The Romans used both scientific and mythological methods in their medicine. By adopting the methods of Greek medicine; the Romans obtained a solid foundation. They copied Hippocrates, who separated the study of medicine from philosophy and had an overall approach to the health of humans. Hippocrates also observed the habits and environment of humans to accurately determine illnesses and discover treatments. The Romans adapted the Hippocratic method and combined it with mythical and religious views. The Romans used Greek methods, and also included prayers and offerings to the gods.
Although all gods had healing powers, Aesculapius, the god of healing, was the most important. Unlike today, the Ancient Roman doctors received no respect, because they were considered to be. This reputation was caused by the doctors magical tricks, and the lack of useful treatments. The job required minimal training, as they only had to apprentice with their senior.
Thus, many free slaves and people who had failed at everything else filled this profession. Some did try to find new remedies; however, others used medicine to con people. Public surgeries were done to attract audiences as an advertisement. Doctors would even become beauticians providing perfumes, cosmetics, and even hairdressing. When wives wanted their husbands gone, they would say, ! SS put the patient out of his misery!" and the doctors would be the murderers.
However, as wars began to break out, there were improvements because medicine was needed to treat the many casualties of war. Thus as a result, military doctors discovered new techniques for treatment. Hospitals also developed as a result of military influence. Civilian doctors worked out of their home or storefronts. Like all cities, the wealthier members of society could afford the best treatments. Therefore, they usually had personal doctors.
The Emperors had doctors and several times they proved useful. Although there were numerous questionable doctors in the Ancient Roman times, they still had a surprisingly advanced surgical system. Gaining great amounts of scientific knowledge of the body from the Greeks, gave them a basis to perform many surgeries with skill and accuracy. Some common surgeries included a small tumor removal or hernia operation.
They also had more highly skilled surgeries. The Romans had several techniques to operate on eyes, such as minimizing cataracts. This surgery would be done by using a thin needle to push though the eye and break the cataract. Then with the small hole in the needle the broken up pieces would be suctioned out.
This procedure restored at least a moderate amount of sight for the patient. Other operations involved plastic surgery. The branding's and scars of a freed slave could be removed for a very pricey price. This would minimize the recognition of being a slave in their ancient society. The most amazing operations were performed on the brain.
The procedure that gave relief to incurable headaches and relieved pressure on the brain as a result of head injuries was called. The surgeon would use a cylindrical drill to drill a circle in the skull. He would then rotate the drill using a bow-like device, like the sticks used to make a fire. Patients had a high survival rate and, amazingly, no anesthetic was needed. Tools such as scalpels, scissors, and bone forceps that Roman doctors would use showed how advanced their surgery was in Rome. A majority of the tools were found in Pompeii.
In ancient Rome, a variety of substances for cures and anesthetic for surgery was used. In addition, society encouraged a fear of poisoning; thereby, opening the door for doctors to promote antidotes. Many of the pills prescribed contained dried bugs. However, for the most part, people sought good pain relievers.
Obviously, anesthetics did not compare to standards today. Although, surgeons wanted to minimize the screaming and fighting of patients during surgery; the pain of the patient still scared many. Some treatments used to ease the pain during surgery was: opium, henbane, and mandrake. Opium was used to numb the patient and limit movement.
Henbane was used to induce sleeping and provide slight amnesia. Mandrake was used to slow the heart rate and deadened pain. Even with the help of these, a good surgeon would have speed. Doctors relieved patients in more ways than cures and surgeries.
Fear of poisoning ran wild. Many deaths due to other causes fell under the blame of poisoning. Thus, giving a catalyst for the creation of antidotes by many doctors. This excessive fear and creation of dubious antidotes uncovered many legitimate materials for actual drugs and medications. Roman medicine took a great leap in European medicine. Although the doctors were questionable, they eventually developed.
The Romans used the availability of fresh water to prevent many diseases, and hygiene led to good health. The Roman baths became a part of life and kept germs and bacteria under control. Finally, the drainage system took old wastewater away from the population and prevented many illnesses and infections. However, the Roman army was responsible for numerous developments of medicine. The health of the army was vital to conquering another city, therefore, doctors made their best effort in aiding the troops. Works Cited Internet Sites: 1.
Roman Medicine. (2001) Roman Medicine. Retrieved April 6, 2005 from web Books: 1. Porter, R. (ed. ).
(1996). Cambridge Illustrated History Medicine. New York, Ny: Cambridge University Press. 2. Johnstone, Iar old Whetstone. The Private Life of the Romans.
Salem; Ayer Company Publishers, 1990.