Greek Medicine and Roman Incomprehension

Paul U. Unschuld

in What Is Medicine?

Published by University of California Press

Published in print September 2009 | ISBN: 9780520257658
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520944701 | DOI:
Greek Medicine and Roman Incomprehension

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The political and cultural center shifted and for the second time it was Rome that attracted Greek physicians. Greek physicians brought with them their renowned medicine but it was not at all convincing to the Romans. The Romans never had the model image that had lent plausibility to the theories of the Greeks. Greek medicine was a foreign idea to the Romans and with it they could make no associations. The theories themselves, convincing as they had been in Greece, initially had no meaning for the Romans, and even provoked aversion. The Roman censor Marcus Porcius Cato led the anti-Greek opinion. He and his son shared his view of true therapeutics. His personal worldview, evidently shared by most Romans, was the model image for nonmedical therapeutics. He did not share the Greek worldview of the polis democracy that had existed two or three centuries before. The Pandora's box had already been opened in Greece, and now many creations flowed from it into Rome.

Keywords: Greek physicians; Greek medicine; nonmedical therapeutics; polis democracy; Pandora's box; humoral doctrine

Chapter.  636 words. 

Subjects: Medical Anthropology

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