Chapter

The Real Heritage of Antiquity

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: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520257658.003.0054
The Real Heritage of Antiquity

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This chapter examines the work of Abbess Hildegard von Bingen. She linked surviving elements of the ancient humoral and elements doctrines with fundamental ideas of Christian theology in her text “Causes and Treatment of Illnesses”. She attributed afflictions of the human body caused by phlegm to sin before God in her understanding of the world. Her therapeutic suggestions are similarly wide ranging, linking the theological/spiritual with ancient pharmaceutical heritage and folk therapeutics knowledge. Hildegard von Bingen appealed to some contemporaries. She still appeals to people, even at the beginning of the twenty-first century. It is clear that old preexisting set pieces served, because of the lack of other knowledge, as the foundation for suggestions for a comprehensive therapeutics. A new medicine could not yet develop because the fundamentals were missing that include science and a convincing societal model image. The ancient Greeks were keen observers. Their portrayals of the morphological details of the body and the progression of illnesses are unparalleled in antiquity.

Keywords: ancient humoral; human body; pharmaceutical heritage; folk therapeutics knowledge; new medicine

Chapter.  759 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Medical Anthropology

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