1902 Encyclopedia > Medicine > Post-Hippocratic Medicine

(Part 13)

Post-Hippocratic Medicine

After Hippocrates the progress of medicine in Greece does not call for any special remark in such a sketch as this, but, mention must be made of one great name. Though none of Aristotle’s writings are strictly medical, he has by his researches in anatomy and physiology contributed greatly to the progress of medicine. It should also be remembered that he was of an Asclepiad family, and received that partly medical education which was traditional in such families, and also himself is said to have practised medicine as an amateur. Moreover, his works on natural history doubtless furthered the progress among the Greeks of sciences tributary to medicine, though the only specimens of such works which have come down to us from the Peripatetic school are those of Theophrastus, who may be considered the founder of the scientific study of botany. Among his encyclopaedic writings were some on medical subjects, of which fragments only have been preserved. The Peripatetic school may have been more favourable to the development of medicine, as of other departments of natural knowledge, than any other; but there is no evidence that any of the philosophical schools had important influence on the progress of medicine. The fruit of Aristotle’s teaching and example was seen later on in the schools of Alexandria.

The century after the death of Hippocrates is a time almost black in medical annals. It is probable that the science, like others, shared in the general intellectual decline of Greece after the Macedonian supremacy; but the works of physicians of the period are almost entirely lost, and were so even in the time of Galen. Galen classes them all as of the dogmatic school; but, whatever may have been their characteristics, they are of no importance in the history of the science.

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