This publication had its origin in the July 2007 conference of the Classical Association of South Africa, whose delegates included a significant number of international scholars specializing in Ancient Medicine. Most of their papers, reworked as articles, are included in this book, as are articles by three scholars who could not be present but kindly sent their contributions (Proff. Craik and Fischer and Ms Brand). All the articles were reviewed by two referees.
Galen was a prolific writer, but of the five hundred treatises written by this physician of Pergamum in the 2nd century AD, only about a hundred have been transmitted to us in Greek. Some of the other manuscripts are only available in Arabic, Latin, or even Hebrew, while yet others are completely lost. For example, De Indolentia (Peri; ajlupiva~), about which we only know from a reference to the title in De Libris Propriis, has so far been considered completely lost both in Greek and in Arabic.
In the Hippocratic Collection, the gynaecological treatises are similar to Diseases II because of their stylistic characteristics and medical quality. The authors - unlike those of Epidemics - did not strive to establish individual index cards for each patient with a name, date and place; instead they chose to show certain types of ailments, leaving little room for the doctor's personal testimony. They drew up clinical charts, came up with detailed treatments and conscientiously made a list of all pharmaceutical formulas which could prove beneficial. This acute sense of observation was backed up by doctors who listened attentively to their patients; consequently, these doctors had a profoundly humane approach to their patients.
The position and significance of Aulus Cornelius Celsus (c. 25 BC-50 AD) in the study of medicine in antiquity have been controversial. The views range from regarding him as a mere compiler or translator of a Hellenistic medical handbook (Wellman and Marx respectively) to a physician who practised medicine. Neither of these extreme views is accepted today. Celsus reveals a thorough acquaintance with, and understanding of, Greek medicine, but expresses a definite Roman approach. Unfortunately nothing is known about Celsus other than what can be deduced from the contents of his remaining work and from references to him by a few contemporaries whose works have survived.
North Africa and in particular refounded Carthage experienced a flowering of scientific and medical activity in the late Roman Empire. A great number of medical texts produced in this period in the Roman Empire at large originated in North Africa, which led the French scholar Guy Sabbah to believe in the existence of an 'African School' of doctors and / or medical authors between c. 370 and 450 AD.
Collecting mediaeval manuscripts is not what one might call a cardinal sin, unless the collector himself happens to be a cardinal. The cardinal in question would have been one of my closer neighbours, had I lived in the early 15th century. Born in 1401, Nicolaus Cusanus would also have been a close neighbour of Hildegard of Bingen, had she been born three hundred years later. The Cusanus part in Nicholas' name tells us where he came from, the village of Cues (now part of Bernkastel-Kues) on the Moselle river, praised by Ausonius in the 4th century in a Latin poem.
Dans le cadre d'une recherche sur la postérité de la théorie des quatre humeurs du traité hippocratique de la Nature de l'homme j'ai éditéplusieurs inédits de la période tardo-antique postérieure à Galien (IIe s. après J.-C.) où la théorie des quatre humeurs (sang, bile jaune, bile noire, phlegme), et éventuellement des quatre tempéraments correspondants, est parvenue à un stade de sytématisation qu'elle n'avait pas encore atteinte à l'époque du médecin de Pergame.
The disappearance of Alexandrian medical literature and the highly fragmentary nature of the ancient texts on gynaecology that have come down to us do not provide a very promising framework for our study. I must, indeed, de facto forego the idea of conducting a diachronic investigation taking into consideration a large number of independent descriptions of the anatomy and physiology of the female body, which would demonstrate the gradual development of ideas, knowledge and mental attitudes in this sphere. Even though the study of an extensive corpus of writings is not possible, a reading of two texts that are central to the history of gynaecology will none the less initiate a discussion and suggest a few hypotheses, particularly regarding the manner of transmitting technical information.
Galen often gives no information about the patient when he tells a story. It is usually possible to determine the sex grammatically, and it is almost always male, although Galen does tell about twenty-five stories about women. It is also my impression that when the patient is a child Galen usually says so, and he tells about twenty-five stories about children.
Aboard the Beagle on its voyage into the South Atlantic in 1832, en route to tropical latitudes, the ever-observant Charles Darwin took advantage of an extended shore leave at Porto Praya on St Jago in the Cape Verde Islands, to make some of the earliest notes on this most famous of British scientific ventures.