of the sick ; lastly, subalterns, named jatraliptes, who put up prescriptions, annointed, frictioned, bled, dressed wounds and ulcers, reduced luxations, fractures, etc.

 

Marvellous stories are told of the sagacity of the gymnasiarchs, in discerning the slightest variation in the prescribed regimen. They pretended to recognize by certain signs, if any one had been guilty of the slightest excess in drinking or eating, if the accustomed promenade had been neglected, or if there had been any indulgence in the pleasures of Venus. Though the author who gives these accounts appears to question their veracity, yet, nevertheless they do prove that the doctors of the gymnasias had a high reputation, and possessed a certain degree of skill.(OEuvres d'Hippocr., 2e livre des Prorrhetiques, at the beginning)

History has transmitted to us the names of two gymnasiarchs, cotemporaries of Hippocrates, but slightly older than he. The first was Iccos of Tarentum, celebrated for his sobriety and continence ; the proverb, " repast of Iccos," was used to signify its frugal character.

The second was Herodicus, or Frodicus, of Selymbria, the same who is named in the passage of Plato that we have heretofore quoted (see page 49.) That philosopher accuses him of being the first who employed gymnastics, in the cure of diseases, and he reprimands him severely on that occasion for having succeeded too well in prolonging the lives of valetudinarians. But the author of the sixth volume of Epidemics reproaches him in an entirely opposite manner ; he accuses him of killing his fever patients by excessive fatigue (Ibid, livre 6e, section 3e, § 48, edition of M. Littre). It is said that this gymnasiarch obliged his patients to run without stopping, the distance from Athens to Megara, and back again, equal to three hundred and sixty stadia, which are about equal to nine French leagues. These two contradictory reproaches may be easily explained ; for such exercise, though useful in some slight chronic disorders, must have been fatal in acute diseases

From History of Medicine by P.V. Renouard M.D.

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